UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas coach Boy Sablan is confident the lengthy preparation the Growling Tigers underwent during the offseason will pay off well in UAAP Season 80.
The Growling Tigers have been preparing since early this year, barnstorming through several tournaments and tune-up matches in the provinces such as Malolos City, Davao City, Agusan Del Sur, Baguio, Cabanatuan, Pampanga, and Subic aside from the regular Filoil preseason tournaments.
It was a far cry from Sablan's first year with the squad where the Growling Tigers only had one preseason tournament as he took over a few months before the opening of Season 79.
Sablan said those offseason tournaments have boosted the Tigers chances of at least improving on their 3-11 win-loss record last season.
"Eight veterans, eight new faces, longer preparation. Mas maganda na mas maraming tournaments na sinalihan. Maraming exposure this year," said Sablan.
The Tigers' veterans are led by Marvin Lee, Jeepy Faundo, and Zachary Huang, following the graduation of Louie Vigil and Jam Sheriff, and the departure of Embons Bonleon and Renzo Subido from the squad.
The Tigers had their controversies during the offseason, including the aforementioned departure of Bonleon from the team and the uncertainty on Steve Akomo’s stint, but Sablan said the team never lost focus on their goal, which is to become a competitive team in the UAAP.
"Merong mga problema dumating but yet, we will play our game," said Sablan.
UST will have transferees led by Cameroonian import Akomo, who posted team-best in points (12.6) and rebounds (11.7) during the Filoil preseason although his status is still in limbo. Other transferees who made a good account of themselves during the offseason are Christian Garcia and Jordan Sta. Ana.
Sablan is happy with his mix of veteran players and even the transferees who already has experience in other leagues.
"'Yung preparation, mas gumanda. Experience-wise, joining other leagues, unlike last year, isa lang. Ngayon, we have several leagues, several out-of-town games. Ang laking bagay," said Sablan.