By Angelo Falcon
MANILA — The UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament is still months away, but supporters of the University of the Philippines have all the reasons to be optimistic.
Though still without an official coach, the Fighting Maroons have been active in the offseason, both in recruitment and preparation.
UP is in the Filsports Basketball Association, representing Quezon City in the regional developmental league. But what team manager Dan Palami is most excited about is the addition of two players from Cebu, namely Janjan Jaboneta and Pio Longa.
The two starred in Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu’s title run in the recent NBTC finals and Palami believes that the two can create immediate impact for the Maroons as they will be reunited with former Sacred Heart school star Henri Asilum for the upcoming season
“We’re happy that some key players are coming into our roster, although enrollment has yet to start, we have Janjan Jaboneta and (Pio) Longa who will be coming in. They’re both coming from the same school, the school that beat San Beda,” said Palami.
Standing at 6-foot-2, Jaboneta posseses all the tools that could make a successful wing player in the college ranks. Longa, on the other hand, will add length to the Fighting Maroons and should be a reliable wingman who could stretch the floor with his range.
However, Palami insists that they aren’t stopping there and they will continuously search for the top talents, particularly with a recruitment gap coming in because of the K-12 switch, which will delay high school kids from jumping directly into college.
“We’re still in the process at looking at players who could win game for us. Of course, we are aware that with the K-12 program there would be years that recruitment will be zero from highschool. So we’re trying to get the best talents na.”
Asked about the coach, Palami bared that they are close to finally naming a head coach and that the long search for a replacement for the embittered Rey Madrid will soon be ober.
“We have already interviewed the coaches. Actually, there’s 10 of them. Later on, we’ll be deliberating on the results of the interview. We have shortlisted it, but we want to come up with a consensus. In a week or two, we’ll be submitting our recommendation to the administration for them to make the formal announcement,” he said.
With all the progress the Maroons have made in the offseason, Palami promises that the team will make waves in the future, and will not be just the mere doormats that they were in the past seasons.
“Let me just say that we will do what we have to do to make sure that UP gets into the final four either this year or next year.” – Rivals 2015