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On the Ivan Johnson ban

Monday, February 15, 2016

PBA Media Bureau (file photo)
SOCIAL media came alive on Saturday night when PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa handed Talk 'n Text import Ivan Johnson a lifetime ban right after the latter's meltdown during his club's match against Meralco. Let's go straight to the point. What's my take in this matter?

First, what Johnson did to Narvasa after incurring a flagrant foul was terribly wrong, so one may say he deserves the permanent ban. However, what the netizens were concerned about was on how Narvasa handed the ban. The incident took place in the second quarter, but the announcement of the sanction came in the fourth quarter of the very same game. That's just about an hour of real time! So if you're gonna ask me if the decision was rushed, then I will answer, "Yes."

Another thing is that Narvasa meted the ban without giving Johnson an opportunity to explain, which is ironic since Narvasa is a lawyer. In fact, being part of the bar runs in his family's blood (his father is a former Supreme Court chief justice). But I think his rushed decision somewhat showed Narvasa the coach (he coached Shell and Star during the 90's). I think he was like, "Don't disrespect a coach like that. Get out of here!" But again, he's Kume Chito now, not Coach Chito.

Now, comparing Johnson's ban to that of former San Miguel import Renaldo Balkman, I should say that while both deserve the executioner's ax, the case of Balkman was more carefully handled. Remember that former commissioner Chito Salud, who is also a lawyer, let Balkman apologize to Santos, to the fans on national TV, and to him before handing out the sanction, not to mention he did not rush his decision.

But in the end, we can't simply judge a commissioner's competence on what he had done in his first two conferences. Yes, his ban on Snow Badua was a threat to press freedom. Yes, his ban on Ivan Johnson came in a few days too early. But here's to hoping Narvasa can still do something better. I am not yet jumping in the resignation calls, but our eyes are now more glued to Narvasa now.


Fearless 2016 Forecasts

Friday, January 01, 2016

FEU finished last year with a bang, winning the UAAP and the PCCL titles, but a tough season without its key players beckons. Dennis Acosta/Dugout Philippines (file photo)

A BRAND new year comes your way. For the next 366 days, we will see more of sports and its related sorts. So I compile some things that I think could happen this year. Let's go!

1. Manny Pacquiao is nearing his boxing retirement according to some of his close ties, but I'm also sensing his basketball retirement is also looming considering his political moves. Anyway, him being the Mahindra playing-coach is just a title.

2. Speaking of his election plans, I don't think Pacquiao will win a seat in the Senate noting that (at least most of) the voters now are wiser than three years prior.

3. Letran won an NCAA title last year but lost its coach to La Salle a month later. My thought? Letran will not be able to defend its title this October.

4. For La Salle? I see the team making the UAAP Finals at the very least in its first year under Aldin Ayo. Team to watch out: Ateneo with Tab Baldwin around. How about FEU? With the core of its championship team gone, it's gonna be a tough year for the Tams.

5. Despite Ginebra getting knocked out in the most awkward of ways, I still see this club finally getting out of the "kangkungan" this year. You read it right, I have Ginebra winning a PBA pennant in 2016.

6. Internationally, Golden State is hot, but on whether it will be translated to a 2-peat is something I find kinda hard to accomplish especially if you throw in San Antonio and Cleveland.

7. Last year saw one of the wildest NFL playoff chases with one division decided on the final day of the regular season and another being on track of the same scenario two weeks before. I seriously have no trust in NFC top seeds Carolina and Arizona winning it all. In fact, I have an AFC team to take the Vince Lombardi Trophy, specifically New England.

8. Brandon Vera has become the only Filipino world MMA champion last year by winning the inaugural One heavyweight title last December in Pasay. I interviewed Victor Cui after the said match and he thinks no other Pinoy will join Vera in the champions list. I'm gonna agree with him. Vera might stay as a champ, but he will remain the only Filipino in the list.

9. The UFL season will begin in a few weeks. Do expect a wild chase for the title between defending champ Ceres, erstwhile champ Global, reigning cup champ Kaya, and Loyola again and again and again.

10. For the PSL, I have Petron finally nailing that grand slam it failed to win last year, but I doubt a "tankathon" just for the sake of getting Alyssa Valdez first in the 2017 Draft will take place. Come on! All of the clubs are hungry for a plum.

11. Finally, 2016 is a leap year. Thus, it's a Summer Olympics year! But if you're asking me if the Philippines will get a medal in Brazil, sorry to say this, but I'm sensing another triple nil for the squad, especially when you know politics still haunt the sporting industry.

12. For the PCCL, there can only be one again this year, but with CESAFI teams making a surge and some mid-major squads also impressing everyone, don't be surprised if the national champ will come from either of these leagues.


Fun run aims at calling for integrity

Saturday, December 05, 2015

WITH the goal of making integrity everyone’s concern and part of daily life, the Integrity Initiative - spearheaded by the Makati Business Club, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AMCHAM), the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), and Financial Executives of the Philippines (Finex)- is staging a historic run on December 12, 2015 at the CCP Complex, Pasay City.

Dubbed “I Run for Integrity: I am Part of the Solution,” the event calls on all sectors of society to participate in this important step towards building a culture of integrity in the Philippines. It is expected to bring together 5,000 representatives and runners from government, business, youth, civil society, academe, church, and media towards the common goal of being part of the solution in fighting corruption.

The event comes on the heels of the highly successful 2011 and 2012 editions of the run, which united a total of 12,000 runners. ECCP organizes this year’s running event in support of the Integrity Initiative, a private sector-led campaign that aims to promote common ethical standards among all sectors. 

Established in 2009 by the Makati Business Club and ECCP, the Integrity Initiative operates on the principle of inclusion and collective action, and works on making the Philippines a leader in promoting an ethical business environment while eliminating negative practices. Since then, a good progress has been made to get the collective action against corruption and unethical business practices going. 2,000 company chief executives, 1,500 DPWH contractors, 42 high government officials, and 140 business organizations have already signified support to the Integrity Initiative and signed the Integrity Pledge. 

Additionally, the Integrity Initiative has rolled-out a unified code of conduct in 2012, and the basic guidelines for ethical business behavior; introduced an online self-assessment tool to all signatories, which can be used to evaluate the areas for improvement in the integrity system within their organization; developed a validation process to validate the ratings from the self-assessment tool and will soon pilot a certification process for businesses. 

“While the Integrity Initiative has already accomplished notable milestones, there’s still a lot that needs to be done. One of which is to encourage more engagement from individuals, especially the youth, to act with and uphold the value of integrity. This is why the theme of this year’s run is ‘I RUN for Integrity: I am part of the solution.’ The individual acts of integrity are sure to deliver remarkable collective result in the long run. Participating in the run event is a symbolic gesture of pledging to act with integrity,” said Henry Schumacher, Vice President of ECCP and the Integrity Initiative, Inc. “We expect this event to be another show of force by Filipinos from all walks of life who want to finish victorious over our fight with corruption. With this event, we seek to make integrity everyone’s mission,” Schumacher added. 

Runners for the “I Run for Integrity: I am Part of the Solution” can choose to participate in the 3K, 5K, and 10K categories. Registration can be made at Chris’ Sports branches in Glorietta 3, Mall of Asia, Market! Market! and SM Megamall until December 4 only. Late registration is until December 7 or until race kits last at the ECCP office in Makati. Registration fee is at PHP 550, while a group of ten participants can avail of the 10 + 1 package. Accomplished runners get to bring home “I Run for Integrity” finisher shirt, baller band, and tokens from event sponsors. Special prizes also await top finishers of the event. 

The “I RUN for Integrity: I am Part of the Solution” event forms part of this year’s Integrity Nation Now campaign of the Integrity Initiative to further solidify their goal of instilling integrity and combating corruption in the country.

In addition to the running event, the Integrity Initiative will also hold the 5th Integrity Summit on December 9, 2015 at Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City. The summit is expected to gather business leaders, anti-corruption and good governance experts, as well as key representatives from the government, church, youth, academe, and other agencies to continue to highlight the progress of the private sector in promoting ethical standards in business. The summit coincides with the celebration of the International Anti-Corruption Day.   

The “I Run for Integrity: I am part of the solution” event is made possible through the partnership with GMA, Globaltronics, Meralco, Siemens, De La Salle University,, Development Bank of the Philippines, Convergys, Globe Telecom, Land Bank of the Philippines, Nestle Philippines, Royal Cargo Inc., Shell Companies of the Philippines, The Medical City, Chris Sports, Friedrich Naumann Foundation, League of Cities of the Philippines, Pasay City LGU, Pasay Youth Development Council, and Philippine Institute of Supply Management. 


An open letter to Kobe Bryant

Monday, November 30, 2015

Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times (file photo)
Dear Kobe,

In your first days in the NBA, it was (still) all about Michael Jordan, and eventually, he became my inspiration to pick up that big ball and place it inside a hole ten feet high.

Then MJ retired, and your prime came. At that time, my eyes were on a budding point guard named Gilbert Arenas.

I also set my sights on a young player named Carmelo Anthony. Apparently, I did not like you that time, and all I was looking at when the Lakers play that time was your "one-man show".

I admit; I tend to criticize your decisions to go all alone when you have four other players wearing either yellow, purple, or, a little later in your career, white open from other sides of the hardwood.

In fact, last year, I still put up one more Kobe criticism by inserting to my tweets a hashtag caption which was translated "because Kobe missed a lot" as a "tribute" to you being the player with the most number of missed shots.

I also made some takes about your five NBA rings. I said that you only won those championships because of having dominant bigs (Shaq and Pau), and I will still hold on to my opinion (one reason why I published this one in my blog instead in our start-up news site because I know my fellow staff members at Dugout PH will spark a debate with me, especially your tandem with Gasol).

But one thing I observed a lot whether online or by watching you on TV is the continuous comparison of you to Mike.

Why in the world is everyone thinking you're the next in line to Jordan or the next Jordan? Is it because your fadeaways and most of your other moves somewhat resemble that of Jordan?

If I have the loudest voice in the world, I would have shouted, "Stop comparing my basketball hero to Kobe!"

But here I am, making the most out of a holiday here in my native land writing this one. I even asked myself, "Why did I get an urge to jot this down?"

That was because of my utmost respect to you. Yes, I didn't like you, but it did not come down to a point where I hated you a lot.

Come on! Only a staunch Kobe hater was indifferent at the time you dropped 81 in 2006. I even remembered answering "Kobe 81" in a quiz contest during my college days which is not sports-themed at all because I had nothing to answer to a question.

I also remembered the time you made 12 triples. Your prime days may still not be as accurate from 24 feet as Steph Curry right now, but I can't remember the latter dropping that much long toms in a single game (although I actually believe he can).

But what I liked about you the more? Your response to the "calls". Like I mentioned, I criticized you a lot, but withstood all the tirades and worked your way to greatness, even overtaking MJ in the scoring list.

Eventually, I began to think, "Kobe can overtake Kareem," but then came the major injuries. And I, and many others, began to think, "The time is up."

Now, here you are, posting a poem declaring your intentions to retire next year. It is really hard to let go of playing the game which became part of your life.

Still, all the great things must come to an end. It may be tough because you will likely retire without tasting postseason basketball.

Don't worry, Mike retired missing out the playoffs in his swan song. But unlike your situation, the Wizards then put up a fight and your team is fast-tracking relegation and it somewhat saddened me.

My inner Jordan fan would say, "Bwahaha! You will badly miss the playoffs in your final season. At least Mike and DC were playoff contenders that time," but my journalist side would say, "You're really not the Kobe Bryant I used to see anymore, and your club is on a rebuild."

Indeed, I may have just seen your last stand. Probably, the only ways to relive your colorful prime years are through Youtube, Vine, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Now, my respect to you has grown more. You are truly a warrior.

You changed the NBA and even the game of basketball in general to what we now know about. You really deserve the "MJ treatment" he got in 2003.

Who knows? We might even see you in as soon as next year's Hall of Fame. Come on! You are more than qualified for an HOF spot.

I can actually say that our renewed love for basketball is mostly credited to you. You revolutionized it.

Thank you for your contributions in the game. Yes, I'm pretty sure there will be a "next Kobe Bryant" as per the media hype, but your unique game is something he won't emulate.

As you said in your own open letter, "My body knows it's time to say goodbye," but I think it's not a farewell but a hello to a new chapter of your life.

God bless on your next journey.

Sincerely yours,

A concerned basketball fan


What the "Ayo-Serye" taught me

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Letran will now have to defend its NCAA crown without Coach Aldin Ayo.
EVERYONE was hooked into the first game of the UAAP men's basketball finals between UST and FEU, but a report from Spin.PH's Snow Badua overshadowed all the hype of the said game and became the talk of the town on Wednesday night.

Badua revealed a surprise candidate for La Salle's new coach, and he happened to be from the north side of Taft.

Both the UAAP and the NCAA worlds got stunned when Letran coach Aldin Ayo was named as not just a candidate but a cinch as well for the head coaching job at the school's former rival. He even cited a source who said that Ayo is set to be named the new mentor, sparking the so-called "AyoSerye".

Then, many AlDub fans, especially those who don't have a knack in basketball, also got caught by surprise when the Letran mentor trended on Twitter, probably mistaking him for Alden Richards (Yes, I need to include this part). And Ayo trended even more when Rappler's Naveen Ganglani confirmed that Ayo is indeed La Salle-bound, citing a school source.

It somewhat gave me a dilemma that spilled over to a basketball league game I played later that night. "How come Ayo accepted La Salle's coaching job when he has not yet resigned as Letran's mentor? Is he gonna do a Roger Gorayeb (at one point, the veteran volleyball mentor coached UAAP's Ateneo and NCAA's San Sebastian at the same time)?"

The "patient" that we are, we at Dugout Philippines waited for a more official word, and it came early Thursday, when Letran's school paper, The Lance, confirmed on its Twitter account that Ayo did not just accept the La Salle job but resigned too as Letran coach as per team manager Ricky Paulino.

Then came Friday night, Letran's victory celebration. Many Letranites, from student to alumni, attended the formal congratulatory ceremony of the Knights for winning their 17th NCAA basketball title.

However, the celebration turned a bit sad when no less than Aldin Ayo confirmed that he indeed will leave the Knights for the Green Archers.

Ayo then debunked many myths that surrounded his transfer, from the lucrativeness of the contract (reportedly at PHP 9 million for three years) to the political factors (Ayo is also a councilman at a certain town in Sorsogon, while La Salle's chief backer, Danding Cojuangco, leads the Nationalist People's Coalition), and said that his decision was personal.

He concluded his farewell address by saying that he "will always be a Letranite."

So much for the long chronology of events, time to air my side of this "Ayo-Serye". I think I got some lessons from this shocking coaching rigodon.

I'm honest to say that I too was surprised with this move (admit it, La Sallians, some of you were surprised as well). As I mentioned above, I still can't get into the idea of seeing a coach doing chores for two teams at the same time.

Well, Ayo already confirmed that he will leave Letran, but still, seeing him go to another team after just one year of coaching the Knights even if it's not the Archers would be something I have to ponder for quite some time.

But the cool thing about Aldin Ayo at the times I covered his games is that he is somewhat soft-spoken like La Salle's incumbent mentor, Juno Sauler, so I expect the transition to be smooth.

Also, I believe that Ayo can turn Jeron Teng to the potential 2017 PBA first round pick many teams want and Larry Muyang to a more polished prototype of Jom Sollano.

But this Ayo-Serye opened my eyes to one harsh offseason reality. The said coaching change stemmed from La Salle's "win now" mentality.

In fact, I can't blame La Salle for this. After winning the title in 2013, the Archers went on a downward swing.

With other teams including UP, Adamson, some CESAFI teams, and even NAASCU champ CEU making a resurgence, La Salle needs to stay on course, thus, the outreach to Ayo, who a month ago steered Letran to the NCAA title.

Another thing, La Salle has a championship tradition dating back to the NCAA, and with a star-studded lineup featuring Teng, Prince Rivero, Andrei Caracut, and Josh Torralba (who once played in the NCAA for EAC) plus the anticipated arrival of Ben Mbala, who are you to blame the team management for thinking, "The time is now"?

However, this Ayo-Serye sparked an outrage over piracy, and another development happened when Mapua coach Atoy Co said that NCAA MVP Allwell Oraeme is being persuaded to move to a UAAP school. Mapuans got a sigh of relief when Oraeme declared that he wants to stay in Mapua.

I'm not saying there was a piracy here (after all, Ayo said he accepted the job for personal reasons), but I hope that this transfer trouble has to stop. Let the players decide their college future based on their personal beliefs.

What is amateur basketball then if luxuries are now being offered together with an athletic scholarship?

I am not in favor of professionalizing college basketball, but let's face it, we are slowly heading that path. Here's to hoping the prestige of amateur basketball of the yesteryear will make a comeback.

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