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  1. NCAA Season 90: Just Mail in the Results to the Title Favorite Red Lions?

    July is in full bloom and so have the premier collegiate basketball circuits in Metro Manila such as the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) and University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).

    The NCAA opened its Season 90 last June 28. Host school is Jose Rizal University. There are 10 member schools in the oldest athletic association in the Philippines.

    Two weeks later on July 12, it was the UAAP’s turn to unwrap its 77th campaign. The University of the East is this year’s host. Overall, eight teams are seeing action.

    The NCAA was established in August 1924 upon the initiative of Dr. Regino R. Ylanan, the athletic director of the University of the Philippines. It is far older than the United States’ own NCAA, which was inaugurated in 1939.

    The eight founding members are Ateneo de Manila, De La Salle College, the Institute of Accounts (now known as the Far Eastern university), National University, San Beda College, the University of Manila, the University of the Philippines-Manila and the University of Santo Tomas.
    By 1936, UP, UST and FEU had withdrawn from the NCAA.

    Ateneo quit the glamorous league in 1978 due to the violence that had become rampant during the games, including the tumultuous best-of-three 1977 finals between the then-two-time defending titlist Blue Eagles and the Red Lions. The series-deciding third game was held on closed doors following the melee that broke out in the opener at the Araneta Coliseum. San Beda won Game Three to deny Ateneo a third consecutive championship.

    At the time of their departure, the Blue Eagles owned the most number of titles in the seniors division, a distinction that has since been acquired by San Beda College.

    Ateneo’s chief nemesis, De La Salle, also left the NCAA in 1981 following a brawl between the fans of De La Salle and the supporters of Colegio de San Juan de Letran during a second-round encounter. The old Rizal Memorial Coliseum was a wreck after the two opposing sides ripped apart the chairs screwed to the ground and threw them as weapons.

    The NCAA, which had been considered the most glamorous and popular collegiate league in Metro Manila at the time (even if the UAAP owned the more talented players), lost much of its luster following the departure of Ateneo and De La Salle.

    Not even the vibrant Bedan faithful could prop up the NCAA’s sagging image through the years, at least until the influx of foreign student-athletes in the mid-2000s.

    By then, the UAAP, which was founded by FEU, NU, UP and UST in 1938, had already supplanted the NCAA as the No. 1 gate attraction insofar as Metro Manila college ball is concerned, aided by the entrance of elite schools Ateneo in 1978 (the year the Blue Battalion squad exited the NCAA) and De La Salle in 1986.

    The UAAP was founded by FEU, NU, UP and UST in 1938. UE, Adamson University, Manila Central University and UM were the first four expansion teams in 1952. Of the four, only UE survived for good although Adamson was readmitted to the league in 1970.

    The eight-school UAAP has prospered by leaps and bounds in the last two decades with its unpredictability, excellent on-court product and a hard-driving marketing strategy by its television coveror.

    Back to the NCAA, I believe powerhouse San Beda College will run away with seniors title this season. Honestly speaking, the championship is for the Red Lions to lose as there is no other team out there that could really offer a formidable challenge against them.

    The University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, Arellano University (under rookie head coach Jerry Codinera) and San Sebastian College-Recoletos look like title pretenders judging by their performances in the early goings of the double-round, 18-game elimination segment but Colegio de San Juan de Letran, the bridesmaid (or runner-up) in the past two seasons (forcing SBC to a Game 3 in both final series), has struggled despite the return of Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal as league Most Valuable Player Raymond Almazan (a Philippine Basketball Association rookie with Rain or Shine this past campaign) has joined the pros.

    San Beda, the only founding member remaining in the NCAA, is bidding to capture a fifth straight men’s championship and duplicate the 1993-97 feat of San Sebastian College-Recoletos for the longest title-winning streak in league history. (Tree-like Romel Adducul earned rings with the Golden Stags from 1994 to 1997.)

    With wily court general Baser Amer and Nigerian import Ola Adeogun in the forefront, coach Boyet Fernandez’s Red Lions appear invincible and ready to collect their eighth championship in nine seasons.

    During the stretch, only the SSC-R Stags were able to squeeze through San Beda’s championship stranglehold, ...

    Caloy Loyzaga, undisputedly the greatest Filipino basketball player ever, in is town for the formal launching of the “King Caloy” on March 20 at the San Beda College chapel in Mendiola.
    The book, which consists over 100 pages, features various stories on Loyzaga throughout his brilliant cage career.*
    Loyzaga, who turns 83 on August 29, migrated to Australia during the eighties.* He played varsity ball at San Beda College during his heyday, propelling the Red Lions to four championships during the 1950s – National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) titles in 1951, 1952 and 1955 and the National Open crown in 1951, which was then the biggest plum in local basketball.
    A bull-strong 6-3, 200-pound center in his prime, Loyzaga spanned an era that contributed in no small measure to the huge popularity currently enjoyed by the game among the Filipinos.
    If there is a singular 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 a rarity in that he could play all three positions – center, forward and guard – with equal efficiency.* But it was at center that Caloy was most recognized – a tough, deadly and graceful slotman who sowed terror in the heart of his adversaries.
    Loyzaga was a dominant force even at the commercial/post-graduate level, latching on with the fabled Yco Athletic Club in 1954 after powering PRATRA and PRISCO to the National Open championship in 1950 and 1953, respectively.* With Yco, he helped the Redshirts/Painters put together a 49-game winning streak from 1954 to 1956.* Loyzaga took over as the commercial club’s head coach after hanging up his jersey in 1964.
    Loyzaga subsequently became the national team mentor.* He piloted the gold medal-winning PH “Dirty Dozen” team in the 1967 Seoul Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) tournament (now known as the FIBA Asia Championship) and the 1968 Mexico Olympics squad.
    Loyzaga also took a crack at local politics at the height of his popularity, winning as a councilor in the City of Manila, before migrating to Australia for a job with a security agency.
    Talking about Loyzaga is like leafing through the pages of the sport’s golden era in the Philippines.
    And much of Caloy’s greatness can be gleaned from his stunning performances in the international front.
    Under the baton of Loyzaga, the Filipinos never lost an Asian basketball title during the 1950s and early 1960s, coming up with six gold medals in as many continental competitions – four in the Asian Games, 1951-1954-1958-1962, and two in the ABC tournament, 1960-1963.
    The Philippines also grabbed the bronze medal during the 1954 Rio de Janeiro World Basketball Championship as Loyzaga earned a slot on the five-man All-Tournament Team with a tournament third-leading 16.4-point average.
    Believe it or not, the Philippines never once registered a losing record during Loyzaga’s 10 international stints (including Olympic appearances in Helsinki in 1952 and in Melbourne in 1956 and a second World Basketball Championship in Santiago, Chile in 1959).
    The Filipinos compiled a 58-14 win-loss mark overall, including 41-3 in Asian-level competitions, during the Loyzaga era.
    Wonder no more why Loyzaga is the greatest basketball player ever produced by the Philippines.

    With the National Collegiate Athletic Association debut of the venerable Carlos (Caloy) Loyzaga in 1951, the San Beda College Red Lions mightily roared back to championship level.

    Over a five-year period, the Benedictine-run school romped away with four titles, including three NCAA crowns.

    Loyzaga averaged nearly 20 points per game as San Beda claimed the 1951 NCAA diadem. *The multi-dimensional 6-3 slotman’s supporting cast included Ponciano Saldaña, Eduardo Lim, Antonio Genato and brothers Pablo and Vicente Cuna.

    The Red Lions successfully defended their crown the following year, knocking off De La Salle, 50-39, in the finals before a mammoth crowd of 11,000 at the Rizal memorial Coliseum.

    Loyzaga scored a game-high 18 points, including 10 in the decisive fourth quarter, and put the defensive clamps on De La Salle’s towering Rene Wassmer during the same stretch.

    The Green Archers had rallied to take a 32-31 lead at the end of the third quarter. *But Caloy staged a last-quarter one-man show, blocking Wassmer in mid-air then dribbling through for a layup to bring the advantage back to the Red Lions, 33-32.

    After connecting on a free throw, Loyzaga tallied seven more points to douse any comeback by De La Salle, which scored just seven markers in the final 10 minutes.

    In 1952, San Beda College also snared the prestigious National Open crown, which was considered the biggest plum in local hoopdom at the time as it featured the country’s top commercial clubs and prominent college teams in action.

    Thanks to his outstanding performance for the year, the influential Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) bestowed the title “Mr. Basketball of 1952” on Loyzaga.

    Loyzaga’s dominating exploits can be gleaned from one newspaper report dated January 16, 1953 that stated the following: *“Carlos (Pomfret) Loyzaga stepped once more into his familiar role of San Beda’s big hero when he single-handedly beat the star-studded Yco Redshirts, 29-28, in the National Open tournament with a glittering 17-point overall performance.”

    Played before an audience of 8,000 at the Rizal Coliseum, the game, which the defending champion Red Lions won on a charity shot by Loyzaga in the final five seconds, actually mirrored Caloy’s entire cage life.

    Issuing slick passes, making pivot shots and barrelling his way into the shaded lane were his signature moves.

    In 1953, Ateneo de Manila, behind high-leaping and league Most Valuable Player Francisco (Frankie) Rabat, stripped the NCAA crown from the Red Lions’ head, however.

    The Blue Eagles stopped Loyzaga and his San Beda backups, 63-59, in the finals.

    Ateneo made it two titles in a row the following campaign as San Beda was disoriented by the absence of Loyzaga for academic reasons.

    Because Caloy was not in a position to impose his will at the shaded lane against the opposition, the Red Lions were badly beaten by the Blue Eagles, 74-65, for the championship.

    With San Beda and Ateneo each having crowned themselves as champions twice during the four-year period, the stage was clear for a rematch between the two powerhouse schools for the right to claim permanent possession of the prestigious three-legged Crispulo Zamora Cup that was awarded by the NCAA to the first team that won three titles after World War II.

    by Henry Liao

    The San Beda Red Lions seek to move out of a deadlock with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights for the most number of championships in the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s collegiate basketball tournament with a 17th title this season.

    The Red Lions are in the midst of a dynastic rule, having captured the NCAA crown in five of the last six years, and look to snare a second “three-peat” in seven seasons in the ongoing Season 88 competitions.

    Only two other times in NCAA annals has one team been so dominant over such a period of time.

    Previously, Letran, the oldest college in the Philippines, went 5-for-6 in the eighties, romping away with the diadem in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1987. *That potent 1982-1983-1984 Knight unit was bannered by Avelino (Samboy) Lim, who also earned NCAA Most Valuable Player honors in 1984.

    The San Sebastian College-Recoletos Golden Stags, of course, won a league record-setting five consecutive championships from 1993 to 1997. **Man-mountain Romel Adducul was a member of the dynastic 1994-to-1997 Stags squad.

    * * * * * * * * ********* ****** ******

    The NCAA’s only surviving founding member, San Beda College annexed its first collegiate title in 1927 following the University of the Philippines-Manila’s reign in the league’s first three years from 1924 to 1926.

    The Red Lions were back on top in 1934, jumpstarting a three-year championship run by a dominant SBC team that was led by 6-foot-1 center Charles (Charlie) Borck.

    Born in Quaipo, Manila of a German father and a Spanish mother, Borck powered the Bedans to a pair of NCAA titles in 1934 and 1935 and the National Open crown in 1936. *The annual National Open tournament featured the top commercial clubs and premier collegiate squads at the time.

    Borck, who was nicknamed “The Blond Bombshell” for his blond hair and good looks, was a member of the 1936 Philippine Olympic team that ranked fifth during the Berlin Games – the highest placing by an Asian country in the Olympics until now.

    San Beda annexed another NCAA title in 1940 but the Red Lions’ most defining moments in league history would come during the glorious Carlos (Caloy) Loyzaga era in the early fifties.

    Rummaging through the scant newspaper clippings available from the 1950s, one could easily conclude that Loyzaga was a class by himself as a collegian, even if future national team mate Mariano Tolentino of Jose Rizal College was giving him some fits when faced against each other at the center slot.

    Even though he was still in college, the 6-foot-3 Loyzaga also was already making life hard for the grizzled post-graduate players in the old Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) and national Open competitions.

    With the multi-dimensional Loyzaga at the helm, the Red Lions snared consecutive NCAA championships in 1951 and 1952. *In both seasons, Caloy earned league MVP honors.

    Significantly, basketball was not really the young Loyzaga’s first love. *Neither was San Beda College his original choice for a college education.

    It's nice to hear that the television ratings of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's basketball tournament have gone up since AKTV took over from ABS-CBNSports as the league's TV coveror this season.

    Reportedly, the NCAA rating numbers are even higher than those from the rival University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP),whose games have been aired on ABS-CBN Sports for more than a decade now.

    The NCAA may have the better TV ratings but from where this writer sits, the UAAP games have a higher gate attendance, be it at the state-of-the-art Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena or the spacious Araneta Coliseum.

    Regardless who's the No. 1 collegiate circuit in the Metro Manila area,there's just so much excitement, and unpredictability, if not controversy,in the NCAA and UAAP.

    Both leagues are in the homestretch of their respective double-round elimination phase and ready for the upcoming Final Four playoffs.

    In the 10-team NCAA, Lyceum of the Philippines University (3-11), College of Saint Benilde (4-11), Arellano University(5-9), Emilio Aguinaldo College (5-9)and Mapua Tech(6-9) have exited from playoff contention.*

    However, three teams* - the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Altas (9-6), Letran Knights (9-6) and Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers (8-6)- are in a longjam for thethird and fourth playoffs berths behind the front-running and "three-peat" title-seeking San Beda College Red Lions(12-2)and back-to-back runner-up San Sebastian College Golden Stags(11-4).

    The Altas, who are coached by former multi-titled UST mentor Aric del Rosario, suffered a huge setback in their Final Four bid after being upset by the Cardinals last Monday.*
    UPHSD has yet to meet the Red Lions and Golden Stags in two of their final three assignments.

    The Heavy Bombers, on the other hand, have gone into a tailspin in the second round after sharing the leadership with San Beda and San Sebastian after the nine-game first
    round with identical 7-2 records.

    Meanwhile, in the eight-team UAAP, the Adamson University Falcons (3-10), University of the East Red Warriors (3-10)and the cellar-dwelling University of the Philippines
    Fighting Maroons (1-13) have already fallen by the wayside.

    The "five-peat" title-seeking Ateneo Blue Eagles have completed their elimination-round schedule and are assured of the No. 1 spot with their 12-2 record.*The Eagles,piloted by the retiring Norman Black (who takes over the Talk 'N Text reins in the professional Philippine Basketball Association when its 38th season commences on September 30),also own a twice-to-beat advantage over the No. 4 seed in their semifinal matchup.

    The Far Eastern University Tamaraws (9-4) and University of Santo Tomas (9-4) are currently tied for second place although technically speaking, FEU has the edge over UST
    after having beaten the Glowing Tigers twice.

    The National University Bulldogs (8-5) and De La Salle University Green Archers (8-5) are deadlocked at the No. 4 and final semifinal berth.

    However, there are several scenarios that could arise in the final two playdates of the elimination phase.* If UST beats UE and FEU defeats NU in their UAAP Board-mandated replay oftheir September 2 game (thus undermining the authority of UAAP commissioner of Ato Badolato), then FEU moves up to No.2 and UST slides to No. 3 based on the winner-over-the-other rule.* However, I understand that there will be a playoff to determine the important No. 2 spot since it carries with it a twice-to-beat edge.

    De La Salle, which seeks to return to Final Four after a one-year sabbatical under the guidance of former Ambassador Danding Cojuangco Jr., will earn at least a playoff for a
    Final Four slot if it beats Adamson tomorrow at the MOA Arena.

    And if National U somehow repeats over FEU in the replayed game on September 23, the Bulldogs will not only join the Archers (granting they defeat the Falcons) but also pull
    down the Tamaraws to a three-way logjam for the third and fourth semifinal berths.

    Breaking the deadlock with the quotient system, the best of them will earn safe passage to the Finals at No. 3 and the other two teams will have to slug it out in a playoff to
    determine the fourth seed.

    After having said all that, things could be moot and academic in the end as the Blue Eagles (UAAP) and Red Lions (NCAA) are destined to win their fifth and third titles,respectively, anyway this season.
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