Magis Eagles gunning for a three-peat this year?
After putting on quite a show in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) juniors basketball tournament last year and then claiming the big one – the National Basketball Training Center National High School Championship in March, can the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles pull off an encore performance this year?
With the Cesafi basketball wars less than a month away, Cebu Daily News talked to the school’s amiable athletic director Rico Navarro who expressed optimism for the Magis Eagles’ chances of bagging a rare “three-peat” this year. This, in spite of several key losses in personnel, most notably last season’s Most Valuable Player Janjan Jaboneta, who has already graduated and is now playing for the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the UAAP.
“I can’t say that this year’s team is stronger than last year’s but I can say that they will be competitive and that they have enough to defend the title and hopefully get the ‘three-peat’,” said Navarro.
Under the guidance of Navarro and the mentorship of long-time head coach Rommel Rasmo, the Magis Eagles have become the standard-bearer for supremacy in high school basketball in the region, first winning the Cesafi crown in 2012 behind a stacked team that featured the likes of Arc Gabrielle Araw-Araw, current National University guard Rendell Senining and Adamson forward Dawn Ochea.
After a controversy-filled 2013 season that did not even see a finish, the Magis Eagles came back stronger than ever and won it all once again last year by beating the University of the Visayas Baby Lancers in a thrilling championship series that went down the wire. A few months later, they would announce their arrival on the national stage by winning high school’s biggest crown with an 82-78 victory over powerhouse San Beda in the finals of the NBTC National High School Championship.
But even without Jaboneta, guards Pio Longa, Joseph Mayol, Nino Araw-Araw and big man Zachy Huang, the Magis Eagles still boast of an embarrassment of riches at all positions starting with promising forward Joshua Sinclair, who now inherits the leadership mantle left behind by Jaboneta. Flanking him will be the backcourt of Travis Mantua, Andrew Velasco and Renzo Calumpang.
Navarro added that Ateneo de Cebu’s chances will also hinge on the play of a number of players from their Passerelle squad who are set to be elevated to the varsity team. They include RP Youth Team member Jed Colonia who averaged 4.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game during the 3rd Southeast Asian Basketball Association Under-16 Championship which was held in Cagayan de Oro earlier in the year.
And as usual, the Magis Eagles are also expected to unveil some new recruits led by Cadiz City-native Errol Pastor, a standout from the Bacolod Tay Tung High School.
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