With the 83rd season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) opened just last Saturday, fans of the most popular game in the league — basketball, of course — would be huddled in discussion as to how their favorite teams would fare. Here's a primer to add a bit of fuel to the fire.
San Beda Red Lions
Rank: 1 (2006)
Ask the six other coaches in the collegiate league and they would be one in saying that the San Beda Red Lions’, the 2006 NCAA champs, are this year’s top choice to win the coveted basketball plum for the second year in a row.
And who would reject this bold statement?
Basically, the Red Lions have remained intact, with 2006 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Sam Ekwe still at the helm, along with holdovers 6-4 power forward Yousif Aljamal Jr., 6-0 point-guard Pong Escobal, and shooter Rogemar Menor — all ready to provide the combo-punches.
Ekwe, an exchange student from Nigeria, has averages of 13.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, four blocks, one assist, and one steal in 14 regular season games. Aljamal, meanwhile, has averages of 13.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assist in 26.8 minutes of action last year. Escobal is not far behind with 11.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in 29.4 minutes of play time.
The 6'-2" Menor also has good numbers for the team — 8.6 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 14 games last year.
While Aljamal, Escobal, and Menor provide stability and firepower, the 6-8 Ekwe is again expected to terrorize his opponents with his ferocious rebounding and shot blocking ability.
Another reason why San Beda is the top choice to win the title is the absence of last year’s losing finalist Philippine Christian University (PCU) Dolphins, who were suspended by the league board for one year for violating a league rule.
A member of the PCU Dolphins was found to have switched his identity with his cousin to enable him to play in the high school division and that led to PCU’s suspension in the country’s oldest collegiate league.
Newly-acquired coach Frankie Lim, a Red Lion himself during his heydays in the collegiate league in the late 70s, will also have rookies 6'-0" Garvo Lanete, 6'-5" behemoth Dave Marcelo, Alvin Padilla and Jose Caram, manning the patrol lanes of the team, in their bid to capture a back-to-back title and 13th overall in its storied basketball history.
Lanete, Marcelo, Padilla, and Caram all came from San Beda’s junior team.
The defending champs also toughened themselves by training for two weeks abroad in Carson, California.
In an interview, Lim said expectations are high, especially among San Beda's basketball-crazy students and alumni, who expect to grab another title this year. Lim cautioned, however, that every other team in the league has a legitimate chance of snatching the basketball title considering that they, too, has toughened themselves up for the coming basketball wars.
Lim particularly mentioned the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers and the Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) Cardinals as the toughest competitors in the fold right now.
"We have tough opponents," Lim mentioned. "JRU is surging. Mapua improved since Leo Isaac arrived. Unpredictable ang Mapua."
Lim said the team’s strength will still lie on their toughness in the defensive side what with Ekwe expected to tower and bully his way over his other opponents as Aljamal and Escobal deliver the usual points for the team.
Lim added that experience will also be a key towards a back-to-back crown for them as most of his players are already in their third and fourth years in the league.
“We also have the height and the experience to back up our bid for a back-to-back crown. We hope this could again carry us to the promise land,” Lim said.
The Red Lions
Coach: Frankie Lim
Raymund Maggay (6'-3"), Enrico Patroceino Tirona, Jr. (5'-9"), Riego Gamalinda (6'-3"), Garvo Lanete (6'-0"), Eduardo Tecson, Jr. (6'-2"), Yousif Aljamal (6'-4"), David Paul Marcelo (6'-5"), Antonio Jose Caram (5'-7"), Samuel Ekwe (6'-8"), Jay-R Taganas (6'-4"), Rogemar Menor (6'-2"), John Carlos Hermida (5'-9"), Alvin Padilla (6'-1"), John Paul Escobal (6'-0"), Kristoffer Taupa (6'-5")
On a rebuilding stage
Rank: 3 (2006)
The Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, considered a powerhouse school in the NCAA with 16 basketball titles, came up short in their bid to win another title last year, being beaten by the Philippine Christian University (PCU) Dolphins in a tie-breaker to determine who would challenge the Red Lions for the championship crown.
For 2007, the Knights find themselves on unfamiliar ground as coach Louie Alas admitted that they are embarking on a three-year rebuilding journey what with key losses of players hampering their bid for an NCAA crown.
Without key players Aaron Aban and Boyet Bautista, who got intothe Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in the 2006 draft, the Knights will have to rely on holdovers led by 6’ -2” forward Andro Gil Quinday, 6'-5" center Bryan Faundo, guard John Melegrito, and 6’-3” Dino Daa to be the Knights in shining armor for this season.
Last year, Daa averaged 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, Quinday 4.6 points and 5.4 rebounds, and Faundo 3.4 points and 3.4 rebounds.
Though not expecting too much from his players, as most of them are still rookies, Alas said this does not mean that they will just roll over and die for their opponents.
“Hindi namin gagawing reason [the rebuilding stage] para matalo na lang,” Alas said.
“The team still needa to improve on a lot of things, but we can assure the other teams that we can give them a run for their money because we will treat every game as a do-or-die for us,” he added.
To compensate for some of their weaknesses — like not having a go-to-guy especially during clutch situations — Alas said his team, which last won an NCAA title in 2005, will rely more on their offensive plays and patterns in the hope of landing a spot in the Final Four.
“I still got a mix of veterans and rookies in my fold who are ready to wage war against the elite squads of the league such as San Beda and the Mapua Cardinals. We may not be as strong defensively and offensively as the other squads but we are a fighting unit,” Alas said.
“Sila na lang mamroblema sa amin,” he added.
Coach: Louie Alas
Reymar Gutilban (5'-11"), Bryan Faundo (6'-6"), Anjoe Dace Latonio (6'-3"), Alvyn Cabonce (6'-3"), John Foronda (6'-6"), John Karl Melegrito (5'-11"), Kirk Del Rosario (5'-11"), Reynaldo Dangkal (5'-8"), Schubert Carlo Reposar (6'-3"), John Clarence Foronda (6'-3"), Dino Fiel Daa (6'-3"), Andro Gil Quinday (6'-2"), Regin Reneses (6'-3"), Rey Francis Guevara (6'-4"), Rafael Joey Jazul (5'-10")
Just having fun in the court
Rank: Number 4 (2006)
Just have fun in the playing court! This, in a nutshell, is what newly-hired Mapua Cardinals coach Leo Isaac wants his players to do on the hard court.
Isaac, who played for the Cardinals in the early 80s, said it is much better to downplay the chances of his team of even reaching the Final Four, so that it won’t add pressure to his young players.
“I rather see them having fun on the court than to be serious about it,” said the soft-spoken coach, who was acquired by the Cardinals during the summer after leading the Arellano University to a basketball championship in the National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA).
Isaac, who was a star player for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in the late 80s under then coach Robert Jaworski, will lean on veterans Kelvin dela Peña, 6’-5” center Jerbey del Rosario, shooter Sean Co, and 6’-3" defensive specialist Neil Pascual to carry the cudgels for the Cardinals.
The 6’-0” Dela Peña will be the cornerstone of the Cardinals’ offense, with his per-game averages of 6.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 14 elimination games last year expected to increase this coming season.
He said that 5’-9” freshman Jonathan Banal, who showed some potential in the preseason leagues, such as the Nike Summer League in which the Cardinals reached the quarterfinals, will also be tapped to help the team in the offense.
“Sooner or later, he (Banal) will become the chief court general of this team. That is why this early, we want to hone his skills and confidence, especially when the game is on the line,” Isaac said.
The Mapua Cardinals last won an NCAA crown in 1991 under coach Joel Banal who is now an assistant to coach Tim Cone of the Alaska Aces.
Coach: Leo Isaac
Arjay del Rosario (6'-1"), Joshua Emmanuel Reyes (6'-1"), Edwin Cornejo (6'-1"), Ian Chris Mazo (6'-2"), Jonathan Banal (5'-9"), Mark Anthony Acosta (6'-3"), Jewel Palomique Jr. (5'-10"), Jerbey del Rosario (6'-5"), Kelvin Charles Dela Pena (6'-0"), Paul Alexis Cinco (6'-2"), Rodel Raneses (5'-11"), Neil Anthony Pascual (6'-3"), Sean Christoher Co (6'-2"), Hermes Sumalinog (6'-1"), Teree Gil Guillermo (5'-11")
University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas
Banking on pride and determination to carry them to victory
Rank: 5 (2006)
The UPHSD Altas are currently the only NCAA basketball team to have never clinched a basketball championship, but this does not mean that the team will not have a fight left in them, especially with the absence of key players from last year’s squad due to graduation.
UPHSD coach Bai Cristobal said what his team lacks in experienced players they will make up for with their pride and determination to score an upset win against their much touted and heavily-favoured foes.
Cristobal also sees a spark of promise for the Altas even if shooters Fritz Bauzon and Khiel Misa have already used up their eligibility. The two used to suit up in the NCRAA with Bauzon having played for Lyceum of the Philippines and Misa for Olivarez College before transferring to the Las Piñas-based school.
“We will try to improve and be in the Final Four,” said Cristobal, whose team finished fifth in last year's NCAA wars. “Wala talagang angat na angat. Everybody has a chance in the final four."
The Altas, who lost only two games in the Asian Universities Basketball Championship, are hoping for Vladimir Joe, Mike Kong, and Lee Sang Myeon to light up the scoreboard. It is, however, the two gigantic Indonesians, Ryan Frebyan and Thoyib Isman, who have caught the attention of some of the coaches, and even press.
“They have potential because of their height,” Cristobal said about his two walk-in foreigners. “With their presence inside the court, I think we can decently compete this seasom."
When asked who among the other schools which has the best chance of winning the crown this year, Cristobal picked San Beda without batting an eyelash.
“San Beda is the team to beat,” said “But beatable sila,” he stressed.
Coach: Arturo Cristobal
Rommel Balboa (6'-5"), Franz Dysam (5'-10"), Ryan Frevyan (6'-6"), John Phillip Galabin (6'-0"), Thoyib Isman (6'-9"), Vladimir Joe (6'-4"), Michael Johnson Kong (5'-11"), Sang Myeon Lee (5'-11"), Flavio Christian Liaz (5'-11"), Virgilio Manuel, Jr. (6'-2"), Andy Mejos (5'-10"), Richard Brian Mojado (6'-0"), Ronald Reyes (5'-10"), Nathaniel Fredderick Salanga (6'-5"), George Michael Sicat (6'-3"), Raffy Ynion (6'-4")
The Heavy Bombers, host for this year's festivities, had first crack against the kings of the NCAA jungle – the San Beda Red Lions last June 23 at the Araneta Coliseum. But they lost by a big margin, with the score 91-69.
Expectations are very high among the students and alumni that the team will enter the Final Four of the basketball tournament and get a crack at the championship.
Heavy Bombers coach Ariel Vanguardia said that the team has been preparing for a year in hopes of ending a 35-year men’s basketball title drought.
“I really hope that with my players, we can bring back the glory of ’72 in 2K7,” Vanguardia said.
But Vanguardia said it would be a difficult task, as all the others teams have naturally geared up for this season.
“I feel that we are capable of beating the other teams, but they are also capable of beating us. It will be a tight battle for the other Final Four slots,” Vanguardia said.
“It will be a wild race for the second finals slot,” Vanguardia observed, noting that save for San Beda College, the rest of the league is as balanced as it could get. “A team can beat any team any day.”
Vanguardia said that the Bombers would miss the services of chief gunner Floyd Dedicatoria, but a veteran crew — composed of 6’-3” John Wilson, 6’-4” Jayson Nocom, 6’-3” Marvin Hayes, and 5’-9” shifty point-guard Marc Cagoco — are still available for his disposal.
He added that James Sena — the 6’-5” center of the team from La Union with per-game averages of 8.2 points and 6 rebounds in 14 games played last year — will also be tapped once he recovers from his injury.
“I hope James Sena can step up once he comes back,” Vanguardia said.
The Heavy Bombers
Coach: Ariel Vanguardia
Ildefonso Bulangis, Jr. (5'-9"), Jerome Cruz (6'-3"), Dan Calo Lituania (5'-9"), John Eric Agas (6'-0"), John Marion Wilson (6'-2"), Reycon Kabigting (5'-11"), Jason Nocom (6'-4"), Jerome Ramos (6'-5"), Marvin Hayes (6'-3"), Marx Cagoco (5'-9"), Rene Cunanan, Jr. (6'-1"), James Ryan Sena (6'-4"), Alvin Se (6'-4"), John Allen Montemayor (6'-6", Mark Louie Pradas (6'-1"), Joel Gabriel (6'-3"), Mark Julius Yuzon (6'-4"), Rodrigo Apostol (6'-1")
San Sebastian College Stags
Instituting a new system to revive old glory
Rank: 7 (2006)
The San Sebastian College (SSC) Stags, who became famous in the mid-90s for racking up five straight titles behind players such as Rommel Adducul (later of Purefoods Hotdogs) and Rodney Santos (later of Barangay Ginebra), has recently stagnated and now finds itself among the whipping boys of the rest of the teams in the NCAA.
With this in mind, the school board immediately pushed panic buttons and hired a new tactician whom they hope will help solve the team’s problems.
Multi-titled coach Jorge Gallent, who recently led the Harbour Centre Batang Pier squad to the 2007 Philippine Basketball League (PBL) Unity and Silver Cups, is now the chief bench tactician of the Stags. His main mission is to bring the school back on top of the NCAA basketball elite.
Gallent, who once played for La Salle in the UAAP, will rely on fifth year veterans Jim Bruce Viray, a 6’-3” forward from Palawan; 6’-1” guard Jimbo Aquino; veteran point guard Franz Ian Delgado; and 6’-6” bull-strong center Jason Ballesteros to carry the cudgels for the once-feared Stags.
Viray, who led his team in points last year with per-game averages of 14.9 points and 6.1 rebounds, will be the main option in the offensive drive of the Stags. Expected to back him up are Aquino (5.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game); Delgado (4.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists), and Ballesteros (3.4 points and 6.6 rebounds averages in 13 games last season).
In a recent interview, Gallent said a new system will be applied to the Stags basketball system to improve their standing for the 83rd season.
The Stags placed a dismal seventh last year.
“We hope this new system will work for the boys and the team as a whole. If they can easily adapt to it, I’m confident we could have a decent finish this year,” Gallent said.
Assistant coach Jim Viray shared Gallent’s observation.
“Since bago ang coach namin, new system kami at magandang sistema ang dala niya,” Viray, who is expected to head SSCR along with Jason Ballesteros and Gilbert Bulawan, said.
Coach: Jorge Galent
Jimbo Aquino (6'-1"), Vergel Angelo Zulueta (5'-10"), Froilan Saquillo Jr. (6'-3"), Richard dela Cruz (5'-9"), Jim Bruce Viray (6'-3"), Juanito Quiamco III (6'-0"), Francis de Leon (6'-9"), Omar Moses Mujahid Ampatuan (6'-4"), Mark Lester Haldos (6'-2"), Franz Ian Delgado (5'-10"), Dave Jay Najorda (6'-5"), Gilbert Bulawan (6'-4"), John Murphy Raymundo (5'-10"), Roland Antonio del Rio (6'-0"), Jason Ballesteros (6'-6"), Aldrin Umali (6'-3")
College of Saint Benilde Blazers
Hope’s to improve on dismal showing last year
Rank: 8 (2006)
The College of Saint Benilde Blazers, last year's host and the only team not seeing action on June 23 when the league open its 83rd season, hopes to improve on their dismal showing from a season back.
“We will try to be competitive especially with the help of our returning players,” said CSB assistant coach Mike Buendia, referring most particularly to come-backing point-guard Paolo Orbeta, who was sidelined in 2006 due to an injury.
Without Orbeta, who had per-game averages of 12.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 14 games during the 2005 season, the Blazers were kept afloat by veterans Martin Urra, Archimedes David, and Gerald Layug.
Urra had per-game averages of 14.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assist in 29.4 minutes of action in 14 games last year. Backing him up were Layug (7.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocked shots) and David (2.7 points and 1.7 rebounds).
Buendia hopes that the four veterans will jell this year to give the Blazers a competitive chance of even reaching the Final Four.
“I hope with Orbeta back and Urra, David, and Layug still in the team, we can bounce back and have a decent finish this year,” Buendia said. “Who knows we can reach the Final Four and fight for a championship."
Buendia said one way of matching up with other schools that has players who are heftier and more bigger is by running at every opportunity they can.
“It’s one way of countering their height advantage over some of my players,” he said.
Buendia said San Beda College remains as his top pick to be the favourite to bag the 2007 crown, with Mapua and host Jose Rizal College, also in the hunt for a possible championship.
“The three teams that I have mentioned is already a sure-in for a Final Four slot. They have the experience and the talent to be competitive... Those will be the teams that we will have a hard time dealing with."
The Blazers, who joined the league in 1998, last won a Men’s basketball title in 2000 under former player Sunday Salvacion who is now with the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings.
Coach: Carlos Jose Garcia
Antonio Francisco Cadiz (5'-11"), Kristoffer Robles (5'-10"), David Urra III (5'-11"), Harvey Porras (6'-5"), Garri Keith Sevilla (6'-0"), Jeffrey Moral (6'-1"), Angelo Montecastro (5'-11"), Martin Urra Jr. (6'-3"), Archimedes David (6'-5"), Gerald Christopher Layug (6'-5"), Jacob Christian Manlapaz (6'-4"), Christian Cabatu (6'-5"), Paolo Orbeta (5'-11"), Willian Johnston (6'-3"), Kristan Angelo Aldover (6'-3")
If this was a statement game for San Beda College, the message was loud and clear. The Red Lions roared to a big start, defusing Jose Rizal University, 91-69, on NCAA opening day at the Araneta Coliseum.
“If it is going to be a statement game, then they saw what we are made of,” SBC coach Frankie Lim said of his first ever win as a head coach.
San Beda enjoyed 20-point margins in the second half, the highest being 26, done in two occasions in the fourth quarter. But the foundation was laid in the first with Sam Ekwe and Borgie Hermida in the helm, combining for 13 points in the first period.
All five starters of the Mendiola-based squad made the double-digit mark with Pong Escobal and Yousif Aljamal coming out on top both with 17 points. Ogie came next with 15, while Ekwe and Hermida contributed 14 with the reigning MVP registering 18 rebounds.
“Escobal is impeccable. Sam, he cornered the boards. Hermida was great. He got the ball rolling for us,” the first time coach said. “My players did the little things for me.”
Jayson Nocom topscored JRU with 21 points with 5/7 shooting from beyond the arc. John Wilson had 12 markers and nine boards.
What did the Bombers though were the shooting of Mark Cagoco (2/13 fg) and James Sena (3/10 fg).
David and Goliath powered the red and white off the gates, 15-6, before the scoreboard conked out in the 5:58 mark of the first canto, reading 115-6, in favor of the Lions. The lull did not dampen the momentum of San Beda as they furthered the lead to 11, 19-8, with an Escobal steal at midcourt for a quick lay in, 3:56.
Jose Rizal worked their way back into the game with John Agas swishing a three-point shot to make 22-25 midway in the second. SBC countered with a 10-0 run, while the Bombers sputtered in the long ball.
The Red Lions first breached the 20-point mark with a Hermida basket, the assist coming from Escobal, 55-34, 2:38 in the third. This later ballooned when Menor made a three from a Hermida pass, 74-48, in what seemed to be early garbage time in the fourth.
“We are the champions, expect the six other teams to play their A-game against us,” Lim warned.
Knights Win Bout Of Attrition
by JP Abcede
The Battle of Intramuros booked another classic as Colegio de San Juan de Letran poked Mapua Institute of Technology, 84-80, on June 23 at the Araneta Coliseum at the first day of 2007 NCAA seniors’ basketball.
After Mapua came back from 12 points down to within one in the final moments of the match, the Knights relied on jittery endgame execution to eke their first win.
Jonathan Banal scored what could have been a pivotal three-point play off RJ Jazul, 80-81, :23.3 to go. Banal then sacrificed his fifth foul to stop the clock, Jazul split his trip on the line to go up by two.
Neil Pascual could have tied the count but his attempt from the corner went awry as Jewel Palomique fouled Jazul in the scramble. The Letran Knight missed his second charity, but he was vindicated when the rebound was collared by a teammate.
Finally, Kirk del Rosario made one of two to seal the game.
“Nag-enjoy kami sa endgame situation,” said Letran coach Louie Alas. “At least hindi nag-meltdown.”
He pointed out that during the summer leagues, his main problem with his wards was execution during clutch time.
Jazul was the top Knight with 23 points, 4/9 from the three-point country, going along with six rebounds and four steals. Dino Daa had a double-double with 15 and ten boards. Unheralded Reymar Gutilban notched ten markers.
Six Cardinals made double figures with Pascual in front with 15 points, six rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. Kelvin dela Peña followed with 13, seven, seven, and two steals.
The stats of the game though were the combined six 67 personal fouls, six disqualifications, three technicals, and an unsportsmanlike foul.
CSJL had the first semblance of a breakaway going on a 9-3 tear to double Mapua’s output, 18-9. The Cardinals eased their way back in the next period, briefly taking the advantage, 28-27, via Teree Guillermo basket, 3:53. Rey Dangcal responded with a one-hander to reclaim the upper hand for the Knights.
MIT retook the lead when they scored five unanswered points just before the break. However, Jazul had the final say with a trifecta in the corner just in front of the Cards’ bench.
This went on for the rest of the game with both teams exchanging blows, run, and counter-rallies. CSJL created some distance once more when John Melegrito scored a three-pointer, 57-47, 3:14 in the third before action grinded as physicality took over. Mapua was able to stem the confusion, cutting the deficit to half before the ten minutes expired.
Mikko Quinday made a three to give his team their biggest spread, 74-62, 7:22 in the game. The Cardinals then slowly made their way back into the game with Pascual scattering nine points in the foiled comeback.
Basketball looks easy for San Beda College. The Red Lions noobed University of Perpetual Help Dalta, 86-62, for their second win in NCAA men’s basketball on June 29 at The Arena.
After SBC rolled to a 12-0 start, it was just a matter of formally finishing the game. But not before Sam Ekwe got himself ejected in the third quarter to make things interesting in what was otherwise a dull second half of going through the motions.
“We held them to 24 in the first half,” said San Beda mentor Frankie Lim. “Our defense again played a key role in winning the game.”
A bloodied Ogie Menor finished on top of the food chain with 15 points on an even 50% shooting. Riego Gamalinda scored 11 while Yousif Aljamal and Ekwe both chipped in ten markers.
“Second five ko played wonders for the team,” praised Lim on his substitutes who maintained the gap in the second quarter.
Mike Kong led Perpetual with 18 points, while Ronald Reyes made 14 and Flavio Liaz had 11. The three combined for 8/21 at the three-point area.
The Altas were also badly outrebounded, 32-56.
The first time UPHD scored it was already 3:16 on the first quarter. By that time, San Beda was already up by 12. The hurting continued in the second as the red and white padded the lead some more, 43-24, by halftime.
The match perked up immensely when Ekwe kicked Lee Sang Myeon out of the way after he fell from an unsuccessful alley-oop 5:02 of the third. Lee was assessed with a personal while the behemoth Nigerian got tagged for an unsportsmanlike foul and was thrown out.
“Sinahod,” Lim described on what the Korean did on his foreign cager. “It is sad. We are going to play Mapua without Sam.”
This woke up both galleries and they started cheering once more like it was a close contest. Perps managed to almost turn it into one but the Lions’ composure prevailed.
UPHD drops to the bottom with idle Mapua Institute of Technology, Beda’s next opponent, at 0-2.
“We will make adjustments for Mapua’s game,” Lim assessed. “The bigs have to step up.”
Colegio de San Juan de Letran upped their game in the second half to own College of Saint Benilde, 92-81, in the continuation of NCAA men’s basketball action at The Arena on June 29.
The Knights went on a 16-2 tear that bridged the two later quarters to go ahead, 84-68. Bryan Faundo found himself on the spotlight leading the rally.
“Very unusual iyon for us,” greeted CSJL coach Louie Alas. “Two games na nag-give up kami ng 80 points.”
Faundo commanded Letran with 22 points and ten rebounds. RJ Jazul had another solid performance with 15 markers even though he threw away the possession five times. Dino Daa and Carlo Reposar contributed 12 and 11, respectively.
Christian Cabatu held his own on the other side with 22 points, going 9/11 at the field, while hauling seven boards and swatted two shots. Archie David was the other Blazer in double digits with 15.
The match was close for two quarters and nine minutes until Letran scored six in the final minute of the third to lead, 74-68, with Faundo beating the buzzer. The run continued for more than four minutes of the fourth, with the Knights scoring ten straight.
The Knights are on top along with rival San Beda College with a 2-0 standing. Benilde is in the middle with 1-1.
Letran’s next game is against San Sebastian College Recoletos on July 6. CSB would try their luck against University of Perpetual Help Dalta on July 4.
by JP Abcede
In never before seen spirit, College of Saint Benilde ticks its first win of the NCAA seniors’ basketball season, 74-68, over Mapua Institute of Technology on June 27 at The Arena.
The Blazers initiated a 9-0 run to finish the third quarter to break the game open, 60-50. They cruised to a high of 14 points in the middle of the fourth with a picturesque passing play that ended up as a Harvey Porras field goal, 67-53.
“We shot the ball well,” said CSB head coach Caloy Garcia.
Returnee Paolo Orbeta topscored with 25 points on 10/18 shooting, while also hauling seven rebounds. Garri Sevilla and Christian Cabatu both chipped ten markers.
“They wanted to play with a veteran team,” Garcia mentioned regarding his comebacking cagers, Orbeta, Cabatu, Porras, and Jeffrey Morial. Orbeta sat out last year to save his final playing eligibility, while Porras and Cabatu sat out due to academic reasons, and Morial recovered from his ACL injury.
Neil Pascual headed MIT with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists. Kelvin dela Peña and Sean Co teamed up for 21 markers, 11 caroms, and five feeds.
Orbeta swished for 16 points in the first half and Garri Sevilla notched all of his ten points in the second quarter to set the tone of the match, leading in double digits before the Cardinals managed to trim it, 36-43, at the half.
Morial sank a three-pointer, 48-38, at the 8:45 mark of the third in favor of Benilde. The Intramuros-based squad, however was pesky and was able to go near by a whisker when Co made an undergoal stab from a backdoor play, 50-51.
It was all Saint Benilde from then Cabatu and Illie Johnston sparked the run at the end of the period.
“Luckily, napagod sila noong fourth [quarter],” Garcia cited as the reason why the Cardinals was not able to come back.
The Blazers would only have a day’s rest then would see action against Colegio de San Juan de Letran on June 29.
“Letran is a dark horse team,” cautioned Garcia.
Mapua would face off against San Beda College on July 4.
Maui Pradas saved the day in an unlikely way when he blocked gigantic Jason Ballesteros’ potential game-tying attempt to hand Jose Rizal University a 68-66 win against San Sebastian College Recoletos on June 27 at The Arena in the second day of NCAA seniors’ basketball.
Pradas actually had two stops in the endgame, first stealing off a wayward ball from John Raymundo. Raymundo had a chance to redeem himself in the next possession but his layup fell short.
Jayson Nocom provided the key points, making two freethrows to retake the lead, 67-66, 1:37. He later made one of two when Bulawan was whistled for a loose ball foul, in the final 31 seconds.
“After the horrendous first game, I had sleepless nights,” mentioned JRU coach Ariel Vanguardia. “I had doubts if we were competitive enough.”
Nocom led the Bombers with 14 points, six rebounds, and three steals. Marvin Hayes also had 14 and seven boards. James Sena made ten points but had five turnovers, mostly traveling calls.
Gilbert Bulawan headed San Sebastian with 16 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. Raymundo scored ten.
“We can not handle the pressure of being a contender,” Vanguardia assessed. “Let us start from the bottom.”
Neither team gave the other side much leeway in the action-packed match. Dana Lituania scored a jump shot to give JRU the first semblance of a breakaway, 15-10, less than a minute before the first quarter ended. Nevertheless, San Sebastian sprang four quick points to have the final say.
It was SSCR’s turn in the second to romp when they had a 11-0 streak to go ahead, 30-22. However, Jose Rizal countered to remain close, 28-30, at the turn.
The third round of the boxing match belonged to the Shaw Boulevard-based team when they uncorked 12 unanswered points with Mark Cagoco on the helm, 42-32. They tasted their highest lead, 54-43, via a Pradas trey, 2:21.
Things already looked rosy for JRU but Baste would not be denied as they clawed their way back into the fight. Bulawan made a fadeaway already on his way down, which made the JRU bench call for time, 3:57 remaining, 61-62.
John Agas retaliated with a three-pointer with the assist coming from a John Wilson kickout. A few trips later, Bulawan scored on a gimme while Jim Viray made his only three of the game to lead, 66-65, 1:59.
“I expected them to come back,” mentioned Vanguardia of his opponents. “They are more experienced than us.”
The host school would next face winless Mapua Institute of Technology on July 6.
“The story of JRU and Mapua are the same,” Vanguardia said. “Mapua will pick up their game.”
SSCR battles Colegio de San Juan de Letran as their next assignment.
1. Sam Ekwe (SBC) – If not for the kicking incident, Ekwe would still be in the running for MVP. However, this countdown does not consider whether you are eligible for individual awards or not. What matters is that you are doing well across the board. And the boards is where Ekwe is best right now [16.5 rpg]. He is even rebounding more than he is scoring [12 ppg]. Nevertheless, expect Sam to disappear in next week`s tally since he is suspended in the Lions' next game and they only have one scheduled this week.
2. Rogemar Menor (SBC) – You want consistency? Crunch this. 15 points both games, 52.3% field goal shooting, 85.7% at the line, at least five rebounds a game, and two steals a night. That says it all.
3. Jayson Nocom (JRU) – Jose Rizal never fails to surprise me. How about a big guy shooting from the outside (5/7 at the three-point area vs SBC, 6/23)? Nocom also led the Bombers in scoring in both of their games.
4. Neil Pascual (MIT) – Another steady performer, but not getting that much attention because Mapua failed to win a single game so far, is Pascual. Tops the Cardinals in scoring (15 ppg), and assists (league-best 6 apg), plus a double-double game against CSB (15 pts and 12 rebs, 6/27).
5. Rafael Jazul (CSJL) - Coach Louie Alas is not feeling the blues especially with Jazul around. He made the game-winning freethrows against Mapua while also topscoring (23 pts, 6/23) for the Knights that match. Despite a bad shooting day against CSB (3/13 fg, 6/29), still managed to finish with 15 points. Leads the league in points and three-points made.
6. Yousif Aljamal (SBC) – It is hard to stand out when everybody in the team is good. I am guessing that is a problem Aljamal would rather have. Co-leading scorer versus JRU (17 pts, 6/23) with two three-pointers to boot in that game. And to that eight rebounds and four assist any given day.
7. Dino Daa (CSJL) – Another player working in the background is Daa. A double-double on opening day (15 pts and 10 rebs, 6/23). A quiet 12 markers, five boards, and two blocks on NBA Draft day (vs CSB, 6/29).
8. Christian Cabatu (CSB) – The Blazers look good right now partly because of Cabatu. Had 22 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in the loss against Letran (6/29). His shooting is worth salivating (14/20 fg in two games).
9. Ronald Reyes (UPHD) – Consolation for the Altas despite being in the bottom is Reyes. Making up for the loss of Fritz Bauzon and Khiel Misa is this guy. He is the only player who has scored in double digits in all games. Add to that, he is still perfect from the line (6/6 ft and counting).
10. Jason Ballesteros (SSCR) – The only Stag that managed to produce at least ten in any statistical department in their win against Perpetual (ten rebs and 12 ft att, 6/23). The only other player besides Ekwe to average at least ten caroms a game. Leads the NCAA in blocks after swatting away six JRU shots (6/27).
by JP Abcede
For Mapua Institute of Technology, it was close yet so far. For San Beda College, what a world of difference Sam Ekwe makes. Almost.
These cliches summarized the fast-paced action matchup which the Red Lions prevailed, 87-77, still retaining their double digit winning margins in the 2007 NCAA seniors' basketball season.
For the first time this season, SBC trailed. However, rookies Garvo Lanete and David Marcelo played like veterans to ensure that their team remain unscathed.
“(Marcelo) is used to that,” said San Beda coach Frankie Lim. “Noong high school, go-to-guy siya.”
Lanete scored the baskets that mattered at the start of the fourth quarter. On the other hand, Marcelo's 27 minutes of brilliance on the court made sure Ekwe's presence was not missed at The Arena on July 4.
“Sam's loss is equal to 14 points and 18 rebounds,” pointed out the mentor that wore rimmed glasses on that day.
Yousif Aljamal was the leader of the pack with 21 points, seven rebonds, and three assists. Ogie Menor
scored 13 while Riego Gamalinda had 11. Pong Escobal collected ten markers, eight coming from the freethrow line, seven caroms, and five feeds.
Marcelo had a near triple-double with Ekwe-like numbers of ten points, 13 rebounds, and seven blocks. Lanete chalked 12 markers.
“Dave Marcelo played a big game,” praised Lim. “(Jay-R) Taganas did a good job in the first half.”
Sean Co shouldered the Cardinals with 18 points and seven rebounds. Jerby del Rosario chipped in 13 markers, seven boards, two blocks, and eight turnovers. Kelvin dela Peña had 11 points before fouling out in the final two seconds of the contest.
Jonathan Banal, who had father and former San Beda coach Koy Banal watching, held his own in the battle of the rookies with 15 points and five assists. Special commendation goes to Mark Acosta who collected 14 rebounds along with six points.
With this development, the two squads are now poles apart in the standings with the Bedans at 3-0 and the Cards at rock bottom with 0-3.
Although the Red Lions were ahead the majority of the first half, the game was particularly close. They led by as many as 11 but this was easily dispelled by MIT. The Cardinals got as near as three from two Neil Pascual freethrows, 33-36, before settling for a four point gap in the half.
Two successive three-pointers by dela Peña and Banal turned a 56-all tie into an 8-0 blast near the two-minute mark of the third period. However, when everybody thought things were already going to the Intramuros-based squad's direction, the Red Lions was able to tie the count once more via freethrowss in a matter of two possessions.
“When they were up by eight, I called a timeout and we regrouped,” Lim recalled.
After Menor missed his second freethrow from a dela Peña foul, Acosta was charged with a personal while boxing out with Aljamal. He was then T'd up for complaining. Aljamal made his two while Escobal made one of the technical freebies. Retaining possession for San Beda, Menor was able to fish
del Rosario for a foul, this time sinking both.
Del Rosario made up for it in the last quarter by giving Mapua's last grasp of the lead before Lanete took over and made consecutive threes.
In their next game, SBC would battle the skidding College of Saint Benilde a week from now.
“With Sam back, it would be a nice welcome,” Lim mentioned.
by JP Abcede
College of Saint Benilde found life hard from all corners of The Arena as they suffered their second straight defeat while handing University of Perpetual Help Dalta its first victory, 62-52, in NCAA seniors` basketball on July 4.
The Blazers were off whole game long, making only 26% of their shots. Their freethrows also failed on them when they had to rely on the stripe in the fourth quarter to catch up.
Perpetual found a variety of heroes in different occasions. Mike Kong and Virgilio Manuel led the onslaught in the first quarter, while Flavio Liaz spearheaded the breakaway at the start of the third.
“No excuses. Iyong first two losses talo talaga,” said Altas mentor Bai Cristobal. “Nag-adjust kami.”
The fourth year Liaz carried UPHD with 14 points while Kong contributed 13 markers, six rebounds, and five assists.
Paolo Orbeta was the lone double digit scorer for Saint Benilde with 14 and five boards.
The pace of the game was deliberate as both teams worked on the clock and had some shot clock violations called against both sides.
The Las Piñas-based squad found themselves ahead the duration of the game. Kong's two three-pointers and Manuel's five points were the high points in the first quarter.
The two teams exchanged heaves from the outside in the second period. Kong converted the last in the series to make it 28-21 for the Perps, 4:45 before the break. It is just appropriate that Garri Sevilla finished the period with a trey just before the halftime buzzer to let CSB inch closer, 27-33.
Liaz rolled at the start of the second half with nine points to spark an 11-0 run. At the other side Benilde could not buy a field goal whether from the paint or out of it, missing eight straight during that stretch.
The Taft-based team had another go, making the last six of seven points of the quarter. With this glimmer hope, the green and black tried their best to do a comeback in the final quadrant, but their trips to the charity were all splits except for Chris Cabatu's try at the 15-footer midway.
Both sides neither made another point in the concluding three and a half minutes.
did you guys watched the game between beda and mit?.. the refs were horrible.... terrible!!
calls were very much one sided specially at the last 3 min mark of the 4th q..
beda was already leading below the 1 min mark, but the refs still has other things in mind. they want the lead to go up more...
ask the bookies.. line was beda-7.5
For his sterling all-around effort in this year’s NCAA, Mapua workhorse Kelvin Dela Peña will be named the MVP of the league’s Season 83 in today’s simple awarding rites at the Araneta Coliseum.
“I’m happy, I feel so honored to be part of history,” Dela Peña told The STAR yesterday after getting confirmation of his winning the league’s highest individual plum.
Dela Peña, whose father Ricardo is a former pro, averaged 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.1 steals and one shot block in leading the Cardinals to a fourth Final Four appearance in five seasons.
Dela Peña, who played high school ball in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, also became the first Cardinal to snare the MVP award since the high-leaping Reuben dela Rosa won in 1995.
“I’m really so blessed, but all this wouldn’t happen without the support of the team and all those who genuinely care for me,” he said.
Dela Peña actually finished second behind Nigerian behemoth Sam Ekwe of San Beda in Players’ All-around Value (PAV) points with 51.4 as against the 62.6 by the latter.
But Ekwe, who ran away with the MVP honors last season, had been disqualified from any individual award after he was suspended for a flagrant foul early in the season.
San Beda’s Yousif Aljamal, last year’s Finals MVP, came in second with 50.7 points, followed by Jose Rizal’s Marvin Hayes with 44.2, Letran College’s Bryan Faundo with 40.4Dino Daa with 40.1, who are all expected to compose the Mythical first team.
Dela Peña said he hopes to also win a championship next year.
“Of course, we’ll go for it next year because it’s going to be my last NCAA season,” he said. “But it’s going to be tough although as a leader, I got to make my peers believe that we can do it.” – Joey Villar