Merger tournament gets going today; nine teams dispute title

NINE teams make up the field competing in the Tournament of the Philippines, the inaugural event being held by the Philippine Basketball League and Liga Pilipinas as part of their planned merger.
The event, which starts today at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, serves as a dry-run for the eventual merger of the two leagues, according to officials of the two groups who graced yesterday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s UN Ave.

Ascof Lagundi squares off with Trace Laguna in the 1:30 p.m. curtain raiser, while M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala Cebu takes on Ani-FCA in the other game at 3:30.
The opening ceremonies will be held in between games, with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan invited to do the ceremonial toss.
Officials of the two leagues–chairman Ding Camua and executive director Butch Maniego for the PBL and chief executive officer Noli Eala and technical director Perry Martinez for Liga Pilipinas–expressed their optimism about the success of the rare partnership.
“This is one the best things that ever happened to Philippine basketball,” Eala said in the public sports program backed by Accel, Outlast Battery, Pagcor, and Shakey’s.
“We believe the planned merger is for the best interest of basketball and players in particular. We’re looking forward to a tremendous competition among all the best amateur clubs in the country,” he added.
Noting the many differences between the PBL and Liga Pilipinas, Camua said the tourney will determine whether the two leagues “could jive.”
Aside from Ascof Lagundi and Ani-FCA, Cobra Energy Drink is another team from the PBL joining the tournament, while Gen. Santos City, Misamis Oriental, Mandaue and Taguig are the other Liga teams competing.
The tournament is adopting the Liga Pilipinas format where teams earn corresponding points in their respective finishes in each leg. A playoff system will be held after the nine-leg phase.
Maniego said Cebu, handled by veteran coach Yayoy Alcoseba, is tapped as title favorite.

Who is MP Warriors new pick

Cliff Hodge

Personal: Born in Pensacola, Florida…parents are Charles and Maria Hodge…has two sisters, Christina Cloud and Isabella Hodge, and four brothers, Douglas Hodge, Chris Perlick, Chris Cloud, and Zack Hodge…nickname is “loverboy”…enjoys listening to music and eating chicken…favorite music artists are Lil’ Wayne, Ne-Yo, and Chris Brown…other favorites are movies He Got Game, Love and Basketball, and The Notebook, and athlete Amare Stoudamire…hopes to playing professionally somewhere in 10 years…majoring in Management.

Team pic inside

Prior to HPU: Attended Reedley College in Reedley, California…lettered in basketball under Coach Brian Fonseca…selected to the Central Valley All-Conference Freshman Team in his first season…named to the All-Defensive Team for two seasons. Also a graduate of Lemoore High School in Lemoore, California…lettered in basketball under Coach T.J. Williams…earned First-Team All-League honors.
HPU: Begins second season. 2008-09: Played in 25 games, starting nine…recorded seven blocks and 13 steals on the season…posted 162 points on the season…finished with a .465 field goal percentage…scored double figures in points in four games…had a career high of 22 points in the game against Chaminade (2/18).

Pacman GenSan Warriors picks Clifford Hodge as the No. 1 pick

By Jasmine W. Payo

FOREIGN PLAYERS WITH FILIPINO ROOTS emerged as the top three rookie picks in the Tournament of the Philippines, the amateur league recently formed by the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) and Liga Pilipinas slated on June 2.
The Pacman GenSan Warriors, the team owned by boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, made 22-year-old Clifford Hodge as the No. 1 pick among 47 hopefuls in the Rookie Draft Saturday at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City.
AgriNurture Inc.-FCA enlisted Kelly Berry second overall, while Pharex tabbed Stanley Pringle third to beef up their rosters in the new tournament set to field at least nine teams.
The 6-foot-5 Hodge, described as “a versatile and athletic player” from Hawaii, traces his Filipino lineage to his mother, who hails from Sulu.
Magnolia and Cobra round up the four PBL squads that joined the tournament that will serve as the backbone of the PBA’s proposed developmental league.

Teams from Cebu, Laguna, Misamis Oriental and Mandaue comprise the participating Liga members.
“This is the first joint project of the PBL and Liga and we’re confident this would be the start of something good for Philippine basketball, especially to its major stakeholders,” said PBL executive director Butch Maniego.
Liga Pilipinas’ Butch Antonio said teams from Taguig and Pampanga have yet to confirm their participation.
PBL powerhouses Hapee Toothpaste and Toyota Otis opted to see action in the next conference in October.
Excelroof, which copped the recent PBL title last March, also begged off since its core players from NCAA champion San Sebastian will suit up for the varsity league next month.
Pharex, the PBL runner-up last conference, enlisted two more Filipino-Americans in Sean Anthony and John Smith in the succeeding rounds.
Laguna tabbed former Letran player Jomar Datang, before selecting Martin Antonio in the next round.
Misamis Oriental selected Lance Beverette, while Cebu chose Shawn Weinstein to wrap up the first round