The College of Saint Benilde Blazers have been touted as the dark horse of the 88th season of the NCAA, and even coach Richard del Rosario isn’t playing coy.
“We are not in the rebuilding stage anymore. Ito na yung ni-rebuild. We’re looking to see some results sa efforts namin with regards to recruitment in the past years,” he said.
The Blazers get an opportunity to test their mettle immediately when they face the Lyceum Pirates in a battle of two teams seeing action for the first time this season.
CSB and Lyceum face off at 4 p.m. before Arellano University takes on Emilio Aguinaldo College at 6 p.m.
Lyceum coach Bonnie Tan had more modest expectations for his team. “We’re still in the process of identifying the goals and their roles so I’m expecting the holdovers to step up and lead the new ones,” he said of his squad, which won seven games in its maiden NCAA appearance last season.
The Pirates, who have six rookies in their fold, will lean on their main offensive options Rich Guevarra and Chris Cayabyab.
In the other match, Arellano will try to bounce back from a heartbreaking 81-71 loss to an undermanned San Beda lineup just over 24 hours earlier.
Larry Malanday, Levi Hernandez and Nard Pinto are expected to lead the attack alongside Rocky Acidre when the Chiefs meet EAC.
The Generals, who have six holdovers and nine rookies in their lineup, have a pretty solid man in the middle in Noube Happi. “Nung FilOil, second-best rebounding team kami dahil kay Happi, sana ma-carry over namin yun sa season.” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana.
He added that Russell Yaya, who is playing his final year with the Generals, will be the leader of the team alongside Franz Chiong.