By REYNALD MAGALLON
There’s a certain reason why Letran is tagged as the favorite to retain its men’s basketball title in Season 97.
Boasting a roster that still features Season 95 Finals MVP Fran Yu and prized additions Rhenz Abando and Brent Paraiso, the Knights are coming in strong, at least on paper, in their title-retention bid.
However, head coach Bonnie Tan is tempering expectations for the Knights although the team is hard-pressed in translating their potential into success on the court despite starting their training late in January.
Tan remains optimistic that the transferees from España can catch up with the team’s cohesion especially that they are ‘very coachable’.
“’Yung experience nila will be a big part ng team this coming season. Not pressuring them kasi bago sila. They just practiced end of January and February, ‘yung jelling pa eh ang hirap makuha ng five-six weeks palang,” said Tan. “Not even sure kung ma-consider na nating jelling ‘yun pero di ko pa nakikita yung full potential.”
“Very coachable naman ‘yung dalawa so I’m positive that they will be a big part of the campaign this season,” he added.
Aside from the newcomers, Tan also has a lot of expectation from Yu especially in taking the leadership role for the defending champs after the departure of the likes of Jerrick Balanza, Larry Muyang and Bonbon Batiller.
“Mas vocal siya ngayon kasi dati may mas senior sa kanya, it’s all up to the senior eh sa maglilead sa team. He stepped up naman in terms of leadership,” Tan said of Yu.
“Sabi ko sa kanya marami mga batang maa-outplay sya this coming season so kailangan niya mag double effort kasi for sure maraming lalabas na mga bata, mas mabilis mas malaki mas magaling,” he added.
A lot are also expected from other holdovers like Jeo Ambohot, King Caralipio, Kurt Reyson, Paolo Javillionar, and Christian Fajarito.
Letran launches its campaign against College of St. Benilde Blazers on Saturday, March 26 at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.