Friday, November 30, 2012

A Different Kind of a Call to Arms

That is Y! Ph's Passionate fan Bob Guerrero on the left and Craig Burrows on the right. Photo from Bob Guerrero.

A English comrade named Craig Burrows (@craigburrows) wrote this little prose piece in preparation for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup Group Stage match against Myanmar to be played tonight. I thought it would be nice to share it with everyone, because it is one filled with passion, because he truly has it for the sport.
Bonifacio Day, do you know his nickname within the KKK?

It was May pag-asa ("There is Hope") and today we as a nation celebrate because he helped deliver that hope and independence was gained.

He was not alone, he worked with a team and today another team does battle for the nation, it is not for independence but it is for national pride and that is something that I am sure Bonifacio understood and I have no doubt that he would be thrilled not just that his name was celebrated on November 30th but that an independent Philippines was free not to fight on the battlefield but on a sporting one as the nation has gained the objective he lived and died for.

I in no way want to imply that the Azkals are on the same level as Bonifacio, I just want to suggest that he would support them and all national teams of a free Pilipinas and encourage us to unite behind them.

Today as you wake remember Bonifacio - May pag-asa - and ask yourself how he would feel seeing his free countrymen fighting for national pride.

Let us celebrate Bonifacio a true hero but let us also unite to celebrate our freedom that we have because he and many others gave their lives that today we may be free.

Happy Bonifacio day let us celebrate him and our independence by uniting and standing for national pride. God bless.
On Andres' 149th birthday (and also happens to be Global FC defender and Philippine international Carlie de Murga's 24th natal day as well), may we as a nation provide him with something he'd approve, that is to express and show our pride as a Filipino nation in what we do on the field and in the stands (whether at Supachalasai Stadium or at a sports bar or even at home).

Oh and as Tony Kornheiser would say: "Do Wear White." The Philippines will be wearing that color later, and so should we.

The Conflict of Spike

Brooklyn native and Manhattan New York Knicks super fan Spike Lee with this interesting discussion about the dynamic of his psyche.

Love the color interplay, too. The NBA is awesome in doing promo, this way.

The evolution of the LeBron Narrative, by PTI

Grantland's new piece is great, because this was cobbled from the archives. Great job.

Wonder what is next for him?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 AFF Suzuki Cup - Philippines vs Vietnam

Photo c/o Anton Sheker from the website via ABS-CBN News
A 1-0 victory for the Azkals, thanks to the magic of Emelio Caligdong

2012 AFF Suzuki Cup - Philippines vs Thailand

Photo c/o AFF Suzuki Cup website

The Philippines opened their 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign on a disappointing note with a 2-1 defeat to Thailand.

The Hall of Fame Ballot

The Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot has been revealed. Who do you think should make the Hall of Fame?

Just take note of one rule. You have a maximum of ten guys you can vote for on this list. The 600+ eligible voters have until December 31 to submit their ballot.

Those who make the 75% cutoff, if there are any, will be revealed on January 9.

Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

The list of 37 names appear after the jump.

The Trequartista Sweeper - AFF Suzuki Cup Scenarios

It has been an interesting AFF Suzuki Cup so far, with virtually interesting and fascinating matches that have resulted in exciting results with one matchday remaining, November 30 in Thailand and December 1 in Malaysia.

Here's a look at what each of the eight nations can do if they have dreams of hosting a home game one week later...

Matchday 3 will take on November 30, with a 9:20 PM (in Manila) kickoff for both matches:

Thailand vs Vietnam at Rajamangala Stadium
The Philippines vs Myanmar at Supachalasai Stadium

Myanmar has the toughest road to climb in this group. They need to win against the Philippines AND (preferably) Thailand beats Vietnam, because if Vietnam wins against the Thais, the 2013 SEA Games hosts will need to beat the Azkals by at least four goals AND whatever the margin of victory the 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup champions had secured against the hosts.

Vietnam has a similar road with Myanmar, in that they need to win their match against their opponent to have any chance of advancing, but that still depends on the result of the Philippines-Myanmar match. If Myanmar wins, the 2013 SEA Games hosts will need to win by four goals or less PLUS whatever Vietnam's winning margin over Thailand is. If the Azkals manage a draw, Vietnam needs to win by at least two goals over the hosts.

The Philippines can secure a place in the semifinals with a win against Myanmar. They can also secure it with a draw AND Thailand preventing a Vietnamese win. A defeat will eliminate the Philippines from semifinal aspirations. The Azkals have an outside shot at going on top of Group A with a win AND Thailand losing to Vietnam, provided that the combination of a Filipino victory AND a Thai defeat exceeds five.

Thailand has already secured its seat in the semifinals. A draw against Vietnam will be enough to secure the top spot in Group A. In the off chance that they lose, they will still maintain first place if The Philippines fails to win against Myanmar or the Azkals win by less than this equation: [five then subtract the margin of their defeat to Vietnam].

Matchday 3 will take place on December 1, with a 8:45 PM (in Manila) kickoff for both matches:

Malaysia vs Indonesia at Bukit Jalil Stadium
Singapore vs Laos at Shah Alam Stadium

Laos needs to beat Singapore if they have any shot at advancing as a runner-up. It would be better if Indonesia beats Malaysia, as no additional tiebreakers will be necessary, but a win by the defending AFF Suzuki Cup champions will mean that they need to beat Singapore with the margin from this equation: [four then subtract the margin of Malaysia's win over Indonesia].

Malaysia can win the group if they beat Indonesia AND Singapore is unable to win over Laos. If Singapore wins over Laos, they will need to have a winning margin of better than two compared to their Causeway rivals. A draw with Indonesia means the defending Suzuki Cup champions will need to have Laos beat Singapore by a winning margin no larger than 3. Malaysia can afford to lose to Indonesia as well, provided Singapore loses to Laos by a margin at least larger than two.

Singapore can win the group with a victory over Laos AND Indonesia unable to win over Malaysia. If Malaysia beats Indonesia, Singapore can still win the group if their Causeway rivals win by a smaller margin than that of the Lions. They can also advance with a draw if Malaysia does not win over Indonesia. A loss eliminates them from semifinal contention.

Indonesia can win the group with a victory over Malaysia. They can also win the group with a draw, provided Singapore does not win its match against Laos. In fact, the Merah Putih only need a draw to advance to the next round. If they lose to Malaysia, they will need Laos to beat Singapore, but the number needs to be less than this equation: [four then subtract the margin of Malaysia's win over Indonesia].

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fr. Jett Villarin's Memo

The drama is now over, (I think). 
Over the past few days, Mr Manuel V Pangilinan (MVP) and I have been meeting in an effort to move forward and create a more open and constructive partnership. Our dialogue touched upon various matters (both immediate and long-term) that involve the Ateneo de Manila.

On the specific issue of the Head Coach of our Men’s Varsity Basketball Team, MVP offered to arrange for me to meet with Coach Bo Perasol, so that we could reconsider our mutual termination of an earlier agreement. In view of this development, I reconvened the Search Committee, which had earlier recommended Coach Bo as their candidate for the said post. The Committee met last Friday, 24 November, and confirmed their recommendation in respect of Coach Bo. With the affirmation and support of the Search Committee, I am pleased to announce that Coach Bo shall be the Head Coach of the Ateneo Blue Eagles beginning 1 December 2012. We are grateful to MVP for his gesture of goodwill.

At the same time, I would like to encourage the Ateneo community to continue supporting what will now be a Sports Endowment Fund (SEF). I have decided to expand the scope and mission of this Fund to include all athletic programs beyond basketball, as we believe in the wisdom of the SEF being the umbrella capital fund which will sustain our athletes and sports programs for the long term. Thus, contributions to basketball and all other athletic programs shall henceforth be channeled through the SEF. The Ateneo de Manila will supervise this Fund with the appropriate governance and management systems to ensure the smooth running of all our athletic programs. Under Fr Nemesio Que SJ, the team tasked with oversight of the SEF has begun their work.

I am hopeful that everyone in the Ateneo community will give their wholehearted support to this enlarged SEF. In fact, I am heartened by the response we have received thus far in the form of pledges and donations, and I know I can count on all of you to remain committed to building this Fund, and supporting our beloved alma mater. MVP and the MVP Sports Foundation have agreed to infuse this Fund with a significant donation.

We undertake all these efforts to strengthen the formative and Ignatian values that are drawn from our engagement in athletics in the Ateneo family. In this and in many other endeavors, we are also given a glimpse of our mission and identity.

Mens sana in corpore sano.

Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ

And with that, the quest from ANIMo Ateneo is now in full swing.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The final 22 for the Philippines revealed for the AFF Suzuki Cup

The Philippine Football Federation released on Friday afternoon the list of players competing in the AFF Suzuki Cup.

From the initially-released 35 around a month ago, it was whittled down to 26-27 names earlier this week before eventually settling on the final 22, which will be the basis for the upcoming Group Stage matches and any fixtures subsequent to it if the Azkals manage to go beyond it.

Eight members from the 2010 Suzuki Cup team make their return to the 2012 lineup, including the brother tandem of James and Phil Younghusband.

Those guys will join forces with the core of the team the recently copped the Philippine Football Peace Cup (formerly known as the Long Teng Cup), the first tournament the nation has won in 99 years. That team had the likes of Denis Wolf and Patrick Reichelt providing the scoring.

The AFF Suzuki Cup will commence with action in the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, with Vietnam facing Myanmar at 630pm in Manila followed the Philippines going up against hosts Thailand at 920pm. AkTV and Star Sports handle the televised coverage.


Angel Guirado - Salgaocar FC (I-League - India)
Denis Wolf - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Phil Younghusband - Loyola Meralco Sparks FC (United Football League - Philippines) 


Marwin Angeles - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Jason De Jong - Stallion Penson FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Chris Greatwich - Morris County Colonials (National Premier Soccer League - United States)
Jerry Lucena - Esbjerg FC (Superliga - Denmark)
Paul Mulders - ADO Den Haag (Eredivisie - The Netherlands) 


Emelio Caligdong - Philippine Air Force (United Football League - Philippines)
Jeff Christiaens - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Demit Omphroy - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Patrick Reichelt - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
James Younghusband - Loyola Meralco Sparks FC (United Football League - Philippines) 


Dennis Cagara - Karlsruher SC (3. Bundesliga - Germany)
Rob Gier - Ascot United FC (Hellenic League - England)
Juan Luis Guirado - Racing Lermeno (Tercera Division - Spain) *also listed on Global FC's roster
Ray Jonsson - Grindavik (Úrvalsdeild - Iceland) *contract with the team expires at end of October
Carlie de Murga - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Jason Sabio - Kaya FC (United Football League - Philippines) 


Ref Cuaresma - Loyola Meralco Sparks FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Roland Muller - MSV Duisburg (2. Bundesliga - Germany)
Ed Sacapano - Philippine Army (United Football League - Philippines)

The Trequartista Sweeper - Envisioning how we play

The roster for the AFF Suzuki Cup will be revealed later this afternoon.

When the 35-man pool was released, I was intrigued with the possibilities as to who should be in the roster. I thought carefully about how Hans Michael Weiss used his roster in his previous competitions, the availability and form of those individuals, and came out with my own projected lineup for the Suzuki Cup.

That pool has since shrunk since Marvin Angeles, Matthew Uy, Mark Hartmann, OJ Porteria and Lexton Moy were left behind and Neil Etheridge, Roland Muller, Stephan Schrock and Manny Ott pretty much ruled themselves out due to their unavailability.

With that, this is my own constituted 22-man lineup.

GKs: Sacapano, Cuaresma (2)
DFs: de Murga, J. Guirado, Cagara, Gier, Jonsson (5)
MFs: Mulders, Lucena, de Jong, Gonzales, Greatwich, Mw. Angeles (6)
Wingers: Omphroy, Caligdong, Reichelt, Christiaens, JYH (5)
FWs: PYH, Wolf, A. Guirado, Araneta (4)

This would be my preferred starting XI

You're probably wondering why I have this formation.

1. The best way to make Ed Sacapano's life easy is to have a rock-solid back line to neutralize the opposition. Having veterans like Gier and Jonsson with added upgrades in Juani, Dennis and Jerry will surely help in neutralizing the likes of Le Cong Vinh and Teerasil. If we need offense from the back line, we can then insert the Global FC wingers Omphroy and Christiaens to provide some spark.

2. Guirado and PYH are interchangeable. We already saw the potential of Phil as feeder in their friendly against Singapore.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Trequartista Sweeper - Deconstructing the 35-man RP AFF Suzuki Cup Pool

Photo courtesy of the PFF.

As per the AFF guidelines, the PFF released the provisional pool of 35 players a month before the start of the Suzuki Cup, as reported here. What I will do now is expound on the selections and see where we will go from here to Friday, when we will whittle that number down to 22, 20 of which are eligible to play. This is after all the friendlies have been played from June all the way to the just-concluded one in Cebu.

Goalkeepers: Ref Cuaresma, Neil Etheridge, Roland Muller, Ed Sacapano

This is arguably a position of strength for the Philippines, with solid options all around. Availability is the biggest issue, with status of Neil and Roland still up in the air, although it looks slim for the latter with reports that their regular keeper being out until Christmas. However, both Ed and Ref have stepped up nicely in the action that they have seen, whether for club and country. Neil and Ed also were present in 2010, so they are familiar with the conditions.

Defenders: Dennis Cagara, Rob Gier, Juan Luis Guirado, Ray Jonsson, Carlie de Murga, Jason Sabio

Dennis has received his clearance from Karlsruher SC to play in this competition, considering he has not figured with the lineup that is currently on a roll in the 3. Bundesliga. Injuries are the proverbial woe in this group, from Rob's hamstrings to Juani's knee to Jason's groin and now, Carlie's meniscus, which caused him to miss the friendly against Singapore. This is already to add to the knee issues that has bothered and kept reigning skipper Aly Borromeo on the sidelines. That is why it is encouraging that Rob and Juani were able to play the entire match against Singapore. A very solid unit, which will be put to the test against the best Southeast Asia can offer.

Midfielders: Marvin Angeles, Marwin Angeles, Jason De Jong, Anto Gonzales, Chris Greatwich, Jerry Lucena, Nestorio Margarse, Jr., Lexton Moy, Paul Mulders, Manny Ott, Matthew Uy

There are two sets of midfielders in this group. One set is composed of the defensive-oriented guys (Jason, Anto, Jerry, Nestorio, Lexton and Matthew) while the rest are the creators / facilitators. For the first group,  Jerry reportedly was only given clearance as of the moment for only one match, the group stage fixture against Vietnam, while no details have been made available as for Manny. Most of the defensive guys are pretty similar, especially when you look into their respective roles with their clubs. It's a matter of taste or fit with regards to the selection. It can be said that Jason is probably playing the best out of those similar guys. As for offense, the twins have handled the midfield role well, with Marwin being a little bit better than Marvin. Chris is best known for his 2010 heroics, while Paul best helps with the attack and with feeding the people up front, especially with his capabilities.

Wingers: Misagh Bahadoran, Emelio Caligdong, Jeff Christiaens, OJ Porteria, Demit Omphroy, Patrick Reichelt, Stephan Schrock, James Younghusband

Although Stephan is most likely unavailable for the competition, this is a solid unit anchored on its two skippers, Chieffy and James. The 2010 veterans will lead a group of young and talented players led by the PFPC sensations and Global FC teammates Christiaens, Omphroy as the wingbacks and on the right wing by Reichelt on the moments when JYH was unavailable. OJ showed promise until an illness sidelined him, while Misagh also has been a trusty sub, but he is currently rehabbing from an injury that caused him to miss the friendly in Cebu.

Forwards: Ian Araneta, Joshua Beloya, Angel Guirado, Mark Hartmann, Denis Wolf, Phil Younghusband

Interesting new wrinkle being introduced by Weiss during their match against Singapore, where Phil was doing a little more distribution. But any chance of progressing in the competition will need the UFL Golden Boot winner to do some work in putting balls into the net. In his absence due to those moments of unavailability, Denis Wolf has stepped in and in fact, won a competition with his effort. Angel has reportedly secured his club's clearance for his participation in this competition, who has been the beneficiary of his offensive production in spite of the team's struggles in the I-League. Being recalled into the national team pool is an encouraging sign for both Mark and Joshua, while Ian has already announced that this is the end of the road for him in his international career.

I ask you now this question: Who do you want to be in your Suzuki Cup 22?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Secret to a Guy Scoring 138 points

By now, we have heard of a guy who scored 138 points in a collegiate game. Jack Taylor, a 5'10" sophomore transfer from Wisconsin-La Crosse, did it in 36 minutes for D-III school Grinnell College, attempting 108 shots in that span, making 52 of them.

71 out of the 108 attempts were from beyond the three-point arc, making 27 of them.

It needs to be said that college basketball is only 40 minutes long, so one might wonder on how they did it.

The NBA D-League & YouTube Form Partnership

The NBA (for the NBA Development League) and Google (via YouTube) has formalized a one-year partnership on Tuesday that would, among other things, allow the NBA to stream over 350 D-League games live on YouTube.

The partnership allows YouTube to stream freely D-League matches on the D-League YouTube channel as well as a video player on as well as from the 16 teams that comprise the league on their respective team sites. In doing so, amongst the four major American sports, it would have the most number of live games shown on the video-sharing website

The season and coverage will begin on Friday, November 23, with the Maine Red Claws against the Canton Charge, the Erie BayHawks against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Tulsa 66ers against the Texas Legends and the Bakersfield Jam against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

The NBA has always been one of the most innovative with their forays with social media to promote itself. Their partnership with YouTube stretches back to 2005, when the league became the first professional sports league to unveil its own channel. With more than 960 million fan views of its videos, it is the most popular sports channel on the site.

The YouTube coverage complements the other avenues that the D-League has in reaching out to its audience, from its television partners in NBA TV and CBS Sports Network, to its free mobile app, NBA D-League Center Court.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said that "The NBA’s latest initiative with YouTube marks another milestone in our partnership and a great way to tip off the 12th season of the NBA Development League. By turning to our longtime partner, YouTube, we are able to bring the NBA D-League to basketball fans around the world, further expanding the league’s growth and showcasing future NBA stars.” Scanning the opening day rosters of the 30 NBA franchises shows that 20% of all the players have had D-League experience.

Google / YouTube Global Head of Sports Claude Ruibal adds, “As one of the world’s most popular sports with a broad roster of top prospects, the NBA D-League is a perfect fit for the YouTube platform. With our broad global delivery across all platforms and devices, providing live and catch up NBA D-League games and highlights will make this exciting content easily accessible to a whole new generation of basketball fans.” It is believed to be that this is YouTube's biggest sports broadcasting rights deal to date, although both sides did not disclose the actual figures.

UAAP Season 75 Volleyball Schedule

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Japeth Aguilar officially joins Santa Cruz Warriors training camp

From the Santa Cruz Warriors' Instagram account

The next step for Japeth Aguilar's NBA Dreams has been completed.

After becoming the first Philippine-born player to be drafted in the NBA Developmental-League, the 6'10" Western Kentucky alum was included in the seventeen-man training camp roster released Thursday on the website of the Santa Cruz Warriors. He was their 7th round selection in the 2012 D-League draft.

The team formerly known as the Dakota Wizards managed to keep six out of their eight D-League draftees, including Japeth. The crown jewel of their draft class is the slam-dunking sensation Travis Leslie. The 6'4 guard from Georgia had been waived by the Los Angeles Clippers before the season started. The remaining two draftees were used as trade chips to bring in a couple of players, Harouna Mutombo from the Idaho Stampede was acquired in exchange for Durrell Summers, while Faisal Aden was sent to the Texas Legends for Dominique Johnson.

The other trade acquisitions by Santa Cruz were D-League All-Rookie team member Cameron Jones (from Fort Wayne Mad Ants) and big man Chris Daniels (from Erie Bayhawks). The remaining newcomers (Carlon Brown, Lance Goulbourne and Rick Jackson) came from the training camp roster cuts of the Golden State Warriors (whom Santa Cruz serves as a single affiliate) as well as a direct invitation from their open tryouts (Daniel Nwaelele).

They will join holdovers Taylor Griffin, Justin Johnson and reigning D-League Defensive Player of the Year Stefhon Hannah. 

From the 17-man lineup, the Nate Bjorkgren-coached roster will be whittled down to ten players (can be up to twelve including NBA assignments) at the start of the season, which begins on November 23. Santa Cruz's regular season will not begin until November 30, where they visit Reno. Before that, they have a couple of preseason games, on November 17 against Tulsa and November 18 against Texas.

Name School Position Height Weight
Japeth Aguilar W. Kentucky C 6'10" 210
Carlon Brown Colorado G 6'5" 205
Chris Daniels Texas A&M-CC C 7'0" 265
Lance Goulbourne Vanderbilt F 6'8" 230
Taylor Griffin Oklahoma F 6'8" 230
Stefhon Hannah Missouri G 6'0" 180
Rick Jackson Syracuse C 6'8" 245
Dominique Johnson Azusa Pacific G 6'3" 190
Justin Johnson Concordia-Irvine G 6'2" 180
Cameron Jones Northern Arizona G 6'4" 185
Travis Leslie Georgia G 6'4" 205
Arron Mollet Notre Dame de Namur G 6'3" 190
Darren Moore UC-Irvine G 6'3" 190
Harouna Mutombo Western Carolina G/F 6'4" 195
Daniel Nwaelele Air Force G 6'5" 205
T.J. Robinson Long Beach State F 6'8" 205
Steve Tchiengang Vanderbilt F 6'9" 245

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Participants to FIFA friendly vs Singapore revealed

On Monday afternoon, Hans Michael Weiss, through this website, has called up a 25-man team for the upcoming friendly against Singapore.

The FIFA international friendly will take place at the Cebu City Sports Complex (CCSC) in Cebu City, with the kick-off is pegged at 7pm.

The friendly comprises the final phase of preparation of the 143rd-ranked nation for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup, which takes place a week later.

Roughly two-thirds of the 35-strong Suzuki Cup pool was called up for this friendly, which also has non-pool invitees Roel Gener and Paolo Pascual recalled for national team duty. Pascual, the Global FC backup keeper from Cebu was called in due to Ref Cuaresma not being available. The wife of the Loyola Meralco Sparks' netminder is due to give birth on the day of the friendly.

In addition to Pascual, ten members from the UFL champions Global FC have been called up for the friendly. Although the team has a UFL Cup Semifinal against Loyola Meralco Sparks scheduled on Tuesday afternoon, it is expected that most of the team will be held out of that match. On the other hand, it is reported that the three LMS players called up for the Singapore friendly are considered as probable to play for the Sparks. In addition to the two teams, Penson Stallion Gilligan's Jason de Jong was called up for the friendly, but no details have been made available as to whether he plays in their 7pm semifinal against Green Archers United.

Other UFL clubs that have representation on the lineup are Philippine Army (led by presumed starting keeper Ed Sacapano), Philippine Air Force (led by national team skipper Chieffy Caligdong) and Kaya FC. Visayas-based Ceres FC, along with overseas clubs Racing Lermeno (Juani Guirado), Ascot United (Rob Gier), Grindavik (Ray Jonsson) and the Morris County Colonials (Chris Greatwich) complete the clubs with players being called up.   


Paolo Pascual - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Ed Sacapano - Philippine Army (United Football League - Philippines)


Rob Gier - Ascot United FC (Hellenic League - England)
Juani Guirado - Racing Lermeno - (Tercera Division - Spain) *also listed on Global FC's roster
Ray Jonsson - Grindavik (Úrvalsdeild - Iceland) *contract with the team expires at end of October
Carlie De Murga - Global FC - (United Football League - Philippines)
Jason Sabio - Kaya FC (United Football League - Philippines)


Marvin Angeles - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Marwin Angeles - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Jason De Jong - Penson Stallion Gilligan's FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Roel Gener - Philippine Army (United Football League - Philippines)
Anto Gonzales - Loyola Meralco Sparks FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Chris Greatwich - (National Premier Soccer League - United States)
Nestorio Margarse, Jr. - Philippine Army (United Football League - Philippines)
Matthew Uy - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)


Misagh Bahadoran - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Emelio Caligdong - Philippine Air Force (United Football League - Philippines)
Jeffrey Christiaens - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Demitrius Omphroy - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Patrick Reichelt, - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
James Younghusband - Loyola Meralco Sparks (United Football League - Philippines)


Ian Araneta - Philippine Air Force (United Football League - Philippines)
Joshua Beloya - Ceres FC
Denis Wolf - Global FC (United Football League - Philippines)
Phil Younghusband - Loyola Meralco Sparks FC (United Football League - Philippines)

The Trequartista Sweeper - Previewing the UFL Cup Semifinal

Photo from Fritz Dalida of Soccer Central Philippines

The stakes get raised. With a new cup winner sure to be crowned, Global FC, Loyola Meralco Sparks, Penson Stallion Gilligan's and Green Archers United are raring to go this Tuesday at the fabled Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Kicking off the double header at 5pm is the star-studded matchup of Global FC and the Loyola Meralco Sparks. Global won Group A and beat Kaya FC in extra time to book their seat in the semifinals, while Loyola won Group C and easily dispatched Philippine Army to finalize their matchup with the league champions.

Both sides will be fielding their key stars but whilst the Loyola players called up for the upcoming friendly are reportedly going to be made available for the semifinal, no details have been made available from Global with regards to their players' availability, other than this statement. If the national team players are unavailable, expect Alex Obiang, Jerry Barbaso, Yu Hoshide and newcomer Kevin Capolei to shoulder the load alongside Izzo El-Habbib for Global against the self-styled "Wolfpack" of Loyola.

Global has yet to win against Loyola in its recent past, as it drew 1-1 and lost 4-3 in league action. Both B.Y. Jeong and Izzo scored on their league matches against each other.

The night cap will feature teams that needed penalty shootouts to gain entry into the semifinals. Group D winners Stallion survived the lone surviving play-in entrant General Trias International FC, while Group B winners Green Archers handled Division II champions Pachanga-Diliman.

Stallion has been dominant of GAU as of late, scoring five goals in both of their league matches, with three each coming from Ruben Doctora and Jovanie Simpron. On the other hand, Tating Pasilan has scored all three goals for GAU in their league matches against the Ernie Nierras-coached side.

No details have been made available with regards to Stallion's lone call-up to the national team, Jason de Jong, as to whether he will be playing, but someone who was previously ruled out has been made available, as starting GK Wilson Munoz will be wearing a mask in order to play in the semifinal.

In preparing for this matchup, GAU played against the national team on Saturday afternoon in the University of Makati, losing 5-0.

Expect UAAP standouts in Jesus Melliza, Ronnie Aguisanda and Patrick Deyto to help out Pasilan and Arnie Pasinabo in their effort to pull out a victory for GAU, while new addition from CFIM Rufo and Joaco aim to be the extra oomph needed to pilot the Stallion stampede towards the Cup.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

SBP bares its grassroots program

The MVP-led Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) recently outlined their grassroots program involving the different high schools all across the archipelago, with the simple goal of improving the quality of the Filipino basketball player.

According to the SBP's Executive Director Sonny Barrios, the grassroots program includes the Eric Altamirano and Alex Compton-led Seaoil National Ball Training Center (NBTC), the 30-year old Metro Manila Basketball League (MMBL) under the auspices of Ato Badolato, the recently concluded Coaches Convention and the High School All-Star Game held earlier this year.

The six-year old NBTC aims to provide coaching and skills training to the different high school players all across the country. Concurrent to the skills and values development, according to Altamirano, is the identification of possible prospects for future call-ups to the national youth teams. The NBTC is also tasked with the responsibility of determining the best high schools in the country through its Elite League.

In connection with that, they recently tied up with the MMBL, which now virtually serves the NCR qualification portion for the NBTC Elite League. The 30-year old organization has pegged the top three teams in Division I and the champion of Division II to be NCR's representatives in the Elite League, as announced earlier this week.

Concurrent with the quest to discover the best high school players in the country, the SBP via the NBTC earlier this year launched its newest grassroots project, the first Seaoil High School All-Star Game. Inspired by the McDonald's All-American Basketball Game in the United States, it serves as a showcase all-star experience, gathering thirty of the best high school seniors together and showcasing their talents. Names like La Salle's Jeron Teng and Thomas Torres, as well as San Beda's Francis Abarcar, and Antonio Bonsubre participated, with the first All-Star Game MVP being given to current Ateneo "Glory Be" member Ace Basas.

The latest project of the SBP in relation to its grassroots campaign is the Coaches Convention, whose second staging was just conducted last month as the PhilSports Arena in Pasig in conjunction with the Manuel V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation (MVPSF). The gathering brought together 300 coaches from all over the country for a three-day camp, highlighted by sessions involving well-known bench tacticians like Tim Cone of the SanMig Coffee Mixers, his assistant (and Arellano University head coach) Koy Banal, and current TNT assistant Sandy Arespacochaga sharing their insights on running their different programs as well as teaching character, leadership and values formation that then can be passed on towards their respective players.

70 teams mark 30th Anniversary of MMBL

The Metro Manila Basketball League turns thirty this year, and will celebrate its anniversary with a kickoff of its tournament on November 10 at the Ynares Center in Pasig.

Now known as the Seaoil Metro Manila Basketball League (MMBL) thanks to its tie-up with the Filipino independent petroleum firm, it is one of the longest running high school basketball tournaments in the country.

Formed by the legendary coach Ato Badolato of San Beda HS, the MMBL served as a means for high school basketball players to play on after their own respective league conclude in October, like the NCAA or the UAAP. Some of the players that have played in this league include current San Beda College assistant coach Benjie Paras, UAAP basketball analyst Kirk Long and current collegiate standouts Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas.

From the original seven, eight or nine teams that heralded the league in its early years, the MMBL has now grown into a massive collection of schools, with 70 teams overall. 62 of those 70 are entered for the boys, with the competitive field spread out into four divisions. They also have eight schools for the newly-created girls division.

The divisional concept had been developed after schools backed out when they learn that powerhouse schools like San Beda, Ateneo or La Salle were participating. It also served as a opportunity for players from lesser known-schools to be seen by coaches and recruiters for the different collegiate leagues.

Kirk credits participating in the league as to how Norman Black discovered him back when he was still playing for Faith Academy. His father, Jeff, served as Faith Academy's athletic director and brought him around the games, where he had seen Yancy and Ranidel de Ocampo dominate back then as standouts for St. Francis of Assisi. The MMBL also is where the newly-minted TNT head coach discovered then-Chiang Kai Shek standout Justin Chua. The big man not long after became part of all five UAAP title teams under Black's regime.

Kiefer and Kevin both noted the importance of the MMBL in improving their games, noting that the league serves as a "stepping stone" to the next level and an opportunity to step up for those who normally would not receive the necessary playing time with their mother league/s.

For its 30th anniversary, the MMBL has tied up with the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) to serve as the NCR wing for the NBTC National High School Championships, a.k.a. the Elite League. The top three teams in Division I as well as the champion of Division II get the slots allotted to Metro Manila in the competition, which also has slots for teams in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The kick-off will be at Ynares Arena in Pasig, but games will also be played at other venues, like the PhilSports Arena, St. Placid's Gym in San Beda and St. Stephen's High School.

Participating high schools include Adamson University, Chiang Kai Shek College, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, De La Salle Zobel, Far Eastern University-FERN, Our Lady of Fatima University, San Beda College, University of Santo Tomas, Arellano University, Faith Academy, National University, UNO High School, College of San Benildo Rizal, Escuela de Sofia of Caloocan, Southridge School, St. Jude Catholic School, Trinity University of Asia, Gymnazo Christian School, La Consolacion College Manila, Dominican College Sta. Rosa, Espiritu Santo Catholic School, San Beda College Alabang, St. Stephen’s High School, Casimiro Ynares Memorial School, Hope Academy, Ateneo de Manila University, Hope Christian High School, Malayan Institute of Technology, University of the Philippines Integrated School, Xavier School, Emilio Aguinaldo College, International School Manila, Kings Montessori School, Australian International School, Armanda College, Colegio San Agustin Biñan, Lourdes School of Mandaluyong, St. Andrew’s School, La Salle College Antipolo, Our Lady’s Angels School, Quezon City Science High School, St. James Academy, and The Seed Montessori School.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Trequartista Sweeper - On Fan Conduct

Photo from the UFL's Twitter Account (@UFLPhilippines)

It is natural that in the emergence of the sport of football in the Philippines, there always a corresponding growth with regards to the fans. Fans would then organize themselves into groups to express support their favorite player or team. That's fine. It encourages community-building and fellowship and creates camaraderie.

Concurrent with that growth, however, are side effects that leave much to be desired about the conduct of individuals if left unchecked. Here is an excerpt from Yahoo! PH's Bob Guerrero (@bhobg333)'s article on the recently concluded UFL Cup Quarterfinal match between Global FC and Kaya FC (I highlighted certain points of emphasis):
A note on the Ultras Kaya and their poor behavior that night. I have long admired the Kaya cheering squad, the Ultras Kaya for their energy, dedication and organization. They are the most enthusiastic cheering squad in the UFL. In fact just a few days ago I replied to a Tweet that praised them as the league's best.

But a lot of that respect went out the window on Tuesday.

Several of their supporters were repeatedly flashing dirty fingers at the Global side of the grandstand. Some also appeared to make loud and aggressive chants towards Global fans. At one point I could have sworn I heard them chanting "beat the wankers" at the direction of the Global supporters.

After the game they lit fireworks, which are illegal according to League rules, and UFL Match Coordinator Ritchie Gannaban tried to get them to extinguish them. According to Gannaban, the Ultras refused to put out the flames and some even taunted him. Says Gannaban "there are good fans and bad fans, and these are examples of bad fans. The bottom line is you have to respect everyone."

I'm with Gannaban here. I thought the Ultras Kaya behaved in puerile, reckless, and provocative manner. Thankfully the Global fans largely ignored the Ultras Kaya's heckling.

Do we want the UFL to be like some European leagues where opposing fans need to be kept apart by policemen and rows of buffer seats? I would hope not. Fan violence has killed hundreds, maybe even thousands in the history of Football, and the league is correct to nip this nonsense in the bud before it gets out of hand. The UFL should always be a place that is safe to bring kids. This stuff makes that difficult.

A cheering squad's function is to cheer on and motivate its team's players, not insult its opponents and their fans.

In my opinion the Ultras Kaya need a mature and clear-minded leader who will control their baser urges. Their conduct that night cannot possibly reflect the values and sportsmanship that Kaya Football Club represents, and I hope they clean up their act in future games. 
As what a friend tweeted out after the article was published, 
Football is suppose (sic) to be a gentleman's game, meaning dapat may breeding... Pati mga nanunod.
I presume taunting the UFL Assistant Technical Director (and Acting Tournament Director) is not exactly how a football fan should be acting in front of. I mean, he is an authority figure.

Yes, emotions do run high doing games, but it does not preclude us to then act foolish and boorish. Passion is part and parcel of being a fan of a particular team or of a player, but let's be responsible enough to provide proper restraint. Huwag na po natin paabutin na may aktual na masaktan pa sa atin. Unless, that is what some really intend precisely on doing. And that is precisely what is not needed in the growth of the sport to the public.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Trequartista Sweeper - Revisiting the non-football aspect of the Group Stage

Last night saw the final set of matches that comprised the UFL Cup's Group Stage matches. As such, we finally have our quarterfinal pairings from the twenty teams into eight as bracketed below.

With that said, it would be an opportune to revisit the past and reveal some things that pique my interest.

1. Venues.

It's very clear that Metro Manila has a clear problem with regards to available football pitches. The one time they played matches at Nuvali during the Group Stage, everyone (fans and most especially the players) bemoaned its state of wretched-ness. With the football facility in McKinley Hill still remaining under construction, the UFL has played at an additional five more venues during the Group Stage proper: in Rizal Memorial, the University of Makati, the Marikina Sports Park, ASCOM and Nomads.

Having been blessed by some weird twist of fate to watch matches on these different venues except in ASCOM, there are some things that can or can't be worked out. It is important that there exists a cooperative relationship between public institutions and the UFL / Football Alliance with regards to pitch maintenance. This is especially apparent with places where local government is involved (the city governments of Makati and Marikina, respectively).

You can probably say that the last few games held at the University of Makati were a little bit tough to watch, but as much as there is clamor for matches to be played at Rizal Memorial, the reality is that we need that particular pitch to be ready for certain competitions that had previously been scheduled, especially since we hosted and are to host an Asian qualifier.

Santi Araneta remarked yesterday that real estate officials have already inquired on certain areas being developed into football areas. Hopefully, the facility at McKinley would be finished by the end of the year, ditto for the Moro Lorenzo Field in Ateneo.

Still, given our climate, there clearly is a need for artificial pitches. If not, then the grass pitches need to be maintained well. UFL commissioner Bonnie Ladrido remarked on the decent shape of ASCOM on Sunday, while Nomads looked great when Air Force and Sta. Lucia played that night. 

2. Information Dissemination.

Information is an important asset. Knowledge is something that matters for football fans, in particular with regards to updates on games and announcements. There were moments during the Group Stage where a definite announcement from the UFL could have solved matters. I recall a match involving Green Archers where people have been confused as to the announcement of kick-off of a particular match. It is admirable that the UFL has been trying their best to get the word out, especially now with the presence of a media officer who dispenses info on the website and on twitter, but it has be snappy and prompt. This will be apparent especially with regards to postponements, as seen by during the past weekend.

There is also a need for consistency with regards on game updates. That of course, will be the challenge of the one/s handling the UFL twitter account. This is something media as well as fans can help by also providing updates of the game if they are watching. Crowd-sourcing updates can be a good idea.

My Fantasy Basketball Roster Development

Because of my love for the sport, I do play fantasy basketball. Here are the leagues I joined in.

1. Solar Keeper League (12-team H2H)

The SKL is an offshoot of the SEF League, since most of the members wanted to do a keeper / dynasty version of the SEF League.

Keeper 7: LaMarcus Aldridge, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Rajon Rondo, Jameer Nelson, Chris Kaman, Tony Allen

Draft Selections (in order): Al Horford, Tony Parker, Evan Turner, Hedo Turkoglu, Eric Bledsoe

Already dropped Hedo for Chandler Parsons.

2. From The Stands (16-team H2H)

A call for fantasy basketball participants was made by FTS masterminds Carlo Pamintuan, Chuck Araneta and Polo Bustamante. This is the result.

Draft Selections (in order): LaMarcus Aldridge, Goran Dragic, Andre Iguodala, Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ray Allen, Tony Allen, Jamal Crawford, Shawn Marion, Antawn Jamison, Zaza Pachulia, Eric Maynor

3. Solar Entertainment Forum (14-team H2H)

The SEF outlived the forum where the online members were involved in as posters and commenters.

Draft Selections (in order): Deron Williams, Pau Gasol, Andre Iguodala, Tyson Chandler, Wesley Matthews, Luis Scola, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Jamal Crawford, Tony Allen, Antawn Jamison

4. Gameface (10-team H2H)

This is from the Gameface website. The home of basketball minds who watch the games,

Draft Selections (in order): Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Serge Ibaka, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh, Jeff Teague, Jeremy Lin, Luis Scola, DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams, J.R. Smith, Harrison Barnes, Tony Allen

5. Twitter League (16-team Roto)

A call for fantasy basketball participants was made by Philippine Star sports journalist Joey Villar for a basketball league.

Draft Selections (in order): Deron Williams, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Garnett, Zach Randolph, Andrea Bargnani, Andrei Kirilenko, George Hill, Antawn Jamison, Anthony Morrow, Jason Thompson, Marco Bellinelli. Rodrigue Beaubois, Jason Smith, Eric Bledsoe, Johan Petro

Just because it kind of feels apt...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Japeth is drafted

Miccoli equates CM Punk and Juventus

The Old Lady and the Best in the World. In the same sentence.

Palermo striker (and former Juventus player) Fabrizio Miccoli compared his old club to the reigning WWE champion, noting that according to Fabrizio...
"CM Punk, the WWE Champion for 344 days, is like Juve, as they are both strong and because they are great fighters,"
He also noted this little nugget.
“They take advantage of all little situations they can. For example, on Sunday at Hell in a Cell, he kept the title because the referee gave a low blow to the opponent and this is the kind of thing that happens in wrestling.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Northwest Division NBA Preview

Denver Nuggets - 38-28 record last season. 6th seed in the playoffs. Lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos / Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler, JaVale McGee, Timofey Mozgov

Storyline/s: Their depth got an upgrade with the acquisition of Iguodala as part of their participation in the Dwight Howard deal. With the depth, who is the go-to-guy when the situation amounts itself to?

X-Factor/s: Can JaVale unlock his true potential under George Karl? A nation on the other side of the Pacific anticipates while the paperwork for his naturalization is being undertaken.

Prognosis: Exiting the first round of the playoffs.

Minnesota Timberwolves - 26-40 record last season. Missed the playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Derrick Williams, Kevin Love / Luke Ridnour, Alexei Shved, Chase Budinger, Dante Cunningham, Nikola Pekovic, JJ Barea

Storyline/s: Kevin Love has made it known that this team needs to contend in the next few seasons. That, and the waiting for Ricky Rubio to return to the court.

X-Factor/s: How much does Brandon Roy have left in the tank? And how much does that knee have left in it?

Prognosis: Missing the playoffs.

Oklahoma City Thunder - 47-19 record last season. Division Champions. Conference Champions. Lost to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

Ideal Rotation: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Martin, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins / Eric Maynor, Thabo Sefolosha, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones III, Nick Collison, Reggie Jackson

Storyline/s: They were schooled by Miami in the finals. Humbled, yet undaunted, their quest remains in returning to that destination and finish what was started. That was until Sam Presti pulled off the James Harden trade.

X-Factor/s: All eyes now on Kevin Martin as he steps into Harden's shoes. Eric Maynor returns after rehabbing from his injury.

Prognosis: Division Champions. Conference Champions. Exiting in the NBA Finals.

Portland Trailblazers - 28-38 record last season. Missed the playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nic Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, JJ Hickson / Ronnie Price, Sasha Pavlovic, Victor Claver, Meyers Leonard

Storyline/s: The rebuilding process has begun, with the centerpiece on Aldridge. The keys to the offense has been handed to a rookie point guard. Terry Stotts has taken over.

X-Factor/s: Wes is expected to do more this season. Nic Batum got himselft a nice contract, and with such, much is expected.

Prognosis: Missing the playoffs.

Utah Jazz - 36-30 record last season. 8th seed in the playoffs. Lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson / Jamaal Tinsley, Randy Foye, Alec Burks, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors

Storyline/s: Ty Corbin remakes the backcourt, adding Mo and Randy to a potent frontcourt with All-Star caliber players. Will it be enough to stave off others who want that final slot that went to them last season?

X-Factor/s: The pressure is off Marvin Williams now, the pressure of having to live being Atlanta's 2nd overall selection in a draft that featured stud point guards in Chris Paul and Deron Williams.

Prognosis: Missing the playoffs.

The Pacific Division NBA Preview

Golden State Warriors - 23-43 record last season. Missed the playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee, Andrew Bogut / Jarrett Jack, Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson, Carl Landry, Andris Biedrins

Storyline/s: Injuries wrecked their season last year from Curry to their trade acquisitions Jefferson and Bogut, leaving Mark Jackson's side with slim pickins.

X-Factor/s: A healthy Bogut would be a huge bonus for Jackson's defensive plans for the W's.

Prognosis: Exiting in the first round of the playoffs.

Los Angeles Clippers - 40-26 record last season. 5th seed in the playoffs. Lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals

Ideal Rotation: Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan / Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom, Willie Green

Storyline/s: Lob City was outclassed by a better San Antonio team in the playoffs, and in trying to remedy that, they upgraded their bench with versatile and smart additions. Contract years for Chris Paul and Vinny del Negro also means huge stakes for the franchise.

X-Factor/s: Which Lamar Odom shows up? The version that helped in the Lakers' title campaigns or the one that manifested in Dallas?

Prognosis: Exiting in the Conference Semifinals.

Los Angeles Lakers - 41-25 record last season. Division Champions. 3rd seed in the playoffs. Lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Ideal Rotation: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard / Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark, Jordan Hill

Storyline/s: The new parts. Mike Brown using the Princeton offense. Oh and the Black Mamba.

X-Factor/s: Metta World Peace stands out on that start-studded starting unit. In addition, securing Antawn Jamison as an off-the-bench option is an interesting move.

Prognosis: Division Champions. Exiting in the Conference Finals.

Phoenix Suns - 33-33 record last season. Missed the playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Goran Dragic, Shannon Brown, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat / Kendall Marshall, Sebastian Telfair, Jared Dudley, Wesley Johnson, Channing Frye

Storyline/s: Life after Steve Nash has begun. The present (Dragic) and the future (Marshall) attempt to pick up the pieces after the Suns traded the two-time MVP to Los Angeles.

X-Factor/s: Can Michael Beasley be the go-to-scorer for the Suns? Can Scola stabilize the paint alongside Gortat?

Prognosis: Missing the playoffs.

Sacramento Kings - 22-44 record last season. Missed the playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Chuck Hayes, DeMarcus Cousins / Aaron Brooks, Jimmer Fredette, Francisco Garcia, Travis Outlaw, Thomas Robinson

Storyline/s: The drama has mainly been about the team staying in the state capital or moving elsewhere, whether to Anaheim or Las Vegas or Seattle.

X-Factor/s: Can Tyreke Evans prove himself to be worthy of an extension to stay with the team?

Prognosis: Missing the playoffs.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Darth Novak has arrived

Novak Djokovic is well known to be one of the funny guys on the ATP circuit. Before he racked up the Slams and titles, he pulled off these kind of shenanigans.

The Central Division NBA Preview

Chicago Bulls - 50-16 record last season. Division Champions. 1st seed in the playoffs. Lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1st Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Derrick Rose, Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah / Kirk Hinrich, Marco Bellinelli, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Nazr Mohammed

Storyline/s: Derrick Rose's ACL. Is Luol Deng a capable go-to-guy?

X-Factor/s: Can Kirk Hinrich be the best stand-in that he could be of Derrick Rose?

Prognosis: Missing the playoffs.

Cleveland Cavaliers - 21-45 record last season. Missed the playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Kyrie Irving, C.J. Miles, Omri Casspi, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao / Daniel Gibson, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tyler Zeller

Storyline/s: The development of Kyrie Irving into a bonafide leader continues under Byron Scott's stewardship. Will the Cavs dangle out Varejao again for future assets?

X-Factor/s: Is Tristan Thompson ready to take the next step? Can Dion Waiters immediately contribute?

Prognosis: Missing the playoffs

Detroit Pistons - 25-41 record last season. Missed the playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe / Will Bynum, Corey Maggette, Kyle Singler, Austin Daye, Jason Maxiell, Andre Drummond

Storyline/s: Can the growth process for these Pistons lead to contending for the bottom end of the playoff picture?

X-Factor/s: Jonas Jerebko was a key cog for the Pistons before he got hurt. Now he's back.

Prognosis: Missing the playoffs.

Indiana Pacers - 42-24 record last season. 3rd seed in the playoffs. Lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Ideal Rotation: George Hill, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West, Roy Hibbert / D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Ian Mahinmi

Storyline/s: With Derrick Rose out, the division can be had. Can the team that finished second take advantage? However, Granger got himself injured, and the Pacers may now just be in the same boat as Chicago.

X-Factor/s: With Granger sidelined, can Paul George unlock the huge potential within him?

Prognosis: Division Champions. Exiting in the Conference Semifinals.

Milwaukee Bucks - 31-35 record last season. Missed the playoffs.

Ideal Rotation: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Mike Dunleavy, jr., Ersan Ilyasova, Samuel Dalembert / Beno Udrih, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Tobias Harris, Ekpe Udoh, Drew Gooden, Joel Pryzbilla

Storyline/s: The Bucks relatively stood pat in the off-season, their only key move was keeping Ersan around. They did manage to swing a deal for Samuel Dalembert, and drafted John Henson. Is it enough to move up amidst the Eastern flux? The pressure is on for Scott Skiles.

X-Factor/s: Can Tobias Harris make the necessary improvement?

Prognosis: Exiting in the 1st round of the playoffs.