THE collegiate season is off to a hot start. The National Collegiate Athletic Association of the Philippines (NCAA) opened last weekend in a burst of hoopla and color, starting business with a gem of a game between defending champions Colegio de San Juan de Letran and Jose Rizal University.
Its star-filled opening and the introduction of a mind-boggling innovation—the first AI sportscasters in local media—smade a bang, even as new formats in its coverage (TV stars like Pekto Nacua roving around neighborhoods to talk to NCAA fans) created more excitement among even casual NCAA fans.
This weekend the other collegiate league, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), paints the town red as the University of the East (UE) takes on hosting duties and revs things up as only Red Warriors can.
The league “Rose As One” last year, bursting out of a restrictive three-years of Covid safety protocols.
This year it’s breaking free and going full throttle as it lives up to its theme of “Fueling The Future.”
UE President and Season 86 Chairman Dr. Zosimo Battad said the “Fueling the Future” theme reflects the unwavering commitment of our student-athletes and the entire UAAP community to overcome adversity and reach new heights. This season will showcase not only the incredible talents of our young student-athletes but also their potential to be catalysts for change.
UE Athletic Director and Season 86 President Rodrigo Roque invited everyone to celebrate the power of sports to inspire and unite. “UAAP Season 86 promises to be an exciting journey, where we will witness outstanding displays of skill, teamwork, and sportsmanship from our student-athletes,” he said.
The UAAP does have quite a few surprises this year, not just with its new stars that will step into the shoes of those who had shone before. Exciting new recruits and rookies moving up from the high school ranks merit attention, if not adulation.
Like Far Eastern University’s JR Pasaol, National University’s Reinhard Jumamoy, University of Santo Tomas’s Mark Llemit and Gabriel Obusan, De La Salle’s Rhyle Melencio, UE’s John Cruz Dumont and Ethan Galang, Ateneo de Manila’s Kristian Porter and Mason Amos and University of the Philippines’ Francis Lopez, Seven Gagate and Luis Pablo.
The league also unveiled not just a new basketball Commissioner this year but a whole team to “elevate the basketball tournaments to new heights.” Former student athlete Xavier Nunag who played with the UP Fighting Maroons in the late 90s and early 2000s and sat as assistant coach in the Ateneo Blue Eagles bench is the new Commissioner, taking over where he left off as interim commissioner last season.
In a historic move, Girls Got Game Philippines founder and managing director, coach and staunch women’s basketball advocate Atty. Mariana Lopa was named Deputy Commissioner for women’s and girl’s basketball, becoming only the second woman to hold the position in league history. She follows in the footsteps of Edith Boticario, who served as Deputy Commissioner in UAAP Season 82.
Marvin Bienvenida, another former student athlete and champion coach in the juniors division, will serve as Deputy Commissioner in the high school division.
UAAP Executive Director Atty. Rene “Rebo” Saguisag announced that UAAP Season 86 “will return to the normal, full calendar of thrilling competitions and a couple of additional demo events that will add even more excitement and diversity to this already amazing season.”
Cignal TV, the official UAAP broadcaster, introduced its new streaming service, Pilipinas Live—an app that will make watching the upcoming UAAP Season 86 games, especially the much-awaited basketball matches accessible to Filipinos both local and abroad.
The UAAP also announced Varsity Lifestyle Co. as its official clothing line, “igniting a partnership aimed at bringing a fresh wave of school spirit and pride to the UAAP community.”
Students and fans of the eight member universities can wear their school colors and flex their school spirit with lots of feel-good gear.
The better to cheer on the new season and the heroes who will make it all worthwhile starting 12 noon on Saturday, September 30.