James Yap, Arwind Santos, L.A. Tenorio, and Cyrus Baguio: What do they all have in common? Aside from having letter A’s in their name, they all came from the UAAP! Let’s face it, the UAAP is the country's finest factory of top local talent. Every year, one young buck will make you shake your head in awe and exclaim, "that guy will be the next big thing in RP basketball." Just think of Bader Malabes from years back and imagine his exact opposite.
This season is no different. UAAP Season 76, opening on Saturday, June 29, is replete with upstarts, who will be fixtures in the pros soon. But for now, they’ll entertain and scintillate us as they try to carry their respective schools to glory and a year’s worth of bragging rights.
So whose school cheer are we going to hear by the end of the season? Who’s in and who’s out? Here’s our little preview, plus tweets of several players on the side just for additional fun.
Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles
Season 75: Champion (12-2)
Head coach: Bo Perasol
Holdovers: Gideon Babilonia, Ryan Buenafe, Gwynne Capacio, Nico Elorde, JP Erram, Frank Golla, Isaac Lim, Von Pessumal, Kiefer Ravena, Juami Tiongson
In: Anton Asistio, Fran Asuncion, Ivan Enriquez, Earl Murphy, Chris Newsome, Vince Tolentino
Out: Justin Chua, Tonino Gonzaga, Kris Porter, Nico Salva, Greg Slaughter, Oping Sumalinog
It will be a season of changes for the five-time defending champs. In terms of personnel, Ateneo lost the most among all the teams—not in quantity but in quality. The exit of Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva, and Justin Chua, quite literally, left a gaping hole in the team. But the guy the squad will really miss is head coach Norman Black. It just felt like the Blue Eagles were invincible when he was around. He simply knows how to win. Stuck at level 33 in Candy Crush? Call him.
Seriously though, it’s good that Ateneo found a talented successor in Bo Perasol. With his entry, the boys from Loyola will use a backcourt-oriented offense. Yes, they’ll have glitches here and there, but if all else fails, they can always press their panic button (a.k.a. #15 Kiefer Ravena). Forget the year of the water snake! It’s the year of the Blue Mamba! Even though the Eagles will have a tough time bagging straight title No. 6, they’ll never be out of contention with him around. Or with Dick Gordon exhaustively cheering in the stands.
Breakout player to watch out for: Frank Golla
What Ateneo fans must be thinking: "Ano kaya ang career-high ni Ryan Buenafe sa extra rice?"
Tweet-tweet din kapag may time:
When Ravena isn’t spending time honing his fade-away jumper, he’s busy flirting with Jasmine Curtis. Give him the MVP award now!
Adamson University Soaring Falcons
Season 75: 6th place (3-11)
Head coach: Leo Austria
Holdovers: Gian Abrigo, Michael Agustin, Rodney Brondial, Eric Cabigas Roider Cabrera, Jericho Cruz, Ar-rouf Julkipli, Ryan Monteclaro, Harry Petilos, Jansen Rios, Don Trollano
In: Matthew Bernabe, Jerome Garica, Axel Iñigo, Dawn Ochea, Ingrid Sewa,
Out: Eric Camson, James Deans, Allen Etrone, Alex Nuyles, Jeff Olalia
Not much is expected from Adamson this season, aside from being a gracious host. But head coach Leo Austria surely loves the under-the-radar-ness (we just made that word up) of his team. There’s not much pressure to carry, and his wards can just focus on playing hard every game. The amiable tactician has proven time and again that he’s one of the brightest minds in local basketball and he has a knack for making his boys buy into his system of disciplined offense.
All set to lead the Soaring Falcons this year is electrifying sophomore Jericho Cruz. He can light up the scoreboard any given afternoon with his slashing ability and outside shooting. He also has this perpetual smugness in him, like former Falcon Mark Abadia, which comes in handy in psyching out opponents. The San Marcelino-based squad is also pumped up about the entry of Cameroonian center Ingrid Sewa (yep, the 6-foot-8 behemoth’s first name is Ingrid). His size, girth, and strength will be a huge boost for Adamson, which finished dead last in points in the paint (28.1) and blocks (3.3) last season.
Breakout player to watch out for: Jansen Rios
What Adamson fans must be thinking: "Roider Cabrera, parang awa mo na, ‘wag kang tira nang tira!"
Tweet-tweet din kapag may time:
Jericho Cruz likes counting down the days till Season 76's opening. He also likes emoticons.
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