OCTOBER 21, 2009

by JA Conde

For the first time in NCAA history, the NCAA finals has been moved to late October instead of the usual late September, which was existing during the time 8 teams were still participating. This is year is another rematch of two of the hottest teams colliding for one title showdown, one will win their fourth title while the other one will end their Cinderella story. And this is how San Beda and San Sebastian are respectively descripted in this year’s finals.



The two teams have already faced in the finals twice before this, with San Sebastian winning both contests. This one happened during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. San Sebastian had Rommel Adducul, Ulysses Tanigue, and coaches Turo Valenzona and Bai Cristobal at the helm, while the Bedans once had Norman Gonzales and Dong Vergeire on the bench.




San Beda, despite losing big man Sam Ekwe to graduation, has still kept its vital cogs in Borgie Hermida, Jay-R Taganas, Jake Pascial, and Anjo Caram. But a new set of rookies took over the likes of Rogemar Menor, Pong Escobal, and Ekwe, with the likes of American Sudan Daniel and son of former MIT cardinal Romy Dela Rosa, Rome. Somehow, they recieved mixed reviews from Basketball analysts. But as the season began, they still got the power, as they ended up #1 in the standings with a 16-2 record. They defeated the Letran Knigts in the Final Four.



San Sebastian, a winning school, having eight titles at hand recently had a lowdown in their program as they were called “overrated”, despite having good players like Jason Ballesteros and Jim Viray. As for this situation, they lost their spot in the Final four and even had a series of coaching changes——–from Coach Turo’s son Raymond to Jorge Gallent, who resigned after failing to lead the Stags to the Final Four despite having a 9-5 record. This year, they hired a stranger in the program, who is somehow good in Basketball skills, and was even a former PBA MVP. His name? Renato Agustin, who literally had no experience in the commercial leagues as a coach or an assistant. But the Stags surprised the NCAA analysts as they became the pre-season favorites to win the bacon. And as the season started, they showed everyone how far they have come, thanks to new fellow Kapampangan recruit Calvin Abueva, as they even won 15 straight games before getting into trouble again, losing to Letran and SBC twice is really terrible for them, but they have rose up as they later regrouped and defeated the JRU Heavy Bombers, who wanted to end their 37-year championship drought, with the score of 75-61 last Monday.



I’d rather pick San Beda in 3 games. I’m very sorry but San Beda really had the edge, from their talent, experience, and heart, we have seen it from the start. Expect Daniel roadblocking fellow rookie Abueva anywhere. Personally, both are strong teams, as we have seen it throughout the season, but SBC has the edge in my opinion. Let’s see what will happen instead as Game 1 is on Thursday at the Araneta Coliseum.

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