Category Archives: Basketball

ABL 2013 Game 2: Outgunned

For the nth time, an undermanned AHS 4D 03  squad withered against top notch competition. From the tip-off, the opposing team came out with all guns blazing. The mainstays of AHS 4J 03 were taller, faster, and more athletic. Midway into the first quarter, the deficit ballooned to more than ten points. To make matters worse, the absence of Gino Magat left the already depleted frontline without another vital bruiser.

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Photo from Jeric Angeles

By second half, the lead mushroomed to 30 points as the J-boys found their mark from beyond the arc. In a good show of sportsmanship, our opponents pulled out their big guns as their runaway victory (and our demise) became more apparently certain. Nevertheless, the fresh legs of AHS 4J 03’s second stringers were too much to handle.

There was to be no miracle comeback, as the team missed a substantial number of free throw attempts (40%, 4/10). For the second straight game, our three-point shooting accuracy was horrendous (16.7%, 3/18). Our taller adversaries grabbed a massive 39 rebounds against our miniscule 12. We were bested in almost every statistical category except in blocked shots (4).

The final score: 43-61. AHS 4D 03, the Roberto Littaua champions of 2009, had just sustained its worst shellacking since the 50-point blowout in 2011.

Losing is never fun. But there’s only so much a depleted squad could do. The lone bright spot in this debacle of an ABL season is the fact that the losing experience is character-building.

Game Statistics (from ABL.ph)

AHS-2003-M-2

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ABL 2013 Game 1: The Losing Streak Continues

ABL 2012 was a debacle. We won only three games – two of these by default. A recurring knee injury to our ace player Merrill Lazo compounded the troubles brought about by the loss of two our key big men. The team struggled to fill gaps in the rotation. We were perenially undermanned – a far cry from the vaunted championship squad of 2009.

Last Saturday’s game was no different. We were outgunned, outclassed, and outfought. The opposing team, AHS 4A 2003, was taller and heftier and boasted several players with basketball varsity experience. Although we led by a couple of points during the first few minutes of the game, the lack of offensive cohesion and frontline heft took its toll. Our adversaries scored with reckless abandon from both the inside and the outside. The lack of adequate substitute players in our rotation made it harder for our guards to defend against 4A’s crack snipers.

By halftime, the team was neck-deep under a staggering 17-point lead.

Huffing and puffing from two quarters’ worth of exertion, I struggled to come to terms with the shellacking. The portly Velden Lim did his utmost best to infuse some order into our offense. As I sat on one of those new folding chairs to catch my breath, I noticed grim smiles painted on the faces of Adi Dimaliwat and Paolo Rosales, our most vital scoring cogs.

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Paolo Rosales at the free throw line. (Photo from Lui Sugui)

Once the second half began, a vicious fightback ensued. As the opposing team rested their starters, we fought tooth and nail for every point. Hustle was the name of the game, despite our struggles in forming a cohesive offensive effort. Although we reduced the deficit to a mere 6 points in the fourth quarter, the exhausted AHS 4D 03 squad was left scoreless in the last four minutes of the game. The final buzzer sounded with the score of 37-46.

The game statistics speak volumes about our terrible game. We shot a miserable 22.2%. Only 7 out of our 22 three-point attempts found the bottom of the net, despite Paolo Rosales’ accurate 44.4% clip from behind the arc. Similarly, we had trouble making our free throws (6 out 18, 33.3%). The opposing team outrebounded us 25-38.

An inspired Andrei Blancia put in an herculean effort in the paint, grabbing a team-high 8 rebounds. Rosales scored a team-high 17 points, as JR “MVP” Calimbas churned in a game-high 4-assist performance.

Game Statistics (from ABL.ph)

AHS-2003-M-1

Above The Rim Dbl Dribble

Basketball shoes are expensive. On average, the big brand ones cost around Php 4,000 – Php 5,000. Since I suck at the hoops game, buying those pricey shoes is a no-no. Hence, I’ve been on a constant lookout for cheap buys. With my old, three-year old Spalding kicks literally breaking at its seams, I was lucky to chance upon a pair of Above The Rim basketball shoes at the Payless Shoe Store branch in Glorietta 4.

Naturally, I was somewhat cautious in trying out this unfamiliar brand. I did a cursory Google search and learned that Above The Rim was once popular in the early 90s. Today, the company has a couple of NBA players as its endorsers. I went back the next day and bought the Above The Rim Dbl Dribble for a measly Php 795 (around USD 20)!

 

The Dbl Dribble is a no-frills basketball shoe. The gray synthetic fabric has that blue collar, everyman look. I like the sleek, straightforward lines on the side of the shoe. The shoelace holes are as utilitarian as it can get, with no metal linings at all. With its white lines, somewhat triangular contours, and breathing holes, the back portions of the shoe has the likeness of tough steel.

The high cut Dbl Dribble has excellent ankle support. However, the fit is a bit loose on the forefoot that I had to wear double socks to get that snug feel. I’ve used the shoes a couple of times the past few weeks. I had absolutely no problems with the Dbl Dribble and found it particularly well-suited for sudden bursts of speed, abrupt stops, and lateral movement in basketball.

For its price, its utilitarian look, and satisfactory performance, the Above the Rim Dbl Dribble is worth every Peso.

Congratulations to the Ateneo Blue Eagles!

Staying in Shape

I have loads of free time now that I’ve stopped with competitive athletics. Since I’ve lived a spartan routine for the past decade or so, living a regular joe’s life can be refreshing. But then again, there’s this urge to stay physically fit. The end of my track & field days does not necessarily mean the end of all sporting activities. I am a competitive person by nature and I need my regular dose of organized sports. I’ve been getting invites from friends to try out triathlon, road running, Ultimate, and floorball. Frankly speaking, I don’t have much interest in new sports.

I am content with the three basketball tournaments (two corporate leagues and one Ateneo league) available in a given year. It feels like I’m back in the year 2000 again, chasing after far-flung hoop dreams. The time I’ve spent away from the hard court, however, has stunted whatever basketball fundamentals learned during my time as a [frustrated] cager. To cope with the fast paced basketball game, I rely mostly on my athleticism.

Despite hanging up my spikes, there is still a need to stay in shape – for competitive and aesthetic purposes!

Weight Training

I haven’t stopped lifting weights since I was 15 years old. This have been the bread and butter of training regimens the past few years. I can go on and on about the benefits of weight training, but in a nutshell, it helps me (1) toughen up against taller hopes and (2) avoid injury from all the running and jumping of basketball.

Plyometrics

Plyos are an excellent way to train for fast-paced, explosive sports. Since I usually play defense (in light of my lack of offensive skills), doing plyos gives me an edge over those more-gifted basketball players.

Think Hanamichi Sakuragi.

Mile Runs

Back in my high school track & field days, we ran one mile to warm-up for training. Every single day. I lost the zeal for this when I got into college team, as I lowered my warm-up mileage to 1.2km instead of 1.6km. Because I have loads of time and I don’t have to train for the hurdles anymore, what better way to keep in shape by running a friggin’ mile? Moreover, it is refreshing to run against the clock for a change.

I don’t see myself joining the cacophony of road runs anytime soon. I prefer the solace of a solo run to the jam-packed environs of a race.

Sprints

I get a certain sense of fulfillment doing sprints. It soothes one’s longing for speed, without the need to burn expensive fuel. Going full throttle (or half-throttle when doing speed endurance workouts) makes me feel alive. It’s a good way to keep those endorphins flowing, without the pain of a long run. Even if I’m a retired track athlete, I still get the urge to don my spikes and go out for a spin, so to speak.

Wow!

To the ACI-MART Basketball Finals!

I’ve been playing quite a lot of basketball lately. It’s a good outlet for all my pent-up energy, in light of my recent retirement from athletics. My basketball skills are practically zilch. I make numerous errors, hurried shots, and idiotic fumbles. To cope, I rely on my athleticism!

Photo from MART/ACI

For the second straight year, I’ll be playing at the finals of the ACI-MART Basketball League. I’ve had the good fortune of being selected by the strongest teams; hence, the back-to-back stints. Despite my lack of hoops know-how, I find the team atmosphere relaxing. The dose of competition is healthy and stress-free.

So if you’re free this Monday (6PM), head out to the D-Zone in Makati to watch our game!

Some Updates

Until the start of our MART/ACI basketball league, I haven’t played the hoops game since our ABL defeat last February. Unsurprisingly, I was rusty. To make matters worse, I am not in tip-top shape, since taking a one-month break from almost everything physical. My coordination and shooting was off. What limited basketball I.Q. I have was stunted by a lack of practice!

Thankfully, I have such able teammates. I can ride the bench anytime I make a series of fumbles. During D2003’s ill-fated ABL 2012 campaign, I could not even take a one-quarter break amidst the absence of our big guys.

With the Philippine National Games in Dumaguete going to full swing, I need an outlet for all my excess energy, lest I don my track kit again. These basketball games are perfect avenues to do just that. I can take a step back with youthful abandon. Despite my obvious lack of basketball moves, it feels superb to be able to unleash all these pent-up athletic energy. More importantly, there’s an excuse to focus on my fitness again. During my month-long hiatus, my body experienced withdrawal symptoms as it ingested more and excreted less endorphins.

I had an interesting talk with a couple of my athletics friends. One of them advised me stay in shape, just in case. Just in case, I have a change of heart.

For now, however, I shall take a low profile.

ABL Games 7 and 8: The End of the Road

At the start of the season, we compared our team (in jest) to the resurgent Powerade Tigers. Ryan Agas, our main man, was Gary David. Former UAAP juniors star, Merrill Lazo, was Marcio Lassiter. The sweet-shooting Adi Dimaliwat was our JV Casio. Rounding up the supporting cast were Paolo Rosales (Rudy Lingganay), Yayo Puno (Sean Anthony) and yours truly (Doug Kramer/Josh Vanlandingham. A far-fetched comparison!).

We won our first game, despite an undermanned line-up. It was the last time Merrill and Agas played together in the 2012 season. Ryan had pressing academic commitments that saw him miss six out of our eight games. Merrill carried the cudgels until a recurring injury ruled him out of our last three games. We had several close shaves at grabbing the “W,” despite the absence of our stars, but then again, we could not seem to pull off a winning performance. Luck seemed to be on our side, as two of the opposing teams defaulted on its games.

The penultimate game of the regular season, against Team JR Sarmiento, was a lucky turn. Out of contention, the opposing team failed to assemble the minimum number of players; thus, losing the game by default. Barely 24 hours later, we went against AHS 4J 2003 – second in the overall rankings. Even if their main man RJ Jacinto did not play, we had a hard time playing against the taller and faster team. All game long, we kept the lead to a manageable single digit. We even went as close as two points in the third quarter, before a series of errant plays cut our momentum.

When the final buzzer sounded, we were down by nine points (51-60). At the end of the ABL season, we had a 3-5 card, second-to-the-last in our five-team division.

Nevertheless, there were some bright points. Playing without Merrill and Agas brought the rest of the team together. All of a sudden, slacking off was not an option. We could not rely on the talent of our Dynamic Duo any longer. We were left to fend for ourselves. The circumstances brought out the best in us, a valuable learning experience in the future ABL seasons.

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Illogical

It all started a few days before the ELSA Amazing Race. When I woke up one morning, my throat felt itchy. Perhaps it was due to the rainy weather, or the times I failed to quickly change into a dry shirt. I was also feeling somewhat stressed around that time, from my crazy schedule of sleep deprivation, full-time work and athletics training. The logical thing I should have done was to rest it out. But I did not follow the logical path.

Instead, I played a lengthy game of basketball that weekend. For four quarters, our undermanned ABL team held its own against better and taller opponents. We lost the game by a measly two points. At the end of the 45 minutes of play, I was breathing heavily. I started to cough as my nose became even more clogged. That night, I developed a mild fever. I wanted to pull out of the Amazing Race, but for some insane reason, I did not.

I sneaked in one oval session a few days later, thinking I’ve recovered from my illness. It turned out that I haven’t. The next weekend, I played in yet another ill-fated basketball match, exacerbating my poor condition.

Despite my poor basketball skills, I just had to do my part for our ABL team – especially with the absence of our star players. There were no fairy tale endings at the end of it. We lost two of our last three games; thus, effectively ending our 2012 ABL season.

Even if I lost quite a few training days, I was glad as hell I did not back down from the challenge of playing through an illness. The thought of missing out on a good fight would have been more hurtful than spending a few days more under the weather.

Sometimes, we throw logic off the window, as the mind takes a back seat to our passions.

ABL Game 5: Collapse

The absence of the team’s two UAAP veterans sapped our offensive and defensive potency. The resurgent Merrill Lazo opted to rest his bum knee, leaving a gaping a hole in the rotation. Ryan Agas’ taxing schedule as a medical student left him unavailable for last week’s game. If Merrill is the team’s heart, Ryan is its soul. We were left with a depleted lineup, with Choi Esguerra and Gino Magat unable to play.

Surprisingly, we were in contention for the better part of the game. Adi Dimaliwat stepped up massively, scoring 17 big points on 41.2% shooting. Paolo Rosales, chipped in 15 valuable points thanks to his daredevil fastbreak plays. Yayo Puno, the Defensive Player of the Year back in 2009, registered his first double-double in the season, had a herculean game. Puno grabbed a massive game-high 16 rebounds, on top of 12 points, 4 steals and 2 blocks.

Coming into the final quarter, AHS 4H 2003’s lead never went beyond 6 points. Midway into the fourth quarter, however, foul trouble left our frontline severely undermanned. From then on, the opposing team went on a scoring rampage.

When the final buzzer sounded, we were buried under a humiliating 18 point lead, thanks to our fourth quarter collapse.

AHS 2003 Week 6 Stats (From the ABL site)

Let Kirk Long Play in the PBA!

My friend Carlo Ricohermoso posted an interesting article a while back, on allowing Ateneo’s Philippine-born, American guard Kirk Long to play in the PBA. Long, according to the article, has lived all his in the Philippines, attending local schools and playing amongst local players until the university level.

But PBA rules strictly indicate that only natural-born Filipino citizens with Filipino lineage can qualify for Asia’s first play for pay league. Despite being born in the Philippines, Long’s parents are Americans. Long isn’t a Filipino citizen by birth in the eyes of the law.

To let Kirk play in the PBA would go against the league rules, even if Long is more Filipino than Sonny Alvarado and Davonn Harp combined.

I am not as well-versed in local hoops as my erstwhile track training partner, but I know for a fact how the influx of the so-called “Fil-shams” bathed the PBA in controversy. The subject of foreign coaches is dicey, as local coaching groups oppose each and every prominent appointment of a non-Filipino bench tactician. The opposition is understandable. A slot in the PBA – whether as a player or a coach – is a prestigious and increasingly scarce resources.

In the Philippine Star article, Arben Santos argues that “Kirk Long has practically served nine years of residency in Philippine basketball.” According to the behind-the-scenes basketball insider  “He’s [Long] been a role model and he’s not dominant.”

Long’s college Norman Black opines: “I think the PBA should consider allowing foreign players who’ve played high school and college in the country to join the draft. That would mean an eight or nine-year residence, disqualifying those who come in only to play in the seniors.”

Alex Compton was given special import status when he finally played in the PBA in 2008. But the then thirty-something Compton was at the twilight of his career. Instead of a mere season, the 23-year old Long is staring at a much longer tenure as pro baller.

To the head honchos of the league, let Kirk Long play in the PBA!

ABL 2012 Game 1: Come From Behind

Five minutes before tip-off time, our side of the basketball court was devoid of the usual faces. Only JR Calimbas, Ryan Agas, Merrill Lazo and I were there. As the clock ticked, the prospect of defaulting on our season opener slowly became reality. Paolo Rosales’ last minute arrival finally completed the starting five.

All throughout the precocious pre-game impasse, I was admittedly irked by the absence of the other players. We pride ourselves in winning an ABL championship without non-D2003 reinforcements and yet, there we were struggling to complete a five-man squad. It seemed as if everything went downhill after the magical 2009 season.

We were bombarded by accurate outside snipes from 4H 2003’s Earl Bello. Inside the paint, our heftier opponents controlled the boards and made crucial point-blank conversions. In the first two quarters, the opposing team led by as much as eight points as we struggled to keep pace with a depleted line-up. The daredevil fast breaks of Ryan and Ros kept the team within striking distance. But we couldn’t seem to pare the lead.

With lactic acid dangerously reaching the thresholds of pain, our much awaited reinforcements finally arrived. The sweet-shooting Adi Dimaliwat was the spark plug. Adi’s accurate shots from three-point country enabled the squad wrest the lead for the first time in the game. Dimaliwat was unstoppable, as he unleashed an electric display of shooting prowess, nailing three out of his eight attempted three-pointers. Adi’s field goal percentage was an immaculate 50%.

As the latter quarters unraveled, the fab four of Ryan, Merrill, Adi and Ros wreaked havoc on the open court. The defense held the repeated forays of the opposing team. Gang rebounding proved pivotal for the team in the face of wider and taller opponents. In a noteworthy twist, the smallest man on court, JR, notched a team-high seven rebounds! Despite the dearth in size, D2003 grabbed a game high 27 rebounds against the opposing team’s 26.

Adi and Ryan both registered a game-high of thirteen points, with the latter grabbing five rebounds. Merrill chipped in four assists, while Ros contributed eleven points.

Agas’ hard fall in the last four minutes of the game threatened to derail our path to the “W.” But the front line upped the ante until the visibly shaken former UAAP star dug deep to return to the hard court. When the final buzzer sounded, we were ahead by a barely comfortable five points, 39-34.

It was an auspicious opening to the ABL 2012 season. Despite the absence of several key players, the team still managed to eke out a hard-fought, come-from-behind win – the first time we won an opening game in four ABL seasons. It was a far-cry from the 50-point shellacking we took in the final game of ABL 2011.

AHS 2003 Week 1 Stats (from the ABL site)

Bal David and Chieffy Caligdong: Long-Lost Brothers?

Is it just me, or is there an uncanny resemblance between former Ginebra star Bal David and Azkals striker Chieffy Caligdong?

 

Photos from Tunying’s Flickr and Mobilemaui’s Tumblr

I first noticed the similarity last night, while watching an old PBA Youtube clip. It has been years since I last saw Bal David on the boob tube and I must say that those two can pass as brothers! Both are agile, shifty speedsters known for exciting plays. Aside from the physical resemblance, their athletic endowments are identical as well.

Bal David and Chieffy Caligdong as long-lost siblings? Perhaps!

 

My Dunking Fantasy

I made my first dunk when I was fifteen years old. It wasn’t actually a dunk, strictly speaking, since I practically tipped the ball in before pulling down the ring with half my palm (“tap ring” in Filipino colloquial terms). But hell, I was ecstatic! I gleefully called one of my friends to watch as I repeated the feat. I was at the height of my basketball addiction back then, playing almost every day after school.

In time, I traded my high cut basketball shoes for sleek sprinting spikes. I lost a good measure of what basketball skills I’ve worked so hard for as I transformed myself to a track & field athlete. Hence, I’ve lost the ability to do the “tap ring.” The past few years have seen the resurgence of my passion for the hoops game. The organized basketball leagues that were readily available infused much needed enthusiasm amidst the boredom of my solo athletics training.

During one such basketball game weeks ago, I tried dunking the ball for the first time in almost a decade. After a few bungled tries, I found the rhythm. Finally, I was able to translate the athleticism I’ve developed as a sprint hurdler into basketball’s most exciting shot. It was far from an honest-to-goodness dunk, but it was much better than the “tap ring” a decade earlier.

If Spud Webb (5’6, 1.68m), Nate Robinson (5’9, 1.75m) and Joey Mente (5’9, 1.75m) can slam the ball, there’s no reason why my 5’11 (1.80m) self can do the same!

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