Coach: Aldin Ayo
Last Season: 13-1 (Champions)
Holdovers: Ben Mbala, Aljun Melecio, Kib Montalbo, Ricci Rivero
Additions: Santi Santillan
Key Losses: Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, Julian Sargent, Thomas Torres
Despite losing a big chunk of its core from the champion team last year, La Salle remains as formidable as ever.
The Green Archers are the consensus team-to-beat this UAAP season 80 and for good season with reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala still leading the fight.
But coach Aldin Ayo doesn’t want to rely on just Mbala alone as he posed a challenge for the rest of the Green Archers to step up and fill the shoes left by their seniors.
“We suffered big losses with the graduation of our veterans. Now, we’re a younger team, but I’m expecting my second stringers last year to respond to their bigger roles because they have bigger responsibilities now,” he said. “As much as possible, we want to be unpredictable. We have 14 guys who are capable of playing so whoever is hot, that’s where we’ll go.”
Ayo is putting a lot of trust on his guards as he expects more from the quartet of reigning Rookie of the Year Aljun Melecio, Kib Montalbo, Ricci Rivero, and Joshua Caracut.
But the main advantage for La Salle will be still its vaunted “mayhem” defense —which befuddled a lot of opponents last season.
“The mayhem has always been there. Actually it’s not only on defense, but on offense also. But our system is evolving. We’re doing new things because of course, you have to present new things in the table because teams are adjusting to us. You can’t rely on the things you did last season. Our system is evolving and we’re doing a lot of new things that hopefully, will be effective,” he said.
Ayo said that he hasn’t changed his approach with this players this year as he constantly tries to alleviate the pressure and trusts them enough to let them play their game.
“I’ve gotten used to it and (the approach) is almost the same as last year. The competition is there and
you have to be ready. You have to prepare and we have to compete. But I just allow them to play and have fun because it’s basketball and they have to enjoy,” he said.
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