86th UAAP season fires off Saturday

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star
86th UAAP season fires off Saturday
Pido Jarencio.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — New-look Ateneo’s title defense and Pido Jarencio’s awaited return to the Santo Tomas bench highlight the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball’s opening salvo on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Per schedule released by the league, the holder Blue Eagles usher in their post-Ange Kouame era against National U, the surprise semifinalist last season, in the 2 p.m. slate followed by the collision between host University of the East and UST at 4 p.m.

Ateneo, which regained the crown in a rematch with the University of the Philippines last season, will also deal with the departure of other core players in Dave Ildefonso, BJ Andrade and Forthsky Padrigao, in addition to Kouame’s graduation.

Kai Ballungay and incoming rookie Mason Amos, who already stamped his class with Gilas Pilipinas in the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games, will now carry the torch for the ADMU squad of Tab Baldwin.

But the spotlight will similarly be on the España-based squad under the watch of its comebacking strategist.

Jarencio will inherit a young squad as he charts UST’s path back to glory after steering it to its last UAAP crown in 2006.

La Salle and Far Eastern U, both under new coaches as well, take their turn the next day at 2 p.m. also at the MOA Arena before the clash of UP and Adamson at 4 p.m.

Topex Robinson and Denok Miranda make their head coaching debut for the Green Archers and the Tamaraws in lieu of seasoned mentors Derrick Pumaren and Olsen Racela, respectively.

In the opening schedule of women’s basketball, La Salle and FEU battle at 9 a.m. while UP and Adamson collide at 11 a.m. also on Sunday at the MOA Arena.

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