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  1. Standards

    There are certain things that come with being a champion, especially if you've built a dynasty. Standards for you are a lot higher, a lot tougher than with everybody else.

    Take the case of the Los Angeles Lakers. In a lockout-shortened 66-game season, the Lakers were 41-25. Any other team would have been happy with that record and the upper-middle playoff seed that went with it. Not the Lakers though. They were ousted in five games by the younger, hungrier and more athletic Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round.

    Let's think about that for a minute... very good regular season record, good playoff seed, made it to the second round of the playoffs. And still a failure by Laker standards.

    That is what happens when your team is the second winningest team in the history of the NBA, when you win NBA titles in bunches, and when Hollywood A-listers are actually decades-long and very knowledgeable fans. Anything less than an NBA championship just isn't the same.

    In the NCAA it is much the same thing for a program like Duke. While much has been said about how the great Dean Smith's North Carolina teams really only won two NCAA titles, Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils have won far more, so much so that Duke fans think a mere trip to the Final 4 is inconsequential. Smaller schools like Virginia Commonwealth or George Mason might see the Final 4 as beyond their wildest expectations, but Duke fans need their Blue Devils to at least fight for the national championship.

    John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats are now living in that same surreal universe of much-bloated expectations. Calipari has been very good at getting the one-done phenoms from American prep schools, the latest being uber athletic big man Anthony Davis. His latest recruit Nerlens Noel continues this new trend for him. And with all of this of course comes the expectation that Calipari's first NCAA title this year will be the first of many, possibly annual, championships he will bring home to bluegrass country.

    Perhaps nowhere else in the basketball universe is the impossibly high expectation even more unattainable than with USA Basketball, the program and organization in charge of ensuring that the country that invented the game continues to be at the apex of the game. Krzyzewski will be experiencing all of this again in roughly 60-plus days when the 2012 Olympics rolls around in London, England.

    In a country whose average citizen probably thinks the pick-and-roll is a pastry or a quirky cocktail, Krzyzewski will once again have the thankless and unenviable task of making sure the Americans keep their precious Olympic gold medal in men's basketball. After all, they have the best players in the world, NBA superstars, on their roster, who could possibly stop them?

    Well, they were stopped already in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece and the 2002 World Championships in their own basketball-crazy backyard, Indiana. Did we mention that the Women's Program is actually far more successful in recent international play? Still, Krzyzewski, who coached the American back into international glory in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is expected to continue stamping American class on international basketball.

    He'll have less than a full deck with Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Derrick Rose, all shoe-ins for the London roster, all officially and indefinitely sidelined with various injuris sustained in NBA play. Those three represent easily two starters and the sixth man. Krzyzewski is so bereft of talented size he has had to bring in Davis from Kentucky, techncially an incoming college sophomore who is the consensus Number 1 choice in the next NBA draft.

    Sure, he will still have reigning NBA MVP LeBron James and scoring champion Kevin Durant, as well as James' Miami Heat running mate Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and maybe even Andrew Bynum and Blake Griffin. That is a roster no other international team could match on a talent-for-talent scale. "America is the worst team tactically, but when James or Wade or Bryant drive or want to score, what can you do?" asked former Smart Gilas head coach Rajko Toroman at dinner one evening. It is a rhetorical question. Or is it?

    That same thing could be said of the Lakers, Duke, Kentucky, maybe even Talk N Text, Ateneo and San Beda in the local scene. But everybody knows any team can beat any other team at any given time. Bilog nga naman ang bola. Holding up even a known and proven team to standards that are already unreasonably high can only result in added and unnecessary pressure. When it all adds up, failure becomes magnified out of all proportion as well.

    This is when fans have to realize that expectations can weigh down a team. The least they can do is wisen up and relieve the burden by first unburdening themselves.
  2. Squires in shining armor

    Squires in shining armor

    by: Sanita Valparaíso
    Blogueros de Filipinas S.A.

    Manila fascinates me. Five years ago I found myself in this place and that first visit craved for more. I like the people and its history.

    Manila is Intramuros, or Intramuros is a reflection of the city's past. I live in the present and I see the city as it is now but the tell-tale signs in the surroundings carry me to live in the past, and this experience is a fascination to me.

    The baluarte, the basílicas and cathedrals, the old colegíos, and the sport of basketball, I like them all in Intramuros. I am a basketball buff and any thud of a ball would always catch my attention so that I skipped the Fort Santiago itinerary upon noticing the Squires in practice at its gym in Colegío de San Juan de Letran. The team is widely considered as the best in the Philippines today.

    Body stretching, weightlifting, plyometrics, drills and scrimmages-- these stuffs I also saw in Europe. Philippine basketball has improved by leaps and bounds these days, and these Squires know that they are in the right track to greatness. I whiled my day watching the boys playing hoops inside that building with championship banners hanging around and trophies flaunted at the entrance way.

    There is one player whose play and athleticism impressed me much. His name is JJ Abao, a 6-1 swingman. But in all indications, this 17-year-old cager can practically play all positions in the hardcourt. With a 40-inch vertical elevation, this aggressive and fighting hoopster could be the rebirth of then-promising Shawn Kemp, albeit the smaller version. At his Facebook account in which I was privileged to see, the JJ Abao of three years ago was a natural power forward with mastery in controlling rebounds. He banged bodies with Porter(Cebu City) and the latter's teammate Julius Cadavis(Cebu City), and these two Cebuanos were both beaten in the paint, not to mention the bitter defeat to the hands of the victorious Cagayan de Oro quintet during the hotly contested 24th Season Milo Pasarelle (14-under) National Championship in Baguio in the northern part of the Islands. The diminutive (Dennis) Rodman-like rebounder from CDO also locked horns with another tall and hefty forwards of NCR team, but at this time losing the Gold Medal to the much bigger team of Gelo Vito, and Andre Paras and Marcial of La Salle GH. These three behemoths took turns in tiring JJ Abao in the paint.

    As there would only be one small rebounder in NBA as embodied in one and only Dennis Rodman, the same is true in high school basketball. At a visit in Milo BEST(Basketball Efficiency and Scientific Training), the director recalled the feats of his illustrious alumni, and he was proud of them. JJ Abao is now playing with the Letran Squires, Gelo Vito in La Salle Greenies, Kevin Porter in Ateneo Blue Eagles, Julius Cadavis in Arellano Chiefs, and both Andre Paras and Marcial in the elite team of La Salle Greenies.

    The Real Madrid is now turning its look on Filipino athletes. Be in basketball or in soccer football, the rich team in Europe is interested in moulding Filipino breeds to play in the ACB and JJ Abao is one of them.

  3. Ten Kids Top 2012 Jr. NBA National Training Camp

    Four Manilans, 3 from Cagayan de Oro, 1 each from Puerto Princesa, Pampanga and the Alaska Power Camp took the top ten slots in the 2012 Jr. NBA Philippines presented by Alaska to form this year’s Jr. NBA All-Star team.

    After three days of a basketball boot camp jointly conducted by NBA Legend and former Chicago Bull Luc Longley, US Jr. NBA Clinician Chris Clunie, the Alaska Coaching Staff led by PBA Legend Jojo Lastimosa and assorted coaches from the regions, Aljun Jay Melecio, Camillus Altamirano, Patrick Ramirez and John Roald Mayor from the Manila Regional Training Camp; Lui Besa, Felixberto Jaboneta and Arnie Padilla from the Cagayan de Oro camp; Paul Dagunan from the Puerto Princesa camp; Antonio Jeffrey Coronel from Pampanga and Regille Kent Ilagan from the Alaska Power Camp in Manila outshined the competition and emerged as this year’s Jr. NBA All Stars.

    The ten young cagers will be rewarded with a once in a lifetime NBA experience and the chance to travel abroad to play against a counterpart Jr. NBA Team.

    Coach Alan Ayo of ABC Ideas of Sorsogon City and a city councillor was meanwhile selected as the 2012 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year for having grown the sport of basketball in the Philippines while promoting the Jr. NBA S.T.A.R. values of Sportsmanship, Teamwork, a positive Attitude and Respect to young basketball athletes.

    The following players received special awards for their outstanding achievements in the National Training Camp : Alvin Jules Pineda, Joshua Alfonso Gantan, Lawrence Viajar, Gilbert Tague and Jeremiah Joy Sandalo, members of the 2012 Gatorade Performance Team; Miguel Raphael Jison of St. John’s Institute in Bacolod City, the Spalding Sportsmanship Award; Paul Dagunan from San Miguel National High School in Puerto Princesa, the Gatorade Hustle Award, Patrick Ramirez from Manila, the BTV Rising STAR Award, Arnie Padilla from the Sacred Heart School Ateneo de Cebu, the 2012 Jr. NBA Studio 23 All Star Player of the Game; Regille Kent Ilagan, the 2012 Alaska Youth Ambassador. Most Valuable Player of the 2012 Jr. NBA Philippines presented by Alaska is Aljun Jay Melecio.

    The top ten were culled from a group of 50 junior players aged 10-14 who topped their respective regional selection camps in Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Pampanga and Manila through all of April and made it to the Jr. NBA National Training Camp which took place from May 3 – 5.

    Three days of boot camp – basketball drills, skills tests, stamina challenges, competitive games and fun games – tested the young cagers’ physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strengths.

    The 2012 Jr. NBA Philippines presented by Alaska was also made possible through the support of the NBA's Official Partners including Gatorade, Spalding, Basketball TV (BTV), Studio 23 and the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines.*For more information on Jr. NBA Philippines, including recaps, photos and news, log on to
  4. Short fuses in the 2012 nba playoffs

    Time and again, I have been proven to have a short fuse.

    My elders said that I inherited my quick temper from my maternal grandmother. *That ain’t quite fair, to say the least. *After all, everybody is responsible for his own actions.

    My emotions usually get the better of me when the things that I wanted done are not tasked correctly or quickly. *Ditto when I could not get my message across without having to repeat it over and over again.

    I also lose my temper when arguments over a subject matter turn personal and are not related to the merits of the case.

    These things get my goat and I easily go ballistic over them. *

    Still, I take to heart the Filipino saying, “Ang pikon ay talo.” *And emotionally, I have learned not to get “too high” on highs and “too low” on lows just so I am able to keep my sanity intact.

    Anger management is a must for the young and old. *Too much anger (or hatred) in your heart can get you into serious trouble. *At worst, it can trigger a massive heart attack that leads to a premature death.

    If I am not mistaken, programs on anger management are being offered here and elsewhere around the globe. *I remember a movie was once made to tackle this interesting subject.

    “Anger Management” was a 2003 American slapstick comedy film that starred Adam Saddler and three-time Oscar Awards winner and long-time Los Angeles Lakers season ticket holder Jack Nicholson. *A television series based on the movie will premier on June 28, 2012 in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

    What then has anger management anything to do with sports?

    Well, there were three cases in an eight-day stretch (April 22-30) wherein National Basketball Association athletes lost their cool during or after the games. *Alas, the teams that employ them paid dearly for their transgressions as they resulted in either game suspensions or forced absence from the ongoing NBA playoffs by the players involved.

    Metta World Peace of the LA Lakers, Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics and Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks acted foolishly, if not stupidly, when they lost control of their emotions and burst into anger during the games.

    World Peace, the former Ron Artest who was the Pro Basketball Writers Association’s choice for the for the 2011 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his advocacy of mental health care, seemingly had shunned his Bad Boy image from the mid-2000s.

    World Peace, who legally changed his name last September, actually had been in his best behavior since coming into the Lakers before the 2009-10 season. *Unfortunately, during the second quarter of a regular-season home game against Oklahoma City on April 22, his once-forgotten irrational ways acted up again. *He was exuberantly celebrating his slam dunk off two defenders when his left elbow unintentionally hit the back side of the head of Oklahoma City’s James Harden that resulted in a concussion by the NBA’s highest-scoring reserve.

    Partly due to World Peace’s past reputation, NBA commissioner David Stern penalized him with a seven-game suspension – the Lakers’ regular-season finale at Sacramento and first six playoff games (he should be available some time in the second round granting that Kobe Bryant and company survive past Denver in their Western first-round duel).

    Rondo, the Celtics’ playmaker de luxe who topped the NBA in assists and triple-double games this season, drew a technical foul then chest-bumped a referee in the final minute of the Hub City squad’s 83-74 road loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game One of their Eastern opening-round series. In addition to the automatic ejection, Rondo was suspended for Game Two.

    It was a pretty dumb move by Rondo as Boston was already depleted in the backcourt due to the absence of Ray Allen, who was set to miss the series’ first two games due to a sprained right ankle.

    Luckily, veteran forward Paul Pierce “tebowed” his way to a 36-point, 14-rebound roadshow as the Celts evened the count at 1-1 with an 87-80 win and wrested the homecourt advantage away from the Hawks.

    Turning out to be dumber than dumb was Stoudemire’s violent and inexcusable behavior after Game Two of the Miami-New York series. Minutes after a 104-94 Knicks loss, a visibly frustrated Stoudemire swung his left hand on a fire extinguisher case in the visitor’s locker room. *This resulted in a cut that required surgery last May 1 to repair a small muscle in the hand. *A self-inflicted injury it was and the Knicks management even belittled it by not imposing a fine on the apologetic Amar’e.

    Stoudemire sat out the third game that was held in New York’s fabled Madison Square Garden last Friday. *With the 6-10 frontliner and one-month sensation Jeremy Lin out with injuries, ...
  5. Luc Longley Topbills 2012 Jr. NBA at UP Gym

    Top 10 kids among 50 campers to be selected as 2012 Jr. NBA All Star Team

    The 2012 Jr. NBA Philippines Program presented by Alaska reaches its climax May 3 and 4 at the University of the Philippines Gym in Diliman and at the SM Mall of Asia on Saturday May 5 as 50 of the most promising young cagers of the land take part in the Jr. NBA National Training Camp.

    NBA Legend and former Chicago Bull Luc Longley and Alaska coaches led by Jojo Lastimosa will run the camp for the boys aged 10-14 who topped their respective regional selection camps in Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Pampanga, Manila and the Alaska Power Camp earlier this month. Longley will conduct an NBA Cares activity at the end of the training camp.

    The 40 players selected as the best from their respective regions are : Randolf Erickson Marcelo, Gilbert Cague, Samuel Abuhilijeh, John Ronald Mayor, Miguel Kristoffer Abila, Omar Pius Mangadam, Patrick Sison, Aljun Jay Melecio, Tommy York Gedaria, Juan Carlo Garcia, Bryan Joshua Lina, Camillus Altamirano, Joshua Francis Callejo, Aaron Ivan Reyes, Aoki Estacio and Patrick Ramirez from the Manila Camp; Paul Dagunan, Himel Samante, John Mark Bentulan, Lorenzo Carlos, and Miguel Raphael Jison from the Puerto Princesa Camp; Arnold Cagang, Jepher Egan, Ian de la Cruz, Lorenz Viajar, *Lui Besa, Felixberto Jaboneta, Arnie Padilla, Arvid Ong and Zachary Juang from the Cagayan de Oro Camp and Rico Soliman, Pawan Singh, Diesel Jericho Malonzo, Polo Alberto Dayrit, Anton Miguel David, Antonio Jeffrey Coronel, Joshua Alfonso Gantan, Ivan Jules Pineda and Jeremiah Joy Sandalo from the Pampanga Camp.

    The Alaska Power Campers are:*Rigell Kent Ilagan, Ryen Dizon, Andrei Monserrat, Krystoffe Jimenez, Jaime Alonzo Senires, Maurice Rainier Caculitan (Manila); Jon Olaso (Olongapo); Nino Dave Carmel, Darrel Menina and Khryss Alerta (Cebu).

    From May 3-4, the young hopefuls will undergo a basketball boot camp that will test their basketball skills, strength, stamina and character via conditioning workouts, transition drills, skills stations and competitive games. Also highlighted in the three-day National Training Camp is the teaching of the Jr. NBA core values of Sportsmanship, Teamwork, a positive Attitude and Respect (S.T.A.R.), alongside Gatorade’s on-site testing and evaluation of the campers’ body composition, strength, vertical leap, endurance, speed and balance.
    The public is invited to watch the last day of the Jr. NBA Camp at the SM-MOA on Saturday (9am – 4pm) where the final scrimmage will be the high point of the day. The announcement of the ten 2012 Jr. NBA All Stars, who will be rewarded with an authentic NBA experience and the chance to play a counterpart Jr. NBA selection out of the country, will be made after the scrimmage in the afternoon.

    The 2012 Jr. NBA presented by Alaska is also made possible through the support of the NBA's Official Partners including Gatorade, Spalding, Basketball TV (BTV), Studio 23 and Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines. For more information on Jr. NBA Philippines, including registration information, dates, venues, photos and news, log on the
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