UNIVERSITY of Baguio Cardinals are set to parade an almost intact line-up when it defends the men’s basketball crown in the Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League (BBEAL).

The 33rd season of BBEAL unfurls October 4 with host Cordillera Career Development College promising a simple yet unforgettable experience during the opening program, which starts at 1 p.m.

Nine from the championship squad, which sweep Saint Louis University Navigators in the finals last year, will return to action, including comebacking guard Renzae Cosme.

Returning for the Cardinals is team captain Maenard Razo together with stand-outs Ivan Atijera, Franz Cabrera, Angelo Cambaliza, Claude Leymark Camit, Efren dela Cruz, Adrien Virgilio Imson, Vince Aaron Sibbaluca, and Aldriane Puzon.

With an almost complete line-up, CCDC athletic director Eduardo Luareano mused the Cardinals remain the favorite in tournament, which will be a single round robin format with the top four finishers competing in the semis where the top two team enjoys a twice to beat advantage.

Laureano added schedule of games for both men and women will be finalized September 30.

Kings College of the Philippines and University of the Philippines-Baguio ill skip the men’s basketball competition.

Season 31 champion University of the Cordilleras Jaguars and Baguio College of Technology Atoms will also be among the favorites with Philippine Military Academy and host CCDC Admirals.

Other competing universities are Baguio Central University Eagles, Benguet State University Wildcats, and Pines City Colleges Warriors.

Laureano added accredited referees from the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas will officiate the games.

“We have not asked any group to officiate but what we want is that basketball referees should be members of the SBP,” he said.

Aside from the centerpiece basketball tournament, the 33rd BBEAL will have eight other sports event to be played in the first semester. (Roderick Osis)