Younger but hungrier Chiefs out to fortify contention
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jun 26, 2015 05:30 PM
NO SURPRISES HERE (ANYMORE). Arellano caught everyone by surprise last season en route to a runner-up finish, but believe Dioncee Holts and Jiovani Jalalon will be all they need for continued contention.
HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 13-5, second, runner-up
YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Dioncee Holts, Jiovani Jalalon
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Brylle Meca, Ken Zamora
GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Keith Agovida, Prince Caperal, Levi Hernandez, John Pinto
Interestingly last season, Jerry Codinera’s Arellano University lived and died with their offense.
Why is that interesting? Well, the first-year head coach was fondly called “The Defense Minister” back in his playing days.
Although he remains a believer that defense wins championships, Codinera will not do anything to fix what isn’t broken especially with explosive scorers Dioncee Holts and Jiovani Jalalon a year wiser following their unexpected runner-up finish.
Holts broke out right from the Chiefs’ first game last season all the way into becoming their leading scorer and being hailed as the Rookie of the Year. Digos native Jalalon also found his confidence under Codinera’s tutelage and thrust himself among the best young court generals by averaging an all-around stat line of 12.8 points, 5.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.8 steals.
While the terrific twosome will not be catching anyone by surprise this time around, they will have even more energetic legs running with them as Arellano Juniors star Ken Zamora and new-age Cebuano hotshot Brylle Meca are set to finally debut for the Sampaloc-based squad.
Zamora and Meca, along with the Arellano’s five other new faces, will immediately be thrown into the fire as they need to prove they can match, if not surpass, the contributions of last year’s reliable veterans Keith Agovida, John Pinto, and Prince Caperal.
Despite expected growing pains, Codinera is nothing but confident with his rookies. “We have seven rookies so hindi biro. Nakakapagod at nauubos oras namin kaka-guide sa kanila,” he shared with ABS-CBN Sports.
He added, however, “But we have rookies who will only complement our big guns.”
The Chiefs offense, on track to replicate its league-best finish the past year, was never the obstacle for the six-year member school’s continued contention. Instead, it’s a league-worst defense that Codinera knows he needs to work on to be able to match-up with the other Final Four teams, all of whom have only gotten bigger.
The Arellano community can rest easy knowing that “The Defense Minister” is right on top of the team’s biggest weakness. With the defense still a work on progress, Codinera said that just like last season, he would like to keep expectations at a minimum by saying, “Wala kaming goal. We live by the day at basta mag-improve every game.”
Still, the mentor of the Chiefs has all the faith in the talent of his boys that was only emboldened by their gatecrashing into the Finals the last time around. “Nakita na naman nila what it feels like to win so we just have to be consistent about winning,” he told ABS-CBN Sports.
Arellano closes out the first day of the 91st Season of the NCAA against JRU 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.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.