Why Tricia Robredo is really pumped up for NCAA Season 91

Tricia Robredo on Jun 26, 2015 04:15 PM
Why Tricia Robredo is really pumped up for NCAA Season 91
FRIENDS AND RIVALS. Candid moments like this between on-court rivals Art dela Cruz of San Beda and Mark Cruz of Letran give so much color to the oldest collegiate league in the country.

It’s quite sad that UAAP has postponed its season from June to September, but to all the collegiate basketball fans out there, worry not because Season 91 of the NCAA is opening tomorrow!

Here are some reasons why I’m really thrilled that the oldest collegiate league has come home to ABS-CBN:

San Beda is still the favorite, but this is the first year in a long time when many teams look capable of dethroning them

Now with fresh Final Four contenders, new rivalries are brewing up. Even the teams that battled in the playoffs last season have formed some sort of competition among themselves.

They say that this season is going to be a lot more competitive than the last. The ones in the bottom believe in their chances and the ones on top, especially the five-time champions, are training rigorously for their own counterattacks.

Red Lion Baser Amer says, “Nararamdaman namin yung six-peat at alam naman naming hindi madali. Mas lalong gumaling yung ibang teams.”

In his debut year with a team that had long been seeking a breakthrough, Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson can only agree. “Mataas level of competition ngayon. It will be good for us,” he said.

The talents and their coaches!

Did you know that many UAAP coaches scout the NCAA high schools? The gutsy Rev Diputado of National University, for example, was a former San Beda Red Cub and used to play on the same team with now Ateneo big man Alvin Tolentino.

Several PBA players were also products of the NCAA: the Semerad Twins of San Beda were drafted shortly after graduating from their collegiate stints, Kevin Alas was a Letranite, and Calvin Abueva, a San Sebastian Stag.

Their basketball programs have been and still are undoubtedly very good which is why some of the top recruits come from these colleges. Still, we shouldn’t forget that behind every good player is a great coach.

NCAA has a pool of them and their personalities are varied and very interesting. There’s a city councilor, former PBA players, and quite an old but still very able mentor who’s already considered a legend. How they handle their players are very different as well and watching them in huddles and along sidelines is already entertaining.

The fair share of eye candies

Maybe this was more of a personal observation than a point made by sources, but I’m a girl just as many of you are and I’m sure a great number watch these leagues for both the game AND the players.

After covering a couple of matches in the 2015 Filoil Flying V Preseason tournament, I have scouted several players that would most likely capture your attention too! For instance, there’s Jonathan Grey of the College of Saint Benilde Blazers, Mark Cruz of Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, and Josan Nimes of the Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals.

Now those I’ve mentioned are but a few of all the apples for the eye out there. With ten schools officially competing in the league, there are more or less a hundred new players and faces to spot and watch out for this year. I’ve done the math now you go figure (You’re welcome).

The rivalries

If UAAP has Ateneo versus DLSU, NCAA has San Beda versus Letran. Although would you believe that even the on-court feud between the Blue Eagles and the Green Archers started in the latter league? Would you also believe that before the Katipunan-Taft war, Letran was pitted against DLSU and San Beda against Ateneo?

Even though not as pronounced as it used to be, the rivalry between the Knights and the Red Lions dates back to the ‘50s and is still very popular up to this day. Letran had a rough last season, but their game somehow always changes when facing San Beda.

Physicality of the game

Asked what they think is the major difference between the two biggest collegiate leagues, the NCAA players and coaches all answered the same: It’s much more physical here.

Whenever these boys compete in offseason tournaments, they admit to sometimes disagreeing and silently questioning the calls made by referees. One of the players, who requested not to be named said, “Konting arm lang tapos foul na kaagad? Kung sa liga namin yan, papabayaan lang yan.”

Another shared his observation that in the other leagues, there seems to be a higher regard for star players. “Yung parang ‘di sila pwede galawin? Ibang-iba dito na kahit sino ka man, dikdikan talaga, palitan ng mukha,” he said.

Through the years, the NCAA has witnessed both off- and on-court brawls with the most recent one being last season’s fist-exchange between cellar dwellers Mapua Cardinals and Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals. Which only means one thing: these guys can be very aggressive.

The NCAA Season 91 will be aired on ABS-CBN Sports+Action starting June 27 every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. All the games will also be available for streaming on ABS-CBN Sports.com.

Letran’s Rey Nambatac shared how thrilled he is that the coverage will finally reach his family in Cagayan de Oro! Now that the games will be brought more regularly to your homes, there’s no reason for you to miss out on all the action.

See you all tomorrow!

Latest News