This appears in philstar.com
UAAP Season 79 Preview: The UP Fighting Maroons need to win small battles to win the big one
by rick olivares
During the press conference for the upcoming UAAP season, all eight member school's men’s basketball coaches were asked what team they thought was a dark horse contender.
New University of the Philippines head coach Bo Perasol quipped, “UP.”
It was a humorous touch to an affair where everyone played nice although there were veiled comments (see DLSU coach’s Aldin Ayo’s words about their opening day match against FEU). If you went to Diliman for your schooling, you hope that you do have something to laugh about in the annual rite of “there’s always next year” that is now this year.
The Fighting Maroons had an up and down pre-season. They started off well winning a few games here and there but when others adjusted to what they were trying to do they got knocked back down to earth. “I’m sick and tired of losing,” said center Andrew Harris who finally rounded out into his own in the pre-season where he proved to be a force in the lane.
Perasol will have to count on Harris a lot since his other slotman, Jerson Prado isn’t fully in shape after suffered a season-ending knee injury last year. Harris showed that he can be counted on both ends of the court. His energy is infectious. He just has to rein it in because he picks up fouls in a hurry. Compounding their woes as a team is their Cameroonian reinforcement Lionel Tekaoudjou is said to be unavailable after someone did not attend to his paperwork (this early someone has already dropped the ball). Paolo Romero and Gelo Vito should help out.
The Fighting Maroons still have that core of Jett Manuel, Dave Moralde, Paul Desiderio, Diego Dario, and Kyles Lao who were their primary scorers from seasons past. Sophomore forward Noah Webb came along nicely in the pre-season and will no doubt be someone Perasol can count on.
What they need to build on is moving that ball around. Last season leading all the way into this pre-season, they were last in assists, once more underscoring the need to play team ball. You have too many people with scoring mentalities yet there is only one ball to share amongst them. They need to pass and play as a team.
Another facet that UP can build on is their defense. They placed third in the pre-season UAAP team rankings in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup. Perasol liked to say what this team can do is win small victories, rebound battles, field goal percentage etc here and there en route to this season.
They can score and they can play defense. The key here is their staying power. They tend to start well but oft fade in the latter stages of them game. As in years past, this team liked to play small ball. The problem was it didn’t get them too far.
If they can do that and stay within striking distance, they’ll compete. And give their faithful something to cheer about. If not, there’s always next year.