|Taken from the Philippine Daily Inquirer|
With the regular season ending, it's appropriate to look back at how I fared in trying to figure out the season.
I posted this in the middle of July. The breakdown after the jump.
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.Well, it was really up to the shooters of the Soaring Falcons. Their offense relies now on their perimeter game and their penetration. I thought Lester was disappointing this season in that I expected more out of him, but he and Jerick have been a heady PG combo. Jan, though is probably one of the bigger disappointments of the season not wearing green.
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.13-1, folks. 13-1. It took a A+++++ game from the Falcons to pull off that win.
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.The depth was there, but too many inconsistencies. The potential and disappointment can defintely be pointed at both the coaching staff and the players. Expect turmoil in Taft for the time being.
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 NoundooIt's actually Tolomia who got the minutes Jens was used to playing. If you follow TJ Manotoc on Twitter, Pipo is going to finally play in his final season, as they need to beat Adamson twice. Of course, the usual meltdown came, but it arrived in the middle part of the season. JR Cawaling has missed the entire second round with his knee issues, but is also said to play as well. It's still RR Garcia's team, and they lived and died with him.
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?
It's obvious the RP Youth guys were not ready for prime time.They had to ride the coattails of their prized recruit. Given that it is natural that he stuffs the stat sheet. So there. It did not help that the veterans were not really the major contributors. Once the pressure was off, though, they were able to pull out some amazing wins to close the season.
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...Yup, it is all about the hustle. That's how they got their three wins, by outworking their opponents (NU, UP and La Salle).
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.
Disappointing. In the sense that they could have gotten more than the two wins they secured this season. Considering though, two is two more than last year.
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.
At least Pido gets another year. Thanks to the Jerics, he gets to stay and produce more PIDOisms. Karim's play improved once his papers got settled.
Personal Preseason Awards:
UAAP PreSeason 1st Team: RR Garcia, Rayray Parks, Mike Silungan, Nico Salva, Greg Slaughter.
Revised 1st Team would be Ravena, Nuyles, Parks, Salva, Slaughter. Nico really benefited from having Kiefer and Greg get all the attention.
UAAP PreSeason 2nd Team: Kiefer Ravena, Joshua Webb, JR Cawaling, Jan Colina, Aldrech Ramos
Thinking Joshua Webb has to be the worst call I made this season, followed by Colina (as seen above). Cawaling got hurt and missed the whole second round, if I am correct. The revised 2nd team would be Fortuna, Garcia, Abdul, Ramos, Teng.
Defensive Player of the Year: Greg Slaughter - because he's going to rack up double-doubles and blocks.
Yup. Although not much on the double-doubles, since guys like Karim Abdul had better numbers. Still, his presence made a living hell out of anyone trying to drive in the lane or make their living down low.
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.Agreed. Eric Camson and Tonino Gonzaga would be a close second, here.
Freshman of the Year: Kiefer Ravena - Is there anyone else?
Next. Easiest thing to call, out of all the awards.
Newcomer of the Year: Rayray Parks - Unlike Greg, the pressure is with him moreWhen you look at the roster NU has, it's built around the former GaTech committ.
MVP: RR Garcia - He's going to rack up statistical points like crazy.Right explanation. Wrong guy. That mini-slump FEU had to close the 1st round and the start of the 2nd round killed his chances.
PreSeason Final Four: Ateneo, FEU, Adamson, NU (over La Salle and UST)Got it close.