COL­LEGE GEN­ER­ALS

THE GAME OF THE GEN­ER­ALS DIDN’T PLAY OUT TO EMILIO AGUINALDO COL­LEGE’S LIK­ING AS THE SQUAD EN­DURED A BAT­TERY OF HEAVY AND HU­MIL­I­AT­ING DE­FEATS EN ROUTE TO TY­ING FOR THE LEAGUE’S WORST RECORD. THE TASK OF RESTOR­ING HONOR AND PRIDE TO SAN MARCELINO’S ONCE P

Rebound Magazine - - NCAA PREVIEW - by Chris­tian D. Soler

Claude Cubo, one of the Gen­er­als’ few bright spots in 2010, will split time be­tween the four and five spots as head coach Gerry Es­plana ad­mit­tedly lacks op­tions for the slot­man’s role. An au­to­matic dou­ble­dou­ble last year at 10.9 points and 10.4 re­bounds a con­test, there’s no ques­tion Cubo can play in the big leagues. The po­ten­tial is­sue rests on the ef­fort he’ll ex­pend in­side, and the toll it will take, as the front­line gets even thin­ner on the bench. Rafael Sanchez didn’t play much (four games, 17 min­utes in all) in his rookie sea­son but has shown glimpses of ath­leti­cism and en­ergy in sum­mer cir­cuits. That said, the tan­dem will be one of the most un­der­sized in the en­tire league in 2011.

Mi­lan Var­gas (11.8 PPG, 48 FG%) will carry much of the of­fen­sive load along­side Cubo. A spark plug with a good nose for the ball, Var­gas picks his shots well in­side the two-point range. But with Argel Men­doza us­ing up his el­i­gi­bil­ity, the one-time UST Tiger will also have to cre­ate for Cubo and other team­mates. Rus­sel Yaya (5.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG) had an aw­ful year in 2010, mak­ing only 26 per­cent of his at­tempts. A bounce back cam­paign has to be in the cards as he’s one of the few re­main­ing vet­er­ans on the team. Joshua Tor­ralba, a one-time mem­ber of the un­der-16 na­tional pool, is one of Es­plana’s prized re­cruits. He’s high on the 6’1” play­maker from Rowe High School in McAllen, Texas, say­ing “ he could start, or he’ll at least be part of the

ro­ta­tion even if he wasn’t with us in the sum­mer.”

Bench

The pro­gram was bol­stered by the re­cruit­ment of Igee King, the 6’2” son of for­mer pro Abe who played high school ball in the Wash­ing­ton state area. Es­plana feels King could con­trib­ute right away and even start, in the process boost­ing the level of competition for play­ing time within the ranks. Holdovers Franz Chiong and Jan Ja­mon pro­vide above-av­er­age sup­port to the start­ing back­court. Chiong is a steady leader with good court savvy, while Ja­mon can open up de­fenses with his strong drib­ble pen­e­tra­tion. Ralph Ju­liano and re­turnee Roy Vil­le­gas round out the back­court.

Vet­eran Dhan Di­olanto will get ex­tended burn as he’ll be the pri­mary back-up to Cubo, or the starter along­side him should Sanchez fal­ter. For­mer FEUFERN star Jo­las Paguia will at the very least vie for min­utes in the front­court.

Coach­ing

Es­plana took over with just three games to spare from No­mar Isla in 2010, and ex­pect­edly didn’t have time to put his phi­los­o­phy in prac­tice. Now, it’s his team. “ There were play­ers rec­om­mended to me whom I had to kick out to show I mean busi­ness,” he says.

The for­mer five-star floor gen­eral says his sys­tem is com­pletely dif­fer­ent from his pre­de­ces­sor’s. “On of­fense, I use a read-and-re­act sys­tem, not so much on plays but more on rules so I can teach them good habits. But my em­pha­sis is on de­fense. I also don’t rely on just one per­son; I try to give all of them the

con­fi­dence they need,” Es­plana ex­plains.

In­tan­gi­bles

Af­ter a promis­ing in­au­gu­ral cam­paign in 2009 that saw the Gen­er­als fin­ish with a 6-10 record, the squad lost 14 of 16 games by an av­er­age mar­gin of 19.9 points in 2010. The man­ner of de­feat prompted whole­sale changes to the pro­gram, which in­cluded the hir­ing of Es­plana at the tail end of last year. The new man at the helm knows he needs a more con­fi­dent pla­toon to cat­alyze the process. “I al­ways tell them not to mind what oth­ers say. I’ll be the last per­son to lose faith in them,” he pro­fesses.

Out­look

Sea­son 87 will most likely be a long and pun­ish­ing one for the Gen­er­als. There are a cou­ple of good build­ing blocks to start with, but it’ll take some time for the pol­ished prod­uct to come out.

C PF SF SG PG Rafael Sanchez Claude Cubo Rus­sel Yaya Mi­lan Var­gas Joshua Tor­ralba

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