Intramuros, Manila
June 19, 2016
Season 92 Preview: EAC, Lyceum of the Phl U, St. Benilde (Inferno)

(First of a three-part series)

Happy Father’s Day everyone.
It’s my way of showing my appreciation to all the fathers out there including mine. Without them, we will be nothing. So let’s all not just greet our fathers, let’s all back it up with action, love and patience.
So there.
Let’s go straight to business.
The NCAA Season 92 is upon us. It’s less than a week away. Time flies. It’s like Season 91 was just yesterday. I can still feel Aldin Ayo and the Letran Knights bringing down the once mighty San Beda Lions, completing their fairy tale run with a championship and disproving every piece, story or blog out there predicting a certain team not named Letran will win the championship. Admit it, all of us didn’t see Ayo and the Knights coming. Only Ayo knew he will win the championship. And it happened.
Ayo recently reminded Sportsmaryosep (Ahem) of how he was inspired by my blog and how he used it as a challenge to defy the odds and shut everyone’s mouth, including mine. Honestly, didn’t take the credit because credit is due to Ayo, the Knights and the whole Letran community. It’s all yours.
Us, we’re just writers. And we will never stop writing intros like “Who is Aldin Ayo?” because it is in our nature.
So we’re back. And with me is Madam Auring. Again.
Let’s start with last placer from a season ago.

EAC
The good thing about being last is that there is really no where to go but up. And it applies to the Generals, who managed just two wins against 16 defeats a season back. But as forgettable as the last season was, there is still hope for everyone including this maturing EAC squad.

Why it would not win?
In the tradition of Aldin Ayo, I would like you to meet Ariel Sison. Who is Ariel Sison? He is the new coach of EAC, replacing Andy de Guzman. His experience was coaching the school’s high school team. He’s also the dean of EAC’s School of Information Technology. For sure he’s intelligent and smart. As for basketball intelligence and smarts, we’re uncertain. Anyway, EAC tried two former basketball stars like Gerry Esplana and de Guzman. So they’ve changed tact and hired an educator. Maybe education is what the Generals need, right? I’d like him to do an Aldin Ayo though and prove me wrong. Otherwise, he will just be just another coach of EAC. But again, who knows?
Why it would win?
I can see why EAC went with Sison. Sison will be the eyes of the school. So any problem will be dealt with since he’s the school’s man. He’s probably bringing stability to a team that lacked of it the past two seasons. And that means good news. Also, you probably didn’t notice that is an almost intact team. And a maturing one. 11 of the 15 players are familiar faces. Igee King, son of the great Abe, is back. Hamadou “Black Gagamboy” Laminou is back. Sydney “Stats Monster” Onwubere is back. And so were Francis Munsayac, Enjerico Diego, Remy Morada, Raymund Pascua, Jerald Serrano, Dan Corilla, John Estacio and Jozshua General are also all back. And oh, guess where one of the two teams EAC defeated last year? Clue: He’s coaching in La Salle now. So beware.
Madam Auring: I would love to see General star for this team. Imagine the newspapers and the online media the next day with this headline: General leads Generals. Newspaper paradise!

LPU
One of the teams I don’t want to watch in the first half is this team. Interestingly, it’s also this team that I’d love to watch in the second half. You see, the Pirates are the team that almost always start slow and make up for it by charging their way back and closing the gap only to fall short in the end. They’re like that. I hope things change this year.
Why it would not win?
Lack of go-to-guys are one factor. It’s probably the reason they lost what could have been won games last season. It’s not that LPU lacked the manpower. Actually, they have. You could count the candidates. Shaq Alanes. Joseph Gabayni. Jebb Bulawan. Wilson Baltazar. And this new guy Harry Nzeusseu, who took over from Jean Nguidjol. But they’re like stars waiting to happen. The problem is, it has NOT happened.
Why it would win?
Two things. One, if the aforementioned players start to come out of their shells and just explode with a breakout season. Two, this is Topex Robinson’s third season as Pirates coach and this could be the year he’ll be reaping the fruits of his hard labor. I’m cheering for him to succeed. It could also be his last, if fails again.
Madam Auring: Have you seen Fault in the Stars? It made us all cry.

St. Benilde
Oh the Blazers. They’re the team that shed off the heartbreak kids status in one season only to wear them again the following year. But there were some gems in the rough from last year. Like this Gerard Castor. I love the guy. Tough. Rough. Fearless. Unselfish. But no offense. I hope he used the whole year to find the gall to be selfish at times. Shoot the ball. But then again, I will not like him if he’s not himself. So yes, be your own man. Oh the Blazers.
Why it would not win?
If you lose someone not named Jonathan Grey, who is not only the favorite of the NCAA Press Corps becuase of his boy-next-door looks but also a player who can dish out MVP-like numbers, you’re in trouble. I mean the guy is a scorer, facilitator and face of the team all rolled into one. Evidently, the Blazers struggled in offense in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup in the absence of Grey. In fact, they brought in Pons Saavedra, who can knock in those treys, in the last minute to address the team’s lack of scoring. But he can’t do it alone. That’s why I’m asking Castor to score. I mean score in bunches. If not, hard to beat teams like Arellano and San Beda.
Why it would win?
Defense. While St. Benilde is team wanting in offense, you can’t say the same thing with their defense. They have Castor, one of the league’s best backcourt defenders. He’s like a hound dog from hell. The Blazers also got bigger. Aside from the shotblocking Christian Fajarito and Saavedra, the team also got big men Clement Leutcheu of Cameroon, Kendrix Belgica and Fil-Am Yankie Haruna, a slam-dunking forward who could give the team some spark. Edward Dixon was also solid in the pre-season and could get starter minutes at the small forward position. They could be the league’s version of the Memphis Grizzlies’ Grit and Grind. Seriously.
Madam Auring: I summon the power of my crystal ball for Castor to shoot the ball more. Shoot that ball, Castor. Shoot it.
To be continued…

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