NCAA Season 90 Preview Final Part (Letran, SBC)

Vito Cruz, Manila
June 26, 2014
NCAA Season 90 Preview Final Part (Letran, SBC)

After writing a story about Filipino Grandmaster Wesley So’s exploits in the 9th Edmonton Open in Canada, I took a nap or siesta as most older guys used to call it. Somewhere around 3 p.m. a thud woke me up. It turned out Peter Atencio, the coughing sportswriter from Manila Standard who also has this little blog he named Pektus Corner, dropped his recorder. If you don’t know this guy, you’ll probably get irritated. But all of us sports scribes knew Peter as the clumsiest guy in the world and his monicker is MOD, which means Master of Disaster.
So I forgave him.
Then I looked at the window and its dark. Then I realized it’s just 3 p.m. It’s probably rain clouds. And heavy ones. Then it poured for an hour. It was one scary deluge that flooded this small, stinky strip faster before you can say Peter Atencio. Thankfully, it subsided. And so goes the flooding.
And then I remembered I had to write the fourth and final part of my NCAA Season 90 preview for Sportsmaryosep. And here I was doing this service to collegiate basketball mankind. And here it goes.

Letran
Last year’s placing and elimination round record: Second, 15-3
Coach: Caloy Garcia
Players: Felix Apreku, Jr., John Paul Calvo, Fidel Castro, Mark Cruz, Chrisantoni dela Pena, Jamil Gabawan, McJour Luib, Rey Nambatac, Reynaldo Publico, Jr., Kier Quinto, Kevin Racal, Reneford Ruaya, Reuben Saldua, Daryl Singontiko, John Tambeling
Why it would win?
A team with Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal and Rey Nambatac in it should create ripples, perhaps tectonic waves. If you don’t these three, they’re just the BEST guard combo this season. Bar none. You will like the diminutive but big-hearted Cruz and his toughness. You will also like Racal and his toughness. You will like Nambatac and his toughness. You probably notice a lot of toughness there. Becuase that’s how the trio are. And they will provide a lot of it come D-Day.

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Why it would not?
Raymond Almazan and Jonathan Belorio are tough acts to follow. Losing the two are massive blows to the Knights since they will have to able bodies to contain the likes of Ola Adeogun of San Beda or Noube Happi of Emilio Aguinaldo. Yes, Gabawan, Ruaya and Publico have shown some flashes of brilliance in small stretches but could they sustain it in long hauls? It will take a lot of stepping up to do for these Letran bigs to fill the enormous vois Almazan and Belorio’s absence created. And I’m not just taking a lot. I mean a LOT.
Madam Auring: Unlike in seasons past, the Knights will be the Davids of these league’s Goliaths. While I see Cruz, Racal and Nambatac doing most of the things, I think Letran’s fate will hing on how its frontcourt will perform. So watch Gabawan, Ruaya and Publico. It’s a little comforting though to have players like Fidel Castro and Von Tambeling, the former could steal the democracy out of the opposition and the latter could acrobat his way to success. No pun intended.
San Beda
Last year’s placing and elimination round record: First, 18-0
Coach: Boyet Fernandez
Players: Von Abatayo, Lancelot Abude, Ola Adeogun, Baser Amer, Jeramer Cabanag, Arthur dela Cruz, Ryusei Koga, Jaypee Mendoza, Kyle Pascual, Jayvee Mocon, Roldan Sara, Anthony Semerad, David Semerad, Michole Solera, Ranbill Tongco
Why it would?
Ola Adeogun. The consensus favorite to win the MVP award. The 6-8 Nigerian can score inside, can dominate the board and block, deflect and change your shots. He’s a havoc spelled HAVOC. Amer and dela Cruz have also shown tremendous improvement with their strong pre-season plays. Anthony Semerad, the other half of the twins playing for the Lions, should have a breakout season. They have talented rookies in former national youth mainstay Tongco (assuming he learns from a bad impression he himself created when he was ejected for a flagrant foul in a pre-season game) and Mocon, who has transformed himself from playing an undersized big man for the Cubs to a three-point gun-totting small forward for the Lions. Bench depth will also be a factor.

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Why it would not?
Rome dela Rosa may have left some hole being San Beda’s best wing defender with some scoring thrown in. Francis Abarcar, one of the most hated players outside the Mendiola campus, and his rugged play will be missed. Outside shooting remains inconsistent although Pascual kept shooting his medium-ranged jumpers. But that’s just about it.
Madam Auring: The only way to stop the Lions is to play perfect basketball. Meaning, contain Adeogun and cut the source of scoring outside him including Amer. It will also take crisp passing and cohesive play to slay the giants. Make the threes. Attack often. Hard to do right? Or just give up, which is a lot easier to do than the former.
Sportmaryosep prognosis: San Beda, the four-peat feat champion and winner of seven of the last eight championships, is the hands down favorite to go all the way. They’re beatable though. The second to the ninth team will be a dog fight as the No. 2 team has a little edge over the No. 9 squad. Same with Nos. 3 to 8. Guess who is No. 10? Come back to me after three months and you will know.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of Filoil Flying V, Ola Adeogun, piccollage and http://www.pic2fly.com )

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