Bong’s Filipino crew 
set for playoff push

Team Philippines have a tough road to close out their season. 

With two of the best teams in Division Two of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association 2013 National Men’s League up next, the Filipinos could find their playoff footing shaky. 

Head coach Erwin ‘Bong’ Blancaflor states the goal is simply to play up to potential. 

“The biggest challenge for us is how to maximize our strength and advantages and the only way to do that is to acknowledge our weak points,” Blancaflor said. “Another challenge is our height. We are fast but small, really small compared to other teams and most of my players are new in this kind of league. Some of them are young, but it’s good to see them playing like men.  

“The team is doing fine, getting better every game. They are very focused on every detail that I’m teaching them. This season is very competitive, all of the teams are good and they are huge. It’s very hard to compete against the giants but still, we will always take the chance.” 

According to the last available association standings, Philippines, 4-2, head into this week in second place. They trail 6-1 Game Takers while leading 4-1 Charterland, 2-3 Titans, 1-4 Esso Blazers and 0-6 New Jerusalem.  

The Philippines are in action on Wednesday, 8 May, against Charterland at 7.45pm at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre. From there, the Filipinos challenge Game Takers in the regular season finale on 19 May. 

Charterland are coming off a 75-58 victory over the Titans. Chris LeBeau paced the defending champions with 16 points, including three 3-pointers, five rebounds and four assists. Will Koutney added 14 points and 12 rebounds, Jeremy Strickland chipped in 14 points and four rebounds and Scott Murray contributed 13 points and six rebounds. 

Bruce Thompson led Titans with a game-high 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Kadane Hall had 16 points and 19 rebounds, Damion Henry produced 14 points and four rebounds. 

Philippines will look to counter with strong guard play from cocaptain Darwin Mancenido, the league’s fifth-best scorer averaging 15.7 points per game, and captain Paul Villanueva, 15.3ppg and a team-high 11 3-pointers. 

Blancaflor states his team’s success depends on more than two players. 

“Key players? That’s very hard because all of them are key. That’s one good thing with this team, everybody is valuable. That’s also why it’s always a problem if one is missing. Kevin Hyland is our main man when it comes to rebounds, he’s the only tall guy on the team. 

“Paul, Juawon Ebanks and Arin Taylor are my sharp shooters. I have good guards like Rommel Mesina and Carlo Manuel, cocaptains Warren Buan and Darwin are good slashers and one-on-one defenders. All of them have their own role and as long as they are doing their job, I’m happy.” 

Out of all the teams, Game Takers have arguably been in the best form, having won their last two games by impressive margins. They beat Esso 76-58 before thumping New Jerusalem 69-35. Against the Blazers, Daniel Augustine scored 20 points and seven rebounds, Darryl Paddyfoot notched 18 points and 13 rebounds and Bruce Reynolds added 14 points and 11 rebounds.  

Davion Foster produced 16 points and 10 rebounds for Esso. Keon Bodden added nine points and six rebounds. 

Against New Jerusalem, Reynolds registered 23 points with three treys and 11 rebounds while Augustine had 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Dalmond Bodden had nine points and three assists for the losing side. Phillip Bodden and Shane Evans combined for 18 rebounds, 10 steals, five blocks and four points. 

Only two weeks remain before the playoffs feature the top four squads. The postseason, which centres on best-of-three series, will start on 23 May. 

Division Two will be in action well beyond Division One, which saw its regular season finale on Sunday. The focus was on Barrett Edri and the reigning champions, Esso Blazers, battling Horace Walters’ Dominos Warriors and Brandon Glasgow’s Silver Bullets for playoff positioning. The postseason starts this Sunday, 12 May, from 5pm.