MANILA, Philippines – Season 82 of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament unfolds on Wednesday, September 4, and here are the highly-anticipated matchups that fans can look forward to.
The UP Fighting Maroons will parade their highly touted transferees right on opening day on Wednesday, September 4, and right off the bat too, collegiate basketball’s fiercest rivalry will take the floor on the opening weekend on Sunday, September 8.
Two-time reigning Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena, Rookie of the Year Ange Kouame and the Nieto twins Matt and Mike will continue their three-peat campaign against a retooled Archers lineup featuring proven mainstays Aljun Melecio, Andrei Caracut, Justine Baltazar and a rumored slew of Fil-foreign talents.
The Eagles will also meet the FEU Tamaraws – their perennial Final Four opponents – for the first time since their Season 81 series on Saturday, September 14, 4 pm at the Mall of Asia Arena.
UP, meanwhile, will unveil the much hyped pair of Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero in an opening game day match against FEU on Wednesday, September 4 at 12:30 pm.
Joining Paras and Rivero are reigning MVP Bright Akhuetie, Mythical 5 member Juan Gomez de Liaño and former CESAFI MVP Jaybie Mantilla.
Speaking of CESAFI MVPs, two-time award winner Rey Suerte will bring his lethal scoring ability as a one-and-done recruit for the vastly improved UE Red Warriors, who will face the UST Growling Tigers in the first match of the season on September 4.
Joining Suerte are graduating captain Philip Manalang, former JRU leading scorer Jed Mendoza and long-awaited 6-foot-9 Senegalese big man Adama Diakhite.
Meanwhile, the Tigers will feature streaky guard Renzo Subido, athletic freak Soulemane Chabi Yo, lanky two-way forward Rhenz Abando and former UAAP juniors MVP CJ Cansino.
UP will then go up against the Jerrick Ahanmisi-led Adamson Soaring Falcons on Sunday, September 15, 4 pm at the Mall of Asia Arena for a rematch of their heated Season 81 Final Four series.
This will be their first meeting since the Maroons stunned the higher-seeded Falcons in two straight close games to clinch their first finals appearance in 32 years.
Finally, the Maroons will end the first round with a Battle of Katipunan finals rematch against Ateneo on Sunday, September 29, 4 pm at the Araneta Coliseum.
UP will look to get revenge after a sweeping finals loss last season while Ateneo will attempt to prove it’s still the better team around the block.
The NU Bulldogs, bannered by Ildefonso brothers Dave and Shaun, also aim to impress in their first assignment against the Falcons on Saturday, September 7.
To give way for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games hosting, the league has compressed the first round to just 25 days with triple-headers regularly featured on Wednesdays. – Rappler.com