Additions: Nick Abanto, Edson Batiller, Shannon Gagate, Joshua Gonzales, Philip Manalang, Jordan Sta. Ana, Jason Varilla, Fran Yu
Subtractions: Dan Alberto, Moustapha Arafat, Bong Galanza, Daryll Guiang, Ivan Hernandez, Gino Jumao-as, Charles Mammie, Mark Olayon, Roi Sumang
Holdovers: Edgar Charcos, Zyron Cudal, RR De Leon, Clark Derige, Chris Javier, Paul Varilla
Season 77 result – All-in-all, their supposed break-out season didn’t pan out the way they wanted. They came into the year armed with Sumang, who exploded in Season 76 and a tandem of the burly Mammie and athletic Arafat. They had the Pumaren brothers and the vaunted press to work with. The Red Warriors were supposed to be a shoo-in for the Final Four. They were so close. They just missed the last bus to the playoffs when they lost to eventual champs NU in a playoff for last slot.
Sumang couldn’t match his 19-5-4 output from Season 76 and managed only 13-3-4. To make matters worse, he had trouble with the coaches and team officials resulting in him missing a couple of games.
The vaunted Pumaren Press had trouble gaining traction with the team early in the season. Players were often subbed out early to prevent fatigue later on in the game. Because of the substitution pattern though, they couldn’t get their games going.
But the Red Warriors found their groove defensively in the second half of the season when their full-court press started clicking. By the end of their campaiang, UE led the league in forcing turnovers. Teams that played the Red Warriors essentially coughed up the ball on almost a quarter of their total possessions (24.9 percent TOV%). They forced 24.1 turnovers per game which meant extra possessions and easy fast break baskets. UE also led the league in Pace, the only team above 80 at 83.8.
Speeding up the game bode well for the Red Warriors. Sumang and company were unlocked in the second half of the season. UE won six of their last seven games in their failed attempt to gain a Final Four spot.
Season 78 outlook – Bleak. UE lost their top four players from Season 77. Sumang, Mammie, Galanza and Alberto combined for 42 points per game, more than half of their team total last season. That kind of production will be hard to replace.
But more than that, the Red Warriors lost their engine the moment Sumang decided to go pro. Sumang was a Mythical Team-level collegiate player who was their go-to guy in the clutch. Without him, UE will have trouble getting their offense started.
The Red Warrior cupboard is close to bare. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have pieces to work with.
The Pumarens will once again employ their full-court press. With no more superstar to initiate the offense, this is a good move since it will once again speed up the game and allow their players to get easy points off broken plays. With no more Mammie and Arafat, Javier is now the main inside option for UE. Before the arrival of their foreign big men, Javier showed that he could be UE’s main gun. Back in Season 75 he beat Ateneo on a buzzer-beating three-pointer. He will most likely be the focal point of the UE offense with Sumang and Mammie gone. De Leon and Varilla, both athletic and energetic forwards, need to step up on both ends as well. They will provide an additional offensive boost and their effort in the press will be crucial in forcing turnovers.
The Red Warriors were able to recruit two underrated but potential impact PGs in Yu and Manalang. This will help ease the loss of Sumang. Yu, a former Chiang Kai Shek PG, will bring a stat-sheet stuffing game to the seniors level. Manalang is another interesting PG prospect. The former Bullpup orchestrated his team’s offense and his drives to the basket opened up scoring opportunities for everyone on the floor while in the Juniors.
The Red Warriors will look drastically different on paper. This will be a rag-tag bunch that will have to scrap every possession.
Prediction – Not much is expected from UE in Season 78. It’s going to be a rough ride for them. Getting anywhere near their nine wins from last season is a pipe dream for the Red Warriors.
It would be surprising if UE is hanging around the fourth or fifth seed in Season 78. They will most likely fall to the bottom three teams this year. The loss of their entire Season 77 core is just too big a blow for the Red Warrios to overcome in one year.