My Top Local Basketball Stories of 2011

The Lourdes School of Mandaluyong Trojans burst thru
the Milo BEST scene to claim their first National Title.
(image from the BEST Center Facebook page)

The Future of Philippine Hoops: The 2011 Milo BEST SBP & Passerelle Champs
In their first time ever to play in the National Finals, the Lourdes School of Mandaluyong Trojans subdued the Ateneo de Davao Blue Knights, last year’s runner-ups, to bag the SBP crown. The Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles, meanwhile, defeated the Holy Child School of Davao Reds for a title repeat in the Passerelle Division. The guys to look out for? LSM’s Luis Miguel Velasco and Benedict Cruz formed a formidable scoring pair, while Dariel Manliguez was the top-scorer for Ateneo de Davao. LSM’s Gian Mamuyac is also another player making waves in the elementary hoops level. Rendell Senining and Janjan Jaboneta from SHS, Kenneth Aguanta from Holy Child and Xavier’s Jarrell Radley Lim and Isaac Go are the guys to watch from their age group. Take note of these names, because in 4 or 5 more years, we could be seeing them leading our favorite UAAP or NCAA teams.

Dariel Manliguez from Ateneo de Davao is
a prime young talent.
(image from Dariel Manliguez's Facebook page)

Ray Parks as a Yellow-Jacket?  
Ray Parks was one of the most hotly-recruited and hyped players coming into the UAAP. He was a star in the Tennessee high school circuit and was reportedly signed-up by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for the 2011-2012 US NCAA season. Instead of that, of course, we all know he chose to stay here to become an NU Bulldog and member of the Sinag-Pilipinas National Team. Despite all the awesomeness he showed during his stint in the UAAP and the 2011 SEA Games, Parks will be remembered, at least by the guys on the other side of the Pacific, as a lost boy in one of the strangest recruiting scenarios in US NCAA history.

The Phenom Stays a Blue Eagle
Despite a plethora of offers from every school in the collegiate spectrum (and even if they won’t openly admit it), Kiefer Isaac Ravena made the choice to stay with the Blue & White. No hoopla. No presscon. No TV exclusive. Just him posting his decision on Facebook and Twitter. And why is this so significant? Because Kiefer Ravena is good enough to be the face of Philippine Basketball for years to come. Because he’s good enough to change not just the fortunes of a game or a team, but perhaps of a country as well. And, for Ateneans, his decision may have desensitized the sting of a similar scenario more than 10 years ago.

Ateneo Nabs 4th Straight UAAP Crown 
The Ateneo Blue Eagles were tagged to win it all in Season 74 of the UAAP. After all, they had the most enviable pair of newcomers in the Seniors ranks – Greg Slaughter and Kiefer Ravena – join the remnants of the 3-peat core – Nico Salva, Justin Chua, Bacon Austria, Kirk Long and Emman Monfort among others. Norman Black remaining as coach and winning the Filoil Flying V Summer League further hyped up their chances. And they didn’t disappoint. Towards the end of the elimination round, people were even talking sweep, until the Adamson Soaring Falcons derailed that objective. The Eagles, however, disposed of UST in the Final Four and then got two straight over the FEU Tamaraws to bag the school’s first 4-peat. And with only 3 guys exiting the roster outright, Ateneo’s chances for an historic 5-peat are still rock-solid.

The Blue Eagles give thanks at the iconic Chuch of the Gesu after
winning their fourth UAAP crown in a row.
(image by Philip Sison/

PBA on the Rise
There was a time when the PBA was THE basketball league in town. There was a time when traffic was nonexistent and crime rates dropped because Toyota and Crispa were playing each other. Now that kind of phenomenon is reserved for Manny Pacquiao fights and, to a lesser extent, Ateneo-La Salle games. The PBA has fallen behind the NBA and the UAAP as the most-watched basketball tournament/league in the local shores. But the PBA is coming back strong and 2011 has injected more relevance in the league, which was floundering early on in the 2000s. Because of the influx of great talent, the trust that the new commissioner invites, the return to a 3-conference format, improving media coverage, and, well, the NBA Lockout, the local play-for-pay league saw a steep rise in receipts and revenue. The PBA will probably never enjoy another golden age akin to the Robert Jaworski days, but it will definitely not fade into obscurity anytime soon.

The next time Filipinos will see Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Javale McGee, Derek Fisher, Tyreke Evans and Derrick Williams all in the Araneta Coliseum to play against Philippine selections will be… never. Both the PBA Selection and Smart-Gilas wound up on the losing end, but all the Filipino fans all wound up the winners. And that’s the most important thing. Thank you Manny Pangilinan! Anything you touch turns to gold! Well, almost (read on).

National Teams = National Tears
2011 was a big year for our National Basketball Teams. We had the FIBA-Asia Champions Cup, the Jones Cup, the SEABA tourney, the SEA Games and the all-important FIBA-Asia meets (qualifiers for bigger tournaments). Needless to say, all we have to show for are a third-place finish in the Jones Cup, a men’s gold in the SEABA and SEA Games, and a women’s silver in the SEA Games. Smart-Gilas wound up fourth both in the Champions Cup and the FIBA-Asia Men’s Competition, Energen Pilipinas finished fourth in the U16 tournament in Vietnam, and our U16 Women’s team was humiliated in Jinan, China. Despite having an effective naturalized big man in Marcus Douthit and a load of corporate sponsors, our National Basketball Teams still failed to come up with gold in the Asian-level competitions. We’re getting there, but the road will still be tough. And those Koreans really are our contrapelos. Damn.

Asi Taulava defends against Jordan's Zaid Abbas during
their match-up in the 2011 Jones Cup.
(image from
Next Post »
0 Comment