It’s the Virginia Cavaliers bagging this year’s US National Collegiate Athletic Association championship over Texas Tech via an 85-77 Monday overtime victory, Palawan. The Cavaliers drew solid performances from De’Andre Hunter (27 points) and Kyle Guy (24 points) as they engaged the Red Raiders in a thrilling NCAA final finish.
US college ball has never been so competitive. The Duke Blue Devils, proud owner of 3 potential NBA lottery picks this year, bombed out in the Elite Eight (quarterfinals) of basketball’s March Madness. This says a lot about how US college basketball programs maintain their level of competitiveness. The basketball court is just one of the battlegrounds that a program needs to sustain a competitive team. We also need to think about how these colleges recruit for their future on the advent of one and done college players, how they provide scholarships and educational support, how they house their athletes and of course, training and developing them to be blue chip players.
We can learn a lot about how colleges operate in the varsity field. We see some stable programs in our very own varsity leagues in the UAAP and NCAA but we are very much behind on how the US sustains their programs. For us to be world beaters, we need to mirror a few best practices on how the powerhouse countries maintain their foothold in sports.
Wrangling for the Last Spot in the Eastern Conference
It literally boiled down to the last game of the 2018 – 2019 National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season to determine the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference….. and the Detroit Pistons, after being chased wildly by the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Bobcats, emerged victoriously. The Pistons head coach Dwayne Casey proved that he really is a playoff coach having stirred the Toronto Raptors, his former team, to multiple late-round playoff appearances including a few disappointing Eastern Conference finals showdowns against the then Lebron James led Cleveland Cavaliers.
Casey was able to make the most of the 4-5 combination of Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin besting opponents down low, a key playoff strategy. I noticed that teams predominantly play small ball in the regular season and then start adding size at the tail end or close to the playoffs when the demand for low post play becomes an advantage in the grind to the NBA finals. The Pistons, however, applied this strategy right from the start so I believe they can come up with a string of surprises here and there.
The team from Motor City, however, will face a solid opponent in the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks, a team which added height and heft late in the season by signing veterans Pao Gasol and Nicola Mirotic.
It is back to the playoffs, Palawan. Games will be more exciting and I personally can’t wait for the postseason to get started this weekend. The finals this year will guarantee a new champion in the east and early favorites include the Bucks, the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and even the Philadelphia 76ers.
The west seems to still be Dub flavored with the Golden State Warriors peaking at the right time. While we await who would take the 2019 NBA crown, let’s see how things evolve in the boardroom as teams position themselves for free agency in the summer. The NBA never sleeps, Palawan.
(The writer is a senior leader of the only Business Process Outsourcing Contact Center company in Puerto Princesa)