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UAAP: NU to make sweeeping changes in schedule for Season 81

UAAP Season 81 hosts National University has announced that there will be major changes in the upcoming season, in particular with the schedule of some sports.  According to Teodoro Ocampo, the incoming President of the Board of Trustees of the UAAP, the eight schools have decided to move some events, particularly Track and Field, Fencing, and Chess, and will see an earlier start, as they are scheduled to be moved to the first semester. Ocampo cited balance in the schedule of the league, which is divided in two semesters, with the first semester running from September to December, while the second semester runs from February to May.  While both semesters carry nine events, the board will look to move the shorter-length events like Track and Field and Fencing, which only lasts a few days. "May request ang other board members kung puwede i-move sa first semester," Teodoro said after the UAAP Season 80 closing ceremony at the FEU Auditorium in Manila.  As for Opening Day, NU's highest representative meanwhile said that the school is looking at a tentative September 8 date at the Mall of Asia Arena.  While FEU introduced 3x3 basketball and retained streetdance as exhibition events, the Bulldogs will be trying to bring back ballroom dancing, which was introduced in Season 79 by hosts University of Santo Tomas, but was temporarily scrapped by the Tamaraws.  In terms of the basketball tournament, the Bulldogs will introduce a rulebook, which was approved today by the Board, and its contents will be announced in the near future.  With the looming biennial SEA Games to be held in our country November 2019, and the Asian Games in Jakarta from late August to early September this year, Ocampo says the Board is yet to discuss possible conflict of schedules with the student-athletes.  Contrary to FEU announcing the theme "Go For Great" last year at the conclusion of Season 79 at UST's Plaza Mayor, the Bulldogs are still unsure of the theme, as they are still checking whether if their proposed theme will not be facing plagiarism issues like what FEU faced this season.  "Kasi mukhang ang Go For Great, some said it had been used na eh. But buti na lang they were able to justify it, yung FEU." When asked if the UAAP would follow suit with the NCAA on Tour introduced by NCAA Season 93 hosts San Sebastian last year, where schools would play in a home-and-away format in a school every Thursday, Ocampo answered on the negative, citing the Board's adamant stand on the topic, citing scheduling issues. "No, no, no. Not in the plans eh. It would be nice ano? Mukhang mahirap eh, because of their schedules in school. Mahirap eh." __     Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.       .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 17th, 2018

VOLLEYBALL IS LIFE: A look back at Philippine volleyball in 2018

Glorious victories, dynasties, historic feats, controversies and memorable moments once again highlighted another fruitful year for Philippine volleyball.   Now, let us take a look back in the year that was in volleyball:   DYNASTY Powerhouse teams continued to thrive in the country’s most popular collegiate leagues. Arellano University muscled its way back into the NCAA Season 93 Finals and met a newcomer in San Beda University. The Lady Chiefs did find the Lady Red Spikers as feisty opponents in their first championship meeting, needing five sets to survive San Beda in Game One. But it didn’t take long for Arellano U to stomp its class over the newbies to capture its second straight title and fourth overall crown in five years. De La Salle University painted UAAP Season 80 green after annexing its third straight title handing legendary head coach Ramil De Jesus his third grand slam in the country’s most popular and competitive collegiate league. Second year setter Michelle Cobb stepped up to the challenge of filling the big shoes left by Kim Fajardo and complemented the depth and firepower of DLSU. Far Eastern University, which advanced into the Finals for the first time after a decade, stood no chance against the onslaught of the Lady Spikers, which swept their way onto throne. University of Perpetual Help completed a four-peat in the NCAA juniors after sweeping Letran. Philippine Air Force snatched the Premier Volleyball League men’s Reinforced Conference crown and the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference title. Sisi Rondina cemented her legacy as the UAAP’s queen of the sands after completing a three-peat in women’s beach volleyball. Rondina wrapped her tour of duty with four titles in five years. The Tigers ruled the men’s division.       YEAR OF THE UNDERDOGS San Beda University made great strides in NCAA Season 93 after earning its first-ever Finals appearance behind the efforts of Cesca Racraquin and twins Nieza and Jiezela Viray. The Lady Red Spikers closed the elims with an 8-1 win-loss record and took down Perpetual in the semis. Languishing at the bottom half of the standings since the return of its women’s volleyball program in 2008, Jose Rizal University made history by advancing into the Final Four. Shola Alvarez capped the Lady Bombers’ remarkable season by pocketing the Most Valuable Player award.   Far Eastern University made it to the UAAP women’s volleyball Finals by booting out crowd-favorite Ateneo de Manila University in the semis.  For the first time in five years, the Blue Eagles found themselves in a very difficult position in the Final Four. With a twice-to-win disadvantage, the Marck Espejo-led Ateneo shocked FEU – a team that beat them twice in the elims – to march to its fifth straight championship appearance.      But the real underdog story belonged to NU. After three years of finishing runner-up to the Blue Eagles, the Bulldogs led by Bryan Bagunas finally got their long-awaited revenge as they swept Ateneo off its three-year reign at the throne.     OFF COURT STORIES, CONTROVERSIES University of the East parted ways with head coach Francis Vicente midway in Season 80 after three and a half seasons with the Lady Warriors. Vicente left for ‘personal reasons’ with a UE coaching record of 2-45 (win-loss). Red Warriors head coach Sammy Acaylar also resigned from his post midway in the season. University of Sto. Tomas hitter EJ Laure after months of speculations to the real reason of her sitting out UAAP Season 80 broke her silence by saying that needed time to recover from her right shoulder injury to end all the rumors circulating including an alleged pregnancy.    Sound bites, videos and clips that show collegiate players’ ‘human side’ made its rounds around social media that drew mixed reactions from fans.  Just like in the previous years, controversy filled the formation of the national women’s volleyball team. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. initially named Ramil De Jesus as the national team coach but just two months after his designation, the multi-titled DLSU mentor resigned from his post citing ‘conflict of schedule’. Shaq Delos Santos took over De Jesus’ spot. Netizens went abuzz when the composition of the national team that participated in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games was released as fans give their different views on who should and should not be included in the roster.             LVPI named a new president in Peter Cayco of Arellano U to replace Joey Romasanta during the association’s election.   WRITING HISTORY Smart’s Cuban import Gigi Silva carved a world scoring record in the Philippine Superliga after scoring 56 points in a lost cause against Cocolife in the 2018 Grand Prix. Silva pounded 53 kills and had three aces to land her name in the fourth spot in the women’s world scoring record behind Polina Rahimova of Azerbaijan’s 58 points in 2015 while playing in Japan, American Madison Kingdon’s 57 (2017 Korea Volleyball League) and Bulgarian Elitsa Vasileva’s 57 (2013 Korea Volleyball League). Silva also surpassed the 55 points of Americans Nicole Fawcett (2013 KVL) and Alaina Bergsma, who led Petron to the 2014 PSL Grand Prix crown, (2016 KVL).     Not to be outdone, local volleyball star Marck Espejo had a 55-point explosion of his own in the Blue Eagles’ five-set Game 1 UAAP Final Four win over FEU. The five-time MVP pounded 47 attacks, had six kill blocks and two service aces for the Katipunan-based squad. Espejo scored 11 points in the deciding frame including Ateneo’s last four to seal the win in the match that lasted for two hours and 21 minutes. Espejo’s feat fueled Ateneo’s eventual semis series win over the twice-to-beat Tamaraws.  Espejo and DLSU libero Dawn Macandili were named as the Philippine Sportswriters Association’s 2017 Mr. and Miss Volleyball.     The Philippines saw three players make their mark in the international scene this year as Espejo and sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat were tapped as imports in Japan’s V. Premier League. Espejo is now playing for Oita Miyoshi Weiss Adler while Jaja and Dindin suit up for Saitama Ageo Medics and Toray Arrows, respectively.     After 36 long years, the Philippines sent a women’s volleyball team to participate in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The squad won against Hong Kong in straight sets in pool play in the country’s first Asian Games victory since defeating India in the 1982 New Delhi Games. The PHI advanced in the quarterfinals but went home empty-handed. The Filipinas ended up at ninth place in the AVC Asian Cup. Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio made waves in the country’s hosting of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open after the duo barged in the quarterfinals. The tandem eventually bowed down to eventual champion Japan. The NU Bulldogs brought its bark into the international scene and howled its way to giving honor to country by winning the ASEAN University Games gold medal at the expense of Thailand. Volleyball proved to be the most talked about sport in the country as #UAAPSeason80Volleyball became the most tweeted sports hashtag in 2018.   SMASHING WIN, BLAZING VICTORY Creamline became the most successful club in the Premier Volleyball League this year after winning its breakthrough Reinforced Conference crown before following it up with a title romp in the Open Conference. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought after leading the Cool Smashers to the Reinforced Conference throne.   Creamline’s Michele Gumabao joined Binibining Pilipinas and represented the country im the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania, landing at the top 15.     Petron lorded it over in the PSL after winning the Grand Prix and All-Filipino Conference titles at the expense of archrival F2 Logistics, which ruled the Invitational Conference. University of the Philippines ended a 36-year title drought by claiming the PVL Collegiate Conference championship and followed it up by reigning supreme in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam The SiPons tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons of Petron annexed their second straight PSL Challenge Cup beach volleyball title. University of Perpetual Help reclaimed the NCAA men’s title after taking down Arellano University as the Altas bagged it 11th title overall.           National University took back the title it lost last year in the UAAP boys’ tournament while De La Salle-Zobel bagged the girls’ mint. The Beach Volleyball Republic continued its advocacy of propagating the sport throughout the country.   END OF THE ROAD After winning three straight UAAP titles, the Lady Spikers bid goodbye to its Big Three in Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili. Season 80 saw the end of the six-year Ateneo-DLSU Finals rivalry as the Lady Eagles bowed down to FEU in the semis. The Blue Eagles three-year reign ended at the hands of NU as Ateneo gave its farewell to its greatest men’s volleyball star Marck Espejo and prized setter Ish Povorosa.    NU’s four-year domination in the girls’ division was snapped by DLS-Zobel. After a dry 2018 PVL season, Pocari Sweat parted ways with its franchise player Myla Pablo as newcomer Motolite agreed to buyout the hitter’s last three contract years.      Thai coach Tai Bundit after five years and bringing two titles including a rare tournament sweep to the Lady Eagles finally called it quits after Ateneo’s campaign in UAAP Season 80. Creamline gave Bundit a farewell championship trophy in the PVL.      A NEW BEGINNING It was a colorful 2018, indeed, for volleyball but 2019 is another promising year for the sport. Can the Lady Chiefs complete a three-peat in the NCAA? Newcomers are sure to bring more excitement and interest in the UAAP. DLSU will try to extend its reign for another season while NU is looking for a repeat crown in the men’s side. Another season for the PSL and the PVL will open while the national men’s and women’s team will highlight the country’s Southeast Asian Games hosting.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

UE: Rod Roque – The Accidental Coach

“Nakakatawa nga eh. I’ve never played volleyball in my life! Never!” A fact University of East head coach Rod Roque admitted when he talked to sports scribes after his first stint with the Lady Warriors in just the sixth game of the squad in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament. Just two days before, Francis Vicente parted ways with UE after three and a half seasons with a futile 2-45 win-loss record. The Lady Warriors absorbed their 12th straight defeat since Season 79 a day before he resigned. Then they found Roque, the school’s representative to the UAAP Board, a perfect fit. But with a losing record and a team lacking confidence, why would UE hire an interim coach that had no volleyball background? The answer is simple. The school’s management wanted someone that they can trust, a person who has been loyal to the Recto-based university and a tactician that can hold the fort until they can find a proper replacement. Plus, it’s an added bonus that the man they chose for the interim spot made miracles in their boy’s volleyball program. Heck, the man gave UE high school more titles than the other teams’ number of boy’s crowns combined. But Roque is also quick to temper UE management’s expectations. “Siympre mahirap because people might expect a miracle. Sabi ko naman sa management when they told me, sabi ko, ‘Don’t expect a miracle because a miracle doesn’t happen overnight.”   A Twist of Fate Roque may not have the volleyball background like the other UAAP coaches but he excelled in a different kind of sport.      “High school, college, noong estudyante pa ako gymnast ako,” said Roque, a true-blooded Red Warrior with a BS Physical Education degree. He was a member of the national men’s all-around gymnastics team and even represented the country in different international tournaments. “Nakapunta kami sa Asian Youth, sa National games. Di ko lang nalaro yung SEA (Southeast Asian) Games,” he said. After finishing his Masters degree in UE in 1992, Roque grew tired of gymnastics and decided to pursue his love of teaching, working as a PE instructor in the same university. Then fate brought him into coaching high school boy’s volleyball.         “Una ko na-discover sa intramural volleyball. Kumuha kami ng player noong intrams. Nagtayo kami ng team, nananalo naman kami. So yun na yung umpisa,” he said. With the UE boy’s team success, the late athletic director Brenn Perez saw a lot of potential with the Junior Warriors and he decided to field the squad in the UAAP.   “Nakita ng director namin, si Mr. Perez na nagtsa-champion kami sa mga invitational. So nag-propose siya sa UAAP na isama na ‘yung UAAP jrs volleyball. Ayun. Since 1996 nagstart yung UAAP Jrs. volleyball sa (UE),” said Roque. But UE wasn’t as successful as it was in the other tournaments the Junior Warriors joined. De La Salle-Zobel was lording it over since the boy’s tournament started in 1995. The Junior Spikers built a dynasty from Season 57 to 62. Then Roque’s crew got its payback. UE completed a grand slam from 2001 to 2003. DLSU-Zobel snatched a crown in Season 66 but Roque was set to make history. The Junior Warriors reigned supreme for the next 11 years. Under Roque’s tutelage, UE was invincible for more than a decade, dating from 2005 to 2015 - the longest title streak of any team in any UAAP volleyball division. From 1995 to 2016 the Junior Warriors landed 22 straight Final Four appearances. Roque handled the National Capital Region’s boy’s volleyball team for 10 years, earning five Palarong Pambansa gold medals. Out of UE’s 14 titles, Roque had 10 for the Junior Warriors before taking a bigger role as UE’s athletic director after Perez passed away from a heart attack in 2009. “Nag-retire (ako as coach) kasi na-promote ako. Naging assistant director na ako. After that, two years, ginawa na akong director,” he said. “Busy na ‘yung schedule. Hindi ako makapag-ensayo.”   Back as Coach UE has been lumbering at the cellar for years both in the men’s and women’s divisions. While the Junior Warriors were copping titles, the school’s college teams were getting beaten black and blue season after season. Under Vicente’s watch, the Lady Warriors sported a 2-45 win-loss record. The Red Warriors, who named a new coach before Season 80 in national men’s volleyball team coach Sammy Acaylar, didn’t fare any better. Five games into the season, UE decided to part ways with their coaches. Acaylar resigned citing conflict of schedule a he was appointed as Perpetual Help athletic director while Vicente left because of ‘personal reasons’. But sources said that Vicente was sacked a day before Acaylar tended his resignation. While Roque struggled to turn around the campaign of the Red Warriors, his stint with the Lady Warriors was sort of ‘miraculous’. He dropped a four-setter against Far Eastern University in his debut but again became an architect of UE’s historic feat – this time in the women’s division. The Lady Warriors closed the first round with a surprise 25-22, 22-25, 14-25, 25-20, 15-13 shocker over Adamson University that ended their 12-game slide since Season 79. Just three days later, UE stunned University of Sto. Tomas, 25-23, 18-25, 28-26, 26-24, in a historic first win against the traditional powerhouse Tigresses at least since the start of the Final Four format in 1994. It marked the first time since Season 74 that the Lady Warriors won back-to-back games. It opened the eyes of volleyball fans that the Lady Warriors have talented players like Shaya Adorador, Mary Anne Mendrez and libero Kath Arado. “Na-notice kasi namin na takot silang magkamali. Takot silang magkamali kaya lalo silang nagkakamali. Pero para sa akin OK lang magkamali but make sure babawi ka,” said Roque. “Natutuwa naman ako kasi nagkakamali sila pero bumabawi.” The Lady Warriors eventually dropped their next three games after that back-to-back wins but gave Adamson, Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University quite a scare before succumbing. But with the change of culture brought by Roque, teams are now wary of the Lady Warriors, which will return to action on April 8 against slumping National University. UE will wrap up its campaign against FEU and University of the Philippines – the last remaining games of Roque before he leaves his post to make way to a new head coach. “This season lang talaga ako,” said Roque. With him on board, the Lady Warriors are playing like a team looking to prove that they are better than just being a win fodder for other squads. Roque made the players respect themselves. He gave UE volleyball the respect it deserves.   ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 31st, 2018

SCHEDULE: UAAP Season 80 men s basketball Final 4

MANILA, Philippines – The UAAP Season 80 men's basketball Final 4 playoffs will begin on Saturday, November 18, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.  The Ateneo Blue Eagles, De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers, Adamson University (AdU) Soaring Falcons and Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws make up this season's Final ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 13th, 2017

Ateneo, San Beda banner record 20-team PBA D-League in 2019

Twenty teams will lock horns once the 2019 PBA D-League season rolls on February 14 at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig. Go for Gold-CSB, the champions of the past 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, will be back in the fold as it tries to extend its dynasty against a stacked field, which includes UAAP champion Ateneo, NCAA king San Beda, and NAASCU titlist St. Clare. Fifteen school-based teams will be joining the tilt as the record number of teams led the league to scrap the two-conference format and push through with the lone season staging. League pioneer Centro Escolar University, last season's back-to-back runner-up Che'Lu Bar & Grill, and holdovers Marinerong Pilipino, Batangas-EAC, and AMA Online Education will all be part of this season's competitions, as well as returnees Perpetual and Wangs Basketball. UAAP teams FEU, UST, and NU, together with NCAA contenders Letran and San Sebastian are all raring to test their mantle in the developmental ranks. Newcomers Diliman College, Phoenix-Enderun, Trinity College, and McDavid will also make their debuts this season to complete the field. Last year's cellar-dwellers AMA Online Education will pick first in the 2019 PBA D-League Draft, set on January 15......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2019

Travel Goals: Pinoy athletes celebrate the New Year in style

With most of the major sports leagues in the Philippines currently on a break to start 2019, some of your favorite athletes took some time to unwind before another year of grinding fully begins. Star athletes flew to different parts of the Philippines and the world to unwind, checking off their travel goals before they reach their actual career goals this year. Some of the reigning UAAP women's volleyball champions DLSU Lady Spikers trekked to the Summer Capital of the Philippines to soak up some fresh air before their title defense in UAAP season 81 this February.         View this post on Instagram                 •Gon’ slay, okay• - @beyonce . . . 📷 @_maylunaaa A post shared by Ernestine Tiamzon (@ernietiamzon) on Jan 6, 2019 at 2:13am PST           View this post on Instagram                 All smiles, 2019 💞 A post shared by May Luna (@_maylunaaa) on Jan 5, 2019 at 8:12pm PST Meanwhile, former Lady Spikers Dawn Macandili and Kim Kianna Dy both travelled abroad to enjoy nature and to surprise a loved one, respectively.  The multi-awarded libero went to Australia with her family, while KKD flew to Japan to surprise her boyfriend, Marck Espejo, who has been reaching goals playing in the Japan V. Premier League.         View this post on Instagram                 “Di na maka-solo” -Donato (2018) A post shared by Dawn Macandili (@dawn_macandili) on Dec 31, 2018 at 2:45am PST           View this post on Instagram                 Yannn, ginagalit niyo kasi si Dudut eh 😑🤣 —— Kidding aside, never been more proud of you! Watching you play the same level even internationally makes me so proud. It was worth every second & mile just to see and be with you ❤️ see u in 4 months ❤️ A post shared by Kim Kianna Dy (@kiannady) on Jan 6, 2019 at 12:57am PST Woman In Action Gretchen Ho tagged along fellow former Ateneo Lady Eagles Jem Ferrer and Dzi Gervacio as they scaled Mount Pamitinan in Rodriguez, Rizal.         View this post on Instagram                 Started my year right 🤙🏻🏞 All is well, all is well ☺️ #womaninaction ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ There have been a lot of things going on with my career and personal life. People know I like pursuing my passions no matter how difficult they are. But despite my #womaninaction lifestyle, I still make sure to get my #adulting right!! - - @prulifeuk’s #PRULifeYourTerm makes it easy for me to reach my financial goals as it is the ONLY renewable term insurance in the country that can be upgraded with an investment component rider. Happy to move forward as secure as I can be :) #prulifeuk - While it’s good to make the most of “NOW”, we must not lose sight of the future. Here we go! #2019 #mountainclimbing #mountaineering #philippines #mountpamitinan #rizal #montalban #mtpamitinan A post shared by Gretchen Ho (@gretchenho) on Jan 7, 2019 at 4:50pm PST           View this post on Instagram                 Fearless. A post shared by Jamenea Ferrer (@jemferrer) on Jan 5, 2019 at 10:16pm PST Michele Gumabao got a much-deserved break after a successful Premier Volleyball League title run with the Creamline Cool Smashers, posing while in an unidentified, but picturesque island.         View this post on Instagram                 And so another adventure begins ☀️ 👙@soakswimwearph 📸 XT100 @fujifilmph @fujifilmphlifestyle #ShowMeYourWorldXT100 #FujifilmPHXMicheleGumabao #fujifilmlifestyle A post shared by Michele Gumabao (@gumabaomichele) on Jan 7, 2019 at 3:23am PST Olympian Hidilyn Diaz made sure to promote her hometown of Zamboanga in her #TravelGoals post, endorsing the wonderful 11 Islands in Zamboanga Peninsula.         View this post on Instagram                 Kung nasa Zamboanga Peninsula kayo baka maconsider niyong pumunta sa Onse isla at malamawi. Suggestion ko magdala kayo ng mat or duyan para makapagsunbath kayo at matulog under the coconut tree or under the sun then marinig niyo ang waves and air. Sobrang refreshing and relaxing! 📸 @imjulius 😎 🌴 🏝 🏖 #Zamboanga #vacation A post shared by Hidilyn Diaz OLY (@hidilyndiaz) on Jan 6, 2019 at 3:45am PST The entire Ildefonso family bonded in Japan capturing some IG-worthy photos along the way.        .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2019

Poy Erram hopes to help NLEX become a top-tier team in the PBA

Newly-acquired NLEX center Poy Erram knows just how much the Road Warriors needed to give up just to be able to bring him in.  Erram was the focal point of a three-team trade between NLEX, Talk N' Text, and Blackwater that saw the Road Warriors part ways with draft picks Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter, as well as rotation big men Dave Marcelo and Mike Miranda in order to land Erram from the Elite, along with Philip Paredes from the KaTropa.  In Erram, NLEX finally gets a star bigman that they've always wanted to pair with their loaded back court that includes playmakers Kevin Alas and Kiefer Ravena among others.  Already, Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao is happy with what he's seeing with his new star center.  "We’re very happy. It gives us a deeper front line, our system is well-fitted to his style, he can step out and shoot the outside shots, he’s also not a slow big. Big siya pero may speed and quickness for a big, then he can post-up, he can use his length there," shared Guiao. "He’s going to be an impact player, he’s going to make an immediate impact on our team, and I think yung complementary yung game niya to Asi [Taulava], to JR [Quiñahan], and to our other bigs, so we’re hoping that we’re proven right with the decision that we made," he added.  #PBA2019 | New NLEX big man Poy Erram getting shots up. Erram was sent to NLEX via a three-team trade in exchange for first round picks Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter. | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/Vyt2HJd4ef — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) January 7, 2019 For the 29-year old former Ateneo de Manila standout, knowing how much NLEX was willing to deal for him is part of the motivation to do well and make an immediate impact with the Road Warriors.  "Yung pressure, hindi naman mawawala yun, andiyan lang naman talaga yan. Number one motivation ko siya kasi yun nga, marami silan binitawan na players para sa akin, and then, ayoko din isipin na andito ako para naka-center sa akin yung [attention], hindi naman ganun eh, siyempre matagal na silang magkakasama, kailangan ko mag-adjust sa sistema ni Coach Yeng, siyempre kailangan ko mag-adjust sa players, sa mga characters ng mga players," Erram shared with ABS-CBN Sports.  Erram adds that he also relishes the opportunity to be able to play with veterans, the likes of Taulava, Larry Fonacier, and Quiñahan, among others, a luxury that he didn't necessarily have during his time with Blackwater.  "Motivation din kasi kailangan ko pang mag-improve, kasi marami pa akong i-improve eh, and I think this is the best team for me, kasi I have Asi Taulava, I have JR Quiñahan, I have Kuya Larry, Kuya Cyrus [Baguio], veterans na sadly wala dun sa team namin noon sa Blackwater before. For me ito yung best chance ko mag-improve and mag-grow pa yung skills ko and yung talent ko and yung attitude ko towards the game." Having already played for Coach Guiao before with Gilas, Erram says that the transition period wasn't as difficult.  "In terms of transition, hindi naman ako nahirapan kasi naging coach ko din si Coach Yeng sa Gilas, so most of the system na tinatakbo dito sa NLEX, tinakbo niya sa Gilas, so when it comes to mga set plays, defense, hindi naman na ako nahirapan. May mga kaunti lang kasi siyempre hindi naman niya masyado dinetalye nung sa Gilas. Dito mas detalye talaga eh, so mas kaunting adjustment, kaunting-kaunti lang, madali ko lang din naman na ma-gamay dahil yung teammates ko nga, tinutulungan din nila ako, and then yung iba naging teammates ko nung college."  Plus, it also helps, Erram added, being able to play with fellow former Blue Eagles, especially guys like Emman Monfort and Juami Tiongson, whom he got to play with back in the UAAP.  "Laking tulong kasi sila Emman, sila Juami, nakakasama ko yan sa labas eh, kahit magkakalaban kami, lumalabas kami, so pagdating dito, ang laking tulong kasi alam na nila kung paano ako maglaro, alam na nila ugali ko, kung paano yung work ethic ko sa game, alam na nila and then when it comes to adjustment naman, ang dali din kasi sobrang approachable ng mga tao kasi same school kami, so mas madali na may mag-ga-guide sa akin na same school ko tapos nakalaro ko pa." "Ang laking tulong, and excited ako kasi for the first time, makakasama ko si Emman ulit after college, and si Kuya Larry, never ko pa nakasama, so ang laking bagay nun para sa akin," Erram added. Obviously, the Road Warriors expect Erram to become an integral part of their team starting this season, otherwise they would not have pulled the trigger on the deal.  The six-foot-eight slotman, however, doesn't want to overestimate what he brings to the table for NLEX. Instead, he maintains that he's here to do what he's asked for.  "[Kung anong madadala ko for NLEX], hindi ko pa masasabi for now, kasi hindi pa ako naglalaro eh, hindi pa nakikita ng tao na naglalaro ako with NLEX, so ang mindset ko is every game, every practice, gagawin ko yung mga pinapagawa ni Coach, kung anong kailangan gawin, and kung ano man yung kailangan kong i-improve na aspect ng game ko, yun yung i-improve ko para mas makatulong ako sa team," With the arrival of Erram as well as the return of play maker Kevin Alas, Guiao is confident that NLEX has a chance at once again being a contender in the Philippine Cup, much like they were a season ago, when they made it all the way to the semifinals.  If Erram does help NLEX to a similar deep run in the season-opening conference or if he gets to help them over the hump, then well and good, he expressed.  "If ever man na malampasan namin and magawa namin yun, makatulong ako sa team na magawa namin yun, maganda yung nilalaro ko, for me it’s a plus na eh, kasi siyempre hindi naman ito naka-center sa akin. We have Larry, we have the veterans, tsaka si Kiefer darating pa, si Kevin andiyan na, itong team na ‘to contender na sila bago pa ako dumating. Para madagdag ako, hindi ko alam, titignan natin kung anong maitutulong ko sa team." Being a definite presence inside the paint, his defense is the one thing that Erram is sure of, as far as what he brings to the table is concerned.  "Matangkad ako eh, siguro ang maibibigay ko sa team ay yung defense ko, yun talaga yung calling card ko every time I play, so for now yun lang muna siguro ang alam ko na mabibigay ko sa kanila, kasi when it comes to offense, maraming offensive player dito eh, mabibigat yung pangalan nila, yung kalibre ng player," he stated. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2019

Expect packed UAAP Season 82 as PH hosts 2019 SEA Games

MANILA, Philippines – UAAP Season 82 host Ateneo laid out plans to adjust the league schedule as the Philippines hosts the 2019 Southeast Asian Games starting November 30. As men’s basketball action usually ends early December, Ateneo plans to compress the schedule and wrap up the tournament by the third ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 6th, 2019

EYES ON YOU, KID: UAAP 81 Jrs. players to watch

The first round of the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with. And we can’t wait for the second round to get started just so we could get even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players: KAI SOTTO – Ateneo de Manila High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 25.3 points, 62.1 shooting, 12.7 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, 2.7 assists For the first time in his three years in Ateneo, Kai Sotto is, bar none, the most dominant force in the UAAP. In his first year, he took a backseat to Juan Gomez de Liano and SJ Belangel then as a sophomore, he was overtaken by CJ Cansino. Now, however, there is no doubt that the 7-foot-1, 16-year-old is the best player in the league – tops in scoring, rebounding, and blocking. And for good measure, just as he is a sure shot inside the paint, he also has the soft touch to make jumpers. Don’t send him to the line either as he makes good on 70.8 percent of his shots from there. Yes, Sotto is an end-to-end force that nobody could match not only in the UAAP, but in all of high school. RJ ABARRIENTOS – Far Eastern University-Diliman ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.4 points, 5.0 assists, 4.1 rebounds RJ Abarrientos had already committed to FEU’s Seniors squad, but later backtracked to use up his last year of eligibility in the UAAP Juniors. Safe to say, FEU-Diliman only welcomed him back with open arms and then proceeded to provide him the stage to shine the brightest he has ever been. A complementary player to the likes of Kenji Roman and L-Jay Gonzales before him, the nephew of Philippine basketball legend Johnny now runs the show for the Baby Tamaraws to the tune of a scoring clip and an assist total both third-best in the league. And even as he is now the primary playmaker for the green and gold, Abarrientos remains a dead shot as the league’s top marksman from three. All in all, the 5-foot-11 stocky guard is the most college-ready player in high school (of course, we’re not counting Kai Sotto who’s not only looks like he's college-ready, but pro-ready as well). CARL TAMAYO – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.5 points, 54.3 percent shooting, 9.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks Due to various injuries, Carl Tamayo has only seen action in four out of seven games NU has played thus far in the tournament. Each and every time he’s on the court, however, the 6-foot-7 only delivers the goods on offense as a paint presence as well as a threat from the perimeter. At the other end, Tamayo also stands strong inside and outside and is actually third-best in terms of blocks. The Cebuano has all the tools to go toe-to-toe with Kai Sotto, but will need to work on his strength and conditioning so that he may leave the injury bug that has been biting him far behind. MARK NONOY – University of Sto. Tomas ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 18.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.7 steals UST looked like it had hit the jackpot in unearthing CJ Cansino and then unveiling him as a dominant force in Season 80. Only, the Tiger Cubs look like they have hit the jackpot again in discovering Mark Nonoy out of Negros Occidental and then developing him into their new all-around shining star in Season 81. In just his first game in the UAAP Juniors, Nonoy dropped 31 points. Just two games later, he tallied a triple-double of 17 points, 16 rebounds, and 12 assists. Now, he is second-best in points and assists and third-best in steals in all of the league. More importantly, with their 5-foot-8 playmaker fronting the effort, UST has stayed in the conversation of playoff hopefuls in the ongoing season. GERRY ABADIANO – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 13.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists Nothing about Gerry Abadiano’s game will jump out at anybody. In fact, nobody will be able to find him in the top five of any statistical category. In the same light, however, he also does not have any weaknesses that will jump out at anybody. The 5-foot-9 lead guard just does whatever his team needs from him and he does it well. That is exactly why he has become to be heart and soul of a Bullpup side with championship aspirations. More than that, Abadiano’s biggest contribution will not be seen in any stat sheet as he has turned out to be the leader that the blue and gold deserves. JOEM SABANDAL – Adamson High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals Joem Sabandal can make difficult shots with the best of them – whether that be willing a layup through defenders or willing a jumper in the face of a contest. That ability has thrust him into the role of being the main man for upstart Adamson and into the recognition as the fifth-best scorer in the UAAP Juniors. Make no mistake, however, the 5-foot-11 guard is not a score-first, second, and third player as he also contributes in the rebounds, assists, and steals departments for the Baby Falcons. Just like any young player, shot selection is a point for improvement for Sabandal, but the fact of the matter is, he’s already well on his way into being a dynamic scorer. TERRENCE FORTEA – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists Looks like all Terrences have a scorer’s mentality as NU’s Fortea wants to get buckets just as much as San Miguel’s Romeo. The good news for the Bullpups is that Terrence Romeo is just one of the hopeful trajectories 18-year-old Terrence Fortea’s career can take. Like Romeo, Fortea is a sniper from deep (second-most triple total with 20) and an even better shot from the line (best free throw clip at 82.6 percent). He also has that handy floater that can frustrate defenses that close out on him. Best of all, though, the 5-foot-10 Batang Gilas stalwart is still learning the ropes on being more of a facilitator. And when he masters that, he may very well exceed his namesake. AP MANLAPAZ – Adamson High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 10.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.0 blocks, 1.3 steals While Joem Sabandal is Adamson’s go-to-guy, it’s actually little-known teammate AP Manlapaz who is in the top five of the MVP race. And with a closer look, there’s every reason for him to be there as he, put simply, stuffs the stat sheet for the Baby Falcons – averaging a points-rebounds double-double to go along with marks from assists, blocks, and steals. Safe to say, long-limbed forward Manlapaz has been anonymous before the season, but without a doubt, will only keep making noise on both ends. BISMARCK LINA – University of Sto. Tomas ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.0 assist Bismarck Lina is one of only three players to be averaging a double-double in the UAAP Juniors. As their man in the middle, the cousin of school legend Kevin Ferrer sees to it that UST does not get bullied in the interior as whether it be offense or defense, he is a threat at the rim. Most of all, the 6-foot-6 Lina, the second-best rebounder in the league, is always at the right place, at the right time to complete defensive stops or to clean up a teammates’ miss with a rebound. JORDI GOMEZ DE LIAÑO – University of the Philippines Integrated School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 assist Jordi is the best-shooting Gomez de Liano – or so he says. Of course, numbers do back him up as at just 15-years-old, he already has the third-best triple total in all of the UAAP Juniors. At the same time, however, the younger brother of Javi and Juan has a long ways to go as while he already stands at 6-foot-5, he is also reed thin and can get muscled through by anybody and everybody. More than that, his team is winless in the season. Nonetheless, it’s good to know that both the shooting and the confidence, both GDL trademarks, are already there – and it’s just a matter of time before Jordi grows into his body. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2019

Nadal withdraws, Murray loses to Medvedev in Brisbane

By John Pye, Associated Press BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray lost his second-round match less than an hour after Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Brisbane International on Wednesday. Both players arrived in Australia after long injury breaks, and neither had played a competitive match since September. At least Murray completed two matches, playing on a protected ranking after an injury-interrupted 18 months, beating James Duckworth before losing to fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2. There were signs in both matches that he is still bothered by the hip problem which has derailed his last two seasons. The second-ranked Nadal had a first-round bye but withdrew on the eve of his scheduled second-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after having an MRI on a muscle strain in his left thigh. Nadal said he would keep practicing in Brisbane until the weekend, then head to Melbourne after a brief stopover in Sydney to prepare for the Australian Open. The 32-year-old Spaniard is confident he will be fit enough to compete at the season's first major, which starts on Jan. 14 at Melbourne Park. "After analyzing everything, (doctors) say that it's a very small thing, but can become a big thing, because a strain in the muscle is dangerous," Nadal said during a news conference staged while Murray was playing Medvedev on Pat Rafter Arena. "When you increase the intensity on the muscle competing, then there is a big risk to make something bigger." Also exiting the men's draw on Wednesday where defending champion Nick Kyrgios, who lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3, and third-seeded Kyle Edmund, who lost to Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6 (6), 6-4. Second-seeded Kei Nishikori and 2017 champion Grigor Dimitrov had straight-set wins earlier to set up a quarterfinal showdown — a rematch of their final in 2017 — and fifth-seeded Milos Raonic advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) win over Miomir Kecmanovic. Anett Kontaveit beat fourth-seeded Petra Kvitova 7-5, 7-6 (1) to advance to the women's quarterfinals, and Anastasija Sevastova set up a match against U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka when she beat Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-0. Fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova had a 7-5, 6-2 win over Marie Bouzkova, Ajla Tomljanovic beat Johanna Konta 6-2, 7-6 (2), and Donna Vekic ousted No. 6 Kiki Bertens 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-5. Nadal withdrew after one match at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi before arriving this week in Australia, where he forecast another withdrawal when he said he wanted to focus on quality of his play over quantity of matches in his schedule this year. He played nine tournaments in 2018, winning five titles, including the French Open, in a season curtailed by knee and ankle injuries. "Probably I'm 100 percent in five days. And then I have plenty of time to prepare Melbourne," he said. "It's a waste to damage my body for one month if I keep playing here. After all the things that happened to me, probably I am not ready to assume that waste." Taro Daniel, a lucky loser from qualifying, will take Nadal's place in the Brisbane draw and will play Tsonga on Thursday. The absence of Nadal and Murray casts more focus on the Nishikori-Dimitrov quarterfinal match. Nishikori broke at love in the 11th game to seize momentum in a 7-5, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla in the second round. The sixth-seeded Dimitrov, who beat Nishikori in the 2017 final, had to withstand a late comeback from local favorite John Millman before winning 6-3, 6-4. He's using the quarterfinal match against Nishikori as a barometer for where his preparations stand for the Australian Open. "It's great. I mean it's right off the blocks," Dimitrov said. "It's perfect to play a match like that to kind of see where your game is at.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019

10 can’t-miss moments in sports for 2019

2018 is already in the books. Now, we look forward to the next chapters we’re all about to read in 2019. Laban Azkals in AFC Asian Cup – January The Azkals will enter historic grounds as early as January as they play for the first time in the AFC Asian Cup in 2019. Their ticket was booked after crushing Tajikistan in a 2-1 home victory early in 2018. With a world-renowned mentored on their side in Sven-Goran Eriksson and veteran national players, the Azkals will travel to the United Arab Emirates for the continental showdown. The Azkals kick off their 2019 AFC Cup Campaign on January 7th against South Korea, followed by a match against China PR on January 11th, before closing out the Group Stage on January 16th against Kyrgyzstan.  Newest season of the oldest professional league in Asia – January After just roughly a month of break from basketball action, the oldest professional league in Asia is back. The PBA will be kicking off its 44th season on January 13 with San Miguel defending its Philippine Cup title. Aside from that, marquee rookies such as CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, and Paul Desiderio are all set to play their first professional games with their respective teams. Up next on Pacman’s list – January The Filipinos will be treated to quality boxing as early as January 19 when Manny Pacquiao defends his WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Championship against challenger American Adrien Broner. After two years of fighting outside the US, Pacquiao will be back in Las Vegas to defend his title against a tough challenger in Broner. Just like old times, Freddie Roach will be back in Pacquiao's corner, this time serving as a consultant. Fanning the flames for a place in FIBA World Cup 2019 – February For the Philippines to be back in the FIBA World Cup, these are the things that need to happen: we must sweep out last two games then Japan must lose at least one of its last two games – giving us the third spot in Group F. Alternatively, we can pin our hopes on China winding up in the top four of its group – giving Groups E and F four berths apiece. Gilas Pilipinas begins its trek through that long and winding road away from home up against Qatar. All teams are teams-to-beat in UAAP 81 Volleyball – February The exciting and highly entertaining collegiate volleyball league is back on February 16. Things to watch out for? La Salle's bid for their fourth consecutive title, Ateneo's face post-Tai Bundit era, UP's confident aura coming off two major preseason championships, and UST's game-changing rookies. Eaglets-Bullpups Finals rematch or not – March Without a doubt, Ateneo and NU, the very same two teams that battled in the Finals last year, are the favorites to go all the way back to the champipnship round in the ongoing season. After all, the Blue Eaglets still have 7-foot-1, 16-year-old Kai Sotto and the Bullpups boast of the deepest roster in all of high school. After the first round of eliminations, however, it’s also clear that RJ Abarrientos-led FEU-Diliman and Joem Sabandal-fronted Adamson have other plans. For sure, something’s gotta give. Alab Pilipinas’ shot at history – April In the almost decade-long history of the Asean Basketball League, no team has won back-to-back championships. Alab Pilipinas is here to change that with the Puerto Rican pair of Renaldo Balkman and PJ Ramos showing the way alongside two-time Local MVP Ray Parks Jr. No doubt, this is the most talented team in franchise history and as such, nothing but a second straight title will be an acceptable outcome. The NCAA is five years away from its centennial celebration – July The first collegiate league in the country is approaching rarified air. Set to open its milestone mark 95th Season, the same old intensity is to be expected in the NCAA. The protagonists, however, may very well be different as all of last year’s Final Four teams will now be missing their main men – Robert Bolick for San Beda, CJ Perez for LPU, Bong Quinto for Letran, and Prince Eze for Perpetual. Is the UAAP 82 Basketball crown Katipunan’s to keep – September In Season 82, all teams will be seeking to nip the dynasty that the Ateneo Blue Eagles are trying to build. After going for back-two-back last season, all eyes will still be on them as their enter the season with an intact core. However, just like Season 81 it will not be a walk in the park with all contenders striving to match their caliber through massive recruitment, coach changes, and tough training camps. Filipino hospitality in SEA Games 2019 – November For the first time since 2005, the SEA Games will be played in Manila. That means that, at long last, our regional neighbors will yet again experience that world-renowned warmth of the Philippines and its people. Make no mistake, however, the Filipinos are all set to go all-out and dominate the medal tally – whether that be basketball in Manila or athletics and aquatics in Clark......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2018

Firmino helps rampant Liverpool open 9-point lead in EPL

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Roberto Firmino scored with an impudent no-look finish. There were jubilant cries of "Ole!" as Liverpool played possession football near the end, and the final whistle was met with a chant of "We shall not be moved" from The Kop. Juergen Klopp's players look unstoppable as they march toward a first English top-flight title since 1990. And they are having fun at the same time. In the latest statement victory in its unbeaten start to the Premier League season, Liverpool overwhelmed Arsenal's meek challenge in a 5-1 win at Anfield on Saturday, with Firmino scoring a hat trick and Mohamed Salah invariably among the goals. A ninth straight league victory opened a nine-point lead over second-placed Tottenham, which unexpectedly lost 3-1 at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers in its first match since seriously entering the title-race conversation. Manchester City will climb back into second spot, and within seven points of the lead, if it beats Southampton on Sunday. But there is already an ominous feel about Liverpool's ruthless performances, and it is now 20 league games undefeated for Klopp's men. "I'm not the smartest person in the world but I'm really not an idiot," Klopp said. "It's not important how many points you are ahead in December ... if we drop three points, the next headline is, 'Are they nervous now?'." Liverpool received huge help from their rivals on Saturday. Tottenham started it by appearing to run out of energy in the loss to Wolves at Wembley Stadium, with all of the visitors' goals coming in the final 18 minutes. Then Arsenal, arriving as England's fifth best team, produced a shambolic defensive display that Liverpool's devastating front three happily capitalized on. Sadio Mane was the other scorer. Arsenal mistakes preceded at least four of Liverpool's goals, two of them being penalties after clumsy challenges by Sokratis and Sead Kolasinac. Salah converted the first to make it 4-1 in first-half injury time and gave up spot-kick duties to allow Firmino to complete his hat trick in the 65th. "So, 2018 ends with a Christmas present from Mo Salah," Klopp said. "It was one of the nicest things I have seen in my life." TOTTENHAM CRUMBLES Having the Premier League's most punishing schedule over the Christmas period caught up with Tottenham against Wolves. It was the team's third game in six days — there is another one coming up on Tuesday, too — and it showed at Wembley as Wolves dominated the second half and scored through Willy Boly, Raul Jimenez and Helder Costa. Harry Kane, with a long-range effort off his left foot, netted for the third straight game to put Tottenham ahead in the 22nd minute. "We were wrong in the way we tried to play, too much long ball and our energy dropped in the second half," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. ANGRY RANIERI Claudio Ranieri had tough words for Aboubakar Kamara after the Fulham striker's stubbornness almost cost his side three precious points in its battle against relegation. After Fulham was awarded a spot kick in the 81st minute against Huddersfield, Kamara argued with Aleksandar Mitrovic — the team's designated penalty taker — before eventually taking it himself. He failed, with his shot lacking any conviction and being easily saved by Jonas Lossl. "I said to Kamara to leave the ball to Mitrovic, he is the man who shoots the penalties," Ranieri said. "It is unbelievable. He did not respect me, the club, the team and crowd. I spoke with him, it is not right. I wanted to kill him." Mitrovic spared Kamara's blushes by scoring in stoppage time to secure a 1-0 win and move Fulham four points above last-place Huddersfield. OTHER RESULTS Cardiff also scored in stoppage time to beat Leicester 1-0, with Victor Camarasa netting to earn the Welsh team its first away league win since getting promoted. Leicester was coming off impressive back-to-back wins over Chelsea and Manchester City. Brighton beat Everton 1-0, and Watford drew 1-1 at home to Newcastle......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

Top sports headliners in the year that was

From the FIFA World Cup to the NBA, the PBA to the UAAP and NCAA, the Asian Games to Manny Pacquiao, volleyball to MMA, the past 12 months truly was a great year for Filipino sports fans.   Here are some of the most memorable sports headliners that bannered the year that was.    San Miguel Corporation dominates PBA San Miguel Corporation owned 2018. For the first time in the history of the Asia’s first professional basketball league one company dominated all three conferences of the PBA. The San Miguel Beermen annexed their fourth straight Philippine Cup title against sister team Magnolia last May, while Ginebra rode on undersized do-it-all forward Justin Brownlee to the Commissioner's Cup title at the expense of San Miguel last August. Then it was Magnolia's time to shine in December. The Hotshots dismantled Alaska in six games to complete SMC’s domination of PBA 2018. Outside of basketball, SMC also made its presence felt in volleyball as Petron bagged the Grand Prix, Challenge Cup (beach volleyball) and the All-Filipino Conference in the Philippine Superliga.   Kai Sotto stands tall as Ateneo takes title vs NU Kai Sotto became a household name in 2018 as the 7'1" wunderkind showed off in the UAAP Season 80 juniors' basketball tournament. The eventual Finals MVP was a beast in Game 1 of the Finals against the NU Bullpups, tallying a triple-double of 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks in the 86-70 win, the first of its kind since 2003. Ateneo finished the season almost unscathed at 16-1, with their lone loss in Game 2 of the series, a very chippy one to say the least. In Game 3, Sotto came up clutch, scoring the go-ahead basket, 60-58, with about 30 seconds left as Ateneo came away with the 63-58 win to take the title.  SJ Belangel, Joaqui Manuel, Dave Ildefonso and Jason Credo, and coach Joe Silva all appeared in their last games for the Blue Eaglets.   DLSU completes three-peat; NU dethrones Ateneo  The UAAP Season 80 volleyball tournament was filled with lasting memories that will surely be remembered for a long time. Numerous upsets in the eliminations, great games, and much more were the name of the game for the women's tournament. However, a long-time rivalry was rekindled when two-time defending champs De La Salle Lady Spikers met 29-time title holders FEU Lady Tamaraws for all the marbles last May. Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, and Dawn Macandili all ended their careers on a high note as they swept graduating Bernadeth Pons and the Lady Tamaraws in two straight games to win their third straight title. Graduating libero Macandili was named Finals MVP for the first and final time in her collegiate career.  Behind their magnificent floor defense and some stellar play from Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas, the NU Bulldogs also swept three-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles to reclaim a title they last enjoyed in Season 76. Espejo, a five-time UAAP MVP, had an awesome performance for the world's record books, scoring a record-55 points to force the FEU Tamaraws to a do-or-die Final Four. The Blue Eagle legend had played his last, and has since suited up for a semi-pro team in Japan's topflight volleyball league.   Alab fends off Mono Vampire to claim ABL title San Miguel-backed Alab Pilipinas were such a glorious sight to see in the eighth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last March. Coached by perennial fan favorite Jimmy Alapag in his very first season, the trio of Renaldo Balkman, Justin Brownlee, and Local and Finals MVP Bobby Ray Parks to their first title in home soil. Alab faced Thailand-based Mono Vampire, who were led by Mike Singletary, towering Sam Deguara, Fil-Am Jason Brickman and Pinoy Paul Zamar. In the very same day as the coronation of the UAAP volleyball championships, Alab took home the crown in a rousing 102-92 victory in Sta. Rosa, much to the delight of the home crowd. Balkman, the league's Defensive Player of the Year led Alab in scoring with 32, while Brownlee added 24 of his own. Parks added 13 markers. The two imports played in the PBA for the Commissioner's Cup, where Balkman (San Miguel) and Brownlee (Ginebra) would face each other in the Finals.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Warriors send LeBron packing to Los Angeles The Golden St. Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers locked horns in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season after the two teams were pushed to the brink in the Conference Finals. Both teams were down 3-2 and won Game 7 on the road to win their respective conferences, with both teams banking on experience to forge another bout in the championship series. Game 1 was undoubtedly the most exciting game in the series as LeBron James had an epic performance of 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  However, JR Smith's blunder at the end of regulation became the lasting image of that game, as he dribbled out the clock with the score tied at 107-all. The defending champions rode the surge and took the opening game, 124-114. Stephen Curry's brillant performance throughout the series was overshadowed by Kevin Durant's dagger in Game 3, a few feet away from the spot where he launched the go-ahead three in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Durant was named as the Bill Russell Finals MVP after norming 28.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the four-game sweep, demolishing the Cavs 108-85 in the series finale last June. It would also be the last game LeBron James had in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform, as he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers almost a month later.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) France rules 2018 FIFA World Cup The most-coveted title of the beautiful game returned to France after two decades. The youthful French squad celebrated their conquest soaked in a downpour in Moscow after a 4-2 victory over first-time finalist Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup last July. Teenager Kylian Mbappe stood out in the French team composed of a bunch of 25 and under players. Speed, strength and youth became France’s biggest asset during the quadrennial football spectacle watched by almost 3.5 billion viewers around the world.  The 19-year-old migrant scored one of the four goals in the championship match to become the second teen to score a goal in the Finals after the legendary Pele back in 1958. France defeated Belgium in the semifinal, 1-0, while Croatia outlasted the favored Russians in penalty shootout, 4-3 (2-2). The French team also displayed diversity, with players born of migrant parents including Alphonse Areola, whose parents are both Filipinos working in France.   Pac on top, The Filipino Flash returns The most-celebrated Filipino athlete continued make the headlines this year. Manny Pacquaio stripped Lucas Matthysse of his WBA welterweight world championship belt with a seventh round technical knockout win in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July. Pacquiao split with long-time trainer Freddie Roach during his build up for the Matthysse bout back in April but confirmed their partnership once again for the 40-year old boxer’s title defense against Adrien Broner next year. Nonito Donaire Jr. announced that he would be going back down to super bantamweight after a loss to Carl Frampton in April for the interim WBO Featherweight belt and would be taking part in the World Boxing Super Series' super bantamweight tournament.  Matched up in the quarterfinal round against Ryan Burnett back in November, Donaire scored what many consider an upset, winning via TKO after the Irishman suffered a back injury to snatch the WBA (Super) Bantamweight World Championship.  Up next for Donaire will be WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in the semifinals.           Pinay power in the Asian Games   The Philippines participated in the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia that ran from August 18 to September 2. A total of 272 athletes that participated in 31 sports represented the country in the quadrennial meet with Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and medalist Margielyn Didal marching as flagbearers in the opening and closing ceremonies, respectively. Rio Olympian Hidilyn Diaz gave the PHI its first gold medal in women’s -53 kg. weightlifting. Five days after Diaz’s victory, the trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go accounted for the women’s golf team mint. Saso also bagged the individual gold. In Palembang, Didal rolled her way into winning the women’s street skateboard gold. The celebrated men’s basketball team started out strong after routing Kazakhstan but lost by two-points to China in the group stage. The Gilas Pilipinas squad advanced in the quarterfinals but bowed down to South Korea by nine points eventually settling for a fifth spot in the classification phase after wins over Japan and Syria. The PHI finished with a 4-2-15 gold-silver-bronze haul and landed at 19th spot, three places higher that its 2014 finish in Incheon, South Korea.      Red Lions roar, Blue Eagles soar San Beda University continued its mastery over the NCAA as it annexed its third straight title and 22nd overall. The Red Lions grabbed its 11th crown in 13 years at the expense of Lyceum of the Philippines University. It was one-sided championship series – just like in their Finals meeting last year – with the San Beda ripping the Pirates apart in Game One with LPU playing sans its best player in CJ Perez, who was banned for one game after failing to notify the league of his intention to join the PBA Draft. Perez returned in Game 2 but even his presence didn’t stop the Red Lions from painting the NCAA red once again. In probably one of the most memorable UAAP season in recent years, Ateneo de Manila University won its second straight crown. Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year 6-foot-11 Ange Kouame made an immediate impact for the Blue Eagles complementing the already stacked Ateneo squad led by Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena. But the glory of Ateneo was overshadowed by the Cinderalla story of the team it vanquished in the Finals. Climbing up from the cellar in the past years, University of the Philippines made history by making it in the Finals for the first time since winning it all in 1986. But before their championship stint, the Fighting Maroons ended a two-decade Final Four drought. UP then shocked twice-to-beat Adamson University with both games decided by game-winners. Ateneo came in the series as the title favorites but overwhelming support from a very hungry UP community and underdogs fans backed the Fighting Maroons. But in the end, it was the Blue Eagles championship experience that prevailed.       Pinoys make wave in MMA Fighters under Team Lakay flexed their muscles in One Championship. Flyweight star Geje Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Eustaquio then defeated two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau last July to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  Joshua Pacio earned the ONE Strawweight World Championship last September after a unanimous decision win over two-time champion Japanese Yoshitaka Naito. Kevin Belingon dropped former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April. He followed it up with a dominating win over then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to capture the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion. Belingon ended the five-year reign and seven-year winning streak of of long-time bantamweight king Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes in November via split decision.  Eduard Folayang outclassed Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to bag the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.  Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera needed only 64 seconds to knockout hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila early December to remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    Petron, Creamline rule respective club leagues Creamline claimed its breakthrough championship in the Premier Volleyball League by sweeping PayMaya in the Reinforced Conference Finals series last July. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought with the Cool Smashers' victory. Creamline opposite hitter Michele Gumabao was named Miss Globe-Philippines during the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 last March. Gumabao represented the country in the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania last October and won the Miss Social Media and Dream Girl awards while landing a spot in the Top 15.     The Cool Smashers completed a sweep of the PVL’s Season 2 after claiming the Open Conference crown at the expense of Ateneo-Motolite via an emphatic series sweep this month. In the Philippine Superliga, Petron reigned supreme in the Grand Prix after taking down archrival F2 Logistics last May. Petron extended its supremacy in the sands after the tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadethn Pons defeated Dhannylaine Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia of Sta. Lucia in the Challenge Cup final last May. The Cargo Movers got its revenge in the Invitational Cup, toppling the Blaze Spikers in a series sweep last July. Petron wrapped the year with the All-Filipino Conference in its pocket. The Blaze Spikers won its first 14 games before dropping Game 2 of the Finals. Petron swept F2 Logistics in Game 3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Irving enters chase with work on, off the floor

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com The best of Kyrie Irving, both on and off the floor, has been on display the past few weeks. With the Boston Celtics’ season at an early crossroad, of sorts, it was Irving who stepped into the leadership void to steer things in the right direction. With injuries to key players complicating matters and chemistry issues still being sorted out, Irving was the veteran willing to step up and speak out in an effort to make sure the Celtics dealt with their issues head on. The Celtics had an inconsistent start to the season (10-10) before going on a eight-game win streak that was more like what was expected of them, only to hit the skids again briefly and lose three straight games before Irving piped up. "I think everyone can see that we've obviously had some inconsistencies regarding our play,” he said, “so I think it was just time to address it." A 36-minute players meeting in the locker room after a Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) home thumping from Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks was enough for Irving, who didn’t spare anyone (himself included) from the harsh spotlight. It was a cathartic moment for the Celtics, who saw Al Horford return from a seven-game absence just in time for Sunday’s win in Charlotte. Kyrie was at his superstar best with the bright lights shining on Christmas. He torched the Philadelphia 76ers for 40 points, unleashing his full offensive arsenal (shooting 17-for-33 from the floor, 5-for-10 from deep), while also grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out three assists. He was in showtime mode again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) against James Harden and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center, finishing his night with 23 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and just one turnover. The Celtics simply had no answer for Harden, who like Irving moves up the ranks on this week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder. But it’s clear Irving is ready to shoulder the burden of leading these Celtics, in whatever way necessary. * * * The top five this week in the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 26.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.3 steals Antetokounmpo turned Madison Square Garden into his very own Christmas playground when he smoked the Knicks for 30 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks to kick off the league’s showcase day. And just so the Knicks know it wasn’t a fluke, he hurried them again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum with 31 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks in another rout. The Greek Freak is making it tough for anyone to nudge him from the top spot on this list; he’s averaging 24.8 points (on 60.9 shooting), 12.6 rebounds  5.6 assists and 1.7 blocks in his last 10 games. The Bucks are cruising during this stretch as well, solidifying their position as one of  the top teams in the Eastern Conference and the entire league at the close of the calendar year 2018. If this is just the warm up for 2019, Antetokounmpo can really crank up his MVP campaign between now and the All-Star break. 2. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 26.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals Leonard and the Raptors didn’t get an opportunity to showcase themselves for the world to see on Christmas but made up for that scheduling snafu with an instant classic in a win over Miami on the day after the holiday. Leonard scored 30 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had two assists and two steals in the winning effort. December has been good to the Raptors’ prized summer acquisition — he’s averaging 30.1 points (on .520 shooting) to go along with his 8.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals. For all of the chatter about how good the Raptors have been with Leonard out of the lineup and how good their quality depth is and has been all season, the fate of this team rests on Leonard’s broad shoulders come playoff time. He’s the one element they’ve lacked in previous runs, as a true crunch-time, go-to player in the postseason. All that noise about him not being an ideal vocal leader looks like just that at this stage of his tenure in Toronto. 3. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.3 steals Lakers Nation held its collective breath earlier this week, awaiting the word on LeBron’s MRI after he heard a “pop” when he went down in the third with a groin injury in the third quarter of the Lakers’ Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) blowout over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The news was better than expected but the catalyst for the Lakers’ revival this season is still expected to miss “several games.” This could actually prove to be a critical stretch for the Lakers. If they can manage to maintain their position in the Western Conference standings without LeBron in uniform, it’ll speak volumes about the growth and development of their youngsters. It will also instill some confidence in the entire group if they can piece together a few wins without the new king of Los Angeles. All that said, it would be shortsighted of anyone to dismiss the work LeBron has put in during the early-season turnaround this team has undergone. He was playing as well as anyone in the league this month (25.8 points on .516 shooting, 9.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.3 steals). 4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 28.6 points, 5.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals Curry bounced back from yet another uncharacteristic Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) performance (just 15 points on an ugly 5-for-17 shooting) with a big night against his brother Seth and the Portland Trail Blazers. But his 29 points and a triple-double from Kevin Durant wasn’t enough to lift the Warriors past Damian Lillard’s late-game heroics against his hometown team. If there was ever a time to be concerned about Curry and these Warriors, it’s now. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson cannot find their marks. The bench production is non-existent at times. And the edge the Warriors have used to their advantage for years seems to have vanished. The boost they need is more than just adding a superstar talent like Boogie Cousins (whose recovery from his Achilles injury seems to be in hyperdrive). The Warriors might need both Curry and Durant to go off script a bit and shake things up by going nuclear offensively to strike fear in teams the way this team once did. They’ve become far too predictable a target without the proper support from their other stars. 5. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 7 Season stats: 32.3 points, 8.4 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals The reigning Kia MVP will not be denied any longer. Harden has been on an absolute tear of late and is bringing the Rockets back into focus in the Western Conference playoff chase while doing so. He’s posted back-to-back 40 point games (45 in their Friday, PHL time showdown win over the Boston Celtics and 41 in their Dec. 26, PHL time win over the Oklahoma City Thunder). He’s currently on a career-best eight-game run scoring 30 or more points, the first player to do so since Russell Westbrook did it in November of 2016. Harden’s the first to score 35 or more in six straight games since former teammate Carmelo Anthony accomplished the feat in April of 2013. Harden’s eight games of 40 or more points this season leads the league (Anthony Davis is second with five). The Celtics tried every player in uniform to stop him but to no avail. But Harden’s best work has been pulling the Rockets out of their sub-.500 hole at Thanksgiving to a season-best four games over .500 as they close out the 2018 portion of their schedule. * * * The next five 6. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets T-8. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors T-8. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers 10. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics And five more: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans; De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings; Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers; Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

Athletes to Watch Out for in 2019

Remember these names because for sure, they will be making the headlines this 2019. Kai Sotto The 7-foot-2 wunderkind of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets will be making major decisions in 2019. With opportunities opening up for him in Europe and USA, the current Grade 10 student of Ateneo High School has the option to leave the UAAP Juniors early to explore bigger stages. Billed as the nation's best bet to be the first Filipino homegrown NBA talent, there will definitely be a lot of eyes following this young man's every move.   Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras Former De La Salle Green Archer Rivero and former Creighton Blue Jay Paras are both set to make University of the Philippines' #AtinSeason82 bid more promising, as they finish their residency and finally play for the Maroons in the UAAP in 2019. Both players are expected to make immediate impacts in the history-seeking squad given Rivero's championship experience, Paras' athleticism, and both player's Gilas cadets background.   Kiefer Ravena 2018 was a tough year for national team player and NLEX Road Warrior Ravena after he was slapped with an 18-month suspension in FIBA and the PBA for testing positive for banned substances. Due to the suspension, Ravena has diverted his attention to other interests such as golf and volleyball but his days away from the hard court will be over come August 2019. By then, he will be taking the keys again for NLEX either in the PBA Commissioner's or Governor's Cup.   CJ Perez, Bobby Ray Parks Jr., and Robert Bolick The 2018 PBA Rookie Draft was full of quality guards, and these top three draftees are expected to make immediate impacts in their professional teams. Former NCAA superstars Perez and Bolick both already signed lucrative contracts with Columbian Dyip and Northport. On the other hand, after being drafted in the second pick by Blackwater Elite, the former UAAP MVP and ASEAN Basketball League champion and MVP Bobby Ray Parks Jr. is still in the middle of trade talks and negotiations.   Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, and Joshua Pacio Team Lakay had a magical 2018 after producing four world champions in the Lightweight, Bantamweight, Flyweight, Strawweight divisions. However, as people say, defending a title is always tougher.  By 2019, all fighters will most likely have the tough assignment to keep their belts in Baguio City.   Manny Pacquiao Philippine sports fans will be treated to world-class boxing by as early as the second week of January, when Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao gets back in the ring to defend his WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Championship against American Adrien Broner. Pacquiao's long-time mentor Freddie Roach will also be back in his corner, serving as a consultant. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)   Eya Laure University of Santo Tomas' much needed reinforcement is finally here, with incoming rookie Eya Laure. The former star of the UST girls volleyball team will be making her debut in the senior's division in UAAP Season 81 this February 2019. In the preseason activities for the PVL and the PSL, Laure already proved that she will be a reliable scoring option for the Golden Tigresses - a perfect aid for graduating Sisi Rondina.   Michelle Morente Volleyball fans, it's time to get used to the sight of Morente playing in La Salle green. Last September 2018, the former Ateneo Lady Eagle already played for La Salle during the beach volleyball tournament. If she makes Ramil de Jesus' cut, the feisty scorer will bolster the Lady Spikers' title defense in the UAAP Season 81 womne's volleyball tournament.    Kath Arado La Salle's Dawn Macandili set the gold standard of libero greatness in UAAP. However, in 2019, libero extraordinaire Arado of the University of the East has every chance to prove that she might be the next to take the mantle of Philippine collegiate volleyball's best libero. For her UAAP Season 81 preparations, Arado played in two conferences of the Philippine Superliga at the same time - for UE in the Collegiate Grand Slam and for Generika Ayala Lifesaves for the All-Filipino conference. As a proof of her caliber, she swept all libero awards in both conferences.   Kat Tolentino With Jho Maraguinot's decision to not come back for the Ateneo Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 81, Kat Tolentino is expected to make the leap and be the number one scoring option for the blue-and-white. During their preseason preparations in the Premier Volleyball League under Ateneo-Motolite, rookie coach Oliver Almadro praised Tolentino for embracing her new role as the go-to girl. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @the9cruz.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

Reasons to watch 2018 slate of NBA X mas day games

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Bucks vs. Knicks (1am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: Two words; Giannis Antetokounmpo. The most dominant force in the league this season resides in Milwaukee. That’s right, the Greek Freak sits atop the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder heading into the Christmas Day showcase games. And with good reason. The Bucks are riding the wave their dynamic superstar forward has created in his first season in Mike Budenholzer’s system. Open it up and enjoy because … The Bucks are more than a one-man show. Antetokounmpo should be joined on the All-Star team this season by Khris Middleton, who is playing at that level, and point guard Eric Bledsoe is shooting better than he ever has in Budenolzer’s aggressive, shooter-friendly system. Watching the Bucks try and set a record for three-pointers taken and made should be entertaining enough. But the Knicks will offer some entertainment value of their own as they attempt to match the Bucks shot-for-shot with Tim Hardaway Jr. leading the way. The gift we’re hoping for is … The Knicks could use a statement win before a global audience to jump start the post-Christmas portion of their season-long grind. The Bucks have spent most of this season frightening the competition, both in the Eastern Conference and beyond. They’ve got the gift that’ll keep on giving for years in Antetokounmpo, who’ll get another chance to show the basketball public that what they’ve hard about a contender rising in the Central Division is real. Thunder vs. Rockets (4am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: Do we really need anyone to remind us to tune in for every Russell Westbrook-James Harden matchup for the foreseeable future? Didn’t think so. The matchup of the last two Kia MVPs winners is enough of an incentive to lock in on this one. And the fact that the Thunder occupy the space in the standings most thought was reserved for the Rockets only adds to the intrigue. Open it up and enjoy because … The real showstopper in this one isn’t either one of the MVP winners. Thunder swingman Paul George is the player you need to lock in on as he continues his dark horse MVP campaign for a much-improved team (the Thunder are light years away from the group that started the season 0-4). There are few soap operas better right now than the Rockets, who are dealing with yet another injury to All-Star point guard Chris Paul (hamstring) and a failure to play up to expectations that threatens to swallow up their season before Santa’s finished off his cookies and milk. The gift we’re hoping for is … What Westbrook and Harden wear into the building is worth a few moments of your time as these two fashion-forward superstars never fail to make an impression. But it’s the competitive fervor on the court that should provide the ultimate viewing pleasure. The Thunder would love to take over the position the Rockets held last season, as the legitimate threat to the Golden State Warriors’ stranglehold on the Western Conference throne. In the absence of a Christmas tilt against the two-time defending champs, the Rockets make an ideal fill in. Sixers vs. Celtics (6:30am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: The Eastern Conference version of Thunder-Rockets, the schedule makers look pretty good slotting the Sixers and Celtics in this spot. No one relishes an opportunity to take down a projected heavyweight the way the Sixers do (what else would you expect with Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid leading the charge?). The suddenly chummy Celtics, however, appear to be the team most eager to prove that they are indeed who we all thought they were in the summer, when they were the consensus pick to ascend to the top of the heap in place of Cleveland. Open it up and enjoy because … Kyrie Irving has embraced his role as the leader of this disjointed Celtics bunch in ways that fans in Cleveland have to be enjoying with an eyebrow raised. Kyrie trying to convince his young teammates to follow his lead is rich, given his reluctance to do exactly that when he was in their shoes. As far as rivalries go, this is perhaps the day’s deepest and most volatile. The Sixers are still smarting from that playoff ouster at the hands of the Celtics. And they won’t have ant sympathy for the Celtics as they continue their search for good health and better chemistry. The gift we’re hoping for is … A Ben Simmons-Kyrie point guard duel will make this game shine even brighter than usual. And they’re both more than capable of going off on the big stage. But the real treat here is going to be watching Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum match wits in what could be a preview of fireworks to come in a potential playoff matchup. Tatum’s sophomore season has been a bit choppier than expected. And Butler, whose shown a penchant for schooling youngsters (teammates and opponents) is surely betting on himself in this game within the game. Lakers vs. Warriors (9am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: With all of the recent history dripping off of this LeBron James-Warriors rivalry, the inclusion of the Los Angeles Lakers into the mix only serves to take this spectacle to the next level. LeBron insists this isn’t a measuring stick game for the upstart Lakers, not against a Warriors juggernaut that has won three of the last four Larry O’Brien trophies. Yeah, whatever you say big fella. Folks who haven’t watched a minute of NBA basketball season will be tuned into this one. Count on it. Open it up and enjoy because … Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have moved into that cosmic zone that only the all-time greats are capable of locating (see their work in their Monday, PHL time win over the Los Angeles Clippers for proof). We already know how the superstars respond in a matchup of this nature. The great unknown is how the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball will react to the marquee spotlight at Oracle Arena. The Lakers’ youngsters have thrived at times and struggled at others in their first season inside the LeBron bubble. But they haven’t seen anything like what they’ll experience in Oakland on this night. The gift we’re hoping for is … Draymond Green hasn’t had a true breakout game since returning from his extended injury absence. With Lance Stephenson in uniform on the other side, the opportunity for fireworks would appear to be extremely high. We’d settle for some Finals-level intensity from both of the world class agitators in the building. That and vintage performances from LeBron, Steph, KD and Klay Thompson are expected. Anything else beyond that is really gravy on the best basketball meal of the day. Trail Blazers vs. Jazz (11:30am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: We’re dubbing the nightcap of the Christmas Day showcase the “Respect Bowl.” The Trail Blazers are always on the hunt for more respect and the Jazz, one of the trendy summer picks as a team poised to become a contender in the Western Conference this season, could stand to show a little self-respect in the way they tackle the remainder of this season. Open it up and enjoy because … Second-year Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is suffering from the same sophomore spell that has plagued Jayson Tatum in Boston. It’s one thing to surprise the basketball world as a rookie and another to come back better and even more dangerous the second time around. We’re betting on Spider showing up and showing out for the Christmas Day crowd. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Damian Lillard will not allow someone else to steal the spotlight from him. He warmed up for Mitchell and the Jazz by finishing off Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks Sunday night. You know his swagger travels, so expect to see his competitive best against Mitchell and the Jazz. The gift we’re hoping for is … Joe Ingles stealing the show would make for an ideal end to a day full of some the league’s biggest and brightest superstars. And the sweet-shooting Jazz swingman is one of the league’s criminally underrated stars. It would also be nice to see the rest of that Jazz team we expected to make things interesting this season make an appearance. Christmas Day games have always served as a launching pad/turning point for teams willing to dive in. And the Blazers and Jazz both seem like prime candidates to take advantage of the opportunity. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2018

NBA s Christmas lineup headlined by LeBron vs Warriors

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press There’s no NBA Finals rematch this year on Christmas. Not technically, anyway. It’s LeBron James vs. the Golden State Warriors for the fourth consecutive year on Dec. 25 (Dec. 26, PHL time), though James will be wearing a Los Angeles Lakers uniform this time. It was a predictable matchup. It isn’t, however, a break from tradition. That’s one of the biggest misnomers about the NBA and the schedule. An NBA Finals rematch is not common, not the norm, not a guarantee for the last two teams that were standing the previous season. The league has crowned a champion every year since 1947, and the tradition of Christmas Day games started later that same year. (They’ve been an annual fixture since, with the exception of 1998, when a lockout didn’t allow that season to begin until February.) But there have been only nine NBA Finals rematches on Dec. 25 (Dec. 26, PHL time). The recent Golden State-Cleveland history may make it seem like more. James has been in five Finals rematches on Christmas, all since 2011: Miami vs. Dallas that year, Oklahoma City vs. Miami the following year, and Cleveland vs. Golden State in each of the last three years. The other four rematches on the holiday: Orlando vs. Houston in 1995, Philadelphia vs. the Lakers in 2001, San Antonio vs. Detroit in 2005 and Boston vs. the Lakers in 2008. So instead of a Cavs-Warriors rematch, getting Lakers vs. Warriors — for the first time in the LeBron L.A. era — makes perfect sense. “Bron is Bron,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “They’re going to be tough, a tough matchup on Christmas Day, but we’re looking forward to it.” Inevitably, so will James. Even with the Lakers having lost four of their last six games, they’re off to a 19-14 start — their best since the 2011-12 season. “We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” James said in September. He’s about to get his first look at how the Lakers measure up with the champs. CHRISTMAS LINEUP Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) slate starts with Milwaukee at New York, followed by Oklahoma City at Houston, Philadelphia at Boston, the Lakers at the Warriors and then Portland at Utah. It’s Milwaukee’s first Christmas game since 1977, which will end what was by far the league’s longest Dec. 25 (Dec. 26, PHL time) drought. Utah hasn’t played on Christmas since 1997. A look at each of the five games: BUCKS AT KNICKS Congratulations to the schedule-makers, because there’s no way they could have known this Christmas game would be wrapped in animus. Giannis Antetokounmpo was peeved at New York forward Mario Hezonja — who dunked on him, stared at him and then stepped over him when the teams last met on Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time). THUNDER AT ROCKETS A rematch of a game from Christmas 2017, which the Thunder won 112-107. Oklahoma City is 6-2 on Christmas since the team moved there; when the franchise was in Seattle, it was 0-11 on the holiday. Rockets star Chris Paul will miss Christmas for the third straight year — with the Clippers, he had a left hamstring strain and missed their game with the Lakers in 2016, sat out last year’s Houston-OKC game with a groin strain and this year, it’s another left hamstring issue that will keep him out. 76ERS AT CELTICS These are heated, historic rivals, but they’ve met on Christmas only once before — in 1961, when the 76ers were the Syracuse Nationals. Boston, which famously avoided home Christmas games forever (the Celtics played their first 30 such games away from Boston), will be at home on the holiday for the second consecutive season. LAKERS AT WARRIORS It’s the 20th consecutive Christmas appearance for the Lakers, and with LeBron James there now don’t expect that streak to end anytime soon. Warriors star Kevin Durant apparently loves playing on the holiday; he’s averaging 31.1 points in his eight previous Christmas games. TRAIL BLAZERS AT JAZZ Portland is 14-3 all-time on Christmas, and could tie Miami (10-2) for the best winning percentage on the holiday if it tops the Jazz. Meanwhile, for Utah, it’s a chance for Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell to get his first — but almost certainly not his last — look at playing on Christmas. CHRISTMAS HISTORY The NBA’s five-game Christmas lineup is back for an 11th consecutive year, and that may seem like a lot of matchups but has been exceeded plenty of times in the past. There were seven games on the holiday in 1949, 1971 and 1977, as well as six in 1970 and 1976. And there were some years where everybody played on Christmas. In 1952, the league had 10 teams so that meant five Christmas games. In 1956, the league’s eight teams got together for two Christmas doubleheaders — two games at Madison Square Garden, two others at the War Memorial in Rochester, New York. And in 1959, eight teams meant four games on the holiday again. With Milwaukee playing, the league’s longest Christmas drought will belong to the Atlanta Hawks, who haven’t appeared on the holiday since 1989. After the Hawks, the longest droughts will be held by Charlotte (no appearances in 29 seasons), Memphis (no appearances in 24 seasons), Toronto (2001), Sacramento (2003), Indiana (2004) and Detroit (2005). Everyone else has played at least one Christmas game since 2009. YEAR OF THE 3 Houston set the NBA record for three-pointers made in a game with 26, doing that against Washington last week. It cemented that, without question, 2018 in the NBA was the year of the three-pointer. So far this season, 11 franchises — Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Golden State, Houston, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York, Sacramento and Utah — have set or tied team records for three-pointers made in a regular-season game. That doesn’t even take into account Brooklyn, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Oklahoma City and Philadelphia also doing it in 2018, albeit last season. Maybe the craze hasn’t caught on in Canada. The longest-standing team record for three's in a game is held by the Toronto Raptors, who made 21 on March 13, 2005. Orlando’s mark of 23 has stuck since Jan. 13, 2009 and Phoenix’s record of 22 came on Nov. 14, 2010. Meanwhile, Zaza Pachulia’s quest for a three continues. Pachulia has the NBA record for most three's attempted in a career without a make — the Detroit backup center is now 0-for-29 in the regular season, 0-for-31 when including playoffs. He’s 0-for-3 in 2018, though all those tries in this calendar year were desperation heaves from midcourt or deeper. And in fairness, only six of his career three-point tries have been shots inside of 30 feet......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2018

2018: The year of collegiate champions and people s champions

From Katipunan to Mendiola, from Intramuros to San Marcelino, and from Morayta to Las Pinas, the year 2018 will be tough to top. That goes for both the NCAA and the UAAP as both leagues learned that it all begins here before experiencing unparalleled heights. Now, it’s high time for look back at the year that was in collegiate basketball. New year, new regime Before we can look back, however, we first need to look ahead as several new eras are already underway even before the year has ended. Over at La Salle, American coach Jermaine Byrd has been tapped with the hopes he can do to the Green Archers what American-Kiwi mentor Tab Baldwin has done for Ateneo. The same task of a turnaround is also what’s expected from the new hires of Mapua in Randy Alcantara, EAC in Oliver Bunyi, and Arellano in Cholo Martin. Immediate impact Alongside talented tacticians, however, teams need talented players. Fortunately for a handful of teams, they got just that from their first-year players. Ateneo won back-to-back championships all while featuring a brand new paint presence in Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year Ange Kouame. While being a force is already a given for any 6-foot-11 player like Kouame, both CJ Cansino and Dave Ildefonso also exceeded expectations in their rookie seasons for UST and NU, respectively. Over in the NCAA, Filipino-American high-flyer Justin Gutang propelled CSB just right outside the playoffs while Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang helped re-establish Letran as a powerhouse. The Walls of Intramuros are up again Speaking of Letran, it’s nothing but a welcome development to see them contending once more for the first time since their magical season and championship in 2015. Head coach Jeff Napa, at long last, has a team he can call his own and the Knights look like they will be big, big threats for the foreseeable future. Of course, size was never the advantage for neighboring LPU and rather, they have run-and-gunned their way to back-to-back Finals. With new head coach Randy Alcantara, Mapua is nothing but hoping it can finally catch up with its fellow Intramuros occupants. Started from the bottom, now we’re here Just four years ago, Adamson and UP were cellar-dwellers and were fighting over wins that were meaningless in the standings, but meaningful to their morale. Now, the two teams have just figured in classic semifinals series with both games going down the wire. In the end, it was the Fighting Maroons who advanced to the Finals, but the Soaring Falcons have nothing to be ashamed of, especially as they were one of only two teams that had downed champion Ateneo. Controversy, controversy The on-court action in both the NCAA and the UAAP was, without a doubt, intense. The same can be said, however, for the off-court happenings. The NCAA season started with San Sebastian being forced to forfeit a couple of its wins due to RK Ilagan playing in a commercial league, continued with Perpetual also being questioned about having players who suited up in a different commercial league, and ended with LPU main man CJ Perez getting suspended in Game 1 of the Finals. The UAAP had its share of colorful events with Thirdy Ravena getting suspended and therefore, getting disqualified from individual awards as well as FEU being indirectly helped into the playoffs by the untimely injuries to Adamson’s Jerrick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti. 2 MVPs, 1 alma mater It’s a universally accepted truth that Prince Eze deserved the NCAA MVP and Bright Akhuetie deserved the UAAP MVP. What’s funny is that, at one point in time, those two were actually teammates over at Perpetual. Yes, the Altas had both Nigerian tower Eze and Nigerian powerhouse Akhuetie seeing action for them for two seasons. Even more, they were also teammates with now Ginebra star Scottie Thompson for one year. Of course, the NCAA MVP and the UAAP MVP agreed that they had to go their separate ways so that both of them can spread their wings and fly. Good thing they did. Good thing they did. Just another season in the office for San Beda So much happened in the NCAA season – LPU’s continued contention, Letran and Perpetual’s resurgence, CSB and San Sebastian being darkhorses. In the end, however, San Beda left no doubt that it was still their kingdom by blanking the Pirates in the Finals. With that, the Red Lions extended their league-leading title total to 22 – with half coming in the last 13 years. We can talk about all the teams and all the players we want, but at the end of the day, the NCAA title will still go through Mendiola. Blue Eagle, still the king At the end of the first round of the UAAP season, Ateneo found itself in a three-way tie for the top spot with FEU and Adamson. By virtue of having lost to both the Tamaraws and the Soaring Falcons, the Blue Eagles were actually in third-place entering the second round. From there, however, Ateneo never lost – and was never even threatened – all the way to back-to-back championships. They did that, with court general Matt Nieto injured for most of the second round and do-it-all forward Thirdy Ravena incurring a suspension as well. Come the Finals, however, Ateneo just unleashed both Nieto and Ravena and ultimately, took the fight out of UP. Her-story for Lady Bulldogs These are the most important numbers for the NU Lady Bulldogs at the end of the UAAP season: five straight championships, 80 wins in a row. Yes, NU has not dropped any of its last 80 games dating back to 2014. With that, they not only eclipsed the 72-game winning streak of the Adamson softball squad, once the longest winning streak in league history, but also ran way past it. Oh, that winning streak – and the five-peat, for that matter – is still ongoing. That’s short of saying that the Lady Bulldogs will only continue to make history next year. Indeed, up was where the Fighting Maroons went From 2007 to 2015, UP only won 13 times out of 126 games. Those days have been self-depreciatingly called “the dark days.” In the recently concluded UAAP season, the Fighting Maroons finally found light at the end of the tunnel. First, at 7-6 with one game to go in the elimination round, they already registered their best showing in 14 seasons. Then, at 8-6 to end the elims, they claimed their first Final Four berth since 1997. Then, in discarding Adamson’s twice-to-beat advantage, they won in the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. Then, by doubling down against the Soaring Falcons, they climbed to their first Finals since 1986. In the end, UP’s Cinderella run didn’t get a happy ending at the hands of Ateneo. But maybe, just maybe, the Fighting Maroons actually aren’t Cinderella. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2018

UAAP: Not Juan, not Javi, the best-shooting GDL is still in UPIS

Jordi Gomez de Liano caught fire for the University of the Philippines Integrated School to end the first round of the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament. Jordi GDL dropped a career-best 27 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists in a losing effort for the Junior Maroons. He did so all while launching and hitting on 7-of-9 of his long-range missiles. “It feels great, but I know I can do a whole lot better. I got a career-high, but we lost so it doesn’t really matter,” he said afterward. Nonetheless, also post-game, kuya Javi was nothing but proud of the fourth GDL. He was quick to add, however, referring to his little brother’s hot shooting, “Got it from me.” Indeed, Jordi’s sniping for UPIS is pretty much the exact role Javi has for UP. In fact, their percentages from there are both above average with Jordi at 38 percent and Javi at 47.5 percent. The younger GDL, however, will have a leg up on his kuya as the former has already totaled 19 triples with the second round still to come in the Juniors tournament while the latter shot a total of 19 threes throughout the recently concluded Seniors season. More than that, Jordi is also on pace to hit more treys than another older brother of his in Juan. If he keeps this up, the Junior Maroon is on track for at least 38 triples – the Fighting Maroons’ second-year standout had 37 threes for the year. Of course, Juan is also nothing but proud of his little brother. “They still lost,” he began, frank as always. He then continued, “But he played really well. I’m really happy for him because he’s really been working on his game.” Still, the UAAP 81 Seniors Mythical selection wants to see much more from the 15-year-old, 6-foot-5 GDL. “I’ve been telling him to be aggressive and to attack the rack. He’s relying too much on his outside game, but he should use his length,” he said. For his part, Jordi said he is doing nothing but welcome all the advice he is getting from his kuyas – whether that be on-court or off-court. “My brothers are definitely giving me pointers on my shot and also a lot of different things whether it’s basketball or life in general,” he said. He then continued, “That’s why I cannot thank them enough for what they have done to make me the person I am today.” Make no mistake, though, in his eyes, the UPIS sniper said he can best his big brothers in UP anytime and every time. As he put it, in true GDL fashion, confidently expressed, “I definitely think that I’m the best shooter among the GDLs,” he expressed. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2018

UAAP: Winning Maroons join rainy UP Lantern Parade

The rain did not bother the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball runners-up as the Fighting Maroons participated in the annual Lantern Parade Friday at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. Seven members of the history-making team namely UAAP Season 81 MVP Bright Akhuetie, Jun Manzo, Javi Gomez de Liano, Janjan Jaboneta, Gelo Vito, Diego Dario, and Will Gozum rode a truck that slowly went around the campus' massive academic oval. During the ride, they took selfies with fans along the road. Happening now: #UAAPSeason81 silver medalists UP MBT participating in the annual Lantern Parade. Players are riding a truck as they take selfies with fans around the academic oval. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/cIQ5wXJ3Fr — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) December 14, 2018 UP MBT's turn to be introduced in the Quezon Hall. Several fans still showed up to witness the team despite the rainy weather. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/VuaNR1MjSl — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) December 14, 2018 It was drizzling the whole afternoon but the players and fans still continued the parade. The crowd chanted 'Atin 'To!' and 'UP Fight' while the drummers kept hitting their signature beats just a few vehicles away from the basketball team's truck. The participation of the team in the yearly tradition of the community is in celebration of the men's basketball program ending a 32-year medal drought in men's basketball. "Sobrang sarap ng feeling. At least for one last time lalo na ngayong Pasko na nakita namin yung buong community, na kahit umuulan andito pa rin para sa amin, todo suporta pa rin. We are really blessed as a team and as individuals to have this opportunity and probably this is the best UP experience for me if you're gonna ask me," said graduating player Gelo Vito. "It's really a blessing, may mga naririnig pa nga ako na may dumayo pa from UP Baguio to be here," added Vito. Akhuetie was thrilled to see the warm reception from UP supporters. "It's awesome. I can't wait to make these guys proud by getting the championship. Look at the hearts these people are pouring out. There is nothing you can do for them that can be too much. Despite the weather, the rain and all, they still showed up." However, Akhuetie expressed that despite the love they have been getting from the community, a bridesmaid finish is not enough. "I just couldn't get it in my head that 'Oh okay, for them to be this happy, I've done enough' I still feel we have to do more so I like it, it's okay but I'm not carried away by it," he said. Aside from the basketball team, the men's track and feld team, which ended a 36-year title drought, also had their own truck to celebrate the achievement. Aside from the UP MBT, the track and field team also has a truck of their own in the Lantern Parade. The team ended a 36 year title drought in the #UAAPSeason81. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/Rx2S2noGH0 — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) December 14, 2018.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2018

Kobe Paras: It ll be fun to face Ateneo in the Finals

Incoming Fighting Maroon Kobe Paras said that it would be fun to see the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University clash once again in the championship series of the UAAP. However, Paras then added that the Blue Eagles should open their doors, close the main thoroughfare and declare the bonfire on Saturday as a bond between the adjacent higher institutions of learning.  "Ateneo, sama mo naman kaming mga Iskolar ng Bayan. Because basketball brings us together. So why don't just have a bonfire of UP and Ateneo together? Sa lahat ng Fathers ng Ateneo, mahal ko kayo. #OneBigFight #UPFight. Sarado natin yung buong Katipunan. Throw a big party," the 21-year old said in an interview with Mico Halili on 'The Score'. Kidding aside, Paras admitted that it 'pissed him off' that he was not able to play for the Maroons this year, who made a surprise run to the UAAP Season 81 Finals. However, he says he looks forward to playing with UAAP Season 80 Mythical Five member Ricci Rivero in leading the squad perhaps back to the Finals once again, and make sure to make the Iskolar ng Bayan proud of their exploits. "I didn't really have to be a part of [the magical season]. But something inside me that people were talking about is why UP was going to the Final Four is because of me and Ricci," he shared. "Everytime people say that to me, I tell them, don't focus on me, focus on the present. Focus on Season 81. My guys really did some big things and I'm proud of them. Not have one, but Ateneo deserved the championship this year." Paras also talked about his haters and how he deals with them everyday. "You just got to live your life. Whatever you do, people are going to respond in a negative or positive way. Do something that makes you happy." See the rest of the interview below:.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 13th, 2018