It was another productive year for the La Salle Sports Commission (LSSC) after they successfully staged the annual La Salle Athletic League (LSAL) Basketball Tournament which ran from September 2014 until January 29 this year.
Sponsored by Titan Barbershop, the tourney concluded with a finals meeting between Team Buckets from the White Bracket and Team OPAYI from the Green Bracket.
Held at the 9th floor of the Enrique Razon Sports Complex, OPAYI had the upper hand early in the game after waxing hot from long distance. However, behind former DLSU Green Archer Gabby Reyes and Team B player Kiko Velhagen, Team Buckets was able to overcome a double-digit deficit and rallied to win the championship. They remained as the only undefeated team in the five-month long cage meet.
Team Buckets had to survive several games to get their trophy finish. They dispatched Team Sparks in their top 16 clash, followed by a victory over Lady’s Choice in the quarters. The White Bracket boys then had to overcome a tough match-up in Coco Marteam in the final four before winning over OPAYI in the final.
The Awarding ceremony, headed by LSAL Commissioner Vic Sebastian, was held during the halftime break of the championship game. Reyes was instilled as the league’s Most Valuable Player in addition to a Mythical-five selection. Joining him in the five best players were Jameel Laigo of Coco Marteam, Mark Chan of Beng, Luigi Dela Paz of Lady’s Choice, and Romano Santos of Razon Brothers.
Neveen Tan of Beng was crowned the scoring champ of the season while Emarson Que of OPAYI received Defensive Player of the Year honors. Kyle Chua of Team Sparks won the Rookie of the Year Award, which is an award given to the best freshman player.
Besides the all-tournament team, Aron Manguera (Baroney), Ryan Chua (St. Jude), and Lorenzo Santos (Ohana) were also recognized by virtue of being the most outstanding players of their groups.
In the Blue Bracket, Team Bear and Lady’s Choice emerged as the top two teams to gain admission to the second round. Meanwhile in the Red Bracket, Baroney and COL Boys were able to lead the standings to move on. The Green Bracket had very competitive elimination matches but only Coco Marteam and OPAYI entered the top 16, while teams Razon Brothers and A$AP Mob top placed in the Yellow Bracket to earn a trip to the next round of the tourney.
The White Bracket was dominated by Teams Buckets and New Kidz, while St. Jude and Mocha Boys advanced from the Orange Group. Ohana and Sparks gained entry into the quarters from the Purple Bracket, and last but not the least, Kalsonics and Beng grabbed the top two spots in the Black Bracket to complete the quarter-final cast.
The LSAL Tournament has been DLSU’s premier cage fest since its inception. Besides catering to local basketball enthusiasts, the league also serves as training ground to former and aspiring Green Archer players. Notable former Team A players this year include this year’s MVP Reyes, mythical team member Dela Paz, and the defensive ace Oda Tampus.
The annual cage fest expanded from 64 to 72 teams to accommodate the growing number of interested participants. This resulted in eight brackets with nine teams in each. Same rules as the previous years applied. Three accumulated losses for a team would mean the end of their campaign, while the top two from each bracket would advance on to the next round. DLSU Team B players are also allowed to participate, but only two can be on the same squad.
With the end of the Basketball Tournament, LSSC can now set their sights on the LSAL Volleyball and Football tournaments, which is set to take place in the coming months.