THE DLSU THAT COULD’VE BEEN…
Now that the season is officially over for DLSU, it got me thinking again as to how this should not be how they fared this year.
Firstly, I honestly feel uneasy to see the best college coach so far in UAAP history get eliminated by NU and wrap up the season at 5-9. It’s just not a fitting “exit” considering rumors are strong that Coach Franz is retiring after this year and will run for congress. Then supposedly he will hand to reigns of the team to brother Dindo. I think most UAAP fans, aside from UST of course, would have loved to see DLSU make another miracle run and slug it out again in the Final Four against Ateneo. But as they say in basketball, bilog and bola. And that’s how the cookie crumbles. This is the first time since the final four format was used since 1994 that DLSU is missing out on the mayhem.
Now I look back at the season for DLSU and yes I will agree with many, its not entirely the fault of the coach, and he just really had limited material this year. I recall very clearly that at this year’s preseason presscon, Coach Franz himself was very honest to admit that this is his youngest team ever. But I doubt he predicted then it would get this difficult and this, well, ugly specially if you look beyond the Wins and Losses and look at the quality of games.
With the material they had this season, few can still argue that they could’ve and maybe should’ve gone a little further. But do you remember they lost key players between the end of last season and the start of this one? Lets look back who should’ve and could’ve been around.
1) Rico Mairhoffer – yes not too many remember that he still had one more year of eligibility. But because of the stilly rule of the UAAP that if you declare for the PBA draft (which happens during the UAAP season) of that year, you are deemed ineligible for the UAAP. Yes, even if you have yet to set foot on a PBA court during your last year in the UAAP. So its always a gamble, either you play out your last year and then sit and “rot” your “stock value”, yet “mature” with your skills in the PBL for a year and half before . This is in contrast with the NCAA ruling that a senior player can sign up for the PBA draft and still play out that (his) last season. Odd differences indeed… ok so going back to Rico, you know what he can do. You know they badly needed a veteran bigman this season, you know they needed and inside presence on D to block shots. Yes Andrdada had some moments albeit late in the season, and Bringas also had some big games. But the consistency of Rico was sorely missed specially with the joo-joo of Ferdinand and Co pretty much zapped to outer space too.
2) LA Revilla – it was sad news to hear a week before the season that the incoming 2nd year point guard would be missing at least the whole season due to a thyroid condition that made him drastically lose weight. We all saw what kind of spunk and leadership the rookie guard showed in DLSU’s awesome run last year that brought them all the way to the finals. The shallow PG rotation this year, and the infectivity of Malabes and arguably sub-par performance (based more on expectations too) of Atkins really showed how Revilla was sorely missed.
3) Marco Batricevic – this guy just cant seem to get lady luck on his side. For the 2nd straight season he seriously injures his knee and again missed the whole season. Marco has seen such limited minutes that we couldn’t even give him a nickname yet. We heard he has a solid outside shot and great basketball smarts. Oh and did I mention he is 6’5? Another bigman that could’ve really really helped out.
4) Jeric Teng – I know, I know, you must be saying “whaaattt???” but yes, little do people know that Jeric was pretty much all set to go to DLSU just like former Xavier High school teammate Gab Banal. I first saw him at the launch of the RP Youth squad in September of 2008. In fact, he was so much considered a lock for a spot in the final roster of then RP Youth Coach Franz that the PR group handling the team was heavily promoting him together with Banal, Marata, and other 2nd generation players. I even went to their championship game vs Chiang Kai Shek (hope I spelled that right) which then had Justin Chua. The Banal/Teng tandem clobbered them and went home with the crown. I was already incredibly impressed with this kid and Banal. But to my shock when the final line-up of the RP Youth squad was announced, Teng was nowhere to be found. I asked around and heard reports that the Teng family had some sort of falling out with Coach Franz. (I never tried to get my nose into it since then and details are still hazy) Which then eventually led to him pulling out of the DLSU team too and ending up in UST now. So there, can you imagine a DLSU attack with Teng and Webb at the wings? Awesome. And it should’ve happened.
5) Norbert Torres – yes he is there and due to get his stuff going in Season 73. But reason why I add him on this list is due to another silly UAAP rule. That one that is discriminatory on players just coz they graduate from outer space, este from out of the Philippines. That rule says foreign grads must sit out 2 years coz of their presumed awesomeness. Yeah right. Not to say that the 6’7 Torres is not. He has shown his stuff with the RP Youth squad, won MVP in fact in the SEABA averaging 11pts, 6 rebs, and 1.25 blocks. And we could presume he is quite comfy now in Coach Franz’s system. Torres is yet another bigman whom DLSU should have by now, if not for another UAAP silly rule.
So can you imagine these 5 guys added to DLSU this year? Surely Coach Franz may have to take out some rookies to make room. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the great play and potential of these guys could even dislodge some under achieving veterans they have had this year. Given this “shoulda-woulda-coulda” line-up, I’d say they’d be a shoe-in for the Final Four and possibly even be at #3 or as high as #2.
Next year DLSU is said to be strong for sure. Torres is more than ready, Bringas would finally be 100% healthy and one year matured. And if you wanna speak of young rookies maturing, I cant wait to see Marata, Andrada, Tolentino, and Banal next year. And of course an ever aggressive and intense Joshua Webb to lead them too.
So I wish the Archers the best of luck in the off season. No matter what happens with regards to Coach Franz’s decisions on his personal and political career, for sure the heartaches and lessons learned will make the team work harder and be more motivated to go for an awesome Season 73, which by the way will be the year they host the UAAP again.