As the temperature around the city heats up, so too does the basketball scene in Metro Manila as the Fil-Oil Flying V Preseason Tournament kicks off. With a little more than four months having gone by since the DLSU Green Archers clinched the PCCL Championship, expect the squad to be rusty, but carrying at the same time their newfound championship experience in their buildup for UAAP Season 77.
“It’s pretty much just getting us back into the groove of things,” says Green Archer Jason Perkins, adding that other than a four-day break, the team has been getting back into shape and working on execution in practice.
Then and now
Last season’s Fil-Oil campaign brought out mixed results with an early exit at the hands of the SBC Red Lions, but all was not lost and the preseason was productive. Finishing the elimination round strong with a 5-2 win-loss record, DLSU was unable to sustain their early momentum as they dropped three of their last four games, with the Red Lions officially ending their preseason run. It wasn’t all in vain as the tournament brought out standout performances from eventual UAAP Mythical Five member Jason Perkins and UAAP Season 76 Finals MVP Jeron Teng.
This year, the Green Archers have a target on their backs as more teams from all over the archipelago will join the competition as they prepare their lineups before their main tournaments come up in June. Grouped in what was dubbed by many as the “Group of Death”, La Salle is joined in Group A by the defending Fil-Oil champion UE Red Warriors, University of Perpetual Help, Jose Rizal University, and three Cebu-based teams namely the SWU Cobras, the USC Warriors and the reigning CESAFI champion UV Green Lancers.
While the season promises to be an exciting one with the addition of new teams, some familiar foes will not be taking to the courts. Three UAAP teams, namely the UST Growling Tigers, the Adamson Soaring Falcons, and the ADMU Blue Eagles, will not be participating for a number of reasons and will instead shift their focus to the UAAP tournament later this year.
“I really don’t have too many expectations except the things that we can change, like working hard, trying to play smart, and executing,” the Minnesota native Perkins says, adding that head coach Juno Sauler has been emphasizing execution as of late.
New season, new faces
Last season’s Fil-Oil tourney introduced us to Jason Perkins, Robert Bolick, Matt Salem, and Kib Montalbo who were stellar in their maiden campaign with DLSU. This year’s crop of rookies will not only bring in a lot of depth to an already deep La Salle squad, but will also add the firepower that will bolster the team for the coming seasons.
Among the most headlined of the bunch is reigning NCAA Juniors MVP Prince Rivero. The La Salle Greenhills standout not only stood out amongst his peers in the NCAA but he also made waves abroad as he was a member of the 3×3 Philippine Team that won the FIBA 3×3 U18 Asia Championship and competed in the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championships, where he was joined by Arvin Tolentino, Thirdy Ravena, and Kobe Paras.
Joining Rivero in the roster are Julian Sargent, Terrence Mustre, and Abu Tratter, who have been waiting in the wings and plying their time with DLSU’s Team B as they served their residency. De La Salle Zobel standout Renzo Subido, who completed a solid UAAP Juniors career that saw him lead the league in scoring, is also aiming to crack the Green Archers’ roster after originally committing to UST.
Subido and Mustre will be bolstering a loaded DLSU backcourt as they join Montalbo, Bolick, Thomas Torres, Oda Tampus, and Almond Vosotros. Meanwhile, Rivero, Sargent, and Tratter are coming in at just the right time given that team captain Norbert Torres and the returning Yutien Andrada will be graduating after this season.
“They all have their different aspects of their game,” Perkins explains. “Julian [Sargent] can score [and] play defense. Subido is a quick, smart point guard. Prince [Rivero] is a strong 3-4 man, he’s good when it comes to positions. I think with everyone coming in, it’ll prove that everyone will get a lot better.”
Up first for the Green Archers in this tournament is a matchup againstUE, who will be led by their new head coach Derrick Pumaren, the former DLSU mentor who steered the Green Archers to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990.