[Editor's note: Here's the seventh installment of our 10-part preview on NCAA Season 94.]
Last Season: 4th Place (11-7)
Key Holdovers: Jed Mendoza, MJ Dela Virgen
Departures: Tey Teodoro, Ervin Grospe, Abdulwahab Abdulrazak
Returnees: Darius Estrella
Newcomers: Leonard Esguerra, Ry dela Rosa, Agem Miranda
Head Coach: Vergel Meneses (9th season)
IN his past eight seasons at the helm for Jose Rizal University, coach Vergel Meneses has grown accustomed to the mountains and valleys the team has been in year after year.
And this season is no different, although he would be the first to admit that he doesn’t expect much from this batch of Heavy Bombers.
“We’re on a rebuilding process ngayon. Parang ang naiwan sa aking players, aapat lang from the past season, so I’m not expecting too much from them kasi bago nga yung team,” he said.
Almost a who’s who of JRU are gone from last season.
Sharpshooter Tey Teodoro was booted out from the team.
Playing-assistant coach Gio Lasquety and forward Ervin Grospe have now graduated and are both playing in the MPBL.
Same goes for foreign players Abdulwahab Abdulrazak and Abdel Poutouochi, who have left the team for good.
The only significant remnant from last season is Most Improved Player Jed Mendoza, who will have his hands full in leading the team in only his third year. And for a squad that doesn’t boast of that much firepower, it’s easy to see that he’ll definitely be a marked man.
Meneses acknowledges that.
That’s why the PBA legend urged his new team captain to be more of a leader rather than a one-man wrecking crew.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Let your teammates get involved.’ I’m not asking him to shoot everytime or score 30 points up. He needs his teammates para ma-open yung floor para sa kanya,” the mentor said. “Know how to pass, but first, you have to defend. Yung depensa, wala naman akong problema kay Jed. Yung passing lang ang gusto ko ma-improve, sa kanya, to just make the right decisions.”
And that also goes for the rest of the Heavy Bombers as Meneses wants to see a team willing to outwork everyone to compensate for their lack of talent.
“Ang sinasabi ko sa mga players ko lang, just keep working hard and just keep on fighting,” he said “I’m not asking you for a win, na every game kailangan tayo manalo. Ang hinahanap ko lang sa kanila ay magtrabaho sila every game. Alam ko na pag nagtrabaho ka, ang kasunod na nun is panalo. Just keep on working hard and let’s see what will happen.”
Meneses knows better to keep his goals meager for this season as he only wants to see the fight from JRU and for the players to not let him down.
“I just want a good showing. Alam ko ang materyales ng team ko. Kagaya ng sinabi ko, we’re on a rebuilding process. Expected ko na hindi ganoon kaganda ang magiging showing namin. I have to be frank kasi ganoon ang tingin ko,” he said.
“But we’ll be there every game fighting. Yun lang ang masasabi ko. Sa nakikita ko, yung puso ng mga bata compared to last time, maganda. They’re more aggressive now kasi mga bago, gusto magpakita. Inaayos lang na,in yung chemistry, for us to know each other well. Every game, mahihirapan sa amin yung mga team, sigurado.”