After last year’s NCAA and UAAP dominance of the San Beda Red Lions and the Ateneo Blue Eagles in their respective collegiate leagues, you probably are wondering what do varsity teams do during the offseason, Palawan … in reality, most of them hardly take any break but a 2-3 week rest to allow the kids to get back in line with their studies. After that mini sabbatical, it’s back to the hardcourt improving or fixing things they have learned from the past tournament or season.
It is also a chance for some final four teams to prepare and engage for the school year ending Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL). There’s an argument on whether the PCCL is the actual champion of champions league or merely an avenue to tune up for next season’s collegiate wars. Either way you look, it’s still a highly competitive tournament what with all finalists and/ or semi-finalists in various collegiate leagues in the country engaging for the right to be called THE COLLEGE Champions of the year.
The period of January through March is basically auditioning and recruiting time for varsity teams. Players from the previous season’s Team B ranks get a chance to solidify their spot in the Team A pool what with some players graduating from the prior year. Other schools resort to recruiting from the junior ranks to also beef up their bench and future. And then of course, for the UAAP, it is the period for shopping an import if they don’t have a ready pool in the pipe line.
Schools with solid Team B and Team C succession also happen to be perennial contenders what with the abundance of talent being developed all year round. San Beda, Ateneo, La Salle, NU and FEU are long known to have several varsity pools (the NU Bullpups have a Team D in past Metro Manila Basketball League tournaments) to choose from. This heavy investment in talent obviously guarantees a high level of competitiveness in years to come.
Since we are in the topic of collegiate ball, let’s talk about the supposed varsity season ending battle of champions, the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL).
The Ateneo Blue Eagles dominated the competition. A powerhouse line up of shooters led by the Nieto brothers, Matt and Mike along with Thirdy Ravena, a solid guard core led by Tyler Tio and towering low post giants in Isaac Go and Angelo Kouame, overpowered the San Beda Red Lions in their final 4 pairing the past weekend and the University of Visayas Green Lancers last Monday for the crown.
Coach Tab Baldwin has assembled such a solid crew that I don’t even think they practiced much due to academic catch up concerns and yet the results still showed that this is the school year of the Blue Eagles. Congratulations to the collegiate champs from Katipunan!
Jayson Solis, a good friend of mine from a regular Sunday Basketball Group in Quezon City yours truly is a member of, once asked me to try writing about fantasy basketball so I will give it a shot.
I am not into the pluses or minuses of drafting a player in fantasy line ups but here is what I would choose to beat the one team that everyone in the world of NBA ball today wants to beat: The Golden State Warriors.
Let’s go through a list of NBA champions the past two decades that can potentially be the Warriors’ Kryptonite. We need to first assess the warriors offensive prowess. They shoot a third of their field goal attempts for the 3-pt land converting roughly 38% of them as a team. That’s roughly 36 points a game on 3 point shooting alone. Quick 3s, fast break 3s, corner 3s…. practically every 3 point angle known to mankind, you name it and the Dubs can do it. So how do you solution beating an offensive machine with starters surnamed Curry, Thompson, Cousins, Green and Durant?
Personally I think the Wallace tandem of the Detroit Pistons of 2004 can match well with the Dubs. Now before everyone says “No way!” Let’s take a deeper look at the team that slowed the ball down, shot medium range shots, averaged a measly 90 points per game, but won it all that year by keeping opponents below 85 points in the regular season.
Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton at the backcourt, Tayshaun Prince, Ben and Rasheed Wallace at the front court. All five players capable of solid zone and man to man defends. All athletically gifted. I don’t foresee trouble with that line up adjusting to pick and roll situations and running after threes which the Warriors throw aplenty.
The Pistons bench of ’04 are no pushovers either. Solid back up guards in Lindsey Hunter and Chucky Atkins, combo forward sixth man Corliss Williamson and a serviceable big in Memet Okur contributed a lot to the Pistons cause and didn’t back down against any high profile bench squad in their time.
If you look at the names and assess the roster quality, most might say this team will be massacred 4-0 in the final against the Warriors offensive onslaught but assessing the unit as a whole is what made these Pistons of over a decade ago click. The veteran coaching savvy of Larry Brown brought out the best of the group. Whether it’s physical defense, sprinting up and down, pushing and shoving and good rim protection, Detroit made sure there was a man in front of a man to chase after shots.
And yes, they do deliberate slow down offense that may take away any momentum from any offensive machinery like the Warriors. The results may still swing to the Warriors favor but let’s face it, a team that has a best chance to pull the rug from under Golden State is not a team that can match up well in shooting, pick and rolls and fast breaks. A contrasting style: offense vs defense, fast vs slow pace, finesse vs power. These are the elements that make me believe Rasheed Wallace’s declaration that they could beat the Warriors in a match up if they were playing in the same era.
(The writer is a senior leader of the only Business Process Outsourcing Contact Center company in Puerto Princesa. He also is the current Puerto Princesa Underground River Festival Foundation President)