80 for 80: Random Observations on UAAP Season 80 Opening Weekend

Now that UAAP Season 80 is in full swing like Ron Dennison’s elbows, here are 80 random, incorrect, pseudo-intellectual, biased, and totally reckless observations about the UAAP opening weekend.

In full disclosure, the games were witnessed in Not MOA Arena and Not Araneta Coliseum. So no behind-the-scenes, Woj-level information here. Yes, that was a subtle hint for accreditation.

  1. Arvin Tolentino is overrated.
  2. Is Aljun Melecio a smaller, spunkier, and quicker version of FEU Terrence Romeo? Fearless drives. Deep range. Unconscious hoisting (20 shots in 34 minutes vs. FEU). Confidence and moxie packed in a 5’7” frame.
  3. Thirdy Ravena is supremely athletic and strong. But he still lacks the cerebral basketball IQ of his manong Kiefer.
  4. Jerrick Ahanmisi = Mike Silungan?
  5. Steve Akomo is legit. With two huge dunks, too! With an anemic UST squad, he could pile up MVP-like numbers.
  6. Paul Desiderio is “The Truth.” Like Paul Pierce, he called “Game!” vs. UST. They have the same first names, too!

paul

  1. Speaking of which, there’s a terrible lack of cool nicknames in the UAAP in recent years. “Cool Cat,” “The Ninja,” “Captain Hook,” and “The Rocket” were all good ones. No, Nestor “Nestorminator” David doesn’t make the list.
  2. “What a scoring splurge by NU! Now up by seven points.” – Eric Tipan
  3. Honoring the UAAP greats in the opening ceremonies with this year’s theme, “Go for Great” is, um, great. Seriously. ABS-CBN S+A’s campaign is fantastic, too.
  4. Aaron Black should’ve gotten more minutes.
  5. Ditto for Diego Dario.
  6. The hardnosed tandem of Jordan Sta. Ana and Vaughn Soriano is erratic, exciting, and exasperating all at the same time.
  7. “Exciting” is the most overused word in every UAAP opening weekend.
  8. Except for Juan GDL’s decent debut, all the other highly touted rookies, Tyrus Hill, Jonas Tibayan, Troy Mallillin, Gian Mamuyac, and Tyler Tio (didn’t even play) underwhelmed.
  9. In fact, it was the less-heralded newcomers who impressed: Kurt Lojera, Keith Zaldivar, Mark Maloles, and Leonard Santillan.
  10. Worst rookie jitters: NU’s courtside reporter.
  11. UE looked really lost vs. NU. Hardly any execution. Too much one-on-one. Lackadaisical defense. If Alvin Pasaol is your best player, you really won’t go far.
  12. Will Jerie Pingoy end up like UST’s Jun Cortez? Cortez was also a two-time UAAP Juniors MVP and a stocky, score-first guard. But he never duplicated his success in the Seniors and ended up as a backup to Japs Cuan.
  13. In one of those worn-out couple compatibility games played on talk shows, who’ll win: #KiefLy or #JTxJT?
  14. “The boo is a sign of respect. – David Stern” – Ron Dennison
  15. JANEENA CHAN!
  16. Bakit ba hiyang-hiya ‘yung mga tao kapag pinapakita sila sa TV/screen? Are they members of a secret society or something?
  17. La Salle has a better chance to sweep this season compared to last year.
  18. With that said, the abolition of the thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals when a team sweeps the elimination round should only bode well for the UAAP.
  19. Jun Manzo’s handles can obliterate ankles.
  20. Ebenezer Godwin Kwawukumey of UST is the runaway winner of the season’s Best Name aka Marvin Poloyapoy trophy.
  21. Papi Sarr is the most menacing papi in history.
  22. “Even in interviews, parang nasa timeout pa rin si (FEU assistant coach) Eric Gonzales.” – Mico Halili. “Hashtag Bulilit Beastmode.” – Mico Halili pertaining to Melecio. Mico Halili is the GOATmentator.
  23. Mark Juruena is shown watching UP vs. UST with Henry Asilum. UP misses Juruena terribly. Nope, JK, UP does not.
  24. Who would’ve thought UST vs. UP would be the most scintillating game of opening weekend?
  25. Having UAAP “insiders” in the coverage is a fantastic concept by ABS-CBN S+A (more Ganiel Krishnan!).
  26. If Paul Lee is “Angas ng Tondo,” then Marvin Lee is “Angas ng España.” If not for Desiderio’s Oblation-worthy balls, Lee could’ve been the hero for UST with his two cold-blooded FTs.
  27. How many blue-chip recruits have left La Salle recently? Robert Bolick, Terence Mustre, Enzo Navarro, Larry Muyang, Matt Salem, Mark Dyke, Mallillin, etc. The price of over-recruiting.
  28. Jolo Mendoza has the sweetest-looking shot in the UAAP.
  29. J-Jay Alejandro looks really comfortable and more efficient in his new role as playmaker. He tallied Fantasy numbers of 11 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 steals vs. UE.
  30. Thank God and all the deities that Alejandro also got rid of his Boracay braids from last season.
  31. Where’s Pio Longa?
  32. Coach Sandy Arespacochaga looks like the cool, caring tito, who always gives aguinaldo during Christmas.
  33. ABS-CBN S+A’s OBB (opening billboard) for this season is hands-down the best one in recent memory. Finally, no more forced and cheesy poses from players, who are clearly uncomfortable in front of the camera.
  34. Atakihin mo nang mabilis!” – Coach Boy Sablan to his players with only 1.3 seconds left vs. UP.
  35. Reggie Morido has lots of upside as a two-way player.
  36. Sean Manganti = idol.
  37. Are Boom Gonzalez and TJ Manotoc the modern-day Sev Sarmenta and Butch Maniego? It feels like they could talk about literally anything.
  38. Please bring back Danny Francisco to the UAAP panel.
  39. Nakakailang kwek-kwek kaya si Prince Orizu sa Morayta?
  40. Coach Jack Santiago aka “The Shadow of Coach Franz Pumaren.” Est. 1998. Anino La Salle! All rights reserved.
  41. Nakakagutom ‘yung Chickenjoy na commercial.
  42. #Don’tRobRob
  43. Abu Tratter looks like a member of Boyz II Men.
  44. It seems like coach Aldin Ayo loves pint-sized, spitfire point guards, handing the keys to Melecio like he did with Mark Cruz at Letran.
  45. Dilawan pa rin mga referee.
  46. Nikko Ramos is cash money as commentator.
  47. Yes, Rachel Ann Daquis is great.
  48. Dunkin Donuts Smile < Ulalam Mahal ng Masa Fans of the Day
  49. Coach Jamike Jarin is always fun to watch with his animated gestures and emphatic gyrations.
  50. Pumipiyok pa rin si Renren Ritualo. Who says he’s already old?
  51. In a three-on-three basketball tournament of assistant coaches, who’d be the champion? La Salle: Jun Limpot, Siot Tanquincen, Glenn Capacio. NU: Danny Ildefonso, John Ferriols, Jeff Napa. Adamson: Ritualo, Don Allado, Tonichi Yturri. FEU: Jojo Lastimosa, Richie Ticzon, Gilbert Lao. Our money is on NU.
  52. Not-so fearless forecast: Ben Mbala will be the first foreigner to win back-to-back MVPs in UAAP history.
  53. Mbala now has three-point shooting! We repeat: Mbala now has three-point shooting! ALL CAPS PARA INTENSE: MBALA NOW HAS THREE-POINT SHOOTING!
  54. Fearless forecast for Mythical Five: Mbala, Tratter, Thirdy, Desiderio, and Melecio.
  55. ABS-CBN S+A including the player’s age in the free throw graphics just to reassure viewers that none of the players is 30 years old. Somewhere out there, Karim Abdul is snickering.
  56. What happened to UE’s recruiting? The Red Warriors used to always parade competitive teams. From the James Yap-Paul Artadi days to the Paulo Hubalde-KG Canaleta days to the Marcy Arellano-Mark Borboran days to the Paul Lee-Elmer Espiritu days to the Roi Sumang-Roi Sumang days.
  57. We’re still not used to seeing coach Olsen Racela in yellow.
  58. Desiderio’s “Ang dami ko nang tinira, mahihiya pa ba ko?” quip is already indubitably the UAAP quote of the year. Or maybe even of the decade.
  59. Jeepy Faundo will be dreaming of free throws for a long time.
  60. Matt Aquino’s unexpected sit-out last season seems like a blessing in disguise. His US training has really paid dividends. He’s an early candidate for the Most Improved Player award (9 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks vs. UE).
  61. Is this the first time in UAAP history that three pairs of brothers are playing in the same season? Gomez De Liaño bros., Rivero bros., and Affleck bros. Nieto twins. Speaking of which, whatever happened to Dave and Chris Catamora of NU?
  62. “It’s important they (UE) execute on the defensive end and also on the offensive end.” – Marco Benitez
  63. Paolo Romero is still playing? He’s 38 years old at least.
  64. Always nice to see former benchwarmers finally getting more burn time and offensive touches like Dave Yu and Zach Huang.
  65. Clark Derige seems like he’s regressing every year. He hasn’t been the same since his surprisingly solid rookie year in 2015. Heartbroken ba siya?
  66. Non-rookies who underperformed: Rivero bros., Faundo, Rev Diputado, Rob Manalang, Philip Manalang, Mark Olayon, Joel Trinidad, and Mark Juruena.
  67. Nakakailang beer kaya si coach Ricky Dandan?
  68. Bright Akhuetie doing the Korean finger heart is polarizing—it’s amusing and cringe-inducing.
  69. Can Tina Marasigan be the UAAP Doris Burke? Please? UKG = UAAP Kay Ganda.
  70. If you’re UP and trades are allowed in the UAAP, would you pull the trigger if La Salle offered Mbala for Akhuetie, Javi GDL, and Noah Webb?
  71. There’s a tinge of poetic justice with Ateneo’s win over Adamson. The Soaring Falcons were ranked higher than the Blue Eagles by some observers prior to the season. Really, Ateneo is being undervalued.
  72. UST has the best uniforms (the translucent tiger in the jersey is a nice touch). UE is a close second.
  73. Five-on-five. Team X: Mbala, Manganti, Dennison, Alejandro, Lee. Team Y: Sarr, Pasaol, Thirdy, Desiderio, Melecio. Who you got?
  74. Whatever happened to the honorable councilor John Apacible?

Whew! Should’ve done this when it was UAAP Season 15.

 

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About the author

Paolo Mariano

Paolo Mariano works as a head writer and producer for the news department of a TV company. He also contributes for various magazines and websites, mostly about sports—okay, mostly about basketball. He graduated with a degree in Journalism at UST in the year 2000-something. He wore knee-high socks with his khaki shorts during elementary because he venerated Samboy Lim. If only he had grown a 70s pornstache back then as well.

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