Who’s out: Joseph Nalos, Jerome Garcia, William Polican, Nico Capote, Ivan Villanueva, Alvin Margallo, Jose Escalambre, Gerald Fernandez, Christian Garcia
Who’s back: Pape Sarr, Jaydee Tungcab, Dawn Ochea, Harold Ng, Kristian Bernardo, Simon Camacho, Alexis Barrera (missed S78)
Who’s new: Jerrick Ahanmisi, Jonathan Ballon, Ralph Chua, Jonathan Espeleta, Rob Manalang, Sean Manganti, Terrence Mustre (transferred from DLSU), Nico Paranada, Frederick Pasturan, coach Franz Pumaren
Season 78 Record & Finish: 3-11, 8th place
2016 Filoil Record & Finish: 4-3, 4th place in Group A and lost to NU, 65-57, in the quarterfinals
What should work in S79:
Pape Sarr is maybe going to be the most unguardable big man outside of Ben Mbala this season provided he has his head screwed on straight. Sarr had some “Whuuut?” moments in S78, but having Franz Pumaren as the coach should address that ailment. At his best, Sarr is a double-double monster despite his limited repertoire of moves and the fact that he really doesn’t have much game outside of 15 feet. But, hell, with such a promising crew of speedy and athletic perimeter players, coach Franz wouldn’t need his prized slotman camping outside of the paint anyway. Surround Sarr with 4 speedy, sweet-shooting wings and wonders may not cease for the Soaring Falcons.
Speaking of those wings, guys like Tungcab, Ahanmisi, Manalang, and even Paranada impressed in the preseason. What coach Franz has is a plethora of guards and forwards who can run, defend, shoot, and pass with a high level of intensity. It’s like his DLSU team of old, and that could spell trouble for the rest of the field. Of course, their play in the preseason is one thing, and playing under the bright lights of the UAAP is something quite different. If Adamson can overcome the steep learning curve of coach Franz’s patented press-till-you’re-bled-dry system, however, these Falcons may yet live up to their moniker.
What will be tough in S79:
Coach Franz has 8 rookies, 1 transferee, and 7 holdovers. Barrera and Ochea are the only players with at least three years of playing experience already. Inexperience is going to be this team’s bane. Without a doubt, they have the tools to compete and be a threat in every contest, but inexperience tends to affect execution and decision-making, especially in big games and big moments.
One may argue that having coach Franz on the bench should compensate for that, but he’s not the one actually on the hardwood. A coach, no matter how good, can only do so much. At the end of the day, it’s still the players who win or lose it, and, given how relatively untested this team is, I suspect they’ll lose more than they win.
Adamson is one of the dark horse teams in S79, but I don’t think they’re the strongest one. As of now, I see NU, Ateneo, and maybe even UE being just a nudge ahead of the Falcons. That’s not to say Adamson won’t contend, though. On most gamedays, these kids will be pretty tough to beat and will even hang with the best of ‘em, but when push comes to shove, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Adamson commit crucial miscues because of inexperience. The only things that can permanently temper that are a season-to-remember from Pape Sarr and/or some “magic bunots” from coach Franz we haven’t seen before. – By Enzo Flojo
Follow this writer on Twitter: @hoopnut
Enzo Flojo writes opinion pieces for FOX Sports related to basketball