All set for PCYAA Season 5 (part 2)
HEREUNDER is Part II of our team-by-team preview of the eight-school, 18-Under Boys Juniors basketball competitions in the 5th Philippine Ching Yuen Athletic Association, a Chinese-Filipino high school sports league in the Metro Manila area.
SAINT JUDE CATHOLIC SCHOOL – Now that do-everything Maynard Yap (14.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg and 1.23 blocks) has completed his eligibility (due to the age requirement), the status of elder statesmen on the Judenites squad now belongs to high-scoring Lance Graeham Chan and Matthew Aaron Ang, both of whom were teammates of Yap during SJCS’ championship seasons of 2015 and 2016 and runner-up finish a year ago (a 2-1 loss to Makati Gospel Church-New Life Christian Academy in the Finals), and center Adrian Pe.
Gentle but deceptive Chan owns a shooter’s touch from beyond the arc but he needs to elevate his previous season’s 10.8-ppg clip to make the SJCS faithful not miss Yap. Ang is a pass-first court general who looks to score only if necessary or when on a roll. Pe is team’s postman and rim protector.
A lot more is to be expected of veterans Charles Sy, Joao Filipino, Andrew Choa and Mallechi Colby Lim and now’s the time for Grade Niners such as Joao’s younger brod Josiah Filipino, Kiefe Terrenze Chu and Martin Ang to walk the talk on the floor.
A Grade 12 stude like Chan and Ang, Sy finds great satisfaction in crashing the boards. Lim’s bulldozing style is similar to that of the heavily-built Sy and the former also is a threat from three-point range. Andrew Choa is a potential 10-10 (points-rebounds) producer as the 15-year-old once registered a triple-double during his final Aspi campaign.
Defense is still the passport to some degree of success but for the SJCS offensive machine to work smoothly, the Filipino siblings need to take the scoring load off Chan any which way they can through inside stabs or from the deep.
Saint Jude Catholic School has reached the Juniors Finals in each of the last four seasons, compiling a pair of championships and two runner-up finishes along the way.
Even without the departure of Yap, it’s not far-fetched for the Judenites to secure a fifth Finals stint in a row under rookie head coach John Paul Cuan, a former University of Santo Tomas varsity guard during his heyday.
It won’t be easy this time, though.
UNO HIGH SCHOOL – How do you measure one’s heart? Just take a look at the gutsy Uno High School team. The Uneans have gone through hard times since their Juniors team captured the crown during the inaugural 2013-14 wars. Even then, their never-say-die spirit has not waned a bit over the years.
Last year’s sixth-place finish – ahead of then-host Grace Christian College and currently inactive Saint Peter the Apostle School – exceeded the expectations of many pre-season forecasters.
Top players Jesse Chong, one of only four men to finish with a double-double in the Juniors Division at 11.9 ppg and 11.1 rpg, and heady guard Jozshua Healy have graduated and their departure is to be lamented.
However, the TEAM concept that Uno holds dear to its chests is still there and allows the growth of other rotation players under the “next-man-up” game plan.
Heading the cast of new torchbearers are hard-driving frontliner Warren Spencer Tan, whose competitiveness and hustle exemplify the Uno spirit; Justin Matthew Vistan (10.3 ppg), whose slingshot-like three-point jumpers look awkward yet are effective; and Grade 10 stude Adrian Luigi Ramos (11.1 ppg), who has shown the capability to produce points in bunches.
Matthew Andrew Lim, a southpaw like Vistan who often troops to the foul line while drawing fouls from his defenders, and steady Sean Tan, the younger brother of Kyle Christian of the past, are the other top rotation players on the Uneans outfit.
Jaden Alberto (a second-year Juniors player who also was an Aspi campaigner this season), Timothee Tan and four-year vet Steven Cai could provide some quality minutes as well.
It’s hard to underestimate the chances of Uno High School simply because the level of talent from the other schools has been diluted due to graduation or other reasons.
Who knows, the Uneans may yet shock the pundits with a strong finish, be it in the lower or upper bracket of the equation.
GRACE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE – This team appears to make a competitive run at the Juniors Final Four.
The Graceans are no “doughnut” team with a plethora of big men in Ralph Edwards Lim, Harley Bryant Ching and Aaron Wy on the roster. Each is serviceable at the post, especially the much-improved Lim.
With bookend frontliners John Patrick Lim (17.0 ppg) and John Andrew Ing lost to graduation, forward Marcus Lu needs to light up the scoreboards from the inside and guard Sebastian Choi from the outside.
Also expected to provide some spark are veterans Jacob Go, Elton Zeng, Tyrone Kua and Aaron Chan and and 15-year-olds Matthew Llanes, Michael Claver Jr. and Pierce Johnson Sanhi.
Grace Christian College, which is coming off a runner-up finish in Group B of the 2017 Federation tournament, won just once in eight appearances (seventh place) in the PCYAA Juniors competitions a year ago.
This time, the team has nowhere to go but up. A Finals berth is not to be discounted.
PACE ACADEMY – It’s said that height is might in basketball. In one stunning year, the Pacers lost that advantage with the defection of 6-foot-7 Shaun Geoffrey Chiu (No. 1 in blocked shots at 5.13 bpg and No. 2 in rebounding at 12.9 rpg along with 11.5 ppg) to the Ateneo Blue Eaglets and the departure of
6-foot-3 Theodore Getson Lim from the team due to health (asthma) woes.
After topping Group B in 2016, Pace dropped all of its six assignments in Group A of the 2017 Federation tournament to slip back to Group B late this year.
As bleak as its chances are in the PCYAA Juniors this season, there’s some light at the other end of the tunnel for the Pacers, who also lost Kelly Lihao to graduation.
Pace took a major hit defensively but offensively, the team can still count on the services of the slashing jumping jack Pol Aldrin Antiporda (19.5 ppg and 8.1 rpg) and long-distance shooters in Jeff Seandrick Lugay and Dean Ellis Ong.
Veteran point guard Tyrone Edric Tan, Jaden Ng, Kyle Lao, James Daniel Licauco, Andre Joshua Sy and Charles Edric Li are expected to step up when called for duty.
However, what should invigorate the Pacers is the elevation of six players from their Aspi ranks that figured well in the Finals against Grace Christian College.
These are Anton Evangelista, Airick Jaden Sy (Andre’s younger sibling), Jaspher Kelly Fernando, Gabriel Paolo Tiu, Darrel Ong and the coach’s son, former PCC Baby Seagull Art Johnson Tong, all of whom are fitted to a running offense.
A mixture of veterans and youngbloods – will this work out just fine for head coach Arthur Tong and his assistant Joseph Ochada?
MGC NEW LIFE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY – From the status as “the team to beat” befitting a defending champion, MGC New Life Christian Academy could be climbing every mountain if it intends to retain the Juniors diadem.
A combination of graduated stars and defection of Grade 10 studs created a perfect storm for the New Lifers.
“Mr. Pure Energy” Carl Gavin Ong, MGC-NLCA’s meal ticket a year ago with averages of 19.8 points and 12.3 rebounds, has graduated. So did frontliner Daniel James Lim and guard Kyle Warren Sy.
But what came as a shock was the decision of key rotation players with a year or two of eligibility to transfer to other schools for senior high. These are Cedric Ho (a team second-best 12.6 ppg), a gem of a performer during the 2017 Finals against Saint Jude Catholic School during which he normed 17.7 ppg; Aaron William Sy, the younger brother of Kyle; Aldrico Nathan Dy and Tristan Jay Lao.
No matter how decimated MGC-NLCA roster appears, there’s still the Big Three from the New Lifers’ “three-peat” Aspirants championship squad (2014-15-16) – Ike Jordan Lim, Mcneil Jason Si and Linerwin-franc Magpayo – to bank on.
The trio, however, also needs the veteran shocktroopers such as Grade 12 frontliners John Angping, Bohden Si and Paolo Reyes, bespectacled Jym Yaokasin, Joshua Vincent Cheng and goggles-wearing Gideon Jeddrick Chan to contribute in any which way.
Also called for early duty from MGC-NLCA’s fourth-place Aspirants team this season are 14-year-old youngbloods Pierce Steven Dino, Marcus Cordova, Ethan Gabriel Solis, Spencer Chua and Dale Patrick Chua.
It’s surely a headache for MGC-NLCA bench strategist James Sia as a result of the roster revamp but it will even be a bigger heartache if the New Lifers fall by the wayside and don’t finish among the Final Four this season.
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