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By Dugout Philippines

As 2014 nears its end, let's take a look back at what happened during the year in sports. First, let's take a look at the top stories in basketball this year.

1. When Gilas conquered the world

The time finally came! After 36 long years, the Philippines returns to the FIBA World Cup stage. Gilas Pilipinas, despite losing all but one of its group stage matches, made an impression. With most of its losses just by four points or less, the PBA superstar-laden squad proved that despite almost four decades of absence, the Philippines can still compete in the global stage. A victory on the final day of the eliminations against Senegal proved to be like a championship for the Filipinos.

2. When Purefoods completed a grand slam

The last time a season sweep happened in the PBA, it was Coach Tim Cone who orchestrated it. After 18 years, Coach Tim did it again, this time with another team. The Purefoods Star Hotshots, formerly the San Mig Coffee Mixers, completed the league's fifth grand slam by dominating the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters twice and the Talk 'n Text Tropang Texters in the three conference finals. It was sweeter the second time around for Cone, who not just got the distinction of being the winningest coach in the PBA championship-wise but also an unprecedented feat of becoming a two-time grand slam winner.

3. When Kobe Paras happened

All it took were a bunch of eye-popping dunks, and Kobe was on the spotlight... not that Kobe, though. Another guy named Kobe made waves not just locally but internationally too. Kobe Paras, the younger son of PBA legend Benjie, showed hops in the FIBA U-18 3x3 slam dunk contest, winning the said plum. That earned him a shot at international glory. He decided to take his talents to Hollywood and join the Cathedral High School Phantoms. Eventually, during his stay at Cathedral, UCLA took notice of the 6'6" wingman and offered him an athletic scholarship, which he accepted being the biggest name among the colleges who pursued Paras. This year, however, Paras proved that he's more than just a dunker by showing his scoring prowess (he recently dropped a 30) and his other abilities as seen on Youtube. The question: how will Kobe P. end up in the future?

4. When UP won a UAAP game

You may think I'm overrating UP's win over Adamson in the UAAP in the first round, but how the Iskos and Iskas reacted to it was priceless. It's just one win, but they turned it out to be some sort of a championship by putting up a bonfire at the Sunken Garden as if the UP Fair started earlier than scheduled. It's just one win, but it's a sign of things to come for the Fighting Maroons. We still wonder how UP will celebrate a UAAP basketball title?

5. When there were no Ateneo and La Salle in the UAAP Finals

Since the Final Four format was instituted in 1994, either La Salle or Ateneo has made the UAAP Finals, with both teams squaring off thrice. The Blue Eagles were 6-3 in the Finals, while the Green Archers were 7-7. This year, however, the tides have changed. For the first time in the Final Four Era, neither of the two squads got past the semifinals despite being favorites to win it all. All it took were last second dramas to dictate their fate. Alfred Aroga stomped his defensive dominance as he blocked Kiefer Ravena's potential equalizer at the buzzer that would have forced overtime, while Mac Belo broke the La Sallians' hearts by burying a corner three at the buzzer of their own Final Four clash. All of a sudden, it's NU vs. FEU in the finals! The result of that series was too worthwhile to remember.

6. When NU ended a 60-year UAAP title drought

Many events happened for NU and its students and alumni since 1954, but winning a UAAP men's basketball title was not one of them. Not until October 15! The Bulldogs survived five win-or-go-home matches to capture the UAAP pennant for the first time in the modern age. Despite a lack of star power with the departure of Ray-Ray Parks and Emmanuel Mbe, NU proved that it has what it takes to become a championship contender. From limiting Adamson to 25 points all game long to upsetting Ateneo and FEU in the playoffs, NU has officially erased the "underdog" tag in its name.