The UAAP basketball is upon us once again as Season 80 of the premier collegiate competition in the country tips off this weekend.
On Monday, a press conference involving the head coaches and several players of the participating teams was held at the Coral Way lobby of the MOA Arena.
It was a fun-filled presser; coaches spoke mainly about their expectations for this season, and how they are approaching the upcoming season given the changes in their respective rosters.
Some opposing coaches even poked fun at the De La Salle-FEU Kadayawan Cup scuffle, to which head coaches Aldin Ayo and Olsen Racela also took the opportunity to clear the air and agree to move forward.
Here are some thought from the head coaches from the UAAP Season 80 presser:
Kami naman, we are going to be very competitive coming into this season. We got a very young team but we will give it our best.
– Jamike Jarin, National University Bulldogs
Jarin has a chance to follow Aldin Ayo’s footsteps and be a champion coach in both the UAAP and NCAA. He will get tested with a roster that features a lot of versatility, youth, and height. Jarin noted his team is around 80 percent ready, before joking that he is still trying to find out if Bulldogs assistant coach Danny Ildefonso is eligible to play in the UAAP.
We’re looking forward to this season. Last year we caught a lot of people by surprise. We did well and it is also a challenge for us to be more consistent in the way we play and we are hoping our veteran core would do that this coming year. We lost [G-Boy Babilonia] so we have a lot of holdovers and four rookies. We also know competition is tougher. We’re looking forward to the opening weekend.
– Sandy Arespacochaga, Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles
Sa YouTube ko lang napanood yung La Salle-FEU. Gusto ko makita sa tunay. The first message I received pagbaba ko ng eroplano is, two players ang hindi eligible to play. Malaking dagok sa koponan namin ito. I trust the collective wisdom of the board and nag-iisip na ako ngayon paano namin i-a-adjust. Last year, yun talaga pinaghandaan namin pero sana mabigyan pa kami ng panahon para makapag-adjust. With that, I am slso excited this coming season.
– Bo Perasol, University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons
One of the players Perasol is referring to is center Ibrahim Quattara, whom according to reports was deemed ineligible. It will be interesting how UP responds to the setback, given coaches all agreed they are the darkhorse contender this year while Ateneo, La Salle, FEU, and Adamson are still the favorites to advance to the Final Four.
We have prepared longer this year unlike last year. I have eight new faces and eight veterans. Thank you.
– Boy Sablan, University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers
Sablan didn’t really say a lot, although like UP, UST will be missing Steve Akomo this season, on top of key guys last year which graduated.
I am excited to watch FEU-La Salle. No, no, because it will be a very competitive game, Don’t get me wrong. Basically, when you look at our team, we relatively still a young team we are composed of four veterans with three or more years experience; most are sophomores and freshmen so I guess we are excited but of course we have to wait and see. Other teams are picking up so hopefully we can perform better than we did last season.
– Franz Pumaren, Adamson University Soaring Falcons
Pumaren drew lots of laughter for his opening statement, and even asked if the referee who T’d him up for holding the ball will still be officiating this season. Other than that, it was typical Pumaren: direct, no non-sense, straight to the point.
We are excited and ready. We have a different team but so are our opponents. That’s it.
– Aldin Ayo, De La Salle University Green Archers
Ayo responded to allegiations that he choked a player during the Davao incident, saying he “did not do that.” There wouldn’t be any extra preparation considering FEU is their first opponent this season, as Ayo said La Salle approaches any game the same way. The Green Archers mentor added: “it was very unfortunate it happened. Sana hindi nangyari. If we can patch things up, the better.”
UAAP Commissioner Rebo Saguisag was asked if there will be extra security during the FEU-La Salle game next Sunday and he responded by saying no. Saguisag furthered that teams cannot be sanctioned from the incident, which isn’t a UAAP event. Even FEU’s Anton Montinola said dwelling on it would be “counter-productive.”
Kami naman as hosts this year, everyone from FEU community is excited. Form our team last year, we lost [Raymar] Jose, [Monbert] Arong, [Ken] Holmqvist, so we are a much smaller team this year, but we will bringing five guys from Team B. You can expect a quicker team compared to last year. Everyone is excited.
– Olsen Racela, Far Eastern University Tamaraws
Racela added regarding the incident that he always tells his players “not do dwell on the past, [an] be mindful of the present.” “Kalimutan na natin yung nangyari, let’s all move forward,” added Racela, who will be making his collegiate basketball coaching debut.
Transferees Arvin Tolentino and Hubert Cani leads the newcomers for FEU, which will try to showcase a new identity this season.
We are parading an all-Filipino line-up. We have five rookies. We have a young team, very young team. We are quite disappointed with the performance season. Hopefully, we will be more competitive this season.
– Derrick Pumaren, University of the East Red Warriors
Both UE and UST finished with dismal 3-11 records last year. Though there aren’t significant changes or additions for the Red Warriors, Pumaren hopes the time they had to prepare would lead to more success.
Season 80 of the UAAP tips off this Saturday, September 9 at the MOA Arena with a double-header. The Red Warriors play the Bulldogs at 2 p.m. while the Blue Eagles battle the Soaring Falcons at 4 p.m. Opening ceremonies will begin at 12 noon.