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UAAP VOLLEYBALL: NU sweeps way back into the Finals for the sixth straight year

National University stormed to a 25-13, 25-13, 31-29, demolition of hapless University of Sto. Tomas in the 80th UAAP men’s volleyball Final Four to advance in the championship round for the sixth straight year Sunday at the MOA Arena. Bryan Bagunas and Madzlan Gampong starred in the Bulldogs’ fourth win in a row heading into the best-of-three Finals starting on April 28.    NU will await its championship opponent on Wednesday when the three-time reigning titlists Ateneo de Manila University and Far Eastern University clash in a winner take all duel for the last Finals berth. “Gawa rin naman sa ginagawa namin sa suporta ng school namin at managers. ‘Yung sixth straight appearance namin sa Finals ay bunga sa suporta ng school, ng mga magulang ng players. Masaya kami,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin. Bagunas finished with a career-high 29 points coming off 24 attacks, three aces and a couple of blocks including the match-clinching denial over Arnold Bautista to seal the 73-minute victory. Gampong had eight markers while James Natividad           After dominating the first two frames, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing, 16-19, in the third. Gampong and Bagunas led NU’s comeback as the Bulldogs pushed at match point, 24-22. The Tigers saved two match points after an error by Gampong and a kill block by Tyrone Carodan before Joshua Umandal’s kill pushed UST at set point, 25-24. Bagunas’ back-to-back hit brought NU back at match point, 26-25. UST regained the set point advantage before saving two more match points to tie the frame at 29.           The fourth year hitter Bagunas pounded a through the block kill to break the deadlock before scoring a kill block on Bautista. Jayvee Sumagaysay scored 10 points while Umandal had nine for the Espana-based squad.           --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnApr 22nd, 2018

DE JESUS: Genius, disciplinarian, champion coach

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

Six standout local volleybelles of 2017

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2017

PVL: UP transferee at the forefront of AU’s offensive might

As at it was in the last season NCAA finals between Arellano University and eventual champion University of Perpetual Help, Christian dela Paz, 20, is again leading the offensive drive of the Chiefs in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference.      The 20-year-old former UP Fighting Maroon sizzled with 24 points in Arellano’s debut in the PVL Saturday against Adamson University to underscore the leading role he is to take again on his third year with the Chiefs.    To set the record straight, the soft-spoken hotel & restaurant management student from Parang, Marikina, Rizal, said he left the UP squad because of differences with the coach, not because of the lack of playing time. Standing five-foot-nine, dela Paz, one of superstar Marck Espejo’s teammates in Sta. Elena High School in Marikina, leaps so high he can outsmart the taller blockers on the other side of the court whether he is near or far from the net.   Stories to tell     Dela Paz takes understandable pride in Espejo’s phenomenal rise and singular achievements in the sport being products of the same town. He relishes telling and retelling how dominant a player the multi-awarded former Ateneo Blue Eagle was as early as then and where their high school team was competing.  Middle blocker Christian Segovia, 24, Demmy Lapuz, 19, and Kim Tan, 18, who help ease dela Paz’s scoring load, also have interesting stories to share.       Segovia, born and bred in Tondo and studying HRM as well, says in Filipino: “I should have been playing for FEU, not with Arellano. I was already listed on the FEU team barely a week before the UAAP opened. My mother, already frustrated with my poor grades, got wind of it and immediately pulled me out of the team.       “I was transferred to Arellano where I earned good grades that pleased my mother. I got back into volleyball and showed her I could balance sport and studies this time around. Now, my mother, grandmother and three siblings are always watching my games.”     Yolanda survivor    Lapuz says he had an auspicious beginning with the Chiefs. He was already a starter on his rookie year when Arellano reached the finals against Perpetual last year.      This Tacloban City native was in third year high school when Typhoon Yolanda battered his place of birth in November 2013.       He recalls the ordeal in Filipino, “We were lucky to be living in a subdivision on a mountain slope. The roof of the house was blown away but we survived. The great destruction and the stench of death all around us was one experience everyone should not be subjected to.”       Learning and enjoying volleyball in his physical education classes in UDM had, according to Tan, weaned him away from basketball. The same school gave him his first training in volleyball; he became competent at it.       Higher tuition fees drove his family to seek other schools for him. He enrolled in NU and stayed there without playing volleyball for three years until his barkada in Arellano convinced him to try out for a spot on their varsity team.       He tried out and was taken in. Only a rookie, he started for the Chiefs in their first PVL game, making him a shoo-in for Arellano’s NCAA squad next season.       The other members of the Arellano Chiefs are Roi Domingo, setter Edmark Meneses, Adrian Villados, Tonell Arellano, Jethro Cabillan, Joshua Esguerra, Junnel Cacam, Jesrael Liberato and Evo Rinon        .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 23rd, 2018

PVL: HD Spikers back in winning form

BATANGAS CITY -- Defending champion Cignal reasserted its mastery over archrival Philippine Air Force in a rematch of last year’s finals in an emphatic fashion, 25-20, 25-16, 25-10, Sunday in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference men’s play at the Batangas City Sports Coliseum here. Coming off a sorry loss last week at the hands of PLDT Home Fibr, the HD Spikers came out smoking to easily submit the Jet Spikers and claim their second win in three outings. Five-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo hammered 15 attacks in his 17-point performance while adding eight excellent receptions and two digs to pace Cignal. Rex Intal finished with 10 points while Ysay Marasigan scored all of his seven markers on spikes for the HD Spikers, who blasted 37 attacks and posted 10 kill blocks to frustrate the hitters of Air Force. "I guess 'yung resiliency ng mga players coming from a loss last week played a big factor. Medyo hindi maganda 'yung pagkatalo namin last week. Good thing 'yung mga players nag-respond sa mga call ko to step up,” said Cignal coach Oliver Almadro. “Hindi pwedeng puro talent, they have to combine talent with effort. Kita naman, 'yung mga unexpected ko mag-deliver, nag-deliver. Everybody contributed well. Ngayon sabay-sabay nag-step up 'yung mga players.” “Siguro nagulat din 'yung Air Force. Pero, sabi ko nga, hindi dito natatapos eh. We have to level up every game, every practice," he added. The Jet Spikers crashed for the second straight match and dropped to 1-2 slate. Cignal’s net defense effectively silenced Air Force’s 1-2 punch of reigning MVP Ranran Abdilla and Fauzi Ismail, who were limited to eight and seven points, respectively.     ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2018

The NBA’s Final Four: Cavs, Celtics, Warriors, Rockets

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press The franchise with the most titles. The best player of this generation. The reigning champions. The probable MVP. The NBA has its Final Four. It certainly does not disappoint. Boston’s win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night (Thurday, PHL time) brought down the curtain on the postseason’s second round — one that wasn’t exactly loaded with drama, since it was the first time since 2002 that none of the NBA’s four conference semifinal series went past five games. Cleveland swept Toronto, while Houston, Golden State and the Celtics all prevailed by 4-1 counts. Everyone gets to catch their collective breaths for a few days, with the league going dark until the weekend. Cleveland and Boston don’t tip off the Eastern Conference finals until Sunday (Monday, PHL time), and the Warriors and Rockets start their West title series on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). And yes, the Cavaliers and Warriors are four wins away from a fourth consecutive meeting in the NBA Finals. A few things to know going into the conference finals: LEBRON, OF COURSE Any list of anything this time of year basically has to start with LeBron James, still generally considered the best player on the planet even at 33-years-old and in his 15th NBA season. Cleveland’s star is trying to reach the NBA Finals for the eighth consecutive season — something only four other players have done, and they were all Boston Celtics. Bill Russell went to 10 straight title series, Sam Jones and Tom Heinsohn went to nine, and Frank Ramsey went to eight. James is already the NBA’s all-time playoff leader in points, steals and minutes played. He’s fifth in playoff wins with 152, behind only Derek Fisher (161), Tim Duncan (157), Robert Horry (155) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (154). CAVS-CELTICS HISTORY This is the eighth time Cleveland and Boston have met in the postseason. Boston has won four of the previous seven meetings, but Cleveland has won the last two — including the East finals last season. WARRIORS-ROCKETS HISTORY This is only the third Golden State-Houston playoff meeting, and all have come in the last four seasons. The Warriors are 2-0 in the series, winning both times in five games — the 2015 West finals and a first-round matchup in 2016. SEEKING 10 Golden State is trying to reach the NBA Finals for the 10th time, a mark that two other franchises have reached. The Los Angeles Lakers have made The Finals on 31 occasions (winning 16 titles), and the Celtics have gone 21 times (winning a league-high 17 titles). If the Warriors successfully defend their NBA title and go back-to-back, it’ll be the franchise’s sixth time as the last team standing — and would tie Chicago for the third-most championships in league history, behind the Celtics and Lakers. MVP WATCH Houston’s James Harden seems like the probable winner of the NBA’s MVP award this season, with the only other realistic candidate for top honors probably LeBron James. They won’t know who won until June 25 (June 26, PHL time) — after the season. Regardless, they could wind up adding to a recent trend. The league MVP has played in the NBA Finals in four of the last six seasons — James and the Miami Heat won titles in 2012 and 2013, Stephen Curry and the Warriors won in 2015 and lost to Cleveland in 2016. MATTER OF TIME Ray Allen is still the league’s all-time leader in playoff three-pointers made, with 385. LeBron James and Stephen Curry are coming his way. James is No. 2 on the all-time list with 346 playoff three-pointers. Curry is No. 3 with 329 — in only 79 playoff games. Allen played in 171, and James has played in 228. WELL DONE, SCHEDULE MAKERS Here’s how the NBA season began, back on Oct. 17 (Oct. 18, PHL time): Boston at Cleveland, and Houston at Golden State. Almost seven months later, the conference finals begin with Cleveland at Boston, Golden State at Houston. WIN GAME 1 Winning Game 1 of any NBA playoff series is important; under this format that the league has been using since 1984, teams that take 1-0 series leads ultimately win those matchups about 80 percent of the time. That’s even more pronounced in this round. Of the 68 teams that have taken 1-0 series leads in the conference finals, 57 have gone on to make the NBA Finals. But four times in the last seven years, a team has dropped Game 1 in this round and made The Finals anyway. MORE DAYS OFF? The NBA Finals start May 31 (June 1, PHL time). That means there could be a lot of days without basketball before then. If both series end in sweeps — unlikely, of course, but possible — the Boston-Cleveland winner would have 10 days off before The Finals and the Houston-Golden State winner would have nine. Starting Thursday (Friday, PHL time), there will be no games five times in a nine-day span. There’s no games until Sunday (Monday, PHL time), and there’s no games in either series on May 17 and 18 (May 18 and 19, PHL time). Those needing a basketball fix on those last two days, fret not — there will be NBA Combine activities going on in Chicago on those two days. POOL UPDATE The NBA’s playoff pool for this season is $20 million, and here’s a look at how much the four remaining teams have made so far in this postseason — along with a look at what they could get. Rockets: $2,322,122. Would finish with $4,669,069 if they lose the NBA Finals, $5,864,018 if they win the title. Celtics and Warriors: $1,646,226 each so far. They’d get $3,993,173 if they reach The Finals and lose, $5,188,122 if they win the championship. Cavaliers: $1,478,543. Would finish with $3,825,490 if they lose the NBA Finals, $5,020,439 if they win the title. Teams use the playoff pool largely for bonuses for players and staff after the season. The 12 playoff teams that have already been eliminated will be getting checks adding up to about $7 million from the league......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 10th, 2018

UAAP FINALS: Gusto ko ilo-look back nila na, ‘Ah year yun nina Ate Dawn’

De La Salle University libero Dawn Macandili covered her face with her hands and walked backwards while looking up at the scoreboard inside the Big Dome. Game barker Rolly Manlapaz with his familiar voice called out the perfect crosscourt hit by Tin Tiamzon. Amidst the falling confetti, the 5-foot defensive wonder Macandili double-checked the set score. 26-24. Third set. DLSU took the match in straight sets. Macandili in the past two seasons almost simultaneously celebrated with the team after the final whistle confirmed their title win. This time it took longer to sink in. Five years with the green and white and this championship conquest felt extra surreal. Half a decade of playing under the legendary coach Ramil De Jesus and in that moment, all of the memories of her hardships, jubilations, challenges, successes, tears, blood and sweat flashed inside her head. Macandili’s knees buckled.          Her collegiate volleyball journey just ended. “Sobrang naghina na lang ako. Sabi ko, tiningnan ko pa, dinoble check ko pa, 26-24. Tapos na ang career ko sa college and lahat ng pinaghirapan talaga namin bawing-bawi,” said Macandili after the Lady Spikers captured their third grand slam with a 26-24, 25-20, 26-24, sweep of Far Eastern University Wednesday in Game 2 of best-of-three UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball Finals. Macandili in her final game for DLSU, which annexed its 11th title overall, tallied 21 digs and had eight excellent receptions. This championship series, DLSU and FEU’s first title showdown since Season 71, for Macandili was the most pressure-packed in all her five Finals stints.      “Sobrang iba siya kasi ako na ‘yung last playing year, mas malaki yung pressure,” said Macandili, who averaged 22.5 digs and 10.5 receptions in the Finals series. “Kasi last year we were playing for ate Kimmy (Fajardo) so parang sobrang relax lang,” added the 2017 AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship 2nd Best Libero. “I’m playing without thinking about the consequences kasi may isa pa akong year ganoon. In-all out ko rin kasi ang inspiration ko ay si Ate Kim.” “Then this year parang ang iniisip ko ay ‘yung team,” she said. “(Kung) ano ‘yung gusto kong iwan ko sa team na ilo-look back nila na ‘Ah year ‘yun nina Ate Dawn.’ Thankfully naman nabigay namin sa kanila.” And her last game for DLSU was rewarded not only with the championship but also with the Finals Most Valuable Player honor. “Well ako naman every time na papasok ako sa court iniisip ko lang kung paano ako makakatulong sa team ko and paano sila imo-motivate sa loob kasi siyempre ang role ko is yun nga, as a senior, is to keep the team going,” she said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

UAAP VOLLEYBALL: Final test for DLSU’s Big 3

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

UAAP FINALS: Battle of legendary coach Kid Santos’ protégés

It’s just a few days away before the much-anticipated battle for UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball supremacy between the grand slam-seeking De La Salle University Lady Spikers and the title hungry Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws. But even before the blazing action of the best-of-three championship series begins, one man is already smiling and probably very proud of the legacy he has left behind. Steering the Lady Spikers in their 10th straight Finals appearance is a multi-titled mentor in Ramil de Jesus. A man who for two decades changed DLSU’s volleyball program and gave the Taft-based school 10 titles. On the other side is George Pascua, a true-blue FEU product who delivered UAAP titles during his playing days and when he mentored the men’s team. Pascua is now looking to bring back the old glory of the Lady Tamaraws.      Both are great disciplinarians. No-nonsense coaches who value character, hard work and dedication more than popularity and fanfare. Coaches whose systems rely on teamwork rather than individual talent, mastering the basics of offense and defense while turning their wards into versatile workers and team players.   True men of the sport.    Characters they inherited and influenced by a man considered as the father of FEU volleyball: the late great Florentino "Kid" Santos. The championship series won’t just be about a present power battling a traditional powerhouse, it will also be a showdown between two students who learned their craft from a treasured Filipino volleyball master.   BROTHERS-IN-ARM Santos, who passed away November last year at the age of 67 due to cardiac arrest, brought FEU to numerous titles as a player and continued to do so as a mentor for the Tams and Lady Tams. He played a big role in the school’s total of 54 championships in both divisions and steered FEU to 19 of its 29 women’s crowns. Santos also handled the national team multiple times. But what made Santos great is the number of players he discovered and molded into stars under his Spartan-like training and strict discipline. That list includes De Jesus and Pascua. “Si Coach Ramil outside hitter siya na napakagaling rumeceive, napakabilis ng bola,” recalled Pascua after the postgame interview moments after twice-to-beat FEU booted out Ateneo de Manila University in the Final Four to for the Lady Tams’ first Finals appearance since Season 71.  “(Ako) middle pero napakagaling ko rumeceive din kasi walang libero noon eh,” he added, drawing laughter inside the press room. “Kaya nga tinitingnan namin noong time namin walang palitan ng libero ang gagaling namin rumeceive.”   Pascua was in his rookie year when he played alongside De Jesus, who was then in his swan song. De Jesus was spectacular, Pascua was a promising talent when they marched together in battle with Santos at the helm. With the two playing together, FEU conquered Season 54 for the Tams' back-to-back titles. “Pumasok ako 91. Eh 92 siya grumaduate. So last playing year niya, first year ako. Pero nagpang-abot kami sa UAAP,” added Pascua, who would eventually win two more. In a light moment during the start of the men’s Final Four at the MOA Arena last Saturday, Pascua and De Jesus were spotted seated together watching the match between FEU and three-time defending champion Blue Eagles. They were talking, laughing and were horsing around while reminiscing their playing days.    🤔 #UAAPSeason80Volleyball pic.twitter.com/88NqdzFmiG — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) April 21, 2018 “Puro kalokohan lang 'yun, wala sa volleyball. Nu’ng time namin, nagku-kwentuhan kami, sabi namin, 'Biruin mo 'yung UP (gym) noon, noong naglalaro tayo, halos hindi mapuno, kahit isang layer lang ng ganoon (seats), tapos nanonood pa 'yung nasa lapag lang, sa UP noong time naming,'” said Pascua. “Tapos nakakasilaw, pag umuulan, tumutulo. Pero tingnan mo o, ang dami, libo-libo ang nanonood.” “Sabi namin, ibang klase ang volleyball ngayon. Hindi kami naging part ng ganito karaming ano pero naging part kami,” added Pascua. “Sabi niya, naging part pa rin tayo kaya naging successful ang volleyball. Sabi niya may contribution pa rin tayo. Kasi (ang usapan naming) about volleyball, mga past namin, kung gaano lumaki ang volleyball kumpara noon hanggang ngayon.” De Jesus in his postgame interview, the day after, shared that it was fun chatting and joking around with his former teammate. “Wala naman kaming pinag-uusapan, ine-enjoy lang namin 'yung game,” said De Jesus, whose squad dismantled National University in straight sets on Sunday. “Dumaan kasi accidentally si Sir (Mark) Molina.  Sabi niya dapat bigyan ng t-shirt 'yan si Coach Ramil. So 'yun, kaya kinukulit niya ako, kasi T-shirt ang binibigay, jacket ang kinuha. Sabi ko 'di ako magsusuot ng jacket. 'Yun ata ang kulitan namin na nakunan (ng TV camera).” Unfortunately, they witnessed the twice-to-beat Tams fall in five-sets against the 55-point onslaught of Ateneo ace Marck Espejo. About 24 hours after that, De Jesus set up a Finals date with Pascua’s Lady Tams. They will be after each other’s neck starting April 28 at the Big Dome.     RIVALRY Long after their playing careers have passed, both found a new calling: coaching. Learning under the tutelage of Santos, Pascua and De Jesus passed on to their wards the same discipline they had under the FEU legend and gave new twists to the system used by their former mentor.     De Jesus was tapped by DLSU to help with their women’s volleyball program. He was the messiah the Taft-based squad had been waiting for. Under his watch, the Lady Spikers transformed into a UAAP superpower collecting 10 titles overall. Pascua stayed with FEU, helping the Tams achieve a three-peat in Season 67 to 69 as the head coach. He steered FEU to its last championship in Season 74. Pascua and De Jesus eventually crossed paths as women’s team mentors in the 2014 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix. The younger mentor handled a powerhouse team in Petron Blaze Spikers while De Jesus built Generika behind his DLSU products. Pascua got the better of De Jesus in four sets in the winner-take-all championship round led by American import Alaina Bergsma and Brazilian setter Erica Adachi. He duplicated his feat the following tournament in the All-Filipino Conference as Petron swept De Jesus’ Shopinas.com Clickers in the best-of-three Finals series. Now on their third head-to-head match in four years, Pascua knows that his commercial league successes won’t matter in De Jesus’ turf. “Champion coach si Coach Ramil, ‘yung team niya may championship experience. Napakagaling na coach niya,” he said.      Though working on a team with a disadvantage in terms on experience in the Finals, De Jesus holds high respect on Pascua’s coaching. Being a product of FEU like him, Pascua won’t back out from a fight.     “Matiyagang tao si George, maganda 'yung ginagawa niya ngayon sa team, and siguro ano, kailangan talaga bantayan 'yung FEU kasi alam ko matiyagang tao 'yun,” said De Jesus. In this series, the DLSU mentor is expecting a tough challenge. Both will have their own advantages in their systems and strategies built on the backbone of Santos’ system. “Kasi bawat coach kasi may kanya-kanyang sistema, so maaring may mga part na nakuha niya dun kay Coach Kid, pero siyempre bawat coach, may gustong gawin sa team na hindi niya na dala-dala 'yung ibang sistema ng naging mentor,” said De Jesus. Whatever the result of the series, whichever shade of green will come up on top, one thing is for sure, the great FEU mentor Santos will surely have a hand in it. Santos’ legacy will have an influence on both sides, whether the title goes to Morayta or to Taft.      ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 24th, 2018

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

UAAP VOLLEYBALL: Gusto namin makuha ang twice-to-beat (sa semis) -- Pons

Far Eastern University top hitter Bernadeth Pons is not just looking at bringing the Lady Tamaraws back in the Final Four. She and the rest of her FEU crew want to claim a semifinals twice-to-beat advantages in the 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament. The Lady Tams moved a couple of wins away from formalizing their entry to their fourth straight Final Four appearance after conquering University of the Philippines, 21-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-22, Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. With a 7-4 win-loss record at solo third spot, the Morayta-based squad is on the right track for the remaining three semifinals spots after grand slam-seeking De La Salle University booked the first seat.        FEU still has Adamson, University of the East and National University in its list of assignments. “Meron pa kaming three remaining games and kailangan namin maipanalo ‘yun kasi gusto namin makuha ‘yung pangalawang spot, first or second na spot para mas may advantage kami pagdating ng semis,” said Pons, who had 15 points, 20 digs and 18 excellent receptions. Since Season 77, FEU came up short of advancing to the Finals after falling victim to teams with semis incentives. “Mas malaki ang advantage kapag twice-to-beat ka eh so ‘yun gusto namin makuha ang spot na ‘yun para mas may advantage na kami padating sa semis,” said Pons, who is on her last playing year. “Kasi noong mga past years palagi kami sa baba, ‘yung kalaban namin hindi namin natatalo so hindi kami nakakaakyat. Kahit ano naman pero mas gusto namin na may advantage kami sa semis.” The Lady Tams have yet to advance to the Finals since the then Rachel Anne Daquis-led FEU fell victim to the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University in Season 71. “Sabi na ni coach (George Pascua) marami pa kaming trabaho eh so sisimulan pa rin namin sa training, pag-aaralan namin every team na makakalaban namin and kailangan tyagain and trabahuhin talaga namin every team na makakalaro naming,” Pons said.   (To be updated) ---       Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 2018

UAAP VOLLEYBALL: FEU guns for fifth straight win, Ateneo wants to bounce back

Streaking Far Eastern University shoots for a repeat win over Ateneo de Manila University on Wednesday in the second round opener of the 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The Lady Tamaraws are riding the crest of their four-game rampage and are looking to complete an elims sweep against the Lady Eagles at 4:00 p.m. in the rematch that will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA on SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD on SkyCable Channel 183 and via livestream. FEU opened its campaign with a 19-25, 25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 15-9, win at the expense of Ateneo. The Morayta-based squad lost to straight games after that victory but bounced back mightily as they strung up four wins in a row. The Lady Tams closed the first round with a 25-16, 25-22, 25-20 drubbing of University of Sto. Tomas Saturday. FEU will again try to exploit Ateneo’s difficulty in service reception to take the win and shake off from a 5-2 win-loss slate tied with grand slam-seeking De La Salle University at second to third spots behind National University (6-1). The Lady Tams rained down 20 aces against the Lady Eagles in their first meeting. Ateneo’s service reception woes haunted the Lady Eagles throughout the first round and costed them a sorry, 20-25, 17-25, 26-24, 20-25 defeat at the hands of DLSU Saturday in a rematch of last year’s Finals. The Lady Eagles are at solo fourth with a 4-3 card.     ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 7th, 2018

UAAP Season 80 Men’s Football: Ateneo, FEU face off in rematch of Season 79 Finals

MATCHES on SUNDAY, MARCH 4 (Rizal Memorial Stadium) 9:00 AM - UP vs. UST (Men’s) 1:30 PM - Ateneo vs. FEU (Men’s) 4:00 PM - UE vs. Adamson (Men’s)   Last season’s finalists meet on the pitch for the first time in the UAAP Season 80 men’s football tournament, as defending champions Ateneo de Manila try to string together three straight wins when they take on Season 79 runners-up Far Eastern University, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Coming off back-to-back wins against UE and Adamson, the Blue Eagles look to close out the first round of action on a three-game winning streak. While the Blue Eagles are very much in the upper half of the standings, currently at third place, it has been a very different season this year, as they’ve already doubled their loss total from their one-loss campaign a season ago. Speaking of completely different seasons, last year’s runners-up have gotten off to a rocky first round. Left depleted by a handful of injuries, the Tamaraws have yet to find their groove and are sitting in sixth place with just one win in their first six outings. An upset over the defending champions could very well spark a change as they head into the second round of action. Ateneo and FEU kick off at 1:30 PM.   In the first contest of the day, the top-two seeds collide as unbeaten University of the Philippines try to end the first round without a loss when they take on second-seeded University of Santo Tomas. The departure of key players such as Daniel Gadia, Patxi Santos, and Ace Villanueva seem to have done little to derail the Fighting Maroons, as they’ve continued to dominate the field, only dropping points once in their first six outings. Third-year stars King Miyagi and JB Borlongan have paced the league-leading Maroons so far, and will look to do the same to end the first round on a high note. Heading into their round-ending matchup against UP, the Growling Tigers had the chance to keep their unbeaten slate alive as well. Unfortunately for the Espanya-based side, they ran into a motivated University of the East squad that handed them their first loss of the season. Still, a win over the Maroons will put UST at level with UP for the top spot after the first round. UP and UST kick off at 9:00 AM.   In the final match of the first round, UE looks to string together back-to-back wins when they meet hapless Adamson University. Coming off arguably their biggest win of the season, the motivated Red Warriors have a golden opportunity to end the first round with three wins, something that they haven’t done in quite a while. It won’t come easy though, as they’ll be taking on a hungry Adamson side still looking for win number one. Against defending champions Ateneo, Adamson may have taken a 2-0 loss, but if anything, it was a promising display from the cellar-dwellers, as they played their best football this season. Aggressive both on offense and defense, the Soaring Falcons came close to holding Ateneo to a draw, or even pulling off the massive upset. Should Adamson come into their final match of the first round with the same intensity and hunger, they head into round two on a high note. UE and Adamson kick off at 4:00 PM......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 3rd, 2018

BACK-TO-BACK: Arellano U sweeps San Beda in Finals series

Defending champion Arellano University took the fight out of San Beda University with an amazing comeback in the second frame that set the tone to an empathic 25-13, 29-27, 25-15, win to complete a sweep of the 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball Finals at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan Monday. Best Opposite Hitter and Finals Most Valuable Player winner Regine Arocha was on fire the whole match and effectively provided the much-needed points at crunch time as the Lady Chiefs claimed their second straight title and third overall crown in four seasons. Arocha scored all but one of her 15 points off attacks while adding 12 digs while graduating player Jovielyn Prado submitted 15 markers on her last year with Arellano U Andrea Marzan added eight points while skipper Mary Anne Esguerra ended her collegiate career with seven markers including the championship-clinching swipe towards the unprotected Zone 1 of the Lady Red Spikers.    “Kasi sa practice namin kahapon, kahit sa huddle namin kanina, sinabi namin na sa araw na ito, dapat tapusin na natin," said Arellano U coach Obet Javier. "Sinagot ako ng mga player ko sa pamamagitan ng ganoong klaseng laro." The Legarda-based squad saved four set points in the second set with Arocha firing the last two points off sharp crosscourt hits to take the frame.   With the Lady Chiefs holding the momentum, San Beda, a newbie in the Finals, melted down in the third as it went down to a 0-8 hole. The Lady Red Spikers saved five match points after going down 10-24 before Esguerra sealed the win with her signature swipe off theLady Red Spikers' two-woman wall.  Arellano U carved out a 25-15, 25-16, 15-25, 22-25, 15-6, win in the series opener Friday. Cesca Racraquin was the only player in double-figures with 13 points while Nieza Viray and Satrianni Espiritu combined for 14 markers for the Mendiola-based squad.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 19th, 2018

Petron begins quest for redemption

Games Saturday: (Ynares Sports Center) 2:00 p.m. -- Generika-Ayala vs Foton 4:00 p.m. –- Sta. Lucia vs Petron   Powerhouse Petron takes the first step back to the crown when it clashes with a souped-up Sta. Lucia Realty squad to fire off the 2018 Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Saturday at the Ynares Center. Battle starts at 4:00 p.m. with the Blaze Spikers looking to come up with a roaring start in a bid to finally reclaim the elusive title. Foton and Generika-Ayala will also gun for their first victory when they clash in the 2:00 p.m. first game. Although the much-anticipated import-flavored conference already gets underway with its first two matches, it will have the formal opening ceremonies at the Sta. Rosa City Sports Complex on Feb. 24 where all eight teams together with their imports, team captains and head coaches featured in the traditional parade of colors. After losing in the finals for three straight years, the Blaze Spikers will be marching in this year’s Grand Prix with fire in their eyes, hoping to finally conquer the title in what is billed as the most prestigious, most competitive women’s volleyball tourney in the country. American spikers Lindsay Stalzer and Hillary Hurley and  Japanese libero Yuri Fukuda will be back to power the Blaze Spikers, who will parade the same core of Mika Reyes, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina and Rhea Dimaculangan. The only additions, however, are middle blocker Luth Malaluan, setter Angelica Legacion and libero Pia Gaiser, who will be making her PSL debut after a suffering knee injury in her final playing year for University of the Philippines in the UAAP. “We will do our best to step up this year,” said Delos Santos, whose wards were on the verge of winning the title before completely fading against a tough F2 Logistics side in the best-of-three finals showdown of the Grand Prix last year. “Our goal is to finally win the title this year. We haven’t won the Grand Prix crown since 2014 and I can say that we’re all hungry and ready to win.” But emerging victorious in the first game of the season will not be easy for Petron. The Blaze Spikers will be up against the Lady Realtors, who will be bannered by head coach George Pascua, the architect of Petron’s clean sweep of the All-Filipino Conference in 2015. Pascua, who steered Cignal to the Invitational Conference title before joining Sta. Lucia, will be parading a mix of seasoned campaigners and young guns together with proven imports Marisa Field and Kristen Moncks of Canada and Bohdana Anisova of Ukraine. Veterans Rubie de Leon and Michelle Laborte were tapped to serve as mentors to rising stars Rebecca Rivera, MJ Philips, Pamela Lastimosa and Jonah Sabete. “We are a young team searching for identity. So having these two veterans on the team will surely boost the morale of the young players inside and outside the playing court,” said Pascua, who is coming in as Sta. Lucia’s fourth mentor after Sammy Acaylar, Michael Carino and Jerry Yee.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 16th, 2018

San Beda posts best start, secures at least a semis spot playoff

Games Thursday: (FilOil Flying V Centre, San Juan) 9:30 a.m. –- EAC vs. Mapua (m) 11:00 a.m. –- EAC vs. Mapua (w) 12:30 p.m. –- Letran vs. San Sebastian (w) 2:00 p.m. –- Letran vs. San Sebastian (m) 3:30 p.m. –- Letran vs. San Sebastian (jrs)   San Beda College wrote history by posting its best start in recent years after claiming its sixth straight win in as many games and securing at least a playoff for a semifinals spot in the 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball competition. The victory came a lot sweeter for the Lady Red Spikers as they fought their way back from two sets down to outlast Lyceum of the Philippines University, 22-25, 19-25, 25-11, 25-17, 15-7, in a morale-boosting win at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Wednesday.    SBC once again joined defending champion Arellano University on top of the heap, making their battle on Friday a lot more interesting.   The Mendiola-based squad’s win surpassed the 5-0 start of the 2013 Lady Red Spikers then led by Janine Marciano and Ces Molina. “Para samin achievement ‘yun, pero ‘di kami kuntento dun, gusto namin Finals,” said SBC coach Nemesio Gavino, whose wards escaped their second straight five-set match after squeaking past Letran last Monday. “Kailangan talaga pag-usapan ang mga naging problema namin sa simula, correct ang errors sa ensayo, then prepare for Arellano,” he added. Cesca Racraquin put up MVP numbers as the Season 92 Rookie of the Year pounded 20 attacks while adding six of the Lady Red Spikers’ 20 aces to finish with game-high 26 points. The sophomore also anchored the squad’s floor defense with six excellent receptions for San Beda. Nieza Viray had 13 points while Trisha Paras and Jiezela Viray combined for 18 points for the Lady Red Spikers. SBC opened the match sluggish, allowing the Lady Pirates to jump on them early. But just like in their last match and their opening-day win over Jose Rizal University that also went into a decider, the Lady Red Spikers showed nerves of steel to dodge an upset. “Pangit talaga ang start namin, ang mga bata hindi makagalaw,” said Gavino, who rued his team’s atrocious 40 errors. “Parang may dinadala pero pasalamat pa rin ako kasi sa third set nakabawi.” LPU dropped their third straight match to slide at 1-5 record. Monica Sevilla had 13 points while Christine Miralles and Bien Juanillo posted 11 and 10 markers, respectively, in a lost cause for the Lady Pirates.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 24th, 2018

NCAA Season 93: women s volleyball preview

Exciting volleyball action starts early this year as NCAA opens its 93rd season on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Arellano University will try to retain its women’s crown against a field filled with squad’s raring to sit on the throne. Let’s take a quick peek at the competing teams.   MAPUA UNIVERSITY LADY CARDINALS   Winless last year, can Mapua University finally put a stop on their skid?  Season 92 record: 0-9 Titles: none  Key players: Danielle Ramilo, Shaira Hermano, Katrina Racelis, Dianne Latayan This team has nowhere to go but up after a forgettable season last year. The Lady Cardinals lost four of their games in straight sets, three in four frames and a couple of matches in five. Mapua’s last victory was against Letran in five sets back in Season 91 (January 7, 2016).   EMILIO AGUINALDO COLLEGE LADY GENERALS   Emilio Aguinaldo College needs to be consistent to add more Ws in their record this season.  Season 92 record: 1-8 Titles: none Players to watch: Iona Yongco and Yvette Tongco EAC’s lone win last season came at the expense of Mapua in straight sets before closing their campaign with a five-set loss against Letran.   LETRAN LADY KNIGHTS   Can Letran contend for a spot in the Final Four this year? Season 92 record: 2-7 Titles: 8 (last title: 1999) Players to watch: Glayssa Faith Torres and Jaymeleene Parin Letran finished at eighth spot last year. They won only two games, against Mapua and EAC, but gave Lyceum, College of St. Benilde and San Sebastian College a scare before bowing down to these powerhouse teams in five sets.   JOSE RIZAL U LADY BOMBERS   Shola Alvarez is expected to carry Jose Rizal University on her shoulders but will need to get support from her teammates. Season 92 record: 3-6 Titles: none Players to watch: Shola Alvarez, Dolly Versoza, Karen Montojo (Season 92 Best Opposite Spiker) JRU is a young and vertically challenged team, mostly banking on Shola Alvarez for point production. The Lady Bombers joined the PVL’s Collegiate Conference during the offseason but lost all of their five matches.    LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES U LADY PIRATES   Lyeum of the Philippines University is considered as a darkhorse this season.  Season 92 record: 5-4 Titles: none Players to watch: Cherilyn Sindayen, Christine Miralles, Bien Juanillo An intact and veteran-laden team. But will the Lady Pirates’ exposure in the PVL Collegiate Conference be enough for them to contend for a spot in the Final Four?     UNIVERSITY OF PERPETUAL HELP LADY ALTAS   Veteran Lourdes Clemente will be one of Perpetual Help's vital cogs in their campaign to reclaim the throne.   Season 92 record: 5-4 Titles: 3 (last title: 2014) Players to watch: Lourdes Clemente, Necelle Gual, Marijo Medalla Former CSB coach Macky Carino replaced long-time mentor Sammy Acaylar but the Lady Altas lost a solid middle in Coleen Bravo and hitter Jamela Suyat. After its three-peat (2012-14), Perpetual has yet to return to the Finals.     SAN BEDA COLLEGE LADY RED SPIKERS   All eyes will be on Cesca Racraquin when San Beda College makes a run for the crown. Season 92 record: 6-3 Titles: none Players to watch: Cesca Racraquin, Satrianni Espiritu, Nieza and Jiezela Viray Season 92 Rookie of the Year Cesca Racraquin will be the go-to guy of the Lady Red Spikers, who made it into the stepladder semis last year. SBC participated in the PVL Collegiate Conference while Racraquin had good stints in the PVL Reinforced and Open conferences for Creamline.      COLLEGE OF ST. BENILDE LADY BLAZERS   Ranya Musa (left) and Rachel Austero are the players to watch for a beefed up College of St. Benilde. Season 92 record: 6-3 Titles: 1 (2016) Players to watch: Ranya Musa, Rachel Austero, Maritess Pablo, Felicia Cui Expectations are high for this team with the arrival of transferees Maritess Pablo (NU) and Felicia Cui (Ateneo) to help Rachel Austero and graduating player Ranya Musa.     Leadership will be a tough challenge for this team after the departure of ace scorer Jeanette Panaga as well as adapting to a new system under interim head coach Arnold Laniog, who replaced Macky Carino.     SAN SEBASTIAN COLLEGE LADY STAGS   San Sebastian College is looking at a rough and bumpy road ahead this season. Season 92 record: 9-0 elims, defeated thrice in the Finals Titles: 23 (last title: 2011) Players to watch: Joyce Sta. Rita, Alyssa Eroa, Nikka Dalisay The most-decorated volleyball program in the NCAA will be facing its toughest season yet. If losing scorers three-time Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones and Kat Villegas weren’t enough, head coach Roger Goreyab will have at his disposal a very short rotation on nine players. But his available players could even go down entering the season after Julie Anne Tiangco suffered a knee injury recently. Scarcity of players even forced SSC-R to field a swimmer to fill in the required minimun of nine players to be able to participate in the tournament.       ARELLANO UNIVERSITY LADY CHIEFS   Who will stop Arellano University from its back-to-back bid? Season 92 record: 8-1, won thrice in a row in the Finals Titles: 2 (last title: 2017) Players to watch: Jovielyn Prado, Regine Arocha, Andrea Marzan The Lady Chiefs lost Rialen Sante and veteran libero Eunice Galang, who both graduated, after last season but will still parade a grizzled core. Fueled by their stints in the PVL including a third place finish in the Collegiate League at the expense of UAAP team Adamson University, Arellano U is expected to make a return trip into the Finals. With SSC-R, the only team to defeat the Obet Javier-mentored squad last year, weakened after the departure of Soltones, the only question now is who will stop the Lady Chiefs’ impending rampage?       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2018

Generations collide in F2 Logistics-Cocolife semis match

Games Saturday: (MOA Arena) 4:00 pm – F2 Logistics vs Cocolife 6:00 pm – Petron vs Foton   The top seed F2 Logistics and upset-conscious Cocolife match has an interesting sidebar when the two teams clash in the knockout Final Four of the 2017 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix on Saturday at the MOA Arena. Aside from the two squads looking to punch a ticket to the best-of-three Finals, the sudden death match will also feature the collision of two generations of local volleyball stars. Game time is at 4:00 p.m. On the Cargo Movers side, current national team members setter Kim Fajardo and libero Dawn Macandili banner the Ramil De Jesus-mentored squad. They will take on the duo of veteran playmaker Tina Salak and seasoned libero Denden Lazaro, both looking to prove that they can still pull the trigger to help the Asset Managers score another upset after taking down no. 4 seed Cignal last Thursday. It will be an interesting matchup as Fajardo is considered as the heir apparent of Salak, who led the national team to numerous international battles including the country’s bronze medal finish in the 2005 Manila Southeast Asian Games, with both having superb decision making, leadership and veteran smarts inside the court. Meanwhile, Macandili has been building her reputation as the country’s best defense specialist of late after Lazaro held the distinction a few years back. Fearless and willing to sacrifice their bodies to keep the ball alive, the two liberos share these traits with tenacity and dedication. Though the Cargo Movers boasts of a deep and athletic lineup, De Jesus is still wary of Cocolife, a veteran-laden team composed mostly of former Army players and backed by American imports Taylor Milton and Shar Latai Manu-Olevao.     “Cocolife matagal na magkalilala. Mga players nila mostly magkakasama na sa Army, samahan pa ng mayos na import,” said the F2 Logistics mentor, whose squad easily disposed no. 8 seed Iriga City in their quarterfinals pairing last Tuesday. But De Jesus sees the familiarity and cohesiveness of his team, which composed of the core of back-to-back UAAP champion De La Salle University, as an advantage to make a repeat of their straight sets win over the Asset Managers in the preliminary round.     “Ang advantage namin is siguro mas kilala na nila ang isa’t isa ngayon at mas napapaikot ni Kim ang rotation namin sa opensa,” said De Jesus, who is also banking on reliable imports American Kennedy Bryan and Maria Jose Perez of Venezuela. Cocolife mentor Kungfu Reyes, on the other hand, hopes to use the momentum of their win against Cignal as fuel in their first-ever Final Four stint since joining the league early this year. “Malaking achievement na sa amin itong makapasok sa semifinals,” said Reyes, noting the progress of his team after finishing seventh in the Invitational Conference and fifth in the All-Filipino Conference. “Pero di kami dapat makuntento sa fourth. Dahil nandito na rin kami, gagawin na namin ang lahat para umakyat sa Finals,” he added. The winner of the match will take on the survivor between three-peat-seeking Foton and Petron. Game 1 of the Finals is on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 8th, 2017

NU completes UAAP girls volleyball four-peat

Nazareth School of National University started out strong and sustained its momentum to submit bitter rival University of Sto. Tomas in an emphatic, 25-17, 25-19, 25-20, Game 2 Finals win Monday to complete a four-peat in the 80th UAAP girls volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Finals Most Valuable Player Faith Nisperos spewed fire the whole match while getting enough support from Rookie of the Year winner Alyssa Solomon, graduating middle Ivy Lacsina and season MVP Mhicaela Belen for the Bullpups. UST, which forced NU to a five-set match in the series opener before folding in the end, had no answer to the Bullpups firepower with Eya Laure single-handedly carrying the Tigresses on her shoulders. Sheena Toring scored the championship-clinching point for NU with a service ace. And NU completes a four-peat conquest in the #UAAPSeason 80 girls volleyball tournament. Sweeps UST in the Finals. NU with a 25-17, 25-19, 25-20 win in Game 2 to seal the series @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/3epjJ8M1q6 — Mark Escarlote (@fromtheriles) December 4, 2017 “The fourth is the most difficult one," said Bullpups coach Babes Castillo. "True-blue trabaho talaga. We are here to inspire." The Junior Tigresses came as close as 19-21 in the third frame only to see NU seal their fifth straight championship showdown with a 4-1 spurt capped by Toring’s sharp service that UST failed to control.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 4th, 2017

World Sports: Ateneo and La Salle begin UAAP volleyball finals tiff

FOR the sixth straight year, the finals of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women's volleyball tournament will be a blue-and-green affair with the Ateneo Lady Eagles and De La Salle Lady Spikers getting it on, beginning today in Game One of their best-of-three championship series......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsMay 1st, 2017

PVL: Lady Tams gore Lady Red Spikers for back-to-back wins

Far Eastern University recovered from a second set meltdown to capture its second straight win at the expense of debuting San Beda University, 25-16, 21-25, 25-19, 25-22, Wednesday in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Celine Domingo played her best game so far, stepping up on offense to put up a personal conference-high 22 points in a great display of her scoring prowess. Domingo tallied 15 kills, with four kill blocks and three aces lead the Lady Tamaraws, who kept their hold of the lead with a 2-0 win-loss slate. After dominating the opening set, FEU got into trouble in the second frame with the Lady Red Spikers tightening up on their defense at the net and hitter Nieza Viray finding her range. The Lady Tams adjusted in the third and fourth with Domingo, the UAAP Season 80 Best Blocker, punishing San Beda with her connection with setter Kyle Negrito, who finished with 21 excellent sets.      “Yung middle attack naming (nawala). Kailangan 'yung passing namin, mag-connect between the setter and the middle. Noong huli, noong nag-connect, gumanda 'yung flow ng laro ulit,”said FEU coach George Pascua, who is looking to steer the Lady Tams into the throne after a runner-up finish in the same tournament last year.  Ebon Lycha scored 10 while Jerrili Malabanan had nine markers for the Lady Tams. Viray finished with 17 points while Jiezela Viray got 12 for San Beda, which saw its top hitter and team captain Cesca Racraquin held down to only five markers.     ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 25th, 2018