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Top 5 UAAP Season 76 Juniors Basketball Players

By Anton Roxas Posted Aug 7th 2013

Thirdy Ravena topped the statistical points race in the UAAP 76 Juniors Basketball tournament after one round of play.

We’re halfway through the 76th UAAP basketball season and while we have witnessed one of the most equally balanced Seniors tournaments in recent memory, let’s take time out to put the spotlight on the best high school talents in the Juniors division of the league.

The following list includes my personal Top 5 UAAP high school players as well as few other notable names:

5. Mark Dyke (NU)

Ever since the Sy family took over the management of National University, its sports programs have developed immensely and little by little, several of its teams have begun winning championships in various sports in the UAAP.

In 2011, the NU Bullpups captured its first Juniors basketball title in Final Four era and instantly established its reputation as a new force to reckon with in the league. However, in last year’s tournament, the Bullpups relinquished the crown to the Jerie Pingoy led Far Eastern University-Diliman Baby Tamaraws who swept them in the Finals.

This season, NU is back with a vengeance with key returnees and a prized recruit from Angeles, Pampanga. Rookie power forward Mark Dyke is easily the most physically imposing player in the high school ranks today. When I first saw him play, I noticed how built his body was and his penchant for gobbling up rebounds. He averages 14.9 rebounds per game which is second in the league but it’s his offensive rebounding that really makes a huge difference for his team. Dyke is number one in the UAAP when it comes to that department, averaging 6.3 offensive boards per game. 

NU is the best rebounding team in the league at 59.7 per contest. Ateneo de Manila University comes in second with 52.9 RPG and that’s a far cry from the output of the Bullpups.

Dyke is coming off his best UAAP game so far, an 18 point, 20 rebound double-double performance in their 79-76 victory over the Baby Tamaraws. But, the best is still yet to come as the 6 foot 2 Dyke is only in his Junior year.

4. Hubert Cani (NU)

For the first time since former NU Bulldog Jeff Napa took over as head coach of the team in 2010, the Bullpups have swept the first round of eliminations. And they accomplished that feat in dominating fashion, winning against their opponents by an average margin of 18.1 points. In fact, only Ateneo (79-72) and FEU-Diliman (79-76) lost to NU by single digits. One primary reason for this is the presence of talented point guard Hubert Cani.

Cani is in his second and final tour of duty for the Bullpups and after being unable to lead NU to a second straight title last year, he is determined to make sure that they get the job done before he graduates from high school. From an average of 4.4 assist per game as a rookie, the 5’11” Cani has taken his playmaking to the next level as he currently leads the league in assists with 6.6 per game.

By watching him on the court, you will notice how he always looks at Napa to make sure he runs the team’s offensive sets properly. He is the epitome of a true extension of the coach on the court. But, he can take charge whenever he pleases as well, utilizing his speed and dribbling ability to score off defenders. A former RP Under-16 player under Coach Olsen Racela, Cani has the experience to lead the Bullpups to another championship.

3. Renzo Subido (DLSZ)

The best scorer in the UAAP Juniors basketball division comes in the form of 5’8” combo guard Renzo Subido of the De La Salle-Zobel Junior Archers. Subido is a 4th year student and his 23.1 PPG is tops in the league. So, how does one of the smallest players on the court become the game’s highest pointer? By watching him for the past couple of weeks, the first thing I will tell you about this kid is that he is absolutely fearless.

Subido is extremely quick off the dribble. He easily gets past defenders with his crossover and is not afraid to absorb contact when he gets in the paint. That’s evidenced by the number of free-throws he has taken so far: 46 with 34 makes for 73.9%. He’s also taken the most three-pointers so far with 71 attempts. Although he’s only made 20 of them, it’s clear that DLSZ Head Coach Boris Aldeguer has given him the go signal to let it fly.

When point guard Aljun Melecio is on the floor at the same time, that’s when Subido is most deadly because he also moves well off the ball, utilizing screens to get open for a shot. The Junior Archers started the season with four straight wins. In one of those games, Subido exploded for 32 points in a 79-45 blowout win against the University of the East. That so far has been the best offensive performance by any player in the first round.

Like FEU in the Seniors division, DLSZ’s strength lies in their guards with Subido as the primary weapon.

2. JP Cauilan (NU)

You know how most experts say that tall, long and lanky players best exemplify the perfect mold for a basketball player? Well, in the UAAP high school ranks, nobody fits that notion better than JP Cauilan. At 6’4” Cauilan is the most versatile player in the league. He can play the 3, 4 and 5 positions. Majority of his playing time is spent at the small forward spot and that instantly presents NU’s opponents with a huge matchup problem.

Cauilan leads the Bullpups in scoring with 18.4 PPG. But, it’s really his size and length that benefits his team on both ends of the court. Oftentimes, Napa puts Cauilan, Dyke and another 6’4” player, John Rey Lapiz on the floor at the same time, showing off the league’s biggest frontline. Despite his physical advantages, there are a lot of areas to improve on in Cauilan’s game. He’s got to work on his dribbling ability and it will naturally take some time because he is in the process of converting himself into a perimeter player. I’ve even seen him take a couple of threes and make them. There is absolutely a lot of potential in Caulian and it’s up to him to harness it.

Like Cani, Cauilan is also a 4th year high school student. The best way to build themselves up for the collegiate level is to graduate as champions.

1. Thirdy Ravena (ADMU)

Number one on my list for the first round is Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena. I personally think that he is the most complete player in the high school ranks today. His numbers are very impressive: 19.0 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 4.1 APG. Standing at 6 foot 2 inches, he’s taller than his older brother Kiefer (6’0”) and seems determined to make his own mark in the sport that they both love.

Thirdy can play multiple positions and can dribble past defenders from coast to coast and score. He’s got a decent mid-range shot but it’s his ability to absorb contact and finish baskets that makes him so difficult to stop. As a defensive player, Thirdy makes his opponents think twice, especially when he is behind and in position for a chase down block.

One thing I have observed about Thirdy is that he has a certain swagger on the court. I don’t know for sure, but it seems like he knows that he is best player on the floor and that when it’s time to work, he will flip the switch and dominate.

His Blue Eaglets are currently at second place in the team standings with a 5-2 record. He’s got a good supporting cast in hardworking big man Mike Nieto, Aaron Black and Co. They definitely have what it takes to reach the finals and win their first championship in the post Jamike Jarin era under head coach Joe Silva.

On the outside looking in: Mike Nieto (ADMU), JJ Domingo (FEU-Diliman), Isaiah Dandan (UST), Reinier Quinga (AdU), Diego Dario (UPIS).