Manila Yacht Club
June 24, 2013
UAAP Season 76 primer Part I
(First of a two-part series)
Wearing a red shirt and a blue jeans, Boycie Zamar walked into the second floor of the dining area of the Manila Yacht Club in Roxas Boulevard and sat on the first table near the door where Sportsmaryosep, Libre sports editor Dennis Eroa, Pilipino Star sports editor Beth Repizo, Abante sports editor Virgie Romano, Manila Bulletin veteran scribe Clyde Mariano, People’s Journal columnist Lito Cinco, Business Mirror reporter Jonathan Perez and University of the East media liaison officer Leo Gaviola sat. He chatted for a while, cracking some one-liners and old jokes with the people on the table, most of whom were there when he was still starting to coach.
Zamar then reminisced on the good old days when the UE Warriors, sorry for the cliche, used to paint the town red. How could he not, he was part of the golden era of the UE days. Zamar was specifically recalling the 80s when the Recto-based dribblers won back-to-back titles from 1984 to 1985. Most of you were probably not born during that time when Zamar played side by side with Allan Caidic and Jerry Codinera. Caidic, of course, is known as the “Triggerman” and Codinera the “Defense Minister.” Legends are what they are being named to the elite 25 greatest players by the PBA. Those twin championships also happened to be Zamar’s first two years as a basketball player. He also recalled being part of the UE team that finished second to UP in 1986 and then Ateneo the next year. In 1988, Zamar ended his UAAP career with a third place finish.
He also talked about being drafted by Alaska in 1990, Tim Cone’s debut season as a PBA mentor, but eventually didn’t make the team because the guards during those times were the more illustrious Frankie Lim, Bong Alvarez and Ric Ric Marata. Fast forward to the present and you have Zamar and the Warriors staring at a possible UAAP championship this coming Season 76.
“We’re ready for the UAAP tournament,” beams Zamar, whose UE Warriors hosted an appreciation lunch with print and online media men Monday, which happens to interestingly coincide with the Manila and San Juan Day. Although there’s optimism in Zamar’s voice, which could probably be attributed to UE shocking National U to cop the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup title a few weeks back, he thinks its still going to be a wide open race. “Anyone can beat anyone,” he says.
And so it is.
That’s why Sportsmaryosep is summoning the powers of Madam Auring and her crystal ball to analyze one by one how the teams are going to fare in Season 76. It’s not a perfect (witch) craft, but we’re doing it anyway just for you guys, who are all loyal to Sportsmaryosep. We’ll start from the bottom placed team last year and crawl all the way to the top. And it starts with…
University of the Philippines (8th, 1-13)
Why it would win. Tata Marata has always been a favorite of mine even starting in his high school years with UPIS. Its disappointing though his stint with the La Salle Archers didn’t turn out well. I’m glad he’s burning his last year of UAAP eligibility where it all began–UP. He will be a force for sure. I also like this big man named Raul Soyud. He’s not as athletic as your next-door center, but man, he can mix it up with the best of them inside due to his penchant for positioning well for loose balls and offensive rebounds. He also has a soft hands from the outside. This Chris Ball, JR Gallarza and Cebuano point guard Henry Asilum are also promising. There’s this rookie and former Energen Pilipinas player from Xavier who is also suiting up for the Maroons this year, his name is Kyles Lao. Andre Paras, son of former PBA Rookie MVP Benjie, is also another neophyte to watch out for.
Why it would not. The injury of Paolo Romero, former Ateneo Blue Eaglet who was supposed to be in the starting line up, should take its toll on UP’s campaign. The Maroons, save for some, are a relatively young team particularly their guards. For a team that is not that tall, their three-point shooting is warily inconsistent, if not poor.
Madam Auring: For sure, the Maroons will improve their effort from last year. If not, its going to flood with tears in Diliman again.
University of the East (7th, 3-11)
Why it would win. They’ve topped the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup by beating the heavily favored Bulldogs. If that isn’t enough reason, at least consider it a strong statement. Roi Sumang has completed his transformation from pedestrian to elite point guard. Charles Mammie of Sierra Leone is a beast. Migs Noble, the last link to that team that swept the elims five years back, is playing like the veteran that he is. They’ve got some nice role players too like Gino Jumao-as, Ralf Olivarez, Chris Javier and Jay-ar Sumido who can click it if given a chance. Most importantly, this team has been playing and training together since October last year, or just right after Season 75 ended. In short, they’ve participated in every tournament possible and imaginable, big and small, local and international, and winning five titles in the process including the Filoil tilt and the Fr. Martin Cup early this year. Chemistry will also be a key.
Why it would not. I see a few reasons why UE will not perform big. But if there is such, it will be when Mammie and Sumang underperform.
Madam Auring: Barring major injuries, UE is a shoe-in to the Final Four. And if it summons the same resolve it did in the pre-season, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up gatecrashing into the finals, and perhaps, win the crown and end a long 28-year title drought.
Adamson Falcons (6th, 3-11)
Why it would win. There are two biggest reasons why the Falcons will soar this year. And its Jericho Cruz and Cameroonian behemoth Ingird Sewa. Cruz reminds me of… yes LeBron James. He has it all. He can score inside and out, pass, rebound and defend all positions with his size effortlessly. Sewa, for his part, can occupy massive space and should be a dominant force. Rodney Brondial, who did well last year, is still struggling but should find his groove soon, which is bad news to the rest of the league. Roider Cabrera will be the gunslinger that this team needs and I expect them go firing on all cylinders. Leo Austria is also a coach who has the ability to win it. Look at his titles in the defunct PBL and, most recently, the Asean Basketball League where he lead the San Miguel Beermen to this year’s title.
Why it would not. The bench has much to be desired. Sewa, on the other hand, occupies space too much that he sometimes slow down dribble penetrators by the Falcons. Their perimeter shooting borders from below average to average. In order to create space for Sewa on the offensive end, the shooters must connect.
Madam Auring: Before UE won the title, I put the Falcons as an automatic Final Four entrant. I still see them making it that far. This time though, there’s this iota of doubt that lingers somewhere inside me. And that is the problem.
Far Eastern University (5th, 9-5)
Why it would win. Their guards, RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo, are the most entertaining and energizing among the lot. High scoring, seasoned and relentless forces of nature. That’s what they are. And also, since Nash Racela took over from Bert Flores, he has given each and everyone, with the exception of American Anthony Hargrove, to shoot if open. It’s a good thing actually considering that the Tams are not as big as before primarily because, sadly, banger Arvie Bringas, isn’t returning to the team this season. Worry not, FEU is much fun to watch this year with their quickness and lights out shooting, Lakers style.
Why it would not. As I’ve stressed, FEU is smaller this season, which should give it problems the rest of the year. Romeo and Garcia, as much as they’re oozing with talent and explosiveness, have so many off-court distractions. Also, giving license to everyone not named Hargrove can sometimes snow ball.
Madam Auring: This is a guard-heavy team anchored on the Garcia-Romeo backcourt duo. They will kill their foes with their speed, relentless defensive hustling and lights out shooting. They can barge into the Final Four. Notice the word “can” and “barge.”
To be continued soon….
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(Photos courtesy of Filoil Flying V)