WHETHER or not Letran backer San Miguel Corp. (SMC) stays, the Knights, the NCAA’s proud and mighty newly-crowned three-peat champions, will still be facing one major issue — how to fill the void left by their five graduating stars.
While the thought of losing a team financer hangs in the air after SMC director and one of the school’s rabid supporters Alfrancis Chua mentioned that nothing has been decided yet if they will continue to support the team, the concern about filling the vacuum left by King Caralipio, Fran Yu, Louie Sangalang, Brent Paraiso and Tommy Olivario is more pressing.
But Letran athletic moderator Fr. Vic Calvo, OP, said they will find a way regardless.
“We’ve always kept the faith,” said Mr. Calvo, whose Dominican school is eyeing a four-peat feat in Season 99 and a 21st crown overall that will push them closer to San Beda’s league-best 22.
Mr. Calvo wasn’t wrong.
When they took in Renz Abando and Mr. Paraiso during the pandemic, Letran went on to complete a historic title sweep in Season 97 last May.
When Mr. Abando abandoned the team for greener pastures abroad, Letran made the most out of a scrappy and gritty roster spearheaded by Mr. Caralipio, who emerged from shadows of his more popular teammates and claimed a Mythical Team spot and the Finals MVP, and silenced all the doubters to claim a third straight crown.
The Knights just always found a way.
“He’s so good and underrated,” said Mr. Calvo of the 25-year-old Mr. Caralipio, who toiled his way to Letran’s history books and a potential career in the pros.
For now, the Knights could just leave their worries behind, sit back, relax and enjoy the cash incentives and a much-deserved all-expense paid Japan trip from Mr. Chua and San Miguel.
After all, they deserve all of the blessings they’re reaping for the hard work and dedication they showed the whole season. — Joey Villar