ST. Benilde hopes to turn its heartbreaks from last year's experience into positives as it gears up for a better performance in the 90th NCAA senior basketball tournament slated on Jun 28 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
"We're inspired from that experience," said St. Benilde coach Gabby Velasco.
The Blazers finished second to last at ninth place after winning just five of their 18 elimination round games.
But most of their losses were close shaves, including seven defeats in the first round when St. Benilde went down by an average losing margin of 2.7 points.
Velasco also wants to finally shed the “Heartbreak Kids” tag.
“We've learned so many things from last year. Instead of close losses, we think of it as near-wins,” said Velasco. “Hopefully, we could turn those heartbreaking moments to joys of triumph this season.”
St. Benilde has all the reasons to be optimistic this year after retaining its core composed of Juan Paolo Taha, Mark Romero, Jonathan Grey, Roberto Bartolo, Jr., Jeffrey Ongteco, Ralph Deles, Jose Saavedra and Fil-Am Travis Jonson.
The troika of Taha, Romero and Grey will be the focal point of the Blazers' attack thanks to their ability to score in transition and the pressure will also be on Bartolo, Saavedra and Ongteco as they will carry the burden up front against the league's talented big men headed by San Beda's Nigerian import Ola Adeogun.
“We will try to make up for our lack of height with speed and rebounding and defending by committee,” said Velasco.
The country's oldest collegiate league comes off the wraps with four-peat champion San Beda colliding with dangerous Jose Rizal at 1 p.m. and last year's runner-up Letran battling San Sebastian at 3 p.m.
St. Benilde starts its campaign on July 2 against Emilio Aguinaldo College at 12 p.m.