PLAYERS from Team B are giving San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson hope for the next season of the NCAA following the exit of key players Calvin Abueva, Ronald Pascual, and Ian Sangalang.
Robinson, who returned to the Stags bench after resigning midway through last season, said that only five players from last season’s NCAA lineup have stayed with the team following longtime patron Dennis Pineda's decision to cut ties with the school's basketball program.
Abueva, easily the most popular among the players in Pineda's stable, has jumped to the PBA after being drafted by Alaska while Pascual is now part of the Gilas Pilipinas cadet pool while playing for NLEX in the D-League.
Sangalang, meanwhile, has left the team despite having one year of eligibility remaining following the falling-out between Pineda and the school. Other Pineda wards who have left the team include Dexter Maiquez and Michael Miranda.
Still, Robinson remained optimistic about his squad.
“We have a few names sa Team B. But again, you’ll never know, we might pull off some surprises,” said Robinson, sounding off the names of Jaymar Perez, Bradwin Guinto, and Leomar Devera who will all play for the Stags when the Filoil Cup opens on Saturday.
The only holdovers from last season’s Stags squad are Jovit Dela Cruz, Raffy Gusi, Bobby Balucanag, Mark Trinidad, and Paulino Rebullos.
From among them, Perez, 18, was singled out by Robinson as the player with tremendous potential.
“I won’t be surprised if after three years, mag-pro na ‘yun. Malayo pa ang ilalaro nung bata na ‘yun,” said Robinson.
Perez has finished his residency with the Stags after he played with the Team B squad and even led the team to a finals spot in the Fr. Martin Cup late last year.
Devera, meantime, will be staying with the Stags for only a year as he is already turning 24 this year. He is expected to fill the void in the frontline left by Sangalang and Maiquez.
“He is more of a swing and a three (small forward) and four (power forward),” said Robinson.