The long, hazy, lazy days of summer are here gents, almost to the tune of the divine and soothing voice of Nat King Cole and only the deadbeats can't help but notice. Yes Virginia, summertime is here and a time to smell and enjoy nature's full bloom of daffodils in their golden glow. It's time for picnics and barbecue, trips to the beach and bask in the sunshine and one of my life's sought after pleasures, reclining in a comfy hammock under the shade with a glass of pina colada or mai tai close by and a gentle breeze and soft music filling the air! But before I would proceed any further, I would like to dedicate this column to the memory of Raul Luna's beloved wife, Maria Teresa, who, not too long ago passed away. For one thing, I wouldn't be a part of the PBL if not for this wonderful couple and to say the least, I'm eternally indebted to them for my involvement with the league. Before I forget, I would also like to acknowledge our webmaster par excellence, Ronald Clemente aka "Niner Ronnie" who made it possible to expose our league far and beyond. Despite his busy schedule serving our community as one of South San Francisco Police Department's finest, he still finds time to devote his interest in the league. Hats off to you, Ronnie!

Speaking of playoffs, the X Trippers edged Dick's Dickies, 69-67 in the first semi-final match. Jose Reyes poured in 31 points to lead the Trippers and Dindo Mangawang contributed 16. For the Dickies who led most of the game only to falter in the end with costly turnovers and poor shooting, my "aro" Oscar Latoria scored 22 while Art Nonoy and Jason Alfonso each finished with 12 points apiece. Long range shooter Mully Corpus had an off game, much to the chagrin of team captain and coach Dick Abraham. In the other semi, commissioner Abet's Gunslingers beat Jojo's Milkmen, 77-70 to reach the finals. Sweet shooting Geovanni Cruz had a wonderful all-around game to pace the Gunslingers with 29, and Manny Muli chipped in 14. For the Milkmen, Elmer Pamintuan scored 22, but the league's best point guard, Bong, was missing in action. At the start of the playoffs, I thought that this team was very capable of winning it all. In the finals, the powerful combination of Joe Reyes and Dindo Mangawang of the X Trippers was too much to overcome for the hapless and undermanned Gunslingers who were missing some of their key players. Worse, they even lost their only big man Manny Muli in a senseless scuffle with Rodel Tavu, with both players ejected from the game. Not to take away the MVP contribution of Joe Reyes and overall teamwork of the X Trippers, the loss of a key player was very costly. So, congratulations to Ramon "Lech go" Berania and his X Trippers for winning this past season's championship.

We can easily forget the past season but it's important that we learn a few lessons here. In the heat of the battle and because of our natural competitiveness, sometimes we lose our focus and get entangled in unnecessary arguments and fights resulting to costly technical fouls or even worse, ejection from the game. Well, it's not always a good idea to be involved in these predicaments because the team comes first before our very own personal battles. And lastly, if a fight occurs on the floor, we should restrain ourselves from joining the action and should remain on the bench. That should be the case for all people watching from the stands too. Leave the action to the referees to sort the problem and unless your only motive is to be a peacemaker, there's no excuse to get involved any further. So, all you hotheaded guys be forewarned! The league and Big Brother are watching so there's no reason to be misbehavin'.

Becoming a regular staple on our championship weekend is the All-Star Invitational which is more entertaining and a better draw than our regular playoff games. That's because the action is fast-paced and the quality of play is by far a lot better. In the past season, the defending champions Pampanga Kabalens missed a lot of their key players so it was not surprising to see them ousted in the prelims. Joining for the first time was the Benjamin Franklin All-Star selection and although the team fared well in the competition, I thought that the team just had too many players. In the championship game, Rei Tolentino's PBL All-Star selection beat Ed Medina's Bay Area All-Stars in a close, well-played and exciting game. So, kudos to the organizers. and let's have these games on a regular basis.

I can hear Ol' Blue Eyes' "Summer Wind" in the background and inasmuch as I'm motivated to add a few more paragraphs, I think I'll stop here. But, before I'll go, here are my picks for last season's All-PBL Selection: Jose Reyes, Geovanni Cruz, Oscar Latoria, Dindo Mangawang and Amante Bueno. Any gripes? Well, enjoy the first days of summer and don't let that summer heat go to your head while playing!