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Transforming the biggest losers

Tuesday, 23 February 2010 5,571 Views / 77 Comments

ONE of the biggest headline grabbers in NCAA Season 85 was that post-match, near all-out melee between San Beda College and Colegio de San Juan de Letran. After Kevin Alas and Sudan Daniel introduced themselves to each other in a not-so-friendly manner, alumni from both schools, as well as fans who filled up the San Juan Arena, got it on, throwing coins, bottles and even arnis sticks. Oh, and who could forget Letran spitfire Jaypee Belencion going up the stands to release all that tension?

When the dust cleared, so did the entire crowd. Nope, it wasn’t because the Red Lions and Knights figured in the main game; in fact, they faced off in the curtain-raiser. Just what exactly transpired after that juggernaut of a game?

It just so happened that the main game featured two of the worst teams this past decade. Entering the 2009 season, the College of St. Benilde Blazers, who sported a 39-75 total win-loss record since winning the title in 2000, went up against the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Altas, at 41-75 also in the same time period. Not surprisingly, the coliseum, which had been a madhouse just a few minutes before, turned into an almost-empty prayer room. CSB won that particular game by one, 64-63, and was arguably more exciting than the Letran-San Beda game. Not surprisingly, no one seemed to care.

Such is life for the Altas and the Blazers. They have been the league’s biggest losers, and the smallest crowd-drawers. Their geographical isolation from the other NCAA member-schools is as glaring as the way they’ve separated themselves from the whole notion of winning. Will Season 86 be any different?

Toward the end of 2008, the management of Perpetual Help tapped the services of Boris Aldeguer, the man credited for resuscitating the walking disappointment of the UAAP juniors division – De La Salle Zobel – and turning it into a championship five. From the get-go, though, the Altas struggled and found it difficult to grasp Aldeguer’s scheme, which includes a few triangle offensive sets.

“That wasn’t my team. They were not my recruits, so it was difficult,” Aldeguer said. In fact, the Altas were so awful last season that they were the only permanent NCAA member-school the more awful Angeles University Foundation Great Danes managed to defeat.

In the middle of the freak show cum horror story that was Season 85, however, the rookie tactician still had his eyes on the longer run. “Next year will be different, we’ll be more competitive,” he said in the waning moments of the 2K9 campaign.

True enough, Aldeguer has assembled an almost brand new team for NCAA Season 86. “As of the moment, I’ve retained only three players from last year’s team [Chris Elopre, Robin Roño and Raffy Ynion] that went 3-15, and brought up my players from Team B. That’s how bad last year’s team was. Also, the guys in Team B are my recruits,” he remarked.

The Altas, who are now taking their Vicki Belo-like facelift on their first road show at the Fr. Martin Cup Open Division, have so far been competitive, defeating Jose Rizal University and Arellano-A in the tournament. Aldeguer remains cautious, though. “I like what I see but the NCAA is different from the preseason. Teams are tougher when the season begins. But we still have goals. We want to be better than last year.”

This season, Perpetual Help will have experienced newbies at its disposal. Leading the charge are five ex-Philippine Christian University stalwarts in George Allen, Jaycee Asuncion, Marlon Gomez, Harold Sumera and Jett Vidal. So far, Gomez, who averaged seven points and six boards for PCU in Season 84, has impressed the most. Complementing them is Paul Nuilan, a power forward who tried out for Far Eastern University last season, and Neil dela Cruz, an athletic specimen who was ruled out of Season 85 due to an ACL tear. Former Las Piñas College Blue Lions playmaker Jonas Kintanar and ex-STI Olympian Arnold Danganan, according to Aldeguer, both have only a year of eligibility left yet round out his nucleus. “Perpetual Help wasn’t even these guys’ first choice. It’s really difficult to compete [in recruiting] against the likes of San Beda and FEU. But I always tell them that this is their shot. If you have the talent, you’re welcome here. If not, sorry,” the DLSU alum said.

Aldeguer, who’s had a coaching stint in the pro ranks, is modest yet optimistic. “If being more competitive will take us to the Final Four, so be it. If not, it’s okay. The goal is to compete.”

After starting 2-0 for the second straight season, the CSB Blazers looked as if they were about to turn the corner. Sadly, hoops along the dark green side of Taft Avenue has been a marriage between Groundhog Day and a living nightmare, and any glimmer of hope flickers in the end thanks to some attitude problem, or internal matter. The script never changes, and 2009 was no different.

“We had a lot of problems last season. We dealt with a lot of issues and it became very difficult. I am not one to make excuses, but [2009] was really tough,” Blazers mentor Richard del Rosario said. Even before the season started, St. Benilde had to bring back veteran forward Ilie Johnston to the fold despite being suspended from the team for “disciplinary reasons,” as del Rosario mentioned in a conversation with him last April, 2009. Unfortunately for the Blazers, it proved to be a sign of things to come.

Unlike past coaches who have been content watching the Blazers sputter to records as dismal as 1-11 (2007), del Rosario is at least barking at the right tree. Now in his second year, the ex-La Salle Green Archer is emphasizing two basic things: character and pride. “While I’m waiting for the entrance exam results of my recruits, I’m using tournaments like the Fr. Martin Cup to build character and discipline. We didn’t have that last season. And since veterans like [Jeff] Morial and [Jacob] Manlapaz are no longer around, that’s even more important. My guys have to have that discipline.”

To prove his point, del Rosario suspended one of his starting guards from a pick-up game with National University for missing practice. “It doesn’t matter who you are anymore. I told the guys that after last year. All of them have to fight for their slots, regardless if they were stars [in 2009],” he reiterated. Coupled with that is his desire to instill a sense of commitment to the school. “A handful of players who tried out last season but left have asked me if they could come back. I turned all of them down. They had their chance here and I won’t let them recycle the school.”

Right now, del Rosario is busy keeping his entire pool of players in competitive condition, and is more concerned with the intangibles. The exciting Carlo Lastimosa will finally be making his debut for CSB, along with former PCU big man Tim McCoy. “As for my other recruits, I’ll wait and see. But what matters now is the attitude of all the players in the pool. We want none of what happened last season,” he declared.

With Johnston, Manlapaz, Morial and Aaron Umlas playing out their eligibility, an air of excitement looms over CSB because of the youthfulness of the holdovers. For the Benilde community’s sake, it hopefully is a different air, one that skews from the typical, eerie, “Benilde-is-always-second-to-DLSU” posture.


Two second-year coaches. Two similar scenarios. One goal. For Perpetual Help and St. Benilde, it’s about transforming that culture of losing and not trying hard enough. Only then will Aldeguer and del Rosario succeed in restoring that bit of excitement and attention their institutions sorely need.

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When you meet Chris, chances are you'll assume he wants to be a rock star. He's completed his Master's Degree in Population Studies, and was a game analyst for ABS-CBN's coverage of the PCCL, FilOil Preseason Invitational Cup and NCAA Seasons 85 and 86. Once an opinion editor for a nationally circulated broadsheet, he presently calls games in NCAA Season 87.


  • charlene says:

    wow! ang daming problems ng CSB. considering na wala naman sa ibang teams ng Benilde. in fact the women’s teams are doing much better.
    bka naman kailangan overhaul na ang gawin- the staff, players, etc.
    i played basketball in college for a small school and may mga issues din, which reflected on the court. that will really show. team sport yan so dapat lahat mag cooperate on what needs to be done at hindi lahat magiging Jordan. from the onset dapat understood yan.
    there is no such thing as a small role if you do justice to it.

  • Rosebud says:

    Hi Terio. Any news re CSB ? Makikibalita lang.

  • Justice says:

    Galatic,totoo ba yan sinasabi mo ? Baka exads lng?

  • terio says:

    There was a practice game between a pbl team and the following blazers played:

    De Guzman
    De La Paz
    Cinco (fresh from Ateneo HS which won the current
    UAAP HS crown)
    Ongteco (Could be a former Letran squire, not sure)

    This info was taken from the Blazer thread. Suggest one visit this forum as they
    have the latest on the Blazers news.

  • Rosebud says:

    Terio,ito daw ba ang magiging team A ng CSB ? Mukhang sa kangkongan na naman tayo nito hahanapin.Wag nalang kaya sumali ang CSB kng ganito na rin ang ating mga players.Pagsama nalang kaya si del Rosario at si Caloy.Buti pa.

  • terio says:

    I do not think so, Rosebud. From what I have gathered and have posted before, this team was divided into two. Perhaps the other half of the team will play in the Father Martin Cup. From thereon, Coach del Rosario will choose the players who will be members of Blazers Team come NCAA Season.

  • Rosebud says:

    Tnx for the info Terio.Do you know why Tan and the other big Forward kid with a wide body frame ( forgot his name )not included in the line up. Or hindi naman kaya nasa Martins Cup sila ? Feedback naman pls.

  • FIREman says:

    I thought you would say towards the end that CSB and Perpetual Help will end up playing in the NCAA finals. Magaling! Magaling!

    Off topic senor…wanted ka ng FIRE DIRECTOR pronto! Call, text or email. Bilisan mo!

  • Rosebud says:

    Fireman, your imagination is out of this world. CSB sa finals ?? With the current lineup no way they will end up in the finals. Think about it amigo!But congrats for giving us your most wildest predictions.

  • FIREman says:

    From Losers to Champions is as wild as anyone could get. Senor Soler had taken me for a ride again. I should read less of him then.

    OT, Senor Soler, the FIRE DIRECTOR said ‘Show up OR ELSE!

  • Rosebud says:

    Tinalo ng unknown na PMMS and CSB SA fr mARTINS LAST WEEK. What happend to the new recruits and the big men? Saan na scoring machine ng CSB ? Pardon me for asking. I am not sarcastic. Just asking huh.

  • terio says:

    Baka mahina ang team b ng Benilde.

  • terio says:

    Montecastro is seen in the vicinity of the University of the Philippines and is only waiting for his release papers by CSB Benilde as per Gameface forum under the Blazers thread.

  • Rosebud says:

    Mabuti na siya doon kc kng sa CSB wala din naman manyayari sa team na yan habang same pa din and coaching staffs nila. Tingnan mo hanggang ngayon wala pa sila panalo sa Fr Martins.Lalo na naman tumitindi ang situaqtion that even the starting fives are starting to feel the politics within the team.Hay naku ewan ba sa mga yan. Magrerecruit palpak naman. Kung hindi bagsak sa entrance, walang binatbat sa laro naman.Di ba may mga reserves pa naman sila na puede pa etrain ?

  • terio says:

    Latest news for Benilde. Number of rookies for the Blazers, 10. Latest rookies, Nayve and Amin (hope I got the latter name right) former Red Cubs. Montecastro could be joining UP. Urra is out due to violation of team rules. Source: Gameface forum.

  • Rosebud says:

    Ano position nitong si Nayve and Amin ? I think csb should build up more their defense capabilities rather than their wingmen. They have enough of them. They should remember that its almost always the defense in every game that makes the team win.

  • terio says:

    Still no transformation. 0 – 5 ang Blazers. Walang panalo. This is expected since majority of the players are rookies. The rookies looks promising though. Just hope in this coming NCAA tournament, the Blazers would surpass their last number of wins during the past NC tournament.

  • guardian angel says:

    Have seen these rookies played during the Filoil and even Fr. Martins, all they’ve got are speed and not much even in shooting.Hilaw pa talaga. They still lack in defense ( i agree with you Rosebud).While other teams are building with bigger players, ang CSB naman is going towards mga small kindergartens.The big guys are not performing of what are expected of them to do. Wong, Tan,McCoy , Dela Paz, Manlapaz have been playing below par.Shooting ?Sorry wala. Defense ? Lalo ng wala.So if you expect them to surpass their winning numbers last year, medyo malabo yan.DEFENSE AMIGO !!

  • Rosebud says:

    Tama ka dyan guardian angel.Height is might. Why waste a single moment building up a smaller lineup when you are facing those giants ? I would love to see CSB win their games butwhen will this thing happen ?

  • fasterthanaspeedingbullet says:

    as for the perps, I really want to see them competitive in this coming NCAA Season. ngayong binago na ni Coach Boris ang line-up compared last year. I want to see them win games. Or if kung halimbawang talo sila, sana naman hindi tambak.

  • Rosebud says:

    Post sa Gameface by Ahura Masda..Dahil sa dami ng problem sa CSB kailangan na daw ang mga young blood.Take note – young blood. He doesnt know what is going on inside this team.Hindi lang discipline ang main problem here. Mas mahigit pa. Do some more research and you will find out. Talk to some players and ask them kung may favoritism ba dito.Much more everyone should know how the entire coaching staff is running the show inside and outside of CSB team.Young blood huh, so hows the team now with the present young blood doing the show sa Filoil and Fr.Martins.

  • guardian angel says:

    Talo na naman ang CSB against Mapua.Thou lumamang ang CSB by 13 points sa 2nd qrtr, talo is talo. Basketball game is played 4 solid quarters. So no matter what, this is not a good sign for CSB in the coming NCAA.Better revamp the entire coaching staffs.While the big men are not effective as usual, the midgets are again doing the job.Fung shui says Del Rosario should be replaced being the bad omen.Pinagalitan na naman ang mga players dahil panay sila talo.This is what you call not the right attitude.

  • Gotcha says:

    I want to make this posting as an open letter to the sports director of CSB and to all concerned fans : Dear Mr. Director and Fans

    I have been reading different opinions be it Inboundpass or gameface and I am personally bothered by all these things most specially what has been said about the coaching staffs handling the team, favoritism,suspended players suspected to be involved in game fixing was allowed to attend practices,coach delRosario being hot tempered and so on.Recently it was also posted that the team recruited young blood instead of training some players who are worthy to be in the line up.Mr.Director you can see by the record that with the current Filoil tourney wala pa silang panalo. Just like any other fans, I was also able to watch some of their games and sorry to say that I have to leave before the start of the 4th quarter kasi naawa ako sa mga players who cannot even defend themselves against their big and taller opponents.There is something wrong with the team. Is it the players themselves who still lack the ability to play or is it the coaching ability which is not effective?? For the interest of the student fans, we cannot afford to be at the bottom again this coming NCAA.How Far can we go ? With our standing in the Filoil, heaven knows where we stand. In one of the posts, it was also mentioned that most of the players are no longer happy the way Del Rosario is running the show.Is this the right time to pack up things for the entire coaching staffs then ? What i saw during the game was that these new recruits are still not ripe yet to play this kind of a game. Bakit nila pinipilit ? I agree that one of the best options is to convert this team into a defensive team (thanks to whoever made these suggestions). Get players whom you can consider as Big Ben and not small acrobats.CSB should match the strenght of other teams in terms of height. Match those niggers who seems to dominate our own race! Mr. Director you should act now before its “too late the hero “.ANIMO BENILDE !!

  • rosebud says:

    gotcha, ikaw naman. dalawa na ang panalo ! Congratulations !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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