NCAA Season 90 Preview Part One (MIT, CSB, JRU)

Nuvali, Laguna
June 21, 2014
NCAA Season 90 Preview: We Make History
(First of a series)

Here we go again.
The much-awaited collegiate basketball season is upon us. And the NCAA, the oldest and one of the most prestigious leagues in the country today, will draw first blood as it will unfurl on June 28 with a pair of titanic games featuring four-peat champion San Beda taking on host Jose Rizal at 1 p.m. and last year’s runner-up Letran battling San Sebastian at 3 p.m. at the MOA Arena in Pasay City. As Sportsmaryosep’s tradition, we will preview all 10 participating schools one by one. And we will seek help of the very reliable Madam Auring. Part time fortune teller, part time basketball forecaster.
And here it is.

Last year’s placing and record: 10th and dead last, 2-16
Coach: Atoy Co
Players: Exeqiel Biteng, Jerome Canaynay, Jeson Cantos, Joseph Emmanuel Eriobu, Jr., Andrew Estrella, Hessed Leo Jose Gabo, James Galoso, Carlos Isit, Raphael Layug, Dave Masigay, Jobert Medina, Jessie Saitanan, Justin Serrano, Jomari Tubiano and Ronnel Villasenor
Why it would win?
Watching Mapua play last season was like watching John Rambo machine-gunning his away against a multitude of Viet Congs. Only the Cardinals are the Viet Congs and the opposition are the Rambos. They’ve lost the African imports that were supposed to provide some inside muscle. They’ve also lost the only player that almost did everything last year in Kenneth Ighalo. Mark Brana, who was supposed to fill the void left by the above-mentioned couldn’t make the grade and was stricken off the roster. So now, Mapua is left with Jeson Cantos, Fil-Nigerian sharpshooter Joseph Eriobu, Andrew Estrella, Dave Magsigay and Jessie Saitanan and six rookies and three sophomores to carry the fight. They will win some. I just don’t know how many.

Why it would not?
If you have a team whose best player is its coach (Hello Atoy Co), it’s hard to be optimistic.
Madam Auring: Hope springs eternal. So Cardinals, go win it. Just don’t be disappointed if you can’t.

St. Benilde
Last year’s placing and record: Ninth, 5-13
Coach: Gabby Velasco
Players: Anton Altamirano, RJ Agramino, Roberto Bartolo, Jr., Ralph Deles, Ervin Flores, Jonathan Grey, Travis-Jerome Jonson, Jose Lorenzo Mercado, Raphael Nayve, Jeffrey Ongteco, Freddy Pajarillaga, Jr., Mark Romero, Jose Saavedra, Luis Sinco and Juan Paolo Taha
Why it would win?
They have learned from last year’s experience and their veterans headed by the core of Romero, Taha, Grey, Saavedra, Bartolo and Ongteco should make a significant splash. They’ve had some games that could have gone the other way. In the first round alone, the Blazers’ average losing margin was more or less points a game. It included four one-point defeats. Imagine if the ball flicked in their favor, and a shot or two trickled in, it would have been St. Benilde fighting it out in the Final Four instead of perhaps San Sebastian, Perpetual, Letran or even San Beda. They’ve got a nice little system insituted there by coach Gabby Velasco. They’re all set to fight it out for a Final Four spot, which is more a possibility this season than last.

Why it would not?
You can’t argue with experience. But the problem with the Blazers is that they’re still a small team compared to the Ola Adeoguns and Noube Happis of this league. They have Africans. But they’re still doing the residency requirements and will be eligible in the next year or two, leaving the likes of the foul-prone Bartolo and Ongteco to carry the fight. In the NCAA, height is still might.
Madam Auring: Officially, the Blazers are still the league’s “Heartbreak Kids.” And until they can repudiate it, they’re still the heartbreak kids. Don’t be surprised though if they can gate-crash to the Final Four.
Jose Rizal
Last year’s placing and record: Eighth, 6-12
Coach: Vergel Meneses
Players: AbdulZarak AbdulWahab, Jaycee John Asuncion, Kristan Astilla, Marco Balagtas, Schever Benavidez, King Benemirito, John Grospe, Michael Mabulac, Genesis Manuel, Clint Munez, Gio Lasquety, Philip Paniamogan, Juan Salaveria, Dave Sanchez and Bernabe Teodoro
Why it would win?
Jose Rizal is my favorite hero. So if a school names itself after my favorite hero, it means that that school is my favorite too. The Bombers though will win not because they’re named Jose Rizal but because they’re playing with sheer guts. I mean come on. Look closely in their line up and you will see mostly no-names. But they made the quarterfinals of the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup last summer. Along the way, Jose Rizal stunned La Salle, which eventually won the tournament by beating league dynasty San Beda. I mean, the Bombers beat the reigning UAAP, PCCL and Filoil champions. Beat that.

Why it would not?
Jose Rizal must be consistent from start to finish. Last year, they surprised everyone by leading the league in the early part of the season before fizzling out the rest of the way. If not, the Kalentong-based dribblers will bomb out again for sure.
Madam Auring: After playing with an African reinforcement last year, Jose Rizal had one this year in the name of AbdulWahab AbdulRazak, a 6-5 Ghanan who is said to be rebounding demon. As I’ve said, this is still the big man’s league. If you have that kind of a big man, you will a chance to compete with the best. And the Bombers will.
….To be continued

Here’s the NCAA first round schedule:

Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

(Photos courtesy of


2 thoughts on “NCAA Season 90 Preview Part One (MIT, CSB, JRU)

  1. Pingback: NCAA Season 90 Preview Part Two | sportsmaryosep

  2. Pingback: NCAA Season 90 Preview Part Three (UPHDS, SSC) | sportsmaryosep

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