It’s all over, even the bonfire. Season 72 of UAAP basketball ended the same way Season 71 did: The Ateneo Blue Eagles led by Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao winning the championship. [firstpara]
Next year might be a different story, though, with Al-Hussaini, Baclao, and starting point guard Jai Reyes serving out their eligibility. Season 73 looks wide open, with each team back to the drawing board. Meanwhile, the battle shifts from the bright lights of the arenas to the sweaty practice facilities and recruitment at high school gymnasiums.
FHM.com.ph looks back at each team’s performance in Season 72, and takes a preliminary stab at the outlook of each team for Season 73.
Adamson Soaring Falcons
Looking back: Leo Austria’s troops were the heartbreak kids of season 72, losing several close games by a very narrow margin. Undersized big man Jan Colina carried the load for the Falcons for most of the tournament, with hotshot guards Lester Alvarez and Jeric Cañada displaying flashes of brilliance.
Looking forward: The Falcons would have a mostly intact line-up, with Leo Canuday being the only rotation player who’s leaving. Kenyan big man Austin Manyara would be teaming up with Colina to form what looks like an imposing front line.
Analysis: Everyone used to think that Leo Austria was a great coach, especially after he led the Falcons to the final four in 2006. People started having doubts when they found out that he named his son “Bacon.” Who names their son that?
Ateneo Blue Eagles
Looking back: Ateneo was the most talented team in the tournament, and coach Norman Black skillfully honed his boys into a deadly unit that played disciplined offense and stifling defense. Finals MVP Rabeh Al-Hussaini got all the publicity, but frontcourt partner Nonoy Baclao was just as important as the pillar of the Ateneo defense.
Looking forward: Despite key losses, there is still enough talent on the Ateneo roster led by Eric Salamat, Ryan Buenafe, and Nico Salva to contend for the title.
Analysis: We're hoping that Kirk Long brings back the Bruno haircut he unveiled at the beginning of the tournament. Or that someone else on the team would try to top that, like, say, Eman Monfort showing up in a Lady Gaga wig and leotard.
De La Salle Green Archers
Looking back: La Salle was a team in flux in Season 72. With the lethargic play of their veterans, the Archers were forced to rely heavily on their rookies and sophomores. The whole tournament was a rollercoaster ride for the Gang Green faithful.
Looking forward: There will be sweeping changes in the La Salle program, with the underperforming veterans reportedly on the way out. More importantly, a coaching change has been announced, with Franz Pumaren’s mustache bound to give way to Dindo Pumaren’s crew cut. Derek Pumaren’s pockmarked mug will still be probably hanging out behind the bench.
Analysis: What’s the timetable for the Simon Atkins being cast in a teleserye love triangle with Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu? Two years? One year? Right away?
WORDS: JAEMARK TORDECILLA
IMAGE: ANTONIO ONGCHAP, JR.