UAAP wars heat up: What to expect

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WITH half of the season over, Thomasian athletes who will be competing in the second semester will have to double their efforts to keep up with front-runner De La Salle University in the race for the UAAP general championship. Here’s the Varsitarian’s forecast on how the UST might fare.

ATHLETICS

Male Tracksters
Last year: Second Place
Prediction: Second place

Gold medalist Neil Borres, Roger Denolo and other veterans will try to steer the team past perpetual threat Far Eastern University (FEU), which is eyeing a fourth straight title.

The intact lineup composed of a balanced number of rookies and veterans could help the Male Tracksters pull off a surprising finish.

Female Tracksters
Last year: Third Place
Prediction: Final Four

The Female Tracksters will still be one of the teams to watch out for this season as Janice Marquez, who ruled in last year’s steeplechase event, is back with the other veterans in the squad.

Like their male counterparts, the Female Tracksters will parade an intact roster in hopes of winning the title they last won in 2002 and ending FEU’s 10-year reign.

LAWN TENNIS

Male Tennisters
Last year: Second Place
Prediction: Second Place

With the graduation of team captain RK Barte, who recorded UST’s lone win in the finals last season, it will be an uphill battle for coach Gabby Remigio and the Male Tennisters.

Defending champion National University (NU) and third-placer De La Salle University still have complete lineups, but the Tennisters will rely on Rookie of the Year Joel Cabusas to lead them to their 15th crown.

Female Tennisters
Last year: Second Place
Prediction: Final Four

Falling short against La Salle in last year’s Finals made the Female Tennisters hungrier to bounce back this season.

Fiercest rivals La Salle, NU and University of the Philippines (UP) may get in the way, but Season 74 Rookie of the Year April Santos, former Most Valuable Player Macy Gonzales and the rest of the team will leave in all on the court for their seventh championship.

VOLLEYBALL

Tiger Spikers
Last year: Fifth place
Prediction: Third place

In the 30 years of Emil Lontoc as head coach of the Tiger Spikers, he only settled for runner-up finish thrice.

Last season’s dim outcome prompted Lontoc to give up mentoring the beach volleyball squad to focus on the indoor team, relegating the former to the tutelage of his former wards, Henry Pecaña and Paul Jan Doloiras.

“I’m confident that if [the players] peak at the right time, we have a very good chance at the championship,” Lontoc said.

Although main man John Depante opted to work despite having still a year to play, the Tiger Spikers’ lineup will be reinforced by veteran Mark Gil Alfafara, rookie standout Kris Roy Guzman and second year player AJ Gutang.

Lontoc said the team is still polishing reception and blocking and emphasized they are not behind in terms of attacking and height.

He added that the only concern he has is the NU lineup that “consists mostly of players from FEU who are experienced.”

Lady Spikers
Last year: Fifth place
Prediction: Final Four

COMING off a championship in the recently concluded 18th Fil-Oil Philippine University Games last October, the Lady Spikers are out to avenge their dismal performance last UAAP season when they bowed out of the Final Four for the first time in a decade.

Despite losing veterans Maika Ortiz and Judy Caballejo to graduation, coach Odjie Mamon expressed confidence in Loren Lantin and Shakey’s V-League 10th season Most Improved Player Pamela Lastimosa.

“I would definitely rely on our setter (Lantin) while Lastimosa would be one of our to-go girls this season,” Mamon said.

However, Mamon told the Varsitarian that “balanced scoring” would still be the key to victory.

“Teamwork beats spectacular athletes. Unlike when only two players reach double-digit scores, we would more likely win through balanced scoring,” he said.

Bolstering the Lady Spikers’ roster are second year player Marivic Meneses and rookies Shannen Palec, Julienne Depante and Tricia Santos.

Mamon added that the win in Unigames served as a morale boost for her wards, although they are still wary about the UAAP teams (Ateneo de Manila University, NU, University of the East and UP) which did not participate in the tournament. Hedrix Ar-ar C. Caballe and Ralph Joshua D.R. Hernandez

Tigresses' Roar

The Tigresses won't go anywhere with Loren as the main setter. Everybody knows this even the coaching staff. I don't know why Coach Mamon still insists of putting Loren on this position despite having a better natural setter in the person of Cabanos. No offense meant to Loren who is a wonderful person and a diligent medical student, however, we should place the welfare and success of the whole team ahead of an individual person's interest. Coach Mamon might have already sacrificed the team's advancement to the Final Four in exchange for any personal gain he got from Loren's rich parents.

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