Palawan, you all know by now that summer is the time of year where Philippine collegiate varsity programs are being established for the coming school year. As of this writing, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) D League collegiate division and the FilOil Flying V preseason tournaments have unfurled a few weeks back.

Teams take this time to fine tune, finalize their rosters, break in the rookies and perhaps do last minute recruitment efforts including scouting the Palarong Pambansa for potential diamonds in the rough.

The much-awaited FilOil preseason debut of the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons’ rookie tandem of Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras a few days back did not disappoint the basketball fan. Although the Maroons got beaten by the mighty San Beda Red Lions on opening day, the two blue-chip recruits accounted for 18 points apiece. UP showed that they would have a potent starting unit of Jun Manzo (point guard), Juan Gomez De Liano (guard), and the frontline of Bright Akhuetie, Paras and Rivero.

Like any collegiate team, I am quite certain coach Bo Perasol will experiment with his line up as he has lost 4 key players from last year in Paul Desiderio, Diego Dario, Gelo Vito, and Jarrell Lim. Perasol can run combinations of small guards with Bright in the middle. He can decide to go big with a Bright, Paras and Javi Gomez De Liano frontline allowing Rivero to switch to two guards.

All of these player combinations and roster tinkering would not be possible without the collegiate pre-season matches. The process of recruitment, summer training, and preseason tournaments have been a staple since the 1980s. It was in this decade that the perennial collegiate contenders participate in commercial leagues and even the Metro Manila Basketball League (MMBL) which was a staple collegiate season ending/preseason primer back in the days. Collegiate players are even allowed to play in the Philippine Amateur Basketball League (PABL) during the collegiate season!

With the advancement of sports science and the essential need to come up with a more structured approach to collegiate athletics and team sports, the practice of varsity players joining commercial tournaments has been limited for the good of the student-athlete. It will allow them to rest periodically to allow for optimum performance. Kudos to the UAAP, NCAA and other collegiate leagues in partnership with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) in coming up with solid athletic programs for the youth.

The PBA Finals – Junemar BPC

As of this writing, the 2019 PBA All Filipino Cup finals between Magnolia and San Miguel Beer is tied 2-2 behind a dominating performance from Best Player of the Conference and 5 time Most Valuable Player Junemar Fajardo.

Even though the Hotshots (Magnolia) managed to lock the Beermen to a see-saw series, the problem remains to be how they can contain the 6’10 270 pound Fajardo from dominating down low. For the most part, Magnolia prefers to play two speedsters at any point of the game. Yours truly believes coach Chito Victolero needs to add more height on his player combination on the floor a little bit more.

Keep one small guard (alternate Jio Jalalon and Mark Barroca) with Paul Lee at two. Then add height on the frontline. It would be good to see more of Rafi Reavis and Rodney Brondial or Aldrich Ramos at the Center and power forward positions with Ian Sangalang switching to 3. They could play zone to make things difficult for the post player but need to be very quick chasing the shooters on the event of a post kick out to three. This defensive adjustment needs the practice to make sure the second pass to corner 3 also doesn’t confuse the defense.

Head coach Chito Victolero is sure to make adjustments in accordance with his player strength and tendencies. Let us see how the Hotshots can keep the Beermen in check on Game 5, Palawan.

(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)

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