NCAA opens with San Beda-Mapua, Arellano-JRU tiffs

San Beda and Arellano will play on opening day against separate foes.
NCAA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Last year's finalists San Beda and Arellano will take on separate opponents as the 91st season of the NCAA kicks off on June 27 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The league announced on Monday at a press conference at Restaurant 9501 that the Red Lions will face off the Mapua Cardinals in the season-opener at 2 p.m., continuing the tradition to have the defending champions square off with the season hosts in the first game of the season.

On the other hand, the Chiefs, last year's runners-up, will battle the JRU Heavy Bombers in a rematch of their semifinal showdown at 4 p.m.

Arellano booked its first-ever trip to the Last Dance with a 72-65 win over JRU in the Final Four last Oct. 15. Arellano, however, will have to complete its unfinished business of winning the title without center Prince Caperal and forward Keith Agovida, who have already graduated.

Still, the Chiefs have Dioncee Holts and Gilas Cadet Jio Jalalon providing the spark.

Meanwhile, the Red Lions will have a relatively intact roster with only Rome Dela Rosa as the key loss. They, however, will now be under the tutelage of former Batang Gilas coach Jamike Jarin.