NCAA Icons and future Legends

June 25, 2019 AT 02:23 PM

NCAA, the oldest collegiate athletic meet in the land, is coming back soon on ABS-CBN S+A and it promises to be bigger than ever when it opens its 95th season at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on July 7.
Before we go full-blast with another exciting season of schools battling for supremacy in the different events, let’s get to know some names that have been ingrained in NCAA lore as larger-than-life legends, as well as those who are on their way to become part of their school’s greatest contributions to Philippine sports.
Let’s dig through these pairs from each school that have been part of making the NCAA, the league that it is today, and who will serve as inspiration to the incoming athletes of NCAA Season 95.
1.    Caloy Loyzaga and Javee Mocon, San Beda University

When you mention San Beda and basketball, the first person that ever comes to mind from a die-hard is that of Caloy Loyzaga. Dubbed The Big Difference, he is considered as the greatest baller in Philippine history just because of the sheer will and force with which he carried the country to a third place finish in the FIBA World Championships back in 1954. Aside from that, Loyzaga, who is immortalized in sports circles, is a two-time Olympian, having been to the games back in 1952 and 1956.
For his part, Jayvee Mocon has been a winner throughout his entire stay in San Beda, having never missed a Finals, and even earned Finals MVP on his last playing year to give the Lions their three-peat. In the professional leagues, he has displayed his added arsenal developed through the various battles he had in the NCAA, transforming himself from a supposedly traditional power forward to a modern do-it-all player.
2.    Freddie Webb and Archand Bagsit, Colegio de San Juan de Letran

Freddie Webb is legendary not only in the NCAA, but in the whole world of Philippine basketball. He was an Olympian, having been named to the national squad that competed in the 1972 Olympics. To the younger set, he’s better known as an actor, a former senator, and sports anchor for DZMM. Wherever he goes, Webb’s name has always been synonymous with winning and the man was a proven champion dating back to his heydays.

Meanwhile, Archand Bagsit was a phenom in the athletics competition of the NCAA during his tenure for the Knights. Included in his competing years is a gold medal in the 2014 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. His pet event, the 4x400 relay, is a race that has put Bagsit on a pedestal and is considered an Asian powerhouse. The famed athlete will once more don the flag for the 2019 SEA Games. When someone visits Letran, Bagsit’s face, and name, is way up there with the likes of the revered Freddie Webb, Sambiao Bassanung, and Enrique Beech.
3.    Jio Jalalon and Jasper Faeldonia, Arellano University

Arellano may be young in terms of membership in the NCAA, but they have produced athletes who can compete in the international field. One such guy is Jio Jalalon, who even with his small stature would always make his presence felt whenever he gets called up to play for the national team. He first gained fame for his pesky defense and fearless penetrations in the NCAA, where he dropped triple-doubles left and right even against formidable opponents like Scottie Thompson and Baser Amer, to tow Arellano to numerous Final Fours and two Finals showdowns with San Beda University.

Another proud Arellano product is young chess wunderkind Jasper Faeldonia. Despite being only in Grade 8, he is already being touted as one of the country’s next chess master after being named co-champion in the 35th Singapore National Age Group Chess Championships Boys 14. He also has an ASEAN age group gold and silver medal aside from his Singaporean win. The only athlete in this list that’s still completing in the NCAA, Faeldonia is just getting started in cementing his NCAA legacy.
4.    Philip Cezar and Shola May Alvarez, Jose Rizal University

The Heavy Bombers’ basketball program has produced many stars. Alongside the “Aerial Voyager” Vergel Meneses, Philip Cezar ranks among the best of the best. He was known in the professional circles as the “Sultan of Swat” or “Tapal King” after amassing a thousand blocked shots before hanging up his sneakers. Aside from that, Cezar also donned the flag on the hardcourt numerous times.

On the volleyball court, the Heavy Bombers biggest pride has to be Shola May Alvarez, who was the MVP of the tournament in Season 93. Head coach Mia Tioseco once shared a fun anecdote about the former Lady Bomber, saying that Shola was dead-tired from jogging for just five minutes due to asthma yet she persevered and earned the biggest honor of her NCAA life.
5.    Ronjay Buenafe and Howard Mojica, Emilio Aguinaldo College

Ronjay Buenafe, the uncle of former Ateneo forward Ryan Buenafe, put Emilio Aguinaldo College on the basketball map when the spitfirish guard spearheaded the Generals year in and year out to championships in the Universities and Colleges Athletics Association (UCAA), their former league before being recognized as a member of the NCAA. To this day, Buenafe holds the school record for points scored in his career and has been the best basketball player to be produced by EAC so far. He last played in the MPBL after successful stints in the professional league where he was known as a sparkplug off the bench.

Meanwhile, Howard Mojica is the most-awarded volleyball player to ever suit up for the Generals since they became a member of the NCAA. Watching him do work up front and devastate defenses will just leave anyone in awe with the display of athleticism. While he waits for another call for national team duty, the man who spikes the ball with the power of a Howitzer cannon has been named Best Scorer for his four-year stay. He grabbed two MVPs while at it, and a Finals MVP in Season 90.
6.    Honey Royse Tubino and Earl Scottie Thompson, Univ. of Perpetual Help System DALTA

Before being a stalwart for the PacificTown-Army team in the PVL, Honey Royse Tubino was a force to reckon with in the NCAA as she towed the Lady Altas to a three-peat during her stay. She was the league MVP in her final year and was named the Best Scorer for the tournament as well, besting the likes of San Sebastian’s “Lady Beast” Grethcel Soltones.

Scottie Thompson, on the other hand, was a relative unknown when he donned the maroon and gold of the Altas. It was as if the coaching staff kept him under wraps before then-coach Aric Del Rosario unleashed the triple-double machine, and one of the league’s best rebounding guards in its entire history. Needless to say, Thompson transformed the erstwhile cellar-dwellers into contenders thanks to the help provided by his teammates like Jett Vidal, Harold Arboleda, Nosa Omorogbe, Bright Akhuetie, and Prince Eze to name a few.
7.    Gary David and CJ Perez, Lyceum of the Philippines University

Before CJ Perez came to be a Pirate, Gary David was the gold standard of basketball in Lyceum. He has gone where no Pirate has ever been: represent the country as a member of the Philippine national team to the 2014 FIBA World Championships. That alone is already an achievement and a feat none can compare with ‘El Granada.’ If Perez makes it to the national squad, that will make two Pirates being part of prestigious company. David is currently plying his trade in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League of Sen. Manny Pacquiao as one of the mainstays in his hometown team, the Bataan Risers.

Meanwhile, Perez has undeniably etched his name in Pirates lore as he transformed the squad from shambles to annual contender. It also helps that Topex Robinson was there to harness his old ward’s powers to make the Pirates a formidable foe in the NCAA wars. Currently, Perez is making a name in the professional league and has been nothing short of amazing.
8.    Grethcel Soltones and Rommel Adducul, San Sebastian College-Recoletos

Lady Beast Grethcel Soltones has been one of the standouts in a long list for San Sebastian’s volleyball program. However, what sets her apart from her peers is that she has long been considered a dangerous weapon on the international floor as a member of the national squad. Soltones has more or less cemented her legendary status in NCAA with three MVPS, a Best Scorer, and Best Outside Spiker award in five seasons . When she joined the Premier Volleyball League, she was able to nab the Finals MVP in 2017 as well as 2nd Best Outside Spiker twice in the three-conference league.

Former Metropolitan Basketball Association and professional basketball star Rommel Adducul, meanwhile, powered San Sebastian to an unprecedented, and unmatched, five-peat under legendary coach Arturo Valenzona. The former King Stag continued his rampage in the pro ranks where he became the biggest star in the MBA before winning a string of titles in another professional league. More than his on court exploits, Adducul’s also admired for his courage when he had to battle cancer. Nowadays, his busy mentoring big men as an assistant coach for a professional basketball squad.
9.    Jeanette Panaga and Sunday Salvacion, College of Saint Benilde

Jeanette ‘Pangs’ Panaga, as she is fondly called by her peers, was a force of nature when she was playing for the College of St. Benilde. She led her team to a title in Season 91, and nabbed the Finals MVP while at it. Being one of the country’s premier outside hitters for volleyball. Panaga is currently delivering kills for Motolite in the Premier Volleyball League, where she is highly regarded as a blocker, having earned the Best Blocker award three times in the PVL while a member of the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors.

Sunday Salvacion, for his part, is revered as the greatest player to ever don the College of St. Benilde Blazers jersey on the basketball court. To this day, CSB hasn’t found someone who equaled the powers of Salvacion at his best. He was an absolute terror against opposing defenses and brought the Blazers to the promised land back in 2000 with teammates Jondan Salvador and Al Magpayo at the helm.
10.Eugene Torre and Henry Dagmil, Malayan University/Mapua University

Eugene Torre needs no introduction. The first Filipino chess grandmaster is in a class of his own right despite hailing from a school more known for producing greats on the basketball court like Alvin Patrimonio, Atoy Co, and Freddie Hubalde. The truth is, Mapua was also a fertile ground for icons in other sports like Torre for chess and Dagmil for athletics. He has been a constant representative of the Philippines in the World Chess Olympiads from 1970-2010. However, his best feat remains to be the match where he beat 1976 World Champion Anatoly Karpov, the first man to ever beat the legendary Russian boardmaster.
Dagmil’s accomplishments as a track and field athlete is approaching legendary status especially with his SEA Games record for the Long Jump, his main event, which he set back in 2007. Aside from the SEA Games, Dagmil has also competed in the Asian Championships, Asian Games, and the Asian Indoor Championships. However, the brightest feather on his cap is being an Olympian way back in 2008.
New heroes will be rising soon to join these NCAA greats when the 95th Season of the NCAA opens on July 7 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, which will air LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and via livestream on iWant and 
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