Booming in Baguio

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

BAGUIO CITY – There’s a 32-year-old varsity league that’s enjoying a renaissance with the appointment of new commissioner Djalma Arnedo and the involvement of businessman Rayo Bautista in promoting the 11-school association. It’s called the Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League (BBEAL) and the season calendar features 19 sports, including basketball, volleyball, archery, chess, taekwondo, boxing, wushu, muay, athletics, swimming, table tennis and tennis.

Participating schools are this year’s host UP Baguio, defending back-to-back basketball champion University of the Cordilleras, St. Louis University, Benguet State University, Philippine Military Academy, Baguio College of Technology, University of Baguio, Baguio Central University, Cordillera Career Development Academy, Pines City Colleges and Kings College of the Philippines. The season starts with basketball and ends with volleyball. The league used to maintain a high school division but today, it’s open only to seniors in both men and women. Perhaps, in the not too distant future, BBEAL may reopen its doors to high school athletes.

“Our model is the UAAP,” said Arnedo. “We’re exploring ways to grow our league. ABS-CBN has a major media presence in Baguio and we’re hoping that someday, our games will be televised. Right now, we’re not live-streaming because we want to build the audience in our venues. We video games only for internal use so we can evaluate officiating and review how we can improve.”

National basketball team and NLEX coach Yeng Guiao was here to open the season last Oct. 27. Last weekend, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios and former national coach Joseph Uichico arrived to conduct coaching and officiating clinics and seminars. This weekend, I’m in town to lecture on journalism to students from BBEAL schools and deliver a talk on leadership, motivating athletes and success formulas to coaches of various sports.

Arnedo, 56, lives and breathes basketball. He earned a Master’s degree in Sports Management at La Salle and worked under Uichico with the Green Archers as assistant coach. Arnedo later joined Uichico in coach Ron Jacobs’ staff with San Miguel Beer. He also worked under coaches Rajko Toroman, Chot Reyes, Boysie Zamar, Ryan Gregorio, Ariel Vanguardia and Gil Cortez, among others and attended US seminars in the US conducted by coaches Bobby Knight, John Calipari and Vance Walberg. Arnedo was also exposed to the conditioning and practice regimen of Joe Abunassar in Las Vegas. In the UAAP, he was on Zamar’s UE staff and the varsity featured stars James Yap and Paul Artadi. One of Arnedo’s collegiate recruits was Tarlac’s K. G. Canaleta who was recommended by Dr. Jun David of Holy Angel.

“I’ve learned a lot from some of the best basketball minds in the world,” he said. “I’ve worked in the UAAP, MBA, Liga Pilipinas and PBA. Last September, I decided to reestablish myself in Baguio where my mother still lives. Baguio is my home. It’s where some of our PBA players came from like Doug Kramer, Tony de la Cerna, Kenneth Ighalo, Sonny Cabatu, Lito Cruz and Dante Ritualo. Former BAP secretary-general Caloy Manzanillo is also from Baguio.”

Arnedo recently got together with another La Salle alumnus Bautista in creating new markets for BBEAL. Bautista, 38, is the grandson of University of Baguio founder and sports mover Fernando Bautista, Sr. “My love of sports comes from my grandfather,” said Bautista who owns the popular Organo coffee brand and operates a solar energy engineering consultancy. “When I was in school, I was with the La Salle Pep Squad. A common passion for sports brought Djalma and me together.”

Also in town are FIBA commissioner Emmanuel Paraon and FIBA international referees Ariel Bermeo and Francisco Olivar. They were invited to work BBEAL’s Final Four games and update the league’s 15-man referees’ pool on the latest FIBA rules.




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