Meneses guarantees JRU will be in Final Four

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jun 25, 2015 09:02 PM
Meneses guarantees JRU will be in Final Four
AS SURE AS EVER. Basketball legend Vergel Meneses said his JRU Heavy Bombers are too talented not to make the Final Four.

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 12-6, third, semifinalist

YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Dave Sanchez, Teytey Teodoro

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Kim Aurin, Darius Estrella, Paolo Pontejos (returning), Abdel Poutouochi

GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Michael Mabulac, Philip Paniamongan

For the first time in his six-year tenure as coach of Jose Rizal University, Vergel Meneses is making a guarantee.

“Before, never ako makapagsabi. This year, I tell you and I tell them, there’s no reason for us not to be in the top four with the lineup we have,” the basketball legend turned mentor told ABS-CBN Sports.

That is a pretty bold statement especially after his top two scorers last year in Philip Paniamongan and Michael Mabulac will not be making a return. Instead, the Heavy Bombers look to have schemed a three-guard attack to spearhead their offensive.

If the preseason is an indication, second-year scorer Teytey Teodoro, steady all-around contributor Dave Sanchez, and returning gunner Paolo Pontejos will now be heavily featured. When things aren’t heating up from the perimeter, JRU will then dump the ball into the hands of Cameroonian Abdel Poutouochi who is capable of quite a few moves from the post.

However, it was a third-best defense that pushed the Shaw Boulevard-based school into the playoffs the last time around and it will again be that end which Meneses claimed will be their identity. “We will win not because of our talent, but because of team defense,” he said.

No particular player has really shone for the Heavy Bombers – even their three-guard attack had played just well enough to win them games – and it may well only be a matter of time before “The Aerial Voyager” breaks out a concealed weapon.

Reigning NCAA Juniors MVP Darius Estrella will be a pretty good bet to have that breakout, but eyeballs should also be kept on Kim Aurin whom Meneses penciled in as a starter and shared with ABS-CBN Sports, “Parang naaalala ko sarili ko sa kanya.”

JRU made waves during the preseason by winning the 2015 Fr. Martin Cup and placing third in the 2015 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament. With initial results going their way, Meneses said that he always reiterates to his boys, “Kayo lang ang tatalo sa sarili niyo. Hindi pwedeng hindi tayo mag-top four.”

JRU closes out the first day of the 91st Season of the NCAA against Arellano on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena. The game will be broadcast LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports+Action Channel 23 at 3:00 PM and will also be streamed LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports.com.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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