The PG Flex Linoleum-Universities and Colleges Basketball League opens its fourth season today at the Olivarez College gym in Parañaque with focus on Centro Escolar University’s capability to regain the title after being labeled as the team to beat.
Whether the CEU Scorpions can live up to the hype will be known at 3 p.m. when they tackle the Olivarez College Sea Lions who are also in search for their first-ever title in the eight-team tournament.
The opening game at 1 p.m. pits comebacking University of Batangas against Philippine Christian University-Dasmariñas.
UCBL president Franklin Evidente and tournament director Horacio Lim have invited officials of PG Flex, led by its president Nelson Guevarra, and MMDA traffic manager Bong Nebrija to grace the opening ceremony starting at 12 noon.
Defending champion Diliman College will launch its title-retention bid on Sept. 9 against PCU-D on Sept. 9 also at the Olivarez gym.
Other teams in the event that will have its games aired on delayed basis on Solar Sports are Technological Institute of the Philippines, Lyceum of the Philippines-Batangas and newcomer National College of Business and Arts.
The Scorpions of coach Derrick Pumaren earned the favorites’ tag after making an incredible run in the Aspirants’ Cup of the PBA Developmental League where they made it to the finals with only eight players before losing to Cignal-Ateneo.
Aside from having a mobile center in 6-foot-7 Maodo Malik Diouf, the Scorpions, who won the inaugural tournament, have a solid support crew in Dave Bernabe, Franz Ray Diaz, Eric Gabrielle Tuadles and Bling Murillo.
The Scorpions will go into today’s game perked up by a massive 50-point demolition of Hazchem (126-76) in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Monday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
The Sea Lions, however, are no pushovers having seasoned players in their fold, including veteran 6-foot-7 Elie Yani of Cameroon.
The Brahmans will be bannered by 6-foot-6 Congolese Arsene Mulunda while the Dolphins can count on Cameroonian Kenne Raoul Yemeli.