All-Filipino La Salle all set to cut UAAP 82 rivals down to size
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 30, 2019 06:29 PM
Aljun Melecio and Andrei Caracut, alongside Justine Baltazar, will have to carry an even heavier load if La Salle is to barge back into the playoff picture
HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 8-6, fifth, lost to FEU in battle for the fourth-seed
YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Justine Baltazar, Brandon Bates, Andrei Caracut, Encho Serrano, Aljun Melecio
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Jordan Bartlett, Joel Cagulangan, Ralph Cu, Joshua David, Keyshawn Evans, Tyrus Hill, James Laput, Kurt Lojera, Jamie Orme, Gian Nazario (coach), Jermaine Byrd (consultant)
GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Mark Dyke, Jollo Go, Kib Montalbo, Taane Samuel, Santi Santillan, Louie Gonzalez (coach)
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM LA SALLE?
La Salle will be going all-Filipino in UAAP Season 82 – and that is nothing but a badge of honor for the green and white.
Just two years removed from parading dominant Ben Mbala from Cameroon, the Green Archers will be lone team in the league without a foreign student-athlete.
That doesn’t mean, however, that there will be no international experience coming into the Taft-based team as Jermaine Byrd, who made his name as an assistant in the NBA G-League, will now serve as active consultant to head coach Gian Nazario.
Active consultant Byrd and coach Gian, himself a longtime assistant in DLS-Zobel, will lean on Mythical selection Justine Baltazar, team captain Andrei Caracut, scoring guard Aljun Melecio, and x-factor Encho Serrano to prove that for La Salle, height is not necessarily might.
Even better, those three battle-tested veterans will be flanked by a trio of Filipino-American one-and-done players in 6-foot Keyshawn Evans, 6-foot-7 Jamie Orme, and 6-foot-9 James Laput as well as a trifecta of talented transferees in Jordan Bartlett, Tyrus Hill, and Kurt Lojera.
WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM LA SALLE?
Baltazar’s rise from rim protector in NU’s champion Jrs. teams to two-way force for La Salle has been nothing short of impressive, but this season will see him carry his heaviest load yet.
With Brandon Bates as well as unproven Laput and Ralph Cu the only other big men on the roster, the 6-foot-7 pride of Pampanga will have a golden opportunity to prove he can put a team on his back – even if he is sure to be battered and bruised each and every game by the seven foreign reinforcements he will be matched up with.
Fortunately for him, the perimeter remains fiery as ever with Caracut and Melecio ready and raring to raze the nets and Bartlett as well as Joel Cagulangan and Joshua David, prized recruits from LS-Green Hills, out to make an immediate impact.
Also, eyes need to be trained on Fil-Am Orme, an athletic and all-around player who has all the potential to be the next big thing from abroad.
WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR LA SALLE?
La Salle is going against the current in not lining up any foreign student-athlete – intriguing considering it experienced one of the most dominant seasons in league history with Mbala patrolling the paint.
That means that, game by game, the all-Filipino Green Archers will be David to the other teams’ Goliath – in terms of size, at the very least – and that is always a good story to tell.
That also means that, unlike years past, the traditional powerhouse from Taft Ave. is actually some sort of underdog this time around – and that is always a good story to tell as well.
WHERE WOULD LA SALLE BE AT THE END OF UAAP SEASON 82?
La Salle will be in the thick of things in the playoff picture.
It remains to be seen if all of their recruits, Fil-Am or full-blooded Filipino, live up to the hype, but with Baltazar, Caracut, Melecio, and Serrano, the Green Archers will always have a more than capable army to wage war with.
WHEN IS LA SALLE’S FIRST GAME IN UAAP SEASON 82?
All-Filipino La Salle starts the season by rekindling its rivalry with back-to-back champion Ateneo on September 8 at Araneta Coliseum.
Of course, everybody goes All for More and, as always, all of the action will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream.
HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE SEVEN OTHER TEAMS IN UAAP SEASON 82:
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