[Editor's note: Here's the sixth installment of our 10-part preview on the NCAA basketball season]
Last Season: 6th Place (9-9)
Key Holdovers: Michael Canete, Levi Dela Cruz, Rence Alcoriza
Injury List: Kent Salado (knee)
Departures: Lervin Flores, Zach Nicholls
Newcomers: Guilmer Dela Torre
Head Coach: Jerry Codiñera (5th season)
THE chief problem for Arellano this season is finding a way to fill the void left by Kent Salado.
The cat-quick do-it-all guard was expected to play the biggest role for the Chiefs but will instead miss the entire season due to an ACL injury, and head coach Jerry Codinera will have to find that production elsewhere.
Codinera is confident that a new star will rise for the Chiefs.
“It’s really tough. We have to find a way to win. I hope na other guys can fill up the vacuum that was being left by Kent. Pero it’s the team parin. We have to compliment what was, kung ano yung nawala. I still believe in team work, andun parin naman yun,” Codinera said.
“It takes time ang chemistry. Maraming bago sa amin. There will be surprising players I think for Arellano. May lalabas lalabas diyan na magshishine,” he added.
Veterans Michael Canete, Levi dela Cruz and Ely Ongolo-Ongolo will be among the players that Codinera will have to rely on, alongside high scoring rookie Guilmer dela Torre.
“Si Canete is doing well nung off season. Also Ely Ongolo. Surprisingly itong pre-season he’s outstanding. He’s showing a lot of things that doesn’t show sa statistics, very intimidating and he’s a good passer. Because of his huge frame, he’s a good complimentary player,” Codinera said.
For the former Purefoods great, all he’s wishing for is a good start to keep them to just keep them afloat for the season – and maybe they can start talking about the Final Four.
“Hope ko to start well lang. Yun lang naman e and for them to be always motivated before the game. Skin that’s more than enough,” Codinera said.
“Sabi ko lang, don’t worry about the game and winning, just play your game and the system and bahala na kaming mga coaches gumawa ng paraan,” he added.
Codinera isn’t promising anything grand, but what he does promise is that the Chiefs will come in fighting and will be as exciting as ever.
“Our team will always be exciting. We’ll be fighting and hustling, diving for those loose balls. Yun ang Arellano type of basketball e. High octane, high energy basketball yun ang game namin.”