SLR's Stellar Performance in 2008

On: 07 January 2009

2008 PBA All-Filipino Cup Champs

Many changes were made for just one year in the line-up of the Sta. Lucia Realtors, which made it possible for the team to capture its first ever all-Filipino title during the 33rd Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup last year.

The first major step that the team made was to replace coach Alfrancis Chua with a younger, but full of promise former player, Boyet Fernandez. Aside from that, the Realtors also made some very important trade moves that saw veteran Kenneth Duremdes and Fil-Am guard Alex Cabagnot being shipped to Coca-Cola in exchange for sophomore playmaker Dennis Miranda and amateur standout Joseph Yeo.

The 'makeover' finally ended when the team picked third overall the former Artesia High School standout Ryan Reyes in the 2007 Rookie Draft over the much popular college standouts at that time, including Ken Bono, Doug Kramer and JC Intal.

The result: Their first ever All-Filipino crown since joining the league 15 seasons ago.

“In the past few years, we are looking for the right combo, right players and the right coach. Finally, after so many experiments, we found the right formula to win the championship,” explained Realtors team manager Buddy Encarnado.

Sta. Lucia outclassed the overwhelming favorites Purefoods Tender Juicy, 4-3, in the exciting best-of-seven series last March 2008 to notch their second championship crown. Their first title was the 2001 Governors’ Cup.

“The players really worked hard in winning the championship and we give credit to the management, especially to bosses Buddy (Encarnado), Exie (Robles) and my coaching staff for making this happen,” Fernandez said

It was a sweet victory for Fernandez who did not win any title as a player since he was drafted as a point guard by the defunct Swift team in the 1993 PBA Draft. He also suited for the Realtors, Pop Cola 800’s and the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs before retiring.

Aside from the energy brought by young players such as Reyes, Yeo and Best Player of the Conference awardee Kelly Williams, the team also benefited from the experience and leadership of veterans Dennis Espino and Marlou Aquino.

Espino scored a series-high 29 points in the 100-88 pivotal win of Sta. Lucia, which gave the former University of Santo Tomas standout everyone's nod as the Finals MVP. Aside from that, Espino averaged 18.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in the seven-game series.

"Our veterans stepped up especially our captain ball Dennis (Espino), as well as our young guys," said Fernandez.

Fernandez also acknowledged that their training in Boston late in 2007 under the famed trainer Kevin Barbosa was a big factor in molding the team into a championship caliber, but more importantly inspired both Espino and Aquino to do better.

"The enthusiasm of the young players gave strength to our veterans," Encarnado added.

Aside from the All-Pinoy title, Sta. Lucia also achieved the franchise-best eight-game winning run. However, according to Encarnado, this was not the real 'turning point' for the team's title run.

"The eight-game winning streak is not important. Our semifinals series against Alaska is a character-building series. If not for that we could not be here," said Encarnado.

The Realtors won over the Aces, 4-3, to gain the right to face the Giants in the drama-filled Finals where both Yeo and Purefoods shooter James Yap were suspended for one game for flagrant fouls.

0 comments on "SLR's Stellar Performance in 2008"

Post a Comment