Huskers brace for slow start

‘We are dealing with various issues so we have to be patient with this team.’

Will Gozum’s absence is expected to slow down the Quezon Huskers. | Photograph by Rio Deluvio for the daily tribune @tribunephl_rio

LUCENA CITY — Winning the title will not be an overnight process when the Quezon Huskers compete in the OKBet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.

Huskers head coach Eric Gonzales admitted that they are far from their deadly form heading into their maiden campaign in the country’s most prestigious regional basketball league.

Aside from missing the services of reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association Most Valuable Player Will Gozum, Gonzales also has to deal with various issues due to very limited preparation.

Gozum, a double-double machine for College of Saint Benilde, will be sitting out in the early stretch of the Huskers’ campaign in deference to his live contract with Pampanga Royce Hotel in the Pilipinas Super League.

Huskers’ team captain Jeric Teng is also far from perfect form after spending the past couple of years competing in 3×3 events while 6-foot-10 slotman Ken Holmqvist and Al Francis Tamsi are still nursing various injuries.

“It’s going to be a long process,” Gonzales told Daily Tribune a day before the Huskers face the Negros Muscovados in the opening salvo of the MPBL at the Quezon Convention Center.

“We are dealing with various issues so we have to be patient with this team. Yes, we will play hard and contend, but we have to be realistic with our goal because winning the MPBL title in our first year will not be easy.”

With Gozum, Holmqvist, Tamsi out and Teng, Thomas Torres and homegrown star Topeng Lagrama working their way back into shape, Gonzales will be pinning his hopes on former University of the Philippines stars AJ Madrigal, Brix Ramos and CJ Catapusan while MPBL veteran Mark Pangilinan is tipped to provide quality minutes off the bench.

Also expected to step up for this team being managed by former Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Patrick Gregorio, Donn Rico Kapunan and Magnum Membrere with Quezon Rep. Keith Micah Tan and San Andres, Quezon Mayor Ralph Edward Lim are former University of the Philippines standouts AJ Madrigal, Brix Ramos and CJ Catapusan.

Lucena City Mayor Mark Alcala, a deadeye gunner from the perimeter during his high school days at La Salle Zobel, is also tipped to step up as well as homegrown players Paeng Salonga and Bryant Placino.

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