Home Sports While building perfect Filoil record, UP tries to solidify its culture

While building perfect Filoil record, UP tries to solidify its culture

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While building perfect Filoil record, UP tries to solidify its culture

A lot is riding on the backs of Jacob Bayla and UP’s newcomers. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Prized University of the Philippines (UP) newbie recruit Jacob Bayla started his Fighting Maroon journey on a high note this weekend with wins over the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the Adamson Soaring Falcons, much to the delight of the UP faithful.

“They’re very welcoming and they’re loud. I like that,” Bayla said, after his first time playing in front of the Maroon crowd in Saturday’s Battle of Katipunan during the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup, where UP beat fellow UAAP campaigner Ateneo, 82-75.

UP assistant coach Christian Luanzon said Bayla just arrived in the Philippines and has not been able to practice with the team yet. Bayla arrived on the evening of May 29, and then formally met with the team last May 30.

“Before he came here, we were able to orient him in terms of the general things we do offensively [and] defensively, our principles,” Luanzon said. “And not just the things [about basketball] but also what to expect from the school [requirements].”

For the game against Ateneo, Luanzon and the coaching staff reminded Bayla to “play his game,” while slowly adjusting to the UP system.

There was an urgent need for that. Aside from Bayla, UP will have several new faces it will try to integrate to the squad, including Onyedikachi Ududo, the team’s new foreign student athlete who is set to fill-in big shoes left behind by Malick Diouf. Fil-Am Denzel Walker and former University of the East big man Gani Stevens also join the Maroons for Season 87.

“It’s a mix of cultures, whether it’s foreign or local,” Luanzon said about the current roster of the team and the inclusion of the new players.

He said adjustments would take time and effort, but the kind of culture that they aimed to build was an open one where players could express who they are and where they came from.

Veteran UP point guard JD Cagulangan, who was best player of the game against Ateneo with 16 points and two assists, said building this culture starts with practice and even simple kamustahans (greetings) to show their concern for each teammate’s welfare.

“It’s not just inside the court; we’re also trying to build something off the court,” Cagulangan said. “So, [along with] that culture that we’re trying to build, we also want to be on one page in everything we’re running; everything we do, [we want to be on] one page.”

After eliminating Ateneo, the Fighting Maroons swept the elimination round with a perfect 7-0 record after their match against the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Sunday, 68-46. —CONTRIBUTED INQ



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