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  1. First African-Americans in NBA History

    Sixty years ago on October 31, history was made in the National Basketball Association (NBA) when the first ever African-American saw action in the league.

    His name: Earl Francis Lloyd of the Washington Capitols. A 6-6 product of West Virginia State College, Lloyd took the floor against the Rochester (New) Royals (the predecessors of the Sacramento Kings) on that day.

    Japanese-American Wataru Misaka, wearing the colors of the New York Knickerbockers, was the first player to break the NBA color barrier during the 1947-48 season when the league was still called the Basketball Association of America (BAA). He was the only non-white player in the league before Washington also made history in signing an African-American, Harold Hunter, to a free-agent contract in 1950. Unfortunately, Hunter was waived by the Caps during training camp.

    Months before, on April 25, 1950, the Boston Celtics drafted the first African-American ever, taking Charles (Chuck) Cooper with their second-round pick in the 1950 grab-bag. The6-5 Cooper was an All-American from Duquesne University and had played with the comical and all-black Harlem Globetrotters.

    Following the Celtics’ lead, the Capitols grabbed Lloyd in the ninth round.

    A day before the college draft, Abe Saperstein, the Globetrotters owner, reportedly notified the NBA that he won’t take his popular team into Boston or Washington again if black players were drafted.

    For the first time, the Trotters needed to compete for black talent now that Cooper and Lloyd were drafted for the NBA.

    Soon thereafter, Harlem also lost the services of Nathaniel (Sweetwater) Clifton to the New York Knicks.

    On May 24, 1950, the Knicks purchased the contract of the 6-6 Clifton, a product of Xavier University in Louisiana, from the Trotters for $12,500. In effect, Clifton obtained free-agent status before signing an NBA contract with the Knicks in September 1950.

    Clifton, who got his nickname because of his love for sodas or soft drinks, was paid $7,500 for the 1950-51 season.

    Aside from Lloyd, Cooper and Clifton, a fourth black player, 6-6 Henry (Hank) DeZonie, joined the NBA later during the 1950-51 wars but he appeared in just five games with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.

    Lloyd, an Alexandria, Virginia native who was monikered “The Big Cat,” scored six points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds in a losing effort for Washington as Rochester claimed a 78-70 home decision over the Capitols.

    Cooper, the NBA’s first African-American draftee, contributed seven points in his league debut on November 1, 1950, a 107-84 setback by the Boston Celtics against the Fort Wayne Pistons in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

    The rub of the NBA schedule made Cooper only the second African-American to play in an official NBA game – or 24 hours after Lloyd, whose Caps opened their schedule one day earlier, became the first.
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  2. Origin of the 24-second Shot Clock Rule

    Pop icon Sir Elton Hercules John (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight) remembers when rock was young, he and Suzie had so much fun. At least that’s what the 67-year-old John said in his 1972 hit song “Crocodile Rock.”

    I, too, remember when I was young. My friends and I had so much fun playing basketball.

    In the mid-fifties and sixties, we played by the rules adopted by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the world’s basketball-governing organization, where backcourt violations were not in existent and there was no time limit to make a field attempt until the FIBA adopted a 30-second shot clock in 1956, requiring teams to attempt a shot within 30 seconds of gaining possession, and the shot clock to be reset when the ball touched the basket’s rim or the backboard (later disallowed) or the opponents gaining possession.

    It was only in 2001 that the FIBA reduced the shot clock to 24 seconds – which, until now, is being utilized.
    Still, that came a long, long time after the American pro basketball league, National Basketball Association (NBA), had instituted the 24-second shot clock rule.

    It was exactly 60 years ago on October 30 that the NBA implemented a major rules change that would radically revolutionize the world of professional basketball. That rule was the 24-second shot clock and the man credited for its creation was Danny Biasone.

    Biasone, the owner-president of the Syracuse Nationals (the harbinger of the Philadelphia 76ers) at the time, convinced his fellow NBA club owners to adopt a shot clock for games starting with the 1954-55 season, when stalling and slowing down games became a common form of strategy.

    It eliminated the common stalling tactics that were being deployed, sometimes as early as the third quarter, by the team that was ahead in the game because there was no way for its opponent to catch up other than to commit a foul.

    The shot clock curbed the end-of-game fouling and ensuing avalanche of free throws that made for a dull game.

    Biasone was turned off by a dreadful game played on November 22, 1950 between the Fort Wayne (now Detroit) Pistons and Minneapolis (now Los Angeles) Lakers at Minneapolis.

    Without a shot clock, the Pistons edged the Lakers, 19-18, in what stands as the lowest final game score in NBA history until now. In the fourth quarter, the Pistons outscored the Lakers, 3-1.

    In 48 minutes of game time, only eight field goals were scored (four by each team) in 31 attempts, including 18 by the Lakers, who were powered by man-mountain George Mikan’s 15 points on 4-for-11 field-goal shooting and 7-for-11 tries from the free-throw line.

    The Pistons were chiefly responsible for the stalling tactics, holding the rock for minutes at a time without shooting (the team attempted only 13 times during the game) in order to keep Mikan at bay.
    The Pistons’ boring performance led the St. Paul Dispatch to write “(The Pistons) gave pro basketball a great black eye.”

    Maurice Podoloff, the NBA’s first commissioner, said: “In our game, with the number of stars we have, we of necessity run up big scores.”

    Ironically, six weeks after the ugly Pistons-Lakers contest, or on January 6, 1951 to be exact, the Rochester Royals (the predecessors of the Sacramento Kings) and Indianapolis Olympians (now defunct) played a six-overtime game with only one shot taken in each overtime period. The Olympians won, 75-73, at Rochester.

    Then came Biasone to the rescue. He experimented using a 24-second version during a scrimmage game in Syracuse.

    According to the Italian-born 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 his general manager Leo Ferris, Biasone thus developed the 24-second shot clock.

    The shot clock prevented the teams from holding the ball without any restrictions and forced them to attempt 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 faster and the offense perked up with the introduction of the 24-second shot clock during the 1954-55 season. 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 the previous campaign).

    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 next season.

    The 24-second shot clock made its ...
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  3. 2014 MASA BASKETBALL – SCORING LEADERS

    1-Jollo Go, HCHS, 3 games, 72 points, 24.0 ppg
    2-Bryan Navarro, NRYS, 4 games, 83 points, 20.8 ppg
    3-Bryant Terrado, SSHS, 4 games, 75 points, 18.8 ppg
    4-Renzel Yongco, SJCS, 4 games, 70 points, 17.5 ppg
    5-Earl See, SJCS, 3 games, 52 points, 17.3 ppg
    6-Bryan So, PHS, 3 games, 48 points, 16.0 ppg
    7-Richmond Legaspi, SSHS, 3 games, 45 points, 15.0 ppg
    8-Gershom Montes, CKSC, 58 points, 14.5 ppg
    9-Joshua Ramirez, 4 games, 57 points, 14.3 ppg
    10-Franz Yap, SSHS, 4 games, 54 points, 13.5 ppg
    11-Jherico Cagomoc, NYRS, 4 games, 54 points, 13.5 ppg
    12-Jerome Fuentes, NRYS, 4 games, 51 points, 12.8 ppg
    13-Angelo Tan, PCC, 3 games, 38 points, 12.7 ppg
    14-Maynard Yap, SCJS, 4 games, 49 points, 12.3 ppg
    15-Luigi Laroco, SSHS, 4 games, 47 points, 11.8 ppg
    16-Eric Guiao, CKSC, 3 games, 35 points, 11.7 ppg
    17-Michael Manansala, PCC, 2 games, 23 points, 11.5 ppg
    18-Pranz Chan, PA Sakya, 4 games, 45 points (11.3 ppg)
    19-Daniel Pua, SJCS, 3 games, 33 points, 11.0 ppg
    20-Phillip Midel, PHS, 4 games, 39 points, 9.8 ppg
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  4. NU Era

    75 - 59.

    That was the final score of Game 3 of the Season 77 UAAP Finals. And on the winning end was National University. After six decades of being a punchline, the Bulldogs finally did what few said they could, winning it all, their second UAAP men's basketball championship in front of a record 25,000-plus fans at the Big Dome.

    "It was a really tough journey for us," victorious head coach Eric Altamirano said, fighting to hold back his emotions after their historic title romp. "All those adversities we had to go through, they made us stronger," he added emphatically.

    Let's put that into perspective.

    60 years is about the time a typical employee retires. On a grander panorama, it encompassed several Administrations and Presidents, Martial Law, the EDSA Revolution, the so-called EDSA Dos, at least three Papal Visits, and of course the sale of majority interest of the 114-year old school itself to the SM Group of Taipan Henry Sy in 2008.

    That last one was what turned the tide for the school and its varsity program. Before the wealthiest family in the country opened its gargantuan coffers to NU it was in a very moribund state. Their Bulldogs reflected the state of the school, normally being the UAAP doormat for the better part of at least the last 30 years. Before the SM Group came along the Bulldogs were generally considered a guaranteed win for all of the other UAAP teams.

    Of course it isn't like they didn't have good players. In fairness to former coaches like Sonny Paguia and Manny Dandan, both of them somehow found enough talent to suit up for the Bulldogs to make a decent roster from time to time. Two-time PBA MVP Danny Ildefonso was once a King Bulldog, as was his teammate Lordy Tugade, another former PBA star. Dave Catamora, Ray Mendoza, Froilan Baguion, Edwin Asoro, Jonathan Fernandez, Raymond Aguilar, were all very good players during the pre-Sy days.

    When Hans Sy took over team management though, that's when the program took off. Sy brought in Altamirano, a coach who won championships in the PBA, and was himself a UAAP MVP with that legendary 1986 UP championship squad. Altamirano, now able to fight fire with fire in the recruitment wars, brought in the core of the U-18 RP Youth Team he handled sometime 2008 - 2009. RP Youth teammates Cedric Labing-isa, Gelo Alolino, Jeff Javillonar, Joseph Eriobu, Kyle Neypes, Troy Rosario, and of course Ray Parks all matriculated to NU. Along the way they also picked up Cameroonian big men Jean Mbe and Henri Beteyane, former star Squire Glenn Khobuntin from Letran, Rizal Tech standouts Rob Celiz and Dennis Villamor, and Jay Alejandro, who came from the RP Youth team after Altamirano's batch.

    It was not an easy road to championship glory by any means. Parks would be back-to-back MVP in 2011 and 2012 but the team would not even make the Final 4. Part of that was due to timing: that team ran into the tailend of the 5-Peat title juggernaut of the Ateneo. Ray's father, the man after whom the PBA's MVP award is now named, Bobby Parks, said it best in one of his last interviews with Gameface, "We have a very young team, and they still have to figure out how to win, not like Norman's (Black) team who already have that experience."

    As their coach himself said, all of that adversity would serve them in good stead.

    Ranged against a tough, talented and deep Far Eastern squad, they had to play as a team or the individual talents on FEU would eat them all alive. Game 1 of their Finals was a classic clinic of FEU's talent lording it over NU. RR Pogoy, an underrated utility forward, exploded for 10 points in a pivotal third-period run as the Tamaraws hung on for the 70-75 win.

    Game 2 however became an all-NU show with the Bulldogs hunkering down on defense and winning it running away to force Game 3. A then-record 24,000-plus paying patrons watched this game.

    Game 3 was more of the same. NU simply played outstanding, no-frills, no-gimmicks position defense, switched and helped and recovered quickly, clogged the lanes, and just plain dared the Tamaraws to shoot their way to a title. When the fog of battle had lifted the Bulldogs had done it.

    NU needed to get through five must-win games and win they did. They had to battle University of the East for the last Final 4 berth. They had to overcome a twice-to-beat disadvantage held by Number 1 seed Ateneo in their Final 4 match. Then they needed to force a Game 3 and win that against a tough FEU side. The mentally and emotionally unfocused Bulldogs of old were gone. In its place are these new Bulldogs, champions of the UAAP.

    "They just wanted the win, that's all," declared a beaming Hans Sy, the team patron responsible for making all of this possible. Sy's Bull Pups are reigning champions in the junior division, while his Lady Bulldogs ...
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  5. 2014 UAAP Men's Basketball Finals: Historic Victory for NU

    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 ...
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