San Beda raring to prove worth again in more competitive NCAA Jrs.

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 05, 2018 12:07 PM
San Beda raring to prove worth in more competitive NCAA Jrs.
Penny Estacio is looking like the point guard of the future for the San Beda Red Cubs

After winning seven straight championships, San Beda is experiencing a three-year title drought.

Even more, the Red Cubs will be missing the Finals for the second straight season.

Without a doubt, this is uncharted territory for a program which has won 22 championships – the most of any team in the history of the NCAA Juniors.

While the Taytay-based squad remains a hotbed of talent, many teams have also caught up with them.

In particular, 2017 champion College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills and 2016 champion Mapua High School now rule the roost – and according to San Beda head coach JB Sison, much of that has to do with the updated rules on residency. “Tumaas yung competition lalo na nung tinanggal nila yung residency rule na agad-agad makakalipat,” he shared.

He then continued, “Kahit UAAP, kahit CESAFI, basta may makita kang magaling, pwede mong ilaro kaagad eh.”

Indeed, the Junior Blazers have paraded the likes of Joel Cagulangan (from Butuan) and Inand Fornilos (from University of Sto. Tomas in the UAAP) while the Red Robins have trotted out the likes of Will Gozum (from University of the Philippines Integrated School in the UAAP) and Clint Escamis (from Alabang) in the past years – none of whom underwent residency.

Before this development, a transferee had to undergo one-year residency before being eligible to play.

Now that rule is gone, the NCAA Juniors has undoubtedly, become more competitive. “Maglalaban ulit sa recruitment. Ang maganda nun is competitive ang lahat,” Coach JB said.

He then continued, “Any team can beat anybody.”

In that light, the Red Cubs are nothing but confident that their own latest batch of recruits will lead them back into the Finals – and even more, a championship. “Yung experience na nakuha nina [Joshua] Lazaro and [Justine} Sanchez, sana ma-bring up nila. Yung [Penny] Estacio, surprising this year,” he said, referring to the three first-year players who opened eyes in their semifinals finish this season.

What’s more, they are also set to welcome Rhayyan Amsali who won one championship in the UAAP Juniors while being a key cog for Nazareth School of National University. As Coach JB put it, “Papasok pa si Amsali. Actually, si Amsali pa ata ang beterano next year kasi marami nang experience sa UAAP.”

Indeed, with those four, a return to the Final Four is very much a doable goal for San Beda.

And who knows? Perhaps those four may even carry the school to its 23rd Juniors championship.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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