by Lt. Col. Julian Malonso, P.A. (RES) Former President Phil. Olympic
The NCAA was founded in 1924 upon the initiative of Dr. Regino R. Ylanan. He was the head of the physical education of the University of the Philippines, when it was still located on the areas of Taft Avenue, Padre Faura, Florida (Now Orosa) and Isaac Peral (now United Nations) streets in Ermita.
The original members were UP, UST, UM, Ateneo, La Salle, and NU, Institute of Account (forerunner of FEU).
UP was represented by Dr. Regino R. Ylanan and Professor Candido Bartolome; UST by Very Rev. Fr. Silvestre Sancho O.P.; UM by Blas Reyes; Ateneo by Fr. Hurley and Father McCullough; San Beda by Fr. Bernardo Lopez, OSB; Institute of Accounts(now FEU) by Narchiso Mabanta; NU by Rafael Garcia and La Salle by Bro. C. John and Albert Morrow. JRC, Mapua and Letran joined later. Jose Rizal was represented by Mr. Hernandez and Jose Warren, Mapua by Ignacio Sevilla and Letran by Fr. Antonio Varona, O.P.
NU dropped in 1929. UP, UST and NU formed the Big Three and later on, FEU joined these schools to form the UAAP. Fr. Sancho of the UST said that they did not like to play with kids.
In 1936 Ateneo, La Salle, San Beda, Letran, Mapua and Jose Rizal finally settled down. San Sebastian was admitted when Ateneo and La Salle transferred to the UAAP. Trinity College, Perpetual Help and Philippine Christian College joined later. The first games were played in the UP campus in Ermita and then in the Nozaleda field (now Agripina Circle) then to the 31 st infantry Quonset Gym with a 5,000 capacity on Victoria corner Gen. Luna, Intramuros (Now Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila). In 1936 when the Rizal Memorial Stadium was finished, the NCAA games were transferred to RMS.
In 1952 when the Ateneo gym at Loyola was built some NCAA games were played in the new gym. However, because of the eleven-point advantage of the home team, Ateneo games were played in the RMS.
The first formal NCAA Championship in 1947 was won by La Salle. Chito Calvo, the “Father of Philippine Basketball” coached the team. Usually a coach is given only a five percent factor in winning a game. La Salle”™s advantage was their veteran coach Chito Calvo. Jose Rizal won the 1948-49 NCAA Championship coached by Mateo V. Adao. During the first round he had difficulties with his veteran Olympian player Edgardo Fulgencio and alternate Luis Gavieres so he benched them. When they cooperated the second round, the won the championship.
In 1949-1950 season the unlucky Mapua five coached by Far Eastern Games Johnny Schobohm won the championship.
In 1950-51 season the Letran Murder Incorporated team led by foxy Lauro Mumar won the Championship after a controversial tenth straight games marred by suspicions that the star players threw away the game against San Beda. It also revived the rivalry of Angel de Leon and Fely Fajardo. Angel de Leon replaced Fely Fajardo as coach of Letran after Fely returned from London Olympics. Fely Fajardo was hired by San Beda on the recommendation of its outgoing coach, Arturo Rius. During the championship game Letran showed its strength and won the 1950-51 championship. Then came the three-legged Zamora trophy rivalry between Ateneo and San Beda. In 1951 -52 and 1952-53 seasons, San Beda won the championships. Ateneo won the 1953-54 and 1954-55 seasons. In the deciding game in the 1959-1960 season San Beda won the three-legged Zamora trophy. Ateneo then was composed of the famous triangular defense of Mario Ballesteros, Tiny Lateral and Frank Rabat who tried to stop the “Great Difference” of San Beda, Caloy Loyzaga. Ateneo for got Willie Sotero and concentrated on Caloy and San Beda won the Zamora trophy. San Beda was coached by Arturo “Last Three Seconds Shooter” Rius. The first two championship games of San Beda were coached by Fely Fajardo who later transferred to UST. Many Ateneo players were recruited from the summer league. The Pacheco brothers formed their own team. Antonio, Jose, Francisco, Angel coached by their father. The eldest Emilio fondly called Lolo did not plan basketball instead soccer. Farmacia Oriental owned by the technicals won the senior champrionship with Bobby Jones, Skiles, and Peter Schobohm.
The Ateneo de Manila had branches in Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Zamboanga. Some of their players came from their branches like Lightning Fernando and “Dick” Andres Francisco from Zamboanga. Francisco Rabat the rebound Baron from Davao, a member of the 1954 World Basketball team of the Philippines that landed third. Alfonso “Boy” Marquez is also a product of the Ateneo de Zamboanga but played for the University of Visayas. It disappointed the late Rev. Father Edgar Martin, S.J. who became the moderator of the Ateneo de Manila, NCAA president and secretary of the BAP. Loreto Carbonell, Jose Antonio Bangoy from the Ateneo de Davao did not join Ateneo de Manila. Carbonell was sent to San Beda with Jose Bangoy who helped San Beda win the Zamora trophy.
In 1960 when the NCAA games were transferred to the Araneta Coliseum, a new system was introduced in the championship round. If a third team has a better record than the first round champion and the second round champion, the third team plays for the championship in an elimination round, San Beda won the first round and Jose Rizal soon the second round. Letran had a better record than San Beda and Jose Rizal. Letran Beat San Beda and Jose Rizal win the 1960-61 NCAA championship. Basilio Go of Letran making the winning goal of two points.
In 1961 the NCAA was racked with protests because of ineligible players. The Boards of Control of the NCAA was elevated to the heads of the schools. For two years the NCAA games were suspended instead a conference league was organized playing home and away games in their respective home courts.
After two years of suspension of the formal NCAA games; the games were resumed when trouble erupted again, Ateneo transferred to the UAAP followed by De la Salle, where Ateneo and La Salle revived their rivalry.
Trinity, San Sebastian, Perpetual Help were admitted under provision. Trinity was not able to comply with the requirements and was replaced by Philippine Christian College that won the last NCAA championship for the first time.
During the Japanese occupation a league was formed composed of the alumni of Ateneo, San Beda, Letran initiated by Dr. Mariano Alimurung of Letran. The games were played in the Rizal Memorial Tennis Stadium (now coliseum).
San Beda won the first championship managed by Dy Buncio. Some players were even quartered in the residence of DY Buncio in Mandaluyong. It was led by Arturo Rius with Freddie Gervoulakous, Freddie Young, Juanito Buenaflor, Leocedio Tanquentic coached by Augueto Bautista, Sr.
Letran won the first round championship coached by Jacinto Ciria Cruz but collapsed in second round due to the divided team of Filipinos and mestizos that is always encountered by Letran. The Filipinos were Fely Fajardo, Gabby Fajardo, Crispin Aljavea, Oscar Gamban, Feliciano Manlala and the mestizos led by Angel and Jose de Leon, Carlos Canillas, Clemencio Martinez, Edmundo Kaimo, Jose Pacheco and German Monzon.
The games were closely contested that a free for all. Marred by the Ateneo-Letran game, Francisco Nepomuceno hitting the face of Jose Nable and Pepe Esteva hitting Jose de Leon who turned around in front of the box of the PHAF President George B. Vargas.
The Japanese military aids de camp of Mr. Vargas had to pull his saber to stop the fight. Those involved were Bobby Jones who was chased to the bleachers by Hilarion Vestil followed by Julian Malonso. Cesar Boldulza of Letran, who was tagged as a Japanese spy started the fight, who was on the bench and sudden dashed inside the court. The other members of the Ateneo were Simon La O, Enriquez Rosello coach of the Ateneo was Amodor Oborbo a 1936 Berlin Olympian.
The league was called all alumna athletic Association. (AAAA). Interest was lost in the second year and the association died a natural death because of the hardship during the Japanese occupation.
The teams had their uniforms and they were using local made shoes, the soles are made of car tires and the top covered by canvas that were sold at the Escolta. The trade mark was Bata. Chito Calvo coach of the 1936 5 th place team in the Berlin Olympic was doing business.
Charles Borck was not fielded by San Beda because he was no longer as good during his days in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He felt slighted because Juanito Bunaflor, who was at his best then looked down upon Charlie.
Letran won the AAAA soccer championship with Carlos Canillas as Captain, Fuestino Lim, Delfin Escota “Bomber” de Guzman, Clemencio Martinez, and Pacheco brothers Jose, Francisco. Moderator was Fr. Francisco Sodaba, O.P. a former in-charge of the famous choir of Sto. Domingo (Tiples de Sto. Domingo) who sang during the La Naval festivities in October.