Xavier Begins Title-Retention Bid
RICH in history and proud in its tradition, the Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association, the longest and most prestigious Chinese-Filipino amateur basketball league in the country today, unwraps its 31st season on Jan. 13 at the Chiang Kai Shek College Gym.
Backed by Hitachi, Burlington, Davis Paints, Converse, Healthy Options, Puma and Growers Peanuts, the Tiong Lian cage tournament, which means “bonding together,” brings together the best up-and-coming basketball players from the country’s top Chinese-Filipino educational institutions.
Defending champion Xavier School will attempt to duplicate a repeat of its 9-0 championship romp in both the junior and aspirants’ divisions last season.
The Xavier Golden Stallions begin their title-retention quest when they play Chiang Kai Shek in the opening game at 5 p.m. following simple launching ceremonies at 4 p.m. Host Hope Christian High School takes on St. Jude Catholic School in the second and final game at 6:30 p.m.
Other members of the seven-school league are Grace Christian High School, St. Stephen’s High School, UNO High School.
The games will be shown on “Basketball TV” by Pro-Ads Marketing, headed by its president Henry Tan.
“The most prestigious Filipino-Chinese league is back this season, bigger and better than ever,” said Tan. “The quest to discover new basketball stars and the aim to continue a tradition of sporting excellence again take a front seat as we welcome another slambang season.”
The tournament, where basketball superstars such as Atoy Co, Lim Eng Beng, and only recently Joseph Yeo, began their careers, is divided into two divisions, namely the juniors (15 to 19 years old) and aspirants (14 and below).
Xavier, which will be coached this season by Lito Vergara in lieu of Patrick Aquino, swept CKSC, 2-0, in the finals last year to wrap up the juniors’ title. Xavier’s aspirants’ team likewise had a 2-0 romp in the finals, this time against St. Stephen’s, to secure the crown.
Players to watch out for this season are Xavier’s Gabriel Banal, son of former Talk N Text coach Joel Banal, and CKSC’s Justin Chua, a 6’6” Bacolod City find of the Tuklas Taas program.
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