THE UAAP is arguably the most popular and prestigious collegiate league in the country today. Thanks to strong alumni support, strategic television deals, and committed basketball programs, the UAAP has really elevated itself above other collegiate competitions – particularly since the turn of the millennium.
To commemorate the league’s success since then, we at FOX Sports decided to come up with each school’s post-2000 starting five.
For this piece, we will be looking at the best from University of the East Red Warriors.
The UE Red Warriors basketball program is one of the most storied in the UAAP. They are tied with the UST Growling Tigers for the second-most men’s basketball titles with 18, and own the longest championship streak in UAAP history with seven (1965-1971). Unfortunately, luck hasn’t been on their side much in recent years. UE hasn’t won a title since 1985, and are also currently on an eight-year Final Four drought.
Despite the lack of recent overall success, the UE Red Warriors still had some great runs since 2000 and certainly some great players.
Let us take a look at the best of the best that the Recto-based university has produced:
Paul Artadi (PG)
Artadi’s tenure with the UE Red Warriors was well-known due to his dynamic partnership with James Yap (more on him later). To highlight his speed and quickness on the court, Artadi was fondly called “Kid Lightning” by the fans and the media.
Although he was notorious for his unreliable jumpshot, Artadi more than made up for it with pesky defense, steady playmaking, and leadership. In his final playing year, Artadi was named as a member of the Mythical Five.
Paul Lee (SG)
Before he was “The Lee-thal Weapon” in the PBA, Paul Lee was killing it on the courts of the UAAP. Much like he is today in the pros, the combo guard from Tondo, Manila was known for his potent scoring, quick crossovers, and fiery demeanor.
Lee’s abilities were validated by the two Mythical Five selections in his last two seasons with UE. He was also the leader of the last Red Warriors team that made it to the Finals in Season 72, although they were defeated by the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles in three games.
James Yap (SF)
He is one of the most popular athletes in the Philippines today, and a big part of James Yap’s rise to superstardom was his time with the Red Warriors. Yap was one of the deadliest scorers the UAAP had ever seen. He could score from practically anywhere on the court and there was hardly anyone who could stop him. He even had the size and athleticism to play both the shooting guard and small forward positions for UE.
If Artadi was known as “Kid Lightning” because of his speed and quickness, Yap was then dubbed “Boy Thunder” as an ode to his explosive scoring abilities. The pride of Negros Occidental finished his UAAP career with two Mythical Five selections and one MVP award. Although he never made it to the Finals, the James Yap era is still one of the most fondly remembered recent stretches in UE history.
Mark Borboran (PF)
Mark Borboran was a key member of perhaps the most successful season for the Red Warriors since the turn of the millennium. UE went 14-0 in the elimination round of Season 70 and earned an outright berth to the Finals. Unfortunately, they were defeated by the De La Salle University Green Archers for the title.
Borboran was not a traditional power forward who would use size and strength to operate inside the paint. He was a lanky and athletic forward who could shoot from the outside. He was a match-up nightmare for most teams, and his ability to use this to his advantage was rewarded by a Mythical Five selection in Season 70.
Elmer Espiritu (C)
Espiritu holds the distinction of being the only player on this list who was a valuable contributor to two Finals teams for the Red Warriors. He was a member of the Season 70 team that swept the eliminations and was also the lead running-mate of the Paul Lee-led Season 72 Finals team that lost to Ateneo.
He didn’t quite have the range of Borboran, but Espiritu was also a face-up bigman who used his athleticism to his advantage. Espiritu was a Mythical Five member, together with Paul Lee, in Season 72.
Notable Snubs: Roi Sumang, Ronald Tubid, Marcy Arellano, Hans Thiele, Alvin Pasaol