UAAP: Inspired by the ’93 UST team, young Tigers show promise

Bal David UST Growling Tigers UAAP Season 85

Head coach Bal David and the UST Growling Tigers play against the Adamson Falcons during the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament. Photo by Tristan Tamayo /

MANILA, Philippines — UST’s new coach, Bal David, flashed a playful child’s smile when asked about his crimes for wearing a near-exact replica of a 1993 Growling Tigers uniform.

That can be understood. After all, he was part of the legendary team that blew up the competition and wiped out the boys basketball league—one of only four schools to achieve such an achievement.

And then it hit him: There’s also great pressure that comes with the reference, especially considering the pool of players he has.

“I’m so upset,” he told reporters in Filipino with a chuckle. “It was ’14 -0. ‘ And I know this team is full of rookies.”

For its part, the current edition of The Growing Tigers looked well deserved on Saturday afternoon, kicking off their Season 85 campaign with causing a 69-60 victory over host Adamson at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

David said the legendary UST run was the furthest thing from his mind as he battled Adamson, telling them to “have fun”.

“It’s hard to say we’re going to win every game, isn’t it?” I said.

What David did was just repeat the lessons he learned from Aric del Rosario, his college mentor.

“If he gives you a few minutes, you have to play hard. One minute, 30 seconds? Give your all. And that’s what I keep telling them: Get it all on the floor. That’s it,” he added.

Nic Cabañero no doubt recorded that spell, scoring 33 points to become the first UST player to score 30 since Marvin Lee back in 2018. The sophomore from Cebu also added four assists, two rebounds and a steal to his name. .

“You have to give the kids freedom to play. But at the same time, they should play like brothers. That’s what I got from Coach Aric. One of the many lessons I learned from him,” David said.

A star at both the college and professional levels, David also knows all too well that Sunday’s win was just one of many UST hopes to fall into the trap as the season progresses.

And maybe, just maybe, this iteration of The Roaring Tigers can match that feat. Who knows?

“That 14-0? It was just an inspiration,” he said. “Now.”

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