MANILA — San Beda and Arellano will once again grace the opening day of the 93rd NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament as they battle separate opponents at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay on July 8.
The Red Lions, the defending champions, clash with season hosts San Sebastian Golden Stags in the traditional hosts-versus-champs curtain-raiser at 2 p.m.
The runners-up Chiefs, on the other hand, begin their life without Jio Jalalon against the Mapua Cardinals, who themselves have huge losses in back-to-back MVP Allwell Oraeme and spitfire guard Darell Menina, at 4 p.m.
Action will then shift to the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City on July 11 with a triple-header featuring the Perpetual Help-CSB game at 12 p.m., JRU-Lyceum game at 2 p.m., and the Letran-Mapua match at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Arellano will host San Sebastian in the first of six “home-and-away” seniors games to be played in the first round of eliminations on July 13 at 4 p.m.
EAC will have its season opener on July 14 back at the FilOil Centre against CSB at 2 p.m., in between the JRU-Perpetual Help match-up at 12 p.m. and the Lyceum-San Beda clash at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, San Sebastian’s turn to host an NCAA game will happen at its Cavite City campus on July 27 against JRU, marking the first time the league went outside of Metro Manila to hold men’s basketball games since 2012.
Letran, on the other hand, will host two playdates, on July 9 when the juniors counterparts of San Sebastian and San Beda clash at 1 p.m. and those of Malayan and Arellano collide at 3 p.m. and on Aug. 3 when Letran’s seniors team takes on CSB.
The finals rematch between San Beda and Arellano will happen on the final day of the first round on Aug. 22 back at the FilOil Flying V Centre at 2 p.m., preceding the JRU-Mapua game at 4 p.m. Ivan Saldajen/PNA-northboundasia.com