CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Universities and Colleges Athletic Association of Pampanga (UCAAP) opened the Second Delta Cup on Saturday, drawing 24 squads that are vying to represent the province in the Philippine Collegiate Champions' League (PCCL) tournament.
Vice-Governor Dennis "Delta" Pineda and San Miguel Beermen power forward Arwind Santos tossed the ball to officially open the UCAAP tournament at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center here.
Ten senior teams and 14 junior teams from 18 schools are besting each other to qualify as champion and make Pampanga dominate the PCCL, UCAAP head Alan Trinidad said.
The participating schools are Angeles University Foundation, Colegio de San Sebastian, City Colleges of Angeles, Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University, Holy Angel University, International School for Technology and Skills Development, Jocson College, Jose Feliciano College Foundation, Mary the Queen College, Pampanga Colleges, Pampanga High School, PSALMS, St. Nicholas College, St. Augustine Institute of Pampanga, Sta. Cruz Academy, Sindalan High School, San Vicente Pilot School for Philippine Craftsmen and System Plus College Foundation.
"Kapampangans are very lucky because we have a local version of the UAAP [University Athletic Association of the Philippines]," Trinidad told young players. Pampanga, he said, will host the Northern-Central championship match of the PCCL, leader of the widest grassroots-based search for the best collegiate basketball teams.
Mary the Queen College in Guagua town and St. Augustine Institute of Pampanga in San Simon town topped last year's First Delta Cup in the college and high school divisions, respectively.
"Malaking bagay itong UCAAP sa inyo. Dito pa lang may laro at exposure na kayo (The UCAAP is a big opportunity to you young players. At this level you already have a chance to compete and show your talent)," said Santos, the Philippine Basketball Association's 2013 Most Valuable Player.
"Wag nyong hahaluan ng bisyo. Dapat laging may disiplina (Don't go into vices. Practice discipline at all times)," he advised, relating that in his case, he overcame poverty through professional basketball.
Santos used to drive pedicabs and gathered plastic bottles to sell before he was discovered, trained and managed by Pineda, an acknowledged sports patron. Pineda's basketball talents include Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang.
Pineda asked the players to be real sportsmen by sticking to game rules and avoiding brawls.
He told them to avail of the provincial government's summer sports training program that offers free meals and transportation allowance to young athletes.
Pineda challenged them to "make Pampanga number one in basketball" especially in the professional league.