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SEA Games: We will play Thailand in the Finals -- Suzara on PHI women s volleyball team

Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee executive director and Philippine volleyball figure Ramon ‘Tats’ Suzara believes that the national squad will have a great chance to land a podium finish when the country hosts the 30th edition of the biennial meet from November 30 to December 10 next year. The men’s and women’s national squads participated in the last two SEA Games editions in Singapore and Malaysia after skipping the sport for a decade. However, the Nationals failed to land a medal both times. “Of course, people were expecting to get a medal last year in Kuala Lumpur but it doesn’t take a year to prepare the national team. It takes two SEA Games to prepare the national team,” said Suzara, who is also the FIVB and Asian Volleyball Confederation marketing and development committee chairman. PHI women’s volleyball team head coach Ramil De Jesus held two tryouts last month to form a new squad that will participate in the Asian Games in July and the Asian Cup in August.       Exposure in these major international competitions according to Suzara will equip the Pinay volleybelles in its search for a SEA Games medal. The Filipinas landed a bronze medal in the 2005 Manila edition and last won a gold medal back in 1993 in the Singapore meet. “In fact, they asked me why in the SEA Games why volleyball is important. I just told them that we will play Thailand in the Finals,” said Suzara. “Our women’s volleyball has to play very well in the Asian Games and in the Asian Cup but our target is the SEA Games.” “SEA Games is so important in our heart so we should play in the Finals,” he added. “Even our chef de mission Monsour Del Rosario asked me last night, ‘What do you think of our women’s volleyball? Can we play in the Finals?’ I just said that I’m always positive that our women’s volleyball should play in the Finals.” Volleyball is considered as the second most popular sport in the country next to basketball. The local organizing committee after the two-day SEA Games Federation Council meeting announced that volleyball games will be held at the Big Dome. And Suzara is optimistic that fans will fill the venue to show their support.    “I’m sure (fans will fill the arena),” he said. “Of course, we have men’s volleyball and we have to give that attention. But I think out women’s national team has to work hard and with their experience in the Asian Games this year and the Asian Cup we should know where we are at the level. We should work hard. Our national team should work hard to reach this level in 2019. “We still have a year and a half for our national team to be on top.”       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 17th, 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

Nat’l squad looking to play in both commercial leagues

Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. looks to enter the national women’s volleyball team as a guest squad in the country’s two commercial leagues as part of its preparation for three major international tournaments. The volleyball association announced Sunday that the yet to be assembled national team will play in the 2018 PSL Invitational set to begin on June 23. LVPI vice president Peter Cayco said that the Nationals, skippered by F2 Logistics star Aby Marano, will participate in the conference as a ‘guest team’.      “Ako ang lumapit sa PSL if pwede nila ma-accommodate ang national team, isali nila sa Invitational Conference parang guest team,” said Cayco. “Pumayag naman sila sa set up na guest team kami (national team) and hindi kasama sa win-loss records ng teams. Parang tune up lang nila kami, no bearing.” Cayco added that he is also looking to talk to the PVL to accommodate the national team in its next conference. The official cited that it was practical to enter the squad in the PSL as the PVL is already in their playoff stage.  “Sa PVL naman, hindi ko na inilapit sa kanila kasi ayaw ko makagulo kasi quarters na sila and going to semis na,” he said. “Nasa importanteng stage na sila ng liga nila so ayaw ko naman makagulo.” “Sa next conference nila, sa kanila naman ako makikiusap na kung pwede, same setup, ma-accommodate rin nila ang national team,” Cayco added. Head coach Shaq Delos Santos is expected to announce the names of the players that will be included in the projected 20-woman pool early this week. From the pool, Delos Santos will pick the 14 players that will compose the final lineup set to participate in the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games in August, the AVC Asia Cup in Thailand in September and in the 2019 Manila Southeast Asian Games. Cayco cleared that the national team players will have an option to play in their respective mother clubs.   “If magkasabay or maging magkalaban ‘yung club team and national team, the player will play sa club team niya because we have 20 players in the pool so OK lang if sa club team maglaro ‘yung player,” he said. “For example, si Aby, if national team versus F2 Logistics, doon siya sa F2.” As for the PVL players who will be included in the national team, Cayco will try to talk to the league to allow them to play. “Now ‘yung PVL players we will ask the PVL, the team owners, sa mother teams nila kung pwede maglaro yung mga players for the national team sa PSL,” said Cayco. “Para sa national team sila maglalaro and not for the PSL.” Creamline’s Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado and Mel Gohing and Pocari Sweat-Air Force’s Myla Pablo are the PVL players invited by the LVPI to join the national team hopefuls.   ---      Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 10th, 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

Arellano U begins title defense against hungry San Beda

Games Friday: (FilOil Flying V Centre, San Juan) 10:00 a.m. –- Letran vs. EAC (jrs. semis) 1:30 p.m. –- Arellano U vs Perpetual (m) 3:30 p.m. –- awarding ceremonies 4:00 p.m. –- Arellano U vs. San Beda (w)   Experience versus hunger, dynasty against destiny. Reigning champion Arellano University begins its title defense on Friday when the Lady Chiefs clash with first-time finalist San Beda University in Game 1 of the best-of-three 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Game time is at 4:00 p.m. after the individual awards rites at 3:30 p.m. The match will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA on SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD on SkyCable Channel 183 and via livestream. Arellano U is on its third Finals appearance after stints in Season 90 and 92. The Lady Chiefs went on to win it all on both championship trips. The Legarda-based squad closed the eliminations with an 8-1 win-loss record tied with the Lady Red Spikers. Arellano U swept first-time semifinalists and Season Most Valuable Player Shola Alvarez-led Jose Rizal University, 25-13, 25-20, 25-17, in their sixth Final Four appearance. “Ni-remind ko lang sa mga players ko na ibigay na natin ang dapat nating ibigay pagdating sa Finals kasi ito na ‘yun eh, dumaan na tayo sa mahirap na mahirap na sitwasyon ‘wag na natin bigyan ng pagkakataon na maisahan tayo ng kalaban,” said Lady Chiefs coach Obet Javier. Arellano U will parade a solid roster led by graduating hitter Jovielyn Prado, Regine Arocha, Mary Anne Esguerra, Andrea Marzan and Rookie of the Year winner Necole Ebuen. The Lady Chiefs dominated San Beda in their elimination round meeting, 25-17, 25-10, 25-17, on Jan. 26 with Lady Red Spikers top hitter Cesca Racraquin limited to a season-low six points. But San Beda, which made history with a historic first championship appearance, is playing with nothing to lose and believes that the pressure is on the Lady Chiefs side as they try to avoid an upset against an upstart team. The Lady Red Spikers downed the Perpetual Help Lady Altas, 25-21, 25-15, 25-23, to book a championship berth. “I think kasi sa amin no pressure naman kasi ano pa lang naman kami, kami ang challenger,” said Racraquin. “So kailangan laruin lang namin (ang laro namin), relax lang kami and then sila nasa kanila ang pressure kasi sila gusto nila mag-back-to-back.” “Basta ‘yun lang relax lang kami, play our game and si God na ang bahala,” added Racraquin, who will be backed by the Viray twins Nieza and Jiezela, setter Rebecca Cuevas and Satrianni Espiritu. Game 2 is on Monday. Meanwhile, the unbeaten Altas begin their campaign to regain the crown they lost last year at the hands of College of St. Benilde in a best-of-three Finals showdown with the Chiefs. Perpetual, in search of its 11th title, swept the nine-game elims and earned an outright Finals berth while Arellano U dethroned the Blazers, 25-22, 28-26, 25-23, in the stepladder semis Tuesday. In juniors play, Emilio Aguinaldo College and Letran dispute the last Finals berth to challenge four-peat-seeking Perpetual Help at 10:00 a.m.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 15th, 2018

NO SWEEP: CSB stuns Arellano U

Games Tuesday: (FilOil Flying V Centre, San Juan) 8:00 a.m. –- San Beda vs SSC-R (jrs) 9:30 a.m. –- San Beda vs. SSC-R (m) 11:00 a.m. –- San Beda vs. SSC-R (w) 12:30 p.m. –- Mapua vs. Perpetual (w) 2:00 p.m. –- Mapua vs. Perpetual (m)   No sweep. College of St. Benilde shocked repeat-seeking Arellano University in a huge morale-boosting upset win, 25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 25-12, to remain on the right track in the race for the 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball tournament Final Four at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The Lady Blazers relied on their solid net defense and heavy serves to claim their fourth win in seven outings while putting a blemish on the semis-bound Lady Chiefs’ record after eight games. The win denied Arellano U of a chance to complete an elimination round sweep and an outright best-of-three Finals berth. This is the first time in three years that the league will play a Final Four format after San Sebastian College swept the elims in Seasons 91 and 92 that forced a stepladder semis. CSB’s victory, a sweet revenge on the same team that dethroned the Lady Blazers in Season 92 stepladder semis, also snapped Arellano U’s 19-game winning streak that started last season. “Sabi ko nga sa preparation namin, itong Arellano maghahabol ng sweep and at the same time sila ang defending champion so mayroon talagang mag-iiba ang identity nila pagdating sa laro,” said CSB interim coach Arnold Laniog. “Pero once na magawa namin na mag-start kami ng strong, mag-start kami ng maganda, possible na pwedeng bumaligtad ang result ng game. Which is nangyari nga sa first set. Although lumalamang sila ng malaki pero momentum-wise, nakikita ko sa mga players ko na naka-stick sila sa kung ano ang gusto naming mangyari as a team.”     Graduating middle blocker Ranya Musa finished with 17 points highlighted by five kill blocks while Rachel Austero nailed 11 kills with two kill blocks and two aces for 15 markers for the Taft-based squad. Marites Pablo scored 13 points and added 13 excellent receptions while fellow National University transferee Klarisa Abriam finished with 13 markers.   CSB played catchup in the opening set and were behind 17-20 before stunning Arellano with a closing 8-1 blitz sealed by a Felicia Cui service ace to steal the frame. With momentum on their side, the Lady Blazers dictated the tempo in the second frame before a hiccup in the third. Smelling blood, CSB built a 20-10 gap capped by back-to-back aces by Austero. Arellano U surrendered the match with back-to-back miscues sealed by an attack error by skipper Mary Anne Esguerra, whose spike sailed long. Jovielyn Prado had 14 points while Necole Ebuen got 12 for the Lady Chiefs.      --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 29th, 2018

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

Reserve setter Dimaculangan gives up national team spot

National team head coach Shaq Delos Santos is not closing the squad’s doors for reserve setter Rhea Dimaculangan after the veteran playmaker decided to give up her slot. Dimaculangan, who was named as one of the two reserves in the 14-woman lineup set to participate in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games next month and the AVC Asia Cup in Thailand in September, decided to step down from her spot just a few days ago because of personal reasons.    “Actually bago pa lang mag-opening din ‘tong Invitational, gusto nya talagang makapag-bakasyon. Sobrang as in yung mafe-feel nyang wala muna masyadong iniisip, talagang yun ang gusto nya na makapag-bakasyon,” said Delos Santos of Dimaculangan. “Sabi ko sige i-check natin. Pero sabi ko tingnan mo rin kung ano ba’ng magiging decision mo, which is yun, yun yung naging decision muna nya.” The University of Sto. Tomas product and Petron veteran declined to grant an interview regarding her decision to quit the national squad Saturday after the Blaze Spikers’ 25-9, 25-16, 25-17, victory over University of the Philippines-United Auctioneers in Pool A of the Philippine Superliga Invitational at the FilOil Flying V Centre.    Dimaculangan was a member of the national team that played in the 2015 Singapore and 2017 Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games and the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship last year held in Manila.    The seasoned playmaker was relegated to a reserve spot alongside libero Denden Lazaro of Cocolife. The other setters in the national team lineup are Jia Morado of Creamline and Kim Fajardo of F2 Logistics. Delos Santos, however, will welcome back Dimaculangan if ever she decides to suit up once again for the tri-colors. “Pero syempre hindi namin isasarado ‘yung position n’ya na ‘yun sa national team. Kasi anytime naman, kailangan din namin ng maraming players para ‘yung iba, ‘yung commitment like that, tapos ‘yung mga club teams din pag may mga commitment din sila,” he said. “Yun din yung reason bakit gusto rin namin na may ibang players din kami na makuha sa pool. Para at least kung maging available o maging okay yung players, may ifi-fit kami na players para dun.” For now, Delos Santos elevated middle Maika Ortiz in the main team.     ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2018

PVL: De Guzman, Ultra Fast Hitters ready for tough grind against HD Spikers

The last time PLDT Home Fibr team captain John Vic De Guzman faced defending champion Cignal, the prized scorer together with another power-hitter Mark Alfafara held their ground to topple a star-studded Cignal squad. De Guzman and Alfafara, both members of the national team that saw action in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia, displayed their full arsenal to outgun the Marck Espejo-bannered HD Spikers in four sets. The win helped PLDT get the monkey of its back after a disappointing start in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference men’s division. Crossing paths once again and this time with the Finals berth at stake, De Guzman and the Ultra Fast Hitters hope to reassert their mastery over the reigning titlists at the start of their best-of-three series Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Action begins at 10:00 a.m.   PLDT may have scored an upset over Cignal the last time out but their prelims victory won’t matter much in this battle with too much at stake.     “Sa preparation talagang nag-focus kami sa team. Of course pinractice namin kung ano yung mga possible play ng Cignal,” said De Guzman, who had 21 points in PLDT’s 25-20, 26-24, 26-28, 25-23 win over the HD Spikers last May 20 in Batangas. “Well, yes, tinalo namin sila nu’ng semis pero hindi nangangahulugan ‘yon na magiging kampante kami, especially ngayon semifinals, talagang paghahandaan nila kami. Ganon din kami mas pinaghandaan namin at mas nag-double time kami para mas maging maayos ‘yung flow nu’ng team,” added De Guzman, who had plenty of help from Alfafara in their win over Cignal where the former University of Sto. Tomas standout unleashed 29 point with 26 coming off kills. Cignal claimed the outright Final Four berth while PLDT took the long road to advance in the semis. The HD Spikers are coming off a long layoff. The Ultra Fast Hitters won their first two matches in the round robin quarterfinals only to lose in their last outing against Philippine Air Force to land at no. 4 seed. Despite coming off a loss, PLDT remains optimistic of its chances.        “Ang pinaka key lang namin is ‘yung teamwork. We all know na champion team sila at ilang conferences na silang magkakasama sa isang team unlike us talaga na binunot sa iba’t ibang universities but then again hindi naman magiging hadlang yon para mawalan kami ng kumpiyansa,” said De Guzman. “Malaki ang tiwala ko sa PLDT team especially sa coaches, and I know may purpose si God whatever will be the result of the game.” Game 2 of the series is on July 4 while Game 3, if needed, is on July 6.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 30th, 2018

DOC VOLLEYBALL: A Dilemma on Loop?

Flashback to March 2017, the whole volleyball community was abuzz about a newly formed national team set to compete in the Southeast Asian Games of that year as tryouts were held, but certain players, particularly from the Ateneo de Manila University, were allegedly not invited. An apology was then issued and special tryouts were held to accommodate the aforementioned athletes. Flashback to 2015, with a newly formed organization in Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) taking the reins from the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) as the volleyball authority in the country, the future looked bright as for the first time in recent history, both the men’s and women’s teams were being sent to the Singapore SEA Games as representation of the sport’s resurgence. As with any newly formed roster, the composition was mired in controversy especially with the men’s team, which was composed of predominantly of young players. Flashback to 2014, with the power struggle between the aforementioned LVPI and PVF, the latter formed the infamous Amihan and Bagwis squads as the women’s and men’s national teams, respectively. Backed by then sponsor PLDT, the rosters boasted of the some of the country’s best talents from both divisions with the likes of Alyssa Valdez, Mark Espejo, Ara Galang, Tatan Pantone, Ran Ran Abdilla and Mark Alfafara to name a few. Both teams never saw the light of day outside the country as the PVF eventually lost its accreditation leading to the teams’ eventual disbandment. And the theme went on as the previous years are revisited. Fast forward to present time, 2018, and once again the volley community is abuzz with the formation of yet again a new national team with a familiar scenario in which local favorites did not make the cut. With the volleyball scene at an all time high in local following, it is quite inevitable for varying opinions on who should have been included in the line-up given the wide pool of talents especially in the women’s division. Coupled with a sudden change in coaching staff, the new roster is once again under scrutiny given the process the team as a whole was structured from the beginning. Another New Beginning Without taking anything from the players and coaches of the new women’s national team, the composition is relatively deserving of the spots for the roster. While expected shoe-ins who have performed tremendously well in the local leagues like Myla Pablo, Maika Ortiz, and Tatan Pantone were not afforded a slot in the team, the new line-up is still pretty much capable of representing the country. Middles – Aby Marano is the best fit amongst the middles who made the final cut. With exceptional timing and good lateral movement, Marano is expected to perform in the position well offensively and defensively despite the lack of height for a middle blocker internationally. Her agility and aggressiveness with her net play more than justifies her inclusion and assignment as the team captain. Her DLSU successor Majoy Baron would add much needed support as the second middle as she has proven to have the power and timing of Aby though much work can still be done for her agility in the net. Baron’s aggressive floaters will also be of much benefit on the service line. Lastly, Mika Reyes would provide the height should the need arise especially against foreign teams with bigger size. Left Wing – Alyssa Valdez’ inclusion as left wing hitter is of no question as she continues to prove that she is one of the best open hitters in the local scene. Perhaps working more on her bulk and power is something the coaching staff must consider to ensure that she can carry over her local performance to the international scene. Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Ces Molina likewise have proven themselves much capable of being offensive threats from the left and their decent size will be of much benefit in blocking against slides and opposite attacks from foreign counterparts. It would be beneficial as well if Santiago-Manabat develops mastery of passing and if Molina becomes a significant threat with the pipe in order for both athletes to really excel in the position. Although Cha Cruz is not much of a power hitter as compared to the aforementioned left hitters, she would serve a special position as the service and defense specialist for the team. If in scenarios in which she will serve in for a middle, her floor defense is of much benefit in Zone 5 and with her background as a former setter, she is still capable of setting up a decent play should the setter get the first contact. Right Wing – Though much of her collegiate season has been utilized hitting from the middle, Jaja Santiago is undeniably more fit for the opposite position. Despite her height and power, which could be considered an automatic criteria for the middle, Santiago has much work to be done with lateral motion which is also a crucial component for middle hitters. With her vertical reach and power, she is better off racking up points from the right wing and right back row as the main offensive option for the team. Likewise, Kim Dy is also a shoo-in for the opposite position as evidenced by her consistency in scoring and blocking from the right. With Kim Fajardo calling the plays, Kim Dy would be beneficial in running faster or creative plays should the need arise. Setters – The selection of Fajardo and Jia Morado is not to be questioned as both have proven and continue to prove that they are top-notch setters in the country. Both setters are a shoo-in for the national team as both are equal in consistency with Fajardo showing mastery in working the middles and Morado displaying her skill in making the wings work for her. Not much can be argued really about the selection of the two athletes. A reserve setter in Rhea Dimaculangan would be also beneficial as she has the consistency and creativity as the aforementioned setters as well as the height, which would be important in blocking. Libero – Currently hailed as one of Southeast Asia’s finest, Dawn Macandili is undeniably a good choice for the main libero position. With her agility and speed to pop up digs and impossible saves, her presence on the floor is highly beneficial for the team on transition defense. On the other hand, her counterpart Denise Lazaro has proven to be highly consistent from the receiving end of services making her inclusion as part of the regular roster and not just a reserve undeniably essential. With Lazaro setting up the passing formation and Macandili guarding on transition, their combined specialized efforts will ensure the first step in letting the setters run the play for the team. A Shift in View Given the fact that the talent pool in the women’s division is deep, player selection will always be put on debate as not all favored athletes will be included. Perhaps a good way of viewing the matter is that given the yet again short preparation time for the next international tournament, the coaching staff would best select players who they have already established a good working relationship for a more seamless adaptation of a new system. Rather than put into scrutiny the individual players, handpicked or not, the focus should be put on the system as a whole and how it can be further developed for the improvement of the sport. Yet again, the 2018 roster is proving to be another promising one as it has been almost every year when a new line-up is formed. More than bringing back pride to the country internationally in the tournaments immediately at hand, the bigger challenge for the national team is to prove itself not as yet another band aid solution in the attempt to have a continuous program. How the 2018 Team will prove itself different from its predecessors in past Asian/SEA Games would be the more important matter that should be put under the lens. With the sport currently a major source of livelihood for many athletes, the players are no longer the ones getting the short end of the stick but rather volleyball and its development as a whole should the loop continues. The country has much individual talent deserving of a spot in the team, but for as long as vested interests continue to rear their head in the Philippine Volleyball System, the level of the sport will continue to fall short in justifying its current local popularity.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

Maghihintay lang ako dito [for Marck] -- Kianna Dy

We've heard Marck Espejo's side of the question. Now it's Kianna Dy's turn. It's never easy once a couple goes into a long-distance relationship. May it be due to work, travel, immigration, or any other cause, not being physically there for your special someone will take a lot of courage, determination, and of course, love. The UAAP Season 78 women's volleyball Finals MVP said that she is willing to wait for the five-time UAAP MVP as he makes history by joining Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler, one of the teams of the V1 League, Japan's premier volleyball circuit. "Napag-usapan naman na," Espejo then said about the couple's talk about the move. "Syempre supportive naman siya and alam niya naman na ito talaga yung gusto ko. And alam ko naman na pupuntahan niya ako dun," he added. While we won't be seeing Espejo until a good chunk of 2019 had passed, Dy, who was in the DLSU Lady Spikers' meet-and-greet at the Henry Sy Sr. Hall of the DLSU Taft Campus last Saturday, she said a special message that brought kilig for you and me. "I'm super proud of him, because I think it's the first time that a Filipino is going to play [in the Japanese league], and is considered to be an import. Super proud of him. He's making his mark internationally, so I'll support him and maghihintay lang ako dito," KKD said with a big smile on her face. KKD on Marck Espejo's Japan stint: "I'm super proud." Also: "Maghihintay lang ako dito."@abscbnsports — Philip Martin Matel (@philipptionary) June 9, 2018 Leaving Taft as a three-time champion, Dy also left a message for the incoming and aspiring Lady Spikers, who eventually will be part of the hunt in pursuing the team's 12th title. "Mag-tiyaga lang kayo and you know that it won't be easy. But you have to work hard. Patience lang. Patience sa teammates, patience kay Coach. Makuha nyo rin ang championship." Dy, who came in late due to graduation practice also thanked the hundreds of supporters, who braved the unpleasant weather and came to the campus to show support for their beloved team. KKD gets greeted by rousing greeting from fans who braved terrible weather. Kianna came in late from grad practice. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/bWOz4mCHry — Philip Martin Matel (@philipptionary) June 9, 2018 "Sobrang thankful ako kasi pumunta sila [sa Grand Fans' day'] ang sama pa naman ng weather. Ang lakas ng hangin, ang lakas ng ulan, so nag-effort pa talaga noong pumunta sila dito."   __   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

Delos Santos to decide on final pool lineup

National women’s volleyball team head coach Shaq Delos Santos and his coaching staff will deliberate on Thursday the players that will compose the 20-woman pool lineup. Delos Santos conducted the national team hopefuls first training session led by Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado. Also in attendance were Jaja Santiago, Aby Maraño, Maika Ortiz, Rhea Dimaculangan, CJ Rosario, Denden Lazaro, Mika Reyes, Mylene Paat, Ces Molina, Rebecca Rivera, and Myla Pablo, who left early to train with her club team Pocari Sweat. Delos Santos and his assistants Kungfu Reyes and Bryan Esquibel are expected to come up with a final list on Friday at the latest.   “Di kami makakapagbigay ng final time kung ngayon or bukas (ang lineup). Pero para sa amin kailangan naming pagusapang mabuti,” said Delos Santos, who replaced Ramil De Jesus as head coach after the multi-titled mentor resigned from his post just two months after his appointment. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. gave Delos Santos the freehand to choose the number of players that will compose the pool. “Usapan kung papayagan 20 or 18 kung saan kami aabutin,” said Delos Santos, who steered Petron to the 2018 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix title last month.    From the 20-woman pool, Delos Santos will trim it down to 14 (12 regular and two reserves), which will be the country’s official entry to the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games in August.    “Mahirap kung sa mahirap (mamili) kasi ang timeline namin very short,” said Delos Santos. “Pero kahit papaano naman sanay kaming humarap sa mga ganyang situation basta guided kami ng mga boss namin kagaya ni (LVPI vice president) Peter Cayco.” The national squad will also see action in the AVC Asia Cup in Thailand in September and in the 2019 Manila Southeast Asian Games.   ---  Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

Nat l women s volleyball team hopefuls take coaching change positively

The coaching change came as a surprise to most of the national women’s volleyball team hopefuls, but the players received the appointment of Shaq Delos Santos as replacement for resigned mentor Ramil De Jesus positively. Delos Santos met with some of the national team candidates on Tuesday at the Arellano University-Legarda Gym together with his assistants Kungfu Reyes and Bryan Esquibel and Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. vice president Peter Cayco. LVPI appointed the Petron coach to the position after De Jesus, who took the coaching duty last April and conducted two tryouts attended by the country’s top volleybelles, stepped down two weeks ago. Delos Santos is tasked to form and train a team for the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games in September, the AVC Asia Cup in Thailand the following month and the 2019 Manila Southeast Asian Games.      “Nabigla ako na nagpalit ulet ng coach. We're in good hands naman with coach Shaq. He's a good coach, he has a good system. I'm looking forward to working with him,” said Cocolife libero Denden Lazaro, who was with 15 other hopefuls during the pool meeting. “Sa aming mga players kailangan lang naman namin maging open sa lahat kasi there’s no permanent naman talaga and ‘yun nga syempre kami mga players susunod lang kami kung ano papagawa sa amin ng coaches, ng staff,” said Jaja Santiao. “Okay lang naman na may pagbabago kasi si coach Shaq din naman is one of the best coaches din dito sa Pilipinas so go lang.” Petron’s Mika Reyes, the Nationals’ team captain last year during the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, was informed of the changes a few days ago.    “Actually hindi ko alam na nagpalit muna. Ang sabi lang may final tryouts. So okay. And then siguro two to three days ago, dun ko lang nalaman talaga. Mga Sunday ata yun,” she said. “Si coach sabi nya ‘Ye punta ka sa tryout ha.’ Tapos sabi ko okay coach. Tapos may nagsabi sa akin na teammate ko na sya na daw yung coach.” Reyes played for De Jesus for five years in De La Salle, in the Philippine Superliga for Meralco and F2 Logistics. The middle blocker bannered the 2018 PSL Grand Prix champion Petron under Delos Santos.      “Nagulat lang ako syempre coach ko rin before si coach Ramil, akala ko siya na,” she added. “Pero okay lang din naman, at least ito coach namin. Siguro yung advantage lang is alam ko na yung sistema nya.” Aby Marano, who during most of her volleyball career played under De Jesus, said that she was one of the first to know of her F2 Logistics mentor’s plan to step down. According to LVPI, De Jesus decided to quit his post because of conflict of schedule with his duties as coach for DLSU, the Baby Spikers and F2 Logistics. “Positive pa rin kami, whether nagpalit ng coach o hindi. Dapat hindi kami maapektuhan. Sa kanila na 'yun eh, ang kailangan namin mag-focus sa ensayo para magpalakas at magpahusay pa. Okay naman din 'yung set ng coaches na nakilala namin today. I don't think there will be a problem,” said Marano, a veteran internationalist who donned the tri-colors in the past two SEA Games and in the AVC Asian Seniors. “Magulo, siyempre, ganoon 'yung nangyare. Personal na decision 'yun ni coach Ramil eh so we all respect that. Ang laki talaga ng responsibilty niya sa mga teams niya. Wala naman kaming masasabi sa decision ni coach Ramil,” Marano continued. “Siyempre, na-brokenhearted nga kami,” she added. “Ako, personally, hindi naman ako bumabata. Gusto ko, bago ako mag-retire, maging coach ko siya sa National Team. Kung hindi naman papalarin, wala akong magagawa.” Also in attendance during the first meeting with the new set of coaches were Kim Kianna Dy, Dawn Macandili, Majoy Baron, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Rebecca Rivera, Mylene Paat, Sisi Rondina, Kim Fajardo, Rhea Dimaculangan, Maika Ortiz, CJ Rosario and Ces Molina. Creamline's Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado were supposed to attend the meeting but were caught in a traffic jam in Katipunan after their training while Myla Pablo was training with Pocari Sweat. Other players in the pool who skipped the meeting were Tots Carlos, Bea De Leon, Kath Arado, Royse Tubino, Lourdes Clemente, Elaine Kasilag, Jasmine Nabor, Maddie Madayag, Cha Cruz-Behag, Ara Galang, Mel Gohing, MJ Phillips, Isa Molde, Jho Maraguinot, Rachel Anne Daquis, Bernadeth Pons and Kyla Atienza.    The pool will start its training on Thursday.    ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

UP coach was key in Espejo s journey to Japan

After a dominating UAAP stint, no one would have been surprised if Marck Espejo decided to take his talents outside the Philippines. Well that time is coming as the five-time UAAP Most Valuable Player is officially moving to Japan to play for Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler. [Related: WHITE EAGLE: Marck Espejo is taking his talents to Japan] The official announcement and contract signing went down Sunday and Espejo is now a White Eagle, ready to spread his wings in the Land of the Rising Sun. No one would have been surprised if Espejo took his talents elsewhere. What's surprising though is the fact that one of the bridges that helped Espejo in his journey to Japan is actually an opposing head coach. Godfrey Okumu, the mentor of the UP Women's Volleyball Team, is actually the one that recommended Espejo to Oita Miyoshi head coach Takashi Ogawa. Okumu apparently worked with Miyoshi for three years. "He [Okumu] said there's a good player in the Philippines," coach Takashi said. At that time, Oita Miyoshi was already looking for Asian imports to beef up its squad and after scouting Espejo, everything worked out for both sides. Before UAAP Season 80, Espejo already travelled to Japan last December to do workouts. Oita Miyoshi's staff also quietyly made trips to the Philippines to see Espejo in action for the Blue Eagles. "Coach Okumu of UP used to work with them [Oita Miyoshi," said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro. "When coach Okumu came here and timing na they [Miyoshi] were looking for Asian players, coach Okumu recommended one player in the Philippines [Espejo], nandito raw yung kailangan nila," he added. According to Almadro, Espejo already got offers from Thailand last year but things didn't proceed because the star spiker already had one more season with Ateneo. It just so happened that Espejo also decided to pursue a career in Japan. "Many club teams were asking for Marck's services in Thailand. But siguro he chose Japan, mas mahirap dun pero he chose it. We let him decide," Almadro said. "Syempre para mas lalo pa daw siya ma-push," he added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2018

Suzara confident of Philippines-Thailand volleyball finals in SEAG

Ramon Suzara painted a rosy picture of the country’s campaign in the women’s volleyball competition of the 30th Southeast Asian Games......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

SEA Games: Basketball, volleyball to be held in Manila venues

Popular sports volleyball and basketball will be held in Metro Manila venues when the country hosts the 30th Southeast Asian Games next year. SEA Games Organizing Committee executive director Ramon ‘Tats’ Suzara said Thursday that the two ball games, which are expected to draw big crowds, will be played in three big venues inside the Big City for the biennial meet set from November 30 to December 10. “I think because basketball will have more events that’s why they chose MOA Arena and Cuneta as their backup,” said Suzara. “Of course I’m happy also that volleyball, especially women’s volleyball, will be in Smart Araneta Coliseum, being a big venue also and it’s very close to the general public for transportation.” The PHI has been dominating men’s basketball for the past 12 editions, except in the 2005 Manila SEA Games with the PHI suspended by FIBA and in 2009 Laos edition which was dropped by the host country because of lack of facility. Women’s and men’s volleyball, on the other hand, gained traction among Filipino fans in recent years. The country participated in the in 2015 Singapore SEA Games for the first time after a decade. The Philippines scored a bronze medal in women's play back in 2005.    “These has been the initial agreement, of course, nothing is final but this is the initial agreement that we are putting both popular sports in a big venue. That is the intention of the organizing committee,” added Suzara. The main sports hub will be in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac while most of the aqua sports will be played in Subic. Other sports to be held in Manila are boxing and gymnastics in SMX Convention Center, bowling in Star mall, billiards at Maakati Cinema Square while polo and equestrian will be in Manila Polo Club.       ---        Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 17th, 2018

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

Foreign teams, organizers impressed with Filipino crowds, hosting of FIVB World Tour Manila Open

The Philippines proved to the world that it can host a magnitude of an event such as the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open.  Beach Volleyball Republic co-founder Charo Soriano was delighted that as first-time hosts, the country was able to hold a successful international beach volleyball tournament.  "I'm very much humbled and very happy. It's was very fulfilling to see the number of people watching and the amount of support that we are getting for beach volleyball -- not only for the Philippine team but even for other athletes as well," said Soriano.  Playing in front of a big appreciative crowd that packed Sands SM By The Bay, Japan’s Ayumi Kusano and Takemi Nishibori won their first World Tour women's gold medal following a quick 21-14, 21-18 conquest of Spain’s Maria Belen Carro and Paula Soria in the final. Germany’s Max-Jonas Karpa and Milan Sievers also snatched their first-ever FIVB World Tour men's gold, beating Russia's Petr Bakhnar and Taras Myskiv in come-from-behind fashion, 15-21, 23-21, 15-9. Filipino fans were treated to and spoiled with world-class beach volleyball action in the four-day, one-star tournament.     "Hopefully this is the start. This can be the catalyst for what we really want, which is beach volleyball to be here in the Philippines. And it’s a sport for the masses talaga. A sport that people can enjoy and that everybody can learn to love as well," Soriano said. Among the four Filipina pairs that competed, Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio advanced the most, making it to the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, reigning BVR national champions Karen Quilario and Lot Catubag secured a round-of-12 spot and were just a point away from advancing to the top eight. Both feats, Soriano considered to be a breakthrough for the sport in the country.  The Filipinas defied tremendous odds - especially with Rondina and Gervacio beating much taller and experienced pairs from the United States and Canada, and Quilario and Catubag, who pushed reigning Asian U19 champions Thailand to three extended sets before losing in a valiant effort.  "It's a very momentous event, this one," said Soriano, who herself competed along with Bea Tan. "First, because a lot of the Philippine teams really didn't have programs prior to this event. We have BVR, we have regional tours, we have national championships. But in terms of having a proper national training pool program, it's still non-existent. But despite that, we were able to garner wins in the first-ever FIVB tournament that we are entering as national team.   "Napakasaya po kasi we are very proud of the rest of the Philippine delegation. Even though our men's teams didn't really win, you can really see that they were competent. They were competitive."  The FIVB World Tour is a good gauge for those vying for slots in future beach volleyball tournaments like next year's Southeast Asian Games that the Philippines is hosting.  Soriano thanked Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. acting president Peter Cayco and secretary-general Ricky Palou for their support and overseeing the event. The event is supported by Dataland, Dataland Residentials, The Olive Place, Rebisco, Creamline, Globe, Maynilad, Gatorade, Tryp and Hotel 101. "We just need the proper support and of course, continous programs in time for SEA Games next year. That's really the goal and that's why we wanted to push for an international tournament as well in preparation for next year's SEA Games," said Soriano.  With the way the Manila Open has turned out, another one-star tournament in the coming years is not far fetched. "For sure, it won't be the last," said Soriano. "Being the first-time hosts and speaking as an organizer, we had setbacks as well, we had problems, but nothing that teamwork cannot fix.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 7th, 2018

Japan, Germany emerge victorious in inaugural FIVB Manila Open

Despite coming from countries which experience the cold confines of winter, Japan and Germany sizzled and came out as the Queens and Kings of the sand court at the conclusion of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open at the SM Sands by the Bay. The Japanese tandem of Nishibori Takemi and Kosano Ayumi defeated Spain's Paula Soria Gutierrez and María Belén Carro Márquez de Acuña despite the scorching bayside afternoon heat in straight sets, 21-14, 21-18. With the victory, the gold medallists have gone undefeated in the tournament, 6-0, while the silver medalists ended the tournament with a 5-1 slate.  Meanwhile, their countrymates were not as lucky in the bronze medal match, as the top-seeded Paraguay tandem of Erika Bobadilla and Michelle Amarilla managed to eke out a 21-17, 21-16 victory over Tanaka Shinako and Sakurako Fujii in the preceding match. Takemi and Nishibori advanced to the Finals after beating Tanaka and Fujii, 21-13, 21-16, in the semis while Bobadilla and Amarilla won over Soria Gutierrez and Carro Márquez de Acuña, 21-16, 21-15. #FIVBManilaOpen Women's Division Podium Finishers: 1st: Japan 🇯🇵 2nd: España 🇪🇸 3rd: Paraguay 🇵🇾@abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/PLxetGh9aN — Philip Matel (@philipptionary) May 6, 2018 In the men's division, the Germans defeated the Russians as they came back and won a grueling three-set affair,15-21, 23-21, 15-9, to be crowned the kings of the Manila sand court. Max-Jonas Karpa and Milan Sievers took advantage of the visibly tired Russian duo of Petr Bakhnar and Taras Myskiv, finding open holes in the defense and winning jousts to take home the gold an a $1000 cash prize.  Meanwhile, Switzerland's Michiel Zandbergen and Gabriel Kissling won third after stifling Spanish brothers Javier and Alejandro Huerta Pastor in a thrilling match, 22-20, 19-21, 15-13. It was a see-saw third set which saw both teams exchanging leads. However, it seems the final change of the sides of the court did wonders for the Swiss nationals as Zandbergen emphatically rejected two straight attacks to clinch the third spot.  Bakhnar and Myskiv went to the finals by defeating the Huerta Pastor brothers, 21-18, 17-21, 21-18, while Karpa and Sievers won over Zandbergen and Kissling in the semis, 21-17, 21-16. #FIVBManilaOpen Men's Division Podium Finishers: 1st: Germany 🇩🇪 2nd: Russia 🇷🇺 3rd: Switzerland 🇨🇭@abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/hwwXsj5w75 — Philip Matel (@philipptionary) May 6, 2018  The four-day tournament, which featured teams from 23 different countries, featured eight teams, four each for the men's and women's bracket from the Philippines. #FIVBManilaOpen winners celebrate at the podium with champagne @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/VdVEvPU3Ew — Philip Matel (@philipptionary) May 6, 2018 UAAP beach volleyball veteran Sisi Rondina and Beach Volleyball Republic founder Dzi Gervacio, used their wit and skill up to the quarterfinals, where they bowed to Japan's Shinako Tanaka and Fujii Sakurako, which went to three sets and went in the favor of the Japanese, 13-21, 21-17, 11-15, Saturday afternoon. READ MORE: Kaya nating sumabay, kaya nating manalo -- Rondina “Sana ito na talaga ang reason why the Philippines should have a good, long term and continuous program for beach volleyball,” said Gervacio to ABS-CBN Sports' Mark Escarlote after their loss against Japan. “Kita naman natin na with just two weeks of practice, never ko ‘tong naging partner si Sisi and never ko itong naging teammate kahit saan but we’ve managed to play until the quarterfinals.” The former Ateneo Lady Eagle also hopes that this will be a springboard for the development of the popularity of the sport in the country. "Sana ito na ang heads up to everyone na, ‘Tara let’s start a beach volleyball program.’ We’ve won against USA and Canada and I think that’s a good turnout for someone who’s very young and a young team in beach volleyball." With the win in the one-star tournament, the participants recieved a $1000 prize for first, $700 for second, and $500 for third, coupled with their corresponding FIVB ranking points.       -- Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2018

Rondina-Gervacio duo pulls PHI into the quarterfinals

Filipina sand heroes Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio engineered a historic first as the duo advanced in the quarterfinals after hurdling a taller and more experienced Canadian duo in an impressive 21-17, 21-17, Round of 12 win in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open at the Sands SM By The Bay Saturday morning. The Pinay tandem outdueled Megan Nagy and Caleigh Cruickshank in the second match of the day following the sorry loss of another PHI pair of Lot Catubag and Karen Quilario in three sets against the young Thai pair of Singchuea Thatsarida and Chanthawichai Pawarun, 36-34, 23-25, 15-17. “From the beginning, ganun talaga yung mindset namin. Syempre ayaw din namin mapahiya yung bandera natin, syempre bigay-todo kami. Hindi man sya kailangan, pero sa sarili namin kinakailangan para syempre worth it naman yung pagpunta nila at paggising nila nang maaga,” said Rondina, three-time UAAP beach volleyball champion and member of the national team that participated in the 29th Southeast Asian Games beach volleyball tournament in Singapore. “Syempre sa sarili din namin magiging worth it din yung mga pagod namin.” Rondina and Gervacio, who finished the pool play with a 1-1 win-loss record, will take on seeded Japanese pair of Shinako Tanaka and Sakurako Fuji in the quarterfinals later at 3:30 in the afternoon.    The duo got off to a great start as they built an early 9-3 lead with great ball placements and heady shots that kept the Canadians scrambling on defense. The Canadian tied the frame at 14 before the PHI fired a 6-2 blast with the visiting pair committing crucial errors including a long hit by Cruickshank that put the Filipinas at set point, 20-16. Canada saved a set point but Nagy threw away the frame with a service error. The Canadians held an 11-10 advantage in the second frame before the Filipinas created a sizeable 18-14 lead. Canada cut their deficit to three, 19-16, before Gervacio scored to put the Filipinas at match point. Nagy saved a match point but Cruickshank surrendered the duel with a long service. “Ako hindi ko inexpect na malalayo yung mararating namin, na aabot kami ng Day 2. Kasi ako personally I haven’t played internationally and I know for a fact na matatangkad yung mga kalaban namin,” said Gervacio. Two-time BVR national champions Quilario and Catubag, both policewomen based in Davao, gave their Thai opponents, who were members of Thailand’s junior national team, a match to remember before bowing down. The duo got the crowd on their feet in an incredible display of endurance and will in the opening set. Quilario pushed the PHI at match point, 23-22, after saving three set points but the Thais took the next three points to force a deciding set.     Catubag delivered a huge kill in the tight third set that gave the PHI another chance to wrap the match, 14-13. The Thais tied it at 14 before Pawarun committed a service error that knotted the score at 15. The Thai duo moved at match point as Catubag went down with a cramping right leg that forced the PHI to call a medical timeout. Catubag returned to action but the exhausted Filipinas were slow to recover as the Thais capitalized to steal the win.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2018