Four games were played during UAAP Season 72’s opening weekend, and if the early returns are any indication, odds are, we are in for another wild ride. Let’s do a quick recap. [firstpara]
We saw the UE Red Warriors totally gutting out last year’s runner-up De La Salle. The supposedly rebuilding NU Bulldogs looked quite ready to bite as they took the fight out of a defenseless and frustratingly careless U.P. squad. Ateneo definitely looked pumped to defend their title as they raced out to a double-digit lead early in the game. The let FEU squeak back in to make a game out of it, but the Blue Eagles flew out as winners with a four-point win. And finally, we witnessed an early season thriller between the UST Tigers and the Adamson Falcons, with the big cats barely coming out with their paws intact, clinging to a hard-fought one-point victory.
Oh, the drama. UAAP basketball is back.
What’s not are several key players who have graduated, and (hopefully) gone on to better things. Which means, there’s a huge, gaping valley of opportunity for other players to step up. Here are the players who we think will do just that.
Ryan Buenafe, Ateneo Blue Eagles, SF
In 2008, after averaging 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the regular season, Buenafe gave the Blue Eagles extra wing lift, and boosting those numbers to 8.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in the Final Four games. Now that Chris Tiu has moved on, expect a bigger offensive presence from last year’s Rookie of the Year. With reigning MVP Al-Husseini drawing crowds inside the paint and guards Eric Salamat and Jai Reyes getting the ball to him, Buenafe will have a field day operating in the perimeter.
WORDS: Gelo Gonzales
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Spoilers ahead—read at your own risk