These are the respective Final team line-ups of the UAAP Season 75 Men's Senior Basketball Teams that I got from the UAAP Season 75 PressCon that I attended yesterday at the MOA Arena. To go along with the team line-ups, I also got the opportunity to get the comments and assessments of the Coaches of the respective teams regarding their chances this year.
ADAMSON and ATENEO
The Adamson Falcons remain to be a contender this Season. I can see them finishing 4th place this year. Although they are not that strong compared to Ateneo and NU, they still have the tools to beat the top teams this Season. With the healthy Alex Nuyles and Eric Camson who are still part of the team, it's safe to say that their offense is somehow at par with that of the other teams. Their strength lies in their tall wingmen who can score and defend at the same time. They will also have new players who can contribute in the scoring and defensive end such as Jericho Cruz and Ar-Rauof Julkipli, two guards who can score in bunches. Coach Leo Austria said that "Ateneo is still the team to beat this year, and NU is the top contender to win the crown, but La Salle is very dangerous. It seems that they are enjoying in their games and that they are always playing inpired basketball because of the support of their supporters na talagang andiyan lagi. For me, FEU has the strongest line-up. They have legitimate players for every position. And also, UST, every year, they have surprises. They are also a contender this year. Yung Teams na nasa baba, hindi mo pwede biruin, any team can beat any team this Season."
The Ateneo De Manila Blue Eagles are still one of the top contenders to win the crown. Pound for Pound, I can see them finishing 1st or 2nd this Season. Greg Slaughter, Kiefer Ravena and Nico Salva, for me these guys are enough for the Blue Eagles to rack up some wins this Season, just imagine, what more if you put in Ryan Buenafe in the mix. Wow! I have one word for that, MONSTER! And also, I would like to highlight the importance of Juami Tiongson this Season for the Ateneo. He will be the number 1 point-guard of the Blue Eagles with the departure of Eman Monfort. But I think, Juami will do a decent job in running the plays of the Blue Eagles. Nico Elorde, a rookie from De La Salle Zobel will serve as his back-up. Coach Norman Black said that "We're looking forward to a good year. And of course we're trying to accoomplish something that has never been done recently, winning 5 championships in a row. We know it's gonna be difficult. We lost some key players last year. Our perimeter defense will be tested this Year. Just like what coach Leo said, any team can beat any team. I expect every game to be tough. Everybody has a favorite, has a team they fear the most. Of course NU had a great summer. They improved a lot. But, I think UST is gonna be tough this year. Coach Pido has a good center and a veteran team."
DE LA SALLE and FEU
DLSU has a stable set of big men with Norbert Torres spear heading the inside attack. Aside from their big men, they also have 2 new assets who can speed up their game and spark scoring runs when they are in a bad situation. Those 2 new assets are Jeron Teng and Mark Jayven Tallo, a transferree from the Ateneo Basketball Program. Watch out for these two guys as they try to make a name for themselves this coming UAAP Season 75. I can see the Green Archers entering the Final 4 this year. They can even take the 3rd spot in the Final 4 if they will just aim their arrows properly. Coach Gee Abanilla said that "Our goals this Season are pretty modest. We've been out of the Final 4 for the last 2 years and that's one of our goals, to enter the Final 4 this Season. Just like what they said, it's an open race any team can beat any team this Season, but I think Ateneo is really strong just like NU. That's a fact. Right now, I just wanna say that I'm happy that we're improving as a team and that we're making our school proud."
The FEU Tamaraws lost a lot of key players such as JR Cawaling and Ping Exciminiano. That's the reason why I can't see them figuring in the Final 4. Their scoring will be affected and their defense will dwindle down because of the absence of those 2 guys. Coach Bert Flores said that "Siguro, malakas yung NU. Maganda summer niyan. Of course, Ateneo rin. First game ko UST. Malakas din yan. Malakas lahat ang teams ngayon. Maganda ang UAAP this Season."
NU and UE
The NU Bulldogs! I rarely see a team this talented and this complete in the UAAP. The Bulldogs are one heck of a team this Season. They have solid point-guards in Gelo Alolino and Cedric Labing-Isa. They have a proven scorer in Bobby Ray Parks Jr. who bagged the MVP Award in the recently concluded FilOil Flying V Hanes Pre-Season Cup 2012. They have a strong big man in Emmanuel Mbe, who is now free from personal problems unlike last year. And also, they have a defensive player who's willing to do the dirty job for the Bulldogs in Jeoff Javillonar. Only a championship trophy will satisfy the hunger of the NU Bulldogs this Season. For me, they badly need to win their first game in a convincing fashion because that will shake off their early season Jitters. They need to keep in mind what happened last Season wherein they lost against the UST Tigers in their opening day game. That loss pretty much dictated their Season 74. They need to have an overflowing conviction this Season if they want to go all the way towards the promise land. Coach Eric Altamirano said, we had a good summer tournament. I hust hope we can bring that to the UAAP. But the UAAP is a different league. Everybody has a chance of making it. We first have to be in the Final 4. That's our modest goal. We're very optimistic coming into this Season. Everybody in our team is enjoying. Everybody is playing together. Of course, we have to put Ateneo, UST, FEU and Adamson as the teams to beat this Season."
The UE Red Warriors, for me are in an emergency situation. Just like last year, they still don't have a big man who can match the height of the other bigs in the UAAP. They might win some games if their guards will play well. Roi Sumang is one of the guards who can make a big difference for the Red Warriors. But since he's not that big, the wear and tear after each of their games might hinder him from shining consistently. Coach Jerry was still happy with his team. He said that "his line-up this Season is better than their line-up last year in terms of versatility. They can run fast breaks as well as they can run their half court offense. But the Big Boys, Ateneo, UST, DLSU and FEU, they're all up there. Very competitive sila. But given the opportunity we'll give it our best shot."
UP and UST
For the UP Fighting Maroons, bench depth and inside presence are still their biggest problems. Carlo Gomez's departure will hurt this team. Although, one upside that I can see in this team is their running game. The very shifty and crafty Jelo Montecastro and Mike Gamboa will spear head their running game. The comebacking Alvin Padilla and Mikee Reyes will also try to help the cause of the Fighting Maroons, but don't expect too much from these two guys as they will still have to get their rhythm back after a long lay off. Coach Ricky Dandan said that "Playing UP this year is not an automatic W. Even with a depleted line-up we will be there fighting. We'll see what will be in store for us. There's no doubt that Ateneo and Nu are the contenders."
The UST Tigers have a right mix of players who can come up with a lot of surprises this Season. They have a reliable center in Karim Abdul and they have enough shooters who can score such as Jeric Teng, Jeric Fortuna, Kevin Ferrer, Tata Bautista and Ajon Mariano. The thing is, can their second stringers step up when the first stringers are struggling? That will be the biggest question for the Tigers this Season 75. They should find a way to answer that problem as quickly as possible if they ought to make it to the Final 4. Coach Pido said that "Maganda yung gym ng MOA Arena, second lang yung sa UST. Maganda gym namin kaya dapat maganda performance namin. Basta ang sa'kin we have 3 rookies, 4 comebacking players and the rest mga veteran players na. Bhala na kayong mag-isip tungkol diyan, basta sakin, pag nasa lupa ang Tigre, Matapang! Thank You!"