The 94th Season of the NCAA has been full of surprises with new players emerging to show off #GalingNCAA in its very meaning and definition.
While everyone ooohhs and aaahhhhs at the Robert Bolicks and the CJ Perezes, it is only lately that they’re being treated to the awesomeness of the likes of the Bong Quintos and Justin Gutangs.
Here are 10 players who have made quite their mark in this #NCAASeason94 that’s been overloading ABS-CBN S+A with tons of exciting action:
1.) Bong Quinto, Letran Knights
Few people regarded Bong Quinto as a bonafide star, having played alongside ball-dominant guards such as Mark Cruz and Rey Nambatac, who pretty much got all the spotlight due to their binge-scoring prowess. Basketball fans finally took notice of Quinto this year when he strung up consecutive triple-doubles, which haven’t been seen since the time of Jio Jalalon and Scottie Thompson. What makes Quinto so impressive this year has been his control on the Knight’s offense acting as their de-facto point guard, and even leading the league in assists per game with 6.8, while also leading the Knights in Points (14.2) and second in rebounding (8.1). He has been the Swiss army knife for Coach Jeff Napa as they seek to add another banner to the school’s storied rafters.
2.) Calvin Oftana, San Beda Red Lions
Oftana is probably one of the Red Lions’ secret weapons in their bid to capture another title. His current on-court production is quite deceiving, with only 5.1 points and three rebounds a game. But the value in Oftana is his ability to guard not one, not two, but three positions from shooting guard to power forward thanks to his length and height. It’s also not hard to see how Oftana is like a throwback to former Red Lions who boasted of such abilities: Arjun Cordero and James Hudencial.
3.) Warren Bonifacio, Mapua Cardinals
Bonifacio is quite a revelation for NCAA fans and Mapua fans this season. The rookie has given the school quite the building block forward for the basketball program with his 11.0 points and 6.8 rebounds every game. It complements well with their current leading scorer Laurenz Victoria. The young big man is surely getting the punishment from veteran opponents but he has been equally dishing it back. His mix of toughness and post offense polish are a cut above the rookie class and even some of the seasoned veterans.
4.) Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino, LPU Pirates
When talking about the Marcelino twins, you can’t take one without taking account of the other. Jaycee and Jayvee are the engines of the league-leading Pirates. That may be quite the statement especially when coach Topex Robinson has reigning MVP CJ Perez and Mike Nzsseuseu in his arsenal. But if you watch how the Pirates operate, they become super deadly when Robinson finally calls in the Marcelino twins. They dictate the tempo with which the team plays both offensively and defensively. It’s easy to dismiss their success with Perez and Nzsseuseu, but the effect that the Marcelinos have on their opponents? It’s devastating.
5.) RK Ilagan, San Sebastian Golden Stags
RK Ilagan has been huge for the Stags’ offense. Not only is he the second leading scorer (14.5), but he provides the space with which Michael Calisaan and Allyn Bulanadi can operate in by making 35.2% of his three point shots. If not for some offcourt issues, Ilagan may as well be spearheading a Final Four drive by last year’s hosts. However, all is not lost for he still has playing years left and will be the focal point of the offense.
6.) Justin Gutang, College of St. Benilde Blazers
Gutang was a slow starter. While he had an impressive preseason showing in pocket tournaments, it quite took time for it to translate on the NCAA hardwood. He has been hitting his stride in an opportune time as Coach TY Tang and the Blazers are currently battling for a Final Four slot. The do-it-all forward has been at the forefront of this charge and his play is similar to a legendary Blazer in Sunday Salvacion minus the sweet shooting. But in terms of brute force and basketball skills? Gutang is the real deal with averages of 13.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists.
7.) Leo Esguerra, Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers
The spindly Esguerra is one intriguing prospect. He’s made of pure, unadulterated country strength despite his frame, and like San Beda’s Calvin Oftana, can play multiple positions. Currently, Esguerra has been averaging 7.3 points (third in the team) and 6.9 rebounds (tops for the squad) for the Heavy Bombers of Coach Vergel Meneses. For all the raw numbers he provides for the Bombers, Esguerra still needs to work on a more consistent jumper (currently shooting a measly 32% from the field) and ball-handling skills as the next step to his progress. But there is no doubt that he is a budding star.
8). JP Maguliano, EAC Generals
JP Maguliano has been the lone bright spot in the EAC Generals’ campaign this season. Foreign student-athlete Hamadou Laminou and Jerome Garcia lead the squad in numbers, but Maguliano has been more consistent in producing at a steady pace. He’s currently churning in 9.1 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 52% from the field in a highly-efficient game. What makes Maguliano a cornerstone for the Generals’ program moving forward is his ability to play either forward spots while displaying ball-handling skills and range to boot. If his development is put under a keen eye, Maguliano will be a tough cover in future NCAA wars.
9). Ian Alban, Arellano Chiefs
This season has been a trying one for the Chiefs. They lost Kent Salado prior to opening tip and midway though, head coach Jerry Codinera opted to step down. The lone bright spot in their campaign has been Ian Alban who has been producing, and gives them hope of a deadly backcourt pairing with Salado next year. For the year, Alban has been putting up 11.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists while shooting 45% from the field.
10.) Ed Charcos, UPHSD Altas
Charcos jumped fences to the NCAA and has been the revelation under Coach Frankie Lim. The dimunitive point guard has perfectly complemented big man Prince Eze and has displayed great chemistry in all their ballscreen heavy attacks. It is fun seeing Charcos fly all over the court looking for angles to attack in their offensive system while putting up 13.9 points and dropping 4.0 assists a game, all the while shooting a blistering 46.3%, which is quite high for a ball-dominant point guard. As the hosts fight for a Final Four seat, Charcos’ play, alongside Eze’s, will be big. But for making a winning program? They’re in the right direction placing the ball in Charcos’ hands.
We can say that the league is in good hands when the current crop of star players with these promising kids. Catch more of these NCAA rising stars every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, and via livestream on sports.abs-cbn.com. Meanwhile, iWant TV will also make the games available for livestreaming and video- on-demand.
Photo Credit: http://sports.abs-cbn.com /
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