YOUNG as this Jose Rizal University team may be, one thing going for coach Louie Gonzalez is the familiarity among the players.
Four players in NCAA Season 95 lineup came from the Vic Lazaro-mentored Light Bombers program, with John Amores, JL Delos Santos, Thomas Vasquez, and Marwin Dionisio all making the jump to the collegiate level at the same time this year.
This early, that cohesiveness has paid dividends as a JRU side that was supposed to be in rebuilding mode following the departure of longtime coach Vergel Meneses has won two straight games early in the campaign after going 0-3 to open the year.
"Malaking bagay yung cohesiveness nilang apat eh. If you notice, maraming oras na sila ang magkakasama dahil magkakakilala talaga sila ng husto," said Gonzalez after his side's 71-66 win over Perpetual on Tuesday.
"Siguro si Tom lang ang nahuhuli. Pero alam na kasi nila yung strengths ng bawat isa at malaking bagay yun and I really ride on that," he added.
The players echoed their coach's sentiments as they aim to replicate their success in the juniors level, where an unheralded JRU side got as far as the Final Four.
"Malaking bagay yung familiarity kasi magkakakilala na po kami at hindi na kami maiilang sa bawat isa," shared Amores, who was hailed as the Most Improved Player in the high school division last season.
Delos Santos agreed, noting: "Yung pagsasama namin kada ensayo, ina-adapt ko at ng mga teammates ko yung sistema. Yun lang naman lagi ang sinasabi sa amin ng mga coaches namin, stick to the system lang."
Although expectations are modest for the team in their rookie season in college, they know that they are seen as foundational pieces for the Heavy Bombers' future.
"Para sa akin, napakahirap mag-adjust. Pero sabi nga ni coach, sumandal lang kami sa sistema. Kasi kapag hindi ako sumandal sa sistema, mas mahihirapan ako," said Amores.
They did show that in the impressive victory over the Altas.
Amores topscored for the Heavy Bombers with 15 points to go with four rebounds while Delos Santos was all over the floor with his seven points, nine boards, six assists, and three steals.
That's just a glimpse of what they can do.
"Talagang sky high yung mga confidence tong mga ito eh. Ang unang chineck ko dito sa apat na umakyat na to, yung character at yung attitude nila at nakita ko talagang palaban sila and they really fit kung ano yung gusto kong mangyari," he said.
"Pero ang pinaka-importante is right from the very start when I took over, nagkaroon na kaagad ng connection yung Light Bombers sa Heavy Bombers, which to me, importanteng importante for the program. Galing isang pamilya na kayo eh."