Tuesday, June 5, 2012

FilOil: DLSU's option play leads to Jeron Teng's game-tying triple

The situation: June 2, the final day of the elimination round of the 2012 FilOil Flying V Pre-season Tournament. DLSU is trailing ADMU by 3, 53-50, with 18.8 seconds to go.

DLSU has Almond Vosotros (17) inbounding the ball, with Norbert Torres (6), Yutien Andrada (20), Jeron Teng (24) and LA Revilla (12).

ADMU counters with Oping Sumalinog (17), JP Erram (10), Nico Salva (8), Kiefer Ravena (15) and Juami Tiongson (5).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

FilOil Mythical 5 (20 games in)

Yes it's early, so early that San Sebastian hasn't even played a single game yet, but after hitting the 20 game mark yesterday, it's time for a look around the summer league to see who's been tearing it up.

Center: Greg Slaughter of ADMU - 27.3 minutes, 18.5 points (55% FG, 58% FT), 12.3 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 2.3 blocks, 2.5 turnovers

You can also make the case for Ola Adeogun, who is playing less minutes (23.8 points), thus averaging less points (14.0, on 60% FG, 67% FT), but still has more boards (12.8) and assists (1.3), and I bet some San Beda fans are rolling their eyes at the supposed homer-ism right now.

All that said, I don't like the fact that Adeogun turns the ball over more (3.3), and you have to consider the fact that right now, everyone save for Slaughter on Ateneo is playing poorly. Salva's been inconsistent, Ravena's shot is missing, the point guards aren't scoring, etcetera, etcetera. He's responded to the situation by putting the Eagles on his back, and that makes him more mythical in my eyes.

Power Forward: Jam Cortes of CSJL - 30.7 minutes, 14.0 points (47% FG, 86% FT), 10.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 blocks, 2.0 turnovers

True he's been playing quite a bit of center with Raymond Almazan injured, but Cortes is a power forward at heart, so I'm slotting him in there. Cortes is another guy carrying his squad, with the aforementioned Almazan out, and with Kevin Alas still regaining his bearings, it's been all Jam for Letran, and he's picking up on the consistent production he was churning out before he got an ejection in the second round of last season's NCAA tourney. He wasn't quite the same player after that, but he seems to have rediscovered his spark in the FilOil.

Also considered: Eric Camson

Small Forward: Bobby Ray Parks of NU  - 26.3 minutes, 20.7 points (33% 3PT, 54% FG, 76% FT), 6.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks, 1.7 turnovers

The LeBron James of local collegiate basketball, Parks has been the prime beneficiary of NU's shift to an up-tempo, turnover generating beast of a team, allowing him to get into the open court more, where he excels (aside: I can't believe it took them a full year to realize that NU should be running on every play).

Also considered: No one!

Shooting Guard: Mark De Guzman of NU - 25.0 minutes, 12.3 points, (53% 3PT, 45% FG), 2.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.3 turnovers

The most difficult position to fill so far. I considered RR Garcia (more point guard than shooting guard), AJ Serjue (only played two games, one was great, the other was crap), Julius Armon (28% FG shooting???) and Carlo Lastimosa (only played one game against a weak opponent), but ultimately I went off the grid here and picked another NU Bulldog, Mark De Guzman.

Why Mark De Guzman? The former CSB Blazer has, in three games, converted 9-of-17 three pointers (53%), giving Bobby Ray Parks what he sorely lacked last season: a consistent outside threat to throw it back to after he drives into the heart of the defense. If NU goes places this season, it'll be largely because of the addition of De Guzman, preventing guys from doubling Parks and Emmanuel Mbe.

Point Guard: Roi Sumang of UE - 31.5 minutes, 16.5 points (45% FG, 42% FT), 5.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 3.0 steals, 1.5 blocks, 3.0 turnovers

Sumang looked like a shell of his former self last UAAP season, due to a knee injury that he spent a lot of last year recovering from, but he's rediscovered his edge, churning out a pretty amazing statline, and standing out on a nondescript UE Red Warriors squad.

Sure he has some flaws, he's only played two games, he hasn't made a triple, and his free throw percentage is subpar for a point guard, but his league-leading assists number says a lot, and would be higher if his teammates could convert more shots. Toss in three steals and a block and a half per game, and Roi's the man.

Also considered: RR Garcia

Saturday, April 21, 2012

FilOil 2012 - Why Has Ateneo Looked Off?

After steamrolling through much of the UAAP tournament last year, Ateneo has yet to find their groove in the FilOil tournament. A combination of new personnel, the loss of Emman Monfort and Kirk Long (the two guys mostly responsible for setting up the table for their teammates), and minutes being spread throughout the line-up has seen the Eagles' numbers plummet. As a result, they've been having a hard time putting away sub-par competition (they beat a Kevin Alas-less Letran squad and a Perpetual Help Altas team by a combined six points).

UAAP S74 ADMU Averages FilOil 2012
72.29 Points 58.50
21.67% (2.59 / 11.94) Three-point percentage 18.75% (3.00 / 16.00)
46.48% (22.94 / 49.35) Two-point percentage 39.13% (18.00 / 46.00)
41.65% (25.53 / 61.29) Field goal percentage 33.87% (21.00 / 62.00)
72.54% (18.65 / 25.71) Free throw percentage 60.00% (13.50 / 22.50)
43.00 Rebounds 53.50
17.53 Assists 16.00
15.65 Turnovers 19.00
14.53 Fast break points 10.50
16.76 Bench scoring 20.00

One Blue Eagles whose shot has been particularly off in the early-goings of this tournament is Kiefer Ravena. While he's made some crucial scores (in particular, a triple right after Letran had tied things up in the fourth quarter), he's been unable to hit the mid-range jumper so far. That said, he's been compensating in other aspects, which is what you'd want from your star when his attempts aren't falling.

UAAP S74 Ravena Averages FilOil 2012
27.60 Minutes 26.50
13.60 Points 11.50
52.29% Two-point percentage 29.41%
44.85% Field goal percentage 26.92%
4.20 Rebounds 5.50
3.00 Assists 4.00
1.50 Steals 2.00
1.70 Turnovers 0.50

Can the Eagles bounce back and post an impressive win against the NCAA champions, the San Beda Red Lions? We'll find out later at 5:15pm at the Arena in San Juan.

EDIT: Ravena's averages versus San Beda (two games in last year's Fil-Oil, one game in the PCCL) are pretty amazing. In 28.33 minutes, he norms 18.33 points on 61.11 percent shooting, four rebounds, 3.33 assists and 0.67 steals to just 1.67 turnovers. If he's going to snap out of his funk, San Beda's a good a time as any.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

FilOil 2012 - April 18 box scores

The box scores for AdU vs LPU, JRU vs EAC and SBC vs UST, under the cut

Updated to include ADMU vs UPHSD

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

FilOil Random Thoughts - Gameday April 18, 2012

In addition to this blog post, I also wrote the primer for GMA News Online. Give it a read why don't you? And then come back here.

LPU Pirates vs ADU Soaring Falcons
  • Lyceum lost all seven of their games in last season's Fil-Oil, but rebounded nicely in the actual NCAA as a guest team. It will be interesting to see if head coach Bonnie Tan will be out to win or if he's going to be more focused on testing line-ups and working in their new players.
  • Speaking of new players, Lyceum has two new centers, Daniel Garcia and Joseph Ambohot. Both though are ridiculously raw, based on what I saw of them in the Fr. Martin Cup. That said, it's unlikely Lyceum will be using them to score, and would rather they focus on rebounding. With Austin Manyara (6.0 rebs in 20.7 mins) and Eric Camson (7.6 rebs in 23.1 mins) standing across the court though, they may be in for a rough day.
  • Adamson's point guard position has to worry fans of the Soaring Falcons, as they are going from Jerick Canada and Lester Alvarez to...Ryan Monteclaro. The team is also hoping that Jericho Cruz, who is more of a wingman, can be converted to play the position. 

UPHSD Altas vs ADMU Blue Eagles
  • This should be the debut of new head coach Aric del Rosario for the Altas. It'll be interesting to see if he has done anything drastic to their playing style. 
  • The Altas should have some added size in foreign center Femi Babayemi and former Junior Alta Eugene Canuza. Would those two be enough to stop the giants on Ateneo, especially Greg Slaughter? 
  • I wasn't a big fan of the starting five Ateneo put out versus Letran - Slaughter, Golla, Sumalinog, Ravena, Tiongson. The offense took a while to get going, and it seems like Sumalinog still has not rediscovered his shot. Salva presumably was nursing a minor injury, logging just nine minutes, which is why he didn't start. 
  • One thing Letran did that I presume the Altas will try, is to put a big guy with range on Slaughter, and then run plays on offense to free him up on the perimeter, daring Slaughter to chase him out to the arc. The Knights tried that with Junjun Alas, but he was unable to make Ateneo pay for leaving him open, missing all three of his triples. 
  • I thought it was clever of acting head coach Sandy A. to pair Buenafe up in the second unit with JP Erram and Tonino Gonzaga. Though the former Finals MVP has lost a lot of weight, he's still not quite in peak condition, but that's negated by Erram and Gonzaga, who are two athletic help defenders who can compensate for Buenafe losing his man.

 JRU Heavy Bombers vs EAC Generals
  • JRU relies on generating turnovers for turnover points for a large chunk of their offense. They got the tables turned on them in their debut against NU, as the Bulldogs forced 23 errors and scored 23 points off them. Meanwhile, the Bombers managed to force 16 turnovers, but could only score four points ,as the superior athleticism and speed of the Bulldogs allowed them to catch up and flash some impressive transition defense. 
  • While everyone on JRU had a bad outing, of note is the poor performance of John Villarias. The sophomore put up some nice numbers in his rookie year (10.7 points, 4.5 rebs, 2.6 asts, 1.2 stls) but he was a miserable 1-for-8 from the field for just two points in his 19 minutes of play. 
  • The EAC Generals might be even more of a perimeter-oriented team than last season, after losing their best post player, Claude Cubo (11.7 points, 7.3 rebounds), to graduation. Their remaining prospects at center don't exactly inspire confidence though. Rafael Sanchez (11.4 mins, 1.5 points, 2.4 rebs in NCAA S87) is the veteran, and they have two rookies in Jeff Mallari and Dominador Pillas, but their best bet might be foreign center Happi Noube, who had averages of 8.0 points and 7.7 rebounds in last year's FilOil tourney. 
  • While rosters are still in flux, it's worth noting that EAC did not list two of their main contributors from last season's campaign, Milan Vargas (8.5 points, 4.2 rebs) and Fil-Am Joshua Torralba (10.4 points, 3.6 rebs). Even without them though, they still have the likes of Jan Jamon (13.7 points, led the team in scoring in the NCAA), Remy Morada (5.1 points) and Franz Chiong (4.5 points), shooters will who will benefit from more touches.

SBC Red Lions vs UST Growling Tigers 
  • After conceding a 0-6 start to DLSU in their season opener, San Beda bounced right back scoring the first quarter's last 13 points, on route to a big lead, 49-34, headed into the final quarter. But they eased up on the gas a bit too early, allowing the Archers to claw back in the dying minutes, slicing the deficit to four, 67-63 with 16 seconds remaining. 
  • The team's surprise package was undersized scorer Ryusei Koga, who poured in eight points in 10 minutes on 4-of-7 shooting. He also chipped in three boards and two assists in limited minutes and so it'd be interesting to see if he can pull off similar production again. 
  • The Red Lions struggled on the perimeter, making just 4-of-11 from beyond the arc. Take away Anjo Caram's two late triples, and the rest of the team was a mere 2-of-9, with Julius Armon posting a 1-for-5 clip.
  • The Tigers return a mostly intact line-up, but their one loss is a big one, power forward Chris Camus (7.27 points, 7.67 rebs, 1.47 asts, 1.13 stls, 1.53 blks), who was their best defender last season. Guys like Melo Afuang and Karim Abdul will have to do a better job on the boards to compensate for his absence. 
  • The return of Clark Bautista and Aljon Mariano will definitely help a bench unit that averaged just 19.27 points last UAAP season. If Louie Vigil and Kim Lo continue to make strides as well, then UST will be a tougher team to tangle with.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

FilOil Random Thoughts - Gameday April 14, 2012

  • Ateneo lost three of their four best perimeter defenders to graduation, Kirk Long, Emman Monfort and Bacon Austria. Their ability to stop trigger-happy guards immediately gets tested as they go up against the likes of Mark Cruz, Kevin Alas, and Kevin Racal. Can Juami Tiongson, Kiefer Ravena, Tonino Gonzaga, and new Eagles Kiefer Lim and Nico Elorde pick up the slack?
  • That said, Kevin Alas is still questionable for today's game. 

    • The Greg Slaughter (13.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks) - Raymond Almazan (7.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.6 blocks) match-up could decide the game. If Slaughter gets into attack mode early and gets Almazan into foul trouble, that opens up the interior for Ateneo's slashers. 
    • Another intriguing match-up will be Nico Salva (13.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 47.15% FG shooting) against Jam Cortes (12.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 49.48% FG shoting). Salva will drag Cortes to the perimeter, where he's got the advantage, but on the flipside, Cortes can punish Salva by backing him into the post. 
    • Ateneo has a hard time with physical defenses, as seen in their struggles against San Sebastian in the PCCL. Letran plays a similar kind of defense, though they do not have an all-around Calvin Abueva type who can stop multiple positions. Time to see if the Eagles have learned from that thrashing. 

    SBC vs DLSU
    • Player most likely to excel under new head coach Ronnie Magsanoc: Baser Amer (18.5 minutes, 7.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.9 steals). Amer had a hard time adjusting to then-head coach Frankie Lim's system, which saw him constantly checking over his shoulder to see what play he needed to run on that specific possession. If Magsanoc is more willing to let Amer get creative and run wild, he could put up near his high school numbers average of 11.7 assists
    • Player most likely to excel under new head coach Gee Abanilla: Joshua Webb (9.6 minutes, 3.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists). Last season saw Webb post his worst numbers since his rookie year, as then-head coach Dindo Pumaren buried him on the bench. We saw glimpses of this already in the PCCL, when the Archers turned Webb loose, allowing him to post several double-digit scoring games  (13.75 points through 4 games. When they got knocked out versus Letran, he tellingly only tallied 6 markers). Webb in transition and coming off the weak side is tons better than the catch-and-shoot Webb we saw in Season 74
    • The last time these two teams played, San Beda needed a game-winner by Garvo Lanete to come out on top, 70-68.
    • No Arnold Van Opstal for La Salle, as he's still nursing an injury. That leaves Norbert Torres, Papot Paredes, Yutien Andrada, Jovet Mendoza and Ponso Gotladera to go up against Ola Adeogun. 

    • Intriguing rookie match-up: Julius Armon versus Jeron Teng. Of course, Armon has several years on Teng, plus experience playing in the Fr. Martin Cup, while Teng is fresh from high school, though to his credit, he has played in international competition. Still, Armon is much more of a polished product at this point than Teng that this could get out of hand should they face off one-on-one. 

    NU vs JRU
    • The last time these two teams played, it was in the PCCL and a Bobby Ray Parks-less NU team fell 66-62 to a complete JRU squad.
    • NU's biggest weakness, an average of 19.14 turnovers per game, happens to be JRU's strength, 21.58 turnovers forced for 18.37 turnover points. If the Heavy Bombers defense can disrupt the undersized NU point guards, Cedrick Labing-isa, Robin Rono, Gelo Alolino, and rookie JJ Alejandro, this could be a long game for the Bulldogs
    • Intriguing match-up: John Villarias (10.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 steals) versus Bobby Ray Parks (20.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals).

    Friday, April 13, 2012

    FilOil 2012 Rosters

    These are the rosters as of April 13, 2012. Yet to submit are FEU, JRU and NU. These are courtesy of Inboundpass.com

    FilOil Preseason Tournament Rosters

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    10 Must-Watch FilOil Games

    Arranged in chronological order, here are my picks for 10 must-watch Fil-Oil games, featuring rivalries, storylines, player match-ups, and of course, Ateneo versus La Salle-ness.

    1. April 14 - 4pm - Group A: SBC Red Lions vs DLSU Green Archers
    Of all the opening day games, this is the most intriguing because these two marquee teams underwent a ton of offseason changes. Both will have new coaches, Ronnie Magsanoc for San Beda, and Gee Abanilla for DLSU, and both will parade some fresh new line-ups, most notably two guys with huge star potential, Julius Armon and Jeron Teng, respectively. When they played each other last year, it was a close affair, with San Beda banking on superior end-game execution late to edge La Salle 70-68. Will that be the case this year? We'll find out soon enough.

    2. April 21 - 3:30pm - Group A: SBC Red Lions vs ADMU Blue Eagles
    When these two teams met last season, it was Kiefer Ravena's grand debut, then the second time, it was the Eagles' coronation night, as they won their first FilOil title. Toss in the fact that once again, these two squads are the defending champions of their respective leagues, and the whole Semerads defection/hijacking (depending on which side you're from) issue, and this is a must-watch game.

    3. April 27 - 1:45pm - Group B: SSCR Golden Stags vs NU Bulldogs
    Ask Bobby Ray Parks what aspect of the game he was most unready for in the UAAP and he'll tell you it was the physicality that he was least prepared for. Again, this was in the UAAP. Now he'll be up against probably one of the most physical teams ever, the reigning PCCL champs. And while the Stags don't have nearly the deep line-up that NU will be parading, they will have Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang, two guys who could probably go toe-to-toe against Parks and Emmanuel Mbe, and even come out on top.

    4. April 28 - 1:45pm - Group B: ADU Falcons vs FEU Tamaraws
    Two teams that always bring it that will come out with revamped rosters. We'll find out how Adamson will look like minus the dynamic point guard duo of Jerick Canada and Lester Alvarez, while on the flip side, we'll also get a glimpse of how FEU defends without Aldrech Ramos patrolling the paint. And more importantly, whether or not these two squads are still Final Four contenders.

    5. May 4 - 3:30pm - Group B: FEU Tamaraws vs SSCR Golden Stags
    A battle between the two bridesmaids in their respective leagues last season, it will also be a contrast in styles, as FEU will try to catch fire from long-range via RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo, while the Stags aim to dominate the shaded area with Abueva and Sangalang. Most intriguing side story? The Bringas brothers playing against Baste, as Arvie (the younger) was a high school standout there, while Mark (the elder) had a cup of tea with the Stags in NCAA Season 84 before transferring to FEU.

    6. May 5 - 3:30pm - Group A: DLSU Green Archers vs UST Growling Tigers
    It'll be brother versus brother when Jeron Teng faces off against Jeric Teng, with the two likely guarding each other in the process. Also, an underrated plot line: two Petron Blaze Bosters assistants going up against each other in Abanilla versus Pido Jarencio.

    7. May 16 - 1:45pm - Group B: EAC Generals vs AU Chiefs
    With the NCAA looking to impose a ban on foreigners a few seasons down the road, Fil-foreigners might become the thing, and these two squads have a headstart on it, with EAC tapping Joshua Torralba and Igee King last season, and AU revamping its roster to feature AJ Serjue and James Forrester. If the rest of their respective squads click, either could wind up as a dark horse in their mother league. This game could be a good gauge of that aforementioned "clicking."

    8. May 23 - 1:45pm - Group B: FEU Tamaraws vs AU Chiefs
    Oh look, an old friend for Far Eastern. Former championship-winning FEU coach Koy Banal will play across the Tamaraws this time, backed up by his new squad, the Arellano University Chiefs. Not only is AU's coach new, their squad looks a lot different, what with Gerald Lapuz and Andrian Celada out, and some Fil-for blood injected. Bert Flores going up against his old mentor will definitely be worth watching, along with a RR Garcia-Vergel Zulueta scorers' duel.

    9. June 2 - 11:30am - Group A: SBC Red Lions vs CSJL Knights
    A likely NCAA Finals preview, San Beda has added motivation coming into this game, as Letran is the school that was the biggest advocate of eliminating foreign players. Meanwhile the host school Letran will be looking to kick off their hosting stint with a bang by declawing the defending champs. Warning: this game WILL get physical.

    10. June 2 - 4pm - Group A: ADMU Blue Eagles vs DLSU Green Archers
    On one hand, La Salle is 4-0 against Ateneo in the FilOil. On the other hand, in those four years, Ateneo has always wound up raising the UAAP trophy a few months later. Trend, omen, or coincidence? Whatever it is, this is definitely a must-watch game. As if I needed to tell you that!

    2012 FilOil Schedule

    This is the schedule for the 2012 FilOil Flying V Hanes Preseason Cup, as of April 4. As is usually the case, expect certain playdates to change because of things like, the date of teams' overseas training changing, PBA-DL conflicts, Fr. Martin Cup conflicts, etc. etc.

    All 18 UAAP and NCAA teams will be participating this year, as opposed to last season when Perpetual Help went into hiding. Teams can field foreign students, but only one per team on the court, and the big twist is that everyone in the line-up has to be eligible for their upcoming home league season. Can't field all your just-about-to-start residency players this time.

    FilOil Schedule - April 4, 2012

    Saturday, February 18, 2012

    Coaching Search: Replacing Norman Black

    With Ateneo announcing Black's departure after Season 75, Blue Eagles fans have already whipped themselves into a frenzy over who his replacement should be. Black leaves a large pair of shoes to fill, especially if he exits with a fifth straight title in hand, so there's absolutely no pressure on the next guy (that's sarcasm, by the way). Who's available and how likely is that person going to be the choice? Here's a semi-serious look at a list of candidates, with some gambling odds thrown in.

     Olsen Racela: 2-1
    After retirement, Racela was installed as the head coach of the RP Under-16 team which bagged fourth place in Vietnam last October, losing only two out of their eight games. You can argue if there's more pressure coaching a national squad or coaching Ateneo, but the point guard considered by many to be the best in the business back in the day would carry a lot of good will into the job, and perhaps more importantly, will be able to steer some of his U-16 charges towards the blue and white.

    Sandy Arepacochaga: 3-1
    Jamike Jarin: 5-1
    If you're looking for continuity in the basketball program, the best thing to do would be to elevate one of these two Norman Black assistants to the big chair when he leaves. Arespacochaga can't be blamed for a third place finish in his one stint as head coach as that was the season Larry Fonacier went down with an ACL injury. Surely he deserves a second chance? Alternately, you could go with Jarin, who steered the Blue Eaglets to multiple titles, even before a kid named Kiefer Ravena became part of the squad. That said, Jarin could be eyed to take the San Beda head coach position should Frankie Lim incur an extended suspension, though things could change in the light of Norman's exit.

    Leo Austria: 25-1
    I put Austria on this list despite having no clue how many years he still has on his contract with Adamson, but here are a few things I do know: Austria is possibly the most brilliant tactical mind in the UAAP next to Black, and has done great things with an Adamson team that doesn't have near the resources of an Ateneo. More importantly, he seems like the type of person Black would wholeheartedly endorse after the two coached a mix of Falcons and Eagles in Hong Kong two years ago. Plus, his other son Ged Austria, is presumably enrolling in Katipunan this upcoming school year so who knows?

    Ricky Dandan: 40-1
    Despite currently employed as the head coach of the UP Fighting Maroons, Dandan has quite some links to the other university on Katipunan. He used to be an assistant for Joe Lipa when Lipa was head coach, and then became the director of Ateneo's basketball program up until he left for UP. Perhaps he gets lured back to his old stomping grounds, this time as the head coach?

    Yuri Escueta: 75-1
    The current head coach of Ateneo's Team B could in theory move up to Team A, and Escueta was coached by Black in the past, so he could conceivably implement Black's system. However, let's not forget that Escueta has just a year under his belt at this very moment of coaching said Team B. Perhaps if Black was leaving in five years, not one.

    Chris Tiu: 100-1
    Well, Tiu doesn't seem interested at all in the PBA, and he was quite the disciple of Black, so maybe he makes the leap to coaching? He could probably help channel talent from Xavier School to Ateneo, and younger brother Charles could even be an assistant, splitting time with his duties on the Powerade staff.

     Chot Reyes: 150-1
    Maybe we've got this MVP coaching carousel all mixed up and Reyes becomes the odd man out in the big leagues, sending him back to the collegiate game. While part of him might relish the idea of piloting his alma mater, it seems like he's destined for bigger things like the National Team, so this one feels like a bit of a reach.

    Jong Uichico: 200-1
    Uichico used to be part of Black's coaching staff in Magnolia, and is currently not doing anything besides consulting for Meralco. Plus, his son was a Blue Eagle (albeit, a benchwarmer) for a season or two under Black. Maybe he takes the job to stick it to La Salle for not getting him when Dindo Pumaren resigned? He has said though that he refuses to coach Ateneo, but maybe MVP can convince him otherwise? 

    Rajko Toroman: 400-1
    Hey, Toroman only has a two-year consultancy contract with SMC. Maybe he gets bored just sitting around consulting and wakes up one morning to find out that MVP is dangling him an offer that doubles his salary to coach Ateneo, with someone like Arespacochaga filling in the 2013 season as interim head coach. Maybe we'll see an influx of Serbian-Filipino big men don the blue and white if that happens?

    Frankie Lim: 500-1
    Let's say the NCAA ManCom suspends him for a year and San Beda decides for continuity purposes to get a new head coach. Well, what nice timing because Norman Black leaves after a year! Lim can certainly keep the Blue Eagles' talent pipeline brimming, and he's a proven winner at the collegiate level. Sure Red Lions fans will be calling foul, but the look on the Semerads' faces is going to be priceless as they try to transfer once again.

    Erik Spoelstra: 1,000,000-1
    Imagine this: the Heat get the number one seed in the East, and face off against the New York Knicks in round one of the playoffs. Linsanity breaks out and the Heat get ousted in five games. Pat Riley makes the hard decision to let Spoelstra go and takes over the team, leaving Spoelstra out in the cold. Doesn't MVP call him up immediately and ask him to fly over to Manila? Plus, the kicker: Spoelstra's high school was a Jesuit high school, and Ateneo is run by Jesuits, great fit!

    Other Random Names: Kirk Long (has said in an interview that he wants to coach, but he probably didn't mean this quickly after graduating college), Joe Lipa (age might be a factor), Ronnie Magsanoc (MVP guy, but seems more likely to be an option for San Beda), Lawrence Chongson (purely for the lolz), Larry Brown (has said he will coach anything, even a high school team, but Ateneo might be a stretch)

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Coach Speak - Norman Black II

    This interview was supposed to run in the latest issue of Rebound magazine, but got cut due to lack of space. 

    A few hours before Game 1 of the S74 UAAP Finals, I was lucky enough to get to chat with Ateneo head Coach Norman Black. Our conversation lasted about thirty minutes, much more than the five minutes I asked for, but questions beget more questions and Coach Norman is always very gracious. This isn't the entire transcript as I left out some more FEU-specific queries and some SINAG stuff as well.


    AD: What aspect of coaching is your favorite? The way you and your staff make adjustments at halftime, it seems to me that you excel at the “chess match” aspect of the game.

    NB: I think more than the chess aspect, it’s just being prepared, planning to anticipate. First of all, scouting them [the other teams] and finding out what they’re trying to do and what they’re trying to accomplish, and what plays they’re running offensively and defensively, and making sure your players are prepared for that. Outside of that, there’s also the anticipation of what they might to, what they might come up with.

    AD: That came up when you played FEU in the second round right, when you realized that they had gone back to the triangle offense used last season under Glenn Capacio right?

    NB: We watched the first game and they used a little bit of the triangle in the first game, but they really used it extensively in the second game. That surprised us a bit, but they’ve been using the triangle since that game pretty consistently, so the only thing for them to do is go back to their old plays again, their flex offense, or come up with new plays.

    AD: Coming into the Ateneo job, did you expect to love coaching collegiate ball so much?

    NB: I enjoy coaching, period. I could be coaching in grade school and I’d be very, very happy. I could be back in the pros and I’d be very, very happy. I just enjoy coaching. I enjoy mostly taking players, recruiting them, molding them and watching them grow and get better, and as they get better, the team gets better. If you have a team and you don’t improve over the course of the conference, the year, and in the case of some of these guys, over the course of five years, then that’s a bit of a disappointment. Maybe you didn’t get the best out of them and they underachieved. To see them continually get better and improve their game, that’s what coaching is all about because coaching is basically just teaching.

    AD: So you could see yourself doing this forever?

    NB: Yeah, I’m a coach for life.

    AD: Could you see yourself being coach for life at Ateneo?

    NB: I have no idea. You know what they say about coaching, you’re hired to be fired. I know I’ll be coaching. Hopefully it’ll be in Ateneo, but if not, I’ll be coaching somewhere.

    AD: Could you talk about your graduating veterans a bit?

    NB: They’ve been leading the team very well. Everyone understands that since it’s their last year, their last two games, so a lot of our motivation is those three guys.

    AD: Is it difficult to see veterans graduate?

    NB: You remember when you recruited them, and how time flies. Last year, I couldn’t believe that Eric Salamat was graduating, because it seems like I just recruited him from San Sebastian, [and] all of a sudden, he’s graduating. Same thing with Kirk Long, Bacon Austria and Emman Monfort. You hate to see them go, but you know there are other guys that you’ve also recruited.

    You know, the difference between the system of Ateneo and the system of other teams is most of the players that come to Ateneo know they may not become a star immediately. That’s why some of them don’t come to Ateneo. They know they may not become a star immediately. We normally have to recruit guys who are good players, but are willing to wait one, two years for the seniors and the juniors to graduate before their star can start to shine. The disadvantage is they don’t become Rookie of the Year or star players immediately. The advantage is they are on a winning team. They learn a winning tradition and what it takes to become a winner, and how hard you have to work to make it happen. By the time it’s their turn, in their second, third, fourth year, they’re ready to play.

    Everyone keeps asking me how come your players don’t play as much as say, some other star players of other teams. Obviously, with winning 13 out of the 14 games, if I was letting my starters play 35 minutes a game, we’d probably have everyone on the Mythical Five team. But we’re all about winning and luckily for me, I’ve been able to convince my players of that, to put winning as a team ahead of individual accomplishments.

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Rebound 2011-12 Championship issue

    The latest issue of Rebound magazine is in stores now! It's got some really great articles in there, including of course, features on the two championship teams, and some of the Final Four contenders. Some standouts include Chris Soler getting to interview new DLSU head coach Gee Abanilla, and Sid Ventura following the Sinag squad in Jakarta.

    On my part, I got to pen the Ateneo four-peat article, which was a huge honor. And as you can expect, it's a pretty damn long article, so I hope y'all enjoy that.

    Another fun thing that we did was we drafted fantasy-NBA style all the players in the UAAP and NCAA and formed teams. Then we got San Beda assistant Jude Roque and Ateneo assistant Sandy Arespacochaga to critique our squads.

    All that and tons more for just P140 so get out there and snap that baby up!

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    The Jeron Teng mailbag

    Going off some received tweets about the news that Jeron Teng will commit to DLSU...

    Here's what we know about Jeron Teng: he scores most of his points as a slasher, but he's going to score at a lower percentage because of the speed and height of his UAAP defenders. His rebounding is questionable, because of the lack of height in the Tiong Lian (6'3" centers ahoy!) and because he'll be a collegiate shooting guard instead of a high school forward. As the primary scoring option in Xavier School, he doesn't pass a whole lot, but let's assume he will with DLSU as he can't overpower double teams anymore. Xavier plays an up-tempo style with a big focus on the transition game so maybe he manages a steal every now and then, though he himself with turn the ball over a lot as he gets used to the faster pace of the college game and the general increase in athleticism. I'm also projecting him to play around 20 minutes per game because DLSU would want to showcase their blue chip recruit. That makes me think he'll resemble something like the following two players. See if you can guess who they are.

    Player 1: 20 minutes, 9.73 points on 34.58 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.8 turnovers.

    Player 2: 20.43 minutes, 9.43 points on 36.71 percent shooting, 3.9 rebounds, 0.93 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.71 turnovers

    So who are the above two players?

    Player 1 happens to be Jarelan Tampus, with his per-minute averages expanded to 20 minutes instead of the 15 minutes he averaged in Season 74.

    Player 2 happens to be Joshua Webb, circa Season 72.

    That's right, I have Jeron Teng looking like two of his own teammates. Admittedly, he'd be ahead of the curve if he can average that in his rookie year (versus Tampus' and Webb's sophomore year stats) but if you're La Salle, you're wishing he can provide more than that, especially since the hope is that he can be a future go-to guy.

    (You're also hoping he can eventually expand his range to hit three-pointers more reliably. Tampus was 0/1 in Season 74 and 0/0 as a rookie, Webb is 7/48 for his career)

    DLSU has Simon Atkins and Maui Villanueva graduating, leaving the rest of their roster intact. Here's how it looks right now:

    PG: LA Revilla / Almond Vosotros / Dan Sara
    SG: Luigi Dela Paz / Jarelan Tampus
    SF: Joshua Webb / Joseph Marata

    Assuming everyone comes back, that's a pretty crowded line-up, and we're not even factoring in Mark Tallo (PG), or possible recruits like Alex Torres and Gab Reyes from DLSZ (both SG/SF).

    Let's say Revilla decides not to come back due to his health, while Marata and Sara get dropped to Team B.

    PG: Mark Tallo / Almond Vosotros
    SG: Jeron Teng / Luigi Dela Paz / Jarelan Tampus
    SF: Joshua Webb / Gab Reyes / Alex Torres

    That's a ton of guys who need the ball in their hands to be effective, with Tallo and Vosotros not being traditional point guards to boot. In fact, you could make the argument that everyone in that line-up is a scorer! And to further complicate things, we're not even factoring in the amount of touches the big men will need too. It goes without saying that head coach Gee Abanilla will definitely need to work on ball sharing in the off-season. If La Salle's offense devolves into a series of iso-sets, I doubt they'll be able to make the Final Four.

    For argument's sake, let's look at the NU and ADMU line-ups, which were the other two schools that were going hard after Jeron.

    PG: Jelo Alolino / Cedrick Labing-isa / JJ Alejandro (rookie)
    SG: Ajeet Singh / Robin Rono / Reden Celda
    SF: Bobby Ray Parks / Jeoffrey Javillonar

    PG: Juami Tiongson / Nico Elorde (transferee)
    SG: Kiefer Ravena / Tonino Gonzaga / Von Pessumal / Jomar Adonardo (Team B)
    SF: Ryan Buenafe (one-year leave) / Oping Sumalinog / Gwynne Capacio

    Both teams are pretty stacked as well, plus you have guys like Parks and Ravena who will dominate the ball much more over the others, but you can at least say that some of the other guys are role players (defenders like Singh and Gonzaga, traditional point guards like Alolino and Elorde) who won't demand the ball, or will look to pass first before anything else.

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Jeron Teng commits to DLSU

    Image courtesy of Archer Pride's Twitter account

    As reported by numerous media outlets earlier today, blue-chipper Jeron Teng of the Xavier School Golden Stallions has committed to DLSU and will be a Green Archer in Season 75. His brother, Jeric, tweeted this morning about having to play against his brother, before saying that Jeron would be an Archer. Later in the afternoon, Jeron then confirmed the news on his own Twitter account, all of which can be seen in a snazzy graphic courtesy of GMA News.

    Publicity-wise, this is a big get for La Salle. The Archers have been up and down in recent years, hitting a nadir last season when they went 1-6 in the second round to close out the season at 5-9. As a result, head coach Dindo Pumaren was let go, replaced by Gee Abanilla. Getting Teng was a show of force, a message to the other seven teams that DLSU was not about to go quietly into the night.

    But what exactly do they get player-wise? Teng is the biggest name in what is a shallow recruitment year, and a lot of his recognition stems from a 104-point scoring binge that he put up a year ago. Since then, he and the rest of the Stallions won a third straight Tiong Lian title, with Teng getting his second straight MVP plume. That was February 2011. It's a bit surprising really that Teng didn't wait until after this season's Tiong Lian (which starts tomorrow, as a matter of fact), to see if he could boost his stock.

    So who is Teng on the court based on last year? Here's what I wrote after his big scoring game:

    listed at 6'1", Teng played the small forward spot, though he definitely does not have the shooting touch most people associate with that position. Instead, Teng operates mostly in the paint, hitting 8-foot jumpers reliably, or bullying his way into the lane. This was made easier for him due to the lack of height on the Grace Christian team. Despite double, triple, and even quadruple teams, Teng would usually opt to take shot forced shots, banking on his athleticism to get the rebound and the easy put-back. Teng's 0 assists was indicative of his score-first mentality, though it may just be a statement about his team's composition and depth (or lack of it).

    Teng and his teammates run a pressure defense, and they took good advantage of it, forcing 42 turnovers, with 30 steals. That led to more shot opportunities (124 to 84), most of them uncontested, letting Teng pad his stats even more.

    I also took a look at Jeron's contemporaries a few days after his big game, other high school stars with big scoring games and how they translated in the collegiate ranks. Let's just say, it's not a nice group to be in.

    Jeron's decision to become a Green Archer makes a lot of sense vis a vis his other options. The two other schools that really went after him were NU, which has Bobby Ray Parks, and ADMU, which has Kiefer Ravena. Splitting touches with either of those two would have been tough, while at Taft, down the road if everything goes to plan, he could possibly be the main man for that team.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    High School Elite

    Scouting for high school talent for a university or college basketball program is a tough gig in the Philippines.

    Sure in Manila, you have UAAP/NCAA high school affiliates and other leagues like the Tiong Lian, but the province are a different thing entirely. This isn't the US where everybody is ranked, where YouTube highlight reels can be Googled, and where you can record out of state high school games. Legwork and connections therefore are key. You have to head out to all these little gyms based on recommendations from alumni living in the area to see if you have a diamond in the rough. And even then, it's hard to tell if you have a legit gamechanger, or someone who's merely dominating inferior opposition, but can't make the leap.

    One group trying to change all that is the National Basketball Training Center, headed up by program director Eric Altamirano. After five years of existence, the Sea-Oil NBTC Elite League is now run in 17 cities with almost 5,000 participants, scattered across 139 schools. That's a huge improvement from when there were just 100 boys in their first year, based in Manila, Cebu and Davao.

    "The Seaoil NBTC Elite League provides a competitive environment where the skills of the kids are developed and honed. We also teach them strategies and one facet of the game that is often overlooked – mental preparedness. The workshops are specifically designed not only with basketball in mind but also in imparting life’s values and character building. We believe in the holistic formation of a person,” said Altamirano.

    And for the first time, the NBTC will be introducing the Seaoil High School All-Star Game, patterned after the McDonald's All-American High School Basketball Games of the US. The latter is known to be a must-watch affair in America, with nearly all the players becoming big names in the (US) NCAA. Just to give you an idea, the 2010 game had Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, Tristan Thompson and Harrison Barnes go up against Kyrie Irving, Perry Jones III, Kendall Marshall and Jared Sullinger.

    National Training Director Alex Compton added, "The Sea Oil High School All-Star Game will close out the year’s Seaoil NBTC Elite League in the first week of March 2012 following the National Finals. People from all over the country will also get to follow their respective players on television as the All-Star Game will be televised on AKTV.”

    San Beda Red Lion Baser Amer and FEU Tamaraws Terrence Romeo are both products of the NBTC, so you know they're doing something right.

    The Annual College Basketball Awards - 2011

    Hosted by the UAAP-NCAA Press Corp and SMART, this year's edition of the Annual College Basketball Awards recognizes the following individuals who stood out in their 2011 hoops campaign:

    The Mythical Five: Calvin Abueva, Bobby Ray Parks, Greg Slaughter, Kiefer Ravena, Garvo Lanete

    UAAP Coach of the Year: Norman Black

    NCAA Coach of the Year:
    Frankie Lim 

    Distinction of Excellence plum (for being the first NCAA team win the PCCL): San Sebastian Stags

    Energy Player: Kevin Alas

    Pivotal Player: Dave Marcelo and Nico Salva

    Defensive Stopper: Kirk Long

    Maynilad Super Senior: Emman Monfort

    Impact Player: Ronald Pascual

    Mr. Efficiency: Ian Sangalang & Aldrech Ramos

    Court General: RR Garcia