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  1. FIBA Hall of Fame (3)

    To local basketball fans, he may not ring a bell. But in the international stage, Dionisio (Chito) Calvo stood tall.

    The late Calvo is lone Filipino who is enshrined in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame.

    Calvo was among the first batch of 43 personages to be inducted into the FIBA Hall in March 2007.

    Calvo was one of the 24 posthumous inductees under the ?contributors? category.

    Calvo was the head coach of the Philippine Olympic team that ranked fifth during the 1936 Berlin Games. The games marked the first time that basketball competitions were held. The fifth-place finish remains the highest ranking by an Asian country in Olympic men?s basketball history.
    Calvo also piloted the PH national team to 12th place in the 1948 London Olympics.

    Likewise, he mentored the Filipinos to the men?s basketball gold during the inaugural Asian Games in New Delhi, India in 1951.

    As an organizer, Calvo initiated the formation of the Asian Basketball Confederation in 1960. The ABC has since been renamed as the FIBA Asia Championship.

    According to the official FIBA book ?The Basketball World,? the idea of putting up the ABC was first brought up in 1958 in Tokyo by basketball leaders from various Asian countries competing in the Third Asian Games, a multi-sport quadrennial event that included basketball.

    An urgent need was felt to set up a regional controlling body for basketball in Asia and a temporary committee under the chairmanship of Calvo was constituted to look into this possibility.

    Through the efforts of Calvo, the first Asian Conference and Basketball Championship for Men was initiated in January 1960 in Manila.

    Seven nations ? Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Malaya (now Malaysia) and the Philippines ? saw action in the tournament.

    Along with Pakistan, they also attended the Conference at which the draft constitution of the ABC was adopted and the participating countries admitted as members.

    Call it homecourt advantage, the Philippines romped away with the first ABC title in 1960, winning all of its nine assignments.

    Carlos Badion was named the tournament?s Most Valuable Player.

    The ABC was not officially founded until the second Asian Conference and Basketball Championship for Men was stage in Taipei in November 1963.

    Attended by representatives from nine countries, the ABA constitution and bylaws were ratified during the gathering. Officials such as then-Philippine Senator Ambrosio Padilla, president, and Calvo, secretary general, were elected to lead the organization.

    The Conference additionally resolved to hold men?s championships biennially, while avoiding the even-numbered years wherein the Summer Olympic Games and Asian Games were staged.

    In the local basketball scene, Calvo also organized the post-graduate Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) league in 1938.

    The MICAA, of course, was the precursor of the professional Philippine Basketball Association PBA).

    A side note: The late Gonzalo (Lito) Puyat II was once a candidate for the FIBA Hall of fame but the former two-term FIBA president (1976-84) failed to make the grade.
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  2. 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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  3. Yesterday When I Was Young

    Yesterday when I was young was one of the happiest moments in my life.

    Care-free my life was as a youngster (up until I came out of high school in 1972).

    Life was a breeze, not because I was a spoiled brat, but rather because my parents from the middle class got me all the things I need to have – emphasis on “need” – and not what I wanted.

    The life I lived then was simple but enjoyable for all I did was study well in school and play basketball after class hours or during the weekend (Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons) at the Xavier School covered courts.

    At age eight, I was already into “heavy” reading – not only from the school materials but also from the daily newspapers (the old Manila Times and the Evening News were my favorites) and sports-related books and magazines of the local and foreign varieties.

    No small wonder my vision was somehow affected and I started to wear eyeglasses at that tender age, too.

    I also took up basketball as early as age eight, dreaming of becoming a school, if not, a national athlete someday. I aspired to be one even if I was reed-thin, height-challenged and maybe unorthodox as a southpaw.

    Never mind that American shoe companies came up with such slogans as “Just Do It” and “Impossible is Nothing” much later in the seventies, eighties or nineties.

    Back in the early 1960s, I was already doing “it” and dreaming the “impossible.”

    There’s one basketball anecdote from my early basketball-playing days that this Hoopster could hardly forget. And maybe it’s worth sharing to aspiring basketball athletes from this young generation as well.

    Once in 1971 at age 16, I was playing ball (till I got tired) by my lonesome at the Xavier School high-school gym. I usually took 200 shots from all angles every opportunity to practice that I had.

    At the time, I had already lowered my expectations. I simply just wanted to play in the school intramurals.
    End result, though: I did not make it to my section D’s Team A (traditionally to be the best of the lot). Neither did I earn a slot with Team B (said to be composed of “average” players).

    I (finally) made it to Team C (probably defined as the worst of the lot). For me, it did not matter.

    That I was selected I truly appreciate. More so, Nirvana was in my mind for in the end, our section’s Team C won the championship over the other sections (A, B and C).

    Allow me to turn back the hands of time. In the hard-fought titular contest, Team C was leading by a point with 15-20 seconds left and here I was fouled with two free-throw attempts coming up. Shaking under pressure, I bungled both charities.

    Fortunately, though how short I was, I came up with the rebound off my missed second free throw and danced my way out of harm’s way till the final buzzer sounded.

    Team C, of which I was a part of, was declared the champion.

    To the young cage athletes of today, this is what I really wanted to point out.

    Individual glory is nice and sweet, perhaps even worthy of an ESPN highlight film. But winning a game or a championship is much, much sweeter for basketball is still a team game, whether it be in 1971 or 2016.

    Young dude, where do you stand on this issue?
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  4. Mikan and NBA Trading Cards

    This battle-scarred Hoopster has a confession to make: As a teen-ager in the sixties, I watched a lot of basketball games “live” at the tradition-steeped Araneta Coliseum and the old Rizal Memorial Coliseum, if not through the magic of radio and/or television.

    Sure, I admired some of the best players in Philippine basketball history. The legendary Yco Redshirts/Painters of bemoustached Don Manolo Elizalde was my favorite team in the post-graduate Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association league. How I always prayed hard for Yco to demolish its arch nemesis, the Ysmael Steel Admirals owned by business tycoon Felipe (Baby) Ysmael Jr.

    Despite my admiration for Yco players like the late shooting ace Renato (Sonny) Reyes, Elias (Mikado Man) Tolentino Jr. the late Edgardo (Egay) Gomez, Edgardo Roque, Rene Canent and “Fastbreak” Freddie Webb (whose lightning speed was described by nonpareil all-time basketball play-by-play announcer Willie Hernandez as “mas mabilis pa kaysa sa metro ng taksi”), I never went beyond watching their games such as seeking a picture or an autograph from them.

    Fanaticism, let alone, idolatry was not my cup of tea. Basically, my simple admiration was derived from their basketball-playing skills and nothing else. For one, I don’t know them personally or even cared whatever activities they undertook off the hardcourt.

    If others do so, I personally have nothing against them either. To each his own way, I say.

    Such was the case of my first-born, Matthew Lester, who was into NBA (National Basketball Association) basketball cards-collecting as a 10-year-old kid in the mid-1990s. I was buying 4-, 5-, 6-, 8-, 9-, 10- and 12-picture packs of cards with brands such as Upper Deck, Fleer, Topps, UD Ionix, Impact and Skybox without regard to their costs.

    Even an old-time friend, who was into NBA cards-collecting as a hobby, even gifted my son some rare cards of legendary greats like Bill Russell, Bob Pettit, Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Hal Greer, Jerry West, John (Hondo) Havlicek, Wilt Chamberlain and Julius (Dr. J) Erving. (Unfortunately, most of were destroyed or watered following the catastrophic Typhoon Ondoy in late September 2009 that transformed our residence into a body of water for several days.)

    Before long, even Matthew’s younger sister by three years, Marianne Kimberly, wanted her own collection of NBA trading cards.

    Some NBA trading cards featured ordinary stuff – often pictures of marginal or fringe players.

    Others were special – like the Hardwood Classic or hologram variety – and carried much value if sold individually in the market.

    How did one know a card’s value?

    Well, there was a magazine named Beckett that carried several basketball stories but whose pages mainly were devoted to the list of estimated prices or value of the various NBA cards in the market.

    Most priceless cards featured pictures of Michael Jordan, of course. Some cards could be worth thousands of U.S. dollars if resold to hardcore hobbyists in an auction.

    Which is the most expensive NBA trading card in history and who was the player featured on the card?

    One would tend to believe that Michael Jordan cards were the most expensive since they presumably owned the highest value in the market if resold or auctioned.

    Surprisingly, this is not true.

    According to an Associated Press dispatch dated December 6, 2015, all-time Minneapolis (now Los Angeles) Lakers center great George Mikan’s 1948 rookie card sold for $403,664 in SCP Auctions’Fall Premier online auction, a record for a basketball card.

    It’s said that the buyer wished to remain anonymous.

    The card of the 6-10 Mikan, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, is from the lone Bowman basketball card set ever produced and is the only one of its kind to receive to receive a grade of “Gem Mint 10” from third-party authenticator PSA Cards.

    The same card was previously sold in 2009 for $225,000.

    The bespectacled Mikan arguably was the most dominant big man in American pro basketball history during its early years.

    The DePaul University product won seven championships during a distinguished nine-year pro career in the National Basketball League, Basketball Association of the America and National Basketball Association.

    For the uninitiated, the NBL was one of the forerunners of today’s NBA. It was established in 1937-38 with 13 franchises that chiefly operated in small cities in the Midwest even as its top stars played to empty seats. It lasted through the 1948-49 campaign.

    With the end of World War II, the operators of America’s largest sports arenas, led ...
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  5. IS NBA COLLEGE DRAFT FOOL-PROOF?

    The National Basketball Association conducted its first college draft prior to the start of the 1947-48 season.

    The NBA drafting system has been modified various times through the past 69 years.

    The league, which was known as the Basketball Association of America from 1946 to 1949, initially employed a ‘territorial first-round selection” rule where a team was given the first option to choose a college player who either lived or studied within the franchise’s vicinity once he decided to turn professional.

    While teams with inferior win-loss records drafted ahead of the others, they were somehow restricted while making their choices and so, in 1966, the league threw out the “territorial selection” provision in its college draft system and installed a coin-toss scheme to determine who owned the right to select first between the teams with the worst record in each conference.

    In 1985, a draft lottery system was installed to involve all the non-playoff teams in a draw where each had an equal chance to land the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Two years later, the system was tweaked to determine only the top three positions.

    The draft lottery scheme was subsequently refined twice more. A weighted method was adopted in 1990 to enhance the chances of the clubs with the more inferior win-low records to secure the No. 1 choice.

    The weighted lottery system was tinkered once again in 1994 to increase further the odds of the worst teams in winning one of the first three choices in the grab-bag while at the same time lessening the chances of the non-playoff teams with the better records.

    That weighted draft lottery format is still being utilized to this day.

    But not all No. 1 draftees turned out to be impact players, let along metamorphosed into franchise cornerstones.

    Worse, some even turned out to be “real sour” lemons, lasting four years or less in the NBA.

    Take the case of LaRue Martin, who in 1972 was selected No. 1 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers out of the University of Loyola in Chicago (Illinois). The 6-11 Martin averaged a frigid 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 77 games with the Blazers as a rookie and lasted only four seasons in the league with career norms of 5.3 ppg and 4.6 rpg in 271 appearances.

    Then, there’s the most recent bust of a No. 1 overall draftee in Toronto-born Anthony Bennett. The 6-8 forward, a one-and-done collegian at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas in 2012-13, was taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first selection in the entire 2013 NBA draft.

    As a rookie, the first Canadian to be drafted first overall went scoreless in his first 10 games or so with the Cavs, leading some critics to rank him among the worst No. 1 overall selections in league history (or at least since 1966 without the “territorial selection” provision).

    Bennett, out of shape and nursing various injuries, chalked up his first double-digit scoring performance in his 33rd appearance – which was three times as long as any previous No. 1 overall pick. Nearly two-thirds of all previous top selections scored in twin digits in their NBA debut.

    As a frosh, Bennett wound up with averages of 4.2 points and 3.0 boards in 12.8 minutes and 52 contests (without a single start).

    In August 2014, the 22-year-old Bennett was jettisoned to the Timberwolves in a three-team trade involving Cleveland, Minnesota and Philadelphia that saw the NBA’s 2014 top overall draftee by the Cavs, Andrew Wiggins, also moving to the Wolves camp where the 6-8 Canadian out of the University of Kansas romped away with the Eddie Gottlieb trophy that goes to the league’s Rookie of the Year awardee.

    As a pro sophomore, Bennett normed 5.2 scores and 3.8 reebies in 15.7 minutes and 57 games (including 54 off the pines) with the sad-sack Wolves, whose draft lottery victory with an NBA-worst 16-16 record, gifted them with the top selection in the entire 2015 NBA draft last June 25.

    Minny made the most out of its first overall draft selection in franchise history and chose University of Kentucky’s 7-foot power forward-center Karl-Anthony Towns.

    Traditionally, the team that lands the first pick in the entire NBA draft usually ranks high on anyone’s list of draft winners.

    The Timberwolves are no exception. They, along with the Miami Heat and even the woebegone Los Angeles Lakers (taking Ohio State’s 6-5 combo guard D’Angelo Russell over reigning NCAA titlist Duke University’s 6-11 center Jahlil Okafor at the No. 2 slot) are the latest draft winners.
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