This Sunday marks a preview of collegiate basketball wars as the curtain rises for the opening of the 2008 FilOil Flying V Pre-Season Invitational Cup. I believe this is the third staging of the invitational, UE capturing the maiden title and DLSU the most recent champs. From far away, I can feel the excitement of basketball aficionados buzzing around this league. Due to the proximate timing from opening tip-off of the UAAP and NCAA, the teams might try out their official lineups in this league. This being one of the few opportunities that UAAP and NCAA teams go against each other, bragging rights are at stake here. However, looking at the past winners clearly shows the UAAP has been gaining all the bragging rights. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for my sentimental favorite San Beda Red Lions stashing the league title this time or at least, for them to win its opening game against the Ateneo Blue Eagles. In my last count, the Red Lions have failed to win against the Blue Eagles in 5 outings. I don’t know for sure. All I know, it has been freaking long! Winning Sunday’s game will feel like a championship in itself!

The opening game against San Beda and Ateneo has several surprises to hardcore college basketball fans as this will showcase the future stars of both the UAAP and NCAA leagues. NCAA Juniors standouts Ryan Buenafe and Nico Salva are expected to suit up for the Blue Eagles and Elvin Jake Pascual for the Red Lions. These new names have been perennial newsmakers during the off-season. Everybody was talking about where these marquis players are headed to play their collegiate seasons. Buenafe, the sweetshooting MVP of the San Sebastian Staglets, is the hottest commodity as of late. He has been linked to big name schools all over the metro, from Mendiola, Recto, Katipunan, Taft, Espana. Name it, he has been lured by them all. Salva, meanwhile, begged off from being a member of the National Youth Team to begin his collegiate career this year. His choices were down to UP, Ateneo and San Beda. Well, as of now, it seems he’s donning the blue jersey after all. Pascual was involved in the PCU anomaly which prevented him from playing in Season 83. His name continues to be tagged in the PCU scam, but I guess he will be finally permitted to play for the Red Lions very very soon!

Another sidelight for Sunday’s game is the first official game that Sam Ekwe and Kevin Emeka Udo will play alongside each other. The unveiling of the Nigerian Twin Towers is one of the much anticipated attractions in the upcoming NCAA edition. However, with the imposition of the One Import Rule for Season 84, fans will not be fortunate to see them play at the same time. I wonder though if the Flying V tourney will implement the same rule. This remains to be seen.

It will be a busy playing sked for college teams until school starts. This only means one thing… Hardcore basketball fans unite anew.. Let the games begin!


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