THERE'S no doubt that University of the Philippines is coming in as the favorites in UAAP Season 85.
The Fighting Maroons have wasted no time showing their strength, going all-out in preseason tournaments.
See Lucero drops 22 in another UP Maroons show of force vs EAC
Carl Tamayo hasn't hit the brakes since returning from Gilas Pilipinas duty, while Zavier Lucero, Malick Diouf, and JD Cagulangan have been given major minutes in the offseason events.
But is coach Goldwin Monteverde not wary of his players being overextended?
He says it's all part of the process.
"Ang pinaka-focus natin is how they play together. So kung di namin sila mapaglalaro ng sabay, hindi namin makukuha yung chemistry nila together," he said.
UP has stamped its class in the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup, winning all of its five games by an average of 28.0 points including a 56-point blowout of St. Benilde, 117-61, and a 26-point rout of Emilio Aguinaldo College, 83-57.
The Fighting Maroons are also fielding teams in the PG Flex Linoleum-UCBL Preseason Tournament, the Pinoyliga Cup Collegiate Division, and playing exhibition games including one in Iloilo just last week.
Monteverde is taking the opportunity to see who are primed to be part of Team A for the season.
"We have some other tournaments din na sinasalihan so iniiba-iba din namin yung lineups," he said, with among those gaining significant minutes being RC Calimag, Aldous Torculas, rookie Henry Galinato, incoming guard Cyril Gonzales, and transferees Reyland Torres and Janjan Felicilda.
Even the players acknowledge the importance of playing in these offseason rather than just resting, with Lucero himself capitalizing on these opportunities to whip himself back up to game shape.
"I'm still getting there. I'm still trying to get back to game shape, but I'm getting there," said the UAAP Season 84 Mythical Team member.
Monteverde knows that as dominant as UP has been in these games, these results hardly matter in the grand scheme of things.
To him, what matters is the facets of the game which he believes the Fighting Maroons can still improve on and finetuning those in the leadup to the UAAP campaign.
"Siguro kung tatanggalin natin yung score sa games namin, we would really watch the game and look for the things we can improve on. Yung mata natin won't be at a present and it should be where we want to be which is sa coming months," he said. "With that kind of focus, habang tumatakbo yung tournaments namin, we only want to improve."