UAAP Season 74 Juniors Outlook

(image from

What this will NOT be is a team-by-team preview. Rather, I've opted to simply focus on some interesting "story lines" for this year's UAAP Juniors tournament. Sans big names like Kevin Ferrer, Kiefer Ravena, and Von Pessumal, this season's Juniors bracket might seem devoid of star power, but that doesn't mean it won't be packed with drama and excitement.

Here are some interesting things to look out for in Season 74:

1) Will the Blue Eaglets continue to be successful in the post-Ravena era?
To answer this question fairly, we need to level our expectations. If you expect the Eaglets to romp through the whole tournament, then you will be disappointed. If you expect that there will be someone who can turn the jets on at will, then you will also be disappointed. If you expect the Eaglets to be the strongest team on paper, then you will be disappointed.

So what should we expect?

Not to sound cheesy, but we should just expect the Eaglets to play awfully hard and have a chance to win every game. For the first time in a long time, our HS program is in a quasi-rebuilding phase. More of a transition period really. New head coach. A battalion of new players. And all these after the exit of three of the biggest names from the program in recent years (that's Ravena, Pessumal and Paolo Romero). It's a high-pressure situation to say the least, but the talent is there. The desire is there. The work ethic is there. It's all a matter of these Eaglets coming together when it counts the most.

And I believe they will.

In a way, they already have, especially after all the issues they had to deal with this past summer. One guy opted out of the team for personal reasons. Another guy moved to Zobel. A third guy had an ACL injury. And all three of those were good enough to be starters, if not main men, on this team. They didn't dominate in any of the summer jousts they participated in (Filoil, Fr. Martin's Cup and the Filipino-Chinese Basketball League).

From the looks of things, it will be a very challenging year for the Eaglets, but I'm sure they'll benefit from all the adversities thrown their way. I am also sure the Eaglets will rise to meet these stumbling blocks head on.

*URGENT UPDATE: The Eaglet who was first reported to have transferred to Zobel apparently chose to move to Reedley instead. This means he could finish his HS there and, hopefully, go to Ateneo to play for the Eagles! :)

2) Which schools will have the strongest chances of derailing Ateneo's 4-peat bid?
The most dangerous team this season will be the DLSZ Junior Archers. Boris Aldeguer has put together a cohesive and experienced crew that will undoubtedly be the toughest team to beat. Gabby Reyes, Axel Torres, and Renzo Subido are all future Seniors-level talents. They've got solid role-players like John Boo, Von Yu and Joseph Tempongko. But the hidden ace here, I think, is former UNO High School star Isaac Lim. He's as explosive as they come, and is a good mix of speed and shooting. Zobel is a solid pick for one of the Finals slots.

The NU Bullpups are going to give the other teams headaches too. Five guys averaged 8 or more points for them in the Filoil tourney, and they finished with a 3-2 win-loss slate. They did pretty well in the Freego FCBL too, finishing 2nd behind San Beda in group play, and advancing as far as the semifinals before being ambushed by Hope-Christian. I'm picking them to join Zobel in the Final 4.

The Adamson Baby Falcons, UST Tiger Cubs and FEU-Fern Baby Tamaraws are all legit Final 4 threats too. All three teams finished with 3 wins in the Filoil tourney. The Baby Falcons and Baby Tams both made the playoffs in the Freego FCBL. All three teams had chances to face each other over the summer and it was a merry-go-round of results.

3) Which players should we keep tabs on?
See for yourself. Save for the UPIS Junior Maroons, whom I was not able to observe over the summer, each team has at least a few players who might make the Seniors ranks. 

Adamson's Carl Soriano is a threat in scoring and rebounding.
Filoil: 12.2ppg & 5.6rpg
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Zobel's Gabby Reyes probably has the most impressive hops in the whole division.
Filoil: 13.4ppg, 1.8spg & 1.8bpg
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Jerie Pingoy is a one-man-wrecking-crew for the Baby Tams.
Filoil: 16.8ppg, 6.0rpg, 5.8apg & 3.0spg
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Jerome Lapada is the brightest spot on the UE Pages' roster.
Filoil: 11.0ppg & 4.2rpg
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Kris Porter is Ateneo's pillar of strength in Season 74.
Filoil: 12.5ppg & 7.3rpg
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Nicko Bahia is a productive forward for the Tiger Cubs.
Filoil: 14.5ppg, 8.0rpg & 1.7spg
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Paul Baliton is the Bullpups' top playmaker.
Filoil: 10.6ppg, 4.0rpg & 5.0apg
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)

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