CSJL's Kevin Alas is blocked by SBC's Borgie Hermida (photo by Jan Dizon)
After the San Beda Red Lions disposed of a punchless Letran College 74-56, not only did it reinforce in my mind my pre-season prediction that the Mendiola-based squad would win the NCAA title but I realized that there seems to be no way this team is going to lose.
What I'm getting at is both Letran and San Sebastian have tried their rough 'em up tactics to no avail and have had the opposite effect. In the match against the Knights today, all that roughhousing instead put the Letran bigs in foul trouble. Now how is that going to help their cause when no one is going to rebound the ball? I thought that the Red Lions did not deviate from their game plan while the Knights either played one-on-one ball or were trying to bump and thump.
That brings to mind what the late John Wooden would teach his Bruins teams. UCLA would practice their offense and not worry about the opposing team. Now I know that there are several schools of thought there but Wooden's point was, if they practiced their sets to perfection and ran them, stayed with them, and finished them, then how would other teams beat them? He was right in a way because his teams won.
Now with regards to the local NCAA, I thought that San Sebastian lost today to Arellano U because Calvin Abueva was out of control again. I'm surprised that he wasn't even assessed a technical foul by the referees for his whack on AU's Jerald Lapuz. Is the league protecting Abueva? Coddling him? If he gets thrown out or suspended that will jeopardize his becoming MVP and pave the way for Sudan Daniel to win it. When the Stags decide to play basketball instead of trying to cut down opponents to half their size then they'll start winning the games. There's the line that all-time greats love to espouse: respect the game and the game will respect you. In my From the Parking Lot column in the latest issue of Rebound, I wrote about Abueva and called him a "game changer." And I still believe so. But if the column was positive, I also now saying that he can change the game for the detriment of his team. In their first round loss to SBC, Stags head coach Ato Agustin pulled him out to get a grip on things. If he wasn't flopping, he was planting cheap shots on the Red Lions. Unfortunately, he met his match with David Semerad who used to play lots of rugby. Now rugby is a tough sport and I don't need to elaborate on that.
I thought that all that non-essential play caused Agustin to not notice how AU coach Leo Isaac tweaked his offense in those final minutes by putting in taller players who could cause mismatches. The PhilStar's Joey Villar thought so too and when we asked Isaac about this he confirmed it. Now way can the Stags' Gilbert Bulawan guard the Chiefs' Andrian Celada who takes the ball from the outside. He was a second late in challenging the game winning basket.
But back to the Red Lions.
It's obvious how much San Beda has changed in a year. The bully tactics don't work anymore. Now if team's decided to play serious basketball then that's the best way to knock them down. But that's another story altogether.