MANILA, Philippines – After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) pressed the refresh button for the staging of its fifth season.
The UCBL, which last played in late 2019, will start its tournament on Thursday, November 10, at the Paco Arena in Manila, where all games will be held.
It is expected to end around late January or early February 2023.
“We’re excited but we’re kind of nervous because of the three-year hiatus. It’s like we’re starting all over again,” said UCBL president Franklin Evidente during the league’s introductory press conference on Monday at the Hotel H2O in Manila.
“It’s not a matter of quality of the teams or the game. If we’re all on the same boat, then the quality of the game will be the same anyway.… I’ve said, ‘Hey, it’s not the quality of the competition, or the game. This year, it is our commitment to participate that is important,'” he added, citing a previous conversation with a member school.
Six holdovers and a newcomer will be duking it out in the league, where Diliman College won the last two championships.
Inaugural champions Centro Escolar University Scorpions led by head coach Chico Manabat and Diliman coached by Rensy Bajar are expected to lead the pack as title favorites.
Joining them are Olivarez College, University of Batangas, Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas, Philippine Christian University Dasmariñas, and Guang Ming College of Tagaytay City, Cavite.
“We got lucky because since the pandemic, we were able to conduct online training and were able to join the UCBL’s preseason,” said Manabat.
The format of the season will be a double-round robin in the eliminations, followed by the semifinals and the best-of-three finals.
All games will be shown live and on demand via livestream on Smart Sports’ Facebook page and the UCBL’s YouTube channel. – Rappler.com