Not this year. We’ll give you something next year.
This is the tone set by the newly appointed Coach “K” for Adamson University. The once proud powerhouse Falcons will be led into their first year toward new heights by former Falcon Kenneth Duremdes. As much as it will be the first time for one of the PBA’s 25 greatest players to coach in the UAAP, he won’t be alone. Helping him in his debut collegiate coaching season will be 10 players who are even more wet behind the ears than he is. The Falcons aren’t aiming to contend just yet, they’re more concerned with buying into the new system and growing as a team for seasons to come.
Without a doubt, it will be a rough season for Adamson supporters. The days of Final Four glory and streak-breaking prowess seem like a distant memory. The only ones who could claim to have been part of the team that toppled giants are Ryan Monteclaro and Jansen Rios. With Jericho Cruz opting to join the PBA draft instead of using his final playing year with the Falcons, the former third-stringer to the potent Cañada-Alvarez duo will take the role of team captain. They will need every ounce of veteran poise and sheer guts they can get to compete with such a peculiar situation.
Those we lost
Aside from the players who used up their UAAP playing years like last year’s captain Rodney Brondial, sharpshooter Roider Cabrera, Gian Lloyd Abrigo and Michael Agustin among others, more unexpected departures hit Adamson’s already thin lineup. First was Ingrid Sewa whose official story was that he was penalized for playing in other leagues without the approval of school officials. He was later let go and allowed to pursue his career elsewhere. Just weeks before announcing the official lineup, the high-flying Jericho Cruz declared his intent to join the PBA draft and not play his final collegiate year, which the Falcons had no objections to.
The Soaring Falcons will be one of the few UAAP teams who will be fielding an all-Filipino lineup this season. Sewa, who still had two more playing years with the Falcons in the UAAP opted to bring his talents and massive muscles overseas following the departure of Coach Leo Austria.
Playing without a foreign player shouldn’t be too much of a problem in the UAAP. The help that the teams will be missing from not having a foreign player on the floor directly translates into more playing time and more growth opportunities for their main players who will be there for the long haul. If and when Adamson decides to field a foreigner in the coming seasons, whatever growth they make this season will be instrumental to building a solid system for the new guy to follow.
Despite wearing blue and white, the Falcons roster is admittedly green. Greenhorns will be manning a huge portion of the lineup as the only carry-overs from last season will be Ryan Monteclaro, Jansen Rios, Dawn Ochea, and Don Trollano. The rest are practically greenhorns, either coming straight off high school or are playing their first year of seniors basketball.
Fortunately, there’s still one bright spot in all of this. Celladonio Trollano Jr. is still on the roster. In Season 76, he started over Roider Cabrera at some points and served as a reliable outside threat. Following his stint in the D-League, he’s expected to be a more well-rounded player after averaging 16.7 points a game for Cagayan Rising Suns, all while leading the 2014 Aspirants Cup in defensive rebounds with seven per contest. His presence on the court will at least give them an offensive anchor to go to while the other veterans can focus on picking apart the opposing defense. It’s not yet clear if he can bear the weight of a team’s offense, but if there’s going to be someone doing the heavy lifting in the team, it’ll be him.
If you’re an Adamson fan, buckle up. This year will definitely be filled with turbulence. I can’t really say that it’ll be a low year given how there are still some explosive players on the roster who have the potential to give Falcon fans something to cheer about. Coaching is a giant “?” right now as Coach “K” Durmendes is untested as a college coach, only having served as an assistant to Coach Leo Austria seasons before. It will be an experimental season for both players and coach, but it will not necessarily be a lost one. If the team can find their identity this season, Season 77 will be one to look out for.
I expect the Falcons to at least match their 3-11 record last year.