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  1. CALOY LOYZAGA: *The Greatest Filipino Cager Ever, Part I

    You did not have to love him or hate him; he simply was a charismatic figure who was admired by all.

    He was not a living legend because of media’s creation; he was a legendary figure in his own time who simply walked the talk on the hardwood in workmanlike fashion.

    His name: *Carlos Loyzaga, the greatest player ever in Philippine basketball history.

    Loyzaga, who turns 82 on August 29, now lives in Australia, bereft of any substantial benefits from the Philippine government that befits his stature as one of the country’s national treasures.

    How sad it is. *

    Long before the People’s Republic of China came to dominate the Asian basketball scene in the mid-1970s, the Philippines was the sport’s undisputed kingpin this side of the Pacific.

    This decades-long reign was mainly due to Loyzaga, arguably the most outstanding cager that the Philippines has ever produced.

    Caloy, as Loyzaga is fondly called, was largely responsible for turning basketball into the country’s national pastime.

    A bull-strong 6-3, 200-pound center in his prime, Loyzaga spanned an era that contributed in no small measure to the tremendous popularity currently enjoyed by the game among the Filipinos.

    If there is a single personality responsible for enhancing the mass appeal of any sport in his country, he would be Loyzaga, known as “The Big Difference,” “The Great Difference” and “King Caloy” during his time.

    Loyzaga was the Pele of basketball in the Philippines.

    Loyzaga was a rarity in that he could play all three positions – center, guard and forward – with equal efficiency.

    But it was as a center that he was most recognized – a tough, deadly and grace slotman who sowed terror in the hearts of his adversaries.

    Talking about Loyzaga is like leafing through the pages of the sport’s golden era in the Philippines.

    In the 1950s, the Filipinos never lost a basketball title in Asia.

    Loyzaga was so awesome that the Philippines could then compete creditably at the international level, proof of which was the country’s bronze-medal finish at the 1954 FIBA World Basketball Championship (now known as FIBA World Cup) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    Until now, it has remained the highest finish ever by an Asian country in the prestigious quadrennial competitions among the world’s top basketball athletes.

    Making it to the national team at age 21, Loyzaga, who was born on August 29, 1930 in San Jose, Mindoro Oriental, represented the national tri-colors for the first time during the 1951 Asian Games in New Delhi, India where the Filipinos broke through with a gold-medal finish and a perfect 4-0 record.

    It was the start of a long, brilliant career by Loyzaga as a national player, halted only with his retirement in 1964.

    Loyzaga was a hands-down choice to suit up in the 1960 Rome Olympics but failed to join the Nationals when he tripped and broke his right wrist while playing softball at the Cortabitarte Field, which is now occupied by the Ospital ng Maynila.

    Still and all, Loyzaga was able to catapult the Philippines to four straight gold-medal finishes in the Asian Games – 1951 in New Delhi, 1954 in Manila, 1958 in Tokyo (Japan) and 1962 in Jakarta (Indonesia), the latter of which was the last time that the country secured the gold medal in the regional quadrennial games.

    There also was a pair of championships in the Asian Basketball Confederation tournament (now known as the FIBA Asia Championship) in 1960 in Manila and 1963 in Taipei (Taiwan).

    For his winning efforts, Loyzaga was named to the All-Star Mythical Five in the inaugural (1960) ABC games.

    Loyzaga also spearheaded the country’s participation in various international competitions outside of Asia during his distinguished playing tenure.

    He donned the national jersey during the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, stunningly earned a bronze during the 1954 World Basketball Championship in Rio de Janeiro, and saw action in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where the Philippines finished seventh; the 1959 WBC in Santiago, Chile, and the 1962 World invitational tournament in Manila.

    Loyzaga impressed observers so much during the 1956 Melbourne Olympiad that he was twice offered athletic scholarships at the University of Oregon. *But Caloy rejected the offers.
  2. UAAP Season 75 Round 1: Down and Done

    At the end of the first round of eliminations in UAAP Season 75, here is how the team standings look like:

    1. Santo Tomas, 6-1
    2. Ateneo De Manila, 6-1
    3. Far Eastern University, 5-2
    4. De La Salle, 4-3
    5. National University, 4-3
    6. University of the Philippines, 1-6
    7. Adamson University, 1-6
    8. University of the East, 1-6

    Probably the only people not at all surprised by their leadership in the team standings are the Santo Tomas Growling Tigers themselves. Pido Jarencio, ever the type to speak his mind said so clearly enough in a conversation during the UAAP Press Conference a couple of months ago at the SMOA Arena. "Mag-ingat na lang sila sa amin ulit," he declared, to much guffawing from those present. Guess who is laughing now?

    Apparently the only person who foresaw how strong and how serious these Tigers are as contenders this season is Ateneo Coach Norman Black. As early as the summer preseason tournaments he declared that UST would be a team to be reckoned with. "UST has a very good center in Karim Abdul, plus they have all of those shooters like (Jeric) Fortuna and (Jeric) Teng and even Aljohn Mariano," Black said after one Fil Oil game. "I think they will be a team to be reckoned with this season," he added.

    True enough, the Tigers are the only team to have beaten Black's Blue Eagles. Seeking to complete an historic 5-peat title reign, the Ateneo is pulling out all the stops this season. UST spoiled that early on with a 70-71 escape over the reigning champions. With the Ateneo sporting as much as a 19-point lead late in the first half, that game looked like it would become another walkover for the Blue and White. Mariano suddenly went nuts in the second half, even as 7-foot center Greg Slaughter had to ride the bench for most of the second half due to personal foul problems. Teng and Abdul held off the Blue Eagles for their biggest win of this season. "Nakachamba na naman," Jarencio said of that win. At 6-1 and on top of the leader board though, Jarencio and his Tigers need to be wary of how much "chamba" they have left in them, a point to which I shall later return.

    Speaking of escape acts, the FEU Tamaraws won their first three games of this season by the slimmest of margins. In fact all three of those games came down to the last possession. "They could have started the season at 0-2 as easily as 2-0," noted veteran online sports guru Sidney Ventura. In fairness they are so far the only team to have beaten the surging Tigers, and they have displayed a more or less balanced inside-outside game. Terrence Romeo still dominates the ball too much even for the disinterested basketball watcher. But the Tamaraws of Coach Bert Flores have gotten good inside production from American import Anthony Hargrove and the bruising Bringas brothers. If RR Garcia can somehow get out of his shooting funk (averaging an uncharacteristic five points or so per game in three of his last four games) and fourth-year man Russel Escoto rediscovers his own game, FEU might just have a better second round.

    Host NU is likely having recurring nightmares at this point in the tournament. Last year was supposed to be a breakout season for them with the wondrous Ray Parks finally strutting his stuff in the UAAP. Parks did win the MVP award, but alas his Bulldogs were a woeful 6-8 and completely missed the playoffs last year in spite of all the hype. Already they have three first round losses, all of them to Final 4 contenders including a 20-point plus walloping from reigning champion Ateneo right in their own home court at the SMOA Arena. Parks and company just came off a double-overtime 87-86 heart breaker to La Salle to end their Round 1 campaign. The reigning MVP scored 35 points but just couldn't get his team over the hump.

    La Salle for its part is probably still basking in the positive afterglow of that double-overtime thriller versus the Bulldogs. Jeron Teng proved why he was the top rookie recruit this season by setting a record 35 points. Thankfully though he did get good help from Almond Vosotros in pulling this one out of the fire. Their other two losses came from archrival Ateneo and of league-leading Santo Tomas. Aside from Teng and Vosotros the Archers' season is relying on how much longer veteran pointguard LA Revilla can remain intact physically. He was unable to finish the NU game with a heavily iced ankle. Without Revilla on the floor directing and leading the team, La Salle just starts to unravel. Mac Tallo was supposed to be the solution to this problem but he's lost minutes to true rookie Thomas Torres. Thankfully Norebert Torres and Yutien Andrada have held the fort inside and provided an interior presence for the Green Archers.

    UP, Adamson and UE bring up the tail end of the standings all with only a win each to show for the first round. UP has been ...
  3. 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

    Philippine Basketball
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  4. A Statement Game by Jeron Against NU

    For the first time in 15 years, a rookie leads the De La Salle Green Archers in point production in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball competitions.

    This comes as no surprise, though, when the newcomer had been the most highly coveted blue-chip prospect out of high school.

    Jeron Alvin Teng is already a household name in Philippine sports, having carved his niche in local basketball history as the first and only high school player ever to collect at least 100 points when as a junior at Xavier School, he torched Grace Christian College for 104 markers during a 164-74 victory in the Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association tournament on January 5, 2011.

    Living up to his billing, the 6-2 swingman is also making waves in UAAP Season 75 and, this early, is the runaway favorite to romp away with league Rookie of the Year honors, an award that elder brother Jeric of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers snared in 2009.

    Through the first round, Jeron is averaging a team-high 16.7 points a game. *He collected a tournament-best 35 points in La Salle’s pulsating 87-86 double- overtime decision over National University last August 18 at the Araneta Coliseum.

    It was the highest single-game score by a DLSU player since Joseph Yeo, another Xavier School product, tallied 31 markers in 2003. *The last freshman to lead the Green Archers in scoring average was Ren-ren Ritualo in 1997.

    The final first-round assignment for both DLSU and NU was actually a high noon shootout between two former PH Youth and 3-on-3 teammates. *Bulldogs star Bobby Ray Parks Jr., the reigning UAAP MVP, also tallied 35 points. *Teng went 14-for-24 from the field and 3-for-5 from the free-throw line and like teammate Almond Vosotross (season-high 18 points) made four three-pointers (out of seven attempts), including one in each overtime. *Parks, who is hitting at a league-leading 20.7-point clip, knocked in three threes but shot just 12-for-17 from the charity stripes. *The son of former PBA import Bobby Parks was hit with his fourth foul with four minutes left in the third quarter but held on to collect 13 points in the twin OTs.

    Following a frigid 6-for-18 performance from the free-throw line last August 12, including 1-for-6 by Teng, La Salle bounced back with a 14-for-25 effort against NU, which shot 22-for-33 from the same area.

    The Green Archers’ crucial victory against NU pulled them even with the Bulldogs with identical 4-3 records and a fourth-place ranking in the eight-team standings behind UST (6-1), four-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University (6-1) and Far Eastern University (5-2) while boosting their chances for a Final Four finish that team officials had before the season declared would already be an achievement in itself.

    La Salle, which has missed the Final Four party in two of the last three years, lost to FEU and UST by just two points each due to inept free-throw shooting. *Coupled with the UST game that saw the Teng brothers going up against each other, the Archers have now been involved in a pair of double-overtime affairs. *No other game in the league has gone into a five-minute extension.

    The off-and-on Archers also had to labor just to get past patsies University of the Philippines, University of the East and Adamson University. *They even trailed the Red Warriors and the Falcons in the final two minutes before pulling off hard-earned victories.

    Jeron, who turned just 18 last March, has scored in double digits in six of DLSU’s seven games so far. *The muscle-bound son of former Philippine Basketball Association strongman Alvin (Robocop) Teng chalked up 15 points vs. UP (73-6, 16 vs. UE (67-59), 13 vs. Ateneo de Manila University (61-71), 17 vs. UST (82-84 2 OT – Jeric had three threes for nine points), and 15 vs. Adamson University (56-52). *He was held to six markers in the Green Archers’ 48-46 setback to Far Eastern University last July 22 in the first of a couple of two-point losses by the Taft Avenue-based school.

    In addition to Teng, who also is norming 7.4 rebounds every time out, only veteran guard LA (Luis Alfonso) Revilla is scoring in twin digits for the Archers. Revilla is hitting at a 10.7-point clip in six appearances, sitting out the FEU game due to an ankle injury that he somewhat aggravated in the nerve-wracking NU contest.

    If there is a sore thumb in Teng’s game, it is his free-throw accuracy. Then again, La Salle, as a team, has been horrendous in that area for the past three seasons.

    Overall, Jeron is a porous 22-for-46 (.47 from the free-throw line for the Green.

    Ironically, Jeron was a decent free-throw shooter during his high school days at Xavier School.

    In the Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association ...
  5. KD is America's Ringleader

    In the National Basketball Association, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder has won the scoring championship in each of the last three seasons.

    During the stretch, the springy forward out of the University of Texas also has proven he can be a dominant scorer in international competitions.

    During the 2010 FIBA World Basketball Championship (now known as the FIBA World Cup) in Istanbul, Turkey, Durant averaged a U.S. World record-setting 22.8 points a game as the Americans won all of their nine assignments and regained the crown it last held in 1994 behind tourney MVP Shaquille O’Neal.

    The tournamen’s Most Valuable Player awardee, he torched Lithuania for 38 points during the semifinals for the highest single-game score in the tournament. They also were the most points ever tallied by an American in World history.

    In the recent London Olympics, Durant, who turns only 24 on September 29, topped the U.S. team with a 19.5-point clip as the Americans picked up their second straight gold medal in the Olympic men’s basketball competitions with a perfect 8-0 record.

    Overall, Durant ranked second in the London Games. Australia’s Patrick Mills, a 6-foot guard with the San Antonio Spurs, was the No. 1 scorer with 21.2 points in six games, including a tournament-high 39 points in a 106-75 shellacking of host Great Britain.

    Durant, who also contributed 5.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals an outing, was one of five Americans posting double-figure scoring averages during the London Olympics.

    The others are Carmelo Anthony (tournament seventh-best 16.3 ppg, including a U.S. Olympic record-breaking 37 points against Nigeria) , LeBron James (13.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 5.6 apg – he had 11 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in a 119-86 rout of Australia in the quarterfinals to become the first U.S. player ever to collect a triple-double in an Olympic men’s basketball game; he also joined Michael Jordan as the only American athletes to win the MVP awards during the regular season and Finals, capture the NBA title and earn an Olympic gold medal in the same year), Kobe Bryant (12.1 ppg) and Kevin Love (11.6 ppg and a team-best 7.6 rpg).

    The scoring averages of the other Team USA members are as follows: Deron Williams (9.0 ppg plus 4.6 apg), Russell Westbrook (8.5 ppg), Chris Paul 8.3 ppg plus 5.1 apg and a team-best 2.5 spg), James Harden (5.5 ppg), Andre Iguodala (4.3 ppg), Tyson Chandler (4.0 ppg plus 4.0 rpg) and Anthony Davis (7 games, 3.7 ppg).

    Anthony, James, Bryant, Williams and Paul joined the list of 13 Americans who won a pair of gold medals in Olympic men’s basketball. Anthony and James also own a bronze from the 2004 Athens Games.

    In addition to Mills and Durant, the other top-10 point producers (on an average basis) in the 2012 London Olympics are: 3-Argentina’s Manu Ginobili (19.4 ppg), 4-Spain’s Pau Gasol (19.1 ppg – he was the No. 1 scorer during the 2008 Beijing Games), 5-Argentina’s Luis Scola (18.0 ppg – he was the leading scorer during the 2010 World Championship), 6-Russia’s Andrei Kirilenko (17.5 ppg – the naturalized American played with CSKA Moscow last season), 8-Brazil’s Leandro Barbosa (6 games, 16.2 ppg), 9-Great Britain’s Luol Deng (5 games, 15.8 ppg) and 10-France’s Tony Parker (6 games, 15.7 ppg).

    China’s Yi Jianlian, who played for the Dallas Mavericks during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 wars, averaged 14.8 points, , a tournament-high 10.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots in five games for the last-place Asian champion.

    A record total of 38 NBA players saw action in the London Games, 10 more than in 2008. Another 16 former NBA players also suited up.

    The final men’s basketball rankings in the London Olympics are as follows: 1-United States (8-0), 2-Spain (5-3), 3-Russia (6-2), 4-Argentina (4-4), 5-Brazil (4-2), 6-France (4-2), 7-Australia (3-3), 8-Lithuania (2-4), 9-Great Britain (1-4), 10-Nigeria 1-4), 11-Tunisia (0-5) and 12-China (0-5).

    Updated 08-17-2012 at 11:24 AM by Henry Liao

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