Connect with us
[adinserter block="13"] [adinserter block="3"]


NCAA Season 91 Finals: Strong Takes



The 91st season of the NCAA has been nothing short of spectacular.

In a wild season that saw six legitimate title contenders duke it out up until the last day of the elimination round, the season boils down to two of the most storied collegiate basketball teams in the country.

On one end, the most dominant collegiate basketball team over the last ten years, the San Beda College Red Lions, while on the other side is the championship-hungry Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights.

Being one of the most intriguing NCAA Finals series in recent memory, Tiebreaker Times had a chance to get the opinions of the NCAA Press Corps, a group of collegiate basketball beat writers from the print and online realm, about what they think are the keys for each team and who they think would win the coveted crown.

Joey Villar, Philippine Star,, NBA Philippines, Sportsmaryosep

If there is one favorite underdog story in my basketball-lazed life, these Lertran Knights of Season 91 have got to be one of a few. They’ve defied the odds all season by making it to the finals by sheer grit and heart, mindless of manpower deficiencies like lack of imports. They have three of the bravest and toughest players this year–Kevin Racal, Mark Cruz and Rey Nambatac. And a coach in Aldin Ayo whose analytics have made wonders this season. It’s easy to cheer for these guys because we all love underdog stories.

But I have to go with San Beda.

They have two imports, Nigerian Ola Adeogun and Cameroonian Donald Tankoua, who are more concerned in stopping people than making baskets. They have Baser Amer and Arthur dela Cruz who are NCAA’s version of Shakespeare and Einstein. Cerebral is the word. Bench depth is also their edge while championship experience is their ticket.

Nevermind that Aldin Ayo has been proving me wrong from the start.

And I don’t mind being proven again.

Theodore Jurado, People’s Journal

I think it will go the distance.

This is the last chance for Kevin Racal and Mark Cruz. Next year, no one knows what will happen to this team. But for Letran, they need to win Game One to have a chance to win the series. Kung ano yung tatakbuhin ng Game One nila will decide the series.

For San Beda, I think what happened against the JRU game (where the second unit closed out the game), will not happen again. This is the Finals, the expected rotation will be used by Coach Jamike. When the going gets tough, you have to rely on Ola Adeogun, Baser Amer, and Art Dela Cruz. Donald Tankoua will get his minutes also.

The biggest advantage of San Beda is the frontline because of Ola and Donald. Letran will have to work hard to defend those two especially sila Felix Apreku and Jom Sollano.

Game one will really decide whether Letran could win it all.

Cedelf Tupas, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Keys for San BedaNCAA 91 SBC vs. JRU - Amer
San Beda was far from its fearsome best in the elimination round. But the Red Lions are not the five time defending champs for nothing. They raise their game when it matters most and thats why they’ve been successful all these years.

Baser Amer, Ola Adeogun and Art dela Cruz save their best for last. The championship experience of the veteran trio cannot be overemphasized but depth is just as important.

Over the years, someone from the bench usually steps up to become the X-factor for the Lions. Last year it was David Semerad who gave the Lions a lift. The current team is filled with young players but that doesn’t mean they cannot make an impact. Jayvee Mocon, Amiel Soberano and Radge Tongco all proved in the Final Four win over Jose Rizal U that they are not awed by the big stage.

Keys for LetranNCAA 91 CSJL vs. AU - Cruz-6684
After a couple of runner up finishes in two of the last three seasons, there’s a growing feeling that the time has come for the Knights to finally end their title drought.

They have dependable gunners in Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, and Kevin Racal. But what set the Knights apart from the rest this season has been their work ethic on both ends, the willingness to fight for every possession. The Knights feed off their defense to spark their offense. And you cannot go wrong playing tough defense.

They pinned a first loss on San Beda early in the season by taking away Ola Adeogun’s influence with a swarming defense from the backcourt. San Beda has figured it out but somehow there’s a growing feeling that Letran coach Aldin Ayo can still squeeze more from his team especially on the defensive end.

The Knights proved this season they can win through defense or matching a hot shooting team shot for shot. The Knights are not as experienced as the Lions in this stage but they have something intangible: A hunger to win the title that has eluded the Knights the past ten seasons.

Reuben Terrado,

It’s going to be a tough series to call.

San Beda has the championship experience and they have shown they are a deep team after their win over Jose Rizal University in the Final Four. Letran has also proven they can play toe-to-toe with San Beda because of its defense.

I think the key in the finals is how Ola Adeogun will perform in this series. The chances of San Beda to win the title rests on him. How Letran will contain Adeogun will play a role to the Knights’ chances of winning the crown.

Christian Jacinto, Manila Bulletin

It’s a tough series to predict. Both teams work really hard and are proud institutions. Hindi magpapatalo yung dalawa na yun and both teams have very good coaches.

Very contrasting yung nangyari for both squads as nobody expected Letran to be here while everyone expected San Beda.

Mahirap mag-decide but definitely San Beda has the edge based on personnel. Letran, on the other hand, has hunger and determination. Both teams are well coached but the impact Coach Aldin [Ayo] brings is different from what we have witnessed.

I could be eating my words after this but I think now is the time for Letran to win the championship after a decade-long odyssey.

Letran in three close games.

Randolph Leongson,

As much as coach Jamike Jarin denies it, I think San Beda has a distinct advantage against Letran. Just looking at how it outclassed JRU in the semis shows how deep San Beda’s bench is.

Letran must find other contributors outside of the trio of Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, and Kevin Racal to match the artillery the Red Lions have.

But, and this is a big but, once coach Aldin Ayo reads this and sees that the majority thinks San Beda will win, for sure e will go through hell and high water just to will his Knights to the promised land and make all of us look like fools.

Norman Riego, ABS-CBN Sports

San Beda will claim an unprecedented sixth straight championship after prevailing over Letran in three close contests.

While first-time head coach Aldin Ayo will prove himself to be on the level of Jamike Jarin, the Red Lions’ depth will still be the difference between the archrivals.

Matthew Li, Tiebreaker Times

The San Beda College Red Lions have been the most consistent team in the NCAA this season. Out of the six contenders this season, only the defending champions have not lost in back-to-back games. Seniors Art dela Cruz, Baser Amer, and Ola Adeogun were never rattled when they lost and displayed uncanny poise to recover from it.

On the other hand, after an outstanding first round that saw the Letran Knights shoot up the standings, the Knights struggled in the second round that saw them fight for the twice-to-beat advantage. In the majority of their losses, the Aldin Ayo-mentored squad struggled with slow starts that eventually led to the losses.

Defense was never the question for the Knights, it’s their early-game offense that is questionable, specifically the first quarter. Against the Red Lions, Letran absolutely cannot start slow especially with the ocean-deep depth of the five-time champions. As they say, “mababaon lang sila.”

If the troika of Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal, and Rey Nambatac buck off the slow starts, I see this series going into three hard-fought games with the third game being a toss-up. However, if they still can’t find the cure for their first quarter struggles, the San Beda Red Lions have a huge chance of sweeping their rivals, 2-0.

1 Comment
  • tari

    sweeping pala aa.beda ka ba?haha!


Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory



Photo from

2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

Continue Reading


Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’



Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

Continue Reading

2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup



Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Continue Reading


Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win



Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

Continue Reading