FAIR AND SQUARE   Kadayawan cagefest opens today, 4 teams vie for title

Play clean.

That’s the emphasis of the organizing Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) 11 when the four-team cast battle it out for the prestigious 2018 Kadayawan Invitational Basketball Tournament  which gets going today at the Davao City Recreation Center (Amlendras Gym).

SBP 11 director Glenn Escandor, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s Adviser for Sports, said he stressed the need to play clean and stay away from altercations to the four teams taking part in this year’s edition of the annual hoopfest funded by the city government of Davao as part of the Kadayawan Festival.

“We don’t want the incident last year to happen again so we told the teams to play by the book and not to let their emotions get the better of them,” Escandor said.

Last year, the De La Salle Green Archers were on the way to another finals stint when they got involved in an ugly fracas that resulted their disqualification, paving the way for UST and the Davao All Stars to play for the championship won by the Espana-based Tigers, 87-76, at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) Gymnasium and Cultural Center. The title slipped from the grasp of then La Salle mentor Aldin Ayo after they were disqualified along with the Tamaraws.

This year, Ayo will have the chance to redeem himself as he returns for another shot at the title but this time, he rides the bench with the defending champions. UST will be coached this year by Ayo, with a chance to make repeat after winning last year’s title at the expense of a Davao City All-Stars squad in a tournament marred that bench-clearing brawl.

Interestingly, Ayo will be up against his former assistant Miggy Solitaria who will be at the reins of the youth-laden Davao City Go-Duterte squad composed of collegiate standouts from Davao schools. The SBP11-backed team was formed two months ago and recently won an out of town title beating University of Visayas in Barobo, Surigao del Sur.

SBP 11 chief of operations Ronel Leuterio met the four teams on the eve of today’s opening ceremonies with Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as the invited guest of honor. Mayor Duterte-Carpio and Escandor will preside over the ceremonial jump with SBP 11 officials lawyers Francis Calatrava and Mans Carpio and City Sports Office officer-in-charge Mikey Aportadera.

Out to crowd the title hunt in this 83rd Kadayawan showpiece are the National University Bulldogs, coached by Jamike Jarin, who will miss the services of PBA great Danny Ildefonso’s son Dave who is playing for the Batang Gilas in the ongoing FIBA Asia U18. The third squad is Cebu City’s University of Cebu Webmasters, the school that produced PBA star Junmar Fajardo.