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  1. Whereforth Art Thou Gilas

    Since that unmitigated apocalypse known as the failure to medal of the Gilas National Team at the 2014 Asian Games, the PR Mill has been running on virtual overdrive.

    Is Vincent "Chot" Reyes fired as Gilas head coach?

    Has the team itself been disbanded?

    What is all this talk about reevaluating the program?

    There were far too many questions and not enough clear answers. Speculations flew here, there and every bloody where.

    This of course came on the heels of Gilas not even making the quarterfinals of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea a month and a half back. "Everybody was disappointed with that result, and I don't think there is any other way to put it," Barrios admitted.

    Good thing Gameface was able to sit down with former PBA Commissioner Renaud "Sonny" Barrios, the Executive Director of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas or SBP. ED Barrios was the main guest of the online sportswriters group organized by the venerable Beth Celis.

    Barrios said he the online group was "heaven sent", and that he was grateful for the opportunity to sit down with the group because he had "a lot of things to clarify".

    This of course came on the heels of Gilas not even making the quarterfinals of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea a month and a half back. "Everybody was disappointed with that result, and I don't think there is any other way to put it," Barrios admitted.

    Barrios proceeded from the SBP Board Meeting that was held just last week. Some online reports (not in Gameface) stated that Reyes, the Twitter-happiest coach in Philippine basketball, had effectively been dropped as Gilas head coach during that board meeting.

    "The word 'Chot' was not brought up ever during that board meeting," Barrios declared unequivocally. "Medyo senior (citizen) na din po tayo, pero sharp pa din naman ang ating ala-ala, at masasabi ko po ng siguradong-sigurado that the name 'Chot' was not even brought up during that meeting," added Barrios.

    So is Reyes still the head coach of Gilas? That unfortunately was not categorically answered by the ED, SBP. He did go to some lengths to explain that there is now a search committee that will be coming up with a shortlist of candidates for head coach of Gilas. That list may or may not include Reyes. Reyes, in other words, is not completely out of the picture, but neither is he 100% guaranteed to retain his job.

    Moving on to the team itself, Barrios was again unequivocal, "Yes, the team is disbanded."

    As with other national teams that saw action in the FIBA Worlds and the Asian Games, since they are made up mostly of professional players, after the tournament is done then the teams disband so the players can go back to their respective professional basketball careers. "Team USA was disbanded, and they won the gold, of course because players like James Harden, Derrick Rose, and all the rest had to go back to their teams and prepare for the NBA Season."

    "It is the same case for Gilas and our players. The PBA has started, so of course they had to go back to their mother ball clubs to prepare for the season," he added.

    Although the team has been disbanded the Gilas program itself continues, part of the reason why it is under reevaluation. There will still be Philippine participation in international basketball tournaments, hence the need to still have a national team program.

    "MVP (Manuel V Pangilinan, SBP President and Chair) wants to make the program more participative, and more consultative, that is why we are also heavily involving all of the SBP Regional units, like for example Cebu through Yayoy Alcoseba," Barrios explained.

    So let us be clear about the three questions posited at the beginning:

    1. Reyes has not been "fired".

    2. The team that competed in Spain and South Korea has been disbanded, but not for any failure on their part, but simply because it is the PBA season already.

    3. There is indeed an ongoing reevaluation of the Gilas Program, because that is part and parcel of what all credible organizations do.

    One of the other key issues raised during the round table was the schedule of the PBA. Since Gilas players all come from the PBA, their season schedule directly affects how much time any Gilas team can be assembled and trained. Sometimes of course, the best-laid plans come undone with something as mundane as a rescheduling by FIBA of a given tournament.

    "Hindi din talaga madali para kina Commissioner (Chito) Salud to just reschedule everything if for instance FIBA moves a tournament from August to October with only a two-week notice. Siempre maraming kaakibat 'yan, like reserving their venues, timing of their PR, at marami pang iba," Barrios said.
    ...
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  2. Inside the Hard Court: Harvey Pagsanjan of Hope Christian High School

    By: Paolo Manuel C. Fule

    One of the junior basketball players in the PCABL talks about his career and his ambitions beyond basketball. Let’s take a glimpse of this boys’ life in this interview:
    Kris Harvey D. Pagsanjan was born on January 2, 1999 to Florencia Pagsanjan and Reynaldo Pagsanjan in Caalibangbangan, Cabanatuan City. This 5’ 11” point guard and wingman of Hope Christian High School is taking his time to reach his goals in life.
    Paolo: How do you balance your studies and basketball?
    Harvey: Everyday we have trainings and classes but for student athletes like us, it’s important for us to study and that is also being told to us by our coaches. We have 7:30am to 4:00 pm classes and training starts from 5:00-8:00 pm.
    Paolo: What is your career high in points?
    Harvey: 18 points in Filipino Chinese Amateur Athletic Federation (FCAAF)
    Paolo: Who are your basketball idols?
    Harvey: In the NBA, I like Kobe Bryant of the L.A. Lakers, UAAP is Kiefer Ravena of ADMU, Harold Arboleda of NCAA, and Gabe Norwood of the PBA.
    Paolo: In the PCABL, who do you think is the hardest to guard?
    Harvey: JV Gallego is the hardest to guard.
    Paolo: What can you say about the school’s athletic program?
    Harvey: We are all being disciplined because there are a lot of young rookies but we all know that we need to double our efforts in order for us to win our games.
    Paolo: Who taught you to play basketball?
    Harvey: I learned it on my own. In our family in the province, we don’t have someone who plays the sport. When I was a kid, I already loved basketball. That’s why when I went to Manila, they supported me.
    Paolo: What is your ambition in life?
    Harvey: My ambition is to play in the professional league someday and to help my parents and also other kids who love the sports.

    Email the author at: paolomanuelfule@yahoo.com
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  3. NBA Season 69: Just Days Away

    The 69th renewal of the National Basketball Association (NBA) unwraps on October 28 (Oct. 29, manila time) with a three-game bill.
    The tripleheader features Orlando at New Orleans, Dallas at San Antonio, and Houston at the LA Lakers.

    All three Texas teams will be in action on opening night.

    The San Antonio Spurs, who defeated LeBron James and the then- back-to-back NBA titlist Miami Heat in five games last June to snare their first championship in seven years and fifth overall (including 1999-2003-2005-2007) in franchise history, will receive their rings during pre-game ceremonies at the AT&T Center.

    The Spurs have retained their key players from last season, including ageless Tim Duncan, Tony parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard (2014 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player), Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green, and are seeking a another crown under head coach Gregg Popovich, the architect of San Antonio’s five previous title finishes.

    One interesting act by the Spurs this summer: In August, it signed controversial Rebecca Lynn (Becky Hammon, a former WNBA guard with the San Antonio Stars and New York Liberty, to become the second female assistant coach in NBA annals but the first to be a full-time, salaried assistant coach. This also made her the first full-time female assistant coach in any of the four major professional sports leagues in North America. The 37-year-old Hammon was born and grew up in the U.S. but became a naturalized Russian citizen in 2008 that enabled her to represent the Russian national team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

    The Dallas Mavericks, who last secured the Larry O”Brien championship trophy in 2011, have added a pair of Chandler to join forces with 34-year-old German-born Dirk Nowitzki, an erstwhile free agent who took a paycut last summer to enable 7-1 center Tyson Chandler and forward Chandler Parsons to come aboard billionaire owner Mark Cuban’s ship.

    The 32-year-old Chandler is in his second tour of duty with Dallas. In his first season with the Mavs in 2011, he started for the club in its NBA title run. Thereafter, as an unrestricted free agent, he was part of a three-team sign-and-trade in December 2011 (a lockout-shortened season) after agreeing to a four-year, $58-million deal with the New York Knicks. Last June, following a three-year stay in Gotham City, the Mavs reacquired Chandler along with Raymond Felton from New York in exchange for four veteran players, including Spanish guard Jose Calderon and Haitian center Samuel Dalembert, and two second-round picks in the 2014 NBA draft.

    In July, Dallas secured the services of Parsons, then a restricted free agent, after the latter’s old employer, Houston, declined to match Dallas’ three-year, $46-million offer sheet to him.

    Houston not only lost Parsons without any compensation but also shipped guard Jeremy Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade.
    Jeremy (Shu-How) Lin, whose rags-to-riches story in New York generated a global following known as “Linsanity” in January-March 2012, was peddled by the Rockets along with 2015 first- and second-round draft choices to the Lakers in July in exchange for the draft rights to Sergei Lishouk.

    The 26-year-old Harvard University graduate, the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the league, had signed a three-year, $25-million offer sheet with Houston in the 2012 offseason as a restricted free agent. After stating they would match any offer extended to Lin, the Knicks eventually declined to do so when the Rockets revised an earlier offer that was substantially less in amount.

    The Lakers, who will pay Lin $15 million in 2014-15 in the final year of his three-year deal, also picked up Carlos Boozer, a bulky 6-8 forward-center, off waivers in July after the Chicago Bulls released him via the one-time amnesty clause. Under the arrangement, El-Ay will pay only $3.25 million of Boozer’s $16.8-million stipend this season as Chicago will shell out the remaining $13.55 million.

    The Lakers’ fortunes nonetheless rests on the health of veterans and former NBA MVPs Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.

    The 6-7, 36-year-old Bryant played just six games last campaign (specifically between December 8 and December 17)) due to a torn Achilles tendon (sustained against visiting Golden State on April 12, 2013 or just two days after he became the first player in NBA history to collect 47 points, eight rebounds, five assists, four blocks and three steals in an NBA game at Portland) and a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee (suffered at Memphis on December 17) that eventually shut down his 18th NBA season.

    Bryant appears to be relatively healthy during the preseason. He remains the NBA’s highest-paid player after signing a two-year contract extension ...
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  4. First African-Americans in NBA History

    Sixty years ago on October 31, history was made in the National Basketball Association (NBA) when the first ever African-American saw action in the league.

    His name: Earl Francis Lloyd of the Washington Capitols. A 6-6 product of West Virginia State College, Lloyd took the floor against the Rochester (New) Royals (the predecessors of the Sacramento Kings) on that day.

    Japanese-American Wataru Misaka, wearing the colors of the New York Knickerbockers, was the first player to break the NBA color barrier during the 1947-48 season when the league was still called the Basketball Association of America (BAA). He was the only non-white player in the league before Washington also made history in signing an African-American, Harold Hunter, to a free-agent contract in 1950. Unfortunately, Hunter was waived by the Caps during training camp.

    Months before, on April 25, 1950, the Boston Celtics drafted the first African-American ever, taking Charles (Chuck) Cooper with their second-round pick in the 1950 grab-bag. The6-5 Cooper was an All-American from Duquesne University and had played with the comical and all-black Harlem Globetrotters.

    Following the Celtics’ lead, the Capitols grabbed Lloyd in the ninth round.

    A day before the college draft, Abe Saperstein, the Globetrotters owner, reportedly notified the NBA that he won’t take his popular team into Boston or Washington again if black players were drafted.

    For the first time, the Trotters needed to compete for black talent now that Cooper and Lloyd were drafted for the NBA.

    Soon thereafter, Harlem also lost the services of Nathaniel (Sweetwater) Clifton to the New York Knicks.

    On May 24, 1950, the Knicks purchased the contract of the 6-6 Clifton, a product of Xavier University in Louisiana, from the Trotters for $12,500. In effect, Clifton obtained free-agent status before signing an NBA contract with the Knicks in September 1950.

    Clifton, who got his nickname because of his love for sodas or soft drinks, was paid $7,500 for the 1950-51 season.

    Aside from Lloyd, Cooper and Clifton, a fourth black player, 6-6 Henry (Hank) DeZonie, joined the NBA later during the 1950-51 wars but he appeared in just five games with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.

    Lloyd, an Alexandria, Virginia native who was monikered “The Big Cat,” scored six points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds in a losing effort for Washington as Rochester claimed a 78-70 home decision over the Capitols.

    Cooper, the NBA’s first African-American draftee, contributed seven points in his league debut on November 1, 1950, a 107-84 setback by the Boston Celtics against the Fort Wayne Pistons in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

    The rub of the NBA schedule made Cooper only the second African-American to play in an official NBA game – or 24 hours after Lloyd, whose Caps opened their schedule one day earlier, became the first.
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  5. Origin of the 24-second Shot Clock Rule

    Pop icon Sir Elton Hercules John (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight) remembers when rock was young, he and Suzie had so much fun. At least that’s what the 67-year-old John said in his 1972 hit song “Crocodile Rock.”

    I, too, remember when I was young. My friends and I had so much fun playing basketball.

    In the mid-fifties and sixties, we played by the rules adopted by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the world’s basketball-governing organization, where backcourt violations were not in existent and there was no time limit to make a field attempt until the FIBA adopted a 30-second shot clock in 1956, requiring teams to attempt a shot within 30 seconds of gaining possession, and the shot clock to be reset when the ball touched the basket’s rim or the backboard (later disallowed) or the opponents gaining possession.

    It was only in 2001 that the FIBA reduced the shot clock to 24 seconds – which, until now, is being utilized.
    Still, that came a long, long time after the American pro basketball league, National Basketball Association (NBA), had instituted the 24-second shot clock rule.

    It was exactly 60 years ago on October 30 that the NBA implemented a major rules change that would radically revolutionize the world of professional basketball. That rule was the 24-second shot clock and the man credited for its creation was Danny Biasone.

    Biasone, the owner-president of the Syracuse Nationals (the harbinger of the Philadelphia 76ers) at the time, convinced his fellow NBA club owners to adopt a shot clock for games starting with the 1954-55 season, when stalling and slowing down games became a common form of strategy.

    It eliminated the common stalling tactics that were being deployed, sometimes as early as the third quarter, by the team that was ahead in the game because there was no way for its opponent to catch up other than to commit a foul.

    The shot clock curbed the end-of-game fouling and ensuing avalanche of free throws that made for a dull game.

    Biasone was turned off by a dreadful game played on November 22, 1950 between the Fort Wayne (now Detroit) Pistons and Minneapolis (now Los Angeles) Lakers at Minneapolis.

    Without a shot clock, the Pistons edged the Lakers, 19-18, in what stands as the lowest final game score in NBA history until now. In the fourth quarter, the Pistons outscored the Lakers, 3-1.

    In 48 minutes of game time, only eight field goals were scored (four by each team) in 31 attempts, including 18 by the Lakers, who were powered by man-mountain George Mikan’s 15 points on 4-for-11 field-goal shooting and 7-for-11 tries from the free-throw line.

    The Pistons were chiefly responsible for the stalling tactics, holding the rock for minutes at a time without shooting (the team attempted only 13 times during the game) in order to keep Mikan at bay.
    The Pistons’ boring performance led the St. Paul Dispatch to write “(The Pistons) gave pro basketball a great black eye.”

    Maurice Podoloff, the NBA’s first commissioner, said: “In our game, with the number of stars we have, we of necessity run up big scores.”

    Ironically, six weeks after the ugly Pistons-Lakers contest, or on January 6, 1951 to be exact, the Rochester Royals (the predecessors of the Sacramento Kings) and Indianapolis Olympians (now defunct) played a six-overtime game with only one shot taken in each overtime period. The Olympians won, 75-73, at Rochester.

    Then came Biasone to the rescue. He experimented using a 24-second version during a scrimmage game in Syracuse.

    According to the Italian-born Biasone, “I looked at the box scores from the games I enjoyed, games where they didn’t screw around and stall. I noticed each team took about 60 shots. That meant 120 shots per game. So I took 48 minutes – 2,880 seconds – and divided that by 120 shots. The result was 24 seconds per shot.”

    Together with his general manager Leo Ferris, Biasone thus developed the 24-second shot clock.

    The shot clock prevented the teams from holding the ball without any restrictions and forced them to attempt a field goal within 24 seconds of gaining ball possession. The rules change also would mean a faster game and higher scoring.

    True enough, the NBA game became faster and the offense perked up with the introduction of the 24-second shot clock during the 1954-55 season. The league’s scoring average leapfrogged to 93.1 points per game (from 79.5 ppg) and the clubs combined to hit .385 from the field (up from .372 the previous campaign).

    From 150.7 field-goal attempts per game in 1953-54, the two teams combined for 172.8 floor shots in every game during the next season.

    The 24-second shot clock made its ...
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