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US NCAA: 3 Fil-Ams compete in March Madness

March 16, 2012 11:25am
A trio of Filipino-American sophomores will be looking to help their teams go the distance in the United States' famed March Madness tournament this month, the annual single elimination contest to crown the best collegiate squad in America.
 
As first noted by the Facebook page United Philippine Basketball, Stephen "Scuba"
Holt of Saint Mary's College, Jason Brickman of Long Island University Brooklyn, and
Matthew Wright of Saint Bonaventure University are three rotation-level players with
Filipino blood coursing through their veins. And in a tournament characterized by heroic
plays and stunning upsets, it's not impossible to see any of the three go the distance.
 
From there, who knows? Perhaps in the future we could see them among the ranks of our
National Team, or even better, wearing the uniform of an NBA squad.
 
Brickman hopes to see the Blackbirds fly
 
This isn't Jason Brickman's first dance.
 
Of the three Fil-Ams to take part in the 'madness,' it's Brickman who's no stranger
to playing on a big stage, having come off the bench last year when his Long Island
University Brooklyn Blackbirds fell 102-87 to the University of North Carolina Tarheels.
 
In that game, Brickman logged 24 minutes and produced just three points on 1 of 8
shooting, but the 5'10" Texan's value lies in his ability to set the table for his teammates,
dishing out eight of his squad's 19 assists. This year, Brickman's the starter, and his LIU
Blackbirds were the toast of the Northeast Conference, finishing with a 16-2 (25-8)
record.
 
As a starter, this Barangay Ginebra fan has seen his minutes take a huge leap, going from
22.8 off the bench to 34.3 as the regular floor general. Boasting averages of 9.7 points,
2.6 rebounds, and a whopping 7.3 dimes, Brickman will need to be a steady hand, as his
squad once again gets matched up against a number-one seed, namely the Michigan State
Spartans.
 
Brickman has two hoops-loving brothers, in case Gilas in interested in a sibling act. Older
brother Jordan was ranked 9th best senior in Texas in 2009, and after being recruited by
Arizona, Stanford and Texas A&M, chose the United States Naval Academy. Youngest
brother Justin is with the Tom C. Clark High School Cougars in San Antonio, Texas.
 
Clearly in touch with their Filipino roots, the Brickman brothers participate in various
Asian-American leagues in Texas.
 
Stephen Holt just wants to play
 
St. Mary's Gaels is perhaps best known for producing center Omar Samhan, who was the
import of the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters in the PBA this conference, until an ACL-injury downed him. The 6'4" sophomore Stephen Holt similarly wants to make his mark, but
first he'll have to be cleared to play first.
 
The starting shooting guard of the 18th ranked squad in the U.S. missed his team's last
five games, due to a knee injury that he suffered back in February. Despite missing his
across-the-board contributions of 10.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals over
32.6 minutes, the Gaels were able to claim a seventh seed after topping the West Coast
Conference, 14-2 (27-5).
 
The early prognosis has Holt, whose mother is Filipino, being able to play against tenth-
seeded Purdue later this week, and this trigger-happy team could definitely benefit from
Holt’s all-around game returning to the floor.
 
International experience might be Matthew Wright’s edge
 
Back in 2008, 6'2" Fil-Canadian Matthew Wright was tapped to lend his aggressiveness
to the Philippine Under-18 team. While more focus was given to his countryman Norbert
Torres, a 6'6" big man who eventually joined the De La Salle University Green Archers,
Wright crossed the border to the US, and found a spot on the St. Bonaventure Bonnies.
 
Now a "1" instead of a "2/3," Wright has been a key cog for the Atlantic 10 champions, a
position they managed to hold despite placing third in the standings with a 10-6 (20-11)
conference record.
 
While his 7 points, 2.5 rebounds and team-best 2.7 assists in 27.9 minutes won't wow
anyone, Wright's stint playing bigger, tougher opposition with his countrymen could
count for something in the pressure-packed March tourney. With his school as a 14th
seed, Wright and his teammates open the tournament against three-seed Florida State,
with visions of an upset on their minds. — RSJ, GMA News
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