Kaleidoscope World

Mall of Asia Arena
June 28, 2014
Kaleidoscope World

Wow.
One of the best things covering the National Collegiate Athletic Association is getting to watch the opening ceremony. In almost two decades we’ve been chronicling the league writing for Manila Times (1996-1999) and then The Philippine STAR (1999 to present), I’ve made sure to always watch the season-ushering production number. I mean it’s always a delight watching it every single year. And today, we’ve witnessed one of the best, if not the best, shows I’ve seen. I mean, it’s not a joke. It’s really a spectacle. I’m not the only one impressed. Ask people, and you will know. One of them, Spain-bound Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes, was the most vocal. Here is what he said in his Twitter account @coachot: “That’s got to be 1 of d best Opening Ceremonies ever! #NCAASeason90 – congrats Dr. Fabella & Paul Supan of host school JRU!”
It’s not a coincidence that the day was made more meaningful and beautiful with a double treat of nice basketball. Nigerian behemoth Ola Adeogun was a juggernaut as he bulldozed his way to 20 points and 14 rebounds to throw his hat in the Most Valuable Player race that Sportsmaryosep believes he will win handily. Ola, of course, carried San Beda to a 57-49 win over a much-improved Jose Rizal.
The San Sebastian-Letran showdown the next game was better. It rained clutch shots after clutch shots until Jamil Ortuoste decided to do an ankle twister on Reneford Ruaya for that awesome step-back triple and rookie Rhanzelle Yong intercepted a pass by Mark Cruz to seal the deal. The Stags won, 85-83, but them and the Knights should be legitimate title contenders I tell you.
But nothing was more spectacular than that opening. Words are not enough to describe it. I’ll just let the pictures speak for itself. As they say, pictures paint a thousand a words. So salute goes to Jose Rizal and its president Dr. Vincent Fabella and Management Committee chair Paul Supan and the whole NCAA community for a job well done.
Here’s the link of the video from ABC5, TV 5, Aksyon TV and interaksyon. You be the judge.
Part One http://n5e.interaksyon.com/videos/586B8761DCF847D/5/ncaa-s-opening-school-performances-part-1-3
Part Two http://n5e.interaksyon.com/videos/350824E64B2D4C4/5/ncaa-s-opening-school-performances-part-2-3
Part Three http://n5e.interaksyon.com/videos/71A73943AF0A4F5/5/ncaa-s-opening-school-performances-part-3-3
Can I say Wow again?
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

Image
(Photo courtesy of Jan Dizon of ncaa.org.ph)

NCAA Season 90 Preview Final Part (Letran, SBC)

Vito Cruz, Manila
June 26, 2014
NCAA Season 90 Preview Final Part (Letran, SBC)

After writing a story about Filipino Grandmaster Wesley So’s exploits in the 9th Edmonton Open in Canada, I took a nap or siesta as most older guys used to call it. Somewhere around 3 p.m. a thud woke me up. It turned out Peter Atencio, the coughing sportswriter from Manila Standard who also has this little blog he named Pektus Corner, dropped his recorder. If you don’t know this guy, you’ll probably get irritated. But all of us sports scribes knew Peter as the clumsiest guy in the world and his monicker is MOD, which means Master of Disaster.
So I forgave him.
Then I looked at the window and its dark. Then I realized it’s just 3 p.m. It’s probably rain clouds. And heavy ones. Then it poured for an hour. It was one scary deluge that flooded this small, stinky strip faster before you can say Peter Atencio. Thankfully, it subsided. And so goes the flooding.
And then I remembered I had to write the fourth and final part of my NCAA Season 90 preview for Sportsmaryosep. And here I was doing this service to collegiate basketball mankind. And here it goes.

Letran
Last year’s placing and elimination round record: Second, 15-3
Coach: Caloy Garcia
Players: Felix Apreku, Jr., John Paul Calvo, Fidel Castro, Mark Cruz, Chrisantoni dela Pena, Jamil Gabawan, McJour Luib, Rey Nambatac, Reynaldo Publico, Jr., Kier Quinto, Kevin Racal, Reneford Ruaya, Reuben Saldua, Daryl Singontiko, John Tambeling
Why it would win?
A team with Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal and Rey Nambatac in it should create ripples, perhaps tectonic waves. If you don’t these three, they’re just the BEST guard combo this season. Bar none. You will like the diminutive but big-hearted Cruz and his toughness. You will also like Racal and his toughness. You will like Nambatac and his toughness. You probably notice a lot of toughness there. Becuase that’s how the trio are. And they will provide a lot of it come D-Day.

Image
Why it would not?
Raymond Almazan and Jonathan Belorio are tough acts to follow. Losing the two are massive blows to the Knights since they will have to able bodies to contain the likes of Ola Adeogun of San Beda or Noube Happi of Emilio Aguinaldo. Yes, Gabawan, Ruaya and Publico have shown some flashes of brilliance in small stretches but could they sustain it in long hauls? It will take a lot of stepping up to do for these Letran bigs to fill the enormous vois Almazan and Belorio’s absence created. And I’m not just taking a lot. I mean a LOT.
Madam Auring: Unlike in seasons past, the Knights will be the Davids of these league’s Goliaths. While I see Cruz, Racal and Nambatac doing most of the things, I think Letran’s fate will hing on how its frontcourt will perform. So watch Gabawan, Ruaya and Publico. It’s a little comforting though to have players like Fidel Castro and Von Tambeling, the former could steal the democracy out of the opposition and the latter could acrobat his way to success. No pun intended.
San Beda
Last year’s placing and elimination round record: First, 18-0
Coach: Boyet Fernandez
Players: Von Abatayo, Lancelot Abude, Ola Adeogun, Baser Amer, Jeramer Cabanag, Arthur dela Cruz, Ryusei Koga, Jaypee Mendoza, Kyle Pascual, Jayvee Mocon, Roldan Sara, Anthony Semerad, David Semerad, Michole Solera, Ranbill Tongco
Why it would?
Ola Adeogun. The consensus favorite to win the MVP award. The 6-8 Nigerian can score inside, can dominate the board and block, deflect and change your shots. He’s a havoc spelled HAVOC. Amer and dela Cruz have also shown tremendous improvement with their strong pre-season plays. Anthony Semerad, the other half of the twins playing for the Lions, should have a breakout season. They have talented rookies in former national youth mainstay Tongco (assuming he learns from a bad impression he himself created when he was ejected for a flagrant foul in a pre-season game) and Mocon, who has transformed himself from playing an undersized big man for the Cubs to a three-point gun-totting small forward for the Lions. Bench depth will also be a factor.

Image
Why it would not?
Rome dela Rosa may have left some hole being San Beda’s best wing defender with some scoring thrown in. Francis Abarcar, one of the most hated players outside the Mendiola campus, and his rugged play will be missed. Outside shooting remains inconsistent although Pascual kept shooting his medium-ranged jumpers. But that’s just about it.
Madam Auring: The only way to stop the Lions is to play perfect basketball. Meaning, contain Adeogun and cut the source of scoring outside him including Amer. It will also take crisp passing and cohesive play to slay the giants. Make the threes. Attack often. Hard to do right? Or just give up, which is a lot easier to do than the former.
Sportmaryosep prognosis: San Beda, the four-peat feat champion and winner of seven of the last eight championships, is the hands down favorite to go all the way. They’re beatable though. The second to the ninth team will be a dog fight as the No. 2 team has a little edge over the No. 9 squad. Same with Nos. 3 to 8. Guess who is No. 10? Come back to me after three months and you will know.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

Image
(Photos courtesy of Filoil Flying V, Ola Adeogun, piccollage and http://www.pic2fly.com )

NCAA Season 90 Preview Part Three (UPHDS, SSC)

Bayleaf Hotel, Intramuros
June 26, 2014
NCAA Season 90 Preview Part Three
(Third of a series)

I was drinking my boiling hot Sambong tea in this beautiful place inside Manila’s walled city fronting the lovely City Hall when I remembered something that Jeff Tamayo, a Philippine Olympic Committee official who is Perpetual Help’s representative to the NCAA’s Management Committee, said during the Phl Sportswriters Association Forum at the Shakey’s Malate the day before. He was talking about a coaching legend named Aric del Rosario, who will be turning septuagenarian soon. And the man is still at it.

Image
In case you’re hiding in a cave somewhere in Timbktu playing dota, he is the coach who steered the Santo Tomas Tigers to four straight UAAP championships from 1993 to 1996 including a historic sweep in the first one. He added another title to his legend by engineering the Pampanga Dragons to a championship in the first season of now defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association. For some reasons, he retired and sat on his chair in hometown Pampanga sipping his brewed coffee and hot pandesal for years. He found his way back to basketball as league commissioner a few years ago and continued to resist the lure back to coaching. But the undeniable fact remained in coach Aric’s heart and eventually couldn’t resist the urge and returned coaching. At Perpetual Help where his long-time buddy, Perpetual Help team owner Antonio Tamayo awaits with an embracing arms.

Image
And Sportsmaryosep will talk about the godfather of Phl coaching and his Perpetual Altas team in the continuation of our Madam Auring-ing Season 90 of the NCAA. By the way here’s Part One https://sportsmaryosep.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/ncaa-season-90-preview-part-1/ and Part Two https://sportsmaryosep.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/ncaa-season-90-preview-part-two/.  And here it goes.

Perpetual Help
Last year’s placing and record: Fourth, 11-7
Coach: Aric del Rosario
Players: Justine Alano, Harold Arboleda, Juneric Baloria, Nestor Bantayan, Jr., Gabriel Dangangon, Gerald Dizon, Ric Gallardo, Joel Jolangcob, Kervin Lucente, Kevin Oliveria, Keith Pido, Flash Sadiwa, Antonio Tamayo, Earl Scottie Thompson, John Ylagan
Why it would win?
The mention of Aric dela Rosario alone should be enough to send down the oppositions’ spines. In two years since he took over the Altas’ coaching reins, he steered the Las Pinas-based school to two straight Final Four appearances after doing some chores in the league kitchen as one of the NCAA’s whipping boys for some time. On his first season with Perpetual, del Rosario’s team went 10-8 to barge into the Final Four for the first time since it topped the elimination a decade ago before ending up on the losing end of its title duel with former member Phl Christian U. The 10 wins was many as the vicrtories the Altas won in the previous four seasons including a last place finish in in Season 84 and a pair of second-to-the-last effort in Seasons 85 and 86. The Altas were better the next year under del Rosario’s watch with an 11-7 mark. So don’t be surprised if Perpetual betters its performance this year.
Why it would not?
No more Nigerian scoring machine in Nosa Omorogbe. Which means the Altas will need to find ways to plug that huge hole. Which means Juneric Baloria, their other prolific scorer not named Omorogbe, will have more hands on his face. Which means trouble.

Image
Madam Auring: Winning the Fr. Martin Summer Cup in the pre-season against a Santo Tomas team is no joke. For the record, the Altas were one of the only two teams (The other was Jose Rizal) who dealt La Salle its only defeat in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup where it reigned supreme. What’s promising though is that the Altas found a way to survive with a smaller frontcourt last year and an injured Earl Scottie Thompson. Now the athletic Thompson is back after rediscovering the spring that made him one of the exciting players to watch in the NCAA. Count it with “The Godfather,” Baloria and a reliable bench, it could spell a third Final Four stint.

San Sebastian
Last year’s placing, record: Third, 11-7
Coach: Topex Robinson
Players: Eulo Aquino, Earvin Alvarez, Bobby Baculanag, Michael Calisaan, Israel Camasura, Ryan Costelo, Jovit dela Cruz, Jerick Fabian, Bradwyn Guinto, Justine Mercado, Jamil Ortuoste, Jaymar Perez, Spencer Pretta, Jeffrey Santos and Rhanzelle Yong
Why it would win?
Except for do-it-all Fil-Am Leo de Vera, who played his one and only eligible season a year back, the Stags have retained their starting five that led to the team making it to the Final Four–Guinto, Dela Cruz, Ortuoste, Perez. The four were the driving forces of last year’s campaign. And if they kept up the same pace, it would end up with the same outcome.

Image
Why it would not?
Aside from De Vera, San Sebastian has lost its able back up in Raffy Gusi, Mark Trinidad, Ranimark Tano and Giuseppe Vergara for various reasons, leaving the untested eight neophytes to grow up in a hurry and their starters to carry most of the load in what could be another long season.
Madam Auring: The Stags are used to this kind of a situation. Remember last season when they also lost the “Pinatubo Three”–Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang and Ronald Pascual–and yet they were able to pull the rug from almost everyone to make it to the Final Four. It will be the same this year with the remnants already seasoned and battle-scarred. That’s a scary thought.
(The fourth and last part coming soon…)
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

Image
(Photos courtesy of Filoil Flying V, ncaa.org.ph and spin.ph)

Last Home Stand

Intramuros, Manila
June 25, 2014
Last Home Stand

Remember the Smart Ultimate All-Star Weekend three years ago?
The time when Smart boss Manny V. Pangilinan, the man who is also known as MVP, quenched our NBA thirst during in the NBA lockout looming 2011 when he brought inter-stellar figures like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, James Harden and Tyreke Evans in our midst? That was truly one weekend to remember.
Fast forward to present and here goes MVP again.
This year, MVP will be flying in four more superstars when he went to social media just a few hours back. “Happy to announce that PLDT HOME will bring in the biggest basketball charity event ever! Blake, Damien, Truth, Demar in #GilasLastHOMEStand,” he said via his Twitter account @iamMVP where he has about 75,000 followers and should grow after this huge announcement.

Image
Of course, he was referring to Blake as the Clippers’ Blake Griffin or someone who dunked over a car to win the slam dunk title, Damien as the Blazers’ Damien Lillard, who had an unforgettable moment in his team’s stunning win over the Houston Rockets, Truth as the Nets’ Paul Pierce or the anti-LeBron, and DeMar as the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan. And someone whispered to Sportsmaryosep from the inside that there could be more coming. I hope its Tim Duncan.

Image
Whoever, we basketball-worshipping Filipinos are truly blessed as that one weekend three years ago started an NBA deluge to this side of the planet. As what we’ve all witnessed, LeBron James arrived, Rose and Kobe returned, Harden too while bringing in Eric Gordon. The historic NBA Global Games between the Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets also happened. Imagine Paul George, David West, Roy Hibbert, the ear whisperer Lance Stephenson, Dwight Howard, Harden and Jeremy Lin descending upon us. And then most recently, Kevin Love.

Image
And now this Last HOME Stand by these stars on July 22 and 23 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum where they will be pitted against our very own FIBA World Cup-bound Gilas Pilipinas in a pair of charity games. Thank you PLDT HOME.
Thank you MVP.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

Image

(AFP Getty Images, NBA and NBA Philippines)

Parks’ Spark

Shakey’s Malate
June 24, 2014
Parks’ Spark

All of us in this basketball-worshipping nation are dreaming of playing in the NBA. Even a pedestrian, Inter-Barangay-level player like Sportsmaryosep is dreaming the NBA dream. But only one has succeeded thus far. His name is Raymond Townsend. An American who has Filipino blood in him. Hopefully another one can make it that far.
And Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. is probably the closest Filipino in the viscinity of the NBA. Recently, the son of the late former many-time PBA Best Import Bobby, Sr. has been invited to work out with the Lakers. Parks himself made it known in his Twitter account @ray15parks: “Got called back to work out with the Lakers tomorrow (today) 🙂 Thank you Lord! #parasabayan.”
It came four days after Parks worked out with the Lakers, which he also announced in his Instagram account: “Just finished working out with one of the best team in NBA history..dad,i know this is your favorite team and you would have loved to had been there,but this is just the beginning..Thank you Lord for this blessed opportunity #DreamChaser #blessed #LakerNation #NBAGear.” He would have been closer to his chase if hadn’t spurned his chance of suiting up for US NCAA Division I school Georgia Tech instead of playing for the National U Bulldogs in the UAAP where he won back-to-back MVPs.
But like all of us Filipinos, we wish Parks the best of luck. The way we did when we prayed for Japeth Aguilar when he too chased a dream. Japeth though failed but we’re remained proud of his attempt. At least he tried. Now, Japeth is in the PBA with one of our favorite teams, the Brgy. Ginebra Kings. He will also be part of Gilas Pilipinas in chasing history in the FIBA World Cup this August in Spain. Good luck Japeth and Gilas.
For now, let’s just be one with Bobby Ray.
He left home with a dream and should come back a hero. NBA stint or not.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

Image
(Photo courtesy of Bobby Ray Parks, Jr.)

NCAA Season 90 Preview Part Two (AU, LP, EAC)

Jose Rizal U Campus
June 23, 2014
NCAA Season 90 Preview Part Two (AU, Lyceum, EAC)
(Second of a series)

On this busy, rainy Monday, Sportsmaryosep ran into NCAA Management Committee chair Paul Supan of Season 90 host Jose Rizal and told us about his reaction to the first part of our preview (Here it is: https://sportsmaryosep.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/ncaa-season-90-preview-part-1/). He was obviously happy with our preview of the Bombers. Like us, his favorite hero is Jose Rizal. As always, the perky Supan is optimistic while remaining humble of his team’s chances. That’s the spirit.
After previewing Mapua, St. Benilde and Jose Rizal in Part One of our Madam Auring-assisted piece a couple of days ago, we’re back with Part Two. And we’ll start with…

Arellano U

Image
Last year’s placing and record: (7th, 8-10)
Coach: Jerry Codinera
Players: Keith Agovido, Nichole Bangga, Julius Cadavis, Prince Caperal, Isiah Ciriacruz, Allen Enriquez, Donald Gumaru, Levi Hernandez, Dioncee Holts, Jiovani Jalalon, Zachary Nicholls, David Ortega, Christian Palma, John Pinto, Ralph Salcedo
Why it would win?
The Chiefs will parade an almost intact line up, a new coach who is a former PBA superstar, two talented Fil-Ams and a talented returnee who was part of the team’s earlier years in the league. Agovida, Bangga, Cadavis, Caperal, Hernandez, Salcedo, Nicholls and Pinto are all returning this year and should enter this year as seasoned veterans. Codinera, known in his heydays as “The Defense Minister” should be an asset as he vowed to preach the thing he was known for–defense. Fil-Ams Holts and Ortega should contribute significantly in the campaign and their presence should also fill the void left by Fil-Canadians James Forrester and AJ Serjue. Arellano U’s prodigal son after being part of the school’s first two seasons in the NCAA, Ciriacruz, is back after a three year hiatus. All this, if translated into good, solid play on the basketball court, should spell success for the Chiefs. Perhaps Final Four.
Why it would not?
One of the problems of the Chiefs last year is the lack of a legitimate go-to-guy and the lack of offense. They have many weapons this season but most of them are still unproven. Codinera is still untested as a coach. Their bigs headed by the troika of Caperal, Bangga and Cadavis are still softer, smaller and a step too slow for the Adeoguns and Happis of the league. These are all recipes for disaster if at least two of these factors will not be addressed.
Madam Auring: I see Arellano U as a legitimate Final Four candidate. If the Chiefs will believe in the system that Codinera is espousing, it will be easy for them to make the post-season cut. And oh, I have a feeling they will be inspired after the school was recently elevated to regular member status early this year.

Lyceum

Image
Last year’s placing and record: (6th, 8-10)
Coach: Bonnie Tan
Players: Wilson Baltazar, Jebb Bulawan, Seraj Elmejrab, Joseph Gabayni, Shane Ko, Tirso Lesmoras, Rhoel Maconocido, Allyn Malabanan, Essono Mbida, Issah Mbomiko, Christian Paul Pamulaklakin, Paul Soliman, Jeremiah Taladua, Dexter Zamora
Why it would win?
I always like Lyceum’s physicality and rugged-playing and if used wisely without the hot-headedness and dirty plays, should translate to victories. Their guard combo of Ko, Taladua and Zamora are also impressive. The Pirates have also invested on recruiting foreign reinforcements, adding Libyan Elmejrab and Cameroonian Mbida to the fold as primary help to small but fiesty Mbomiko also of Cameroon. Bonnie Tan is also a student of the preachings of defense as the key to everything. I’m excited already seeing the Pirates of the Carribean, I mean Intramuros, play.
Why it would not?
As I’ve said, if Lyceum goes overboard by playing dirty, it will all backfire on their faces. The lack of bench support will also be critical. Mbomiko should also get less minutes with two more imports coming in, which will mean Lyceum will miss some of his hustle and aggressive play when he’s inside the court. It’s also bad news that their team captain, John Azores, was stricken off the list because he didn’t pass eligibility. His big man minutes will be missed greatly.
Madam Auring: I love the way Bonnie Tan coaches. Perhaps he’s the disciple of Alfrancis Chua, who in turn learned from Joe Lipa, or Pongalangala to his close friends and The Nose to his foes. Barring major injuries, I see Lyceum finishing not less than what it played last year and it will not be a surprise at all if it barges into the Final Four.

Emilio Aguinaldo

Image
Last year’s placing and record: fifth, 10-8
Coach: Gerry Esplana
Players: Ariel Aguilar, Jack Arquero, Jozhua General, Noube Happi, Al Rashid Indin, Igee King, Jan Jamon, Christ Mejos, Sidney Onwubere, Faustine Pascual, Mannelle Quilanta, Edsel Saluda, John Santos, Jerald Serrano, John Tayongtong
Why it would it win?
For the record, Sportsmaryosep predicted EAC to make the Final Four last year. And the Generals almost did by coming one win away from gatecrashing into the Final Four. This year, we will stick to our guns. And we will count the ways. One, there is Happi, who is the only one who can guard San Beda’s Nigerian behemoth Ola Adeogun one on one if he is up to it. Second, EAC has an intact roster. I mean intact to the point that 10 of its 15-man lineup are coming back. Third, Esplana has the acumen of a great coach being a point guard himself. Last but not least, like Lyceum, EAC has a defensive mentality that could lead to success.
Why it would not?
The reason why EAC failed to meet expectations was becuase of Happi underperforming. This will be the same reason for the Generals’ potential downfall this year.
Madam Auring: If you have a Happi and this rookie named Joshua General, what could go wrong? Add the two and a letter s and you have Happi Generals. Ain’t it sweet?
(To be continued…)
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

Image
(Photos courtesy of ncaa.org.ph and Filoil Flying V)

Klose Encounter

San Mateo, Rizal
June 22, 2014
Klose Encounter

And you thought I am sleeping after watching Lionel Messi score a stoppage time rocket in lifting Argentina to a 1-0 win over Iran?
No sir.
Thankfully, we’re still awake.
Can’t miss this Germany-Ghana match in Group G or what is now called the “Group of Death” with Portugal and the United States as the other bracket members. Germany, of course, is Sportsmaryosep’s favorite team. So enamored of German football, in fact, that I would have named my son Miroslav Klose or Lukas Podolski. Maybe Oliver Khan. But after a compromise, my wife and I ended up with Iago Sebastian. The latter of which was a prolonged version of Schweinsteiger’s first name, Bastian. And we’re putting that on record.
And boy it was all worth it. After a scoreless first half, both the Germans and the Black Stars went on blitz mode in the second half and ending up with a classic 2-2 draw. The most delightful thing about it was seeing the match-tying goal. It was one by Klose, who scored his first goal of this particular World Cup in Brazil right on his first touch. And then the back flip. The feeling was pure bliss for Sportsmaryosep.

Image
It was Klose’s 15th goal of in the World Cup, putting him alongside Brazil’s Ronaldo (the ravishingly handsome Portugese you’re thinking about) in the all-time list with most goals, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Klose also joined the elite company of the legendary Pele and Uwe Seeler as the only players ever to score at least a goal in four different World Cups. Interestingly, both Klose and Ronaldo scored their 15th goal against Ghana. Also, Klose’s 15 goals is just one fewer than the goals scored by USA in the last four World Cups.
And he is now 36 years old.
So consider Klose the Tim Duncan of the World Cup.
And just like The Big Fundamental and the San Antonio Spurs in the recently concluded NBA Finals, Klose could end up victorious in the end.
I purely hope so.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

Image
(Photos courtesy of FIFA)