TACLOBAN CITY -- Student-players of State Colleges and Universities (SUCs) in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) will compete in the first regional collegiate basketball tournament on Jan. 26, 2019, a tournament commissioner has announced.

“We’re supporting the national agenda on grassroots sports development, with the vision that we will be able to produce players who will compete in the national and international basketball tournaments,” Julius Lacaba of the Eastern Visayas Collegiate Athletic Association (EVCAA) said Friday.

Lacaba said EVCAA, a premier regional athletic association composed of different state universities and colleges in Eastern Visayas, will conduct yearly sports tournaments and capacity building of in-house coaches.

The association is being supported by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), the basketball governing body authorized by the country and sanctioned by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), he added.

“The creation of EVCAA will be patterned around the concept and structure of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), two of the premier collegiate athletic associations in the Philippines,” Lacaba said of the organization behind the basketball tournament.

He added they have invited all the 10 SUCs in the region “and most of them expressed interest to join.”
“At the moment, we have basketball tournaments from State Colleges and Universities Athletic Associations (SCUAA) and Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA), which are only for one week. While EVCAA’s basketball tournament will provide an avenue for student-athletes to play for the whole semester, during Saturdays and Sundays,” Lacaba said.

He maintained that basketball players from their association will have more chances to improve their skills and get more exposure, noting that the games will be live-streamed in social media and broadcasted live in a local television channel.

The association will also provide capacity-building to referees and coaches, he said.

On December 15-16, EVCAA hosted a basketball orientation and coaches enhancement program for the competition.

The sports workshop was led by Michael Reyes Jr., the present head coach of Cebu City’s South Western University Phinma, Seniors Team, and Jerry Guzman Abuyabor, the present director for the region’s SBP and the present head coach for South Western University Phinma, 18 and under team.

Lacaba said they will also hold another sports tournament for the out-of-the-school youths in the region.

Meanwhile, Lacaba thanked former Leyte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, his wife 1st District Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, and the Tingog Sinirangan party list for sponsoring the first season of the basketball game.

“We’re actually creating an opportunity for grassroots sports development. There is no other way to make good basketball players than to make them play. We make them play, we play better, better tactics and strategies, and eventually you create a better team,” said Jude Acidre, second nominee of Tingog Sinirangan party list.

Acidre said the tournament will also improve the level of competition among basketball players in the region.

Abuyabor said the upcoming basketball tournament is one way of helping the national team get potential players.

“We can never tell that we can see potential players here in the region. This will be another pool where we can get players from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and national teams,” said the native of Tacloban.

Jude Duarte, president of the Leyte Normal University in Tacloban City, added that he is supporting the basketball in the region.

“If we can come up with a good basketball team here in Region 8 then play in Cebu and Manila, they need not look outside the fence of Region 8,” Duarte said as he noticed that most of the players coming from the region have played and excelled in Manila in Cebu.

“I am expecting that we have good basketball tournament and clinic here in Region 8, and we’ll be able to come up with good basketball players that will be playing only in Region 8. And that group will represent the region in basketball tournaments in Cebu and Manila,” he told PRTV 12 in Tacloban City.

Duarte believes that if student-athletes will be provided with more incentives, scholarships, and exposure to tournaments, the players “will be enticed to join in the school rather than playing outside.”

“Since 2013, that’s the time I joined LNU, we championed in SCUAA for the first time in 2013. For five years in a row, LNU championed in SCUAA because we put a premium on our sports program,” Duarte recalled. “We believe we’ve done everything in academics. We’re good in academics, but we need to prove ourselves in the field of sports. That’s what we are doing right now.”

While he lauded EVCAA’s mission, Duarte is confident that “lots of university presidents are supportive of this group.”

The 10 SUCs in the region are Eastern Samar State University, Eastern Visayas State University, Leyte Normal University, Naval State University, Northwest Samar State University, Palompom Institute of Technology, Samar State University, Southern Leyte State University, University of Eastern Philippines, and Visayas State University. (PNA)