Despite a rookie-laden roster, Diliman College hopes to make it two in a row when the PG Flex Linoleum-Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Season 4 opens on Sept. 5 at the Olivarez gym in Parañaque.
With nine newcomers, the Blue Dragons definitely need a lot of hard work to become the league’s first back-to-back champions.
“We are very hopeful. We will do our best. We will take it one game at a time,” said Diliman assistant coach Nilo Dela Cena, representing head mentor Rensy Bajar.
Behind Benin’s Kevine Gandjeto, Diliman College outlasted Olivarez College, in the hotly-contested best-of-three series that went the distance last year to become the third UCBL champions after Centro Escolar University and Colegio de San Lorenzo.
Aside from Gandjeto, holdovers Johnnel Rey Banzon, Robbi Darang and Earl Salazar will be the vital cogs for the Blue Dragons this year to fill in the void left by John Mahari and Joseph Brutas, who have already graduated.
“Nobody expected us to win the championship last year,” said Dela Cena. “Anyone has an equal chance of winning the championship in Season 4. Lahat ng teams nag-prepare and hopefully, we can make it back-to-back.”
Diliman is expected to face stiff opposition from Olivarez, CEU and Technological Institute of the Philippines.
Completing the eight-team cast are Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas, Philippine Christian University-Dasmariñas, returning University of Batangas and newcomer National College of Business and Arts.
Bong Nebrija, MMDA head of traffic, praised UCBL for becoming a major force in the vibrant college basketball scene.
“It brings us hope to everyone, especially the youth,” said Nebrija, who will serve as the guest of honor in the 12 noon opening ceremony.
Action begins with the Dolphins taking on the Brahmans at 1 p.m., before the Scorpions and the Sea Lions take the floor in the featured 3 p.m. match.
With PG Flex Linoleum as the title sponsor, UCBL expressed confidence of producing several firsts.
“PG Flex is one with the UCBL in its effort to help sustain the growth of Philippine basketball and discover the next face of Philippine basketball,” said PG Flex Linoleum president Nelson Guevarra.
“Kung tibay at tatag ang pag-uusapan, walang tatalo sa pusong Pinoy.”