Knights’ repeat, Lions’ revenge, other questions for NCAA 92

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 05, 2015 09:47 PM
Knights’ repeat, Lions’ revenge, other questions for NCAA 92
IN CONTENTION. Finalists Letran and San Beda will be back to challenge for the title next season.

Yes, we know that only a week has gone by since the 91st Season of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament wrapped up, but hey, it’s never too early to get excited for next year.

Especially if we get to see these teams once again pour out their all to ensure that another new champion will be crowned – except for the reigning and defending titlists, of course.

Colegio de San Juan de Letran

Let’s just get this out of the way already.

No more Mark Cruz and no more Kevin Racal – so, each and every one of us is doubting Letran’s ability to repeat. Yes, let’s question if Rey Nambatac can be “the man.” Yes, let’s question if Jom Sollano, Bong Quinto, and Jerrick Balanza can quickly develop as key cogs. Yes, let’s question if Aldin Ayo’s House of Chaos has strong enough foundation for more than one season.

But also, let’s remember than no one from us believed in the Knights before this season and oh, how silly they made us all look time and again.

San Beda College

With pillars Ola Adeogun, Baser Amer, and Art Dela Cruz all playing in their final years, the cupboard was seemingly going to be left bare for San Beda. Then the Finals rolled around and Javee Mocon introduced himself in the biggest of stages.

Donald Tankoua has also proven to be a more than capable paint presence. He’s no Adeogun, yet, but he still has a lot more post moves than Allwell Oraeme, Bright Akhuetie, or Hamadou Laminou. Along with Mocon and Tankoua, the promise of another Amer also remains in the form of Radge Tongco.

And we could all bet that Jamike Jarin will harness all the talent he has in his 15-man roster. They may have lost their crown, but the Lions aren’t going away just yet.

Arellano University

Plain and simple, next season will be all of “The Bus Driver’s” to run around on.

With no more Scottie Thompson, Jiovani Jalalon is now the undisputed best playmaker. With no more Mark Cruz, Jiovani Jalalon is now the king of the guards. And with no more heavy favorites, Jiovani Jalalon can now drive Arellano to the front of the pack and fast.

The same squad that claimed a runner-up finish two seasons ago is still pretty much here and they’re nothing but hungrier after just missing out on the Final Four the last time around. Add those together and “The Bus Driver” and his crew are determined to run over just about everyone who will stand in their way.

Mapua Institute of Technology

When Mapua booked a return to the Final Four, they said they were just getting started. When Allwell Oraeme won Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year, he said they were just getting started.

No one cast any doubts on the statement. Because why would they?

MVP-RoY-DPoY Oraeme returns to see if he can add offensive moves to his repertoire. CJ Isit, Exi Biteng, JP Nieles, and Darrel Menina return, bringing even more firepower. Yes, Josan Nimes leaves behind a go-to-guy void to be filled, but talent always wins out and boy, do they have talent in that side of Intramuros.

Jose Rizal University

The whole gang hailing from Shaw Boulevard will be coming back and they plan to take the next step after a semifinal finish.

After Arellano, JRU stands to be the most intact lineup heading into next season.

However, outbursts from Teytey Teodoro and/or Paolo Pontejos could only take anyone so far. Vergel Meneses will hope for further development from the likes of Abdel Poutouochi and Jordan Dela Paz to backup their gunslingers.

The Final Four is already a common landing spot for the Heavy Bombers and they’re definitely seeking a better destination.


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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