THE PG Flex Linoleum UCBL presented by Vespa is finally returning to hardcourt action this week after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic for its much-awaited fifth season.
Sidelined by the COVID-19 health crisis since its fourth season in 2019, UCBL will open shop once again on Thursday at the Paco Arena pitting seven squads headlined by back-to-back champion Diliman College.
The UCBL earlier this year actually showed a sneak peek of its comeback with a preseason invitational tournament that also featured UAAP and NCAA squads for the first time before raising the curtains for a better, stronger, and fiercer Season 5.
“We’re both happy and fortunate to be back and start all over again. We want to start fresh and as we’re here for the long haul. We could have not done this without the trust and confidence of our member schools,” said UCBL President Franklin Evidente in the presser held at H20 Hotel in Manila.
“This is a new start. It’s anybody’s game in the UCBL with our seven teams including a newcomer. This will be a very good league for us,” added tournament director Horacio Lim, joined by PG Flex Linoleum owner Nelson Guevarra and Vespa general manager Bimbo Fontanilla.
That league neophyte is Guang Ming College based in Tagaytay City, with former UP Maroon Mo Gingerich as head coach, in a bid to give the seasoned squads a run for their own money.
But as far as the coaches are concerned, reigning titlist Diliman College under the tutelage of Rensy Bajar still looms as the undisputed team to beat with Centro Escolar U as its closest challenger.
Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas and Guang Ming College at along with University of Batangas and Philippine Christian University-Dasmariñas on Thursday open the hostilities of UCBL that also features Olivarez College.
Games will be livestreamed on Smart Sports and UCBL social media pages during Mondays and Thursdays for a double-round prelims until the finals in January 2023. — John Bryan Ulanday