There can truly be only one
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa () - December 4, 2009 - 12:00am

The Round of 8 in this year’s Philippine Collegiate Championship League is ongoing, and in about a week, a new champion will be crowned. We can expect full-packed venues in the next playing dates as the best four collegiate teams in the country meet head-on in do-or-die matches.

Now on its seventh year, the manner by which the PCCL games are conducted has undergone major changes that I believe will lead to a stronger league.

Whereas in the past, participation in the knock-out Sweet 16 games was largely invitational, many of the qualified teams in the zonals prior to the Sweet 16 round are now products of knock-out matches held in the many regions of the country.

There are over 200 mother leagues representing more than a thousand teams now participating in the Collegiate Champions’ League. Their acronyms may not necessarily be as resounding as NCCA or UAAP, but they are legitimate leagues that are made up to five or more competing collegiate basketball teams.

This year, I made it a point to go around and visit some of the regional and zonal elimination games – and to talk with the people who make college basketball in the regions outside of Metro Manila what it is now.

Uneven levels

Admittedly, there are still huge discrepancies in the level of play even among teams at the zonal levels. And this is one observation that is shared even by the basketball team managers of the small colleges and universities.

For sure, however, a good basketball team is the product of a supportive college or university management or owner, and/or a local government. West Negros University in Negros Occidental is a good example of the former, while the Western Leyte College is a product of a well-supported city government athletic program.

Both of the mentioned teams managed to get to the regional finals, but only the WNU Mustangs slipped through to the zonals. WNU is known to have a relatively strong basketball program largely through the generosity and support of Tony Agustin, who is also part-owner of the team and the school.

WNU, even after losing its star player to the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, is an example of a traditionally strong team that continues to draw fear in the regional matches. But when faced with other top ranked teams in the zonal matches, it failed to advance to the Sweet 16 ring.

Commitment continues

Despite the losses, teams like WNU and Adamson University that did not make it to the final round, now look forward next year to make a comeback. On the other hand, teams like the Ateneo de Davao or the University of Baguio are setting their sights on hurdling next year’s regional matches to get to the zonals.

As coach Leo Austria of the Adamson Soaring Falcons aptly observed, collegiate teams are now putting the PCCL in their athletic calendars, and looking at the collegiate championship games as another milestone after wrapping up their own league’s calendar.

Thus, even if it meant taking a trip to the provinces, the De La Salle University Green Archers, the Mapua Cardinals, the Arellano University Chiefs and Adamson’s Falcons played against the winners of “lesser” mother leagues. Adamson and DLSU are both with the UAAP, while Mapua and AU are with the NCAA.

Exposure

For teams like the University of Nueva Caceres, even if it failed to get into the zonals, playing against DLSU was a great opportunity to learn about better basketball.

In fact, giving provincial teams the chance to match up against the stronger Manila teams has become a welcome opportunity to scrutinize and compare each one’s athletic programs, and to improve on the physical conditioning regimen of players or the skills of coaches.

Equally important is the air time that ABS-CBN is giving the regional games, even if the game is aired at a later time. The PCCL is now another step being taken by the television network to help promote and develop collegiate basketball nationwide.

ABS-CBN, which covers the UAAP and NCAA games, shares the PCCL’s goal of giving more exposure to provincial champion teams, and hopefully, to motivate them to upgrading their own respective competitiveness.

Out-of-town games

If more teams are suiting up for the PCCL zonal and final games, cities like Cebu, Naga, Ormoc, Davao, Bacolod and Dagupan are realizing there is value in hosting any or both elimination games.

This year, Ormoc City – with the full support of Mayor Eric Codilla – broke ground by hosting the first-ever out-of-town Sweet 16 match. The proud city warmly welcomed the teams of San Sebastian College-Recoletos, University of Sto. Tomas, Jose Rizal University and University of San Carlos.

Even if tickets cost a whopping P100 by local standards, the Ormoc City Dome was full. As Ormoc city councilor Ruben Capahi says, the people of Ormoc know their basketball – and the exciting and action-packed showdown between the dueling teams was well appreciated.

As PCCL winds down this year’s league, it is looking forward to next year – and even succeeding ones – to further strengthen collegiate basketball in the country.

During the next playing dates, expect more sizzling games from our college teams. And they may not necessarily be from NCAA and UAAP.

2009 Philippine Collegiate Championship update

The last two games in the round of eight of the “Sweet 16” Finals of the PLDT-SMART-supported 2009 Philippine Collegiate Championship games will be held today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

First game at 2 p.m. is a repeat of the UAAP Final Four match-up, with the Ateneo Blue Eagles battling the UST Growling Tigers in the first game. The second game is another Final Four pairing with NCAA champion San Sebastian College-Recoletos Golden Stags clashing against fourth placer NCAA rival, Letran Knights, the team credited with dethroning of 2008 Philippine Collegiate Champion, DLSU Green Archers.

The San Beda Red Lions and FEU Tamaraws, winners over Mapua and the UE Red Warriors, respectively are already in the Final Four. The Red Lions of San Beda will meet the winner of the Blue Eagles-Growling Tigers game, while FEU Tamaraws will meet the winner of the SSC-R vs. Letran match-up.

Nominal fees are charged for those watching the games at the Ynares Arena with the net proceeds going to the PCCL-Collegiate Leagues Development Fund. General admission is P50 and the courtside & ringside seats are available on first-come first-served basis at nominal fee of P100.

ABS-CBN covers all the “Sweet 16” games live at Studio 23 with replay in the evening at the Balls channel.

PCCL is reminding amateur camera enthusiasts to submit action shots of players during the games of the “Sweet 16” Finals. Those who will submit selected pictures will be awarded with surprise gifts. Log in at the PCCL website, www.CollegiateChampionsLeague.net, for details.

For updates on progress of teams as they continue the journey in the 2009 Philippine Collegiate Championship games, visit the official website, www.CollegiateChampionsLeague.net, or send email enquiries to PCCL_secretariat@yahoo.com.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

BASKETBALL COLLEGIATE EVEN FINAL FOUR GAMES PCCL PHILIPPINE COLLEGIATE CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS UNIVERSITY
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