At First Glance: University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers
Pio Garcia (The Philippine Star) - June 27, 2013 - 12:00am

They don’t have a roster that’s pock-marked by graduation. Yes, they may have lost their lead point guard but that doesn’t mean they’ll be rudderless. A new leader has to step up, one on his final year, or even three of them. They’ll surely give everybody a good fight and may as well romp to the title match. UST is primed, ready and angry.

The Good

UST has it rolling these days. No big graduation problems. Yet.

The Tigers can gear up for another title run with Karim Abdul, Jeric Teng and Aljon Mariano back for a final run. The same Pride, Puso, Palaban squad is going to give its best shot to upend Ateneo’s drive for ANIM-o. Or even NU’s chances of ending a title drought spanning almost 6 decades or the UE Red Warriors’ resurgence.

Abdul gives UST the best big man there is in the UAAP. He may meet his match against the bigger Sewa and Mammie and even neophyte Alfred Aroga down the middle. But this guy is rock-solid and continues to improve annually. He was a borderline MVP last year, imagine what another offseason can do to fan his desire to graduate a champion like erstwhile rival in the middle Greg Slaughter of Ateneo.

Mariano is back to give nightmare matchup problems. Is he going three or is he going four? That’s always the question. He can do both and sometimes does it on a possession-by-possession basis. He has a surefire 15-20 footer, even a three-ball and can put it on the deck for the dribble-drive.

Fans know what they’re getting out of Teng. He’s one of the best rebounding guards on a national level. His shot has also improved. Shades of Carmelo Anthony’s release? Damn right. Oh, have we mentioned that he’ll be the leader this time around?

The Bad

UST bid adieu to Jeric Fortuna. The former LSGH standout has played his full residency for the Tigers. He has been phenomenal to say the least. The consumate understudy of Japs Cuan in running a team.

Well, Pido got his Japs Cuan ver 2.0 and this one’s better. He can hit the jumper with or without a man in his face. He can shoot at the foul line, keeping defenses honest and preventing the Hack-a-[insert name here] tactic.

Who’s going to replace him? Kim Lo is still raw. Is Miggy Aytona, the legendary UST Tiger in online forums, back or is he gone for good?

Eitherway, the point guard spot is the problem for the Tigers unless Teng decides to call it on-the-fly, which is very unlikely. Pido may have his usual surprise up his sleeve, and basketball purists sure hope this pans out in the memory of him unleashing Jervy Cruz on the UAAP.

The Ugly

Now this is a good kind of ugly. And no, we’re not refering to haters’ catcalls of him looking like a chimp or what. Or to him being cringe-worthy sometimes.

Kevin Ferrer is back to renew his duel with Kiefer Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks, the elite shooting guards of the league. And he’s out to prove he’s a winner too. And man is this crazy scary.

UST already has Abdul, Teng and Mariano. Then you throw in Ferrer? And a Louie Vigil to boot? That’s highway robbery! This team is so deep and Pido can still pull out Paolo Pe to man the paint ALONGSIDE Abdul if he slides down Mariano at the 3 spot, Ferrer as the off guard and let Teng run the offense. Talk about big, literally.

Watch out for…

Eduardo Daquioag is back folks. Tiger faithful have seen glimpses of this kid’s play. He’s going to be good and he can man the point, the biggest hole in the Tigers’ scheme of things.

Roll out the Welcome back Ed! mats people.

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