By: Anthony Servinio
A NEW beginning marks the start of the 25th season of the National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA) Tuesday (December 5) at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. A record field of 16 schools will be participating in the centerpiece event of Seniors Basketball that will be ushered in by simple rites at 10:00 AM.
AMA University will take to the court first against former champion Philippine Merchant Marine School at 12:00 PM. The Titans will be bannered by a slew of PBA D-League veterans led by Andre Paras while the rebuilding Mariners hope to weave the magic that resulted in a championship two seasons ago.
University of Luzon will then take on Asian Institute of Maritime Studies in the main game at 2:00 PM. The Golden Tigers from Dagupan City are hoping to make a good impression against Metro Manila squads while the Blue Sharks have nowhere to go but up after going winless in seven games a year ago.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez will be the guest of honor and speaker. The openers will feature dance performances from University of Makati and PMMS plus the award-winning UL Drum and Bugle Corps and hosted by Mutya ng Pilipinas Zahra Bianca Saldua.
Last year, the five-team NCRAA merged with the Universities and Colleges of Luzon Athletic Association (UCLAA) to form the NCRUCLAA which will now be recognized as the NCRAA’s 24th season. However, Colegio de San Lorenzo will not be around to defend their title.
The absence of the Griffins will result in a wide open race for the crown led by last year’s runner-up De Ocampo Memorial College and third placer PATTS College of Aeronautics as early favorites. Completing the 16-school cast are De La Salle University-Dasmarinas, Emilio Aguinaldo College-Cavite, National College of Business and Arts, New Era University, Olivarez College, Philippine School of Business Administration-Quezon City, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa, Saint Francis of Assisi College and Technological Institute of the Philippines.
Other sporting disciplines on tap this season are Juniors and Women’s Basketball, Indoor and Beach Volleyball, Swimming, Taekwondo, Badminton, Table Tennis and Chess. Dancesport and 3X3 Basketball will be also be conducted as exhibition events.
Former PBA Chairman Manuel “Buddy” Encarnado will begin his first season as the league’s General Manager. Arturo “Bay” Cristobal will reprise his role as Basketball Commissioner.