MANILA, Philippines – The UAAP Season 75 men’s basketball tournament will begin on Saturday, July 14, and once again, the University of the Philippines (UP) and the University of the East (UE) are hopeful that the new season will give their squads a chance to improve.
The Fighting Maroons and the Red Warriors were at the bottom of the UAAP totem pole last season, with many of their games ending in blowout fashion.
But this season, UP and UE are determined to show that they are teams to be taken seriously as they continue to rebuild. Despite being the underdogs in nearly every game they will play in, the Red Warriors and the Fighting Maroons plan to show that they are not an easy out for any team in the UAAP.
University of the East Red Warriors
Season 74 recap: The Red Warriors, under new head coach Jerry Codiñera, finished with a 3-11 record, seventh in the league. They lost their first six games but recovered well enough in the second round. Still, without an elite player and featuring an undersized line-up, the Warriors struggled to match-up with most of the other UAAP teams in Season 74.
Key losses: Paul Zamar, Biboy Enguio, Lucas Tagarda
Key additions: JC Duncil, John Paul Mena, Ian Vladez, Gene Belleza
Preview: Codiñera’s team will still be somewhat undersized this season, but the Red Warriors have clearly benefited from their experiences last season. Point guard Roi Sumang is expected to be the leader of the team and has shown that he has the skills to be a top-notch point guard in the UAAP.
Sumang will be surrounded by veteran role players, including Adrian Santos, Erwin Duran and Chris Javier, who may be a bit on the small side compared to behemoths like Greg Slaughter and Karim Abdul, but make up for it through sheer hustle and hard work. JR Sumido will also return to be Sumang’s backcourt partner.
For all of Sumang’s brilliance, however, he will be hard-pressed to carry the Red Warriors to the Final Four. UE will simply have to take it one game at a time and hope that their players continue to improve along the way.
What they said: “We will continue to go out there fighting, and we will just take it one day at a time.” – Coach Jerry Codiñera
University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons
Season 74 recap: The Fighting Maroons finished 2-12 in Season 74, an improvement from their winless campaign in Season 73. They won their first game against the Red Warriors and shocked eventual finalists FEU Tamaraws. But after a 2-3 start, it was all downhill for the Maroons as they lost their last nine games.
Jelo Montecastro was named Most Improved Player of the season.
Key losses: Miggy Maniego, Carlo Gomez
Key additions: Mark Lopez, Alvin Padilla, JR Gallarza, Henry Asilum, Raul Soyud
Preview: The Maroons are hopeful that this season, their players will be able to perform more consistently. Swingman Mike Silungan blew hot and cold last season, performing like a top-notch guard in one game before losing his shooting touch in the next. They will also rely on perimeter players Gelo Monetecastro and Jet Manuel, who showed flashes of brilliance for the Maroons.
UP will only have 13 players in their roster, and Coach Ricky Dandan admits that they will be undersized. With the future of big men Alinko Mba and Chris Ball still uncertain, rookie Raul Soyud will be called upon to man the paint as the only true center left in the squad.
Like the Warriors, the Maroons will be the underdogs in nearly every game they will play, but Dandan guarantees that his squad will not make it easy for their opponents.
What they said: “We have modest goals this year, but what we can guarantee is playing UP this year is not an automatic ‘W,’ even with our depleted line-up. We will be there fighting until the last second.” – Coach Ricky Dandan