THE journey to the "sweet 16" for the country's top collegiate basketball squads begins as competition in the Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League gets underway next month.

With early league favorite University of Baguio eyeing another title in the BBEAL, close to 220 collegiate teams will be hitting the road for the Philippine Collegiate Championship League (PCCL) games within the next few week.

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Several collegiate basketball leagues nationwide will start competitions to determine teams which will advance to the regional championships. Winners in the regional competitions will advance to the zonals and then to the final "sweet 16" of the Philippine Collegiate Championship games.

The first challenge of collegiate teams aiming to advance in the multi-level Philippine Collegiate Championship games is to win in their respective "mother league" competitions.

Millions of pesos in scholarship and athletic facilities are at stake in this annual search for the national collegiate champion being conducted by the Philippine Collegiate Champions League.

The Cardinals made it to the regional competitions last year after edging Saint Louis University in their championship match which earned them a spot for the north-central Luzon regional championship.

UB battled the best teams from the Lauro B. Tacbas Cup in Vigan, Universities and Colleges Association of Pangasinan, and the United Central Luzon Athletic Association.

The BBEAL champion failed to make it to the next round after absorbing their lone loss against Lyceum Subic last year and failed to make it to the zonal Luzon - Metro Manila zonal qualifying. (Roderick Osis)