NCAA Season 90 Preview Part Three (UPHDS, SSC)

Bayleaf Hotel, Intramuros
June 26, 2014
NCAA Season 90 Preview Part Three
(Third of a series)

I was drinking my boiling hot Sambong tea in this beautiful place inside Manila’s walled city fronting the lovely City Hall when I remembered something that Jeff Tamayo, a Philippine Olympic Committee official who is Perpetual Help’s representative to the NCAA’s Management Committee, said during the Phl Sportswriters Association Forum at the Shakey’s Malate the day before. He was talking about a coaching legend named Aric del Rosario, who will be turning septuagenarian soon. And the man is still at it.

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In case you’re hiding in a cave somewhere in Timbktu playing dota, he is the coach who steered the Santo Tomas Tigers to four straight UAAP championships from 1993 to 1996 including a historic sweep in the first one. He added another title to his legend by engineering the Pampanga Dragons to a championship in the first season of now defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association. For some reasons, he retired and sat on his chair in hometown Pampanga sipping his brewed coffee and hot pandesal for years. He found his way back to basketball as league commissioner a few years ago and continued to resist the lure back to coaching. But the undeniable fact remained in coach Aric’s heart and eventually couldn’t resist the urge and returned coaching. At Perpetual Help where his long-time buddy, Perpetual Help team owner Antonio Tamayo awaits with an embracing arms.

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And Sportsmaryosep will talk about the godfather of Phl coaching and his Perpetual Altas team in the continuation of our Madam Auring-ing Season 90 of the NCAA. By the way here’s Part One https://sportsmaryosep.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/ncaa-season-90-preview-part-1/ and Part Two https://sportsmaryosep.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/ncaa-season-90-preview-part-two/.  And here it goes.

Perpetual Help
Last year’s placing and record: Fourth, 11-7
Coach: Aric del Rosario
Players: Justine Alano, Harold Arboleda, Juneric Baloria, Nestor Bantayan, Jr., Gabriel Dangangon, Gerald Dizon, Ric Gallardo, Joel Jolangcob, Kervin Lucente, Kevin Oliveria, Keith Pido, Flash Sadiwa, Antonio Tamayo, Earl Scottie Thompson, John Ylagan
Why it would win?
The mention of Aric dela Rosario alone should be enough to send down the oppositions’ spines. In two years since he took over the Altas’ coaching reins, he steered the Las Pinas-based school to two straight Final Four appearances after doing some chores in the league kitchen as one of the NCAA’s whipping boys for some time. On his first season with Perpetual, del Rosario’s team went 10-8 to barge into the Final Four for the first time since it topped the elimination a decade ago before ending up on the losing end of its title duel with former member Phl Christian U. The 10 wins was many as the vicrtories the Altas won in the previous four seasons including a last place finish in in Season 84 and a pair of second-to-the-last effort in Seasons 85 and 86. The Altas were better the next year under del Rosario’s watch with an 11-7 mark. So don’t be surprised if Perpetual betters its performance this year.
Why it would not?
No more Nigerian scoring machine in Nosa Omorogbe. Which means the Altas will need to find ways to plug that huge hole. Which means Juneric Baloria, their other prolific scorer not named Omorogbe, will have more hands on his face. Which means trouble.

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Madam Auring: Winning the Fr. Martin Summer Cup in the pre-season against a Santo Tomas team is no joke. For the record, the Altas were one of the only two teams (The other was Jose Rizal) who dealt La Salle its only defeat in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup where it reigned supreme. What’s promising though is that the Altas found a way to survive with a smaller frontcourt last year and an injured Earl Scottie Thompson. Now the athletic Thompson is back after rediscovering the spring that made him one of the exciting players to watch in the NCAA. Count it with “The Godfather,” Baloria and a reliable bench, it could spell a third Final Four stint.

San Sebastian
Last year’s placing, record: Third, 11-7
Coach: Topex Robinson
Players: Eulo Aquino, Earvin Alvarez, Bobby Baculanag, Michael Calisaan, Israel Camasura, Ryan Costelo, Jovit dela Cruz, Jerick Fabian, Bradwyn Guinto, Justine Mercado, Jamil Ortuoste, Jaymar Perez, Spencer Pretta, Jeffrey Santos and Rhanzelle Yong
Why it would win?
Except for do-it-all Fil-Am Leo de Vera, who played his one and only eligible season a year back, the Stags have retained their starting five that led to the team making it to the Final Four–Guinto, Dela Cruz, Ortuoste, Perez. The four were the driving forces of last year’s campaign. And if they kept up the same pace, it would end up with the same outcome.

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Why it would not?
Aside from De Vera, San Sebastian has lost its able back up in Raffy Gusi, Mark Trinidad, Ranimark Tano and Giuseppe Vergara for various reasons, leaving the untested eight neophytes to grow up in a hurry and their starters to carry most of the load in what could be another long season.
Madam Auring: The Stags are used to this kind of a situation. Remember last season when they also lost the “Pinatubo Three”–Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang and Ronald Pascual–and yet they were able to pull the rug from almost everyone to make it to the Final Four. It will be the same this year with the remnants already seasoned and battle-scarred. That’s a scary thought.
(The fourth and last part coming soon…)
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of Filoil Flying V, ncaa.org.ph and spin.ph)

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