In its second year, the SMART City Hoops Summer Classic just got bigger.
The six pioneering squads in the league, namely the Ateneo Blue Eagles, the FEU Tamaraws, the UP Fighting Maroons, the Letran Knights, the Lyceum Pirates, and the CSB Blazers, will be joined by three new squads.
Spicing up the tournament are the Adamson Soaring Falcons, the NU Bulldogs, and the Mapua Cardinals.
And the addition of three more teams was a result of the positive reviews the league received from all the schools involved a season ago.
“Maganda yung naging feedback from last summer kaya all six teams returned. Also we added three more squads with the addition of Adamson, NU, and Mapua,” shared league owner Homer Bautista. “I believe mas magiging maganda yung competition this year.”
For the Summer Classic, teams are allowed to line up 21 players, 15 of which can be fielded in each game. According to league commissioner Vic Ycasiano, this is to give the coaches a medium to assess their players in an in-game scenario.
“This year mas maraming sumali tapos nakikita nila yung value ng tournament. Ang ginawa namin na ayos is makita nila yung recruits nila on how they will play kung puwede na talaga siya sa Team A or hindi,” said Ycasiano.
All games will be played at the uber-cozy Greenhills West Covered Courts in San Juan City. Hostilities will open on Saturday, March 30 with a triple-header pitting FEU against CSB at 12:00nn, Ateneo taking on Lyceum at 2:00pm, and UP squaring off against Letran at 4:00pm.
The early opening date was done to ensure that all teams will not have a tight schedule with the other summer leagues.
“Kasi iniiwasan namin mangyari yung nangyari last year. Yung nagkapatong patong yung schedule ng mga teams. For them to be more equipped, ayaw natin na sunod sunod yung games nila,” opined Bautista. “There was a time last year, yung Ateneo played for straight games. Though sila nag-champion, gusto natin nakapahinga yung players. Ayaw natin na mabugbog sila.”
The top five teams will advance to the playoffs with the top seed gaining an automatic final berth. The knockout wild-card round that will pit the second and fifth-ranked teams and the third and fourth best squads is scheduled to take place on May 18. The semis are set for March 22 with the finale being held on May 25.
Last year, the Blue Eagles won their first of three pre-season crowns, picking up a 70-58 win over the Tamaraws.
Besides the 25U tourney, City Hoops will still have the 19U, 17U, 15U, 12U, and 10U championships.
“Malaking bagay for the kids ito kasi mapapanood yung nagiging role model nila habang lumalaki sila. Iba kung nakikita nila live yun para maging motivation nila yun growing up,” Bautista said.