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Saturday, April 20, 2019
CAGAYAN DE ORO

Ex-Oro cage legend burn hoops in US tilt

USA. The 42-Above Champions in the Pinoy League in Houston, Texas, (L-R) Coach Van Jo Cancepcion, Niel Balolong, Mike Narido, Dave Del Rosario, Lito Tagsip, Most Valuable Player Enan Rodriguez, Baby James Abucejo, Paul Gaviola, Rhoel Zoleta, Bien Amistoso, David Allan Baliteri, and team manager Junior Villanueva. Not in photo is Alvin Jadap. (Contributed Photo)

FORMER Cagayan de Oro City basketball legend ‘Baby James’ Abucejo still remains a hotshot on hard court despite almost hitting the age of 50.

The 48-year-old Abucejo, who is now based in Houston, Texas since 2017, led the Junior Limo Pearland team to a back-to-back title run in the Fall 2019-42 and Above Pinoy League at the Filhoops Emora gym in Houston Texas.

Abucejo scored 10 points in their 56-40 championship win over the Old School, the same team they beat for the title last year.

Pearland moved to the championship round after besting Pokerista, 54-30 in the semis with Abucejo knocking in 14, most of them from the rainbow sphere.

Six teams joined this year’s 42-Above category, including Willow River, Team Baba, and Black Panther.

Other members of the Pearland team were Noel Balolong, Mike Narido, Dave Del Rosario, Lito Tagsip, Enan Rodriguez, Paul Gaviola, Rhoel Zoleta, Bien Amistoso, Alvin Jadap and David Allan Baliteri, alongside coach Banjo Concepcion and team manager Junior Villanueva.

This is the third title won by Abucejo in in the US. He was a member of the team led by former Cebuano Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) great Al Solis that won an inter-state tournament back in 2017.

Abucejo played for Southwestern University (SWU) in Cebu with former PBA players Braulio Lim and Silver Villafuerte in the early 90’s. However, after playing for one year with SWU coach Bobby ‘Knight’ Inoferio, Abucejo, Lim and Villafuerte went on to try their luck in Manila.

Lim played for University of the East while Abucejo and Villafuerte landed at Philippine Christian College.

Lim had brilliant college careers with their respective schools when luck smiled at him.

Lim was drafted in the second round by Mobiline to become a PBA player.

Lim now coaches Rizal in the MPBL.

Villafuerte entered the PBA in 1995 when he was drafted by San Miguel Beer in the third round. He is now based in the USA.

Abucejo’s basketball career in Manila was not as lucky as Lim and Villafuerte as he had to stop playing for one year after suffering an elbow injury while playing for the Ermita, Manila- based PCC Dolphins now called as Philippine Christian University.

He returned to Cagayan de Oro to recuperate before enrolling and playing loops again with the Cagayan de Oro College Scorpions where he finished his Geodetic Engineering course.

After college he continued playing commercial basketball and then put up his Bigtime MJ Metal Trading business. During this time, he was also busy in helping scouts for the recruitment and training of potential players.

Abucejo is married to registered nurse Irish Sanchez Abucejo whom he has two daughters in 11-year-old Sofia and 3-year-old Scye Halona. They migrated to the US in 2017.

(l.biantan@gmail.com)


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