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Griffins face Pirates today


(Olivarez College gym)
12 noon — Diliman vs TIP
2 p.m. — LPU-B vs CDSL

Four teams, including newcomer Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas, take center stage today in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Season 2 at the Olivarez College gym in Sucat, Parañaque City.

The Pirates, handled by coach Danilo Acero, will field in a relatively small, all-Filipino crew on their maiden stint in the fledging collegiate tournament and are expected to have their hands full in their 2 p.m. showdown with the battle-tested Griffins of Colegio de San Lorenzo.

Homegrown Jon Gabriel, a PBA D-League veteran, is tipped to conspire with 6-foot-5 Benin native Soulemane Chabi Yo in forming a fearsome Griffins frontline duo who can make life tough for a Pirates side which has Jay Axalan as the tallest at 6-foot-2.

Colegio de San Lorenzo coach Boni Garcia is also expecting the likes of outside sniper Jan Dominic Formento, forward Louie Vargas and center Kurt Gojar to provide strong support to the 6-foot-6 Gabriel, a member of last year’s Mythical Team, as they try to improve their third-place finish last year.

In the other game, Diliman College and Technological Institute of the Philippines clash at 12 noon.

The Blue Dragons, the tournament’s pre-season champions, are eager to live up to their lofty billing as they pin their hopes on touted 6-foot-9 Gabonese center Adama Diakhite and 6-foot-6 Congolese Youssouf Mbiya.

“Being one of the title favorites is an encouraging sign. Proving that all season long is a different thing,” said Diliman College coach Rensy Bajar who also has three other local cagers standing at least 6-foot-4 in the mold of Jethro Sombero, Mikko Tay and Johnnel Bauzon, giving them distinct height advantage.

Out to test the Blue Dragons’ true mettle are the Engineers who will be led anew by high-scoring wingman Jorey Napoles and New Zealand-born forward Tevita Latu.