The UP Fighting Maroons will be going up against the FEU Tamaraws tomorrow afternoon, their second straight game where they will be fighting for separation in the standings, and against the team touted as the “heavily favored team” during the beginning of the standings.
This FEU squad is the same squad who won double-digit victories over ADMU and DLSU. And before we forget, this team has the next least rookies in the league, as well as the next most holdovers from last season, where they were runners up to the NU Bulldogs.
Guess which team they are second to in terms of least rookies and most holdovers?
Yes, to UP.
But what does that mean?
None so much really.
Because when these two teams take on each other tomorrow afternoon, the only thing that will matter is that by the end of the game, one team will be 3-1 (tied at first with Ateneo and UST), and the other will be 2-2.
As of this writing, the only team sporting a winless record is Adamson University. The NU Bulldogs finally earned a victory, and in convincing fashion as they defeated the previously unblemished Growling Tigers. Just a couple of days ago, the standings were quite unfamiliar to many who are not used to seeing teams like Ateneo, NU at the bottom, and UP at the top.
Now, things seem to be back to normal.
Unless… the Maroons have a different agenda.
A win by UP tomorrow will bring them a more secure spot on the top half of the rankings, together with UST and Ateneo. After the Tamaraws, the Maroons will be tackling Adamson, NU and Ateneo. UP will only need one win out of those three for the Maroons to end the first half with a winning record of 4-3. The last time the Maroons had such a record ending the first half was… Anybody old enough to remember when?
But before we get ahead of ourselves with the possibilities, first things first.
It’s not really a question of whether the Maroons can or cannot defeat the Tams. They showed in their last three games that they can. Beating a UE team that is now 2-1 also in the standings and riding on the heroics of rookie Edson Batiller, a Jeron-Teng led DLSU squad that boasts of landing prospective ROY Andrei Caracut, and giving the league-leading Tigers a scare during their previous tiff, the Maroons are capable of upsetting the heavily favored Tams.
The question is… How?
Head coach Rensy Bajar gave his boys 24 hours after their loss to lament their defeat to UST.
That was a week ago.
For sure, the Maroons’ lead tactician have already laid out his game plan to his ballers. They must have burned hours of practice time to simulate all the possible scenarios when they take the Morayta squad on the floor tomorrow. Each of the guys who will suit up for battle tomorrow have all their work cut out already by tomorrow. They must have done a checklist of sorts on what to do with who, on such and such a moment of the game.
But the sketches on the drawing board and the stench of your opponent on the open court are two different things. When the Diliman squad steps on the battle field tomorrow afternoon, they will have to set aside thoughts about the other three games ahead of them. They will have to ignore the possibility of getting into that press conference after sealing a victory. They will have to stop imagining how the headlines will be on Monday in all the sports columns of the broadsheets and tabloids. And they will have to tear into pieces anything “on paper” about the FEU’s team.
When the play ball tomorrow, what they have in front of them is an opponent that must be defeated.
But if there’s one thing the UP Fighting Maroons can put their minds into when they take on the FEU Tamaraws, it is this…
…this game is a chance at legitimacy for them.
That’s simply all there is to it.
Not the same, but still the same.
There are many things that can be said about the 67-59 loss of the UP Fighting Maroons to the UST Growling Tigers yesterday afternoon at the MOA Arena.
For sure, it can be said that the Maroons showed the “fighting” spirit that they carried in their name. They were able to capture the lead in the game once, 27-25, after trailing by as many as 11 in the third quarter.
Still, they lost.
Not only did they show they can take the lead at any point of the game coming from a deficit, but they showed that many times. They tied the game at 37 all in the third, and closed to within three points going into the fourth quarter. Two minutes left in the ballgame, UP had threatened within three, 57-54.
Still, they lost.
This was a breakout game for the up and coming stars of the UP. Diego “Legend” Dario, the sophomore Batang Gilas guard, frontlined the Maroons squad with 15 points, while fellow RP Youth teammate Paul Desiderio had 12 markers. The game showcased the arsenal of these 2nd year playmakers that will surely be integral pieces for UP’s road to redemption in the years to come.
Still, they lost.
Coach Rensy Bajar and his coaching staff showed that they can adjust to any type of play that the opponent can run. They were quick to know which players to field in whenever the other team made necessary changes. Looking at how UP answered UST’s rallies proved that the Maroons are now playing smarter basketball than before.
Still, they lost.
Down by just two points ending the third quarter 42-40, the Maroons soon felt the full display of Ed Daquioag’s weapons, who led all scorers with 26 points. But instead of cowering and whimpering away from the battle, the Maroons went toe to toe with the King Tiger. The Tigers, despite the offensive frenzy of Daquioag and Kevin Ferrer, could not shrug off the Maroons’ pesky defense, which forced turnovers, on which UP capitalized and got good points to slowly shave off UST’s lead to bring the game to a close duel.
Still, they lost.
Comparing the way the UP Fighting Maroons lost to the UST Growling Tigers last Saturday to they way they would usually bow out of a game, one cannot help but notice a big and significant improvement in the way the Maroons fought. The defense has been key to them preventing their opponents from goring them up to bits by big leads, as well as dousing any hot fire of runs that their foes wage. Despite the sterling performances of their opponents’ key offensive stars, they were able to limit others from adding more points, such as Karim Abdul and Louie Vigil. If in the past the Maroons could not even recover from a 10-point lead by their opponent all throughout the game, this time they showed that they can give their enemies a run for their money. UP has shown that now they can answer back every volley of shot by their enemies, stand their ground on defense, and keep the game close until the dying seconds, unlike in the past seasons when everyone can predict the ending of their games as a foregone conclusion.
Yes, the way the Maroons lost this time around is not the same as before.
Still, they lost.
And no matter what explanations we offer, a loss is still a loss.
The challenge is to move on, regroup, recover, and continue fighting. And the UP Fighting Maroons will have plenty of room to adjust whatever they need to get that third win. They have a couple of days in their hands to prepare themselves for the fray, scout their next target, get their minds into the game and focus on the task at hand. And the last thing they should do is to feel “ok” about the loss.
Because a loss is a loss no matter how good the game was played, just as a win is a win no matter how sloppy it was earned.
Not the same. But still the same.
How quickly can a crashing low follow a once-in-a-blue moon high?
The UP FIghting Maroons found out the answer to that just three days after upseting the FEU Tamaraws, with a 68-49 beating by the UST Growling Tigers last Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
UP marked only 17 points for the first half, with only five in the second quarter. UST, on the other hand, was also having a bad day as far as offense, but got a little bit lucky with the Diliman Squad sffering worse in their offense than the Espana ballers.
The leading scorers for the Maroons during their tiff with FEU did not even reach double digits. Jelo Montecastro led all Maroon players with 9 points only. UP’s leading scorer Jett Manuel all of a sudden went absent, scoring only five.
UST wasn’t lucky also, losing Jeric Teng in the early minutes of the game due to a sprained ankle. But Jeric Fortuna took the lead with 16, trailed by Melo Afuang with 13, and with bench of the Tigers performing better than they did the last three losses they have posted.
The Fighting Maroons dropped to 2-4 in the standings, and will try toavoid tying with NU at six and seven, as they go up against Adamson University on Thursday. UST on the other hand will try to go beyond the .500 line by squaring off with DLSU, also sporting a 3-3 win-loss record.
We continue with part two of part two of our series on the best of the UAAP Schools as far as their contribution to Philippine basketball is concerned.
Former UE Red Warriors Allan Caidic took over Rino Salazar as playing coach for Barangay Ginebra until he eventually took over as the head coach. While his career as coach wasn’t as colorful as his career as a player, Caidic was able to keep the respect he has earned during his early years as a basketball player by involving himself with charity games, as well as playing games together with the retired players from the league. He had a chance of leading Barangay Ginebra to the Finals in 2001.
Incidentally, he coached a team that has been long coached by a fellow UE Red Warrior, the living legend and former senator Robert Jaworski. Jaworski won four championships as a coach, and was part of the National Team that won two golds, a silver and a bronze in the FIBA games from 1967 to 1973. His prolific career as one of PBA’s most lasting image makes him also the oldest active player ever in professional basketball, as he was still playing at age 50. Aside from Caidic and Jaworski, another reknowned PBA coach hailing from UE was Jaime “Jimmy” Mariano, who led the now-defunct Presto team to its 1990 All-Filipino Championship Title.
The Adamson Falcons is the proud alma mater of coach Kenneth Duremdes, who called the shots for the Coca-Cola Tigers in 2008, the team he also played for the last time as a pro-cager. He was preceded by another UAAP product, Binky Favis, a former UST Growling Tiger, and succeeded by a fellow UAAP player he had a chance of playing against during their college days, coach Bo Perasol of the UP Fighting Maroons.
The UP Fighting Maroons, though not much known for winning traditions in UAAP Basketball, has been the breeding ground for most of PBA’s best coaches. Aside from Lipa, Altamirano and Perasol, coaches Ryan Gregorio and Yeng Guiao are the other two PBA coaches who were proud products of UP. Gregorio recently moved over to the Meralco Bolts as the new head coach, while Guiao is head tactician for the Burger King Titans.
Coach Derrick Pumaren, the older of three other known Pumaren coaches (Franz and Dindo), is the third UE Red Warrior among the roster of PBA’s coaches. After serving as Norman Black’s assistant during San Miguel’s Grandslam Season, he went on to coach for five other PBA Teams.
Former UST Growling Tiger Siot Tanquincen coached the Barangay Ginebra Kings in 2004 and led them to winning the PBA Fiesta Cup championship. He would win back-to-back for the next conference, the Philippine Cup. With 3 championships under his belt, Tanquincen is currently the assistant to former La Salle Green Archer Jong Uichico who coached the San Miguel Beermen for seven years starting 1999, leading the team to 6 championships.
While he is mostly known to have steered an NCAA team, the San Sebastian Stags, to five straight titles, coach Arturo “Turo” Valenzona is a full-blooded UAAP product, hailing from Far Eastern University‘s basketball program. he actually coached FEU for 19 years, one of the longest tenures in collegiate coaching, and won seven championships, giving the Tamaraws the most number of championship harvests in its college history under one coach, and making FEU as the school with the most UAAP basketball championships.
All in all, 16 of the 40 enlisted and documented coaches, past and present, of the PBA were products of UAAP schools.
(P.S. Apologies for the other coaches that are not in this list due to limited availability of resources. These details were gathered from Wikipedia).
5. NU Bulldogs
New leadership proved very effective for the NU Bulldogs, as their new coach Eric Gonzales steered the former whipping boys of the league to a decent 50% output this season–seven wins and seven losses. That’s fair enough from last season’s 3-11 card. They will keep most of their players for next year, and by then, the Bulldogs might just make it to Final Four. Of course, we’ve said this kind of forecast already for another team, which ended up zit, and so everything is still up for grabs for NU and the other three teams. But, overall, the Bulldogs have finally exorcised their demons of past defeats, and have finally emerged as a solid club. One more notch higher in their level of playing and they’re looking at a Final Four entry by next year.
6. UE Red Warriors
When the season began, the UE Red Warriors were suddenly bit by the post-finals appearance slump bug, which earned them a dismal 1-6 standing win-loss stat in the first round. Coach Lawrence Tiongson bluntly gave his prognosis about why his team is all of a sudden plunged from second to the highest, to second to the lowest. It was after that confession and repentance that the UE Red Warriors suddenly became the UE Red Warriors again. They were able to win all but one game in the second round to improve to slot number 6, which, while is still a far cry from their standing last season, is already a big indication that they can elevate their playing level at any given square-off. While rebuilding their host of players will be quite different next season, the Warriors, particularly coach Tiongson, are in a better position now to crank up their rally for season 74. They might be back in the final four as well.
7. UST Growling Tigers
The Espana-based cagers were depleted of their veterans from season 72, and wasn’t expected to be that much of a powerhouse team coming into this season. Nevertheless, managing 4 wins has earned the Growling Tigers more experience points which will make them ready and raring for next season. By then, this team’s line-up will have matured, especially their point guards. These days, it seems like efficient point guards make a difference in a team. And UST has some potential in Jeric Teng and Clark Bautista. Their maturity, and the addition of a couple of big men into the center position, is a big must for UST to climb its way back to its winning form.
8. UP Fighting Maroons
This is the part where I experience the writer’s mental block. Partly because I don’t know where to start, and partly because I don’t know how to start. Giving your take for your team isn’t as easy as giving one for the other team, especially if your team is this year’s cellar-dweller…again. And what makes it even worse is that there’s not much winning to talk about–after all, UP didn’t even win a single game. What’s even aggravating is that, before I started writing this blog, I was reading two blog posts–one was the perfect season of the San Beda Red Lions, the NCAA champs for this season, and an article about UP’s Basketball Program now in disarray. One minute I was in envy mode, the other, in frustration. And the article was as gloomy as a bad weather on a funeral service. The article talks about why UP’s season went south, and how as early as now, the good prospects of UP for next season are exiting from the program one by one, after seeing perhaps one of the saddest collapse in college basketball history. You may want to read the article and see it for yourself.
But I think that’s enough despair, already. Perhaps the one good thing is that the UP MBT is back to that starting point where “there’s no way but UP.” As always, year in and year out, I keep my hopes high for UP. The UP Community, while it must endure a full year in the cellar, will also have a cleaner slate this time to restart and rebuild the program. I’m tempted to say “basketball isn’t really UP’s forte,” but I don’t think that’s needed right now. I don’t believe in jinxing fortunes, so as early as now, I believe UP will have its sweet vengeance next season. I maybe wrong, but then I maybe right as well.
Everything’s a ‘wait and see’ for now.
Among the best and greatest tacticians of Philippine basketball, a throng of UAAP-bred coaches stand out among the rest. Here, in the second of our blog series on the best of the UAAP in the sport of basketball, we take a look at the roster of PBA coaches and assistant coaches since 1975 who were products of the UAAP.
Bogs Adornado of the UST Growling Tigers, the same player who was the first winner of the PBA’s MVP Award, coached the Alaska Aces in 1989, before giving up the post to Tim Cone, who has since been the only coach of Alaska.
The former La Salle Green Archer Gee Abanilla, is currently the assistant coach of the San Miguel Beermen. He had a collegiate coaching stint with the CSB Blazers in 2008 before giving the post to Caloy Garcia.
Though now coaching for an NCAA team, Letran’s head coach Louie Alas was a former Adamson Soaring Falcon. His short and controversial stint as head coach of Mobiline 2001 opened up a door for him to coach the Letran Knights, which immediately won a championship under his tutelage. Alas also holds the distinction of leading the Manila Metrostars of the now defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association to 22 straight games, the most by any ball club in basketball history.
Perhaps unknown to many, while Benjie Paras was the face of the UP Fighting Maroons when it won its championship in 1986, it was Eric Altamirano who won the MVP Awards that year. His first try at college coaching for UP resulted in the Fighting Maroons entrance to the Final Four ten years after he had won as a champion Maroon himself. That was the last of UP’s Final Four appearance since then until now. Altamirano has also successfully led the Mobiline Phone Pals to winning the PBA Centennial Cup in 1998.
Altamirano’s predecessor was the bemedalled Joe Lipa also from the UP Fighting Maroons. Lipa was the coach of UP when it won its 1986 championship. Lipa, who is currently UAAP’s commissioner, coached the now defunct Formula Shell in 1987 and in 1994. He also had a stint with Air21.
Each of the eight current schools comprising the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) have a claim in basketball history here in the country. It’s nice to take a sweeping view of how our college ball clubs have made a significant impact in the history of the sport since it was introduced here in the early 20’s.
For this first in a series of blogs about the best of the UAAP Schools in Basketball, we’ll take a look-back at the past MVP’s of the Philippine Basketball Association who were graduates of a UAAP school.
The first ever MVP of the PBA was Bogs Adornado of the Crispa Redmanizers, and he was a proud University of Santo Tomas alumni. He also won that award thrice, the second best record in league history, next to Ramon Fernandez and Alvin Patrimonio, each with 4.
The University of the East boasts of producing the most number of distinct MVP’s coming from the same school. The “Living Legend” Robert Jaworski, triggerman Allan Caidic, and the recent awardee of the MVP award, James Yap, were all Red Warriors.
Benjie Paras, the only PBA player to have ever won both MVP and ROY awards in the same year, is a product of the UP Fighting Maroons.
Danny Ildefonso, on his way to winning back-to-back MVP honors from 2000-2001, won the Best Player of the Conference award five straight times, the most by any player in the PBA. Ildefonso was a product of the NU Bulldogs.
13 of the 35 times that the MVP Award was given went to former UAAP players. Johnny Abarrientos from the FEU Tamaraws, and Kenneth Duremdes from the Adamson Soaring Falcons complete the list of players in the PBA who have won the MVP honors, all coming from the UAAP.
In summary, the following PBA MVP Awardees were from the UAAP:
1. Bogs Adornado (UST, three times)
2. Robert Jaworski (UE)
3. Allan Caidic (UE)
4. James Yap (UE, two times)
5. Benjie Paras (UP, two times)
6. Kenneth Duremdes (AdU)
7. Johnny Abarrientos (FEU)
8. Danny Ildefonso (NU, two times)
The first round of atrocities in the UAAP have just wrapped up. Here are the standings so far after 49 games:
1. FEU (7-0)
2. AdU (5-2)
3. ADMU (5-2)
4. DLSU (4-3)
5. NU (3-4)
6. UST (3-4)
7. UE (1-6)
8. UP (0-7)
Let’s take some time out to analyze how it ended up this way for the teams:
We knew this was coming for the Tamaraws, especially when they handed the Eagles their first loss. That one would have gone forgotten–until La Salle followed suit to defeat Ateneo. That was in itself a statement that the Eagles are no longer in the lofty position they used to enjoy. The Tams have taken it from away from them, and are expected to keep it that way after round two. It won’t get any easier, though–this second round is all about seeding and survival, and so FEU will be the team to catch up. After all, there’s nothing higher than the top.
The Falcons made sure they lived up to their tag name “Soaring”, now that they’re up to the number two spot, tied with a fellow avian in ADMU. They will surely make it to the Final Four this year, and with how things are going for them, even the Finals isn’t a far reach anymore. The timely stepping up of their veterans in their games helped a lot in improving their standings. Indeed, they will not be denied this year.
The loss of their key players from last year’s champion team has unraveled the Eagles into where they are now. Still, they are as formidable as ever. They are the team that won with the largest margin in a game, against their neighbor UP. Only one of the two losses they incurred so far are inexplicable, the one that La Salle handed to them. It’s been so good so far for the Eagles when it comes to being a final four contender. As for that three-peat, Ateneo has some serious matters to tackle to make it to the Finals.
Surprise, surprise, college ballers! La Salle is on the top half of the list! Thanks to the renewed and recharged roles of their key veterans under the new leadership of Coach Dindo Pumaren, the Archers are on slot number four, a place that was being reserved for some other team than them. But since they won their opening game against UP, going on to defeat their rival Ateneo, and a couple more, La Salle ahead of the other half of the pack. The only danger is that if they slip, they might be the first to be ousted of their spot in the standings. And they shouldn’t underestimate who are the other four hungry for their share.
They definitely have graduated from being the league’s whipping boys. The new leadership of Eric Gonzales is working for the team. Emmanuel Mbe has done wonders for the team’s chemistry, and it might just be that they can catch up with the rest of the team ahead of them. It’s the “work harder” part of their game that they should really work harder on.
They’re relatively better than the other teams, considering their loss of their big time players and scorers. The rookie-laden UST has actually proved that age doesn’t matter, and neither does experience. They’ve win a couple of games, and lost the others in close calls. If there is any consolation to their performance, they can get better actually. The next seven games are crucial for them, since they’re just two games away from making it to the top half of the standings.
We knew UE would slide down, but not THIS down. Apparently, their loss of their big Warriors from last year’s roster has cost them a lot. And while Paul Lee is leading the way, it seems he’s doing it on the floor alone. Their single win came at the expense of UP, the cellar-dwelling team so far. That actually tells you how possibly weak UE has become. But seven games can still make a difference, and UE can still hope for the best.
I’m tempted to go lengthy on this one–and who wouldn’t? After being the most talked about team to finally make it this year, the UP Fighting Maroons are nowhere to be found in the winner’s radar. And their last loss to NU wasn’t exactly how they wanted to end the season–a monumental collapse that saw their 22 point edge over the Bulldogs disappear to become a 4-point defeat. And I really don’t know what to do with all the woes they are experiencing right now–the switching of of coaches in the middle of the season, the unusual sponsoring from big companies, the US trip that supposedly “gelled” the team”, the inconsistency of the veterans, the failure of the sophies to step up, and the rookies who have simmered down from their hype. The UP community is ailing and reeling over this one, and that’s one thing you can never blame them of. For now, the hope is that the Maroons won’t get swept again for the second time in four years.