By Frankie Serrano
Season 81 is done and over with. Ateneo got the title they rightfully worked hard for. De La Salle was booted out of the Final Four for possibly the second time since the turn of the millennium, not counting the Season 69 absence at all. Adamson still winless in the Final Four but providing lots of good drunk moments. UP going from 3-5 all the way to the Finals.
Whew, that’s quite a lot. This season has been flat out drunk, both good and bad. But it couldn’t have been more drunk for the UST Growling Tigers. At one point in the season, they were in the Final Four. Then one peep at the schedule made you pray for their collective souls.
But take heart, Thomasians, for Season 82 looks to be a better one for the Tigers:
Who will consistently shoot outside?
UST has Aldin Ayo for a head coach.
Aldin Ayo loooooooves guards who can shoot and command ball screens: in short, swapang. His offense relies heavily on ALL five players knowing their roles and utilizing the pinballing action once the ball is out of the primary option’s hands. And you know what? UST doesn’t only have one, but two of the aforementioned guard preference!
But here’s the problem: Renzo Subido and Marvin Lee blew cold more than hot across the season and the bricks that built a new Quadri Pavillion is quite a ton of hindsight.
What if the pair consistently made their open shots?
What if the aforementioned duo took less-challenged shots?
It would’ve been a different story for UST. But alas, they got booted out of the Final Four, their chase for respectability hit a roadblock, but shouldn’t mean the end of the world. What Marvin Lee and Renzo Subido can do is to hit shots and tire their defenders from chasing them around like ghosts with a year of familiarity under their belt.
Will CJ Cansino be different post-recovery?
ACL injuries are tricky. Before, it used to be a career-ender. Now? Not so much. In a way, players who suffered this, except Derrick Rose, came back more explosive than they were.
And this is huge going forward for someone like Cansino who combines his high basketball IQ with that explosive athleticism of his. It’s hard to find a hole in his game as a rookie, except that the jumpshot and shot selection can do some work, as well as his frame, so he should be back in harness just in time for Season 82 better.
UST’s entire fortune going to next season is hinged on Cansino. His knees better hold up.
Are Sherwin Concepcion and Soulemane Chabi Yo worth the hype?
The short answer? Yes.
Concepcion not only brings size to a severely undersized Tigers squad (I’ve seen this before I swear, Nino Gelig how about you?), but offensive firepower as well as certified two-way play. He is a former SLAM Rising Star and it was warranted. His game stretches out to the three-point line where he can create space for Cansino’s attacks.
He can work Pick N Pop and Pick N Roll situations and my God, I am already salivating at the mere thought of it and we haven’t even mentioned Soulmane Chabi Yo’s presence.
Now, it’s not a superlative when I say that Chabi Yo will be the best player on the floor for the Black and Gold next year. While Cansino remains to be their engine, the entire car he will be commanding has Chabi Yo clearly in the driver’s seat with his explosive offensive repertoire that he displayed in the UCBL Summer Tournament he was part of.
Forget the prehistoric Karim Abdul man, Chabi Yo will erase his memories from existence like how that meteor blew away all those dinosaurs to kingdom come.