UAAP Preview: All-Pinoy La Salle ready to meet rivals’ challenge

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego, ABS-CBN Sports

Posted at Sep 03 2019 06:25 PM

Aljun Melecio, Andrei Caracut and Justine Baltazar, must carry an even heavier load if La Salle is to barge back into the playoff picture. ABS-CBN Sports

HOW DID THE GREEN ARCHERS DO LAST SEASON? 8-6, fifth, lost to FEU in battle for the fourth seed

YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Justine Baltazar, Brandon Bates, Andrei Caracut, Encho Serrano, Aljun Melecio

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Jordan Bartlett, Joel Cagulangan, Ralph Cu, Joshua David, Keyshawn Evans, Tyrus Hill, James Laput, Kurt Lojera, Jamie Orme, Gian Nazario (coach), Jermaine Byrd (consultant)

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM LA SALLE?

La Salle will be going all-Filipino in UAAP Season 82, and that is nothing but a badge of honor for the Green and White.

Just two years removed from parading dominant Ben Mbala from Cameroon, the Green Archers will be the lone team without a foreign student-athlete.

That doesn’t mean, however, that there will be no international experience coming into the Taft-based team as Jermaine Byrd, who made his name as an assistant in the NBA G-League, will now serve as active consultant to head coach Gian Nazario.

Byrd and Nazario, himself a longtime assistant at La Salle Zobel, will lean on Mythical selection Justine Baltazar, team captain Andrei Caracut, scoring guard Aljun Melecio, and x-factor Encho Serrano to prove that for La Salle height is not necessarily might.

Even better, Baltazar, Caracut and Melecio will be joined by a trio of Filipino-American one-and-done players in 6-foot Keyshawn Evans, 6-foot-7 Jamie Orme, and 6-foot-9 James Laput, as well as a trifecta of talented transferees in Jordan Bartlett, Tyrus Hill, and Kurt Lojera.

THE GREEN ARCHERS TO WATCH?

Baltazar’s rise from a rim protector in NU’s title-winning teams to a two-way force for La Salle has been nothing short of impressive, but this season will see him carry his heaviest load yet.

With Brandon Bates as well as unproven Laput and Ralph Cu the only other big men on the roster, the 6-foot-7 pride of Pampanga will have a golden opportunity to prove he can put a team on his back, even if he is sure to be battered and bruised each and every game by the seven foreign reinforcements he will be matched up against.

Fortunately for him, the perimeter remains fiery as ever with Caracut and Melecio ready and raring to raze the nets and Bartlett as well as Joel Cagulangan and Joshua David, prized recruits from LS-Green Hills, out to make an immediate impact.

Also, eyes need to be trained on Orme, an athletic and all-around player who has all the potential to be the next big thing from abroad.

For the full preview on the De La Salle Green Archers, click here.