ALL head coaches of the competing teams in University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) are looking forward to give reigning champion De La Salle University a tough time when the league’s Season 77 unfurls on July 12, at the Araneta Coliseum.
La Salle surprised its rivals last year when it recovered from a dismal first round performance by winning most of its games in the second round, clinching the second finals berth and earning the twice-to-beat edge with a 10-4 record.
The Green Archers beat the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the semifinals. In the best-of-three finals, they bested University of Santo Tomas in Game 2 and 3 to capture their sixth UAAP title.
“Absolutely, it is La Salle that is one of the toughest teams here,” said Derrick Pumaren, newly-appointed head coach of host University of the East during the UAAP press conference at the Gloria Maris Restaurant in Gateway Mall on Monday.
“But I’m very confident my players will give them a good fight,” added Pumaren, who will parade veteran playmaker Shej Roi Sumang, 6’8 center Charles Mammie, forward Chris Javier and rookie Moustapha Arafat, among others. “I also believe it will be a promising season for us.”
La Salle head coach Juno Sauler said that his team would just stay on the course of improvement every game.
“It is still a day to day basis for us and we have to get better and better. All teams are aiming to beat us this season,” said Sauler, whose team will first face FEU in the opening day on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Five-time UAAP champion Ateneo De Manila University was solely represented in the presscon by assistant coach Yuri Escueta because all the team members, including head coach Bo Perasol is currently in Korea for a team building activity.
Likewise, University of the Philippines was represented only by Ronnie Dizer because all the Fighting Maroons are presently in Taiwan.
Other coaches who attended the press conference were Kenneth Duremdes of Adamson University, Bong Dela Cruz of University of Santo Tomas, Nash Racela of FEU and Eric Altamirano of National University.