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Nowhere To Go but UP… And it started Yesterday!

If you got a notification that a new post just went up here at rcandcess.wordpress.com, that means only one thing…

…UP won in the UAAP.

So, welcome back me.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

——

A new logo. A new coach. And a new system of play.

Do these spell a new chapter of fortunes for the UP Fighting Maroons?

Hopefully the UP Fighting Maroons’ 62-55 victory over the UE Red Warriors on opening day of UAAP S78 will mean the start of better days ahead for them.

Incidentally, it was also UE who was on the losing end of the game the last time UP won a season opener back in 2011. Prior to that, the Maroons were coming off a dismal 0-14 season, while this time around they are set to erase a previously set 1-13 record. For the past four seasons, the Diliman-based squad managed to win only 11 games in total. They’ve had a couple of changes in coaching staff, whose average lifespan in UP’s stables has been no more than a season and a half. The term “cellar dweller” has seemingly become default name tag for the Maroons. For most followers of basketball, UP could be easily considered a hopeless case.

But if there’s a group who never subscribed to the idea of being losers, it was the Maroons themselves, along with the throng of UP faithfuls who never left the sides of the ballers who proudly wore maroon and green on the floor. Through all those seasons of heartbreaking losses and winless records, the UP Community just kept on believing, because they have all the reasons to believe that one of these days UP will finally get the winning ways back.

After all, there’s nowhere to go but UP.

During the game we saw flashes of brilliance displayed by the likes of Dave Moralde, Paul Desiderio, Diego Dario, and of course Gelo Vito, who helped secure the win by sinking three treys that gave the Maroons the comfy lead. Then there’s the returning Jett Manuel, who actually returned after basketball training in the states. He and Mark Juruena are now the most senior among the players of UP right now, and they are the ones who I think really are most hungry for the wins that would break the dry losing spell for their beloved school in the game of basketball. Then the rookies Cheick Kone, Jerson Prado , Jan Jaboneta and Pio Longa give UP a fresh look and more cohesion, as some of them will provide the chemistry and connection along with veteran guard Henry Asilum.

Should we take new head coach Rensy Bajar’s prediction that this squad will land the final four this year? Well, they would say that is just wishful thinking. I’d rather say I’ll be hoping for the best and planning for the worst. Not that I believe in bad luck, but I just don’t want to be called the jinx.

For now, let us savor this opening win. Come Wednesday, UP will face DLSU, and the concept of a fluke should they lose. Not that we are suckers for losing and that we will just settle for a short-lived celebration over one win. But should the next win come now or in any of the next 12 games, or never at all… We will stand by the UP Fighting Maroons


Can the Maroons Slay The Giants?

Can the underdog beat the big shots?

 

A lot will say yes.

 

So can the UP Fighting Maroons defeat the other teams come Round 2 of the UAAP?

 

A lot will say no.

 

But who cares about the “lot” anyway?

 

If you want answers ask these three guys:

 

Mikee Reyes. Mark Juruena. Moriah Gingerich.

 

The three most veteran players of the UP Fighting Maroons carry with them more than just the battle scars of past defeats. They’re not merely survivors of multiple winless seasons. And surely they’re not just the hapless victims of criticisms thrown against a team that perennially inhabits the cellar of the standings.

 

They are witnesses.

 

Witnesses of a time when the underdogs prevailed over the champs.

 

Flashback: UAAP Season 72. The Maroons were coming off a 3-11 record from last year. They endured a 0-14 record two years earlier. They were entering the season as losers of their last three games of the previous one.

 

A little bit fast-forward: the fourth game of the season. Guess who the Maroons were playing…

 

The Ateneo Blue Eagles.

 

And how much of a giant was Ateneo? Well, just the previous year they won their first championship under the tutelage of Norman Black. And on their roster were players like Rabeh Al-Husseini, Nonoy Baclao, Jai Reyes, Eric Salamat, and Chris Tiu. Coming into the game against UP, they haven’t lost for six straight games since last season. UP, on the other hand, had lost six straight.

 

The team on top of the food chain versus the bottom dweller–get the picture.

 

It seemed the Eagles would have its way against the Maroons.

 

As it turns out, UP would pull the biggest upset of that season.

 

Here’s a look back to that game:

 

 

But that didn’t end there. On that same season, UP outlasted the DLSU Green Archers. Mikee Reyes knows and remembers this game very well.

 

 

Together with their win over NU, UP won only 3 games that season. By reason of point differential, UP dropped to 8th spot that season. Ateneo won their back-to-back championship that season. La Salle was ousted of the Final Four for the first time in the Franz Pumaren era.

 

Just so you know, ADMU’s record was 13-1 that season. The one blemish they endured came from UP.

 

Just so you know, DLSU’s record was 5-9 that season. The one loss that cost them the Final Four slot came from UP.

 

That’s right. From the 8th seeded UP Fighting Maroons.

 

And Juruena, Reyes and Gingerich were there.

 

So if you ask them, they’d most definitely say yes.

 

That underdogs can slay giants


Of Jerseys and Loyalties: The NBA Mid-Season Trade Postscripts

Dramas. Loyalties. Reunions. End of eras.

But also, among other things, a story of jersey swaps and stays.

Over the last 24 hours, the NBA Mid-Season Trade drama saw the likes of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol staying put to don their current jerseys for the remainder of the season (at least, for the time being). It also saw the end of Derek Fisher wearing a gold-and-purple, and will now be heading to Houston after 13 sessions and five championships with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. And it also saw Stephen Jackson’s return to his old San Antonio jersey, after being dealt by Golden State in exchange for Richard Jefferson (Golden State had been part of an earlier trade with Milwaukee, which also sent Andrew Bogut to Oracle).

Howard has been the face of the trade rumor mill for the past months. His flip-flopping between opting in or opting out had everyone hanging up to the last minute, awaiting if he will be switching jerseys for the very first time in his NBA career. Now that he’s staying put, every team that thought of chasing the big man are left with two options–stay with their current roster, or shake up their line-up, if they have the trading chips to do so.

Pau’s tweet update about his status can’t be any more clearer as a reflection of how hard it really can become when you’re body is on the floor but your mind is somewhere else. Now that, at least for the rest of the season, his future is certain, Gasol, and every one else who fought through the trade tribulation, can finally get back on the court and start playing seriously.

Now, it’s time to move on.

Next stop: the playoffs.

For more details on the recent trade, check out the  NBA Trade Deadline Tracker.


“Freaky” Rubio

So they’ve got different names already going around for Minnesota Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio.

Ridiculous Ricky. Ricky “The Real Deal”.

Reading his entry on Wikipedia, I picked up a word used by former NBA guard Pepe Sanchez in describing the 21-year old Spanish guard.

“I think he’s a freak of nature, being so young and being so skilled and also so cool all the time.” said Sanchez.

And so, based on my Google searching, seeing only at best one obvious match, I am officially dubbing this young freak of nature…

Freaky Rubio.

So far, based from all the youtube videos uploaded about him and his stint with DKV Joventut, he’s been living up to this newfound dub on him. In an interview with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during their match-up last December 30, the two all-stars gave high praises for Rubio and his unique feel for the game. Having squared off against him four years ago during the 2008 Beijing Olympics basketball finals, Wade made mention of his observations about Rubio’s amazing skills in passing, even comparing him to when Steve Nash was in his prime shape. Their observations came true as Rubio scored 12 and dropped 12 dimes, putting on a show that got Miami their first close call to losing that night. The Heat did escape with the 103-101 win over the Wolves, but the way Rubio played has everyone talking about him.

And I think I forgot to mention. He’s just 21.

He was the youngest player ever to go pro at 14 for the ACB League. He is the first ever player born in 1990 to have been drafted by the NBA. And to think that he waited for two more years before actually deciding to become part of the Wolves, makes you think why shouldn’t the basketball world talk about and notice this young guy make his presence felt in the NBA.

While the Wolves have yet to truly prove themselves as a winnable franchise this year, having Ricky Rubio around makes the prospect of their future brighter than ever. And you still have Kevin Love to think about.

Rubio has only been seven games old in the NBA, and his team has lost five of them. That, perhaps, is a reminder to every one expecting much from him that he still has a lot to go through. With all probability the time for Rubio and the Wolves to once again be contenders may not be this year. But if the two-year waiting for him to finally happen is now being paid off by his excellent ball passing skills, then would it be too much to wait for a few more seasons to sharpen him more until he becomes a star?

And by then, for sure, we’ll have to think of freakier name for him.


Rain of Treys Lift Spurs Past Mavs

The San Antonio Spurs had a ridiculous 16-for-33 shooting from beyond the arc to earn them a 93-71 win over the reigning champs Dallas Mavericks.

Not only was San Antonio clicking from all cylinders, but Dallas was uncharacteristically lacking on both ends of the floor, as they allowed the Spurs 33 chances of shooting from long range, while they were also struggling with a dismal 1-for-19 shooting from the rainbow.

Matt Bonner led all scorers for both teams with 17 points, 15 coming from 3-point area. Richard Jefferson shot 3 treys, while Gary Neal scored 12 points all coming from beyond the arc.

The story on Dallas’ side was worse, as only Jason Terry and Delonte West were the only Dallas players in double digits. Dirk Nowitzki was not Dirk Nowitzki that night, as he only scored 6 points. The Mavs also lost Jason Kidd that night to a lower back injury and is slated as day-to-day.

Manu Ginobili is set to sit it out for San Antonio for the next six weeks. This is the second win of San Antonio since losing their all-star guard to a finger fracture incurred during their tiff against the Minnesotta Timberwolves.

San Antonio will take a breather Friday, before going back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday against the Denver Nuggets and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Spurs go up 5-2 in the standings, while Mavs are down to 3-5.


Spurs Prove They Still Belong

The San Antonio Spurs are now up 2-0 after trampling the much-talked-about LA Clippers, 115-90.

Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 24 points, with a 5-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Richard Jefferson proved his doubters wrong and scored 19 with 3-for-4 from three point territory. DeJuan Blair, who had the unenviable task of guarding dunking phenom Blake Griffin, scored 20.

It was an impressive outing for the Spurs, despite the low output of their star player Tim Duncan, who only scored 10 points. Duncan, however, took command of the boards for the Spurs with 9. Point guard Tony Parker chipped in 14 for the team, but dropped 9 dimes out of San Antonio’s 27 assists.

The Clips’ new star Chris Paul was limited to only 3-10 field goal shooting, finishing the game with just 10 points and 9 assists. Blake Griffin led all scorers with 28 points and 9 boards. DeAndre Jordan was the only starter who was not in double digit scores with 8.

This has been relatively a good outing for the Spurs as they shot 52% from the field and a perfect 15-for-15 in the free throw line. The Clippers had a miserable 39% shooting percentage, and was out rebounded by the defensive side of San Antonio, whose big men were relatively shorter than either Griffin or Jordan.

The win gave the Spurs the continuous winning streak over the Clippers at the AT&T Center with 17 wins since January of 2002. The Spurs last won the first two games of the season in 2008.

The Spurs will hit the road for their game against Houston tomorrow, while Chicago will be visiting Los Angeles on Saturday, PST.


Oo Nga Naman 49

I thought this would fall under the “Oo Nga Naman” category after watching it. I’m sure you’ll agree. So for your viewing and listening pleasure you, we bring you an archive episode from Bill Cosby’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”


Calm Before the Storm: Previewing the UAAP S74 Second Round

Here are my takes on each of the eight UAAP teams, coming into the second round of action this season:

1. Ateneo Blue Eagles (7-0)

A perfect first round earns the defending champs an automatic target on their backs. But with the way things are going for Coach Norman Black and his hordes, maybe this is not yet the season a team with players not named Kiefer Ravena and Greg Slaughter can stand up against Ateneo and give them a serious run for their money. If ever they will incur a loss this season, I’m thinking it will be the other avian on the school list–Adamson–that can do it. But, for now, all roads to their fourth straight championship are clear and without any serious obstruction.

2. Adamson Soaring Falcons (5-2)

The Falcons are playing the best basketball they’ve ever played since Leo Austria was gifted with a Ken Bono on the roster. They are predicted to be the team that can pull off a win over the Eagles, provided they do what they do best–hot shooting from beyond the arc, as well as quickness in the open court. For sure, they’ll be keeping a strong hold on second place by the end of the season. And I believe, as of now, they have the biggest chances of making it to the Finals against Ateneo.

3. FEU Tamaraws (4-3)

The Tamaraws, I believe, has the most to prove this season–that things will be better with Coach Bert Flores back at the helm; that they have exorcised finally the ghosts of controversies past, that they’re serious and prepared for a championship run, and that UP just fluked their way to upsetting them. A better second round will help the Tamaraws settle all of this once and for all. Otherwise, the waiting goes on for them.

4. DLSU Green Archers (4-3)

The Archers are making their way back into supremacy, but I’m thinking they’re not in a hurry, or that there’s really no need to right now. Coach Dindo Pumaren knows the work ethic needed to get the ultimate goal, but he’s patient enough to get to it at just the right pace and timing. LA Revilla, along with the veteran leadership of Atkins, Webb, Villanueva and Andrada, the Archers are good enough to contend in the playoffs, but it will take more than double of what they’re doing right now if they want to forge a face-off against Ateneo.

5. UST Growling Tigers (3-4)

Just trailing the upper half of the standings by one game, the Growling Tigers are proving to be one of the underrated teams that can seriously gun for the final four. The offensive firepower of UST has been working well, and Coach Pido Jarencio has been preaching defense to his players more than he’s ever given a sermon about. The two Jerics, Teng and Fortuna, combine for UST’s quick one-two punch, but these two assassins alone will not do the trick. Paolo Pe, Melo Afuang, Chris Camus and the rest of the gang must beef up on their defense if they want to oust one of the top four out of playoff contention.

6. NU Bulldogs (2-5)

That NU is now at number 6 is actually a surprise for most of the UAAP followers, considering how the top admin guys of the school chipped out a significant amount of resources to revamp their basketball program, including the hiring of bemedalled coach Eric Altamirano and the drafting of phenom Bobby Ray Parks. But instead of proving that their bite is fiercer than their bark, all the Bulldogs have proven so far is that it will take more than just one player to carry the load of winning games. We’ll see this second round if the ‘Dogs will be finally unleashed.

7. UP Fighting Maroons (2-5)

If anything’s for sure about UP, it’s that they’ve improved from last season–two wins already as opposed to a winless season last year. Add to the that the upset they pulled off against the FEU Tamaraws. But that’s precisely the very reason why UP’s losses are hurting more this season than any other. They’ve got what it takes, and they know what it takes to win, to quote coach Ricky Dandan. All that’s left is for them to DO WHAT IT TAKES. Forget about who’s the real go-to guy for the Maroons. We’re talking teamwork, this time around.

8. UE Red Warriors (1-6)

Some say it was luck. Others say it was heart. I say it’s a mix of both that gave UE the win over NU, to exorcise the ghost of a possible winless season for the Warriors. Still with no go-to guy from among his players, Coach Jerry Codinera will have to dig deeper into the heart and soul of his roster and come up with the antidote to their dry spell for this season. Paul Zamar will have to embrace his role as the veteran leader, and get guys like Zosa and Labing-isa respond accordingly.