UAAP S77 Preview: UST Growling Tigers
Season 76 record: 8-6 (4th seed)
Season 76 recap:
The UST Growling Tigers made the Season 75 finals, but were initially overlooked as contenders at the start of Season 76. They had an up-and-down season, compounded by an injury to star guard Jeric Teng in only their third game of the first round against National University. But Teng’s return in the second round bolstered the team, and they sneaked into the Final Four as the fourth seed, where they stunned the NU Bulldogs. UST would come up short again in the Finals, however, losing to De La Salle in three hard-fought games.
Losses: Coach Pido Jarencio, Jeric Teng, Clark Bautista, Robin Tan, Robert Hainga, Bryan So, Jeepy Faundo, Edcor Marata
Holdovers: Karim Abdul, Kevin Ferrer, Aljon Mariano, Ed Daquioag, Jamil Sheriff, Kim Lo, Paulo Pe, Kent Lao, Joco Macasaet
Acquisitions: Louie Vigil, Janrey Garrido, Gelo Sablan, Levi dela Cruz, Alfren Gayosa, Regie Basibas, Renzo Subido
Season 77 Projection:
Like in previous seasons, the UST Growling Tigers are again flying under the radar. Yet UST, even after losing Jeric Teng, is still among the most competitive teams in the league, thanks to big man Karim Abdul and players like Kevin Ferrer and Aljon Mariano, who are sure to use last season’s heartbreak to fuel them for this year’s campaign.
Having a new coach in Bong dela Cruz also won’t be a problem, as Ferrer and Mariano insisted they are virtually running the same system installed by Coach Pido Jarencio, with just a few tweaks. Abdul is expected to once again dominate the paint area for UST, while Ferrer continues to improve as a defender and Mariano is expected to have a bounce-back year after last season’s subpar campaign.
After falling short in two consecutive finals, the Growling Tigers are determined to make it all the way this time, especially with some of their key players – including Mariano – already in their last playing year. Another trip to the Final Four is not out of the question, although it remains to be seen how far the Tigers can go should they make it to the post-season.
Quote: “Lalaban pa rin ‘yung team namin. Pipilitin namin pumunta ulit ng Final Four muna, and then Finals, and then ayun, championship.” – UST guard Kevin Ferrer