Pido reboots UST comeback with roster that’s truly his

UST Growling Tigers UAAP Season 86

UST Growling Tigers during the final game of their campaign in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament.–MARLO CUETO/

In his first season back with University of Santo Tomas (UST), coach Pido Jarencio vowed something along the lines of a comeback and ended up taking the blame for a sorry finish.

But the mercurial mentor didn’t lose his trademark fire and immediately got back to work on the Growling Tigers, who are showing a hunger to be better in the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup.

“We are building a winning culture here in the [preseason] league,” Jarencio said on Wednesday night.

But UST missed its chance for a quarterfinals seat Thursday after a 79-72 defeat to Far Eastern University to end its stint with a 3-4 standing.

Those three wins, however, could matter a lot for the revamped Tigers in the upcoming UAAP season as far as getting that feeling of victory is concerned.

The Tigers have been bottom dwellers in the last three seasons of UAAP, something that Jarencio is looking to change now that he has had more hand shaping his current roster.

“This team is mine; that team last year wasn’t mine. I just found [the roster] already there when I came back,” the decorated mentor told the Inquirer in a separate interview in Filipino.

Jarencio only retained a few of the last season’s personnel that finished with a 2-12 record such as Nic Cabanero, Migs Pangilinan, Christian Manaytay, Echo Laure and Angelo Crisostomo.

‘A blessing’

That core is now backstopped by former Ateneo standout Forthsky Padrigao, incoming rookie Amiel Acido, former University of the East gunner Kyle Paranada, Chase Lane and Zain Mahmood among others.

“The players are working hard and then it’s a blessing that Amiel arrived who can help us,” Jarencio said of his prized cog from the juniors program of Perpetual Help who earned the Most Valuable Player recognition. “Everyone is completing the puzzle.”

“We want to win even if it’s just preseason tournaments now so we can bring that mentality come the UAAP season,” Jarencio said.

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“We will start and wield this team from here on out so the program shouldn’t be discontinued so we improve every year,” Jarencio added. “This team wants to fight. And we will fight.”