UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas head coach Pido Jarencio admitted on Friday the PBA D-League stint of most of his players is setting back the Tigers' preparations for the coming UAAP season.
Nearly all players in Jarencio's UAAP team are suiting up for various PBA D-League teams in the Foundation Cup, leaving the Tigers with little time to practice together and the lack of preparations in turn reflecting in their lackluster campaign in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup.
The UAAP runner-up currently holds a 2-2 win-loss record in an up-and-down campaign in Group B. The Tigers have defeated UAAP champion Ateneo and perennial NCAA power San Sebastian but have lost to De La Salle and Cebu-based Southwestern University.
“Hindi pa kami nabubuo sa practice ni minsan kasi lahat ng players ko nasa D-League,” said Jarencio.
UST’s top scorer Jeric Teng is set to go full-time the Tigers soon as his Informatics squad is already out of contention for a quarterfinal berth in the Foundation Cup. So are Aljon Mariano and Ed Daquioag, who are playing for also-ran Jumbo Plastic.
Jarencio, however, still has several players in teams that will most likely advance to the D-League playoffs, namely Kevin Ferrer, Paolo Pe, Louie Vigil, and Kim Lao of Blackwater Sports, and Tata Bautista of EA Regen Medical Group.
“May maa-out (na ang mga teams) … pero papaano naman si Bautista, Ferrer, at Paolo Pe. Wala na naman sila sa practice dahil sa D-League,” Jarencio said.
The outspoken UST coach said that he is faced with a dilemma of balancing the players' D-League commitments with UST practices.
“Naaawa rin ako sa mga players kasi pagdating sa practice, bugbog na kasi pagod na rin sila. ‘Yan ang dilemma ko ngayon. May pahinga at recovery din kasi dapat,” said Jarencio.
However, Jarencio said that he understands his players’ decision to play for teams in the developmental league.
“Siyempre, gusto rin ng mga bata na kumita. ‘Yung sa eskwela kulang ‘yun … Nagkakaroon na rin sila ng mga responsibilidad at obligasyon. Kailangan nilang kumita, hindi natin maaalis ‘yun,” Jarencio said.
Jarencio sees only one solution to the problem.
“Sana makakuha ako ng D-league team na kami ang magkakasama sa mga susunod na conference," said the UST coach. "Buong team ang magkakasama para isang practice lang kami."