The 79th season of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) opened in spectacular fashion as University of Santo Tomas spared no expense in delivering on the theme of “Dare to Dream”, with a parade, the UST Symphony Orchestra, an inaugural ballroom dancing event, and, of course, fireworks. When all the participants had entered the campus via the ceremonial passing through the arch, the oath of sportsmanship was led by UST men’s basketball team captain Louie Vigil.
Season 79 will see the UAAP’s eight member universities competing for titles across fifteen sports, the first of which kicked off the very next day at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, with basketball matches between UP and Adamson, while host UST took on ADMU.
This season’s tournament brings with it a high level of excitement, especially in the Men’s Basketball category, which sees the entrance of four new head coaches (Boy Sablan for UST, Bo Perasol for UP, Franz PUmaren for ADAMSON, and Aldin Ayo for DLSU) and a consultant (for ADMU) in the form of none other than Gilas Pilipinas Coach Tab Baldwin.
There was also a wrinkle or two in the form of new rules, as it was announced prior to the opening ceremonies that teams who get a sweep (in every sport except football) in the preliminary rounds will no longer be entitled to a thrice-to-beat advantage. Now, any team that gets a perfect record in the elimination rounds will automatically receive a finals berth, while the remaining 3 semifinalists will continue with the stepladder final four round format for their shot at the title.
While this rule was accepted relatively quietly, the bigger news was the new rule declaring that school hymns be sung before tournament games, rather than after.
The change was made to give school hymns the respect they deserve, according to UST athletic director and UAAP president Fr. Ermito de Sagon. The change was met with some degree of surprise – whether they were celebrating a victory or commiserating in loss, the singing of the school hymns following a game had always been a highlight of the UAAP experience.
At any rate, UAAP Season 79 is shaping to be one to watch, and now that the games have begun, we, and sports fans all across the country, will be along for the ride.