Ateneo begins title defense vs NU, UST faces UE in UAAP Season 86 opener
MANILA, Philippines – Defending champion Ateneo kicks off its title defense against National University in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament opener on September 30 at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Blue Eagles, who regained the championship crown from the University of the Philippines in Season 85 last December, headline the opening day of Season 86, which is hosted by the University of the East this year and has a theme of “Fueling the Future.”
Ateneo takes on last season’s semifinalist and bronze medalist NU, at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, coach Pido Jarencio makes his UAAP comeback after 10 years when University of Santo Tomas battles host UE at 2 p.m. to raise the curtains of the new season.
Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin begins life without graduates Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso and BJ Andrade as well as Forthsky Padrigao, who already left the school.
Without the key cogs of their championship run, the four-time UAAP champion coach will bank on prized recruit Mason Amos joining holdovers Gab Gomez, Kai Balunggay, and Sean Quitevis.
The Blue Eagles will face an intact Bulldogs’ squad, bannered by Jake Figueroa, Omar John, Mike Malonzo, Steve Nash Enriquez, and Kean Baclaan and coach Jeff Napa’s new additions, Rein Jumamoy and Mark Parks, brother of former NU star and Gilas member, Ray.
Meanwhile, the reloaded University of the Philippines makes its season debut against Adamson on October 1 at 4 p.m.
After a runner-up finish last season and losing Carl Tamayo, Zavier Lucero, James Spencer, and Henry Galinato, coach Goldwin Monteverde will usher in a new era with Francis Lopez, Seven Gagate, Luis Pablo, and Sean Alter as well as transferees Janjan Felicilda and Reyland Torres.
The Fighting Maroons are also composed of reigning MVP Malick Diouf and fellow holdovers JD Cagulangan, Harold Alarcon, and the returning CJ Cansino as they battle the Falcons, whose star Jerom Lastimosa suffered a preseason injury ahead of coach Nash Racela’s third season coming off a Final Four appearance last year.
The women’s basketball tournament also tips off on October 1 with runner-up La Salle and FEU clashing at 9 a.m. at MOA Arena, followed by the Adamson-UP game at 11 a.m.
The NU Lady Bulldogs open their title campaign at UST Quadricentennial Pavilion against Ateneo at 3 p.m., while the Tigresses battle UE at 1 p.m. on their home turf.
The league has yet to release the full schedule of Season 86.