(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – UP vs Adamson
4 p.m. – UST vs Ateneo
Four coaches hope to give their new teams a promising start in front of an expected big crowd as the UAAP basketball tournament finally reels off today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Franz Pumaren, back in the collegiate scene after a seven-year hiatus, leads Adamson into battle at 2 p.m. against University of the Philippines, now handled by alumnus and former PBA and Ateneo mentor Bo Perasol.
The extent of the role of Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin with Ateneo will be known against season host University of Santo Tomas, which will be mentored by longtime assistant Boy Sablan. Their match is set at 4 p.m.
Today’s doubleheader comes after yesterday’s opening ceremony at the UST grounds, taking away from the old practice of staging the event before the start of the cage competition.
Pumaren, who won five titles as coach of La Salle, will try to bring his past success into a Falcons team that finished dead last the previous season.
Leading Adamson’s bid for a first Final Four apperance since 2011 will be Cameroonian import Papi Sarr and team captain Dawn Ochea.
“Hopefully we can really compete this season, not only in the first 30 to 35 minutes, but in the very end as well,” said Pumaren.
Perasol, who played for the Maroons in the 90’s, returns to Diliman after steering Ateneo to three straight Final Four appearances, and will have Kyles Lao, Diego Dario, and Jett Manuel on his roster.
Baldwin is expected to serve as a consultant for the Blue Eagles, who named longtime assistant Sandy Arespacochaga as head coach.
But Arespacochaga said he and Baldwin will have a “hybrid arrangement” in which the two will work together to map out the gameplan. It is expected though that Baldwin will have a major role in Ateneo’s quest to return to the Final Four despite the loss of Kiefer Ravena to graduation.
“Our goal for this season is to come out with a team that could live up to our motto of ‘One Big Fight’, and we’re looking forward to play each with that mindset,” said Arespacochaga.
Sablan, tapped after the unceremonious depature of Bong dela Cruz, will steer a UST side that is in transition after losing Kevin Ferrer and Ed Daquioag to graduation.