Mendiola, Manila
June 21, 2016
Season 92 Preview: San Sebastian, Perpetual Help, Arellano U (Purgatorio)

(Second of a three-part series)

So the NBA Finals ended.
And LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended its championship mysery by winning their first ever NBA title at the expense of the boastful, defeated Golden State Warriors. So congratulations to the winners and better luck next time to the losers like Draymond Groin, I mean Green, and Klay Thompson who will probably never hurt LBJ’s “feelings” again.
So let’s move on and go on with the rest of our basketball lives starting with the 92nd NCAA season unfurling this Saturday at the MOA Arena in Pasay City. After we dealt with the opening part, we’ll proceed with the second. So relax, sit, read and enjoy.

San Sebastian
Last year, the Stags wound up seventh with a 6-12 card. But I remember them as one of the most entertaining to watch with their fast-paced, run-and-gun attack. They were also excruciating with the lack of defense. But I have a feeling, despite a decimated line up, that change is coming with this squad. Duterte-like change.

Why it would not win?
They lost the high-scoring Jamil Ortuoste, who has a year left but was not allowed to return for reasons only the coaching staff and the school know, and banger Bradwyn Guinto, who is now in the PBA. In Ortuoste, San Sebastian may have lost a creator and facilitator who can score a ton points while being left with a massive, gaping hole inside after Guinto’s departure. It didn’t help the team that talented Ranzelle Yong, who left last year only to return for this season, suffered a season-ending injury just last month. Michael Calisaan, who will carry the brunt of everything, has just returned after figuring in a motorcycle accident last month. We don’t know if Calisaan will be the same player who averaged about 16 points and nine rebounds a game due to the traumatic experience. So yes, the Stags started on a bad foot.

Why it would win?
They’ll be bringing a coach who knows how to win–Egay Macaraya. Macaraya has won championships in all schools he coached. Name it. San Sebastian-Cavite: Naascu, NCAA-South and MMCA crowns. Centro-Escolar: Naascu and MMCA titles. Cafe France: PBA D-League championship. Macaraya will bring defensive sanity in this young squad and hopefully, winning attitude. If it happens, then it’s all upward from here.
Madam Auring: Go Calvin Abueva!

Perpetual Help
In the first half of last season, this same squad appeared in the poise of winning its first championship thanks to the awesome mix of Aric del Rosario, Earl Scottie Thompson, Bright Akhuetie and Prince Eze. But something happened along the way and the Altas fell out of grace and didn’t even make the Final Four.

Why it would not win?
Losing Thompson, a former league MVP, is like losing your driver, cook and laundryman all at the same time. For those who forget, Thompson is a triple-double machine and the Altas will need to do it in committee the big vacuum left by this fast-rising Ginebra star. There is also that Aric del Rosario thingie. They have rookie coaches in Antonio Tamayo and his head assistant Nosa Omorogbe, who may or may not steer the Las Pinas-based school to big things ahead.

Why it would win?
This could be the year Bright Akhuetie’s star will shine the brightest and become the beast we foresee him to be. Prince Eze should be a better player from last year. Gab Dagangon has also embraced the role of lead scorer and averaged a solid 16 points in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup where the Altas made it as far as the quarterfinals. There were also some nice rookies like Daryl Singontiko and Jonathan Yuhico. What is most apparent about this team is that it has consciously started to pass the ball make everyone involved unlike last year when they just watch Thompson do everything including wash their dirty underwear.
Madam Auring: Welcome to the Brightside.

Arellano U
The Chiefs were one of the biggest disappointments last season after failing to live up to expectations following a fifth place finish. Things are expected to be better this year.

Why it would not win?
The Chiefs were exposed in the pre-season as a team lacking in size. Their best big man, American Dioncee Holts, is painfully inconsistent. If he plays bad, Arellano U will have a hard time winning.

Why it would win?
How do you spell Jio Jalalon? M. V. P. That’s how we writters and bloggers galore saw it when we saw him destroy every player and team in his path by powering the Chiefs to a strong second place finish to Ben Mbala and the La Salle Archers in the Filoil tilt. Arellano also showed they can win games without Jalalon thanks to a guard-heavy rotation that also include Kent Salado and Donald Gumaru. And boy, these Chiefs can run and score. There is also this player named Lervin Flores, who can play both forward positions with aplomb. I mean he’s fearless and relentless. Athletic. Can score. Can defend.  Most importantly, coachable. I mean, he blocked Ben Mbala. He freaking did. Also saw him complete a putback dunk off a missed shot by a teammate. Can we mediamen say a collective wow now? WOW!
Madam Auring: Can I bet my house on Arellano U?
To be continued…

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar