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Jude Roque gurantees to San Beda: ‘Escueta will be one of the best college coaches’

San Beda University missed its second straight NCAA Seniors Basketball Finals last Tuesday.

For some in the community that has gotten used to Finals appearances and championships, the Red Lions’ campaign was another disappointment.

But long-time Red Lions team manager Jude Roque begs to differ. After all, this is just Yuri Escueta’s first dance with the Lions.NCAA-98-CSB-vs-SBU-James-Kwekuteye-3-1 Jude Roque gurantees to San Beda: 'Escueta will be one of the best college coaches' Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“Obviously, we’re all disappointed with how our season turned out. We wanted to be back in the finals after missing it last time and we all believed we would make it. However, we fell short,” lamented Roque.

“Still, we received very encouraging messages from the San Beda community, which makes us want to get back to work very soon. And we will.”

The search for the Red Lions head coach took a long time.

It was on May 30 when Boyet Fernandez bid San Beda farewell but it was only on July 26 when Escueta was officially signed by the school.

A few days later, Escueta was already coaching the Red Lions in the Filoil Ecooil Preseason Cup.

Unlike past batches of Red Lions, this team was not able to train abroad and only competed in a few preseason tournaments.

After finishing the first round with a 5-4 slate, San Beda went into overdrive in the second round, only losing twice to finish in the top four.

It was a sign that Escueta’s system was working.

“The practices were very organized, beginning with video viewing. Yuri is very detailed when teaching his system. It’s not an easy system to learn, which is why he is very patient in teaching it. Then the practices would slowly progress into a more competitive setup as the NCAA got nearer,” recalled Roque.

“The general atmosphere was very positive in the team. I think the players liked the new coaching staff. The coaches, after all, are all positive influences and very passionate in teaching. Most of them had played for the Red Lions too some years ago.”

On Tuesday though, San Beda was dealt a 62-61 heartbreak at the hands of Saint Benilde that ended their campaign.

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But unlike past defeats, there were more silver linings that the team can build up on for years to come.

“I think most Bedans understand that Yuri and his staff had just barely two months to teach the system, and the premature training showed in some of our games, especially in our losses,” said Roque.

“But I have been here long enough to know that we’re going in the right direction.

“I like the coaches that I have now. They have different strengths, with varied skills that they bring to the table. We still have Boyet to guide us. His experience and wisdom are still very helpful,” he continued.

Moreover, he believes that Escueta is showing glimpses of being in line with the likes of Fernandez and Lim — the last two great San Beda head coaches.

“As for Yuri, his teaching skills are remarkable and his system is outstanding, especially for college basketball. Be patient with Yuri. He will be one of the best college coaches for a very long time.”

Of course, coaching is just one thing in the collegiate game. Recruitment is another.

For the past six years, the trend in NCAA basketball is to collect student-athletes who did not pan out in the UAAP and bring them together.

Lyceum did this with the Marcelino twins and CJ Perez; Letran did this by getting the likes of Fran Yu, Rhenz Abando, Bonbon Batiller, Larry Muyang, and Brent Paraiso; while Benilde also got JC Cullar, Will Gozum, Miggy Corteza, Jimboy Pasturan, and Miguel Oczon.

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And Roque guarantees that San Beda will not be left behind.NCAA-98-CSB-vs-SBU-Winston-Ynot-2-1 Jude Roque gurantees to San Beda: 'Escueta will be one of the best college coaches' Basketball NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“We’re doing our best in recruiting the right players. But as you all know, since the pandemic, the recruitment battle has become much more challenging. All top programs are very aggressive in their efforts,” Roque shared.

“But we have some promising recruits in our pool that can help our program next year.”

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