With two weeks left in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 92 men’s basketball first round, new heroes are starting to emerge for the ten teams. Gone are the former big names like Scottie Thompson, Baser Amer, Mark Cruz, Bradwyn Guinto, Jonathan Grey, Kevin Racal, Art Dela Cruz, Josan Nimes and Ola Adeogun. But the NCAA just never runs out of exciting ballers.
Letran’s Rey Nambatac is now clearly the Knights’ scoring leader after Cruz and Racal’s exit. Last week, he dropped 40 points on San Sebastian, catapulting the Cagayan de Oro ace to top of the NCAA’s scoring board with 24.2 points per game (PPG). Not far behind is Arellano’s Jio Jalalon, the country’s best amateur point guard, who normed 20.3 PPG after four games. But it’s Lyceum’s African rookie Mike Nzeusseu that’s making heads turn with his impressive 18 PPG and 16.5 rebounds per game (RPG), deeming the Pirates as dangerous opponents this year.
Last year’s MVP Allwell Oraeme of the Mapua Cardinals continues to wreak havoc in his sophomore season as he still lords it over everybody off the boards with a whopping 18.5 RPG. But San Beda’s Cameroonian sophomore center Donald Tankoua has stepped up huge for the Red Lions with the departure of Adeogun, posting 12.8 PPG and 12.2 RPG to help the former five-peat champs maintain a clean slate after six outings and lead all teams in the current standings. Also making waves is Tankoua’s rookie teammate Davon Potts, who unloaded 31 markers last Friday to lead San Beda to a remarkable come-from-behind 101-86 win over last year’s tormentors Arellano Chiefs, after trailing by 22 points in the second quarter. The Filipino-American guard from Los Angeles is ninth in league scoring with 15.2 PPG.
Emilio Aguinaldo’s second-year center Hamadou Laminou is the main reason the Generals are no easy prey this season as he registers 17.5 PPG and 14.3 RPG. The 6’7” African is an excellent post scorer and defender making him one of the best players at the center position today.
First-time NCAA guard Regille Ilagan of San Sebastian has taken over the scoring chores from last season’s top Stags Jamil Ortueste and Guinto as he currently leads his team with 16.5 PPG. He has also uncorked a total of 14 treys in just four games with a 56% accuracy from behind the arc.
For the Cards, three vets have collaborated to fill in the void left by Nimes and keep Mapua at second place so far. Carlos Isit and the come backing Andrew Estrella and Joseph Eriobu combine for 31.6 PPG to back Oraeme in carrying their team to its best start in five years with a 5-1 slate.
Second-year guard Kent Salado and rookie Lervin Flores of Arellano are also among the much talked-about players in Season 92. Salado is Jalalon’s partner in crime with 13.3 PPG. But the bull strong forward Flores is the biggest surprise from the Chiefs’ side with 11 RPG, 9.5 PPG and 2.5 blocks per game (BPG) after four games. From the Perpetual Help Altas’ camp, Nigerian sensation Bright Akhuetie remains the go-to-guy with 17.3 PPG. But Gab Dagangon and Gerald Dizon are more active in offense this year, posting a combined 21.6 PPG. For the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers, Tey Teodoro and Paolo Pontejos maintain their position as designated scorers but Ervin Grospe and Abdoul Poutouochi have so far shone as well, adding over seven markers per game each.
As for the still winless College of St. Benilde, the bright side is that there is more balance in its offense this season with at least five Blazers sharing in the scoring cudgels each game. Last year, Grey accounted for a big chunk of the team’s offense. But this year, sophomore guards JJ Domingo (9.8 PPG) and Carlo Young (9.4 PPG), rookie center Clement Leutcheu (8.8 PPG), Christian Fajarito (7.8 PPG) and Yankie Haruna (7 PPG) are all chipping in for the Blazers. They just need to add a little more to their numbers to get that elusive first win of the season.
We’ve seen some spectacular games so far and Season 92 is living up to its promise of an amazing NCAA basketball year.