MANILA — Describing University of the Philippines’ roster as loaded can be considered as an understatement.
Following the departure of some of its stars and veterans like Carl Tamayo, Zavier Lucero, and Henry Galinato, the Fighting Maroons went on to add numerous talents -- some of whom will already be eligible to play in the upcoming UAAP Season 86.
Fresh from their previous leagues and teams, Francis Lopez, Seven Gagate, Luis Pablo, Janjan Felicilda, Relyand Torres, and Sean Alter can start hooping for State U in the incoming season, while Jared Bahay, Gani Stevens, Joshua Coronel (recovering from injury), and Chris Hubilla are eligible to play starting Season 87.
For team star and captain CJ Cansino, welcoming these players will surely help the squad to reclaim the men’s basketball championship, and the returning guard was glad of how they used the off-season to integrate their new players to UP’s system.
“Yung overseas training namin, sobrang helpful nun kasi yung chemistry and yung bonding namin as a team, mas tumibay pa,” Cansino said during the league’s media press conference on Wednesday at the MOA Arena.
“Mas naging kilala namin yung isa’t isa kasi siyempre mga rookie, mga bago, ngayon lang namin nakilala, so dun, mas nakilala namin kung ano man yung character [nila],” he added.
But as any other team that will be adding new hoopers to the mix, and despite the pedigree of the rookies that UP has, Cansino is hoping that they will still earn their stripes and be focused on helping the team rather than prioritizing their personal goals.
“Sakin naman, challenge lang din yon eh. Kung alam mong deserve mo yung playing time na deserve mo, hindi ka magiisip ng kung ano mang negative na nasa isip mo,” he said.
“Siguro para sakin, gawin na lang nilang challenge yun para maging competitive sa practice kasi alam naman natin na marami talagang talent na kinuha ang UP. “
State-U’s first chance to banner their retooled roster on Sunday, October 1, when they face Adamson University, who will be without Jerom Lastimosa for now, at the Mall of Asia Arena.