With Batang Gilas standout RC Calimag making his debut, the defending champion La Salle Greenhills Greenies will have an interesting start in their campaign in the 84th season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association junior basketball tournament.\
Calimag, who is back home from a tour of duty with Batang Gilas in the FIBA Under-17 Basketball World Cup, will suit up for the Greenies when they clash with the University of Perpetual Help Junior Altas at 10 a.m. this Friday at The Arena in San Juan.
The 17-year-old Calimag is expected to add some spunk to the Greenies when they meet the Junior Altas, who are in the early lead with the San Sebastian Staglets after pulling off a 72-69 upset of the multi-titled San Beda University Red Cubs last Sunday.
Calimag recently transferred from the La Salle-Zobel Junior Archers in the UAAP, where he played for one season last year. The Junior Archers ended in sixth place when the season ended.
Before that, Calimag, son of retired PBA cager and former San Beda standout Ricky, played for three years with the Team B of the San Beda Red Cubs but was not given a chance to join Team A last season, and instead suited up for the Junior Archers.
“He has added firepower to our lineup. With his experience and versatility, it's going to be a good mixture of young blood and old blood,” said Greenies' coach Marvin Bienvenida.
The 6'1” Calimag won't be the only Batang Gilas cager making his presence felt in the tournament. Mclaude Guadana will reinforce the Lyceum Pirates against the Emilio Aguinaldo College-Immaculate Conception Academy in another game at 8 a.m.
Calimag, who will play for two seasons with the Greenies, was part of the Michael Oliver-coached Batang Gilas that finished a best-ever 13th place in the 16-team tournament in Argentina.
The Greenies are getting ready to defend the first-ever crown they won with last year's remnants, Inand Fornillos, Joel Cagulangan, Vincent David, Jared Lao, Sidney Mosqueda, Mark Sangco and Ladis Lepalam. They also have the prolific Kobe Palencia, who joined them from the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Cubs, who finished fourth after losing to the National University Bullpups in the UAAP Season 80 semifinal playoffs.
The Greenies won their finals' series with the Malayan High School of Science, 2-1, last season, after they beat the Red Robins, 75-74, in Game 3.
“Hopefully, our veterans will influence RC in a good way and vice versa,” added Bienvenida.
Giancarlo Arciaga and Francis are among the newcomers in the team.