Cebu basketball on national TV
BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - October 13, 2019 - 12:00am

In chats and meetings that we’ve had with basketball enthusiasts/fans from Manila, we all agree that talents abound in the probinsya and they’re good enough to play in Manila. What they lack are the much-needed breaks and exposure. As they play in the local leagues, not too many coaches and scouts see them unless they make it to the finals of tournaments like the CESAFI, CVIRAA, NBTC and SBP-Passerelle tournaments. But when they are brought to Manila, they step up, create an impact and make Cebu Basketball proud. Making it to the Manila scene is already an achievement of sorts, thus I’m not too hard on others who may not be making as much impact as others

One of the biggest names out of Cebu who is making noise is ex-UV Lancer and CESAFI MVP Rey Suerte. He is playing for UE in the UAAP on a one-and-done arrangement since he’s still eligible to play in the league even after playing in the CESAFI. He leads UE in statistics and is a candidate for the Mythical Five. I can recall how Talisay City Mayor Samsam Gullas once said that Suerte would do well in Manila after his playing years in the CESAFI. While he may have been referring to Suerte playing in the PBA D-League, we now see Suerte leading UE on national TV. Another ex-Lancer in Jun Manzo is also doing well, starting at the point guard spot for the UP Fighting Maroons. He has to tough task of orchestrating an offense loaded with offensive-minded players. When you have Kobe Paras, Ricci Rivero, the Gomez de Liaño brothers Juan and Javier, and Bright Akhuetie on the same team, the point guard has the difficult job of spreading the ball while leading the offense at the same time. Backing him up is another ex-CESAFI MVP in Jaybie Mantilla (USJR). But he hasn’t seen too much playing time of late and our wish is that he gets the breaks and playing time in a souped-up line-up. In the UP team are ex-Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu players Janjan Jaboneta and Pio Longga.

Zachy Huang, a former Magis Eagle, had a break-out game when he drilled six triples in leading UST to a 101-73 win over UE. He was then quoted as willing to step aside to make his teammates shine or be better for as long as it was good for the team. Dave Ando is another Cebuano in UST. Another former Magis Eagle in Patrick Yu had a break-out game in a 72-78 loss to UE. Patrick scored 17 points including three triples as he led NU in scoring when their main men had off-nights. He doesn’t see too much action but when given the chance, he’ll drill that triple and run the wings. Only on first playing year, we hope he gets to develop his game as he grows in the UAAP. Also with him in NU are Cebu products John Galinato and RJ Minerva. Lilo-anons Royce Alforque and Barkley Eboña are role players on the FEU side, playing back-up to their respective starters. More of UV’s green pride are found in Adamson University’s Joshua Yerro, Ivan Maata and Michael Macion. The three are role players with Yerro creating a buzz in his last three or four games for his defense and over-all hustle that also results into points.

We can’t go on without mentioning the progress that Leonard Santillan has made post-UAAP. He now focuses on 3X3 basketball while playing for Balanga in the Chooks to Go 3X3 League. He has gone to different places around the globe for 3X3 hoops but also maintains his 5v5 play with the MPBL and the PBA D-League. Another Cebu product worth mentioning is Eloy Poligrates who is now on his “second life” playing for Marinerong Pilipino. He was named MVP of the latest tournament and is playing in the finals of the tournament. Just when you thought that he was washed up and left to settle for the panalay leagues of the Vismin, here he is proving that he still has it. Getting younger, our eyes are also on ex-UV Passerelle and Juniors standout Steve Nash Enriquez of the NU High School team. He might have left Cebu earlier than others, but word is that he’s slowly but surely taking over the NU team as its leader but is groomed to really step up next season as he’s only 17 years old and has two more years left in UAAP high school basketball.

We also have players in the NCAA such as San Beda’s JB Bahio, Alex Visser and Ayn Obeinza. Lyceum has Beirn Laurente. Franz Diaz and Koko Tuadles play for CEU in the UCBL and recently the PBA D-League. The list goes on and on. Sorry if I missed out on some. But one thing is certain. Cebu Basketball is creating noise in the big city. We’re watching all this on TV and social media. And we’re mighty proud of them. Let’s produce more by working on the grassroots and the younger age groups. Game!

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