[Editor's note: Here's the third installment of our 10-part preview on the NCAA basketball season]
Last Season: 7th Place (7-11)
Key Holdovers: Jerome Garcia, Hamadou Laminou, Juju Bautista
Departures: Sidney Onwubere, Francis Munsayac
Newcomers: Maui Cruz
Head Coach: Ariel Sison (3rd season)
A LOT can happen in a span of two months.
Last year, Emilio Aguinaldo College came into the tournament with high hopes to make it to the Final Four. Armed with veterans in Sidney Onwubere and Francis Munsayac, a breakthrough seemed possible.
But a knee injury shut down big man Hamadou Laminou midway through the season, and no matter how resolute these Generals were, the postseason ticket remained a distant dream for this long-suffering side.
With those leaders out of the picture this year, EAC’s goals have gone farther from its grasp as typified by the team’s lackluster showing in the offseason.
But as defiant as they come, coach Ariel Sison isn’t willing to put too much weight on that.
“To be honest with you, despite a bad showing in the preseason tournaments, sabi ko nga sa mga bata, I’m positive pag nakumpleto kami. Positive ako na itong team na ito is a dark horse in the coming Season 94,” he said.
Laminou, who has recently recovered from his ACL injury, and Fil-Am forward Juju Bautista have rejoined the Generals in time for the season, and with shooter Jerome Garcia leading the way, Sison is expecting a lot from his unheralded yet feisty group of his.
“Ang gusto ko lang dalhin namin from the last season is yung determination namin despite na hindi ganoon kalakas yung players namin, yung determination ng bawat isa na manalo kada game. This Season 94, isa sa mga gusto kong makita namin is how we play defense na pinipilit naming iimprove bawat araw,” he said.
Team captain Jeric Diego, Renzo Tampoc, Rustan Bugarin, and high-scoring rookie Maui Cruz will all be counted on to contribute for EAC as it aims to eclipse its 7-11 record from last season.
Though the task is tall, Sison has his full belief that everything is possible.
“Sabi ko nga, positive ako na more wins,” he said. “I will assure you na lahat ng pwede ko gawin at ng team, gagawin namin para manalo. Hindi namin kayo papahiya na ganun-ganun lang.”