Some Questions for the 87th Season of the NCAA

NCAA: Brazen @ 87
(image by iMac Adriano)
I don't follow the NCAA as closely as the UAAP, which is why I won't write a full-blown preview. I'm not too knowledgeable about the backgrounds of the key players, nor am I privy to their backstories. But I've always found the oldest collegiate league in the Philippines quite interesting. 

And Season 87 promises to be more interesting than usual.

So instead of going the pretentious route and attempt an ill-fated preview, I'll pose the following questions instead:

Will Kevin Alas shoot the Knights into the playoffs,
or out of contention?
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Can super guards Kevin Alas and Carlo Lastimosa tow their respective teams to the playoffs?
- Kevin Alas normed 15.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game in the 2011 Filoil tourney.
- Carlo Lastimosa had the following numbers: 13.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and .9 steals per game.
- Clearly, Alas trumps Lastimosa in just about every category, and he's certainly the better-by-the-numbers guard in this pairing, but will that translate into a season of success for the Knights? 
- Lastimosa is expected to dominate the points column for the Blazers, but it seems that's the only thing he brings to the table. Think John Salmons or Corey Maggette. But with the addition of Jonathan Grey and Michael Pate, the upside for one of the league's youngest teams looks considerable.

Will Yousef Taha be the next BIG thing?
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Will Yousef Taha be the top big man of the NCAA?
- This guy was the elimination round MVP in the 2011 Filoil wars. This was mainly due to his great stats: 12.6 points, 13.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.6 blocks per game. He led the Cardinals to a respectable 5-3 slate, and thoroughly impressed many observers.
- He'll probably post pretty much the same numbers in Season 87, but will Mapua continue their winning ways? It's a good thing he has lots of help, thanks to Allan Mangahas, Josan Nimes, and Jason Pascual among others. If Taha dominates, Mapua might even be a dark horse for the title.

Both Ola Adeogun & Sudan Daniel will just be spectators this season
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Can San Beda survive without Sudan Daniel?
- The easy answer is YES, but that's if survive means they'll still figure in the playoff race. If it means being a strong title contender, then the answer should still be a strong YES, but only if the remaining Lions can find a way to play without a big, dominating presence in the paint. 
- I'm not sure, but I don't think there's anyone on the SBC roster who has played without a naturalized big patrolling under the basket. Ola Adeogun did a great job in the Filoil joust, but he can't suit up yet come July 2. Who'll take up the cudgels? Dave Marcelo? The Pascuals? The Semerads? It'll still be a formidable frontline, but coach Frankie Lim should expect more drives and cuts from the opposition now that the most intimidating player on their lineup can only watch from the sidelines.

Calvin Abueva and the Stags have their sights
set on nothing less than the championship.
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Will Calvin Abueva continue his beastly play?
- 20 points, 13 boards and 3.5 dimes. Those were Abueva's averages during the 2011 Filoil tournament. Crazy numbers. He has the talent to continue hogging the stat-sheet in Season 87, but will that mean more wins for Baste?
- Now that San Beda resembles a donut thanks to Su's injury, players like Abueva can simply go to work at will. He'll probably be the most dominating player this year, Taha's potential notwithstanding. The Golden Stags have a golden opportunity to run away with another NCAA crown. They would do well to exploit it.

How will the hosts (UPHD) respond to the slew of controversies thrown their way?
- No Gomez and Nuilan AGAIN. No Boris Aldeguer too. What a way to open the season as the hosts. And the Altas didn't play in the Filoil tourney as well. They fared okay in the 2011 FMC, but there's just hardly any big time exposure for this team.
- Coach Jimwell Gican has his work cut out for him. That's grossly understating it by the way. I get the feeling he's practically in a no-win situation here. I kinda feel for the guy. I get the feeling he'll get hung up to dry.

Which, if any, among the "new" teams will make a splash?
- The "new" teams are Arellano, Emilio Aguinaldo, and Lyceum. This will be only the 2nd season for AU and EAC, and the maiden year for LPU.
- Players to look out for:
Arellano's Adrian Celada: 16.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game
EAC's Claude Cubo: 11.5 points and 8.9 rebounds  per game
Lyceum's Floricel Guevarra: 16.2 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game
- Combined 2011 Filoil record: 4 wins and 18 losses. Not a good sign. I don't think any of these "newbies" will figure in the playoff race. 

John Lopez and the Heavy Bombers are
dark horses for the NCAA title.
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Final take: Sudan Daniel's unexpected injury has, strangely enough, made this season a bit more interesting. Suddenly, the fight for the title is more wide open, and the Bedans won't have a "lock" on any of the Finals slots. That's not to say San Beda will have an awful campaign. They'll still be one of the title hopefuls, but no longer the favorites I think. Top 4 teams could be Baste, Beda, Mapua, and perhaps the Bombers. Not necessarily in that order. The Knights have an outside chance of making it, but the rest of the field might just be playing for leftovers.

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