WAThere will be no Ateneo-La Salle rivalry Davao edition.
Instead, UAAP Season 78 runner up University of Sto. Tomas could be the sixth team in the forthcoming 80th Araw ng Dabaw Invitational basketball tournament set March 23-26 at the Davao City Recreation Center.
Tournament director Cholo Elegino on Tuesday said they are awaiting final word from the UST Growling Tigers to confirm their participation.
“We are just awaiting UST’s decision,” Elegino told Edge Davao.
Five teams have already confirmed in the official Araw ng Dabaw sports event now stretched to six teams from the traditional four.
Defending champion The Royal Mandaya Hotel-CMO/De La Salle University is back to try to retain the title although it will have its hands full in the face of a souped up field.
Former UAAP champion National University Bulldogs and University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons are around to give the cagefest a touch of UAAP rivalry while commercial squads Montana Pawnshop-Davao and Pacman Warriors-Gen. Santos provide the challenge from the commercial side.
With fiery Cameroonian Ben Mbala back in the fold, the reigning UAAP Season 79 champion De La Salle Green Archers are all set to defend its title undr the TRMH-CMO outfit.
Save for UAAP Finals MVP Jeron Teng and Thomas Torres who have both graduated, Coach Aldin Ayo will be steering practically the same Green Archers squad that won this year’s UAAP title. Former Ateneo de Davao coach Miggy Solitaria has also joined the bench and will officially serve as one of Ayo’s regular assistants.
The other members of the squad are Justine Baltazar, Andrei Caracut, Mark Dyke, Jollo Go, Andrew Langston, Aljun Melecio, Kib Monalbo, Brent Paraiso, Jason Perkins, Prince Rivero, Ricci Rivero and Abu Tratter.
Elegino said the tournament will have two groups playing single round robin. The top teams after the eliminations square off for the championship.
The tournament is sanctioned by the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas 11.