The EKWElizer

11 10 2007

The EKWElizer

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Hungry like the wolf?

29 09 2007

Don’t be deceived. The NCAA Finals for the Back to Back Champs San Beda Red Lions did not come easy. With a talent laden team like that, it can make things happen. In Game 1, every Bedan had the scare of their lives. The Red Lions could not seem to find its rhythm. For three successive quarters, the Letran Knights stood toe to toe with the most talented team in the NCAA. Coach Louie Alas, as good as he really is, had found the rarest solution to slow down the Red Lions. They denied Sam Ekwe breathing space inside the paint, denied the entry passes and forced San Beda to slow it down and play half-court.

But in the 4th Quarter, it was a different story. Yousif Aljamal, Borgy Hermida and especially, Ogie Menor, broke loose and delivered the most crucial game of the series.

During that lull towards Game 2, I also had my doubts if San Beda can sustain that kind of a run with an experienced coach in Alas running the show for Letran. In a championship series, especially in a close game. To remove my feelings of uncertainty, I went to visit the Red Lions den in practice to observe how will they adapt to counter Letran’s strategy. It turned out that Game 1 was a blessing in disguise.

For those who watched the game up close, the San Beda coaching staff was able to witness the line of attack of the Knights for 30 minutes. Letran, however, only saw San Beda’s counter move in the last 10 minutes. The Red Lions are just talented enough to thwart off any aggression by Letran. In other words, the Red Lions were on higher ground and they can see what’s ahead.

In Game 2 the story was very different. The Red Lions made Sam Ekwe the decoy and the 2nd or 3rd option on offense. Ekwe focused his efforts in controlling and patrolling the shaded area. The main focus of the offense were on Yousif Aljamal and Ogie Menor. And, the difference from the 1st game was, the Red Lions were able to go up tempo. In the open court, the Red Lions are unstoppable. That was were Coach Frankie Lim maximized his bench. And they delivered.

I hope the win erased the doubts that clouded over Coach Frankie Lim’s campaign. And besides, there is absolutely nothing wrong with surrounding yourself with able assistants.

But there are burning questions, not doubts, to San Beda’s next campaign.

The 1st time was sweet. The 2nd time was sweeter. The 3rd time, will be the ultimate coronation. There is no doubt that San Beda will go for it next year – a three-peat.

Will Frankie Lim coach the Red Lions next year? Does he want to do this again? Aljamal and Raymund Maggay will vacate Red Lions locker after this season, who will replace them? If the socks are available will they be ready in time for the next challenge? Can the Red Lions stay hungry?

What’s your opinion?





NCAA Finals: San Beda Red Lions goes B2B

26 09 2007

OOZING with confidence and a remarkable winning attitude in Game 2, the San Beda Red Lions has duplicated a feat they did in 1977 and 1978 – another back-to-back titles.

San Beda College, as expected, took charge in the early part and never looked back en route to a 76-64 demolition of Letran College to retain its crown last September 26, 2007 in the 83rd NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.

Pro-bound Yousif Aljamal started on fire in the first half and third year Rogemar Menor did the finishing touches in the final two quarters to give the Red Lions 13 crowns since joining the country’s oldest collegiate league in 1924.

San Beda Red Lions NCAA Season 82 and 83 Back to Back Champions:

Aljamal, who will suit up for Talk N’ Text next month in the PBA, torched the Knights’ porous defense earlier by firing 12 of his 24 points in the first period with 10 rebounds, while Menor piled up 12 of his 25 points in the payoff frame to lead his team.

“This is really memorable for me,” said Aljamal, who registered two triples, shot 6-of-8 from the field and had 6-of-10 attempts from the foul line. “For my last two years, I haven’t felt that we could win back-to-back. I’m really, really glad about this.”

Aljamal’s three-point play provided San Beda a 20-12 advantage with 2:21 minutes to go, and then back-up Bam Gamalinda scored three straight baskets to wow the Red Lions fans and close the first quarter ahead, 26-12.

“This is like my junior days when we won three straight titles from 2002 to 2005,” said Menor, who awarded as the Finals MVP after hitting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and firing 9-of-13 shots from the filed. “I’m hoping we could also make it three next year.”

Menor tallied 23 points to lead San Beda to a 76-68 win in Game one of its best-of-three championship series.

Letran tried its best to fight back in the second period, trimming the deficit to 30-20 after Rafael Jazul’s two consecutive treys with 6:55 minutes left before halftime. But Samuel Ekwe responded with two baskets to stretch the lead again, 34-20, with 5:14 minutes to go.

San Beda kept its 14-point advantage at halftime, 43-29, after Aljamal’s buzzer-beater lay-up.

The last time the Knights tied the count was during the first quarter when Raymark Gutilban hit a triple for an 11-all deadlock.

Guard John Melegrito scored on two straight lay-ups to cut the deficit, 47-52 – the nearest for the Knights in the second half – with 1:21 minutes to go in the third.

The Red Lions delivered the coup de grace by unleashing a crippling 16-6 burst, capped by Menor’s first 10 points in last quarter and wrest the lead for good, 71-55, with still 4:16 minutes to go. San Beda’s ruckus crowd were already jumping and celebrating.

“This is very sweet especially for me,” said San Beda’s rookie coach Frankie Lim, who was the top playmaker of the Red Lions when they won the 1977 and 1978 titles. “My players really worked hard for these back-to-back titles.”

“Letran fought hard, but our desire to win the championship was undeniable,” he added.

Although Aljamal and Menor were the only Red Lions who scored in double figures, San Beda’s unbreakable defense and ball-rotation proved to be the deciding factor.

The Red Lions had more assists than the Knights, 20-9. They also dominated on the defensive end with more steals (7-5) and blocked shots (9-2). San Beda’s gang rebounding, 50-38, was also the key to a series sweep.

Pong Escobal had seven points, while Gamalinda and Borgie Hermida finished with six points each. Escobal and Hermida merged for 12 assists.

Ekwe, the last year’s Rookie-MVP, had only four points but hauled down 13 rebounds and swatted away six Letran attempts.

Bryan Faundo and Rafael Jazul scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, for the Knights, and lost Dino Daa and Gutilban in the early part of the last quarter in foul trouble.

“San Beda took it away and we failed to extend the series for Mikko (Quinday),” said Louie Alas, the Knights coach. “We dedicated this game to him because this is his last playing year, but we failed.”

San Beda, with its two straight titles for an overall 13 crowns, has placed them No. 3 in the list of most number of Senior Men’s Basketball titles in the NCAA. First runner-up Letran stays on top with 15, followed by former member Ateneo with 14.

In the Locker Room:

Individual scores

SBC 76: Menor 25, Aljamal 24, Escobal 7, Hermida 6, Gamalinda 6, Ekwe 4, Taganas 2,
Tirona 2, Marcelo 0, Tecson 0, Lanete 0, Maggay 0.

Letran 64: Faundo 17, Jazul 14, Melegrito 8, Guevarra 6, Quinday 5, Daa 4,, Gutilban 3,
Dangcal 2, Foronda 2, Cabonce 2, Del Rosario 1, Reposar 0.

Quarter scores: 26-12; 43-29; 57-49; 76-64.





The NCAA Final 4 Preview – Red Lions vs. Cardinals

7 09 2007

September 12 will a day of reckoning for 4 semifinalists. Only two will remain to dispute this year’s plum. Who will they be? Let’s take a look at the first two protagonists.

San Beda College Red Lions vs. Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals (0-2 elimination round)
Mapua Cardinals

The moment these 2 were matched up everybody conceded that the Red Lions will eat the Cardinals alive. Don’t trust your conscience yet. The Cardinals are peaking at the right time and they are learning to play as a team. Even Coach Frankie Lim acknowledged that Coach Leo Isaac is a good coach if not, in my opinion, an excellent mentor to lead the Cardinals to the land of milk and honey. The Cardnilas have yet to show their potential but they have to do it as soon as they hit ground with the Red Lions. The main man chores will definitely go to combo guard stud Kelvin de la Pena. De la Pena will be surrounded by supporting casts namely: Jerby del Rosario, versatile Sean Co, Neil Pascual and Hermes Sumalinog. Jonathan Banal is usually in Coach Isaac’s starter list but I reckon, Banal will most likely be the sixth man for the Cardinals for this series, in a game like this, the Cardinals will have to start strong and Coach Isaac might initially stick with his veteran core. Teree Guillermo will most likely get his chance to show how good a shooter he really is. The Cardinals cannot afford a let down on offense if they want to keep up with the Red Lions. But who knows, lady luck might be on thier side, and a possible upset looms over this series.

San Beda Red Lions

During the absence of Yousif Aljamal, the Red Lions have proven that they can win shorthanded. There is no doubt the Red Lions boasts of a formidable line-up this year. Coach Frankie Lim’s usual starting five combination of Borgy Hermida, Pong Escobal, Ogie Menor, Yousif Aljamal and Sam Ekwe, after 2 games of waiting, will be back in this series. I might be pushing the stock of the Red Lions too much if I ask you how can the Cardinals match-up with the Red Lions in this series. We already know the Red Lions can go 9 to 10 deep – Raymund Maggay, Garvo Lanete, Riego Gamalinda even Chico Tirona and Jay-R Taganas might be given some minutes to give the others some time off the court. Last year, other teams used to double team Ekwe and that paid a lot of dividends for the rest of his teammates. Since he has possessed an array of shots just a foot away from the shaded area, I believe, and Coach Lim and the rest of the coaching staff should be confident about this, that last year’s ploy to contain Ekwe with double coverage will work for the Red Lions’ advantage. And this will pose problems for the Cardinals’ defensive rotation.

Pick: San Beda College in one (1) game.





The San Beda-Letran post game brawl

4 09 2007

In the aftermath of NCAA senior game between San Beda and Letran game last Friday at the Big Dome, hell broke loose.

Fans of both schools, calling each other names, threw popcorns, soft drinks, fries and even ice teas showing their displeasure after the game.

Where is the love? You might be smiling or laughing because that phrase is a title of a song. But I’m serious.

Thier respective fans even engaged in a fistfight, running around the areas of the Araneta Coliseum. Now you can call a La Salle-Ateneo rivalry history, maybe forgotten.

San Beda fans, by my side just near the Letran bench, were booing the Knights and even castigating them with unsympathetic words during the game.

The Letran fans, however, retaliated too. Of course a normal reaction.

We are only human. The law of Karma will take over. It’s a vicious cycle of i hurt you, you hurt them and you hurt me.

Late in the game, some fans of San Beda were booing and insulting the Letran team were one of the coaching staff reacted.

Mel Alas, the brother of Knights’ head coach Louie, also a former Adamson University and Las Piñas College mentor, was the coaching staff I’m referring to. He was pacified by his elder brother Louie and asked him to let it go.

After the game, Mel was insulted and even challenged by that certain San Beda fan. But he never listened to his brother. He tried to confront the fan but madness broke out from the stands. That even sparked the commotion between the fans from both schools.

Fr. Mateo De Jesus, president of San Beda College, called upon his fellow Bedans to calm down.
Some Bedans listened but didn’t.

The action resumed until those wide bodied Araneta security guards used their brute strength to separate the Letran and San Beda fans.

After five to 10 minutes, the Management Committee Chairman of host JRU Paul Supan and Henry Atayde of Saint Benilde went immediately to the press room to express their sympathy to the ugly turn of events.

They said they already got the list of the people involved and they will be banned for the rest of the season. They did not mention any single name. But anyway, let’s wait for further investigation.

Let’s stop fighting, let’s watch and support our team peacefully. Just a personal friendly reminder from us.





Ringside 109, who’s accountable?

2 09 2007

It was San Beda vs. Letran. Before the start of the ball game the NCAA member schools initiated ceremony to signify their togetherness. San Beda and Letran exchanged tokens – the Animo San Beda scarf and the Letran jacket. And so the game went on.

During the 3rd Quarter, while I was seated in the front row at Ringside 109 while enjoying the game, Mel Alas apparently caught fire with someone from the stands. And he was really upset. I have never seen Mel Alas in that mood except when he was coaching the Adamson Falcons in the UAAP but that’s another story. Sources said that someone threw something at him. Nothing big, but enough to catch his attention.

Letran Coach Louie Alas tried to pacify his brother. So far, he succeeded, and so we believe. Coach Louie asked the San Beda fans in R109, without pinpointing at anyone, and generally asking politely to impede whatever they intend to do next. And so the game went on peacefully with everybody enjoying the action. But eventually, the Knights would loose to the Red Lions in another classic encounter.

Right after the game all hell broke loose at R109. While I was at the dugout preparing to take a post game footage on the winner coach, I heard riot noise. I ran out and saw pet bottles, popcorn, empty cola cans and some coins were being thrown at the Letran Knights coaching staff and even players. It was a sight not to see. At the same time a nightmare in a time were hooliganism was a fad in the NCAA.

Now who’s responsible? From the San Beda spectator to Mel Alas, who should be responsible? Araneta security? the spectator? We can always point to whoever, but we know in our conscience who should take responsibility. Between the Letran Coaching staff and some players and the San Beda spectators, who should take responsibility? Araneta security, NCAA Mancom, spectators, who?

The NCAA Mancom’s treatment on this is – it happened right after the ball game. Probably the highlights of that incident that happened at the Palace in Auburn Hills between Detroit and Indiana are now running thru your mind. And it is true that there is a demarcation line between the spectators that pay to watch the game and the people that give you entrainment, in this case, the teams on the basketball court. You can even call it the 38th parallel. But whatever you call it, there is a clear boundary.

According to the NCAA Mancom, since there are no rules and penalties for this kind of “melee”, the Mancom will follow their line of thinking, for the sake of consistency, their reprimand on the previous incident that happened between Coaches Lim and Vanguardia – a STERN WARNING.

Too bad somebody got injured. But according to league sources charges will not be filed, maybe that someone knew they should take responsibility of the what ifs? – What if I just sat there, watch the game and keep the pockets to myself? Plus all the what ifs. The security was able to round up some of the spectators, got their names and will be banned from watching the games live in any venue. So how will this affect security? Thousands of fans will enter the venue how will and can you identify them? What will be your security strategy?

College Basketball, combining passion and tradition, is a sensational ride to experience. Emotions run high because you believe and fight for something – your school alma mater, your school spirit. But if your concept of school spirit is to translate your emotion to anger and your means to express those feelings is to turn to violence, man, get a life, you are in the wrong business.

According to the NCAA Mancom, they have warned the Araneta security personnel about an instance like this might happen. They even requested ropes and some kind of equipment to aid them in their crowd control efforts. But I guess the security personnel took it for granted and R109 turned out to be a UFC Ringside venue without the barricades.

But again, who is accountable?





Ekwe powers San Beda to victory, routs Perpetual

29 08 2007

Defending NCAA champion San Beda Red Lions, in full control all-throughout the game even without starting forward Yousif Aljamal, routed the University of Perpetual Help, 96-79, last August 29 in the 83rd NCAA men’s basketball at The Arena in San Juan City.

Inspired by the ruckus crowd, the Red Lions, behind Samuel Ekwe’s 10th double-double, got an early huge edge and never looked back to post their 10th win after 11 games to maintain the No. 1 spot.

“My teammates played well despite Yousif’s absence,” said the 6-foot-8 Nigerian Ekwe, who recorded a career-high 26 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the field along with 14 rebounds. “We just wanted to prove that we’re champions.”

San Beda’s last game in the elimination round will be against Letran on Friday and, still, it would play without Aljamal.

San Beda officials decided not to freeze the 6-foot-4 forward as part of their agreement with the NCAA Policy Board after the court case against the country’s oldest collegiate league was dropped by San Beda.

Even without the PBA-bound Aljamal, San Beda stayed invincible earlier as it posted a 30-15 bubble with 1:27 minutes left in the first period after Ekwe’s three impressive dunks – one against two defenders with 4:32 minutes to go for a huge 23-9 lead.

The Altas, through Mike Kong’s attempt to keep the game close, moved to within 38-46 with 5:14 minutes left in second period after connecting three straight unanswered baskets.

But the Red Lions headed by the trio of Ekwe, Menor and Escobal merged in the remaining minutes of the 2nd quarter with an 8-0 blast to close the halftime at 54-38.

San Beda turned the third quarter into a highlight reel, with Ekwe and Menor having great finishes. The Red Lions stretched their advantage to 80-57 at the end of the third period and they were never threatened the rest of the way.

“It was a must-win game for us,” said SBC mentor Frankie Lim. “I told my players before the game not to relax especially without Yousif. I’m happy with their performance because they really work hard.”

Guard Pong Escobal nailed 18 points, while Rogemar Menor added 15 points and Chico Tirona produced 10 points for San Beda.

Rommel Balboa led the Altas, now at 3-8, with 19 points, while teammate Mike Kong added 14 points.

Individual Scores:

SBC (96) – Ekwe 26, Escobal 18, Menor 15, Tirona 10, Hermida 6, Lanete 6, Gamalinda 4, Taganas 4, Marcelo 3, Caram 2, Maggay 2, Taupa 0, Padilla 0.

Perpetual Help (79) – Balboa 19, Kong 14, Lee 8, Dysam 7, Galabin 6, Manuel 6, Reyes 6, Liaz 5, Ynion 5, Febrian 3, Salanga 0, Mejos 0.

Quarter scores: 32-21; 54-38; 80-57; 96-79.