COLLEGE OF ST. BENILDE BLAZERS
THE BLAZERS FINISHED SEVENTH LAST SEASON WITH A 5-11 MARK, AHEAD ONLY OF THE EAC GENERALS AND THE UPHSD ALTAS. IT WAS WHAT COULD BE EXPECTED FROM A TEAM WITH EIGHT ROOKIES AND TWO SOPHOMORES. IT LOOKS TO BE MORE OF THE SAME IN SEASON 87 FOR CSB AS COACH
Incoming second year players Luis Sinco and Carlo Lastimosa will man the backcourt for these young Blazers, while Ian dela Paz, the team’s most veteran player, will man the slot. The forwards will be sophomore Tim McCoy at the four spot and rookie Mark Romero, a transferee from FEU, at the three position. To fast-track the progress of his starters, del Rosario included SInco, Lastimosa, McCoy and dela Paz in his PC Gilmore team that competed in the inaugural PBA Developmental League.
The most intriguing player on CSB’s roster is 6’11” Jericho de Guzman, who’s tried his luck at several schools already and will finally make his collegiate debut with the Blazers. Although not a particularly skilled big man, de Guzman might just get a few minutes here and there given CSB’s rather short frontline. But don’t expect too much from him as he’s destined to be a project forever. In fact, cancel that. Don’t expect anything from him. He’s the type of player who will be heartily jeered whenever he enters the game and touches the ball. Rookie Ralph Deles and sophomore Jan Tan will be the main bigs off the bench for del Rosario.
For the wing positions, several players were elevated from CSB’s training pool, most notable of which is JP Taha, a transferee from San Sebastian who stands around 6’0” and can play the two
and three spots. Newcomer Jonathan Grey, a walk-on, also figures to get some minutes at the wing spots, while ex-Red Cub Anton Altamirano will back up Sinco at point guard.
Del Rosario said he might also add Ronnel Lastimosa, cousin of Carlo, to the lineup depending on the results of CSB’s college entrance exams.
Del Rosario will be entering his third season as coach, and you could say that this is the first team composed almost entirely of his recruits, the only exception being dela Paz. It took a lot of guts for him to blow up the team and virtually start from scratch, but at least now he is surrounded by players he himself handpicked and can therefore trust. The downside to that is, if this new line-up doesn’t pan out by next year, he can’t pin it on the players anymore because virtually all of them are his recruits.
The Taha-Lastimosa combo at shooting guard is pretty intriguing. Both players can score and take charge, and it would be interesting to see what del Rosario does with them. If Taha can become a scorer for the second unit, well and good. But if they can somehow play alongside each other, that would be fun to watch. How this dynamic works out will be one of the things to keep an eye on.
Also, the bench has a lot of firsttimers, but they’re not really rookies in the truest sense of the word. Many are transferees who have had some college ball experience at some level. If they put it together faster than expected, CSB could be in good shape.
“Compared to other teams,” Del Rosario told this writer, “ we have less experience since most of the players are rookies in the NCAA.”
Despite their youth, the Blazers are hoping to sneak into the Final Four. “ We have a small lineup but I think that my wings can compete with their counterparts from all the other teams,” the coach said. It’s going to be tough, though. San Beda, San Sebastian, Letran, JRU and even Mapúa all have more experienced and talented cores. The Blazers should be competitive against the lower-rung teams, but against the NCAA’s elite, they will take their lumps. This team is built for a solid run next year.
C PF SF SG
PG Ian dela Paz Tim McCoy Mark Romero Carlo Lastimosa