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SUPER SHOWDOWN: Black s Ateneo vs Baldwin s Ateneo

Ateneo de Manila University has, put simply, reigned supreme over UAAP Men's Basketball in recent history. Blue Eagle has been the king eight times out of the last 12 tournaments. That dominance has bookended just three other teams who have won championships in that same timeframe. The first bookend was a five-peat that was engineered by then-already multi-titled mentor Norman Black from 2008 to 2012. The other - from 2017 and still counting - bookend has former national team coach Tab Baldwin calling the shots And Ateneo does not look like its slowing down anytime soon as its future remains secure in the hands of Ivorian tower Ange Kouame, emerging primetime playmayer SJ Belangel, and Filipino-American recruit Dwight Ramos. Between the two bookends, however, which Blue Eagle string of championships shines brighter? That is what we set out to figure out in this ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. In grading the greatness of Black's five-peat and Baldwin's three-peat, we will be judging them in five categories (talent, system, level of competition, dominance, and legacy) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. TALENT Black's five-peat had Kiefer Ravena while Baldwin's three-peat had Thirdy Ravena. So let's call that a draw. In terms of everything else, however, there is just no doubt that Ateneo had the most talented team for majority of its five-peat. The twin towers of Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao were followed by Justin Chua and then Greg Slaughter. Steady Chris Tiu was replaced by Jai Reyes and Eric Salamat who were then replaced by Kirk Long and Emman Monfort who were then replaced by Ravena and Juami Tiongson. At the wings were then likes of Ryan Buenafe, Nico Salva, and Oping Sumalinog. Majority of these players were true blue-chip recruits who decided to go to Ateneo, get-together with other promising prospects, and just run roughshod over the UAAP. Let's be clear here, anybody and everybody would want to go to war with that championship core of Ravena (Thirdy, that is), Isaac Go, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt to go along with whoever the versatile four-man is - be it Vince Tolentino or Raffy Verano or Will Navarro - and either Chibueze Ikeh or Kouame, but in terms of sheer top-level talent, the five-peat has the three-peat beat. Advantage Black's Ateneo, 10-8 SYSTEM The signature of Black's Ateneo teams was a complete team that had a killer inside-outside combo. Tiu and Al-Hussaini. Monfort and Chua. Ravena and Slaughter. And whenever it mattered most, there was always a clutch player to come through - be it Tiu or Salamat or Buenafe. That's the benefit of having the most talented team most of the time. The slight edge here, however, would have to go the egalitarian system Baldwin has installed in these Blue Eagles. Baldwin's boys take pride in the fact that, indeed, all of them are ready and raring to contribute whenever called upon. More often than not, the core plays somewhere between 12 to 24 minutes, but not one player could say his minutes are assured as their mentor always preaches that each and every one of his boys should never stop being better. That means that at any given point in time, somebody is always there to step up for somebody - "next man up" as they love to call it. Take for instance, that four-spot which first saw Tolentino doing the dirty work and once he graduated, Verano just filled in the spot. And when the Filipino-American ran into academic issues, was there any problem whatsoever? None at all because Navarro was there to come to be known as "Mr. Efficiency." Most definitely, there is no better system in collegiate basketball than what Baldwin has in place through this Ateneo three-peat. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION Six other member-schools made it to the playoffs at least once during Ateneo's five-peat - the lone exception being the University of the Philippines which was then still trudging through its so-called "dark days". In that run, the Blue Eagles had to contend with Far Eastern University with the likes of Mac Baracael, Mark Barroca, RR Garcia, and Terrence Romeo; University of the East with the likes of Marcy Arellano, Elmer Espiritu, Paul Lee, and James Martinez; Adamson University with the likes of Lester Alvarez, Rodney Brondial, and Alex Nuyles; De La Salle University with the likes of Jvee Casio, Rico Maierhoffer, and Jeron Teng; University of Sto. Tomas with the likes of Dylan Ababou, Karim Abdul, and Jeric Teng; and National University with the likes of Emmanuel Mbe and Ray Parks Jr. For their part, Ateneo's three-peat team saw the Bulldogs and the Red Warriors both fail to make the Final Four during its time on top. Still, they had to run through a gauntlet of good to great teams such as the Ben Mbala and Ricci Rivero-led Green Archers, the Jerrick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti-led Soaring Falcons, and the Arvin Tolentino and Wendell Comboy-led Tamaraws. Through it all, the Blue Eagles also had to play spoiler in the climb to contention of the Fighting Maroons with Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, Rivero, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan as well as the return to relevance of the Growling Tigers with Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, Mark Nonoy, and Soulemane Chabi Yo. The difference here then becomes the arrival of MVP-level foreign student-athletes. In La Salle's Mbala, UP's Akhuetie, and UST's Chabi Yo, Ateneo's three-peat team had to wage war with three of the best recruits from abroad before winning the championship. For sure, Al-Hussaini, Chua, and Slaughter mentored by Black would have been able to make something happen if ever they were matched up with those three, but the fact remains that nowadays, there is just more foreign talent in the UAAP. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 DOMINANCE With a five-peat, Black did something that has not been done in the UAAP since UE won seven titles in a row in the '60s under the legendary Baby Dalupan. Through that time, Ateneo registered a couple of one-loss and a pair of two-loss seasons - and the only struggle, relative to them, was a 10-4, second-seed elimination round finish in Season 73. Still, through that time, the Blue Eagles only had one loss in all of its playoff series - a 68-88 shocker of a defeat to the Red Warriors in Game 2 of the Season 72 Finals. Somehow, though, Baldwin's historic feat was more impressive as their 16-0 romp through Season 82 is the first-ever of its kind in men's basketball. Before this, all previous season sweeps in men's basketball wound up with 14-0 records. The three-peat Blue Eagles also boast of a better elims standing as they only lost a total of three times there in three years. Their two losses in the playoffs are worse compared to the five-peat team, but Season 82's 16-0 is still better than either Season 71 or Season 74's 16-1. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 LEGACY Black opened the floodgates for Ateneo to be a destination for blue-chip recruits from outside Katipunan. Remember, before this, the Blue Eagles' 2002 championship was built on the shoulders of former Blue Eaglets Rico Villanueva, Wesley Gonzales and Larry Fonacier - the non-homegrown key cogs being LA Tenorio from San Beda High School and two-time UAAP Srs. MVP Rich Alvarez, who played high school ball overseas. Through that five-peat, though, the blue and white became the undisputed king of recruiting as it got Salva from San Beda, Buenafe and Salamat from San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Tiu and Chua from Xavier and Chiang Kai Shek, respectively, and Baclao, Slaughter, and Sumalinog from the Visayas. Yes, Ravena was there, but many of Black's key cogs were still blue-chip recruits from outside Katipunan. In comparison, Baldwin's championship core, for the most part, are former Blue Eaglets in Ravena (again, Thirdy, that is), Anton Asistio, SJ Belangel, Gian Mamuyac, and the Nieto twins. Even Kouame is, in essence, a homegrown key cog as he was taken in by Ateneo even before college and finished his high school in nearby Multiple Intelligence International School In all, the blueprint may have been different, but the building was the same in the end - a blue and white dynasty. Draw, 10-10 FINAL SCORE: 48-47 for Baldwin's Ateneo.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnApr 14th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie Dindin Santiago vs. rookie Jaja Santiago

Towering sisters Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jaja Santiago left lasting impacts in the UAAP. Versatile, talented and intimidating are just some of the traits the siblings share. Both are vital cogs in their local commercial league club and are valuable assets to the national team. International clubs even took notice of the Santiago sisters’ dominant presence and high-level volleyball skills that they landed deals to play in the prestigious Japan V. Premier League. And of course if you’re a University of Sto. Tomas faithful you’ll often wonder what the Tigresses would have achieved if the sisters stayed in Espana instead of moving to National University. Looking back, we saw how the Santiago sisters evolved into what they are today. With their towering presence, both immediately made valuable contribution during their debut seasons? But then again, which Santiago made a bigger impact in their rookie year? Dindin’s first year with UST or Jaja’s maiden tour of duty for NU?   OFFENSE and DEFENSE Dindin right now stands at 6-foot-2 while Jaja is listed at 6-foot-5, even if we deduct a few inches from their current height during their respective debuts they’ll still be pretty tall compared to the rest of the field. In Season 72, Dindin complemented an already stacked Tigresses. Though overshadowed by legends Aiza Maizo and Angeli Tabaquero, Dindin made a decent contribution on offense averaging almost six points per game. Dindin was on UST’s top five in the blocking department. Compared to her older sister, Jaja’s rookie year in Season 76 was more impressive. Jaja averaged 10.7 points per outing behind her Dindin (16.7), who was then on her last year after transferring to NU. Jaja had a 41.99% success rate in attacks – landing at second spot overall after Dindin’s (46.10%). The younger Santiago normed 0.50 kill blocks per set to anchor the Lady Bulldogs’ net defense.        TEAM IMPACT Dindin was a welcome addition to the Tigresses. However, playing in a squad filled with veterans left Dindin little room to display her full potential. Maizo and Tabaquero shared much of the scoring load while Maika Ortiz, Maru Banaticla and Judy Ann Caballejo provided the extra punch. But Dindin did play her role well as one of head coach Shaq delos Santos’ prized recruits. Dindin, indeed, made her presence felt in her own little way as UST climbed its way into the Finals. Jaja’s entry in Season 76 put NU as one of the top contenders to challenge the then reigning three-peat champion De La Salle University. Together with her sister, they formed NU’s dreaded twin towers and with the likes of Mina Aganon, Aiko Urdas and Myla Pablo, many predicted the Lady Bulldogs would make it all the way to the Finals. In fact, NU almost did before the Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo de Manila University spoiled everything.      As a consolation for all her hard work, Jaja was the runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year award   COMPETITION Dindin played in a very competitive field. She took on a number of powerhitters and precision spikers like De La Salle University’s Big Three in Paneng Mercado, Jacq Alarca and Cha Cruz. Dindin also faced Adamson University’s Angela Benting and Pau Soriano, Ateneo had Dzi Gervacio and Fille Cainglet, Far Eastern University’s Cherry Vivas, NU’s Mervic Mangui, Mela Lopez of University of the Philippines and Kite Rosale of University of the East. Jaja, on the other hand, had to contend with an equally powerful field. Valdez was on a different level that season, so was DLSU with the trio of Ara Galang, Aby Marano and Mika Reyes. Bang Pineda was wreaking havoc for Adamson, FEU had Bernadeth Pons, Mela Tunay and Pam Lastimosa were the stars of UST, UP had their own towers in Kathy Bersola and Angeli Araneta while Shaya Adorador was UE’s standout.      LASTING IMPRESSION Dindin, of course, was the fortunate one among the siblings. She experienced the glory of winning championship after helping the Tigresses dethrone the Lady Spikers in her first year. That championship remains as UST’s last title to this day. But what really stuck was Dindin’s decision to jump ship a season after winning the crown. Dindin made the headlines when she left UST to join the Lady Bulldogs in a move that drew mixed reactions and a whole lot of speculations in what convinced her to drop the black and gold for NU’s colors. Dindin’s transfer was followed by Jaja committing to NU after a successful run with UST’s high school team. Jaja won the RoY award and helped NU move a win closer to a Finals appearance. The Lady Bulldogs were armed with a twice-to-beat advantage but NU’s twin towers and talents were not enough to overcome the steamrolling Lady Eagles. Jaja’s career started off at least on a good note considering how far NU advanced after years of frustrations. Jaja would eventually lead the Lady Bulldogs to two more Final Four appearance with their last in Season 80 – the same year when she bagged the Most Valuable Player award.     Now who’s the better rookie Santiago? Hard to tell. On one side, you have Dindin who won a championship while on the other you have Jaja with her individual accomplishments and accolades.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 31st, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie EJ Laure vs. rookie Eya Laure

University of Sto. Tomas fans waited a long time to see sisters EJ and Eya Laure play together for the Tigresses after their explosive tandem won it all for the school during their stint with the girls' team. UAAP Season 82 saw the reunion of the Laure sisters albeit brief – two games to be exact – before the tournament was scrapped because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  One could just imagine what impact the Laure siblings would have brought to the Tigresses if not for the cancellation of the season. Skills-wise, both can contribute on points as well as provide support on defense. They have already proven it during their respective rookie seasons. In fact, both earned Rookie of the Year awards. But which Laure played better in her maiden stint with the black and gold? For this week’s ‘Super Showdown: Volleyball edition’, we compare the two well-rounded siblings based on their offense and defense, impact, competition and lasting impression for the Tigresses.        OFFENSE AND DEFENSE EJ brought the much-needed firepower for the then Odjie Mamon-mentored Tigresses in Season 77. In her first year, EJ averaged 11.7 points per game while providing help on net and floor defense. However, her main role in that UST batch was to contribute on points at the wing. She had a 32.17% success rate in attacks. On the defensive side, EJ contributed 13 kill blocks while playing a decent role on floor defense.     Eya, on the other hand, gave UST an added scoring option to a squad that already had veteran Sisi Rondina and 6-foot-2 Milena Alessandrini.     Eya averaged 16.4 points per outing behind Rondina’s 18.5 points per game in the elimination round of Season 81. Eya placed second in UST kill blocks with 19 during the elims behind Kecelyn Galdones’ 23. Eya also punched in 35.90% of her attacks.    TEAM IMPACT EJ gave UST faithful a ray of light when the highly-recruited talent decided to remain with UST after powering the Junior Tigresses to the girls’ title the year before.   The Season 76 Girls’ MVP adjusted well with setter Alex Cabanos and showed good chemistry with veterans Pam Lastimosa, Mela Tunay and Ria Meneses. EJ’s presence also brought back the UST crowd that in the past two years slowly dwindled after lumbering at fifth and sixth place in Season 75 and 76, respectively. Just like her older sister, Eya brought excitement to the Tigresses supporters. UST was then coming off its worst finish in decades – landing at seventh place in Season 80. Eya, Rondina and Alessandrini formed the deadly trio that brought great promise for UST heading into the season. The former high school MVP, Best Setter and two-time Best Opposite Spiker winner did not disappoint right from her debut game.   COMPETITION Although the favorite for the RoY award, EJ had to contend with one of league’s best batch of rookies. She played alongside another promising freshman in Rondina, who delivered UST’s first gold medal of the season in beach volleyball while bagging the rookie of the year and MVP awards. Ateneo had a prized recruit in middle Bea de Leon while De La Salle University's rookies were Eli Soyud and Aduke Ogunsanya. Far Eastern University also introduced solid young guns in ChinChin Basas, Heather Guino-o and Jerrili Malabanan. National University had Jorelle Singh and University of the Philippines got then rookie libero Ayel Estranero. Adamson University recruited a solid middle in Joy Dacoron while University boasted of skilled newcomers in libero Kath Arado and Judith Abil. EJ did pocket the RoY award as expected. But for the first time in the last two decades EJ shared the recognition with another impressive freshman in Arado – the first libero to receive the award since Mel Gohing of DLSU in Season 71. Just like her older sister, Eya came in as the odds-on favorite for RoY, considering the implementation of the K-12 education program. However, she still had to work to lay her claim. Eya faced her high school rivals Princess Robles, Ivy Lacsina of Jen Nierva of National University. Jolina Dela Cruz made immediate impact as DLSU’s leading scorer while Far Eastern University got Lycha Ebon, who unfortunately had her rookie year cut short after sustaining a knee injury.   LASTING IMPRESSION While EJ did give UST the boost it needed, the Tigresses still closed Season 77 outside of the top four. UST finished the elimination round with 6-8 win-loss record tied with FEU at fourth to fifth spot. Actually, UST came one set win away to a bus ride to the stepladder semifinals. EJ in the most important game for the Tigresses went cold, scoring only five points in just three sets of action. She started in the first two frames that UST yielded, sat out the third and fourth sets with Rondina playing better, before playing off the bench in the fifth.       It would take EJ two more years for a taste of a Final Four appearance. Unfortunately, EJ suffered a shoulder injury that forced her to sit out two seasons. Eya was a vital cog in the Tigresses’ rise in Season 81. She was consistent and her all-around game was a plus for the Kungfu Reyes-mentored team, which closed the elims with a 10-4 mark tied with the Lady Spikers. Eya’s heroics during the playoff against DLSU for the semis twice-to-beat advantage, where she dropped 17 points in the Tigresses’ four set win, pushed UST on the brink of ending an eight-year Finals stint drought. Eya erupted for 25 points in the Final Four to dethrone the four-peat seeking Lady Spikers in five sets. She backed Rondina in UST shocking Game 1 sweep of Ateneo in Game 1 of the Finals. Eya also showed big heart and great character in Games 2 and 3 despite playing hurt only to close her first year with a heartbreak after losing to the seasoned Lady Eagles. She averaged 10.6 points per game in the Finals.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: UST four-peat vs La Salle four-peat

It has been a week since the legend of Aric Del Rosario came to a close. And of course, the passing of the always amiable mentor fondly called "Tatay Aric" only recalled his most memorable milestone - that of four consecutive championships for University of Sto. Tomas. In the same way that Del Rosario and the Growling Tigers lorded over the early-to-mid '90s, however, so did De La Salle University dominate the late '90s and early '00s. With first-time head coach Franz Pumaren at the helm, the Green Archers ran roughshod over the rest of the league for their very own four consecutive championships. And so, from 1993 to 2001, the UAAP became a battleground for supremacy between two teams - two teams that each won four titles in a row and two teams that would ultimately go down in history. Which four-peat was more impressive, however? This is the question we hope to answer in ABS-CBN Sports' Super Showdown. To concretize the strengths and weaknesses of Coach Aric's UST and Coach Franz's La Salle when compared to one another, we will be judging them in five categories (talent, system, level of competition, legacy, and impact) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. TALENT You can't win four consecutive championships without talent - and without a doubt, both UST and La Salle were filled to the brim with talent in those days. All of Estong Ballesteros, Chris Cantonjos, Bal David, Dennis Espino, Rey Evangelista, Patrick Fran, Gerard Francisco, Henry Ong, Dale Singson, Siot Tangquincen, and Richard Yee were Growling Tigers in their four-peat. Meanwhile, the Green Archers had Dino Aldeguer, Don Allado, Mac Cardona, Mike Cortez, Mac Cuan, BJ Manalo, Renren Ritualo, Carlo Sharma, Adonis Sta. Maria, Mon Jose, Dominic Uy, Cholo Villanueva, Willy Wilson, and Joseph Yeo in their four-peat. Weighed against one another, La Salle had more players who became key contributors for PBA contenders in Cardona, Cortez, Ritualo, and Yeo. UST makes up for this with consistency, however, as not only did the likes of Espino, David, Evangelista, and Yee turn into rotation players in the PBA, they did so for a longer time compared to their green and white counterparts. More than that, the Growling Tigers hold a trump card over the Green Archers in this department in the form of national team players Espino and Evangelista. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 SYSTEM In terms of name recognition, the famed "Pumaren Press" remains well-known to this day. With dogged defenders such as Aldeguer, Cortez, Jose, Cuan, and Villanueva at the head of the attack, playing against La Salle back then was not at all a fun proposition for opponents. Those turnovers were then quickly converted into easy baskets that, more often than not, led to wins - a recipe for success that still works until now. However, UST had some of the most complete teams in UAAP history during its four-peat and would most probably have had all the answers in the face of full-court pressure. In David, Fran, Francisco and Tangquincen, the Growling Tigers had steady ballhandlers who would have been prepared to the utmost by "Tatay Aric." And once they crossed over to their side of the court, good luck trying to stop, or even just slow down, Espino or Cantonjos at the post. Put simply, Del Rosario's black and gold machine just didn't have any holes or leaks back then. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION The UAAP was a gauntlet of good to great teams in La Salle's four-peat. For sure, winning a championship - let alone four in a row - was a tall task back then. Standing in the Green Archers' way were an Ateneo side that had Rich Alvarez, Rico Villanueva, Paolo Bugia, Larry Fonacier, and LA Tenorio; an FEU side that had Leo Avenido and Celino Cruz; a National U side that had Edward Asoro, Froilan Baguion, Alfie Grijaldo, and Rey Mendoza; a UE side that had Paul Artadi, Ronald Tubid, and James Yap; and a UST side that had Cyrus Baguio. Through its dynasty, the green and white had to down their archrival Blue Eagles once in the Finals, the Tamaraws twice in the Finals and once in the semis, the Growling Tigers twice in the semis and once in the Finals, and the Bulldogs once in the semis, That's not to say UST's four-peat was way easier, however. When the Growling Tigers sat on the throne, coming for them were Adamson's Kenneth Duremdes, who averaged more than 30 points per game in 1993, and EJ Feihl; Ateneo's Vince Hizon and Ritchie Ticzon; FEU's Long David and Nestor Echano; La Salle's Tony Boy Espinosa, Elmer Lago, Alvin Magpantay, Cali Orfrecio, Mark Telan, and Jason Webb; and National U's Danny Ildefonso and Lordy Tugade. Make no mistake, many of those names would go on to be PBA superstars themselves and the black and gold went through all of them and came away as winner. It's just that, during the Green Archers' four-peat, the league was fast becoming the killer competition from top to bottom that it is today. Advantage La Salle's four-peat, 10-8 IMPACT UST's 14-0 season sweep in 1993 forced the league to change its rules - rules that are enacted up to now. That year saw the supposed debut of the Final Four, but with the Growling Tigers winning each and every game of the elimination round, the new format wasn't meant to be. According to the then-league rule, a team that goes perfect through the elims is automatically the champion of the tournament. And so, after that year, that rule was no more and now, a team that goes perfect through the elims would still have to play in the Finals. How that UST dynasty was built also became the template for many championship cores to come as it heavily recruited outside Metro Manila. In fact, Tatay Aric was the pioneer in bringing over talent from Pampanga, now considered one of the hotbeds of Philippine basketball, with recruits like Espino. In the same light, La Salle's four-peat also expanded the league's horizons abroad with the likes of Cortez and Wilson taking their talents from the US to their native land. From then until now, Filipino-foreign players have actually become some sort of signature for Coach Franz, but there could be no doubt that he has only used it to great effect. The Green Archers' time at the top also coincided with archrival Ateneo's rise, rekindling a rivalry that would bring all of the UAAP to greater and greater heights. In all, however, UST just set the bar for what a team could win in the modern era - a bar that La Salle itself did its very best to clear. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 LEGACY In Taft Avenue, championships have become the standard as La Salle has taken home three more trophies since its four-peat. In Espana, that '90s four-peat remains the glory days as UST has only been able to add one more title from there. Meaning, up to today, the Growling Tigers' four consecutive championships from 1993 to 1997 mean the world to Thomasians. Meanwhile, for Lasallians, that run from 1998 to 2001 is only expected for their teams - not the consecutive championships per se, but the continued contention, at the very least. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 (Photo courtesy of UAAP Classics on Facebook) FINAL SCORE, 48-46, for UST's four-peat.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 2nd, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: 13 season sweep vs 20 perfect run of Bullpups

Not only has Nazareth School of National University gone undefeated through the tournament in UAAP Boys Basketball, it has actually done it twice in the last seven years. The Bullpups did it in 2013 as Jeff Napa guided and Hubert Cani led them in warding off all oncomers and winding up 16-0. Seven years later, head coach Goldwin Monteverde's well-oiled machine stamped its class on all its opponents en route to an unbeaten title defense. With that, the Sampaloc-based school can now boast of having, arguably, two of the top teams in high school history. Head-to-head, though, which squad's season sweep was more impressive? That, that is exactly what we will delve into in ABS-CBN Sports' Super Showdown. In grading the greatness of each team's perfect run, we will be judging them in five categories (frontcourt, backcourt, coaching, depth, and level of competition) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. FRONTCOURT Carl Tamayo is the best big man to come out of high school in recent history. The 6-foot-7 modern big man's averages of 11.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in the elimination round were ho-hum, but he unleashed his true self in the Finals where the posted a per game double-double of 19 markers and 18 boards. Put 6-foot-8 Kevin Quiambao and his norms of 12.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.4 blocks beside that and the '20 National U team had two of the most talented towers in all of the Jrs. division. Coach Jeff, a well-renowned big man whisperer, has his bigs prepared to the utmost in each and every game, but '13 Bullpups' JP Cauilan, Mark Dyke, and Kins Go are just no match for the power and potential of the Tamayo-Quiambao pairing. That gap more than made up for the inexperience of '20 National U's wings in Harold Alarcon, Reyland Torres, and Nat Tulabut when matched up opposite the battle-tested wiles of Enzo Battad and Chino Mosqueda from the '13 Bullpups. Advantage '20 Bullpups, 10-8 BACKCOURT Cani, without a doubt, underwhelmed in his college career, but there was always a reason why several squads were interested in him coming out of high school. Simply put, he was a true-blue-chip recruit and his 24.5-point, 7.0-assist, 4.0-rebound, and 2.0-steal averages when it mattered most made him nothing but worthy as Finals MVP. Make no mistake, Terrence Fortea and Gerry Abadiano are true-blue-chip recruits in their own right, but the '13 version of Cani was just on another level - a big guard who can make plays as well as take matters into his own hands. Backstop him with steady Philip Manalang and '13 National U trumps the '20 Bullpups guard rotation of Fortea, Abadiano, Ernest Felicilda, and Steve Nash Enriquez. Advantage '13 Bullpups, 10-9 COACHING Both Coach Jeff and Coach Gold are undisputed master-builders in high school. Napa transformed National U from a once-league doormat into a dynasty while Monteverde has been a winner anywhere and everywhere, be it Chiang Kai Shek College or Adamson High School or with the Bullpups. Coach Jeff's trademark has long been mining raw big men and molding them into forces while Coach Gold has always had total team effort as his signature. Considering the lineups of the two teams, though, it was Napa who got the most out of his players. Cani was the '13 Bullpups one and only shining star, but Coach Jeff had perfect roles for do-it-all Cauilan, monster rebounder Dyke, and two-way swingman Mosqueda. On the other hand, Coach Gold had tantalizing talents in Abadiano, Fortea, Quiambao, and Tamayo, among others, and then made them all work in a system. And so, the slight edge here goes to Napa who turned scraps into a machine - but still, it should never be disregarded how masterful it was that Monteverde let his constellation of stars shine bright in their own ways. Advantage '13 Bullpups, 10-9 DEPTH There is no debate that the National U of '20 will blow the '13 Bullpups out of the water in terms of total talent. The National U of '20 had Tamayo and Fortea coming off the bench for crying out loud all while Quiambao and Abadiano made sure they started strong. Even more, the likes of Alarcon, Torres, and Felicilda never got headlines and highlights, but were actually the grease that made sure the juggernaut was running as well as it should. In comparison, the '13 Bullpups, more often than not, went eight-deep with Cani flanked by Battad, Cauilan, Dyke, Go, Manalang, Mosqueda, and John Rey Lapiz. Man-for-man, the National U of '20 was just fully loaded as promising prospects Enriquez, Kenji Duremdes, and Echo Laure are only just waiting for their turn at the controls. Advantage '20 Bullpups, 10-8 LEVEL OF COMPETITION The '20 National U won by an average of 25.8 points and only had three single-digit wins through the tournament. The '13 Bullpups, meanwhile, won by an average of 12.5 points and had 10 single-digit wins through the tournament. That alone doesn't tell the full story, though. The '13 Bullpups' road to a season sweep was actually rockier as it featured matchups with Ateneo de Manila University with Aaron Black, Jolo Mendoza, Thirdy Ravena, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt; Far Eastern University-Diliman with Brandrey Bienes, Wendell Comboy, Richard Escoto, Christian Fajarito, Marvin Lee, and Domingo twins JJ and JS; De La Salle Zobel with QJ Banzon, Aljun Melecio, Brent Paraiso, and Renzo Subido; and even Diego Dario and Joe Gomez de Liano's the University of the Philippines Integrated School and Raymar Caduyac's University of the East. And yet, they were able to take care of Thirdy's Blue Eaglets by an average margin of victory of 12.5 points in the Finals. That was the same average margin of victory for '20 National U opposite FEU-Diliman which went to war led by Cholo Anonuevo, Jorick Bautista, and Penny Estacio. While Anonuevo, Bautista, and Estacio are tantalizing talents, they are only coming into their own and far from the player that Season MVP Thirdy was for Ateneo. No doubt, talent was all over the league even past those '20 Finalists in the form of Adamson High School with Season MVP Jake Figueroa and Matty Erolon; Ateneo's Josh Lazaro, Lebron Lopez, and Forthky Padrigao; University of Sto. Tomas' Jacob Cortez and Bismarck Lina; and UPIS' Sean Torculas, Jordi GDL, and Ray Allen Torres. In all, however, the level of competition in 2013 was higher as '20 National U didn't face a team as talented as Thirdy's Blue Eaglets or a more complete team than the Baby Tams. Advantage '13 Bullpups, 10-8 FINAL SCORE, a draw at 46-46.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: Ayo s 15 Letran vs Ayo s 16 La Salle

Aldin Ayo is one of the best collegiate coaches in all of the Philippines. He has seen Tab Baldwin win the last three titles in the league he has been competing in, but it still wasn't that long ago when he did something so special that it may very well never ever be seen again. In 2015, Ayo came from out of nowhere to lead alma mater Colegio de San Juan de Letran not only to a surprise playoff berth, but to a shocking crown coming at the expense of archrival and defending champion San Beda, no less. A year later, he crossed over to De La Salle University and wasted no time assembling its Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng-powered machine into a juggernaut that went 16-1 and took the title from archrival Ateneo. Yes, Ayo won back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016 - but they came with different teams and in different leagues. Even more, he did it all by driving two definitely different vehicles - one aging, well-worn, and not expected to go anywhere far and the other customized, souped-up, and assumed to win it all. Which Ayo-coached championship is better? That's what we look into in the return of ABS-CBN Sports' Super Showdown. To determine who wins between Aldin Ayo's couple of championship teams, we will be judging them in five categories (frontcourt, backcourt, depth, mayhem, and intangibles) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. FRONTCOURT Mbala. That's it. That's more than enough for La Salle to dominate this department. The 6-foot-8 Cameroonian was so dominant in UAAP 79 that he ultimately became the first foreign student-athlete to win MVP in over two decades as he posted per game counts of 20.5 points in 53.3 percent shooting from the field, 15.6 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 1.4 steals, and 1.1 assists. Letran took pride in having gone all-Filipino and still giving the likes of Ola Adeogun and Allwell Oraeme all they could handle, but Mbala is Mbala and there will be nothing at all that 6-foot-5 Jom Sollano, 6-foot-4 Kevin Racal, and 6-foot-3 Felix Apreku could have done to even slow him down. And if by some miracle, the Knights find a way to have done so? Then the Green Archers could have just sent in Jason Perkins or Abu Tratter or even Justine Baltazar. But wait, there's more as when it mattered most, it was actually Teng who came through for the Taft-based team. Putting up per game counts of 19.0 points on 52 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in the Finals opposite archrival Ateneo, he was the undisputed MVP of the championship round as he just willed his way through the likes of Mike Nieto, Vince Tolentino, and Raffy Verano. Just imagine what he would do to the undersized Knights. Advantage La Salle, 10-8. BACKCOURT Mark Cruz is the prototype point guard for all Ayo-coached teams - fearless, fiery, and fast. Since then, Aljun Melecio and Mark Nonoy have followed his footsteps, but either is yet to put it all together like Cruz did back in 2015. Letran was not necessarily a good offensive team then and it fed off of its full-court pressure for easy looks and baskets. Still, whenever they needed a basket bad, the smallest player on the floor was, more often than not, there to come up big as he averaged 18.6 points, 4.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals and totaled a league-best 73 triples. Indeed, "Ant-man", who was named the NCAA Season 91 Finals MVP, would have posed problems for Melecio, Andrei Caracut, Thomas Torres, and even Kib Montalbo and Julian Sargent. And that's not even taking into account Cruz's fellow guards Mcjour Luib and Rey Nambatac also ready and raring to do damage. Advantage Letran, 10-9. DEPTH Mbala is scary. Teng is scary. Another thing that makes La Salle's 2016 championship team scary is the fact that its second unit would have been the starting five of several squads. Mbala, Teng, Torres, and Melecio were regulars in the first five while waiting in the wings were Caracut, Montalbo, Perkins, Sargent, Brent Paraiso, Prince Rivero and Abu Tratter On the other hand, Letran could only go six-deep with Apreku, Cruz, Luib, Nambatac, Racal, and Sollano while the likes of Jerrick Balanza, JP Calvo, and Bong Quinto were far from ready from delivering the goods just yet. And oh, La Salle's end-of-bench players for majority of the season? Well, it just included names like Baltazar, Mark Dyke, Jollo Go, and Ricci Rivero. Advantage La Salle, 10-8. MAYHEM In terms of physicality, Letran has La Salle beat in imposing the full-court pressure that was Ayo's then-trademark as the former forced opponents into 27.9 turnovers which were quickly converted into 24.6 points. What the Green Archers had far more, however, were more players who had more talent - as already ascertained by them winning the aforementioned "depth" department. That allowed them to put their opponents, including Baldwin-coached Ateneo, inside a pressure cooker where they forced 24.9 turnovers which were quickly converted into 24.2 points. In particular, Montalbo was at his very best in 2016, as he transformed into the "Man of Steal" and became the stuff of nightmares for opposing backcourts by norming a league-leading 2.8 steals. Make no mistake, Cruz and Luib would have eaten just about anybody alive who lost their nerves in the face of the blue and red "Mayhem" as they combined for 2.8 steals per game, but the green and white's deeper bench just meant their "Mayhem" never stopped. And with Montalbo, channeling his best Patrick Beverley back then, fronting the charge? Good luck to all the other teams trying to set up their offense. Advantage La Salle, 10-9. INTANGIBLES Rewind to Game 3 of the NCAA 91 Finals with Letran leading San Beda, 84-82, and Sollano at the line for one more free throw. With 6.7 ticks to go on the clock, Luib intentionally steps onto the lane even before Sollano puts up his shot. Looking at one another with questions in their eyes, Art Dela Cruz and Ola Adeogun follow Luib onto the lane. As it turns out, Luib wanted them to do just that. All along, the Knights knew the possession arrow pointed to them - and so, with the two teams committing lane violations, a jumpball was called and the ball was awarded to Letran. “Second free throw, rattles out.” “Samin!” “Nice one, Jour!” “And possession arrow points in favor of the Letran Knights!”#NCAASeason91 was, mos def, a good one. pic.twitter.com/42ODXWN9wK — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) March 19, 2020 Not long after, Cruz converted a couple of charities, but without a doubt, the play that clinched the championship for the Knights was Luib's outsmarting of Dela Cruz and Adeogun - a play that not many players would have been able to take and make, or even think about. Advantage Letran, 10-8. FINAL SCORE, 47-45 for Ayo's '16 La Salle.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 19th, 2020

Aljun Melecio s never-ending quest to prove he belongs

Aljun Melecio has these hardware sitting pretty on his trophy case: UAAP 78 Jrs. MVP, UAAP 79 Rookie of the Year, UAAP 79 champion. Now heading into his fifth and final year in De La Salle University, he remains recognized as one of the best point guards in all of college. Well, recognized by just about everybody except himself. Asked if he feels worthy to stand alongside the likes of NCAA 95 Finals MVP Fran Yu or UAAP 82 Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy, he answered, modest as always, "Nope. I don't. Wala pa akong napapatunayan." Yes, the 5-foot-8 super scorer who was then head coach Aldin Ayo's "most-wanted recruit" feels he is yet to prove himself. Yes, the primetime playmaker who was once comforted by Tab Baldwin after the Green Archers had lost the championship despite his 16 points in Game 3 of the Finals feels he is yet to prove himself. That in itself is not necessarily surprising, though. And that's because all throughout his young career, Melecio has felt, again and again, that he has to prove himself. He had to prove himself even to La Salle, his home of nine years now. "Actually, 'di naman ako ni-recruit ng Zobel dati," he shared. "To be honest, my mindset at that time ay mag-Team B lang sa Zobel para pag may games, mas magagamit ako. Kaysa naman mag-Team A ako and nakaupo lang sa bench." BREAK IN Aljun Melecio, now a graduating guard, is La Salle's most recent homegrown product. Of the Green Archers' probable UAAP 83 roster, the now-22-year-old is the lone player to have come from the Taft-based school's Jrs. programs - and mind you, they have two in La Salle Zobel and La Salle Green Hills. In DLSZ, Melecio was a scoring dynamo who once dropped 42 points on archrival Ateneo de Manila High School. Did you know, though, that he wasn't even supposed to wear the green and white? "I was supposed to transfer sa UST nung high school," he recalled. "Pero napag-usapan naming family na since si kuya, nasa Zobel na nung time na yun, mas okay sigurong Zobel na lang din ako para magkasama kami." Aljun was referring to older brother Aleck who was also his teammate for three years with the Jr. Archers. If not for Aleck, however, Aljun would have suited up for University of Sto. Tomas High School where good friend Renzo Subido had already committed to play for college. After all, it was Subido, and dad Henry, who had convinced the Melecios to move to Manila from Bukidnon. "The reason talaga why we took the risk to come here was because of Coach Henry," Aljun shared, looking back at the time when all of them were repping Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. "They invited us to play basketball in Manila kaya malaki ang utang na loob namin sa Subido family." While Coach Henry and Renzo have been always there to lend a helping hand, that did not necessarily make the transition any easier - especially for a 10-year-old kid who was born and bred in Valencia City. "Grabe yung sacrifice na ginawa namin just for me to have more opportunities in life. That was a big adjustment not just for me, but also for my parents," Melecio said. He then continued, "Dumating yung time na ayoko nang bumalik sa Manila kasi na-homesick ako. Looking back now, normal lang naman siguro yun, lalong-lalo na bata pa ako." BREAKTHROUGH Make no mistake about it, looking back now, Aljun Melecio has no regrets. As he put it, "It was all worth it." Of course, he also had lady luck smile on him somewhat as, yet again following the footsteps of Subido, he transferred from Lourdes to DLSZ. And there, he found yet another mentor willing to believe in him. "Sina Coach Boris [Aldeguer], pagdating ko sa Zobel, they invited me to join yung practice ng Team A. Nagulat ako na kaya ko naman pala so doon na nag-start yung confidence ko," he said. Indeed, Melecio did not let Coach Boris down as in his first year, he proved to be a building block in their rebuild. While the boys from Alabang eventually ended outside the playoff picture, he had made more than enough noise to get the attention of the Philippine national youth team. There, DLSZ's top gun got his first taste of wearing the flag as part of the Batang Gilas training pool. "Masayang-masaya ako nun na makasama sa practice team dahil dream ko talaga maging part nun," he narrated. "May jersey lang and makasali lang ako sa practice, masayang-masaya ako." There, Melecio showcased his skills alongside other promising prospects such as Nieto twins Mike and Matt as well as Jolo Mendoza of Ateneo, Renzo Navarro of San Sebastian College-Recoletos, and Jollo Go of Hope Christian High School. And there, yet again, he knew full well he had to prove himself. During training itself, the new kid on the block believed he was doing so. At the same time, however, he had to come face-to-face with another beast altogether - how to get to practice in the first place. As it turned out, the then-13-year-old had to commute from south to north each and every time he participated in Batang Gilas training. How did his trips go? "From Alabang, mag-tricycle ako to [Alabang] Town [Center] then jeep going to Starmall [Alabang]. After nun, bus to Magallanes, MRT, then LRT, tapos jeep ulit," he shared. He then continued, "So papunta pa lang to Moro, pagod na ako. Then after practice, mag-commute na naman pauwi." Fortunately for him, there were also kind hearts like the Nieto twins who took him to the LRT station in Katipunan or Evan Nelle whom he rode with going back south. Still, around 33km and about an hour separated DLSZ in the south and Ateneo's Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in the north - indeed, that was some sort of workout already. BREAKDOWN In the long run, that was, unfortunately, much too much for young Aljun Melecio. While wearing the flag would have meant much, he also felt circumstances, such as that hell of a commute that cost him PHP 200 for a one-way trip, held him back from giving his all. Instead, Melecio felt he could do much more if he just rechanneled his energy to DLSZ. "After ilang weeks na ginagawa ko yung routine na yun, I started asking myself kung paano maayos yung priorities ko. Pinakiramdaman ko kung saan ako mag-iimprove so I talked to Coach Boris," he said. He the continued, "And I decided na mag-all in sa Zobel." All in for the Jr. Archers, he did, and boy, did it prove to be the right call. He was just getting started in UAAP 76, slowly but surely getting a grasp of both his capabilities and confidence as he helped the green and white barge back into the Final Four. Then in Season 77, it all clicked as he shot the green and white to the second rung of the stepladder all while putting up per game counts of 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.3 steals. Without a doubt, he willed his way into the Mythical Team that included the Nieto twins, his batchmates in Batang Gilas. The following year, with averages of 22.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.3 steals, he carried DLSZ all the way to the Finals where they stole one game from eventual champion Nazareth School of National University. And oh, he was the unanimous MVP of Season 78, besting the likes of future Gilas Pilipinas pool members Justine Baltazar and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Even then, though, he wouldn't call himself the best of the best. "I didn't think na I belonged kasi never kong gustong isipin na ganun ako," he said. He then continued, "Ang alam ko lang, I worked extra hard, I had extra motivation to play. Thankfully, coach Boris supported my decision and dahil dun, na-boost yung confidence ko." BREAK FREE From there, Aljun Melecio did nothing but go onto greater and greater heights in La Salle's Srs. squad. Never tell him he has accomplished anything, though, as he would be the first to tell you that you're wrong. Up until now, he feels that he is yet to prove himself. He hopes to prove that he has what it takes to be behind the wheel for the Green Archers' new era. He hopes to prove that he could bounce back following the worst statistical season for him. And he hopes to prove that he has every right to be mentioned in the same breath as his one-time teammates in the Batang Gilas pool and his batchmates who are now part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool. "Lahat naman, ginagawa kong motivation," he said. "May it be positive or negative, we all have our timing so I'm just being patient para sa kung anuman ang ibibigay na chance sa akin." If and when that next shot at wearing the flag comes along, Melecio only vows to do what he has never stopped doing. Asked about getting a golden opportunity at the Gilas pool, he answered, "That's still a dream for me. I know I still have a lot to prove." He then continued, "But I will give my all if given the chance to represent. I always do." If and when that time comes, there would be no more 33km distance, one-hour travel time, or PHP 200 cost. Still, Aljun Melecio would work just as hard - if not more - as he did when he once had to commute south to north just to get to practice. Don't forget, proving himself is already second nature to him. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

For Mike Nieto, all roads lead to leading

Mike Nieto's leadership is not just for the basketball court. Apparently, his voice carries just as much weight inside the Nieto household in Cainta. "Hanggang bahay, umaabot yung pagli-lead ko," he shared with a laugh. "Rinig na rinig palagi boses ko sa bahay. Since I've proven to them na I can be a leader sa court, siyempre, I can also be a leader dito sa bahay." What does that mean exactly? Well, let's just say that whenever the Nieto family decides they want and need some quality time together, it's the 23-year-old who sets the time and the place where it would happen. "I think nasanay na rin kasi sila na ako ang palaging nagsasalita kahit sa ganyang bagay so most of the time, ako na talaga nagsasabi saan at anong oras kami pupunta," he said. This is not at all that surprising as when you talk about Mike Nieto, you talk about leadership. That has long been the calling card of the 6-foot-2 swingman - from his days as a Blue Eaglet to his time as a Blue Eagle and from his stint in Batang Gilas to his current run in the Gilas Pilipinas pool. But… Why do people say that in the first place? What is it with Mike Nieto that just speaks, leader? FTW: For The tWin To get the answer, we need to go back to the start. As in, the very, very start. Technically, Mike is the leader of the four Nieto siblings as he is the firstborn of Ateneo de Manila legend Jett and super mom and dentist Girlie. Matt is his brother, but is younger by two minutes. Make no mistake, though, the twins have always gotten along. "Kami ni Matt, ever since, close na talaga kami. We started playing basketball at the age of six and from then on, naging magkasama na kami sa lahat ng bagay," Mike said. He then continued, "Even course namin sa college, pareho kaya almost lahat ng classes namin, classmates kami. Ever since talaga, unusual na hindi kami magkasama." Indeed, the Nieto twins have always been some sort of a package deal. Hence, the reports of their commitment to Ateneo for college had headlines such as "Ateneo scores 'twin kill' as Nieto brothers commit to play for Blue Eagles." Through and through, however, Mike was thought to be the leader - even though Matt is the point guard. The reason for that? Because "Big Mike" is more vocal. And why is he more vocal" Well, because he had a two minute headstart on "Matty Ice" at letting his voice be heard. Seriously, though, Mike said it was just because he doesn't waste any time at all in being vocal - and that's why he's being heard first and more often. "Siguro, mas maingay lang kasi ako kay Matt. Ako kasi, kapag may nakita akong mali sa ginagawa ng teammates ko, siguradong makakarinig agad sila sa akin," he shared. He then continued, "Hindi ako papayag na lilipas ang isang bagay na alam kong makakasama sa team. Talagang maglalabas at maglalabas ako ng mga salita hanggang ma-solve ang problema." That doesn't mean that Matt doesn't lead, though. As his twin put it, "Matt is the leader on the court. That's the assignment Coach Tab [Baldwin] gave him and I think he has done well with that." Well, yeah, Matt has three rings as court general of the Blue Eagles' dynasty to show for that. LOL: Lead out Loud It was another court general altogether, however, who had made the biggest mark on Mike Nieto. While he never was a point guard due to his wide frame, he was always trying to emulate one of the best ball-handlers in the history of Philippine basketball. "Jimmy Alapag is my role model when it comes to leadership," he said. "I'm just very lucky that for a long time now, he would talk to me on how I can affect the team positively on and off the court." When Alapag was in his prime as captain of Gilas Pilipinas, Nieto was put on the pedestal as skipper of Batang Gilas. While he knew full well that was a tall task, he was also eager to prove himself worthy. "Sa Batang Gilas under coach Jamike [Jarin], he made me team captain kahit second year high school pa lang ako. But that made me realize na I have the capabilities of being a leader," he said. With that, Mike had the responsibility of making sure the likes of Paul Desiderio, Richard Escoto, Jollo Go, Jolo Mendoza, and Renzo Navarro were kept in line. And from then on, he just did not stop keeping at it. Whether it be as the Jrs. MVP as a Blue Eaglet or a rotation regular as a Blue Eagle, Nieto's biggest contribution has always been his leadership. "Being a leader is never easy. At the end of the day, you have to gain the trust of your teammates and your coaches - that's the hardest part," he said. Ask his teammates from high school, many of whom were still his teammates come college, and they would say they always have his back. "Buti na lang nakuha ko ang tiwala ng lahat ng tao na nakapaligid sa akin. Kaya rin ako nag-succeed being the team captain ng every team na nagiging part ako," he said. While he has always had the full faith of longtime teammates and good friends Thirdy Ravena, Gian Mamuyac, Mendoza, and of course, twin Matt, Mike could only acknowledge that it was another challenge altogether being the voice of the team that swept the season. "Ang malaking naging difference ngayong college from high school, kinailangan kong magsalita ng English mas madalas," he said, through chuckles. With foreigners such as Ange Kouame and Filipino-foreigners like Raffy Verano, Nieto, indeed, did have to make sure his communication lines were crystal clear. The thing about leaders, though, is that they give their all in anything and everything - whether that be giving a pep talk or passing the message to somebody like Kouame who only started learning English in 2017. IMO: In My Opinion And the thing about leaders? They do not necessarily care about themselves. Imagine Mike Nieto, a Jrs. MVP, a team captain for Batang Gilas, a literal blue-blood in Katipunan. Do you know his averages through their three-peat? In 47 games total, he saw 14.2 minutes of action and had 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Still, that did not matter at all. All that mattered for Mike are all those Ws. "To be a leader, you have to prove palagi that you can lead on and off the court," he said. "I think yun ang napatunayan ko kay coach Tab - na handa akong i-sacrifice ang personal goals ko para sa ikabubuti ng team. Wala akong pakialam sa sarili ko since ang nasa utak ko lang is kung ano ang makabubuti para sa team namin." But did he? Did Nieto prove himself to Coach Tab - a coach who has gone around the world and seen it all? The talented tactician's statement right after Ateneo completed its perfect run through UAAP 82 speaks volumes. “Look at all of us and think about where we’re gonna be in 10 or 15 years, you’ll forget most of us,” he said in the post-game conference where he sat alongside the Nieto twins, Ravena, Isaac Go, and Adrian Wong. “But you won’t forget Mike Nieto.” Coach Tab then went on to explain why he said so. As he put it, "Mike is a natural leader. Mike is a communicator. Mike is a thinker. In terms of touching people, making lives better, and making sure that everybody around him has a better chance than what he has, that’s our captain." High praise coming from the very mentor who has been getting nothing but high praise. Safe to say, though, Mike has proven himself to coach Tab. TBC: To Be Continued In doing so, Mike Nieto has also made it possible for the two of them to continue working together. Mike, twin Matt, fellow Blue Eagle Go, University of the East's Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian College-Recoletos' Allyn Bulanadi were the first five names listed for the Gilas pool. The likes of Ravena, Dwight Ramos of Ateneo, Justine Baltazar of De La Salle University, Dave Ildefonso then of National University, and the University of the Philippines foursome of Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano, Kobe Paras, and Jaydee Tungcab also made the list not long after. But the fact remains that "Big Mike" - he of zero starts, but three titles in a row in his last three years in blue and white - was one of the first names there. With that, he is now one of the few Batang Gilas players who have successfully gotten promoted to the Men's team. "Of course, sino bang ayaw i-represent ang bansa natin, 'di ba? That's why I'm very grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Gilas pool," he said. He then continued, "That's why I've been working on my game even harder so that I can provide whatever Gilas needs from me." Of course, what Gilas would need from Nieto is, first and foremost, his leadership. After all, that is still and would always be his greatest strength. To do so, though, the youngster would have to prove himself yet again - not only to Filipinos who are forever invested in their national team, but more importantly, his teammates, many of whom are already superstars in the PBA. For Mike, however, this is nothing new - nothing new at all. "Ever since I was in grade school, people have been doubting that I can progress my game to the next level. What we can't forget is that at the end of the day, it's in your hands if you want to prove them wrong or prove them right," he said. He then continued, "I actually enjoy these kinds of moments since dito talaga lalabas ang totoong pagkatao mo. Ang sigurado ko lang, I will fight for my spot in Gilas." And so, from a successful high school career and then an even more successful college career, Nieto is now seeking success as part of the Gilas pool. Does he deserve to be there? That's for the haters to hate, the doubters to doubt, and the bashers to bash. And that's for Mike Nieto to lead them out of the darkness. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

2020 king of recruiting crown remains on UP’s head

Who was our King of Recruiting in 2018? Find out here. Who was our King of Recruiting in 2019? Find out here. --- From 2007 to 2015, the University of the Philippines only had 13 wins to show in 126 games total. That time is self-deprecatingly called in Diliman as the dark days. Due to that disappointing standing, the Fighting Maroons had the toughest time bringing in recruits. And due to that lack of pieces to the puzzles, they lost even more. Safe to say, State U was stuck in a vicious cycle in the dark days. That’s not to say they didn’t have blue-chip recruits back then as in their time, all of Woody Co, Mark Juruena, Mike Gamboa, Kyles Lao, Jett Manuel, and Mikee Reyes were among the best high school players. Only, a blue-chip recruit or two does not make a team. Fast forward to now and oh, how things have changed. Last year, UP was hailed as ABS-CBN’s King of Recruiting alongside University of the East. “On the strength of the transfers of Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero, the Fighting Maroons… are worthy of the title,” it said then. And the season before that, the maroon and green was also up there with the best of them in terms of recruitment, having brought in the likes of eventual Season MVP Bright Akhuetie, Will Gozum, and Jaydee Tungcab. Indeed, there was nowhere to go but up. That has only continued this year as UP has left no doubt that it is now a force to reckon with in terms of recruitment. Early on, they already had a solid haul in Joel Cagulangan, once the best point guard in high school, and tireless workhorse Malick Diouf. And then, the shock of shocks. As it turned out, Nazareth School of National University stalwarts Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano were going to be Fighting Maroons. Meaning, for the first time in recent history, the most promising prospect coming out of high school is headed to Diliman. Not only that, State U also answered its biggest question heading into next season – the question at point guard, filling in for Jun Manzo. But as it turned out, they weren’t done just yet - no, our friends, they weren’t done just yet. Tamayo and Abadiano’s departure from National U was shocking, without a doubt, but CJ Cansino’s exit from University of Sto. Tomas was even more so. Cansino, against his will, decided to move on from his alma mater since 2015 due to personal reasons. Fortunately for him, he landed on his feet. Now, the Fighting Maroons have ready-made replacement for Rivero as well as a leader in the shades of Paul Desiderio for UAAP 84. And that, our friends, is why we have no choice but to put the 2020 King of Recruiting crown on UP’s head once more. Tamayo and Abadiano are the bluest of blue-chip recruits this year and Cagulangan, Cansino, and Diouf are among the most talented transferees, but also joining them in the maroon and green will be scoring machine RC Calimag from La Salle Green Hills, burly big Miguel Tan from Xavier High School, Filipino-American playmaker Sam Dowd, Filipino-Australian tower Ethan Kirkness, physical forward Jancork Cabahug from University of Visayas, and versatile wing CJ Catapusan from Adamson University. The former Bullpups are guaranteed ato be contributors even as rookies while Calimag, Tan, and Dowd are going to shore up a bench that had just lost Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Of course, Diouf, Kirkness, Cansino, Cabahug, and Cagulangan are still serving residency, but when they will be eligible, they will get a shot at a squad that will look brand new. All of Bright Akhuetie, J-Boy Gob, David Murrell, Noah Webb, and Rivero are graduating players while Paras is only guaranteed to play one more year. That means that after Season 83, the Fighting Maroons may very well have to fill six spots. That means that UP is not only beefing up for UAAP 83, it is also securing its future. If not for the shock of shocks, though, the crown would have been claimed by De La Salle University which sent a statement that it is back and better than ever. Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio may be playing their fifth and final years in college, but the green and white’s future has only brightened following this prolonged preseason. First and foremost, Kevin Quiambao, the third leg in that National U tripod of talent out of high school, has the capability and confidence to follow in the footsteps of Baltazar. Hopefully, he will be eligible for Season 83, but if not, what’s certain is he will be playing in UAAP 84. Alongside him as pieces for the future are super scorers CJ Austria and Emman Galman, all-around swingman Joshua Ramirez, and Filipino-Americans Jeromy Hughes, Kameron Vales, and Philips bros. Benjamin and Michael. Among all those, Jonnel Policarpio, likened to a young Arwind Santos, has the highest upside, but the Fil-Ams have much potential as well. And don’t forget that Evan Nelle, the primetime playmaker from San Beda University, is just getting primed and prepped to take the reins when Melecio leaves. Of course, the caveat here is that we are all in uncharted territory due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis. And in that light, the next season of the UAAP remains far away and a lot could still happen until then. While majority of the local blue-chip recruits have already committed, talents from abroad and transferees from other schools could still come and change the game. With that being said, there remains no doubt that UP and La Salle have made the biggest noise in the offseason. However, it’s not actually the Fighting Maroons or the Green Archers who got the lion’s share of the best graduating players in the 2020 NBTC 24. Yes, that honor belongs to Lyceum of the Philippines University which is finally reaping the rewards of its rising Jrs. program with NCAA 95 Jrs. MVP John Barba and Batang Gilas playmaker Mac Guadana being promoted as full-fledged Pirates. Guadana could do it all and looks like the next great guard in the Grand Old League while fearless slasher is Barba is a perfect complement to him. Add another fiery guard in John Bravo and sweet-shooting big man Carlo Abadeza and LPU has restocked its coffers after losing Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee and Cameroonian powerhouse Mike Nzeusseu. In all though, the 2020 NBTC 24 was dominated by UP… and San Beda. Of the annual rankings’ 15 graduating players, four would be Fighting Maroons and another four would be Red Lions. Yes, San Beda’s grassroots program is back on track with its Jrs. championship core all remaining in red and white. Rhayyan Amsali, ranked no. 1 in the 2020 NBTC 24, is the most college-ready high school player while Justine Sanchez is a long-limbed forward who could turn out to be the next Calvin Oftana, you know, the NCAA 95 MVP. Yukien Andrada, meanwhile, is only continuing to develop his two-way game and Tony Ynot is a 3-and-D weapon who had even left an impression on Jalen Green. And hey, as somebody said, don’t sleep on the UAAP’s three-time defending champions. Ateneo may already be missing Isaac Go, Thirdy Ravena, Adrian Wong, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt and they may not be making noise as of late, but they are still welcoming Dave Ildefonso and Dwight Ramos with open arms. Ildefonso will only be good to go come UAAP 84, but Ramos is already being seen by head coach Tab Baldwin as a difference-maker for the Blue Eagles in Season 83. Eli, Dwight’s younger brother, is also in the mix to backstop SJ Belangel and Tyler Tio. Note also that former blue-chip recruit Inand Fornilos may very well finally get his shot while both Jolo Mendoza and Raffy Verano are also back. Ateneo’s foe in the Finals last year also reloaded quite a bit as for the third year in a row, UST will be sending the Tiger Cubs’ best player to the Srs. squad. Following in the footsteps of Cansino and Mark Nonoy, post player Bismarck Lina will be a Growling Tiger next season. Alongside him to fortify the frontcourt are Christian Manaytay, Bryan Samudio, and Bryan Santos while bolstering the backcourt are Joshua Fontanilla and Paul Manalang. Speaking of fortifying the frontcourt, Far Eastern University is the team that got the biggest boost in terms of size. With 6-foot-7 Nigerian Emman Ojoula’s residency over and done with, the go-go guards of the Tamaraws have yet another weapon to burn opponents with. CESAFI MVP Kevin Guibao and transferee Simone Sandagon are no slouches either while Cholo Anonuevo has a roster spot waiting for him if and when he decides to come home after trying his luck in the US. RJ Abarrientos no longer appears here as he was already in FEU’s list last year. These are the new faces to see for the other teams: CSB Blazers LETRAN Knights JRU Heavy Bombers MAPUA Cardinals ADAMSON Soaring Falcons UE Red Warriors --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

Coach Tab calls Philippines the Mecca of basketball

Tab Baldwin has been in the Philippines for five years now. First brought here to coach Gilas Pilipinas, the brilliant tactician has since assembled a juggernaut in Ateneo de Manila University which has won the past three championships in the UAAP. It didn't take long for Coach Tab to fall in love with the Philippines and, of course, that was all because of Philippine basketball. "I love the Philippines and I think one of the most endearing aspects of the Philippines is this is a basketball paradise. Everywhere you look there are players, there are teams, there are competitions, there are fans, there are facilities," he said in the inaugural episode of Coaches Unfiltered. "I can tell you from the countries that I've been that much of what I've said isn't there, never is all of it there. That includes the US." The American-Kiwi had been around in the international basketball circuit and his most successful stint prior to the Philippines was in New Zealand. For him, though, the Filipino homeland is something special. "This, to me, is the Mecca of basketball," he said. And for him, the fact that Filipinos are not necessarily built for basketball makes all of this more special. As he put it, "You may say we don't have the greatest players in the world and that's true. Demographically, we are challenged with our size, but that doesn't really impact the passion for the game, the love for the game." That fire and desire, first and foremost, the reason why Coach Tab views the Philippines as the center of basketball. "When you put on top of that that this is one of the most hospitable countries in the planet with one of the kindest, gentlest, and friendliest populations, I start to ask myself where else would I wanna be and there aren't too many answers to that questions," he said. Does that mean that he will retire here - just like Tim Cone, Norman Black, and Alex Compton did? "Retirement? Why not," he said. "And if then, I can still continue being part of the basketball community to help coaches, to help young players, even if they have to push me around in a wheelchair, why not?" Of course, nothing is set in stone. What is for sure, however, is that Tab Baldwin loves Philippine basketball and will only continue to do so. "I love this country. I love the basketball landscape here even with its flaws and I hope to be a part of helping better every aspect of it because I know (Philippine basketball) has done so much to better my life," he shared. He then continued, "I think I can show my appreciation for that in no better way than to submit myself to what is good for Philippine basketball." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2020

WHAT IF… Dave Ildefonso stayed in Ateneo

History lesson: As a rookie and then as a sophomore, Dave Ildefonso was the main man of National University. The 6-foot-3 swingman made an immediate impact by putting up per game counts of 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists as a rookie. He only built on those with averages of 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals in his sophomore season. Safe to say, Ildefonso made the most out of his moment as the most prized prospect in recent history for the blue and gold. And, to this day, he does not regret moving from Katipunan to Sampaloc. This, even though Ateneo de Manila University head coach Tab Baldwin memorably made it a point to make the scoring wing "rethink his decision" in their first meeting. In response, Ildefonso said then that he stands by his decision. Right decision as it may have been, his individual brilliance in National U, unfortunately, did not translate into team glory. In his first year, the son of Philippine basketball legend and school great Danny Ildefonso saw his squad stand at 4-10 at the end of eliminations. The next year was not that much better as the Bulldogs struggled to a 2-12 standing. Not long after, with a coaching change in the offing, Ildefonso announced that he was transferring to Ateneo - or, more accurately, coming home to the Blue Eagles' nest. Now 20-years-old, he will have to sit out UAAP 83 before being eligible for the blue and white in Season 84. Did you ever think, though, what would have happened if he never left, and would have never had to come home in the first place? What if Ildefonso just moved on up from Ateneo Jrs. to Srs.? If he did, he would be joining a team already loaded at the wings with Thirdy Ravena, Mike Nieto, Gian Mamuyac, Adrian Wong, Aaron Black, and BJ Andrade. As a rookie for the Blue Eagles, he would not even come close to the 27.6 minutes he actually got in National U. If so, his impact would have been still much-welcome for the blue and white, but more or less negligible to just about everybody else. Still, he would have been part of a terrific team that won it all for the second straight season. Then with Anton Asistio graduating, Black moving on, and Raffy Verano and Jolo Mendoza being sidelined, he would then be given a bigger burden in accordance with Ateneo's "next man up" philosophy. And, without a doubt, with Ildefonso, the Blue Eagles have yet another weapon in its arsenal for its triumphant march towards a historic season sweep. In this light, he would have been a champion for all of his last three seasons - one in the Jrs. and two in the Srs. And then he would enter Season 83 as one of Coach Tab's main men alongside SJ Belangel, Ange Kouame, and Dwight Ramos. For sure, Ildefonso would still shine like a star if he would have stayed in Ateneo. It would just have taken more time for him to do so. That, after all, is one of his reasons for committing to the Bulldogs in the first place. "Isipin mo, si SJ, limited minutes. Kung nag-stay ako dun, mas lalo na ako, mas limited," he said then, when the two of them were prized rookies. Indeed, the heavy minutes and the heavy workload would not have been there for Ildefonso if he would have decided to move on up from the Blue Eaglets to the Blue Eagles. At the same time, though, two championships would have been there for him. And that would have been the exact opposite of what had actually happened. The story is far from over, however, as Ildefonso has a golden opportunity to have the best of both worlds. He already is a shining star after two years standing out for National U. And now, he will still be doing so, just for an Ateneo championship juggernaut that is not going away anytime soon. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2020

UAAP 2nd sem athletes celebrated as UST claims general title anew

For the fourth year in a row, there is no movement at the mountaintop of the UAAP. University of Sto. Tomas has been hailed as General Champion for the Srs. Tournaments once more as it ran away with the crown with 209 total points. The Growling Tigers were officially recognized as such in the Season 82 closing ceremony held online Saturday. They built their overall win on gold medals in men's and women's beach volleyball, men's and women's table tennis, and men's judo. All that was more than enough to grant them a more than 30-point lead over runner-up De La Salle University. And all that was more than enough to notch the 44th mark in Srs. General Championships for the black and gold. UST's high school was not going to be outdone as well as it rode its 159 total points all the way to the mountaintop of the Jrs. Tournaments. On the back of wins in boys' and girls' swimming, boys' baseball, boys' judo, and boys' taekwondo, the Tiger Cubs got the better of second-placer La Salle Zobel for their sixth straight Jrs. General Championship. Meanwhile, student-athletes whose campaigns were cut short by the continuing COVID-19 crisis were recognized in the event shown on ABS-CBN Sports' online platforms. Those include competitors in athletics, baseball, football, indoor volleyball, lawn tennis softball, and track and field which were all set to go, or even already underway, before the pandemic forced all second semester sports to end earlier than expected. That was exactly why the UAAP went out of its way to still give these student-athletes their shine. Even better for so-called super seniors from those second semester sports, the league has already reportedly discussed and deliberated the proposed one-year extension of their eligibility. According to outgoing president Em Fernandez, the proposal is just awaiting the approval of the league's Board of Trustees. That means that student-athletes such as Arlyn Bautista from Adamson University softball, Jho Maraguinot and Kat Tolentino from Ateneo de Manila University women's volleyball, Diego Lozano from De La Salle University men's baseball, Ricky Marcos from National University men's volleyball, and Miggy Clarino from the University of the Philippines' men's football have an option to play out their last year of eligibility next season instead. Next season will see De La Salle University taking over hosting duties from Ateneo. The formal passing of the hosting of baton officially wrapped up UAAP Season 83. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 25th, 2020

Tab s unfiltered comments shook up Philippine coaching fraternity

Reactions to Tab Baldwin's now-controversial unfiltered comments about the PBA come from all sorts of places, but it seems like the general consensus is that he disrupted the Philippine coaching fraternity that's supposedly built on brotherhood. Hoops Coaches International, established by Blackwater's Ariel Vanguardia for webinars featuring local and foreign coaches, issued a statement about Baldwin's comments about the PBA last week. The Ateneo coach called the PBA's one-import tournaments as a "big mistake" and said local coaches as having "tactical immaturity." [Related: Unfiltered Baldwin comments on the PBA's "big mistake"] Hoops Coaches International is focusing on the tactical immaturity part on condemning Baldwin's comments. The very existence of webinars by Hoops Coaches International is to help advance the level of coaches here. Current and former PBA coaches like Tim Cone, Norman Black, Yeng Guiao, Mark Dickel, Jeffrey Cariaso, and Bill Bayno have all appeared in the webinars. A number of foreign coaches have shared their expertise as well. "We have hosted a number of webinars because we are aware that we do not have all the answers. That in order to compete with the best, we have to expose our coaches to a plethora of ideas, theories, and practices from successful coaches that work with all age groups and levels, from all leagues," the statement read. "Only by raising the level of coaching at the grassroots and provincial level can we move the needle," the statement added. [Related: Northport owner on Tab's PBA comments: "Sounds like racism"] Hoops Coaches International acknowledged some of Coach Tab's points but his comments on local coaches seem to have done more harm than good especially with the reaction that followed. "We have long believed that a coaching fraternity is built on a foundation of camaraderie and a free exchange of ideas," Hoops Coaches International said in its statement directed to Baldwin. "So, it is disheartening to hear that instead of helping the Filipino coaching community grow towards a higher standard, you saw it fit to put us down," the statement added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: La Salle Ricci-UP Ricci

The University of the Philippines' future remains bright with Ricci Rivero coming back for more. After a solid season in his first go-round in maroon and green, the all-around swingman will join forces yet again with Bright Akhuetie and Kobe Paras as the Fighting Maroons set out to build on back-to-back playoff appearances. For sure, State U's future is still secure with Rivero in the fold. Not too long ago, though, the just turned 22-year-old was also the future in De La Salle University. In fact, he was supposed-to-be the Green Archers' next great homegrown talent. It wasn't meant to be, however, as circumstances led him out of Taft Avenue and into Diliman. Still, his time in green and white remains his most successful yet - what with a championship and a Mythical selection under his belt. If it were up to you, which Ricci Rivero would you have on your side? The Ricci Rivero who had just launched off en route to greater and greater heights in La Salle or the Ricci Rivero who has been more grounded and more well-rounded in UP? That is what we try to compare and contrast in this week's ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. In studying the player he was and the player he is, we will be comparing those two in five categories (inside scoring, outside scoring, defense, health, and impact) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. INSIDE SCORING The very first thing Rivero did in UP? Oop an alley. .@_ricciiirivero turns 22 today. The ride's just begun for the Euro step king ???? pic.twitter.com/QzCK5DHZS5 — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) May 25, 2020 Yes, his first basket as a Fighting Maroon was a right-handed hammer to finish off a setup by Jun Manzo. The 6-foot-2 swingman has long had the hops, even in his time in La Salle Green Hills, but he has complemented all that now in State U with the capability and confidence to finish with either hand. Along with that, Rivero also wields the wisdom to, at times, just absorb contact and get the points from the line. That is a far cry from his younger days when he was wont to force the issue, leading to many, many wild shots. Make no mistake, La Salle Ricci was already a beast in the paint, but now, he has paired that up with beauty of finishes in maroon and green. Advantage UP Ricci, 10-9 OUTSIDE SCORING The sidestep will always and always be linked to Rivero. Safe to say, that is his trademark whether it be in the open court or in set plays. In UP, however, the Isabela native has found more room to be able to execute his Euro-steps - and that's because he has become more of a three-point threat. From nine made threes in 18 games in his second season in La Salle, he has upped that mark to 13 made threes in 16 games in his first year as a Fighting Maroon. Of course, there remains much room for improvement, but it could not be questioned that Rivero is now an inside-outside force. Advantage UP Ricci, 10-9 DEFENSE Rivero's hops also translates to defense as he could have a highlight block just as he could have a highlight dunk. He also has the quick feet to stay in front of his matchups. While he is solid at that end in UP, the former Greenie was actually a dogged defender in La Salle. In sync with the rest of the Green Archers in Aldin Ayo's patented "mayhem," Rivero was a menace all over the court for opposing guards and totaled 27 steals. More than the numbers, though, it was the effort and the energy that were very much evident while he was defending as a Green Archer. Advantage La Salle Ricci, 10-9 HEALTH More than a few aches and pains slowed down Rivero in his first year in UP. It’s already well-known that the Fighting Maroons were never at full strength in Season 82 and the brand new Youtuber was the perfect personification of that as he did not come close to 100 percent. Proving his talent, he still produced, but there is no question he could have done much more if he was at his maximum. That maximum is where he was at in La Salle, especially in his second year wherein he busted out all the way to the Mythical Team by posting per game counts of 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 steals. This, even though he came off the bench seven times out of 18. Of course, the bigger burden as a Fighting Maroon takes time to getting used to and who knows, in his encore in maroon and green, he will be at the peak of his powers anew. Advantage La Salle Ricci, 10-9 IMPACT Rivero started nine games and, alongside Akhuetie and Paras, was tasked to make sure UP got going right from tip-off. For the most part, he did just that and was a key cog in the Fighting Maroons’ first-ever second-seed and twice-to-beat advantage. Come the endgame, however, there seemed to be much difference from when he was in La Salle. The star of Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Otlum” was the green and white’s energizer off the bench, but was also one of its big guns when it mattered most. Whenever Cameroonian powerhouse Ben Mbala was bogged down, there was Rivero to pick up the slack. That was no truer than in Game 2 of the Season 80 Finals when he dropped 14 of his 18 points in the second half to energize his side to a winner-take-all matchup opposite archrival Ateneo de Manila University. Ultimately, they were dethroned, but the human highlight reel's big-time Game 2 made sure there was no Finals sweep. He may get to that point once more, no doubt, but for now, his last year in La Salle remains to be the biggest mark he has made. Advantage La Salle Ricci, 10-9 FINAL SCORE: 48-47 for La Salle Ricci.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 26th, 2020

As of late, winning NCAA Jrs. MVP has not necessarily led to success

The last five NCAA Jrs. MVPs have been trudging through rocky roads. All of Joel Cagulangan, Will Gozum, Troy Mallillin, Mike Enriquez, and Darius Estrella have not necessarily translated their successful stints in high school to college. We're not counting most recent winner John Barba, of course, who is nothing but hopeful to build on his historic season for Lyceum of the Philippines University on the school's Srs. squad. The five NCAA Jrs. MVPs before him, however, have, put simply, struggled in the collegiate ranks. The most unfortunate of which is Enriquez who, at present, is no longer playing competitive basketball. This, after he was gifted the best individual player plum in 2015 as La Salle Green Hills' Ricci Rivero, that year's undisputed top talent, was disqualified for any individual awards. After that MVP year, however, Enriquez injured his knee, played his last season in high school, and recovered just in time to commit to University of Sto. Tomas. He would not play any single game for the Growling Tigers, however, as academic issues delayed his move up to college and now, not much has been seen or heard from him. Enriquez's former teammate hasn't had the best of collegiate careers, either. Gozum, another Red Robin, was the best individual player in 2017 and looked like the ideal modern big man. After committing to the University of the Philippines, however, he could not break into the rotation and rode the bench before deciding to transfer to College of St. Benilde. After his residency year, he may very well be the big man the Blazers desperately need. Another NCAA Jrs. MVP who has decided to transfer is ex-Greenie Cagulangan (2018) who is moving from De La Salle University to UP. Cagulangan had long been primed and prepared to be the Green Archers' next great point guard, but after high school, struggled with a knee injury and then struggled to earn minutes under rookie head coach Jermaine Byrd. Now, he is hoping to prove himself by steadying the Fighting Maroons' backcourt after his residency year. The league's best individual player in 2016, Mallillin also of LSGH, has actually won two championships with Ateneo de Manila University, but has also had a tough time seeing the floor in head coach Tab Baldwin's deep lineup. He was also forced to sit out one year due to academic issues. For his part, 2014 MVP Estrella has been solid after getting promoted from Light Bomber to Heavy Bomber in Jose Rizal University - but that is only when he is on the court as half of his collegiate career has been spent recovering from two ACL injuries on the same knee. It could even be argued that former Greenie Prince Rivero hasn't exactly reached the heights he did back in 2013 as he had an up-and-down four years in La Salle before getting drafted by Rain or Shine. The good news for the NCAA Jrs.'s best individual players, however, is they still have time to turn things around. They only need to look to the decade's first three MVPs to know they could make something happen of themselves. In Baser Amer in 2010, Rey Nambatac and 2011, and Bong Quinto and 2012, the NCAA Jrs. produced three current contributors in the PBA. Nambatac has emerged as a lead guard for Rain or Shine while Quinto has proven himself to head coach Norman Black and Meralco. Amer is still the most successful among the last decade's NCAA Jrs. MVPs as he has carved quite the career for himself as a Bolt while also getting to wear the flag more than a few times. He also remains the most successful former Red Cub as he is the one and only representative of the red and white in the list of best individual players in the last 10 years. That list is led by LSGH which counts three in Rivero, Mallillin, and Cagulangan followed by Letran and Mapua which have two apiece in Nambatac and Quinto and then Enriquez and Gozum, respectively. Each with one MVP are JRU and LPU. Here is the full list of NCAA Jrs. MVP in the last decade: 2010 - Baser Amer, G, San Beda 2011 - Rey Nambatac, G, Letran 2012 - Bong Quinto, F, Letran 2013 - Prince Rivero, F, LSGH 2014 - Darius Estrella, G/F, JRU 2015 - Mike Enriquez, G, Mapua 2016 - Troy Mallillin, F, LSGH 2017 - Will Gozum, C/F, Mapua 2018 - Joel Cagulangan, G, LSGH 2019 - John Barba, F/G, LPU --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 13th, 2020

2019: To sweep or not to sweep in collegiate basketball

The 2019 collegiate basketball season will always be remembered as the time when all of NCAA defending champion San Beda, UAAP Men’s defending champion Ateneo, and UAAP Women’s defending champion National U were trying for season sweeps. Two of them did it, one of them didn’t. All in all, though, that storyline that had something to do with history defined NCAA 95 and UAAP 82. A tale of two leagues – when it comes to foreign student-athletes NCAA 95 was the last season wherein the Grand Old League’s 10 member-schools were still able to trot out foreign student-athletes. This, after more than a decade of the likes of Sam Ekwe, Sudan Daniel, Allwell Oraeme, Prince Eze, and Mike Nzeusseu setting the bar higher for big men. Over in UAAP 82, Beninese ball of energy Soulemane Chabi Yo and Ivorian tower Ange Kouame jostled throughout the tournament for the recognition as top individual player. In the end, Chabi Yo followed in the footsteps of Cameroon’s Ben Mbala and Nigeria’s Bright Akhuetie as Season MVPs. The NCAA will go local from here on out while the UAAP will still parade promising prospects from overseas – what’s certain is that both leagues will go all-out to ascertain that the action will never stop. Rising stars become shining stars Robert Bolick left San Beda with a big, big hole at point guard – only for Evan Nelle to waste no time proving the Red Lions remain in good hands. UST’s fast and furious attack needed a fast and furious playmaker – and the Growling Tigers got just that in the form of Mark Nonoy. In his first year as FEU’s lead guard, L-Jay Gonzales showed time and time again why he was always seen as the next one in the Tamaraws’ long, long line of great guards. The story of the season in terms of guards, however, has got to be Fran Yu who came out of nowhere to energize Letran to a pleasant surprise of a championship. UP might 2019 was the first time in a long, long while – or maybe even ever – that UP was considered a shoo-in for the Final Four. The Fighting Maroons had just ended a 32-year Finals absence and a 21-year playoff drought last year and came into this season still with Bright Akhuetie, Jun Manzo, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan, but also now with Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero. In all, State U lived up to the hype and made it back-to-back Final Four appearances, but at the same time, fell short of fulfilling the promise of its fully loaded line-up. Still, continued contention is nothing but a welcome development for Diliman which had been experiencing dark, dark days for far too long. Gilas Pilipinas calling With Tab Baldwin overseeing the program, Gilas Pilipinas will try once more to take a long-term, big-picture view – especially with the 2023 FIBA World Cup looming large. With that, the American-Kiwi mentor tapped on five collegiate standouts to form the foundation of the national team – Ateneo’s Isaac Go and Nieto twins Mike and Matt, UE’s Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian’s Allyn Bulanadi. And with that, the Philippines is yet again leaning on the best of the best of collegiate basketball to wear the flag and do the country proud. It’s a new day, it’s a new generation The NCAA hit home runs in each and every one of its coaching changes. Bonnie Tan raised banner no. 18 for Letran in his first year. Randy Alcantara has Mapua prepped and primed to take flight. Louie Gonzalez has given JRU an attitude. Oliver Bunyi and Cholo Martin have EAC and Arellano, respectively, headed in the right direction. The same cannot be said for the UAAP as both of its new head coaches found themselves on the outside looking into the playoff picture. Jermaine Byrd had La Salle fighting, but ultimately failed to find a finishing kick. UE also kept coming with the leadership of Lawrence Chongson, but eventually ended eliminated. Teeth out, claws out, all-out UST has a proud program in basketball, but only had nine wins to show in 42 games from 2016 to 2018 That all came to an end in 2019 as Aldin Ayo had the Growling Tigers, well, growling from the get-go. Bombing away at their opponents and forcing them to keep up, Espana made its mark as a legitimate contender that made it all the way to the Finals. There, they were sent away by Ateneo’s championship-winning machine, but the future remains bright for the black and gold with all of Season MVP Chabi Yo, Rookie of the Year Nonoy, captain CJ Cansino, Brent Paraiso, and Sherwin Concepcion, among others, coming back for more. Fitting farewell for Ateneo’s championship core Thirdy Ravena. Isaac Go. Mike Nieto. Matt Nieto. Adrian Wong. Those five left Ateneo on top of the world – having claimed a three-peat as well as completed a historic season sweep. And without a doubt, those five were also the catalysts in this new golden age for the Blue Eagles – a golden age which has seen them set and then raise the standard for team glory time and time again. Katipunan will have a tough time moving forward from those five, but at the same time, having the likes of Ange Kouame, Will Navarro, Gian Mamuyac, and SJ Belangel just waiting in the wings makes it easier. Who run the world? National U has not lost a game in 2,270 days. National U has not lost a game in 74 months. National U has not lost a game in six years. The last time head coach Pat Aquino had to lift up the spirits of his Lady Bulldogs was back in October 5, 2013 when they bowed to La Salle in the winner-take-all Finals Game 3. Since then, the blue and gold has been the gold standard of women’s basketball all while giving its opponents the blues. That didn’t change this year as behind Jack Animam and Rhena Itesi as well as welcome additions Kelli Hayes and Camille Clarin, National U continued to have all the answers – even for back-to-back Season MVP Grace Irebu and UST. Shock the system Letran was, in no way, given a chance to deny archrival San Beda’s bid for a perfect season – or much more, win the championship altogether. But the Knights didn’t listen and took that chance themselves, catching just everybody by surprise by taking Game 1 and dealing the Red Lions their first defeat in the season. San Beda bounced back in Game 2, but in the decider, Jerrick Balanza, Bonbon Batiller, Larry Muyang, and Yu just willed Letran to the title. Now, the Knights are kings for the 18th time – and indeed, they had no import, but had no problem. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2019

Coach Tab says 2019 PBA Draft just the start for Ateneo s pro production line

Ateneo de Manila University could have as many as six products get their names called in the 2019 PBA Draft. Nieto twins Mike and Matt, Aaron Black, Issac Go, and Vince Tolentino, and Adrian Wong have all declared for the rookie selection process on Sunday - and have good to great shots at turning their PBA dream into reality. According to head coach Tab Baldwin, the Blue Eagles' multi-titled mentor of the last four years, this is an exciting time to be a believer of the blue and white. "I'm very excited. We haven't seen them realize their goals yet, but when opportunity seems to be there, I'm very excited," he said. He then continued, "I hope to see all of them picked very early. I don't know whether they will be because that's up to PBA teams and coaches, but I'll be there with them, supporting them." Of the championship core that has led Ateneo's three-peat, only Thirdy Ravena has stayed away from the draft for now. Still, the fact that they have six products on deck to make the leap is nothing but a proud moment for the Katipunan-based squad. Make no mistake, though, this is just the start of many, many more Blue Eagles turning pro. "I don't feel like it's a culmination. Maybe that's for (the players), but for our program, I feel like it's the beginning. We're hoping to see all six of them picked and launching their careers," coach Tab said. Indeed, even after all six get drafted, Ateneo still has a treasure trove of talent in the likes of SJ Belangel, Gian Mamuyac, and Will Navarro. And with Baldwin guiding them, it's not a farfetched idea that sooner than later, they will be getting drafted themselves. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 7th, 2019

Ex-Eagles say they hit jackpot in getting mentored by Tab Baldwin

The 2019 PBA Draft looks like it will be yet another win for Ateneo de Manila University. With six Blue Eagles having declared and having good to great shots at turning their PBA dream into reality, the rookie selection process on Sunday may very well be yet another feather in the cap of the three-peat UAAP champions. Of course, those six know full well that they wouldn't be in the position they are now in if not for one person - head coach Tab Baldwin. "Coach Tab, kaming lima, we hit the jackpot with him," longtime captain Mike Nieto said. He then continued, "He wanted us to become good players here in college, but looking forward, he wanted us to become better professional players." Mike and twin Matt as well as Isaac Go and Adrian Wong spent the last four years of their collegiate careers under Baldwin's watchful eye. Aaron Black and Vince Tolentino, two more draft hopefuls from Ateneo, also had more than a few years learning from the American-Kiwi coach. And as it turns out, teaching his boys and turning them into PBA-ready talents is the ultimate goal of coach Tab. "Yung goal nga niya, hindi naman mag-champion. Kung tatanungin niyo siya, ang goal niya is ma-draft kami," Mike said. He then continued, "Hopefully, mangyari yun, but at the same time, we're just blessed and grateful that coach Tab is our head coach." Twin Matt only shared the same sentiment of being blessed and grateful to have played for the brilliant tactician. As he put it, "Always, we just want to say thank you kay coach Tab kasi he made us better basketball players and better people. Kung hindi dahil sa kanya, wala rin kami rito." He then continued, "I really thank him. I will never forget him." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 7th, 2019

UAAP Finals: Nonoy tried to be whatever UST needed in Game 1

Mark Nonoy was the lone bright spot as University of Sto. Tomas got dominated by Ateneo de Manila University in Game 1 of the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Finals. With everybody from Soulemane Chabi Yo and Renzo Subido and Rhenz Abando and CJ Cansino slowed down, the Rookie of the Year scored a career-best 26 points built on seven triples off the bench. In the end, he was just giving whatever the Growling Tigers needed from him. "Ginawa ko lang lahat kasi nahirapan yung first group namin so kailangan naming mag-step up," he said. Of course, scoring isn't exactly Nonoy's role for the black and gold as, time and again, head coach Aldin Ayo said that he wants his point guard to be, well, a point guard. With almost everybody struggling, however, coach Aldin said he had no problems whatsoever with their super rookie looking for his own shot. "Nung una kasi, he was looking to dish the ball eh walang maka-shoot tapos nalilibre rin siya so siya na lang," he said. He then continued, "Pero alam naman ng bata na ang role niya talaga is to set the plays and make his teammates better." With Game 1 over and done with, Nonoy vowed that UST will go all-out to bounce back in Game 2 on Wednesday at MOA Arena. "Siyempre, masakit kasi eto na yung goal namin, pero na-short kami. Babawi kami sa Game 2," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 16th, 2019

Mutual respect grows for Baldwin, Ayo after Ateneo-UST thriller

    MANILA, Philippines – The early top-team showdown between the Ateneo Blue Eagles and UST Growling Tigers turned out to match the pre-game hype, and then some. The two-time defending champions – the epitome of methodical dominance at the collegiate level – had to dig deep to squeeze out a ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsSep 11th, 2019

Blue Eagles flying to Greece, Singapore, Australia for UAAP 82 preps

With the 2019 PBA D-League championship all wrapped up and headed to Katipunan, Ateneo de Manila University can now set its sights on its title defense for the upcoming UAAP 82.  For that, the Blue Eagles will finally get to leave their nest and get themselves some overseas training. "We're leaving next week and we'll have a training camp in Greece. That'll be pretty brutal to be honest," head coach Tab Baldwin told reporters not even half an hour after they hoisted their trophy in the developmental league, Tuesday at Ynares Center in Pasig.  He then continued, "Then we'll go to Singapore and play against the Singaproe national team before heading down to Australia. We have a few games in Perth and also in Melbourne."  This is the second year in a row that Ateneo will be flying to Greece in preparation for its title defense. Obviously, the last time they did so worked wonders as they won back-to-back championships.  More than that, though, it's the bond between his boys that coach Tab wants to see get better. As he put it, "It's a great experience, I think, for the boys to understand the difficulties that long tours represent. They got to be away from home and get to bond together as a team."  He then continued, "That's where we learn to help each other through everything that we face. And you know, that's a lot when you go on tour."  Along with that, the overseas training will also be the ideal time for the Blue Eagles' coaching staff to see who are more than capable to fill out the rest of their roster – as two spots were vacated by graduated Anton Asistio and Aaron Black who is now starring in the MPBL and two more may be left open by Raffy Verano and Jolo Mendoza who are both dealing with academic deficiencies.  With that in mind, the two-time collegiate champion coach mentioned former NCAA Jrs. MVP Troy Mallillin, former UAAP Jrs. Champion Jason Credo, and Filipino-Kiwi forward Patrick Maagdenberg as Team B players who will be going along to Greece, Singapore, and Australia.  Coach Tab also said that new recruits Dwight and Eli Ramos will also be joining them there. Dwight had been a 23 for 23 Gilas Pilipinas cadet, but will still have to undergo one year of residency while Eli, who most recently opened eyes with FilAm Sport USA in the 2019 NBTC, will be good to go right away.  Still, no roster spot is assured as Ateneo gets down and dirty in preparation for another title defense. "We've had to expand the pool a little bit so we'll take those guys overseas. There, we'll let them fight it out," their brilliant tactician said.  ---  Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2019