NBL Philippines: The Old, The New

Import Geremy Robinson in the M. Lhuillier colors during his NBL stint in 2003.

ANOTHER COMMUNITY-based basketball league is out to make its mark on the already crowded Philippine Basketball landscape.  Enter the National Basketball League which is set to launch operations this August.

The league’s name itself is a repeat of another league that existed in the early 2000’s under the auspices of the old Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP).  After a couple of quickie tournaments, the league silently faded away until it was revived with the BAP’s consent in 2003 by a private group led by Coach Tito Palma and shooting legend Nathaniel “Tac” Padilla of Spring Cooking Oil with legendary Coach Arturo Valenzona as Commissioner.

The revived NBL lasted for only one year, attracting teams like M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu City, Ozamiz City, Forward Taguig, Wang’s Ball Club, Ilocos Sur Snipers, University of the Assumption and of course, Spring Cooking Oil.  Suddenly, the BAP asked for the usage of the name back so the group had no choice but to rechristen itself and continue as the National Basketball Conference (NBC), getting the name of another dormant league at that time founded by Coach Ted Magno.

Going back to the BAP’s NBL, it was no stranger to controversy as they made noise by challenging the amateur status of the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) with the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).  In the end, the established PBL won the war but not without taking a hit.

The NBL also had another controversy wherein several members of the 18-Under national team incurred eligibility problems with their mother varsity leagues.  The young nationals were spread out as reinforcements to the different teams, mostly BAP-friendly varsities carrying the name of a corporate sponsor, thus they were deemed to have played commercial ball contrary to rules that state that they will only allowed to do so after playing a certain number of varsity seasons.

NBL Commissioner Arturo Cristobal (2004)

When the BAP got the name rights back, they immediately appointed Coach Arturo Cristobal as Commissioner and staged a pocket tournament in February, 2004 wherein the champion Mediatrix Telecom was sent to represent the country in the FIBA-Asia Champions Cup later that year in the United Arab Emirates.  The ragtag team would go on to lose all their games and become part of the collective events that led to the BAP’s ouster and replacement by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas as the recognized national sports association.

The current iteration of the NBL is led by Celso Mercado, a businessman who was supposed to lead the Laguna franchise in the stillborn Countrywide Basketball League (CWBL) of Coach Joe Lipa. Among the early entries are from the province of Camarines Sur and Dasmarinas City, Cavite with a target of six to eight teams.

The league’s press release explains that players will really be from the city or province represented.  However, one enticing prospect is that the NBL is also planning a Women’s tournament to be known as the WNBL and give the distaff side a much need shot in the arm.

While August is still a long time away, let us just monitor the developments in the coming weeks as more details will be unveiled, including possible television coverage on Basketball TV and Solar Sports.  Let’s see how this NBL will compare to its predecessors as well as NBL’s in other countries.

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UCBL Summer: CEU Is Champion

CEU Scorpions add another trophy, the 2018 Smart UCBL Summer Tournament.

Our Time To Shine     QUEZON CITY – Centro Escolar University was crowned as the champions of the 2018 Smart Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Summer Tournamet after surviving a thriller against Diliman College, 79-77, Wednesday afternoon at the Philippine Buddhacare Academy.  Defense in the final 23 seconds saved the day for the Scorpions who had to battle back as much as 10 points down to steal the victory.

Tyron Chan hit two pressure-laden free throws with 23 seconds left to give CEU cushion, 79-75. This was quickly answered by free throws from Kristoffer Torrado who missed a twisting layup at the buzzer that could have forced overtime.

Gilles Oloume, Kobe Caballero and Rich Guinitaran joined forces in the fourth period to fuel CEU’s comeback.  Guinitaran hit a big triple to shatter the game’s last deadlock at the 2:13 mark, 74-71, and the Scorpions held on despite the Blue Dragons’ repeated attempts to grab back the upper hand.

Before fouling out midway in the fourth, Oloume made 20 points and six rebounds plus the tough task of containing Adama Diakhite.  He was followed by Orlan Wamar with 14 points.

Mocking all defenses thrown at him, Diakhite registered his usual monster numbers of 24 points and 21 rebounds.  Torrado followed with 19 points, seven assists and four steals.

Meanwhile, National University salvaged Third Place by clipping University of Santo Tomas, 89-82.  The Bulldogs seized control for good in the second period led by Mike Malonzo and saved enough energy to hold off a late UST rally anchored on Brent Paraiso.

Malonzo topped the Bulldogs with 16 points and eight rebounds followed by Tzaddy Rangel with 13 points and six rebounds.  Paraiso netted 14 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth and was supported by Renze Abando with 18 points and eight rebounds.

The third season of the UCBL is scheduled to open on September 6. Aside from CEU and Diliman, other members of the league are Olivarez College, Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas, Technological Institute of the Philippines and newest member Philippine Christian University-Dasmarinas.

How They Scored:


CENTRO ESCOLAR (79) – Oloume 20, Wamar 14, Chan 10, Guinitaran 10, Uri 7, Ko Caballero 7, Rojas 6, Ke Caballero 3, Umeanozie 2, Formento 0.

DILIMAN (77) – Diakhite 24, Torrado 19, Bauzon 11, Arceta 7, Sombero 6, Sablan 4Olea 3, Enriquez 2, Brutas 1, Darang 0, Vargas 0, Tay 0, Cecilio 0.

Period Scores: 21-14, 36-40, 56-58, 79-77.

For Third Place

NATIONAL (89) – Malonzo 16, Rangel 13, Morido 10, Minerva 9, Salim 7, Penano 6, Diputado 6, Flores 6, Puray 6, Cauilan 5, Atienza 3, Yu 2, Lastimosa 0.

SANTO TOMAS (82) – Paraiso 34, Abando 18, Concepcion 8, Evangelista 7, Pangilinan 6, Batuzolele 5, Ayo 2, Monje 2, Yongco 0, Lagumen 0.

Period Scores: 20-19, 44-37, 71-60, 89-82.

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Batang Gilas Ready For FIBA World U17

Batang Gilas will aim for a better finish at the FIBA U17 World Cup in Argentina.

THE NEXT generation of Filipino basketball idols is ready to represent the country in the coming 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup to be held in Rosario, Argentina starting June 30.  Batang Gilas is set to match skills with their fellow young men from powerhouses France and Croatia and host nation Argentina in Group D of the 16-team tournament.

The Philippines will be led by 7’1” center Kai Sotto of Ateneo de Manila University, a member of the Mythical Five of the recent FIBA-Asia Under-16 Championship in China were the Filipinos took Fourth Place and their ticket to Argentina.  Sotto will be joined by a platoon of more young giants in 6’7” Carl Tamayo of Nazareth School of National University, 6’7” Raven Cortez of De La Salle-Zobel and 6’8” Geo Chiu of ADMU.

They will be backstopped by a bunch of crafty and quick guards consisting of Forthsky Padrigao of ADMU, Gerry Abadiano and Terrence Fortea of Nazareth-NU, Jorick Bautista and King Balaga of Far Eastern University, Miguel Pascual of DLSZ and Mclaude Guadana of Lyceum of the Philippines-Cavite.  The forwards are just as loaded composed of Bismarck Lina of University of Santo Tomas, RC Calimag of DLSZ, Rafael Go of Chiang Kai Shek College and Joshua Lazaro and Yukien Andrada of San Beda University-Rizal.

“We have studied the videos of the opposition so we are now familiar with their offense and defense,” said Coach Michael Oliver.  “These young men have accepted the challenge of playing for the country against the best players in the world, you cannot imagine the big sacrifices they have gone through to balance basketball with their schoolwork.”

Coach Oliver will be joined on the trip by fellow coaches Josh Reyes, Goldwin Monteverde and MC Abolucion.  Wilbert Loa will serve as team manager and the delegation will also include several parents of the players.

Other countries competing in the tournament are Australia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Turkey in Group A, China, Mali, Serbia and the United States in Group B and Canada, Egypt, Montenegro and New Zealand in Group C.  No team will be eliminated after the preliminary round and all will advance to the knockout playoffs with a team from Group C as the Philippines’ opponent.

“I believe the boys will give a good showing, they are probably the tallest Philippine team that we are sending and they have practiced for a long time,” said Bounty Fresh Agro Ventures President Ronald Mascarinas who along with Chooks To Go recently feted the team with a simple send off party.

This marks the second time the Philippines qualified for the Under-17 World Cup which is held every two years.  Batang Gilas under then Coach Jamike Jarin made it to the 2014 edition in the United Arab Emirates wherein they finished in 15th Place among 16 entries beating only the hosts.

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D-League: CEU d. AMA, 96-85

2018 Foundation Cup     PASIG CITY – Centro Escolar University bounced back into contention at the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup by keeping AMA Online Education winless, 96-85, in continuing action Monday at the Ynares Sports Arena.  Judel Ric Fuentes provided the spark of the bench as the Scorpions led by as much as 24 points towards the end of the third, 80-56.

“I’m still not satisfied with the way we played defense today because we relaxed when we were ahead,” said Coach Frederick Pumaren.  “Judel provided a big lift for the team, he defended well in the second and he made several shots in a row, all he needs is to get back in shape after a bout with chicken pox.”

In only his second game of the tournament, Fuentes hit a total of 25 points spanning the second and third periods.  Tyron Chan followed with 18 points and 14 rebounds as CEU evened its win-loss record at 2-2 while the Titans are now at the bottom of the rankings at 0-4.

Andre Paras returned to the Titans’ active roster as he joined Owen Graham and Irven Palencia in trimming their deficit to only 11 markers, 81-92, but back to back baskets by Chan eased the pressure at the 46-second mark.  Paras topped the Titans with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Graham also had a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Marinerong Pilipino returned to its winning ways by trampling Batangas, 106-64.  “We sent a message to the team that they have to play the right way always and thankfully they responded,” said triumphant coach Koy Banal after getting their second victory in three games.

Robbie Manalang and Trevis Jackson, who both paced the last Aspirants Cup in scoring, flashed their form with 20 and 19 points respectively.  Jorey Napoles had a double-double of 10 points and 16 rebounds while teammates Abu Tratter and Javi Gomez de Liano also hit 10 points each.

How They Scored:

First Game

MARINERONG PILIPINO (106) – Manalang 20, Jackson 19, Tratter 10, Gomez de Liano 10, Napoles 10, Ramos 7, Ndiaye 7, Johnson 6, I Santos 6, Prado 4, Medina 3, Toth 2, B Santos 2, Matignas 0.

BATANGAS (64) – de Joya 19, Derige 8, Bautista 8, Manalo 6, Saldana 5, Mendoza 5, de la Pena 5, Delfinado 4, Tabi 2, Mohammed 2, Tilos 0, Diolanto 0, Arim 0, Guiang 0.

Period Scores: 26-15, 55-30, 74-50, 106-64.

Second Game

CENTRO ESCOLAR (96) – Fuentes 25, Chan 18, Wamar 11, Rojas 10, Formento 9, Uri 7, Guinitaran 6, Ko Caballero 4, Ke Caballero 2, Oloume 2, Intic 2.

AMA ONLINE EDUCATION (85) – Paras 21, Graham 16, Garcia 14, Matillano 13, Palencia 8, Marata 5, Liwag 4, Nacpil 3, Cariaga 1, Sabile 0, Alvarez 0, Soriano 0, Alao 0, Lao 0.

Period Scores: 28-23, 57-36, 80-58, 96-85.

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FilOil: Adamson d. Lyceum, 85-75

     SAN JUAN City – Adamson University formally closed the elimination round of the 12th FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup by besting Lyceum of the Philippines University, 85-75, at the FilOil Flying V Centre Friday.  Up next for the Falcons is defending champion San Beda University in the knockout quarterfinals on June 28.

Adamson led by 13 after three periods, 73-60, but the Pirates came storming back to the cut the gap to only four nearing the last two minutes, 75-79.  However, Maverick Ahanmisi was found open under the basket and this was followed by hits from Jonathan Espeleta and Simon Camacho to seal their sixth win of the tournament and the third seeding in Group B.

Ahanmisi led the Falcons with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists.  Sean Manganti and Camacho were next with 12 points each.

CJ Perez paced the Pirates with 23 points and five steals.  Jaycee Marcelino was next with 13 while twin brother Jayvee had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Adamson actually finished in a tie with Far Eastern University but the Tamaraws earned the second seed because they beat the Falcons, 64-75, last May 22.  College of Saint Benilde topped Group B at 7-1 while Colegio de San Juan de Letran is the fourth seed at 5-3.

The quarterfinal pairings to the played on June 28 are Ateneo de Manila University versus Letran, De La Salle University versus FEU, SBU versus Adamson and CSB versus University of the Philippines.  There will be no time to rest as winners will advance to the semifinals on June 29 followed by the finals on June 30.

How They Scored:

ADAMSON (85) – Ahanmisi 14, Manganti 12, Camacho 12, Espeleta 11, Mojica 9, Macion 6, Catapusan 5, Lastimosa 5, Colonia 5, Orquez 4, Bernardo 2, Maata 0, Zaldivar 0, V Magbuhos 0.

LYCEUM (75) – Perez 23, JC Marcelino 13, JV Marcelino 10, Ayaay 9, Tansingco 5, Guinto 4, Pericas 4, Yong 3, Serrano 2, Caduyac 2, Ibanes 0, Pretta 0, Remulla 0.

Period Scores: 26-22, 53-40, 73-60, 85-75.

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FilOil: Saint Benilde d. San Sebastian, 87-79

     SAN JUAN City – College of Saint Benilde officially claimed the top seeding in Group B of the 12th FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup by trimming San Sebastian College, 87-79, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.  A strong third period was all the team needed as Coach Tyrone Tang and his Blazers now brace to enter uncharted territory.

“The school is not used to see the team on top of any major or minor tournament,” said Coach Tang whose team rose to 7-1.  “We will just enjoy the moment and whatever follows we will consider a blessing.”

From a 40-40 standoff, the Blazers banked on back to back triples from Justin Gutang and Clement Leutcheu to ignite a 16-0 run to break the game apart, 56-40.  After scoring 36 points in the first half, CSB managed to double their output after only the third canto and lead commandingly, 72-55.

Gutang had another outstanding effort of 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists.  Unique Naboa knocked in three triples for 12 points on top of seven assists.

Allyn Bulanadi paced the losing Stags with 20 points and four rebounds.  Michael Calisaan was next with 14 points and seven rebounds as they finished their schedule with an even 4-4 record.

Waiting for the Blazers in the quarterfinals is Group A fourth seed University of the Philippines.  Their win also set the final rankings in Group B with Far Eastern University (6-2), Adamson University (5-2) and Colegio de San Juan de Letran (5-3) taking the second, third and fourth spots respectively with Adamson scheduled to play Lyceum of the Philippines University (2-5) in the final elimination round game.

In the Juniors Division, Malayan High School of Science completed the semifinal cast by eliminating La Salle Green Hills, 99-89.  The Red Robins’ win also gave idle San Beda University-Rizal a free ride into the semis wherein the Red Robins will play Far Eastern University and the Red Cubs tangling with Nazareth School of National University.

Trailing by only a point entering the fourth, 49-50, the Red Robins banked on the combined 13 points of Dan Arches and Karl Mariano to break the game wide open.  Clint Escamis led Malayan with 19 points while Arches and Mariano added 18 and 13 respectively. 

How They Scored:

Juniors Division

MALAYAN SCIENCE (99) – Escamis 19, Arches 18, Mariano 13, Hernandez 13, Sarias 13, Smith 8, Policarpio 8, Diaz 2, Chaves 2, Dennison 1, Samonteza 0, Tagal 0.

LA SALLE GREEN HILLS (89) – David 28, Fornillos 14, Cortez 11, Mosqueda 10, Lopez 8, Cruz 6, Valenzuela 4, Lao 2, Lepalam 2, Morales 2.

Period Scores: 28-24, 49-50, 75-66, 99-89

Seniors Division

SAINT BENILDE (87) – Gutang 17, Naboa 12, Young 11, Leutcheu 11, Dixon 9, Carlos 8, Nayve 8, Haruna 7, Belgica 4, Domingo 0, Pagulayan 0, Velasco 0, Barnes 0.

SAN SEBASTIAN (79) – Bulanadi 20, Calisaan 14, de la Cruz 11, Capobres 9, Ilagan 9, Valdez 8, Calma 6, Sumoda 2, Isidro 0, Desoyo 0, Villapando 0, Baytan 0, Vinte 0.

Period Scores: 16-25, 36-38, 72-55, 87-79.

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FilOil: San Beda d. EAC, 75-48

     SAN JUAN City – Defending champion San Beda University kept Emilio Aguinaldo College winless, 75-48, and clinched the second seeding in Group A of the 12th FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup Friday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.  The Red Lions moved into a tie with idle De La Salle University at 7-2 but got the tiebreaker owing to their 72-70 win over the Green Archers last June 4.

The Red Lions led from the opening tip and were never challenged.  Their lead ballooned to as much as 30 markers, 57-27, on the strength of an 11-2 run to open third period hostilities and coast to their fifth straight win since losing to the University of the Philippines, 54-56, last June 1.

Kenmark Carino led SBU with 11 points in only nine minutes on the court while Toba Eugene notched a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.  “We do not select our opponents because it might backfire on us so our goal is to win every game for the school, alumni and supporters,” said Coach Boyet Fernandez.

Rookie guard Maui Cruz led the Generals with nine points, five rebounds and three assists.  Vincent Robin followed with eight points as they now pick up the pieces and gird for the 94th NCAA Season.

The Red Lions will play the third seed from Group B which will be determined by the results of the last two elimination round games.  College of Saint Benilde, Adamson University, Far Eastern University and Colegio de San Juan de Letran are the qualifiers from Group B and SBU’s potential quarterfinal opponent on June 28.

How They Scored:

SAN BEDA (75) – Carino 11, Eugene 10, J Mocon 8, Burri 8, Tankoua 6, Cuntapay 6, Nelle 6, Soberano 5, Presbitero 5, Cabanag 4, Bolick 3, Doliguez 3, Oftana 0, Tongco 0.

EMILIO AGUINALDO (48) – Cruz 9, Robin 8, Mendoza 7, Maguliano 6, Diego 6, Garcia 5, Tampoc 4, Bautista 2, Ling 1, Cadua 0, Natividad 0, Bugarin 0, Gonzales 0, Neri 0, Estacio 0, Fuentes 0.

Period Scores: 21-9, 46-25, 58-34, 75-48.

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