UAAP king University of the Philippines and NCAA runner-up Mapua University take centerstage in an explosive duel to banner the return of Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup for the first time amid the pandemic starting this Saturday.
The Fighting Maroons and the Cardinals meet at 1 p.m. to get the ball rolling in the rousing comeback of the premier collegiate preseason tourney featuring a triple-header at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
UP, coming off a historic run in the UAAP Season 84 two months ago when it trampled the Ateneo dynasty to end its 36-year title drought, is seen as the heavy favorite in the 17-team Filoil cast pitting UAAP and NCAA representatives.
Following suit in the opener are UAAP semifinalists La Salle and Far Eastern U at 3 p.m. before the Adamson-College of St. Benilde duel at 5 p.m.
UP and Mapua lead Group A with Adamson, University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, College of St. Benilde, National U, Arellano, University of the East, and Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Back-to-back NCAA champion Letran, meanwhile, paces Group B with runner-up San Beda, La Salle, FEU, San Sebastian, University of Santo Tomas, Lyceum, and Jose Rizal University.
All teams will figure in single-round robin format within their pools with the top four teams qualifying in the knockout playoffs until the finale on August 27.
Games will be available on Filoil EcoOil Sports’ Facebook page as UAAP and NCAA teams gear up for the full-swing return of their respective mother leagues after a compressed season this year. — John Bryan Ulanday