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In Your Face!

"San Beda Na Naman 'Yan"

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That was what Mr Libog declared during our last dinner out at an up and coming Thai restaurant in our neck of the woods.

"Honestly, sino tatalo sa kanila? Sino? Lyceum? Letran? Arellano? Sino pa," he rapidly asked away.

Truth be told the Red Lions really do look like they can and indeed will win the Season 93 men's basketball championship of the NCAA, and that's just how it goes.

Consider their rather successful off-season, practically traipsing through the Fil Oil Flying V summer tournament. Sure they had one or two close shaves, including the one-game championship game versus reigning UAAP champion De La Salle.

But come the hell on, seriously, did San beda look like it was at any point worried that they would lose any game in the Fil Oil?

"Tignan na lang natin ang roster nila, they have arguably the best college player now in the country, si (Robert) Bolick, tapos meron pa silang (Davon) Potts, (Arnaud) Noah, and that new guy (he couldn't quite remember Eugene Toba). Hindi pa nga naglaro si (Donald) Tankoua nung Fil Oil eh," he declared in between sips of the hot pot's broth.

I reminded him that Lyceum has CJ Perez, the guy who he said was the best college player as of last year.

"Last year 'yon, bago ko nakita ulit na maglaro ng seryoso si Bolick. Bolick now plays both ends eh. Magaling na nga gumawa, magaling pa dumepensa," he retorted.

Then he remembered something I foolishly hoped he had forgotten.

"Hindi ba nag-try out sa Ateneo 'yung Bolick? Bakit nga hindi kinuha? Dahil ba galing La Salle," he asked in rapid succession.

I said it can't be because Bolick was a transfer from La Salle. The Ateneo already took in at least three former Green Archers in guard Nico Elorde, center Ponso Gotladera, and most recently forward Gabby Reyes. Although word has it that Reyes didn't pass academic muster at Loyola Heights and is once again looking for a new school.

I could only surmise that when Bolick tried out that the Blue Eagles either had too many guys at his wing position, or he just wasn't the "type" of player the Ateneo wanted.

"Ah ganun ba... so ang type ng Ateneo hindi 'yung magagaling. Kasi magaling si Perez, pinabayaan or inayawan or both, magaling din si Bolick, pina-try out try out pa pero hindi din kinuha. So the two best college players now mga ayaw ng Ateneo, ha-ha-ha!"

Yes, he really did have a good laugh at that one.

We were talking about who could beat San Beda, I reminded him.

He was still kind of laughing, "Sira ulo ka ba? May nakikita ka bang tatalo sa Beda? Wala na 'yan, champion na ulit sila. Meron pa nga silang mga (Joe) Presbitero, (Radge) Tongco, (JV) Mocon, (AC) Soberano, (Benedict) Adamos. Sige nga, sino tatalo diyan? Lumpiat pa nga sa knaila si KMark (Carino) na inayawan din ng Ateneo. Talagang basta magaling ayaw ng Ateneo, ha-ha-ha!"

I can't imagine how he can laugh while also partaking of the various grilled meats and shrimp, truly remarkable.

"I'm sure naman may makakatisod sa kanila, maybe they will lose one game, maybe, tipong super init nung kalaban at super malas nila, pero other than that there is no way they can be beaten, no way," he insisted.

"Sabi ko nga sa iyo simple lang naman ang basketball, basta llamado ka sa talent and experience sure panalo ka na. Kahit naman mga upsets like nung tinalo sila ng Letran two years ago, llamado naman sa talent ang Letran perimeter that time, and it was enough to get past Ola (Adeogun) and Art (Dela Cruz)."

"Nakalaban naman ng Beda sa Fil Oil Finals malakas din, La Salle, na may Mbala, best import ever, so it all just makes sense, dapat lang naman na sila magkatapat sa Finals."

So with the NCAA out of the way, how does he see us in the UAAP?

"Mas magandang tanong 'yan, pero saka na, dessert muna tayo dun sa kabila."
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