Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Changing of the Guards in the UAAP

By Katherine Verances Marfal

Winning a championship in the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Men’s Basketball is always a great treasure for any school. However, before they achieved this, the coaches and trainers needed to find the right pieces to form a championship-caliber lineup. First, they need a guy who has the ability to execute plays, control the tempo and is good in decision making during crucial situations. Indeed, having a great point guard in a team is very vital.

These were wishes of Lordy Tugade and Danny Ildefonso during their times with National University which did not come true. Even Ken Bono can lead his Adamson University to its highest peak if there is someone who can stabilize the situation in the homestretch of the tournament. Denok Miranda, L.A Tenorio, Jonas Villanueva, T.y Tang, Japs Cuan and Jai Reyes have become huge factors in their team’s recent successes.

This season, another set of court generals are now taking over the spotlight from their predecessors. Ryan Roose Garcia of Far Eastern University, Simon Atkins of De La Salle University, Jeric Fortuna of University of Santo Tomas and Adamson University’s backcourt mates Jeric Canada and Lester Alvarez are new reliable point guards on the court.

R. R. Garcia had created an immediate impact last year as a rookie, even playing alongside Andy Barroca. With Barroca, already out in the lineup, Garcia immediately assumed one of the main roles especially at the backcourt. In some pre season tournaments, Garcia’s made a valiant effort to improve his game. It was evident during their first two games of the season. He was selected as the first recipient of Player of the Week honors when he tallied 17 points per game, 3.5 assists per game, 3 rebounds per game, 1.5 steals per game and 1.0 block per game. With the performance of former national youth stand out, it seemed that the Morayta-based dribblers are in good position to complete their mission.

With Green Archers on its rebuilding stage, Atkins assumed as the new leader of the team this season. With so many rookies and sophomores comprising their lineup, definitely there are no high expectations from them this season. However, Atkins seemed to have other plans in their opening game against U.P Fighting Maroons when he scorched 20 points to give them an 80-62 victory. In the following games, Atkins continued to help his team as he provided much needed leadership on and off the court. Currently, LaSalle owns a 4-2 card good for a share in second spot earlier this season.

Last Season’s MVP Dylan Ababou’s departure indicates that UST is looking for a new offensive weapon. On his 3rd year, Fortuna becomes one of the explosive shooters and gunners this season. Alongside Jeric Teng, Pido Jarencio had received much needed contributions from Fortuna especially on the offensive end. As of now, he already placed himself in the history book of UAAP as he drained 8 out of 10 in three point area in a double overtime victory against U.P Fighting Maroons. UST’s decent 3-3 standings gave them a bigger chance to make another trip in the post season despite of low expectation from them, thanks to the effort of Fortuna and the rest of the Growling Tigers.

Adamson coach Leo Austria has a problem in maximizing the playing minutes of his two reliable court generals. Lester Alvarez is a terrific outside shooter who became the team’s primary option in offense. Time and time again, the former squire made some crucial baskets in the end game to propel them to victory. Alvarez’s most notable performance this season was the game against UST when he erupted 17 of his 22 points in the second half to help the Falcons survived the 16 three point explosions from the Tigers. On the other hand, Jeric Canada has different playing style with Alvarez. A native from Cebu is known for using his quickness in attacking the basket and overrated defender. This season, Canada is the league’s leader in steals averaging 3.0 steals per game. Definitely, Adamson Falcons has a good shot in granting their final four dream especially Alvarez and Canada is willing to play all out despite the fact that they are only given limited minutes.

There is indeed much pressure on the shoulders of these point guards but definitely all of them are out to prove themselves worthy of the trust of their coaches. Only time will tell for the coaches, the players and their fans this season.

(Photo source: Facebook page of Jerick Cañada)

(Katherine Verances Marfal is a freelance writer. Among the publications she writes for are the Manila Bulletin, Sports Digest, Panorama and Pilipino Star Ngayon. She is also a Web Content Writer and is a graduate of Philippine Normal University).

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