Last Year’s Standings: 0-14
Coach: Ricky Dandan
Key Additions: Alinko Mbah, Mike Gamboa, Paolo Romero
Key Departures: Woody Co, Mark Lopez, Alvin Padilla, Mikee Reyes, Magi Sison
Key Hold-overs: Mike Silungan, Carlo Gomez, Mark Juruena
Season 73 was a very disappointing one for the Fighting Maroons. After performing so well in the preseason, they collapsed in the season proper. A bad year typically calls for a total overhaul of the lineup and that is what the Maroons are doing. Coach Dandan is hoping to instill a winning attitude on the team that finish dead last in scoring and defense last year. Based on how they play in the preseason, their guards and wing men can compete with the best in the league. Mike Silungan will still be the focal point of their offense. The return of a much-improved Mike Gamboa will also give UP another perimeter threat. Most of the season 73 starters are gone because of graduation, transfers and injuries, so UP hopes the bench players will suddenly develop into decent starters.
The inside game of UP is suspect. After Mbah, nobody in the line-up can possibly compete with the likes of Greg Slaughter of Ateneo. Paolo Romero (ADMU Blue Eaglets) is undersized in this level and Mark Juruena needs to bulk up and show some spunk under the basket. Mbah would probably need to play more than 30 minutes a game for the Maroons to have a constant inside presence.
Suprising Player: Mike Gamboa. A year after not playing for the Maroons, Gamboa is back and is showing a more polished game. A quality PG will help stabilize the offense and be disruptive on defense. UP surely needs a guard like that. With Mikee Reyes, Mark Lopez, and Joshua Saret gone, he will get his minutes.
Championship Chance: They will win the championships only if:
1. Alinko will play like Ben Wallace in his prime and will dominate the defensive end. A hyper dominant center can compensate for 2 weak forwards.
2. Silungan plays like Kobe Bryant and will be clutch. He misses to many shots to become a true UAAP star that is why he needs to improve his FG%.
3. Mike Gamboa plays like Nash. He needs to score but he has to recognize that he also needs to distribute the ball. Hopefully his teammates can make those shots or else he becomes a shoot-first guard that will not lead to an improvement in the standings.
The chances for them to win it all is very slim. I won’t say none but 1 year after a 0-14, we should not accept a lot. Winning 1 game will be an improvement already from last season. Expect 2 to 3 years for them to realistically contend for a Final 4 slot.