August 30, 2009
Milo and BEST, BEST and Milo = Milo BEST. Get it? It’s a play of words that has been there for the past 25 years and it looks like nothing can stop it. When one talks about THE basketball tournament for youth, Milo BEST is hands-down, a top-of-mind answer. And so why all the fuss? All because Cebu’s 2009 edition of the Milo-sponsored BEST SBP/Passerelle Twin Basketball Tournaments kicks off tomorrow at the University of San Carlos North Campus Gym. Once again, the best of age-group basketball get together for a friendly round of games in what is now known as the most followed tournament in the country.
Coaches of the teams playing in the Milo-sponsored BEST SBP/Passerelle Twin Tournaments pose for a unity shot at the coaches organizational meeting.
Many questions have been asked about Milo BEST, and so we felt it proper to provide answers to the FAQ’s about the event. For starters, the event is organized by the Basketball Efficiency and Scientific Training (BEST) Center which was founded by Nic Jorge 31 years ago. The tournament was originally intended for students of the BEST basketball clinics that were held every summer. It was only fitting that students of the clinic would put their newly-learned skills to the test, and the best way to do it was through a tournament. That was then. What was once a simple intramurals-like competition among BEST clinic students has now grown to become a nationwide age-group tournament for schools. It has now been acknowledged as THE tournament for the youth with all major schools nationwide involved. And with Milo’s support and touch, no other tournament can match what Milo and BEST, a.k.a “Milo BEST” have achieved.
Many of today’s stars in the PBA trace their roots in the programs of the BEST Center, whether this be through the clinic or through the Milo-sponsored BEST Tournaments. Age group basketball took awhile to develop here in the Philippines, and with the BEST Center at the forefront, things have changed for the better. This also meant the mushrooming of other youth-based tournaments and programs that got the whole basketball family busy in uplifting the standards of age-group hoops.
The BEST tournament has two divisions. The younger division is called the Small Basketeers Philippines (SBP) division. This is for boys under 12 years old in the year of the tournament. For the 2009 tournaments, the under 12 boys are those born in the year 1997 or younger. For development purposes, all SBP teams must have a total of 15 players. This is composed of a maximum of nine players born in 1997 or younger (12 Under), a minimum of three players born in 1998 or younger (11 Under) and three players born in 1999 or younger (10 Under). This way, there is an assurance of continuity, and young aspiring cagers are also given the early exposure to basketball.
The Passerelle division is for boys under 15 years old. For 2009, a maximum of seven players must be born in 1994 or younger. A minimum of six players must be born in 1995 or younger (14 Under) and a minimum of two players must be born in 1996 or younger (13 Under). This is usually the “preparatory” grounds for one to go into juniors basketball (high school varsity or 17 Under).
In Cebu, 12 teams will be playing in the Passerelle division, with defending champions Sacred Heart School-Jesuit (SHJS) leading the pack. The Eagles placed second in the national finals of the 2008 Milo BEST tournament, losing to La Salle Greenhills in the finals. They had won the Cebu and Visayas championships on the way to the national finals. The University of Cebu (UC) and USC North, however are considered as pre-tournament favorites to give SHSJ a serious run for their money. Other teams out to challenge SHSJ include rookie team USJR, USC South, Don Bosco, CIT and SCSIT. The “B” teams of USC North, SHSJ and Don Bosco round up the 12 teams.
There are eight teams in the SBP division for Cebu. USC North is touted to repeat as Cebu champions and make a second straight appearance at the Visayas Finals. The traditional SBP powers include USC South, Don Bosco Technological Center and SHSJ. Ateneo de Manila is the two-time defending national champion of the SBP division, while Bacolod’s Tay Tung high School is the Visayas 2008 champion. The Cebu Eastern College, whose basketball program is now being given the long-overdue attention will also play in the SBP division along with the “B” teams of SHSJ, USC North and USC South.
Among the more original traits about the BEST tournament are certain rules that were installed to guaranty development. Among these are the “5-5-5” rule where a different set of five players of each team are to play in the first three quarters of the game, thus the total of 15 players per team. The fourth quarter then becomes a showcase of the team’s best players who saw action earlier in any of the first three quarters.
What not many people are aware of is that the Milo BEST tournament follows strict rules regarding academics and sports. All eligible players are those who passed all their subjects and were promoted to their current grade or year level. Repeaters are ineligible. One can ask any coach and he’ll say that the volume of documents and requirements is an indication of how firm the BEST Center is about academics.
Cebu’s obvious goal is for 2009 is to win both divisions at the Visayas Finals in Roxas City and thus send two teams to the national finals which will be held in Baguio in November. This is why the proponents of age-group ball have informally gotten together to ensure that a smooth calendar of activities is maintained to maximize and improve the level of play of Cebu’s youth. Among the other activities in this mix include the Futures Basketball League (FBL) and the Cebu Youth Basketball League (CYBL).
That in a nutshell is “Milo BEST.” But don’t just read through this to know what it’s all about. Make a trip to the games and get a feel of age group basketball.
Time-out: Happy birthday to Maxwell Verdida of Dranix! >>> You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.