The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season ’98 has finally kicked off on Saturday, September 10, at the Araneta Coliseum, where an ecstatic live audience is composed of students and sports enthusiasts.
It is the first time in two years that the oldest non-professional collegiate tournament, held with a real-world audience. Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo and Kapuso leading man Manolo Pedroso, joined GMA sportscaster, Martin Javier, as the presenters of the opening ceremony.
Pageantry and gallantry blended beautifully as Sparkle stars ignited the stage with their talent and sheer energy as the athlete students flexed their emblems and colors to represent their respective schools. Young and talented Kapuso artists Jessica Villarubin and Thea Astley opened the show with their explosive rendition of SB19’s Alab. Joining them were Villarubin’s fellow The Clash alums, Jeremiah Tiangco and Anthony Rosaldo, and the Kapuso girl group, XOXO, in singing this season’s NCAA theme.
All-Out-Sundays mainstay performer Mark Bautista delivered a patriotic rendition of the national anthem.
True to its endeavor to champion diversity and uniqueness as part of the parade of teams–featured various festivals across the country. Star athletes led each team by carrying their respective banners, while pretty up-and-coming Sparkle ladies took on the role of a muse for each competing team.
For the past years (10 years), the Arellano University’s Chefs, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Blazers, the José Rizal University Heavy Bombers, the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates, the Mapúa University Cardinals, the San Beda University Red Lions, the San Sebastian College Golden Stags, and University of Perpetual Help’s Altas are again vying to become the overall tournament winner for both Junior and Senior divisions. Of course, pressure is heavier than the other teams on San Beda, who took home the overall senior championship title in 2019.
No championship titles got awarded in the last two seasons due to pandemic restrictions.
Living up to this year’s theme, ‘Achieving Greatness Every Day’, the star athletes of each team are no doubt poised to set the game courts ablaze. GMA Network’s Chairman and CEO, Atty. Felipe Gozon highlighted the theme during his impassioned speech to the athletes and the games’ spectators.
“We wish you the best, as you aim for greatness in your respective sports” he said, underscoring GMA Network’s role in keeping the might and glory of the first inter-collegiate sports tournament in the country.
As this season’s host school, Emilio Aguinaldo College is expected to direct the sports fest on a more optimistic path.
“We are hopeful that the worst of this pandemic, may be receding. This experience should have given all of us renewed appreciation of the value and fragility of life, hence our theme for this season: to achieve greatness, not just today, but every day,” said Dr. Paulo E. Campos, the president of Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Serving as the opening game this year, the bout between The Generals and The Chefs, made sure that this edition of the tournament will be all about greatness. The Chefs evaded the host school’s attempt to begin its hosting year with a victory, as it ended its campaign with 63-58.