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  1. 2014 UAAP Men's Basketball Finals: Historic Victory for NU

    The Season 77 men’s seniors basketball tournament of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) came to a grand conclusion last night with the decisive Finals Game Three between National University and Far Eastern University.

    The NU Bulldogs crushed the FEU Tamaraws, 73-57, to capture its first UAAP men’s basketball crown since 1954, halting the longest title drought in the league by surviving five “elimination” games (once vs. the University of the East to secure the fourth and final seed in the Final Four playoffs, twice vs. top seed Ateneo de Manila University in the semifinals and finally, duplicating the feat of De La Salle University a year ago by winning Games Two and Three of the best-of-three Finals against FEU).

    It was history repeating itself. In 1954, NU also defeated FEU for the UAAP crown.

    Overall, it was only NU’s second championship since joining the UAAP in 1938 as a founding member.

    This is one season where “two is bigger than three.” FEU beat NU in their first three meetings (twice in the elimination round and Finals Game 1) but NU saved its best for last by securing the second and third games of the Finals.

    Ateneo de Manila University also whipped arch nemesis De La Salle University thrice during the 2007 season but the Green Archers got back at their tormentors by grabbing the two games that mattered most – a playoff for the No. 2 seed and twice-to-beat advantage that went with it in the semifinals and the rubber match that decided which team entered the Finals. La Salle subsequently beat UE, 2-0, in the Finals that year.

    As for the 2014 UAAP All-Tournament Team, the five spots (in chronological order) went to Ateneo de Manila University’s Kiefer Ravena (21.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game) , De La Salle University’s Jeron Teng (18.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4.0 apg, 0.6 spg and 0.6 blocks per game), Far Eastern University’s Mark Belo (16.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg and 2.5 apg), ADMU’s Chris Newsome (13.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.6 apg and 1.3 spg) and the University of Santo Tomas’ Karim Abdul (14.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.2 spg and 1.7 bpg).

    There’s no requirement for a selection of two forwards, a center and two guards like the traditional Mythical Five. The top five players with the most statistical points (compiled from the five major statistical categories like points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots plus 15 points for every game won in which the player played) after the 14-game elimination phase automatically landed on the all-tournament unit.

    One is only disqualified from the mythical squad if he was ejected from a game or given a suspension. A league rule also states only one foreign player (without any pint of Filipino blood, of course) can make it to the Mythical Five.

    NU’s Alfred Aroga, a Cameroonian like Abdul, ranked sixth in the SP race. Aroga showed up for all 14 assignments with the Bulldogs while Abdul was the only Mythical Five choice that did not complete the elims as he suited up in just 13 games (once sitting out due to an illness). Abdul is the lone repeater from last season’s all-tournament squad.

    With the most SPs among his peers, Ravena, who was the tournament leader in points and assists and ranked second in steals, automatically romped away with the UAAP Most Valuable Player honor after powering the Blue Eagles to the league’s best elimination-round record at 11-3. Despite its top-seed status, the Jesuits-run school lost twice to No. 4 seed National University in the Final 4 (semifinal playoffs).

    Teng, a 6-2 swingman who has paced La Salle in point production in each of his three seasons with the Green, ranked a far second in the MVP race. The youngest son of former professional player Alvin Teng made it to the Mythical Five for the second time in three years.

    For the Rookie of the Year award, Ateneo’s Arvin Tolentino was the winner also on the basis of statistical points although the former San Beda Red Cubs star struggled mightily in the second round of the elimination phase and the subsequent two-game playoff series against NU.

    Tolentino started on fire with double-digit scores (12-14-20-17-5-14) in five of his first six games, including the first four, and two double-doubles in points and rebounds (14/10 in Game 2and 14/12 in Game 6 to emerge as the league’s eighth-leading scorer with a 12.1-point clip (third on the Eagle roost behind Ravena and Newsome), taking 75 field shots (26-for-75 overall, 13-for-43 from the three-point area) in the first round in a third team-high 27.3 minutes an outing as a starter, and grabbing 5.0 rebounds every time out.

    After that, Tolentino’s numbers nosedived dramatically as he started only five times in seven appearances and his minutes dropped to 17.7 mpg. Blue Eagles bench ...
  2. Pac You All

    Now that the 40th season of Asia's premiere professional league is just days away it is time to address the hottest and most important issue to ever face the league since it was founded way back some four decades ago: Manny Pacquiao.

    For those living under a rock the size of Caloocan the last couple of months our Pambansang Kamao is officially designated as a playing coach for the Kia Sorento, one of two expansion franchises seeing action in this landmark season.

    Yes you read that right: the eight-division boxing world champion, arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter over the last decade, will not only be coaching but playing in the PBA. The man was even drafted. "Laban na din po tayo sa PBA," he remarked in one interview.

    Since we now live in the Internet age there was a lot of online reaction to the Pac Man's latest new venture, most of it not so good.

    The PBA however has been very tongue-in-cheek about the whole affair. Commissioner Chito Salud, a lawyer by profession, has overseen the record growth of the league during his tenure. He had one thing to say to Pacquiao, "Please don't get injured." Considering this is a league where players nurse anything from minor aches and sprains to out and out torn anterior cruciate ligaments I'm not sure how seriously or not seriously anybody should be taking the Commissioner's admonition. Some doubters saw that as the express, if indirect, command of the Commissioner to the rest of the league to go easy on Pacquiao if he should ever be on the floor.

    Pacquiao's own trainer/coach Freddie Roach made a similar appeal to the entire league to "please go easy on Manny" in another interview. Freddie, you know how your guy earns his living right? Seriously, why would the rest of the PBA take it easy on a guy who takes punches from other guys trained to punch as part of his job description? I'm sure he can handle a hard hack or even a flying tackle every now and then. Well... maybe unless its from Beau Belga or any of the other true big boys patrolling the paint and having to switch or help on him.

    Regardless of the admonitions and appeals though, it seems the PBA players themselves have different ideas. A number of established PBA stars were already asked how they would treat Pacquiao if and when he is playing on the floor.

    “Napagusapan nga namin 'yan sa Spain. The concession is kung kaya ni Pacquiao maglaro, well and good. If not, dadaan siya talaga sa baptism of fire,” said Gilas mainstay Gary David or the Meralco Bolts.

    “Kung sa akin lang, I really intend to defend him very hard kung kami ang mataon magka-match up. Jayson (Castro) and LA (Tenorio) and some of the other guys were saying kukunan daw talaga nila ng bola si Pacquiao,” David added.

    And therein is the real answer.

    Whatever else Pacquiao's motivation might be for joining the PBA, he should expect that real PBA players will not simply let him have his way. Of course any red-blooded Pinoy at one time or another dreamed of playing in the PBA, including Pacquiao. However else it might have come to pass, Pacquiao now gets to live this dream. "It's the man's dream, can't hate on that," stated Greg Slaughter, the reigning PBA Rookie of the Year from Barangay Ginebra. Quite right Slaughter is.

    But the dream may soon turn into a very ugly reality the minute the real games start and Pacquiao has to face the likes of Castro, Tenorio, Jimmy Alapag, JV Casio, Alex Cabagnot, Sol Mercado, Chris Ross, Terrence Romeo, Mark Barroca, and even his fellow rookie Stan Pringle. Pacquiao does indeed play a lot of pickup ball, but mostly against guys who defer to him all the time and basically do not pressure him full court, or do not show hard to challenge his shot, or do not use all the tricks in the book on him. Heck they don't even bother defending him. The Barroca he plays in a pickup game will be completely and totally different from the Barroca he faces whose job with San Mig Coffee is on the line in an actual PBA game.

    Most assuredly though, the one real nightmare scenario here is (knocks on all the wood in the world) what if Pacquiao is indeed injured during a game. And I don't mean something minor like a sprain. I mean something really serious like a torn ACL. With a fight coming up this November. He's pushing 40. His body's taken a lot of punishment over the years. An ACL injury now could end both his basketball and boxing careers. The more cynical here are probably wishing precisely that to finally put an end at least to the basketball part of the Pac Man journey. I'm not one of them.

    I want the guy to live his basketball dream, see that it really isn't for him, and quit on his own. Say what you will about the man, but I'm sure when he sees what a totally different animal the PBA is, and that will happen sooner rather than later, ...
    Tags: pba Add / Edit Tags
    Philippine Basketball
  3. Numbers, Numbers, and More Numbers

    Here we go again. Numbers, numbers, numbers.

    It’s said that Game Two of the Season 77 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball finals last October 1 set an all-time attendance record at the tradition-steeped Araneta Coliseum when 24,896 people witnessed National University’s 62-47 spanking of Far Eastern University that forced a deciding Game Three to be held also at the 54-year-old Big Dome tomorrow, October 15.

    That attendance figure supposedly broke the old mark of 24,883 that witnessed Game 7 of the 2014 Philippine Cup semifinals between San Mig Coffee and Barangay Ginebra in the professional Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) league.

    Convince me these are the largest crowds ever at the Araneta Coliseum.

    During the mid-seventies, newspaper reports estimated that more than 35,000 fans once watched league founders Crispa and Toyota slug it out (yes, literally and figuratively – that’s because sometimes fisticuffs erupted during their marquee duels and one of these brawls even forced a number of players to spend overnight at the Camp Crame prison during the dreaded martial law era) for the PBA championship.

    As a Baby Boomer and a statistical freak at that, I had no reason to doubt the attendance figures being churned out at the Araneta Coliseum, which made its sports debut in March 1960 with the junior lightweight championship (return) bout between Philippine boxing icon Gabriel (Flash) Elorde (then defending his title belt) and African American Harold Gomez. Months earlier, Gomez had lost his crown to Elorde. In the rematch, Elorde quickly knocked out Gomes in the first round.

    The Rizal Memorial Coliseum was the other venue for sporting events during the time. The arena was smaller in size and therefore could accommodate fewer customers. It was also aging since it was built during the pre-war times.

    Then again, RMC had had a rich and colorful history as some of the biggest local and international basketball tournaments were held there.

    During my younger years (sixties and seventies), the Araneta Coliseum appeared to more spacious than at present.

    That’s why it could have a bigger seating capacity – as much as 35,000 people packed like sardines from the bleachers to the ringside (now known as patron seats). The “open” bleachers section, which like now did not have numbered chairs, attracted the most customers. Add to that there were the standing-room-only viewers.

    But as the decades went by, the Big Dome was renovated a number of times and subsequently configurated.

    Maybe that’s the reason why less people could be accommodated at the Big Dome now.
    Maybe in Game Three of the UAAP Finals on October 15, more people are likely to witness it “live” at the Big Dome and establish another attendance mark.
    In a few days more, I would hardly care.

    The mother of all mother attendance figures will be registered on October 19 when the PBA opens its 40th season with a pair of games at the newly-built Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

    The Philippine Arena reportedly could accommodate more than 55,000 people – making it possibly the largest crowd ever in world sports history for an indoor stadium.

    Mark the unofficial sports holiday as Attendance Day.
    Tags: henry liao, uaap Add / Edit Tags
    Philippine Basketball

    Team Standings (October 12) – Chiang Kai Shek College (4-0), Saint Jude Catholic School (3-1), Saint Stephen’s High School (3-1), Hope Christian High School (2-1), Northern Rizal Yorklin School (2-2), Philadelphia High School (1-3), Philippine Cultural College (0-3) and Philippine Academy of Sakya (0-4)

    Underrated Joshua Ramirez put together a 21-point, four-rebound, 3-assist performance in powering guest team Chiang Kai Shek College to an 81-74 victory over defending champion Hope Christian High School Sunday afternoon (October 12) in the 17th Metropolitan Amateur Sports Association (MASA) high school basketball tournament held at the Saint Stephen’s High School Gym.

    National Youth Team member Jollo Go chalked up 31 points for a second consecutive game but the HCHS hotshot struggled mightily on offense in finishing with a 10-for-38 clip from the field, including 4-for-27 from the three-point area.
    In other Sunday games, host Saint Jude Catholic School walloped winless Philippine Academy of Sakya, 75-45; Saint Stephen’s High School crushed Philadelphia High School, 85-50; and Northern Rizal Yorklin School blasted winless Philippine Cultural College, 96-54.

    With the semestral exams and subsequent two-week vacation, the eight-team tournament will resume action on Saturday, November 8.

    CKSC 81 – HCHS 74
    Hope Christian High School raced to a 7-0 getaway, including the first five by Go (he connected on a three-pointer with the Warriors’ first floor attempt), forcing Chiang Kai Shek College head coach Goldwin Monteverde to sue for a timeout.
    Jaylen Christian Ang broke the ice for the Blue Dragons with a split from the foul line off an unsportsmanlike foul (an inadvertent elbow to the face of Ang) by Kris Harvey Pagsanjan following a defensive rebound by the latter.
    Antonio Miguel Yang secured a fielder as HCHS increased its lead to eight points, 9-1. But successive treys by Robert John Minerva and Ramirez trimmed CKSC’s deficit to two, 9-7. HCHS’ Mac Chester Jacob retaliated with a fielder for an 11-7 edge by his team.

    Gershom Norman Montes deadlocked the count at 11-11 but Ken Mark Miranda regained the lead for the Warriors, 13-11. CKSC scored 10 consecutive points – a Marc Erzel Quijano basket, a Montes three-point play, a Ramirez trifecta (his second for the quarter) and two free throws by Richmond Sedrick King – to send the Dragons to a 21-13 advantage.
    CKSC took the first 10-minute quarter, 21-16, as it kept Go scoreless after getting HCHS’s first five markers (2-of-8 FGA, 1-of-5 3FGA).

    The Warriors opened the second period with an 8-0 run as Go sandwiched a Joshua Devara’s fielder with a pair of threes for a 24-21. Ramirez and Pagsanjan exchanged baskets as Hope Christian kept a three-point lead, 26-23. Back-to-back two-pointers by Danilo Hernandez and CKSC went in front, 27-26.
    Go scored on a twinner for his 12th and 13th points of the half as HCHS regained the lead, 30-29. CKSC zoomed to a 41-33 advantage as Ramirez drove from coast to coast for a layup.

    CKSC was up, 41-39, at the half, behind 10 points by Ramirez, eight by Montes and seven by Hernandez. Go tallied 13 markers but went 5-for-16 from the field, including 3-for-11 from three-ball territory.

    HCHS opened the third quarter with five straight points, or 11 straight bridging the second and third periods, to go up 44-41. It would be the Warriors’ final taste of the upperhand.

    CKSC grabbed a 55-47 advantage on a three-point play by Montes and settled for a 57-54 lead at the end of the third quarter despite Go’s fourth and final trifecta (55-52).

    A bankshot by Dominique Ansis Cuevas propelled the Blue Dragons to their first double-digit lead, 64-54. Ramirez hit another trey with 5:31 left as CKSC went up, 73-60, for its largest lead.

    A free throw by Yang with 1:23 left trimmed HCHS’ deficit to five, 75-71. Two free throws each by Cuevas and Montes increased the CKSC lead to eight, 79-71.

    Aside from Ramirez, Montes also scored in double figures with 17 points (and five rebounds) for CKSC, which at 4-0 is likely to claim the top seed in the Final Four playoffs armed with a twice-to-beat advantage against the fourth-placer. Minerva and Shamasneh Banez each had eight markers and Hernandez and Cuevas (all in the fourth quarter) totaled seven apiece.

    Hope Christian got 31 points from Go but the latter shot only 5-for-22 from the field in the second half, including 1-of-16 from the three-point line. Yang contributed 12 points and eight rebounds and Miranda collected 10 markers and six boards for the Warriors, who dropped their record to 2-1.

    NRYS 96 – PCC 54
    After a 5-5 deadlock, Northern Rizal Yorklin School ran and ran to come up with 24 unanswered points bridging the first and second quarters ...
  5. 17th MASA Basketball: St. Jude Pulls St. Stephen’s Out of Unbeaten Ranks

    Team Standings (October 11) – Chiang Kai Shek College (3-0), Hope Christian High School (2-0), Saint Jude Catholic School (2-1), Saint Stephen’s High School (2-1), Northern Rizal Yorklin School (1-2), Philadelphia High School (1-2), Philippine Cultural College (0-2) and Philippine Academy of Sakya (0-3)

    Bouncing back from a forgettable five-point losing effort against defending champion Hope Christian High School last Monday (October 6), and barely 48 hours after contracting high fever, Saint Jude Catholic School hotshot Renzel Yongco came off the bench to knock in six triples and 26 points in a 77-70 victory over erstwhile unblemished Saint Stephen’s High School Saturday (October 11) in the 17th Metropolitan Amateur Sports Association (MASA) high school basketball competitions at the Saint Stephen’s High School Gym.

    In other games, unbeaten Chiang Kai Shek College shellacked Northern Rizal Yorklin School, 86-58, in a battle between guest teams and Philadelphia High School broke into the win column with a hard-fought 70-56 success against winless Philippine Academy of Sakya.

    On Sunday, Saint Jude Catholic School shoots for its third win in four assignments, Saint Stephen’s High School looks to bounce back against Philadelphia High School, Northern Rizal Yorklin School seeks to even its slate against Philippine Cultural College and Hope Christian College and Chiang Kai Shek College duke it out in the main game (3:00 p.m.) of a full quadrupleheader at the Saint Stephen’s High School Gym.

    SJCS 77 – SSHS 70

    Yongco, whose temperature rose to as high as 39 degrees, barely practiced for this game. However, he came in the game that practically determined the No. 3 seed in the Final Four playoffs that will take place following the single round-robin, eight-team elimination phase.

    Several players were missing on the Judenites bench due to academic problems and coach Luis Nolasco’s charges got off to a slow start, allowing the Stephenians to grab a 20-14 advantage after the first 10-minute quarter behind Jeffrey Weng’s six points.

    SSHS was still ahead , 30-28, on a Richmond Legaspi drive when SJCS scattered 13 unanswered points – including one three-ball each by Yongco (his second of three treys in the second quarter), Maynard Yap and Calvin Uy and a two-point fielder each by Yap and Jared Filipino that gave the Mendiola-based school its first double-digit lead, 41-30.

    Bryant Terrado broke the SSHS scoring silence with 1:18 left in the quarter but Yongco sandwiched a pair of free throws by Weng with a 5-0 run of his own, including another triple, that gave SJCS a 12-point cushion at the half, 46-34. Yongco and Yap each tallied 11 markers in the first 20 minutes while Weng and Terrado had 10 and eight points, respectively for SSHS during the stretch.

    SSHS came within three points, 49-46, at the 7.5-minutes mark of the third quarter whe eight consecutive points by Legaspi and two fielders by Terrado were only countered with a three by Earl See.

    Yongco, who had at least one triple in every quarter, sank his fifth trifecta after another couple of freebies by Weng sliced the Stephenians’ deficit to four, 54-50.

    SJCS, which is supported by Boysen Paint, Valentino Clocks and Watches, Sony Xperia and Mr. Kevin Wong, owned a 60-52 lead entering the fourth quarter.

    At 60-54, the Judenites jumped to their largest lead, 67-54, when See had five points (a three-point play and two freebies) and Alec Johnson Billan scored a basket with less than five minutes remaining.

    SJCS was still ahead, 70-59, following See’s last of three threes when SSHS made its last-ditch stand with a 7-0 blast that was capped by a triple by tree-like Luigi Laroco fielder, 70-66, time down to 3:27.

    But Yongco silenced the home crowd with a sixth trifecta, 73-66, at the 2:04 mark and See sealed the deal with a free throw, 75-68, with 22.2 ticks left.

    Yongco, who went 7-for-13 from the field (including 6-for-9 from three-point land) and 6-for-12 from the charity stripes, also grabbed six rebounds for Saint Jude, which improved its record to 2-1.

    Aside from Yongco, See also reached the 20-point mark with 20 and collected a triple in the first, third and fourth quarters en route to a 6-for-15 floor clip. See went from 5-of-8 from the foul line and stole the rock three times. Yap, bucking an in-game injury, finished with 16 markers (including 14 in the first half), nine boards, four steals and two blocks.

    SSHS, which slipped to 2-1, got 18 points, six reebies and two steals from Terrado, 15 points (10 in the second half) and 10 reebies from Legaspi, 15 points from Weng and nine scores (seven of them in the payoff period) and six boards from Laroco.

    CKSC 86 – NRYS 58

    Northern Rizal ...
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