The College of Saint Benilde Blazers and the University of Perpetual Help Altas had forgettable campaigns in NCAA Season 93. Meanwhile, the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals were just two wins short of joining the playoff for the last slot in the Final Four.
These three teams are raring to go back to their winning ways in Season 94 and their fate will heavily rely on these stellar players.
Head coach TY Tang had a great find in Filipino-American Justin Gutang. After his stint at Burlingame High School in California, the new recruit proved his worth with an impressive showing during the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup tournament. In their tense quarterfinal win against the UP Fighting Maroons, he had an all-around game of 11 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists. He also led the Blazers in scoring with 22 during their semifinal defeat against the San Beda Red Lions. Gutang is a multiple-threat guy who can hurt opponents with his shooting, playmaking, and defending.
Beefing up the Blazers frontcourt once again is Clement Letcheu who posted Season 93 digits of 13.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per outing. Expect those numbers to increase given his experience and the defense that Gutang can attract. Not to be overlooked is the backcourt duo of JJ Domingo and Unique Naboa who will orchestrate the CSB offense. Look for Edward Dixon to improve from his 9.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game average last season as well.
First-year head coach Frankie Lim must devise a plan to compensate for the loss of GJ Ylagan, Gab Dagangon, and Keith Pido. It would be tough to compensate for the trio’s combined average of 24.9 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. However, they still have Nigerian powerhouse Prince Eze who would have been Season 93 Most Valuable Player if only the Altas made it to the Final Four.
The fortunes of the Altas will heavily rely on Eze’s shoulders as he tries to boost last season’s averages of 16.5 points, 18.2 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per match. Don’t make the mistake of tagging Perpetual as a one-trick pony squad either for Jeff Coronel is expected to make the rise following the departure of their three best locals.
The Generals’ march to relevance in Season 94 got trickier following the departure of double-double machine Sidney Onwubere and the feisty guard Francis Munsayac. Compensating for the 15.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks that the now-Rain or Shine Elasto Painter contributed per game is challenging alone but much less when Munsayac’s 12.2 points per outing is added as well.
However, the battle plan of EAC will be spearheaded by Jerome Garcia ,who is expected to improve from his numbers of 12.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season. Hamadou Laminou’s recovery from an ACL injury will also spell success or failure for the Generals’ campaign. He played only five games in the prior season but posted numbers of 10.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in 26 minutes of action per contest.
Another intriguing piece to the EAC core is former NCAA Juniors scoring champion is Maui Cruz who is making the jump from the Brigadiers to the Generals. The 5-foot-9 guard led all players with 19.7 points per game to go with 4.1 boards, 2.8 dimes, and 1.2 swipes. The San Marcelino-based squad will be in good shape if he lives up to the hype. Jesse Bautista is another silent contributor for coach Ariel Sison who can change the outcome of games when not shadowed.
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