July 9, 2014
UAAP Season 77 Preview Part Two (FEU, NU)
(Third of a four-part series)
With just a few days and sleepless nights remaining before Season 77 of the UAAP basketball tournament unfolds, we are a bit anxious as well as excited over how all eight teams will perform. Like the NCAA, the UAAP excites the media including Sportsmaryosep. There is some allure that draws everyone to collegiate basketball. So when Sportsmaryosep received the UAAP media ID from Theodore Jurado, one of most hardworking scribes in the collegiate circuit, it was like nirvana. Or an equivalent to a full-season ticket to one of the most prestigious collegiate leagues in the land. So thank you UAAP.
Now back to business. After previewing four teams–UP, Adamson, UE and Ateneo–with the help of Madam Auring, we’re tackling two teams next, starting with…
Far Eastern U
Last year’s placing and elims record: Fourth, 10-4
Coach: Nash Racela
Players: Carl Bryan Cruz, Al Francis Tamsi, Ryamar Jose, Ron Dennison, Russel Escoto, Jeson Delfinado, Jason David, Mark Belo, Cris Tolomia, Anthony Hargrove, Jr., Roger Pogoy, Augus Danila, Alejandro Inigo, Joel Lee Yu, Reeve Usang, Richard Escoto
Why it would win?
With Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia out, the mantle of responsibility falls on Mark Belo. As talented as Belo is, his strength lies on off-the-ball plays. So the Tams will need Michael Tolomia, perhaps a Roger Pogoy, to produce somewhere near the Romeo-Garcia numbers. With attention drawn away, Belo comes in. Saw also American Anthony Hargrove, Jr. play in the pre-season, and boy, the guy is like a man on a mission. The Tams have always impressed yours truly with their team-first, no-star philosophy. It worked wonders for a while last year and I don’t see why it wouldn’t this season.
Why it would not win?
As much as we try to quantify it, Romeo and Garcia are irreplaceable. I mean everything the Tams have done have emanated from these two. Tolomia is a talent, but he is not enough to fill the gigantic void left by the high-octane offense Romeo and Garcia used to create.
Madam Auring: The Tams have the ability to make the Final Four on the strength of a sound system inculcated by Racela. They have a nice, solid starting five centered on Belo, Hargrove and Tolomia. As for making the finals and winning it all, go ask Vice Ganda. He’ll probably get you an answer.
Last year’s placing and elims record: Third, 10-4
Coach: Eric Altamirano
Players: JJ Alejandro, Joshua Alolino, Henri Atanga Betayene, Raphael Atangan, John Paul Cauilan, Reden Celda, Arven Diputado, Alfred Aroga, Nico Javelona, Glenn Khobuntin, Kyle Neypes, Tristan Perez, Jeth Rosario, Mohamma Al-Yusouf Salim, Ralph Tansingco, Dave Wilson Yu
Why it would win?
After a much-delayed debut and Emmanuel Mbe gone, Cameroonian Alred Aroga will finally get to play. Seeing him last year, Aroga is a beast. NU also has this nice little rookie recruit in Rev Diputado, former member of five-peat NCAA high school champion San Beda and a former Energen Pilipinas mainstay. He will re-unite with former national youth team running mate JJ Alejandro. I also like this neophyte named Mohamma Al-Yusouf Salim from Hope Christian School. This boy plays three or four and can shoot from as far as the three-point area, making him a good floor-spacer for the likes of Aroga. So everything looks bright for NU.
Why it would not?
Like FEU’s Romeo and Garcia, the absence of Bobby “Ray” Parks, Jr. should create a tidal wave of problems for the Bulldogs. The two-time MVP had decided to forego his final year to try his luck in the United States where he is chasing the NBA dream. Glenn Khobuntin and Joshua Alolino should get the minutes in place of Parks but its going to be tough.
Madam Auring: The Bulldogs went a game away from making the finals for the first time in nearly half a century with Parks. Without Parks, it will be an achievement to make it as far as the Final Four. Also, this could be a make or break year for coach Eric Altamirano, who is expected to give it all to win this season.
(To be continued)
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(Photos courtesy of JP Manahan, spin.ph, pbaonline.net, Filoil Flying V)