De La Salle University sent a strong message to its opposition in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 77 men’s basketball tournament following its impressive campaign in the preseason.
The Green Archers are fresh from winning the 2014 FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup tournament where they beat the San Beda Red Lions in the finals via a come-from-behind 71-66 win with Jeron Teng bagging the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
It was La Salle’s third straight collegiate title since winning the Season 76 crown in October. They also ruled the Philippine Collegiate Champions League in December, making them as the top team to beat in the UAAP Season 77.
La Salle remains intact with holdovers Teng, the Season 76 Finals MVP, Almond Vosotros, Jason Perkins, Arnold Van Opstal, Norbert Torres and Thomas Torres plus the addition of returning center Yutien Andrada and some promising rookies.
There four top rookies in the current lineup of La Salle. They are Prince Rivero, Julian Sargent, Terrence Mustre and Abu Tratter.
Rivero was a former National University Bullpup and La Salle Greenie while Sargent played for Phoenix College in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II.
Mustre had stint with Harris Academy in London and Tratter, a Filipino-American recruit.
“It’s not that easy to defend our title since a lot of teams have beefed up their lineups,” said La Salle’s representative to the UAAP Board Henry Atayde.
“Far Eastern University, University of the East, University of Santo Tomas [UST], National University are the strong contenders but we’re not discounting the other teams dahil malalakas ang teams ngayong season, mabigat ang labanan,” he added.
La Salle is gunning for its ninth title in the league.
Last year, La Salle beat UST, 2-1, in the best-of-three finals.