WILL THE trend of newcomers winning the crown continue for College of Saint John Paul II? That will be answered when the Mighty Lions take the floor for the first time when the Eighth Universities, Colleges and Schools Athletic Association (UCSAA) kicks off this August 31 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City at 8:00 AM.
In a league where having a tall player is a luxury, the Cainta, Rizal-based Mighty Lions will parade their version of the Twin Towers in 6’3” centers Jon Lotoc and Rannie Raymundo and 6’1” forward Jayniel Ilac who has won several Most Valuable Player awards in local tournaments. The trio will be backstopped by a platoon of very quick and athletic teammates consisting of guards Edward Andrade, Adrian Olea, Ryan Brusola, Rene Padullon, Israel Naval, Marco Balena, Miguel Balena, Renz Magat and Ryan Cuenca and forwards Benedict Villar, Marvin Zapanta, Ian San Andres, Lance Patrick Cruz, Emanuel Job Geca and Daniel Castro.
Coaching the team is Kiko Flores who also doubles as the school’s Sports Director. He will be assisted by Marvin Felices, Jong Cubo and Rendell de la Rea.
“I want to share with the team the experience of winning championships,” said Coach Flores who won titles as a point guard with the University of Manila. “Our system makes sure that everyone will get a chance to play and we will be running a lot because of our lack of size.”
Before joining the UCSAA, the Mighty Lions competed in leagues within Rizal Province and Region 4A. Therefore, majority of the players are from Rizal with the rest coming from the nearby Metro Manila cities like Pasig, Taguig and Quezon City.
CSJP is one of two newcomers this season together with Colegio de Santa Teresa de Avila. The trend started when Colegio de San Lorenzo entered in the second season in 2012 and won four in a row up to 2015 and was succeeded by Manuel L. Quezon University and ICCT Colleges who both won in their maiden appearances in 2016 and 2017.