NU, UE tagged as favorites as UAAP Season 76 set to roll
Aldo Avinante (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2013 - 4:20pm

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s most prestigious collegiate basketball tournament opens this Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena with emerging powers National University and University of the East getting significant attention in what is perceived to be another balanced playing field.

The UAAP held a well-attended press conference Tuesday afternoon at the MOA Arena, where coaches of the league’s eight member schools shared their insights for the coming Season 76.

Most of them pointed to NU and UE as favorites, and Bulldogs head coach Eric Altamirano is delighted for the attention his team gets.

"We are humbled and grateful for getting the tag as the team to beat. I think we have to embrace it because if there is a best year to win a championship for us this is it," said Eric Altamirano.

"This year is going to be balanced and I also believe that any team can beat anybody this year," he added.

The Warriors, for their part, are fresh from winning the Filoil preseason tournament title, which boosted their stocks for this season.

Meanwhile, changes are also seen on the sidelines in Season 76 with several teams parading new coaches.

Six-peat-seeking Ateneo, reeling from the loss of several key players from graduation, will now be coached Bo Perasol, who will take over from multi-titled mentor Norman Black. The former Air21 coach joins Nash Racela of FEU and Juno Sauler of La Salle as this year’s new bench tacticians.

Season 76 will go with theme “Greatness never ends”.

New UAAP commissioner Chito Loyzaga bared that there will be no change in rule but there are plans to improve the technical aspect of the games.

"The rules will be the same. We will implement them properly and more strictly this year. With regards to innovations, we will still discuss it with the UAAP board," Loyzaga said.

Dating back from last year's controversial buzzer-beaters and unsportsmanlike fouls, Loyzaga is eyeing to use more cameras to improve officiating.

"We recommended to the board to add more cameras to monitor better the unsportsmanlike fouls and even the referees if they are at the right position to make the call," the UAAP commissioner said.

The Tamaraws take on the Warriors in the curtain raiser while the Archers clash with last year’s runners-up, the UST Growling Tigers, in the second game.

BO PERASOL CHITO LOYZAGA ERIC ALTAMIRANO GROWLING TIGERS JUNO SAULER OF LA SALLE LOYZAGA MALL OF ASIA ARENA NASH RACELA NATIONAL UNIVERSITY AND UNIVERSITY OF THE EAST NORMAN BLACK
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