The UAAP college basketball season is upon us and we advise you to prepare for three months of intense basketball, mucho controversy, and a lot of chatter in social media.
The Men’s Basketball championship is arguably the most hotly-contested title in the country and with only 14 matches to play, every win and loss is huge.
With only one team largely not hit by graduation or the traditional turnover of players, one can actually say that there’s a semblance of parity in the league where any other team can beat the other on any given day.
Everyone will try to play for an advantage both on and off the court. And when we say off the court, that means transitioning into another court–that one of law as we saw two Temporary Restraining Orders slapped on the UAAP last season. It has also been the subject of a Senate inquiry as well as a couple of Senate Bills. That's how much the league and its matches affect everyone!
As always, there will be heroes and villains who will define and chart the course of the season that will leave lasting repercussions. We've already given you a preview of how each team will look, it's now time to take a look at the 17 MIPs (Most Important Persons) of Season 77, the people who will shape and define this season and beyond.
Let the memes and hashtags begin!
(Photo from Spin.ph)
Position: The freaking all-mighty UAAP Board
No one is more controversial. No one is louder. No one is more unpredictable. They took on Sen. Pia Cayetano, who railed against the controversial eligibility rules and won in some manner because they managed to delay the entry of some players into the league. Somehow every season, they find themselves trending in all the coffee shop, water cooler, online forum, and social media talk.
Why they are important: They preside over arguably the most popular sports league in the country. And they are well aware of that.
What happens if they fail: They sweep things under the rug and move on.
(Photo via inboundpass)
Position: Head coach of the UE Red Warriors
The last time Derrick Pumaren was in the UAAP was when he served as a consultant to UE while youngest brother Dindo was patrolling the Red Warriors’ sidelines several years ago. Now as head coach in the UAAP again, a title he has not held since piloting La Salle to its first two league titles back in the '80s, he is preparing to weave his old magic.
If this young team of Red Warriors buy into his defensive schemes then they will be dangerous. They showed flashes of it during the summer and when it clicked they looked like they could roll over anyone. Now the question is, “How consistent can they be?”
Why he’s important: Pumaren is a former UE player. He suited up for their high school and college teams before moving to Taft to join his father Pilo in La Salle. So you know that Red Warriors pride runs deep in him. Although this year is a rebuilding year for UE after losing so many veterans, they should challenge for a Final Four slot.
What happens if he fails: As long as UE plays and conducts themselves well Pumaren’s first year will be viewed positively. A last place finish still is not acceptable. Not when you have players like Roi Sumang and Charles Mammie. By Season 78, he will have a full pre-season to recruit and bring in the players he wants. By Season 79, they should seriously challenge for the title. At least that’s the plan.
(Photo by Jerome Ascano for Spin.ph)
Position: Head coach of the defending UAAP champions DLSU Green Archers
Don’t be deceived by his disdain for talk and his penchant for Gregg Popovich-like one-liners that don’t say much. Sauler is a smart person who burns with a seemingly quiet intensity. And these Green Archers have taken on that personality of his.
Why he’s important: Sauler is 3-3 in tournaments: UAAP Season 76, PCCL, and the Filoil. No doubt, La Salle has found the heir to Franz Pumaren and his numerous titles. Sauler's no-nonsense approach and dry humor, not to mention his unorthodox ways of viewing the game have been a refreshing approach for a squad that previously underachieved. Now he has them and the green gallery believing. This year is important because if they win the title, it will be viewed as the bridge to their projected six-peat as African sensation Ben MBala finally suits up next season.
What happens if he fails: Nothing. His job is secure. And he’ll even have a better team next season. Exciting times in Taft!