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NCAA Season 90 preview Part 2
NCAA Season 90 preview Part 2
by rick olivares
We’ve already written about how San Beda is the hands-down favorite to win a fifth consecutive NCAA title. We also mentioned that some teams will contend – Jose Rizal University, University of Perpetual Help, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, College of Saint Benilde, Arellano University, and Lyceum of the Philippines University.
Those six teams will not only need to be creative but will need all hands on deck to defeat a de-powered Red Lions squad where the advantage of Ola Adeogun is even more marked because they have no one to match up against him.
That leaves us with four teams who look to bring the rear.
The San Sebastian College Recoletos Golden Stags will go where CJ Perez goes. The second year forward is their only creative force and without him on the floor, the Stags struggle. This team is already far removed from its Pinatubo Three days yet they have struggled to add key pieces to the puzzle. Perez was a terrific addition. But the one and done Leo de Vera hurts. De Vera was just as versatile if not clutch for this time.
But knowing head coach Topex Robinson, he’d rather talk about the present team and its young core. To put it bluntly, they are in rebuild mode and they have some raw but exciting players who could help their campaign.
There’s Michael Calisaan and Rhanzelle Yong, reed-thin forwards who can shoot and drive to the basket. When they get on a streak, they are capable of strapping the team on their backs.
Two other holdovers from their title days with the Pinatubo Three are Jovit dela Cruz and Bobby Balucanag. This is Dela Cruz’ time to shine but in the summer he was making bad decisions with the ball. But that is why you play in the summer – in order to correct the mistakes. Jovit needs to step up his game and help Perez not only in scoring but to get this team on track via creating shots for teammates.
Balucanag should get t in his head that he will need to rebound and play defense. Bradwyn Guinto has good moves inside the paint but is almost entirely dependent on gimmes from Perez and company. If Guinto can stay in the game, he will help. But he will need protection from his teammates who don’t seem to understand team defense.
In case you noticed I didn’t mention their point guard position. Exactly. What point guard position.
Emilio Aguinaldo College.... if Cedric Happi Noube is healthy, they will have that all-around stud to help them compete. Happi in and out of the lineup during the summer due to health issues, EAC struggled.
They showed flashes of potential. Sidney Onwubere seemed to get it right towards the end where he made good use of his athleticism to score and grab crucial boards. If he can be consistent in his scoring and make better decisions, he will be a force. He’s blessed with freakish athleticism. If that maturity sets in, along with Happi, EAC could be a force.
This is a team that likes to bombard from the outside. But the Generals have to remember that they aren’t dealing with entrapped Guardia Civil during the Revolutionary days. They’re in the NCAA. Just as in any league, for them to compete, they have to do it inside the alligator wrestling pond that is the shaded lane.
John Tayongtong, Jan Jamon, and Igee King look good when they are on fire from the outside but if recent NCAA history has shown that any title dreams means having to dominate the inside.
And that leaves us with Mapua.
No team has dropped in form and competitiveness more than the Cardinals. Several years ago, they had a good team with some gamers. Now, not even their best all-around player in Josan Nimes is in uniform.
Nimes is not in uniform due to grades or injury depending on whom you talk to. Whatever it is, not having him, gives them even more problems.
That places more pressure now on Joseph Eriobu to play better and smarter (just like EAC’s Onwubere needs to step up). Because right now, their best player is center Jesse Saitanan and they will not only need to feed him the ball but to help him stay in the game. They still have Jeson Rey Cantos, Hesed Leo Gabo, and Carlos Isit to help but this team will struggle as they need to find consistency.
Without Nimes, as it is, there isn’t time to figure out who is their go-to guy much less how to attack opponents.
They looked lost, uncoordinated and lacking in motivation during the summer. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t carry over into the NCAA season or else it will be a long long and lonely one at the bottom.