UNIVERSITY OF THE EAST RED WARRIORS
CODIÑERA. ZAMAR. VILLARIAS. TWENTY-SIX YEARS AGO. THOSE NAMES WERE FEARED IN THE COLLEGE ARENA. JERRY CODIÑERA, DAVID ZAMAR, AND VERNIE VILLARIAS LED THE WARRIORS TO TWO CONSECUTIVE FINALS’ BERTHS. BUT WITHOUT ONE GUY NAMED “CAIDIC” THEY NEVER WON ANY
Twenty-six years later. Jerry Codiñera is back albeit in his first head coaching stint. And he has in tow the scions of past teammates. Paul Zamar is running the point and Roy Villarias is hoping to rekindle the marksmanship of his father.
But without the departed Paul Lee, who had Caidic-esque moments and forwent his final playing year (to follow his mentor Lawrence Chongson in the PBA D-League), this team will be hardpressed to move up in the standings.
Remember: Codiñera, Zamar, and Villarias. For all their great game, they will find that the tough will get going.
BJ Zosa and Lucas Tagarda in the backcourt. Ken Acibar and Lordy Casajeros at forward and Adrian Santos at center.
Strangely enough, UE now resembles the UST of a couple of years ago when all they had were a corps of shooters and a doughnut hole in the middle. The Tigers on the other hand have started to get some help inside. And we all know what happened to those Tiger teams.
Zosa, who is from Cebu, is a nifty find here. He will provide scoring sock but UE will find out that isn’t enough when Tagarda and Santos are hardly scoring threats. Casajeros can hit it from the outside. Emphasis on can. But can he do it consistently enough?
Ken Acibar is going to miss Paul Lee. He was the beneficiary of many a double team and open lane to the basket. And
he parlayed that into a Mythical Five selection that many basketball observers consider a fluke since the awarding is based on statistics. He didn’t impress during the pre-season and unless he realizes that he is THE MAN now then he could go the way of former Warrior Marcy Arellano – a great first season then all downhill afterwards.
There’s Paul Zamar who, when hot, can be as deadly as Lee. Jayar Sumido was the subject of a recruiting war among several schools a few years ago. But last year, he was a bust. Biboy Enguio played well in the first round before he decided to become the Invisible Man. Can they be more consistent this year? Sam Razon was playing well in the second round of Season 73 until an injury took him down. If he is able to shake off his tentativeness and find his game back he could be reinserted into the starting unit and provide some muscle inside. JM Noble and Erwin Duran should help out. Chris Javier, who helped San Beda to back-to-back titles in the Juniors Division learned that college hoops is a different animal during UE’s stint in the pre-season. If in high school he was a Big Man (maybe not as big as Ponso Gotladera), in college, players his size are a dime a dozen. With Javier’s mobility, he should help some. But really, you know you’re in trouble when the best big man in UE is your coach.
And speaking of the coach. Codiñera was an assistant to Aboy Castro in UP for a couple of years and he should know what pitfalls to avoid and work on. Codiñera was a ferocious player. UE management is counting on that fire inside him to whip this team into shape and play with a lot of pride. It’s hard to say that he’s a novice coach. Look at Pido Jarencio. In his first year, he led UST to a title. Ditto with Ato Agustin in San Sebastian. Things may not look good for them but in UE’s case, the only way to go is up. Codiñera will fire up this team but before it gets better, it’s going to hurt some.
They have nothing to lose and with hardly any expectations, the pressure’s off. They will actually play better with that because everyone expects to beat them. So if they hit some big shots and stay within striking distance, they can pull the rug from under someone.
Last year, it was Paul Lee and his Lee-gionnaires. This year…well. Ah… they could be in for a long and painful season.
Note: As of presstime, Ken Acibar is said to have left the team. Efforts are being made to bring him back. C PF SF SG PG Adrian Santos Lordy Casajeros Ken Acibar Lucas Tagarda BJ Zosa