Last season’s seniors Jeron Teng, Thomas Torres, Jason Perkins, and Julian Sargent were instrumental in bringing the men’s basketball trophy back to Taft, but will no longer suit up for the DLSU Green Archers after playing out their eligibility. Four players who impressed in the preseason for the Green-and-White and who will seek to fill the shoes of the seniors next season are Gabe Capacio, Josh Gonzales, Santi Santillian, and Ramil Tero.
Capacio, a former ADMU Blue Eaglet, will look to team up with his father, assistant coach Glenn Capacio, and Aljun Melecio, whom he faced back in high school, in defending La Salle’s title. Gonzales, who studied high school in Letran and a transferee from UE, will now bring his energetic play to Taft.
Another welcome addition to the front line is Santillian, a former University of Visayas standout. He can play both forward positions and has a decent touch from midrange, an exemplary fit when playing alongside reigning FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup and UAAP Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala. Finally, Tero, out of St. Claire, appears to be an ideal fit for head coach Aldin Ayo’s “mayhem” system with his tenacity and toughness on the court.
Adjusting to the collegiate game
Any rookie will experience the challenge of transitioning from high school to the college ball game. It is no different for the newcomers of the Green Archers. For Gonzales, he notes the increased level of play along with the team’s quick pace of play and relentless hustle.
Similarly, Tero sees a major difference in the increased competitiveness. Meanwhile, Santillian evidently sees that the collegiate level involves more team play as compared to high school, which relied more on the players’ individual abilities.
“The college ball game is more physical kasi veterans na yung mga players, mas matalino na sila maglaro. So basically, it’s more of labanan na ng skills compared sa high school,” Capacio points out, stressing that players’ skillsets are put to the test.
Behind the scenes of Ayo’s system
Being trained under Ayo is an admirable learning experience for the rookies. They all mention that they are happy to be under his guidance as they continuously aim improve their skills and deepen their knowledge, gaining lessons both on and off the court.
“Yung lagi niya gusto iinstill sa amin yung maging closer kay God, so every Sunday nagmamass kami together, lahat kami as a team, so napapalapit kami sa isa’t isa at kay God na rin,” Capacio explains.
(What he always want to instill in us is to be closer to God, so every Sunday we go to mass together as a team, so not only do we get closer to one another, but also to God.)
The struggles of the rookies do not stop there. A big part of their adjustment is keeping up with Ayo’s frentic style of play. “Honestly, hindi pa ako sanay, yung system na puro takbuhan, puro trap, yung organized chaos kung tawagin yung Mayhem,” Capacio explains, but states that he is adjusting to their system.
For Gonzales and Tero, they are more than happy to be playing under Ayo because his coaching methods not only condition them well, but also bring achievement. Like his teammates, though Santillan struggled with the system at first, he believes that the Green Archers’ strength lies within their system.
Preparations for UAAP Season 80
For Gonzales and Tero, who are in a similar condition because of their injuries, they do extra workouts when possible, and at the same time, look after themselves by getting enough time to recover.
Capacio, in particular, jogs and lifts weights to keep himself in shape and to also nurse his knee injury. A part of keeping themselves fit is following a healthy diet. According to Santillian, “Sinasacrifice ko yung mga hindi dapat kainin tulad ng fatty foods, at inumin, tulad ng softdrinks, para ready talaga ako sa katawan ko.”
(I sacrifice the food that shouldn’t be eaten during the season, such as fatty foods and softdrinks, so that my body is really ready).
As the season nears, it is vital for the Lasallians to gel and improve their chemistry, on the court in particular. Santillian exclaims that he and his fellow newcomers get along with their seniors well as Capacio mentions that they are corrected by their seniors in a friendly manner when they commit mistakes.
“Walang ‘rookie, rookie’, basta team, sama-sama,” Tero points out the camaraderie of the members of the team amongst one another. (There’s no looking down on rookies, as long as we are a team, we are together).
Looking back at the Green Archers’ preseason run, which was highlighted by a second-place finish, Tero shares his personal experience and says, “Masaya yung preseason experience, kasi nangangarap lang ako maglaro sa La Salle. Hindi ko ine–expect na ngangarapin ko siya at hindi ko inexpect na makakalaro ako sa preseason.”
(My preseason experience was good because I was looking forward to playing for La Salle. I didn’t expect to be so excited, and I didn’t expect to play during the preseason.)
Filling the shoes of the outgoing seniors will be no easy task, but it is certain that the Lasallian community will see the new Green Archers’ give their all and contribute in any way possible to their bid for another championship.