THE biggest and longest-running premier youth basketball tournament in Mindanao unfolds Saturday when the 8th Gaisano South (GS) Cup 2010 kicks off starting at 2 p.m. at the Gaisano Grand Sky Gym.

Ad and promo head Karla Corcino said a total of 82 teams are seeing action in this year's edition, the biggest since the tournament started in 2002.

"In the entire GS Cup history, this season has the biggest turnout with a total of 82 teams seeing action in mini, cadet, junior girls, junior division 1 and division 2, college women's and college men's division 1 and division 2," Corcino said at the press launch Friday at Cafe Ilustrado.

Corcino said this is going to be the first time that the league will hold two opening ceremonies.

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"We decided to hold the college division opening on September 18 instead since the SkyGym could no longer accommodate all 82 teams in one opening rites," she said.

Corcino, however, said there will no longer be a best muse competition just like last year.

But she assured the opening rites will be colorful just the same as TV and movie actress Melissa Ricks will be the guest performer.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Noli Eala, in a letter to GS Cup chair Benito Gaisano dated August 13 and furnished to sportswriters, lauded the organizers for boosting the development of grassroots and youth basketball in Mindanao.

"We are confident that with your able leadership and noble vision and the help of SBP regional director (Regino) Boy Cua, the GS Cup will remain a strong partner of the SBP in furthering our common objectives for basketball," Eala said.

He also welcomed the GS Cup as part of the stakeholders of SBP with a regular voting right.

Eala, however, expressed his regret to miss the opening ceremony where he was invited to be the guest speaker. He is joining the country's delegation to the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

SBP marketing commission chair Rico Meneses will represent Eala instead.

Tournament director Rico Jhone Biliran said only one game pitting junior division 1 arch rivals Ateneo de Davao High School and Holy Child School of Davao (HCSD) will be featured in the curtain raiser.

Biliran said the University of Mindanao (UM) Wildcats just confirmed their entry to college men's division 1 where defending champion Agro Industrial Foundation College (AIFC) Sailors, Ateneo de Davao University (Addu) Blue Knights, Jose Maria College (JMC) Kings, DMMA College of Southern Philippines, Rizal Memorial College (RMC) Bulldogs and Emar Human Environmental College are also entered.

"The top four teams in junior division 1 will compete in another qualifying meet to represent Davao City to the SBP Under-17 championship set in Iloilo City on December 6 to 11 while the college division 1 champion will advance to the National Collegiate Championship set in February next year," Biliran said.

Cua and GS Cup commissioner lawyer Francis Calatrava were also present during the press briefing.

Cua, who is the sanctioning director, is also among the prize sponsors while the Calatrava-led referees commission will officiate the league.