Reigning champion Letran College will be walking wounded when it marches in Season 98 National Collegiate Athletic Association on 10 September.
Knight coach Bonnie Tan admitted that they are still in the process of finalizing their roster as some of their players are still recuperating from various injuries with barely a couple of weeks left before they start their title defense.
Veteran Paolo Javillonar, for one, is still recovering from a hamstring injury while Louie Sanggalang has yet to overcome his dental surgery that hampered his training.
Rookie Kobe Monje is also in sickbay after breaking his nose during their Philippine Basketball Association D-League game against Apex Fuel-San Sebastian early this month.
“Paolo Javillonar currently has a hamstring injury while one rookie in Kobe Monje has a broken nose and Louie Sangalang just got his wisdom tooth removed,” said Tan, who renewed his contract with the Knights last week.
“We still need to finalize our lineup. We have a depleted roster at the moment. Like any other team, we need to train hard and double it since the season is getting near.”
The Knights won Season 97 in style with Rhenz Abando emerging as Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
Abando was supposed to see action for one more season but he packed his bags to join Anyang KGC in the Korean Basketball League last month.
With Abando out, the Knights struggled as they bombed out early in the FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup and the D-League Aspirants’ Cup.
Still, Tan remains confident that the crew of Brent Paraiso, King Caralipio, Tommy Olivario, Sanggalang and Fran Yu will still assert their might and dominate the season.
“We have more games so we need more quality players so that we won’t have any unfortunate incidents with the players,” said Tan, bracing for an all-out war against contenders San Beda University and Mapua University.
“Whatever our outcome will be this season, we want to make sure this will be a season we won’t regret.”