Six of the 66 aspirants of this year’s Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Rookie Draft are former University of the East Red Warriors. The former UE Red Warriors that are hoping to earn a contract to play in the Asia’s first professional league are Elmer Espiritu, Narciso Llagas, Val Acuña, Rudy Lingganay, Roberts Labagala, and Hans Thiele.
Profile Background: Roberts Labagala was part of the late-James Yap era and a well-known point guard of former UE coach Dindo Pumaren during his early season at UE. After his collegiate career, Roberts Labagala played for numerous teams in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) and in the Liga Pilipinas where he won a Taguig City leg’s Most Valuable Player, before trying out for this year’s PBA draft.
Profile Background: A former UAAP-NCAA Bantay Bata Slamdunk Champion. He was part of the former Red Warriors line-up that went to sweep the UAAP season 70 elimination. He also played for various teams in the PBL and Liga Pilipinas after his colorful collegiate career ended.
Profile Background: One of the few premier point guard of former UE coach Dindo Pumaren. Rudy Lingganay got his fame from last year’s line-up by then rookie UE head coach Lawrence Chongson that went to end the “Final Four Curse” that haunted the basketball club from more than a decade and force a rubber match in the finals against ADMU. Rudy Lingganay also played in the PBL, and after he ended his playing year in the UE Red Warriors, he was recruited as a Filipino import in the first Asean Basketball League (ABL) by Kuala Lumpur Dragons of Malaysia.
Profile Background: The Clutch man of the UE Red Warriors. The Most Valuable Player of 2009 Annual East Showcase Tournament held at the Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Val Acuña played for the Red Warriors from 2006 to 2009, but only in his last year was the most unforgetable due to motivation of current UE coach Lawrence Chongson. He also played in the PBL, mostly under the leadership of coach Chongson and after his memorable last at UE, he was selected to be part of the Philippine Patriots line-up that eventually won the 1st ABL championship title.
The Red Warriors’ undersized center from UAAP season 69 to 72. Another excellent recruit by former coach Dindo Pumaren. Throughout the years, the UE’s center popurlarily known as “Pari” made his own name as one of the best undersized center in the UAAP. And, last year he was even a contender for the MVP award. Pari Llagas also played in the PBL.
Profile Background: Moniker as “Mr. Highlight” during his UAAP days because of his highleaping and dunking ability. Elmer Espiritu was the Chief of last year’s line-up that went to the finals against ADMU. And because of his athleticism in the court, he won the 2006 and 2008 UAAP-NCAA Bantay Bata Slamdunk Championships, respectively. He also the 2008 Most Valuable Player of the Filoil Flying V Invitational Cup. Most Defensive Player of UAAP season 72 and part of the Mythical Five. Elmer Espiritu also played in the PBL where he got a PBL Defensive Stopper and PBL-Liga General Santos League’s Most Valueable Player of 2010. And, lastly to add from his superb resumé, he’s also part of ABL’s championship team Philippine Patriots.