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Maroons, Cardinals clash in FilOil Cup

MANILA, Philippines -- Maybe this is the year. The anticipation and excitement brewing from Diliman will come to the fore as a University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons squad with grizzled and hungry veterans aided by blue chip newcomers look to announce their re-arrival in college basketball.

UP takes on the Mapua Cardinals in the nightcap of the second day of the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at 5pm at the San Juan Arena while National University takes on Malayan in the only Juniors match scheduled for the day at 11:45am. Seniors basketball tips off with Letran facing Cebuano-team University of San Jose Recoletos at 1:30pm while Jose Rizal University tackles NCAA rival College of Saint Benilde at 3:15pm.

UP, with Joe Ward now was head coach, are stocked with veterans looking to fulfill a deep push in the upcoming UAAP Season 78 in September. Hot-shooting JR Gallarza returns with Dave Moralde, the come backing Jet Manuel who skipped a year, Paolo Romero who is finally healthy after battling various leg and knee injuries, Mark Juruena, Henry Asilum, Kyles Lao, and Andrew Harris. Youngsters Diego Dario is said to have vastly improved while undersized center Gelo Vito looks to tag team with Juruena and Romero at the power forward position while foreigners Cheik Kone, and Lionel Tekoudjou alternate at center.

Rookies Dominic Longa and Jan Jaboneta brings the Ateneo de Cebu contingent to three along with veteran point guard Henry Asilum.

“The modest goal is to improve from last year’s finish and if possible, compete for a Final Four slot,” said Ward who watched the opening of the Filoil tourney last Saturday. “We’ve got the pieces to compete this year.”

Standing in their way is Mapua that is led by do-it-all forward Josan Nimes, Mark Braña, Tura dela Rosa, Stephen Que, and CJ Isit. Nimes returns after sitting out a year because of injury. However, the Cardinals will be missing center Jessie Saitanan who has used up his playing eligibility. Six-foot-nine Nigerian Allwell Oraeme will be taking over the center position.

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Tickets to the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at available at all SM Ticketnet branches as well as the gate of the San Juan Arena.

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