FROM THE looks of it, sophomore squad Manuel L. Quezon University will go through with a compact but fighting line-up when the 17th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities fires off on August 17, 2017 at the Cuneta Astrodome. The Stallions will gallop into battle with only 10 brave young souls and a new leader.
MLQU is the only school with a coaching change after promoting former assistant coach Jeric Baylen to replace Coach JR Manansala. Coach Baylen has won NAASCU championships as a player with the University of Manila and Saint Clare College of Caloocan and hopes to transfer his winning ways to his wards.
Forward Nikko Lao and center Jayson Grimaldo are expected to carry the load for the Stallions. Lao is now the Stallions’ anointed leader while Grimaldo, a transfer from Saint Clare, finally suits up after a year of residency.
Aside from the two, it is only guard Gianne Rivera and forward Allen King de la Cruz that are returning from their maiden NAASCU campaign a year ago. Completing the line-up are Clarence Tiquia, Mark Joseph Estrella, Enrico Toribio, Patrick Asturiano, former MLQU Colt Nikko Jamila and Apostol de la Punta, a transfer from Rizal Technological University.
Coach Baylen could just be the first student-head coach in the NAASCU as he is in his first semester taking up Masters of Business Administration in the same school. “Since I am a student like my players, it will be easier to communicate with them.,” said the young mentor.
In their first year in the league, the Stallions compiled a 7-6 win-loss card to earn the eighth and final seed in the playoffs. However, they were immediately eliminated by Lyceum of Subic Bay, 100-69.
Immediately after the 16th NAASCU, management entered the team in the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup as Victoria Sports. Lao and Grimaldo gave a good account of themselves as the best school-based players of the team, a role that they must reprise if the Stallions intend to go deep in the 17th NAASCU.