The search for new cage stars is on

 
QUEZON CITY–A major collegiate league that began hostilities today entered a new chapter after a five-year cycle of young basketball players helped divert most of Pinoy hoop popularity to the league.

This chapter of the UAAP is the post-Keifer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks, Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia, Troy Rosario, and Mac Belo era. Don’t forget names like Jeric Teng, Mike Tolomia, Kevin Ferrer and Almond Vosotros who had also moved forward.

They were all seen in a five-year stretch where the seasonal league sustained its run as the country’s most-popular basketball tournament. Those college stars have gone on to the PBA; some players have played for the national team; two are pursuing ambitious dreams as the first Filipino-born drafted NBA players.

The current UAAP basketball season, the 79th, still has the remnants of the storied past half-decade: Jeron Teng, Jayson Perkins (DLSU), Louie Vigil (UST), Jett Manuel (UP), Raymar Jose (FEU) and Alfred Aroga (NU).

The once-stories high school stars have yet to make an impact: former Atenean Arvin Tolentino (FEU), Thirdy Ravena (Ateneo), Prince Rivero (DLSU).

So the question begs: who are next?

Aaron Black towed the new-look Blue Eagles to their first win in the new UAAP season. The league finished five years in which old stars made the league a hit. Newer stars are wanted. (photo by Tiebreaker Times)

Aaron Black towed the new-look Blue Eagles to their first win in the new UAAP season. The league finished five years in which old stars made the league a hit. Newer stars are wanted. (photo by Tiebreaker Times)

The opening games provided some glimpses. The Adamson University Soaring Falcons, which won its opening game over the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, shot the lights out at the Araneta Coliseum with threes.

Six of the 13 triples came from a small forward, Filipino-Nigerian rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi, brother of PBA number 2 pick Maverick. In a stretch during the third quarter, Ahanmisi drained three triples that boomed the coliseum barker to note his fifth and his sixth treys.

The game between the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles and the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers became the coming out party of nifty lefty Aaron Black, son of former PBA Best Import Norman Black. Aaron scored 18 of his 23 pts. in the first half.

The younger Thirdy Ravena came off the bench to chip in 17 markers, even if Thirdy’s quite tentative compared to the elder Keifer.

These upstarts are what the UAAP is looking for, even as those four other teams –University of the East, National University, heavy favorites De La Salle University and defending champions Far Eastern University– have yet to play.

It will take time for people to get used to these new stars. Since the Blue Eagles do not have Keifer, Ateneo relied to team ball and timely fourth-quarter baskets from the other guards, including Batang Gilas captain Jolo Mendoza.

But the team play worked, even if different from always giving the ball to Keifer to bail out the Eagles.

 

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About JEREMAIAH OPINIANO