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10 NCAA players to watch in Season 95

It’s important to note that half of the players who were picked in the first round of the 2018 PBA Draft were products of the country’s first collegiate sports league. CJay Perez and Robert Bolick have immediately become the cornerstones of Columbian Dyip and NorthPort Batang Pier, respectively. Javee Mocon, Jesper Ayaay, Michael Calisaan and JP Calvo have all received high praise from the coaches of their new teams. While last season’s heroes are now living their lifelong dreams in the PBA, new stars are looking to shine as NCAA Season 95 opens on July 7 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. James Kwekuteye (SBU)   If there is one player worthy enough to succeed Bolick as the King Lion of Mendiola, it’s the 6’3” Fil-Canadian shooting guard, James Kwekuteye. As a rookie, Kwekuteye came off the bench for majority of the season and had limited time to really put his talent on display. But, when he did start, particularly in San Beda’s second round game against LPU, Kwekuteye proved that he could be a major threat as he scored a career-high 18 points for the Red Lions, matching the scoring output of Bolick. In that game, Bolick motivated Kwekuteye by saying, “they can’t stop you.” James Kwekuteye introduces himself to Lyceum with 18 big points! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/OQS5eZBTJL — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 18, 2018 As the new starting shooting guard of Coach Boyet Fernandez, Kwekuteye led San Beda in scoring in the 2019 Fil-Oil Flying V Pre-season Cup averaging 14.1 points per game.    Evan Nelle (SBU)   Another talented player who didn’t see the floor much last year due to the loaded roster of guards on the San Beda lineup was former NCAA Jrs. Finals MVP Evan Nelle. Evan Nelle repays coach Boyet Fernandez' trust by drilling the early three! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/kpfdsnro2i — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 11, 2018 Nelle was the fourth string point guard behind Bolick, Jo Presbitero and Radge Tongco in Season 94. But, with the graduation of all three aforementioned players, the keys to the Red Lions’ offense has fallen straight into Nelle’s hands. While sharing the backcourt with Kwekuteye, Nelle led San Beda to the 2019 FilOil Championship and averaged a league-best 4.7 assists per contest.    Donald Tankoua (SBU)   Aside from capturing the title in the country’s most prestigious pre-season tournament, Kwekuteye and Nelle were also named to the Mythical Five along with their starting center, Donald Tankoua.  Donald Tankoua drops 23 points to help San Beda end the eliminations on a high note. #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/EUFpXnAt8T — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 23, 2018 The 6’6” Cameroonian big man has always been one of the most consistent players, year in and year out in the NCAA and will continue to be as he plays out his final year of eligibility in Season 95. Because he’s a walking double-double, expect Tankoua to be the early favorite to win MVP.   Mike Harry Nzeusseu (LPU)   Now, if there is anybody who possesses the physical attributes and the numbers to challenge Tankoua’s MVP campaign, it’s LPU’s Mike Harry Nzeusseu. Mike Harry Nzeusseu gets NASTY ???? #NCAASeason94 #NCAAFinals pic.twitter.com/yEAr0ywBPd — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 12, 2018 Nzeusseu ended last season without confirming that he would return to play one more year with the Pirates but his participation in the Fil-Oil tournament tells us that he will be back to anchor the defense of Coach Topex Robinson. And without Perez, the 6’6” center from the Republic of Cameroon will also have to do major damage on the offensive end as well.  Jayson David (LPU)   Jayson David picks Robert Bolick's pocket for the transition finish! #NCAASeason93 #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/Inl17UZbKq — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 7, 2017 Back in Season 91, the NCAA added a Most Improved Player trophy to their list of awardees for every basketball tournament. Based on the pre-season, former San Sebastian guard Jayson David has emerged as the frontrunner for that award as he has assumed the starting spot of Perez with LPU. David is no “Baby Beast”, but it seems that Robinson trusts him enough to be a critical piece in the Pirates’ quest to capture that elusive NCAA championship. He averaged 7.3 PPG, 6 RPG and 2.1 APG in the Fil-Oil tourney.   Jeo Ambohot (CSJL)   Another player who seems to have earned the trust of his coach is Jeo Ambohot. Under Coach Jeff Napa, the ‘23 for 23’ Gilas World Cup pool member came off the bench and underachieved, only averaging 7.2 PPG and 7.2 RPG for the Knights in Season 94. Jeo Ambohot can hit this all game long! ???? #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/5NCj7tV7Gt — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 9, 2018 However, under new Letran Head Coach Bonnie Tan, Ambohot was being utilized as the starting center with last year’s Rookie of the Year, Larry Muyang coming off the bench in their pre-season games. Nevertheless, a player like Ambohot should not be happy with his dismal outing last year and should come out stronger in Season 95.    Renato Ular (CSJL)   Here’s a guy you probably haven’t heard about before. His name is Renato Ular. Ring a bell? Probably not. The last time he saw action was during his rookie year in Season 92. Actually, he didn’t even do much back then. He only played in four games in did not score a single point in any of those games. After two years as a spectator, Ular has finally rejoined the Letran lineup and was their best player in the Fil-Oil tournament averaging 9.8 PPG and 8.1 RPG. The last left-handed legend from Letran was Rey Nambatac. This lefty’s got a long way to go to get on the Sting Rey’s level, but expect him to be one of the Knights' primary attackers this year.   RK Ilagan (SSC-R)   RK Ilagan was FEELING IT from downtown, dropping a new career-high 2??6?? PTS vs Mapua! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/SDIaVmtzCF — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 12, 2018 Speaking of attacking, one player who will be more relentless than he’s ever been this Season 95 is RK Ilagan. The pride of Barrio Fugoso, Tondo, Manila ranked seventh in scoring last year, averaging 15.2 PPG and was the Golden Stags’ leading scorer despite the presence of Calisaan. Coach Egay Macaraya loves a shooter and will continue to give the green light to Ilagan who made more triples (40) than any player in the NCAA in Season 94.    Kent Salado (AU)   Prior to injuring his right knee on October 10, 2017 in an 85-79 Arellano win over SSC-R in Season 93, Kent Salado was one of the most exciting players in the NCAA. The spitfire point guard from Cagayan de Oro was averaging 19.1 PPG (2nd behind Perez) and 5.0 APG (2nd behind Bolick) for the Chiefs, taking over the driver’s seat that Jiovani Jalalon occupied during their run to the Finals in Season 92. Lervin Flores with a nice block, Kent Salado with an even better finish! #NCAASeason93 #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/ohK28fFFhS — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 15, 2017 Now that he’s finally had surgery to repair what was eventually revealed to be a torn ACL, Salado is looking to excite fans anew especially since Arellano University will serve as the host of the NCAA for the first time in league history. Justin Gutang (CSB)   Recently, I asked former Arellano Head Coach Jerry Codi?era who he thought had the makings of a star in the NCAA now that the likes of Perez and Bolick are in the pros. The “Defense Minister” immediately mentioned one name: Justin Gutang. The 6’3” Fil-American forward from San Francisco, California had an impressive rookie season, averaging 13.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 4.3 APG for the Blazers and winning the Slam Dunk contest along the way. Although we haven’t heard much from Gutang in the off-season, the fact that a PBA Legend still has him on his radar means that the kid’s potential cannot be ignored. ?Editor's Note: The list is based on pre-season performances of teams. There are some NCAA teams who have not partcipated in pre-season tournaments nor released line-ups.  ?Catch NCAA Season 95 starting July 7, Sunday, 11:30 am LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, Liga, Liga HD, iWant and via livestream.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 27th, 2019

From Cellar-Dweller to Contender: Basilan s phenomenal rise in the MPBL

Coming off a rough 2018-19 MPBL Datu Cup campaign, Basilan Steel-Jumbo Plastic has no way to go but up, with the help of Phenom Sports, its new management team. Phenom, led by Jax Chua, took over Basilan late last season when the Steel have already spiraled down to the bottom of the MPBL and finished the tournament tied with Rizal for the last spot of the Southern division behind a dismal 7-18 win-loss record. From there, Phenom rebuilt the team, starting with the coaching staff that has what it takes to maneuver a losing team to a victorious one. “Coming in, ‘yung outlook naming sa team, we want to bring a winning culture ditto sa Basilan. We took the challenge kahit alam naming cellar-dweller noong Datu Cup,” said Chua, who also serves as the general manager of the Steel. Coach Jerson Cabiltes took the helm for Basilan, alongside deputies Noy Catalan, Florian Pineda, Arnold Oliveros, Jinino Manansala, Joseph Guion, Migs Montero, and Dands Javier. Then came the task to build a team that exhibits the same qualities of the Basileños: determined, full of perseverance, hardworking, and has something to prove. Phenom, who also ventured into player management aside from sportswear-making, then made the moves to improve Basilan’s lineup by taking players who are no big names but can contribute in a variety of ways. “To have a winning team, not necessary naman to get big name players. Ang hinanap namin ay mga hardworking players who will buy into the system at magsa-sacrifice talaga,” Chua said. The management retained veteran Dennis Daa for his leadership while activating Cris Dumapis, who has emerged as a reliable force in the paint. They then acquired the services of shifty playmaker Hesed Gabo and sharpshooting big man Jay Collado from Quezon City, marksman Jhapz Bautista from Makati, high-leaping Bobby Balucanag and Shaq Alanas from Pasay, sparkplug Gab Dagangon from Bataan, and Michole Sorela from Navotas. They also signed PBA veterans Jonathan Uyloan and Anthony Bringas alongside Irven Palencia, an integral cog for St. Clare in NAASCU, who is also managed by Phenom. Philip Manalang, Mark Trinidad, Ar Raouf Jilkipli, Junjie Hallare, Darwin Lunor, Jett Vidal, Melgar Murillo, Harold Ng, and Reiner Bazan completed the lineup of Basilan. The Turnaround When the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup opened, the retooled Basilan started on the right foot with two straight wins against Bicol and Pampanga. But when the adrenaline ran out, the Jumbo Plastic-backed squad saw its win-loss standing at 9-8 midway through the season. Then Basilan scorched the league in its remaining 13 games, tallying 11 victories while only losing two matches. The main reason for the brilliant playoff push? The arrival of Phenom-managed collegiate talents in Allyn Bulanadi, NCAA Season 95 leading scorer and San Sebastian College-Recoletos superstar, and Philip Manalang, lead floor general of University of the East. Bulanadi, a 6-foot-3 up-and-coming star, played in the Steel’s last seven games in the elimination round on an impressive 21.71 points on 46 percent clip and 4.5 rebounds averages. Meanwhile, Manalang is a sparkplug off the bench who brings the tenacity on the defense all while contributing on the other end in various ways. Basilan entered the playoffs with a 20-10 record, good for the third spot in the tough Southern division just behind top seed Davao Occidental and second-ranked Bacoor. “Our main goal was to for a competitive team and we want to redefine Basilan through basketball. In this way, I think we have garnered so many fans and inspired yung buong Basilan province that’s why I think we have already succeeded in redefining Basilan,” Chua said. But the grind did not stop for the Steel as they marched into the postseason with the whole Basilan province rallying behind their backs. In the quarterfinals, Basilan swept Iloilo advancing into the semifinals, with a daunting task of beating second seed powerhouse Bacoor City. The Steel survived a grueling three-game series against the Strikers, coming up on top despite having home-court disadvantage for Games Two and Three. In the division finals, Basilan faced the toughest team in the South, the Davao Occidental Tigers. But Basilan showed, again and again, its heart, escaping Game One with a 74-72 victory at the Davao Sports and Tourism Complex in Tagum City. And with a shot to glory and barging into the National Finals, Basilan looked to become South kings in front of their huge following at Lamitan City Gym in Game Two, but the Tigers have other plans, spoiling Basilan’s home court and surviving with an 81-76 win. Game Three was supposed to happen last March 14, but MPBL decided to suspend the Division Finals due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “Nandito na rin kami eh, we are not here to participate lang. Given the chance and we will gladly take it. We will go all out to bring more pride to the Basileños and to repay the trust na binigay sa amin ng leaders ng Basilan especially Congressman Mujiv Hataman, Mayor Julz Hataman Governor Jim Hataman Salliman and Councilor Hegem Furigay,” added Chua. Will Basilan Steel continue their astounding playoff run to the National Finals or will Davao Occidental retain its crown in the South? No matter what, Basilan has already won the hearts of the Basileños and the whole MPBL fanbase with its tremendous turnaround from a lowly team in Datu Cup to a powerhouse in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season. More than Basketball But “Redefining Basilan” is more than basketball. Phenom Sports not only wanted to turn around people’s perception of Basilan the basketball team but give Basilan the province the appreciation it deserves. Basilan has been a hotbed of misconceptions due to the armed conflicts that happened there, but those were the days and the province has moved on. “Right from the start na nakapunta ako sa Basilan, sobrang iba nito kasi akala natin magulo ang Basilan, ang mga tao iba ang ugali pero hindi. Basilan has been enjoying a long peace na. For more than 15 years now under the leadership ng mga Hataman, naging maayos, naging focused sila sa peace and progress,” Chua on Basilan province. And basketball has played a huge part in giving the young Basileños a dream to hold on. “Yung mga kabataan, nabibigyan ng chance na mangarap na maging katulad ng idols nila,” said Chua. “They want to be the next Allyn Bulanadi, the next Hesed Gabo, the next Irven Palencia. This is what basketball is giving to the Basilan people.” The Steel has built a cult following in Basilan and it is the best feeling a player could feel. “Paglapag pa lang ng pier, everybody knows the players. They follow them like rockstars, like celebrities. They send food to the hotels, they watch our practices. Ganoon kamahal ng Basilan yung mga players nila. They saw a hardworking team who really represents Basilan’s culture - the determination, the perseverance and the hard work of the Basileños,” Chua concluded. But how did Basilan Steel get popular in the province? Meet the team behind Phenom Sports. Phenom is all-in in redefining Basilan and that’s why they have a team to do so. They have photographers in Marl Castro, Thel Suliva, and Michael Ordoñez who captured in-game pictures and the team’s interaction with the fans. Rion Balin and Jeff Palaganas are the videographers who make the video highlights of the Basilan players for the fans. Juls Claudio and Dands Javier are graphic artists who create the posters and other publication materials to be posted on the team’s social media accounts. The latter also serves as the marketing man of Phenom. Emma Bueno and Joseph Guion complete the team as coordinator and director, respectively. In a span of just a year, Phenom Sports has reached its goal of redefining Basilan, turning it to #BasilanRedefined......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 19th, 2020

20 for 20: Pinoy Sports Personalities to Watch in 2020

As we enter a new decade, ABS-CBN Sports takes a look at 20 Pinoy sports personalities destined to shine in 2020.    Kiefer Ravena After an 18-month wait, Kiefer Ravena is finally back in basketball. Despite only playing in the PBA’s third conference, his impact was immediate, leading NLEX to the number 1 seed in the Governors’ Cup. The Road Warriors didn’t advance sure, but if Kiefer can impact a team that way in limited time, wait until you see what he can do with a full offseason.   Alex Eala At just 14 years old, Filipina tennister Alex Eala is already turning heads, and she’s yet to turn pro. With a runner-up finish at the ITF Mayor’s Cup in Osaka, Japan and her first ITF Juniors title in Cape Town, South Africa, Alex has had quite the fruitful year, leading to a career-best 11th-place ranking in the ITF Juniors table to finish the year.  Heading into 2020, Eala now has her sights set on turning pro as she plans to join more professional tournaments to raise her ranking even more. Expect the young tennis star to make even more headlines in the coming year.     Bryan Bagunas A vital cog in the national team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Bagunas is considered as one of the best Filipino volleyball players in this generation. Eyes will be on his blossoming international career playing as an import in the Japan V. Premier League.         Margielyn Didal While already a household name in Philippine skateboarding due to her success in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Margielyn Didal made even more waves in 2019. The 20-year old Cebuana reached the semifinals of the 2019 SLS World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and captured gold in the 2019 National Championships and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.  Didal is currently looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and if she can do so, it’s highly likely that the Pinay skater can become an even bigger star in the industry.    Marck Espejo After his spectacular collegiate career with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Marck Espejo's colorful career as part of the men's national volleyball team and in the club league continues to blossom. Just like Bryan Bagunas, Espejo will be showing his skills internationally with a stint in Thailand following a historic silver medal finish at the 30th SEA Games.   Yuka Saso After a decorated amateur career that saw her  participate in major tournaments such as the Ladies’ European Tour, the Summer Youth Olympics and claim top honors in the 2018 Asian Games, 2018 and 2019 Philippine Ladies Open, and the 2019 Girls’ Junior PGA Championship, 18-year old Pinay golfer Yuka Saso finally made the jump to pro in November of 2019.  With even more competitions in store plus a 2020 Tokyo Olympics berth in her crosshairs, it’s quite likely that we hear more about Saso in the coming months.  Carlos Yulo Perhaps no other young athlete in the Philippines shot to stardom faster than gymnastics phenomenon Carlos Edriel Yulo. After a gold medal finish in the floor exercise at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Yulo hauled in even more hardware in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, taking home two more gold medals and five silvers.  Yulo’s spectacular 2019 earned him a spot in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and if his SEA Games and World Championships performances are any indication, Caloy is bound for another podium finish on the biggest stage there is.   Eya Laure Last UAAP season’s rookie of the year will return as the heir apparent of Season 81 MVP Sisi Rondina. With her national team stint, all eyes will be on the younger Laure as she reunites with older sister EJ as they try to bring University of Sto. Tomas back in the Finals after falling short last year. Hidilyn Diaz 2019 was another big year for Olympic silver medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, highlighted by her first ever gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Diaz also finished with silver medals in the 2019 Asian Championships and a bronze in the 2019 World Championships.  All those podium finishes are crucial in Diaz’s quest for another Olympics berth in 2020. Should the 28-year lock up another spot in the Summer Games in Tokyo, we could see another Olympic medal coming home.    Kat Tolentino  After initially announcing that she would not come back for her final season in the UAAP, Kat Tolentino changed her decision and will suit up for the Ateneo Lady Eagles once last time, providing a great morale-booster in their bid for back-to-back titles. Tolentino’s leadership will be tested as she will be leading a young team.      Joshua Pacio 23-year old Joshua “The Passion” Pacio proved to be the brightest spot for Philippine MMA stable Team Lakay in 2019. After opening the year with a questionnable decision loss to Yosuke Saruta, Pacio silenced any doubts in the rematch and regained the ONE Strawweight World Championship with a highlight-reel headkick knockout. Pacio would follow that up with another masterful performance, this time with a second-round submission win over top contender Rene Catalan before the end of the year.  2020 is shaping up to become another banner year for the rising Pinoy star, as he’s scheduled for another title defense on January 31st in Manila, this time against former champ Alex Silva of Brazil. A win for Pacio will solidify his claim of being the best strawweight ever in ONE Championship history.     Louie Romero The Adamson University freshman displayed great potential during the pre-season when she piloted the Lady Falcons to title win in the PVL Season 3 Collegiate Conference. Romero is expected to be a gem of a setter for the young Adamson squad hoping make a return in the UAAP Final Four. Manny Pacquiao While eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao is certainly in the twilight of his professional boxing career, 2019 showed that he is still one of the best around. A successful title defense over Adrien Broner followed by an impressive dismantling of the previously-undefeated Keith Thurman to capture the WBA’s primary world title proved that even at 40, Manny Pacquiao is still a big name in the sport.  With Pacquiao targeting an early return in 2020, more big names are lined up to fight “the People’s Champ”, including names like Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and even a title-unification bout against Errol Spence. Still, the biggest fight that is out there proves to be a rematch against Floyd Mayweather Jr, granted that “Money” finally bites.    Faith Nisperos A key addition for the repeat-seeking Ateneo de Manila University. The highly-touted rookie hitter will add height and firepower for the Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball. In the previous PVL Collegiate Conference, Nisperos flashed her scoring prowess, exploding for 35 points in one outing.   Robert Bolick The two best rookies of 2019 were CJ Perez and Robert Bolick. We know what we can expect from CJ, but Bolick is an interesting case as 2020 will be his return from knee injury. Bolick could still win Rookie of the Year, but even if he doesn’t, his return to Northport could push the reloaded Batang Pier from a Cinderella team to full-on PBA title contender.   Joshua Retamar His playmaking skills as well as his efficiency on net defense during the national team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games makes him a setter to watch out for come UAAP. Retamar is an asset for National University’s three-peat bid.       Kai Sotto The Philippines' 7-foot-2, 17-year-old is opening eyes as he suits up for Atlanta-based The Skills Factory - so much so that he has already gotten interest from quite a few US NCAA schools. Before Sotto continues breaking the glass ceiling for Filipinos, though, he will go home for a while to wear the flag with Mighty Sports-Pilipinas in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament.   Jema Galanza Coming off a great outing to close the PVL Season 3 highlighted by copping the Open Conference MVP award, expectations are high for Jema Galanza as Creamline aims to reclaim the PVL Reinforced Conference crown and complete an Open Conference three-peat.      Kobe Paras Many questioned just what the 6-foot-6 tantalizing talent would bring to the table for UP - but more often than not, he had all the answers as he led the Fighting Maroons to their second straight Final Four. In the end, Paras was actually the steadying force State U needed in what was a hyped up season. They may not have made it back to the Finals, but they still got much more motivation as they run it back for next year.   Pat Aquino What's next for the most decorated mentor in women's basketball? Pat Aquino followed up a six-peat for National U with the Philippines' first-ever gold medal in women's basketball in the SEA Games. Without a doubt, he will only continue steering the sport forward especially as the likes of UST and FEU are already gearing up to put up greater challenges in the new year.   Isaac Go Isaac Go is technically not the no. 1 pick of the 2019 PBA Draft but he is without a doubt, the no. 1 prospect of the year. His top selection from the special Gilas Pilipinas Draft is proof of that. Gilas Pilipinas has the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on deck in 2020 and as a new era dawns on the national team, all eyes will be on the biggest piece for the future that’s already drafted into the new Philippine squad......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2020

THROWBACK: The stunning San Beda-Letran Finals face-off in Season 91

With yet another important milestone in its more than a decade-long dominance in the NCAA, the San Beda University Red Lions seek their fourth straight men’s basketball crown in Season 95. But in their roar to four, San Beda would face not just an old rival, but also a heartbreaking tormentor in the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, which denied them a colossal, record-setting six-peat in Season 91.  While carrying a spotless 18-0 slate behind MVP Calvin Oftana, Evan Nelle, James Canlas-Kwekuteye and coach Boyet Fernandez that forced the stepladder semifinals, wherein Letran emerged as the rightful finals contender, carried by skipper Jerrick Balanza, Fran Yu, Larry Muyang, and coach Bonnie Tan, with victories over San Sebastian and Lyceum, San Beda would dread a repeat of that debacle.  But definitely, the veteran Knight Balanza, moreso AC Soberano and Donald Tankoua of the present San Beda roster, along with the 20,158 individuals inside the venue couldn’t forget that long, grueling championship night on October 29, 2015 at the Mall of Asia Arena. Storied nemeses They were already part of their respective varsity rosters, with the Knights coached then by Aldin Ayo and the Red Lions mentored at that time by Jamike Jarin, when the storied nemeses met in Game 3 of the Season 91 Finals that fateful Thursday. In each of their two previous successive Finals meetings in Seasons 88 and 89 with mostly the same lineup, the Knights would bow in three games to the Red Lions, which claimed their third and fourth consecutive titles since 2010. The first San Beda-Letran NCAA Finals match in half a century happened in 2007, with San Beda winning the crown—the Red Lions’ second straight title then after a 28-year title drought. After San Beda took its fifth straight title at the expense of the Arellano Chiefs in 2014, Letran got the chance to face the Red Lions again in the Finals of Season 91, and they would go all-out to stop their bitter rival’s date with history. A six-peat? No way, the Knights would assert in their march onto the Best-of-Three with a more formidable team under the new aggressive young coach Ayo, a former Letran player, in their bid to notch its first NCAA finals victory over the Red Lions since the heydays of the Lauro Mumar vs Carlos Loyzaga duel in the 1950s. And in the Season 91 Finals, Letran took the first game, 94-90, but San Beda emerged victorious in the second, 68-61, arranging the winner-take-all. Moment of truth When that moment of truth came, the Red Lions were reenergized with their Game 2 win and became confident in snagging that sixth straight title. Faced with this, however, the Knights remained solid and unperturbed in their iron-clad “Mayhem” armor. True enough, San Beda was shut out of focus in the beginning, as the Knights romped with a raging run-and-gun, leaving the Red Lions scoreless in a key stretch, 8-0, for a 16-7 early lead. Javee Mocon and Michole Sorela would finally provide the needed stops and lead a spirited comeback for the Red Lions. But Letran’s Rey Nambatac would drop a clutch basket to give the Knights an eight-point advantage at the end of the first quarter, 20-12. JP Calvo would continue Letran’s scorching offense in the second quarter, instigating a 10-0 run in the first minutes. But San Beda will answer a 5-0 spurt of its own behind Tankoua and Soberano’s steady shooting and consistency in the charity lane. The Knights’ high-octane offense held the Red Lions at bay, but the Mendiola dribblers’ 11-of-15 free throws would still keep Muralla cagers within striking distance. By the 1:14 mark, Roldan Sara converted a triple to give San Beda its first taste of the lead, 39-38, but Nambatac provided Letran the marginal lead at halftime with his two free throws, 40-39. See-saw battle The Lions would take over at the start of the third quarter, behind a string of baskets from Mocon and Art dela Cruz. The Knights, however, would answer with a nine-point blitz from Jomari Sollano to wrest the lead back at 51-48. Mocon would extend the see-saw battle with a putback and free throws, 52-51. But a 3-0 spurt, capped off by Kier Quinto’s twinner at the end of the period still placed Letran on top at the end of the third quarter, 54-52. By the first few minutes of the final canto, San Beda seemed frustrated by Letran’s incredible defensive game. And the Knights would dictate the tempo, preventing the Red Lions to wrest control. Letran’s offensive might was also a big factor, with Kevin Racal sinking back-to-back threes, halfway in the fourth.  Graduating players Baser Amer and Ola Adeogun would prevent a Letran pull away, keeping it a manageable four-point deficit, 60-64. But after Racal and Finals MVP Cruz’s assault from three-point land gave Letran what seemed an insurmountable 75-67 lead with 1:53 left, the Knights were silenced by a shocking 8-0 barrage by the Red Lions at the end of regulation, with Amer scoring the equalizer, 13.5 seconds left, to send the game to overtime.  Extended play During the extended play, Amer scored off a gallant incursion to pad an 82-79 lead, 1:28 remaining, setting off wild chants from the San Beda gallery. But these were then muted after four unanswered points coming from Racal’s two charities off an Adeogun foul and Sollano’s midrange jumper after a 24-second violation by the Red Lions, that put Letran in the lead once more, 83-82, with 32.6 seconds left. After successive misses by Amer and Dela Cruz, Adeogun fouled Sollano as the Knights regained possession, and the Letran center marched to the charity lane for two free throws with six seconds left. Sollano would sink the first, and flub the second. In the battle for the rebound, Letran’s McJour Luib and San Beda’s Dela Cruz were then assessed a controversial double-lane violation by referee Nestor Sambrano, who awarded ball possession to the Knights under FIBA rules of “alternating possession.” With 3.7 seconds left to play, and Letran leading at 84-82, Sara had no other choice but to foul Cruz, who would also split his charities.  First title in 10 years, championship steak ended Sorela would then miss a desperation attempt near mid-court as time expired, sending the Letran crowd to a frenzy, with the Knights bagging its first title in 10 years, breaking the hearts of Bedans everywhere as the Red Lions’ five-year championship streak has ended. Racal would top-score for the Knights with 24 markers, most of which in that key stretch in the endgame. Sollano had his career game of 19 points and seven rebounds, Cruz finishing with 14, and Nambatac, 13. Dela Cruz would lead the Red Lions with a near triple-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists. He added a steal and two blocks in his incredible all-around game. Adeogun completed his duty in San Beda with a monster double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds. Fellow outgoing Lion Amer chipped in 14 points, which was similar to the output of the prolific Mocon. Will San Beda avenge this heartbreaking loss in their first Finals rematch against Letran since Season 91 and assert its remarkable dynasty or will the Knights frustrate the Red Lions anew and waylay them in an NCAA men’s basketball championship series for the second time in a row?  Watch Game 1 of the NCAA Season 95 Finals between the San Beda Red Lions and the Letran Knights starting on Tuesday, November 12, at the Mall of Asia Arena and live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, TFC.tv, TFC, iWant and livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 12th, 2019

SUPER SHOWDOWN: FEU s L-Jay Gonzales vs San Beda s Evan Nelle

Razzle. Dazzle. Those are the two words the could best describe what Far Eastern University and San Beda University have in their backcourt. In L-Jay Gonzales, the Tamaraws have a speedy playmaker while in Evan Nelle, the Red Lions have a stylish playmaker. While they go about their games in their own different ways, though, what's certain is Gonzales and Nelle make all the plays - and make all the right plays at that - for their teams. Who does the better razzling and dazzling between them, though? We set out to find out just who in this week's Super Showdown where we match up the best young playmakers in Philippine collegiate basketball. To determine the result, we will judge them in five categories (making plays for teammates, making plays for himself, making plays on defense, threat in transition, leadership) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. MAKING PLAYS FOR TEAMMATES Nelle is tops in assists in the NCAA in just his first full season at the controls of San Beda's offensive with 6.7 per game. Gonzales isn't doing too bad either, with 3.8 dimes per game in his first full season in charge of FEU's attack - good for fourth in the UAAP. Both players masterfully orchestrate their teams' game plan while at the same time, also making ways for some highlight plays. In terms of those highlight plays, though, Nelle's stylish setups are more of a treat to watch than Gonzales' deliberate dishes. Just run down the Red Lion point guard's best plays and you will have to ask yourself, just how many no-look passes can anybody make? Advantage, Nelle, 10-9 MAKING PLAYS FOR HIMSELF While both are pass-first point guards, they are also no slouches in terms of scoring. In fact, Gonzales is top scorer for FEU with 10.4 points per game while Nelle is fourth in San Beda in terms of points per game with 10.2 markers. When it comes down to it, though, the Red Lions' playmaker is a threat from all over the floor, with the shooting touch from long-range as well as the finishing capability from up close. The Tamaraws' court general is actually a much better finisher, what with his nifty bag of reverses and hand-switching layups, but his outside shot has a long ways to go. Advantage, Nelle, 10-9 MAKING PLAYS ON DEFENSE Nelle's first and foremost point for improvement has always been his reed-thin frame. He has gotten bigger since his days as a Red Cub, but he also still doesn't present much of a problem for big-bodied guards who can bully him. The opposite is true for Gonzales who not only has the body strength, but also couples it with elite speed and agility to be a frustrating faceoff. Not only that, FEU actually has its point guard at the head of the defensive attack and still, he doesn't seem to run out of energy. Safe to say, nobody would ever say that having Gonzales in front of you will ever be a walk in the park. Advantage, Gonzales, 10-9 THREAT IN TRANSITION Gonzales has all the speed in the world to leave opponents, and even his teammates, in the dust. The transition game is the most dangerous game to play with FEU because it has just the point guard to take advantage of it. When it comes to taking advantage of the whole court, however, Nelle has got it on lock as not only can he set up his teammates for easy transition baskets, he can also pull up for open jumpers or take it straight to the rim. And so, just like he has the advantage in the halfcourt, San Beda's floor leader also has the advantage on his Tamaraw counterpart on the open court. Either of the two is a scary sight charging straight at you, but it's actually easier to defend Gonzales' drive than the threat of Nelle from all over the floor. Advantage, Nelle, 10-9 LEADERSHIP Both of them are at the head of the attack for their contending teams. Neither of them, however, are necessarily the vocal leaders of their contending teams. It must be the youth and it must be the inexperience, but Gonzales and Nelle still defer to other teammates when it comes to leadership. Perhaps, that will come in time, but as of right now, their sophomore seasons, this is the one department they have much room to improve on. Push, 10-10 FINAL SCORE, 49-47 for San Beda's Evan Nelle.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2019

EYES ON YOU, KID: NCAA 95 Jrs. players to watch

The first round of the NCAA 95 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with. And with the second round already underway, we’re getting even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players: MAC GUADANA – Lyceum of the Philippines University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 18.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.1 steals LPU is on the brink of its first playoff appearance in school history – and throughout its quest to do just that, Mac Guadana has been its constant. For a long time, the 6-foot playmaker has stood as the pillar for the Jr. Pirates, but now, he has taken the leap all the way up there as one of the best players in all of high school. The former Batang Gilas guard has been stuffing the stat sheet and is tops in steals, fourth in scoring, and fifth in assists in the league. Without a doubt, he can and he is doing it all in his fifth and final year in maroon and grey. Most importantly, LPU has only followed his lead all the way to a place well inside the playoff picture. Of course, it remains to be seen if the Jr. Pirates can continue their sail to treasure island. What’s certain, though, is that their 18-year-old homegrown star will keep giving his all for them. RHAYYAN AMSALI – San Beda High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.7 steals For four years running now, Rhayyan Amsali has been one of the most promising prospects in the Jrs. Now in his last year in high school, he has only brought over all the confidence and capabilities he had honed in National U all the way to San Beda. Now donning red and white, the 6-foot-3 forward has unleashed a more well-rounded game as he is actually the league’s best playmaker while at the same time, its third-best pilferer and fifth-best scorer. And if not for a controversial suspension, he would have also been the frontrunner for MVP as he has been a key cog for the league-leading Red Cubs. Still, what matters most for the now 18-year-old is another championship – and at the end of it all, he may very well be in select company of players who have won two titles in two different high schools in two different leagues. JONNEL POLICARPIO – Mapua High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.1 points, 10.6 rebound, 2.6 assists, 1.3 blocks The biggest reason Mapua has found itself in the bottom third of the standings is the inconsistency of main man Jonnel Policarpio. From missing the first three games due to personal problems to getting irregular playing time due to mental lapses, the 6-foot-4 energizer has only proven he has got much room for improvement when it comes to intangibles. Still, whenever he’s on the floor, Policarpio has always made his presence felt and that is very much evident with him being the MVP leader even after only playing seven games. However, the league’s top rebounder needs to prove he can stay on the court and lead his team to victory if he wants to have a hold of that top individual trophy and, more importantly, extend his team’s title reign. JUSTINE SANCHEZ – San Beda High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.5 points, 62.8 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds Justine Sanchez is turning in a career year in his last year for San Beda. From coming off the bench a year ago to claiming a starting spot for himself, the long-limbed forward is on pace to be hailed as the league’s Most Improved Player. All the proof he needs for that is already there as he is an automatic finisher of set-ups by his teammates, with an astounding 62.8 shooting clip from the field. At the same time, though, he has also shown flashes of shooting and playmaking – showing that even the favorite for Most Improved Player looks like he can still keep growing. JOHN BARBA – Lyceum of the Philippines University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists Mac Guadana does it all, but if and when LPU needs a basket badly, it turns to John Barba. A fearless slasher that boasts of one of the best – if not the best – upper body strengths, the 6-foot-2 swingman can score however he wants once he gets to the paint. That is exactly why he is the league’s second-best scorer. Of course, Barba has to work on his shooting, but as of right now, that hole in his game is only offset by his energy and activity that allow him to haul in offensive rebounds and make good on second chance points. TONY YNOT – San Beda High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 10.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals Tony Ynot missed San Beda’s first five games due to a knee injury, but once he was good to go, he did nothing but make an immediate impact. A defensive specialist who made noise in the preseason with a poster block on Jalen Green, the Filipino-American blue-chip recruit in the US NCAA, he is only proving to be more of a two-way force now in his second season in red and white. The 5-foot-11 wing now has the confidence to let it fly from deep or venture inside the paint for a closer look, but when it all boils down to it, defense is and will always be his calling card. RC CALIMAG – College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 20.7 points, 23-of-60 from three, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals RC Calimag has always been in love with the midrange shot in his time in DLSZ and now in his second season in LSGH. The 6-foot-2 forward knocks those down at a respectable rate, but his transition into taking more threes this year has unlocked his entire offensive arsenal. Calimag is the league’s top scorer, with a bulk of his output coming from deep where he has hit 23 in total. Without a doubt, he has always been a deadly scorer, but with his outside shot now a legitimate threat, he has become an elite offensive player. JOSHUA RAMIREZ – Colegio de San Juan de Letran ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 15.1 points, 29-of-90 from three, 5.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists Joshua Ramirez’s game will not blow anybody away at all as he is yet to have a skill that will put him above everybody else. What the 6-foot-3 forward is, however, is an all-around player who will do whatever it takes to help out his team – if Letran needs points, he will be there; if Letran needs playmaking, he will be there; if Letran needs defense, he will be there. No doubt about it, he is the quintessential glue guy that any other team will want to have on their side. EMMAN GALMAN – University of Perpetual Help ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 19.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 steals One word perfectly encapsulates Emman Galman – gunner. The 6-foot-2 swingman is a volume shooter who has the greenest of green lights to take shots for Perpetual. That’s not a bad thing at all, though, because he actually makes good on many of those and finds himself as the third-best scorer in all of the league. SHAWN UMALI – Colegio de San Juan de Letran ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 9.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.1 steals What Joshua Ramirez is from the perimeter, Shawn Umali is inside the paint for Letran. The undersized big man will not wow everybody, but his do-it-all game has been the engine that has kept the Squires running for two years now. And don’t let his 6-foot-4 height and wide frame fool you, he actually has great timing and is the league’s fifth-best shot blocker. HONORABLE MENTIONS Yukien Andrada – San Beda High School Gholam Garcia – Jose Rizal University High School CJ Saure – Colegio de San Juan de Letran Ezdel Galoy – University of Perpetual Help --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2019

EAC turning over a new leaf for NCAA 95

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 4-14, 9th YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: JP Maguliano, Jethro Mendoza WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Dom Dayrit, Marwin Taywan, Oliver Bunyi (coach) GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Juju Bautista, Maui Cruz, Jerome Garcia, Hamadou Laminou, Ariel Sison (coach) WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM EAC? The last remnants of the last EAC team to contend are no longer here – meaning Juju Bautista, Jerome Garcia, and Hamadou Laminou have all played their last games in red and white. The same goes for Ariel Sison, the Generals’ mentor for the last three seasons who has now handed over the reins to Oliver Bunyi, a coaching veteran who has valuable experience from his time as an assistant for the very first Gilas Pilipinas, the San Miguel Beermen in the ABL, and GlobalPort (now NorthPort) in the PBA. Without a doubt, EAC will be brand new for NCAA Season 95 – and that may very well be a good thing for a team that is yet to break through to the Final Four since joining the league in 2009. In this new era, coach Oliver will call on a couple of second-year contributors to take the next step and become the faces of San Marcelino. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but both JP Maguliano and Jethro Mendoza have long flashed glimpses they can be just that. WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM EAC? Maguliano memorably introduced himself with a 30-point, 17-rebound in EAC’s upset win against San Sebastian College-Recoletos last season. Since then, the 6-foot-3 forward has continued being a workhorse and opened even more eyes in the 2019 PBA D-League and then the 2019 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament. For his part, Mendoza was a seldom-used guard who nonetheless showed potential to be a scoring machine and in the developmental league and preseason, he top-scored for the Generals more than a few times. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR EAC? EAC has been seeing action in the NCAA for the last decade and has only sniffed the playoffs a couple of times. If there is a long-suffering team in the first and oldest collegiate league in the country, that is none other than the Generals. “I’m very positive, but we’re not satisfied. I know that if we work together, there’s a possibility for us to win big games. I just expect my players to always give perfect effort.” – head coach Oliver Bunyi As they set off into a new era, they remain hopeful for that elusive breakthrough – and we will all be right there celebrating with them if and when they break through, at long last. WHERE WOULD EAC BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 95? That breakthrough, however, will not be in NCAA Season 95 as EAC is still in the first phase of its rebuild. “Our best might not be enough against the others’ best this season, but I believe we’ll eventually catch up with them.” – head coach Oliver Bunyi The hope for the Generals, as of this moment, is to have more players join Maguliano and Mendoza as their building blocks for future contention. WHEN IS EAC’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 95? EAC plans to gift coach Oliver with his first win in just his first game calling the shots when they go up against College of St. Benilde on July 9 at Filoil Flying V Centre. As always, the latest season of the first and oldest collegiate league in the country will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream. HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE NINE OTHER TEAMS IN NCAA SEASON 95: Young guns to be wind beneath JRU’s wings for NCAA 95 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2019

10 NCAA players to watch in Season 95

It’s important to note that half of the players who were picked in the first round of the 2018 PBA Draft were products of the country’s first collegiate sports league. CJay Perez and Robert Bolick have immediately become the cornerstones of Columbian Dyip and NorthPort Batang Pier, respectively. Javee Mocon, Jesper Ayaay, Michael Calisaan and JP Calvo have all received high praise from the coaches of their new teams. While last season’s heroes are now living their lifelong dreams in the PBA, new stars are looking to shine as NCAA Season 95 opens on July 7 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. James Kwekuteye (SBU)   If there is one player worthy enough to succeed Bolick as the King Lion of Mendiola, it’s the 6’3” Fil-Canadian shooting guard, James Kwekuteye. As a rookie, Kwekuteye came off the bench for majority of the season and had limited time to really put his talent on display. But, when he did start, particularly in San Beda’s second round game against LPU, Kwekuteye proved that he could be a major threat as he scored a career-high 18 points for the Red Lions, matching the scoring output of Bolick. In that game, Bolick motivated Kwekuteye by saying, “they can’t stop you.” James Kwekuteye introduces himself to Lyceum with 18 big points! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/OQS5eZBTJL — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 18, 2018 As the new starting shooting guard of Coach Boyet Fernandez, Kwekuteye led San Beda in scoring in the 2019 Fil-Oil Flying V Pre-season Cup averaging 14.1 points per game.    Evan Nelle (SBU)   Another talented player who didn’t see the floor much last year due to the loaded roster of guards on the San Beda lineup was former NCAA Jrs. Finals MVP Evan Nelle. Evan Nelle repays coach Boyet Fernandez' trust by drilling the early three! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/kpfdsnro2i — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 11, 2018 Nelle was the fourth string point guard behind Bolick, Jo Presbitero and Radge Tongco in Season 94. But, with the graduation of all three aforementioned players, the keys to the Red Lions’ offense has fallen straight into Nelle’s hands. While sharing the backcourt with Kwekuteye, Nelle led San Beda to the 2019 FilOil Championship and averaged a league-best 4.7 assists per contest.    Donald Tankoua (SBU)   Aside from capturing the title in the country’s most prestigious pre-season tournament, Kwekuteye and Nelle were also named to the Mythical Five along with their starting center, Donald Tankoua.  Donald Tankoua drops 23 points to help San Beda end the eliminations on a high note. #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/EUFpXnAt8T — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 23, 2018 The 6’6” Cameroonian big man has always been one of the most consistent players, year in and year out in the NCAA and will continue to be as he plays out his final year of eligibility in Season 95. Because he’s a walking double-double, expect Tankoua to be the early favorite to win MVP.   Mike Harry Nzeusseu (LPU)   Now, if there is anybody who possesses the physical attributes and the numbers to challenge Tankoua’s MVP campaign, it’s LPU’s Mike Harry Nzeusseu. Mike Harry Nzeusseu gets NASTY ???? #NCAASeason94 #NCAAFinals pic.twitter.com/yEAr0ywBPd — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 12, 2018 Nzeusseu ended last season without confirming that he would return to play one more year with the Pirates but his participation in the Fil-Oil tournament tells us that he will be back to anchor the defense of Coach Topex Robinson. And without Perez, the 6’6” center from the Republic of Cameroon will also have to do major damage on the offensive end as well.  Jayson David (LPU)   Jayson David picks Robert Bolick's pocket for the transition finish! #NCAASeason93 #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/Inl17UZbKq — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 7, 2017 Back in Season 91, the NCAA added a Most Improved Player trophy to their list of awardees for every basketball tournament. Based on the pre-season, former San Sebastian guard Jayson David has emerged as the frontrunner for that award as he has assumed the starting spot of Perez with LPU. David is no “Baby Beast”, but it seems that Robinson trusts him enough to be a critical piece in the Pirates’ quest to capture that elusive NCAA championship. He averaged 7.3 PPG, 6 RPG and 2.1 APG in the Fil-Oil tourney.   Jeo Ambohot (CSJL)   Another player who seems to have earned the trust of his coach is Jeo Ambohot. Under Coach Jeff Napa, the ‘23 for 23’ Gilas World Cup pool member came off the bench and underachieved, only averaging 7.2 PPG and 7.2 RPG for the Knights in Season 94. Jeo Ambohot can hit this all game long! ???? #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/5NCj7tV7Gt — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 9, 2018 However, under new Letran Head Coach Bonnie Tan, Ambohot was being utilized as the starting center with last year’s Rookie of the Year, Larry Muyang coming off the bench in their pre-season games. Nevertheless, a player like Ambohot should not be happy with his dismal outing last year and should come out stronger in Season 95.    Renato Ular (CSJL)   Here’s a guy you probably haven’t heard about before. His name is Renato Ular. Ring a bell? Probably not. The last time he saw action was during his rookie year in Season 92. Actually, he didn’t even do much back then. He only played in four games in did not score a single point in any of those games. After two years as a spectator, Ular has finally rejoined the Letran lineup and was their best player in the Fil-Oil tournament averaging 9.8 PPG and 8.1 RPG. The last left-handed legend from Letran was Rey Nambatac. This lefty’s got a long way to go to get on the Sting Rey’s level, but expect him to be one of the Knights' primary attackers this year.   RK Ilagan (SSC-R)   RK Ilagan was FEELING IT from downtown, dropping a new career-high 2??6?? PTS vs Mapua! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/SDIaVmtzCF — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 12, 2018 Speaking of attacking, one player who will be more relentless than he’s ever been this Season 95 is RK Ilagan. The pride of Barrio Fugoso, Tondo, Manila ranked seventh in scoring last year, averaging 15.2 PPG and was the Golden Stags’ leading scorer despite the presence of Calisaan. Coach Egay Macaraya loves a shooter and will continue to give the green light to Ilagan who made more triples (40) than any player in the NCAA in Season 94.    Kent Salado (AU)   Prior to injuring his right knee on October 10, 2017 in an 85-79 Arellano win over SSC-R in Season 93, Kent Salado was one of the most exciting players in the NCAA. The spitfire point guard from Cagayan de Oro was averaging 19.1 PPG (2nd behind Perez) and 5.0 APG (2nd behind Bolick) for the Chiefs, taking over the driver’s seat that Jiovani Jalalon occupied during their run to the Finals in Season 92. Lervin Flores with a nice block, Kent Salado with an even better finish! #NCAASeason93 #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/ohK28fFFhS — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 15, 2017 Now that he’s finally had surgery to repair what was eventually revealed to be a torn ACL, Salado is looking to excite fans anew especially since Arellano University will serve as the host of the NCAA for the first time in league history. Justin Gutang (CSB)   Recently, I asked former Arellano Head Coach Jerry Codi?era who he thought had the makings of a star in the NCAA now that the likes of Perez and Bolick are in the pros. The “Defense Minister” immediately mentioned one name: Justin Gutang. The 6’3” Fil-American forward from San Francisco, California had an impressive rookie season, averaging 13.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 4.3 APG for the Blazers and winning the Slam Dunk contest along the way. Although we haven’t heard much from Gutang in the off-season, the fact that a PBA Legend still has him on his radar means that the kid’s potential cannot be ignored. ?Editor's Note: The list is based on pre-season performances of teams. There are some NCAA teams who have not partcipated in pre-season tournaments nor released line-ups.  ?Catch NCAA Season 95 starting July 7, Sunday, 11:30 am LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, Liga, Liga HD, iWant and via livestream.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 27th, 2019

Young guns to be wind beneath JRU s wings for NCAA 95

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 3-15, 10th YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Ry Dela Rosa, MJ Dela Virgen, Agem Miranda WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: John Amores, John Delos Santos, Marwin Dionisio, Thomas Vasquez, Louie Gonzalez (coach) GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Jed Mendoza, Junmark Silvarez, Darius Estrella (injured), Vergel Meneses (coach) WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM JRU? With Jed Mendoza transferring to University of the East, JRU was supposed to be Darius Estrella’s show to run in NCAA Season 95. Unfortunately, Estrella, a former MVP in the NCAA Jrs., suffered another ACL injury and will be out for the year. That makes the Heavy Bombers even more of a young team as the mantle of leadership will now fall on second-year players Ry Dela Rosa and Agem Miranda. “Every day, I talk to Agem and Ry, I give them more responsibility. With their attitude, they're really up to it. Agem is really special. Ry is a team player, he does the small things.” – head coach Louie Gonzalez While those two are solid pieces, the future of Kalentong will fall upon the shoulders of a quartet of recruits from the school’s Juniors program. First and foremost among them is fearless slasher John Amores, the 17th-ranked player in last season’s NBTC 24, but playmaker John Delos Santos, steady forward Marwin Dionisio, and sparkplug Thomas Vasquez are no slouches themselves. “Yung rookies ko from high school, sobrang promising talaga. Sakin, napagandang opportunity ito to show na may connection yung program from Light Bombers to Heavy Bombers.” – head coach Louie Gonzalez WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM JRU? Without a doubt, several players will take turns in doing the heavy lifting for JRU. And so, there is no definitive player to watch from them. “The way things are running, come NCAA, wala naman akong ma-ask sa players ko. They are a young team, pero sobrang promising naman. What's good with the players right now, nag-buy in agad dun sa sistema. Yung commitment at effort na binigay sakin, sobra-sobra.” – head coach Louie Gonzalez What would be must-watch, however, is how new head coach Louie Gonzalez tries to rejigger a program that fell to the back of the pack last season with a 3-15 record. This, after an eight-year run that saw them posting an overall 81-61 record under school legend Vergel Meneses. Fortunately for Coach Louie, he will have championship experience to draw from as he was an assistant for both Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s NCAA Season 91 championship and De La Salle University’s UAAP Season 79 championship. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR JRU? Again, JRU is a young team. Aside from point guard MJ Dela Virgen, nobody from their lineup saw heavy minutes in the last two seasons. That gives all their young talent – such as second-year players Miranda and Dela Rosa and rookies Amores, Delos Santos, Dionisio, and Vasquez – the golden opportunity to break out. Coach Louie also turned La Salle into a team of scrappy upstarts that leaned on third-year studs Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio for a run that just fell a win shy of the Final Four in the UAAP a year ago – meaning, he is more than capable of doing the same for the Heavy Bombers. “One thing's for sure, lalaban 'to.” – head coach Louie Gonzalez WHERE WOULD JRU BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 95? No question, JRU will not be in the Final Four next season. “Wala naman kaming pupuntahan kundi pataas. For this one, sana 7th or 8th, medyo okay na ako kasi it’s a rebuilding team. Ang goal namin is mag-improve nang mag-improve.” – head coach Louie Gonzalez Instead, what NCAA Season 95 will mean for the Heavy Bombers is the first step in a grand plan to take flight once more. As such, at the moment, getting experience for their young talent is their primary purpose. WHEN IS JRU’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 95? JRU’s new era commences opposite San Sebastian College-Recoletos on July 9 at Filoil Flying V Centre. As always, the latest season of the first and oldest collegiate league in the country will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 27th, 2019

Fernandez, Baldwin hailed as Collegiate Coaches of the Year yet again

For extending their respective squads' dynasties, two of the best and brightest coaches in the collegiate basketball scene are set to be feted. San Beda Red Lions head mentor Boyet Fernandez and Ateneo Blue Eagles chief tactician Tab Baldwin will be hailed as the Coaches of the Year in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Awards presented by SportsVision on Monday at Amelie Hotel Manila in Malate. Fernandez guided the Red Lions to their 11th title in the last 13 years, their 22nd overall in the NCAA Seniors Basketball Tournament. During the tournament, San Beda only lost once, capping the season with a 14-game winning streak, including a two-game sweep of the Lyceum Pirates in the Finals. This will be Fernandez's fifth Coach of the Year plum, tying him for most in the category with former Ateneo Blue Eagles head coach Norman Black. For his part, Baldwin is set to receive his second straight Coach of the Year trophy in this annual event organized by the Collegiate Press Corps, composed of scribes from print and online outfits covering the NCAA and UAAP. Under Baldwin's watch, the Blue Eagles cruised through the UAAP Season 81 Men's Basketball Tournament to win their second straight championship, the school's 10th overall. The awards night backed by  Amelie Hotel, Rain or Shine, NorthPort, World Balance, Arellano, and AXA Team EDS will also distinguish the UP Fighting Maroons. The Fighting Maroons were the feel-good story of the collegiate season, overcoming a shaky start to get things together late in the UAAP tournament. The team led by Paul Desiderio ended up breaking a 32-year Finals drought to end up with silver - the school's first podium finish in the sport in 32 years as well. Also set to be honored in the event are Sisi Rondina (UAAP Volleyball Player of the Year); Regine Arocha (NCAA Volleyball Player of the Year); the National University Lady Bulldogs (Award of Excellence); Ateneo's Angelo Kouame and San Beda's Javee Mocon (Pivotal Players); Lyceum's CJ Perez and Adamson's Sean Manganti (Impact Players). The 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps Awards presented by SportsVision will be aired live over Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas and Tiebreaker Times on Facebook......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Proud Parent Problems: For Currys, a fraught conference final

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — They are lock-step and lock-arm and also lock-jersey as they enter Oracle Arena in what is their crowning achievement as a basketball mom and dad. Dell and Sonya Curry are in the running for First Couple of the NBA, and in the Western Conference finals, this honor comes with an equal amount of pride and anxiety. “There’s so much emotion involved because you want both to do well, and here they are, on opposite benches,” says the mom. The father agreed, adding: “It’s hard for both of us.” [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Their sons are, of course, Stephen and Seth Curry, and their dilemma is being played out in front of millions on TV, who see Dell and Sonya sitting in the stands wearing custom-made split jerseys honoring both players. For Game 1, Dell had Steph’s No. 30 Warriors jersey on the front and Seth’s No. 31 Blazers on the back, and vice versa for Sonya. They’ll switch up as the series goes along because the parents never want to show favoritism for any of their children. “Somebody’s going to lose and we’re going to the Finals with one of them and it will be bittersweet,” Dell Curry said. “But whomever doesn’t go to the Finals for his team will be there for his brother.” Aside from this being a sweet story involving a close-knit and stable family, what’s amazing about this is that it's happening at all. Yes, the NBA has had a fair share of siblings before -- do you know how many Plumlees are cashing basketball checks? -- but never in the same conference finals. And what’s more, neither of the Curry boys dropped strong hints, even as far as high school, that they’d be on anybody’s NBA bench. But religion and faith run through all the Currys and the parents, who’ve been married 31 years, must’ve struck the proper chord because they’ve been blessed with a playoff series neither will soon forget, no matter how it turns out. By now, their made-for-reality TV story is a familiar one. Dell was a smooth-shooting guard at Virginia Tech where he met Sonya, who played for the women’s volleyball team. They soon became a couple and delivered Steph while Dell played for the Cavaliers, who drafted him. Seth came a few years later in Charlotte, where Dell by then was one of the game’s best sixth men, dropping shots from distance for the Hornets. Their basketball education started at home and specifically the driveway basketball court where the boys wore Hornets jerseys and pretended to be in the NBA. “They battled each other,” Dell Curry said. “You know, trying to get the game-winning point and arguing whether you got fouled or not. You’re standing there watching them settle it and it never got settled. My wife and I took turns being the referee deciding who won the game.” Understandably, it never got heated, as anger or jealousy doesn’t seem to be in the Curry family DNA. “Steph did a good job with that,” said Dell. “Being the oldest boy, he could’ve beaten up on [Seth] a lot.” The boys became familiar faces around the Hornets’ practice facility and games. They attended small private high schools instead of basketball academies because of academics; their parents didn’t specifically groom them for the NBA. Even if the father’s shooting genetics and mother’s competitive instincts were soon apparent with both boys, they were size challenged. They played like solid basketball players but looked like future accountants. That all changed for Steph not long after he went to Davidson College and for Seth after he transferred from Liberty University to Duke. Steph was an NCAA tournament sensation, and later, Seth became a solid starter who replaced an injured Kyrie Irving at one of the country’s most prestigious programs. And thus began the crazy travel schedule for their parents, each splitting the duties between their sons as best they could; it hasn’t calmed down since. Steph has had the gold-plated path, winning a pair of Kia MVPs and three championships, changing the game from a shooting standpoint and punching an automatic ticket to the Hall of Fame someday. Seth’s career has been nomadic. He wasn’t drafted because teams wondered about his ball-handling skills. The Warriors initially tossed him a lifeline, but Seth didn’t survive training camp and was sent to their G-League team. He’s with his sixth team in five years and seemingly turned the corner last season with the Mavericks, where he started 42 games before injuries intervened. Steph is vested in his younger brother’s career and quietly simmers about how Seth, who’s now 28, lacks a long-term deal and security with one team. Although the younger Curry finished third in three-point shooting percentage this season -- one spot ahead of Stephen -- Seth becomes a free agent this summer. Yet the good news is he should have interest after a breakout season for the Blazers. “They want each other to do well,” said Dell. “They cheer for each other. They watch each other’s games all the time. Steph’s a quiet guy but he roots for his brother and vice-versa.” For the last several years, Seth has been in the stands watching his brother during the postseason, sitting with his parents, marveling at Steph’s talent and fortunes like anyone else. Until now. And here they are, trying to deny each other a championship. There are times when the Curry boys will guard each other and that always puts their parents in a tough spot. When it happened in Game 1, Dell and Sonya just watched, frozen in place. No clapping, no cheering, no nothing. “Coming in here, we didn’t know what to expect or how to react,” Dell said. “This hasn’t happened before. Usually we can go all-in on one team. We don’t know how to cheer or how to respond when one team goes on a run. We can’t totally go on one side.” Sonya said: “It’s hard on my nerves.” These are proud parent problems. There is a solution to the relentless travel, the back-and-forth between two teams and this emotional wringer and the constant wondering about games and victories and losses: Maybe one day, even next season, the boys will be … teammates? Dell Curry’s face suddenly brightens and the stress disappears. “Now that would be great,” he said “Being brothers and teammates, and in this situation where they both win? Let’s see what happens. Both have a lot of years left in the league. Seth’s a free agent. You never know.” Until then, if that ever happens, the parents will keep their travel agent on speed-dial and keep a tailor on stand-by in case they need another set of jerseys stitched together. “It’s been hectic,” Dell Curry said. “But don’t get me wrong, we’re not taking this for granted. We’re just taking it all in. We’re not complaining at all. We know how special this is.” Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 16th, 2019

Pelicans going at own pace after hitting NBA lottery jackpot

By Brett Martel, Associated Press NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In the NBA city most familiar with “gris-gris,” folks see no small measure of poetic justice in the fact that their team will dictate the fate of a coveted prospect named Zion. Mystical explanations aside, the Pelicans are in the driver’s seat now — but say they’re in no hurry to disclose their plans for likely pick Zion Williamson or disgruntled All-Star Anthony Davis. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] A franchise that looked downtrodden for months since Davis requested a mid-season trade has been suddenly buoyed by the leverage that comes with winning the NBA’s draft lottery— and the option to pick the Duke star, widely seen as the best pro prospect since Davis entered the league in 2012. “What it’s doing to the franchise and to the city of New Orleans is probably not even measurable at this point,” said David Griffin, hired just weeks ago as New Orleans’ top basketball executive. “There’s a groundswell of excitement that frankly is palpable. “What has to come next is that we have to make it mean something. This is a lot of fun, but we’ve got to build a winner now.” It was welcome news for beleaguered sports fans in Louisiana, who had endured a rough start to 2019. It started with the “NOLA no-call,” a pair of missed penalties in the waning minutes of the NFC championship that likely cost the NFL’s Saints a Super Bowl berth. Fans were so angry that many joined lawsuits against the league or attended parties on Super Bowl Sunday which featured re-runs of the Saints’ 2010 title triumph instead of the most recent championship game between New England and the Los Angeles Rams. Less than two weeks later, Davis, the city’s six-time NBA All-Star and face of the Pelicans, publicly requested a trade, and the firing of ninth-year general manager Dell Demps followed not long after. Even at the major college level there was disappointment when one of LSU’s best campaigns in program history was tainted by the suspension of coach Will Wade amid questions surrounding his recruiting tactics. Wade wasn’t reinstated until after LSU was eliminated in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, and his future remains far from certain. Political commentator James Carville — a Louisiana native, New Orleans resident and avid sports fan — said Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) that the recent series of setbacks had led him to adopt a pessimistic theory that, “We are a cursed people, and so all we’re going to get is curses.” Then came Tuesday night’s (Wednesdahy, PHL time) NBA draft lottery, which the Pelicans had a 6% chance of winning. In New Orleans, interest had focused more on seeing which other team would get the top overall pick and become more of a player in a potential Davis trade. Instead, the Pelicans got that pick, placing them in a stronger position to try to change Davis mind — or dictate more favorable trade terms. “This is big,” said Carville, a Pelicans season ticket holder along with his wife, and fellow political commentator, Mary Matalin. “It’s good for the psyche of everybody.” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry stood up and joyously shouted an expletive when New Orleans was announced as the lottery winner, after which he apologized with a grin, sat back down and put both hands on his head. Pelicans ticket office staff celebrated wildly with shouts, leaps and hugs. Owner Gayle Benson’s decision to hire Griffin, who announced at his introduction last month that he would not make a coaching change, combined with the New Orleans’ top draft position, represent a sharp turn in fortune for Gentry after a trying year that began with last summer’s defections during free agency of DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo. But it could take a while to see how the Pelicans’ lottery luck plays out. Griffin, the club’s executive vice president of basketball operations, foreshadowed a deliberate approach to dealing with Davis, who is under contract through next season. “I want Anthony Davis to be part of this,” Griffin said. “If Anthony wants to buy into that, then that’s fantastic. And if he doesn’t, then we’ll deal with it when it becomes appropriate. But this isn’t something for me where that answer happens because of a conversation. That answer is going to reveal itself over a period of time.” Griffin also stopped short of confirming that the Pelicans would draft Williamson — albeit for reasons relating more to his insistence on adhering to his own managerial process than because of any doubts about the 6'7", 285-pound Duke star. “We just have to know what the fit is like among those people in the pool for us in terms of who we thought were the most elite players,” Griffin said, emphasizing that “there was more than one” such player. “Everybody wants to look at this as this is a fait accompli. If that were true, we would have gotten up there with somebody’s jersey in our hands,” Griffin said. “I’m not saying there’s anything at all derogatory about Zion in any way. What I’m saying is ... you can hope that people are like-minded, but until you talk about what matters to you and you sit in a room together, it’s hard to know.” One thing is for sure, it’s nice to have options......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2019

UP, UE share 2019 s king of recruiting crown

Who was our King of Recruiting in 2018? Find out here. --- Last season, the University of the Philippines, at long last, broke through in the UAAP. Behind the leadership of Paul Desiderio and key contributions from Season MVP Bright Akhuetie and Mythical selection Juan Gomez de Liano, the Fighting Maroons made their first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals in 32 years. Now, even without the iconic Desiderio, State U is nothing but confident it could build on its breakthrough. The reason? Well, because two of the brightest young stars in Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero are now orbiting Diliman. Paras has all the physical tools to take any league by storm and now in maroon and green, he is out to continue the legacy of his father Benjie who delivered the school’s first and only championship. Meanwhile, the Euro-stepping Rivero already knows a thing or two about taking the UAAP by storm, having been chosen for the Mythical Team when he was still playing for De La Salle University in 2017. Add big man J-Boy Gob, another transferee, to that and, indeed, UP is only equipped to keep contending. On the strength of the transfers of Paras and Rivero alone, the Fighting Maroons would have been worthy of the title of 2019 King of Recruiting. Right up there with them, though, in terms of getting a big boost in the offseason is University of the East. Absent from the Final Four in the last decade, the Red Warriors will be heading into the upcoming season with a fully stocked arsenal. Now up front for them – alongside stalwart Philip Manalang, of course – will be 6-foot-9 Senegalese Adama Diakhite, three-time champion and two-time MVP in the CESAFI Rey Suerte, and college-ready Harvey Pagsanjan, the no. 7 high school player in the 2019 NBTC 24. Diakhite is a hulking presence who will prove to be a tough matchup even for the likes of reigning MVP Akhuetie and last year’s Rookie of the year Ange Kouame. Suerte, a gifted scorer from anywhere on the court, fills right into the hole left behind by scoring dynamo Alvin Pasaol while Pagsanjan can continue making all the right plays he had been doing as the longtime beacon of hope for Hope Christian High School. Also flanking them are former Ateneo de Manila University forward John Apacible, defensive stopper Neil Tolentino, Filipino-Kiwi swingman Richie Rodger, and Filipino-Australian point guard Jasper Rentoy. And with that, UP and UE will have joint custody of the crown of the 2019 King of Recruiting. They dethrone National University which claimed the crown a year ago behind a big-time recruiting class that included Ildefonso brothers Dave and Shaun, John Lloyd Clemente, and John Galinato. Just like last year, there remains no doubt that the new Fighting Maroons and Red Warriors will make their respective sides forces to reckon with come UAAP 82. Still, several squads also made it a point to be better in the offseason. In fact, the graduating players in the 2019 NBTC 24 have been spread out among eight different teams. From the 2019 NBTC 24, the annual ranking of the best high school players in the country, 14 are moving on up to the Seniors. Adamson University is the biggest winner in terms of recruits from that ranking, with three of the top 15 players now in San Marcelino. Ninth-ranked Aaron Fermin is a double-double machine in the NCAA Jrs. and is nothing but determined to realize his potential as a two-way force under multi-titled mentor Franz Pumaren. In CESAFI standout Joshua Yerro and UAAP Jrs. Mythical selection Joem Sabandal, coach Franz also has young blood to bolster the backcourt that will no longer have Koko Pingoy. The Soaring Falcons also scored four other former Baby Falcons in big man Lorenz Capulong and wings Adam and Andrey Doria and AP Manlapaz. When it comes to reaping the rewards of its high school program, though, nobody could still touch Mapua University which again got two keep its Jrs. studs in Clint Escamis and Dan Arches, both of whom made it into the top two-thirds of the 2019 NBTC 24. Escamis and Arches are offensive guards who will give much-needed firepower to a promising core comprised of fellow Mapua HS products Warren Bonifacio, Eric Jabel, Noah Lugo, and Laurenz Victoria. Also, the Cardinals are the favorites to land NCAA 94 Jrs. Finals MVP Paolo Hernandez, another Red Robin. Also bagging two prized prospects from the 2019 NBTC 24 is La Salle which is now the place where the talented tandem of Joel Cagulangan and Joshua David get to work. Cagulangan has long been a star in the making and the NCAA 94 Jrs. MVP is, without question, Taft Avenue’s point guard of the future. The even better news is that he will still have wingman David, a tried and tested glue guy, to grow with. Also set to debut for the Green Archers are Filipino-Americans Jordan Bartlett, a speedster guard; Tyrus Hill, a high-flying forward; and Kurt Lojera, a big-bodied swingman. In all, there are six graduates from the top 10 of the 2019 NBTC 24. All of them would be on different teams in the Srs. Two players from 2019 NBTC 24 are yet to commit to any school, but there is no doubt that Red Robin Hernandez and Greenie Inand Fornilos will be able additions to any collegiate team. For the second straight year, Aldin Ayo will be adding a top three recruit out of high school as incoming sophomore CJ Cansino will now join forces with another triple-doubling talent in Mark Nonoy, a rookie who plays way beyond his years. But wait, there’s more as UST also welcomes with open arms its newest foreign student-athlete in Beninese Soulemane Chabi Yo whose speed and skill will make him a problem for the other foreign student-athletes more used to being powerhouses. Sprinkle in stretch four Sherwin Concepcion as well as versatile forwards Rhenz Abando and Brent Paraiso and there’s a reason why the Growling Tigers are now very much a darkhorse contender. L-Jay Gonzales and RJ Abarrientos remain FEU’s backcourt for tomorrow, but in the meantime, the former is poised for a breakout just as the latter is poised to wrap up his K-12 schooling. Yes, Abarrientos is not yet good to go come UAAP 82, but his steady hand is still the perfect pairing for the burst of energy that is Gonzales. Make no mistake, however, the Tamaraws have gotten help in the form of 6-foot-10 Cameroonian Patrick Tchuente as well as former Baby Tams Daniel Celzo and Jack Gloria. Letran is already the biggest it has ever been up front with NCAA 94 Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang alongside Jeo Ambohot, Christian Balagasay, and Christian Fajarito. Now, the Knights have also beefed up at the wings with Allen Mina and Mark Sangalang as well as former Red Warrior and Growling Tiger Jordan Sta. Ana. LPU will have to prove it could continue contending even without NCAA 93 MVP CJ Perez, but the good news is that now backtopping Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee are former San Sebastian College-Recoletos key cogs Alvin Baetiong, Jayson David, and Renzo Navarro. That’s still a pretty solid lineup in our books. Just like last year, the now two-time UAAP champions are mostly intact, only losing team captain Anton Asistio as well as reserve guard Aaron Black. That doesn’t mean, however, that there are no new faces in Ateneo. Geo Chiu, Kai Sotto’s twin tower, decided to stay in Katipunan just as fellow ex-Blue Eaglets RV Berjay and Jason Credo are now seeing minutes in head coach Tab Baldwin’s rotation. And oh, there is a possibility that double-double machine Fornilos, who placed no. 13 in the 2019 NBTC 24, is bound to be a Blue Eaglet. Perps is nothing but determined to build on the triumphant return to the NCAA of head coach Frankie Lim and to do that, they will be leaning on former San Beda University pillar Ben Adamos as well as ex-Adamson HS workhorse Jefner Egan. Count out the Altas at your own risk. JRU is just on the first phase of a grand rebuild, but there is no doubt that things are looking up for Kalentong. In John Amores, they now have an end-to-end force who is all set to make an immediate impact as a rookie. These are the new names to watch for the teams: Baste CSB National U San Beda --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2019

DO YOU REMEMBER... the Lady Stags’ not so perfect seasons?

It’s not uncommon to see a team squander a huge advantage. A defeat like that will surely sting. But what more in a championship series and in a situation where a squad holds a thrice-to-beat advantage? San Sebastian College found itself on the wrong side of history after its infamous collapse in the NCAA women's volleyball finals. Twice. Not only did Lady Stags came up short of winning the crown while holding a thrice-to-beat advantage in consecutive seasons, but in those two series the Lady Stags only won one game. In a thrice-to-beat scenario, the team holding the advantage need only two victories to wrap the series. The disadvantaged side must win three times. Getting in that position is not easy. It means, a team must sweep the elimination round. And if you did brush off all your rivals that would mean you're the dominant team. Easily, the title favorite According to the NCAA Season 91 and 92 rules, the sweeping team gets an outright Finals seat armed with a twice-to-win advantage. A 1-0 lead in a virtual best-of-five series. The rest will have to duke it out in a stepladder semifinals to earn a championship seat. The unbeaten team will have fresh legs as it gets enough rest while waiting for its Finals opponent. For the other team, it means more games and no time for rest plus the possibility of wear and tear. The odds were stacked in favor of the Lady Stags. Or so they thought. SSC-R was a force to be reckoned with in those two seasons. Leading the Lady Stags was power-hitter and bulk-scorer Grethcel Soltones. She had a solid supporting cast in Nikka Dalisay, Jolina Labiano, Dangie Encarnacion, Kat Villegas, setter Vira Guillema and libero Alyssa Eroa under multi-title head coach and NCAA legend Roger Gorayeb. In Season 91, SSC-R fielded a well-experienced roster which came from two unsuccessful championship trips in the previous three years. The Lady Stags crushed all of their nine competitions in the elims including the CJ Rosario, Jovielyn Prado and Dana Henson-bannered Arellano U, which the year before beat SSC-R for the title. SSC-R completed its elims sweep after beating College of St. Benilde in four sets and got a nine-day rest. The Lady Blazers took the long route to secure a Finals seat, beating University of Perpetual Help in first stepladder semis before dethroning the Lady Chiefs. The Lady Stags came in the Finals brimming with confidence as they faced the same squad they defeated before their break. SSC-R barely escaped a tightly-contested extended first set but the Lady Stags unraveled in the next three frames. CSB coach Macky Carino knew that SSC-R will live and die with Soltones so he sent his best net defenders Jeanette Panaga, Janine Navarro and Ranya Musa to clog the net. SSC-R was also plagued with errors and miscues in their reception. The second game followed the same pattern with only Soltones scoring in double figures and the Lady Stags finding themselves on the brink of collapse. Soltones, upon receiving her second straight Most Valuable Player award, saved SSC-R from total collapse as she scored 31 points in a four-set escape in Game Three. But it all just delayed the inevitable doom that would befall the Lady Stags. In the series decider, CSB showed no signs of fear as it already faced two do-or-die matches before. SSC-R crumbled in the first two sets, showed life in the third before eventually yielding as the Lady Blazers claimed a historic breakthrough title in vanquishing a more seasoned rival. It was the same nightmare that the Lady Stags encountered the following season. Again, Soltones rallied SSC-R back to the Finals outright on her swan song. Once again with a thrice-to-beat advantage. Arellano U, on the other hand, got its revenge over CSB in the last stepladder match to book a championship showdown against the Lady Stags. The Lady Chiefs, behind Andrea Marzan, Regine Arocha and Mary Anne Esguerra, stunned SSC-R in straight sets in the series opener. It was Rialen Sante and Prado who did most of the damage in Game 2 as Arellano U beat the Lady Stags in a come-from-behind five-setter. And on Valentine’s Day 2017, SSC-R absorbed another humiliating defeat. Thrice-to-beat. Thrice beaten.        Soltones closed her NCAA career as a three-time MVP and one of the most decorated players in the league. But she will always be haunted by the ghost of her past. A legacy stained by the misfortune of leading a team found wanting in titles. The Lady Stags since then failed to recover their lost glory as they bowed out of the final four the following year for the first time in decades. SSC-R followed the same dark path the year after.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2020

PB(A)BL: Like a Dragon, Matthew Wright brought fire in Malaysia s dream season

Not all players take the same route going to the PBA, each player will have his own story to tell. This series will be about those who chose a different path, those who had to hustle overseas at one point in their careers before eventually landing in the PBA. Here, we take a look at current big-name PBA players who spent some time in the other major basketball league with Philippine teams in the region: the Asean Basketball League. They don’t have to play for a Filipino team, after all, the ABL is a great place where Filipino talents can shine even while playing for other countries. [Related: PB(A)BL: Chris Banchero's hot streak with San Miguel Beer] Today, we focus on Matthew Wright and his incredible one-and-done season with the Westports Malaysia Dragons.   Enter the Dragon Long before he ended up being a regular to Gilas Pilipinas, Matthew Wright actually already suited up for the national team via the U-18 squad in 2008. The Fil-Canadian then went home to Toronto and played in the NCAA tournament via St. Bonaventure. As a 25-year-old shooter, Wright got close to his other home when he suited up in the ABL for the Wesports Malaysia Dragons with his future Phoenix head coach Ariel Vanguardia and another prospect in Fil-Am Jason Brickman. With the Dragons, Wright set the ABL on fire with his scoring exploits. In his lone stint during the 2015-2016 season, Wright set the league record for most three-point shots made in one game at 10. He also set the record for most three-point shots made in a single season at 71 and his total points of 461 were the 4th highest of all-time and most by a non-World Import. Wright ended up being the ABL’s first-ever Heritage MVP, leading the league with an average of 23.1 points on 41.8 percent shooting from deep. He also added 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists. More importantly, Wright helped the Dragons to the no. 1 seed in the 2016 season with a strong 16-4 record. The crowning achievement was Malaysia winning its first, and so far, only ABL title by taking out the Singapore Slingers in the Finals, 3-2.   ABL to Gilas to PBA After leading the Westports Malaysia Dragons to the ABL championship, Wright was added to a Gilas Pilipinas pool that included guys like then amateurs Kiefer Ravena, Mac Belo, Ray Parks Jr., Kevin Ferrer, and Jio Jalalon. Wright was later named to the actual Gilas Pilipinas Cadets team and entered the PBA through the 2016 Draft. While no order was revealed, Wright joined the Phoenix Fuel Masters, reuniting with Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia. Once in the PBA, Wright’s scoring exploits continued, in one game scoring 42 points, which was the most for a rookie since Eric Menk scored 43 for Tanduay since 1999. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year race and was part of the All-Rookie Team. The Fil-Canadian sniper also became a regular for Gilas Pilipinas since, consistently making the final team for tournaments like the SEABA Championship, the FIBA Asia Cup, and the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. In the 2019 season, his third with Phoenix, Matthew Wright led the Fuel Masters to a breakthrough semifinals appearance in the Philippine Cup as the no. 1 seed. He also ended the year as the league’s no. 2 scorer.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent when the play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.]   [Updated Notes: The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent when the play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.] The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2020

TAKE-TWO: These players made the most of their second chances

Comeback is real could not be any truer than in sports where nothing is ever over until the sound of the final buzzer. That goes as well off the court where nothing is ever over until, well, until somebody says it is. That is very much evident in all these players who did not necessarily have the best of first tries, but did nothing but make the most out of another shot once it presented itself. We begin with Colegio de San Juan de Letran's trio of talented transferees who were cast away from their UAAP schools only to get into their groove inside the Walls of Intramuros. Bonbon Batiller looked like he was University of the East's next top gun before taking his talents to the Knights. Now, he is an NCAA champion. Larry Muyang found no place in his one year in De La Salle University, but was finally given the chance to stand strong as one of Letran's big, bad pillars all the way to the title. Perhaps the most feel-good story, however, is Fran Yu who was lost in the shuffle in his single season as a Red Warrior before blossoming when it mattered most for the Knights. With that, he could now be called Finals MVP. The University of the Philippines has also leaned on quite a few talented transferees as it ushered in its new era of legitimate contention. Of course, Bright Akhuetie was no slouch when he was doing the heavy lifting for University of Perpetual Help, but when he moved to Diliman, he proved to be the difference in the Fighting Maroons' first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals since 1986. And oh, the Nigerian powerhouse is also State U's first MVP in 32 years. Jun Manzo, who first showcased his skills for University of the Visayas, was also a key cog in the maroon and green's two straight trips to the playoffs. So was Jaydee Tungcab who morphed from next big thing for Adamson University to dependable two-way player for UP. Ricci Rivero, meanwhile, is yet to reach the same heights he already has back as a Green Archer, but is set for a bigger year for the Fighting Maroons as they try for a third Final Four in a row - and who knows, even a breakthrough championship. In terms of championships, however, the most successful talented transferee is Ateneo de Manila University's Will Navarro. The versatile forward frequently lauded by head coach Tab Baldwin for his efficiency started his collegiate career as a backup in San Beda University before finding and fortifying his role with the Blue Eagles. With that, he has celebrated back-to-back titles. With a trophy of his own is Arellano University's Justin Arana who was hailed as Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-5 big man rose as a talented tower for the Chiefs because he was finally given the break he was once hoping to get in University of Sto. Tomas. More minutes was also what Shaun Ildefonso got when he traded in the Ateneo blue and white for the blue and gold of National University. Not only that, he was also named team captain for the Bulldogs. In Perpetual, a trio of transferees also showed the way. Ben Adamos brought his end-to-end game from San Beda, Edgar Charcos fulfilled his playmaking promise from UE, and Kim Aurin delivered his all-around goods from Jose Rizal University to Las Pinas. Other players who made the most of their second chances are: --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2020

CAMPEONE: Year of the Tiger (2010)

(This story was originally published on May 09, 2019) University of Sto. Tomas head coach Shaq delos Santos looked at his squad inside the dugout of The Arena in San Juan one last time. It was a cool Saturday afternoon. He took a glimpse at his graduating hitter Angge Tabaquero, who was all pumped up, but was feeling under the weather and could barely speak because of a sore throat. Delos Santos then shifted his eyes towards fourth-year team captain Aiza Maizo, Maika Ortiz, libero Jessica Curato, then to his prized rookies Dindin Santiago and Maru Banaticla. From their closed locker room, the Tigresses could hear the drums outside and felt the vibration that followed. The weekend crowd packed the venue in a sea of yellow and green. Excitement filled the air. It was electric. Less than an hour before, coach Emil Lontoc celebrated the Tigers’ conquest of Far Eastern University to complete a three-peat in the men's division. With his eyes closed, Delos Santos murmured one last prayer. Then there was a soft tap on their dugout door. It was time to march to the court for the official warm-up for Game 2 of the UAAP Season 72 women’s volleyball tournament.   THE YOUNG AND THE BOLD Delos Santos knew that they’re in for ride in Season 72.   They prided themselves with three pre-season titles, but those conquests meant nothing when it comes to their mother league. “Before mag-start (ang season), for me, hindi ko napi-feel na magtsa-champion agad kami,” said Delos Santos. “Kasi ang adjustment kailangan makita mo muna ang lahat ng naglalaro. So depende pa rin sa nilalaro ng every team na makakalaban mo.” And besides, the mentor will be navigating with a young crew, mostly in their early collegiate careers save for Maizo and returning Tabaquero, two of the remaining heroes of UST’s Season 69 championship run. Maizo was named team captain while Tabaquero, who skipped Season 71 for personal reasons, brought in the needed veteran presence to guide the squad. “Ako personally ang mindset ko sobrang hungry lang rin ako personally and I think si Aiza rin kasi halos pa-exit na rin siya nun,” said Tabaquero. “Ako sobrang gusto ko lang for myself na maka-graduate sa UAAP on a high note.” “On a high lang ako nun kumbaga, ‘Last playing year ko na ‘to wala na akong balikan pa, ibubuhos ko na lahat,’ she added. “Plus the fact na hindi ako nakapaglaro noong Season 71 dagdag gutom sa akin ‘yun.” But then again, the Tigresses remained relatively young. Dimaculangan was just in her third year, her first two saw the bitter memory of losing the title in the semifinals at the hands of the Rachel Anne Daquis-led Far Eastern University and then another Final Four heartache against the same tormentors the following year. Ortiz, Hannah Mance and Curato barely had enough experience on them so did Judy Ann Caballejo.   Then there were the young bloods. UST got a pair of blue-chip recruits in a small but high-flying power-hitter in Banaticla and a lanky 6-footer Santiago.   The Tigresses were parading a decent squad, but not a super team that they had before with Mary Jean Balse and Venus Bernal.       “Nagkaroon kami ng mga rookies noon,” said Dimaculangan. “Nu’ng time na ‘yun kumpiyansa naman ako sa team kasi bakit ka pa maghahanap ng mga wala o bakit ka pa hahanap ng mga naka-graduate na? So kung ano na lang ang meron kami siguro doon na lang.” Delos Santos, himself, was just on his second year as head coach after taking the reins from legendary mentor August Sta. Maria, who suffered a stroke in 2008. Expectations were high from the UST faithful. For the Tigresses, they just have to deliver.   STRUGGLE WITHIN The Tigresses began the season with an early litmus test. Their first game: against the defending champions De La Salle University Lady Spikers. UST faced a squad assembled to build a dynasty. DLSU was denied of a four-peat three years ago when the league suspended the school in Season 69 because of an eligibility issue with its men’s basketball team. In Season 70, the Lady Spikers were forced to forfeit games because of another eligibility issue with Jacq Alarca. The following year, in Manilla Santos’ final year, DLSU reclaimed the throne. Now, looking to for a repeat, the Lady Spikers just need to break the will of one of their threats. DLSU paraded a formidable team centered on its ‘Big Three’ in Alarca, skipper Paneng Mercado, daughter of Asia’s Sprint Queen Lydia De Vega-Mercado, and versatile hitter Cha Cruz. Then there’s the great wall of Michele Gumabao and rookies Aby Marano and Joanne Siy, who would eventually win the Rookie of the Year and Best Blocker awards. UST was facing a nightmare. But the Tigresses were undaunted. They clung on the confidence of bringing down the same giant they slew in the UniGames championship before the start of the season. With guns blazing and adrenaline in their veins, the Tigresses were able to control the match as they led, 2-1. Then comes their Achilles’ heel. UST was a determined team, but the Lady Spikers had in them the championship experience, the veteran composure of a battle-tested squad. The Tigresses had no answer to that. DLSU walked away with a 20-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 15-11, victory to start its amazing elimination round winning streak. UST recovered in the next three games, walking past University of the Philippines, a rebuilding FEU, and cellar-dwellers National University. Then came another big challenge. The Tigresses collided with a feisty young team in Ateneo de Manila University bannered by a hyped Fab Five of sophomores Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio, Fille Cainglet, setter Jem Ferrer and A Nacachi. The result was a shocker: the Lady Eagles upset the Tigresses. It may not show inside the court, but the Tigresses were struggling from the inside.   Delos Santos admitted that being a Tigress under his watch was not for the faint of heart. His relationship with the players was not smooth. He was a blacksmith trying to sharpen a deadly weapon. He needed to put his players into the blazing fire of his Spartan-like training, hammer them into shape and sharpen them into a weapon ready for brutal war.       “Napaka-strict ko kaya medyo ano sila sa akin pero at the end of the day na-realize rin nila na ang lahat ng sinasalihan naming tournament, lahat ng paghihirap namin, kapag naglalaro kami talagang quality,” he said. “’Yung pinaghirapan namin talagang nilalabas namin sa game.” Dimaculangan recalled that that season was marred with conflicts within the team. “’Yung year na 'yun ang dami talagang pinagdaanan. Ang daming naging issues,” she said declining to divulge what the problems were. “Lahat kami takot sa kanya (Delos Santos). Tapos my time din na feeling namin nabe-burnout na kami.” “Baliktad nga eh kasi kung kailan ang dami naming issue doon pa namin nasabi na ‘Ay kailangan nating mag-champion.’ Ganoon ang feeling namin,” Dimaculangan added. Tabaquero would simply describe that Tigresses team as ‘shaky’. “On the rocks ang team and noon may internal issues din,” she revealed. “Medyo magulo siya pero as players, ‘Kung may mangyari man dyan, labas na sa volleyball ‘yan. Kung ano ang pini-perform natin maglaro tayo ng maayos.’ Siguro yun na lang ang tumatakbo sa isip namin.” Whatever the issues were inside their team, the Tigresses were able to put them aside as they made an amazing run to close the eliminations. “Nagulat kami kasi sobrang nakasabay ang mga bata,” said Tabaquero. “Kami ni Aiza halos ang nag-lead sa team na ‘yun pero kasi experienced na ang mga bata na ‘yun kasi coming from UST program sila eh.” “So medyo kumbaga ang pinanggalingan nilang team mataas din so I guess doon na lang din sila humugot from their experience sa high school. Nadala na lang din siguro pagdating nila,” she added.   ENTERING THE END GAME Valentine’s Day. With most of the country looking forward to celebrate that special Sunday, the Tigresses were preparing for something bigger. It was their most-awaited rematch with the Lady Spikers, who heading into that game were already ravaging the league with 13 straight victories. One win and DLSU will enter the Finals outright armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage.   The Tigresses didn’t allow that. UST prevented a Lady Spikers elims sweep by slipping past DLSU in a thrilling five-setter. The Tigresses avoided a stepladder semifinals. UST ended the elims with a nine-game winning streak and second-best 12-2 win-loss record. From there everything changed. “Kasi nakuha nila (ang panalo) sa first round then February 14 tinalo namin sila so dun tumaas ang kumpiyansa namin na ‘Ah kaya namin itong La Salle,’” said Tabaquero. The Tigresses came in the Final Four armed with a twice-to-beat advantage against Ateneo. They split their elims head-to-head but now UST wanted to settle an old score. It was Maizo and Tabaquero who did most of the damage in the Final Four as the Tigresses crushed the Lady Eagles, 25-12, 25-23, 25-20, all while playing without starting libero Curato, who was out because of typhoid fever. “I guess kung ikaw mayroon kang chance na makapasok sa championship siguro ibibigay mo ang lahat. Laban kung laban,” said Tabaquero. “’Yun talaga ang mentalidad namin nu’ng time na yun. ‘Yun ang nag-push sa amin na, ‘For championship ito, ibibigay namin ang lahat 110%.’” Earlier that playdate, the Lady Spikers took the other Finals berth after booting out Adamson University, 16-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22.         "EH ANO NGAYON KUNG DEFENDING CHAMPION KAYO?" Maizo and Tabaquero were UST’s contrasting leaders. They're yin and yang. Maizo was a silent operator. She would rather let her work do the talking. Tabaquero was from a different world. She will get under your skin, play with your head and she was just plain nasty. “Season 69 pa lang salbahe na ako maglaro,” she admitted. “Dun lumabas ‘yung moniker ko na ‘Pamewang Queen’. Sobrang intense lang din ng game namin ng FEU nun. Parang sobrang thrashtalkan. Hindi mo man makita on-cam pero doon pa lang talagang may verbal.” She’s no different in Season 72. “Hindi naman sa mayabang ako pero nasa utak ko nu’ng time na yun, ‘Ay kaya namin kayo kasi tinalo namin kayo nu’ng eliminations,’” Tabaquero continued.  “Doon ako humugot ng lakas na, ‘hindi tayo papatalo rito.’ Sobrang inspired lang din siguro akong maglaro noon kasi ang daming tao nun. Grabe puno itong San Juan Arena,” she recalled.    Facing DLSU, Tabaquero knew they can rip the crown off the Lady Spikers’ heads. “Ako personally, ‘Eh ano ngayon kung defending champion kayo?” she said. It was 2010 and UST just needed to look at the Chinese calendar for an inspiration.    “Year of the Tiger yun, sumakto,” said Dimaculangan. “Iba ang kompiyansa namin na parang amin ‘to.” The Tigresses could see the stars aligning for them, the opportunity was there. Then came the best-of-three series opener. Delos Santos was not new to the Finals. He worked as Sta. Maria’s deputy before. But this was his biggest challenge. His shining moment. Looking back, he felt that Sta. Maria molded him for this situation. “Before nakakuha rin kami ng isa pang championship eh. Sina Bernal, Balse pero si Coach August ang head coach pa nun that time,” he said. “Ang ginawa niya that time sobrang gusto niyang mag-grow ako. Noong Finals namin against FEU, umalis siya. Hindi siya nagpunta ng game tapos nung mag-start na ang game hinahanap ko siya,” Delos Santos continued. “Tinawagan ko siya, sabi ko, ‘Boss nasaan ka?’ Nasa norte siya eh parteng norte." "Sabi ko, ‘boss nasaan ka?’ Sabi niya, ‘kayang-kaya mo na ‘yan. Ikaw ng bahala dyan,’” he said. “’Yung time na yun doon ko na-feel na grabe ang tiwala niya sa akin.” Against a taller Lady Spikers side, Delos Santos needed just one key to success: speed. “I think that time sobrang lucky ko rin kasi ang mga players ko. Yun nga sina Rhea na, sina Tabaquero, sina Aiza. So that time yung system na gusto naming mangyari, more on lalo na kailangang maging speedy kami. Mabilis kami, nakuha namin that time. Siguro yun ang naging key,” he said. “Kasi knowing La Salle ang no. 1 weapon nila is blocking eh. Bukod dun sa service nila na napakabigat, yung blocking. Mayroon silang malalaking players and ang ganda lagi ng line-up nila,” Delos Santos said. As the battle ensued, Delos Santos felt that they had the upper hand. “I think nu’ng time na ‘yun medyo na-feel ko na makukuha namin,” he said. “That time na naglaro na kami sabi ko, sa galawan na nangyayari nakuha namin yung magandang diskarte.” And that strategy was to exploit the height disadvantage of DLSU setter Kaye Martinez. For Delos Santos the best way to stop the Lady Spikers’ deadly arrows was to break their bow.  “That time malalaki sila pero meron silang maliit na setter. Maliit ang setter nila so more on dun kami nagsi-set play ng nagsi-set play,” he said. “Nagkaroon din kami ng magandang receive and then si Rhea nabibigay niya ng maayos sa mga spikers.”  It was shocker. UST recovered from a set down to beat DLSU, 24-26, 25-23, 25-16, 25-21.   For the first time in Season 72, the Taft-based squad got its back against the wall.   SHAQ THE WORLD The Tigresses were on a high as they arrived at the game venue in the last weekend of February just three days after shocking the Lady Spikers in the series opener.     Entering the venue, the Tigresses were greeted by a huge crowd of UST faithful, all hoping for the clincher.  Tabaquero was feeling ill that day. “Naalala ko may sakit ako nu’ng Game 2. Wala akong boses nun,” said the senior, who skipped Thursday’s practice to rest. But Tabaquero was determined to play one last time, give her team the firepower and angst it needed, to finish her collegiate career on top.   “Wala ng sakit-sakit, di pwedeng may sakit. Di ko na siya nararamdaman. Minsan napapagod pero wala kailangang magsakripisyo. Saka yung adrenaline ko sobrang taas nun,” said Tabaquero. As the Tigresses trooped to the court for the warm-up, they were showered by loud cheers from the UST fans. “Go USTe! Go USTe!” echoed inside the arena like a rolling thunder signaling the arrival of a storm. A serenade for conquering heroes. There was a huge banner that read: ‘Kami po ang University of Sto. Tomas.’ It added fuel to the Tigresses’ burning desire to reclaim the throne. The squad came into the venue brimming with confidence but with their supporters egging them on even before the opening serve, the Tigresses felt invincible. They were. UST dismantled the confused Lady Spikers in the first two sets, dominating DLSU with sharp angled attacks and frustrating its blockers. Defensively, the Tigresses were punishing DLSU’s attackers. “Dumipensa lang talaga kami noon saka nagkaroon kami ng first ball. ‘Yun talaga ang edge namin nun,” said Dimaculangan. “Kumbaga parang hindi ako masyadong nahirapang dumiskarte kasi alam kong darating sa akin ang bola.” The Lady Spikers’ defense was also in disarray. Even DLSU’s celebrated libero Mel Gohing, the rookie of the year the season before, was already struggling to keep up with the Lady Spikers’ net defense collapsing. “Yung mga spikers ko ang gagaling din dumiskarte and alam din nila kung ano ang gagawin nila sa bolang ibinibigay ko sa kanila,” added Dimaculangan. The Tigresses were already smelling blood.   But the Lady Spikers regrouped in the third as hitters Cruz and Mercado’s hits found their mark. Gumabao, Siy and Maarano were holding their own. DLSU took the third frame in dominating fashion. It may have turned the tides around for the Lady Spikers. It didn’t.      DLSU built an early five-point cushion in the fourth frame, but the Tigresses raced to a 16-11 lead before Gumabao stopped the bleeding with a crosscourt hit.  Maizo then landed an off speed hit over blockers Siy and Martinez, then the lefty again scored another heady off speed this time over Alarca for an 18-12 lead. Then came the deluge of errors by DLSU. The Lady Spikers crowd went quiet in the pivotal run of the Tigresses. A kill block by Ortiz put UST at championship point, 24-13, as the DLSU faithful froze, seemingly awaiting an inevitable defeat. “Parang pa-last point pa lang ata naiiyak na kaming lahat,” said Dimaculangan. An overexcited Tabaquero sent her serve long then Maizo’s attack was turned back. Two match points saved by DLSU. The Lady Spikers tried to hold on. But it was too late. Nerves got the best of Emeli Zuno as she made contact with the ball at the service line.       It sailed long. Pandemonium broke out. “Nagtatalon na kami nu’ng moment na yun, na ‘Heto na ang pinaghirapan natin.’ Ang sarap sa feeling na mag-champion ulit,” said Tabaquero after the final whistle of the season was called with UST completing the sweep with a 25-18, 25-14, 16-25, 25-15, victory.   For Delos Santos that championship was the fruit of their hard labor. “Sobrang happy kasi siyempre nagkaroon kami ng championship sa UST,” said Delos Santos of his only title for the Tigresses as head coach. “Sobrang memorable. Marami rin kaming pinagdaanan (bago makuha),” he added. UST accomplished a double-crown feat in volleyball that year, its fifth since the 1976-77, 1985-86 at 1987-88 and 1992-1993 seasons. As a reward the Tigresses earned a trip to Hong Kong. But even that trip had some good anecdotes for Delos Santos, Dimaculangan and Tabaquero. “Nag-trip to Hong Kong kami for two to three days sa Disneyland at Ocean Park,” said Delos Santos. “Sila lang mahilig mag-rides eh. Ako may phobia ako sa heights. Nung sumakay kami ng cable car para akong mahuhulog na ewan dun sa cable car.” Dimaculangan remembered vividly their flight. “Nag-Hong Kong kami noon tapos sakto pa na bumabagyo noong umalis kami noon. Buti nga natuloy kami noon eh,” she said. As for Tabaquero, unfortunately, she had to skip the trip. “Nagpunta sila ng Hong Kong pero ako di ako nakasama kasi late yung Hong Kong trip. Di ako nakasama kasi na-ACL (left injury) na ako nun sa Shakey’s V-League, yung sa championship ng San Sebastian,” she said. “Naka-schedule na ako ng surgery nun sa UST hospital kaya di ako nakasama.” “May incentive naman ako nun kahit di ako nakasama nun,” Tabaquero cleared. Ten years ago, UST ruled Season 72. It was the year of the Tiger. The year of the mighty, mighty Tigers.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 26th, 2020

Even at home, the work continues for Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton

When the NBA was postponed in mid-March due to a player testing positive for COVID-19, there was immediately an air of uncertainty as to whether the world’s biggest basketball league would resume action later on in the year. Now, over a month later, that uncertainty remains there, even more so now. The playoffs should have started by now, which makes the NBA’s return even more of a question mark, especially in terms of how the league would decide to go about getting the season back on track. For now, there are definitely more questions than answers, but for most of the players and the coaches and the people involved in the league, work continues, even at home. That’s very much the case for Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton, who says he continues to find ways to continue to get things done, even under quarantine. When the season came to an abrupt halt, the Kings were 11th in the Western Conference, but were tied with the tenth and the ninth seeds at 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, meaning that they were very much in the running for the last spot in the post-season. With a jump straight into the playoffs being discussed as an option for the league’s return, it would mean that they would once again miss the post-season without having the chance to make one final run in the regular season. Right now however, Walton says that the focus is on the safety of everyone from this dreaded disease. “Normally, I would say that yes, it would feel like [a missed opportunity for a playoff chase]. But again, this is one of those rare circumstances in life where the safety of everyone involved is really what we’re thinking about,” Walton said in an interview with the NBA. “And if that means that were the case then hey, we continue to look forward. We continue to learn from what we did have this year and we take that information and we go full steam ahead into next season.” The Kings were set to take on the tenth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans in an important battle for playoff positioning the day that the league ultimately decided to postpone the games. If the league decides to jump right into the post-season, Walton says that they’d be fully behind the decision if it means finally having the season back. “This is one of those few times where truly the most important thing is that we get past this [pandemic] together. And by together, I mean everybody. Together, we get past this. If that’s what it takes for the NBA to come to a decision, we will be behind it. Normally I would say basketball is more important than most things I’ve gone through in life, but with this the only thing that really matters is that we get through it.” Walton adds that prior to the postponement, there was an excitement within the team because of how they were playing and the position that they were in. “We were excited. Like I said, we were playing high level basketball. As far as a team embracing what it needs to do. What I mean by that is individuals understanding their roles, individuals understand-ing what we need out of them and those individuals making sacrifices for the betterment of the team. I think that’s why we were winning games at a pretty solid rate towards the end.” “As a coach, that is what you’re looking for. As you said, Alex [Len], [Kent Bazemore] coming over to add some tough-ness and physicality that we needed and the defensive level that was being played. A big part of it was having De’Aaron [Fox] get going like that and getting to the free-throw line consistently. In the last few games, I know it’s a small sample size, he was shooting around 90 percent and if you get there eight times a game, that is going to help. Buddy [Hield] was just really dominating his role for us coming off the bench. [Bogdan Bogdanovic] in the starting lineup was making nice basketball plays. We had a lot of good positive things going for us as a team and we were excited. We were looking forward to every matchup that we had, and our guys were giving us everything they had,” he added. On a personal level, Walton says that it doesn’t know if the league will indeed return to finish off the 2019-2020 season. “Honestly, I have no idea. I think everyone wants to play but I think everyone understands top priority is the safety of the fans, the media and everyone that’s involved in this. As much as everyone wants to get back to playing, no one is pressing it and we know what is most important.” For now however, Walton says that he and the players are doing the most that they can during the extended time off. He does admit however, that these past month and a half has been tough. “It’s a challenge. In staying in communication with our guys and what we’ve all come to realize is what is most important and that is the health and safety of everybody; the fans, the players, the families and as much as we want to get out there and play basketball, coach basketball, and compete and be a symbol of strength for our community during this time, we know the most important part of this is the social distancing, staying healthy, and keeping people healthy. To answer your question, there isn’t a lot that the guys can do. We sent out exercise machines, there are workouts online, there [are] option-al Zoom yoga classes. A lot of guys at this point are at home and whether that’s a basketball hoop at home or a treadmill, they are doing what they can under the circumstances.” Walton adds that he has also done some additional coaching at home by homeschooling his children, before doing his work as a coach for the Kings. “We practice social distancing and take it very seriously. My family and I are still up here in the Sacramento area and we have young kids, so the mornings are dedicated to homeschooling and going on walks around the neighborhood.” “When we get done with that, that is when I start checking in with some [players] and some of the coaches and dedicate some time to move our work forward. In the evenings, we’ll either watch some shows or I’ll turn on some of our game film from earlier this year to look at different things and keep trying to grow and learn and understand our team a little more. Then, it’s pretty much like Groundhog Day. We wake up and do the same thing the next day. We are staying busy. We know the top priority, again, is the safety for everyone. I’m trying to use this time to continue to grow and continue to understand our guys more,” he continued. Walton adds that he hopes the players also use this time to get into other things as well and not just spend their free time playing video games. “A big part of what I believe in as a coach, is player development. Especially in today’s NBA, part of that is developing off the court as well. This is a great time for some of those things, whether it is like you said, reading books, listening to podcasts. Meditation is something we encourage our players to do and get into. That’s something that we’re constantly trying to get our players to accept and do. One, because we feel like as coaches, it’s the right thing to do to help people grow. And two, we feel as if you’re helping people grow off the court as people, the quicker they’re going to mature on the court as players. Yeah, this is a time that all those things are available to do. We can’t and we won’t force anyone to do them, but it’s highly encouraged that our players are taking the time to continue to chal-lenge themselves and grow in different areas.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 24th, 2020

STAYING POWER: These schools have great grassroots programs

Ateneo de Manila University has won it all three times in a row in the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament. The most recent of which was a season sweep that just yet again proved that in recent history, Blue Eagle the king. Of course, head coach Tab Baldwin deserves much credit for that - he wouldn't take it, but he could. At the same time, though, the blue and white has also given coach Tab all the materials he needs to assemble a juggernaut. And those materials? Ateneo itself, for the most part, discovered and developed them. More than half of the Blue Eagles in UAAP 82 were formerly Blue Eaglets. And even in high school, Nieto twins Mike and Matt, BJ Andrade, SJ Belangel, Geo Chiu, Jason Credo, and Gian Mamuyac were champions. Funnily enough, Thirdy Ravena, who has three Finals MVPs to his name, was unable to take a title in the Jrs. as he was denied by Hubert Cani's Nazareth School of National University and Jerie Pingoy's Far Eastern University-Diliman. Still, Ravena plus those seven other ex-Eaglets all played their part in their season sweep. If you count Ange Kouame, who was taken in even before college and finished his high school in Multiple Intelligence International School, then that makes nine homegrown players for Ateneo. That, without a doubt, makes Katipunan the site of the most successful grassroots program in recent history. And the Blue Eagles are far from finished as they already have the likes of Ian Espinosa, Josh Lazaro, Lebron Lopez, and Forthsky Padrigao waiting in the wings. Not that far behind are usual suspects FEU and San Beda University. Last season, the green and gold counted five Baby Tams who were full-fledged Tams. Add RJ Abarrientos and Cholo Anonuevo to that list and next season, FEU may also very well have half of its Srs. squad grown from its Jrs. program. The Red Lions, meanwhile, had Peter Alfaro, Prince Etrata, Evan Nelle, and Ain Obenza coming from their high school ranks. Only Nelle wound up as a key cog in their almost-season sweep, but with his departure, bigger things are now going to be expected from Alfaro and Etrata. Even more, with standout Red Cubs Rhayyan Amsali, Yukien Andrada, Justine Sanchez, and Tony Ynot coming in, Mendiola would reap the rewards of its stout Taytay program once more. Also enjoying the resurgence of its high school team is San Sebastian College-Recoletos which could boast that top gun RK Ilagan as well as rotation players Michael Are, Rommel Calahat, Alex Desoyo, Gelo Loristo, Jessie Sumoda, and Ken Villapando were former Staglets. For its part, University of Sto. Tomas has CJ Cansino and Mark Nonoy getting promoted from its Jrs. program. Those two comprise the Growling Tigers' backcourt of the present and the future and they have another proud product from the Tiger Cubs coming in the form of Bismarck Lina. Mapua University and Jose Rizal University are yet to barge back into the Final Four, but their rebuild is right on track thanks to building blocks from their high school squads. All of Denniel Aguirre, Warren Bonifacio, Joaqui Garcia, Paolo Hernandez, Eric Jabel, Noah Lugo, Jasper Salenga, Justin Serrano, and Laurenz Victoria are Red Robins-turned Cardinals while the Heavy Bombers now have their core four in ex-Light Bombers John Amores, JL Delos Santos, Marwin Dionisio, and Thomas Vasquez. The University of the Philippines had a growing grassroots program with Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan as well as Will Gozum having come from UP Integrated School. With the GDLs choosing to sit out UAAP 83 and Gozum choosing to transfer to College of St. Benilde, however, the Fighting Maroons have no homegrown players on the roster, at present. That could change, though, if Joe GDL makes the cut or if, next year, current Jr. Maroons Jordi GDL, Aldous Torculas, and Ray Allen Torres opt to stay put. That is also what Adamson University is hoping Jake Figueroa, the UAAP 82 MVP, and Matty Erolon would do after their last year as Baby Falcons. After all, Lorenz Capulong, AP Manlapaz, and Joem Sabandal have already proven to be capable and confident Soaring Falcons. Lyceum of the Philippines University is yet to see a seamless transition from its high school to its college teams, but in NCAA 95 MVP John Barba and former Batang Gilas Mac Guadana, they seem to have their very first homegrown stars. With head coach Goldwin Monteverde taking the reins of the Bulldogs after going back-to-back with the Bullpups, National U looks like it will finally have a clearly connected basketball program. John Lloyd Clemente is already there alongside RJ Minerva, Chino Mosqueda, and Migs Oczon and all of Gerry Abadiano, Kevin Quiambao, and Carl Tamayo may very well join them for coach Gold's first year in the Srs. Meanwhile, De La Salle University has had quite the up and down track record in taking full advantage of its TWO high school programs. Only Aljun Melecio, a former Jr. Archer, and Joel Cagulangan, a former Greenie, were the homegrown Green Archers last season and with the latter having moved on, only the former remains. La Salle's shortcoming has been CSB's gain as the Blazers have only welcomed with open arms La Salle Green Hills products Ladis Lepalam, Sidney Mosqueda, Unique Naboa, Mark Sangco, and Luigi Velasco as well as DLS Zobel product Prince Carlos. Here are the other teams who had homegrown players on their rosters last year: ARELLANO CHIEFS Marlon Espiritu. Kent Segura. Lars Sunga. LETRAN KNIGHTS Christian Balagasay. Jerrick Balanza. Neil Guarino. Kurt Reyson PERPETUAL ALTAS Jasper Cuevas. Jielo Razon. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2020