Sizing Up The Green Archers’ Opposition – Part 2
UE Red Warriors
After a disastrous campaign that should have ended with better results in Season 76, the UE Red Warriors now turn their attention towards Season 77, under the guidance and leadership of new Head Coach Derrick Pumaren.
Pumaren, a champion coach in both the amateur and pro ranks of Philippine basketball, needs no introduction. Back in 1978 and 1979, he won titles as a player of UE and would later on lead DLSU to two titles as a coach, before taking his talents to the PBA.
Pumaren is a traditional mentor, one who emphasizes the importance of responsibility and teamwork. And for a team that ranked one of the worst in assists last season, UE will surely welcome his system with open arms.
A more mature Charles Mammie
New UE Center Charles Mammie was a monster last season, averaging 15 PPG and pulling down 19 RPG. However, his episodes of immaturity cost him some suspensions, hurting his team’s chances of attaining a Final Four bid.
During the UAAP press conference, Pumaren said he “expects” Charles to play better basketball and not be a headache away from it. For his part, Mammie promised the same, talking about how he is dedicated to both his performance on the court and off it, while calling Pumaren a “father-like figure” to the UE boys.
How do they stack up against the Green Archers?
UE has a strong one-two punch of Mammie and RoiSumang, but other than that, they have no clear-cut third scoring option. Chris Javier is the best option to take over that role, but he averaged just seven points per game last year and will need to produce more scoring this season.
La Salle thrives on its defense. Stopping Mammie will be impossible; he’s too talented and physically dominant. But with guys like Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal, and company around, they should be able to at least contain him.
The Green Archers also have problems from time to time with its offense, but UE was seventh in points allowed last year, which is something the team is looking to improve on, per Pumaren. Nonetheless, the Red Warriors don’t have a standout perimeter defender who can stop the penetration of guys like Almond Vosotros or JeronTeng.
Outside of DLSU, the rest of the UAAP is wide open. With a roster that has two stars in Mammie and Sumang, UE might have enough to snag a final four spot this year, granted they get some contributions off the bench.
After a seventh-place finish last year, the Adamson Falcons turned a new corner and let go of Leo Austria, who had previously held the coaching spot of the team for nine seasons. This year, the team embarks on year one of a rebuilding process that may take a while.
No Final Four
New Adamson head coach Kenneth Duremdes curtly stated during the press conference that he doesn’t expect his team to make the Final Four this year. With nine freshmen and no clear-cut leader on the floor, the team is trying to rely on its ball movement and crisp passing to attain a good offensive structure.
With Jericho Cruz foregoing his final year and declaring for the PBA Draft, a leadership role is now also available to whoever proves to be the best player for Adamson. The team also did not join any preseason tilts, as Duremdes stated they used the free time, instead, to start a new foundation.
How they stack up against La Salle
DLSU is a team laden with veterans and is deep in every possession. The Falcons are a squad still searching for an identity amidst a huge change in team structure and philosophy. La Salle shouldn’t have a hard time winning when they face Adamson.
If Duremdes and his assistant coaches – Vince Hizon and Marlou Aquino – manage to instill an effective offensive system for their players, then the Falcons may manage to rack up a few wins. However, they’ll be at the bottom of the standings, competing with UP for whoever can get the No. 7 spot.
Ateneo Blue Eagles
The Blue Eagles, believe it or not, are this year’s wildcards. While it’s unfortunate for the team that Hubert Cani and JeriePingoy still can’t suit up, this team still has a number of prized newcomers in Arvin Tolentino, ThirdyRavena, and Clint Doliguez, to name a few. With so much new faces, the pressure on veterans Kiefer Ravena, NicoElorde, and Von Pessumal will be high to help guide the club.
How fast can the rookies mature?
In three to four years, there’s no question that Ateneo will be championship contenders once again after their current rookies become veterans while the guys doing residency finally get to suit up. But in 2014, whether they like it or not, the rookies will have to deliver in order for Ateneo to climb the ladder back to the top.
ThirdyRavena was last season’s UAAP MVP, while Tolentino was arguably the most sought-after high school prospect. Doliguez also has incredible potential, his teammates promise. If at least these three guys play as good or better than advertised, then it’s safe to assume Ateneo will be back in the Final Four. But if they don’t, the burden that will be placed on Ravena, Elorde, Pessumal, and Chris Newsome may be too much to handle.
How they stack-up against La Salle
Height is might, and height is something La Salle will have over Ateneo. With only FonsoGotladera – ironically, a former Green Archers – as the Blue Eagles’ key defensive guy, DLSU should have a field day in the paint against Ateneo. However, with Coach Bo Perasol’s deep collection of perimeter players, the defending UAAP champions must manage to lock down drives and close out on shooters – something the athletic Julian Sargent will be key on.
Ateneo’s going through the first phase of its rise back to prominence, acknowledging the team’s new guns. But they still have a number of veteran players who should help spearhead the team back to the Final Four.
Losing a two-time MVP and a Mythical 5 center is tough, but National University is looking to usher in a new stage of its history by moving past the Parks and Mbe Era. To do that, they will need key contributions from GeloAlonino and Cameroonian recruit Alfred Aroga.
What will be NU’s identity?
The Bulldogs have structured their offense around Parks in the last few years, but with him now gone, it’s still a mystery how they will play. In the 2014 FilOil tournament, the team was surprisingly good, though it played in a pretty weak group.
Aroga is still raw, but his physical talents are there and with some honing, he should be a force in the UAAP. How soon, though, is the question. He will be a factor this season, but maybe not enough to push the Bulldogs to the Final Four. Nonetheless, if Alonino and JeoffreyJavillonar can make up for the absence of Parks, the Bulldogs may sneak in a playoff berth.
How do they stack up against La Salle?
NU has the talent to give La Salle headaches in matches, but if the Green Archers play their game, they should take care of the Bulldogs. The defending champions are deeper, better coached, and more experienced.
NU has some building blocks they can use as they look to improve over the next few years, but their current cast may not be enough to get them to the Final Four. True, the UAAP is wide open and a few lucky bounces their way may be enough to push them over another team contending for a playoff spot. But unless luck is on their side, they like finish in fifth or sixth place.