Busy Summer For NAASCU Squads

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     A BUSY summer 2014 awaits the basketball teams of the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU). With the league continuing to grow in stature in the college basketball community, its teams have been invited to participate in prestigious pre-season tournaments as they build up for the 14th season this coming academic year.

     For the first time, the NAASCU will be represented in the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup, the annual summer tournament that used to be limited to entries from the NCAA and UAAP. Reigning champion Centro Escolar University and runner-up Saint Clare College of Caloocan hope to show that they can ball with the best of the other leagues.

     Tournament format calls for the 21 participating schools to be placed in three groups of seven, with the top two of each group plus two wildcards advancing to the knockout stages. CEU and Saint Clare are in Group C and B respectively, with all games played at the San Juan Arena.

     The Scorpions of Coach Edgar Macaraya are scheduled to face Emilio Aguinaldo College (April 28), College of Saint Benilde (May 2), UP-Diliman (May 5), Holy Trinity College (May 14), National University (May 21) and San Sebastian College (May 26). The Saints of Coach Jinino Manansala have Lyceum of the Philippines University (May 3), San Beda College (May 5), Mapua Institute of Technology (May 12), the Philippine Youth Team (May 14), Letran College (May 21) and Far Eastern University (May 28) as opponents.

     The champion CEU Lady Scorpions of Coach Jay Cambarihan and runner-up Rizal Technological University Lady Thunder of Coach Julian Bagares are entered in the Women’s Division. Both NAASCU squads are bracketed in Group A with the top two out of five advancing to the knockout crossover semifinals against the best two of Group B.

     The core of the Scorpions is currently seeing action also in the PBA D-League as the Café France Bakers. This marks their seventh consecutive conference of participation being one of the league’s founders back in 2011.

     The Saints are also playing in the 20th Father Martin Summer Cup. They lost their first assignment against National, 56-67, last April 10 but hope to bounce back in their succeeding dates with Diliman Preparatory School, San Beda College, University of Santo Tomas, San Sebastian College, Trinity University of Asia and the Philippine Youth Team.

     Meanwhile, the Millennium Basketball League (MBL) Open Conference fired off last March 22 and has attracted the Junior Scorpions of Coach Yong Garcia, Our Lady of Fatima University Phoenix of Coach Ralph Emerson Rivera and Polytechnic University of the Philippines Stars of Coach Arnold Rodriguez. A tough road is expected as the youngsters will be playing against teams loaded with former professional players and commercial league veterans.

     The Third Philippine Chinese Amateur Basketball League (PCABL) Dickies Cup began last February 23 and as of this posting, the CEU Lady Scorpions are in a share of the lead with the University of Santo Tomas in the six-school tournament with similar 6-1 records. The Lady Phoenix of Coach Magelyn Manrique are also taking part along with Far Eastern University, College of Saint Benilde and defending champion De La Salle University.

     In all of the abovementioned tournaments, the NAASCU teams are expected to field almost the same rosters from Season 13. This is because of a new league ruling raising the age limit to 24 for the Seniors and 19 for the Juniors effective this year.

     The teams are set to take full advantage of the opportunity given them to further hone their skills in preparation for the real battles ahead. This early, the 14th NAASCU looks to raise the level of competition with several schools in negotiations to join the ever dynamic league.

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Lillard, adidas Extend Deal

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard


     RISING BASKETBALL star Damian Lillard recently extended his endorsement contract with adidas. The global sports shoes and apparel leader saw and recognized the potential of the point guard when he first broke into the National Basketball Association (NBA) as the sixth overall pick of the 2012 Rookie Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.

     “adidas has been great to me over my first two seasons,” said the 6’3” Lillard. “I’ve had the opportunity to wear a lot of great product, help design special versions of shoes, be a part of TV commercials and travel the world with the brand. I’m excited for what the future holds for me and adidas.”

     True to form, Lillard was unanimously voted as the season’s Rookie of the Year after averaging 19.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists. However, the Blazers failed to qualify for the playoffs for the second straight season with a 33-49 win-loss card.

     Showing no signs of the dreaded sophomore jinx, he bettered his norms this season to 20.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Stepping up further as one the team’s leaders resulted in securing a return to the playoffs at 54-28 and a meeting with the Houston Rockets in the opening round next week.

     Lillard earned his first appearance in the annual All-Star game last February 16 in New Orleans. He came off the bench to contribute three triples for nine points in nine minutes of action but the West bowed to the East, 155-163.

     Donning the adidas Crazyquick 2, Lillard also made more history as the first player to participate in five All-Star Weekend activities – Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Shootout, and Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday and Sunday’s All-Star Game! It was only in the Skills Challenge where he took home the trophy in tandem with Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz, finishing the obstacle course in 45.2 seconds to edge out the duo of Michael Carter-Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers and Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic by 0.1 of a second.

     Snubbed by the high-profile college programs despite glowing credentials coming out of Oakland High School in California, Lillard found his way to Weber State where he played for four years and finished as the Wildcats’ second all-time leading scorer with 1,934 points in 108 games. The numbers are incredible considering the fact that he sustained a foot injury that wiped out all but nine games of his junior year.

     “Damian has proven to be not only an amazing basketball player, but a great partner, member of the community and someone who creates excitement for our products,” said Chris Grancio, adidas Head of Global Basketball Sports Marketing. “His leadership and commitment to success on the court and his ability to interact and relate to fans through social media and the community make him the perfect fit to be one of the cornerstones of the adidas brand.”

     Turning 24 this coming July 15th, Lillard definitely has a lot of years ahead with the three stripes. His full potential has yet to be realized and that alone is a scary thought for the 29 other opposing NBA quintets.

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Pinoys Rock Paris Marathon

Buenavista and Tabal kept pace with the world's elites at the 38th Paris Marathon.  (photos courtesy of www.maindruphoto.com)

Buenavista and Tabal kept pace with the world’s elites at the 38th Paris Marathon. (photos courtesy of http://www.maindruphoto.com)


MILO_logo
     PARIS, FRANCE – Top Filipino marathoners Eduardo “Vertek” Buenavista of South Cotabato and Mary Joy Tabal of Cebu debuted in grand style at the 38th Schneider Electric Paris Marathon held last April 5. Competing as part of their prize for ruling the 37th MILO Marathon National Finals last December 8, Buenavista clocked in at 2:33:20 for 41st place while Tabal timed 2:57:28 for 19th place.

     Although their times were a shade slower than their personal bests, the Philippine duo’s final rankings showed that they could compete with the world’s best. Their resilience carried them through unfamiliar and tough conditions, particularly the 15-degree temperature on race day.

     First-time marathoner Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia led all finishers with a record time of 2:05:04, bettering the old event standard of 2:05:12 set by Stanley Biwott of Kenya two years ago. Prior to his feat, Bekele’s resume boasts of World and Olympic records and multiple Olympic and IAAF World Championship gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

     Limenih Getachew made it a 1-2 finish for Ethiopia with a time of 2:06:49. Kenya’s Luka Kanda took Third Place at 2:08:02.

     Flomena Cheyech of Kenya secured the Women’s Division plum at 2:22:44. A pair of Ethiopian ladies followed in Yebrguai Melese (2:26:21) and Ahmed Zemzem (2:29:35) to complete the domination of runners from East Africa.

Team MILO-Philippines poses at the starting area along the Champs Elysees.

Team MILO-Philippines poses at the starting area along the Champs Elysees.

     A new record total of 40,783 athletes from 138 nations answered the 8:45 AM starting gun at the Champs Elysees compared to the 39,967 from last year’s edition. The Filipino duo was accompanied by MILO Marathon Race Director Coach Rio dela Cruz.

     During last year’s media launch where the prize of a trip to Paris was announced, Coach Rio added that despite the registration being closed already the organizing committee reserved two slots for the still undetermined 37th MILO Marathon champions. Both the Paris and MILO Marathons are members of Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS).

     Being part of an elite circle of races, future MILO Marathon champions will easily have the opportunity to showcase their talents internationally. This will definitely inspire participants to give it the extra push in the local qualifying races and National Finals.

     The 38th MILO Marathon season will commence on June 29, 2014 with the Baguio City qualifying race. Buenavista topped last year’s Baguio leg while Tabal qualified in her native Cebu, their first steps towards the French capital.

     They look forward to defending their titles and earn a return trip to the 39th Paris Marathon scheduled on April 12, 2015. The MILO Marathon will continue its twin advocacies of sending the best Filipino athletes to compete abroad while giving athletic shoes to poor but deserving public school children.

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Chelsea Unveils New Home Kits

Forever Blue: the Chelsea FC home kit for 2014-2015.

Forever Blue: the Chelsea FC home kit for 2014-2015.

     THE CHELSEA Football Club is no doubt one of the most popular teams in the world. For Filipinos, the club is best known as the venue where Phil and James Younghusband spent their early years in the sport before relocating to the Philippines.

     Nicknamed “The Blues”, the club has again partnered with adidas as they recently unveiled their new home kits for the 2014-2015 season. At the same time, Chelsea is also starting a new campaign entitled “Forever Blue”.

     No less than team manager Jose Mourinho has been tapped to narrate a video featuring Fernando Torres, Gary Cahill, Oscar, Petr Cech and Eden Hazard. The video shows the team stalwarts’ latest highlight plays that will surely be forever etched in the minds of their fans.

     Each of the players was immortalized by a statue. Eventually, they will break out of the statues to reveal the new kits!

     The new kit has contrasting blue tones on the front panel and is inspired by the designs from the late 1980s to early 1990s. Of course, the latest adidas technologies have been incorporated, including the popular breathable material ClimaCool.

     “We are very proud to have once again worked with adidas to deliver a standout campaign to launch our new home kit for the 2014-2015 season,” said Chelsea FC Chief Executive Ron Gourlay. “The creative them of ‘Forever Blue’ and capturing those memorable moments that will live in the minds of our players and fans is a great way to bring the new kit to life.”

     The new kits will be available in the Philippines starting on April 30, 2014 at adidas stores and at Bootcamp in Bonifacio Global City. For more information and updates, please visit and like adidas on Facebook.

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Three Tales From Leg One

Savoring the fresh air of Cavite on the 25-kilometer bike leg.  (photo courtesy of Thumbie O. Remigio)

Savoring the fresh air of Cavite on the 25-kilometer bike leg. (photo courtesy of Thumbie O. Remigio)

     GENERAL TRIAS, Cavite – Continuing from his sweep of last year’s events, Robeno Javier once more stamped his class as the country’s top duathlete by ruling the opening leg of the Philippine Duathlon Series 2014 at the Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club last March 30. Javier finished the course, a 25-kilometer bike ride sandwiched in between two four-kilometer runs, in 1:11:18.

     Placing second was Joey delos Reyes (1:12:32) followed by Jeff Valdez (1:13:40). Both Javier and delos Reyes were basically dead even after the first four-kilometer run but when they rode their bikes, Javier made his move by registering the fastest bike split of the day at 45:33 en route to building a 51-second lead that he never relinquished.

     In the Women’s Division, teenager Vicky Deldio showed good form in winning with a time of 1:27:04. Deldio is a candidate for the national triathlon team to the Second Youth Olympics this August in Nanjing, China.

     Julla Timman (1:32:04) and Miscelle Gilbuena (1:33:38) came next among the female elites. Interestingly, a pair of age-groupers from the 30-39 bracket submitted faster times in Mari Grace Maligaya (1:29:05) and Kaye Lopez (1:31:33) as the duo clocked the two fastest female bike splits.

     The other female age group titles went to Katrina Amistoso (20-29) and Isabelle Marafko (40-above). The male age group champions were James Allado (16-19), Mervin Santiago (20-24), Carlo Maniebo (25-29), Timmy Santos (30-34), Juny Rex Carreon (35-39), Edward Luna (40-44), Enrico Rosin (45-49) and Joevic Pajarillo (50-above).

     All participants will be given ranking points that will be used to determine this season’s overall champion. The next leg will be hosted by Nuvali in Santa Rosa City on June 1, 2014 and will feature a six-kilometer run, 30-kilometer bike and three-kilometer run.

     Registration for Leg I hit an all-time high of 746 entries, another evidence to the unending growing popularity of multi-sport. Last year, I got to participate in only one of the three legs, the second that was also hosted by Eagle Ridge last September 28.

     Upon the invitation of training partner Aver Sister, we stayed overnight at his sister’s house a few kilometers away from the venue. Usually, I would just motor on the early morning of race day itself so this marks the first time I arrived the day before.

     Initially, the plan was to survey the routes via bike in the afternoon but it was decided to save strength and use the car instead. Having raced before at Eagle Ridge, the route was slightly altered from last year but remained just as challenging coupled with the possibility of cows, carabaos and chickens suddenly crossing the roads!

     Come race day, the first four-kilometer run was a breeze. Being a short distance, the field as expected engaged in a mad sprint.

     By the second of the four bike laps, my left shoulder began to act up again but quit is not in my vocabulary despite the growing discomfort. Unlike last time when there were medics who quickly attended to me when I fell from my bike, it seems they were absent as the route marshals could not point to any so I guess the only choice was to play through the pain.

     The second run was exactly just like the first but this time the loop was ran in the opposite direction. This is the first time that both runs had the same distance and route and I am proud to say that my second run was faster than the first, passing many along the way to the finish.

     Finisher shirts offered a variety of colors – two shades of blue, maroon and pink. I opted for pink since I have no finisher shirt of that color in my collection.

WHERE’S THE BIKE?

     While the winners were savoring their victory and the rest of the pack just happy to finish, one participant got the shock of his life upon discovering that his bicycle was missing from its slot inside the transition area. Apparently, the bike valued at six digits had been stolen!

     I recall a newbie posing a question on an online multi-sport forum on how bikes are secured during a race. Of course, the answer is that there are marshals at the gates who will check.

     Even after the incident, taking my bike and stuff out of the transition area was a breeze and no one cited me. Definitely, there was a lapse in security.

     As a general rule, non-participants are not allowed inside the transition area at all times. Furthermore, marshals have to make sure bikes being taken out must match the bib number presented.

     Relying on helmet stickers and body marking is not enough. The victim owner has posted pictures of his bike on different online forums and social media in the hope of recovering it.

     The hard lesson learned is that next time, marshals and the riders should be extra vigilant. We will not be surprised if one or two will use a lock even if it means sacrificing additional seconds in the transition just to protect their precious bikes.

     We can only guess how devastating the loss can be to the owner. The multi-sport community being a close-knit group, the news definitely saddened the whole field.

Aver (kneeling, second from left) with the rest of the Leg One podium finishers.

Aver (kneeling, second from left) with the rest of the Leg One podium finishers.

SISTER’S STORY

     Of course we would want to end on a positive note with the story of good friend Sister, the 35-39 age category runner-up. Believe it or not, it was his very first duathlon.

     Sister, a high school Physical Education teacher, has had his share of podium finishes in the fun run circuit since 2010. He wanted to give multi-sport a shot as early as last season but an arm injury sustained in a pickup basketball game set his plans back.

     Awarded as the overall fastest man of a popular running trilogy in 2012, Sister had to give up hopes of defending his title since he slowly ran 2013’s first leg with a heavy cement cast. Once the cast was removed in May and with doctor’s clearance, he began to ride his bicycle again.

     Part of the training included riding to and from work on weekdays and around the SM Mall of Asia on weekends if not entered in a fun run. It was a case of hitting two birds with one stone as the move also saved a lot of fare money.

     For the next leg, Sister vows to work double on his bike skills. He was neck and neck with eventual champion Carreon after the first run but faltered in the bike leg.

     Based on the accounts mentioned above, it can be concluded that the bike leg plays a big role in determining the champions. One cannot rely on being just a strong runner or a strong biker – one must be strong in both disciplines to do well in duathlon.

     By the next leg, expect more stories to unfold in this series. The training and preparation for Leg II begins once the finish line is crossed in Leg I!

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New Era, RTU Rule NAASCU Badminton

NAASCULogo
     QUEZON CITY – New Era University and Rizal Technological University shared top honors at the conclusion of the 13th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) Badminton tournament at the New Era Multipurpose Hall last Wednesday (April 2). The Hunters emerged the best in the Men’s Division while the Lady Thunder ruled the Women’s Division.

     Glenn Felix Camillo started by beating RTU in the first singles, 21-13 and 21-5. After a brief rest, he returned to team up with Christian Tortoles in winning the doubles, 21-12 and 21-17.

     Because of the twin wins, the second singles involving Kenjie Malla was no longer played. The Hunters are coached by Jinky Medrano with assistant coach Erman Juachon.

     In the playoff for Third Place, Centro Escolar University stopped Saint Clare College of Caloocan, 2-0. Our Lady of Fatima University rounded out the field in Fifth Place.

     New Era and CEU topped the elimination round with similar 3-1 win-loss records but the former got the top seeding due to more matches won. They then eliminated Saint Clare in the semifinals while RTU upset CEU.

     In Women’s play, third seed RTU came from behind by winning the doubles (21-14 and 21-13) and second singles (21-18 and 21-14) to frustrate top seed CEU, 2-1. The Lady Scorpions took the first singles, 21-9 and 21-11.

     New Era blanked Saint Clare for Third Place. Our Lady of Fatima took Fifth Place.

     Just like in the Men’s Division, both CEU and NEU ended up tied at the top at 3-1 but CEU took the tiebreaker. CEU defeated Saint Clare in the semifinals while RTU surprised NEU, both ties via sweeps.

     Meanwhile, the final two events of the 13th NAASCU calendar will be held next week. The Athletics meet will be on Monday (April 7) at the Marikina Sports Park while Chess will be on Wednesday (April 9) at the Our Lady of Fatima University-Valenzuela City campus.

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RTU Sweeps Men’s Volleyball

RTU Blue Thunder: undefeated Men's Volleyball champions!

RTU Blue Thunder: undefeated Men’s Volleyball champions!


NAASCULogo
     QUEZON CITY – Newcomer Rizal Technological University wrapped up the 13th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) Men’s Volleyball championship Wednesday (April 2) by blasting New Era University in three sets, 25-19, 28-26 and 25-17, at the New Era Gym. The Blue Thunder thus swept the best-of-three series, 2-0, and capped a perfect season where they won all their seven games.

     This time, the Blue Thunder made sure that the Hunters would have no chance of forcing a rubber match. Trailing 13-17 in the opening set, RTU unloaded eight unanswered points to seize back the lead and eventually take the set.

     Just like in Game One two days earlier, the Hunters of Coach Manny Lagrada came roaring back in the second set. Unfortunately, they bungled a 22-21 edge to go into a race to lead by two which saw the Blue Thunder prevailing by breaking the final 26-26 deadlock with the set’s final two markers.

     RTU then proceeded to deliver the jugular in the third set by building their biggest lead in the entire match, 22-15, on a service ace. NEU proved gritty and continued to attempt mild rallies but the Blue Thunder were simply too difficult to overcome.

(L-R): Alfonso, Campoy, Sharief, Encina and Bayking with Coach Jose Sanchez.

(L-R): Alfonso, Campoy, Sharief, Encina and Bayking with Coach Jose Sanchez.

     The Blue Thunder also dominated the individual awards led by Most Valuable Player and Best Setter Algie Sharief. Joining him where teammates Jamenell Campoy as Best Attacker and Kenneth Bayking as Best Receiver while Coach George Pascua was named Best Coach.

     The Hunters improved their Third Place finish from last season, with Rogelio Alfonso being named Best Blocker and team captain Kemuel Encina as Best Server. Rounding out the awardees is Third Placer Centro Escolar University’s Amenolah Acot as Best Digger.

     Completing the RTU championship roster are Francis Reales, Darryl de Vera, Ryan Jesus Crisostomo, Jaidal Abdulmajid, Marvin Alonzo, Edgardo Balisco, Marc Lance de Guzman, Javier Jala and Dennes Villatura. Coach Pascua is assisted by Jukran Hamdan and Carlo Sebastian.

     NAASCU Secretary General Jose Sanchez of Our Lady of Fatima University handed out the trophies and medals. Play in the Women’s Division concluded last March 17 with the CEU Lady Scorpions successfully retaining the title at the expense of the RTU Lady Thunder.

For more photos from the NAASCU volleyball games, visit and like NAASCU on Facebook.

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