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  1. Biasone: Revolutionized pro basketball with the 24-second shot clock rule

    Danny Biasone, the owner-president of the Syracuse Nationals (the forerunners of the Philadelphia 76ers) during the early years of the National Basketball Association, was credited for the creation of the 24-second shot clock rule in the National Basketball Association.

    The Italian-born Biasone was turned off by the constant stalling tactics that were being employed by the teams during the games played in the 1950s.

    The dull and farcical games had to stop and so Biasone convinced his fellow NBA club owners to adopt a shot clock rule for games starting with the 1954-55 season.

    How did the shot clock come down to 24 seconds?

    Said 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 Nats general manager Leo Ferris, Biasone developed the 24-second shot clock.

    The novel rule prevented the teams from holding the ball without any restrictions and forced them to hoist 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 fast-paced and the offense perked up with the introduction of the 24-second shot clock during the 1954-55 wars.

    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 in the previous season).

    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 following season.
    The 24-second shot clock rule made its NBA debut on October 30, 1954, with the Rochester Royals (the predecessors of the Sacramento Kings) knocking off the Boston Celtics, 98-95.

    Ironically, Biasone?s Nats were the biggest winners in 1954-55, snaring the NBA championship with a 4-3 decision over the Fort Wayne (now Detroit) Pistons in a seven-game Finals that saw the home team emerge triumphant each time.

    Biasone died in 1992 but he will always be remembered as the creator of the 24-second shot clock rule.

    In 2000, Biasone was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame under the contributor?s category.
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  2. Where're the Good Ones?

    With half the UAAP basketball season done, Mr Libog and I were having one of our regular dinner sessions and he was, as usual, being his loquacious self.

    "Bakit kaya parang ang hina ng UAAP ngayon (Season 79?" he asked.

    I wondered what he meant, although I had some inkling.

    "Tignan mo up to last year, nandun pa si Kev (Kevin Ferrer of UST), (Ed) Daquioag, Karim (Abdul), andun pa si Phenom (Kiefer Ravena of the Ateneo), sa FEU sina (Mac) Belo, (Mike) Tolomia, (Russell) Escoto, kahit si (Roger) Pogoy, andun din siempre si Jeron (Teng of Lasalle). Bakit parang wala ng mga ganyan ngayon?"

    I said we have Ben Mbala this year, an elite talent if ever there was one, and Mr Libog agreed, saying Mbala is "the best import to ever play in college basketball."

    I also mentioned Adamson rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi, who at the end of the first round of eliminations was among the league leaders in scoring and three-point shooting.

    "Magaling nga si Ahanmisi, kahit rookie pa lang siya. Pero aside from him and Mbala and Teng, sino pa ba mga kasinggaling nung mga players last year?"

    Very interesting indeed. Could this group of players now, in Season 79, be the weakest field in recent memory?

    Again, I am not quite into the number crunching, so I don't think I'll be able to give a quantitative answer to that question. And of course the question of "magaling" carries with it a lot of subjectivity, i.e. an elite talent for one guy may not necessarily be an elite talent for another guy.

    Mr Libog of course is very simplistic in his approach. "Mahirap bang makita kung magaling ang isang player or hindi? I don't think so; it is not rocket science," he said in between bites of a well-fired pomfret and some "noble vegetables" that looked suspiciously like local kangkong.

    "May nahanap akong Bonbon Custodio dati, may Roi Sumang, sinabi ko din na big mistake na hindi kunin si Mark Cruz dati pa nung college pa lang siya, tapos ngayon andiyan si Harvey (Pagsanjan) sa Hope Christian. Sinsabi ko sa'yo, hindi naman mahirap makita kung magaling ang player or hindi. Isa, dalawang minuto pa lang ng laro, takbo pa lang, minsan lakad pa lang, alam mo na kung magaling ang player or hindi."

    This reminds me of a book I love by Pat Conroy, "The Great Santini", in which one of the characters is a high school boy named Ben Meecham, a varsity star. Ben described good players as having "the walk", that indication just with his stride and gait if he was already a good player or not. Ben had seen "the walk" in the streets of Baltimore and the Capital, when his father, a Marine fighter pilot, had been assigned in Washington DC.

    "Kapag nanunuod ako ngayon nakakatamad, kasi meron lang isang saksakan ng lakas na team, ang Lasalle, tapos the rest parang wala lang, parang ganun kahina talaga ang field ngayon," he said.

    I told him Mbala was something like 20-plus points ahead of the second-running player in the MVP race. That got him going even more.

    "Kita mo na. Ganun kalakas 'yung Lasalle this year. They have the best import ever, tapos mahina pa ang field. Alam mo kahit nung time nung 5-Peat ng Ateneo, never ko naramdaman na ganun kahina ang the rest of the field."

    He had a point. In the first of the Ateneo's five straight UAAP championships in 2008, Lasalle still had JV Casio and Rico Maeirhofer, FEU had Marc Barroca, JR Cawaling, Reil Cervantes, Aldrech Ramos, UE had Pari Llagas, Elmer Espiritu, Ken Acibar, Paul Lee wasn't even a star yet back then. UST was only two years removed from their 2006 title, and still had an MVP-level Jervy Cruz, with Dylan Ababou, Badong Canlas, Alein Maliksi. In other words, that most certainly was not a weak field.

    All throughout that 5-Peat, when everybody and his brother were just dying to have someone knock the Ateneo off its perch, there were legitimate contenders who had a chance. That might not necessarily be the case now.

    "Huwag na tayo maglokohan, the truth is that there is nobody who can challenge Lasalle this year, period," he said, this time already tackling a dessert that looked suspiciously like cold taho.

    "Sino ba may enough talent na talunin ang Lasalle? Hindi 'yung chambang talo ha, na parang nung 1997 (1996, I corrected him) nung umulan ng tres para sa Ateneo at tinambakan nila Lasalle team nila Telan, huwag ganun. I mean a real chance, na alam mo kahit papano may ipapalag sila. Wala naman 'di ba?"

    We have the national team coach who knows how to beat Iran, said I.

    He almost choked on his taho (quite a feat in itself) with that one. "Tinalo na nga kayo ni Bo Perasol eh! Wasn't that the same Bo Perasol na sinabi niyo bano, walang alam, hindi makapanalo with a talent like Phenom? O ayan, tinalo kayo. Anong national team, national ...
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  3. PBA History: Homegrown Players with 50 points-or-more Games

    Among the most prolific offensive players in the 41-year existence of the local professional league Philippine Basketball Association, only seven ?homegrown? Filipino athletes were able to score 50 points or more in a single game during their distinguished careers.
    All seven players are no longer active in the PBA.

    Five actually broke the 60-point barrier ? ?The Triggerman? Allan Caidic , ?Mr. Excitement? Paul (Bong) Alvarez, William (Bogs) Adornado, Danilo Florencio and Abe King.

    As if scoring a 60 was not mind-boggling enough, two men ? Caidic and Alvarez ? even went over that mark to collect a 70 on separate occasions.

    This is truly a remarkable feat when one considers that their singular individual performances during the PBA?s early years could easily have been the total output of a team in a 48-minute game in today?s era.

    In one shining moment, Caidic chalked up 79 points in a game ? the highest ever by a homegrown Filipino player in league annals ? for Tivoli (Presto) on November 21, 1991. The former University of the East gunslinger also had a 68 for Presto on November 2, 1989.
    Alvarez tallied 71 points for Alaska on April 26, 1990. Adornado knocked in 64 scores for U-Tex on December 23, 1980; Florencio netted 64 points for Seven-Up on November 5, 1977; and King collected 60 points for Toyota on June 21, 1979.

    All the aforementioned efforts happened between 1977 and 1991.

    Of the six 60 points-or-more feats, four came on a winning note ? Caidic (79, Tivoli 162-Ginebra 149), Alvarez (71, Alaska 169-Shell 13, Caidic (68, Presto 175-Alaska 159 OT) and Adornado (64, U-Tex 126-San Miguel Beer 111).

    The two that were recorded in a losing cause: Florencio (64, Seven-Up 121-Toyota 136) and King (60, Toyota 142-Crispa 172).

    Venancio (Benjie) Paras and Fortunato (Atoy) Co Jr. are the two other homegrown Filipino cagers with 50-point games in the past.
    Paras, who has moonlighted as a comedy actor on television and in the big screen since his prime playing years, once made 50 markers with Shell in 1989.

    It was the year that the amiable 6-5 Paras became the first and only player in PBA history to secure Rookie of the year and Most Valuable Player honors in the same season.

    Like Paras, Co only had a single 50-point performance during his outstanding PBA career.

    Monikered ?The Fortune Cookie,? Co, who was famous for his difficult turnaround, fadeaway jumpers, got a 50 with the fabled Crispa Redmanizers franchise in 1979. He, too, gained the MVP plum that year albeit in a controversial fashion.

    Co was way behind Toyota?s Ramon Fernandez in the MVP statistical category but subsequently collected all the media votes ? following a get-together with the sports editors of the top national dailies by the late Crispa team manager Danny Floro ? to walk away with the MVP award.
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  4. Returning, Debuting

    And so it is down to two: Barangay Ginebra and Meralco will dispute the PBA Governors Cup Finals starting tomorrow, 7 October, at the Big Dome, in a Best 4-out of-7 series.

    It took quite some doing for both teams to make it this far. Ginebra needed the full five games of their semis series to oust sister team San Miguel Beer. In their win-or-go-home Game 5, Ginebra leaned on rookie guard Scottie Thompson's 24 points (4/7 on triples) and 15 rebounds (yep, no typo, 15 rebounds from the 5-foot-11 guard) to rip San Miguel 117-92. It was fitting payback after the Beermen forced a Game 5 by shredding the Gin Kings in Game 4.

    Meralco needed four games to also pull the rug out from their own sister team Talk N Text. Cliff Hodge, the jumping jack Fil-Am forward who has spent his entire career with the Bolts, electrified his side with 32 points (12/19 field goals overall, including three triples) to lead them to the 94-88 victory.

    In both series, the "dehado" had turned back the "llamado".

    Ginebra last won a PBA championship in 2008, when they had mighty 7-foot-1 import Chris Alexander leading the way. Fast and Furious backcourt mates Mark Caguioa and Jay Helterbrand were still very much living up to their monickers back then. They are still with the Gin Kings up to now, although more as elder statesmen. It has been three years since Ginebra was in the Finals, the last time around they bowed to the Alaska Aces.

    Merlaco last won a major basketball championship before there was even a PBA to speak of, when the Reddy Kilowatts (as they were then known) won the old MICAA championship. This is the franchise's first trip to the PBA Finals in its modern incarnation.

    What to watch out for in this Finale?

    1. Two rookies who were teammates for a while in the PBA D League will now take on each other.

    Chris Newsome, whose two in-traffic dunks during the critical waning minutes in Game 4 are still making the video and GIF rounds all over the five digital platforms, is showing everybody why he is widely considered to be (in the words of our very own Joescoundrel) the last genuinely elite player to come out of the Ateneo. Newsome, the 6-foot-2 high-flying guard, has emerged as a vital cog and a legitimate starter for the Bolts. Newsome is playing "like an extra import" in the words of long-time Ginebra fan Gener Crescini. "Parang may maliit na import ang Meralco, tiyak pahihirapan niya mga bata ko," Crescini said over (what else?) shots of Ginebra San Miguel and grilled pigs ears.

    His fellow rookie Thompson, who has emerged as a legitimate starter himself, is quickly justifying the high pick Coach Tim Cone used to nab him in the recent draft. "He just needs to keep building his confidence, keep taking shots, even if they aren't falling," said Ginebra veteran LA Tenorio. "Sinabi ko nga sa kanya, kahit tumira siya ng 50, kahit sumala siya ng 40, just keep shooting, kasi 'yun ang binibigay ng depensa," Tenorio added. Turns out that was advice well-given, and well-taken.

    "A lot of people probably don't know that Scottie and I were teammates with Hapee in the D League," Newsome said in one interview. "I'm happy he's doing well, and it'll be fun and a challenge to go up against him in the Finals."

    If they wind up as each other's match-up, Newsome will enjoy a tremendous edge in athleticism and strength, as those two Game 4 dunks showed. Thompson however has proven to be as brilliant an all-around player in the pros now as he was when he was the MVP of the NCAA. Thompson's versatility should allow him to neutralize somewhat the physical advantages of Newsome.

    2. Size versus size.

    6-foot-9 Japheth Aguilar, 6-foot-6 Joe De Vance, 6-foot-5 David Marcelo have more than held the fort up front for Ginebra in the absence of 7-foot Greg Slaughter. Slaughter was lost to injury this conference and is expected to miss another few months. Aguilar possesses arguably the best combination of size and athleticism in the entire league. He is still easily pinballed in the lane though, because he's such as long and lanky presence. But few big men have the range, running, and hops of Aguilar, and he is also averaging a little over two blocks per game. De Vance and Marcelo have provided solid support for Aguilar at both the 4 and 5 spots.

    Meralco relies on 6-foot-6 Kelly Nabong, 6-foot-4 veteran Reynel Hugnatan, 6-foot-5 Bryan Faundo, 6-foot-4 Jared Dillinger, and the 6-foot-3 Hodge up front. Meralco has nowhere near the size of Ginebra up front, unless they can get something from two former UAAP MVP's whose careers have not been as illustrious in the PBA thus far: 6-foot-5 Ken Bono, and 6-foot-7 Rabeh Al-Hussaini. Al-Hussaini was the cornerstone upon which Black built his 5-Peat title reign with the Ateneo in the UAAP, but hasn't seen much action lately. ...
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  5. PBA History: El Presidente's near Triple-Double Season

    Collecting 50 points in one game may be one of the measurements of offensive wizardry, yet some of the legendary players in Philippine Basketball Association history never reached the plateau during their illustrious careers.

    Strange but true, all-time PBA greats Robert Vincent Salazar (Sonny) Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez and Alvin Patrimonio, all of whom were once recipients of the Most Valuable Player hardware during their heyday, never tallied a 50 at any time.

    Jaworski, a 6-foot-1 guard whose play epitomized the never-say-die spirit that defined the teams he later handled in pro coaching, chalked up his personal high of 34 with the famed Toyota franchise in 1980 at age 34.

    Needles to say, however, the Big J was more known for his rugged and gung-ho defensive skills than his offensive prowess.

    Jaworski, also monikered ?The Living Legend,? helped the Toyota Tamaraws win nine PBA conference championships in nine seasons with the Ricardo Silverio-owned franchise (from the league?s inception in 1975 until the team?s disbandment after the 1983 season). The Baguio City-born son of a Polish-American father Theodore Vincent Jaworski and an Ilocano mother Iluminada Bautista Salazar was voted the PBA MVP during the 1978 season when he posted averages of a career-high 20.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.8 steals in 55 games and Toyota snared two of the three conference championships at stake.

    Jaworski, the first playing coach in PBA history in 1985 with four more championships with the Ginebra San Miguel franchise, last saw action in Asia?s first-ever pro league in March 1997 in a game held in Dumaguete City, making him the oldest player ever to suit up in a PBA game at age 51.

    Jaworski won a Philippine Senate seat during the 1998 elections and served for six years (June 30, 1998-June 30, 2004). He turned 70 last March.

    Fernandez, a gangling 6-foot-5 center, was a teammate of Jaworski during the Toyota era. Fondly called ?El Presidente? for his elegant, silky-smooth offensive skills, Fernandez owned a career high of 48 points with the Tamaraws in 1980.

    The year that Jaworski earned his MVP award, Fernandez actually wound up as Toyota?s season scoring leader with 20.6 points along with 9.7 rebounds in 54 appearances. Like the Big J, he won nine title rings with and a league MVP trophy in 1982 with Toyota. Following Toyota?s disbandment, the Maasin, Southern Leyte native and product of the University of San Carlos hooked up with Beer Hausen in 1984 during which he captured a second MVP hardware with a career-high 27.8 scores, 11.2 boards, 9.9 assists, 1.55 steals and 2.09 shot blocks in 64 outings.

    It was probably the most dominant one-season individual performance in PBA annals with Fernandez, who netted 46 points at one time during the campaign, came just five assists short of a triple-double average. However, he was unable to steer Beer Hausen to any conference championships, winding up with only fourth-, second- and third-place finishes (arranged in order of conferences).

    Fernandez also would romp away with the PBA MVP honor with Tanduay in 1986 and Purefoods/San Miguel Beer in 1988 (getting 47 points with Purefoods in one game, one short of his career high), becoming the only player ever to win four MVP trophies with four different franchises.
    Fernandez, who hung up his jersey in 1994 after a record 19 PBA conference crowns, tried national politics during the 1995 mid-term elections but was soundly beaten in the senatorial polls.

    He subsequently relocated to Cebu City and ventured into various businesses.

    In July 1 this year, Fernandez, who turned 63 last October 3, was named one of the four commissioners of the Philippine Sports Commission under the new administration.

    Like Fernandez, Patrimonio also collected an all-time high of four PBA MVP awards during his entire 17-year tenure (1988-2005) with the Purefoods franchise, accomplishing the feat in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1997.

    Known as ?The Captain,? the 6-3 forward chalked up a career-high 47 points with the Purefoods Hotdogs in 1991.

    Since his retirement, Patrimonio, who turns 50 on November 17, has acted as the team manager of the Purefoods franchise under different banners ? B-Meg Derby Ace, San Mig Coffee and now, Star Hotshots.

    It?s truly amazing that Fernandez (first), Patrimonio (third) and Jaworski (ninth) continue to rank among the top 10 on the PBA?s all-time scoring ladder until now even if neither of the three all-time greats registered a 50-point game during their remarkable careers.
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