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  1. My Best Basketball Moments of 2015

    When this was a column and not a blog it used to be called The Morning After. Now that it is the middle of January it might as well be called the year after. And in truth the year 2015 was quite a year for basketball, not just here but everywhere else. Here are my best memories of basketball for 2015, in no particular order, just listed down as I recall them:

    1. Junemar Fajardo finally emerges as the best damn PBA player ever. He led San Miguel Beer to two out of the three conference championships at stake last PBA season. He is without a doubt the best player in the league. He has the size and strength advantage over everyone except Greg Slaughter, but is a much more instinctive player; the game just comes so naturally to him. Fajardo will compile the numbers, the individual accolades, the championships, and hopefully the international titles that will eventually make him the greatest PBA player ever.

    2. The San Miguel Group decides not to join the National Team. Well, except for Marc Pingris, and even that was perhaps due to the fact that he was the least superstar-y of the players the Samahang Basketbol Ng Pilipinas wanted for Gilas 3.0. Fajardo, Slaughter, Marcio Lassiter, LA Tenorio, Japheth Aguilar all were simply not made available for Gilas 3.0, whether or not that really was SMC Management's call or not, perhaps only Al Chua will really ever know. In truth not all of them were needed. But the ones who were - Fajardo (backup at 4 and 5 to the naturalized Andray Blatche), Lassiter (arguably the best game-time shooter now in the country), Aguilar (FIBA-level size and atlheticism at the 3, 4, 5) really could have made a huge difference in FIBA competition. The basketball public just plain hammered the SMC Group for this decision.

    3. Gilas 3.0 gets royally screwed by the Chinese in the FIBA Asia Finals. Seriously, no one who knows the game, or even those who only casually follow the game, all said the same thing: Chine, as strong as they already were, still decided to pull a fast one on the Philippines during the FIBA Asia Finals. Jayson Castro's inexplicable travel while he was STILL DRIBBLING was only the highlight. Throughout the entire championship game, the officiating was all about making absolutely sure that China would make a return trip to Olympic Basketball. We should've known. They already pulled the same thing against Iran in the semis. Still, a silver medal finish with a team that was less than ideal, and heavily derided, isn't bad at all.

    4. Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva get some unequivocal love from the fans thanks to their Gilas 3.0 stint. Abueva probably said it best, "Ngayon lang ako nakaranas na buong Pilipinas sinusuportahan ako, ganito pala feeling." When The Beast made the cut and was named to Gilas 3.0 many fans were wondering how the barely 6-foot-2 forward would fare against the giants of international play at his position. Turns out he either stayed toe to toe with them or best them using the same things he uses that infuriate non-Alaska fans: toughness (ok, gulang, and even good old fashioned pananalbahe), a nonstop motor, that extra gear, and his all-out relentlessness on both ends of the court. Romeo on the other hand could not have picked a better time to dye his hair. He put so many veteran international players on skates. He shot over guys that supposedly would finally be big enough, athletic enough, and tough enough to cover him, and that he would never get away with what he gets away with at home. Yeah, right. I was never a fan of either of these guys for purely non-basketball reasons. But as a basketball fan, c'mon people, these guys had a heck of a coming out party with Gilas 3.0.

    5. Letran pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent college basketball memory, wresting the crown from San Beda. How on earth a team that small, without an import, could have made the run that they did, still amazes fans to this day. When last season's NCAA Finals match-up turned out to be San Beda-Letran, everybody and his brother just knew that this would be another cakewalk for the Red Lions, all the way to their sixth straight NCAA championship, and ninth in the last ten trips to the NCAA Finals. Lo and behold, the Knights played their own version of small ball and show-mismatch all the way to the title. Too bad the coach that led them here then signed up with Lasalle just a few weeks after.

    6. FEU ends its own 10-year title drought by taking home the UAAP championship. Just like Letran in the NCAA, the Tamaraws last had a championship in 2005. Unlike the Knights however, the Tams were simply overwhelming last season. There were games they seemed to simply be on cruise control, toying with opponents they knew they could easily take, and literally taking them to school. Their comebacks never had that feeling of dread in them at all. It just seemed inevitable that regardless how big the deficit ...
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  2. 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 ...
    Tags: henry liao, nba Add / Edit Tags
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  3. 3rd Ching Yuen Athletic Association Basketball Tournament Day 2

    3rd Ching Yuen Athletic Association Basketball Tournament
    Day 2 Sunday January 10, 2016 Venue – Uno High School gym
    Game Results
    Juniors Division
    Makati Gospel Church-New Life Christian Academy 77 – Saint Peter the Apostle School 41
    Pace Academy 66 – Jubilee Christian Academy 51
    Aspirants Division
    Jubilee Christian Academy 61 – Pace Academy 40
    JUNIORS DIVISION
    Makati Gospel Church-New Life Christian Academy and Pace Academy joined first-day winners Philippine Cultural College and defending champion Saint Jude Catholic School atop the leadership board of the Juniors Division in the 3rd Philippine Ching Yuen Athletic Association (PCYAA) basketball tournament with lopsided victories Sunday (January 10) at the Uno High School gym.
    MGC-NLCA dumped debuting Saint Peter the Apostle School, 77-61, and Pace Academy blasted last year’s runnerup Jubilee Christian Academy, 66-51, in the season opener for both schools.
    MGC-NLCA never looked back after racing to an 11-0 lead behind Cedric Ho (five points, including a game-opening triple), Sean Patrick Uy (four) and Daniel Lim (two) before William Lim broke the ice for SPAS with a twinner with 4:04 left in the first 10-minute quarter.
    While Carl Ong failed to complete three-point play, his basket gave the Green its first double-digit advantage, 15-5. The first period ended at 15-8 following the first of two three-pointers by the Peterians’ Elijah Sy bridging the first and second quarters.
    SPAS trimmed the deficit to four points, 15-11, but that the closest it got to within the rest of the way.
    MGC-NLCA was up, 30-15, at the half, and entered the fourth period with a commanding 54-24 advantage. Its largest lead was 40, 75-35.
    A balanced offense was a major factor in MGC-NLCA’s runaway victory as seven men tallied eight or more points. Daniel Lim registered a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds to go with four steals. Ho finished with nine markers and Aaron Sy(including two triples), Uy, Aaron’s brother Kyle Sy, Ong and Williamdale Tan each netted eight. Hotshot Ike Jordan Lim, the start for MGC-NLCA’s defending Aspirants Division titlists, also made his Juniors debut, coming off the bench in the second half to contribute seven points (including a fourth-quarter trey), three boards and an assist.
    SPAS was powered by Elijah Sy, who notched a pair of triples and 11 points, and Earl Gabriel, who collected 10 scores, six rebounds, four steals, three blocks and two assists. Jomer Aaron Lu had eight points.
    +++
    In the season opener for both schools, Pace Academy downed Jubilee Christian Academy, 66-51.
    Jubilee Christian Academy, which was swept by Saint Jude Catholic School, 2-0, in last year’s best-of-three Juniors finals, held an early lead of 5-1 following the first of four three-pointers by former Aspirants Division scoring champion Kyle Nathan Barraza.
    Following deadlocks at 5-5 and 7-7, the Pacers engineered a 9-0 run, thanks to buckets by burly big man Theodore Getson Lim, Jeff Lugay (a triple), Jaden Ng and Pol Antiporda, that propelled the team to a 16-7 advantage at the conclusion of the first 10-minute quarter.
    JCA never recovered from that PA run and sank deeper and deeper in a hole when it was outscored, 22-7, in the second period to trail by 24 points at the half, 38-24. Playmaker de luxe Tyrone Tan, Lugay (two treys) and Antiporda each totaled eight points for the Pacers after 20 minutes.
    JCA trailed by just 19, 52-33, after three quarters as Barraza knocked in his second and third triples and bulky big man Lanz Kendrick Tan clustered five points during the stretch.
    Pace was up by 27 points, 64-37, when JCA came up with a 14-2 run to make the final score more respectable.
    The backcourt duo of Antiporda and Tyrone Tan made sure highway robbery was legal in a basketball game as each collected seven steals. Antiporda topscored for the Pacers with 15 points and Tan Lugay also registered double-digit scores with 11 and 10, respectively. Ng contributed nine markers and Getson Lim had five blocks, five boards and two points for the winning unit.
    Jubilee was led by Lanz Tan with 14 points, 23 rebounds and four steals. Barraza totaled a dozen markers (on four triples) and grabbed seven reebies and Andrei Yu (seven rebounds) and Janaro Bautista added seven points apiece for coach John Bernales’ troops.
    +++
    ASPIRANTS DIVISION
    In an Aspirants Division game where it held the upperhand from start to finish, Jubilee Christian Academy routed Pace Academy, 61-40, in the season opener for both schools.
    JCA was up, 22-7, after the first quarter as Jacky Tiu, Julian Evangelista, Roland Roldan and Marc Kho each netted four points ...
    Tags: henry liao Add / Edit Tags
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    Philippine Basketball
  4. HOOPSTER 1073

    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 admire 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 played 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 while 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, 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, John (Hondo) Havlicek and Wilt Chamberlain. (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 cards.

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

    Others were special – like the Hardwood Classic cards – 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 card in history and who was the player featured on the card?

    Find out in our next column.
    Tags: henry liao Add / Edit Tags
    Categories
    Philippine Basketball
  5. 3rd Philippine Ching Yuen Athletic Association January 7, 2016 Opening Day

    Venue – Uno High School Gym

    Game Results

    Juniors Division
    Philippine Cultural College 60 – Grace Christian College 40
    Saint Jude Catholic School 65 – Uno High School 56

    Aspirants Division
    Grace Christian College 67 – Philippine Cultural College 48
    Saint Jude Catholic School 85 – Uno High School 45

    JUNIORS DIVISION

    Defending Juniors Division champion Saint Jude Catholic School registered a hard-earned 65-56 victory over Uno High School.

    Uno led by as much 11 points (21-10) late in the first quarter (which ended at 21-12) and was still ahead by 10, 36-26, with 7:21 remaining in the third quarter on a basket by Warren Spencer Tan when the Judenites detonated a 10-0 bomb within two minutes on three-point plays from both Lance Chan and Kendrick Ong and a Joao Filipino fielder to deadlock the count at 36-all.

    Following another deadlock at 38-38, SJCS outscored UHS, 6-2, the rest of the third period to take the upperhand, 44-41.

    Coach Luis Nolasco’s boys applied fullcourt pressure in the fourth period and never trailed thereafter as Chan exploded for 12 points, including a triple with 3:29 left that gave the Judenites a commanding 61-46 advantage.
    SJCS, which beat Jubilee Christian Academy, 2-0, in last year’s finals, posted its biggest lead, 65-47, before the Uneans scored the final points to make the score more respectable.

    Saint Jude, which kept top player Maynard Yap on the bench throughout the game for unspecified reasons, got 21 points from Chan, including 19 in the second half. Tree-like Kendrick Ong registered a double-double with16 points and 15 rebounds and Jared Filipino added 11 markers for the winning squad.

    Uno, which lost high-scoring Kenric Kok and Kyle Tan from last year’s fourth-place team due to graduation, was led by Warren Tan, who wound up with 19 points and seven reebies, and Kim Tanlo, who knocked in 12 scores, including 11 in the first half (eight in the first 10-minute quarter).

    +++

    Host Philippine Cultural College led from start to finish in beating Grace Christian College, 60-40, at the start of Juniors Division competitions.

    The Seagulls were up, 16-10, after the first 10-minute quarter and took a 28-18 advantage at lemon time. They heaed into the final 10 minutes with a 40-26 edge.

    John Patrick Garcia collected 13 points, five rebounds and three steals for PCC. Michael Manansala, Rafael Pangilinan and Edric Ngo each contributed eight points and Kimson Chen struggled with his field attempts, scoring only seven markers, but he grabbed 12 rebounds and stole the rock four times. Beanpole Daniel Manalang had five blocks to go with his three rebounds, two assists and two points.

    John Lim paced GCC with 21points, 10 rebounds and four steals and played heavy minutes as his team did not have the services of high-scoring Sebastian Choi and Seth Sim due to health-related problems.
    +++
    ASPIRANTS DIVISION

    Defending Aspirants Division titlist Saint Jude Catholic School whipped Uno High School, 85-45.

    The 13-and-under young Judenites jumped to a 13-0 advantage and was ahead from start to finish.

    If it's any consolation, Uno, which showed up with just eight players, outscored SJCS, 32-26, in the second half after storming to a 59-13 halftime lead. SJCS coach Joseph Guion kept skipper Kiefe Chu, Andrew Choa and Josiah Filipino on the bench in the third period, which Uno won, 18-5, after the trio combined for 31 points in the first 20 minutes.

    SJCS headed into the payoff period with a 64-31 edge. Chu finished with 22 points, including four triples and 14 scores in the second quarter. Choa totaled 19 markers and Filipino added 17.

    Matthew Lim topped Uno with 21 points, including 9-for-21 from the foul line. GianTimothy Chung added 13 markers for the losing squad.

    +++
    Big boy Marcus Lu collected 16 points, seven rebounds, eight steals and four blocks as Grace Christian College defeated Philippine Cultural College, 67-48, to open the Aspirants Division competitions.

    PCC raced to a 9-0 getaway before Lu was fielded in to douse off the fire. GCC trailed by just one point, 14-13, at the end of the first quarter and was still down by three, 29-26, at the half when rookie Ren Cobie Tolentino went to work.

    Tolentino, a point-sized playmaker who was fielded in with a minute remaining in the second quarter, went to work in the third quarter, tallying nine points in a huge 25-10 turnaround by GCC during the stretch.

    GCC ...
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