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Senate eyes UNTV Cup repeat


THE 7th UNTV Cup, the only basketball tournament designed for the country’s public servants, opens on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with the Senate Defenders hoping to become the first back-to-back champions of the league.

Backstopped by Jeff Sanders, Marlon Legaspi, Harley Ng and Senators Joel Villanueva and Son­ny Angara, the Defenders swept the Malacañang Kamao in their best-of-three to raise the cham­pionship trophy for the first time last March.

Armed Forces of the Philippines and Judiciary have won the an­nual event twice but not succes­sively which is the reason why coach Mike Fermin has prepared the Defenders early.

“We want to make a little his­tory in the league so we prepared early for the tournament. Hope­fully, nobody gets hurt as we go for back-to-back,” said Fermin.

Senate’s bid for a “double” was ruined by various injuries suffered by key players in the Executive Face-Off which was won by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Responders last July.

“We prepared hard because we know everybody is after us,” said Fermin, noting that newcomers Philhealth and Philippine Interna­tional Trading Corporations have also formidable crews.

Also taking part in the Php10 mil­lion tournament event organized by UNTV President and CEO Dr. Daniel (Mr. Public Service) Razon are National Housing Authority, Ombudsman, GSIS, Department of Justice and Department of Ag­riculture.

Like last year, the champion will get Php4 million, with the runner-up getting Php2 million – all will go to their chosen charities.

“We want to instill to our public servants the essence of physical fitness that’s why we are holding this tournament. This event will also give them the opportunity to interact with their fellow public servants,” said Razon, who is be­ ing supported by Gerry Panghu­lan, vice president for adminis­tration of BMPI-UNTV.

Among the notable players of the league are Special Assis­tant to the President Bong Go of Malacañang, DTI Undersecretary Dave Almarinez of PITC, Supreme Court Administrator Midas Mar­quez, former Letran star Boyet Bautista of AFP and ex-University of the East player Ollan Omiping of PNP.