March 19, 2014,
The Original Savory Restaurant,
Coach JB Sison entered the dining area of the restaurant quite late. But the meeting of coaches and organizers of the 20th Fr. Martin Summer Cup basketball tournament have not started yet.
He had an air of cheerfulness with him as he shared rice, fried chicken and pancit with those around him in the table set for the meeting.
Why? Well, this is because he won’t be handling the Red Lions this time around in the senior division of this cagefest which is considered as the longest running pre-season tournament in collegiate and secondary basketball in Metro Manila.
Coach Boyet Fernandez, who has shied away from handling the Red Lions during the off-season will be.
(coach Boyet Fernandez in action. photo sourced from Pinoyexchange.com).
Well, this will be a first for coach Boyet, this is what I was thinking.
You see, Fernandez has always relegated the coaching chores to his assistants during the three previous tournaments of the Fr. Martin Cup in 2013, and ever since he took over in December 2012.
He said he wanted his assistants to gain confidence in calling the shots for the Red Lions during their pre-season sorties.
This was what he told me last year when he let coach JB call the shots starting on Jan. 20, 2013 during one of the games of the 9th Fr. Martin Cup Collegiate Open basketball tournament at the Trinity University of Asia gymnasium in Quezon City.
– Blast from the Past
Fernandez, who had just been appointed in the last week of Dec. 2012, watching closely from the bench as the Red Lions survived a late University of the Philippines Maroons comeback, 63-61.
The Red Lions, with Baser Amer and Van Abatayo making 11 apiece, picked up their second win in three games in Group A, and stayed in contention for a seat in the quarterfinals.
Francis Abarcar sunk the winning basket, a split free throw in the last 6.4 seconds to bail the Red Lions out of trouble and as UP rallied from seven points down in the last two minutes.
His basket came after the Maroons threatened, 61-62, off a putback by Raul Soyud with 7.3 seconds left.
After the game, he told me his views and plans for the Red Lions at that time.
He said he does not have to look far and outside the school to find talented players who will suit up for the team in the coming 89th season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament.
At that time, he felt that team B has enough talents to fill up any void which three veterans will leave behind when they graduate this March.
He wanted three spots to be filled. It was to left left vacant when senior cagers Jake Pascual, Carmelo Lim and Anjo Caram bid the team farewell in two months time.
“Tinitingnan ko iyung Team B. Maraming players na galing high school,” said Fernandez, who was contented at just running the team’s practices at that time.
During that period of transition, Fernandez was just leaving the coaching chores to JB in ongoing off-season campaigns.
Fernandez noted that most of the players in Team B have lots of championship experience, and after seeing action for the San Beda Red Cubs, who finished last season’s junior division with their fourth straight crown.
He feels that with their experience, the Red Lions will not have a difficult time when they seek a fourth straight senior championship in the coming season.
Van Abatayo, a great scorer who came from the Red Cubs team two years ago, are among the leading candidates to make it to the senior squad, along with Roldan Sara and Michol Sorela.
He is also eyeing two returning cagers, the Semerad twins. Anthony and David Semerad are back after a year of unproductivity while with the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Fernandez, who also came in with Adonis Tierra as one of his assistant coaches, is hopeful that Anthony has recovered from an injured Achilles tendon, and David is in good shape, considering his 12-month layoff.
And that Sunday, Fernandez got an idea of how the strengths and weaknesses of the Red Lions when he watched them play. in the 9th Fr. Martin Cup tournament.
And so JB Sison, continued to handle the Red Lions for some time, and until he (JB) went back to the Red Cubs, who were four-peat champs at the time in after the 88th National Collegiate Athletic Association season.
And so Fernandez later went on to make his his debut as coach when the FilOil-Flying V cagefest that year.
This time, things will be different for the Red Lions as total of 27 collegiate and high school squads are seeing action in the 20th the Fr. Martin Summer Cup basketball tournament this Saturday, April 5.
Commissioner Robert de la Rosa bared that sixteen collegiate men’s teams and the national youth under-17 quintet are listed in the senior’s division while 10 high school boys squads are entered
They will vie for the best positions competition gets under way at the St. Placid gymnasium inside the San Beda College campus in Mendiola, Manila.
Two collegiate finalists, the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers and the St. Clare Saints are among those which have signified their intentions to join the tournament, which is considered as the country’s oldest pre-season collegiate cagefest.
The Growling Tigers and Saints will be in the company of the Ateneo-B Blue Eagles, the RP Youth under-17 squad, Faith-Batangas, Centro Escolar University-Malolos, Arellano University and Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Also entered are Far Eastern University, Lyceum Philippines University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, San Sebastian College-A, San Sebastian College-B, and Metropolitan College.
The defending titlist San Beda Red Cubs will be handled by coach Boyet.
And they are entered with UAAP finalist National University in the junior division with Lyceum-A, Lyceum-B, San Sebastian-A, EAC-ICA, UST, Chiang Kai Shek Dragons, Adamson and San Sebastian-B.
The UST Growling Tigers is expected to plunge into action with Segundo “Bong” de la Cruz III debuting as their coach, and in their bid to prepare for action in the coming 77th UAAP season.
The Saints are getting for their campaigns in the NAASCU and the NCRAA, will also around with the Growling Tigers, and are among the favorites with reigning Division 2 champions, the Ateneo-B Blue Eagles.
Last year, the NU Bulldogs came of with 63-47 swamping of the University of Perpetual Help-A Altas for the senior crown, while San Beda Red Cubs subdued the Letran Squires, 72-63, to retain the junior crown.
If coach Boyet lives up to his word and indeed handles the Red Lions, the coming 20th season of the Fr. Martin Summer Cup will have very interesting games to follow in the coming months.