While most of the teams are looking to win right now, others are entering the season with one eye set on the mid- to long-term future. These teams might not contend this year, but could make great strides in development that could pay off a year or two from now.
Arellano University Chiefs
Last year: 6-12, 7th
Coach: Koy Banal
Roster: Rocky Acidre, Nichole Bangga, Julius Cadavis, Prince Caperal, Brandon Espiras, James Forrester, Levi Hernandez, John Lunas, Larry Malanday, Christian Palma, Nard Pinto, Ralph Salcedo, Adam Serjue, Teresito Valera, Vergel Zulueta
The Chiefs are in a major rebuilding process, having just four holdovers from last year’s team. They lost most of their stars, including the prolific Andrian Celada (15.7 points per game) and Jerald Lapuz (10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds) and will still miss Isiah Ciriacruz, who was expected to make a return this year after being sidelined by an injury last year. They also had Filipino-Canadian recruit Adam Serjue fall to an ACL injury. He was kept on the lineup but will miss the season.
AU will play a couple of other rookies like Fil-Canadian James Forrester and Fil-American Brandon Espiras to back up veterans Vergel Zulueta, who averaged 12.6 points, and Rocky Acidre, who posted 11.6 points and 3.4 assists last year.
Coach Koy Banal is committed to AU for three years, so there could be a focus on developing some of the younger players for the future. It isn’t likely that they give up on this season, though, at least not this early; look for them to try to be competitive.
Last year: 4-14, 10th
Coach: Gerry Esplana
Roster: Jan Acebron, Franz Chiong, Cedric Happi Noube, Jan Jamon, Igee King, Danielle Lumahan, Jefferson Mallari, John Monte Claro, Jorem Morada, Francis Munsayac, Jolas Paguia, Dominador Pillas, Rafael Sanchez, John Tayongtong, Russel Yaya
The Generals, too, will be losing a bit of firepower with the departure of two of their three double-digit scorers from last year in Claude Cubo (11.7 points, 7.2 rebounds) and Joshua Torralba (10.4 points). Leading scorer Jan Jamon (13.8 points) will be around to lead the way, as will Russell Yaya and Franz Chiong. But they do have a fairly young team, one that features three 18-year-olds.
But they could end up giving some teams trouble, especially with the entry of Happi Noube, a tough post player with a nose for rebounds. He led EAC in the preseason with averages of 13.8 points and 14.4 rebounds and should be a very important piece in the upcoming NCAA season.
The Generals won’t be contending for the title this year, but gaining some valuable experience for their young players this year could end up benefiting them somewhere down the road.