By Camille Cutler
It’s the end of a decade! From Season 73 to Season 82, a lot of players have come and gone from the UAAP, players that dominated the court, changed the landscape of the league, fired up their teams or simply captured the hearts of fans. In this All-Decade Team series, we at HumbleBola highlight the athletes and coaches who have defined the 2010’s of UAAP basketball for their respective schools.
The UST Growling Tigers All Decade Team
C: Karim Abdul
Karim Silk was never the most athletic and flashy foreign student athlete, nor was he the most popular Growling Tiger. Whatever he lacked in excitement, Abdul made up for by being one of the steadiest players the UAAP has ever seen.
Over five years (yes, he really did play for just five years), he averaged 14.5 points and 10.7 rebounds. They weren’t particularly gaudy numbers, but Karim was never about getting the most points and rebounds. He was always about playing the right way and doing whatever it took to bring the Growling Tigers glory.
He was never able to bring a championship to España, but he still had three Finals appearances as well as three Mythical Five appearances. He will forever be a silent operator, but that should never diminish his title as one of the best foreign student athletes the UAAP has ever seen.
F: Aljon Mariano
It seems blasphemous to even put Mariano on this list because of that moment, but let’s take a step back and be objective here. For one, UST doesn’t exactly have a deep crop of forwards over this decade (it would have been different if this was the 00s. The Growling Tigers had A LOT). Second, Mariano, as big as that miss was to UST’s history, had a pretty respectable career in the UAAP.
Over his last three years with the Growling Tigers, Mariano averaged 12.4 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game. His Season 75 performance was particularly strong, especially when he broke out for 21 points and 13 rebounds to upset the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the first round. He was constantly a match-up problem, as his blend of size and skill made it difficult for opposing forwards to front him.
If only he made that three, or better yet passed it to Jeric Teng, then maybe we’d be talking about Aljon Mariano a lot differently. Either way, you can’t deny that he was an All-Decade type player for UST for most of his career.
F: Kevin Ferrer
The moment Ferrer entered the UAAP, he was already destined for greatness. As one of the top recruits of the much talked about 2011 Rookie Class, the expectations for Kevin were already high from the very beginning. Safe to say after his five years with the Growling Tigers, Ferrer was able to somehow reach those expectations.
Granted, it wasn’t the easiest journey for Kevin. Unlike his batchmates Bobby Ray and Kiefer, he struggled to start his UAAP career, averaging just 7.6 points on 27 percent shooting during his rookie year. But it was a slow burn for Ferrer’s career which was worth it, as he capped off his collegiate stint by averaging 17.9 points on 40 percent shooting during his senior year as an MVP candidate.
From the tongue-wagging, to the flurry of threes, and of course the lockdown defense, Kevin Ferrer will forever be remembered as a UST all-time great. It may have been a difficult journey filled with bricks and injuries, but the grind was worth it.
G: Jeric Teng
Teng was never considered as a Top 3 player during his stint in the UAAP. In fact, he wasn’t even touted as a player who could win Mythical Five awards or MVPs. But what made Teng so special lies in the title that’s been associated with him for the longest time: King Tiger.
Jeric was always known as a high-volume scorer over the course of his playing years with UST. In fact, during his final three years with UST, he averaged 13.4 points per game on 12.9 field goal attempts per game. Despite those sub-par numbers, Teng always made big shots in the clutch and inspired the Thomasian community with his heart. Who could forget how he came back from an injured shoulder in Season 76 to nearly bring the Growling Tigers a championship?
Jeric’s career wasn’t perfect, but you couldn’t deny the kind of legacy he brought to the Growling Tigers. He was defiant, brave, and had a lot of heart, the types of qualities the UST fanbase have always looked for in their players.
G: Jeric Fortuna
It was admittedly tough choosing between Fortuna and current crowd darling Renzo Subido, but what pushed me to choose Fortuna boiled down to one simple word: consistency.
Coming out of the De La Salle Zobel Junior Archers, Fortuna captured hearts with his shooting from the outside and his spunk. While he may have been too high volume for most of his career, he was still able to blossom into a full-fledged playmaker during his senior year (4.9 APG).
It also helped Fortuna made it to the Final Four three times during his career and once Finals in the Finals. His patience and heart definitely captured the hearts of UST fans, and ultimately secured his spot in the team’s 2010s All Decade Team.
6th Man: Ed Daquioag
There were a bunch of players to choose from for this spot, but I had to go with Easy Ed Daquioag. While he was a project for most of his UAAP career, watching him blossom the way he did during Season 78 made it worthy enough for him to get this spot.
Daquioag was always branded as an athletic player who could defend very well. But what made his senior year special was how he mixed in offense with his trademark defensive game. He was a great second option beside the fiery Ferrer and he provided stability whenever Kevin would have cold games.
He wasn’t just a one hit wonder, as he’s also done well in the PBA. But his lone elite season with UST was definitely memorable. He showed that patience does pay off as he rewarded the Thomasian community with a project that turned into a golden reality.
Head Coach: Pido Jarencio
Coach Aldin Ayo has definitely revitalized the UST program, but let’s not forget who gave this generation of UST fans the expectations they’ve held on to for so long.
Puso. Pride. Palaban. Pido.
To be fair, Coach Pido was never the best coach in terms of drawing up Xs and Os; there were definitely other coaches in the UAAP who were better than him. But what made Coach Pido so special was how he could draw in people and bring them together towards one goal. That’s what he did with his UST teams, because even though he was such a fiery personality, you couldn’t help but believe in what he preached as a head coach. To be fair to him, he did bring UST to back-to-back Finals appearances this decade. That deserves credit.
Maybe Coach Aldin will create new memories with his Mayhem come the 2020s. But this decade, it was Coach Pido Jarencio who had the biggest impact as a mentor for the Growling Tigers.