UP braces for Korean wars

University of the Philippines aims to improve its chemistry and teamwork when it flies to South Korea to compete in a series of friendly matches against clubs in the Korean Basketball League.

UP head coach Goldwyn Monteverde said they are set to leave for Seoul and Incheon on 28 August in preparation for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 men’s basketball tournament in October.

They will battle Suwon KT Sonicboom, Seoul Samsung Thunders, Changwon LG Sakers, Jeonju KCC Egis, and Ulsan Mobis Phoebus.

Monteverde, who led the Fighting Maroons to their first UAAP crown since 1986, said facing these Korean clubs will prepare them for the tough grind ahead.

“Playing against teams in the KBL will really challenge the team to work together. The best part is that with the strength of the teams we will face, it will really push us to do our best,” Monteverde told Daily Tribune in a conversation.

“The Koreans have been known for their fast-paced style of play and they like to move the ball around. We have to deal with good shooters. We saw that it will be a challenge defending them.”

With Ricci Rivero and Noah Webb already exhausting their playing years and CJ Cansino sidelined to focus on his rehabilitation, Monteverde said facing the Koreans will help them grow and mature as a team inside the court.

“When you think of Ricci Rivero, Noah Webb and CJ Cansino, talent will come into mind but there is also their leadership. We still have some talent in the team but what’s important is that the players step up and be leaders in the future,” Monteverde said.

UAAP schools are beefing up their squads in a bid to knock the crown out of the head of UP.

Ateneo de Manila University is set to fly for a training camp in Israel after bagging the title in the inaugural World University Basketball Series while De La Salle University is already in the finals of the Philippine Basketball Association D-League Aspirants Cup.

University of Santo Tomas, University of the East and National University have also scored blue-chip recruits in preparation for the UAAP wars.

The Fighting Maroons, for their part, are already in the quarterfinals of the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup. Should they reach the finals on 27 August, they will have only two days of rest before flying to Korea.

With that, their prized slotman in Carl Tamayo has to catch up to them as he is still with Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“If we will be blessed to reach the final of the FilOil tournament, that will be on the 27th. We won’t be playing right away when we arrive there on the 28th. I think we have to days to rest before we start,” Monteverde said.

“Carl will catch up once his duties with Gilas in the qualifiers are done.”

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