Palawan, in a classic rivalry in the oldest collegiate varsity league in the Philippines – the National Collegiate Athletic Association, bitter rivals San Sebastián and Letran gave the usual thrilling finish typical to a Stags – Knights battle of old. In the first step ladder knock out game for this season’s crown, the Knights of Intramuros got the better of the San Sebastián Stags of Recto in a throwback worthy match.

Just to give the younger audience a glimpse of this rivalry, these two teams started slugging it out in classic match ups in the 80’s with the Knights’ Samboy Lim’s early dominance up to the decade ending back to back wins by the the Bong Alvarez and Eugene Quilban led Stags squads.

The best match up/ knock out game these two teams ever had, on my personal opinion, was in the 1987 winner take all finals game where the Knights, via a last second medium range bank shot by King Knight Fernando Libed, robbed the Stags of a win in a match that pundits often say as the Stags should have bagged. The downfall of the Eugene Quilban and Bong Alvarez led squad that year was that after leading the Knights for the most part of that game, they started to play defensive basketball on the last ten minutes, even waiving guaranteed free throws, a rule no longer being used in today’s FIBA generation.

The new age rivalry did not frustrate as the taller Knights pounded the lane for an 85-80 win over the outside sniping of the Stags. Big men Larry Muyang and Ato Ular held the paint defensively while Jerrick Balanza and Bon Batiller provided the timely outside snipes to keep the blazing RK Ilagan, who sizzled for 36 points this game, and the Stags at bay.

It was a sorry loss for the Stags who will bid Ilagan, Allyn Bulanadi and Alvin Capobres goodbye as they capped their final season in the college wars. At the end of the day, this is a huge improvement from the Stags team of last year who didn’t clinch a spot in the final four partly due to a “ligang labas” issue causing suspension of games against Ilagan. Coach Edgar Macaraya did well to refocus the Stags this season. It’s now time for the younger breed of ballers from “Baste” to show their wares next season.

For the Knights, they march on to the second step ladder knock out game against no. 2 ranked Lyceum in a “Battle of a Intramuros” we are keenly anticipating. The winner of this match will own the right to challenge the undefeated San Beda Red Lions for the 2019 crown.

Standby for more updates as collegiate season winds down to a thrilling finish this year.

The Tigers March On

In the other side of collegiate varsity athletics, the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), the UST Growling Tigers advances to their own version of the stepladder knockout round 2 as they bested the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday behind the huge efforts of this year’s virtual Most Valuable Player Soulemane Chabi Yo.

With this victory, the Coach Aldin Ayo led Tigers march on to go head to head with the UP Fighting Maroons. UP head coach Bo Perasol would have to tweak his game plan against the Tigers as this has proven to be a tough match up for the Diliman based dribblers this season.

Armed with a twice to beat advantage against UST, UP could not afford to rest their laurels since the Espana based quintet can easily nuetralize UP’s height advantage by way of their Tiger mayhem defensive press and torrid three point shooting.

I expect UST to continue playing to their strengths in this matchup. The full court press and half court man to man has been a very reliable weapon for them. UP, meanwhile, needs to also focus on what they do best.

They are stronger down low with the presence of Bright Akhuetie who can outmuscle Chabi Yo in the paint. Kobe Paras can also slice through the lane at will opening opportunities for a post feed or a kick out to UP’s riflemen. The Maroons would have to deliberately slow it down and not try to outrun the Tigers and beat them on their game because running with the Tigers would almost guarantee a win for the Espana ballers.

College basketball at its best. That’s what sums up the next few weeks as we look forward to who will challenge the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the San Beda Red Lions on their respective plans to sweep the UAAP and the NCAA this season.

The 2nd Subaraw Biodiversity Festival

Happier days are here, Palawan. We are all keenly waiting for the upcoming Week’s Festivities celebrating the 2nd SUBARAW Biodiversity Festival. This holds a special place in my heart being the first ever Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) Festival Partners Foundation President last year. I know that this year aims to be bigger and better than the last as we slowly insert national flavour to our annual PPUR festivities. I wish the local government led by our very own Hon. Mayor Lucilo Bayron and the PPUR Festival Partners Foundation officers the very best in hosting the event this year.

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


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