The six biggest backers in Pinoy collegiate basketball

Barry Viloria on Nov 11, 2015 10:58 AM
The six biggest backers in Pinoy collegiate basketball
If only these sports patrons were our ninongs, too... (Photo by Rey Nambatac)

We know it’s over but we’re still reeling from the #NCAAseason91 championships. Not because of the rise-of-the-underdog victory of the Letran Knights toppling 5-peat king San Beda Lions in the process. Well, that was news, too, but we’re more in awe of the players—each of them—reportedly taking home P100,000 after bagging the title. From whom? No less than Manny Pacquiao.

It’s a fact that many of the universities’ varsity teams receive support from their respective alumni, and the support can extend from moral to monetary. Sometimes, the support can come from anyone but a former student. The extent, though? No one knows, but helping finance the varsity program, from what we saw in Letran and some other schools for that matter, can prove effective as they tread their way to a championship.

Is money everything? Not really, but these squads with their respective, actively charitable bigwigs can attest to the fact that money can be… something.

1. Manny Pacquiao

Many have wondered, what does the People’s Champ know about the ropes of the hoops? Well, he serves as playing coach for Mahindra Enforcers (formerly Kia Sorentos/Kia Carnival) in the PBA and is just… into sports. Many speculated that Pacman, who graduated far south at the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City, was close to Letran’s head coach Aldin Ayo. Ayo was the boxing superstar’s assistant in Kia.

2. Henry Sy

From easy preys in the UAAP men’s basketball event, NU quickly rose to formidable status in the recent years—and many attributed this to SM Supermalls’ Henry Sy lending a helping hand. In 2008, FEU-originating Sy bought 60% of the century-old university from the family of the late founder Mariano F. Jhocson. While the transaction led to improvements in the academic facilities, it also boosted its sports programs more so in women’s volleyball, women’s basketball, tennis, badminton, cheerdance (NU is currently the back-to-back-to-back champ in the CDC), and, of course, men’s basketball. Remember Ray-Ray Parks, now in the NBA D-League, coming into the squad four years ago? A few more years after his rookie year, NU went on and planted itself consistently at the Final Four—until last year when they held their first championship in 60 years!

3. Lucio Tan

When you think “business tycoon,” an image of one of the wealthiest Filipinos Lucio Tan inevitably comes to mind. His company Lucio Tan Group of Companies encompasses several industries—from PAL to cigarette and liquor brands to the academic institution in Recto that houses the Warriors. Tan, who studied and dropped out of FEU, bought UE in 1990. In recent reports, he has bought the Ever Gotesco Manila Plaza near UE to renovate it as an extension of the university. UE, too, had their fair share of basketball championships in the course of many years. Y’all know about Jawo, Allan Caidic, James Yap, and Paul Lee, right?

4. Danding Cojuangco

The 80 year-old heavyweight of San Miguel Corp. returned to back La Salle a couple of seasons ago, and was observably hands-on. He reportedly donated a property for the team, brought them to a treat after every game (win or lose), and hired better, sharper coaches—we all know where this led to: a championship in Season 76 for the green team.

5. Manny V. Pangilinan

MVP, who served as president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, is regarded as the architect of the famous Ateneo 5-peat pulled off from Seasons 71 to 75. Although, the initially healthy relationship was later tinged with bad blood concerning issues regarding the controversial RH bill and mining, seeing his views opposed to Ateneo’s. At the wake of the then-rift, MVP also pledged a big sum to UP. In a matter of two months, though, MVP patched things up with his alma mater. San Beda, where MVP spent his primary and secondary education, has since enjoyed his financial support as well.

6. Dan Palami

Men’s basketball underdog, the UP Fighting Maroons, kept their hopes high last year when Palami stepped in as team manager. Palami, who studied accountancy in UP, is credited for the upsurge of Philippine football in recent years. "When your alma mater calls for help, you don’t think too much of the risk. But you think more of it as an obligation to an institution that has been responsible for forming you and making you what you are right now,” he was quoted saying. From then on, the Maroons—which went through an unfortunate 27-losing game streak before Season 77—have clung on to improved UAAP rankings up to recent. And then there was the FilSports Basketball Association championship, too.

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