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MANILA, Philippines – Defending champion National University leads a pack of 16 teams as the Shakey’s Super League (SSL) stages the 2023 Pre-Season Championship starting this Saturday, September 16, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
Season 1 Most Valuable Player Alyssa Solomon, along with former UAAP rookie MVP Bella Belen, banner the Lady Bulldogs, who will now be mentored by returning head coach Norman Miguel.
“That’s really what I like about the SSL preseason [since the] intention of this preseason is to really prepare the teams of the UAAP and NCAA to play in their respective tournaments, which is the priority of their schools,” said Dr. Ian Laurel, president of tournament organizer Athletic Events and Sports Management Inc. (ACES).
“So, for us, if there is a strong team out there, watch out because all these teams will be after your back.”
The Lady Bulldogs, whose core is fresh off international stints in the SEA V. League and the Asian Women’s Senior Championship, will feature six UAAP and 10 NCAA teams.
Reigning UAAP champion De La Salle University and University of the Philippines, though, begged off this season, according to the organizers.
“Actually, we’re not focusing on the absence of other schools, as we remain focused on training and see how we get there,” said Miguel as the Lady Bulldogs look to reclaim the UAAP crown next season.
Joining the Lady Bulldogs in Pool A are a rejigged University of the East, led by Shakey’s Girls’ MVP Casiey Dongallo, Jose Rizal University, and San Sebastian College.
National Invitationals runner-up Adamson will be joined by NCAA teams Arellano University, San Beda University, and Lyceum of the Philippines University in Pool B.
Pool C will be bannered by NCAA champion College of St. Benilde, University of Santo Tomas, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, and the University of Perpetual Help System-DALTA.
The rebuilding Ateneo Blue Eagles, now coached by national team mentor Sergio Veloso, will be joined by Far Eastern University, Mapúa University, and Emilio Aguinaldo College in Pool D.
“[It’s] indeed a responsibility, but at the same time, an honor that we are trusted by the two most prestigious leagues, the oldest leagues of the country, the NCAA and the UAAP,” said Laurel.
Much like the previous year, the tournament will implement an all-to-play format, meaning all players are required to be fielded inside the court.
Teams will play a single round-robin format, with the top two advancing to the knockout quarterfinals.
After the season’s first two weeks, games will be held at the historic Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Malate, Manila.
The remaining four teams will also slug it out in the single-elimination semis, before the best-of-three championship and bronze medal series. — Rappler.com