Jose Rizal and Mapua hope to rely on their new recruit to bolster their campaign as the two collide for a share of the lead with powerhouse San Beda and Lyceum of the Philippines University today in the 94th NCAA basketball tournament at the Jose Rizal Gym in Mandaluyong City.
Parading mostly new recruits after losing the bulk of their core from last season, the Bombers and the Cardinals try to open the new chapter in their rebuilding life with a victory as the two take on each other at 4 p.m. in the first of five of the league’s “NCAA on Tour” games.
JRU has parted ways with Teytey Teodoro, while bidding goodbye to AbdulRazak AbdulWahab, Abdel Poutouchi and John Grospe, who played out their eligibility years, and filled their spots with a relatively young squad headed by remnants Mark dela Virgen, Jed Mendoza, Darius Estrella and Aaron Bordon.
MU, for its part, was actually on the second year of its rebuild mode after breaking in several players in the post-Allwell Oraeme-era last season headed Christian Bunag while adding Warren Bonifacio and Jasper Salanga from its high school program and Noah Lugo from Lyceum to beef up their young roster.
“We have some new players coming in and we feel they will help us in our campaign,” said Mapua mentor Atoy Co, whose charges finished 10th and dead last with a 3-15 (win-loss) record.
“I’m very optimistic we will improve on our performance last year,” he added.
JRU coach Vergel Meneses said they are not as optimistic as last year when they made the Final Four and eventually finished third overall.
“It will be a tough season for us but we will try to compete even though we’re really a young team,” said Meneses.