By Jerome Lagunzad
Games Sept. 7
(Olivarez College gym)
1 p.m. – BulSU vs UB
3 p.m. – CEU vs Olivarez College
Reinforced by touted Senegalese center Adama Diakhite and fresh from an impressive showing in pre-season tourneys, Diliman College looms as the biggest threat to Centro Escolar University’s back-to-back title bid in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League Season 2.
The 6-foot-9 Diakhite gave their rivals – and league fans as well – a view of what he’s capable of doing when he powered the Blue Dragons to the UCBL pre-season title at the expense of last year’s losing finalist Olivarez College.
Diakhite, only 20 years old, is expected to anchor the lane for a vastly-improving Diliman College side which could also lean on the likes of shooting guard Rickson Gerero, wingman Joseph Brutas and another African import, 6-foot-6 Congolese Youssouf Mbiya.
“We didn’t make it to the Final Four last year. Ma-improve lang namin ‘yung finish ngayong season, malaking bagay na,” said Diliman College coach Rensy Bajar, trying his best to tone down the expectations on the Blue Dragons who are considered by CEU coach Yong Garcia as one of the Scorpions’ two biggest obstacles, the other one being the Sea Lions.
“Tinalo rin nila kami sa finals ng Fr. Martin’s Cup (last June),” admitted Garcia, who will still parade an equally formidable CEU crew built around Congolese big man Rod Ebondo and nine other locals toughened up by their bridesmaid finish in the recent PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
Olivarez College is also keen on completing an unfinished business, with the Sea Lions parading top gunners Dwight Saguiguit and Vinny Begaso aside from their own African reinforcements—6-foot-8 Gabonese Didier Maganga and 6-foot-7 Cameroonian Yanie Elie.