ADMU Blue Eagles coach Norman Black has some roster math to figure out.
Each UAAP team is given 16 roster spots. From last season's three-peat squad, two will graduate: Eric Salamat and Jason Escueta. Those two spots automatically (in as much as "automatically" means something) go to Kiefer Ravena and Greg Slaughter.
We've discussed rumors about the eligibility of Chris De Chavez. For me, even if he is eligible, I still think he could do well with a year on Team Glory Be, so for the purpose of this post, I'm ruling him out. His slot goes to the come-backing Oping Sumalinog, who does a lot of what De Chavez does, except with heightened defensive skills.
Another player whom I think could use a stint in Team B is Jeric Estrada. The guy is so raw that he could definitely use the minutes to develop some moves in the paint, and bulk up. If he's out, we can go and put in Gwynne Capacio, who scared some people when he showed up after Christmas Break with a knee brace (it was just a minor tear of the miniscus, the brace is off already).
While we're talking about Team B, we might as well talk about Carlo Balmaceda, who was called up from Team B last season. He didn't play a single minute, but he was highly praised by Coach Norman Black for his attention to detail and his almost assistant coach-like demeanor. That said, he's graduating this March and could easily give up his last year of eligibility. Let's presume he does that, paving the way for me to add Cebu hot-shot Mark Tallo to the mix.
So from the list of "bubble" players, I'm presuming Coach Black keeps Bacon Austria, Tonino Gonzaga, Juami Tiongson, and Art Dela Cruz on Team A.
That closes the door on any Team B call-ups, and from the list of recruits that Coach Black has, sits out Ael Banal, Von Pessumal and Kevin Ferrer.
Now, call this burying the headline, but from those three, two are supposedly contemplating a change of scenery.
The first is Kevin Ferrer, the UST Tiger Cub. Eyebrows were raised when Rick Olivares had to edit his Kiefer Ravena interview to delete the part about his supposed recruitment. Now, word has it that he's supposedly staying, perhaps in part because he doesn't want to be Soc Rivera'd.
The other is Ael Banal. The former Blue Eaglet famously decided not to commit to a college after his RP Youth Tam stint and has bounced around since then (practicing at NU's gym, training in the US with Gab Banal and Joshua Webb of the DLSU Green Archers, to participating in scrimmages with ADMU's Team A). New information has since surfaced that has him practicing with UP, although another source told me that he's definitely staying at ADMU.
Such is the balancing act Coach Black has to play. If he really wanted to, he could presumably find slots in Team A for both Ferrer and Banal if he wanted them to stay (dropping Dela Cruz and Gonzaga, for example). However, that would mean subtracting veterans with Final Four and Championship experience from his bench.
With a month to go before the FilOil Preseason Tournament, there's still plenty of time for recruiters to do their work and for potential recruits to play musical chairs.