Off-Topic: So.. what did I miss?

A lot, apparently.

I was away from Hoop Nut for 99.9% of the past seven days for personal reasons of a medical nature. It was something absolutely urgent I had to attend to and, given how there was no wifi in the hospital at which my family was, wasn't really able to go online save for the few-and-far-between times I went back home to get some stuff and take care of other things.

It was maybe the longest I've gone without basketball maybe… ever. 

Beau Belga more than held his own against Zhang Zhaoxu
and the Shanghai Sharks.
(image by Paolo Papa/InterAKTV)

So, again, WHAT DID I MISS?

Let's list them down…

First, in the realm of the Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup --

I missed how the NU Bulldogs went 2-of-2 this week (over Perpetual and Adamson) to sit atop the Filoil standings with a 6-0 slate. Kudos to the Bulldogs, who, just like last year, are looking really strong in the summer.

Ray Parks and the Bulldogs continue to be unbeaten in the
2013 Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup.
(image by Raffy Dela Pena/Filoil Flying V))

I missed how Letran also went 2-0 to hike its standing to 3 wins and 1 loss. Raymond Almazan has been awesome-and-a-half for the Knights -- he averaged 21.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in those big wins over San Sebastian and EAC. 

I missed how the Arellano University Chiefs continued to be the surprise darlings of the summer after they beat the ballyhooed Adamson quintet. Sure, they lost a close one to the FEU Tamaraws yesterday, but that's fine considering the fact that they won their first four assignments anyway. The Chiefs have the third-best winning percentage right now at 80%.

I missed how Perpetual Help and St. Benilde notched their first wins of the tourney. Benilde waylaid a listless UP five, while the Altas blew out the Heavy Bombers. 

Next, in the realm of the Freego Fil-Chinese Basketball League --

I missed how the Ateneo Blue Eaglets, after defeating the FEU-FERN Baby Tamaraws, 74-65, yesterday afternoon, completed the Final Four cast. So far, the Eaglets have been stellar this summer, and there aren't any real signs of them slowing down (let's just forget that freak loss to the UE Junior Warriors last week now, shall we?).

Fourth-year players Thirdy Ravena and Jme Escaler have been solid for coach Joe Silva, while third-year twins Mike and Matt Nieto have shown really mature play. Big Mike leads the Eaglets in scoring with 19.8ppg, while also grabbing 10.8rpg. This despite his being maybe the shortest center in all of high school basketball. Ravena, for his part, seems poised for an MVP-type season. The second-generation star-in-the-making is norming 19.0ppg, 8.5rpg, 3.8apg, and 1.5spg for Ateneo. Escaler and Matt Nieto have also been great. Escaler, now one of the main guns of the Blues, is putting up 11.0ppg and 8.0rpg while shooting 50% from rainbow country. Matt, meanwhile, has taken the cudgels of the playmaking, averaging 15.6ppg, 7.0apg, and 3.2rpg while connecting on 2.4 treys per outing. Looks like the two-year UAAP title drought in Loyola has an excellent chance of ending this season (puwera usog).

Big Mike Nieto is set for a breakout season.
(image by Raffy Dela Pena/Filoil Flying V)

Aside from the Ateneo boys, some other kids to watch in the Freego FCBL are JRU's Darius Estrella, UE's Reymar Caduyac, UST's Ice Dandan, FEU-FERN's Domingo twins and Richard Escoto, Chiang Kai Shek's John Gallego and Al Salim, Malayan/Mapua's Noah Lugo, Perpetual's Carlo Convento and Shaq Imperial, and NU's dynamic duo of Hubert Cani and Mark Dyke.

Aside from the Eaglets, the other teams who have already locked in their Final Four bids are FEU-FERN, NU, and Malayan/Mapua.

Third, I missed the ENTIRE PBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND, the pair of goodwill games against the Shanghai Sharks, and last night's resumption of the Commish Cup semis (thank you, stupidly controversial brownout) --

Kenneth Duremdes was his old Captain Marbel self, scoring 19 points as the Stalwarts team defeated the Greats , 112-105. Man, if he could still suit up for the national team in this day and age…

How about Chris Ellis honoring Samboy "The Skywalker" Lim with that cradle jam to open his foray into the 2013 Slam Dunk contest?! The only thing missing were knee-high socks!!! And that elbow-dunk?! Whuuut?! The first of many for Air Force Ellis? Well, maybe not if Ray Parks can do anything about it next season…

I always feel amused watching Chris Tiu's "Tiutorized" segments on television, but, man, he sure took everyone to school in the Three-Point Shootout!!! A back-to-back UAAP-NCAA All-Star shooting champion in his college days, Tiu needed just one session of practice to rule the competition. He beat out ace Air21 Express sniper KG Canaleta in the final round, 21-18.

And how about Jonas Villanueva copping his FOURTH STRAIGHT Obstacle Challenge plum? Honestly, it's getting boring because Villanueva manages to find enough speed, agility, and accuracy to win every single year. Maybe a fifth one next year, too?

Kudos to the PBA All-Stars for giving Gilas-Pilipinas a helluva tough time in the main event. The fact that the game ended in a draw just fueled the fact that the PBA has such a deep pool of talent from which national team players can be culled. Props to Arwind Santos and Beau Belga for holding the fort down low despite the significant size disadvantage against Gilas's trees. 

I also liked the fact both Gilas and the PBA Selection beat the visiting Shanghai Sharks in their series of goodwill games. This despite the fact that none of the three teams were really at full strength. Gilas had its cadets making up about half of the roster, while the PBA Selection had a few marquee names missing from its lineup. The Sharks were even more depleted, with CBA imports Gilbert Arenas and Tseng Wen-Ting not traveling with the team and Team China starting PG Liu Wei sitting out both contests. Only Team China back-up slotman Zhang Zhaoxu was dominant for the Chinese. He averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds in Shanghai's two games. 

Marcud Douthit tries an undergoal stab
against Zhang Zhaoxu.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/InterAKTV)

Of course, I cannot go on without mentioning how my two bets, Alaska and Talk N Text, are each now just one win away from dueling in the Commish Cup Finals. I just admire how coach Luigi Trillo has been able to steer this upstart Aces squad this far. One more win, against his former mentor at that, and Alaska is through to the Championship Best-of-7! Woohoo! On the other end, my fave team, the Texters, are also just one W away after Larry Fonacier's scintillating shooting display in Game 3. The Baby-Faced Assassin broke out of a shooting slump to partner with new import Tony Mitchell as coach Norman Black's crew just outplayed the Gin Kings. 

Rob Dozier and the Aces are a win away
from entering the Commish Cup Finals.
(image by Paolo Papa/InterAKTV)

Lastly, the NBA Playoffs -- THE. NBA. PLAYOFFS. I mean… WOW! --

I LOOOOOVED how the Bulls stole Game 1 in MIAMI!!! Hate how they were just utterly blasted in Game 2 :( 1-1 na.

I LOOOOOVED how the Pacers took it to the Knicks in Game 1… only to be thrashed in Game 2. 1-1 na.

I LOOOOOVED how Kevin Martin stepped up big in Game 1 against Memphis… only to disappear in Game 2 :( 1-1 na.

I LOOOOOVED how Manu Ginobili sank the game-winner in double-OT against GState in Game 1! And then Klay Thompson just tore through Game 2. 1-1 na.

Wait… all the second round series are tied up at 1-1!!! Oooooooh…. so exciting!!! #NBABIG

Joakim Noah and the Bulls continue to be defiant against the favored Miami Heat.
(image by Lynne Sladky/AP)

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