COLLEGIATE sporting season commences later this week with the opening of Season 95 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association which aims to celebrate unity amid the competition.

Hosted this year by Arellano University, the NCAA will have the theme “Kaisa sa Pagkakaiba,” in line with its push to promote togetherness in the middle of what is expected to be another competitive thrust from the 10 member schools.

Season 95 is also set to unveil new offerings, including the introduction of a new sport called “Hado.”

It will be the first time that Hado — a high-tech dodgeball game where teams throw virtual fireballs at one another — will be seen and experienced in the Philippines via an inter-school tournament setting.

The new season of the country’s oldest collegiate league fires off on July 7 at the Mall of Asia Arena in what organizers said will feature rocking ceremonies headlined by Filipino rock group Bamboo and NCAA battle of the bands champion Cherry Band from Mapua University.

As has been customary, the NCAA festivities will be ushered in by the marquee basketball tournament with a slated double-header.

Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights face off with the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates at 2 p.m. with the four peat-seeking San Beda University Red Lions going up against hosts Arellano Chiefs at 4 p.m.

Scheduled games happen on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and will also feature the other members, namely, the College of Saint Benilde Blazers, Mapua Cardinals, Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas and San Sebastian College-Recoletos Golden Stags.

“This is our first time to host an NCAA season. We chose the theme “Kaisa sa Pagkakaiba” because the league celebrates diversity and unity. It is open to everybody especially if it will benefit the league,” said Francisco Paulino V. Cayco of host-school Arellano.

“It’s going to be an exciting season. This league is for the Filipinos,” he added.

The NCAA Season 95 opening will be broadcast live starting at 11:30 a.m. on ABS-CBN S+A on TV and online via iWant.

The games can also be seen over S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD as well as streaming over at the and — Michael Angelo S. Murillo