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In Your Face!

Let's talk balls.

  1. Development and Imports

    So the UAAP has finally done it.

    Rod Roque of the University of the East, the UAAP Secretary-Treasurer for this season, declared in a sportswriters forum, "Starting Season 78 only one foreign player will be allowed in the lineup."

    “We are also thinking of the possibility that by 2015-2016, there will be no more recruitment of foreign players. Soon, there will be no foreign players na nandito. Patatapusin na lang,” Roque added further.

    That means that schools have up to academic year 2015 - 2016 only to recruit foreigners to play, at least in UAAP basketball.

    Considering the school that Roque represents has three African imports - Charles Mammie, Moustafa Arafat, and Bernard Awana - it is mighty strange that this policy should be passed during the year UE is the UAAP host. I mean, for cryin' out loud, a school with three imports of its own already in tow, one would think they would be among the most vociferous to object to such a policy, if only for selfish reasons.

    We are not privy to how the process went in arriving at this policy; a policy that has a profound impact on all UAAP schools. Roque was not able to elaborate too much if this just applies to college basketball or to all UAAP sports. I think this will be - even more controversially - confined only to the flagship men's senior division basketball event.

    I'm not sure how and why any UAAP school, especially the weaker programs, could go along with this policy.

    First of all, in basketball, height is still very much might. In our country, finding a quality player six feet or taller, especially in that sweet spot big man range of 6'4" and taller, is inherently difficult. Filipinos are on average only 5'4" or so in height. At 5'8" your humble servant is already considered tall in our country. Yet no one ever has, nor ever will be confused for a quality basketball player. Finding a credible, UAAP-senior grade guard (the usual position played by guys my size) is difficult as it is. How much more difficult could it be finding a credible UAAP-senior grade big man, 6'4" or taller, in a country that is made up of guys mostly a foot shorter?

    How then to make up for that gap? Recruit a quality import, usually from Africa. UE's Mammie, 6'7" and 250 pounds, built like the proverbial brick outhouse, arguably the most powerful board cleaner in the league, more than makes up for the lack of quality UE big men. Where would UE be without him?

    Some might say, without imports then nobody has an edge, especially in size. Tell that to National University, who had a 6'7" pogo stick with a jumpshot in Troy Rosario, or to Far Eastern, who has 6'4" do-it-all forward Mac Belo, or Lasalle, who had the pair of 6'6" Norbert Torres and 6'7" Arnold Van Opstal. FEU even has its own 6'7" pogo stick in Russell Escoto, who sat out part of this season with an assortment of injuries. All of these guys bring quality size up front.

    UE was somehow able to compete toe to toe with them just because they have Mammie, and Arafat as well. Next season they can only line up one import. What happens if Mammie gets into foul trouble?

    History will also show that imports do not offer much of an advantage. Look no further once again than newly-crowned champion NU. NU is the first team to have a star import win the men's senior basketball title in 6'6" Cameroonian Alfred Aroga. As good as Aroga is he got plenty of help from Rosario up front, and from the likes of Glenn Khobuntin, Gelo Alolino, Jay Alejandro, and Rev Diputado. So in 77 seasons the UAAP has crowned exactly one champion that had a star import. So it isn't as if NU won strictly, exclusively, and only because of Aroga.

    This of course is not the same with the NCAA. In eight of its last nine seasons, a team with a star import won their men's senior basketball title, the San Beda Red Lions.

    But again, it would be a fallacy to think that it is strictly, exclusively, and only because of their imports that San Beda has won eight of the last nine NCAA championships. Simplistically speaking, one might even argue that in 2009, the one gap in what should have been a 9-Peat dynasty, an All-Filipino San Sebastian squad beat a San Beda squad that even featured an American import in 6'8" Sudan Daniel, thus ending any talk that all it takes is a good import to guarantee a championship. The NCAA beat the UAAP to the punch in imposing its own import ban.

    That is why this total ban on imports makes no sense to me. It is as if college leagues are afraid of their own shadow.

    I submit that this will not really level the playing field all that much. Think back to say 1993, when Santo Tomas won the first of what would be a 4-Peat. There was a gap in 1997 when FEU won the title behind Onak Magtulis and Robin Mendoza. Then Lasalle had its own 4-Peat ...
    Philippine Basketball
  2. Gameface Hardcore Players of the Year 2013

    With both of the major college seasons now done (thanks a bunch, NCAA) we come to that time of the year when declares the amateur players who shone the most throughout the hardcore hoops calendar. For this edition we will include players from the UAAP, the NCAA and the PBA D-League. Just to be clear: Although stats and wins played an important part in the selection process, there is a player or two who might not have figured in the Top 10 statistical points and player efficiency ratings but who still made it due to hardcore cred. If anything, perhaps the simplest way to put it is that the guys who made it here are the guys without who their respective teams surely would have become mere scrimmage fodder.

    UAAP ___

    Roi Sumang, 5'8" 155 pounds, Pointguard, University of the East

    Sumang played like an MVP as far back as the summer preseason leagues. When he was on the floor for UE the Warriors played like contenders. Anytime he had to sit the UE game was going nowhere. That he somehow manufactured assists with the teammates he has is a tribute to his game brilliance.

    Charles Mamie, 6'7" 260 pounds, Center, University of the East

    As good as Sumang is the real reason UE was able to be as competitive as they were in Season 76 is the powerful Sierra Leone center Mamie. He had a few 20-rebound games even against the top UAAP frontlines and he managed to still lead in player efficiency ratings even though he missed two games due to suspension. He was the rightful MVP for this season.

    Chris Newsome, 6'2" 185 pounds, Swingman, Ateneo De Manila

    Speaking of staying competitive, Newsome was the main reason erstwhile 5-Peat champion Ateneo was even in the picture throughout Season 76. Without his athletic ability and rebounds the Blue Eagles would have been given up for dead. He even managed to become a Top 10 player even while playing out of position as the team's nominal power forward.

    Ray Parks, 6'3" 200 pounds, Swingman, National University

    Parks might have had a nightmare of an ending to his Season 76 (losing to UST in the Final 4 in spite of a twice-to-beat advantage) but he still managed to finish second in overall player efficiency. He is the main reason NU was touted as a contender this season, and his return for next season assures the Bulldogs remain a top team.

    Karim Abdul, 6'5" 220 pounds, Center, University of Santo Tomas

    Take anybody else off the UST roster and the Tigers might still have found a way into the Final 4 at least. They did after all manage not to miss Jeric Fortuna too badly, as they returned to the Finals. It was the bull-strong Abdul however who provided an anchor for his team by averaging over 16 points and 12 rebounds and providing an inside presence.

    NCAA ___

    Raymund Almazan, 6'8" 225 pounds, Center, Letran College

    Almazan has come a long way from just another tall kid with barely any real skill on the Letran B Team four and a half years ago. Now he finishes his college career MVP of the NCAA and ready to move on to the pros.

    Ola Adeogun, 6'8" 235 pounds, Center, San Beda College

    Without a doubt the one and only reason the Red Lions were still touted as the dominant team of the NCAA, Adeogun was named to the Mythical 5 of Season 89 and continues to provide an unmatched presence in the lane.

    Nosa Omorogbe, 6'1" 190 pounds, Swingman, Perpetual Help University

    Last year he was just another import firing away from all angles. This year he expanded his overall game and kept his Altas ahead of the pack throughout the early goings of a long season. If he were any taller he'd be the best import in the league.

    Junric Baloria, 5'9" 160 pounds, Guard, Perpetual Help University

    When commentators and coaches alike disdain a player for being merely a scorer they seem to be missing the whole point of the game. Baloria came in firing as early as the summer preseason tournaments, and he never stopped firing. His teammate Harold Arboleda filled up entire stat sheets but it was Baloria's gunnery that allowed the Altas to really compete.

    Noube Happi, 6'6" 225 pounds, Emilio Aguinaldo College

    It is his second straight year in the Mythical 5 and his team was in the Final 4 picture all the way up to the last couple of days in the regular season. Happi provided much-needed size and insurance inside for the Generals.

    PBA D-LEAGUE ___

    Eliud Poligrates, 5'10" 165 pounds, Guard, Cagayan Rising Suns

    Disgraced in his native Cebu for allegations of impropriety relating to the game, Poligrates emerged as a star in the D League. His Rising Suns created waves in the league and he was the one primarily responsible for stirring it.
    Philippine Basketball
  3. Barrel of Draft 2012

    This year's PBA Rookie Draft featured a lot of familiar names and not a few surprises.

    Below are this year's top draft picks through Rounds 1 and 2:

    1. June Mar Fajardo, 6-10 center, Petron
    2. Calvin Abueva, 6-2 forward, Alaska
    3. Alex Mallari, 6-3 swingman, Petron
    4. Cliff Hodge, 6-3 forward, Meralco
    5. Aldrech Ramos, 6-6 forward-center, BMEG from Barako Bull
    6. Chris Ellis, 6-3 off-guard, Barangay Ginebra
    7. Chris Tiu, 5-11 guard, Rain Or Shine
    8. Keith Jensen, 6-3 forward, Barangay Ginebra
    9. Vic Manuel, 6-3 forward, Global Ports from BMEG
    10. Jason Deutchman, 6-6 forward-center, Global Ports

    11. Yousef Taha, 6-7 center-forward, Air 21
    12. Dave Marcelo, 6-4 power forward, Barako Bull
    13. Jewel Ponferrada, 6-5 center-forward, BMEG
    14. AJ Mandani, 5-9 guard, Global Ports
    15. Lester Alvarez, 5-7 pointguard, Barako Bull
    16. Eman Monfort, 5-6 pointguard, Barako Bull
    17. Kelly Nabong, 6-5 power forward, Meralco
    18. Woody Co, 6-2 forward, Barako Bull
    19. Raffy Reyes, 5-10 guard, Alaska
    20. JP Belencion, 6-0 off-guard, Talk N Text

    No one doubted that Cebu standout Fajardo would become the Number 1 overall pick for this draft. At 6-10 he brings along gamechanging size. Nicknamed "The Kraken" by the indefatigable PBA announcers led by Mico Halili, Fajardo will bring additional size and inside strength to a Petron team that already features Jay Washington, Dorian Pena, Arwind Santos and Danny Ildefonso. He might become the next great PBA Big Man, at least until Greg Slaughter joins him in the pros next year.

    Petron had a lot of tongues wagging with their third selection though, Filipino-American Alex Mallari. Mallari was quite the hotshot with Big Chill but was erratic, scoring 20-plus in one game then shooting 20% the next. He brings a lot of quickness and a go-hard mindset in attacking the basket, but then again there are quite a few of his type in this draft. How and why Petron selected him this high might put a target on his back when the next PBA conference opens next month.

    Alaska Coach Luigi Trillo seemed to have been very impressed with "The Beast", after watching the relentless Abueva lead his San Sebastian Stags past defending champion San Beda a couple weeks back with 21 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists, and that was pretty much a par for the course game for him. "I think he can play multiple positions, and he brings a lot of athleticism," Trillo said after making the pick.

    Hodge is a lot like Abueva in that he relentlessly pounds the boards and is a stud athlete, perhaps an even better athlete than Abueva is. Meralco will most likely use his as a 4/3 off the bench to pound both boards and guard opposing bench players. He will need to develop his range and trigger if he wants to stick in this league though, because he has a stiff release and funky shooting mechanics.

    Barako Bull used the fifth pick to select versatile big man Aldrech Ramos, late of the FEU Tamaraws and Smart Gilas. Ramos brings quickness, agility and shot blocking along with extended range uncommon for players his size. He might be able to cover anybody from an off-guard to a power forward in the PBA. Barako then shipped Ramos to BMEG in exchange for Val Acuna and Sean Anthony.

    Crowd darling Barangay Ginebra took Chris Ellis with the Number 6 pick and Keith Jensen with the Number 8 pick. Both Filipino-Americans wowed in the D League, with Ellis even becoming a mainstay on the SEA Games Smart Sinag team. With the Fast and Furious likely running on their last full tank, Ellis and Jensen should make for a much better Fast and Furious combination far into the future for the Gin Kings.

    Latest PBA champion Rain Or Shine snapped up the man many thought would go higher in this first round, using the Number 7 pick on multi-media darling Chris Tiu. Tiu got a load of attention and buzz weeks prior to this draft as the former Ateneo and Smart Gilas mainstay was tabbed to be of high value both on the court and in the marketing plans of whichever team selected him. "It has always been my dream to play in the PBA, and I thank Rain Or Shine for giving me this opportunity," Tiu declared.

    Global Ports, the newest PBA franchise, rounded out the first round with former PBL and D League MVP Vic Manuel at Number 9, and Filipino-American Jason Deutchman at Number 10. Manuel is ripe for the PBA and has great skills across the board. Some see him as Arwind Santos-lite. Deutchman is coming off an injury and has yet to fully display his game. This pick was a gamble for Mikee Romero and company, but Deutchman at 6-6 could be someone worth waiting on.

    Big men Yousef Taha and Kelly Nabong might be the only second round picks who can count on a guaranteed contract. ...

    Updated 08-22-2012 at 12:53 PM by admin

    Philippine Basketball
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