Looking ahead: What to watch out for in UAAP Season 78

ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 04, 2015 07:14 PM

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Looking ahead: What to watch out for in UAAP Season 78
UAAP Season 78 basketball is just around the corner, here are things that you should look out for to stay in the game.

The opening of UAAP Season 78 is just a few days away and as the excitement builds up, here are some things you should watch out for.

1. NU's title defense.

Climbing up the mountain is hard, but staying on top is harder. Although it would be pretty difficult to expect the Bulldogs to have championship hangover considering the discipline they show on both ends of the floor, its interesting to watch how NU goes by its title-retention bid.

Last season, the main storyline ended up being the quest to end a 60-year title drought. For Season 78, it can be safe to say that their motivation is to start a dynasty. One thing is for sure though, the Bulldogs will be more bite than bark on defense.

2. FEU's quest for number 20.

The FEU Tamaraws had a tough pill to swallow after last season's finals defeat. Prior to that, they have lost two straight series against the Ateneo Blue Eagles on their way to five straight titles. So yeah, the Tamaraws badly want to win.

With most of the key players coming back, FEU is the consensus pick to win it all this season but that does not mean they are guaranteed of anything.

A veteran 1-2 combo in Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia means that Nash Racela's squad will always be a tough matchup for any team and its worth the watch just how they will bounce back and if they'll be good enough to raise banner number 20 in Morayta.

3. De La Salle's bounce back season.

The Green Archers had a very painful end to their title defense last year after Mac Belo's buzzer-beating triple in their knockout Final Four duel.

And although they lost a couple of pieces from their Season 76 title team, La Salle is always in the conversation in terms of the league's contenders.

Just how quickly Jeron Teng and company can figure out a way to rediscover their championship mojo will be key if they make a return trip to the finals or be on the outside looking in again.

4. Kiefer Ravena's farewell tour.

After Kiefer Ravena decided to return to Ateneo and play out his final year, you knew that he wanted to win another title for the Blue Eagles.

Fresh from an MVP campaign and leading a young team to the top seed last year before being victims of an NU upset, expect the Phenom to be even better for Season 78, maybe adding another MVP and Championship trophies to his impressive collection.

5. UE's all-Filipino route.

On paper, it looks like the UE Red Warriors went through a major rebuild for this season with an all-Filipino lineup and nine rookies, including five freshmen.

Just don't think they'll be pushovers, if you do, try to tell that to coach Derrick Pumaren who wants his squad to go out and play suffocating defense for every game.

With majority of teams having foreign student-athletes in their fold, UE's all-Filipino route provides enough intrigue to see if the Red Warriors can pull off a couple of surprises.

6. UST taking advantage of a closing window.

Just two season ago, the UST Growling Tigers were on the verge of winning a UAAP championship and becoming the team everybody loves to cheer for. A coaching change and a down season later, they are on another uphill climb towards relevance.

With pieces from the team that challenged Ateneo and La Salle in back-to-back finals still in play, the Growling Tigers look to make the most out of their championship window that is closing fast, at least with the current core anyway.

The performance of second-year head coach Bong dela Cruz is also a worthy subplot to watch out for, another bad season and UST fans may want to push him out of the job. A fine redemption campaign could be enough for him to be given another chance.

7. Nowhere to go but UP.

The Fighting Maroons were so happy to finally win a game last season they hosted a bonfire. This year though, that will not be the case, aside from being hosts, UP has pieces to be a darkhose Final Four contender.

UP's return to prominence in UAAP basketball may start this year and their ascend to the top is worth watching, Fighting Maroons fan or not.

8. Adamson's development.

The Adamson Falcons look like a couple of years away from truly competing fora Final Four spot again, but that does not mean that they are not worth your attention.

They have an intriguing set of young players led by rookie JD Tungcab who thinks their team can win more than a couple of games this season to erase the bitter memory of Season 77.

Just how they grow on the floor could be a preview of what to expect in the future for the youtful Falcons.

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