Monteverde recreating Lucero-Tamayo tandem

Expectations are high on Luis Pablo as he joins the UP Fighting Maroons following a very successful season in the NCAA juniors basketball tournament. Photo courtesy of NCAA

Goldwin Monteverde is formulating a very special project inside the confines of the Diliman campus of University of the Philippines.

In an interview with Daily Tribune, Monteverde revealed that his latest recruits – La Salle Green Hills superstars Luis Pablo and Seven Gagate – will play special roles when they compete in Season 86 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.

Monteverde, the genius behind the Fighting Maroons’ return to glory in 2021, said they recruited Pablo and Gagate to fill the void created by the departure of their former stars in Zav Lucero and Carl Tamayo.

Pablo and Gagate have what it takes to become the next heroes in Diliman.

A 6-foot-7 inside operator, Pablo shut down his campaign in the National Collegiate Athletic Association with a Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards while the 6-foot-8 Gagate had displayed tremendous versatility that was enough to emerge as Most Improved Player as well as part of the Defensive Team and Mythical Team.

In their final game in the NCAA juniors division, Pablo and Gagate dominated as they recorded double-double performances in their heart-crushing 61-77 loss to Letran College.

Pablo terrorized the shaded area with 20 paints and 14 rebounds while Gagate asserted his might with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Monteverde said Pablo’s powerful inside game perfectly reminds him of the 6-foot-6 Lucero while Gagate’s feathery shooting and mobility draw comparison to the 6-foot-7 Tamayo, a Gilas Pilipinas mainstay who now campaigns professionally in Japan.

With Lucero and Tamayo no longer around, Monteverde said it’s time for him to create a new two-headed dragon that will wreak havoc in the UAAP.

“For now, we know Zav is not here anymore and so is Carl Tamayo. Luis Pablo will fill up the hole left by Zav and I think his game will be able to fit into the system of the team,” Monteverde, one of the country’s best talent evaluators at the grassroots level, said.

“Seven Gagate, he could play all the five positions but he could also play the four. For me, he can fill what Carl left while Pablo is more like Zav. Seven runs the floor well in offense and defense and that’s something we are looking for in a big man.”

Pablo and Gagate, however, are just two of the key pieces comprise the UP squad that aims to reclaim the glory it lost to Ateneo de Manila University last year.

Also in the roster is a former Ateneo star in Francis Lopez as well as the formidable crew of Terrence Fortea, Gerry Abadiano, Malick Diouf and CJ Cansino, who is set to make a return after sitting out last year due to knee injury.

UP hero JD Cagulangan, also a former Greenie, will also be back to orchestrate the plays.

Monteverde admitted that they have already secured the commitments of the country’s finest young talents, but making them work as a solid unit still remains to be seen.

“For me, their experience will play a big part in their success in the collegiate ranks. You have to remember that they lost two years of playing time because of the pandemic. Yes, they will fill the spots left by Zav and Carl, but they still need the experience of playing together with the rest of the team,” Monteverde said.

“Zavier was playing in the United States for three years. Carl, on the other hand, was able to get some experience with Gilas Pilipinas and these two (Pablo and Gagate), in time, will fill in what is needed to the team they are on.”

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