Ateneo opens title retention bid against NU in UAAP men's basketball

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 23) — The Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles will open their title retention quest against the National University Bulldogs as the UAAP Season 86 men's basketball tournament tips off on Sept. 30 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Despite losing key players Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso, Forthsky Padrigao, and BJ Andrade, the Blue Eagles are still the favorites to win with Kai Ballungay and Mason Amos spearheading the Katipunan-based crew under the guidance of head coach Tab Baldwin.

Host school University of the East tackles rejuvenated University of Santo Tomas, which is bringing back champion coach Pido Jarencio, in the curtain raiser at 2 p.m.

Last season's runner-up University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons clash with the Adamson University Soaring Falcons on Oct. 1 to conclude the weekend opener.

The Fighting Maroons are also seen as legitimate contenders, parading a crop of promising standouts in Seven Gagate, Luis Pablo, Francis Lopez, Filipino American Sean Alter, and transferees Reyland Torres and Janjan Felicilda.

Reigning league Most Valuable Player Malick Diouf, JD Cagulangan, Harold Alarcon, and CJ Cansino return for UP, which is eyeing to capture its second title in three seasons.

The De La Salle University Green Archers square off against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws before the UP-Adamson match.

The Green Archers are hungry to make it to the Final Four after missing it last season.

Topex Robinson will be calling the shots for the green and white squad with Season 85 Rookie of the Year Kevin Quiambao, Mike Phillips, Evan Nelle, and Mark Nonoy running together again.