DEFENDING champion Abellana National School-Pomeroy will return to defend its titles in the Boys 17 and 19 divisions of the Thirsty Cup this weekend.

ANS, which won the Milo National Olympics title last November, will be split into two teams in the Boys 17 and will have one team in Boys 19, and Boys 14 divisions.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

“Most of those who won the Milo title will be in one team,” said ANS coach Francis Ramirez, whose boys are the inaugural champions in the Milo National Olympics.

ANS won the Boys 17 last year, beating its sister team in the finals, and University of Southern Philippines Foundation in the Boys 19 finals.

This year, Ramirez’s route to the Boys 19 title may have gotten a bit easier as they only have MZED, Ma. Montessori School and HCA Tubigon to compete with.

“I was expecting USC and USPF to be in the Boys 19 and they were the teams that I prepared for,” said Ramirez.

USC and USPF will be joining the elite Men’s Open, which attracted 40 teams.

However, because of the seven-a-side format and the short time, Ramirez isn’t taking any chances.

“Lisud sad kay kung mataghapan ka, lisud gyud i-gukod,” said Ramirez.

In the Boys 17 division, the two ANS squads will be competing with 13 others, including favorites Don Bosco Technological Center (DBTC) and Foundation University (FU).

In the Boys 14, they will contend with DBTC and two teams from football hotbed San Carlos City.

The Thirsty Cup will kick off its seventh edition this Friday at the Cebu City Sports Center with 201 teams.

The Men’s Open has the biggest entries with 40, while the Boys 12 has 26. The Players 10 division also attracted 20 teams.