MANILA, Philippines—La Salle puts its new coach to an early test as National University tries to build on its surprise run at the start of the Metro Manila qualifying games of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League on Tuesday.
Both the Archers and the Bulldogs are favored to secure the two Sweet 16 berths up for grabs in the three-day, round-robin qualifier at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.
But aiming to challenge the Archers—who recently hired Gee Abanilla as coach—and the Bulldogs are Mapua, Lyceum and champion teams University of Manila, St. Francis of Assisi, Centro Escolar University, and Technological Institute of the Philippines.
The Bulldogs, who haven’t reached the top eight in two previous Sweet 16 stints, expect a solid run after finishing a surprise fifth in the UAAP behind MVP Ray Parks.
Abanilla, meanwhile, hopes to give the Archers a fresh start after a disappointing sixth-place finish in the UAAP.
The Archers last captured the national tournament crown in 2008, before rival Ateneo ruled the last two editions of the league, pitting the country’s best varsity teams.
UM earned a qualifying slot after bagging the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (Naascu) title. St. Francis topped the Universities and Colleges of Luzon Athletic Association (UCLAA); CEU, the Men’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (MNCAA); and TIP, the Interscholastic Athletic Association (ISAA).
Four-time UAAP champion Ateneo and back-to-back NCAA titlist San Beda already earned outright Final Four berths, leaving other squads to fight for the last two berths in the step-ladder Sweet 16.