Coaching drama, underdog scares, and more: Memorable moments from NCAA Season 94 opening day

NCAA Season 94 is on! There’s a lot of get hyped about, from the upcoming San Beda vs LPU rematch, to the rise of CSB from cellar-dweller to dark horse, to the return of NCAA On Tour games to be played in the different campuses, to the final year of superstars like CJ Perez, Robert Bolick and Javee Mocon.

Here are some of the most memorable moments from opening day.

Frankie Lim vs San Beda

After winning four championships in five years for San Beda before leaving the league in 2012, who would have thought that Frankie Lim would return to coach the Perpetual Altas against the Red Lions for the season’s very first game? The dramatic (poetic?) setting was not lost on Lim, who himself brought up that the 2011 fight between San Beda and San Sebastian that resulted in him resigning as the Red Lions’ head coach happened at the sidelines of a Perpetual volleyball match.

“And now for my first game back, I’m with Perpetual,” he said in the dugout before the match. “That’s some coincidence. You can’t make this up.”

…and the Perpetual Altas gave San Beda a run for their money!

After finishing second to last place in the Season 93 rankings, the new-look Perpetual Altas made their debut with Lim. Only four players remained from last year’s struggling squad, forcing team captain AJ Coronel to grow from resident shy guy to vocal leader, and boasting high-energy transferees like Edgar Charcos from UE.

“We all know San Beda wins championships left and right, but they are not unbeatable,” Lim said. “As long as you show effort and make smart choices, you have a chance.” The Altas took an early lead and were toe-to-toe with the defending champions all the way through. Charcos led the way with 14 points and a fourth-quarter explosion; Coronel, Prince Eze and Jelo Razon scored double-digits as well. But late-game errors gave the seasoned San Beda an edge, and they would survive the Altas, 57-55.

Afterwards, the Red Lions’ player of the game Robert Bolick admitted he was disappointed with their performance. “We should have lost that game,” he said, referring to their paltry five assists. (In comparison, Charcos alone made seven.) Meanwhile, Lim told his guys to keep their heads high. “They have to admit, kinabahan sila.”

Sitting courtside, Perpetual alum-turned-Ginebra fan fave Scottie Thompson made a bold prediction: This squad can make the Final Four.

SSCR scares LPU / LPU’s still warming up

Everyone expected the LPU Pirates to dominate the depleted SSCR Golden Stags, but continuing the day’s trend of scaring top teams, the Stags nearly spoiled LPU’s opening day. This came as a surprise to anyone who’s been following the off-season, where the exodus of seven players from the Golden Stags (some of which transferred to LPU) meant that their three veterans Michael Calisaan, Allyn Bulanadi and RK Ilagan would have to carry a heavy load on their shoulders. The Pirates led 22-14 by the end of the 1st quarter but allowed the Stags to surge and struggled to put them away for good. But like San Beda, LPU would survive, 85-80.

It’s not the decisive victory they had wanted, but they’ll take it and move on. The morning after, the Pirates took the day off training to conduct an outreach program for kids in Paco, Manila. But for NCAA fans, both opening day games bear the same message: Watch out for the underdogs.

“Kapatid ni Mocon”

Bolick’s sense of humor is a source of endless entertainment in the NCAA (you’re talking about a guy who is fine with broadcast anchors calling him “Babes” on air, posted a Gal Gadot “couple pic” where he photoshopped his head onto her husband’s, etc.). A tweet showing a page from the Red Lions’ yearly season primer went viral during their game. Each player had answered slam book-type questions and Bolicks had listed “golf kart” as his favorite gadget, “Willie Revillame” as his favorite music, and for his ideal girl? “Gal Gadot, Yassi Pressman, kapatid ni Mocon.”

Stay crazy, Babes.

Who you got?

If there’s one thing to take away from the opening day of NCAA Season 94, it’s that we’re in for a lot of fun. San Beda and LPU are still top squads, but you’ve got exciting challengers from the underdogs (and we haven’t even seen CSB play yet!). The colorful personalities are still there, plus new faces looking to shake things up. One thing’s for sure—this season’s gonna be a riot.