CAMEROONIAN reinforcement Noue Happi is returning for another tour of duty, along with other key players from last year’s squad, and Emilio Aguinaldo College is confident it can make it to the Final Four this time after falling just short the previous season.
The Generals placed fifth, their best finish since joining the oldest collegiate league five years back, and now with Jan Jamon, Igee King, John Tayongtong, Jack Arquero and Sidney Onwubere joining Happi, coach Gerald Esplana is confident they can still improve on the impressive 10-8 win-loss record.
The 90th NCAA basketball tournament comes off the wraps on June 28 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
"Nagkaroon ng kumpiyansa ang mga bata sa experience namin last year kasi naisip nila na kaya naman pala," said Esplana.
Esplana said a Final Four appearance this year is doable but they will need to double their efforts.
"Syempre, mas kailangang doblehin pa namin ang effort kasi lumakas din naman ang ibang team," he added.
The Generals also hope to get the needed numbers from their rookies Ariel Aguilar of Valenzuela, Manel Quilanita of Laguna, John Santos and Jerald Serrano of Pampanga and Jozhua General of University of the Philippines Intergrated School.
"I know everyone will agree with me if I say San Beda is still the team to beat," said Esplana. "For us to have a good season, we need to find a way to beat San Beda or at least show them we can compete against them."
Esplana says he is expecting a lot from 6-foot-7 Happi, who will need to match San Beda's Nigerian import Ola Adeogun.
"Kailangan talaga mag-step up si Cedric (Happi) pero ang pinakasusi, team effort and tulungan dahil ang basketball naman pinapapanalo sa pamamagitan ng teamwork," said Esplana.
"Example na lang yung San Antonio Spurs sa NBA, tinalo nila si LeBron James at Miami Heat dahil sa team effort," he added.
The league unfurls with reigning titlist San Beda clashing with host Jose Rizal at 1 p.m. and last year's runner-up Letran facing San Sebastian at 3 p.m.