NU is new darkhorse; UP now considered a contender

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 04, 2017 05:26 PM
NU is new darkhorse; UP now considered a contender
NEW DEVELOPMENTS. NU and UP are seen to improve on their similar 5-9 records from a season ago.

Both National University and University of the Philippines finished with 5-9 records a season ago.

And yet, now in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament, both are being mentioned in the same breath as champion De La Salle University, runner-up Ateneo de Manila University, and playoff participants Far Eastern University and Adamson University.

Asked about the teams to beat, Blue Eagle mentor Sandy Arrespacochaga answered, “The defending champions then Adamson.”

He then continued, “UP also then NU is now the darkhorse.”

Aldin Ayo, head coach of the Green Archers, said the same. “Ateneo, Adamson, FEU, then NU kasi nandyan na si coach Jamike,” he said.

Jamike Jarin will now be calling the shots for the Bulldogs, a year after steering San Beda College back to the promised land in the NCAA. He will still have gunner J-Jay Alejandro and big man Matt Salem as well as blue-chip rookies in Senegalese tower Issa Gaye and do-it-all forward Jonas Tibayan.

Ayo, who is the only coach to win NCAA and UAAP titles in back-to-back years, also added, “Also, UP.”

The Fighting Maroons were the feel-good story a season ago and return Mythical selection Paul Desiderio along with a youthful, but promising core of Diego Dario, Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano, Jun Manzo, and Noah Webb.

For his part, Jarin also thinks State U is bound for a leap forward. “All due respect to the others, but UP is also doing well,” he expressed.

Many mentors, though, were also quick to add that this time around, the competition is much closer. “This year, well-balanced talaga. Grabe yung magiging competition,” Olsen Racela of FEU said.

“Any team can beat any team,” University of the East’s Derrick Pumaren agreed.

University of Sto. Tomas’ Boy Sablan echoed the same sentiment. “All have equal chances now,” he said.

The UAAP goes for great in Season 80 starting on Saturday at the MOA Arena.

Of course, all of the action will be on S+A, S+A HD, and sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/uaap.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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