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The Short Corner: Reloaded UE out to end skid as UST looks to rebuild on the fly

University of Santo Tomas

Season 84 Recap

UAAP-84-MBB-ADU-vs.-UST-Sherwin-Concepcion-3743 The Short Corner: Reloaded UE out to end skid as UST looks to rebuild on the fly Bandwagon Wire Basketball UE UST  - philippine sports newsLast season’s UST squad was a weird one. Following a controversy that led to multiple player transfers, UST came into Season 84 as a far cry from the team that was a runner-up in Season 82. The thing with UST is that they were still running a very good offense. They were capable of getting the shots that they want, but the talent drop-off was too much to overcome. They ended up as the worst team in terms of Net Rating despite netting three wins in the season. They were 8.7 points worse on offense than the average team and 12.7 points worse on defense than the average.

A bright spot for UST was the play of their three best players: Joshua Fontanilla, Nicael Cabanero, and Sherwin Concepcion. Fontanilla was a scoring whiz at the guard slot who averaged 11.6 points on solid efficiency. Cabanero was a terrific athlete who looked like a future King Tiger. Concepcion shot the ball on serious volume while making them at above-league-average efficiency from deep. The core was talented, but the supporting cast was a bit lagging.

Season Outlook and Preseason Review

2019-fiba-u16-asia-gilas-youth-pool-duremdes-x-laure The Short Corner: Reloaded UE out to end skid as UST looks to rebuild on the fly Bandwagon Wire Basketball UE UST  - philippine sports newsIt’s impossible to talk about UST’s preseason build-up without discussing the surprising departures that occurred at various points in the season. First, it was the pair of Gani Stevens and Willie Wilson jumping ship to UE. Second, it was Kean Baclaan matriculating at NU. Last, it was their veterans, Bryan Santos and Concepcion, being ruled ineligible due to the UAAP’s age rules. UST looked like it was headed back to its rightful place as a UAAP powerhouse, but the cards did not fall the way they wanted them to.

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Stevens and Wilson both looked like projects, but the potential was obvious. Baclaan looked like a superstar in his 14 games with UST. Santos looked like a 6-foot-5 stretch big in FilOil and the PBA D-League. He averaged 9.6 points per game while making 31.6-percent of his triples (1.6 makes per game). Concepcion upped the volume of his shots and matched it with increased efficiency. He provided UST with 14.8 points per game while making 2.9 threes per game on 35.4-percent shooting. These losses put a cap on the UST’s ceiling in Season 85.

All is not lost for them as Cabanero still looks like an elite player and Kenji Duremdes, Echo Laure, Richi Calimag, and Kylle Magdangal have committed to UST and look to provide them with new talent. This may not be the bounce back that the Tigers were expecting, but with a new coaching program and solid pick-ups, they’re on the right path to being the contenders they once were.

Players to Watch

UAAP-84-MBB-ADMU-vs.-UST-Nic-Cabanero-7695 The Short Corner: Reloaded UE out to end skid as UST looks to rebuild on the fly Bandwagon Wire Basketball UE UST  - philippine sports newsAs earlier mentioned, the second-generation hoopers are a bunch worth taking note of. They could very well be the leaders of a Tiger resurgence in the coming UAAP seasons. Magdangal was considered for a slot in Division II of the NCAA while Laure and Duremdes were members of the stacked NU Bullpups team that dominated high school basketball.

UST’s main man is unquestionably Cabanero. He’s an athletic scorer that potentially can shift down to the point guard position and be the central force of an offense. His ball handling and ability to score at all three levels were readily apparent in the preseason games he played. His long ball still hasn’t fully set in, but he’s dangerous anywhere inside the arc as he made 51.5-percent of his twos.

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In 16 preseason games, he averaged 15.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists while providing 2.1 stocks (steals plus blocks). This much production took him only 26.1 minutes per game. The Growling Tigers have found their star and all that’s left is to build around him.

University of the East

Season 84 Recap

UAAP-84-MBB-UE-vs.-UP-Harvey-Pagsanjan-2654 The Short Corner: Reloaded UE out to end skid as UST looks to rebuild on the fly Bandwagon Wire Basketball UE UST  - philippine sports newsTo put it bluntly, Season 84 was a disaster for the Red Warriors. They finished in last place without winning a single game while being beaten by 14.4 points on average. Simply put, they couldn’t put the ball in the hoop. They finished in the bottom three in terms of field goal percentage, two-point percentage, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage.

Their offense heavily featured pick and rolls with Clint Escamis and Harvey Pagsanjan. They were the team that derived the biggest chunk of their offense from the pick and roll with 27.3-percent of their shots directly coming from them. Despite the volume of these plays, they weren’t very effective as they were below average in terms of efficiency. Other than Pagsanjan’s play, it’s hard to find another bright spot for their last season. The only good news is that there’s nowhere to go but up from here.

Season Outlook and Preseason Review

2022-Filoil-Ecooil-Preseason-Cup-EAC-vs-UE-CJ-Payawal-scaled The Short Corner: Reloaded UE out to end skid as UST looks to rebuild on the fly Bandwagon Wire Basketball UE UST  - philippine sports newsDespite Escamis’ transfer to Mapua, there is a reason for optimism for the UE camp. They won the championship in the Pinoy Liga Collegiate Cup and performed well in the FilOil Preseason Cup where they won four and lost four and notched a victory over Adamson.

Fresh blood has been injected into UE with newcomers like the 6-foot-7 Gani Stevens, the 6-foot-8 Luis Salgado, and the 6-foot-5 Calvin Payawal. After struggling through last season without legitimate rim protection, they have acquired the pieces to defend their interior. However, the Red Warriors need more than just a few new pieces to be considered a contender. They have to rely on the development of their holdovers in order to have an actual shot at the Final Four and beyond. Given where they were last season, they’re in a much better place now at the very least.

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Players to Watch

Pinoy-Liga-Cup-UE-vs-Mapua-Gani-Stevens The Short Corner: Reloaded UE out to end skid as UST looks to rebuild on the fly Bandwagon Wire Basketball UE UST  - philippine sports news

(C) Pinoy Liga Cup

In the past few seasons, UE has been a team that heavily relied on one guy for their offense. For the longest time, UE was synonymous with Alvin Pasaol. After his reign, Rey Suerte became the man. This season, we’ll see if Pagsanjan can get on that same level.

Aside from him, UE’s international men of mystery are quite intriguing.

Stevens is a true freshman with a great frame to play inside. MJ Langit is another true freshman who’s billed to be a defensive combo guard. Payawal played well in their FilOil games and is coming off of three seasons played in Division II of the NCAA and NAIA. Salgado is said to be a heady big that can shoot the ball and make good decisions on the floor.

The Red Warriors are a team with promise and a ton of intrigue, but it takes more than that to win games. We’ll see how well their new guys translate in the UAAP and root for them to improve upon their previous outing.

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Written By

Does hoops math and watches too much game film. Talks a lot on Twitter (@_alba__)

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