In search of one national champion
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa () - December 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Today, we enter the last and most exciting week in this year’s nationwide search for the country’s best collegiate team as the 2011 National Collegiate Championship Final Four battle starts at the at FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

Making it to the round-robin matches are CESAFI back-to-back champion University of Cebu Webmasters, San Sebastian College-Recoletos Golden Stags, UAAP champion Ateneo Blue Eagles, and NCAA champion San Beda Red Lions.

Grassroots development

It is heartening to note that during the last years, provincial-based leagues are putting in a much-deserved appearance in the multi-level competitions involving over two hundred collegiate basketball teams from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Most of all, Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL), organizer of these SBP-accredited competitions, has given provincial teams the opportunity to suit up against Manila-based teams even in the Final Four round. Since 2003, PCCL has been bringing Manila-based teams to play in the provinces, and recently, seen more teams from outside Metro Manila come to country’s capital.

In the out-of-town games, the appearance of select UAAP or NCAA teams have given the locals a chance to sharpen their hoop skills and learn some new techniques in training and play. Of course, there is the thrill for local basketball fans to meet their heroes in real.

It is likewise a big thing for provincial teams to come to Manila and play in some of the best basketball courts in the country. The value of playing against the incumbent champions of UAAP and NCCA, inarguably the biggest collegiate basketball leagues in the country today, cannot be measured.

Even if no provincial team has yet won the Champions League title since the games started in 2003, a number of their players have made it to the Mythical Five roster, and even as Most Valuable Player, most notably Nonoy Baclao, formerly from West Negros University, Greg Slaughter, formerly with University of Visayas , and Junmar Fajardo of University of Cebu.

Dream of one national collegiate champion

PCCL in partnership with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and 33 collegiate leagues nationwide are pursuing the dream of M. V. Pangilinan, SBP president, of having one national collegiate champion every end of season.

With the funding support of PLDT and SMART and the prize incentives provided personally by Manny V. Pangilinan, the Champions League (PCCL) has grown during the past three years to be a truly nationwide search for a national collegiate champion.

In recognition of his strong desire and passion to elevate the standards of collegiate basketball, PCCL established the M. V. Pangilinan Perpetual Trophy, “Abutin Ang Tagumpay” bronze sculpture, as the symbol of collegiate basketball supremacy. Names of winning teams are engraved in the trophy and the champion team keeps it during the period of its reign.

The MVP Perpetual Trophy is a work of art by sculptor Sajid Imao, son of national artist Abdulamri Imao. Sajid has built his own reputation in such masterpieces as the Lapu Lapu monument at the Rizal Park in Manila and Gallery of Presidents in the walled city of Intramuros.

Sajid is also the recipient of numerous local awards and recognitions, including the 2007 Metrobank Prize for Achievement in Sculpture (MPAS), which is awarded to sculptors who have created a unique and extensive body of work, and achieved considerable renown. A year earlier, the artist was also chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World.

The work of a masterful artist, the Manuel V. Pangilinan Trophy, will definitely be an inspiring beacon as collegiate teams nationwide aspire for higher goals.

Growing interest and support

The expanded coverage of the games by ABS-CBN has immeasurably helped keep these games going, and sparked more interest in collegiate basketball not only of those in Metro Manila, but also in other emerging basketball cities in the provinces.

PCCL is most grateful to Gabby Lopez and Peter Musngi who both have thrown their support to bringing television coverage of basketball on a wider scope covering more cities in the country.

The fact that there are more PCCL games being covered by ABS-CBN, and more games being telecast live, has given a decided boost to renewing the interest of colleges and universities outside of Metro Manila and in supporting basketball teams.

Just as the PCCL, which is a non-stock, non-profit foundation, continues to face a tough challenge trying to support this nationwide six-month collegiate basketball eliminations, many schools in less affluent cities and provincial centers encounter similar conditions in raising funds to support their basketball teams.

More support needed

The PCCL nationwide multi-level competitions among champion teams of over thirty “mother leagues” would not have been possible without the funding support of sponsors such as PLDT, SMART, Molten Balls, FilOil Flying V and ABS-CBN Sports.

Crucial also was the support provided by print media partner, Philippine Star, and the hard-working group of sports scribes and photographers. Through print media, stories and pictures of exciting games being conducted at various localities are given nationwide exposure.

As PCCL prepares to enter a new decade of developmental basketball, more sponsors and partners will be most welcome. There are more programs that have to be done (and funded). One such is the need to further develop the skills and capabilities of our coaches and referees.

Also, one of the long-terms dreams of those in the PCCL board is to join together the nationwide network of basketball leagues in the secondary levels under one competition, similar to the college-based Collegiate Championship games.

If you love collegiate basketball, don’t fail to watch PCCL’s Final Four games at FilOil Flying V Arena, San Juan or the live coverage of the games by ABS-CBN Sports over Studio 23 on December 5, 6, 8, 9 and 12, 2011.

Visit for more details about the 2011 National Collegiate Championship.

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