“Gigil na kami”: San Beda Red Lions talk NCAA Season 92

Ceej Tantengco on Jun 06, 2016 11:07 AM
“Gigil na kami”: San Beda Red Lions talk NCAA Season 92
Can the San Beda Red Lions regain the NCAA title?

The San Beda College community has been active on social media with the tagline “REDemption 2.0,” a callback to the Red Lions’ 2010 campaign to regain the NCAA men’s basketball crown after having their four-peat broken. The last campaign was beyond successful, sparking five straight championships—until the streak was snapped by the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights last season. 

The question on everyone’s minds is: Can the Red Lions do it again?

“Sobrang eager [namin] para magsimula na ‘yung season,” grins team co-captain Radge Tongco. “Palaging sinasabi sa amin ni coach [Jamike Jarin] how much he wishes na sana, NCAA na ulit. Gigil na kami, we’ve been preparing hard and it’s all for the NCAA.”


‘Continuity is key’

Despite his players’ excitement, second-year head coach Jarin knows hunger will not be enough. He stresses the importance of big-picture continuity—the winning tradition that San Beda is known for, and the machinery behind it.

The Red Lions spent two weeks in Las Vegas for their annual intensive training. “More on individual skills [ang focus],” shares team captain Dan Sara. “Siguro mga 60% ng focus ang nasa individual skills at 40% naman sa team skills. We’ve been working on our outside shooting and run-and-gun conditioning.”

“We’re stronger, faster, and more bonded,” says Jarin. “And if you look at our lineup, halos pantay-pantay mga height nila. You can expect to see players playing multiple positions.”

Recruitment is another of San Beda’s strengths, and their draws from Team B appear confident on the court. Robert Bolick has been playing well for San Beda since the National Collegiate Championships, and continues to do so in the 2016 FilOil Flying V Premier Cup.

“Continuity is key. We’re drawing from San Beda’s winning tradition and many of [the players] were fortunate to have learned from champions,” Jarin shares.


Two captains and a confident bench

Jarin’s emphasis on continuity is also evident in his choice to have a team captain in outgoing senior Sara and a co-captain in Tongco, who is poised to take over after Sara graduates and was being mentored by Baser Amer as early as last season.

“Iba na ‘yung dynamic kasi dati, ang daming veterans,” says Sara, recalling last year’s lineup with stars like Amer, Art Dela Cruz and Ola Adeogun. “Ngayon ako na lang, kaya kahit parang kuya yung role ko sa team, hindi awkward para sa mga rookie na lapitan ako.”

Tongco looks forward to seeing the young guns draw blood in Season 92: “Maraming rookies, at mabibilis. At ‘yung mga dati pang players, malaking improvement din—malaking bagay na they know how to play within Coach Jamike’s system.”

Jarin’s trademark deep rotation aims to give young guns the experience and confidence to show up big in crucial games. The current success story: AC Soberano, last season’s rookie from Tarlac, who has grown into a reliable three-point shooter for the Red Lions. 

In a recent FilOil game against the Adamson Falcons, Jarin’s squad claimed the win with him sitting out all five starters in the fourth quarter. Expect to see more of that in the NCAA. “I’ve been a coach for over 25 years. Some things never change,” he says.


Hungrier than ever

“Malaking responsibilidad ang binigay sa amin,” says Sara, who dreams of ending his college career with taking back the championship for his school. “Gustong gusto na naming mabawi para sa school namin, para sa coach namin.”

The San Beda community is likewise raring for the NCAA Season 92 opening day, which immediately pits the Red Lions against historical rivals Letran Knights. Despite this, Jarin reminds his team of their bigger goal—reclaiming the crown.

“You cannot get too stuck on the first game. After all, it’s not the last game. We need to prepare against all teams,” says Jarin. “The real goal here is to continue San Beda’s winning tradition.”

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