THERE won’t be a reunion among "super friends" in this year’s NCAA Season 97 finals.
'Super friends' absent in Game 1
No thanks to the PBA 2021 rookie draft running smack at the same time for Game One of the best-of-three finals, prominent members of the company made up of some of the country’s top coaches are not going to occupy their usual seats at ringside and show support to coach Bonnie Tan and defending champion Letran against challenger Mapua.
The finals is set for a 3 p.m. tipoff at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan, while the annual draft will be held at the Robinson’s Place Manila at 4 p.m.
“Nasa (PBA) draft sila,” said Letran co-team manager Waiyip Chong on Saturday.
Among the "super friends" who will not be around are NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio and deputy Jeff Napa, Columbian Dyip counterpart Johnedel Cardel, and SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua, who also serves as team manager of Barangay Ginebra.
Ditto with NorthPort governor Eric Arejola, Columbian Dyip and PBA Board vice chairman Bobby Rosales, and Magnolia assistant coach Itoy Esguerra.
Yes, even Letran deputy coach LA Tenorio won’t be around.
The group was around back in the 2019 finals when the Knights upended the San Beda Red Lions’ bid for a fourth straight NCAA title by pulling off a dramatic 81-79 in the deciding Game 3 of the title series.
Tan, also team manager of NorthPort, acknowledged the help and moral support the unit that collectively came known as "super friends," extended to him in winning his very first NCAA men’s championship and the Knights’ first after the 2015 title romp.
“Ang laking tulong yung super friends. Yung experience nila, ang dami nilang experience sa ganitong laban,” said the Letran coach back then.
But the Knights have been solid this season behind Tan’s own work.
Led by talented big man Rhenz Abando, Letran is going to the finals undefeated in 10 games, including a nine-game sweep of the eliminations.
The top-seeded Knights kept their perfect record with a pulsating 77-75 win over upset-conscious Perpetual Help Altas in the Final Four last week.
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