MANILA, Philippines – The University of the East (UE) Red Warriors were in seventh place in Season 75, but they made waves in the pre-season and seem poised to make a run to the Final Four.
Season 75 Recap:
The Red Warriors switched coaches in the middle of the season, replacing Jerry Codinera with Boycie Zamar. They won only three games, but one of those was a stunning upset of defending champions Ateneo — a game that saw forward Chris Javier drill the game-winning jumper.
Season 75 was also the coming-out party of UE’s star guard Roi Sumang, who dazzled the league with his ball-handling and shot-making ability, and made the Red Warriors an entertaining bunch even when they were losing.
Key losses: Gene Belleza, Erwin Duran
Key additions: Lord Casajeros (returnee), Charles Mammie, Gino Jumao-as, Ralf Olivares
The Red Warriors made more noise in the pre-season than any other UAAP team. They stunned the National University Bulldogs in the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup finals, with Sumang nearly notching a triple-double as he led his team to the pre-season title.
But other members of UE also gained attention of rival coaches and players, especially center Charles Mammie, who figures to be a major factor for the team this season thanks to his hard work on the boards and on the defensive end. Mammie is also determined to prove that he is the best African center in the league this season, even writing taunting messages on his shoes during pre-season games.
In their own words:
“For us to be included as a contender, we are flattered, but we are not contented. Everybody can do it, whether it’s NU, UST, and of course Ateneo is always there. We’re not discounting UP, FEU and most especially La Salle. The bottom line is, in reality, pang seventh place ‘yung UE. You have to go back to reality, and that is the UAAP.” — Coach Boycie Zamar
The Red Warriors will likely be the most improved team this season in the UAAP. From a seventh place finish in Season 75, UE is targeting at least a berth in the Final Four, and can potentially go further. Charles Mammie will be a major force on the inside, and the return of Lord Casajeros will shore up the Warriors’ perimeter defense. But it is Sumang who remains the engine that drives the UE offense, and the Warriors will go as far as he can take them.
Season 76 line-up:
Source: ABS-CBN – Camille B. Naredo, GMA News Online
Image Credit: Analyn Perez