2016 was certainly packed with several basketball-related events. Here are some of the top hoops stories for the past year:
Ginebra ends title drought with Brownlee’s winning shot. Import Justin Brownlee, who replaced the injured Paul Harris, hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning triple that ended Barangay Ginebra’s 8-year drought in Game 6 of the Governor’s Cup versus the Meralco Bolts. Over 22,000 fans witnessed the unforgettable game live at the Big Dome.
Cavs win first ever NBA title, dethrone Warriors. Lebron James and Kyrie Irving led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a first ever NBA championship after rallying from a 1-3 series deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 7.
Kobe Bryant retires but hits 60 points in farewell game. NBA superstar Kobe Bryant announced his retirement earlier this year. But in his last game as a Los Angeles Laker, he dropped 60 points on the Utah Jazz that included 13 markers in the last three minutes when LA was down by eight. He also scored the game-winning basket.
La Salle sweeps Ateneo in UAAP finals. The Green Archers lived up to the hype as they dominated the season en route to the championship. Under new coach Aldin Ayo, who mastered the trapping defense, and the super tandem of Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng, La Salle swept archrival Ateneo, 2-0, in the best-of-three finals series, even as the Blue Eagles gave them a good fight.
Manila hosts Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Manila was one of three cities that hosted the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in July to determine the other nations participating in the Rio Olympics’ men’s basketball event. France won the Manila OQT as expected, with a solid roster that included Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nic Batum.
Beermenrebound from 0-3 to snatch All-Filipino plum. The San Miguel Beermen did the unimaginable when they came back from a 0-3 series deficit to defeat the Alaska Aces in four straight games to capture the Philippine Cup title. It’s a “beeracle.”
Fajardo wins third straight season MVP. San Miguel’s hulking center June Mar Fajardo became the first player ever in the PBA to win a third consecutive season MVP award. The 6’10” Cebuano is unstoppable, and has yet to reach his peak. Looks like there will be a lot more.
San Beda reclaims NCAA crown. The Red Lions redeemed themselves from last year’s debacle as they reclaimed the NCAA men’s cage crown after a 2-0 sweep of Arellano University. San Beda took its 20th title overall, the most in the 92-year old league. It was also its ninth NCAA championship in eleven years. Roar.
Rain Or Shine ends PBA dry spell. Rain Or Shine (ROS) annexed its first PBA championship in four years when it bested the Alaska Aces in the Commissioner’s Cup. Paul Lee was named the Finals MVP. Lee was later on traded to Star for James Yap. ROS championship coach Yeng Giuao has also left for NLEX. Caloy Garcia was re-appointed head coach.
Filipino basketball greats pass away. Basketball legends Caloy Loyzaga and Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan passed away early this year. Loyzaga is considered the greatest Filipino player of all time while Dalupan is among the most respected coaches in history, and owns 15 PBA championships as hoops mentor. Other personalities that passed away this year are veteran college coach Adriano “Bong” Go and revered sportscaster Ronnie Nathanielsz.
Chot returns as Gilas head coach. The author of the country’s return to the FIBA World Cup was appointed back as head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas National team. Chot Reyes recently replaced Tab Baldwin as Gilas chief bench tactician.
Kobe Paras makes Creighton U roster. After a successful stint in high school hoops with LA’s Cathedral High, Kobe Paras opted to join the Creighton University Bluejays, an NCAA Division 1 team from the Big East Conference. Kobe is the son of two-time PBA MVP Benjie Paras.
Lady Bulldogs win 3-peat in UAAP women’s hoops. National University continued to dominate the UAAP’s women’s basketball event as the Lady Bulldogs coasted to their 48th straight win to covet their third straight title.
What a great year for basketball. We look forward to another great hoops season this 2017.