FOR years San Beda has been the undisputed king of NCAA High School basketball. But for the second straight season in the juniors tournament, the mighty Red Cubs are set to miss out on the championship.
The Red Cubs were a win away from making a return to the finals, but fell to the Mapua Red Robins, 75-67.
The last time the Red Cubs missed the finals on back to back seasons was back in 2007 and 2008, the time when the San Sebastian Staglets were ruling the tournament.
San Beda head coach JB Sison believes it’s because the new rules on residency in the juniors division allows teams to be more competitive.
“Tumaas yung competition lalo na nung tinanggal nila yung residency rule, agad agad makakalipat, kahit hindi UAAP you can play right away, kahit yung from Cesafi, basta may makita kang magaling pwede mo ilaro kaagad e,” said Sison.
“So it depends sa recruitment, maglalaban ulit sa recruitment. Ang maganda run competitive ang lahat, any team can beat anybody,” he added.
It wasn’t like any other season for the Red Cubs as there were moments during the tournament where it looked like they might miss the Final Four for the first time in decades.
They started by dropping their first two games only to recover in the end before coming a win short in making a return trip to the championship.
For Sison, that’s the price you pay for having a young team.
“Kahit yung won games namin, slim margin talaga e. Ginawa na lang namin positive kasi halos dikit yung games namin, lalo silang matututo dun. Magmamature yan kung close games, medyo crucial kasi yun ang kailangan nila nagfactor din sa huli sa amin dahil yung game plan nasusunod na unti unti, yung ininvest namin noong summer, unti unti na rin naapply. Kaya lang consistency ang hinahanap ko sa kanila ngayon,” said Sison, who compared this team to their squad four years ago when they had a young Evan Nelle leading the team.
“Same ito nung gumraduate sila Caracut, first year nila Abu Hijleh, nila Nelle. Invest nalang ulit. Turo ulit, mahaba habang turo. Ito mas bata ito e kesa dun sa panahon ni Nelle,” he added.
Sison just can’t wait for the tournament next year – especially with most of their players now getting their feet wet in the NCAA.
That, and with former National University standout Rhayan Amsali now being eligible – the future certainly looks bright for the Red Cubs.
“I think sa experience ni (Joshua) Lazaro and (Justine) Sanchez, sana ma-bring up nila. Yung (Zach) Estacio surprising this year, sila (Yukien) Andrada, andami pwedeng magstep up. Pero they have to go through the process,” said Sison.
“Papasok pa si (Rhayan) Amsali, actually, si Amsali pa ata ang beterano, papasok pa next year kasi may experience pa siya sa UAAP.”