Champions Accra Polytechnic have promised to silence critics who have questioned their title credentials this year.
The revered two-time champions head into the zone F qualifier without Romeo Enan Wilfred and Fahrat.
Fahrat is unavailable for the zone F qualifiers but could be ready for the national finals if the champions secure qualification.
The 2016 UPAC Basketball Championship promises to be the most keenly contested with several of the qualified teams preparing assiduously for the big-showdown.
The favourites tag and talk appears to have been shifted from the defending champions to the University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University and potentially Marshalls University College.
Critics have argued the champions will take an early bow from the competition due to the absence of some of their key players who have been influential in the dominance so far.
The absence of the reigning Tertiary Player of the Year, Romeo Enan Wilfred, appears to have fueled the growing believe that Accra Polytechnic could fall on the first hurdle.
Accra Polytechnic will play Zenith University College and debutants Blue Crest College and Valley View University.
On paper, it appears an easy ride for the defending champions, who are expected to stroll past its opponents with cheeky ease.
“We are the giants and so we are wary of the threats of the small axe. We have to be careful and not underrate any team,” he told BASKETBALLghana.com
“But Like I have said all along, we’re going to win again. Not because we’re complacent but because we are a serious institution who are bent on taking the game to the next level in the country.
“Naturally our opponents will take an aim at us. But we’re not perturbed. We know what it takes to get to the top. We have been champions for the past two years and we intend to remain there.
He added: “Those who feel we’ll be pushover should rather be wary. We have a compact team and do not fear any battle.
“I can promise fans of an exciting UPAC Basketball Championship. They should come in their numbers to watch our stars soar.
“There is no turning back. We want to make it a hat-trick of titles and nothing can impede our progress and target.”
The 2016 UPAC Championship is supported by MTN, Fanyogo and CAL Bank in partnership with Basketballghana.com, TV3, Y FM and Ghana Sports Newspaper.