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Two new schools, innovative format, more events in store for UCAL

The fastest-growing collegiate league in the country is set to expand even further for its sixth season.

No longer exclusively focused on basketball, the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) will drop the ‘B’ and will now be recognized as the UCAL, with the ‘A’ representing Athletic.

Supported by PG Flex, Angel’s Pizza, Team Rebel Sports, and Smart Sports, the league will also feature tournaments for men’s and women’s volleyball, esports, and men’s 3×3 basketball.

Additionally, the league welcomes two more member schools, Manila Central University and Philippine Women’s University, increasing the field to nine schools.

“We are opening Season Six of the UCAL with nine member schools — the largest field we have had so far,” said UCAL president Franklin Evidente during a press conference held at MCU on Monday.

“We would not have come this far without the loyalty and support of our member schools, the press, our partners, and our major partner PG Flex Linoleum.”

The UCAL will also introduce a unique format for its basketball tournament.

After a round-robin first round, the teams will be separated into two groups: one for the top four teams and the other for the bottom five, for the second round.

The top two teams in Group A will have a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, while the next two teams will compete in a knockout quarterfinal with the top two squads from the other group.

Meanwhile, only one school will be eliminated in Group B.

The semifinals will also have a knockout format while the finals is a best-of-three.

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This is a welcomed development, according to Centro Escolar University head coach Jeff Perlas.

“Magandang innovation yun for UCAL. We were talking about it mga coaches na kahit yung mga lower-ranked teams ng tournament, laban pa rin. May mga tendencies kasi yung mga players na pag out of contention na, tinatamad na. That’s just human nature,” opined the chief tactician of the defending champions Scorpions.

“Hindi pa rin safe yung mga nasa itaas sa format na ‘to. Tapos yung semis knockout game so all games must be treated equally, regardless of where you are in the rankings.”

“Ngayon ko lang nakita yung ganitong format kaya ang galing talaga ni Coach Horacio (Lim). Kaya sabi niya, always go dahil lahat may buhay sa format na ito,” added Olivarez College head coach Myk Saguiguit.

For new schools Guang Ming College – who only joined the league last year, MCU, and PWU, the format will give their schools a chance also to win it all.

“Very creative, Coach Horacio. It’s a win-win for the players, the tournament, and the fans. Every game will be exciting and will have a bearing. It’s a very good development and progress for the tournament,” said GMC Dragons head coach Paul Ramos.

“It’s gonna be favorable for us. Maganda yung format dahil hindi ka magrerelax. Even though you are in the top four, hindi ka pa rin sure. Maganda yung chance ng lahat ng team,” expressed MCU Tigers head coach Ian Racela.

“Ang nakikita natin na format is yung Final Four. This format, very competitive. Ginawa talaga ito ni Coach Horacio para sa players. Para kahit hindi naging maganda yung start, mayroon ka paring hope na magkaroon ng magandang playoff run. Exposure pa rin ng players yung nasa isip ni Coach Horacio,” beamed PWU head coach Victorino Lazaro.

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Other member schools of the UCAL include Diliman College, Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas, University of Batangas, and Philippine Christian University.

The league will hold its opening day on Saturday, January 20 with MCU taking on CEU at 12:00 p.m. followed by PCU-D facing PWU at 2:00 p.m.

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