After finishing second in the 2016 Fil-Oil Flying V basketball preseason tournament last week, the Arellano University Chiefs are hoping to accomplish a better feat in the upcoming National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 92 men’s basketball tournament.
“It was very surprising that we’ve reached that far and we never expected that finals stint in Fil-Oil basketball,” Arellano head coach Jerry Codiñera, a former professional basketball player, told The Manila Times on Wednesday.
Arellano, led by all-around playmaker Jio Jalalon, made it to the finals for the first time but lost to De La Salle University under coach Aldin Ayo.
“The expectation [for our team]is getting higher, the people expect something bigger now than the last season because of what we achieved [in Flying V],” he added. “But I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on the team. We’re going to take it one game at a time.”
Jalalon was also a member of the Gilas Pilipinas cadet team that won this year’s Southeast Asia Basketball Association title.
“Jio has still two more years left with Arellano and I’m hopeful he’s going to finish his playing eligibility with us in the NCAA,” said the 6’5 Codiñera, also known as the “Defensive Minister” during his playing days in the Philippine Basketball Association.
Besides Jalalon, the Chiefs will lean on American center Dioncee Holts, Allen Enriquez, Michael Kent Salado, Donald Gumaru, David Ortega, Julius Cadavis and John Kenneth Zamora this season.
Codiñera also said that the team only rested for six days after the Flying V tournament and immediately return to practice to prepare for their NCAA campaign. “We just rested for six days and then went back to practice because we don’t want to disappoint the school.”
He added that the players’ strength and conditioning is very important to be at par with their rivals in the oldest collegiate basketball league in the country, “So far so good, the condition of our players looks very good,” he said.
Under Codiñera, the Chiefs made it to the finals of the 2014 NCAA season but lost to San Beda College. They finished fifth at the end of elimination round with a 12-6 win-loss record.
The Season 92 of the NCAA men’s basketball will kick off on June 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.