Coaches, players brace for highly-competitive season in UAAP’s diamond year

Each of the coaches had a hand extended towards the orange leather, beaming and exchanging a few words with another, while the mob of photographers in front of them jockeyed for position, and the empty seats of the cavernous Mall of Asia Arena loomed imposingly behind them.

And with this simple gesture, the fires of the 75th Season of the UAAP have already been set alight.

New faces as well as familiar ones were presented to the members of the media inside a newly-built arena at the UAAP Season 75 Press Conference which was held earlier today inside the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The lone newly-minted coach, of course, is none other than DLSU Green Archers mentor Gee Abanilla, who, together with players LA Revilla, Luigi Dela Paz, Joshua Webb, Norbert Torres, and Jeron Teng, represented a La Salle side that is raring to show the rest of the league how much difference a year makes.

“Our immediate goal would be to make the Final Four,” he states, as the bowmen seek to enter the semifinals after crashing out of the eliminations in two of the past three years. Abanilla also stressed the fact that nothing is set in stone this season and that it will be an open race for the teams, although he cited the Blue Eagles and the year’s hosts, the NU Bulldogs, to be strong contenders for the championship.

“But we are happy right now that we are improving, and we will continue to strive to give honor to our school,” he ends.

“Anybody can beat anybody”

Also present were the coaches and players of the seven other participating schools who are likewise vying for the basketball crown, including Coach Norman Black of Ateneo, who are seeking an unprecedented fifth straight championship.

Each of the coaches gave an assessment of their performance last season and in the pre-season, and then stated teams which they believe will be fancied to contend for the basketball title that has remained in Loyola in the last four years.

Coach Leo Austria of Adamson picked the FEU Tamaraws as the team with the strongest line-up, and also stated that Ateneo, NU, and La Salle are favorites to become champions. “But in this season, anything can beat anything,” he finishes, a notion that was echoed by some of the other coaches.

Gold made under pressure

“A diamond is gold made under pressure,” began UAAP Season 75 President Lino Ocampo of the year’s hosts, the NU Bulldogs, in his opening remarks earlier on in the event, underlining the year’s theme of “Unbreakable at 75”.

Ocampo also stated that league has transcended each of its eight participating schools in spreading the gospel of sportsmanship and, in doing so, has inspired countless Filipinos and made them believe that everyone has the potential for greatness.

The Opening Ceremonies of the UAAP Season 75 will also be held at the Mall of Asia Arena this Saturday, July 14, at 12:30 p.m.

Notes: Billie Capistrano will be manning the courtside duties for the DLSU Green Archers, as she was selected among the new batch of courtside reporters, with only UST’s Tina Marasigan being retained from last year’s selection.

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