While Season 78 of the UAAP is still far off, it won’t start until September in fact, teams are already stepping up their recruitment game for the 2015-16 season.
With the DLSU Green Archers getting Batang Gilas gunner and 2015 FIBA-NBA Basketball without Borders camper Jollo Go of Hope Christian High School and San Beda Red Cub Andrei Caracut, who also donned the colors of the Batang Gilas Under-18 squad, and Ateneo keeping Blue Eaglet twins Mike and Matthew Nieto, the other six teams must look to different sources of blue chip recruits.
Thus, the UST Growling Tigers and the UP Fighting Maroons have turned their attention south. Graduating Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles Zachary Huang and Felixberto “Janjan” Jaboneta are expected to be on opposing ends by the time they start their collegiate careers in UAAP Season 78.
A member of the CESAFI Juniors Mythical Five, Huang chose UST over fellow Dominican school Colegio de San Juan de Letran and NCAA powerhouse San Beda College after being aggressively pursued by the Growling Tigers coaching staff following his stint with the Cebu selection that participated in the Palarong Pambansa two years ago in Laguna.
For his part, Huang is looking forward to contributing to the Growling Tigers’ campaign in the UAAP. After two consecutive Finals appearances in Seasons 75 and 76, UST crashed out of the playoff race this season to finish in sixth place out of the eight-team field.
Though he still has yet to finalize his decision, Jaboneta is keen on moving to Diliman to be part of the Fighting Maroons’ Season 78 campaign.
Should the graduating Magis Eagle successfully enlist with UP, it will mark another achievement for the UAAP squad following the stoppage of their winless drought in the tournament, which has spanned 27 games dating back to 2012.
Jaboneta claimed his stake as one of the best young prospects to come out of the Visayan basketball hotbed following his stellar performance in the 2014 CESAFI Juniors tournament. Jaboneta claimed the CESAFI Juniors MVP award while piloting the Magis Eagles to the championship.
The HS senior further cemented this reputation by towing SHS-Ateneo de Cebu to its fifth straight NBTC Elite League Cebu Regional Championship over the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers earlier this month, and in the process earned the Most Outstanding Player award of the provincial meet.
At present, there are two Cebuano cagers in the Fighting Maroons fold in former Baby Lancer and Batang Gilas stalwart Paul Desiderio, who was also a CESAFI Jrs. MVP during his HS days, as well as fellow PH youth member Henry Asilum, who is a product of SHS-Ateneo de Cebu just like Huang and Jaboneta. Another former CESAFI Jrs. MVP and Magis Eagle playing in the UAAP is Dawn Ochea, who is currently part of the Adamson Soaring Falcons roster.