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The Irresistible Force versus the Immovable Object

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The entire NCAA season has been building up to this very moment. Though there are 10 teams in the Grand Old League, all eight have been pretenders, to say the least. The Lyceum University of the Philippines Pirates and the San Beda College Red Lions have played in a league of their own.

But while one team might have finished the elimination round with an immaculate slate, and the other has been a staple in the Finals series for 12 straight seasons, neither team wants to take the mantle of “favorites” heading into the best-of-three affair.

For third-year Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson, his case is that he does not know how his team will react to the bright lights of a big venue like the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“At the end of the day, San Beda’s the stronger team and they have more experience than us. Their experience showed against San Sebastian and we know what we have to face,” said Robinson, as the only two student-athletes he has who have finals experience are CJ Perez and Ralph Tansingco, when he was with National University.

“Again, they’re the more experienced team with coach Boyet and they have a good group of guys that are motivated to show that they are the defending champions,” the amiable mentor pointed out.

On the other end, San Beda have yet to defeat Lyceum this season, which is why Boyet Fernandez is entering the finals with a mindset that they are the underdogs — an anomaly for the stories of Red Lions squads.

“As what I’ve said, right now Lyceum is the best team. Right now, because they beat us twice. So underdog kami,” said Fernandez, who holds the experience edge over Robinson.

Key Match-Up: CJ Perez versus Robert Bolick


The match-up between arguably two of the top talents in the collegiate scene will be the highlight of this potentially epic series.NCAA 93 LPU vs. SBC - Perez-7384

CJ Perez, a PBA-ready talent, has been the catalyst for the biggest turnaround in the NCAA’s 93-year history. A runaway winner to bag this year’s Most Valuable Player plum, he is averaging all-around numbers of 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.9 steals per contest.

But the last time the 23-year-old stepped into a big game like this was four years ago, when he was still playing with the San Sebastian Golden Stags. Will he sink or will he swim under the bright lights?

NCAA 93 SBC-SSCR Mocon Bolick-3204

Standing accross him will be the favorite to win this year’s College Player of the Year, Robert Bolick.

Bolick, another PBA-ready talent, has had a spectacular year, winning the MVP crown in both the pre-season tournaments and the PBA D-League. This season, he is averaging 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. But the question is, can he help stop Perez, who holds a distinct height and length advantage over him?

X-Factors


Lyceum: MJ AyaayNCAA 93 LPU-CSJL Ayaay Perez Nzeussu-7842

For all the love CJ Perez has been getting, it is team captain MJ Ayaay who has glued the Pirates together.

Standing at just 6-foot-1, Ayaay has played at least three positions on a nightly basis for Lyceum. And he has done so with success, with averages of 9.9 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Off the court, he has been the Pirate that his team goes to in times of need and has been the added voice needed by Robinson.

But his San Beda counterpart, Javee Mocon, has been playing out of his mind this season, averaging double-double numbers. With Mocon’s winning pedrigree, can Ayaay negate this even for just two games?

San Beda: Davon PottsNCAA 93 SBC-MU Potts-1493

Davon Potts, who has already been drafted to the PBA, has underwhelmed in his final year in San Beda.

His numbers, compared to last season, have been down across the board this year, averaging a measly 6.7 points in just 21 minutes of game time.

But seeing that it’s hard to get stops against the Pirates, maybe Fernandez should tweak his rotation a little bit, sacrifice defense for offense to try to run Lyceum out of the building. And Potts has proven that he has the tools to do this.

Prediction


In the past 11 years, only two squads have successfully dethroned the Red Lions: the 2009-10 San Sebastian Golden Stags and the 2015-16 Letran Knights.

It will be tough, but the Lyceum Pirates have the same hunger as both of those squads — or may even be hungrier. If they stay motivated, Lyceum will be the third team in 12 years to beat the Red Lions.

Lyceum will defeat San Beda in three games.

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PBA tweaks format for 2017-18 Philippine Cup playoffs

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From 10 teams in the past, only eight teams will advance into the 2018 Philippine Cup playoffs as the PBA made a few changes in its’ format for the 43rd season’s Philippine Cup, making every single game important for all teams.

The way the playoffs will be played out though remains the same. The top two teams will have a twice-to-beat edge over teams ranked seventh and eight, while the ones in the middle (3 vs 6, 4 vs 5) will figure in best-of-three contests.

Both the semifinals and finals will still be best-of-seven affairs.

Meanwhile, the league has also released the full schedule of the Philippine Cup Friday, eight days after publicizing a partial sked that only showed games from December 17 to 29.

SMART-Araneta Coliseum, SM Mall of Asia Arena, and Ynares Center in Antipolo will serve the main venues of PBA games. The FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan and the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay will also hold a few matches.

This season’s Christmas Games, which features GlobalPort Batang Pier-NLEX Road Warriors and Barangay Ginebra-Magnolia Hotshots, will be staged at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

And just like in the past seasons, the league will also hold playdates in out-of-town venues such as Ilo-ilo City, Legazpi in Albay, Calasiao in Pangasinan, Dumaguete City, and Cagayan de Oro City. All of these are set on Saturdays.

The PBA will raise the curtains of its’ 43rd year this Sunday, December 17, at the Big Dome, with defending champions San Miguel Beermen starting their four-peat bid against a revamped Phoenix Fuel Masters at 6:45 PM.

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SBP, Robbie Puno still looking for ‘right player’ to naturalize for 2023 World Cup

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Though a lot of foreign cagers have presented themselves as willing to play for SMART Gilas Pilipinas and become naturalized Filipino, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has yet to pick on who will be the heir apparent to Andray Blatche come the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“At this point in time, we do not have any particular player yet. My understanding is we’re still looking for the best possible candidate,” shared SBP vice chairman Robbie Puno during the celebration of the 2023 World Cup hosting held at Crowne Plaza in Pasig City.

Blatche, who last played for Gilas during the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, will be 37 years old when the 2023 edition rolls around. Names that have been thrown out during the calendar year were former Blackwater Elite import Greg Smith, who will be 33 years old in 2023, and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas reinforcement Isaiah Austin, who will turn 30 by that time.

Still, Puno and his group are taking their time, carefully filtering the candidates as to not hamper the process of the legislative body of the Philippines.

“If our target is 2023, there will be probably enough time for us to make sure we have the right player in terms of his basketball skills, but also his age as well as his attitude,” said Puno, a former congressman representing the first district of Antipolo City.

Moreover, the 55-year-old politician has already planted the seeds for this long process by already talking to the members of the Lower House who will author the bill.

“Right now, we’re ready to spearhead that process. We’ve spoken with a couple of congressmen who will author the bill,” Puno disclosed.

“What we’re waiting for is the imprimatur as to who we will really make the effort to naturalize, because when you start that process, it becomes really difficult.”

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SOURCES: Perpetual Help taps Frankie Lim as consultant

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Frankie Lim looks to bring a championship to a school that is hungry for it/PBA Images

Frankie Lim will steer a once-heated rival to the promised land

The multi-titled mentor has been appointed as a team consultant of the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas as the 57-year-old tactician will be tasked to reboot the team after a lackluster run in the NCAA Season 93 Seniors’ Basketball tournament.

Sources closely monitoring the situation bared that Lim is now running practice for the Altas as he works side-by-side with coach Jimwell Gican.

“Consultant na siya sa Perpetual, pero siya rin ang nagpapatakbo sa practice,” the source said.

Another source confirmed the development and also shared that Lim is looking to bring in two of his assistants in the coaching staff, further proving his seriousness for the job. The names of the assistants, however, were not disclosed.

The Altas went 4-14 last season with Gican at the helm as he relied on Prince Eze, Gab Dagangon, and AJ Coronel to lead the squad.

According to a third source, it was either Lim or NCAA Season 93 commissioner Bai Cristobal who was being picked by Perpetual Help to serve as the team’s consultant. However, Cristobal still wanted to assume his role as league commissioner for one more year, especially since Perpetual Help is hosting the 94th season of the Grand Old League.

Perpetual is looking for an early preparation for NCAA Season 94 as it joins the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup in January.

Lim was last seen in the sidelines in the PBA when he coached Ginebra in 2015. He won four titles with his alma mater San Beda from 2007 to 2011 Before briefly going to Indonesia to coach Stadium Jakarta.

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Cost of hosting FIBA World Cup is ‘expensive’, says MVP

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The officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas were in a celebratory mood on Thursday afternoon as the federation celebrated the Philippines’ hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. And this was a real victory for the country after it suffered heartbreak back in 2015 during the announcement of the 2019 FIBA World Cup hosting.

“When we lost to China in Tokyo, there were two parts in that presentation. The first is the emotional part, we won hands down,” recalled SBP Chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan. “Yao Ming came over and said you won that one.

“We just lost in the infrastructure bid.”

That was why the Philippines needed to alter its pitch for the 2023 tourney. Instead of focusing on emotion, the country tapped the assistance of Japan and Indonesia for its new bid.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

But with this, many wondered how much will it cost for the country to host this tournament that will feature 32 teams from all across the world. The officials of the national sports association were mum about it, only saying that it’s “expensive”.

“The first word that came to my mind was expensive.

“I don’t think it’s right to be precise about numbers,” Pangilinan shared.

“Sa amin na lang yun. We really can’t disclose it eh,” admitted Foreign Affairs secretary Alan Cayetano

Despite the high costs, the SBP is gunning to break the all-time FIBA attendance record.

The record was set back in the 1954 edition of the tournament in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, that attracted 35,000 fans. The Philippine Arena, which will host the semifinals and final of the tournament, has a capacity of 55,000.

“We think we will surpass the FIBA-record for attendance. Imagine a Team USA vs. Gilas Finals,” quipped SBP president Al Panlilio.

Still, Pangilinan — who said that hosting the tournament will be his lasting legacy to Philippine sports — expressed that the cost does not matter if it will give joy to the Filipino people.

“You cannot put a price on this thing.”

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