|Thanks to PhilStar for this picture|
Another year has passed and the collegiate scene beckons again. And again I am late in posting the UAAP preview for the upcoming season. The first playdate has been completed and the four remaining teams
Here lies my brief thoughts on the
Adamson: The Falcons can be likened to a mid-major team in the US NCAA, stocked with quality juniors and seniors who played heavy minutes throughout, with a heady and smart veteran tactician. As such with the US NCAA. they are always strong on backcourt play, and they have arguably the best point guard tandem in Lester Alvarez and Jerick Canada. Jan Colina is one the most underrated bigs in the UAAP, even though Greg Slaughter took him to school last Sunday. Austin Manyara and Eric Camson constitute the big men rotation. It's up to the shooters of the Soaring Falcons if they can finally get over the hump.
Ateneo de Manila: The defending champs may have lost its Stag essence (Eric Salamat via graduation, Ryan Buenafe sitting out the season), but Ateneo in this new iteration never rebuilds. It merely reloads. Kiefer Ravena may have had a whimper of a start, but no one questions the potential. Greg Slaughter on the other hand, 23 points for his debut wearing the blue and white. Served notice to everyone. Still, the key cogs are all back, from Justin Chua to Nico Salva to Kirk Long and Eman Monfort. Best of all, you always bet on (Norman) Black. The school along Katipunan is unfazed, and so does its Sixth Man.
De La Salle University: Quality depth all throughout the roster, with lots and lots of role players and glue guys, from the comebacking LA Revilla the Zobel alums Luigi Dela Paz and Joshua Webb, to the gaggle of bigs from Jovet Mendoza to Papot Paredes and Yutien Andrada. Relative youth still a major concern, so it's up to the veterans like Simon Atkins and Maui Villanueva to fill the leadership void.
Far Eastern University: The losing finalists are aching to come back into the chase, with a returning MVP in tow. Bert Flores returns from his consultant duties after Glenn Capacio was let go. JR Cawaling and Aldrech Ramos are still there, but the key cogs remain it's small ball power of RR Garcia, Terence Romeo and Jens Knuttel providing change of pace. Not having Pipo Noundoo
National University: The Bulldogs hitched themselves onto one man to carry them back into the Final Four conversation. Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. He sputtered in his first collegiate game, but they were one miss away from winning against the Tigers last Thursday. Emmanuel Mbe also returns, but can Eric's recruits from the RP Youth program he devised lead to better things?
University of the East: The Red Warriors were gutted in the offseason losing key cogs, including Paul Lee, Ken Acibar, James Martinez. They also lost their coach, Lawrence Chongson, who is pretty much preoccupied with PEx as of now. New taskmaster Jerry Codinera asked for commitment, effort and hustle from his crack squad being led by Paul Zamar, JR Sumido and Roi Sumang, but it can only get you far...
University of the Philippines: A new regime begets a new era for UP, as it has been 25 years since the special Spirit of '86 squad. Ricky Dandan is banking on the Mike and Mike to greater heights. They already did by ending the 18-game losing streak last Sunday. Alinko Mbah provides the necessary size and anchor down low for the Diliman-squad.
University of Santo Tomas: Pido Jarencio put some pressure on himself with the Final Four or bust mantra, but it sure helped that they won their first game. They still are a relatively small unit, but Karim Abdul is there to provide size, even if he looked relatively raw. Kevin Ferrer proved to be the goods against NU, and Jeric Fortuna went out with guns blazing after halftime.
Personal Preseason Awards:
UAAP PreSeason 1st Team: RR Garcia, Rayray Parks, Mike Silungan, Nico Salva, Greg Slaughter.
UAAP PreSeason 2nd Team: Kiefer Ravena, Joshua Webb, JR Cawaling, Jan Colina, Aldrech Ramos
Defensive Player of the Year: Greg Slaughter - because he's going to rack up double-doubles and blocks.
Most Improved Player: Jeric Fortuna - freed from the PG-by-committee shackles by the academic ineligibility of Clark Bautista, this is the cue for him to rise up and take over.
Freshman of the Year: Kiefer Ravena - Is there anyone else?
Newcomer of the Year: Rayray Parks - Unlike Greg, the pressure is with him more
MVP: RR Garcia - He's going to rack up statistical points like crazy.
PreSeason Final Four: Ateneo, FEU, Adamson, NU (over La Salle and UST)
Here is the 1st round schedule for your perusal and reference.