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  1. Philippine Cup Opens PBA 39

    This Sunday, in an unprecedented opening day move, the PBA will open with three games in three major Philippine cities.

    3 p.m. – Ginebra vs San Mig Coffee (Smart Araneta Coliseum)

    3 p.m. – Meralco vs Talk n Text (Cebu Coliseum)

    5:15 p.m. – Alaska vs Rain or Shine (USEP, Davao)

    Reigning Philippine Cup champion Talk N Text is looking to bounce back after an ignominious and stunning early exit in the recently concluded Governors Cup. They will take on sister team Meralco in Cebu. Meralco and powerhouse Petron are the only two teams without a legitimate rookie on their respective rosters.

    Crowd darling Ginebra will officially open Season 39 going against fellow SMC team and newly crowned Governors Cup champion San Mig Coffee at the Big Dome. Two more recent champions - Alaska and Rain Or Shine - will square off in Davao.

    “Three games in three different cities on opening day is in line with our season theme One PBA, One Philippines,” declared new PBA Board Chair Mon Segismundo during the season-launching media event at the Shangri-La in Makati City yesterday afternoon.

    Chot Reyes, the Gilas national team head coach who steered the Philippines back into the World Cup of Basketball and former TNT Coach, is of the opinion that the intact teams have the best chances for this conference and for the season in general. He cited TNT, Rain Or Shine and San Mig as his top choices to win it all. "Sa akin lamang pa din ang matagal ng magkakasama," Reyes explained in a separate interview. He was at the event as head of Sports 5, the outfit who will be broadcasting the games.

    Let's take a look at each PBA team:

    Air 21 Express ___

    Key players: Asi Taulava, KG Canaleta, Vic Manuel, Mac Cardona, Bon Custodio, Renren Ritualo

    Key additions: Cardona, Eric Camson

    40-year old Asi Taulava will be the anchor for this relatively young team. He will provide not only veteran leadership but a strong inside presence to take pressure off Canaleta and Manuel and allow those two to do their thing from the outside going in. Cardona finally gives them a sure scorer who can get into the seams of opposing defenses. Still, this is a team at least two good players short of contending.

    Outlook: Maybe the Quarterfinals

    Alaska Aces ___

    Key players: Sonny Thoss, Calvin Abueva, Cyrus Baguio, JV Casio, Tony Dela Cruz, Gabby Espinas, Dondon Hontiveros

    Key additions: Ryan Buenafe

    A veteran core who knows how to win has gained arguably the most high-IQ player in the country, and that is quite a net gain. Coach Luigi Trillo acknowledged that their picking Ateneo swingman Ryan Buenafe at Number 8 raised some eyebrows. Buenafe however is perfect for the Alaska triangle, and will have studs like Abueva, flyers like Baguio, gunners like Hontiveros, bangers like Thoss and plenty of defensive insurance behind him. Heck, he might even finally make a legit player out of 6-foot-9 enigma Sam Eman.

    Outlook: At least the Semifinals

    Barako Bull Energy ___

    Key players: Willie Miller, Dorian Pena, Ronjay Buenafe, Mick Pennisi, JC Intal, Rico Maeirhofer

    Key additions: Miller, Maeirhofer, Carlo Lastimosa

    Danny Seigle opted not to re-sign immediately with the Energy, and they were soundly pilloried by fans for trading away three first round picks for fading veterans. But in the end those veterans will sure as day contribute more right away than the rookies they could have picked out of the first round. Miller is still a two-time MVP who will be classy and professional and he reunites with Pena and Pennisi in the team where his early success began. However there is just too much bench fodder and age on this roster, even if it is quality age.

    Outlook: No way

    Barangay Ginebra ___

    Key players: Mark Caguioa, Jay Helterbrand, LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, Chris Ellis

    Key additions: Greg Slaughter, JR Reyes

    Ginebra landed the crown jewel of a deep draft with 7-foot Greg Slaughter, who should change the game just on sheer size. They now have a three-headed monster inside with Slaughter, 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar and 6-foot-7 JR Reyes. Their perimeter may be aging but it is still a quality one, with Caguioa, Tenorio and Helterbrand leading the way. If Coach Ato Agustin can get this team to jell quickly they will be contending for the championship.

    Outlook: Should make the Semifinals

    Key players: Jay Washington, Sol Mercado, Enrico Villanueva, Eric Menk

    Key additions: Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia, Justin Chua, Nico Salva, Coach Richie Ticzon

    A blend of the old and the new seems to be the thrust of team owner Mikee Romero. His team has talent ...
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    Philippine Basketball

    It’s all systems go for the 7th Quezon City Athletic
    Association (QCAA) basketball finals that will be held on
    Saturday, November 16, at the Tivoli Royale Country Club gym
    in Batasan Hills, Q.C.

    The championship is at stake in each of the five divisions
    of the 2.5-month basketball competitions.

    For the 12-and-under boys’ elementary division
    championship, it will be Ateneo Grade School against School
    of Saint Anthony.

    In the 13-and-under boys’ elementary division finals,
    Angelicum College will tangle with Jubilee Christian

    Angelicum College will take to the floor against the
    Community of Learners Foundation (COLF) for the Girls High
    School crown in a rematch of last year’s finals.

    The Lady Roebucks are seeking a fifth consecutive
    title. A year ago, the Santo Domingo-based Dominican
    school registered a come-from-behind 83-76 victory over COLF
    in the finals behind Finals Most Valuable Player Baby
    Charmagne Torres’s 33 points and Wynona Jose Guallar’s

    Meanwhile, King’s Montessori and Mother of Perpetual Help
    School will duke it out for the Boys High
    School-Developmental crown and Saint Vincent School and
    Immaculate Conception Cathedral School will face each other
    in the Boys High School-Competitive finals.

    There will be a new winner in the two aforementioned
    divisions as the finals cast in both levels are entirely
    different from last year’s.

    Sponsored by Evian, Ceres Fruit Drink, Chris Sports,
    L.J.S.-Goodie Products Philippines Inc. and Chef’s
    Classics, the five-game bill will commence at 8:00 in the

    Following the games, the QCAA will announce the members of
    the Ceres Mythical Five and the recipient of the Evian Coach
    of the Year award.

    Through the years, the QCAA has sent a number of its
    basketball products to prominent colleges and universities.

    They include University Athletic Association of the
    Philippines veterans Clark Bautista and Ed Daquioag of the
    2013 UAAP runner-up University of Santo Tomas Growling
    Tigers, Carlo Gomez and Andrew Harris of the
    Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (UP) Fighting Maroons, Irvin
    Mendoza of the Adamson Soaring Falcons, Jeoffrey Javillonar
    of the National University Bulldogs, and Chris de Chavez and
    Anton Asistio of the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Alison Carlos
    of the College of Saint Benilde Blazers made it to the
    National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

    In the women’s collegiate level, there’s Alyssa Dogong
    of Ateneo de Manila, Likha Javier of UP; and Ara Abaca,
    Camille Claro and Rica Pineda, all of who are members of the
    De La Salle University Lady Archers that defeated top-seeded
    National University in three games in this year’s UAAP

    The QCAA is headed by Alfredo Camarillo, chairperson; Lemwel
    Ortiz, president; Jordan Tolentino, secretary general; Ricky
    Chua, treasurer; and Leo Aries Santos, public relations
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    Philippine Basketball
  3. CM Farm Faces 3 PBA Teams in Cebu Tilt

    This province-hopping basketball team may relatively been unknown in Manila but CM Farm is among the most popular cage entities in the Visayas and Mindanao.

    On Thursday,November 7, the Tagum-based Davao squad travels to the Queen City of the South that is Cebu to face three professional teams from the Philippine Basketball Association – Alaska, Barako Bull and Globalport – in an invitational tournament organized by the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ).

    To be held at the newly-renovated Cebu Coliseum, the three-day competition (Nov. 7-9) has a round-robin, no-playoff format with the CFBJ Cup going to the team with the best record. It also serves as a preseason exhibition for the three PBA clubs. The 39th season of the Asia’s first professional league commences on November 17 with a three-game bill to start the Philippine (All-Filipino) Cup in key cities in Luzon (Quezon City), Visayas (Cebu City) and Mindanao (Davao City).

    Owned by sports-minded couple Virginia Allones and Mario Bantillan, the CM Farm team is a hodgepodge of former PBA and PBA D-League veterans, up-and-coming collegiate talents (local and foreign) and marginal players displaced from the various pro and semi-pro leagues in Metro Manila.

    “My husband (businessman Mario) and I are passionate about basketball and sports in general,” said the 62-year-old Allones, a provincial administrator of the province. “We set up a touring basketball team so that displaced pro players as well as little-publicized up-and-coming talents from the Visayas and Mindanao areas will have a forum to showcase their skills during the offseason and perhaps land a job somewhere. The scouts also have the opportunity to check out the players for potential recruitment. Several imports in the NCAA and UAAP were once products of CM Farm. CM Farm is happy to note that a number of our farm products were chosen in the PBA Rookie Draft last Sunday in Manila.”

    Indeed, four players from the CM Farm team that was established in 2010 by current University of the Visayas assistant coach Van Halen Parmis (he has helped CM Farm to 32 tournament titles in Mindanao and is also known as Panalay King and Phil Jackson to some of his wards) heard their names called during the pro draft – Jayford Rodriguez (Rain or Shine), ex-SWU Cobras guard Eliud (Eloy) Poligrates (Talk ‘N Text), John Usita (Barangay Ginebra) and former De La Salle Green Archer Joshua Webb (Air21).

    CM Farm is the chief supporter of the UV team, having sponsored the Green Lancers’ trip to Bukidnon last March for a national inter-collegiate tournament.

    Mario and Allones are into the poultry business. CM is the acronym for Czyry, their youngest daughter.
    CM Farm, which will face the Alaska Aces in the opening twinbill of the CFBJ Cup (Barako Bull vs. Globalport is the main game), is composed of locals Ardy Larong, Mark Andaya and Jercules Tangkay, all of whom are PBA alumni; Glenn Bolocon, a one-time MVP in the now-defunct Liga Pilipinas; Ferdinand Lusdok and Vani Aguilar.

    Reinforcing the touring team are five foreign recruits and four members from the 2013 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) champion from the University of the Visayas and a trio of imports from Cameroon in Arnavd Noah, Douglas Njapa and Ahmed Salihov.

    Cerebral 5-7 playmaker John Abad, bulky 6-4 frontliner Hernal (Wowie) Escosio and Cameroonians Steve Akomo and Jean (Anaconda) Mpouma were part of the hard-fighting UV Green Lancers unit that upset 2012 titlist Southwestern University, 3-2, in this year’s best-of-five CESAFI finals to become the first team in league to overcome a 0-2 deficit and capture the crown.

    Abad and Escosio (the first-ever CESAFI Rookie of the Year and MVP awardee in 2012 who knocked in the winning basket in the Lancers’ 64-62 win in the decisive Game 5 of the 2013 CESAFI finals)) were also members of the Philippine team that played in the 2013 Universiade in Kazan, Russia last July. Abad chalked up 30 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and three assists against Mongolia during the biennial, multi-sport world university games where he wound up as the Nationals’ overall scoring leader.
    Philippine Basketball
  4. Gadzooks! I've Been Drafted! (Part IV)

    Now let us take a look at how each team fared in the draft. First we compiled all of the draft picks taken by each team. Second, please note that we will not factor in if the team gained other players through trades. We will look only at the overall quality of the draft haul, as well as the individual players taken by each team.

    Barangay Ginebra - Greg Slaughter, James Forrester, John Usita, Alvin Padilla, Jens Knuttel

    Getting the 7-foot Slaughter was a no-brainer regardless of who was actually picking first overall in this draft. Ginebra already had a premiere big man before in Marlou Aquino and enjoyed great franchise success. Slaughter is a modern version of the original Skyscraper. Forrester remains an eyebrow-raiser what with all of the other, more polished, and more productive swingman-types still available at Number 4. Usita is another enigma and a likely project, but a huge one at 6-foot-8 and some 300 pounds. Padilla and Knuttel will most likely end up as practice players.

    Grade: A

    San Mig Coffee - Ian Sangalang, Justin Chua, Justin Melton, JR Cawaling

    Across the board the Mixers got arguably the most talented, polished and ready haul of players in this draft. Sangalang and Chua are college champions who know how to play and bring expansive skill sets to the 5/4 positions. Melton is a superb athlete at the pointguard spot who will need at most a year to a year and a half to acclimate to the PBA. Cawaling is a long, tall athlete with above-average perimeter skills; just don't make him guard Buenafe when San Mig plays Alaska.

    Grade: A

    Rain or Shine - Raymond Almazan, Alex Nuyles, Jeric Teng, Gayford Rodriguez, Ervic Vijandre

    Both Almazan and Nuyles are superb PBA-grade athletes at their respective positions and are ready to play right away. Teng will get his entire cotnract period to prove himself. Rodriguez and Vijandre could blossom into surprise packages under Yeng Guiao but will more likely end up as practice players.

    Grade: B+

    Barako Bull - Jeric Fortuna, Carlo Lastimosa, Darwin Cordero, Jet Vidal, Mike Silungan

    Lord only knows how much Ramon S Ang on the corporate side had to do with the draft day and pre-draft trades that led to this egregious draft haul for the Energy Cola. Lastimosa and Cordero have PBA-level talent and athletic ability but could sputter in this long-toxic environment. Fortuna, Vidal and Silungan will have to fight tooth and nail for contracts.

    Grade: D

    Global Port - Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia, Isaac Holstein, Nico Salva, Jopher Custodio, LA Revilla

    Talk about a youth movement. Team owner Michael Romero certainly brought in a good haul with this draft. They may not be quite as high-impact as the Top 3 but they can certainly play right away. It should be interesting to see though who between Garcia and Salva will punch Romeo first during practice. Coach Junel Baculi's blood pressure and well-coiffed hair will be worth watching throughout the season. Custodio and Revilla have better than even chances of getting contracts too.

    Grade: B+

    Talk 'N Text - JP Erram, Robby Celiz, Elliud Poligrates, Chris Sumalinog, Byron Villarias

    Bereft of any chance at landing any of the top tier talent, TNT took in players that at least they can use. Erram and Sumalinog reunite with their old Ateneo Coach Norman Black and Manager Paolo Trillo. The hot-shooting Celiz played against them in the UAAP. Villarias was with NLEX and thus has an MVP connection. Poligrates made a name for himself in the PBA D League where he had memorable matches against Villarias. Still, none of these guys are sure star material.

    Grade: C

    Air 21 - Eric Camson, Joshua Webb, Angelo Ingco, Randolph Chua

    Other than Camson none of the Express picks seem to possess PBA-level talent or skill. Webb is a great athlete with good size for a perimeter player but does not quite have the high skill set required at the position for the PBA. Ingco and Chua won't even get a practice contract. Well... maybe Ingco.

    Grade: C

    Alaska - Ryan Buenafe, Chris Exciminiano, Raymond Ilagan

    Reports have it that it was assistant coach Topex Robinson who lobbied, and lobbied hard, for the Aces to pick the star-crossed Buenafe. Playing in the Alaska Triangle should come easily to the high-IQ Buenafe. His physical conditioning however remains a key concern, as does his perimeter shooting. Exciminiano and Ilagan will become practice players.

    Grade: C+

    Petron - Sam Marata, Nate Matute

    Both of these guys will be seen in Petron blue polo shirts or shirt-jacks seated directly behind the Petron bench at the Patron section. They will be expected to clap for good plays and boo bad ...
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    Philippine Basketball
  5. Gadzooks! I've Been Drafted! (Part III)

    There was a good crowd at the Robinson's Place Manila for the 2013 PBA Draft. 44 out of the 84 rookie applicants were picked through seven rounds of drafting. While Rounds 1 and 2 went just about as expected, there were still a few surprises, and we will be grading teams in the next column.

    Meanwhile here is the complete list of who went where:

    Round 1

    1. Barangay Ginebra - Greg Slaughter
    2. San Mig Coffee - Ian Sangalang
    3. Rain or Shine - Raymond Almazan
    4. Ginebra - (from Barako Bull for Rico Maeirhofer and Willie Wilson) James Forrester
    5. Global Port - (from Petron for Yousif Taha) Terrence Romeo
    6. Global Port - (from Barako Bull for Denok Miranda) RR Garcia
    7. Global Port - Isaac Holstein
    8. Alaska - Ryan Buenafe
    9. Rain or Shine - Alex Nuyles
    10. San Mig Coffee - Justin Chua

    Round 2

    11. Global Port - Nico Salva
    12. Rain or Shine - Jeric Teng
    13. San Mig - Justin Melton
    14. Barako Bull - Jeric Fortuna
    15. Talk 'N Text - (from Alaska) JP Erram
    16. Air 21 - Eric Camson
    17. Talk N Text - Robby Celiz
    18. Alaska - Chris Exciminiano
    19. Rain or Shine - Gayford Rodriguez
    20. Barako Bull - Carlo Lastimosa

    Round 3

    21. Air 21 - Joshua Webb
    22. Global Port - Jopher Custodio
    23. Barako Bull - Darwin Cordero
    24. Global Port - LA Revilla
    25. Petron - Sam Marata
    26. Meralco - Anjo Caram
    27. Talk'N Text - Elliud Poligrates
    28. Alaska - Raymond Ilagan
    29. Rain or Shine - Ervic Vijandre
    30. San Mig Coffee - JR Cawaling

    Round 4

    31. Air 21 - Angelo Ingco
    32. Barako Bull - Jet Vidal
    33. Barangay Ginebra - John Usita
    34. Petron - Nate Matute
    35. Meralco - Michael Parala
    36. Talk N Text - Chris Sumalinog

    Round 5

    37. Air 21 - Randolph Chua
    38. Barako Bull - Mike Silungan
    39. Barangay Ginebra - Alvin Padilla
    40. Meralco - Mark Lopez
    41. Talk N Text - Byron Villarias

    Round 6

    42. Barangay Ginebra - Jens Knuttel
    43. Meralco - Ron Guevarra

    Round 7

    44. Meralco - Mark Bringas
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    Philippine Basketball
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