St. Clare, CEU start title duelBy Marc Anthony Reyes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Finals first-timers St. Clare and Centro Escolar begin their championship clash in the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities men’s basketball tournament, which starts its best-of-three showdown today at Makati Coliseum.
The Saints are hoping that a massive buildup in the offseason will cap their dramatic rise from the league’s cellar to the top.
“This is practically a new team, and we are feeling very good about our chances of winning,” said St. Clare coach Jinno Manansala, who initiated a new system into the Saints’ basketball program.
“We are training very hard because we are all driven by the desire to win.”
Manansala, who was part of 1999 University of Santo Tomas team that made the finals of the UAAP, is assisted by his father, PBA great Jimmy Manansala, and Rex Manansala as team consultants.
Also providing spark for St. Clare are off-season acquisitions Jeff Viernes and Eugene Torres, the dynamic backcourt guys who transferred to the Saints after University of Manila folded up.
Naascu president and St. Clare chief Dr. Ernest Jay Adalem said that while they are confident, they can’t be too complacent against the Scorpions.
St. Clare dropped just one game all season, against former champion STI, which was booted out by CEU in the Final Four.