That means it's time for the annual tradition at this blog where I'd try to rank the teams every week. Everybody does this anyway but everything you'd read is either biased for the green, blue or even the red side, and it's getting sickening. Come on, we all know which teams these other people are rooting for, and try as they might (Quinito Henson doesn't even try, and you'd know that the Green Mind's columns are biased from the outset, it's a joy to read. Really.), you can smell something fishy. It's like the NBA Draft: every year is rigged; in this case, every write-up is biased from the get-go.
It's not as if mine will be unbiased, heck I'd probably do what they'll be doing; one thing you can expect from me is that no stone will be left unturned. It's not like the condemnation by the school from Taft on Manny Salgado when he hit Arwind Santos at the back of the head... wait, let's review that seminal moment in local hoops history:
...back to what I was saying; somewhere deep down inside, Lasallians would've been snickering at what Salgado did. Sure, they publicly showed their disgust (most probably did), but at the end of the day, they would've done what Salgado did.
This collegiate season would be the most interesting in years. Not because other years were not as exciting (when was college basketball not as exciting, anyway?), but because of the apparent paradigm shift brewing in the two top collegiate leagues in the land.
First, in not-so-basketball matters: we finally have an alternate stadium that could keep the Araneta Coliseum on its toes. The SM Mall of Asia Arena should finally solve the scheduling problems. With only the Araneta as the sole acceptable venue for big-time matches, the MOA Arena should be a better alternative in case the Big Dome is unavailable. This means there'd be no more whining in which we'd have to wait for a suitable day before a Ateneo-La Salle playoff game can be held because the Big Dome is booked on the weekend, and diehards from either school won't accept a weekday playdate because they're so effing special like Joshua Webb.
Another not-so-basketball matter is the NCAA's transfer to AKTV. The senior circuit has been treated as the bastard son by ABS-CBN Sports, and for good reason: the UAAP is ABS-CBN Sports' cash cow. The NCAA can't even have advertisers to elimination round games save for Letran-San Beda games, which had been pretty one-sided, anyway. What's interesting is if the NCAA's gamble to transfer to AKTV will pay off: they finally got their weekend game back, but how would AKTV's quality of coverage compare with the ABS-CBN one; fanboys would be asking if there'd be colegiala court side reporters, for example.
Now on basketball matters. The preseason has seen a buildup, in fact there has been a buildup for two seasons now, for the NU Bulldogs. Even during the recent years that they were competitive, the Dogs haven't got a bonafide superstar to carry them to the playoffs. Jeff Napa, the greatest court side reporter in the long history of court side reporters that include luminaries such as Doris Burke, Jim Gray and Craig Sager's suits, benefited on an offgame from James Yap to lead the Bulldogs to the Final Four. Now they not only have Bobby Parks, but they've retained Emmanuel Mbe and a host of Dogs who'd give a bite, and then some on the opposition.
The defending champions (the) Ateneo still have the inside-out duo of Greg Slaughter and Kiefer Ravena. No matter how they label themselves as the underdogs, don't buy any of it as those two are enough to keep the pretenders from winning; and also don't buy the claim that Ravena will lead them to the promised land anew where MVP awaits, it's the tallest player in the league that will anchor this Ateneo team.
Those are the top two consensus UAAP teams. La Salle looks to be the on the upside after a disastrous campaign last year; they can literally thank the basketball gods if the Jeric Teng story is true; him and the core of the LSGH NCAA runner-up team last year, plus the much-improved Nolbert Torres should be enough to keep the likes of UST, and even FEU, and Adamson: the question is if that can withstand the likes of the NUs and the Ateneos.
Next time: The rest of the UAAP, NCAA and the preseason rankings.