IT’S just the start of the year, but Ola Adeogun is already treating it like how he would at the end of the season.
Emphasizing the importance to start the year strong, the Nigerian slotman enters the season with a championship mindset as San Beda starts its title defense in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament against Jose Rizal University on Saturday.
“It’s a championship game for me,”Adeogun told Spin.ph. “We should not say: ‘first game lang ‘to, chill lang tayo.’”
“We just want to start strong, and (Saturday’s) game is going to determine the place at which we’re going to go this season,” he added. “It’s a crucial game. We just have to really show we can play this season.”
The Red Lions are gunning for a fifth straight crown and eighth in the last years.
That would match the San Sebastian squad that won five straight titles from 1993.
Another record Adeogun and the rest of the Lions hope to maintain is never losing on opening-day games.
“We don’t want to go to the history books (as the first),” said the third-year center, who banners the Lions ambitious quest along with Baser Amer and Art dela Cruz.
With Season 89 MVP Raymond Almazan now in the pros, the 6-foot-8 Adeogun is arguably the league’s top big man and he looks to throw his weight around the competition.
But he will have to brace for a tough challenge from the Heavy Bombers, this year's hosts who now have a legitimate matchup for Adeogun in 6-foot-7 Razak Abdul Wahab from Ghana, as well as shooter Jaycee Asuncion and promising rookie Tey Teodoro.
“It’s a newly retooled team,” Lions coach Boyet Fernandez said of the Vergel Meneses-coached Bombers, who still have Philip Paniamogan and Michael Mabulac. “You cannot count them out.”
Season 89 losing finalist Letran begins life without Almazan as it tangles with San Sebastian at 3 o’clock.
An opening ceremony precedes the anticipated double-header.