Quezon Titans: A Symphony of Grace, Speed and Strength; St. Clare Majestic

by Dennis U. Eroa

Imagining the unimaginable, the Quezon Titans are reaping the sweet results of their wonderful journey in the Pilipinas Super League President’s Cup.

Thanks to the solid leadership of Governor Helen Tan and her Congressman-son Mike plus the effective juggling of duties by the team manager and lawyer Donn Kapunan and the masterful shuffling of coach Eric “Mr Hugot” Gonzales the Titans proved that they cannot just compete but best the top teams in the PSL.

Governor Tan and Congressman Tan.. Sweet, sweet taste of victory
Governor Tan and Congressman Tan.. Sweet, sweet taste of victory

I am impressed and will not be surprised if the Titans (also the Huskers) will be able to give the favorites a run for their money in the MPBL. Just wait, folks.

I’m sure that my dear classmate Engineer Ronnel Tan is grinning from ear to ear following Quezon’s victories fashioned out before a wildly cheering crowd at Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.

The Lucena juggernaut gave the province a 3-1 win over the Nueva Ecija Capitals in the best-of-five title series.

For us Quezonians, the long wait for a major basketball crown is over, and expect more titles to come.

Sporting pundits were not impressed at the start, but the Titans, thanks to sound management, demonstrated enough power resulting in a symphony of speed and grace.

I must confess that except for NCAA star Will Gozum and Robin Rono, and most recently Lucena City Mayor Mark Don Victor Alcala (Oh lalala), I am not familiar with the Titans. But after watching Game Four of the series, I knew that there was more to come.

There’s so much in store for the Titans, whom I believe will become the Huskers in the MPBL.

Congratulatory notes flooded the social media and that’s very understandable. Mayors like Gumaca’s proactive head Webster Letargo and one of the Titans backers San Andres Mayor Ralph Lim expressed delight at the win.

Before I forget, LJ Gonzales, Judel Fuentes, RJ Minerva, Topeng Lagrama, Ximone Sandagon, Rodel Gravera, Jason Opiso, and Domark Matillano are now bywords like pinagong, Bitukang Manok, banana chips, lambanog, espasol, budin, tikoy, broas, buko and other native delicacies you can only find in festive, colorful Quezon.

Forget the bashers

The emergence of bloggers (God save the world) intent on spreading lies and destruction is now part of the sporting landscape. And I am appalled, Kung sino sino na lang. I’m sure that some of them are paid social media hacks.

Recently, bashers targeted PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, forgetting the hard work and dedication done by Kume. He is a silent but effective worker. To all the bashers, the PBA is here to stay, period.

The presence of the PBA, MPBL, and the PVL are proving to be sedatives in the face of searing heat, high cost of living, traffic, and other problems made worse by power trippers.

The wildly delirious crowd packing the PVL venue is proof that volleyball is alive and kicking. I pray that volleyball players will continue to be humble and accessible to fans, who are spending their hard-earned money to watch them play.

Sadly, because they are now public figures, volleybelles are targets for bloggers, who dig deep into their personal lives. Bashers find delight in commenting about their love interests.

My take: Don’t mind them. But I will be the first to protest if you follow the path of the LGBT partners who recently got married to a so-called priest in Tagum City.

Also a timely reminder. Beware of people masquerading as your managers. Some are only interested in pocketing their fee from your salaries. Managers must be media savvy and know how to navigate the topsy-turvy of negotiations. You will not always be on top so managers or talent agencies must prepare you for lives outside basketball.

My take: Ask your parents or guardians when making a life-changing decision. Don’t get drowned by your new-found fame. It is fleeting.

The MPBL, too, is drawing big crowds in the provinces. Though some games (naturally) show empty seats, it is very clear that Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes’ effort to rid the league of the bad grass is proving good results. Of course, there’s no need to say that MPBL is a lifeline to players, hoping to return to the PBA.

MAJESTIC St. Clare Saints

Governor Tan and Congressman Tan
Governor Tan and Congressman Tan
Though not in the UAAP or the NCAA, St. Clare Saints, thanks to Dr. Jay “Mr Basketball” Adalem and coach Jiniño Manansala, continue to carve its way to basketball excellence in the collegiate landscape.

Jiniño, who also sizzled as coach of the UST Tigers, and Adalem are a partnership made in heaven. Basketball is in the blood of coach Jino, whose father Jimmy was a former PBA Rookie of the Year. The elder Manansala, known for his shooting prowess, played for 12 seasons in the pros, a member of UE Red Warriors and the national team.

Unknown to many, St. Clare is the top team in the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU). The Saints are untouchables in the league with seven titles since 2012 Take note that the league was postponed in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic.

To prove that its basketball program is effective, former St. Clare players are now strutting their wares in the PBA and MPBL.

Magnolia swingman Aris Dionisio is the most recent superstar. Jam Jamito, John Ambulodto and Jeff Viernes also saw action in the PBA, while John Rojas, Charles Burgos, Aeron Decano, Ryan Sual, Megan Galang, Jordan Rios, Irven Palencia, Prince Casin, Darwin Lunor, Joseph Penaredondo, Jimboy Estrda, Luiz Tapenio, Chris Bitoon, Joshua Fontanilla and Dennis Santos are campaigning in the MPBL.

Expect St. Clare to continue to leave an imprint in the basketball nation.

My wish is for St. Clare to continue its dominance and give chances to those at the grassroots. And I pray to the Almighty that coach Jino’s wife, who is undergoing chemotherapy, will be cured of cancer.

Dennis Eroa

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