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NCAA: Coach Vergel says JRU should learn a thing or two from Mapua

Jose Rizal University was silenced as it hosted Mapua University on Thursday. Lacking fire from start to finish, the Heavy Bombers were grounded by the Cardinals, 60-72. For head coach Vergel Meneses, though, that is no longer a surprise. “Actually, ine-expect ko na yan e. We’re a new team, we’re rebuilding,” he told reporters post-game. He then continued, “Ang laging sinasabi ko lang sa kanila, mag-hustle lang kayo.” That hustle was lacking for the home team, however, as they were outrebounded, 44-54, and were unable to take advantage of their opponents’ turnovers. To atone for that, Meneses said his boys need not look far. As he put it, “Yung Mapua, hindi naman parang Lyceum o San Beda, pero they keep on working hard. Ang puhunan nila, effort lang.” Indeed, the Cardinals were quicker to the ball and were more determined in every possession. For JRU to do that, their mentor said it has to start with their team captain. And as a challenge to Jed Mendoza, Meneses said, “Siguro, baka hindi pa niya kayang i-handle yung pressure. ‘Di naman ako nagkukulang ng sabi sa kanya na hindi porke you’re the leader, you will not pass the ball.” He then continued, “I hope after this na talo namin, kailangan ma-realize niya yun.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 12th, 2018

Morning Tip Q& A: Mohamed Bamba

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst They have come seemingly all at once -- new, freakish size in the NBA with the ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot from deep and block everything that moves. Kristaps Porzingis begat Joel Embiid, who begat this year’s group of young big men who have grown up facing the basket rather than with their backs to it. Among the most intriguing of the 2018 Draft class is Mo Bamba, the 20-year-old from Texas via Harlem, where he grew up -- fast, as city kids tend to do, learning the game on the hardtops around New York City, while his parents, natives of Ivory Coast, wondered what the increasing fuss was around their son. He, on the other hand, has tended to handle the attention with aplomb and a smile. In a group full of long, tall people, Bamba still stands out, with an insane wingspan of 7'10" that allows for court coverage the likes of which hasn’t been seen. Bamba has been in the spotlight for a while -- the Westtown (Penn.) High School team on which he played featured teammates like Cam Reddish, a blue-chip guard who’ll play for Duke next season -- and played against the likes of the No. 1 pick in 2018, Deandre Ayton. At Texas, he starred for Coach Shaka Smart, himself among the biggest names in the sport. After one season in Austin, where he shattered the school record for blocked shots in a season, Bamba declared for the Draft, assured he’d be a high Lottery pick. But Bamba has also shown a willingness to work on what he doesn’t -- or, at least, didn’t -- do that well. He went to California for weeks with noted player development coach Drew Hanlen, who deconstructed Bamba’s jumper from the ground up. Hanlen lowered Bamba’s shot pocket, adjusted his fingers on the ball and eliminated a hitch Bamba had before shooting. Bamba displayed much improved form before the Draft, but even if he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, he was going high -- and, he did, to the Orlando Magic with the sixth pick overall. Desperate to regain relevance in the East, the Magic hired Steve Clifford after he was fired by Charlotte to try and improve their awful defense. At the least, Clifford inherited ridiculous size on his roster, with Bamba joining 6'10" second-year forward Jonathan Isaac and newly re-signed 6'9" forward Aaron Gordon. Bamba must show he can be a killer on the floor like Embiid, and will work to make that happen. The only significant question about him coming into the Draft was the consistency of his motor at Texas. In Las Vegas this week for Summer League with his new team, Bamba is getting his feet wet while keeping them firmly planted to the ground. David Aldridge: I know you’ve spent a lot of time with Drew on the shot. What feels better now? Mo Bamba: Everything. The mechanics are so much cleaner now than they were in college. I think the difference between college and now is just a matter of just repetition, being able to change my jump shot dramatically because of how much I’ve gone in and worked on it. DA: So with time, you can basically improve anything? MB: Yeah, my jump shot is night and day. DA: He also told me that one thing he wanted to keep working with you on after the Draft was, you have a little jump to your left when you shoot? MB: Yeah, that’s a bad tendency that I have. That’s something Drew didn’t want to change. He changed a lot of things, and that’s one of the best things about working with Drew -- he knows boundaries, and he knows how much is too much. That’s one of the things he didn’t want to change right off the bat. But that’s something I’ve been conscious of and something I’ve been working on since he pointed it out. DA: Given where you played high school, was there more pressure on you playing for Westtown or playing for Texas? MB: I’d say there was more pressure playing -- well, actually, it was both, equal. My sophomore year at Westtown, there was a lot of pressure, because I was at a program that had never won a state championship, and had gotten to the finals three or four years in a row. At Texas, I was coming to a team that hadn’t made the NCAA Tournament the year before. So I’d say it was pretty equal. DA: I would imagine playing on a team like that in high school, with Cam and all the others, maybe prepared you not only for college, but playing in the pros. MB: Yeah, Cam can go. He’s a really good basketball player. And I know for a fact I’ll see him here next year. DA: What was Harlem like to grow up in, day by day? MB: It was, when people ask that, I pretty much tell them that you just grow up fast. You’re making decisions at a very young age that most kids don’t even come close to making. I credit a lot of my success to being from Harlem, growing up there. DA: Harlem’s changed a little the last few years. MB: Yeah, gentrification is real. It’s real. DA: What was it like seeing that demographic shift? MB: Well, I was kind of there before gentrification kind of really hit. Obviously there was a bunch of condos that went up and it was pretty cool to see. It was every time I came back home -- I’d see a new development going up. DA: Best advice your parents ever gave you? MB: I wouldn’t say it was direct advice or a quote. I’d say the best thing my parents passed on to me was to let me make my own mistakes and figure out on my age how to kind of see the world on my own. Growing up as the youngest child, one or two years after your siblings, obviously that’s great. You’re learning without truly making the mistakes on your own. But at some point in your life, you’re gonna have to learn on your own. You’re gonna have to fall to rise. DA: Conversely, then, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made so far? MB: I’d say that the biggest mistake I’ve made so far was not committing to Texas earlier. I think waiting was awesome. I was very methodical about waiting, very strategic about what I wanted in a university. But at the same time, if I could go back, I probably would have committed my junior year, so I could hit the ground running and build the relationships, get to know people. DA: How much freedom did Shaka give you when you were there to try things on the floor that might not necessarily be good for the team, but could be good for you individually down the road? MB: Coach Smart, he’s given me so much freedom to sort of grow into who I was. That’s been a big thing in my life -- my parents and all of my coaches. Coach Smart did a great job of just letting me come to terms with myself, as a basketball player and a person. DA: I saw in one of your interviews before the Draft that you don’t think people really understand you when you say you’re a unicorn. So define that for me as you see it. MB: Well, I mean, people kind of have a concept of what it means. To me, it’s just someone who makes plays that have never been seen before -- a seven-foot big guard, those are all unicorns to me. DA: You played against Ayton and guys like Jarrett Allen (the Nets’ first-round pick in 2017) in high school, and I know how much you’ve looked at Joel Embiid on tape. Are you guys the new normal when it comes to the next generation of bigs? MB: Yeah, I think this is becoming a theme, and you’ll see it more and more with guys coming out of high school. One of the guys you’ll see coming up is James Wiseman (the 6'11" rising senior center currently playing at East High School in Memphis, and who is considered by many to be the top college prospect in the Class of 2019). He’s younger, but he does a lot of the things that I do, that Deandre does, that Jarrett does. It’s refreshing to see so many people that can do what I do. DA: If you were six-feet tall instead of seven, what would you be doing? MB: I’d have to be around the game, like a scout or a GM, something around the game. DA: How did the basketball bug bite you so hard growing up? MB: Honestly, it’s just my competitive nature. It bleeds over into other aspects of my life. But basketball is just something that I really excelled at, and whenever I hit kind of adversity, or whenever I do something that makes me vulnerable enough to get better and to ask for help, I just took this and ran with it. DA: Since you’re a kid, I have to ask you how good you are at Fortnight? MB: I play recreationally. One of my best friends is really good at it, and whenever I play him I get Ws. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 9th, 2018

JRU’s coach Vergel admits: ‘Now, we’re rebuilding’

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 11-8 overall, third-seed after eliminations, lost in stepladder playoffs to San Sebastian YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: MJ Dela Virgen, Darius Estrella, Jed Mendoza WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Ry Dela Rosa, Andrei Dulalia, Agem Miranda GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Abdul Wahab Abdul Razak, Ervin Grospe, Gio Lasquety, Abdel Poutouochi, Teytey Teodoro WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM JRU? Truth be told, nobody knows anything at all about JRU. “Now, we’re rebuilding. Parang ang naiwan sa aking players, aapat lang from past season. I’m not expecting too much kasi bago nga yung team namin.” – head coach Vergel Meneses Longtime veterans Ervin Grospe and Gio Lasquety have graduated and NCAA 94 was supposed to be the Teytey Teodoro show. Only, Teodoro departed from Shaw Boulevard due to circumstances yet to be disclosed. Now, Jed Mendoza is the only known commodity for head coach Vergel Meneses and it’s high time for him to take the next step into becoming a go-to-guy. “Ang sabi ko sa kanya, let your teammates get involved. I’m not asking you to shoot every time or score 30 points. You need your teammates para ma-open yung floor for you.” – head coach Vergel Meneses But fear not, Heavy Bombers faithful, a ray hope may very well be found in Darius Estrella, a former NCAA Juniors MVP who was having flashes of brilliance before tearing his ACL a year ago. WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM JRU? Clearly, JRU’s one and only answer to this question is Mendoza who won the Most Improved Player last year and only looks to improve even more. Much also rests on the shoulders of Estrella who has no time to waste in getting back to his old self. Coach Vergel also has promising pieces coming in in the form of former University of the East do-it-all player Agem Miranda and double-double machine Andrei Dulalia as well as ex-San Beda HS’ solid contributor Ry Dela Rosa. For the first time in years, the Heavy Bombers won’t have a foreign student-athlete so expect the locals to go all-out and all-heart. “Ang sinasabi ko sa mga players ko, just keep working hard, just keep fighting. I’m not asking you for a win, na every game, kailangan tayong manalo. Ang hinahanap ko lang sa kanila at magtatrabaho sila every game.” – head coach Vergel Meneses WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR JRU? Coach Vergel Meneses is the longest-tenured head coach in the NCAA and he has made the Final Four in all but three of his eight years on the coaching chair. “We’ll be there every game, fighting. Yun lang ang masasabi ko. Sa nakikita ko, yung puso ng mga bata compared to last time, maganda.” – head coach Vergel Meneses If, somehow, some way, he gets the Heavy Bombers to the playoffs once more, could anybody even question his coaching credentials? WHERE WOULD JRU BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 94? Unfortunately, as much as everybody loves them some Vergel Meneses, he and his boys would be watching the Final Four at home or at school. As always, JRU could pull off upsets, but those would be few and far between. WHEN IS JRU’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 94? JRU’s first game in the season is a home game in their Shaw Boulevard campus. Visiting them there on July 12 will be Mapua. As always, all of the #GalingNCAA will be on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and livestream. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 30th, 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

Perfect Pirates, Player of the Week Perez making it look easy

As Lyceum of the Philippines University draws nearer to a historic elimination round sweep in the NCAA Season 93, CJ Perez is starting to make it look easy. Perez was once again at the forefront of the Pirates' attack as they siezed win number 16, 81-69, over Colegio de San Juan de Letran on Friday. Perez scored 10 of his 24 points in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter to repeatedly turn back every rally from the Knights and move his crew two wins away from completing an 18-game elimination round sweep. For his exploits, he once again bagged the Chooks-to-Go NCAA Press Corps Player of the Week Award. Perez' effortless destruction of the Knights earned him the praises of head coach Topex Robinson, but for his longtime mentor it's really the attitude of his prized wingman which truly stands out. 'Conscious siya pag nagkamali siya. He knows na nagkamali siya. One thing I like about him, and I always try to brag about my coaches in Alaska, he will never blame yung kasama,' said Robinson. 'Hindi siya yung, pag hindi pinasahan magagalit. He knows that kumbaga, he knows (he needs) the support of everyone,' he added. It was the second time Perez bagged the weekly award handed out by sports scribes. He was the very first player to be feted the individual recognition this season. To do so, Perez edged out impressive performances from Mapua University's Andoy Estrella, San Beda College's Javee Mocon, Jose Rizal University's Jed Mendoza, and Arellano University's Kent Salado. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 8th, 2017

Bombers ward off Stags to close in on return to playoffs

With its new and improved backcourt showing the way, Jose Rizal University has one foot in the door for a return to the Final Four now in the NCAA 93 Men’s Basketball Tournament. Jed Mendoza poured in six of his 14 points in the final frame, Teytey Teodoro again brought the big baskets, and the Heavy Bombers just had enough to stop oncoming San Sebastian College-Recoletos, 60-58, on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre. With the win, Vergel Meneses’ wards are assured of at least a playoff for a Final Four berth. “Yung mga players ko, they want to prove that they belong in this league,” the head coach said after they improved to 10-6 – still solo third-place. Making it happen was Cameroonian Abdel Poutouochi who coolly converted a couple of charities to overturn a one-point deficit into a one-point advantage with 29.5 ticks to go. “Yung composure namin, nandun kanina. They got the lead then we got the basket,” Meneses said. The Golden Stags had a golden opportunity to take back the lead only to see Ryan Costelo split his defenders and shoot a runner that hit the back of the ring. Mendoza’s split from the stripe and Michael Calisaan’s botched reverse layup later and JRU sealed the deal on its third win in a row. “Tapos yung last two (possessions), we had a good stop,” the head coach said. Teodoro wound up with 11 points, including a booming triple that gave his team some separation in the last five minutes. Ervin Grospe also contributed 14 markers of his own. The Heavy Bombers need one more win to officially book a ticket into the playoffs and they try to do just that next Tuesday up against Mapua University. Without a doubt, this is already an improvement from their 9-9 finish from a season ago which had them out of the playoff picture. On the other hand, Baste needs to win out in its remaining three assignments to have a shot at the Final Four. Calisaan was the lone double-digit scorer for them in this one with 15 points to go along with 13 rebounds. BOX SCORES JRU 60 – Grospe 14, Mendoza 14, Teodoro 11, Poutouochi 10, Sawat 6, Dela Virgen 3, Abdul Razak 2, Lasquety 0, David 0 SAN SEBASTIAN 58 – Calisaan 15, Bulanadi 9, Calma 9, Ilagan 8, David 7, Navarro 3, Costelo 2, Baetiong 2, Capobres 2, Mercado 1, Gayosa 0, Are 0 QUARTER SCORES: 22-17, 33-30, 46-45, 60-58 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 6th, 2017

Player of the Week Quinto is newest Knight in shining armor

Like a Knight in shining armor, Bong Quinto came to heed the call for Colegio de San Juan de Letran, stepping up valiantly in the forefront of their crucial Final Four rally to earn the Chooks-To-Go NCAA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period of August 18 to 24. Quinto normed 21.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 30 minutes of action as Letran went 2-0 this week to improve to 7-6, tying Jose Rizal University at third place with just five games to go. With the Knights' playoff hopes on the line, the 20-year-old rose to the occasion, racking up 20 points, eight rebounds, and three assists in an all-important 84-73 win over Arellano University last Tuesday which finally ended their three-game slide and pushed them back to semifinal contention. Three days later, the former NCAA Juniors MVP then followed it up with a solid double-double of 20 points and 10 boards to go along two assists in Letran's 88-79 payback against listless Mapua University. The stretch forward Quinto eclipsed teammate Rey Nambatac, San Sebastian College-Recoletos' Renzo Navarro, San Beda College's Javee Mocon, and Lyceum of the Philippines University's CJ Perez for the weekly citation. 'Number 1 (na difference) ay 'yung leadership ng mga veterans namin - sila Rey (Nambatac), JP (Calvo) at si Bong. Good thing they stepped up and the rookies followed na lang,' coach Jeff Napa said on their resurgence. Indeed, with the bonafide Letranite Quinto leading the pack in their last two huge victories, the Knights are now on a more comfortable haven after lingering outside the Final Four just last week. Quinto and the rest of the Knights will try to shrug off the chasing Golden Stags who are just riding on their coattails at 6-6 in a gigantic battle on Tuesday. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 24th, 2017

Lyceum coach Topex: Mistakes are OK

  MANILA, Philippines – From the NCAA to the PBA D-League to the Filoil preseason tournament, Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson has always preached the same thing: Mistakes are allowed in his team. But before his Pirates clinched a 20th straight NCAA regular season win dating back to the Season 93 opener, ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

Cardinals hold off Heavy Bombers

  Mapua picked up its first win in the NCAA Season 94 men's basketball tournament, holding off a late charge by Jose Rizal University, 72-60, Thursday at JRU gym. Mapua used a seven-point spurt capped by free throws from Justin Serrano with 39.5 ticks to hand the Bombers their second loss in the tournament. Before the Cardinals' finishing kick, JRU had closed in, 65-60, after Jun Silvarez's jumper at the 4:06 mark of the final period. "What I like about this team is that everybody is ready to score," said Mapua coach Atoy Co. "Everybody has to step up because we have no go-to guy on our team this season." Mapua's bench clobbered JRU's bench, 41-25, and was able to...Keep on reading: Cardinals hold off Heavy Bombers.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

NCAA: Mapua flies higher than JRU for first win

Leaning on its newfound size advantage as well as the clutch makes of its backcourt, Mapua University is a winner in its first outing in the NCAA 94 Men’s Basketball Tournament. Skipper Christian Bunag and prized rookie Warren Bonifacio took care of the inside while Laurenz Victoria and Eric Jabel took care of the shooting as the Cardinals grounded home team Jose Rizal University, 72-60, on Thursday at the JRU Gym in Mandaluyong. The revitalized visitors took control of the contest from the get-go and didn’t give the Heavy Bombers a taste of the lead or the momentum. “Ang overall assessment ko, I’m happy that we were able to do kung ano yung mga ni-practice namin,” a satisfied head coach Atoy Co said post-game. However, the home team was still able to pull to as close as 47-50 early in the final frame before Bonifacio’s and-one capped off a 5-0 spurt that re-increased the Mapua lead to 55-47. They wouldn’t look back from there en route to a wire-to-wire win to start the season. In the end, Victoria scored 11 points on top of seven rebounds and four assists while Jabel chipped in nine markers, all but two coming in the final frame. Twin towers Bunag and Bonifacio then combined for 14 points and 19 rebounds as the Cardinals showed that they will no longer be pushovers on the inside. “Defense, defense, defense, yun talaga,” coach Atoy said. For JRU, RJ David was the lone bright spot with 12 points and three rebounds. BOX SCORES MAPUA 72 – Victoria 11, Bonifacio 10, Jabel 9, Pelayo 8, Serrano 8, Biteng 8, Lugo 6, Gamboa 6, Bunag 4, Aguirre 2, Salenga 0, Garcia 0 JRU 60 – David 12, Mendoza 11, Bordon 9, Esguerra 6, Silvarez 6, Dela Virgen 5, Santos 4, Padua 4, Miranda 3, Estrella 0, Mallari 0, Aguilar 0 QUARTER SCORES: 25-14, 34-31, 52-47, 72-60 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

NCAA: No LeBron, no Steph, but Mapua believes balance should be enough

Mapua University is off to a strong start in the NCAA 94 Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Cardinals flew higher than home team Jose Rizal University, 72-60, on Thursday even though their top scorer only had 11 points to his name. That top scorer was Laurenz Victoria and the only other player in double-digits was Warren Bonifacio who had 10 markers. For head coach Atoy Co, that just proves what he has been saying in the preseason – that Mapua is a starless squad. “Wala naman talaga kaming player na superstar, ‘di ba? Lahat kami, average lang yung player,” he shared with reporters post-game. That’s just the way the Cardinals want it, though. “I’ve been telling them na talagang everybody has to score. Ayaw ko ng role player na dedepensa lang kaya pag nalibre ka, you should know how to score,” coach Atoy said. He then continued, “Wala naman tayong LeBron James, ‘di ba? Sana meron tayong Steph Curry, pero that’s what I like about this team, talagang everybody contributes even on defense.” In the end, that’s just what he got from his boys as they had six players contributing anywhere between eight to 11 points in the scoring column. And in the end, that’s just the reason why Mapua has a share of the league lead. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

NCAA Jrs: Perps downs San Beda for first time in recent memory

STANDINGS Perpetual 1-0 San Sebastian 1-0 Arellano 0-0 EAC 0-0 JRU 0-0 Letran 0-0 LPU 0-1 LSGH 0-0 Mapua 0-0 San Beda 0-1 University of Perpetual Help accomplished what its seniors counterparts failed to do as it shocked San Beda High School, 72-69, on Sunday at the start of the 94th NCAA Juniors Basketball Tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre. Mark Gallano and Edzel Galoy led the Junior Altas with 16 points apiece and it was the two who made the game-winning plays with the former assisting to the latter in scoring the baskets that broke a 69-all deadlock. Yukihiro Kawamura then split his free throws right after the Red Cubs bungled their last play to seal the deal. “The boys showed heart,” said Perpetual coach Michael Saguiguit in Filipino. It was the Junior Altas' first victory against San Beda in recent memory. Ato Badolato, who coached the Red Cubs for decades but has retired and has turned as athletic director, said he can’t remember the last time San Beda lost to Perpetual. “I can’t remember anymore, maybe in the early 90s,” he said. The Junior Altas also avenged the Altas’ heartbreaking 65-67 defeat to the Red Lions in the league inaugurals last Saturday. In the other game, San Sebastian College-Recoletos edged out Lyceum of the Philippines University, 69-68, to join Perpetual at the helm. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME PERPETUAL 72- Gallano 16, Galoy 16, Kawamura 15, Orgo 11, Barcuma 6, Duka 3, Nunez 3, Coloma 2, Defante 0, dela Cruz 0, Lauchengco 0, Romilla 0 SAN BEDA 69- Estacio 20, Alcantara 12, Pelipel 9, Coyoca 7, Sanchez 7, Ynot 5, Talampas 5, Valencia 4, Compolente 0, Llarena 0, Oliva 0 QUARTER SCORES: 21-18; 34-33; 59-48; 72-69 SECOND GAME SAN SEBASTIAN 69- Janao 22, Balo 12, Baclaan 10, Perez 8, dela Cruz 8, Are 4, Timbancaya 3, Solatorio 2, Bonalos 0, Cortes 0, Suico 0, Austria 0 LPU 68- Barba 27, de Leon 14, Jugar 11, Gudmalin 7, Tulabut 4, de Guia 3, Omandac 2, Caringal 0, Dejelo 0, Nocal 0, Pagdanganan 0, Santos 0 QUARTER SCORES: 11-17; 34-42; 53-57; 69-68.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2018

Coaching change to Frankie Lim is much welcome for Perpetual

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 4-14, ninth YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: AJ Coronel, Prince Eze WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Frankie Lim (coach), Kim Aurin, Edgar Charcos, Jielo Razon GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Nosa Omorogbe (coach), Gab Dagangon, GJ Ylagan, Keith Pido (injured – out for season) WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM PERPETUAL? One thing’s for sure, this Perpetual team is not Frankie Lim’s team – not yet at least. The four-time NCAA champion coach had only officially taken the reins earlier last January and would need at least a year to gather and grow the team he has in mind. “I spoke to the (school’s) chairman and sinabi ko sa kanya na there’s nothing much we can do right now. Maybe in 2019, 2020 then we can build up a better team.” – head coach Frankie Lim That doesn’t mean, however, that the Altas will be pushovers in the upcoming season. Instead, the exact opposite is true as with a stern mentor like Lim on the sidelines and with talented pieces such as Nigerian powerhouse Prince Eze and versatile wing AJ Coronel as well as solid transferees Kim Aurin and Edgar Charcos on the floor, the Las Pinas-based ballers still have what it takes to compete. And who knows, Lim may very well do what he does – turning foreign reinforcement Eze into an MVP frontrunner. After all, that’s exactly what he did with the likes of Sam Ekwe and Sudan Daniel. WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM PERPETUAL? With Lim at the helm, everybody should expect a more consistent and more focused Eze. Last year, the 6-foot-11 center was the frontrunner for MVP after the first round, but was unable to lift his team onto the playoffs and thus lost out on the MVP to LPU’s CJ Perez. “Ang alam ko dati, he only goes to practice when he wants to, but since I came in, he comes to practice every single day. He works hard and that’s why he has a good chance (at MVP).” – head coach Frankie Lim Scoring forward Aurin and steady point guard Charcos are also ready and raring to prove themselves in their second chances after stints in JRU and UE, respectively. “We have a good core. Competitive siya.” – head coach Frankie Lim Most of all, though, this will be the season for Lim to show the world that he has still got it, bringing another team to legitimate and consistent contention. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR PERPETUAL? Perpetual has always known its identity – one built on stout defense and disciplined offense. Even with Lim in charge, that’s not changing. Meaning, the Altas we loved when the likes of Jong Balorio, Harold Arboleda, and Scottie Thompson were playing are still here. “I didn’t come here to lose. I want to win and that’s why we’re doing everything possible to make good things happen here.” – head coach Frankie Lim WHERE WOULD PERPETUAL BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 94? Just like a season ago, Perpetual could very well be the league’s giant-killers as, if all is well, they could match up with the best of them. Matching up is a different matter from pulling it off, however, and the Altas aren’t there just yet. “Hindi ko masabi exactly kung hanggang saan (mararating namin), pero for sure, we will compete. ‘Di man kami mag-champion, we will compete. Makikita niyo na it is fun to watch Perpetual.” – head coach Frankie Lim WHEN IS PERPETUAL’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 94? As if the season opener on July 7 at the MOA Arena needed even more color, Lim’s first game for Perpetual comes against the San Beda side he once led to four championships in five seasons. Yes, it’s the league’s traditional matchup between defending champions and season hosts – only now, with a lot more spice. As always, all of the #GalingNCAA will be on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and livestream. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 5th, 2018

Oh, how big have the Letran Knights become

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 10-10 overall, fifth, lost to San Sebastian in battle for fourth-seed YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Jeo Ambohot, Jerrick Balanza, JP Calvo, Bong Quinto WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: EJ Agbong, Bonbon Batiller, Christian Fajarito, Larry Muyang, Fran Yu GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Rey Nambatac WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM LETRAN? Even before CSB opened eyes and became the trendy pick as the darkhorse in the oncoming NCAA Season 94, Letran was the league’s most underrated team since last year. With strong showings in several preseason leagues this year ranging from championships and playoff appearances, though, the Knights have already proven themselves to be more than a darkhorse. “’Di na kami pwede biruin ng teams na makakalaban namin.” – head coach Jeff Napa Letran will bank on the same core that got it one win short of the playoffs a season ago – only now, that same core is better than ever. Bong Quinto is the prototype point forward for modern basketball, JP Calvo is as steady and as reliable as they come, Jerrick Balanza looks like he has matured, and Jeo Ambohot has gone from two-way force to, well, Gilas cadet. “Yung mga leaders namin, nandyan pa rin like si Jerrick, si Bong, si JP, at si Ambohot.” – head coach Jeff Napa Yes, Letran lifer Rey Nambatac is no longer here, but replacing him will be a couple of capable wings in former University of the East stud Bonbon Batiller and ex-Adamson High School and Chiang Kai Shek do-it-all player EJ Agbong. However, the biggest – and we mean that literally – change for the Knights is their big, big frontline now composed of Ambohot, Larry Muyang, Christian Fajarito, and Christian Balagasay. None of those big men are shorter than 6-foot-4 and with the four of them taking turns manning the post, Letran’s size problem is now a thing of the past. “Last year talaga, masyaong nag-rely ako sa veterans e. Ngayon, ‘di na kailangang ganun masyado kasi yung mga bago namin, nagko-compliment sa kanila.” – head coach Jeff Napa WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM LETRAN? We can no longer call Letran a darkhorse, but what we can do is call Quinto a darkhorse for MVP. Mark my words, the graduating forward will be right there alongside CJ Perez and Prince Eze in putting up numbers for his team. Aside from Quinto, we will see that the Knights are now truly Jeff Napa’s team – meaning a team built on interior dominance and physical defense. Napa built up a UAAP Juniors dynasty in Nazareth School of National University by discovering and then developing bigs such as Mark Dyke and Justine Baltazar. In Quinto, Ambohot, and the rest of that big, big Letran frontline, he has the materials to do that in the NCAA Seniors. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR LETRAN? It wasn’t that too long ago when Letran made a magical run all the way to a championship. In fact, that was just in 2015. That magical run can happen again for Intramuros, but only this time, the Knights will not be using size as their advantage instead of speed. WHERE WOULD LETRAN BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 94? Book a playoff return for Letran. Book it. There’s even a possibility that they can creep into the Finals – if somehow, some way, they figure out either San Beda or LPU. “Very confident ako ngayon kasi last year, kulang talaga kami sa tao. Ngayon, naging maganda na yung composition ng team. That’s why magiging maganda ang performance namin ngayong taon.” – head coach Jeff Napa What’s certain is that the Knights complete the three surefire contenders for NCAA Season 94. WHEN IS LETRAN’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 94? Letran unleashes its big bad lineup to the rest of the NCAA on July 10 at the Filoil Flying V Centre. First up for them will be rebuilding Emilio Aguinaldo College. As always, all of the #GalingNCAA will be on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and livestream. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

Ateneo dumps San Beda for Filoil crown

They beat the defending champions while their big man wound up bagging the Most Valuable Player award. In just one game, Ateneo sent a chilling message to its foes in the coming UAAP season.   Knocking the crown off the Eagles' heads will be a tough challenge.   Ateneo made dismantling NCAA champion San Beda look so easy, coasting to a 76-62 victory to claim the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup crown on Saturday night at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.   "We talked about our defense and we had to take something from what worked for us and learn from the past games and the players responded," Ateneo assistant head coach Sandy Arespacochaga said. &n...Keep on reading: Ateneo dumps San Beda for Filoil crown.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 30th, 2018

Red-hot Escamis carries Robins over Cubs, onto Filoil title

With the graduation of Will Gozum, Mike Enriquez, and Warren Bonifacio, Clint Escamis is now the main man for Mapua High School. The third-year player proved that much on Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre, tallying a game-high 30 points to tow the Red Robins right through rival San Beda High School, 78-72. With his team down by one inside the last two minutes, Escamis scored half in the 8-1 finishing kick that pushed Mapua onto the mountaintop of the 2018 Filoil Flying V Centre. It’s that kind of leadership that the 5-foot-11 swingman wants to bring into the looming NCAA 94. “Malaking responsibility to step up ngayong wala na sina Will at Mike at yung iba pa, pero malaking opportunity rin siya,” Escamis, who was also rightfully recognized as Tournament MVP, told reporters post-game. It was definitely not a one-man show for the Red Robins, though, as three of their big men posted double-doubles. Paolo Hernandez had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Joinel Policarpop had 12 points and 10 rebounds of his own, and Grant Dennison had 11 points and 10 rebounds. With that, the 2017 champions of the NCAA Juniors got for themselves a big boost in confidence. “Malaking bagay ‘to para sa amin to prove we can compete in the NCAA,” assistant coach Ian Racela said. The Red Cubs won’t have to wait long for the chance to get back at their rivals as the NCAA 94 tips off a week from now. Jade Talampas showed the way for them in this one with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double while Justine Sanches had his own 16 markers and 19 boards. In the battle for third, Nazareth School of National University got the better of Far Eastern University-Diliman, 97-90. Bacolod recruit Harold Alarcon broke out with 23 points while Reyland Torres and Kevin Quiambao chipped in 15 and 14 markers, respectively. For the Baby Tamaraws, RJ Abarrientos topped the scoring column with 24 points. BOX SCORES FINALS MAPUA 78 — Escamis 30, Hernandez 12, Policarpio 12, Dennison 11, Sarias 6, Mariano 4, Arches 3, Chaves 0, Diaz 0, Lazarte 0, Samonteza 0, Smith 0, Tagal 0. SAN BEDA 72 — Talampas 20, Sanchez 16, Amsali 13, Oliva 7, Valencia 3, Pelipel 3, Calaguin 2, Llarena 2, Ynot 2, Alcantara 0. QUARTER SCORES: 13-18, 35-37, 53-52, 78-72. BATTLE FOR THIRD NU 97 – Alarcon 23, Torres 15, Quiambao 14, Dayrit 12, Abiera 8, Gonzales 6, Enriquez 5, Vinoya 5, Mailim 4, Songcuya 2, Felicilda 2, Buensalida 1, Lantaya 0. FEU 90 – Abarrientos 24, Alforque 21, Ona 13, Anonuevo 9, Torres 6, Armendez 5, San Pablo 3, Bradley 3, Libago 2, Barasi 2, Tolentino 2, Hontiveros 0, Mantua 0. QUARTER SCORES: 17-26, 46-47, 79-64, 97-90. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 30th, 2018

Whatever happened to two-time NCAA MVP Allwell Oraeme?

Alwell Oraeme, without a doubt, dominated in his two years in the NCAA. Averaging 16.3 points, 20.3 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks in Season 91 and 15.8 markers, 19.8 boards, and 2.3 rejections in Season 92, Mapua University’s Nigerian powerhouse was the hands-down MVP in back-to-back years. Early last year, however, Oraeme had a falling out of sorts with Cardinals mentor Atoy Co. “Wala nang Oraeme (sa Mapua),” Co said last April 2017. Since then, the 6-foot-8 center’s whereabouts have been a mystery. Now, however, it looks like somebody finally has an answer to the question, “Where is Allwell Oraeme?” And, ironically, it’s coach Atoy himself who has the answer. “I heard he’s in Florida now,” he told reporters in their visit to their campus in Intramuros on Thursday. According to the always amiable mentor, Oraeme had been sending out feelers that he is hoping to return. As he put it, “Meron siyang mga pasabi, hindi sa akin, pero nakakarating sa akin, na may kinakausap siyang tao rito na gusto niyang bumalik.” For Co, that would be a welcome development for a Mapua side hoping for a return to relevance in the looming NCAA Season 94. “Kung gusto niyang bumalik, wala namang problema. Alam ko namang kailangan ko siya sa team,” he remarked. However, another misunderstanding has emerged in the relationship of coach Atoy and Allwell. “Gusto niya na bayaran namin yung airfare. Sa akin, wala namang problema yun kasi magkano lang ba airfare,” the former shared. He then continued, “Kaya nga lang, kung willing ka talagang bumalik, bumili ka ng sarili mong airfare para ipakita mo na in good (faith) na willing kang bumalik.” In the end, Co said that Oraeme has yet again proven that he does not value their relationship. “Ang gulo niyang kausap. Una sa lahat, hindi makatotohanan yung sinabi niya sa amin. Sabi niya, magpapahinga raw, pero yun pala, may balak siyang iba,” he said. Finally, the Cardinals mentor revealed the real reason for the departure of the two-time NCAA MVP. “In January (2017), he begged off, nakikiusap kung pwede siya mag-rest to heal yung injury sa legs niya. I said we’ll see and kung talagang ‘di ka makaka-recover, I will let you rest,” he said. He then continued, “Pero hindi pala yun ang katotohanan. Meron siyang girlfriend na nabuntis niya. Tamang-tama, yung girlfriend, American citizen na nagwo-work sa US Embassy and that’s why he was able to get a US visa.” If Mapua head coach Atoy Co is to be believed, Allwell Oraeme is in Florida. Until Allwell Oraeme himself comes out of hiding, though, nobody could be certain about that. What’s sure is that Mapua looks like the last of places the Nigerian powerhouse would be in – if ever he surfaces in the Philippines. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2018

Q& A: Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com A year ago, on the night of the 2017 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls switched gears. Jimmy Butler was traded to Minnesota, taking with him any pretense that the Bulls were a legitimate playoff team. In that moment, Chicago committed to a rebuild, which is to say, a dive into the draft lottery where coach Fred Hoiberg and his team presumably would be rewarded not for how many games they won but how many they lost. By whatever means necessary. Soon after Butler was moved to the Timberwolves, veteran point guard Rajon Rondo was waived. A few months later, Dwyane Wade was cut loose (via a handsome buyout) to bounce through Cleveland to Miami. The Bulls moved forward with three young pieces courtesy of the Wolves -- wing Zach LaVine, guard Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick in 2017, rookie forward Lauri Markkanen -- and a general acceptance that getting from there to here was going to bring a lot of pain. Some of that was literal: Bobby Portis slugged teammate Nikola Mirotic in a preseason practice, breaking two facial bones and putting Mirotic on the shelf for 23 games. Some of it was figurative: the frustration of a season that began as a 3-20 mess and ended in a 10-28 slog. In between, though, the Bulls somehow put together a 14-7 stretch that offered a glimpse of what 2018-19 might be. It also cost them precious lottery balls, eventually leaving them with the No. 7 pick (and No. 22, after dealing Mirotic in February to New Orleans) in Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) Draft. Hoiberg, who went from an alleged coaching “hot seat” during two .500 seasons, wound up with more job security as a coach headed toward 50 defeats and beyond. He spoke with NBA.com about his and the Bulls’, er, challenging season. This is edited from a pair of longer conversations, one at the end of the regular season, the other within the past week. NBA.com: So you go through everything that was 2017-18, dutifully lose 55 games and wind up at No. 7 instead of in the top three for the Draft. The inevitable question is, was it worth it? Fred Hoiberg: Obviously you’re disappointed. You were hoping to move up. But we’re confident we’re going to get a good player with the No. 7 pick and we’re confident we’ll get a good player with the 22nd pick. NBA.com: C’mon, this isn’t our first rodeo. I get that people don’t like to use the word “tanking,” but the Bulls’ marching orders last season were pretty clear. FH: I don’t think you can look at it that way in the midst of your season. The players are competitive, your staff is competitive. You want to play as well as you can and put yourself in a position to win. When you look at the successful stretch that we had in December and January, you think about carrying those things forward and then adding, based on who we get, to the roster. There was some real frustration that we didn’t get a lot of wins at the end. But we developed some younger players and saw what we had with some of our guys. NBA.com: When you guys had that run before the season’s midpoint, winning seven in a row (first team in NBA history with such a long winning streak immediately after a losing streak of 10 in a row) and 10 of 12, did you and the front office ever consider a Plan B? As in, maybe, show potential free agents how good your supporting cast could be, in hopes of luring big-name help this summer? FH: I think we did. What we showed was a really good foundation and a young core that we can build around. When I look back at it, I just wish we could have had more opportunity to work with it and see what it would have looked like. When Zach LaVine came back [Jan. 13 from ACL knee surgery], the plan was for him to play about 20 minutes a night. Then his third game, Kris Dunn fell against Golden State and had that concussion [that cost him 11 games, before missing the final 14 with a toe injury]. It’s too bad we didn’t get the full look. But players like Cam Payne, Denzel [Valentine], Bobby, Robin [Lopez], Justin Holiday all had career years.   NBA.com: You had a lot of injuries down the stretch. Not to suggest that they weren’t all legit, but were you instructed at any point by VP John Paxson or GM Gar Forman to dial it back after that 14-7 success? FH: No, we weren’t. And the big thing from the very beginning of last season, the two things we wanted to see, was competing at a high level every night and the development of our players. I think we accomplished that. NBA.com: What -- in your background as a player, coach, competitor, you name it -- prepared you for this past season? FH: Part of what prepared me for this was, I had been through this as a player. I went from four really competitive teams in Indiana, playing with someone as driven and helpful as Reggie Miller, taking me under his wing. There were other great veteran players who helped me just to survive and taught me a lot. Larry Brown was the coach, then Larry Bird my last two years.   Then when I came to Chicago, I knew it would be an opportunity to play. But it was a rebuild. Eventually I got thrust into the role of captain, as the oldest player on team at 28. It really helped me with what we’re going through now. I learned how important it is to keep guys’ morale up and be positive through the ups and downs. I give our guys all the credit in the world for remaining so positive, keeping up a great work ethic and still being sponges in wanting to learn. NBA.com: What were the takeaways from the best and healthiest part of last season? FH: We got a pretty good feel for what Kris Dunn can be. He really evolved into being a closer for our team. Lauri was closing games for us, taking big shots as a 20-year-old kid. Zach had the game against Minnesota. What people fail to remember about Zach, he averaged over 22 points a game in February and really got into a pretty good rhythm. Then he had some knee soreness and wound up sitting for the rest of the year. But we had some flashes of what this can turn into. NBA.com: Niko paid for his role in sparking that hot streak. FH: Niko was great. He missed those first 23, and I thought our team handled that adverse situation about as well as anybody could, not letting it affect us in a negative way. We were able to move past it. You even saw the chemistry that Niko and Bobby played with when they were out there together. NBA.com: How hard was it personally downshifting from a team that had gone to the playoffs to one that didn’t put a priority on winning? FH: When the move was made on draft night, when those three kids came in, right away there was an excitement. Everyone had seen what Zach had done. He was a highlight reel and had those slam dunk championships. He plays the game with ease on the offensive end. His athletic tools and ability to get up and down the floor. Kris, everybody absolutely loved coming out of the draft [in 2016]. Then he had an up-and-down rookie season. Helping him to get that swagger back that he had coming out of Providence took some work, but he was aching to put that work in. Markkanen, I know the guys upstairs knew how good he was but I had no idea. I didn’t study him because we had the 15th pick. He comes over after a grueling summer -- summer league, Eurobasket with all that pressure in front of his home fans -- and he was exhausted. But then you saw every day, “Man, this kid is really good.” You’re thinking, we could probably put the ball in this kid’s hands. Then he goes up and dunks over a whole team and you say, “My God, this kid’s more athletic than we thought. He uses his feet, he’s got anticipation, he’s got toughness.” He showed a little more every day. NBA.com: Was it difficult asking a proud veteran like Robin Lopez to put it in idle over the final 25 games? FH: I think he understood. He’s been a part of a lot of different situations. He was great. He continued to lead. He continued to practice hard. He talked to the bigs as they came off the floor. NBA.com: Was your own health challenged at all by the stress of this season? Your past issues related to your heart are widely known, and coaching an NBA team even in the best of times is a demanding job. FH: After two open-heart surgeries, I do have to sometimes check myself. There are so many things you can over-concern yourself with in this business. Then you look back a week or two later and say, “My God, why did I put so much effort into that one stupid thing that happened?” You have to let go sometimes. My family is so important for me with that. You get some normalcy in your life. [At night, lying in bed, Hoiberg can hear a valve in his heart every time it beats. He let a visitor listen, too, and sure enough... ] If this ever affected me to the point where I had to throttle back, I would move on to something else. When I had my first surgery and they removed the diseased tissue from the aorta that had an aneurysm in it, they got rid of the problem. The valve deteriorated after they put a new valve in and they had to go in again, but the diseased tissue no longer was there. If it was a risk, I’d be doing something else. But it’s a constant reminder. You think you’re going to get used to it, but you never really do. My wife will be lying next to me and she hears it. NBA.com: When you look back on 2017-18, is it like “Casablanca” for you guys? As in, you’ll always have December? FH: It was fun to see how much the work paid off. Everyone was putting so much into it to get out of that slump. You can say, we had something to build on there. But whenever I talked to our team, before or after, it was all about competing on a nightly basis. Being consistent with their effort. I couldn’t be more proud of how they handled it. They were on time. They kept trying to get better. They worried about what they could control. I didn’t have to have even one of those conversations where I sat a guy down and said, “You’re not playing hard enough.” I did have a few conversations where I said, “You need to move the ball more.” [laughs] NBA.com: Big difference, coaching relative kids after the so-called “three alphas” of Butler, Wade and Rondo? Jimmy seemed eager to stay here to win. FH: Jimmy did so many things for this team. He was great to coach. You knew every night you were going to get an unbelievable effort. A guy who never backed down. Who never shied away from the big shot. And was going to defend at a high level every time he stepped on the floor. So Jimmy was missed in a lot of ways. But when you look at the young guys’ abilities, it’s exciting. NBA.com: What do you make of having better job security now that the losses are mounting, compared to those .500 seasons? FH: I don’t think any one of the 30 guys in our position pay attention to that. You can’t do your job if you do. You go in and try to improve as an individual, as a staff, as a team. Our first year, Derrick Rose suffered an orbital fracture in the first workout. We had 10 rotation players who missed double-digit games. Two starters missed 50 or more [Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah]. Niko had that botched appendix surgery. The next year was a completely different team. Nobody predicted we’d be a playoff team but we were and had a good chance to beat Boston before Rondo got hurt. NBA.com: When you’re not coaching veterans, is it a purer form, as far as installing “your” system vs. tailoring things to them? FH: You always look for the best system, the best approach. The basics don’t change, but [in 2016-17] we had a lot more isolation players, so we ran more of those types of actions. This [past] year, more ball movement, player movement fit this group better. We had longer, harder practices as opposed to a veteran group as the year went on. NBA.com: Since the end of the season, how much time have you put in on developmental activities and draft preparation? FH: We’ve had a lot of guys in and gotten a lot of work in, in the early part of the offseason. We’re looking forward to working again after the draft with some new young players as part of the roster. It’s all about moving forward. NBA.com: As you look back over the past year, with the script flipping to the point where the Bulls wanted to win by losing and maybe lost -- some draft position, anyway -- by winning, what goes through your mind? FH: What was Donovan Mitchell [the Rookie of the Year finalist chosen by Utah]? The 13th pick? You just never know with the draft. You play hard, you get the culture established the way you want it and things take care of themselves. What really would have been devastating would have been ending the season with negativity, with your team not playing hard, with your team disinterested. That’s something that would be a real cause for concern going into an offseason. But our guys felt good about themselves. Some were sacrificing in a big way and pulling for younger guys. They were playing hard, they were cheering for each other. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 19th, 2018

Team manager Dan Palami hopes new coach re-energizes Azkals

With new head coach Terry Butcher set to join the Azkals as they begin preparations for the upcoming 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, there are already expectations from the Philippine National Men’s Football Team moving forward. And from team manager Dan Palami’s side, he expects the former England skipper to re-energize the Pinoy squad as they get ready for what’s set to be a crucial pair of tournaments in the coming months. “I expect him to bring new energy, his leadership when he was a player and as a coach in his clubs will be infectious and will give the players the high that’s needed, rejuvenate them and get them to prove themselves in the competitions that are about to come.” Palami told ABS-CBN Sports. (READ ALSO: Azkals captain Phil Younghusband excited to learn from new coach) The arrival of Butcher signals the end of the Thomas Dooley era for the Azkals.  Dooley, who handled the Philippine National Team from 2014 to 2018, steered the Azkals to their biggest win yet, one over Tajikistan to secure their spot in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in Philippine football history, in his final match with the team.  And while there was nothing but gratitude for what Dooley did with the team during his four year stint, Palami explains that changes needed to be made, even coming off the heels of the team's biggest victory in history.  "Believe you me, when everything seems to be looking up, then you have to prepare for that, because you usually see a lot of downs, but the good thing is, we’re up and down, up and down, but the general trend is going up." "We wanna make sure that that continues and even bring it up some more, and that’s why sometimes we have to make changes, it’s a catalyst that will make us perform better, I hope, because historically, that’s how it’s been. Everytime we make changes, people criticize it, people get anxious, but at the end of the day, we have shown that our perfomance has gotten better." Palami added.  Later this year, the Azkals will be participating in the Suzuki Cup, and it could be a shot at redemption after having crashed out of the semifinals in the tournament’s previous staging back in 2016. Barely two months after the Suzuki Cup, the Azkals embark on their most important journey yet, as they kick off their AFC Asian Cup campaign, the highest level they’ve ever been on. Being grouped with South Korea, China, and Kyrgyzstan in Group C, it’s definitely an uphill battle for the Azkals, given that the country is on the lower tier of the pool in terms of rankings. Palami says that defying the odds is nothing new to Butcher, who back in 2009 to 2013, took a relegated Inverness club back to the Scottish Premier League. “Let’s face it, the Philippines is not the most palatable country to coach, but I think with Coach Terry, he has been in similarly-situated conditions, although in club levels. When he was in Inverness, he achieved a great deal with such a small club with such a small budget.” “It’s kind of inspiring, it parallels the journey of the Azkals, na parang maybe he could do the same, and he’s shown that kind of spirit throughout these years, since that time. I’m looking forward to him sharing that experience and bringing that experience dito sa atin.” Palami added. With a new coach, a new coaching staff, and new beginnings, this could be the start of something grand for the Azkals. For Palami and the rest of the squad, it’s nothing but excitement for the coming months. “I think everybody’s excited. We look forward to the tandem of Terry and [Senior Football Adviser] Scott [Cooper] doing a lot for Philippine football and the Azkals.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

NCAA 94 opens with San Beda vs ex-coach Frankie Lim and Perpetual

San Beda University will begin its title defense in the NCAA 94 Men’s Basketball Tournament up against somebody who knows a thing or two about its winning tradition. The Red Lions’ first test in the new season will come on July 7 at the MOA Arena and will come against hosts University of Perpetual Help and its new coach in Frankie Lim. As always, the latest tournament in the first and oldest collegiate league in the Philippines will be on S+A, S+A HD, and livestream. In the season-opener tipping off at 2:00 PM, San Beda will trot out an almost intact lineup still led by Mythical selection Javee Mocon, Finals MVP Donald Tankoua, and top gun Robert Bolick. Also expected to contribute are AC Soberano, Clint Doliguez, and Jomari Presbitero as well as prized rookie Evan Nelle. Opposite them will be Lim who won four championships as Red Lions mentor in the 2000s and who now leads the Altas as they try to return to relevance. He will lean on holdovers Prince Eze and AJ Coronel as well as incoming talent like Edgar Charcos and Jielo Razon. Of course, before the first game of Season 94, there will be opening ceremonies at 12:00 PM. In the day’s other game at 4:00 PM, Season 93 runner-up Lyceum of the Philippines University embarks on a new voyage with San Sebastian College-Recoletos as the first obstacle in its way. Here is the full schedule for the first round: --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2018

Future is now: Tatum, Celtics push Cavaliers to the brink

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BOSTON - Someone might want to change their All-Rookie team ballot after this one. Jayson Tatum, so young that he actually drinks the Gatorade that’s on the table when he has a podium game rather than leaving it there for cameras and branding, got 99 out of a 100 possible first-place votes from media folks for the newbie honors announced Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). That left him a vote shy of both Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, the dueling favorites for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award when it’s announced next month. If Tatum merely is the Boston Celtics’ favorite rookie, though, that’s plenty. And wherever Simmons and Mitchell are at the moment, their seasons and postseasons are over. The Boston kid still is playing. Tatum scored 24 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished four assists, pilfered four steals and blocked two shots to led the Celtics to their 96-83 Game 5 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) at TD Garden. His plus/minus rating of plus-19 was second only to veteran Al Horford’s (plus-22) and in a pivotal game in which his teammates shot a combined 34 percent, Tatum -- who turned 20 on March 3 -- hit three of his seven three-pointers, all but one of his eight free throws and seven of his 15 field-goal attempts overall. “I think his composure [is impressive], he plays above his age,” LeBron James said earlier in the day. “I think the unfortunate events of the injuries that they’ve had have allowed him to, I believe, get better faster than I believe they expected here. It’s given him an opportunity to make ... make mistakes and learn from them and still be on the floor.” Losing Gordon Hayward to a gruesome leg injury in the season’s opening game and having Kyrie Irving limp into knee surgery and the sunset of this season in March did bump most of Boston’s players, the rookie included, up a couple spots in coach Brad Stevens’ pecking order. The No. 3 pick in last June’s Draft, Tatum was going to get his share of playing time. But he wound up becoming the fifth rookie in NBA history, and the first since Stephen Curry in 2009-10, to score at least 1,000 points and hit at least 40 percent of his three-pointers. Only eight previous rookies in Boston’s storied franchise history totaled 1,000 or more points. Jaylen Brown, Boston’s second-year wing, developed in tandem with Tatum. The pair of lithe, skilled players dripping with potential has most of the league’s personnel execs and coaches drooling. Except, with Game 6 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) in Cleveland for the first of two shots at eliminating the Cavaliers, the Celtics are playing as if their future is now. A truism in the NBA is that, by the end of a rookie’s first arduous season, he’s not a rookie anymore. Mix in some force-feeding due to Boston’s two injured stars and now three playoff rounds, and Tatum is racing to the right on his learning curve. “I think that we misuse the word ‘development’ sometimes,” Stevens said. “I think we're in the business of ‘enhancement.’ I think Jayson was ready to deal with everything that comes with this because of who he is and his family and all his coaches before, because he's a very emotionally steady, smart player that was going to perform at a high level above his age. “I don't know that anybody could guess this as a rookie, but you knew he was going to be really good.” Tatum sorta had to be in Game 5. Brown got matched up in a lot of Boston’s defensive coverage of James and picked up his second and third personal fouls in the second quarter. Point guard Terry Rozier looked like his road alter ego, missing 6-of-7 shots in the game’s first 24 minutes. But Tatum -- who averaged 12.7 points against Cleveland in three regular-season meetings but is at 17.2 so far in the East finals -- had 12 points by halftime, helping the Celtics to their 53-42 lead. “I just enjoy playing in the big moments, in the big games,” Tatum said. “I think that’s when I have the most fun, when things are on the line.” It was Tatum racing downcourt to chase down Kevin Love’s errant pass into the backcourt and finish with a layup that had Boston up 74-58. And it was Tatum who drew a foul on Kyle Korver with 3:11 left, prompting Cavs coach Tyronn Lue to pull a weary James. “I thought he was aggressive. I thought he was poised,” Lue said of Tatum. “Even though he was scoring the basketball, he didn’t try to rush or he didn’t press. ... He played like a veteran.” Tatum put in his work defensively Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), but also got as good as he gave. It’s become a familiar tactic for defenders to get physically aggressive with him, trying to exploit what at this stage still is limited strength by NBA standards. His father Justin, a basketball coach in St. Louis, has said he plays tall and hasn’t yet learned to utilize his base. “JR [Smith], Jeff Green, they're playing really hard on Tatum and making it very tough,” Stevens said. “He's had a lot of experiences over the last couple weeks dealing with playoff defense. I thought Milwaukee guarded him exceptionally hard and were really committed when he drove to the rim to having multiple bodies there. I thought that Philly obviously guarded him very hard. It's hard to make plays at this level in these games, and he's done that pretty consistently.” The numbers back that up. Tatum by halftime had become only the sixth rookie in league history to reach 300 points in the postseason, the first since Jack Sikma in 1978. It was his ninth playoff game of 20 points or more, tying him with Mitchell this season and David Robinson in 1990 for second most by a rookie since 1964; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 10 in 1970. Tatum, Brown and a few other young Celtics have given credit for the team’s unexpected success -- considering the injuries, anyway -- to Al Horford, the most obvious grown-up in Boston’s locker room. When Horford was asked late Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) what it’s like for him being around “these kids,” he sounded a little like James three years ago. That’s when Irving was hobbling, eventually blowing out a knee that spring, and Kevin Love was done for the playoffs due to a shoulder injury suffered in the first round. That’s also when James looked at the raw help he had from guys such as Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova, and locked in on the possibility of reaching the Finals. “It's a lot of fun, just because these guys, they want to play the right way,” Horford said. “They play hard. I feel like we hold each other accountable out there. I think that's a big thing.  And when those things happen, it becomes fun. It's fun to me. And there's no coincidence why we're in this position right now.” Youth is being served, at least on the Celtics’ floor. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2018