By Jerome Lagunzad
Bannered by their top players, De La Salle, University of the Philippines and host Far Eastern University are billed as top contenders in the inaugural UAAP 3×3 basketball that gets going tomorrow at the Mall of Asia Music Hall.
All member schools, except for University of Santo Tomas which is putting premium on its rebuilding process under new coach Aldin Ayo, have fielded their respective teams in the men’s division of the fast-rising sport discipline which is making its debut in the UAAP calendar.
Reigning women’s champion National University is leading the eight-team cast in the distaff side of the one-day tournament, a demonstration sport for the meantime, according to FEU athletic director Mark Molina.
La Salle, composed of guards Aljun Melecio, Andrei Caracut, forward Leonard Santillan and center Justin Baltazar, are pooled in Group A alongside archrival Ateneo, Adamson and University of the East.
The Fighting Maroons, led by FIba 3×3 Under-18 standout Juan Gomez De Liano, his elder brother Javi, Gelo Vito and Jun Manzo, are bracketed in Group B together with the Tamaraws and the National University Bulldogs.
FEU is hoping to make its presence felt behind Wendel Comboy, Michael John Casino, Richard Escoto and Kenneth Tuffin while top gunner Alvin Pasaol, who torched La Salle with a season-high 49 points last year, will lead the Red Warriors’ bid alongside Philip Manalang and Mark Maloles.
The Blue Eagles, who dethroned the Green Archers in an epic three-game finals series, are hoping to make heads turn behind unheralded cagers Dan Wong, Rodney Manuel, Gabe Natividad and Quintin Banzon.