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MPBL: Manila Stars aiming for better finish in Lakan Cup

All things considered, the Manila Stars had a pretty good campaign in the 2018-2019 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup.  The Stars finished the elimination round with a 20-5 slate and went as far as the Divisional Finals, where they fell to eventual National Champions San Juan Knights in three games.  With their maiden season in the books, Manila is now looking to put on an even better showing in the upcoming MPBL Lakan Cup.  "It was good season for the Manila Stars, lalong-lalo na sa akin, kasi siyempre may Divisional Finals appearance," said Stars playmaker Chris Bitoon. "Makikita mo talaga yung players na gumagaling sa Divisional Finals eh, yung mga nag-iisip." "Sana ngayong dadating na MPBL, makakapag-laro ulit kami sa Divisional Finals, para yung bawat isa sa amin, mag-improve pa," he continued.  Bitoon himself had a pretty good maiden season in the league, averaging just under 15 points, nearly four rebounds, and four assists per game, good for a spot in the All-MPBL First Team.  And while an individual achievement is always nice, Bitoon maintains that it's just a bonus. The main goal remains the same, and that's to go far into the postseason.  "Sa akin, yung pagiging kasama ko sa First Team, bonus na lang ‘yun, talagang ginawa ko lang yung trabaho ko, pero sana ngayon yung expectation is makapag-laro muli kami sa Divisional Finals, ma-feel yung crowd na ganun ka-lakas yung sigawan, sana ma-bless kami ni God na makapag-laro ulit doon." With another Divisional Finals, and even a National Finals stint on their crosshairs, Bitoon says that a 'more organized' Manila Stars squad plans on taking things step by step, and among those steps is adding some depth in their roster.  "Siguro yung Manila Stars ngayon, mas naging-organized, naging organized, nag-recruit din kami ng mga bagong players, mga potential players na alam naman namin na makaka-tulong sa team namin," Bitoon shared. Among those new recruits include former PBA All-Star Carlo Lastimosa, former Mandaluyong standout Gian Abrigo, and former De La Salle Green Archers Jollo Go and Mark Dyke, and former UST Growling Tiger Marvin Lee.  The Stars hope that these additions will more than make up for the loss of forward Riel Cervantes.  "Sana, ngayong darating na season, siyempre step-by-step, makapag-laro kami ng Finals, pero ang nasa isip muna namin ngayon ay bawat game eh, elimination, Divisional Finals, then yung National Finals," Bitoon added.  With so much new blood injected into the Stars' system, Bitoon is confident that he and fellow All-MPBL First Teamer Aris Dioniso will have a lot of help in the coming conference.  "Laging sinasabi ng coach namin na kahit sinong pwedeng ipasok, makaka-contribute eh. Siguro sa amin ngayon, kailangan lang namin na mag-tiwala sa isa’t-isa eh, hindi pwedeng kami lang ni Aris Dionisio, Chris Bitoon. Kailangan lang namin mag-tiwala sa isa’t-isa. Andiyan naman yung mga ex-pro pa namin na maasahan." Right now, Bitoon is relishing the opportunity that the MPBL has given him, and playing for the capital city's home team has given him the perfect avenue to showcase his skills.  "Sobrang saya kasi ultimo mga bata, hanggang sa mga matatanda, mga nanay, talagang naka-support sa amin eh. Pag pumupunta kami sa venue namin sa practice, may mga ‘Idol, idol!’, magpapa-picture sila, kaya sobrang nakaka-proud kasi kahit hindi ka kilala, kahit hindi ka galing sa malaking school, nabibigyan ka ng halaga sa Manila."   The 2019-2020 MPBL Lakan Cup begins on Wednesday, June 12, 4:00 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Catch it LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!   .....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 10th, 2019

MPBL: Manila Stars aiming for better finish in Lakan Cup

All things considered, the Manila Stars had a pretty good campaign in the 2018-2019 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup.  The Stars finished the elimination round with a 20-5 slate and went as far as the Divisional Finals, where they fell to eventual National Champions San Juan Knights in three games.  With their maiden season in the books, Manila is now looking to put on an even better showing in the upcoming MPBL Lakan Cup.  "It was good season for the Manila Stars, lalong-lalo na sa akin, kasi siyempre may Divisional Finals appearance," said Stars playmaker Chris Bitoon. "Makikita mo talaga yung players na gumagaling sa Divisional Finals eh, yung mga nag-iisip." "Sana ngayong dadating na MPBL, makakapag-laro ulit kami sa Divisional Finals, para yung bawat isa sa amin, mag-improve pa," he continued.  Bitoon himself had a pretty good maiden season in the league, averaging just under 15 points, nearly four rebounds, and four assists per game, good for a spot in the All-MPBL First Team.  And while an individual achievement is always nice, Bitoon maintains that it's just a bonus. The main goal remains the same, and that's to go far into the postseason.  "Sa akin, yung pagiging kasama ko sa First Team, bonus na lang ‘yun, talagang ginawa ko lang yung trabaho ko, pero sana ngayon yung expectation is makapag-laro muli kami sa Divisional Finals, ma-feel yung crowd na ganun ka-lakas yung sigawan, sana ma-bless kami ni God na makapag-laro ulit doon." With another Divisional Finals, and even a National Finals stint on their crosshairs, Bitoon says that a 'more organized' Manila Stars squad plans on taking things step by step, and among those steps is adding some depth in their roster.  "Siguro yung Manila Stars ngayon, mas naging-organized, naging organized, nag-recruit din kami ng mga bagong players, mga potential players na alam naman namin na makaka-tulong sa team namin," Bitoon shared. Among those new recruits include former PBA All-Star Carlo Lastimosa, former Mandaluyong standout Gian Abrigo, and former De La Salle Green Archers Jollo Go and Mark Dyke, and former UST Growling Tiger Marvin Lee.  The Stars hope that these additions will more than make up for the loss of forward Riel Cervantes.  "Sana, ngayong darating na season, siyempre step-by-step, makapag-laro kami ng Finals, pero ang nasa isip muna namin ngayon ay bawat game eh, elimination, Divisional Finals, then yung National Finals," Bitoon added.  With so much new blood injected into the Stars' system, Bitoon is confident that he and fellow All-MPBL First Teamer Aris Dioniso will have a lot of help in the coming conference.  "Laging sinasabi ng coach namin na kahit sinong pwedeng ipasok, makaka-contribute eh. Siguro sa amin ngayon, kailangan lang namin na mag-tiwala sa isa’t-isa eh, hindi pwedeng kami lang ni Aris Dionisio, Chris Bitoon. Kailangan lang namin mag-tiwala sa isa’t-isa. Andiyan naman yung mga ex-pro pa namin na maasahan." Right now, Bitoon is relishing the opportunity that the MPBL has given him, and playing for the capital city's home team has given him the perfect avenue to showcase his skills.  "Sobrang saya kasi ultimo mga bata, hanggang sa mga matatanda, mga nanay, talagang naka-support sa amin eh. Pag pumupunta kami sa venue namin sa practice, may mga ‘Idol, idol!’, magpapa-picture sila, kaya sobrang nakaka-proud kasi kahit hindi ka kilala, kahit hindi ka galing sa malaking school, nabibigyan ka ng halaga sa Manila."   The 2019-2020 MPBL Lakan Cup begins on Wednesday, June 12, 4:00 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Catch it LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!   .....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 10th, 2019

UAAP 81 Volleyball: Alam niya na kaya ko - Ateneo s Deanna Wong on being seen as a leader by Jia Morado

Fourth-year setter Deanna Wong was no doubt an instrumental part in Ateneo de Manila University's UAAP Season 81 Women's Volleyball title run.  Wong and the Lady Eagles bested University of Santo Tomas in three matches to regain the women's title that the program last held back in UAAP Season 77. Part of that Season 77 championship team was none other than Jia Morado, who served as a mentor to Wong during her first two years with the Lady Eagles. Now, both Wong and Morado share the distinction of being the primary setters on an Ateneo championship team. [RELATED: Everything was worth the wait for Deanna Wong] Looking forward to next season, Morado has already pegged Wong as the leader of the Lady Eagles, especially with the departure of seniors such as of Bea De Leon, Maddie Madayag, and Kim Gequillana.  “If you can lead them well, man them well, marami pa ring good weapons si Deanna kasi malalakas ‘yung mga batang papasok next year. So all she has to do is be able to lead them," Morado said in an interview with ABS-CBN Sports.  Wong, for her part, sees Morado's endorsement as a challenge to step up and as a sign of confidence in her abilities.  "What I can say is that she’s just challenging me to become a leader more pa, kasi alam niya na kaya ko, so that’s me taking on that challenge," Wong told ABS-CBN Sports. "We’ll just see na lang what happens." Wong, who will be a graduating senior come UAAP Season 82, knows full well what being the leader of a defending champion team entails, and she knows just what she has to work on.  "I think I need to improve on being more responsible pa, ‘cause I think that’s what a leader has to have and also yung pagiging disciplined din," Wong explained, adding that it was responsibility and leadership that helped the Lady Eagles return to the pinnacle of UAAP women's volleyball.  "That’s what we did to be able to get this championship, it’s that characteristic." .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

UAAP Volleyball: Morado sees Wong as Lady Eagles leader in Season 82

Former Ateneo de Manila University playmaker Jia Morado sees next season as Deanna Wong’s litmus test as the Lady Eagles' new leader when they try to defend their recently reclaimed throne. The Lady Eagles completed a Season 81 Finals series comeback over University of Sto. Tomas last Saturday to end a four-year title drought and capture their third crown overall. But Ateneo also saw the departure of middles Maddie Madayag and Finals Most Valuable Player Bea De Leon along with Kim Gequillana. Top hitter Kat Tolentino, who is still eligible to suit up next season, has not yet committed to play in Season 82. With the departure of Ateneo’s veterans, Wong will pilot a relatively young crew next year – almost the same situation that Morado was in during her last run as a Lady Eagle in Season 79 following the exit of three-time MVP Alyssa Valdez the year before.   “Actually, I think I had seasoned players on my last year. A lot of my spikers, nakasama ko na rin for at least a year or two,” said Morado on Monday during her club team Creamline’s photo shoot for the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference at the ABS-CBN Integrated Sports Office.   “But Deanna next year, although nakasama niya rin naman sila this year, hindi sila nabigyan ng time together talaga sa loob ng court so it will be interesting kung paano niya ibi-build ang connection niya with the spikers,” added Morado, who helped the Lady Eagles capture the Season 76 and 77 titles. The Cool Smashers setter said that although Ateneo will miss the services of its reliable veterans, the Lady Eagles and Wong will have the luxury of playing with young and aggressive talents looking to prove themselves in the country’s premier collegiate league.   “Siyempre ‘yung familiarity with her spikers is very important and next year more of rookies ang spikers niya. But the good thing about that you can go really far with young blood lalo na ‘yung mga rookies kasi sila ganado sila,” said Morado. “If you can lead them well, man them well, marami pa ring good weapons si Deanna kasi malalakas ‘yung mga batang papasok next year. So all she has to do is be able to lead them.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

UAAP Season 81 Finals: Yes Ate Ging, tayo naman -- Rondina

Prized hitter Sisi Rondina woke up on Saturday with a message coming from one of her volleyball inspirations. University of Sto. Tomas legend Ging Balse-Pabayo gave the graduating skipper a few words of advice as Rondina prepared for Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball best-of-three Finals.    “Umaga pa lang nag-message na sa akin si Ate Ging sabi nya, ‘Lagyan lang talaga ng puso, effort lahat ng gagawin nyo,’” Rondina said. A member of UST’s Season 69 champion team, Rondina just felt overwhelmed that a Tigresses legend took time to give wish her well.    “Sabi n’ya, proud na proud siya sa amin. Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Yes Ate Ging. Sana makita namin kayo mamaya. Tayo naman,’” continued the Season Most Valuable Player. “Nag-reply siya na, ‘Oo, tayo naman.’” Inspired by words of encouragement from a former Queen Tigress, Rondina played like a woman possessed, wowing the crowd with her explosiveness as UST swept Ateneo de Manila University, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, to draw first blood in their Finals showdown.      The Cebuana-native finished with 23 points with 20 coming off attacks added 12 digs for the Tigresses, who moved a win away from reclaiming the crown it last held in nine years ago in Season 72. Balse-Pabayo witnessed UST’s impressive stand as she was joined by another UST legend in Venus Bernal, the last Tigresses Most Valuable Player award winner (Season 69) before Rondina.   “Ang sarap sa feeling na isa sa mga beterana nagbigay ng tiwala sa amin na kaya namin and naniniwala na makukuha at makukuha namin,” she said. From one queen to another, Rondina stayed true to her word. Now, only one win separates her from fulfilling her promise.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2019

Trump: NoKor& rsquo;s missile test not & lsquo;breach of trust& rsquo;

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Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsMay 11th, 2019

Harden, Durant both covet championship, mantle of best player

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com Houston -- Steve Kerr’s mind is made up. He’s seen enough. The debate is closed and conquered, the election over and the firm conclusion has been reached, at least from where he stands. Kevin Durant “is the best player in the world, the most skilled player in the world” according to Kerr, who may be biased, but he didn’t sound like it. Kerr said this not once, but four times in the last two weeks, just in case someone didn’t get the message. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] It’s hard to see where the Warriors’ coach is going wrong. Durant is evidently on a mission to (a) win his third and perhaps final championship with the Warriors, and (1-a) become universally recognized as the singularly greatest force in the league, a distinction that means so much to him. To paraphrase Durant, y’all know who he is by now. Durant is sitting at the mythical 50-40-90 threshold in the playoffs, the benchmark for shooting accuracy and efficiency from the floor, three-point range and free-throw line. He’s averaging 35 points in the postseason, 39 in the last seven games. He has two near-masterpieces, the 50-point closeout of the Clippers in the first round and 46 on the Rockets in Game 3 of this series. He’s making contested jumpers from all over the floor and from all angles. There’s really no defense for him. But when this series is over, James Harden hopes to change the conversation. If he does, that means (a) the Rockets will pull off a stunning comeback from being down two games, and (b) Harden out-dueled Durant in the process. Is either possible? Well, Harden might be the only player qualified to do so, even with a left eye that still looks like the Japanese flag. He managed to minimize if not eliminate that poked eye by chopping down the Warriors and pulling the Rockets within 2-1 of the series. “I was just being aggressive,” he said. “I was in attack mode.” He’s attacking something else. Harden, too, wants exactly the same as his friend and former Oklahoma City teammate. A championship would be his first, so obviously that’s paramount. The mantle of “game’s greatest player” is also desired because Harden believes the last four years bear that out. In that span, he won the MVP award and finished runner-up twice, better than anyone. Of course, the missing prize is the championship, which is the final and most authentic validation, and this season at least he must go through Durant to achieve that. Harden’s postseason hasn’t been as stellar as Durant’s, although perhaps Game 3 marked a shift. Harden scored 41 points and sent the Warriors home on a step-back three-pointer in the final seconds of overtime. He and the Rockets are bringing a fresh sense of confidence and also have Game 4 in their house. Sending this series all square back to Oakland wouldn’t be beyond his or their abilities. “In `Harden World,’ that was good, but he can play better,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni. “That’s James. That’s what he does.” There’s a growing sense among the Warriors, and with some justification, that Harden’s bloody eye is no longer an issue. Harden’s vision was pure when it counted two nights ago and every day brings him a step closer to normalcy, if he isn’t already there. “I think he’s good to go,” said D’Antoni. The other concern for Golden State: Harden’s beginning to figure out the rotations and the Warriors’ defensive scheme. They know Harden adapts quickly to defenders and their tendencies because, at this point, he’s seen it all. Harden is a tough cover because of his shooting range and unwillingness to lose confidence after a string of misses, and his craftiness off the dribble while attacking the rim. “He had 41 points and it was a good chess game,” said Andre Iguodala. “He made some really tough shots. Some shots, where you pat him on the butt, and you say ‘helluva shot’. I felt like it was a little bit of cat and mouse. A guy like that -- you can’t stop him one on one. The defense did a good job of helping off and stopping him. We just have to try to make it hard as possible for him.” The nightmare game for the Warriors is Harden hitting enough early baskets and forcing them to double, then finding teammates for open looks that they make, such as Eric Gordon. In that scenario, points would come in an avalanche and place stress on the defense and possibly get key players into foul trouble, most notably Draymond Green and a suddenly-foul-prone Steph Curry. There’s also an intriguing subplot in the works: The Harden-Durant can-you-top-this drama. With Curry and Chris Paul both performing below their standards in this series, the series seems fixated on Harden and Durant and  what they’re capable of doing to the other team and, by extension, against each other. There’s a genuine and hefty amount of respect between the two, who are friends away from the floor as well. Both left OKC and have since generated millions in endorsement money and find themselves near or at the top of the superstar pecking order. Durant has what Harden doesn’t, a championship. But perhaps Harden has what Durant craves, a team to call his own. That would be the only reason Durant leaves the Warriors in free agency this summer, because it’s difficult to imagine him signing with a team that offers a better chance to win championships or make more in salary than the one he’s already on. Durant earned more points with Harden a few days ago when he defended the Rockets guard, saying Harden doesn’t “cheat the rules” when he tries to draw fouls and manipulate the referees. Durant added: “He can do everything. If you’re not focused, he can drive past you, hit you with the shoulder because he’s strong, and finish with either hand. He can shoot floaters now. Obviously the step-back 3-pointer is one of his staples, but I never believed he was just a free throw guy. He can score in a variety of ways.” Harden must prove that in this series. Last season in the Western Conference finals, he turned to vapor as that series stretched seven games. He made just 24 percent from deep and, after Paul suffered a hamstring pull in Game Five, couldn’t handle the load. In the elimination game, he missed 11-of-13 from deep. Durant, meanwhile, was the star and weeks later would clinch another title and Finals MVP award, outplaying LeBron James in the process. So Kerr’s contention about Durant has much weight and credibility. Through three games of this second-round series, there’s been no reason to question the coach’s claim. Only one person can flip that perception and create doubt. James Harden, therefore, has a tough job ahead. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

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