FOR the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) opens Season 85 that will have a full calendar of 60 events across 21 sports beginning with the basketball tournament which tips off today, Oct. 1, 2022, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The collegiate league had a shortened Season 84 with fewer events because of Covid restrictions that discouraged close contacts among individuals and banned large crowd gatherings.
Adamson University, the season’s host, will spearhead the prerecorded opening ceremony with the theme “Rise as One,” which will be telecast at 1 pm
“Now, we are back and full of life,” said UAAP Season 85 president Fr. Aldrin Suan, CM, of Adamson University.
“For the past two years, it’s not just the UAAP that was affected. The entire world was affected. Emotionally, economically, socially, in one way or another, we were down. We are hoping to use the UAAP as one of the platforms in helping bring the new normal to the Filipino people,” Suan said.
The morning session features women’s basketball starting with the match between the Adamson University Lady Falcons and the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses at 8 am The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons takes on De La Salle University Lady Archers at 10 am
The same schools’ men’s basketball teams follow with the Soaring Falcons and the Growling Tigers clashing at 2 pm
The defending champion Fighting Maroons will face the Green Archers at 4 pm, the opening day’s main event.
UP and La Salle met in the semifinals last season that saw the second-seeded Fighting Maroons having to use its twice-to-beat advantage to turn back the third-seeded Green Archers.
Despite losing key players such as Justine Baltazar for the Green Archers and Ricci Rivero for the Fighting Maroons, both teams still boast of deep lineups.
Zavier Lucero, Mythical Team member Carl Tamayo and JD Cagulangan, who drilled the 3-point title-clinching shot last season against the Ateneo de Manila University, are out to lead the charge for UP.
“We’re preparing for them [the Green Archers], and La Salle is a very good team. That’s how it works for us, every time we go to a season, we just take it, whatever it is, and face the challenge,” said Fighting Maroons head coach Goldwin Monteverde, whose team is the early favorite to repeat as champion this season. .
Evan Nelle, Schonny Winston and Mike Phillips are set to carry the fight for La Salle.
“Coming as defending champions, they [the Fighting Maroons] have a different confidence level now, compared to the bubble tournament,” said La Salle head coach Derrick Pumaren of his opening day opponent.
“I can guarantee that we will just play hard, just work hard and compete to have a chance of winning.”
Men’s basketball games will be held every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
For women’s basketball, Wednesday games will have a quadruple-header schedule and will be held at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion. Its games during the weekend will be held in the morning.