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MVBA
12-22-2006, 01:09 AM
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STEPHEN PADILLA
(M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu City)

HE DEFINITELY was the factor that gave the M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu City Jewelers a sweep of the two crowns in this year’s inaugural run of the Mindanao Visayas Basketball Association (MVBA), the newest community-based league in Southern Philippines.

Marksman Stephen Padilla spewed fire throughout the year, cementing his status as one of the most accurate in the long line of shooters that have graced local hoops. His pact with the PBA’s Alaska Aces expired, leaving him without a team after the 2005-2006 First Conference. That prompted Padilla to go home last February to his native Cebu and was quickly taken in by the Jewelers, the South’s legendary multi-titled ball club.

So good was the 5’9” Padilla’s performance during the First Conference that the PBA’s Air21 decided to sign him up in May for the remainder of the 2005-2006 Second Conference. M. Lhuillier went undefeated in all their seven elimination round games with Padilla on board and pumping in an average of 14.1 points a game.

“Even if he is an important player we decided to let him go,” said M. Lhuillier head coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba. “That’s why the MVBA was organized so to help the Vis-Min players realize their dreams as players with the professional PBA as one of the ultimate goals.” Despite losing Padilla, M. Lhuillier went on to grab the historic first MVBA championship in June via a three-game sweep of PacMan-GenSan owned by boxing idol Manny Pacquiao.

Air21 decided not to extend Padilla’s deal for 2006-2007 so it was back to the Jewelers. He wasted no time in helping them rule the weeklong MVBA Invitational in August before plunging into the Second Conference battles in October.

Padilla averaged a team-best 16.0 points throughout the entire conference. He jacked up his average to 17.3 during the championship series versus Holcim Pryce Pharma-MisOr of MVBA Chairman Gov. Oscar S. Moreno. The Jewelers prevailed, two games to one. Padilla picked up a pair of individual awards along the way as MVP of the Visayas Division and MVP of the MVBA Finals.

A product of the University of the Visayas Green Lancers, Padilla first rose to national prominence as a member of the Cebu Gems in the old Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) from 1998 to 2002. With the MBA suspending operations in 2002, Padilla drifted to the PBL where he played a conference for Cheese Ball-Shark before being selected and signed by Alaska in the 2003 PBA Rookie Draft.

Padilla beat out the likes of teammates Woodrow Enriquez and Jayford Rodriguez, GenSan’s Louie Medalla and MisOr’s Gilbert Demape for the award.