PLAYING in the shadows of their more popular and experienced elders, three San Beda age-group basketball teams get their chance to grab the spotlight by playing in goodwill games in Guam.
“This is part of the school’s sports development program to enable the young ones to hone their skills in the dash-and-dribble sport,” said a team member. “For sure, the lessons learned from this friendly tour will serve as a valuable experience which they could later apply in their adult life.”
The Guam-bound cagers in the 18-and-under, 14-and-under and 12-and-below categories will be under head coaches Britt Reroma, Manu Iñigo, Troy Umaly, Ninoy Africa and VI Sandalo. Also in the team as assistant coaches are Mark Jomalesa, Andy Mejos and Nono Almeyda.
Ato Badolato, the longtime Red Cubs head coach and San Beda athletic moderator, is head of delegation while Arnie Avellaneda is the team manager.
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The San Beda Red Cubs recently won their fourth straight NCAA title by humbling the San Sebastian Staglets, 69-51.
In nailing the school’s 20th junior basketball crown, Arvin Tolentino and Joshua Caracut combined for 37 big points while 6-foot-2 Javee Mocon shone in defense and helped San Beda limit San Sebastian to just 21 points in the second half.
Mocon contributed 15 points and hauled down 17 rebounds in what coach Reroma said was as “a game-changing performance.”
The other members of the winning team were Axel Iñigo, Nico Abatayo, Lance Abude, Radge Tongco, Rev Rev Diputado, Evan Funaque, Benjie De Villeres, Carlitos Romeo, JR Gumatang, Franz Abuda and Popoy Macapayag.
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American veteran internationalist Shane Van Boening spoiled the Filipinos’ campaign in the 37th US Open when he beat former No. 1-ranked billiards player Dennis Orcollo, 13-7, in Norfolk, Virginia, to win the prestigious tournament.
I earlier picked former World 8-ball and 9-ball champion Ronnie Alcano to win the event since he has the talent to take over from the veteran Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante.
Reyes, who is now 58 years old and Bustamante, 48, cannot be on top forever.
“We must realize this and be prepared,” once said Aristeo “Putch” Puyat of Puyat Sports, the country’s longtime billiards benefactor together with elder brother, former Assemblyman Jose “Popit” Puyat.
Orcollo made the finals against Boening by first beating countrymen Bata Reyes and then Alex Pagulayan in the losers’ bracket.
Van Boening earlier gained the first title slot at the expense of Pagulayan in their semifinal match in the winners’ bracket. Boening won $25,000 while Orcollo pocketed the runner-up purse of $15,000.
Alcano, the 40-year-old “toothless tiger” from Calamba, Laguna, became the third Filipino to win the US Open title after Reyes won in 1994 and Pagulayan in 2005.
Why is Alcano so good? The 5-foot-11 ace has got what it takes to succeed: uncanny skills with the cue stick, a vast international experience, coolness under pressure, not to mention his youth and limitless patience. And like Reyes, Alcano was also born poor. He grew up sleeping on pool tables and failed to finish high school.
Still, the sport of billiards opened great opportunities for him. Under the guidance of businessman Perry Mariano of Bugsy Promotions, Alcano is now a millionaire.