We all know basketball is all about putting the ball in the basket, but great teams know that championship basketball is all about defense.
All of the great teams thrive on the defensive end. Obviously a team cannot win without defense, and all of the great teams has great defenders like for the Bulls in the mid-90’s, even though MJ was their leading scorer, he was also their toughest defender, and along side him, Scottie Pipen was tough as Jordan in the Defensive end. The “Bad Boys” of the Detroit Pistons which won back-to-back rings in the late 80’s have great defense that stopped Jordan countless times in the past. The 2008 Boston Celtics is also a great defensive team, they’re really known for their “Big 3” – Allen, Garnett and Pierce – but some of us doesn’t really know that they are a great defensive team that was leading the league in Opponent’s points around 85-88 ppg and KG anchored their defense and Kendrick Perkins was their man in the middle. Even the 3-peat Lakers of the early 2000’s was a great defensive team, with Shaq covering up the paint then Kobe and Fox was their perimeter defenders they stormed the league and got 3 rings.
Defense, as we know involves the ability of a player to steal, block and the intangibles like changing a player’s shot because of the presence of the defender and making them work hard on offense.
As you can see, defense is a very important aspect of the game that we love. For some coaches, players and teams, defense is the most important part of their success. For them, their offense starts with defense and ends with defense. It is very important that young collegiate teams and players should realize the fact that defense wins championships.
Fortunately, we Filipinos are smart basketball fans and we know how important defense really is.
So let’s take a look on the young players that really works on defense in the NCAA.
Dave Marcelo, San Beda Red Lions
Jake Pascual, San Beda Red Lions
Yousif Taha, Mapua Cardinals
Calvin Abueva, San Sebastian Stags
Ronald Pascual, San Sebastian Stags
Elyzer Paguia, Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals
Allan Santos, Lyceum of the Philippines Pirates
5. Raymond Almazan, Letran Knights
Raymond Almazan a fierce defender in the paint and he leads the Letran Knights in rebounds with 10.1 rebounds per game. Almazan also leads the league in blocked shots with 2.8 blocks per game. He is one of the leading contenders for the Defensive Player of the Year Award. I can honestly say that I know little about his game but his stats are telling me that he is a good defensive player down low. With his league leading 2.8 bpg, he can scare away guards that tend to drive in the paint, he can also defend post players and will alter their shots. He is really anchoring Letran’s defense down in the paint and that’s why they made it to the Final 4 again this season.
4. Andretti Stevens, Mapua Cardinals
Andretti Stevens, a guard from the basketball program of San Beda College Alabang, and that took the league by surprise in his first year in 2009 for Mapua. He is a tough, pesky defender that comes with quick hands an feet for the Cardinals. Coach Chito Victolero always assigns him to guard the best player of the other teams. He is so tough and pesky that other players get irritated by his defense that he will get into a fight almost every game. Stevens is that tough. He won’t back down from anybody, even if it is Borgie Hermida. NCAA fans all know that the players, especially Hermida gets really physical with this former-Red Cub and now Cardinal.
Unfortunately he was sidelined last year due to ACL injury. He was out for 1 year, and delayed his debut in the D-League to undergo surgery for his knee. This season, we saw Stevens’ playing time went down, and that he haven’t really gotten a break due to lack of mobility because of his knee. But there’s a game where he scored 13 points and that was the highlight of his season and he is still guarding the best players in the other team. Hopefully, we can see more of Andretti Stevens for the Cardinals next season.
3. Kevin Alas, Letran Knights
Kevin Alas, son of Letran Knights head coach, Louie Alas. Kevin Alas is unbelievable, he can score whenever he wants. He is averaging 17.2 per game and leading the league in steals with 1.9 steals per game. He has fast hands and quick feet in defense that’s why when he is guarding you it is so hard to blow past him. He is a pesky defender that is physical and when he gets you off-balance he can swipe that ball right out of your hands. He is also quick which gives him the edge in defending other guards.
He is an all-around player for Letran and he proved that he can hit clutch jumpers too. With that game against San Sebastian, he was carrying his team to victory, an outstanding game by Kevin Alas.
Kevin Alas is a very talented young player, and some are saying that he should be in the next batch of the national squad, the “Gilas II”. Surely, Kevin Alas is one of the future star players of Philippine basketball, with his great offensive and defensive skills he can be a great threat for the opposing team.
2. Ian Sangalang, San Sebastian Stags
Ian Sangalang, truly a great player for coach Topex Robinson. He is second in the league in block shots with 2.4 blocks per game and also second in the league in rebounds with 11.7 just behind his teammate Calvin Abueva. Sangalang is the Anchor of the Stags’ defense and he is the reason why San Sebastian can match up with San Beda’s big men in the post. Ian Sangalang is one of the contenders for this year’s MVP award and also for the Defensive Player award.
With him on the block, the Stags’ post defense will never fail. Sangalang’s mere presence down low will get the guards of the other teams scared to drive inside the paint and will alter the shots of low post players. He is definitely a tough man to match up with, he will give you a hard time in offense and defense. He is one of the big 3 of San Sebastian and also one of the reasons why they’re at the top of the standings.
1. Sudan Daniel, San Beda College Red Lions
We cannot forget about this “Super”man, Sudan Daniel. Su is a BIG reason why San Beda had the historical season last year. They swept the whole NCAA tournament. Su Daniel, is an MVP, a super start for the Red Lions. He is their anchor in defense, he is the big man on the block. You cannot drive by him that easily, he will block your shot 8 out of 10 times. He can give San Beda 10 blocks in a game, and maybe he’ll throw in 12-15 rebounds also. He can give you numbers that will get your jaws dropping with, 15pts 10blks, 17rebs and 3 asts. He is that good. With his 6’7” athletic body he can dunk the ball easily. He is also a great leaper that’s why he get those blocks and rebounds that easy. Su is a man among boys.
Unfortunately, he suffered an ACL injury in the pre-season game against Ateneo. Hopefully, he’ll get back on the court this Final 4. Recently he is sitting on the bench for the Red Lions all suited up for the game, and maybe he is ready to play, and coach Frankie Lim is just keeping the big fella fresh for the Final 4. San Beda with their 16-2 standing surely needed Su to play so that they could have gotten another sweep in the elimination rounds.
So DO NOT be surprise if you’ll see Sudan Daniel towering over Letran in their Final 4 showdown next week.