Sunday, May 24, 2015

STI holds its first National Basketball Tournament

Favored to win it all - STI College Santa Rosa

The first STI National Basketball Tournament National Finals will commence on May 26, 27, 28 and 29, 2015 at the STI College Cubao Gym to seek out the best basketball team in STI College. The National Finals will feature six teams from Luzon and one each from the Visayas and Mindanao for a total of eight teams that will have the chance to be crowned STI’s best. The first round elimination knock-out phase started last April 9, 2015 with thirty four teams in Luzon, six teams in the Visayas region and ten more in Mindanao for a total of fifty teams that played knock-out games against different STI campuses near their vicinity.  Come the second round only 16 teams remained in Luzon while two and four remained in the Visayas and Mindanao region. Another set of knock out matches saw the eight remaining teams qualify to this now yearly basketball tournament.

STI College Santa Rosa's double-double machine
Jan Almoro on the offense

Leading the charge is five-time STI Basketball Showdown champion STI College Santa Rosa. The Laguna based champions have an intact line-up and will rely mostly on last year’s MVP Jan Almoro and Mythical 5 Selectees Addis Lizen, Norbert Pena and Raul Guerrero. Besides the four veterans, Center Dan Mamaed will still man the paint while point guard John Brianth Ursua and outside sniper June Aliparo are the new scorers that will be giving nightmares to opposing teams. In their game against STI College Marikina, Aliparo outscored the whole Marikina team 29 – 26 after three quarters. STI College Santa Rosa is a well-oiled machine that is ready to lay their claim as the best STI College Basketball team in the country. Still calling the shots for the Santa Rosa team is multi-titled coach Leo Callado.
Aries Estanislao of STI College Balagtas scores off a jumper

Out to give the Santa Rosa team a run for their money are three teams that they beat in their 5 year reign as Luzon Champs – STI College Balagtas, STI College Malolos and STI College Global City.   After a one year hiatus in the STI Basketball showdown, STI College Balagtas comes back with a strong showing in the elimination round that gave them a second seeding. Leading their team are their run and gun trio of Angelito Oraye, John Paul San Pedro and Kevin Miranda who are recipients of the assists of second year guard David Guhiting. The Bulacan based Balagtas cagers rely on their signature pressure defense and are always on the run specially when defensive specialist Aries Estanislao swat away shots or collars rebounds that ignites their fastbreaks and scores points easily.  Long-time Coach Carlo Tan is still at the helm as head Coach of STI College Balagtas.

Both 6'5 tall, John Victoria (STI College Malolos) 
and Elmer Labis (STI College Global City) 
are the giants of the tournament

The STI College Malolos team was once the young strong team that Santa Rosa and Balagtas used to push around. Now after four years of seasoning in the STI Basketball showdown the battle tested Bulakenyos are back for another run at the title. Leading their team is Coach Chit Jimenez’s son Carlo Jimenez who is the heart and soul of this team. Also providing support for Jimenez is the inside presence of Jovito Quetua and John Victoria. The twin towers provide a defensive nightmare to opposing schools. Wingmen Sherwin Sayo and Arche Salo also provide instant offense when needed while veterans Dave Cruz and Ralph Emerson Bonifacio are there to provide additional muscle to the team. The Malolos squad are methodical and hard to beat once their running game gets going.

Jim Lontoc of STI College Global City shows some defense

Last year, the STI College Global City squad qualified for the STI Basketball showdown finals and held their own against STI College Santa Rosa in the 2nd game of the finals.  With another year of experience on their belt, the Global City squad is out for revenge as former Junior Olympians Jim Lontoc, Jansen Pangilinan and Arjay Napenas have found notable support through point guard King Carlos, Mike Sampurna and the hulking Elmer Labis whose one and done stint at the Nationals is a sight to behold.  Calling the shots now for the Global City team is new coach Paul Rosales.

Allen Abes of STI College Ortigas-Cainta (ORCA) on the drive

Two teams surprised the favorites as they qualified to the national finals with their sheer will to win and speedy plays. STI College Ortigas-Cainta and STI College Dasmarinas are overachieving at this point but will never back down from a good fight. Both teams play a similar fast game and are pesky on the defense.  STI College ORCA relies on second year veteran Allen Abes and his new group of speedsters Jeffrey Estabillo, Jayson Alvarado, Van Dham Locsin and  Richard Palanca press like there is no tomorrow. Their resilience eventually nets them points off turnovers.

The STI College DasmariƱas defense

Also in the same mold is STI College Dasmarinas. Built on the offensive prowess of their two guards Rjay Villaruz and Rhaygie Matsuo, the rest of the team feeds off each other’s will to win. Notable contributors are point guard John Dones and undersized centers Mark Domingo and Arnel Ortiz.  The Cavite based cagers are masters of taking advantage of defensive lapses of their opponents which they did in the elimination rounds.

The Visayas Champions - STI WNU

The multi-titled Negros Occidental Private Schools Sports Cultural Education Association (NOPSSCEA) champions in Bacolod, the STI West Negros University team will test the mettle of Luzon and Mindanao squads as they battle for prestige and honor in this first staging of the STI National Basketball tournament. Leading the way for the Visayas champions are players who have basketball names of legends - Jhan Mchale Nermal, and Kobe Bryan Vizcarra. Dimunitive point guard Renz Solomon  and Kraniel Villoria ably support the Visayas stars who are in for a good fight against the Luzon champions.

Venue of the National Finals- STI College Cubao Gym

The last team that made it to the finals is South Cotabato’s STI College Koronadal that beat former Mindanao champion STI College Cagayan de Oro in overtime. STI College Koronadal have a strong five in Elmer Palmes Jr. Jayson Estares, Glenn Sulit, Kenneth Libdan and Bernard Caguisano. How the five and their bench will respond against the Luzon teams will be known in this national tournament.

Addis Lizen collars a rebound

Who will be crowned as the first champions of the STI National Basketball Tournament. The eight teams are bracketed in two groups  Group A being led by STI College Santa Rosa, STI College Dasmarinas, STI College Malolos and STI West Negros University. Group B on the other hand will be led by STI College Balagtas, STI College Ortigas-Cainta, STI College Global City and STI College Koronadal. Each group will play a one round-robin format from May 26 to May 28, 2015 with the top team from each group qualifying for the Championship game on May 29, 2015. All games will be played at the STI College Cubao gym. Who will be this year’s STI National Basketball Tournament National Champion? See you at the games.

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