St. Benilde-FEU clash highlights Super League opening
MANILA, Philippines—Reigning NCAA champion College of Saint Benilde opens the Shakey’s Super League against perennial UAAP contender Far Eastern University on Saturday next week at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
For the first time, all 10 NCAA schools and eight UAAP teams will play in one preseason league with the Pool D clash between the Lady Blazers and Lady Tamaraws highlighting the four-game slate at 4 p.m.
St. Benilde coach Jerry Yee is tempering his expectations for his squad, which swept all its games in Season 97, as he seeks to maximize the all-to-play format implemented every game with all players listed in a team’s roster will be fielded.
“Everybody’s coming for playing time and exposure,” said Yee during the technical meeting and press conference on Saturday at Philippine Sports Commission headquarters.
“We’re happy to be part of this league. But for sure some teams won’t be fielding their actual line-up since this is for exposure and playing time. Maybe down the line. Everyone will take this seriously.”
Yee will also make his coaching debut for Adamson, which battles University of Santo Tomas to cap the opening day at 6 p.m. in Pool B.
Meanwhile, Mapua and University of the East will raise the curtains in their Pool A clash at 12 p.m., while their groupmates University of Perpetual Help and San Beda collide at 2 p.m.
University of the Philippines is also part of Pool A.
Completing Pool B are San Sebastian College, Emilio Aguinaldo College, and Lyceum of the Philippines University.
All eyes, however, are on UAAP champion National University, which is grouped with Ateneo, Jose Rizal University, and Arellano University in Pool C.
St. Benilde and FEU are slated in Pool D with UAAP runner-up La Salle and Letran.
The top two teams of each pool will advance to the next round where they will be grouped into two pools for another round-robin play to determine their ranking in the knockout quarterfinals, where the league will start implementing the video challenge system. Both the semifinal and final are also knockout matches.
Games will be played every weekend at the historic Rizal Memorial Coliseum, where fans are allowed to watch the matches. It will be aired live on free TV on IBC-13 while on cable through Solar Entertainment on a one-day delayed basis. Plus Network will stream the games via Facebook and Tiktok.
“We’re very excited about this conference as we will be able to watch college and university teams compete before the start of their respective collegiate seasons,” said Dr. Ian Laurel, president of SSL organizer Athletic Events and Sports Management, Inc. (ACES), who also graced the presser.
“This tournament format will benefit the teams as they work on improving their level of play and chance for coaches to use different combinations of players. This will also serve as a huge opportunity for new recruits and those off the bench to showcase their skills,” he added.
ACES chairman CEO Philip Ella Juico, who was with Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures Inc. (SPAVI) president and CEO Vicente Gregorio, Ana Yango of the Commission on Higher Education Sports Department, also announced that the league plans for a second conference with 12 teams clashing in a nine-day national championship in July 2023
“We are announcing formally the launching of the Invitational championship in February next year. Part of the trust of Shakey’s is grassroots. We believe that sports is good and bring out the best in all of us,” Juico said.
The top three teams after the NCAA and UAAP will be joined by six other squads from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, who will qualify from a series of tournaments starting in February.