The NCAA coaches all know it's going to be a fun, tough, and competitive Season 99 men's basketball tournament as teams had the luxury of nine months to gear up for the new season.

Given this longer preparation period, the coaches see a level playing field as they were able to compete in several preseason leagues where they polished their game plans.

But while most of the mentors see it that way, some of them still look at Colegio de San Juan de Letran as the team to beat among the 10 participating teams.

After all, the Knights are the defending champions and are seeking to cop their fourth straight title.

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde mentor Charles Tiu said the Knights remain as the top contender for the title even if the Muralla crew lost several key players like Fran Yu, Louie Sangalang, Brent Paraiso, King Caralipio, and Tommy Olivario.

But Tiu added that all squads have improved since the last time they all faced each other.

"I think we’ve been monitoring all NCAA teams and all have improved so I think it's gonna be competitive," said Tiu during a press conference on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

"Last year we saw a lot of upsets and I think we'll see more of that this year. Every game we can't take it for granted and that’s the beauty of the league."

Like Tiu, San Beda University and University of Perpetual Help System DALTA coaches Yuri Escueta and Myk Saguiguit also see Letran as the top team this season.

Escueta, though, stressed that any team can beat any team on any day.

"As a rookie last year, I learned that you really can't take days off when you play whoever team sa NCAA," he shared.

"Any team can beat you on any given day. For me, 'yan 'yung excitement ng NCAA. I’m sure every team will be ready."

Incoming San Sebastian College-Recoletos mentor John Kallos, meanwhile, predicted that Perpetual could be the dark horse this season after the ALTAs showed in the offseason what it could bring into the league.

Saguiguit, though, tempered his expectations and said no team should be taken lightly.

"Actually sa NCAA all of the teams are very competitive so hindi pwedeng i-take ng light, dapat laging ready. It’s gonna be exciting and tough season," Saguiguit added.

NCAA Season 99 opens on September 24. Watch the games live on GTV.

—JMB, GMA Integrated News

This article Letran still the favorite, Perpetual seen as dark horse for NCAA Season 99 was originally published in GMA News Online.

2023-09-21T09:04:02Z dg43tfdfdgfd