MANILA, JUNE 14, 2006 (STAR) Basketball kicks off the staging of the first Philippine Olympic Festival, the Philippine Olympic Committee’s own version of the national games, today with four teams, two each from the UAAP and the NCAA, clashing at the Tinga Stadium in Taguig City.

Far Eastern University, the reigning back-to-back champion in the UAAP, collides with San Beda College in the main game at 3:30 p.m., each raring to come out strong and gain the momentum in the weeklong tournament.

Philippine Christian University and National University tangle in the first game at 2 p.m., both also hoping to set each other’s bid in motion in the single round robin tournament organized by the Philippine Basketball Federation, Inc.

Under the format, the teams will be credited with 2 points for a win, 1 point for a loss and 0 for a default. Ties will be resolved by FIBA rules on tiebreakers.

The top two teams after the single round elims will clash for the gold medal while the two other squads dispute third place honors.

POC chairman Robert Aventajado will grace the opening rites set at 1 p.m. while City Mayor Sigfrido Tinga will declare the games open.

The RP Olympic Festival is actually slated June 21-25 in 17 different venues all over the country with basketball getting the honor to kick off the inaugural staging of the event held in conjunction with the worldwide celebration of the Olympic movement.

The Olympic Festival, expected to draw in a record field of more than 7,000 athletes in 27 sports disciplines, is patterned after Australia’s national games, which also synchronizes the hosting of sporting event annually.

It also hopes to promote the Olympic ideals of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

The Tams, bannered by the pro-bound Arwind Santos, battle the NU Bulldogs at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow (June 15) while the Red Lions and the Dolphins mix it up in the 2 p.m. opener.

The tournament, hosted by the City of Taguig through Mayor Sigfrido Tinga, takes a rest day on Friday before play resumes on Saturday (June 17) with San Beda taking on NU at 2 p.m. and FEU facing PCU at 3:30 p.m.

The finals is set on June 21 with the top two teams clashing for the gold medal at 3:30 p.m. while the two others fight it out for the bronze at 2 p.m.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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