Advertisements


Alyssa Valdez reflects on her career before Taiwan stint

MANILA, Philippines — In a few weeks’ time, Alyssa Valdez will be a rookie — for a third time.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarSep 14th, 2017

HEADS UP: 10 sporting events to watch out for in 2018

2017 has come and gone, and it delivered some exciting sporting moments that has every sports fan clamoring for more. Worry not, though, as 2018 looks primed to satisfy even the most die-hard Pinoy sports aficionado with its bevy of local and international sporting events. Let's welcome the upcoming year with 10 of the most exciting sporting events to watch out for this 2018.   NCAA 93 & UAAP 80 VOLLEYBALL The cagers are out, and the spikers are in. Volleyball season begins this January 4 with NCAA season 93, followed by the 81st season of the UAAP this February. NCAA volleybelles are once again ready to take center court, and the defending women's champion Arellano University Lady Chiefs, led by heavy hitters Jovie Prado and Regine Arocha are banking on their undisputed team play to propel them to another title. Playing inspired volleyball throughout the season, the Lady Chiefs stunned the thrice-to-beat San Sebastian Lady Stags in the Finals last year, ultimately ending Grethcel Soltones' collegiate career with a dud. Rising stars like San Beda's Ces Racraquin, JRU's Karen Montojo also make the upcoming NCAA volleyball season worth waiting for. UAAP volleyball begins a month later the NCAA tournament, but expect the field to be even more tumultuous. With no clear-cut number 2 team to challenge the two-time defending champions DLSU Lady Spikers, it will be a toss-up against basically the other seven schools to step up. Dangerous squads include the much-improved Adamson Lady Falcons, last year's pleasant surprise UST, the dynastic Ateneo Lady Eagles, and the intact NU Lady Bulldogs and FEU Lady Tamaraws. NBA ALL-STAR GAME & 2018 NBA FINALS The annual showcase of the NBA's brightest stars just got a major revamp. That's right, the league has done away with the traditional East-West teams, and will now have a playground-type pool selection of players between its two captains when the exhibition tips off in Los Angeles. This raises a lot of interesting questions: Will the captains pick their teammates or will they go with a more controversial pick and select a rival? Will we able to know the order of the draft? Will this actually work in making the game better? While answers to those questions might not be answered until a few months, one thing's for sure, the NBA Finals, the spectacle that actually counts, will be epic. Will we be treated to Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Pt. 4? Or will another squad swoop in to spoil the party? The league has indeed improved, with surprising teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Pistons out in the East already staking claim to playoff spots, and the Wild, Wild, West staying true to its monicker. The Houston Rockets and the perennial powerhouse San Antonio Spurs are still the favorites to pull the rug under the Warriors, while the Oklahoma City Thunder is right behind. Either way, with months of hoops already invested in it, the NBA Finals will surely be another explosive one, as it always is.   HOMECOMING QUEEN Alyssa Valdez spent the majority of 2017 overseas, spreading her wings in Taiwan with volleyball club Attack Line. This 2018 though, The Phenom plans on staying in the Philippines, armed with two year’s worth of international experience to focus on her home club team in the Creamline Cool Smashers.  "Next year, I'm planning to focus sa Creamline. Just this year, I travelled a lot talaga. They supported me throughout, esepcially doon sa National Team stint ko. They sacrificed a lot for me talaga. I think I have to focus sa team ko talaga,” she said last week.Alyssa Valdez just got scarier.   PINOY HOOP DREAMS: REMY MARTIN, KOBE PARAS  Two proudly Pinoy ballers based in the U.S. set out this 2018 to continue shooting for our island nation’s humble hoop dreams. Kobe Paras is still serving residency this 2017-2018 season with the California State University-Northridge Matadors, but his development is sure to be a joy to watch. The 6’6” Pinoy swingman accomplished a tour of duty with Gilas Pilipinas earlier in the year, and many Pinoys saw why we should all be excited about high-flying forward. Remy Martin, a 5’11” point guard dazzled in his first few games with the Arizona State Sun Devils, with his athleticism, explosiveness and feisty defense. The Filipino-American cager is proud of his roots and hopes to represent flag and country with Gilas Pilipinas in the future.   WHO (OR WHAT) IS NEXT FOR MANNY PACQUIAO? The never-ending saga of what’s next for Manny Pacquiao looks like it'll seep into 2018.  Following a rather controversial loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, Pacquiao has been “courting” the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a rematch, even taking to Instagram to ”greet” MMA superstar Conor McGregor before finally admitting that he’s been in talks with the Irish fighter’s camp. Whether he actually retires from boxing for good, or takes on another foe in the squared circle, one thing’s for sure: we’ll all have our eyes on Manny Pacquiao’s next move.   2018 WORLD CUP RUSSIA™ After four years, the best of world football will once again converge, this time in Russia to crown the Kings of the beautiful sport. The stage is set, the groups are finalized, and the 32 squads are promising the best 30-day football extravaganza in the hopes of dethroning defending champions Germany this June. Some group stage clashes to look out for are Germany vs Mexico, England vs Belgium, Portugal vs Spain, to name a few. June couldn’t come soon enough.   CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER'S PBA DEBUT No PBA rookie has probably come into the league as pro-ready as the Filipino-German standout Christian Standhardinger. The 6’9” big man was the consensus top overall pick of the 2017 PBA draft, and was also at the center of the controversial trade that sent Kia Picanto’s rights to the number 1 selection to the already-dominant San Miguel. While the trade did go down, so did former commissioner Chito Narvasa. Standhardinger’s entry to the PBA has come at a cost, but San Miguel is more than ready to wait one more conference to bulk up their already stacked squad. Seeing Standharinger play alongside 6’11” center and reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, versatile forward Arwind Santos, and the Beermen’s bevy of guards in Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross, is definitely a sight to see, just look at how he's tearing it up in the ASEAN Basketball League.    2018 ASIAN GAMES INDONESIA The Philippines’ less than stellar performance at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games was met with widespread flak. Not directed at our athletes however, but aimed at our sports development and governing body for its subpar work in getting our sports representatives ready. While the 2018 Asian Games isn’t so far away, a handful of Pinoy medalists from the SEA Games are going into the continental meet with high hopes. After dominating the SEA Games’ triathlon event, our Filipino endurance athletes, led by gold medalists Kim Mangrobang, and Nikko Huelgas, are once again primed to take home hardware. Marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, and boxers John Marvin, and Eumir Marcial, all gold medalists at Malaysia, are all bright spots that could soon unravel into full-fledged stars come 2018.   GILAS PILIPINAS IN THE FIBA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS It’s official, basketball is coming home to the Philippines this 2023 by way of the FIBA World Cup, but Gilas Pilipinas will first have to try its luck in the 2019 meet. After dealing with Chinese Taipei and Japan this 2017 for a perfect 2-0 slate in the qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas still has to face the Japanese anew, and the powerhouse Australian team early in 2018. A good showing against these squads will help Gilas strengthen its bid to international basketball’s biggest stage before we actually host the event in six years’ time.   UAAP 81 BASKETBALL UAAP season 80 just came to an end, but the next season just got way more interesting. Aside from the title defense of the intact Ateneo Blue Eagles and their ongoing rivalry with La Salle, a certain move by a coach has shaken up the league. With Aldin Ayo reportedly accepting the job as the new head coach of the struggling University of Sto. Tomas, we might just be witnesses to the rebirth of the once proud basketball program under the fiery mentor. That, and the way the DLSU Green Archers can adjust from the departure of Ayo and former two-time MVP Ben Mbala, key cogs to their season 79 championship run. The tight race for the MVP award will also be one to watch, with Mbala gone, it’s up to the local stars to step up to the challenge......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017

UAAP Volleyball: Jho Maraguinot will not return next season

The time has come for Jho Maraguinot.  And the decision is final.  Following the four-set loss against the FEU Lady Tamaraws, which ended a season filled with so many questions, the Alitagtag, Batangas native has called it quits after playing four years with the Lady Eagles, and will forego her fifth year of eligibility. "Yeah, I'm graduating. I have one more, but I think I'm done," the veteran said in their final press conference for the season.  Maraguinot, who averaged 14.5 points and was instrumental in Ateneo's run to the Final Four, ended her UAAP career with 11 markers. She played from Ateneo's tail end of their championship seasons, in Season 77, and led the team alongside Alyssa Valdez in her swan song in Season 78. While talking about their 20-25, 21-25, 25-14, 19-25 loss, she reminisced and said on what she'll miss about the women's collegiate volleyball wars. "Siyempre, sobrang sayang kasi it was do-or-die for us and we died. But, kinulang lang kami, lumaban pa rin naman kami. 'Yung third set namin was grabe, 'yun 'yung mami-miss ko sa UAAP -- 'yung feeling na kita mo na lahat ng teammates mo lumalaban, nagtutulong-tulong. We fought 'til the end." When asked about her experience with the team, Maraguinot calls her stint "life changing", adding that her years with the squad made her a better person.  Maraguinot, who concludes her run with Ateneo alongside coach Tai Bundit, who also announced his exit from the team, says she hopes that the team she had just left can finish the job in the following seasons. She also thanked her Thai mentor, for the countless sacrifices he had made with the team, but understands his plight and only hopes only the best for the coach. "Sobrang laki nang ginawa sa akin ni coach. Kundi dahil sa kanya, di ako ganito maglaro. It's sad na he's gonna leave, pero he has his family back home," Maraguinot mentioned. "Marami na siyang na-sacrifice for us, I guess it's time for him to spend his time back home kasi lumalaki 'yung mga anak niya without him." Now that their season is through, the volleyball acknowledged that is was mission accomplished for the team -- as they only aimed for a spot in the Final Four, a step lower since they had made the Finals in six consecutive seasons, winning twice.  "At the start of the season, goal lang namin was to reach the Final Four. Alam namin 'yung kulang sa team, 'yung capabilities noong start. But then, as the days went, ang laking nang naging improvement. Sobrang laki nang in-improve in just a year. Next year, kaya na nila 'yan. For sure, magi-improve pa 'yan." In talking about her future plans, Maraguinot said that she has not yet decided on playing in the pro leagues, but is looking forward to the national team tryouts, since she was one of the 34 players given an invitation for a crack at making the prestigious roster for the Asian Games. --   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2018

Kiefer Ravena s Christmas Day debut was made even more special with Alyssa Valdez watching

On Christmas Day, PBA rookie and emerging NLEX Road Warriors star Kiefer Ravena put on a show at the Philippine Arena, putting up 20 points to go along with five assists and four steals and a W over Globalport. It was Ravena’s second-straight impressive outing as he helped lead the Road Warriors to a 2-0 start to the 43rd PBA season, and it earned him Player of the Week honors. Being that it was his first Christmas Day game at the Philippine Arena, it was already set to be a special night for the second-overall pick, but it became even more special with a special someone in sitting in the crowd. In attendance was Ravena’s girlfriend, Philippine volleyball star Alyssa Valdez, who was home for the holidays from her stint in Taiwan with club team Attack Line. “It feels nice to have her around. It’s always like that whenever she’s here.” Ravena said. And by home for the holidays, we mean three days. Valdez landed on Christmas Eve and then flew back out to Taiwan on December 26th. While her time with Attack Line is coming to an end and Valdez heading back to Philippine soil to play for the Premier Volleyball League's Creamline club in 2018, Ravena knows that it still won’t be a given that Valdez will be at all his games. “Being a professional, it comes with a lot of responsibilities, and knowing that sometimes, she’s not gonna be around with games, but we both know how to handle it.” “Ito na yung buhay namin eh.” Ravena added. While it surely won’t be the last time that Valdez gets to see Ravena play in the PBA, it was still a special moment for the former Ateneo Blue Eagle to have his special someone around for his best performance in the pros so far. “For now, having her around, it’s always nice to play when she’s watching, when your family and your loved ones are around supporting you.”  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2018

Six standout local volleybelles of 2017

We’ve seen them shine this year whether in the collegiate stage, in the club leagues or even in the international scene. These six Pinay volleyball players took the sport’s limelight in the year that’s about to end.     DESIREE CHENG Desiree Cheng came into De La Salle University during the time bitter rival Ateneo de Manila University got the Lady Spikers’ number. From Seasons 76 to 77, Cheng saw her team fall prey to the might of the Lady Eagles in the UAAP Finals. Then redemption came in Season 78. Unfortunately, the 5-foot-8 spiker was forced to watch from the sidelines with an ACL tear as her crew reclaimed the crown. A year after, Cheng got her biggest break. DLSU lost most of its veteran core after Season 78 and needed another scoring option. Cheng heeded the call. Though Cheng struggled at the start of the eliminations, the hitter slowly got her groove back and delivered when DLSU needed offense in their sixth straight championship showdown against Ateneo. Cheng was the X-factor for the Ramil De Jesus-mentored squad during the series. Her contributions both on offense and floor defense played a huge part in the Lady Spikers’ series sweep of the Lady Eagles for the school’s 10th title. Cheng also helped F2 Logistics claim the Cargo Movers’ breakthrough Philippine Superliga Grand Prix title and a runner-up finish in the All-Filipino Conference.   ALYSSA VALDEZ Although Alyssa Valdez failed to claim a crown in the Premier Volleyball League this year and a continued title drought since 2016, the Phenom’s magic remains. She can still fill up game venues whenever she takes the court and 2017 proved as the former Queen Eagles’ biggest year in terms of her flourishing volleyball career. Valdez brought her talents abroad, landing a stint with 3BB Nakornnont in the Thai League and in the Thai-Denmark Superleague where her team finished third in both tournaments. After her appearance in Thailand, Valdez donned the Creamline jersey and led the Rebisco franchise to a bronze medal finish both in the PVL Reinforced and Open conferences. Valdez also had another tour of duty, playing for the national team in the AVC Asian Women’s Senior Volleyball Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The 24-year old hitter got another international gig when she was tapped by Attack Line to play in the Chinese-Taipei Volleyball League.          Outside volleyball, Valdez has a blooming relationship with basketball star Kiefer Ravena. If she’s not busy with her volleyball and other commitments, Valdez also drew attention as one of the newest member of the so-called PBA players’ WAGS (wives and girlfriends) cheering for Ravena and the NLEX Road Warriors.      DAWN MACANDILI She may be only 5-foot tall but Dawn Macandili stood alongside Asia’s volleyball giants this year. The De La Salle University libero was the catalyst in the Lady Spikers’ back-to-back UAAP championship run. Her pesky floor defense frustrated DLSU’s rivals while giving her teammates a good first ball to operate their lethal offense.  But her biggest showing was when she landed a spot in the national team that competed in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship and in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games. A first-timer donning the national colors, Macandili did not disappoint as she earned the respect and admiration of Japanese coaches and trainers during the Nationals’ training camp in Japan. She performed even better when the PHI hosted the AVC Asian Seniors. Ms. Everywhere gave teams like Asian powerhouse Vietnam, Kazakhstan, South Korea and Thailand a hard time with her floor defense. All her efforts caught the eyes of the AVC tournament officials and she was rewarded with the historic 2nd Best Libero award. She made the final list of in the national team that participated in the SEA Games. Back in the local scene, Macandili helped F2 Logistics to runner-up finish in the PSL All-Filipino Conference and a breakthrough crown in the Grand Prix.    JAJA SANTIAGO Tall, powerful and versatile, Jaja Santiago is a force to reckon with.  At 6-foot-5, Santiago dominated the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference as she led the National University Lady Bulldogs to a perfect championship run. She also bagged the conference’s Most Valuable Player award. Though NU failed to make it in the Final Four of UAAP for the second straight year, Santiago’s effort for the Lady Bulldogs was rewarded with a third straight Best Attacker award to go with the Best Scorer and Best Blocker recognitions. In the PSL, Santiago was a consistent scorer for the Foton Tornadoes in the All-Filipino Conference and the Grand Prix. Under the tutelage of Serbian import Moro Branislav, Santiago became an even more dangerous and versatile player. Aside from her natural position as a middle blocker, she can now wreak havoc on both wings the puts her height advantage to good use. She made it into the national team that competed in the AVC Asian Seniors and SEA Games and was the Nationals’ scoring ace. Santiago received an offer from Thai powerhouse Bangkok Glass but declined the offer to play in her last year with the Lady Bulldogs.             KIM FAJARDO Setter Kim Fajardo left winning legacy when she played her swan song for DLSU. It took her a few months to decide to play her fifth year with the Lady Spikers. Leading a young crew after the departure of the core of the Season 78 championship squad, Fajardo faced a tough challenge in the Taft-based squad’s title-retention bid. But the Batanguena proved her worth as a leader and the skipper rallied the Lady Spikers back into the Finals in a sixth straight collision against bitter rival Ateneo. Fajardo’s composure carried DLSU in a tough Game 1 match and again in the five-set title-clincher to complete the Lady Spikers’ series sweep of the Lady Eagles. She earned a spot in the national team as a starting setter. Fajardo steered F2 Logistics to its first PSL Grand Prix crown bagged the conference’s Best Setter award. She helped the Cargo Movers to a runner-up finish in the All-Filipino Conference.     JOVIELYN PRADO Silent but deadly. Jovielyn Prado may not be the typical vocal leader but her presence inside the court is enough to rally the Arellano University Lady Chiefs to meet their goals. The outside hitter proved her worth to the Lady Chiefs when she led the Legarda-based squad back on the NCAA women’s volleyball throne. A year removed from the title, Arellano U turned to Prado to provide the spark the Lady Chiefs needed to make another shot at the crown. Consistent, efficient and effective, Prado delivered for the Obet Javier-mentored squad. Arellano U advanced in the stepladder semifinals and dethroned College of St. Benilde to set up a date with thrice-to-beat, three-time Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones-led San Sebastian College. Undaunted even with a great series disadvantage, Prado played her best three games of the season to power the Lady Chiefs to an impressive sweep of the Lady Stags. Prado continued her great performance in the PVL Reinforced and Open Conference playing for the Power Smashers. She then bannered the Lady Chiefs to a bronze medal finish in the Collegiate Conference at the expense of UAAP team Adamson University.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2017

WATCH: Alyssa Valdez watches beau Kiefer Ravena s PBA game live for first time

MANILA, Philippines — Alyssa Valdez arrived from Taiwan last night. And she didn't waste the little reprieve from her overseas stint that she had......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 25th, 2017

Santiago gets an offer to play for Bangkok Glass

National University star Jaja Santiago could be heading to a stint in the Thailand Volleyball League, following the footsteps of Alyssa Valdez.   Top club team Bangkok Glass offered the 6-foot-5 versatile hitter a lucrative deal as an import, where she will be playing alongside Thailand stars team captain Pleumjit Thinkaow, Pornpun Guedpard and Sutadta Chuewulim. Somchai Donpraiyod of the Thailand Volleyball Association sent an e-mail to Philippine Superliga (PSL) president Ramon Suzara Thursday afternoon, inquiring about the availability of Santiago to play for Bangkok Glass, which is looking to reclaim the title it lost to Supreme Chonburi. Ashley Frazier and Jordanne Scott of the United States, and Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hoa of Vietnam were Bangkok Glass’ imports last season. The team is offering Santiago a six-month contract worth $4000 per month and an apartment for the duration of her stint. “The offer is USD 4,000 per month (for a) six-month contract (with) apartment. If she agrees, they would want her to travel (here) ASAP,” according to the email. “The problem is they have to apply O-2 (final lineup) by Saturday morning. So whether it’s a yes or a no, can she give us the answer by Saturday?” Santiago is yet to give an answer considering that the Thai League runs from the end of October to late May which collides with the UAAP volleyball season where she will play her final year.    If Santiago accepts the offer, she will become the second Pinay player to see action in the Thai League after Valdez donned the 3BB Nakornnont jersey last season. Valdez is currently in Taiwan to suit up for Attack Line. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 6th, 2017

The five Super Moms behind your favorite athletes

The saying goes “For every great man, there is a great woman.” This holds true in the world of sports, where athletes lean on their moms during their development, through their success, and beyond. Remember when NBA superstar Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors received the MVP award for the 2013-2014 season? He offered his award to his mom for her dedication in bringing him up the right way. In the Philippines, our local athletes also cherish their mom as much as they cherish their wins and accolades. Let’s take a look at five super moms who have been caught by S+A’s cameras supporting their children game in and game out.   1.) Mozzy Ravena   But the plan is to show you that i understand. You are appreciated. . . . . . . Happy mother’s day @ravenamozzy ! A post shared by Kiefer Ravena (@kieferravena15) on May 12, 2018 at 4:39pm PDT Mozzy Ravena is always there for her kids. Mozzy Ravena is probably the most prominent sporting mom S+A has caught. Not only is she a former star for the UST Golden Tigresses, she is also the mom of the Ravena siblings who have made a mark in their respective UAAP sports. Kiefer, Thirdy, and Dani Ravena surely have one heck of a super mom that never tire from cheering them on and lecturing them about what it takes to be an ultimate athlete. When Ateneo plays, everyone is sure that Tita Mozzy will be there for her kids.   2.) Lydia De Vega-Mercado Former Filipina super sprinter and national track team mainstay Lydia De Vega-Mercado made sure to support daughter Stephanie's volleyball dream. The former national sprinter, who was considered the fastest woman in Asia during her heydays in the ‘80s, is also the mother of former star DLSU Lady Spiker and current Petro Gazz Angel Stephanie Mercado. While her daughter did not follow in her footsteps and pursued volleyball instead of athletics, it did not stop her from showing up in her Paneng’s games and celebrated her championships as if she just won in a World Championship for the 100m dash.   3.) Susan Teng     Congrats @jeronalvinteng for winning your second championship and being the finals mvp! Great way to end your college career! 👍 A post shared by jeric teng (@tengjeric) on Dec 7, 2016 at 4:21am PST Susan Teng is all out when it comes to supporting her sons during their collegiate careers, never mind that they went to different schools.  When it comes to former UAAP stars and brothers, Jeron and Jeric Teng, their father Alvin is mentioned more being a former professional basketball player. However, as much as the Teng brothers credit their dad for their love and development in the sport, they also heap as much love to their mother Susan, who has been with them every step of the way, starting to when they were still small basketeers.   4.) Pablita Valdez Pablita Valdez made a big decision in letting her precious Alyssa travel to Manila and embark on a journey towards volleyball stardom. Before her daughter even became a national sensation, Pablita, who was a teacher in Batangas, believed that Alyssa was in store for great things when she started playing volleyball. It is that belief that made her decide to bring the younger Valdez to Manila where she can hone her talent and play in tougher situations and competition. That decision has paid off in spades as the volleyball phenom was born and her star’s ascent was meteoric. Every step of the way, Mama Pablita was there for her and we couldn’t thank her enough for giving us an excellent and much-loved star.   5.) Marilyn Mollena It took them 13 years to be together, but for every spike and score, Marilyn Mollena was on the mind of the Lady Beast, Grethcel Soltones.  Mommy Marilyn was the reason why Grethcel Soltones became the “Lady Beast.” Young Grethcel decided to play volleyball during her formative years as she searched for her mom. She thought that it was the easiest avenue to meet her mother after 13 years if she played and got broadcast on TV. She soon got her wish for on her last year with the San Sebastian Lady Stags when Marilyn surprised the Lady Beast during the individual awarding ceremonies and the whole nation even got to witness the touching reunion on TV.    Catch more super moms and also super dads on ABS-CBN S+A as it continues to champion Filipino athletes and sports development through the coverage of sports events and the airing of inspiring features on teams and athletes. For more information and stories, visit ABS-CBN’s sports hub sports.abs-cbn.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2018

UAAP VOLLEYBALL: Final test for DLSU’s Big 3

It was Game 4 of the UAAP Season 76 Women's Volleyball Finals. A monstrous 21,314-strong crowd filled the Mall of Asia Arena, rocking the three-year-old state-of-the art venue in Pasay City. A do-or-die match for the four-peat-seeking De La Salle University, which a few weeks ago was the favorite to go all the way, make a flawless title run in the women’s volleyball tournament following a 14-0 sweep of the elimination round. They only needed two wins. The Lady Spikers held a thrice-to-beat advantage. They could’ve had won it all the game before. But a young and hungrier Ateneo de Manila University led by a third-year hitter in Alyssa Valdez and piloted by a newly-appointed Thai coach spoiled their run late in the fifth set. Then it all came to one final battle for the crown. Graduating Aby Marano, a feisty and vocal leader, tried to rally her teammates. DLSU was down two sets to none. Rookie Kim Kianna Dy was deployed for the first time in the series as a substitute. With her was another rookie, libero Dawn Macandili, her high school teammate at De La Salle Zobel. On the bench, freshman middle Majoy Baron, a recruit from Baguio City National High School, looked at her teammates as the Lady Eagles reached their 25th point. Tears fell almost simultaneously as the final whistle blew. DLSU lost their three-year throne. It was second stringer Baron, reserve libero Macandili and benchwarmer Dy’s first taste of the championship round. It was bitter. It was painful. They vowed for revenge the following season. But the aftertaste of that defeat lingered up until Season 77.      CHANGE OF FORTUNE   The trio under the guidance of head coach Ramil De Jesus were molded into legit stars in just three years. They finally earned the trust of the mentor, the architect of DLSU’s success the past two decades. Before Season 78, the Lady Spikers joined the Philippine Superliga under the Meralco banner during the off-season. There they became the whipping girls of the tournament, finishing fifth in the six-team field. But it was De Jesus’ way to strengthen the Lady Spikers’ minds and develop their skills. In order to build a strong team, he had to make them feel defeat. The trio of Macandili, Baron and Dy benefited from all of these. They had the weapons this time around against Ateneo in the bitter rivals’ fourth straight championship installment. Macandili’s floor defense was superb, Baron was a solid net defender alongside a graduating Mika Reyes. And Dy, the opposite who only saw action on borrowed playing time in Season 76, made her presence felt in the most important three games of the season. Dy brought down on its knees the mighty Ateneo with an average of 17 points per game in the Finals that went the full distance and earned the Finals Most Valuable Player award. Macandili won the Best Receiver and Best Digger honors while Baron was named Best Blocker. They gave the ‘Big Three of Reyes’, Ara Galang and Cyd Demecillo a fitting farewell gift. As they bid adieu to the trio, it was the time for Macandili, Baron and Dy to fit in to the shoes of DLSU’s new ‘Big Three’. SHINING MOMENT Season 79 became the litmus test for the three. DLSU lost most of its veterans save for graduating setter Kim Fajardo while hitter Desiree Cheng just came back from an ACL tear injury. The trio needed to step up. Most of the pressure was on Macandili’s shoulder. Before the start of the season, the five-foot Tanuan, Batangas defense specialist was named PSL All-Filipino Conference MVP as the DLSU-backed F2 Logistics ruled the tournament on June 2016. However, the Lady Spikers encountered a bumpy road in the UAAP, losing three games in the elims. Two against Ateneo. But it didn’t deter the three volleybelles from doing their part to carry the team back into the Finals against the Lady Eagles. It was the trio’s shining moment. Bringing in the experience, confidence and the signature swag, the Lady Spikers steamrolled past the Ateneo in two games to cap a successful season that saw Baron win the coveted Season MVP plum for her undeniable efficiency the whole tournament long. Baron was the first DLSU player to win the highest individual honor since Marano and Galang shared the award in Season 75. FINAL TEST “Iba ’yung pressure na kailangan mong buhatin ang team kasi last playing year mo na.” This was how Macandili described Season 80. Now playing on her last year, Macandili, like the rest of the ‘Big Three’ wanted to leave a winning legacy. “Siyempre gusto mong maging maganda ang exit mo and para sa team din na ma-achieve ang goal naming,” added Macandili, who a few months back was awarded as Asia’s Second Best libero during the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship. “Nandoon din ang takot na last playing year mo na and hindi mo na mababalikan ‘to. Ayoko namang mag-exit na may regrets.”   The Lady Spikers advanced to the Finals for the tenth straight year and are on the brink of handing De Jesus his third career grand slam and DLSU’s 11th overall crown after taking down Far Eastern University in straight sets in Game 1. “Siguro this is our chance to bring back the three-peat and siyempre lahat ng sacrifices namin, lahat ng pinaghirapan namin, ito na 'yung final test namin,” said Dy. One last push to return the trust and confidence given by de Jesus. “We want to show coach na sa five years naman dito, these are the players that you produced. We want to honor him,” added Dy. Baron, for her part, wanted to fulfill a promise she made before the start of the season. To keep DLSU’s winning tradition. “Ayaw kong masira 'yung record ni coach. Kaya as much as possible, parang sobrang nabilib din ako sa sistema niya at mga seniors ko before, parang ayaw ko na puputulin ko 'yung history na ginagawa nila sa time ko ngayon,” she said. “Personally, 'yun ang motivation ko.” On Wednesday, Macandili, Baron and Dy could be playing their last games as Lady Spikers. The Big Three could be making their final bow. A last chance to join their teammates in forming a circle, kneeling and posing with an arm stretched while the other bent imitating an archer ready to release a flaming final arrow.   Three more DLSU players will be leaving the lair of the Lady Spikers. A trio that gave everything they got for five fruitful and colorful years. People, for sure, will be talking about their stints for the green and white for years. The stories of their ups and downs. The glory that they made together.   But for Baron, Macandili and Dy, it was the honor of playing for La Salle under the great Ramil De Jesus that will be their most cherished college memories.     ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

Newly-appointed head coach Roger Gorayeb looked at his line-up heading into UAAP Season 71. A champion mentor of NCAA powerhouse San Sebastian College - Recoletos, Gorayeb had in his hands a gargantuan task of rebuilding Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program. Just a few months before, Ronald Dulay, the mentor before him landed a trio of blue chip recruits who were fresh from a successful stint in the Palarong Pambansa. Angeline "Dzi" Gervacio, Fille Saint Cainglet and Jamenea "Jem" Ferrer just joined the Katipunan-based squad. Gervacio and Cainglet were products of St. Scholastica's College in Manila while Ferrer was a gem from Hope Christian School under girl’s volleyball guru Jerry Yee. Looking at his 15-woman line-up with the season just a few months ahead, Gorayeb knew he needed to do something drastic. The roster just won’t do. Talking to then athletic director Ricky Palou and team manager Tony Boy Liao, the mentor told the team officials that he intended to cut five players from the list. One could just imagine the shock in their faces. “Nakita ko may line-up pero player-playeran lang yung ganoon bang tipo, 15 ata yun. Sabi ko ‘Magtatanggal ako ng lima then magre-recruit ako,’” he said. The three rookies were in. Middle Bea Pascual, Kara Acevedo and libero Steph Gabriel retained their spots. He needed more. “Sa mga tinira kong players, si Kara Acevedo sabi niya, ‘Coach mayroong player ang ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy) na gumraduate naka-exam na rito pasado.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige papuntahin mo,’” said Gorayeb. It was Gretchen Ho. “Sa akin kasi ang talagang nagyaya sa akin si coach Ron Dulay. Si Kara Acevedo teammate ko and she’s been recruited by Ateneo. So one summer wala akong magawa naki-train lang ako noon tapos nagustuhan nila ang laro ko and then fourth year noong graduate na ako I passed the ACET then niyayaya na nila ako,” she said. “Then nagbago ng coach na si Coach Roger and dun niya ako nakita.”   “Pagdating ko ng March (sa Ateneo) wala na akong way para maka-recruit pa. Ang nangyari yung tatlo accepted na kaagad. Si Gretchen tinanong ko sabi ko, ‘ano ba ang laro mo?’ Sabi niya the usual panggitna, tres,” Gorayeb recalled. “So sinubukan ko pero ang laro niya tres hindi quick. Siya panggitna pero hindi quicker na gusto ko saka yung height niya (maliit). Kaya lang si Gretchen takbo ng takbo, mahilig magtatakbo so sabi ko sige pwede na yan. Wala namang player na during that time. So kinuha ko si Gretchen.” Gorayeb just needed just one more. “Ngayon nagkaroon ng STCAA (Southern Tagalog Calabarzon athletic association) eh kulang pa ako ng isa, wala akong panggitna. Ang gitna ko during that time si Bea lang tapos si Gretchen so wala akong pamalit. So naisipan ko may nakita ako sa STCAA,” he said. He spotted a lanky player from Canossa Academy-Lipa, Aillysse Nacachi. “Sabi ko kay Sir Tony pagtyagaan ko na lang ito kahit hindi naman kalakasan at wala naman na rin akong choice na makapili kasi rush ang pagdating ko dyan. Nakiusap lang sila sa akin na magbuo ako ng team kasi si Ronald nag-resign,” said Gorayeb. Another freshman could’ve had ended up with Ateneo, Hope’s libero Melissa Gohing. But a few obstacles prevented her from fulfilling her promise to join Ferrer in Ateneo. She instead chose to join the ladies in green and white in Taft.    SOMETHING PROMISING December 7, 2008. Far Eastern University Gym. Excitement filled the air. Fans, mostly volleyball purists and some who just came to support their classmates or were just curious to see a new spectacle after the basketball season ended, slowly settled in their seats for the women’s division’s second game. It was Adamson University, the previous year’s runner-up, which just visited the turf of their arch nemesis and defending champion FEU, which was led by that era’s finest and most popular volleybelle Rachel Anne Daquis. Fans wanted to see if the Lady Falcons still had the same firepower they had the previous season with the loss of top setter Janet Serafica and power hitter Sang Laguilles. A rookie-laden Ateneo squad should be easy pickings with Angela Benting, rookie Pau Soriano and libero Lizlee Anne Gata in the roster. Besides the Lady Falcons got the Lady Eagles’ number. Or so they thought. “Naalala ko nu’ng time namin sinasabi sa amin ng seniors namin na, ‘Hay naku ang lakas ng Adamson, never kami nanalo dyan,’” Cainglet, now happily married to film director Lino Cayetano and with three beautiful children, recalled.  But the Lady Eagles stunned Adamson in the opening set. The Lady Falcons took the next two frames. Ateneo stole the fourth.  “Ako naalala ko ano eh, parang alam namin na lahat kasi kami palaban. Nasa amin yun. Tapos binigyan kaming lahat ng chance to be in the first six so parang dream come true,” said Ho, now an ABS-CBN host. “Naalala ko rin na palaban kaming lahat kumbaga nothing to lose eh so ang ano namin, sumasabay kami sa laro and nu’ng nakita na namin na ‘Ay kaya pala natin ‘to guys. Kaya pala naming lumaban.’” Still, Adamson had the upper hand in experience. The Lady Falcons, used to pressure and were steady at crunch time, outlasted Ateneo.           The young Katipunan-based squad fell short, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, 25-15, 8-15. But for the Fab 5, it was a loss that felt like a resounding victory. “Parang sobrang natutuwa kami and everybody in the crowd, kaya siguro kami natawag na Fab 5 kasi rookies kami pero kahit ganoon palaban kami,” said Ho. “Saka close game. Five sets yun.” However, it was the first of five five-set matches that Ateneo will drop that season including one in the second round against the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University. “Pero ang problema di kami nananalo ng five sets. Parang ilan lang ang naipanalo namin na ganoon. Feeling ko na-overwhelm kami na ‘Uy nananalo tayo.’ May ganoong disbelief ng konti pero alam namin na may ibubuga kami,” said Ho. “Definitely, our rookie season was full of five-set matches. It was tough, we felt like we were so close, but still so far away. At some point, it gave us frustration also. We just couldn't figure out that time what is it that's still lacking because we couldn't win the five-set matches,” according to Nacachi. “People said, it was because the team was still so inexperienced. We still didn't have the tenacity unlike of those more matured teams. But we didn't take it as bad, it was a learning experience for us all at the end. We had to learn how to develop that finishing will to be able to win games like that in the future.” The Fab 5 finished their rookie season with a 6-8 slate at fifth spot.   ‘MAY MEDAL NA TAYO’ Gorayeb remembered on their second year the look on Pascual’s face in their last elimination game match against Adamson. Already wrapping up their first win over the Lady Falcons, Pascual was giddy. “Natatawa nga ako dyan kay Bea kasi papanalo na kami nu’n tapos sumesenyas na siya ng tres. Sabi ko, ‘Hoy anong ginagawa mo?’ Yun pala sobrang saya na niya kasi for the first time in 30 years magkaka-medal na sila,” he said. It was the most important match of the season for the Lady Eagles. With the Fab 5 already in their sophomore year, Ateneo was already making great strides. The Lady Eagles closed that season’s elims with five straight wins capped with a victory over Adamson. Ateneo posted a 10-4 win-loss mark to enter the Final Four legitimately. “Ang nangyari kasi nu’ng time nila Charo (Soriano) kaya sila nakapasok sa semis kasi may nag-squeal na si (Jacq) Alarca di pala naka-enroll nu’n kaya na-forfeit mga laro ng La Salle,” said Gorayeb. The Fab 5 proved that they were not just a bunch of much-hyped up pretty faces. They backed it up with their skills on court. It didn’t matter that Ateneo were swept by eventual champion University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four.      But the podium finish of Season 72 was short-lived. Adamson got its revenge in the last game of Season 73 elims, bumping off the Lady Eagles in the podium finish. The loss put Ateneo in a collision course with the twice-to-beat DLSU, who could’ve completed an elims sweep if not only for a forfeited match against University of the East after UAAP found out that Carmela Garbin and Clarisse Yeung participated in a ‘ligang labas’ while the season was onoing, in the Final Four. Ateneo gave the Lady Spikers a scare before succumbing in another heartbreaking five-set match. The Lady Eagles finished fourth but that lone semis game gave Ateneo and its maturing Fab 5 enough experience to dream for something big – A ticket into the Finals.      ‘HINOG NA KAYO’ The first three years saw the gradual improvement for Ateneo. But Season 74 proved to be the turning point for the Fab 5. A fresh new recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school, who just completed a year of residency, came into picture and with the Fab 5 armed with years of experience, the Lady Eagles’ fate will forever be changed. Alyssa Valdez, a highly recruited open spiker just like Gervacio, Cainglet-Cayetano and Ferrer years back, gave renewed excitement for the Ateneo faithful. “Alyssa's joining with Ateneo was a great turning point for us. We needed as much support we can get, and Alyssa's entrance to the team was a great boost to the team's morale,” said Nacachi. “The girl is a powerhouse and we felt like with her presence, the team finally became solid.” “We were able to play around with the positions and the rotations, since we had different versatile open players who can also greatly play other roles,” she added. “We were also able to formulate a lot of plays and attacks because Alyssa can generally do all kinds; open, running, quick, name it all. She gave the team the power and the versatility that we previously lacked from the past seasons.” Social media was just gaining traction then but the Lady Eagles were already on the radar of volleyball purists through online forums. For the first time, Ateneo was considered a legitimate contender.   The Fab 5 proved it by winning 11 games in the elimination round, losing only to UST once and dropping two against the Lady Spikers. Valdez’s arrival gave Ferrer an even broader option on offense. It eased the scoring load off the shoulders of Cainglet and Gervacio, who was then moved to an opposite position. “I guess sakto lang din yung dating niya because by that time Kara Acevedo graduated so someone had to fill in her spot so coach Roger decided for me to move to utility or opposite,” said Gervacio. “And then sakto Alyssa naman could fill in the spot na other open spiker.” “So timing din na we had all the pieces put together at the right time,” she added. With a good performance in the elims despite missing a legit middle in Bea Pascual and the entry of Aerieal Patnongon barred by academic problems, Ateneo finished second and for the first-time was armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles faced an experienced Tigresses side in the last stepladder semis stage. UST just came from a hard-fought four-set do-or-die match against FEU and were banking on their four-set win over Ateneo in the second round to force another sudden death. Ateneo’s date with destiny was sealed with a four-set win over the Tigresses, who then bid goodbye to Maika Ortiz and Judy Anne Caballejo. “Pinu-push na rin kami ni Coach Roger noon eh, ‘Hinog na kayo ngayon. Kasi dalawang taon na lang, kailangan makapasok na kayo sa Finals,’” said Ho. “Somehow senior na rin kami,” added Cainglet.  “Season 74 was really the target season for us to be in the finals and target even to win the championship,” according to Nacachi. “During this time, we were already thinking we could not afford to not go in the finals.” “So it was with our mindset and our level of commitment that we were able to finally reach our goal of reaching the finals,” she added. “We had enough experience that time already, and it was really time for us to show the level of game maturity the team had obtained from the past seasons.” But then they had to face an unbeaten team. Unscathed in 14 games, De La Salle University was poised to complete a perfect season. The Lady Eagles spoiled it. Ferrer outplayed DLSU setter Mika Esperanza, 57-42, in excellent sets as Ateneo handed the Lady Spikers its first loss after 25 straight victories in a come-from-behind 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, Finals opener win. Witnessed by 3,002 spectators inside the then The Arena in San Juan, all of the Fab 5 produced points. Cainglet had 19 behind Valdez’s 24, Gervacio scored 12, Ho had 10, Nacachi finished with five while Ferrer had one. Gorayeb made a big gambit and it worked. “Dahil sa wala kong panggitna, yung laro namin ng La Salle, ginawa kong quicker si Alyssa. Kasi si Alyssa nakakapalo. Nagulat si Ramil (de Jesus) dun.” It was a big win. A huge upset. Unfortunately, Ateneo needed to win two more.  DLSU held a thrice-to-beat advantage.   THAT SWAG After Ateneo made a miracle in Game One, fans began to feel a new rivalry born. The attendance spiked. From just 3,000 spectators, the gate attendance more than doubled its size. The interest was there. Fans of traditional powers began to notice the Lady Eagles as a rising team. For the first time, a squad with no previous championship experience except for a title during the Marcos era in a different collegiate league, made a giant jolt. Everybody wanted to see what these girls would do next.    The Lady Eagles, still high on adrenaline after their Game 1 upset, took the opening set in Game 2. But just like in their opener, a well-experienced DLSU squad adjusted to take the next three frames to move a step closer to a repeat crown. With then Rookie of the Year Ara Galang, Season Most Valuable Player Aby Marano, an intimidating Michele Gumabao and a very efficient Finals MVP Cha Cruz teaming up for the kill, the Lady Spikers ripped Ateneo apart in Game 3 in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13. “Sabi nga ni Dzi na nadyan na lahat eh. So I guess noong Season 74 nandoon na pero may kulang pa rin,” said Ho. “I guess we we’re able to make it to the Finals pero wala pa kaming championship experience.” Ferrer agreed. "Siguro ang kulang yung championship experience kasi nasa La Salle na ‘yun eh. Ilang years na silang nagpa-finals, nag-champion and for Ateneo doon pa lang namin sinimulan," said the three-time Best Setter. Lacking championship experience is one thing, but Ateneo during that time wasn’t ready for DLSU’s most feared weapon: the Lady Spikers’ swag.  “They have that swag,” said Gervacio. “Everyone knows about it naman. It’s really coach Ramil’s style talaga kasi as I remember when we were first year, four out of six of the players inside the court were rookies and even if we go against the powerhouses UST, FEU, Adamson, hindi sila yung nakikita nyo na kapag championship na rivalry, na swag, angas, stare down. Pero La Salle talaga kahit sino ang kalaban nila they’ll bring that attitude inside the court.” That Finals series cemented a new rivalry that will become one of the most celebrated in the sport. “I think it also helped that Ateneo-La Salle basketball didn’t face also,” said Gervacio. “Siyempre nandoon ang hunger for the rivalry eh and timely din na its been Ateneo-La Salle na rin sa volleyball.”   CLOSING A CHAPTER The Fab 5 were now in their fifth and last year. They wanted to leave a winning legacy. The pieces were already there. Gorayeb had at his disposal five seniors, a rising star in Valdez, a sophomore middle in Amy Ahomiro, a versatile Ella De Jesus, a steady libero in Denden Lazaro and a new kind of weapon – a massive crowd that can turn any venue into a sea of blue.              As expected, the second installment of the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry was set into place. Both sweeping their semis opponents. The Lady Spikers crushed National University while the Lady Eagles shot down Adamson. Game One was a shocker. DLSU heading into the Finals are on a 14-game roll but were stunned in the first two sets with Ateneo stepping on the gas. But a string of miscues, mostly from the service line, did the Lady Eagles in as they allowed the Lady Spikers to force a decider. DLSU, smelling blood, punished Ateneo to eke out a 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, victory inside the Big Dome witnesses by 17,342-strong gate attendance. Then the series transferred to a newly-built, state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena that drew a crowd of 18,799. The first two frames were frustrating for the Lady Eagles.   Ateneo came back to life in the third set to gain a 9-5 lead. But DLSU easily erased it with Ateneo crumbling under pressure. The Lady Spikers were on an onslaught. Sophomore Galang pushed DLSU at matchpoint with a cold-blooded ace that went in a few inches from the baseline. The score, 24-16. It was a tense moment for the Fab 5. A long rally ensued in the next play. Gervacio, with all her might pounded a kill. Her hand making a great contact on the ball off Ferrer’s backset.     Smack! The ball ricocheted off the hands of DLSU’s Wensh Tiu before falling on the same landing area of Gervacio, who tried to dive for a dig together with Lazaro. DLSU swept Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. Game over.          “Kahit hindi kami nanalo alam naming ibinigay namin ang lahat namin, all-out talaga kaya wala kaming pagsisisi,” said Ho. It was the end of the Fab 5 era, but they left more than what any of them could have imagined. "I remember so many people or fans telling me that they started really watching UAAP Volleyball because of our batch. And that is really touching and fulfilling to know. Knowing that you were able to leave an impact like that to people. We were not able to bring even a single championship to our school, Ateneo, but we were able to touch a lot of people's hearts despite that," Nacachi shared. The Fab 5 closed a colorful chapter of Ateneo volleyball in tears. They were there during the Lady Eagles’ birth pains. They labored. They shed tears, blood and sweat. They laid the foundation for something big. The Fab 5 planted the seeds that would eventually bear fruit and would change the course of Ateneo women’s volleyball program forever. Glory didn’t happen during their time. It started in theirs.    Amidst the roar of the crowd, the falling confetti, banging of drums and the echoing chant of ‘Animo La Salle’ from the sea of green, the Fab 5 hugged each other tight. They found comfort in each other. It was their time to say goodbye. For those who remained – Valdez, Lazaro, Ahomiro, De Jesus – the defeat added fuel to their already blazing desire to bring glory for the blue and white. They were the next in line, heirs to unfinished business. WATCH: FAB 5 Reunion Part 1 and Part 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

DE JESUS: Genius, disciplinarian, champion coach

This story was originally published on May 7, 2017 De La Salle University head coach Ramil De Jesus came inside the press room of the Big Dome for a post-game interview wearing the same smile he had in the past nine times the Lady Spikers closed the UAAP season as champions. The only difference in those championship interviews were the players that accompanied him to answer questions from reporters. From Iris Ortega-Patrona, Desiree Hernandez, Maureen Penetrante, the legendary Manilla Santos, the Big Three of Cha Cruz, Paneng Mercado and Jacq Alarca, to Michel Gumabao and beast-mode-don’t-care Aby Marano to Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Kim Dy and gem of a setter in Kim Fajaro – all of them stood beside a genius and architect of DLSU’s successful volleyball program. Victory after victory, De Jesus built his reputation as a one of the best women’s volleyball mentors in the country. Last Saturday, De Jesus added another feather to his cap when he steered the Taft-based squad to back-to-back titles in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the expense of archrival Ateneo de Manila. Two decades since his arrival to the school of a different shade of green after playing for Far Eastern University, delivered 10 titles and brought the Lady Spikers to the Finals 17 times.   De Jesus shared the secret of his success. “Siguro, sistema siguro then hard work. And then, well-disciplined ‘yung mga bata. Siguro, ‘yun ‘yung key,” he said. His success earned him the respect of his peers including three-time UAAP men’s volleyball champion Oliver Almadro of Ateneo, who was once one of his lieutenants, and players alike. DLSU embraced him as one of its own. “Natutuwa ako kasi kahit hindi ako alumnus doon niyakap nila ako bilang parang doon na din nag-graduate,” said De Jesus. “Hindi ko naman napapansin ang mga nanyayari sa akin sila lang ang nakakapansin, binigyan nga ako ng award. Happy, very happy (ako).” De Jesus is known to be a no nonsense coach. Strict, straightforward and a disciplinarian – traits he inherited from FEU men’s coach Kid Santos.                He doesn’t like fanfare and as much as possible keeps attention away from him. De Jesus carefully chooses his words but when he gives one, everybody listens. He means business all the time.   Brilliance of De Jesus 246-65. De Jesus knows how to win and his career win-loss record says it all. The main reason why DLSU trusted De Jesus to handle the team for that many years – a rare feat considering that a UAAP coach’s tenure is very volatile.   It was summer 20 years ago when former basketball Olympian and influential DLSU sport personality Ramoncito Campos brought in a young mentor in De Jesus to save the school’s volleyball program, which then had yet to win a title since joining the league in 1986.           He entered the UAAP volleyball scene during the time when powerhouse teams Far Eastern University and University of Sto. Tomas, then mentored by legendary coach August Sta. Maria, were the ones lording over here the competition. Of course the road to glory didn’t come easy but his first tour of duty gave DLSU a chance to feel what it was to be in the Final Four when the Lady Spikers finished fourth a year when after strings of forgettable seasons. Quenching the thirst to salvage some pride in the sport that will eventually be DLSU’s second most valued contest next to basketball, the Lady Spikers began to hunger for the crown – something the school never felt before since winning it all back in 1976 as a member of the NCAA.   De Jesus submitted his team to Spartan-like training and hammering discipline and slowly molded the Lady Spikers to a championship-caliber squad. In Season 61, DLSU challenged FEU for the crown but the Lady Tamaraws’ championship experience prevailed. The loss only fueled De Jesus’ desire to bring the Lady Spikers to the throne even more. With the core of ace hitter Ortega-Patrona, setter Valerie Bautista, Sally Macasaet, Sheryl Magallanes, Demelle Chua, Hollie Reyes and then sophomore Ivy Remulla, De Jesus steered DLSU on the right track for another shot at the crown. Midway in the season Bautista got pregnant. De Jesus, calm and composed, knew what to do. He converted open spiker Reyes into a setter and the gambit worked as DLSU once again punched a ticket to the Finals, this time against UST – a very hungry team looking to reclaim the title. A year removed from the throne, UST was ready for the kill. But the Espana-based squad went against a famished team – DLSU will not leave the sweltering University of the Philippines Human Kinetics Gym without the championship trophy. In front of a crowd - dwarf-sized compared to the multitude of fans that troop bigger venues of today – the Lady Spikers wrote history. DLSU slew a giant in a thrilling five-set game behind the stellar performance of Ortega-Patrona, who won that Season’s Most Valuable Player award – the first of many incredible volleybelles that will bag the highest individual honor under De Jesus’ tutelage.     It was an incredible feat but it won’t see a repeat in the next three years.              Grand Slam After their breakthrough title, the Lady Spikers had three straight bride’s maid finishes behind FEU. Heartbreaks brought by Ortega-Patrona’s falling out with De Jesus over a disciplinary issue in Season 63 and the unstoppable power of FEU's Monica Aleta, who won three straight MVP awards while towing the Lady Tams to a three-peat. Like a chess master, De Jesus learned from his mistakes before pulling off a feat that will cement his name as one of the greatest. With Hernandez, Penetrante and a young Santos as his main pieces, he steered the Lady Spikers to a rare three-peat. DLSU brought into heel FEU, UST and Adamson to complete a grand slam. A four-peat loomed for the celebrated Lady Spikers but fate played a cruel trick on them after UAAP suspended DLSU in Season 69 because the Green Archers' basketball squad fielded two ineligible players the previous year.       When the ban was lifted in Season 70, De Jesus and the Lady Spikers were again under the radar as title contenders together with the defending champion UST, FEU and Adamson. But team was forced to file a leave of absence from the school while the tournament was ongoing because Alarca saw action despite incomplete academic credentials to be eligible to play. All of the team’s won games where Alarca played where forfeited and the Lady Spikers ended up at seventh place. It was a painful setback but it also served as a rallying point for DLSU. With Santos playing her final year and the emergence of enigmatic but then rookie libero Mel Gohing in Season 71, the Lady Spikers denied the then graduating Rachel Anne Daquis and FEU back-to-back crowns. DLSU relinquished the throne to the Angeli Tabaquero and Aiza Maizo-led Tigresses the following year. The Lady Spikers avenged their loss the next season in a rematch with UST behind Alarca, Mercado, Cruz, Gumabao and Gohing in the start of De Jesus’ second three-peat.   DLSU-Ateneo rivalry Nobody really knows when UAAP volleyball picked up the tremendous following it has today. Maybe it needed something for people to get hooked into. A continuous rivalry, perhaps? For six straight years DLSU and Ateneo did just that. The storied rivalry between La Salle and Ateneo spilled from the basketball court to the taraflex mat of volleyball. De Jesus had in his bench the core of veterans Cruz, Gumabao and Marano back and freshmen Galang, Reyes and Demecillo when they met in the Season 74 Finals a young and promising Lady Eagles side – much like the Lady Spikers De Jesus inherited 14 seasons back. Led by Fille Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio and a fresh recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school Alyssa Valdez, Ateneo gave DLSU a tough challenge for two seasons but the Lady Spikers repelled them both times. Then came Lady Eagles Thai mentor Tai Bundit. For three years in a row, De Jesus’ system bested the rest of the field including that of then Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb. However, a coach who barely spoke English or Filipino provided him a challenge in Season 76. DLSU with an intact core led by Marano, swept its way straight to the Finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage. Ateneo crawled its way to the championship round through a series of do-or-die games. De Jesus is an old-school type of coach. His system is hinged on well-planned strategies and tactics. He was pitted against Bundit’s Thai-style of play anchored on a heartstrong mantra and a ‘happy, happy’ approach of the game. Bundit dances on the sideline, an animated fellow during the matches. De Jesus is stoic as always. When the two collided for the title for the first time, Bundit shocked De Jesus and DLSU when Ateneo beat them thrice in a four-game series that went the full distance. Bundit and the Valdez-led Lady Eagles did it again the following year, completing a season sweep at the expense of the Lady Spikers, who struggled to pose any form resistance in the Finals after Galang went down with a season-ending ACL tear in the semis. It was a devastating loss to say the least. But De Jesus, a general who fought many battles for the green and white, stuck with the weapon that brought him success – his ability to adjust. Outdueled by Bundit in their last six matches, De Jesus found a way to stop the rampaging Lady Eagles in their first meeting in Season 78. Ateneo equalized in the second round and even took the top spot after the elimination. The Lady Spikers and the Lady Eagles would eventually meet in the Finals for the fifth year in a row. De Jesus was ready for Ateneo. He knew the strengths and weaknesses of the Lady Eagles and used it to his advantage to win the series opener. The then graduating Valdez brought Ateneo back in Game 2 to tie the series, but DLSU completed its long-awaited revenge in the decider and gave Reyes, Demecillo and Galang a fitting sendoff gift.                  Road to back-to-back Losing five veterans including three of their key players heading into Season 79 gave De Jesus one of the toughest challenges he ever faced as a DLSU mentor.  Setter Kim Fajardo returned for her swan song together with fourth year playes Kim Dy, Dawn Macandili and Majoy Baron. Desiree Cheng also came back after a year of absence due to a knee injury, but De Jesus was still left to navigate with a relatively young crew.  “Sa laht nang nai-form kong team, ito yung medyo (up and down) yung performance,” he said. “Sobrang babaw ng bench, wala ka halos (mahugot) pagtingin mo, wala ka makuha.” DLSU struggled early and was on the losing end of two elims matches against Ateneo. “Ateneo nu’ng buong elimination NU lang ang halos tumalo. Sabi ko ano bang meron ang team na ito?” he said. “Pinilit lang naming habulin.” “Kasi alam ko nag-start kami medyo hilaw ang team namin. Early part ng first round natalo kami sa UP sabi ko pukpok pa tayo, habol pa,” De Jesus added. “Ang nakakatuwa sa mga bata, ang determinasyon na humabol nandoon.” When the De Jesus found himself leading the Lady Spikers to a sixth straight title series against Bundit and the Lady Eagles, he knew his squad was ready to defend their crown. And protect it they did in a series sweep capped by a dramatic five-set victory.    “Siguro buong eliminations, nire-review namin ang mga games, nakikita mo yung difference, ‘yung advantage at disadvantage ng team, so siguro doon kami nag-focus, kung saan kami medyo dehado. Concentrate kami sa training,” he said. “Ine-explain ko rin sa players kung ano yung dapat naming gawin, although mahirap. So, tanggapin na lang nila.” In a rare moment, when Ateneo’s Jho Maraguinot sent her attack long that signaled DLSU’s back-to-back championships, De Jesus let his hair down a little. He was jumping, dancing, celebrating the victory and even held his hands up, both his palms wide open as confetti dropped and the deafening roar of the crowd and banging of the drums echoed inside the arena. De Jesus won his tenth title. When the celebration subsided, De Jesus fashioned the same smile he wore in his past nine championships as he was led inside the pressroom of the Big Dome. Only this time around, Fajardo, Cheng and Dy were the ones who followed him from behind.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

Bago magsalita, tumulong na muna – De Jesus on critics

National women’s volleyball team head coach Ramil De Jesus doesn’t care what bashers and critics say on social media. They can say whatever they want to say. De Jesus doesn’t look at social media platforms anyway. Holding the reins of the national team is an ‘unhealthy and dangerous’ job especially with Filipino volleyball fans not holding back with their opinions on social media. But unlike the past national squad mentors, De Jesus received a relatively positive response from rabid fans when he was formally introduced Friday during the tryout called by Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. at the Arellano University gym in Legarda.         “Well ako, hindi ako ma-social media na tao,” said De Jesus, a 10-time UAAP women’s volleyball champion coach of the De La Salle Lady Spikers. “So, kung ano ‘yung gusto nilang sabihin, pwede namang sabihin,” he added. “Akin naman, hindi mawawala ang critics, and ‘yan lagi ‘yan.” De Jesus is making a return stint with the PHI team since steering the squad to a bronze medal finish in the 2005 Manila Southeast Asian Games. His first mission as a mentor is to form a team that will see action in the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia in August and in the AVC Asian Cup in Thailand the following month. “Ang punto ko dito naman, ayusin yung national team, and then kung sino gustong tumulong, bago mag-salita, tumulong na muna,” he said. Eighteen of the 34 players De Jesus specifically requested to be invited in the tryout were present led by Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago and Ara Galang. Also in attendance were Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Jia Morado, Kim Fajardo, Aby Marano, Sisi Rondina, CJ Rosario, Mylene Paat, Dawn Macandili, Majoy Baron, Kim Kianna Dy, Mel Gohing, Maika Ortiz, Cha Cruz-Behag, Rebecca Rivera and MJ Phillips. Another tryout is scheduled on Wednesday at the same venue.       ---- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

PVL Team Preview: Creamline

Creamline is dead serious in its campaign of claiming a breakthrough title in the second season of Premier Volleyball League. After disappointing bronze medal finishes in the inaugural edition, the Cool Smashers made a recruitment coup to help its prized star Alyssa Valdez capture the elusive crown in the Reinforced Conference set on May 6. Valdez, the reigning conference Most Valuable Player, has fully committed with the team after a short stint in the Open Conference to fulfill her duties as part of the national team. The former Queen Eagle's last title was in 2015 when she led the star-studded PLDT to a V-League Reinforced Conference championship.    To beef up their lineup, the Cool Smashers tapped the services of their last year’s import Kuttika Kaewpin and Serbian middle blocker Nikolina Asceric.   Also out to help Valdez are holdovers from last year’s team in veteran setter Jia Morado, Alex Cabanos, Pau Soriano, Ivy Remulla, Coleen Bravo and Rizza Mandapat.   Creamline also landed a deal with seasoned libero Mel Gohing to strengthen its floor defense and opposite hitter Michele Gumabao, who recently won the Binibining Pilipinas-Globe crown.    The Cool Smashers lost versatile hitter Cesca Racraquin, Jamela Suyat, Aerieal Patnongon, veteran Mary Jean Balse-Pabayo and Rosemarie Vargas. Risa Sato and Jema Galanza, who were earlier reported to have joined the team, were not in the initial lineup submitted by Creamline. PVL teams are given at least a month before the start of the season to finalize their respective rosters and clear their imports’ international transfer certificates (ITCs).     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

2018 MLB preview: AL East

By The Associated Press Capsules of American League East teams, listed in order of finish last year: ___ Boston Red Sox 2017: 93-69, first place, lost to Houston in ALDS. Manager: Alex Cora (first season). He's Here: DH J.D. Martinez. He's Outta Here: Manager John Farrell, RHP Doug Fister, OF Chris Young, RHP Addison Reed, OF Rajai Davis, LHP Henry Owens, LHP Fernando Abad. Projected Lineup: RF Mookie Betts (.264, 24 HRs, 102 RBIs), LF Andrew Benintendi (.271, 20, 90), 1B Hanley Ramirez (.242, 23, 62) or Mitch Moreland (.246, 22, 79), DH J.D. Martinez (.303, 45, 104 with Tigers and Diamondbacks), 3B Rafael Devers (.284, 10, 30 in 58 games), SS Xander Bogaerts (.273, 10, 62), CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (.245, 17, 63), C Christian Vazquez (.290, 5, 32) or Sandy Leon (.225, 7, 39), 2B Eduardo Nunez (.313, 12, 58, 24 SBs with Giants and Red Sox) or Dustin Pedroia (.293, 7, 62, .369 OBP in 105 games, expected to be out until late May following knee surgery). Rotation: LH Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90 ERA, MLB-best 308 Ks, MLB-high 214 1/3 IP), LH David Price (6-3, 3.38, 11 starts, 5 relief appearances), RH Rick Porcello (11-17, 4.65), LH Drew Pomeranz (17-6, 3.32, expected to begin season on disabled list with strained left forearm), RH Hector Velazquez (3-1, 2.92) or RH Steven Wright (1-3, 8.25 in 5 starts) or LH Eduardo Rodriguez (6-7, 4.19). Key Relievers: RH Craig Kimbrel (5-0, 1.43, 35/39 saves), RH Carson Smith (0-0, 1.35, 1 save in 8 games), RH Matt Barnes (7-3, 3.88), RH Joe Kelly (4-1, 2.79), RH Tyler Thornburg (injured in 2017, expected to begin season on DL). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. This group has the potential to be the strength of the team, with two Cy Young Award winners and four All-Stars to choose from. But other than Sale, it has been spotty. And in the four-game playoff loss to the eventual World Series champion Astros last year, the Red Sox didn't get a single quality start as the rotation totaled just 11 1/3 innings. The first four spots are spoken for, aside from the injury to Pomeranz. Among those competing with Velazquez for the fifth spot are Wright, Rodriguez and Brian Johnson. Wright, a knuckleballer and 2016 All-Star, had left knee surgery in May and missed the rest of the 2017 season. Rodriguez had major right knee surgery in October. It's possible neither will be ready for opening day, but both could be back by mid-April. Outlook: The Red Sox won 93 games last year for the second straight season and claimed the franchise's first back-to-back AL East titles. But Farrell was fired after they failed to advance in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. The key — and really only — addition is Martinez, who gives them someone to replace longtime slugger David Ortiz after finishing last in the AL in homers without Big Papi in 2017. The theory behind Boston keeping up with the reloaded New York Yankees goes something like this: A full season of a healthy Price will bolster a rotation that already has a quality ace in Sale, plus 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Porcello and All-Stars Pomeranz and Wright. The Red Sox also are staking their chances on the hope that Ramirez can be more like the player he was in 2016 (.286, 30, 111); that Pedroia will return quickly and be healthy and productive; that 20-year-old third baseman Devers will be able to stay up for a full season; and that Bradley won't have another second-half slump. The bullpen, anchored by Kimbrel, remains strong. ___ New York Yankees 2017: 91-71, second place, wild card, lost to Houston in ALCS. Manager: Aaron Boone (first season). He's Here: OF Giancarlo Stanton, 2B Neil Walker, 3B Brandon Drury. He's Outta Here: Manager Joe Girardi, 2B Starlin Castro, 3B-1B Chase Headley, 3B Todd Frazier, DH Matt Holliday, LHP Jaime Garcia. Projected Lineup: LF Brett Gardner (.264, 21 HRs, 63 RBIs, 96 runs, 23 SBs), RF Aaron Judge (.284, AL-leading 52, 114, MLB-high 208 Ks), 1B Greg Bird (.190, 9, 28 in 48 games), DH Giancarlo Stanton (.281, MLB-leading 59, MLB-best 132, 163 Ks with Marlins), C Gary Sanchez (.278, 33, 90, 120 Ks in 122 games), SS Didi Gregorius (.287, 25, 87), CF Aaron Hicks (.266, 15, 52 in 88 games), 2B Neil Walker (.265, 14, 49 with Mets and Brewers), 3B Brandon Drury (.267, 13, 63 with Diamondbacks). Rotation: RH Luis Severino (14-8, 2.98 ERA, 230 Ks in 193 1/3 IP), RH Masahiro Tanaka (13-12, 4.74, 194 Ks), LH CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69), RH Sonny Gray (10-12, 3.55 with Athletics and Yankees), LH Jordan Montgomery (9-7, 3.88 in 29 starts). Key Relievers: LH Aroldis Chapman (4-3, 3.22, 22/26 saves, 69 Ks, 50 1/3 IP in 52 games), RH David Robertson (9-2, 1.48, 14/16 saves in 61 games with White Sox and Yankees), RH Dellin Betances (3-6, 2.87, 10/13 saves, 100 Ks, 50 2/3 IP in 66 games), RH Tommy Kahnle (2-4, 2.59, 96 Ks in 62 2/3 IP with White Sox and Yankees), RH Chad Green (5-0, 1.83, 103 Ks in 69 IP), RH Adam Warren (3-2, 2.35 in 44 games), LH Chasen Shreve (4-1, 3.77 in 44 games). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. There is little seasoned depth if injuries develop, with Luis Cessa the first candidate to step up, and Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield needing more time in the minors. Sabathia turns 38 in July and while he is coming off his best and most durable season in five years, his surgically repaired right knee requires periodic injections of painkiller. Severino must maintain his consistency of 2017 after going 3-8 the previous year, when he was demoted to the minors. Montgomery is expected to increase his innings from 155 1/3. The back end of New York's rotation puts pressure on its bullpen: While Severino averaged 99 pitches per start, Gray 98 and Tanaka 94, Sabathia and Montgomery were at 87 each. Outlook: New York figures to score a lot and strike out a lot, a reason the Yankees signed the switch-hitting, high-contact Walker during spring training. Drury also was a late addition, enabling New York to start prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar in the minors. Betances faded in the second half last season, struggling with his mechanics and control and diminishing from a four-time All-Star to a mop-up man. After a pair of injury-decimated seasons, Bird is being counted on as a left-handed power bat in the middle of the batting order who can prevent opponents from bringing in right-handed relievers to attack Judge, Stanton and Sanchez. Hicks missed nearly half of last season with oblique injuries but has displaced Jacoby Ellsbury as the regular center fielder. Having never managed or coached at any level, Boone succeeded Girardi and must establish with players and the public that he knows what he is doing. ___ Tampa Bay Rays 2017: 80-82, third place. Manager: Kevin Cash (fourth season). He's Here: OF Denard Span, 1B C.J. Cron, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, OF Jake Bauers. He's Outta Here: 3B Evan Longoria, RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Jake Odorizzi, OF-DH Corey Dickerson, OF Steven Souza Jr., 1B Logan Morrison, 1B-DH Lucas Duda, RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Steve Cishek, RHP Tommy Hunter, OF Peter Bourjos, INF Trever Plouffe, RHP Chase Whitley. Projected Lineup: LF Denard Span (.272, 12 HRs, 43 RBIs, 31 2Bs, 12 SBs in 129 games with Giants), CF Kevin Kiermaier (.276, 15, 39 in 98 games), C Wilson Ramos (.260, 11, 35 in 64 games), RF Carlos Gomez (.255, 17, 51 with Rangers), 1B C.J. Cron (.248, 16, 56 with Angels), DH Brad Miller (.201, 9, 40), 3B Matt Duffy (sidelined by Achilles tendon injury), 2B Daniel Robertson (.206, 5, 19) or Joey Wendle (.285, 8, 54 in 118 games with Triple-A Nashville), SS Adeiny Hechavarria (.261, 8, 30 with Marlins and Rays). Rotation: RH Chris Archer (10-12, 4.07 ERA, 249 Ks in 34 starts), LH Blake Snell (5-7, 4.04 in 24 starts), RH Nathan Eovaldi (missed season following Tommy John surgery), RH Jake Faria (5-4, 3.43 in 16 games, 14 starts). Key Relievers: RH Alex Colome (2-3, 3.24, 47/53 saves), RH Matt Andriese (5-5, 4.50), RH Sergio Romo (3-1, 3.56 in 55 appearances with Dodgers and Rays; 2-0, 1.47 in 25 games with Rays), LH Dan Jennings (3-1, 3.45 in 77 games with White Sox and Rays), RH Andrew Kittredge (0-1, 1.76 in 15 games), RH Chaz Roe (0-0, 9.00 in 3 games with Braves), RH Austin Pruitt (7-5, 5.31), LH Joe Alvarado (0-3, 3.64). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. Normally, the Rays are built around good, young starting pitching and solid defense, a formula that will be tested after losing Cobb to free agency, trading Odorizzi and settling on a plan to use a four-man rotation, instead of the customary five. Cash intends to use multiple relievers on floating "bullpen days" slotted to allow the four starters to pitch on regular rest. It may not be a conventional setup, but the Rays are confident they have enough good arms to make it work. Outlook: The Rays sport a new look after a winter of trimming payroll. In addition to the departures of Cobb and Odorizzi, the heart of a batting order that hit a club-record 228 homers — Longoria, Dickerson, Souza and Morrison — is gone, too. Archer, a two-time All-Star, is set to make his franchise-record fourth opening day start, and Colome is back at closer, too. The question that remains unanswered is, for how long? Cash and general manager Erik Neander aren't making any bold predictions but they insist that despite all the changes, the Rays have a chance to be a lot more competitive than it appears on paper. ___ Toronto Blue Jays 2017: 76-86, fourth place. Manager: John Gibbons (sixth season of second stint, 11th overall with Blue Jays). He's Here: LHP Jaime Garcia, OF Randal Grichuk, OF Curtis Granderson, RHP Seung-hwan Oh, INF Yangervis Solarte, INF Aledmys Diaz, RHP John Axford, RHP Tyler Clippard, INF Danny Espinosa, RHP Taylor Guerrieri, INF Gift Ngoepe, LHP Sam Moll, RHP Sam Gaviglio. He's Outta Here: OF Jose Bautista, OF Ezequiel Carrera, RHP Dominic Leone, LHP Brett Anderson, INF Darwin Barney, RHP Leonel Campos, OF Darrell Ceciliani, RHP Taylor Cole, INF Ryan Goins, C Raffy Lopez, RHP Tom Koehler, RHP Dominic Leone, C Miguel Montero, INF Rob Refsnyder, OF Michael Saunders, RHP Bo Schultz, RHP Cesar Valdez. Projected Lineup: 2B Devon Travis (.259, 5 HRs, 24 RBIs in 50 games), 3B Josh Donaldson (.270, 33, 78), 1B Justin Smoak (.270, 38, 90), DH Kendrys Morales (.250, 28, 85), LF Steve Pearce (.252, 13, 37) or Curtis Granderson (.212, 26, 64 with Mets and Dodgers), C Russell Martin (.221, 13, 35), SS Troy Tulowitzki (.249, 7, 26 in 66 games), RF Randal Grichuk (.238, 22, 59 with Cardinals), CF Kevin Pillar (.256, 16, 42). Rotation: LH J.A. Happ (10-11, 3.53 ERA), RH Aaron Sanchez (1-3, 4.25 in 8 games), RH Marco Estrada (10-9, 4.98), RH Marcus Stroman (13-9, 3.09), LH Jaime Garcia (5-10, 4.41 with Braves, Twins and Yankees). Key Relievers: RH Roberto Osuna (3-4, 3.39, 39/49 saves), RH Ryan Tepera (7-1, 3.59, 2 saves), RH Danny Barnes (3-6, 3.55), RH Seung Hwan Oh (1-6, 4.10, 20 saves with Cardinals), LH Aaron Loup (2-3, 3.75), RH John Axford (0-1, 6.43 with Athletics), RH Tyler Clippard (2-8, 4.77, 5 saves with White Sox, Yankees and Astros). Hot Spot: Shortstop. Tulowitzki is owed $20 million in each of 2018 and 2019, and $14 million in 2020, the final season of a 10-year contract he received from Colorado. Tulo has missed at least 30 games in six straight seasons, and will begin 2018 on the disabled list because of a bone spur in his right heel. Although the Blue Jays have multiple backup options, they could be waiting at least a month, if not longer, for the five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner to return. Tulowitzki sustained a season-ending injury to his right ankle in late July last year. Outlook: The powerful Yankees and reigning division champion Red Sox are considered playoff favorites in the AL East, so the expectation is the Blue Jays will be left to compete for the second wild card. If Donaldson and Smoak help the offense rebound from last season's injury-induced stumble, when Toronto scored an AL-low 693 runs, and the starting pitching stays strong and healthy, the Blue Jays might be able to mount a playoff push. Health concerns remain plentiful, however. Besides Tulowitzki's troublesome heel, Travis will need scheduled downtime to rest his surgically repaired right knee. Stroman was slowed by a sore shoulder in spring training, and Sanchez will be closely monitored after making just eight starts last year because of blister issues. ___ Baltimore Orioles 2017: 75-87, fifth place. Manager: Buck Showalter (ninth season). He's Here: RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Andrew Cashner, OF Colby Rasmus, LHP Nestor Cortes Jr., C Andrew Susac, INF Engelb Vielma, OF Austin Hays. He's Outta Here: C Welington Castillo, SS J.J. Hardy, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Jeremy Hellickson. Projected Lineup: LF Trey Mancini (.293, 24 HRs, 78 RBIs), 2B Jonathan Schoop (.293, 32, 105, 35 2Bs), SS Manny Machado (.259, 33, 95, 33 2Bs), CF Adam Jones (.285, 26, 73), 1B Chris Davis (.215, 26, 61, 61 BBs, 195 Ks), 3B Tim Beckham (.259, 12, 36 in 87 games with Rays; .306, 10, 26 in 50 games with Orioles), DH Mark Trumbo (.234, 23, 65, 149 Ks), RF Colby Rasmus (.281, 9, 23 with Rays), C Caleb Joseph (.256, 8, 28). Rotation: RH Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.24 ERA, 152 Ks), RH Kevin Gausman (11-12, 4.68, 179 Ks), RH Alex Cobb (12-10, 3.66 with Rays), RH Andrew Cashner (11-11, 3.40 with Rangers), RH Chris Tillman (1-7, 7.84) or RH Miguel Castro (3-3, 3.53 in 39 games, 1 start). Key Relievers: RH Brad Brach (4-5, 3.18, 18/24 saves), RH Darren O'Day (2-3, 3.43, 2 saves), LH Richard Bleier (2-1, 1.99), RH Mychal Givens (8-1, 2.75). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. The late addition of Cobb fills out a previously shaky unit, but depth and experience are still an issue. Bundy and Gausman were decent last season, but the young right-handers must take another step forward. Jimenez and Hellickson have been replaced by Cashner, on his third team in four years, and Castro, a converted reliever with one career start. Tillman, re-signed as a free agent, has to prove that his miserable 2017 season was merely a fluke rather than the beginning of the end of a career that two years ago appeared to be blooming. Should any of the starters get injured, the team has very few options on the staff and in the minors beyond right-hander Mike Wright, who's got a lifetime ERA of 5.86. Outlook: The Orioles were 25-16 and in first place last year before fading to their first losing season since 2011. The prospect for improvement will rest on a power-laden lineup that needs Davis and Trumbo to rebound from poor performances, but both sluggers fought through injuries this spring and Trumbo will be on the disabled list on opening day. With a shaky rotation and a bullpen that is without injured closer Zach Britton, the Orioles must score plenty of runs to make some noise in the AL East. Baltimore's defense, usually a strong point, was not particularly efficient in 2017. The team addressed the problem by switching Machado to shortstop and working hard on fundamentals this spring. Most important, this could be the last season in Baltimore for Jones and Machado, whose contracts expire after 2018. If the Orioles are sputtering in July, the most intriguing aspect of the team might be whether one or both stars get jettisoned before the July 31 trade deadline......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

LOOK: Valdez judges fitness contest; Villanueva, AVO impress

  It seems like Alyssa Valdez, the Philippine volleyball superstar, has been everywhere these days. Valdez on Sunday was among the judges of a fitness competition on Sunday. The 24-year-old Valdez has always been in the limelight ever since her playing days at Ateneo in the UAAP, where she won three MVP awards and led the Lady Eagles to a couple of championships. Valdez also had stints in Thailand and Taiwan and recently, she's been appearing on television as segment host of Upfront. But she's not the only known athlete during the event with volleyball player Amanda Villanueva and cager Arnold Van Opstal also there as participants. Villanueva and cager ...Keep on reading: LOOK: Valdez judges fitness contest; Villanueva, AVO impress.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 25th, 2018

Cross Court: Basketball-volleyball power couples

Aside from titles won, awards garnered and lessons learned this year, a handful of Filipino athletes have found, and nurtured love between another fellow sports star. One could just imagine how two hearts meet in the harsh battlefield of sports especially coming from different fronts. Fate led some of the stars from the country’s top two sports – basketball and volleyball – to cross paths and develop a blooming romance. Here are some of the power couples coming from the said sports.   Bong and Mozzy Ravena The perfect example in this list. Bong was a successful basketball star during his UAAP days with University of the East, the PBA and MBA while Mozzy donned the University of Sto. Tomas jersey as a volleyball varsity player. The union produced three kids who followed their footsteps. Kiefer and Thirdy are making their own mark as basketball standouts while their sister Dani has a budding career as a rookie setter for Ateneo de Manila University.         Kiefer Ravena and Alyssa Valdez What is a King Phenom without a Queen Phenom? Arguably, the most popular sports couple of this generation, former Ateneo de Manila University King Eagle Kiefer Ravena and ex-Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez are the equivalent of the country’s best teleserye loveteams.       LA Revilla and Denden Lazaro   I love you past the moon and beyond the stars, baby ❤️ Happy Valentine's Day! ❤️ . @larevilla A post shared by Dennise Lazaro (@denniselazaro) on Feb 14, 2017 at 4:05am PST Whoever said that blue and green won’t mix has been living under a rock. Say that to this sweet couple of ex-De La Salle University and current Kia guard LA Revilla and former Ateneo de Manila University and current Cocolife libero Denden Lazaro.   Philip Manalang and Cesca Racraquin   Walo ❤️ A post shared by Cesca Racraquin (@cescarac) on Aug 25, 2017 at 11:17pm PDT Red is the color of love. Well, at least for this couple Cesca Racraquin of San Beda College Lady Red Spikers and University of the East Red Warrior Philip Manalang.   Alfren Gayosa and Grethcel Soltones Home 🏡 bound with this one ❤🌹👑💏💍👣 @ladybeast05 💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/Kq0un7HjkM — Alfren Gayosa (@eeeeerjordan15) June 24, 2017 Fun, bubbly, sweet and chill. San Sebastian College cager Alfren Gayosa and former Lady Stags spiker and three-time NCAA MVP Grethcel Soltones’ relationship is simply described that way.   Myla Pablo and Patrick Aquino As the old saying goes, in love ‘age doesn’t matter.’ National University women’s basketball team coach Patrick Aquino and former Lady Bulldogs spiker Myla Pablo proved that. Some say that it is a May-December love affair but hey who are we to judge? Oh by the way, we’ll be hearing wedding bells soon.   Aby Marano and Robert Bolick The last time Aby Marano visited ABS-CBN Sports’ Down the Line, the former De La Salle University middle readily answered that if her boyfriend Robert Bolick of San Beda College asks her hand right that very moment, without second thought, she’ll say ‘yes’.   Kib Montalbo and Desiree Cheng   ❤️ A post shared by Kib Montalbo (@kibmontalbo) on Aug 20, 2017 at 6:12am PDT KibRee is definitely real. The De La Salle University Green Archers’ ‘man of steal’ has captured the heart of Lady Spiker and UAAP Season 79 Finals MVP Desiree Cheng, and they have been seen cheering and supporting each other through wins and losses.   Arvin Tolentino and Brandy Kramer   There's no place I'd rather be A post shared by Arvin Tolentino (@arvintolentino5) on Jul 5, 2017 at 3:43am PDT Three years and counting. Judging from this picture, there’s no letting go between Far Eastern University cager Arvin Tolentino and former San Beda College Lady Red Spiker Brandy Kramer, who is the younger sister of cager Doug.   Chico Manabat and Dindin Santiago - Manabat   First!🤗🤣 A post shared by Dindin Santiago Manabat (@dindinquickermanabat) on Aug 14, 2017 at 8:41am PDT Two years of marriage and an adorable daughter, National University Bullpups assistant coach Chico Manabat and Foton middle Dindin are a picture of a happy family.     Junemar Fajardo and Aeriael Patnongon Saturdate ❤️ pic.twitter.com/pniFpWnEC2 — Aerieal Patnongon (@iamaeriealituh) April 8, 2017 San Miguel Beer center Junemar Fajaro is one big, tall and tough man. Only Creamline middle Aerieal Patnongon can make this big, tall and tough man’s heart skip a beat.   Jan-Jan Jaboneta and Isa Molde Maroon pride runs deep for Isko and Iska power couple Jan-Jan Jaboneta and Isa Molde. Jaboneta, a sparkplug off the bench for the rising UP Fighting Maroons and Molde, one of the Lady Fighting Maroons' go-to scorers have hit it off, and are probably each others' biggest fans when gametime comes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 14th, 2018

Kiefer Ravena: Alab Pilipinas will only get better with new imports

Before joining the PBA, Kiefer Ravena made his shoes wet by getting some of his feeling and experience of professional basketball with Alab Pilipinas.  With a solid start to his PBA career, it seems that playing for Alab did wonders for his preparation for the first pay-for-play league in Asia. Ravena, who only played for two games in Alab Pilipinas' playoff series with the Singapore Slingers due to his commitment with the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League, went to the San Juan Arena and supported his former team along with Alyssa Valdez. "It's nice to watch the team. I've played for Alab before, it was one big experience for me, knowing that the ABL is good competition, and really prepared me in going to the pros, and helped me prepare my game. It's nice seeing this guys battle it out," Ravena said after Alab's 90-80 loss to the Slingers. As for who is the NLEX rookie is supporting in the game, he did not name particular players, but of head coach Jimmy Alapag, who is one of the coaches with Gilas Pilipinas, and Alab Pilipinas co-owner Charlie Dy, who is a close Ravena family friend. For Alab, who rode on a three-game win streak after introducing new imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman, the former Blue Eagle said that the team will only get better as the team's chemistry improves along with time. "That's the most adjustment they could do, they prepared very well. In face, they beat us, the Gilas team in the preseason, so I don't think, adjustment-wise they'll be a big issue, but I guess the matter of team chemistry with the two new imports who just came in but already gave wins for Alab. " ---   follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Cross Court: Basketball-volleyball power couples

Aside from titles won, awards garnered and lessons learned this year, a handful of Filipino athletes have found, and nurtured love between another fellow sports star. One could just imagine how two hearts meet in the harsh battlefield of sports especially coming from different fronts. Fate led some of the stars from the country’s top two sports – basketball and volleyball – to cross paths and develop a blooming romance. Here are some of the power couples coming from the said sports.   Bong and Mozzy Ravena The perfect example in this list. Bong was a successful basketball star during his UAAP days with University of the East, the PBA and MBA while Mozzy donned the University of Sto. Tomas jersey as a volleyball varsity player. The union produced three kids who followed their footsteps. Kiefer and Thirdy are making their own mark as basketball standouts while their sister Dani has a budding career as a rookie setter for Ateneo de Manila University.         Kiefer Ravena and Alyssa Valdez What is a King Phenom without a Queen Phenom? Arguably, the most popular sports couple of this generation, former Ateneo de Manila University King Eagle Kiefer Ravena and ex-Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez are the equivalent of the country’s best teleserye loveteams.       LA Revilla and Denden Lazaro   I love you past the moon and beyond the stars, baby ❤️ Happy Valentine's Day! ❤️ . @larevilla A post shared by Dennise Lazaro (@denniselazaro) on Feb 14, 2017 at 4:05am PST Whoever said that blue and green won’t mix has been living under a rock. Say that to this sweet couple of ex-De La Salle University and current Kia guard LA Revilla and former Ateneo de Manila University and current Cocolife libero Denden Lazaro.   Philip Manalang and Cesca Racraquin   Walo ❤️ A post shared by Cesca Racraquin (@cescarac) on Aug 25, 2017 at 11:17pm PDT Red is the color of love. Well, at least for this couple Cesca Racraquin of San Beda College Lady Red Spikers and University of the East Red Warrior Philip Manalang.   Alfren Gayosa and Grethcel Soltones Home 🏡 bound with this one ❤🌹👑💏💍👣 @ladybeast05 💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/Kq0un7HjkM — Alfren Gayosa (@eeeeerjordan15) June 24, 2017 Fun, bubbly, sweet and chill. San Sebastian College cager Alfren Gayosa and former Lady Stags spiker and three-time NCAA MVP Grethcel Soltones’ relationship is simply described that way.   Myla Pablo and Patrick Aquino As the old saying goes, in love ‘age doesn’t matter.’ National University women’s basketball team coach Patrick Aquino and former Lady Bulldogs spiker Myla Pablo proved that. Some say that it is a May-December love affair but hey who are we to judge? Oh by the way, we’ll be hearing wedding bells soon.   Aby Marano and Robert Bolick The last time Aby Marano visited ABS-CBN Sports’ Down the Line, the former De La Salle University middle readily answered that if her boyfriend Robert Bolick of San Beda College asks her hand right that very moment, without second thought, she’ll say ‘yes’.   Kib Montalbo and Desiree Cheng   ❤️ A post shared by Kib Montalbo (@kibmontalbo) on Aug 20, 2017 at 6:12am PDT Is KibRee for real? Let’s just hope that the De La Salle University Green Archers’ ‘man of steal’ will capture the heart of Lady Spiker and UAAP Season 79 Finals MVP Desiree Cheng to officially put that question to rest.   Arvin Tolentino and Brandy Kramer   There's no place I'd rather be A post shared by Arvin Tolentino (@arvintolentino5) on Jul 5, 2017 at 3:43am PDT Three years and counting. Judging from this picture, there’s no letting go between Far Eastern University cager Arvin Tolentino and former San Beda College Lady Red Spiker Brandy Kramer, who is the younger sister of cager Doug.   Chico Manabat and Dindin Santiago - Manabat   First!🤗🤣 A post shared by Dindin Santiago Manabat (@dindinquickermanabat) on Aug 14, 2017 at 8:41am PDT Two years of marriage and an adorable daughter, National University Bullpups assistant coach Chico Manabat and Foton middle Dindin are a picture of a happy family.     Junemar Fajardo and Aeriael Patnongon Saturdate ❤️ pic.twitter.com/pniFpWnEC2 — Aerieal Patnongon (@iamaeriealituh) April 8, 2017 San Miguel Beer center Junemar Fajaro is one big, tall and tough man. Only Creamline middle Aerieal Patnongon can make this big, tall and tough man’s heart skip a beat.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2017

Alyssa Valdez returns from Taiwan to attend Kiefer Ravena s Christmas game

BOCAUE, Philippines - Alyssa Valdez only had one fully day to spend back here in the Philippines, and as fate would have it, that day came during beau Kiefer Ravena’s Christmas Day game in the PBA. Valdez, who serves as an import for Attackline in the ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 25th, 2017

Alyssa proud to see Kiefer thrive in PBA

BOCAUE --- Alyssa Valdez couldn't be more proud her boyfriend Kiefer Ravena, who is off to a torrid start in his PBA career. Valdez, the volleyball superstar, shared that she's happy to see Ravena thrive in this new endeavor. "We're all proud of Kiefer," she said after Ravena led the Road Warriors to a 115-104 win over the GlobalPort Batang Pier on Monday. "I'm excited for him because I know that he's waited to play in the PBA for so long, so we're just really happy. He's really working hard to be consistent on his performance in the PBA and Kief is very focused on what he wants to accomplish," Valdez said. "He did so well and I'm excited on what he still can show in the com...Keep on reading: Alyssa proud to see Kiefer thrive in PBA.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 25th, 2017

Alyssa Valdez on volleyball career in 2017: Life-changing

MANILA, Philippines — A dream come true.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2017