Baguio-Benguet college sport’s 33rd season kicks off Friday

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The 33rd season of the Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League (BBEAL) opened Friday (Oct. 4), hosted by the Cordillera Career Development College (CCDC) at this provincial capital town.
“We are ready to host the BBEAL,” said CCDC president emeritus James Dean Malaya as his Admirals will lead the 10 school participants minus King’s College of the Philippines (KCP) from the league.
Malaya remains upbeat this year, boosted by the recent opening of 12 rooms for senior high school at the new building within the CCDC campus in Barangay Buyagan here.
Malaya is hopeful that the men’s basketball team will do good this semester, especially after a win over men’s defending champion University of Baguio during the Cordillera Higher Education Schools Athletic Association (CHESAA) games last August.
“Everything looks good and we are eager to welcome the other school members of the league,” he said.
Opening ceremonies will be at 2:00 p.m. at the CCDC gym.
It will be a single round-robin format in the centerpiece tournament with the Admirals hoping to sail high in the rigorous two-month competition.
Malaya hopes to duplicate the 2007 and 2008 season success of the Admirals who beat the Saint Louis University Navigators for the back-to-back titles.
He said that his team is much better prepared now compared to last year when they failed to get past the second round.
With Jun Rimando returning as head tactician after 13 years of absence, the Admirals look pretty tough this year as they attempt to unseat the defending champion Cardinals.
SLU will always remain a threat in the annual competition especially after a resurgent second round last year when the Navigators beat Baguio College of Technology (BCT) Atoms twice to make it to the finals.
SLU coach Raymund Austria is also optimistic this year after a Cinderella story last year, coming off from the lowest rung in the second round to emerge as a challenger anew, after nearly 10 years for the league’s biggest school.
Austria is also fresh from a coach training with the Gilas Pilipinas.
Season 30 and 31 champion the University of the Cordilleras hope to come back following a lackluster round two last year after reigning supreme in Bracket A.
The Atoms also hopes to come back after losing big man Armando Pollante last season and with it the championship bid.
The Atoms also hope to emulate the success of the women’s volleyball team, which ended UB’s five-year reign in the second most popular BBEAL game, upstaging the basketball squad in the last five seasons.
Other school members of the BBEAL are the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), University of the Philippines (UP), Pines City College (PCC), Baguio Central University (BCU) and Benguet State University (BSU).
Other events slated this year are chess, table tennis, badminton, archery, and swimming.
Meanwhile, UC starts its quest for the men’s basketball crown it lost last year when the Jaguars face the ever-dangerous PMA on Saturday at the CCDC gym.
UC was one of last year’s favorite as twice defending champion after ruling the second bracket but was swept in the second round and failed to advance to the finals.
Basketball commissioner Danilo Soria said nine teams will see action in the league’s centerpiece event led by defending champion UB.
Soria, a former UB player and coach fresh from officiating the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Bangkok, said that it would be a single round-robin competition this time, with the elimination round expected to be finished by November 2.
“We will be surely finished by mid-November, prior to the South East Asian Games,” Soria said. **Pigeon M. Lobien/ PNA

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