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2016 in Basketball: A year-end report

THE year 2016 is another banner season for Philippine basketball.

The country hosted another major international cagefest, while an old rivalry was revived. Also, a historic finals win happened.

Here are the important basketball events for 2016.

An Ateneo-La Salle finals

While La Salle was expected to clinch the first seat to the UAAP Finals with a strong lineup featuring graduating captain Jeron Teng, transfer player Ben Mbala, and rookie Aljun Melecio, only a few thought Ateneo would be the other finalist.

But thanks to an impressive second round that included the Green Archers' one and only loss and the Blue Eagles quickly gelling under Coach Tab Baldwin, they would force a finals showdown with their arch rivals.

La Salle would go on to win the title with Teng getting the Finals MVP honors, but the festive atmosphere of a jampacked Mall of Asia Arena and Smart Araneta Coliseum would make you love the rivalry that dated back to their NCAA days and would spill to other sports, particularly women's volleyball, more especially that we waited eight years for this to happen again.

Gilas vs. the Rest of the World

Speaking of the MOA Arena, the Pasay stadium became home to one of the three FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, giving Gilas a shot to make a return to the Olympics.

The Philippine team would fall short, bowing to eventual champion France and New Zealand, but the mere fact that Gilas would keep the game close, even leading to both teams at some points of their games, is enough to say that the Philippines can compete globally again.

Adamson soars

Adamson surprised the UAAP juniors basketball field, going 7-0 after the first round.

In a development only a few saw coming, Coach Goldwyn Monteverde made the Baby Falcons a force to reckon with, even beating perennial powerhouses NSNU Bullpups and Ateneo Blue Eaglets.

Credit that to a busy off-season which included a championship stint in the Passerelle tournament last October.

With that, Monteverde was rewarded with the opportunity to coach the national youth team, also known as Batang Gilas.

A later feature will dig further into Adamson's surprisingly hot streak.

The trade that shocked the PBA world

Everyone thought James Yap and Paul Lee are "untradable".

Until Oct. 13 came.

In what would be the biggest one-on-one swap in recent PBA memory, Yap found himself in a Rain Or Shine jersey, while Lee ended up with Star.

It seemed like both teams got the better in the trade as they are in a good chance of landing a quarterfinal spot in the Philippine Cup.

An epic comeback

Alaska, up 3-0 in the PBA Philippine Cup finals, was four minutes away from the title in Game 4 of the series.

San Miguel took over from there.

SMB would become the first club in all of basketball to rally from 0-3 down to clinch a playoff series, and the finals series at that.

More on this in a spin-off to this article coming soon.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno