The recruitment wars in the UAAP Seniors basketball definitely took a different turn this year following the postponement of the Season 83 tournament due to the global pandemic. The long layoff resulted in an unprecedented offseason that has seen teams acquire multiple recruits and players transfer to other schools at an extraordinary rate.
With the return of the UAAP still up in the air (although there are rumors that the next season will start in January or February), teams have stockpiled talents not just for Season 83 but for the years to follow.
It has been ten months since the Ateneo Blue Eagles captured the Season 82 crown, and to say that a lot has happened during that span would be an understatement.
In this two-part series, we discuss some of the key offseason acquisitions per school, including recruits who are not yet eligible to suit up in Season 83. Here's Part 1 which covers the National University Bulldogs, University of the East Red Warriors, Adamson Soaring Falcons, and De La Salle Green Archers.
New coach: To be determined
Key Acquisitions: Patrick Ramos, Terrence Crisostomo, Alfonso Crisostomo
Offseason grade: D
It's been a rollercoaster offseason for the NU Bulldogs. After finishing with an abysmal 2-12 record in Season 82, coach Jamike Jarin was replaced by Goldwin Monteverde in the hopes of ending the school's four-year postseason dry spell. Losing super scorer Dave Ildefonso, who transferred to Ateneo, was a huge blow, but the Bulldogs still had a promising future ahead of them.
Monteverde was the architect of the National University-Nazareth School's winning basketball program that saw the Bullpups claim back-to-back Juniors titles. It was believed that the core of the Bullpups team would follow their coach to the Seniors ranks. However, things turned bleak for NU as standouts Gerry Abadiano and Carl Tamayo transferred to UP while Kevin Quiambao went to La Salle. The three were vital cogs in the Bullpups' immaculate run in Season 82.
A few weeks after the trio's departure was announced, Monteverde parted ways with NU, sending the promising program into uncertainty.
On the bright side, the Bulldogs will eventually welcome a new coach who will be tasked to revive a reeling program. Though the school has yet to make an official decision, former Letran mentor and GlobalPort assistant Jeff Napa has been mentioned to take the position. Former PBA coach Siot Tanquingcen was also reported to be in the conversation.
In terms of player acquisitions, NU has gotten hold of three Fil-foreigners in Patrick Ramos, and brothers Terence and Alfonso Crisostomo. Ramos is out of UC Santa Cruz where he played three years as a guard. Terence and Alfonso, meanwhile, are products of Olds College in Alberta and Bishop McNally High, respectively.
UE Red Warriors
New coach: Jack Santiago
Key Acquisitions: Josiah Alcantara, Kyle Paranada, Brian Enriquez, Orin Catacutan
Offseason grade: C+
University of the East was one of the first schools to create a major stir in the offseason by hiring Jack Santiago, a longtime assistant for Adamson coach Franz Pumaren.
The first-time UAAP head coach will inherit a team that went 4-10 last season and a program that hasn't been in the Final Four for more than a decade. Santiago will partner with former NU coach Jamike Jarin as his lead assistant.
With Santiago at the helm, UE has made some key moves in the last few months, acquiring former San Beda Red Cub Josiah Alcantara and Fil-Am Kyle Paranda, who are eligible to play five full seasons for the Red Warriors. Alcantara was part of the Red Cubs squad that won it all in Season 95 when he averaged 4.4 points and 1.4 boards. Paranada, meanwhile, had a solid senior year in Montgomery High School where he netted 23.5 points, including a 38 percent shooting clip from deep, to go along with 4.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.7 steals.
UE will also deploy Fil-Am Brian Enriquez out of Long Beach, California. The William Woods University graduate will be eligible for just one season for the Red Warriors.
MPBL standout Orin Catacutan is also part of the new UE squad, though he will have to finish his residency year first. Catacutan will bring in his experiences from playing with three different clubs in the MPBL. His last stop with the Sarangani Marlins saw his game flourish as he normed 17.0 points and 6.7 boards.
UE's offseason moves are not eye-popping but the program is on the right track. With a new head coach hungry to prove his mettle in the UAAP, the Red Warriors remain hopeful for a chance to return to the postseason.
Adamson Soaring Falcons
Key Acquisitions: Jhon Calisay, RV Yanes, Joaquin Jaymalin, Roger Syvels delos Reyes, Adrian Punzalan
Offseason grade: B
The Adamson Soaring Falcons may not have gotten the huge headlines during the offseason but they have definitely added some promising pieces to their roster.
Coach Franz Pumaren and his camp first acquired the pair of Jhon Calisay and RV Yanes out of Technological Institute of the Philippines. Afterwards, Ateneo Blue Eaglets captain Joaquin Jaymalin followed suit. At 6-foot-1, Jaymalin produced modest averages of 6.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists for the Eaglets last season. Although the aforementioned names are not blue-chip recruits, Adamson has proven that it can develop and improve young, unheralded players, evident by the growth of Joem Sabandal, Jerom Lastimosa, and AP Manlapaz last season.
Pumaren also recruited a couple of Fil-foreigners. Heading to the Falcons' camp is Roger Syvels delos Reyes, a Fil-Italian marskman. Delos Reyes has experienced playing for a club team and most recently suited up for Basketown Milano in Serie C Silver in Italy. He will be available by Season 83.
Adamson also picked up Fil-Am guard Adrian Punzalan, who has Division III basketball experience under his belt playing for Harper College. The 20-year-old guard will have to sit out one year due to eligibility issues, but he has four playing years ahead of him in Adamson.
De La Salle Green Archers
New coach: Derick Pumaren
Key Acquisitions: Michael Philips, Benjamin Philips, Kevin Quiambao, Isaiah Blanco-Hontiveros, Jonnel Policarpio, CJ Austria, Emman Galman, Warren Calara, Paul Turco, Mark Nonoy, Deo Cuajao, Evan Nelle
Offseason grade: A
There are a lot of things to be excited about if you are rooting for the Green Archers. The return of Derick Pumaren at the sidelines brings a level of experience and expertise that only a winning coach can provide. After a disappointing 7-7 finish last season, La Salle will have all the tools it needs to make a return to the Final Four.
At the forefront of the Green Archers' offseason shakeup are brothers Michael and Benjamin Philips. The 18-year-old Michael is a 6-foot-8 center coming from Creekside High School in St. John's County, Florida. His older brother Benjamin, 21 years old and also 6-8, went to Fairfield High School in Fairfield, Ohio, and University of Miami before transferring to La Salle.
A noteworthy name coming into the La Salle camp is Isaiah "Ice" Blanco-Hontiveros, son of PBA legend Dondon Hontiveros. The young Hontiveros finished high school at University of Cebu and will be available for the Green Archers next season. A 6-foot-3 guard, he gained a Mythical Team selection at the CESAFI tournament last season.
Beyond Season 83, La Salle has already built a strong foundation. The budding duo of Mark Nonoy and Evan Nelle represents the future of the Green Archers' backcourt once Aljun Melecio graduates. Beefing up the frontcourt is Kevin Quiambao out of National University-Nazareth School. In Season 82, he put up 12.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks en route to a runner-up MVP finish. He still has one year of high school left and will be able to play come Season 84.
Alongside Quiambao is Mapua's Jonnel Policarpio. The Red Robins star is fresh from an impressive season where he earned Defensive Player of the Year honors, as well as a slot in the Mythical Team. La Salle's offseason moves stretched to Mindanao as Holy Cross of Davao College product Paul Turco is also set to reinforce the Green Archers' frontline.
La Salle is now also the home of UST's Deo Cuajao, TIP's Warren Calara, and high school standouts CJ Austria of UE and Emman Galman of Perpetual Help.