BUOYED by its success in 2017, Colegio de San Lorenzo looks for a fitting follow-up when it takes part in the National Capital Region qualifying phase of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) scheduled Jan. 15-17 at the Jose Rizal University gym along Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City.
The Griffins are coming off a banner year after winning the MBL Open basketball championship against multi-titled FEU-NRMF last June and the UCBL crown against Centro Escolar University last November, and coach Boni Garcia is confident the players will continue to work hard and play hard this year.
The Quezon City-based team also topped the inaugural NCRUCLAA tournament last March.
“I told the players that 2017 is now over. This is another year and we have to continue to play well as a team to achieve our goals,” added Garcia, who also piloted CdSL to four straight UCSAA titles.
Long-time CdSL superstar Jon Gabriel is now with Kia Picanto in the PBA, but Garcia can still count on MBL MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo, Jan Formento, Charles Callano and James Alvarado to deliver the big numbers for the Griffins.
(The 24-year-old Gabriel signed a two-year deal with Kia Picanto after being drafted No 11 overall by Talk N Text).
Garcia will also parade a 6-8 find from Congo, Francis Batouzelele, to help man the middle with Chabi Yo.
In the PCCL, CdSL is bracketed in Group A along with three-time NAASCU champion St. Clare College-Caloocan and NCAA heavyweight Jose Rizal University.
In Group B are Far Eastern University, San Sebastian College and PATTS.
Based on tournament format, the top team in Group A and Group B will dispute the championship in a one-game final on Jan. 18.
CdSL will open its campaign against JRU at 3 p.m. on Jan. 15 and then play fellow NAASCU member St. Clare College at 3 p.m. on Jan. 16.
The complete PCCL schedule:
Jan . 15 at JRU gym -- 1 p.m. San Sebastian vs. PATTS; and 3 p.m. JRU vs CdSL.
Jan. 16 at JRU gym -- 1 p.m. PATTS vs. FEU; 3 p.m. CdSL vs. St. Clare.
Jan. 17 at JRU gym -- 1 p.m. FEU vs. San Sebastian; 3 p.m. St. Clare vs. JRU.
Last June 26, the V Hotel-supported CdSL brought down FEU-NRMF, 87-85, in a winner-take-all final to capture the MBL Open crown before a big crowd at the FEU gym in Fairview.
Chabi Yo, the 6-6 import from Benin, finished with 28 points against the defense of FEU imports Moustapha Arafat and Kareem Abdul to power the Griffins to the title in their first MBL appearance.
Formento ably supported Chabi Yo with 19 points, including four triples, as CdSL-V Hotel finished the tournament with a 9-1 win-loss record.
CdSL also completed a two-game sweep of the UCBL finals with a 71-65 win over the Centro Escolar University Scorpions at the Olivarez Sports Center in Parañaque City last Nov. 27.
Formento finished with 23 points spiked by five triples while Callano added 19 points, including a critical lay-up off a counter steal against CEU counterpart Judel Fuentes in the closing seconds to pull the rug from under the Scorpions.
Earlier last year, CdSL defeated De Ocampo Memorial College, 98-82, in the deciding Game 3 and made history by becoming the first-ever NCRUCLAA champion.
Gabriel, who was voted as MVP, scored 10 of his game-high 34 points in the third quarter to lead the Griffins to a 2-1 series win over the Cobras.
CdSL also defeated De Ocampo, 89-78, to forge a deciding third game.