[Editor's note: Here's the final installment of our 10-part preview on NCAA Season 94.]
Last Season: Champion (16-2)
Key Holdovers: Robert Bolick, Javee Mocon, Donald Tankoua, AC Soberano
Departures: Davon Potts, Ben Adamos, Arnaud Noah
Newcomers: Eugene Toba, Evan Nelle
Head Coach: Boyet Fernandez (2nd season)
EVERYBODY in San Beda knows that anything less than a championship is a disappointment.
The alumni, the students, the players, and the coaches -- everybody knows that.
“It’s always been that way,” said coach Boyet Fernandez. “A little less than a championship is always a disappointment. You know everybody in San Beda expects us to win a championship. That’s year-round, year-long, every year.”
This year is no different, and with a virtually intact roster, the pressure is on for the Red Lions to complete the three-peat.
Fernandez knows that the margin of error couldn’t be any slimmer with the rise of other protagonists this season. That’s why he is hard-pressed on preparing San Beda as much as he can on what appears to be the tightest title race in years.
“We know it’s a very tough season this year because every team has improved, every school has improved, every player has improved. So prepara kami nang prepara masyado para naman we’ll be ready for every game,” he said.
“Bilog ang bola eh. For me, it’s really how you prepare. As long as you prepare, whatever happens, you can look at each other person’s eyes and say ‘I did my job’. My players did their job. But again, we always look for a championship so we always practice looking for a championship. It will be bad if we lose the championship.”
Have no fear, though. Robert Bolick is still here.
If he hasn’t made it clear yet, the senior guard, who has cemented himself not just as one of the country’s elite two-way players but also one of the best in the amateur level, is willing to do everything in his power to keep the trophy in Mendiola.
And he’s not alone.
Javee Mocon and AC Soberano all remain potent as ever. Fernandez also welcomes Eugene Toba in his seniors team, fortifying an already stacked frontline bannered by Donald Tankoua.
Despite being the powerhouse team that it is, Fernandez doesn’t want San Beda to be regarded as a favorite to reclaim the throne, opting to keep his team’s hunger on a high even after winning the last two NCAA championships.
“Mas gusto ko nga na hindi kami ang favorite eh, kasi doon kami kumukuha ng effort to prove something that we’re capable of winning. Mas gusto ko yung underdog ako para at least nakikita ko kung gaano kagaling yung kalaban namin,” he said.
“Medyo mahirap din na always kang nasa itaas kasi saan pa ba ang punta mo kundi pababa na? So ang ginagawa namin, we continue to improve as a team. We’re always looking for a championship and I’d like to tell the players to set aside muna yung personal ambitions namin and hopefully, do things right for San Beda.”