We love this game'

BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa () - December 17, 2010 - 12:00am

Filipino footballers recently achieved what many considered as a miracle: They defeated Vietnam, a powerhouse in Asean football, and the team advanced to the semi-final stage of the competition and will play in Indonesia for a seat in the finals.

The team was the toast of the town for almost a week and earned several pledges of support for future competitions. And definitely, the team members and those responsible in forming and training the team deserve all the kudos and attention currently being showered on them.

The above was refreshing news for Filipino sports fan. But, after all is said and done, millions of Filipinos still love basketball and are patiently looking forward for a miracle, i.e., the Philippine team qualifying in the Olympics.

Grassroots program

For awhile, there was a vacuum in the leadership of local basketball. When the crisis was finally resolved, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) led by Manny V. Pangilinan took over from the defunct Basketball Association of the Philippines the responsibility of developing and promoting the sport in the country and repairing the shattered image of the Philippines by restoring the country’s good standing at FIBA, the governing body of international basketball.

Apart from cleaning the membership ranks and staffing the organization with qualified officials, the SBP leadership immediately embarked on several grassroots development programs and breathed life on the moribund local basketball sector.

One such program was the annual search for the best collegiate teams in the country.   

MSBP-PCCL partnership

Since 2003, Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) has been conducting an annual search for a Philippine collegiate champion. Top performing teams in the UAAP, NCAA, CESAFI (Cebu) and other leagues in Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao were invited to a series of knock-out games, and the last standing team was crowned as the Philippine Collegiate Champion.

The University of the East Warriors was the first PCCL champion in 2003 followed with back-to-back championships by the FEU Tamaraws in 2004 and 2005. The UE Warriors came back strong in 2006, while the Ateneo Blue Eagles finally broke the hold of FEU and UE by winning the 2007 title.

In 2008, SBP and PCCL forged a partnership to broaden the scope of the Philippine Collegiate Championship. A nationwide multi-level tournament was organized that included provincial, regional and zonal competitions to select the top 16 teams that will finally knock each other out for the national title.

Clearly defined objectives

The SBP-PCCL partnership was anchored on clearly defined and measurable objectives backed up with sufficient sponsorship support from MVP’s companies, PLDT and SMART, to ensure that the logistical requirements of a competitive tournament that is truly nationwide in scope and efficiently organized and managed.

Below is a review of the highlights of activities completed or ongoing in relation to the PCCL objectives that were set.

Promote collegiate basketball

While the overall objective was to promote collegiate basketball, there were two specific objectives that PCCL focused on, one of which was to provide the teams a broader competitive environment to facilitate skills enhancement; there was no substitute to competitive games to develop individual skills and team cohesion.

To achieve this specific objective, PCCL assisted in the formation of “mother leagues” in cities and provinces. It also encouraged existing leagues, now numbering 30, to participate in provincial and regional championships. Additionally, PCCL provided assistance to qualified teams as they traveled to other localities and competed with other league champions. Annually, at least 26 teams travel to broaden competitive experience.

The other specific objective under this heading is to provide more teams and players, particularly those from the provinces, with much needed public and media exposure that their Metro Manila counterparts are enjoying. Now, PCCL games where provincial teams are playing for provincial and regional championships as well as to gain seats in the finals are published in national print media, including this newspaper. Television coverage is also being provided by ABS-CBN for the zonal and Sweet 16 games held in the provinces and in Metro Manila.

Set higher goal

A key factor in upgrading the skills and confidence levels of teams and players is to change their mindset from a parochial view of achievement to a higher sense of pride and accomplishment. This is the other specific PCCL objective – to encourage teams to look beyond mother league championships and to aim higher and compete for the provincial and regional titles, and eventually a seat in the Sweet 16 Finals and the top honors.

Teams are now encouraged to perform well in their respective mother leagues and to look forward to qualifying to the next higher levels of PCCL competitions on the way to the national finals.

There are four regional titles at stake, namely: North-Central Luzon where five leagues are involved; the South Luzon-Bicol, also with five leagues competing; the Visayan Islands (except Cebu) with six provincial leagues; and Mindanao with seven leagues competing. The regional champions advance to the zonal qualifying games for a crack at the Sweet 16 Finals.

With the PCCL games, parochial boundaries are removed and opportunities are made available for players to perform their full potential through a broader competitive environment.

Proclaiming the best among the best

Another motivating factor to exert and attain full potential among teams and players is the recognition of exemplary achievements through meaningful rewards. To achieve this objective, PCCL established with the help of the friends of MVP, the “Manuel V. Pangilinan Perpetual Trophy” as the symbol of collegiate basketball supremacy. The school represented by the champion team gets its name engraved permanently and has possession of the trophy for a year.

For outstanding individual performances, the annual “M. V. Pangilinan Special Awards” are given to the Most Valuable Player, Best Coach, Best Referee, and Mythical Team members.

2010 Champions League winners

The top awards for the 2010 Philippine Collegiate Championship are the following: National Collegiate Champion - Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles; Most Valuable Player - Nico Salva, Ateneo; Best Coach - Norman Black; Best Referee - Meynard Bellecer; and Mythical Team members - Nico Salva, Kirk Long, (Ateneo), Lester Alvarez (Adamson U), Alex Nuyles (Adamson U), and Junmar Fajardo (University of Cebu).

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.

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