Cebu Spanking

Philstar.com
Joey Villar

Cebu City Coliseum
November 15, 2014
Cebu Spanking

The University of Visayas edged UAAP champion National University, 77-74, in an Elite Eight game in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League’s 2014 National Collegiate Championship Saturday done in the Queen City of the South.
A shocker, right?
Wrong.
It is not an upset.
And I will tell you why.
1. Cebu has long arrived. You’re hiding in a cave if you still don’t know that they also have strong basketball programs like the ones we have back in Metro Manila. Remember, Southwestern University also beat La Salle, then the UAAP champion, last year before losing in a best-of-three finale in two games.
2. Long before Henry Sy brought millions into NU’s non-existent sports program and turn it into one of the most well-funded programs in the constellation, the Lancers have been dominating their own backyard by reigning supreme in the CEAFI for years. Aren’t Greg Slaughter and JR Quinahan from UV?
3. You’ve been out of the loop if you don’t know this. Cebu schools have been getting imports too. The same ones like San Beda’s Ola Adeogun, NU’s Alfred Aroga, University of the East’s Charles Mammie, University of Santo Tomas’ Karim Abdul and La Salle’s Ben Mbala. Oops. Did Mbala come from Cebu too?
4. If you’re impressed with Slaughter and Quinahan, wait until you see this behemoth nicknamed “The Kraken.” Junmar Fajardo, after all, is from University of Cebu.
5. Go ask Ramon Fernandez, the greatest player to ever play in the PBA, where he played college ball.
Or you want us to stay steady a little more and wait for a Cebu team to top a national event like this before we can all be convinced?

P. S. I’m not even from Cebu.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
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(Photo courtesy of Filoil Flying V)

Unheralded

Philstar.com
Joey Villar

The Arena, San Juan
November 11, 2014
Unheralded

I’m borrowing this line from Rick Reilly to open up a blog.
Looks aren’t everything.
And I will use the same tack he used in an old story he wrote in the 90s by asking you to close your eyes while I describe the player I’m introducing. Compared with today’s volleyball stars, she doesn’t move fast but she’s all power with a bazooka-like hands and arms. Whenever she unleashed one of her powerful spikes, you should be prepared to dive to the floor and scamper for that poor ball she will hammer.
You’re thinking of Alyssa Valdez, right? Wrong.
This lady seemed to be appreciated only by genuine followers who watched her game after game. She’s shy with everyone but when you get a chance to talk to her, you know that she’s speaking from heart. She’s a classic case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. Soft-spoken and calm demeanored outside the volleyball court, a monster inside it.
You’re thinking of Rachel Ann Daquis, right? Wrong.
She is simply electric. She could carry an offense and a team by herself. One match, she will bury you with her power game. Another, she will use her blocking to suffocate you. If you know what juggernaut meant, she’s the one. She’s also a locker room presence and serves as an adhesive that kept her team together.
You’re thinking of Jovelyn Gonzaga, right? Wrong.
She’s a born winner. She snared a treble by winning the championship with the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, the Shakey’s V-League Season 11-Third Conference MVP and the Finals MVP. And she did the trick twice after she accomplished the same feat five seasons ago when she led her school to the title and bagged Conference and Finals MVP plums on the same breath five seasons back.
You’re thinking of Abby Marano, right? Wrong.
Now open your eyes and take a look at her. She’s Aiza Maizo-Pontillas. You’re shocked right? She’s not the super model or Ms. Universe you expect. She carries herself simply. She doesn’t talk that much. Smiles sheepishly. She’s a little chubby. Shame on you all if you’re obsessed with what’s on the outside of a person, not the inside. Take a little look and talk to her and you will see a beautiful lady. She’s honest to the bones. She’s geniune. And we’re not even talking about her game? If there’s a basketball player to compare her with, Dwight Howard was the first one to come to mind. And she’s a mother who misses her two-year-old boy Aaron James. That is love, ladies and gentlemen.
And that is more than enough for me.
If only AJ could watch her mom play, I’m sure she’ll be proud.
I’m just a fan of her.
And, pardon my French, I’m freaking darn proud of her.
To the bones.

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maizo

(Photos courtesy of Shakey’s V-League)

Return of the King

SM Aura

November 6, 2014
Return of the King

Let me first get this out of the way before I write this piece. Starting now, I have decided to write one blog that I will dedicate to Philstar.com, one of the STAR Group of Companies I work for, and Sportsmaryosep, my blog, with hopes of saving time that has become precious when fatherhood embraced every fibre of my soul. After all, a husband and a father is a full-time job.
So there.
And since this is my first synchronized blog, I will dedicate this to the one man that woke up my sports consciousness. Robert “Sonny” Jaworski, Sr. The Living Legend. One of the greatest, if not the greatest, Filipino to ever play the game. The same person who invented the phrase “never-say-die.” The ONE and ONLY reason why Ginebra is the MOST popular team in this basketball-crazy nation.
You see, we all saw Jaworski Wednesday night at the MOA Arena where Allen Iverson held his charity event. Big J meets The Answer. It’s like Godzilla meeting King Kong. The giants of the game we all love. It was also there that Jawo was asked by enterprising media men, including hardworking colleague Alder Almo, the question on the possibility of him of accepting the Gilas Pilipinas coaching job if called upon. And, despite the coaching rust spanning about two decades, Jaworski giggled at the thought.
“Why not,” he says.

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Why not indeed.
Let us count the ways.
Jaworski as a player is unquestionable. One-time PBA MVP (1978). Six-time PBA Mythical First Team. Two-time PBA Mythical Second Team. Two-time PBA All-Defensive Team. Four-time PBA All-Star. One of the PBA 25 Greatest Players of All Time. PBA Hall of Fame Class of 2005. UAAP Most Valuable Player. The only PBA’s whose number is retired. That is why you don’t see any Ginebra player wearing that holy No. 7. Part of the Phl team that won the gold in the 1967 Seoul and 1973 Manila FIBA-Asia Championship and the silver and the bronze in the 1971 Tokyo and 1969 Bangkok tilts. Heck, he played when he was 50 years old.
Coaching?
He has won championships inluding Brgy. Ginebra teams that didn’t look like it will win one (Remember the Romulo Mamaril, Rey Cuenco, Dante Gonzalgo, Chito Loyzaga days?). And as a playing coach? Who could do that?
Are we talking of charisma yet?
Next to Jesus Christ, Jaworski is a god.
Imagine my family.
It’s a sacrilege if, one, you’re not around during rosary time in every Ginebra game, and two, if you’re NOT in the game watching Ginebra. A Ginebra win means one gallon of Magnolia Ice Cream. A loss, on the other hand, felt like there’s a funeral in the house. Deafening silence.
That’s what Jaworski is to us.
Now try to imagine if he coaches Gilas.
Imagine the hysteria, the support only Jaworski can summon. The whole nation, all 108 million of us.
But then again, we leave it to the hands of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, which recently created a search and screening committee to find the person to fill in the vacant Gilas coaching job. They can give it to Tim Cone, a multiple Grand Slam winning coach. Or Tab Baldwin, a former coach of the Jordan national team and consultant to Gilas in the FIBA World Cup in Spain and Incheon Asian Games. Or to Filipino coaches who are equally capable.
Then again, we need a Jaworski. To rally everyone back to Gilas, which had a free-fall of a campaign in Incheon.
JA-WORS-KI! JA-WORS-KI! JA-WORS-KI! JA-WORS-KI! JA-WORS-KI! JA-WORS-KI! JA-WORS-KI!
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
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jawo
(Photos courtesy of Spin)