Basketball wishes 2016
BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - January 16, 2016 - 9:00am

It’s time for or wishes for Cebu Basketball that may also serve as a crystal ball of sorts for 2016. In brief, 2016 will see a positive development with the return of the semi-pro/commercial leagues along with the usual basketball tournaments that already fill up the year.

First, the good news. We hope to see the return of semi-pro/commercial basketball as the Countrywide Basketball League (CWBL) is launched in 2016. Not one but two Cebu teams have confirmed their joining this nationwide league established by Rey Gamboa, Coach Joe Lipa and ABS-CBN. This is great news for those former college basketball players who don’t have to go north to seek more playing exposure in the Manila leagues like the FBA, PCBL and PBA D-League. Cebu will be represented by the  M. Lhuillier ballclub coached by Yayoy Alcoseba, and Bogo City which will be managed by the combined forces of Mayor Junie Martinez and businessman Joe Soberano.

The CWBL will bring back the olds day of the MBA when regional basketball was supreme. I don’t see the CWBL matching the levels that the MBA reached but you’ve got to start somewhere. My wish is that they succeed and find a long term program that will see all teams and the CWBL last a life-time. We don’t need another MBA that teased us then folded. The NBC, MVBA and Liga Pilipinas followed suit but all these also faded away. The other development in the same department is the plan of the PBA to bring the PBA D-League to Cebu. They plan to put up a Cebu-based league similar to their D-League in Manila. Although much hasn't been mentioned lately ever since Commissioner Chito Narvasa took over, I’m confident this will push through since it was already approved by the PBA Board.

If this is a go, I’m seeing current college players and former college players seeing action here, similar to the way the PBA D-League is run. They have both school-based and commercial teams. UP, NU, FEU, San Beda and CEU are college teams that join the PBA D-League. Can we something similar here? I’m sure the PBA can work out a partnership with the CESAFI schools here.

Speaking of CESAFI, it will still be the top basketball show in town that will draw the biggest crowds. USC will be pressed to defend its collegiate championship with UV and SWU sure to rebuild their line-ups. I’m expecting USPF to be a team on the rise this year that will seek to break into the top four and the might even dislodge USJ-R from the fourth spot. Quietly behind the scenes, I’m interested to see what all the college teams are doing vis-a-vis the implementation of senior high school. They won’t be having freshmen for the next two years and will need to work on their base of players as their seniors graduate.

They can recruit current college players from the VISMIN area or develop their Team B players. The high school scene will be a tougher one this year and there’s no guarantee that Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu will score a fourth CESAFI title. UC and UV are working to improve their ranks and there are a lot of talks of new faces showing up at practices and more to arrive this summer.       Meanwhile, ongoing is the NBTC League with the Magis Eagles seeking to defend their Cebu title on the way to defending their national title from 2015. SHS-Ateneo and UV are expected to face each other in the finals of both the NBTC (end of January) and the CVIRAA (February 7-12).

In the SBP Passerelle twin tournament,  both the Passerelle (Under 15) and SBP (Under 12) divisions is going to be a toss up among SHS-Ateneo, UV and USC this year. SHS-AdC won the Passerelle division while UV was the SBP champion of 2015. Team Cebu City, composed of the core of the USC team, is expected to defend its CVIRAA elementary division gold medal on the way back to the Palarong Pambansa. Mandaue City/SHS-Ateneo, Tagbilaran City and Cebu Province are expected to round up the final four of the CVIRAA which will be hosted by the City of Naga.

The rest of the calendar will be filled with developmental activities of the Cebu Youth Basketball League which holds games for the Under 18, 15, 12 and 10 age groups. Their ongoing CYBL tournament is now in the playoffs stage and is expected to wrap up by the end of January. Next for the CYBL is a summer tournament and its annual VISMIN Goodwill Games which brings in teams from Iloilo, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Tagbilaran and Leyte. The Private Schools Developmental League (PSDL) is also expected to have its games for other schools with young basketball programs. Competing here are the various other schools with high school and elementary divisions. It’s also our wish that Ladies Basketball bloom this year after a successful run with its maiden tournament. We’d like to see more schools start programs for girls basketball and that there be a calendar of activities for the sport’s sisters. Girl power, right?

And as we work hard to produce top talents here, we can’t help but cheer for our Cebu products who are doing well in Manila. June Mar Fajardo, Dondon Hontiveros, Proctoy Quinahan and Brian Heruela are at the top of the list. The same goes for all those Cebu products playing in the UAAP, NCAA and other collegiate leagues.

Everything’s looking solid for Cebu Basketball in 2016. Jumpball!

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