Mr Libog treat my self and my wife to lunch over the weekend.
As is the usual practice, talk at our table centered mainly around basketball, specifically recruitment.
"Malapit na Fil Oil ah," he stated, referring to the Fil Oil-Flying V Premiere Cup, the summer basketball tournament organized by the local petroleum company that bears the same name.
I nodded, knowing this tournament would begin after the Holy Week, so it was only about a week or two away.
"Sino mga bago natin?" he inquired, referring to who the new players might be on our varsity roster.
I shrugged. Apart from transfer student Gab Reyes, and two players who failed to make the last season's regular roster for different reasons, I actually had no clue who any of our new talent (if any) there might be.
I told him about Reyes, and the other two guys: Tyler Tio and Gian Mamuyac. He was of course familiar with all three, since we had followed their developments even as far back as their high school days. I said they were doing well in the offseason tournaments like the Fr Martin Cup and the Milcu Got Skills Challenge Cup.
He didn't sound too impressed. "That's it?"
"So what we have is an athletic forward who Lord only knows has been doing what the last couple of years we haven't heard a thing from him, a guy who should have been lined up last season were it not for paperwork that had nothing to do with his game, and another guy who we both agreed should have been lined up ahead of at least three other guys who didn't actually do shit for us last season. Would that be accurate?"
I nodded again. Although I did add that at least we're getting three guys who aren't total greenhorns and who could come in and play right away within the system of the team and the coach, which is always valuable.
"Valuable, yes, but doesn't guarantee us a title does it?" he asked, rhetorically as usual.
My wife was busy putting fried rice, squid heads, beef, broccoli, tofu, and clams on our plates while we were engrossed in our little discussion. It pays to marry the right woman, I tell you. She will make sure you can keep enjoying a good meal without having to skip a beat in your in-depth basketball conversation.
I said that with Reyes, Tio, Mamuyac we would have a better perimeter now, that can provide firepower, defense, experience, and much-needed speed.
"I hardly think Tyler and Gab will provide speed, only Gian is a natural runner in that bunch. You are correct though that Tyler can provide additional firepower, Gab too, because Gab I think is a better shooter than Thirdy Ravena. But then again Gab might be what, in his fourth year in college by now, dapat lang naman sigurong gumagawa na siya, athletic naman siya, may pukol, sa edad niya dapat lang naman kaya na niya gumawa. So once again we have to thank Lasalle for another guy they couldn't use, because now he gets to play in a blue uniform," he expounded.
"Alam mo totoong tanong diyan: ano ba ginagawa nung mga tao na dapat naghahanap ng talent para sa team? Bakit pa sila pinapasweldo? Troy Mallilin hindi nakuha. Justin Baltazar hindi nakuha. Ricci Rivero hindi nakuha. Aljun Melecio hindi nakuha. Lahat ng mga players na gusto ko, 'yun ang mga hindi nila nakuha. Wala na ngang clearance na kailangan, wala na ngang residency, hindi pa din natin sila nakuha."
"So sino-sino ba mga nakuha natin? Mga good students? Kung good students kailangan natin huwag na natin padala sa US ang team tuwing summer, magtayo na lang sila ng separate scholarship fund specifically for good students who make the basketball team. OK lang naman kung ganun ang gusto nila eh, pero pupusta ko lahat ng yaman ko, never mananalo ng UAAP championship ang team na good students ang lahat ng players. No way," he declared.
So was he saying we would have a losing season?
"Far from it, I think we will return to the Finals at the very least, where once again our problem will be how to match up against (Benoit) Mbala. Sino pantatapat natin sa kanya, sina (Chibuezee) Ikeh at George (Go) na naman? Hindi porke nakapalag tayo kahit papano last year ganun-ganun lang magagawa natin ulit 'yon this year."
"We can be thankful na wala na si Jeron (Teng), and he really is a big loss for them, kasi hindi ganun kadali replace ang scoring at veteran leadership niya. Kaya lang papano kung mag-step up naman sina Baltazar, Ricci (Rivero), Melecio, makabalik din ng maganda 'yung Gboy Gob, or maka-contribute right away 'yung Troy (Mallilin), talented players lahat ang mga 'yon ha."
"Pero sabihin na lang natin na lahat nung mga locals nila hindi gumawa as expected, andiyan pa din si Mbala eh, at 'yon walang katapat sa buong liga. So papano na tayo niyan?"
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
Expect the tradition-steeped Araneta Coliseum to be filled to the rafters when Game Two of the best-of-three University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Finals between the “five-peat” title-seeking Ateneo Blue Eagles clash with the upset-conscious University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers on Thursday, October 11, at 3 p.m.
The Blue Eagles captured the series opener, 83-78, before a mammoth crowd of 20,686 at the Mall of Asia Arena, the largest gate attendance ever for a basketball game at the new state-of-the art facility in Pasay City. *Only the Lady Gaga concert probably attracted a bigger crowd.
The Game Two attendance at the Big Dome may yet reach 25,000 or more. *At the height of the storied Crispa vs. Toyota rivalry in the mid-seventies, newspaper reports pegged the “live” attendance at 30,000-35,000 people nearly every time the two founding Philippine Basketball Association clubs went up against each other.
Through the years, however, the Araneta Coliseum had been configured here and there so much so that less people seemingly could be accommodated at the turnstiles.
Now let’s turn to the two competing teams in the UAAP Finals.
Ateneo, which seeks to reward exiting coach Norman Black with his fifth championship ring as a farewell gift, is bidding to become the first team in UAAP annals to win five consecutive UNSHARED titles.
The University of the East Red Warriors snared seven straight championships from 1965 to 1971 under legendary mentor Virgilio (Baby) Dalupan. *However, the 1967 crown was shared with UST (then known as the Glowing Goldies) – meaning UE won the championship outright in 1965 and 1966 and then four more consecutively from 1968 to 1971.
The 6-foot-11 mastodon Greg Slaughter and 2011 Rookie of the Year awardee Kiefer Ravena had been billed by many as Ateneo’s top two weapons in its “five-peat” quest. *Comebacking Ryan Buenafe, steady Nico Salva, Juami Tiongson and Justin Chua were treated more like complementary players.
But while Salva appeared to be only the third option in Black’s scheme of things, the soft-spoken 6-4 forward has been a major factor in the Blue Eagles’ recent successes. *Salva was the team’s saving grace in its 2-0 conquest of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws during the 2011 Finals. *And after a career 30-point performance in this year’s Finals opener, the third player after co-Ateneo products LA Tenorio (30 in 2001) and Rabeh Al-Hussaini (31 in 200 to score 30 or more in a Finals game since 2001, Salva is set to become the first player to earn back-to-back Finals MVP honors since the award was institutionalized 11 years ago.
Salva and Chua also are on track to become the first players to win five straight championships in UAAP and/or NCAA history during their collegiate careers.
UST, meanwhile, seeks to live for another day with a Game Two victory, hoping that its magical 2006 Finals success against Ateneo will be repeated with consecutive wins *following an series opening debacle.
The hardworking Growling Tigers of coach Pido Jarencio, who went scot-free with simply a reprimand from UAAP commissioner Ato Badolato for his physical confrontation with one of the referees and raging remarks on alleged faulty officiating following the Game One defeat, will need Cameroon recruit Karim Abdul (who only had nine points and six rebounds despite being one of only two men in the league to average a double-double in both categories), Aljon Mariano, Jeric Teng, *Jeric Fortuna (only four points in Game One) and Clark Bautista (held scoreless in Game One) to step up for a successful bounce-back game. *The team also await the return of frontliner Carmelo Afuang, who sat out the first game.
Six products of the Tiong Lian high school league are on the UST roster – Teng, Paulo Pe and Robin Tan from Xavier School, Kim Lo from St. Jude Catholic School, and Janrey Garrido and Christian Errol Villar from Hope Christian High School – although Tan, Garrido and Villar have seen little or no action at all.
Individual players from other schools are expected to be in addition for the hour-long awarding ceremonies before the Finals Game Two. *The award winners were determined solely from their elimination-round statistics.
Third-place National University’s Bobby Ray Parks Jr. will be crowned as the league’s MVP for the second year in a row, duplicating the feat of UE’s Allan Caidic (1984/1985 plus 1982), Ateneo’s Gilbert Reyes Jr. (1987/198, De La Salle’s Zandro Limpot Jr. (1989/1990 plus 1992), UST’s Dennis Espino (1993/1994), De La Salle’s Mark Telan (1996/1997), De La Salle’s Don Allado (1998/1999), Ateneo’s Rich Alvarez (2000/2001), and FEU’s Arwind Santos (2004/2005). *Parks, a sophomore, retained his scoring title
Season 75 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines has reached its Final Four stage with top seed Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles (12-2) facing the fourth seed arch nemesis De La Salle University Green Archers (9-5) and second seed University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers (10-4) taking on the third seed and host National University Bulldogs (9-5) on Saturday afternoon, September 29, at the state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena.
NU, La Salle and Far Eastern University wound up tied for third-to-fifth places with identical 9-5 records during the double-round elimination phase of a season that was most competitive in recent years. (In years before, eight victories would have assured a team of a playoff for a Four seat.)
While four-time defending titlist Ateneo and UST own a twice-to-beat advantage over their respective foes, don't look for La Salle and NU to simply roll over and die. Despite the odds stacked up against La Salle and NU, either series could yet stretch to a rubber match.
During the elimination round, UST whipped NU, 77-71, in the first round behind Jeric Teng's 21 points and 11 rebounds and then repeated with a 58-57 overtime squeaker in the second turn as Bulldogs star and two-time league MVP Bobby Parks was held to 15 points.
Ateneo, on the other hand, also has beaten La Salle twice by 10 points this season, a 71-61 decision on July 28 behind man-mountain Greg Slaughter's 20 points and a 77-67 verdict on September 1 behind burly swingman Ryan Buenafe's career-high 24 points.
Overall, the Blue Eagles have made mincemeat of the Green Archers in 11 of their last 12 UAAP meetings (the last time that DLSU defeated Ateneo was during a 2010 first-round match, a come-from-behind 66-63 win by the Green).
Overall, Ateneo, which is bidding to become only the second team in UAAP annals to capture five straight championships or more (UE was the winner from 1965 to 1971), owns a ultra-slim 35-34 (win-loss) advantage against La Salle in their head-to-head UAAP rivalry.
The Blue Eagles, who will be coached by Norman Black for the last time before he moves over to the professional Philippine Basketball Association with Talk 'N Text next month, are heavy favorites to make it three in a row over the Green Archers.
Slaughter, 2011 UAAP Rookie of the Year awardee Keifer Ravena, Nico Salva (who along with Justin Chua are looking for an unprecedented fifth title ring) and Buenafe are expected to give huge problems for DLSU rookie coach Gee Abanilla's young turks.
But ADMU patron Manuel V. Pangilinan's recent decision to disassociate himself from the Ateneo sports program may yet be a mental distraction for Black (a PLDT employee) and his charges.
La Salle, which beat FEU, 69-66, in a stunning come-from-behind fashion for the fourth and last Final Four berth in a playoff last September 26,having scored 17 straight points after trailing by 10, 60-50, in the final six minutes, has to be satisfied so far. The goal of reaching the Final Four in former Ambassador Danding Cojuangco's first year back in the DLSU stablehas been accomplished.
Rookie Jeron Teng, the league's top freshman with averages of 16.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 15 starts; much-improved Fil-Canadian frontliner Norbert Torres, three-point threat and second-round fireman Almond Vosotros, and first-year guard Thomas Torres have provided the spark
for the Archers.
La Salle would be hard-pressed to defeat Ateneo. But in any match featuring the two rivals,you throw away the previous results and the statistics as anything is possible. That's where David has a chance against Goliath, no matter how strong the opponent is.
I recall the days when Ateneo and La Salle were still in the old National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Ateneo joined the UAAP in 1978 and DLSU followed suit in 1986.)
Let's turn back the hands of time and recall the 1969 first-round game between the two schools.
Going into this duel, Ateneo, which had ace gunner Luis (Chito) Afable, Marte Samson, Ricardo (Joy) Cleofas, Francis Arnaiz, Boy Morales, Ryle Ross and Ricky Palou on its roster, was unbeaten in five games in the six-team NCAA league.
La Salle, on the other hand, was 0-5. But on this day, lowly La Salle slew Ateneo, 49-48, as the Blue Eagles' left-handed hotshot, Afable, missed a pair of free throws with two seconds left to allow the Green Archers to frolic to victory.
Will history repeats itself on Saturday when David comes face to face once more with Goliath?
Let the Bible speak for itself.