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In Your Face!

Let's talk balls.

  1. 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

    Categories
    Philippine Basketball
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  2. UAAP Dominates Summer Tournaments

    Reigning UAAP champion Ateneo De Manila and emergent powerhouse National University led the UAAP in dominating the Fr Martin Cup and Fil Oil Preseason summer tournaments respectively. UAAP teams also swept the podium in the Fil Oil, with Lasalle coming in second and the Ateneo placing third. Jose Rizal University was the only non-UAAP team to finish near the top, as runner-up to the Ateneo in the Fr Martin Cup.

    Fil Oil numbers showed Ray Parks and Emmanuel Mbe of NU led the tournament in statistical points, as the duo led the Fil Oil Mythical 5, along with Ateneans Kiefer Ravena and Greg Slaughter and Norbert Torres of Lasalle. Parks was named Fil Oil MVP. In the Fr Martin Cup, Slaughter emerged as the best player there according to Gameface metrics, averaging a double-double with over 16 points and 10 rebounds per game.

    On the NCAA side of things San Beda saw its summer run ended with a four-point loss to the Green Archers in the semifinals of the Fil Oil. Julius Armon, the 6-foot-3 Filipino-American swingman who was supposed to see action for the Red Lions this season decided to remain in the United States and did not return with his team. San Beda insiders say it was an amicable enough parting, certainly not as if Armon just flaked and deliberately missed the flight back.

    Without the super athletic Armon, the Red Lions have become a noticeably slower team, far from the red and white expressway they were. Although they have talented guards and active such as Anjoe Caram, Melo Lim and Baser Amer, the perimeter game just has not been as smooth sans Armon. Armon used his superior athleticism to break down defenses and get out in transition, sometimes singlehandedly. This of course led to easier baskets on early offense opportunities. Without him, the San Beda guards look as if they are running a gauntlet instead of busting out for the fastbreak.

    As for the Heavy Bombers, they will still live and by with their guards, like Jon Villarias, Alex Almario and Nate Matute. In their game against the Ateneo, these three picked apart the perimeter defense of the now-vulnerable Ateneo backcourt. Dribble drives, drive-draws and dump passes were the order of the day for the Heavy Bombers, along of course with the long toms of Matute and Villarias. Their great guard play allowed even their undersized forwards like Jon Lopez, Ron Carampil and Ralph Monserat great opportunities against the tall Ateneo timber.

    NU for its part seems to be coming together at just the right pace this time around. Last year they seemed to show too much in the preseason and wound up losing steam as early as the end of the first round of eliminations. Now they are peaking and still picking up by all accounts. Parks has become an accomplished and more willing passer, trusting his teammates more and spreading the wealth. Mbe has benefited the most from this, getting better looks for that jump hook and even the occasional all-alone dunk when defenders get lost on the sliding door, like they did against the Ateneo in the Fil Oil semifinals.

    Lasalle for its part seems to have rediscovered their winning ways. This is a far cry from the Green Archers of last year, when Torres fancied himself a local version of Dirk Nowitzki instead of playing inside like any good big man should. Torres has learned to use his thcik torso and long limbs in gobbling up rebounds, even tough ones that seem to bounce out of his reach. Yutien Andrada has also become a defensive presence with better shotblocking, something they both showed against San Sebastian and San Beda in the Fil Oil. The duo made life tough for Mbe and Parks in the Fil Oil Finals. Mbe may have gotten 15 rebounds in that finale but he sure had to work much harder to get them.

    Jed Manguera has also emerged as a new vital cog for Lasalle. Although the former RP Youth mainstay is homegrown by way of Lasalle Zobel, he was inexplicably kept off the roster during the incumbency of Dindo Pumaren. That was rather strange considering further that Dindo's brother and predecessor Franz was Manguera's coach with the Youth squad. Now Manguera has proven to be more than the gunner he was in high school, playing tough D on Ravena and Parks with strong laterals and the ability to body up and fight through screens.

    Teams from other leagues barely registered during the summer, as Olivarez College, last year's Collegiate Development League finalist, didn't fare so well this summer. NAASCU mainstay STI joined the Fr Martin Cup but had a so-so tournament. Indeed for the summer of 2012, the UAAP reigned supreme.
  3. End of Summer

    With the start of the rainy season according to our weather bureau and the start of classes this week, that brings the summer to an official end. That means in about a month's time the college basketball season will once again commence. But not before the summer basketball tournaments wrap up though. Fr Martin and Fil Oil would have completed their respective quarterfinals by the time most of you read this. No surprises are expected, with the likes of the Ateneo, San Beda, San Sebastian, National University and maybe Far Eastern University and De La Salle somewhere in the mixed bag of teams who will compete for the two summer titles.

    Interestingly enough, the two great rivals - the Ateneo and Lasalle - may yet end up disputing both summer titles. Ateneo was playing Perpetual Help in the Gabby Severino Quarterfinals of the Fr Martin Cup at the sweltering San Beda gym in Mendiola as of this writing. Ateneo will be taking on FEU tomorrow in the Fil Oil at the Arena. Lasalle will take on University of the East in the Fr Martin quarters later this afternoon, while the Green Archers face a much tougher foe in San Sebastian in the Fil Oil quarters tomorrow afternoon. This would be a first in recent summer tournament history and would be a fitting finale for both tournaments.

    As much as that would be ideal for the rabid partisans of both schools, it will also be a boon for tournament organizers. Ateneo-Lasalle championship fights are always a blockbuster. For the record, Lasalle beat the Ateneo for the fifth straight year during their elimination round encounter in the Fil Oil just last weekend 62-59 behind the game-long heroics of prize rookie Jeron Teng. Teng, the 6-foot-2 swingman who set the new Tiong Lian single-game scoring record last season, led the Archers with 17 points, including a high-pressure three-pointer that sent the game into overtime.

    His feats eclipsed the comeback game of star-crossed Blue Eagle swingman Ryan Buenafe. Still overweight, the 6-foot-2 Buenafe, himself a former high school superstar out of San Sebastian, lead the Blue Eagles with 21 points on 62% shooting. Were it not for a last-second play gone awry with Kiefer Ravena, Buenafe might have salvaged this win for the Ateneo. Still, it was a good game for the man who lost a year in the UAAP due to some off-court drama best left to a Law & Order episode.

    San Beda has not escaped the publicity light themselves this summer. At the start of the summer preseason tournaments, the Red Lions were pretty much penciled in as the incoming NCAA champions. After all they did have the formidable duo of 6-foot-8 African import Ola Adeogun and 6-foot-3 Filipino-American swingman Julius "Juice" Armon. Having these two expatriates in the roster all but guaranteed that the Red Lions would be completing their second 3-Peat, a la Chicago Bulls in the Michael Jordan era. Armon however did not return with the team from their annual summer training in the United States. Some reports have it that Armon decided to forego with a college stint and go straight to the PBA D League when he returns to the Philippines.

    Adeogun has not been spared the nagging bite of uncertainty. Some arcane NCAA rule or other supposedly disqualifies an NCAA athlete from competing in his sport if he has been meted a venue ban in any of the other events. So if a basketball player gets into some kind of trouble at say a volleyball event. and that trouble results in him getting banned from watching any of the other NCAA events, that supposedly disqualifies him from participation in basketball or any other NCAA sport. Does that sound like someone we know? This of course is up for definitive clarification in the coming weeks in that oracular assembly known as the NCAA Policy Board. What happens next is anybody's guess. But one might be tempted to ask who, if any, would benefit from Adeogun being unable to play in the NCAA next season? Ask the nine other NCAA teams.

    Even in the face of these manpower developments, the Red Lions are going into the Fil Oil quarterfinals tomorrow an unbeaten team. They have a battle-tested and veteran core who can win it all with or without Adeogun. We will see the Red Lions in the semifinals of this tournament for sure. Check that, we will see them in the Finals. And they may yet arrange a rematch with the Blue Eagles if the Ateneo holds up its end and makes it all the way themselves.

    NU may have something to say about that though, as the Bulldogs have proven that they are a legit powerhouse now. Apart from San Beda they are the only other undefeated team in the Fil Oil. With 6-foot-3 swingman Rey Parks and 6-foot-6 center Emmanuel Mbe leading the way, these Bulldogs surely will take major bites out of anybody they face. They outlasted the Golden Stags in a rough and tumble elimination game here, and pulled the same escape act against the well-coached Adamson ...
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