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Maroons, Bulldogs look to the future

By JEROME LAGUNZAD

University of the Philippines and National University are looking to the future after failing to make the Final Four in the UAAP basketball tournament.

The Maroons came up short in their bid to make the playoffs for the first time in two decades when they finished at fifth spot with a 6-8 record, a full-game game behind host Far Eastern University Tamaraws (7-7).

Considered by many as a legitimate Final Four contender, UP got off to an encouraging 3-1 start, highlighted by a victory over defending champion La Salle, but went on a downward spiral.

Still, the Maroons have all the reasons to be optimistic for next year’s wars with the entry of touted recruits, led by former Perpetual Help star Bright Akhuetie, ex-Adamson standout JD Tungcab and Fil-Canadian Evyn Santiago, among others.

Expected to be back for another tour of duty are top gunner Paul Desiderio, guard Jun Manzo, Noah Webb, and the De Liaño brothers—Juan and Javi, giving UP coach Bo Perasol all the tools that he needs to make it to the semis round – and even farther.

“I’m hoping for the good of our own program and for the good also of our college basketball. I know out there that there’s a lot of hungry UP alumni for a win, for a chance to be proud of their team as well. This is going to be a process. I think modesty aside I think we are doing it the right way,” Perasol said.

NU coach Jamike Jarin is also excited about the future after steering the Bulldogs to a 5-9 card on his maiden stint.

While they will lose skippers J-Jay Alejandro and Matt Salem to graduation, Jarin is confident that rookies Enzo Joson and Jonas Tibayan have gained enough experience to lead the pack which will be boosted by the arrival of Darell Menina and John Lloyd Clemente.

Former Adamson high school star Encho Serrano and ex-Ateneo standout Shaun Ildefonso, son of Jarin’s assistant Danny, are also tipped to make it to NU’s lineup next year along with returning forward Joshua Sinclair.

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