ESPN5.com's college hoops writers preview the 10 teams competing in the 95th season of the NCAA.
Perpetual Help Altas
Season 94 performance: 11-7 (4th place, lost to San Beda in Final Four)
The Perpetual Altas pulled off a surprise when they made it back to the Final Four last season.
League MVP Prince Eze starred in the magical run that saw the team bounce back from a ninth-place finish in the previous year.
With Eze gone from the lineup, however, the rookie-laden Altas are set to face an uphill climb this NCAA Season 95.
"The team is totally different," said Perpetual head coach Frankie Lim. "Eight are new, all from team B whom I elevated, while seven are retained. They're new and they're young so it's a totally different outlook."
Former San Beda big man Ben Adamos will serve as one of the Altas' anchors, alongside graduating playmaker Edgar Charcos. Adamos, who won two championships with the Red Lions, is expected to help fill the huge void left by Eze.
Veterans Kim Aurin, Jielo Razon, and Tonton Peralta will also help lead the squad, together with promising recruits Jefher Egan and Ramlee Lanoy.
Just like last year, the Altas will come in as underdogs, but Lim is confident that his young players will do whatever it takes to compete and pull off another surprise.
"It's tougher compared to last year," said Lim. "But we're good in some positions. We'll be okay, we'll be competitive. The players will fight for sure."
Season 94 performance: 13-5 (3rd place, lost to Lyceum in Final Four)
Heading into battle with a fully loaded lineup, the Letran Knights are considered one of the frontrunners in the race to the NCAA Season 95 championship.
Jerrick Balanza, who gave a preview of his fine form in the preseason tournaments, is raring to return and lead the team after a brain tumor temporarily put him away from the game last year.
"Jerrick Balanza is our leader," said new head coach Bonnie Tan. "He's almost recovered from his injury and he's excited to bounce back and play with the team."
Tan, who replaced Jeff Napa at the helm, will have multiple weapons at his disposal even after losing their biggest stars in Bong Quinto and JP Calvo.
Jeo Ambohot, Bonbon Batiller, Fran Yu, and last year's Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang are still in the fold, boosted by the addition of Pao Javillonar, Neil Guarino, Allen Mina, Ato Ular, and Mark Sangalang.
"Right now, we're still learning, we're still solving our mistakes," said Tan about their preparations. "We're trying to improve every game as individuals and as a team. We're still hungry for improvement."
After making a return to the Final Four last year, the Knights are ready to aim higher. This time, they want to earn their place back in the finals and fight for the crown that they last held in 2015.
"For me, the players need to know that we are contenders," said Tan. "We're trying to improve our standing from last season so there's the pressure, but that will only help us move forward and improve as a team."