UAAP 80: Can UST Growling Tigers resurrect in 80th Season?
The last time UST Growling Tigers Men’s Basketball team tasted a UAAP Crown was in Season 69, led by former UST Coach Pido Jarencio. Since then, they have reached the Finals 4 times but failed to snatch one.
The Tigers even had their worst season (2016 – 2017) with 3-11 win-loss record finishing 8th seed (last seed).
What is happening to the one of the winningest teams in the history of UAAP Basketball?
Is this just a situation where there were changes made to the system by filling up the team with new coach and/or players?
When we try to look at a 10-year span of the team, it was decent to say since the Tigers have reached the Finals (4) times, having won 1 Championship (69th Season) out of the four (4). But looking at it closely, their last 3 years, the team finished 6th (Season 77) and 8th (Season 79) while the 78th Season was their best by reaching the Finals but lost to eventual Champions, FEU Tamaraws.
The team poorly performed in the 77th edition by finishing 6th over-all (5-9 win loss cards) under the watch new Head Coach, Coach Bong dela Cruz.
Despite that, Coach Bong regained the team’s winning form in the next edition (Season 78) by reaching the Finals but eventually failed to capture the crown in the hands of FEU Tamaraws, 1 – 2, Best of 3 series.
Let’s try to look at both ends of the team that could have caused the struggles.
Controversies surrounded the stint of Coach Bong where he was accused of verbal and physical abuse on his players and later denied these allegations. Eventually, UST and Dela Cruz parted ways though reasons of the change weren’t clear.
UST management assigned Coach Boy Sablan to lead the Growling Tigers for the 79th Season. The same fate happened like the 77th Season where they failed to make it, even in the Final Four, finishing their worst ever in years (8th seed with 3-11 win-loss cards).
With this, a tweet from Pido Jarencio, sparked conversation of his possible return as head coach. He led the Tigers into a Championship during 2006-2007 Season (his debut as head coach).
Coach Boy did not pay much attention to it and focused on his goals to prepare the team to next season of UAAP. One of his moves was to send his team to pre-season tournaments. Coach Boy was able to get an approval from UST management to join in two (2) tournaments to prepare his squad in the next season of UAAP, According to Spin.Ph.
With the departure of Karim Abdul in the roster during the 79th Season, the Tigers lost 14.28 points including 10.60 rebounds per game. A monster stats that need to be filled up by 2 players from the current roster. Jeepy Faundo and William Afoakwah, who were at the same height and position with Abdul, couldn’t match the dominance of the latter (stats wise). Faundo at 1.76 pts/2.20 rebounds per game while Afoakwah at 2.29 and 8.43 rebounds.
Final Four Teams with their Leading Scorers
|John Adrian Wong||7||22.86||9.86||2.29||1.57||0.14||0.14||1.71||21.1536|
|Norman Aaron Black||3||19.00||9.67||3.67||3.33||0.33||1.33||2.00||25.2222|
|Wendelino Comboy III||6||18.00||8.83||3.33||2.50||0.50||0.33||1.83||22.3846|
They have 2 players averaging in double digits, Louie Philippe Vigil with 13.57 pts and Henri Subido 10.14 respectively. In comparison to the Final Four Teams stats, their leading scorers couldn’t compete that much. Well, there could be an argument comparing it to the Ateneo Top Scorers, but try to check their third to fourth leading scorers who are shy away from reaching double figures.
Someone has to step up that will make them a contender in the upcoming season. Sablan assures that he and his coaching staff are working really hard to make a formidable team. They were also able to recruit Steve Akomo out of University of the Visayas. “Kung ano ‘yung mga kulang sa team, double, triple ang gagawin naming trabaho,” said Sablan via Spin.Ph.
SOURCES: Spin.ph, wikipedia.org, pba-online.net