NCAA basketball

NCAA kicks off Season 97 with men’s basketball, offers 3 other events

JR Isaga

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NCAA kicks off Season 97 with men’s basketball, offers 3 other events

TIP OFF. NCAA officials launch the new season at the studio of new broadcast partner GMA.


As NCAA action tips off with men’s basketball in a bubble on March 26, the country’s oldest collegiate league also plans to hold women’s volleyball, online chess, and taekwondo

MANILA, Philippines – The NCAA returns after a two-year layoff with the Season 97 men’s basketball tournament on Saturday, March 26, held inside a bubble at La Salle Green Hills in Mandaluyong.

Games will be held in a single-round format with double-header schedules every day except Mondays and Thursdays at 12 pm and 3 pm. The only difference will be the March 26 opening day games which will happen at 3:30 pm and 7:05 pm after the 2:30 pm opening ceremonies.

Kickstarting the league’s return to action will be the defending champion Letran Knights going up against the College of St. Benilde Blazers, followed by a classic rivalry battle between the powerhouse San Beda Red Lions and retooled Lyceum Pirates.

Apart from the star-studded opener, the NCAA blood feud between San Beda and Letran will also finally start a new chapter on April 12 at 12 pm.

Multiple key prospects will strut their stuff this season, like ex-UST star Rhenz Abando of Letran, former NCAA juniors MVP Will Gozum of CSB, Lyceum standouts Mclaude Guadana and John Barba, and former Batang Gilas star Rhayyan Amsali of San Beda.

After the basketball tournament, the league will also hold women’s volleyball, online chess, and taekwondo, the latter two of which were included in the virtual hosting of Season 96. Two major sports, athletics and swimming, are notably absent.

Women’s volleyball, and possibly the other two sports, will start around two weeks after men’s basketball. Due to the limited number of events, there will be no general championship.

There will also be no fans and cheering squads in attendance due to the full bubble setup.

However, things may change by the playoffs depending on the COVID-19 situation as the league is also eyeing the Mall of Asia Arena, the Araneta Coliseum, and the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“For two years, we’ve been waiting for contact sports to return, and we’re excited to have basketball and volleyball games back,” said Season 97 management committee chairman Dax Castellano.

“The preparations are still very challenging with the pandemic situation, but with the support of (television network) GMA, I know this will be a successful season.” –

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