How the UAAP men’s basketball team captains are each getting hot for the gold
Barry Viloria on Oct 25, 2016 11:39 PM
Halfway through the season, we survey each squad’s designated leader! (Photo from Jett Manuel Instagram: @jettmanuel)
Pressure is on him whenever his UAAP season as skipper is on, being asked the most difficult questions—from how meticulous his team’s pre-season preps have been, to how he plans to defend a championship title if at all, down to how he intends to leave his team’s underdog status in any case. Often the drama king, the captain is the heart and mind of his squad who’s ready to pour his all to power his team. Get to know #UAAP79’s front men and how they each are hoping to make this year—for some, their last!—count.
Jeron Teng, DLSU Green Archers
Presently steering the leading team in the standings, Teng eyes a championship to end his UAAP career. Once a UAAP champ with some Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Mythical Five plums to boot, he is also seen to nab this season’s MVP crown. Many predict his being a shoo-in in the pros right after his collegiate stint, not minding his injury this year that had caused him to miss two games. He has since bounced back, and armed with his heroic play—and screech-inducing biceps to some of the fans’ delight—who knows if it will indeed be a beautiful swansong for this certified star?
Raymar Jose, FEU Tamaraws
With Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, and Russell Escoto among others graduating last season, the new Tamaraws had big shoes to fill this year. But FEU’s most recent game against UP paved way to crown a new formidable player on the squad, namely its team captain Jose. In the Tamaraw’s come-from-behind victory, the ACCEL Quantum/3XVI-UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week Jose pulled all his stops sinking 20 points and 12 rebounds. The feat thus carved a bigger chance for the defending champs to stay in the Final Four, a little thanks to their big man!
Vince Tolentino, Ateneo Blue Eagles
Sure, a prized Tolentino just switched the blue-and-white stripe for yellow-and-green. But a few years ago, this Tolentino from Canada found himself trying out for the basketball team of Ateneo’s rival school only to stay and play for Katipunan instead. “I just had a better feel of the community here!” he said in a Guidon article. Years later, Tolentino—who averaged 2.7 pts and 4.9 rebounds in the first round—is now piloting the Eagles with their then-star Kiefer Ravena leaving last season. We’re surely anticipating how he furthers his fan favorite of a team to that coveted title!
Dawn Ochea, Adamson Soaring Falcons
With proven champion coach Franz Pumaren on the wheel, Adamson’s competitive impression this season almost didn’t come out as surprising. And while only averaging 4.6 points in the first round, Ochea seems to have completely complemented Pumaren to lead San Marcelino together out of the slums this season. Remember the captain’s one and only “magical shot” in their first game against Ateneo? Sweet. Ecstasy.
Alfred Aroga, NU Bulldogs
He got the Finals MVP award when the Bulldogs claimed the top rank two seasons ago and then a Mythical Five honor in the following year. With his defensive skills (9.3 average rebounds per game!), Aroga surely knows the value of teamwork and how to apply it into the game!
Louie Vigil, UST Growling Tigers
The departure of Kevin Ferrer, Ed Daquioag, and Karim Abdul after leading UST to a Finals spot last year paved the way for the rest of the seniors to step up. “New King Tiger” Vigil especially took the responsibility on. Earlier this season, he shuddered over doubts hovering his eligibility to play out his final year. But he has since moved on, and Thomasians could just hope his team pounces from the bottom on their way to the Final Four!
Jett Manuel, UP Fighting Maroons
No cramps or PBA Draft application will stop Teng’s batchmate back in Xavier Stallions from playing all heart for UP this season. Manuel, who is a top Maroon scorer at 15.7 average points, recently shelved his plans of entering the Draft to help UP jump toward a UAAP Final Four spot! If that’s not #CaptainGoals, we don’t know what is!
Paul Varilla, UE Red Warriors
At the #UAAP79 presscon months ago, Varilla spoke in honesty about how UE is this year’s “dark horse.” For now, though, the Warriors still have more to prove as they continually struggle in the bottom at 2-8. Jawo, Allan Caidic, James Yap, Paul Lee, Jerry Codiñera—of course, UE once ruled, too! Let Recto hope more that her rookie-packed team catches up and hopefully trek toward a chance for the crown. (UE last laid hands onto it in 1985!)