These teams finished at the bottom of the standings last season, and this year could be no different. It isn’t out of the question for either team to get a couple of wins here and there, but the final four could be a bit out of reach barring a major turnaround.
University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons
Last year: 2-12, 8th
Coach: Ricky Dandan
Roster: Henry Asilum, Chris Ball, JR Gallarza, Mike Gamboa, Diony Hipolito, Mark Lopez, Jett Manuel, Alinko Mbah Jelo Montecastro, Alvin Padilla, Paolo Romero, Mike Silungan, Raul Soyud, Rob Wierzba, Julius Wong
UP finished dead last in the previous season but they could be interesting to look at this year. Leading scorer Mike Silungan will return for the Fighting Maroons alongside Jett Manuel, who established himself as a nice second option for the team last season. This year, they’ll also get a boost from returnees as Mark Lopez and Alvin Padilla both return after an absence. Mike Gamboa, Jelo Montecastro and rookie Henry Asilum could split time providing stability to the point guard spot for the team.
Nigerian center Alinko Mbah is back along with Paolo Romero, and the frontline will get a boost with first-year players Chris Ball, JR Gallarza, and Raul Soyud.
UP coach Ricky Dandan promised that the Fighting Maroons won’t be an automatic W for the other UAAP teams. They’ll have holes this year, but as long as they come out hard every game, they have the personnel to match or even improve on last year’s win mark.
University of the East Red Warriors
Last year: 3-11, 7th
Coach: Jerry Codinera
Roster: Dan Alberto, Gene Belleze, JC Duncil, Erwin Duran, Jairold Flores, Pedrito Galanza, Ivan Hernandez, Chris Javier, John Paul Mena, Mark Olayon, Samuel Razon, Adrian Santos, Roi Sumang, John Rey Sumido, Ian Valdez, Roy Villarias
The Red Warriors struggled heavily last season, and with the departure of veterans Paul Zamar,Lucas Tagarda and Biboy Enguio, that could continue this year. They’ll have a young team that will struggle against the size of the bigger teams around the UAAP.
But there is a bright spot for them, and that’s sophomore Roi Sumang, who showed big strides in the preseason wherein he averaged in double-figures for UE. Alongside fellow second-year player Chris Javier, the future does look fairly bright compared to last season and the outlook for this one.
UE coach Jerry Codinera will have the unenviable task of keeping the team motivated through the rough times. But if Sumang and Javier can speed up their development, and veterans Adrian Santos, JR Sumido and Jairold Flores pick up their games this year, then the Red Warriors could potentially fight their way out of the UAAP cellar.