The second phase of the 2023-2024 Baguio Benguet Educational Athletic League may resume during Araw ng Kagitingan on April 9. But this is still a tentative schedule as organizers of the revived athletic league for two Benguet schools and eight Baguio higher learning institutions is hobbled by financial difficulty, sources say. If it will push through on April 9 as planned, only three sports events will be staged from the more than 13 including athletics, which are the bailiwick of powerhouses University of Baguio and the University of the Cordilleras, are expected to
be played.

The only lined up events are volleyball for men and women, football and futsal, the source said. Trainings in volleyball remain for the top contenders including the Baguio College of Technology which fell short of claiming both the men and women’s title in 2019. The female squad pulled through with former UB coach Jun Nisperos beating the UC squad, but the men’s squad under Benigno Aquino, not the former opposition leader, fell quite short.

“UC is still a strong squad but we will try to make it this year,” said the former UC libero as he boasts of a 6’3” player
and two who are 6’1” tall. “But they are young, all fresh from senior high except for my team captain, who is a
sophomore,” added the Commission on Audit employee. UC, UB and Saint Louis University ut hope to resume rivalry in the sport that is second to basketball in terms of popularity and the second most coveted but BCT hopes to be the party spoiler with its build up in terms of recruitment.

The women squad is under one of the most successful local coaches in Nisperos, who led the UB Lady Cardinals to the title in the late 90s and early 2000s and the early 2010s prior to his departure for BCT. Henry Esquejo, meanwhile, is the most decorated of the current coaches in the men’s side as the former libero has dominated the 2010s. Throw in SLU head coach Gerald Peralta and the volleyball scene this year is expected to be a roller coaster. Peralta once played for the SLU men’s team in the early 2000s before assuming the mantle in the late part of that decade.

Pigeon Lobien/ABN

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