HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 13-5, third-seed, lost to LPU in Final Four
YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Jeo Ambohot, Bonbon Batiller, Larry Muyang
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Neil Guarino, Pao Javillonar, Allen Mina, Mark Sangalang, Ato Ular, Bonnie Tan (coach)
GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: JP Calvo, Christian Fajarito, Bong Quinto, Jeremiah Taladua, Jeff Napa (coach)
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM LETRAN?
Colegio de San Juan de Letran has what it takes to go all the way in NCAA Season 95.
The Knights boast of the most formidable frontline in the league with Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang and former Gilas Pilipinas cadet Jeo Ambohot now joined by Pao Javillonar, Mark Sangalang, and Ato Ular as well as a wing weapon who is nothing but determined to showcase his skills in Jerrick Balanza.
“Although walang (foreign student-athlete), ang strength namin ay sa bigs pa rin. Nadagdagan pa nga kami ngayon so we want to utilize and maximize yung bigs namin.” – head coach Bonnie Tan
Without a doubt, this is the championship core former head coach Jeff Napa envisioned and then put into action when he first entered the Walls of Intramuros back in 2016.
Still, it remains to be seen whether or not they have already adjusted and adapted to the coaching change as well as the new system – and that is the biggest, baddest challenge in front of the big, bad Knights in the earlygoing of the season.
“Right now, we’re still learning. Sino-solve pa namin lahat ng mga ginagawa naming mali kasi hindi pa maubos e. Pero kami naman, ang gusto namin sa team is we’re trying to improve every game.” – head coach Bonnie Tan
WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM LETRAN?
Balanza has long been poised for a breakout season and he was having just that a year ago before a brain tumor threatened his career.
Fortunately, the 6-foot-2 smooth operator has recovered from his brain surgery and is nothing but raring and ready to take the lead for Letran.
“Jerrick Balanza is our leader and siyempre, nandun yung great responsibility for him. Almost naka-recover na siya sa injury niya and excited na siyang maka-bounce back at makapaglaro sa loob ng court with the team.” – head coach Bonnie Tan
Even better, for all the plays he would make or all the shots he would miss, there would be the fearsome frontcourt of Muyang, Ambohot, Sangalang, and Ular – very much like the recipe of success that worked for Bong Quinto for all of last year.
In all, the only question in the Knights’ fully loaded lineup is if the combination of Tommy Gedaria, Kurt Reyson, and Fran Yu would be more than enough to offset the loss of steady playmaker JP Calvo.
WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR LETRAN?
Letran is one of the proudest programs in all of collegiate basketball and in recent years, it has had a slow and steady climb back up the mountaintop.
Now, the Knights could see the peak and they have a golden opportunity to reclaim the crown they last wore in 2015.
Without a doubt, this season is just a continuation of the path they have been marching on since coach Jeff got on board in 2016 and then coach Bonnie took over in 2019.
“We’re trying to improve yung standing last season so, of course, there’s pressure, pero doon kami aabante at doon kami mag-iimprove as a team.” – head coach Bonnie Tan
WHERE WOULD LETRAN BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 95?
Letran is one of three shoo-ins for the Final Four – as well as a strong contender to wage war in the Finals and even possibly, hoist the trophy.
“For me, dapat lang malaman ng players na contender kami.” – head coach Bonnie Tan
This fully loaded lineup has the makings of a dynasty-ender – what’s only up in the air is if it would be motivated enough to do just that.
WHEN IS LETRAN’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 95?
Letran has no time to waste as its first assignment in the season is a tough test coming from Intramuros rival Lyceum of the Philippines University on July 7 at MOA Arena.
As always, the latest season of the first and oldest collegiate league in the country will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream.
HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE NINE OTHER TEAMS IN NCAA SEASON 95:
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.