BEING A HIGH SCHOOL HOOPS STAR DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN ONE WILL SHINE INTHE ULTRA COMPETITIVE REALM OF COLLEGE BALL. SO WHYTAKETHE RISK WHEN YOU CAN PRY AWAY PLAYERS WHO ARE ALREADY MAKING A NAME FORTHEMSELVES IN COLLEGE LEAGUES?
When Norman Black first saw Nonoy Baclao play, the lanky 6’4” forward was playing for West Negros University in the Uni-Games. Baclao was rejecting every weak ass shot in sight that saw his fellow Mustangs get out on the break.
The Ateneo Blue Eagles coach saw visions of Baclao turning the shaded lane into a no-fly zone with the outlet pass flicked to a sprinting Eric Salamat or Chris Tiu.
And not soon after that, fantasy turned into reality as Baclao captained Ateneo to two UAAP titles.
GO EAST, YOUNG MAN
Just how competitive has college basketball become?
Gone are the days when teams were entirely homegrown. Schools today are constantly looking for ways to beef up their squads and that includes reading the fine print of their respective league’s rules and regulations for any advantage. Anything and everything. And that includes recruiting.
With vague rules in place, La Salle brought over Fil-Americans whose talent, training, and mixed genes gave them a huge advantage.
The Lago brothers were a huge part of their late 80’s and early 90’s dominance. They turned up the jets later on with the entry of Don Allado, Mike Cortez, Willy Wilson, and Manny Ramos. Ultimately, the league – unfairly though --clamped down on their formula for success.
As a result, anyone coming over from abroad would have
to sit out two years before he could play. It curtailed La Salle’s recruiting as they set their sights on domestic talent.
It would be years later before the collegiate sports landscape would see a new trend emerge.
THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY
In 2006, Nigerian Sam Ekwe entered San Beda College where he reportedly wanted to become a priest. Booshwah. Ekwe instead spread the gospel of Red Lions basketball to an NCAA that was caught flat-footed and unprepared for the behemoth inside the lane. The Nigerian powered the Red Lions to three titles.
The success of San Beda saw almost every Manila school follow that formula for success thinking that an African would be the great Ekwe-lizer for them against the more moneyed schools.
In the NCAA, Jose Rizal University followed suit followed by Arellano University. Over at the UAAP, five schools now have Africans in their lineups. Even STI that plays in NAASCU fielded one of their own. Yes, STI.
While the influx of Africans is “legal”, questions arise out of the ethics involved. Are they legitimate students or are they collegiate versions of roundball mercenaries? Never mind if some of them have not panned out. Even as the debate rages on the correctness of their recruitment, some teams have begun looking for surefire help – to other schools. The college transferee.
THE MISSING PIECE
While hardly new, when used properly, the transferee can be the missing piece to a championship. The transferee, to differentiate himself from masteral student, is one who has played elsewhere before being recruited or pirated away. He’s a proven player and would make a great addition to another team.
One normally has to sit out either a year or two before seeing action and the years alone are sometimes a put off to potential recruits. But sometimes, it can well be worth the wait.
Some two decades before Baclao helped Ateneo to victory, La Salle brought in the rugged and tough George Peralta from PATTS (Philippine Air Transport and Training Services) College to play inside beside young center Zandro Limpot. It took a year before the Green Archers lifted their first UAAP title.
Nowadays, not only are teams looking for their own version of Baclao as a defensive player who can alter games but also a player who has been seasoned elsewhere and can be the missing piece to a championship puzzle.
This coming basketball season, several teams have received a boost with transferees and look to make a big splash. Greg Slaughter from the University of Visayas to Ateneo de Manila University
Slaughter first came to prominence in 2007 when he led the Green Lancers to the title game of the Champions League. Only he ran against Baclao and Rabeh Al-Hussaini as Ateneo annexed the first of their three national titles.
The 6’11” center from West Virginia moved to Cebu which was his mother’s hometown. But after joining Smart Gilas Pilipinas, Slaughter looked to transfer to
Manila because he was missing so much of the training.
Contrary to popular belief, Slaughter wasn’t recruited by Ateneo. It was his choice to transfer there. “I didn’t just come back to the Philippines to play basketball,” said the massive center. “I also came here to get a degree.”
Slaughter has long been intrigued about studying at Ateneo and having been around several former Blue Eagles in the national team, he didn’t need much convincing (to the chagrin of his UV coach). And the big kid, who had improved by leaps and bounds since handled by national coach Rajko Toroman, has made Ateneo favorites to annex a fourth straight title. Arvie Bringas from De La Salle University to Far Eastern University
At this point, it is unclear if Bringas will be allowed to suit up for the Tamaraws given the less than amicable departure from La Salle where he had an up and down first year.
And he joins his brother Mark, a castaway from San Sebastian after he clashed with former head coach Ato Agustin in a still talented cast in Morayta. Should he suit up, the younger Bringas will be a huge addition. The loss of center Reil Cervantes and gunner Paul Sanga was glaring in the pre-season as the Tams became more of a guard-oriented offensive team. Arvie’s addition should approximate the insideoutside game that FEU lost when Cervantes opted to forego his final year of eligibility for the pros. Henri Betayene from STI to National University
Raw but undoubtedly athletic. Sort of like Emmanuel Mbe when he was serving his year of residency in Sampaloc with the Bulldogs.
Betayene was lured away by Lawrence Chongson to join the University of the East but the coach’s subsequent replacement with Jerry Codiñera saw the Cameroonian displaced.
Former STI head coach Vic Ycasiano, an assistant with NU, brought in his former player to the Bulldogs’ lineup although he will be unable to suit up this coming UAAP season because of his residency period. John Foronda from Letran to UST to Letran to Lyceum University
Must idolize Mike Galinato for his wanderlust. Even if it’s only a few hundred meters away from his old Muralla haunts. But with the Lyceum Pirates, he looks to have found a home where he not only has playing time but has shown what he can do offensively. Allan Santos from Adamson University to Lyceum University
A tough forward who gave foes fits in the UAAP. But oft was in foul trouble because at times, he lacked the height to guard the bigger forwards or centers or was unable to keep up with them. Eventually fell out of favor with Leo Austria and like Foronda, found a home in Intramuros. Surprisingly, has played with a chip on his shoulder with the Pirates. Gab Banal from De La Salle University to Mapúa Institute of Technology
A star with the Xavier Stallions, Banal found himself riding the bench in La Salle and falling deeper and deeper into the rotation until he was an afterthought. Although he will miss out a year because of residency, Banal should add offensive options to a team that should be really good two years from now. Paul Nuilan Colegio de San Juan de Letran to University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Marlon Gomez PATTS to University of Perpetual Help System Dalta
This is the controversial duo that played so well in the pre-season of Season 86 of the NCAA such that the league authorities declared them ineligible only a few days prior to the start of the season. Incredibly, instead of sorting out the matter, the NCAA chose to keep quiet and ignore the issue while their media cronies kept it out of the press. This year, the two look to be back with a vengeance for the Altas, this year’s NCAA host. Robby Celiz and Lee Dennice Villamor Rizal Technological University to National University
These guys are like stealth fighters – no fuss basketball but they’ll kill you if you don’t take them seriously.