UAAP Season 85 Season Preview: The Rebuilding UST and UE programs

Rebuilding phases are always painful and grueling, and sadly, UST and UE have been in that phase for a while now. Can they get over the hump this year, if not through wins, through flashes of stability and excellence from their coaching staff, management, and young pieces?

UE Red Warriors: Is this the year UE goes from promising to legitimately competitive?  

Despite ending Season 84 with zero wins, UE showed some nice flashes. The Paranada brothers exploded in a couple of games, while Harvey Pagsanjan remains their most tantalizing prospect. Potential is cool and watching young players have moments of brilliance always creates some form of excitement, but can this team take the next necessary step in their growth?

Expecting UE to make it to the Final Four feels unreasonable considering how stacked the UAAP is. But the least we can ask from them is a net rating that isn’t in the negative 20’s anymore. For them to do that, they’ll need the Paranadas, Pagsanjan, and the rest of the team to step up by playing consistently good basketball.

Winning the Pinoy Liga Cup this past offseason and racking up wins during the Filoil tournament is a start. But this is the UAAP; things are different. Let’s see if they can bring some pride back to Recto by becoming a legitimately competitive UAAP basketball team.

UST Growling Tigers: Can UST embrace reality and move forward?

Poaching. Did I trigger any Thomasian? I won’t be surprised if I did, please sit down, relax, and you don’t have to reveal your jumper just to make a basketball take.

UST was in the headlines this preseason, and sadly, for the wrong reasons. They were once again involved in a case of losing talent to an opposing school. More than 10 years ago, it was the case of Kyle Neypes. In 2020, they lost CJ Cansino. This offseason, they lost Kean Baclaan to the NU Bulldogs. Pain.

The topic of poaching became a point of discussion among the UAAP community, with some Thomasians pushing back and claiming that the UAAP has issues with regard to player compensation. It was heated. Tweets were thrown. Most silly, some funny. But no matter the comedic value of these discussions, what was undeniable was how beat up the UST program was with everything that had happened this offseason. It was unpredictable and not the good kind.

Here’s one thing the school cannot deny at this point; relying on school pride and quality education isn’t enough anymore in this climate. College basketball athletes are commodities and they deserve to be properly compensated in some way or form. Control and rules will come but UST needs to start by actually putting an effort into matching whatever competitors are offering. That’s just how the game is right now.

It’s a shame too that this is how we’re talking about UST for this preview because before the Baclaan hullabaloo, they were looking legitimately competitive. Nic Cabanero is a stud that they’re lucky to have. They also have a bunch of new players whose growth the Thomasian community should watch out for.

It’s going to be a rough year for UST. The least they can do this season is to start heading in the right direction. Crying about poaching is not that direction. It’s time to embrace reality by committing and investing in a winning program.

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