SAN Beda won the NCAA Season 92 senior basketball title by outrunning and outgunning opponents. Expect a slower pace this year.
Comebacking coach Boyet Fernandez, who has regained the reins from Jamike Jarin after two years with NLEX in the PBA, said he is planning to keep the tempo more deliberate to reinstitute the defense-first style of play he was known for when he steered the Red Lions to two NCAA titles in 2013 and 2014.
"I like Jamike's fast-paced game and I will not change that in our offense. But we will have to slow things down a little bit because we will have to be deliberate and disciplined in defense and not gamble too much," said Fernandez.
Last season, San Beda led the league in forcing turnovers while taking the top spot in scoring, but it has allowed opposing squads to score 90 points.
"This year, we will have to cut it to just 70, which was about the same average our opponents had when I was still coaching here," said Fernandez.
Upon his return to the Mendiola campus' practice facility on Thursday, Fernandez was reacquainted with Radge Tongco and Jayvee Mocon, who were rookies in his last season before he embarked on his PBA journey. He also got reunited with AC Soberano and Jomari Presbitero, players he recruited back then and played on the second team, along with Cameroonians Donald Tankoua and Arnaud Noah.
But aside from his former players, Fernandez had to reintroduce himself to the many new faces in the squad.
"We will have to start from scratch and really work harder to keep that championship in San Beda," said Fernandez.
Fernandez has yet to name his captains but has decided to temporarily keep Presbitero and Tongco as skippers on an interim basis.
He also said he hasn't decided which two of the three foreign players he'll keep for Season 93 among Tankoua, Noah and rookie Nigerian Tuba Eugene.
Tankoua has been the team's inside anchor before he fell to a season-ending ACL injury last season while Noah stepped up in Tankoua’s place and emerged as the Finals MVP.
As for Tuba, he was the tallest and most athletic of the three and nearly won the slam dunk title last year.
For Fernandez, there’s a simple solution to this dilemma.
"I think it’s not a problem, it’s just a matter of seeing who fits my system and the team better," he said.
Fernandez said they will participate in the PBA D-League where he will enlist six San Beda players including Fil-Am Davon Potts, Mocon and Robert Bolick.
They are also planning to train in Las Vegas and compete in several tournaments in the country this summer to bolster their title defense bid.