SEASON 77 of the UAAP is still more than a month from now, but University of the Philippines coach Rey Madrid already made one bold guarantee – the long moribund Maroons won’t end up in the cellar this year.
And to stress his point, he said a team that failed to win a single game last season will not just win one but at least three or more games.
His bold projection came on Wednesday after State University won its final game in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup with a 72-59 rout of Emilio Aguinaldo College at The Arena in San Juan.
“Fearless forecast ko, hindi kami cellar ngayon,” Madrid said when asked about his assessment of the Maroons’ campaign for the coming UAAP season shortly after the win over the Generals.
“Guaranteed. Kasi defending eighth place kami eh,” added a smiling Madrid.
When asked if in effect, he’s also guaranteeing UP will win at least a game in Season 77, Madrid replied, “Pagka-one game ang naipanalo namin, cellar pa rin eh. We will win at least three, probably four.”
“Anything more than that, there will be a big celebration sa UP campus. Motorcade siguro,” he added.
The Maroons have been at the bottom of the UAAP standings for the past several seasons now, including a winless campaign in last year’s basketball tournament.
But Madrid has reasons to be optimistic as he enters his first full season with his alma mater with the Maroons trying to employ a small-ball system.
“Ang liit namin eh. But we get to neutralize it with much play and much effort. It’s coming to form. It should be coming along just well,” he said.
Holdovers from last year include Season 76 Rookie of the Year Kyles Lao, the returning Mikee Reyes, and Henri Asilum. JR Gallarza will also get a much-needed help with Dave Moralde now eligible to play for the coming season after transferring from San Beda.
Diego Dario, who will play for the PH Youth team in this year’s Fiba Under-17 World Championship, has also been recruited from the Junior Maroons.
Madrid bared UP could have been better for the coming season had some of the school’s recruits passed the stringent academic requirements of the university.
“Marami kaming winelcome pero hindi namin maipasok sa doors of UP because of academic eligibility. I have nothing against that. Talagang we had to say goodbye to those recruits who are really promising and are showing up,” said Madrid.
The UP coach, who took over from Ricky Dandan midway through last season, hinted that changes will still be made to their lineup before they plunge into action right on opening day on July 12 against host University of the East.
“There are some developments that might jumble up my lineup in terms of eligibility and all that,” said Madrid.