Defend the crown—that will be the main mission of the De La Salle University Green Archers.
The reigning UAAP champions are arriving on Tuesday, two days before the start of the 80th Araw ng Dabaw Invitational basketball tournament set March 23-26 at the Davao City Recreation Center.
The Green Archers will once again carry the Royal Mandaya Hotel-CMO outfit and will be defending the title they won last year.
There are some changes though.
Top scorer Jeron Teng, a fan favorite here owing to his father’s city of birth, will not be around as he has graduated. Likewise, Thomas Torres, another DLSU graduate, won’t be around.
However, coach Aldin Ayo is not fazed. He has some new faces who are out to fill the void left out by the two mainstays.
Aljun Melecio and brothers Prince and Ricci Rivero are expected to fill in the shoes of Teng and Torres.
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 in Davao and keep the streak going for the multi-titled TRMH-CMO squad.
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, Kib Monalbo, Brent Paraiso, Jason Perkins and Abu Tratter.
Meanwhile tournament director Cholo Elegino said the UST Growling Tigers has turned down the invitation to be the sixth team in the league.
“UST also decined,” Elegino told Edge Davao.
Elegino said they are awaiting another Davao team to be formed to complete the six-team roster.
Five teams have already confirmed in the official Araw ng Dabaw sports event now stretched to six teams from the traditional four.
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.
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.