Except for a couple of news items on our new coaching staff and late recruits, it has been a relatively quiet offseason for the Green Archers. No press statements, no photo ops, no overseas tournaments – absolutely no noise coming from them unlike the past years.
In fact, the final roster for the upcoming UAAP season has been well kept under wraps until yesterday. And to our surprise, it was different from what we initially expected.
— Go Archers (@GoArchers) September 3, 2019
Some names who we thought would make the team were not there. But rather than focus on that, let’s just talk about those who made it.
But first of all, YES!! we finally have a 16-man roster for the first time since 2012. With a compressed game schedule this season, it was absolutely essential that we max it out.
Only 6 players are returning from last year’s team led by team captain Andrei Caracut. He, Aljun Melecio and Justine Baltazar are the remaining remnants of that 2016 championship squad so a lot is expected from them especially in terms of leadership.
Then you got sophs Encho Serrano, Joaqui Manuel and Brandon Bates. A late addition to the team last year, Serrano showed flashes of his immense potential in the preseason and many are looking forward to see him have a breakout campaign.
After a year of residency, we shall now see intra-league transferees Jordan Bartlett, Kurt Lojera and Tyrus Hill don the green and white jersey. We already know what these three are capable of doing and they will certainly add more depth and experience to the team.
From the training pool, we got Ralph Cu, Donn Lim and Francis Escandor. We were able to see Cu play extensively during the preseason, often starting at the power forward slot. Not only is he is a stretch shooter, he can also hold his own in the shaded lane. His contributions are somewhat overlooked and we feel he will play a major part in the team’s plan. The inclusion of the three also gives renewed hope that one can eventually make it to the team with patience and hard work.
Joel Cagulangan from La Salle Green Hills is the only true college freshman in the team. NCAA juniors MVP back in 2017, the same year he led the Greenies to their first league championship. The kid can definitely score and will one day take the place of Melecio as the Green Archers’ top shooting guard.
And finally we have the “pahabol” additions in Jamie Orme, Keyshawn Evans and James Laput. I bet you have already seen their clips in Youtube the very moment you learned of their names. The main concern we see here is how fast have they already integrated themselves in the team’s system. Chemistry will surely be a factor here but make no mistake about it, these three will be a very big help especially for a team in need of more firepower and veteran presence on the floor. Let’s hope they can adjust quickly not only to the physicality of Philippine basketball but also playing in a more lively, pressure-packed atmosphere.
There are some that question the team’s move of getting “one-and-done” players, calling it a band aid solution for lack of player development. Well the thing is, it’s none of our business.
Yes, the directive of the new coaching staff (who btw just came in last January) is to put a lot of effort on individual skills training which will certainly produce meaningful results down the line. But that does not mean they will allow themselves to have their asses kicked this season. They had to do what is necessary to compete because honestly, this team now has a shot to win it all.
The UAAP is such a short tournament. The mindset every season should always be to form the best team possible and compete for the championship.