Team Preview: JRU Heavy Bombers

Overall record last season: 9-10, 4th place, lost to San Beda in the Final Four
 
Head coach: Vergel Meneses
 
Assistant Coaches: Jun Tiongco, Vic Escudero, Ricky Alcantara
 
Players:
 
Almario, Alex
Camasura, Israel Ivan
Carampil, Ronnel
Dela Paz, Cris Jordan
Diapera, Rommel
Lopez, John Derico
Mabulac, Michael
Maconocido, Rhyle Christian
Matute, Nathaniel
Mendoza, Romnick
Monserat, Ralph
Muñez, Clint
Porter, Brandon Christian
Salaveria, Juan Edilfierto
Villarias, John Byron
 
With the departure of some vital cogs, Jose Rizal University faces a long, arduous climb back to the Final Four but counting out the Heavy Bombers will spell trouble for other teams this season.
 
Key Losses
 
The Heavy Bombers lost five players– Jeckster Apinan, Raycon Kabigting, John Montemayor, Michael Tiongco and Carlo Dizon–to graduation but the first three named players will hurt JRU’s cause the most. Kabigting provided the needed scoring punch from the backcourt position while Apinan and Montemayor served as the team’s reliable slotmen last season. With their absences, the already-small JRU line-up has become smaller going into the 88th season.
 
Key Additions
 
Practically going back to scratch, the Heavy Bombers are parading seven new stalwarts in Fil-Am Brandon Porter, John Maconocido, Rommel Diaperas, Rhyle Salaveria, Aban Camasura, Daryll Munez and Philip Mabulac. Among them, Porter emerges as the most intriguing recruit by the Mandaluyong-based squad and coach Vergel Meneses surely hopes for an instant impact from Porter this season.
 
Holdovers
 
Eight players will return for JRU this season. Notably, Nate Matute will now have a bigger load to shoulder while John Lopez, John Villarias and Alex Almario are now tipped to log heavy minutes and deliver the goods for the Heavy Bombers.
 
 
Season Outlook, Strengths and Weaknesses
 
Since Meneses took the over the coaching mantle from Ariel Vanguadia in 2009, the Heavy Bombers have not been able to find a go-to-guy after prolific guard John Wilson. This year, Meneses will try to mold Matute into a multi-dimensional player to answer the team’s need. Almario is set to share the backcourt chores with Matute while Lopez should himself more in the lane.

Interestingly, JRU will once again bank on its pressure defense to force some turnovers and turn them into easy baskets in transition. Quickening up the pace will certainly turn the game in JRU’s favor.

While they may count on speed, the Heavy Bombers lack a legitimate center and will be hard-pressed to match-up with taller teams at the paint. Crashing the boards has been the glaring chink in their armor but rebounding, as they say, is not about height but determination.
 
Prognosis
 
Despite flying under the radar last season, Meneses has done a wonderful job offsetting JRU’s lack of offensive production by turning the Heavy Bombers into a collective force defensively. They made it to the Final Four, and repeating the trick this season will be a little tough but doable.

This time, it will be tougher for the Heavy Bombers unless Matute scores in bunches and Lopez turns into a behemoth down the lane.
With other contenders showing vast improvements, making it back to the semis this 88th Season will be considered a big achievement for the Heavy Bombers.

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