The new always arrives⎯from new semesters to new professors, from new classmates to new additions to our varsity roster.
For the two dauntless Patriots basketball team⎯women and men⎯they have something new as well. New team jerseys, shoes, warmers, a new year; and most importantly, a new story for them to narrate in the upcoming National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA). Now that the tournament is approaching once again, expectations and pressure near both the teams’ ‘ol reliables and neophytes alike. With both teams revamped and sophisticated squads this year, there’s only one thing we are sure to expect⎯and that’s the unexpected.
Last year, the DLSU-D basketball women’s team captured the six-peat championship in the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) – Nationals. For six seasons, the Lady Patriots haven’t shared the anticipated crown with anyone except for themselves. However, for the NCRAA, the green-and-white squad hasn’t had much luck.
But the Lady Patriots’ head coach Tito Reyes thinks that they’ll be able to bring home the sweet gold for good this 2018.
“Expect nila na every time na sasali kami sa tournament, goal namin is to bring ‘yong championship. Sana nabibigay namin ‘yong best para ma-honor ‘yong school [at] para masuklian namin ‘yong binibigay ng school, lalo na sa players.” he said. The veteran coach added that he expects his players to give their 100 percent in every game⎯like what they’ve been doing the past years—and even more so.
When asked who he expects to lead the team in scoring among his players, Reyes said he doesn’t expect just one to. Like Ateneo De Manila men’s basketball team’s “no-star mentality”, the reason behind that mantra is because he hopes all his players will actively battle in the offensive department. In addition, he said that the past two years saw two different league MVPs in pointguard Diane Reyes and shooting guard Mariel Campasa. Anyone can sprout as a vital piece in offense. As for Tito Reyes, he anticipates it to be everyone.
On the other side of the court, Tito Reyes expects every single one of his players to be active on defense inside the hardwood. “Ine-expect ko lahat sila [masipag sa defense]. ‘Yon lang talaga nagpapanalo sa amin, kasi underheight kami. So ‘yon talaga pinaka-main focus namin.” he said as he knows that while offense wins games, defense wins championships.
Meanwhile, four rookies will try to grab the spotlight in this year’s NCRAA. The head coach expects Cherylane Cuyom from the Lyceum of the Philippines – Batangas—a team they’ve given a beating to several times in the past—to be a great contribution to the team after being the main scorer of her former team.
Reyes knows that the Lady Patriots have leveled up from their former selves⎯something that will be deadly for opponents in the tourneys to come. The coach relies on the notion that his players are different in terms of physical and mental strength. Physical, thanks mainly to their physical therapists (PT) who exert maximum effort in the players’ conditioning. “Dahil sa tulong ng mga PT namin, siguro ‘yong strength nila ‘yong conditioning talaga. Number one ‘yong pinaka–binibigyang focus no’ng mga PT na tumutulong.” he mentioned. In terms of mental vigor, Reyes holds on to the fact that his Patriots have experienced a lot from nail-biting matches and a whole lot of extreme training. “Tumutulong sa atin ‘yong experience. Lalong-lalo na old players na sila, ‘yong experience talagang mayro’n na sila no’n,” he said.
Defense, defense, defense, indeed.
Reyes was asked one final question: “What will be the deadly aspect of the Lady Patriots against teams in NCRAA?” He reiterated defense mixed with quickness. And a whole lot of triples. “Defense talaga, tsaka ‘yong quickness namin. Dahil sa conditioning na ginagawa namin. Nagre-rely talaga kami sa depensa namin, tsaka sa outside shooting kasi nga maliliit sila.” he concluded.
Much like coach Reyes, Patriot men’s basketball team head coach Arnold Oliveros expects no less from his own pool of Patriots when facing their opponents during NCRAA. “Ngayon mas maganda ‘yong line up namin this year kasi almost lahat ng players from last year makakalaro.” the second year long coach said.
Though they missed a successful campaign last year, Oliveros thinks that greener pastures await his players, especially since they have been gradually mended of last year’s nuances. “Ang laki na nang pinagbago namin in terms of defense, experience, mas composed na sila maglaro ngayon offensively and defensively,” he said. He added that the three-point shooting of the Patriots is on a steady rise⎯so expect that it’ll be raining treys in their upcoming match-ups.
The team has nine rookies. Fear not, though, because most of these rookies have familiarity over the game and have played against tough opponents more than the normal Patriot rookie. One of those rookies is Vincent Alves, a former University of Perpetual Help – Las Piñas basketball player, who dominated the paint, has a smooth mid-range jumper, and an above average speed for a center, according to Oliveros. “Si Choi (Vincent Alves) nado-dominate niya’yong ilalim at the same time ‘yong height advantage niya at speed niya.” he said.
The coach also shared that their offense will mostly be run-and-gun, a basketball strategy which chiefly involves fast breaks. It fits the physique of the Patriots since they have quickness to their advantage. And according to Oliveros, it’ll be orchestrated by the whole team, not just one. “Dito wala kaming go-to guy. Everybody can score. ‘Yan naman din ‘yong sistema ko sa kanila. Gusto ko lahat ng players sa loob can score. Ayoko talaga ng iisang tao lang umi-score sa amin. Since last year, mostly rumo-rotate talaga ‘yan.” he said.
As for their defensive scheme, coach Oliveros said that the full court press will be their backbone. “Most of the time we look to run. At the same time we defend. More on full court press kami. So agresibo bawat isa amin.”he said.
Despite all these changes, Coach Oliveros still thinks there’s a hole in their team⎯the pointguard spot. Sure, they’ve acquired a 5’11 pointguard from Macau in Aldrienne Cedeno, but adjusting isn’t as easy as it seems. It takes a lot of time to learn a culture, and much more learning a basketball culture.
But Coach Oli doesn’t go around letting these dilemmas get worse because instead of putting band-aid solutions, he searches for the best ones. “Nagkakaroon kami ng drills sa mga shooting, layup hangga’t maari mini-minimize namin ‘yon. Every training at laro bago ‘yong NCRAA, talagang pinapatira ko sila para mabuo ‘yong kumpiyansa nila,” Oliveros said.
After the final NCRAA buzzer ends, expectations met or not, what’s vital isn’t the flashy awards and overwhelming praises but rather, the competition itself. The fact that we compete is the same as winning and the reality that there’s still much more in store.
Expect the unexpected from these Patriots. Their story is our story.