Velasco and his young Blazers are looking at the big picture

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jun 17, 2016 07:12 PM
Velasco and his young Blazers are looking at the big picture
LOOKING AHEAD. Coach Gabby Velasco expects his young CSB Blazers to grow together for the next four years.

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 5-13, eighth place

YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: JJ Domingo, Christian Fajarito, Fons Saavedra

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Yankie Haruna, Clement Leutcheu


Now without Jonathan Grey, their one and only shining star from what was an underwhelming campaign a year ago, College of St. Benilde’s lineup can be categorized into two, if coach Gabby Velasco is to be believed.

As the fourth-year mentor put it, “Our team is very young. Dalawa lang ang nasa amin ngayon – kung hindi sophomore, rookie.”

Indeed, of the 17 names on their roster, first-year and second-year players count to seven apiece. Unlike what was said, however, the Blazers do have three players who are considered veterans.

Still, there wasn’t any other word Velasco could have used to better describe his squad other than young and as such, he recognizes that they are already in the process of rebuilding. “Magsasama-sama ‘tong team na ‘to in the next four years. We’re gonna try to learn as much as we can,” he said.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Taft Avenue isn’t looking to return to the place they haven’t been to since 2002 – the playoffs. “We’re still hopeful we can have a good finish. We always aim for the best finish that we can,” their coach expressed.

Helping Velasco in guiding this young team is fifth-year man Fons Saavedra who surprised just about everybody by returning for another go at it. As it turns out, Velasco really asked the Filipino-American to get back to donning the green and white and serve as the squad’s steadying hand.

However, it’s not the now grizzled veteran whom CSB will be propping up as main men. Instead, that distinction goes to a couple of former Far Eastern University-Diliman standouts in JJ Domingo and Christian Fajarito. The left-handed Domingo will be expected to take on more of the scoring load that was left behind by Grey while Fajarito will be tasked to serve as the anchor on both ends of the floor.

While he has full faith on their two sophomore hopes, Velasco said that the Blazers are yet to really find their team leader. “Gone are the days na meron kaming take-charge guys and we’re struggling on that aspect now. There are some trying, but hindi pa ganoon ka-effective,” he said.

No rushing Domingo and Fajarito, however, as he also added, “Hopefully, as we play more games, eventually someone will come out.”


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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