One of the more interesting storylines for the University of the East Red Warriors in the upcoming UAAP Season is how they will look with the departure of super scorer Alvin Pasaol. Last April, after initially claiming he was returning for his final year, the burly forward decided to move on from his college career.
In his three-year stay with the red and white, Pasaol catapulted himself into superstardom using his unparalleled scoring prowess. His mix of on-court viciousness and charisma, instantly made him a household name. Last season, en route to a second straight Mythical Team selection, he averaged 24.4 points and 11.0 rebounds. His signature performance came in 2017 when he fired 49 points, putting his name in the history books as one of the deadliest scorers in college hoops.
Pasaol's name was synonymous with UE in the last three years, but unfortunately, the Red Warriors did not have much success in that span. In fact, it had been a tale of one failed season after another for almost a decade. Despite Pasaol's departure, Season 82 holds promise and hope for UE.
The Red Warriors got busy in the offseason, recruiting elite talent from across the country. Among them are scoring guard Jed Mendoza from the JRU Heavy Bombers and two-time CESAFI MVP Rey Suerte. The two are veterans scorers who can immediately pile up points for them.
UE will also have the services of Senagalese Adama Diakhite. It's been a while since the Red Warriors had a foreign student-athlete in their midst and Diakhite's 6-foot-9 frame will surely improve their chances of getting more wins. They also acquired former Ateneo Blue Eagle John Apacible and wing defender Neil Tolentino to fill up the wings and the paint.
Fresh young talent is also present in the form of Harvey Pagsanjan from Hope Christian High School and Clint Escamis from the Mapua Red Robins. Both Pagsanjan and Escamis were big names in high school and they can contribute effectively if they can translate their game at the collegiate level.
Gutsy point guard Philip Manalang will fill in the role of leader and veteran. Manalang is used to dishing the ball to Pasaol but now he has an abundance of scoring options.
UE certainly has the tools and firepower to compete against the UAAP's elite. It is no longer a one-man show as it boasts a roster filled with top-level talent. But like with any team, chemistry and experience will be crucial ingredients to their success. If they can rally together, the Red Warriors will be able to climb out of the cellar and into relevance.
A new day has dawned for the UE Red Warriors and they will have a chance to write their new chapter come September 4 in their opening game against the UST Growling Tigers.