• Growling Tigers to employ ‘defensive’ tactics in Season 79

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    Newly appointed University of Santo Tomas (UST) head coach Boy Sablan announced that he will introduce a new system to the Growling Tigers, which they will use in the upcoming University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 79 men’s basketball tournament.

    Sablan, who replaced Bong Dela Cruz in January, said the Growling Tigers would employ a new defensive and running game in addition to a winning attitude.

    “I’m not going to adapt the old system. I’m here to implement a new one,” said the 52-year-old UST alumnus in a phone interview on Thursday. “We’re going to implement a different defensive scheme. It’s going to be more stifling than last year. We are going to be more of a running team.”

    Under Dela Cruz’s tutelage, the Growling Tigers reached the finals last year but lost Game 3 to eventual champion Far Eastern University.

    Sablan, however, didn’t promise to send UST to another championship appearance this year, “I won’t promise anything championship, finals appearance or Final Four but our focus is to improve each game and learn. I also expect my players to give their best this season. Because aside from being the host school, most of them wanted to prove something and keep on improving.”

    “Most of my players are from last year’s bench and most of them didn’t have enough playing time,” he added.

    UST lost key players Kevin Ferrer, Karim Abdul and Ed Daquioag, who were already past their five-year playing eligibility.

    Only veteran players Kent Lao, Louie Vigil, Marvin Lee and playmaker Jamil Sheriff will return this season supported by four rookies.

    Sablan said that their preparation time to adapt a new system is short but he trusts his wards’ abilities.

    Sablan, who served as assistant under former head coach Pido Jarencio in 2006, said the Growling Tigers played matches against Japanese and Canadian teams in Taiwan last week as part of their preparation for the upcoming UAAP Season 79.

    JOSEF T. RAMOS

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