UNIVERSITY of the East coach Boycie Zamar admits he is looking to land the lesser lights of high school basketball for the Red Warriors varsity squad in UAAP Season 77 - and simply hoping to get diamonds in the rough.
The UE coach was honest enough to admit that blue-chip high school prospects are going to successful programs like Ateneo's and De La Salle's - and that the Red Warriors aren't exactly their priorities in college.
“Siyempre ’yung mga mag-re-recruit na elite, priority nila is La Salle dahil nag-champion sila. Tanungin mo ’yung mga bata kung ano ang priority nila, either La Salle, Ateneo or NU (National University),” said Zamar to Spin.ph without elaborating.
“Ngayon, ’yung maiiwan, that’s when we will recruit,” Zamar said.
So far, the big prospects in high school have either gone to Ateneo or De La Salle for college.
Arvin Tolentino has decided to transfer from San Beda to Ateneo, while former Blue Eaglets star and reigning UAAP juniors MVP Thirdy Ravena chose to stay with the Katipunan-based squad and join his brother Kiefer in the Blue Eagles camp.
Aside from the two, former Philippine Youth team mainstay Jay Javelosa has also committed to the Blue Eagles while NU Bullpups star Hubert Cani has bared that he is 'interested' in a move to Katipunan.
Over at Taft, the Green Archers have obtained a commitment from La Salle Greenhills’ Prince Rivero, the reigning NCAA juniors MVP, to join the reigning UAAP champions.
Zamar declined to reveal whether the Red Warriors have already recruited high school graduates but said they are continuously building up the team for the UAAP season that includes their participation in the PBA D-League via a school tie-up with Cebuana Lhuillier.
“I have to take it as a challenge,” Zamar said, referring to recruitment.
Although the Red Warriors missed the Final Four last year after finishing with a 7-7 card, the Red Warriors had a marked improvement after going 3-11 the previous season.
Confidence is also high at UE as it prepares to host Season 77, but how the Red Warriors would fare in the centerpiece men’s basketball event is still a big question as they parade a new-look squad without Lord Casajeros, JM Noble, Jai Flores, JR Sumido, Adrian Santos, and Ralf Olivares, who have all played out their eligibility.
Still, the Red Warriors are still confident in their buildup for next season with Roi Sumang and Charles Mammie still in the lineup.
“Character building ang mahirap. Basta kami, continuous lang kami,” said Zamar.