By Eriko Dela Cruz, Frankie Serrano, Karlo Lovenia, Toby Pavon
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 UE Red Warriors All Decade Team
Charles Mammie was the most imposing center UE had this decade. His size alone made it a challenge for opponents to operate in the paint. At the peak of his UAAP career, Mammie was grabbing 19 boards a game, testament to his effort and ability. And of course, who could forget his showmanship against fellow foreign student athlete Ingrid Sewa, hyping himself up before their matchup against Adamson by taping “motivation statements” to his shoes. Charles Mammie is indeed a once-a-decade type player for UE.
F: Alvin Pasaol
Alvin Pasaol was more than just a sheer cult hero for the UE Red Warriors from Season 79 to 81. He was quite literally the only elite player in teams that were filled with average players at best. You could even go as far as to say that Pasaol was the only reason why UE teams were even slightly competitive during those seasons in the first place.
Don’t mistake him as a case of best player on a very bad team. He was actually a legitimately good player, someone who deservingly won Mythical Five awards because he was one of the top players in the UAAP. It was just a shame he never got to play for a Final Four contender. Maybe if he got to make it to at least one Final Four, maybe we’d be talking about Pasaol as a potential All Decade Team player in collegiate basketball.
But alas, we can only think about that as a mere what if. What we’re sure of, however, is that Alvin is a piece in UE history that will never be forgotten. Not only because he was the only light during the dark times they experienced, but also because he showed skill, passion, and warrior spirit that were truly legendary.
F: Rey Suerte
Having made his name as a bonafide MVP in the CESAFI league down south, Rey decided to strut his stuff in Manila as part of the Che’Lu squad in the PBA D-League. His performance was enough to catch the eyes of the UE coaching staff and take a chance on him as a one-and-done
Suerte’s skill as a player translated well in the UAAP, being the Warriors’ cornerstone. With a per game average of 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.2 steals, he was part of the season 82 mythical team. He has a special place in the UE pantheon of cult heroes, as his back-to-back clutch threes against La Salle and his birthday game against Adamson will always be remembered.
G: Paul Lee
The San Sebastian Staglets were a gold mine of basketball recruits in the 2000s. While Eric Salamat, Ryan Buenafe, and Arvie Bringas were the cream of the crop, a virtual unknown in Paul Lee went to play for the UE Red Warriors. By the end of his playing career in 2010, he was the face of UE basketball, with his legend at par with James Yap.
Paul’s talent was apparent since the first day he played for UE. He was big and strong enough to bully his way against the smaller guards, yet quick and shifty enough to leave his defenders holding on to their cojones. Paul is a former Most Improved player and mythical team member, and is enjoying a fruitful professional career.
G: Roi Sumang
One of the reasons for UE’s less than stellar seasons this decade was because their key players came one after another and rarely at the same time. Roi Sumang was one of these players who made UE an exciting team to watch through his individual play. Even before it was a thing, Sumang was already pulling up from three with reckless abandon, lighting up the score board like it was nobody’s business. It helped that Charles Mammie was underneath the rim to grab boards, but it was his sheer guts, confidence matched with every ounce of talent he had that allowed Roi to leave his mark as a Warrior to be remembered.
6th Man: James Martinez
James Martinez was probably one of the program’s last great recruits. Hailing from the Red Cubs, he made his way into the hearts of the UE faithful one three point basket made after another. He was one of the league’s feared gunslingers at a time when they were the Big Red Machine of the UAAP.
Alas, not many people remember the days Martinez was actually going ‘pistolero’ as it just didn’t ring a bell when you say 14-0. But those do not take away the accomplishments, nor gravity with which Martinez had whenever he took to the floor.
Head Coach: Lawrence Chongson
It’s tough to choose among a list of coaches which failed to even bring their team to the Final Four. So there may be a feeling of hesitation in choosing Chongson for this spot. But let’s take a step back and try to appreciate what the fiery coach brought to the struggling program.
Make no mistake about it, Chongson was defiant. Others were turned off about some of his antics (remember this?), but you couldn’t deny how much he gave a damn for his team even when others doubted.
The best example: this year’s Season 82 UE team. There were those who questioned whether the team could even win a single game. Yet they challenged some of the best teams in the league and if not for some sorry losses, maybe they could have even competed for a Final Four slot. A lot of the credit should rightfully go to Rey Suerte and Alex Diakhite, but Chongson should also get as much love as his players.