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Questions about NCAA Season 92 Part 2
by rick olivares
In part one of our Season 92 preview, we looked at Letran and San Beda. Meet two other teams who will contend for this year’s championship.
Can Jiovani Jalalon lead Arellano to a championship?
The Season 91 Letran Knights showed that you can win a NCAA title without a dominant center.
Yet if there is any indication of the Arellano Chiefs' Filoil Flying V Premier Cup Finals loss to La Salle, their dazzling and flying backcourt of Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado cannot do it by themselves as well. When they knocked the San Beda Red Lions out in the quarterfinals of the Premier Cup, they got massive lifts from Dioncee Holts and Lervin Flores inside. Against La Salle, Holts was a non-factor.
Jalalon will be the most dazzling show this season. He’ll put up great stats. He’s the player you train your camera phone to video what wizardry he’ll perform; what fools he will embarrass. And what a partnership with Salado and Donald Gumaru that I’ll dare say will give the Chiefs the country’s best backcourt for they can rebound, defend, pass, create, and blitz slow-footed foes.
As we have said in the past, when it comes to the win-or-go-home time of the season, meaning the playoffs, if Holts doesn’t play well, the Chiefs will be scalped. Holts is not a natural center. He is a stretch three. He’s got great court sense and makes excellent passes. But their game does not go through him which I think hurts them. Flores doesn’t need the ball to be effective because he’s energetic and strong enough to get loose balls and putbacks. Plus, he’s a rim protector.
If Flores is solid inside, why the importance on Holts?
Holts, you need to get him going. He isn’t a take over player. He’s a complementary player. But he needs to play well and establish himself. That is why the Chiefs couldn’t get past San Beda in the title game a few seasons ago because they got killed inside. Furthermore, because he’s taller and can battle Mapua’s Allwell Oraeme, Perpetual Helps’ duo of Bright Akhuetie and Prince Eze, EAC’s Laminou Hamadou, and others.
It isn’t only Holts. Sniper Zach Nichols needs to find the range. He shot mostly blanks during the pre-season and his misfiring against La Salle also hurt Arellano during the Premier Cup finals.
The Chiefs’ Jalalon will make the Mythical Five, probably even win the MVP Award. But the trophy the Arellano Chiefs want to hoist will depend on how others contribute.
Will the departure of Scottie Thompson hurt the Perpetual Help Altas?
Not at all. I think this Perps are even better. They are better because the ball moves around a little more. That is not saying that Thompson was a ballhog. Not at all. He was Mr. Triple Double meaning he got double figures in assists too. It is just that most of the Altas’ key men have stepped up.
Gab Daganon is a much better player. AJ Coronel and John Ylagan have picked up their game. And Bright Akhuetie and Prince Eze are still here in spite of drawing interest from UAAP schools. Some new players have picked up their game — Jon Yuhico who came from the College of St. Benilde and Daryl Singontiko who was with Letran a few years ago.
The ones missing in action are Ric Gallardo and Gerald Dizon who ironically, played well last year. The former came off an injury while the latter is struggling with touches and minutes (lost to Singontiko). If they are able to contribute that that’s quite a rotation that the Altas will have. Speaking of a rotation for Nosa Omorogbe (with Antonio Tamayo as the head coach), the Altas will have a lot of players who are stretch-this, stretch-that.
This is a team of stretch twos and threes playing out of position. The only one playing the right spot is Eze and point guards Yuhico and Flash Sadiwa. So they are flexible and that is good for this team. What I like about Yuhico is he is a traditional point guard who looks to pass rather than score while Sadiwa looks for buckets.
Sadiwa played well towards the end of the summer. Let’s see if he brings that form into the NCAA tourney.
There’s a sense of “now” for this team for this is the last playing year for Coronel and Dizon. They have a chance to contend this year while San Beda is still groping for consistency (they have their form down pat) and they have the players to do something about it.
However, their aspirations will also come down to Bright Akhuetie. Allwell Oraema is the reigning MVP but if Akhuetie, who can play all five positions, didn’t split time with Eze, he will be the league MVP. He can face up, post-up, drive, move without the ball, shoot from the outside, pass, defend, and lead the team. If he asserts himself given his talent and potential, watch out.
Next: Can the Mapua Cardinals fly high? Who are the dark horse teams?