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TIP proud to be only "non-showbiz" team in PCCL Elite Eight says De Vera

By Ivan Saldajeno

TANAUAN--In the Philippine collegiate basketball scene highlighted by the domination of NCAA, UAAP, and CESAFI teams, many fans have lost track on what are now relegated as "mid-major" leagues.

But for TIP coach Potit De Vera, being part of the PCCL Elite Eight this year is a huge achievement especially that his team is the only mid-major squad that made the national collegiate playoffs.

"Kami lang yung hindi showbiz team [sa Elite Eight], but we prefer it that way. It's a chip over our shoulders, and it's helping our cause," De Vera said after the Engineers punched a ticket to the PCCL playoffs with a blowout win over the LNU Dukes.

[Related Story: TIP continues hot PCCL run with rout of LNU]

For him, however, having TIP, a member of the ISAA, invited to the national tournament is already huge enough.

"It's a blessing for us to be invited, and for every blessing the Lord gives us, we just try to keep it pretty well," De Vera continued.

The Engineers rocked the PCCL this year when they swept their Metro Manila regional group, which had NCAA semifinalists Mapua Cardinals and NAASCU runners-up St. Clare Saints, en route to the Luzon qualifier match against the Dukes, which assured that a non-member of the so-called "Big 3" college leagues will enter the Elite Eight.

In fact, the Engineers took advantage of getting a shot at the playoffs as they played unselfish basketball highlighted by having 13 scorers and 30 assists, something that surprised De Vera.

"I didn't know [we had 30 assists], but it's a testimony to our team and how we play for each other and how we play together," the coach answered when asked about the 30-dime performance.

Up next for TIP will be CESAFI runner-up UV, which entered the playoffs as the Vis-Min regional champion, and De Vera said he was lucky his team pulled away for good in the second half, giving some of his key players more time to rest.

"We will take it one game at a time, but first things first, we need to rest. Actually, it did us good na medyo lopsided na noong third quarter, so we had a chance to rest the major minutes guys and try to put in yung mga lesser-used guys. Mas makakarecover sila nang husto," the mentor continued.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno