PCCL plans Cebu pocket tourney
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - December 21, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) chairman Rey Gamboa is planning to stage a four-team pocket tournament in Cebu early next year to involve the senior men’s basketball varsity teams of La Salle, San Beda, Southwestern University and the University of the Visayas but it’s contingent on whether there are sponsors to make the dream a reality.

La Salle is the reigning UAAP champion and just won the PCCL crown by sweeping Southwestern in the best-of-three finals. San Beda, the NCAA champion, finished fourth. UV captured this year’s CESAFI trophy, coming back from a 0-2 series deficit to stun Southwestern in the best-of-five finals. Southwestern avenged the loss by tripping UV, 68-60, in the Southern Islands finals to earn the ticket to the PCCL Final Four.

“We’re working on it,” said Gamboa, referring to the Cebu tournament with a “Challenge to Champions” format. In 2002, Gamboa conceived the idea of creating a national collegiate conclave, gathering the champion teams from leagues all over the country, to form the PCCL. This year, the PCCL brought in 272 teams from 37 leagues under the theme “There Can Only Be One.” The UAAP and NCAA champions were seeded into the Final Four but the rest had to slug it out in regional eliminations leading to the Sweet 16 stepladder.

The last two Final Four slots went to Southwestern, representing the Southern Islands, and FEU, representing Luzon and Metro Manila. The Tamaraws advanced after disposing of powerhouse UST, 71-68, NU, 88-70 and San Sebastian College, 83-73, despite losing stars Terrence Romeo and R. R. Garcia to the PBA. UE, Perpetual Help and Letran were struck out during the eliminations. In the semifinals, FEU played without head coach Nash Racela who was in Myanmar backstopping Joseph Uichico in Sinag Pilipinas’ campaign for the Southeast Asian Games gold medal.

For claiming the Juan Sajid Imao-sculpted “Abutin Sa Tagumpay” bronze PCCL championship trophy named in honor of SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan, La Salle received P350,000 cash and P250,000 in sports items and gifts certificates. La Salle also picked up P100,000 for qualifying in the Final Four as UAAP champion. Southwestern took the second prize of P300,000. The PCCL paid for the team’s round trip air fare from Cebu to Manila and back and a 12-day hotel stay in Manila. FEU got P200,000 for third place and San Beda, P50,000 for fourth place plus P100,000 for qualifying in the Final Four as NCAA champion.

Gamboa said the PCCL Model Collegiate Player of the Year will be named during the formal awarding ceremonies on Jan. 17. “The award is given to the player who attained collegiate education and completed collegiate basketball playing competitively, upholding the high standards of performance, sportsmanship and exemplary conduct on and off the court worthy of emulation as a role model,” said Gamboa. It is rumored that three graduating players are in the short list for the award which is distinct from the Finals MVP recognition gained by La Salle’s Jeron Teng.

La Salle got off on the wrong foot in the Final Four, losing to Southwestern, 64-54, in overtime at the Blue Eagle Gym in Loyola Heights last Dec. 16. It was the Archers’ first game since clinching the UAAP crown last October so the rust was evident. But La Salle went on to defeat FEU, 80-60, and San Beda, 64-60, before sweeping Southwestern, 64-54 and 70-61, in the best-of-three finals.

Archers coach Juno Sauler confessed that in the finals, La Salle played only at 80 percent capacity with Almond Vosotros nursing a sprained ankle, Arnold Van Opstal a badly bruised hip, Kib Montalbo a lacerated left elbow and Matt Salem a painful lower back. In Game 2, Southwestern crept to within five from a double-digit deficit in the fourth period but the Archers ignited a 12-0 surge to ice it, time down to 2:46. What turned it around was Cobra forward Daryl Goloran’s fifth foul on Jason Perkins attempting a jumper. Goloran protested the call and got a technical, leading to two additional free throws and possession for La Salle. Perkins and Vosotros shot five apiece in the decisive run. A deep three from way out by Vosotros to beat the shot clock and an inbounds play for Perkins to hit a turnaround jumper sealed it.

Sauler said more than the result, his priority was for the Archers to learn, improve and mature. In Game 1, La Salle blew a 22-point lead and had 11 turnovers and was outshot, 22-10, in the fourth period. Sauler said it isn’t just about the final score but playing consistently efficient for 40 minutes.

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