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2019 ASEAN Grand Prix: Lahat ng itinuro ni coach Ramil inaalala lang namin -- Best Libero winner Dawn Macandili

STA. ROSA, Laguna --- Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili snatched a pair of individual awards for the Philippines in the 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix second leg. Baron bagged her second straight Best Middle Blocker recognition while Macandili was named Best Libero during the awards ceremony Sunday at the end of the four-nation tournament at the Sta. Rosa Multi-purpose Gym here. The two awardees gave the Philippines added hardware following another bronze medal finish. Showing their defensive brilliance in their respective spots during their campaign, the duo gave credit to the system of their former De La Salle University head coach and current F2 Logistics mentor Ramil De Jesus, whose training and guidance made them into vital cogs defensively for the National team.      “Siyempre ‘yung foundation nandoon and lahat ng itinuro ni coach Ramil sa amin inaalala lang din namin,” said Macandili, who two years ago bagged the AVC Asian Women’s Seniors Volleyball Championship 2nd Best Libero award. “Siyempre sa bagong coach namin ina-absorb din namin. Open kami sa criticisms and sa mga bagong itinuturo ni coach Shaq (Delos Santos) sa amin.” The five-foot wonder from Batangas and former Philippine Superliga Most Valuable Player averaged 5.4 excellent digs per set and contributed well on reception. Baron, a former UAAP MVP, averaged 6.7 points and had a total of seven kill blocks in three matches. “For me, parang deja vu. Nangyari ulit kung ano yung nangyari sa Thailand,” said Baron. “Siyempre, super happy pa rin na na-recognize yung effort.” She added that the awards were just a bonus for the Philippines and that the most important thing was that they gained valuable lessons that they’ll carry into the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila next month.     “For me, as long as natuto kami as a team and nakikita naman na may improvement,” said Baron. “So kailangan pa namin mag-training as a team para mas ma-improve pa namin yung mga naging lapses... para mas maging cohesive pa kami as a team.” Other individual award winners were MVP Pleumjit Thinkaow and Pimpichaya Kokram (Best Spiker) of champion Thailand and Tri Retno Mutiara (Best Setter) and Ratri Wulandari (Best Server) of runner-up Indonesia.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnOct 6th, 2019

Mau out of SEA Games roster, Maizo-Pontillas gets spot

The Philippine national women’s volleyball team’s podium finish bid suffered a major blow after power-hitting Filipino-American Kalei Mau was ruled ineligible to see action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games. In a shocking development, Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) president Joey Romasanta revealed Friday that the 6-foot-2 open spiker was scratched from the lineup after falling short of the required minimum two-year residency. Mau, a University of Arizona standout in the US NCAA Division 1, came to the Philippines late last year and played for Cocolife in the Philippine Superliga before transferring to F2 Logistics where she won the All-Filipino Conference Most Valuable Player award and led the Cargo Movers to the throne. She was called up for the national team and made a big impact for the squad. Mau helped the Nationals finish third in the ASEAN Grand Prix first leg, as the Filipinas shocked a then-complete Vietnam squad, forced Indonesia to a five-setter, and stole a set from powerhouse Thailand – the same teams that will vie for medals in the SEA Games. Mau sat out the second leg in Sta. Rosa, Laguna because of an Achilles’ heel injury but was able to join the team in its 12-day Japan training recently. Although Mau has been campaigning in the country, she remains affiliated under the United States Volleyball Association (USVA). Based on the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the Asian Volleyball Confederation, a player who wishes to represent her country in an international competition such as the SEA Games, Asian Games and the Olympics must be under her mother federation for at least two years. LVPI had no other choice but to cut Mau from the roster to abide the Asian and world body’s rule.      “We don’t want to jeopardize whatever problem she may encounter along the way. She could get suspended if she plays without securing transfer papers from the federation,” said Romasanta. “I don’t know why she failed to submit the papers, but it really has to be her submitting it because she is a member. It's not the LVPI.” The Nationals actually learned about this issue weeks back during their Japan training camp and tried to look for solutions in case Mau won’t get the greenlight to play.   Bite the bullet The news of Mau ineligible to play added to the heartbreak that the Nationals have faced during the course of their build up for the SEA Games, which will open its volleyball competition on Dec. 2 at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City. “Malaking pagsubok na naman sa amin kasi adjustment na naman dun sa team,” said head coach Shaq Delos Santos. The Nationals already lost towering sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat as well as Filipino-American playmaker Alohi Robins-Hardy. The Six-foot-5 Santiago and 6-foot-2 Manabat failed to secure their release from their respective clubs in the Japan Premier League while Robins-Hardy had trouble securing a Philippine passport on time. Some players suffered injuries including hitter Alyssa Valdez (foot), who skipped the team’s Thailand training camp and the ASEAN Grand Prix opening leg while Mika Reyes is still recovering from a knee injury. The squad had to continue their Japan training camp without Valdez and setter Jia Morado, who had to return to Manila after just five days into the camp because of their club commitment with Creamline in the Premier Volleyball League.    “Simula ng mag-start kami ng [training] camp nandyan siya [Mau] tapos nagkaroon na naman ng conflict,” said Delos Santos, who is in his second year as mentor of the squad. “Siguro best thing na magagawa ng buong team, coaches, players, ng management, ng LVPI, kami kailangan din naming ma-accept na, na matanggap namin sa sarili namin na kakayanin namin kahit na maraming dumadating na problema o conflict kasi yun na rin naman ang goal natin dito kung paano buuin ang team.”   Maizo-Pontillas returns, Paat in dual role With Mau out, Delos Santos has elevated reserve Aiza Maizo-Pontillas into the team. The lefty Maizo-Pontillas, who played for the national team in the 2017 edition of the SEA Games in Malaysia, will be Mau’s replacement. She was with the team in its Thailand and Japan training camps.  Delos Santos is also looking at putting Mylene Paat in a dual role as opposite and open spiker with Maizo-Pontillas taking the main position at opposite. “Si Aiza na ang ilalagay namin [for Mau]. Si Mylene kasi inaano namin, pero kasi sa Pilipinas nagagawa niyang maging outside hitter,” said Delos Santos. “Pero kailangan mas maaral pa niya o maibigay namin yung mga role n’ya as an outside hitter pero kasi siyempre iba pa rin ang galaw dun”. “Pero I think konting adjustment na lang so ibibigay namin yung kailangan niyang i-improve at i-develop,” he added. Anticipating the worst, Delos Santos during their Japan training was already giving Paat some extra workouts in both wing positions as well as working on her floor defense.  “Magiging dalawa ang puwesto n’ya in case na kailanganin namin siya sa outside. Pero may tatlo pa naman tayong outside hitters. Depende yan sa ilalaro at sa diskarte naming gagawin, dun na lang yun tatakbo,” said Delos Santos. Even without Mau, the Nationals remain competitive with a solid core bannered by team captain Aby Maraño, Valdez, Morado, Reyes, Paat, Maizo-Pontillas, Dawn Macandili, Majoy Baron, Rhea Dimaculangan, Maddie Madayag, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Kath Arado. Eya Laure and Ces Molina.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 8th, 2019

Nationals brace for tough rematch against Vietnam

The Philippine national women’s volleyball team hopes to capitalize on its home court advantage and with Vietnam missing the services of its main scorer as the second leg of the ASEAN Grand Prix kicks off Friday at the Sta. Rosa Multi-purpose Sports Complex in Laguna. Carrying the momentum of its bronze medal finish in the first leg of the four-nation tournament in Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand, the Filipinas will try to duplicate its conquest of the Vietnamese in their scheduled 3:00 p.m. showdown. The match will be available via iWant and livestream (Philippines only). Livestream abroad is available via TFC.tv. Team captain Aby Marano sees the support of the home crowd as a big morale boost for the squad seeking to surpass its finish in the opening leg.  “Oo, kasi ang sarap maglaro na may sumisigaw sa’yo eh. Iba kasi dun sa Thailand kaunti lang ang Pilipino. Iba kasi yung may sumisigaw, tinatawag ang pangalan mo kasi nakaka-add ng confidence and morale yun,” said Marano. The Nationals are also looking to exploit the absence Vietnamese top hitter Thi Thanh Thuy Tran, who is currently training with her club in the Japan V. Premier League, though the Filipinas themselves lost two key players.      “Sa tingin ko malaking bagay din yun pero kasi nawalan din kami ng players like Alohi (Robins-Hardy) and Kalei (Mau). For sure another challenging match for us,” Marano said. “We’re not taking it as wala si T4 magiging complacent kami, we’re gonna take it na mas ma-inspire kami to play our A-game.” Vietnam coach Tuan Kiet Nguyen knows that their rematch against the Philippines will be tougher.     “The Philippine team now improved a lot. We lost the match in Thailand two weeks ago, but in this tournament, we're still not confident because one of our players cannot play here,” he said. Replacing Mau, who suffered an Achilles injury, and Robins-Hardy, who had trouble securing a Philippine passport, are Grethcel Soltones and Jasmine Nabor.     Alyssa Valdez, who skipped the Thailand edition because of an ankle injury, will make her debut for the Nationals in the tournament that serves as test event for the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games. First leg Best Middle Blocker award winner Majoy Baron, skipper Aby Marano, Ces Molina, Mylene Paat, Roselyn Doria, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Kath Arado and Dawn Macandili are back for another tour of duty. Also making their return are Maddie Madayag, setter Jia Morado, Eya Laure and Jovelyn Gonzaga.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2019

Valdez injures ankle, will miss Thailand training camp

Creamline’s Alyssa Valdez will not join the national team in its Thailand training camp after sustaining an ankle injury. A source monitoring the development confirmed that the three-time Premier Volleyball League Most Valuable Player went down with an injury just two days before her supposed flight on Sunday to join the bulk of the Nationals already in Thailand training for the inaugural ASEAN Grand Prix on September 20 in Nakhon Ratchasima. Valdez’s injury was posted in Rebisco Pilipinas Volleyball Team Instagram on Friday night. The national team veteran will undergo therapy.         View this post on Instagram                   Let's give our love and all-out support to our Phenom Alyssa Valdez who injured her ankle. Because of this, she won't be able to train in Thailand as she was advised to undergo physical therapy. As she recovers over the next few days, ituloy lang natin ang suporta para sa #RebiscoPilipinas Women’s National Volleyball Team sa kanilang laban para sa bayan! #Sambansa #AlyssaValdez #Phenom #getwellsoon #LabanPilipinas A post shared by Rebisco Pilipinas (@rebiscosambansa) on Sep 13, 2019 at 4:21am PDT Valdez is expected to rest for a few days. Unbeaten defending champion Creamline will open the PVL Season 3 Open Conference second round on Saturday. With Valdez out, the national team is now down to only 14 players after Motolite setter Iris Tolenada failed to get the green light from her club to join the Nationals. Only Creamline setter Jia Morado, Jovelyn Gonzaga of PacificTown Army, ChocoMucho's Maddie Madayag and Eya Laure of University of Sto. Tomas will accompany assistant coach Kungfu Reyes on Sunday to Thailand.       Already in Thailand are skipper Aby Marano, Fil-American spiker Kalei Mau, Alohi Robins-Hardy, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mylene Paat, Majoy Baron, Ces Molina, Roselyn Doria, Dawn Macandili and Kath Arado......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 13th, 2019

Monikers that made their mark in UAAP women’s volleyball

It is common in the Philippines for basketball players to earn nicknames given to them in the collegiate level or when they climbed up to the professional ranks. In volleyball, specifically in the UAAP, monikers for women’s volleyball players came a little much later. UAAP volleyball sportscasters and sportswriters use these monikers, mostly suggested by fans, not only to add color to their broadcasts and stories but to give an identity to outstanding players who earned their nicknames through their skills and passion for the sport. “Sa tingin ko karamihan sa mga monicker ngayon ay nanggagaling sa mga fans ng players,” said ABS-CBN S+A sports broadcast anchor Anton Roxas. “Pero bilang mga commentator, nasa amin na lang kung gagamitin namin ‘yung mga monicker na yun sa broadcast.” “Para sa akin, ang pinaka-importante, gusto ng player mismo yung monicker,” he added. “My personal rule is: If the player approves of the monicker, then you can use it.” We’ve gathered some of best monikers that made their mark in UAAP women's volleyball.   PHENOM When you think about Alyssa Valdez there are no other words that could best describe the best player to ever don the Lady Eagles jersey.     Her all-around game, powerful attacks, high volleyball IQ, leadership, charm and meteoric rise is nothing short of phenomenal and her nickname best describes it all.      Valdez lived up to her billing when she led the Lady Eagles to two straight titles while earning three consecutive Most Valuable Player awards in her five-year stint with Ateneo. Ateneo fans are known to give almost every Lady Eagle a moniker. Libero Denden Lazaro is the ‘Iron Eagle’ because she will deliver even if she’s hurt and all. Ella De Jesus is the ‘Ellavator’ because of her elevation when attacking, Jho Maraguinot is known as the ‘Eagle Claw’ being one of Ateneo’s best spikers while Maddie Madayag is the ‘Madzilla’ for being a monster at the net.  The ‘Fab Five’ of Fille Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio, Gretchen Ho, Jem Ferrer and A Nacachi will always be remembered as the most popular quintet in UAAP volleyball.       JIAMAZING Jia Morado makes her Ateneo teammates look good all the time. She never fails to amaze the crowd with her heady plays and drop shots.   CHERRY BOMB Cherry "Sisi" Rondina packs a lot of firepower in a small package. She may not the tallest of University of Sto. Tomas hitters but when she skies for an attack, expect it to be an explosive one.     BEAST MODE QUEEN No one who ever wore De La Salle University’s jersey had the same passion, tenacity, fierceness and swag as that of Aby Marano.         MISS EVERYTHING During her DLSU stint, Cha Cruz is known for her versatility having played in almost all positions head coach Ramil De Jesus wanted her to be in. Skills, talent, heart, leadership and beauty, Cruz has it all.      MISS EVERYWHERE DLSU’s Dawn Macandili is arguably the best floor defender during her days in the UAAP. She’s all over the court diving for the ball or setting up a good transition for an attack for the Lady Spikers off the serve.      THE NINJA Mel Gohing is one of the best liberos during the late 2000s and early 2010’s with her cat-like reflexes while manning the floor. The Season 71 Rookie of the Year won four titles for DLSU.      THE CLOSER (Photo: Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News)  When you think about Aiza Maizo-Pontillas you can just imagine UST engaged in a long rally and leaning on this lefty to finish the play.   PAMAYWANG QUEEN Angge Tabaquero is UST’s standard when it comes to swag. She’s knows how to get into the Tigresses’ rivals’ heads with her signature hands-on-her-waist followed by a stare down after scoring a point.      PAGPAG QUEEN Maica Morada is one of Far Eastern University’s most dreaded attacker. Aside from her firepower she’s also known for her swag and her jersey-shaking antics.       QUEEN TAMARAW Rachel Anne Daquis is the undisputed Queen Tamaraw of FEU even after more than a decade since she delivered the school’s last UAAP title. Being the QUEEN, FEU had her jersey retired.     TAFT TOWER Mika Reyes is known as DLSU’s ‘Taft Tower’ for being a menace at the net.     NU TWIN TOWERS NU’s rise from the doldrums can be attributed to the arrival of the towering sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat.      MISS PHOTOGENIC Photographers are bewildered why Adamson University’s Jema Galanza seems to be always ready for the camera even while Adamson University is the middle of a battle. Photographers are sure get great shots of her all the time.   BAGYONG PABLO   Powerful, hardworking and relentless are the characteristics that best describe Myla Pablo during her time with NU.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 3rd, 2020

Valdez banners SEA Games women’s volleyball roster

Alyssa Valdez is set to make her third straight Southeast Asian Games stint as she banners the Philippine national women’s volleyball team in the biennial meet that the country will host next month. The power-hitter and crowd-drawer will carry the nation’s pride alongside a good mix of new and returning players with the mission of ending a 14-year podium drought. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. bared the lineup Wednesday. Aside from Valdez, skipper Aby Marano, setter Rhea Dimaculangan, who skipped last year's Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games,  and Jovelyn Gonzaga are also suiting up for the tricolors for the third time since the country’s return in the regional sports meet in 2015 in Singapore. The Philippines’ last podium finish was back in 2005 Manila edition when the Filipinas led by Tina Salak and Ging Balse finished third. Also making it to the 14-woman roster of head coach Shaq delos Santos are setter Jia Morado, middle blockers Mika Reyes, Majoy Baron, who won back-to-back Best Middle Blockers in the ASEAN Grand Prix, Maddie Madayag, wingers Ces Molina, Eya Laure, Mylene Paat and Fil-American Kalei Mau and liberos Dawn Macandili, the ASEAN GP second leg Best Libero, and Kath Arado. Cut from the team are middle Roselyn Doria, setter Jasmin Nabor and open spiker Grethcel Soltones, who all played in the ASEAN GP second leg last weekend in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.   Action in the volleyball competition will begin on Nov. 28 at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.     ---          Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 9th, 2019

Ailing Valdez, Morado uncertain for ASEAN Grand Prix

Creamline’s Alyssa Valdez and setter Jia Morado’s availability for the national women’s volleyball team’s participation in the second leg of the ASEAN Grand Prix remains uncertain. With less than a week before the country’s hosting of the regional tournament set on October 4 to 6 in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, the duo as well as three other players currently playing in the ongoing Premier Volleyball League Season 3 might skip the Grand Prix for various reasons. From injury woes, schedule conflicts to teeth extractions, the Nationals could be staring at only 10 players available from its 15-woman core. For one, the PVL schedule coincides with the staging of the ASEAN Grand Prix. Creamline is due to play sister-team ChocoMucho bannered by another national team member in Maddie Madayag on Saturday in Iloilo City while opposite hitter Jovelyn Gonzaga of PacificTown Army also has a game that day against PetroGazz in the Open Conference. If necessary, Eya Laure of University of Sto. Tomas could play in do-or-die semifinals Game 3 against Ateneo de Manila University in the Collegiate Conference.     “I think as of now we’re instructed that we’re also playing in Iloilo sa team,” said Valdez. She explained that they will follow their management’s decision on the matter.   “I guess may pinag-uusapan po sila,” she said. “We’re here to follow din naman those instructions. As of now kung ano ang instructions, sila ang may desisyon.” Valdez, who is still recovering from a right foot injury, could miss the AGP for the second straight time. The many-time national team member skipped the first leg, where the Nationals brought home a bronze medal, after sustaining a foot injury just days before their flight to Thailand.   As for Morado, the playmaker might need more time to recover after undergoing teeth extraction following her return from a tour of duty last week. “Actually before national team pa lang medyo hindi na nya kaya [ang pain] because four teeth ang tinanggal sa kanya so she had to wait. Pagbalik tinaggal, apat,” explained Morado’s Creamline teammate Michele Gumabao. “So ngayon medyo recovering pa siya kasi hindi pwedeng igalaw yun eh. Hindi rin pwede i-practice kasi bubuka so she has to fully heal before she can play.” With all these availability issue, head coach Shaq Delos Santos and Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. will be scrambling to convince the clubs to loan their players if not look for replacements.      “Chinecheck pa namin kasi yung magiging line-up namin dahil meron kaming kailangan iconsider and dapat ayusin so we don’t know yet kung ano yung possible na mangyayari,” Delos Santos said. But the mentor assured the Nationals will be ready for their home stand. “But of course, kahit ano mangyari talagang ready yung team and palaban lahat yan,” he said.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2019

Dawn Macandili: It All Started With a Flying Shoe

Libero Dawn Macandili had to start somewhere before becoming Miss Everywhere. Her first venture into volleyball – the start of her successful journey – is as memorable as the pair of shoes she was wearing that day. Coming from a sports-loving family, it’s all but natural for the former De La Salle University star to be into sports. Her father played hoops for Jose Rizal University for a while but had to give it up as he was already juggling his studies and work. Macandili's paternal grandmother was a slugger on a softball team and her brother played basketball before shifting to tennis. Her eldest sister played volleyball and then became a team captain of a cheering squad in college while her other sister fell in love with tennis.   She ended up choosing volleyball as her sport.      “I started playing (volleyball) in the middle of fifth grade,” said Macandili, who recalled that she was around 11-years-old then when she joined the De La Salle University-Lipa team. The national team standout shared a humorous anecdote about her official volleyball game debut. Back then she was a spiker. “My first-ever official volleyball game was back when I was in Grade 5 and I was playing in Skechers with Velcro straps,” she said.   “In the middle of the game while I was running for the ball, one of my shoes came off,” Macandili continued. “That was the most memorable first game ever.” From there Macandili never looked back. Transferring to De La Salle-Zobel, Macandili was given a new role under Ramil De Jesus, who was also the coach La Salle's high school team.    “At first, I was a spiker for DLS-L’s grade school team because my teammates were almost the same height as me. When I moved up to the high school team I played libero as my height wouldn't suffice (as a spiker) anymore,” she said. “Our coach in the high school team was coach Ramil de Jesus. I, being a Lasallian at heart, could not imagine studying anywhere else but in DLSU,” Macandili added. “Another big factor was that coach Ramil is a great mentor and has produced elite players. I thought that if I was going to play in college. I was gonna play for him.” She won three high school UAAP titles from Season 73 to 75. Macandili was also a member of the team that won gold in the 2010 and 2012 Guam Youth Games and helped NCR win the Palarong Pambansa 2013 gold medal where she was also named Best Libero. Naturally, she moved up to play for the Lady Spikers in college. Her first two years weren’t as successful as she wished it to be after DLSU lost to Ateneo in the UAAP Finals in Season 76 and 77. The Lady Spikers got their payback in Season 78 and won two more titles as Macandili closed her collegiate career a champion. In that three-year reign, Macandili bagged two Best Receiver awards, Best Digger honors and the Season 80 Finals Most Valuable Player award.   She brought her success to the Philippine Superliga, winning numerous titles and individual accolades, including the 2016 All Filipino Conference MVP. Macandili joined the national team in 2017 and saw action in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games, 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and in the Manila SEA Games last December 2019.  Macandili was also recognized as 2nd Best Libero in the 2017 AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship held in Binan, Laguna. Looking back, Macandili can’t help but be grateful on that first volleyball game of hers. After all, the shoe that flew off somewhere brought her to where she is now.     That gem of a memorable moment never fails to put a smile on her face.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

Former and current Lady Spikers reunite in online fund-raiser

De La Salle University alumnae gave encouraging words for the current crop of Lady Spikers in their virtual reunion Sunday night in the Kada-Uno Lasalyano fundraiser for families affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Led by DLSU legends Michele Gumabao, Aby Marano, Ara Galang, Kim Fajardo, Mika Reyes and Dawn Macandili, the Lady Spikers came together for an online fan meet and greet, games and a question and answer session in the six-hour program aimed at raising funds for over 1,000 families. In the cancelled UAAP Season 82, the Lady Spikers showed much promise in their lone match as they defeated archrival and defending champion Ateneo De Manila University in four sets. Rookies Leila Cruz and Thea Gagate as well as sophomore Jolina Dela Cruz, Michelle Cobb and seniors Tin Tiamzon and Aduke Ogunsanya made their intentions clear of reclaiming the throne they lost last year. Unfortunately, the tournament was cut short because of the contagion. Still the Lady Spikers’ performance impressed those who came before them. “Super proud. Nakita naming sila kung papaano mag-training,” said Fajardo, who three titles for the Ramil De Jesus-mentored squad. Macandilli, who was a catalyst on defense for the DLSU’s third three-peat batch from Season 78-80, gave an advice to the current Lady Spikers.       "Lahat ng tao may masasabi sa team ninyo. Maku-compare at maku-compare ang team ninyo sa previous teams ng La Salle. Ang advice ko lang sa inyo ay mag-focus kayo sa kung ano meron sa team ninyo. Huwag kayo maghahanap ng iba na wala naman. Yun naman ang laging sinasabi ni coach,” said Macandili in the video conference which included rookies Jus Jazareno, Ali Borabo, Fifi Sharma, Juls Coronel, Matet Espina, Cruz and Gagate.   “Nasa inyo lahat ng answers, you just have to find it for yourselves," added Macandili. “Sa side ko naman as an audience, wag kayong panghinaan ng loob,” said Reyes. “Ngayon very challenging talaga ito for us kasi very uncertain ang future. Let’s enjoy this moment muna and i-appreciate natin ang mga dumadating na blessings sa atin.” Galang, who came back from a career-threatening knee injury to help the Lady Spikers reclaim the crown in 2016, remains upbeat that her alma mater will make it back on top. "Excited talaga ako sa Season 82 kasi nakakasama natin sila sa training. Nakikita natin ‘yung pag-improve nila. Sayang kasi di nila ma-showcase. Alam kong dadating ‘yung time na ma-share nila talent nila. Keep working hard, magtiwala sa sarili at magtiwala sa kasama ninyo," said Galang. The event, which also featured performances from Gary Valenciano, Barbie Almabis and Jett Pangan, raised P4,009,241.59. (Watch the event here)  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2020

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

(This story was originally published on April 20, 2018) Newly-appointed head coach Roger Gorayeb looked at his line-up heading into UAAP Season 71. A champion mentor of NCAA powerhouse San Sebastian College - Recoletos, Gorayeb had in his hands a gargantuan task of rebuilding the Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program. Just a few months before, Ronald Dulay, the mentor before him, landed a trio of blue chip recruits who were fresh from a successful stint in the Palarong Pambansa. Angeline "Dzi" Gervacio, Fille Saint Cainglet and Jamenea "Jem" Ferrer just joined the Katipunan-based squad. Gervacio and Cainglet were products of St. Scholastica's College in Manila while Ferrer was a gem from Hope Christian School under girl’s volleyball guru Jerry Yee. Looking at his 15-woman line-up with the season just a few months ahead, Gorayeb knew he needed to do something drastic. The roster just won’t do. Talking to then athletic director Ricky Palou and team manager Tony Boy Liao, the mentor told the team officials that he intended to cut five players from the list. One could just imagine the shock in their faces. “Nakita ko may line-up pero player-playeran lang yung ganoon bang tipo, 15 ata yun. Sabi ko ‘Magtatanggal ako ng lima then magre-recruit ako,’” he said. The three rookies were in. Middle Bea Pascual, Kara Acevedo and libero Steph Gabriel retained their spots. He needed more. “Sa mga tinira kong players, si Kara Acevedo sabi niya, ‘Coach mayroong player ang ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy) na gumraduate naka-exam na rito pasado.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige papuntahin mo,’” said Gorayeb. It was Gretchen Ho. “Sa akin kasi ang talagang nagyaya sa akin si Coach Ron Dulay. Si Kara Acevedo teammate ko and she’s been recruited by Ateneo. So one summer wala akong magawa naki-train lang ako noon tapos nagustuhan nila ang laro ko and then fourth year noong graduate na ako I passed the ACET then niyayaya na nila ako,” Ho said. “Then nagbago ng coach na si Coach Roger and dun niya ako nakita.”   “Pagdating ko ng March (sa Ateneo) wala na akong way para maka-recruit pa. Ang nangyari yung tatlo accepted na kaagad. Si Gretchen tinanong ko sabi ko, ‘ano ba ang laro mo?’ Sabi niya the usual panggitna, tres,” Gorayeb recalled. “So sinubukan ko pero ang laro niya tres hindi quick. Siya panggitna pero hindi quicker na gusto ko saka yung height niya (maliit). Kaya lang si Gretchen takbo ng takbo, mahilig magtatakbo so sabi ko sige pwede na yan. Wala namang player na during that time. So kinuha ko si Gretchen.” Gorayeb just needed just one more. “Ngayon nagkaroon ng STCAA (Southern Tagalog Calabarzon athletic association) eh kulang pa ako ng isa, wala akong panggitna. Ang gitna ko during that time si Bea lang tapos si Gretchen so wala akong pamalit. So naisipan ko may nakita ako sa STCAA,” he said. He spotted a lanky player from Canossa Academy-Lipa, Aillysse Nacachi. “Sabi ko kay Sir Tony pagtyagaan ko na lang ito kahit hindi naman kalakasan at wala naman na rin akong choice na makapili kasi rush ang pagdating ko dyan. Nakiusap lang sila sa akin na magbuo ako ng team kasi si Ronald nag-resign,” said Gorayeb. Another freshman could’ve had ended up with Ateneo, Hope’s libero Melissa Gohing. But a few obstacles prevented her from fulfilling her promise to join Ferrer in Ateneo. She instead chose to join the ladies in green and white in Taft.    SOMETHING PROMISING December 7, 2008. Far Eastern University Gym. Excitement filled the air. Fans, mostly volleyball purists and some who just came to support their classmates or were just curious to see a new spectacle after the basketball season ended, slowly settled in their seats for the women’s division’s second game. It was Adamson University, the previous year’s runner-up, which just visited the turf of their arch nemesis and defending champion FEU, which was led by that era’s finest and most popular volleybelle Rachel Anne Daquis. Fans wanted to see if the Lady Falcons still had the same firepower they had the previous season with the loss of top setter Janet Serafica and power hitter Sang Laguilles. A rookie-laden Ateneo squad should be easy pickings with Angela Benting, rookie Pau Soriano and libero Lizlee Anne Gata in the roster. Besides the Lady Falcons got the Lady Eagles’ number. Or so they thought. “Naalala ko nu’ng time namin sinasabi sa amin ng seniors namin na, ‘Hay naku ang lakas ng Adamson, never kami nanalo dyan,’” Cainglet, now happily married to Taguig mayor Lino Cayetano and with three beautiful children, recalled.  But the Lady Eagles stunned Adamson in the opening set. The Lady Falcons took the next two frames. Ateneo stole the fourth.  “Ako naalala ko ano eh, parang alam namin na lahat kasi kami palaban. Nasa amin yun. Tapos binigyan kaming lahat ng chance to be in the first six so parang dream come true,” said Ho, now an ABS-CBN host. “Naalala ko rin na palaban kaming lahat kumbaga nothing to lose eh so ang ano namin, sumasabay kami sa laro and nu’ng nakita na namin na ‘Ay kaya pala natin ‘to guys. Kaya pala naming lumaban.’” Still, Adamson had the upper hand in experience. The Lady Falcons, used to pressure and were steady at crunch time, outlasted Ateneo.           The young Katipunan-based squad fell short, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, 25-15, 8-15. But for the Fab 5, it was a loss that felt like a resounding victory. “Parang sobrang natutuwa kami and everybody in the crowd, kaya siguro kami natawag na Fab 5 kasi rookies kami pero kahit ganoon palaban kami,” said Ho. “Saka close game. Five sets yun.” However, it was the first of five five-set matches that Ateneo will drop that season including one in the second round against the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University. “Pero ang problema di kami nananalo ng five sets. Parang ilan lang ang naipanalo namin na ganoon. Feeling ko na-overwhelm kami na ‘Uy nananalo tayo.’ May ganoong disbelief ng konti pero alam namin na may ibubuga kami,” said Ho. “Definitely, our rookie season was full of five-set matches. It was tough, we felt like we were so close, but still so far away. At some point, it gave us frustration also. We just couldn't figure out that time what is it that's still lacking because we couldn't win the five-set matches,” according to Nacachi. “People said, it was because the team was still so inexperienced. We still didn't have the tenacity unlike of those more matured teams. But we didn't take it as bad, it was a learning experience for us all at the end. We had to learn how to develop that finishing will to be able to win games like that in the future.” The Fab 5 finished their rookie season with a 6-8 slate at fifth spot.   ‘MAY MEDAL NA TAYO’ Gorayeb remembered on their second year the look on Pascual’s face in their last elimination game match against Adamson. Already wrapping up their first win over the Lady Falcons, Pascual was giddy. “Natatawa nga ako dyan kay Bea kasi papanalo na kami nu’n tapos sumesenyas na siya ng tres. Sabi ko, ‘Hoy anong ginagawa mo?’ Yun pala sobrang saya na niya kasi for the first time in 30 years magkaka-medal na sila,” he said. It was the most important match of the season for the Lady Eagles. With the Fab 5 already in their sophomore year, Ateneo was already making great strides. The Lady Eagles closed that season’s elims with five straight wins capped off with a victory over Adamson. Ateneo posted a 10-4 win-loss mark to enter the Final Four legitimately. “Ang nangyari kasi nu’ng time nila Charo (Soriano) kaya sila nakapasok sa semis kasi may nag-squeal na si (Jacq) Alarca di pala naka-enroll nu’n kaya na-forfeit mga laro ng La Salle,” said Gorayeb. The Fab 5 proved that they were not just a bunch of much-hyped up pretty faces. They backed it up with their skills on court. It didn’t matter that Ateneo were swept by eventual champion University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four.      But the podium finish of Season 72 was short-lived. Adamson got its revenge in the last game of Season 73 elims, bumping off the Lady Eagles for a podium finish. The loss put Ateneo in a collision course with the twice-to-beat DLSU, who could’ve completed an elims sweep if not only for a forfeited match against University of the East after UAAP found out that Carmela Garbin and Clarisse Yeung participated in a ‘ligang labas’ while the season was onoing, in the Final Four. Ateneo gave the Lady Spikers a scare before succumbing in another heartbreaking five-set match. The Lady Eagles finished fourth but that lone semis game gave Ateneo and its maturing Fab 5 enough experience to dream for something big – A ticket into the Finals.      ‘HINOG NA KAYO’ The first three years saw the gradual improvement for Ateneo. But Season 74 proved to be the turning point for the Fab 5. A fresh new recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school, who just completed a year of residency, came into picture and with the Fab 5 armed with years of experience, the Lady Eagles’ fate will forever be changed. Alyssa Valdez, a highly recruited open spiker just like Gervacio, Cainglet-Cayetano and Ferrer years back, gave renewed excitement for the Ateneo faithful. “Alyssa's joining with Ateneo was a great turning point for us. We needed as much support we can get, and Alyssa's entrance to the team was a great boost to the team's morale,” said Nacachi. “The girl is a powerhouse and we felt like with her presence, the team finally became solid.” “We were able to play around with the positions and the rotations, since we had different versatile open players who can also greatly play other roles,” she added. “We were also able to formulate a lot of plays and attacks because Alyssa can generally do all kinds; open, running, quick, name it all. She gave the team the power and the versatility that we previously lacked from the past seasons.” Social media was just gaining traction then but the Lady Eagles were already on the radar of volleyball purists through online forums. For the first time, Ateneo was considered a legitimate contender.   The Fab 5 proved it by winning 11 games in the elimination round, losing only to UST once and dropping two against the Lady Spikers. Valdez’s arrival gave Ferrer an even broader option on offense. It eased the scoring load off the shoulders of Cainglet and Gervacio, who was then moved to an opposite position. “I guess sakto lang din yung dating niya because by that time Kara Acevedo graduated so someone had to fill in her spot so coach Roger decided for me to move to utility or opposite,” said Gervacio. “And then sakto Alyssa naman could fill in the spot na other open spiker.” “So timing din na we had all the pieces put together at the right time,” she added. With a good performance in the elims despite missing a legit middle in Bea Pascual and the entry of Aerieal Patnongon barred by academic problems, Ateneo finished second and for the first-time was armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles faced an experienced Tigresses side in the last stepladder semis stage. UST just came from a hard-fought four-set do-or-die match against FEU and were banking on their four-set win over Ateneo in the second round to force another sudden death. Ateneo’s date with destiny was sealed with a four-set win over the Tigresses, who then bid goodbye to Maika Ortiz and Judy Anne Caballejo. “Pinu-push na rin kami ni Coach Roger noon eh, ‘Hinog na kayo ngayon. Kasi dalawang taon na lang, kailangan makapasok na kayo sa Finals,’” said Ho. “Somehow senior na rin kami,” added Cainglet.  “Season 74 was really the target season for us to be in the finals and target even to win the championship,” according to Nacachi. “During this time, we were already thinking we could not afford to not go in the finals.” “So it was with our mindset and our level of commitment that we were able to finally reach our goal of reaching the finals,” she added. “We had enough experience that time already, and it was really time for us to show the level of game maturity the team had obtained from the past seasons.” But then they had to face an unbeaten team. Unscathed in 14 games, De La Salle University was poised to complete a perfect season. The Lady Eagles spoiled it. Ferrer outplayed DLSU setter Mika Esperanza, 57-42, in excellent sets as Ateneo handed the Lady Spikers its first loss after 25 straight victories in a come-from-behind 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, Finals opener win. Witnessed by 3,002 spectators inside the then The Arena in San Juan, all of the Fab 5 produced points. Cainglet had 19 behind Valdez’s 24, Gervacio scored 12, Ho had 10, Nacachi finished with five while Ferrer had one. Gorayeb made a big gambit and it worked. “Dahil sa wala kong panggitna, yung laro namin ng La Salle, ginawa kong quicker si Alyssa. Kasi si Alyssa nakakapalo. Nagulat si Ramil (de Jesus) dun.” It was a big win. A huge upset. Unfortunately, Ateneo needed to win two more.  DLSU held a thrice-to-beat advantage.   THAT SWAG After Ateneo made a miracle in Game One, fans began to feel a new rivalry born. The attendance spiked. From just 3,000 spectators, the gate attendance more than doubled its size. The interest was there. Fans of traditional powers began to notice the Lady Eagles as a rising team. For the first time, a squad with no previous championship experience except for a title during the Marcos era in a different collegiate league, made a giant jolt. Everybody wanted to see what these girls would do next.    The Lady Eagles, still high on adrenaline after their Game 1 upset, took the opening set in Game 2. But just like in their opener, a well-experienced DLSU squad adjusted to take the next three frames to move a step closer to a repeat crown. With then Rookie of the Year Ara Galang, Season Most Valuable Player Aby Marano, an intimidating Michele Gumabao and a very efficient Finals MVP Cha Cruz teaming up for the kill, the Lady Spikers ripped Ateneo apart in Game 3 in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13. “Sabi nga ni Dzi na nadyan na lahat eh. So I guess noong Season 74 nandoon na pero may kulang pa rin,” said Ho. “I guess we we’re able to make it to the Finals pero wala pa kaming championship experience.” Ferrer agreed. "Siguro ang kulang yung championship experience kasi nasa La Salle na ‘yun eh. Ilang years na silang nagpa-finals, nag-champion and for Ateneo doon pa lang namin sinimulan," said the three-time Best Setter. Lacking championship experience is one thing, but Ateneo during that time wasn’t ready for DLSU’s most feared weapon: the Lady Spikers’ swag.  “They have that swag,” said Gervacio. “Everyone knows about it naman. It’s really Coach Ramil’s style talaga kasi as I remember when we were first year, four out of six of the players inside the court were rookies and even if we go against the powerhouses UST, FEU, Adamson, hindi sila yung nakikita nyo na kapag championship na rivalry, na swag, angas, stare down. Pero La Salle talaga kahit sino ang kalaban nila they’ll bring that attitude inside the court.” That Finals series cemented a new rivalry that will become one of the most celebrated in the sport. “I think it also helped that Ateneo-La Salle basketball didn’t face also,” said Gervacio. “Siyempre nandoon ang hunger for the rivalry eh and timely din na its been Ateneo-La Salle na rin sa volleyball.”   CLOSING A CHAPTER The Fab 5 were now in their fifth and last year. They wanted to leave a winning legacy. The pieces were already there. Gorayeb had at his disposal five seniors, a rising star in Valdez, a sophomore middle in Amy Ahomiro, a versatile Ella De Jesus, a steady libero in Denden Lazaro and a new kind of weapon – a massive crowd that can turn any venue into a sea of blue.              As expected, the second installment of the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry was set into place. Both sweeping their semis opponents. The Lady Spikers crushed National University while the Lady Eagles shot down Adamson. Game One was a shocker. DLSU heading into the Finals are on a 14-game roll but were stunned in the first two sets with Ateneo stepping on the gas. But a string of miscues, mostly from the service line, did the Lady Eagles in as they allowed the Lady Spikers to force a decider. DLSU, smelling blood, punished Ateneo to eke out a 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, victory inside the Big Dome witnesses by 17,342-strong gate attendance. Then the series transferred to a newly-built, state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena that drew a crowd of 18,799. The first two frames were frustrating for the Lady Eagles.   Ateneo came back to life in the third set to gain a 9-5 lead. But DLSU easily erased it with Ateneo crumbling under pressure. The Lady Spikers were on an onslaught. Sophomore Galang pushed DLSU at matchpoint with a cold-blooded ace that went in a few inches from the baseline. The score, 24-16. It was a tense moment for the Fab 5. A long rally ensued in the next play. Gervacio, with all her might pounded a kill. Her hand making a great contact on the ball off Ferrer’s backset.     Smack! The ball ricocheted off the hands of DLSU’s Wensh Tiu before falling on the same landing area of Gervacio, who tried to dive for a dig together with Lazaro. DLSU swept Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. Game over.          “Kahit hindi kami nanalo alam naming ibinigay namin ang lahat namin, all-out talaga kaya wala kaming pagsisisi,” said Ho. It was the end of the Fab 5 era, but they left more than what any of them could have imagined. "I remember so many people or fans telling me that they started really watching UAAP Volleyball because of our batch. And that is really touching and fulfilling to know. Knowing that you were able to leave an impact like that to people. We were not able to bring even a single championship to our school, Ateneo, but we were able to touch a lot of people's hearts despite that," Nacachi shared. The Fab 5 closed a colorful chapter of Ateneo volleyball in tears. They were there during the Lady Eagles’ birth pains. They labored. They shed tears, blood and sweat. They laid the foundation for something big. The Fab 5 planted the seeds that would eventually bear fruit and would change the course of Ateneo women’s volleyball program forever. Glory didn’t happen during their time. It started in theirs.    Amidst the roar of the crowd, the falling confetti, banging of drums and the echoing chant of ‘Animo La Salle’ from the sea of green, the Fab 5 hugged each other tight. They found comfort in each other. It was their time to say goodbye. For those who remained – Valdez, Lazaro, Ahomiro, De Jesus – the defeat added fuel to their already blazing desire to bring glory for the blue and white. They were the next in line, heirs to an unfinished business. WATCH: FAB 5 Reunion Part 1 and Part 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 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

Remembering UP s one win that was basically a championship

The University of the Philippines is now a legitimate contender in UAAP Men's Basketball. With one Finals appearance, two playoff berths, one MVP, and three Mythical selections in the last two years, it's safe to say that the Fighting Maroons have, indeed, become Winning Maroons. With all that, comes greater expectations, though - however far from reality they may be. "There was a time last year when we were putting so much pressure on the team," S+A analyst Mikee Reyes, who donned the maroon and green from 2009 to 2014, said. "Understandable naman, kasi the make-up of that team was far from how the teams of before were so obviously, the expectations were high." When looking at where State U is now, its climb to contention could actually be traced back to a single game, a sole win, a singular event. SLEEPLESS IN SHUTTLE Of course, the origin story is much richer - what with the 13-113 record from 2007 to 2015 and the trio of winless and couple of one-win seasons in the same timeframe. But when it all comes down to it, however, nowhere to go but up was born on August 9, 2014. Before the sun rose on that day, UP was burdened with a 27-game losing streak. And before the sun rose on that day, Reyes, then still the squad's starting point guard, didn't get much sleep. "Actually, hindi maganda gising ko nun. I've been diagnosed with insomnia and nangyayari siya when I least expect it," he recalled. He then continued, "What a time for it to have come then. 'Di ako nakatulog talaga." The last time the Fighting Maroons could call themselves winners then was back in August 19, 2012 - two years ago, two seasons ago, and even two coaches ago. Facing off with a rebuilding Adamson University side, however, they felt pretty good about their chances. "Obviously, everyone was anxious na kasi loss after loss after loss, but at the same time, we were pretty close as a team so we just picked each other up," Reyes said. "We felt like we were bound for a breakthrough." Reyes remembered how then, State U had, at times, gone toe-to-toe with perennial contenders Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University. "There were moments when we showed our potential, but just couldn't close it out. Alam namin kung anong kaya namin," he said. And that, coupled with a sound game plan, was where they drew their confidence from. "We felt like we just had to stop Jansen [Rios] and Don [Trollano]. We felt like we had more weapons din so laban lang nang laban," Reyes said. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN As it turned out, Reyes brought his A-game and wound up with a career-high 28 points. Apparently, a pregame power nap proved key. "Nakatulog ako sa bus going to MOA tapos nakatulog ako sa halfcourt during warm-ups. I remember Darwish Bederi (had to wake) me up pa nga," he said through chuckles. JR Gallarza turned in his own best game and had 24 points and six rebounds. "Si Coach Ramil (Cruz), there were times na ilalabas na niya kami ni JR kasi natakot siyang baka sobrang mapagod kami, but we told him na ilalaban na namin 'to. He let us play and our confidence came from him as well," Reyes said, referring to the late Ramil Cruz who had to step in for suspended shot-caller Rey Madrid. And with a relatively louder and prouder maroon and green crowd behind it, UP overcame a slow start and erased a six-point disadvantage early on and erected a 34-23 edge late in the first half. "Pagpasok ng court was the first time we felt people actually believed we could win. Andaming tao. It wasn't so loud, pero there were definitely more people there compared to our past games," Reyes said. That’s when the Fighting Maroons knew that was a must-win game. "Na-feel mo talaga sa crowd, na-feel mo talga sa seniors na we had to win because if natalo pa sa Adamson, nangangamoy 0-14 na naman. Last game of the first round na yun e so if all teams (would have beaten) us already, mahirap nang makakuha ng kumpyansa sa second round," Reyes said. Still, the Soaring Falcons put up a fight and turned what was once a 24-point deficit into just a score of 64-73 with 45.5 ticks to go on the clock. Kyles Lao and Jarrell Lim proved steady from the stripe, however, and kept Adamson at bay once and for all. When the final buzzer sounded, State U could finally breathe easy as the final score read 77-64 in their favor. JOY STORY At long last, after 720 days, after 28 tries, it was a winner once more. Reyes has no doubt whatsoever that was his biggest win as a player. "It's always gonna be my biggest win. I never really won much as a player for UP so sobrang sarap to finally get rid of that curse," he said. And if he had to choose between the win and the career game, he would choose the win each and every time. As he put it, "In college basketball, you could play a very, very good game, but if you lose, parang wala rin. I was just lucky my career-high came in a win because without a win, it wouldn't be memorable at all." After that breakthrough, the Fighting Maroons celebrated like champions - lighting the night with a bonfire at the famed Sunken Garden inside the Diliman campus. Years later, those same players would be candid enough to call that celebration "pathetic" - just like they have been candid enough to call their time the "dark days." Only, in the grand scheme of things, that bonfire wasn't pathetic as it actually became the setting for the resurrection of a new Diliman Commune - a school and its students, staff, and alumni getting together for one cause. That cause? Trying and trying and trying to build a winner in men's basketball - and ultimately, all sports. "I believe that game, that win, that was the start of everything. Mukhang 'di rin naman nakalimutan ng community yun," Reyes said. Now, State U is, indeed, a winner. And the players from the "dark days" only hope that the school and its faithful appreciate just how far they have come. "Those of us who were there in the 'dark days,' we know how one win was basically a championship for us. That's why I tend to remind myself and everybody to just enjoy each win," Reyes said. He then continued, "Sobrang lakas na ng team ngayon, but we still have to remember where UP came from." With Season 81 MVP Bright Akhuetie, Season 82 Mythical selection Kobe Paras, and Season 80 Mythical selection Ricci Rivero, UP is nothing but hopeful for yet another bonfire that may come next season. That bonfire, though, would no longer be called "pathetic" and would no longer be set in the "dark days." That bonfire would, hopefully, be to celebrate the Fighting Maroons' first championship since 1986. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: Ayo s Mayhem Letran vs Tan s Big, Bad Letran

In the last decade, only one school has stood between San Beda University and its complete and utter dominance of NCAA Men's Basketball. That school? The Red Lions' archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran. In 2015, the Knights came from out of nowhere to put a stop to San Beda's search for a sixth straight title. Four years later, the Red Lions were going for a fourth consecutive championship and, more impressively, a season sweep only to be resoundingly rejected, yet again, by their archrivals. And so, Mendiola is home to 80 percent of total trophies since 2010. The other 20 percent, though? They are proudly presented in Intramuros. Come to think about it, though, which triumph over its fierce foe was sweeter for Letran? Here in ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown, that is what we aim to answer. To determine who comes out on top between the blue and red's proud champions, we will be judging them in five categories (frontcourt, backcourt, coaching, level of competition, and shock factor) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. FRONTCOURT The trademark of Aldin Ayo's very first championship team was that of playing much bigger than its expectations, its own size, and its, more often than not, bigger opponents. Ayo's nominal center was 6-foot-5 Jom Sollano while his regular 4-man was 6-foot-4 Kevin Racal. Off the bench, his first quote-unquote big was 6-foot-3 Felix Apreku. Still, those three played their roles to a tee and, along with the rest of the team, assembled a well-oiled machine that made the most of its speed advantage. Fast forward four years and "undersized" could no longer be used to describe Letran. In 6-7 Christian Balagasay, 6-6 Jeo Ambohot, 6-6 Pao Javillonar, 6-5 Larry Muyang, 6-4 Ato Ular, and 6-4 Mark Sangalang, Bonnie Tan finally had big, bad weapons in his arsenal. And for sure, those big, bad weapons flipped what was once a chink in the armor of the Knights into a super strength. And for sure, this department would be dominated by that rotation of ready and raring big men. Advantage 2019 Letran, 10-8 BACKCOURT The two teams' Finals MVP both come from the backcourt. Mark Cruz, like he has always done, came up big for Letran and averaged 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 3.0 steals Fran Yu, meanwhile, used the big stage and bright lights to break out to the tune of norms of 13.7 points, 6.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. In those two, the Knights had capable and confident counters to San Beda's own primetime playmakers in Baser Amer and Evan Nelle. The edge here, however, would have to go to Cruz whose signature play in the winner-take-all Game 3 was not a shot. Rather, it was a setup - after driving through the lane and drawing defenders with under a minute left, he found Sollano open at the baseline. Sollano only made good on the assist and his shot proved to be the go-ahead basket for the title. Add Rey Nambatac's offense and Mcjour Luib's defense here and Ayo's Letran just had a more well-rounded backcourt compared to Tan's which also included Jerrick Balanza and Bonbon Batiller. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 COACHING Ayo is one of the best collegiate coaches in all of the Philippines. He has seen Tab Baldwin win the last three titles in the UAAP, but it still wasn't that long ago when he won back-to-back championships with different teams and in different leagues. Time and time again, the youthful mentor has proven to get the most out of his players - from the Cruz-Nambatac-Racal triumvirate in Letran to Ben Mbala-Jeron Teng De La Salle University and now, University of Sto. Tomas with Soulemane Chabi Yo, Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, and Mark Nonoy. What he doesn't have, however, are the so-called "super friends" of Tan. Through the NCAA 95 Finals, NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio and assistant Jeff Napa were sharing their mind with the Knights themselves during timeouts. They were informal additions to regular assistants Rensy Bajar, Lou Gatumbato, Raymond Tiongco, and Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio. Even more were behind the bench in Letran special assistant to the rector for sports development and San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua, NorthPort team manager Erick Arejola, Columbian governor Bobby Rosales and head coach Johnedel Cardel, and Magnolia governor Rene Pardo. Asked about all those behind his back, Tan answered then, "In business, you need partners to be successful and in sports naman, we need friends lalo na yung mga may alam kung paano manalo. Friends ko yan lahat so welcome sila - brainstorm and synergy kami." Still, it's already a given by this point that competition only fuels the already burning fire inside Ayo. With that, there is just no doubt that he would only push himself harder and farther in the face of Tan and his so-called "super friends." And the one-time NCAA and one-time UAAP champion coach much more motivated than ever is nothing but a scary thought. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION NCAA 91 was the year of "Kagulo sa NCAA." Then, six squads out of 10 had a legitimate claim to a playoff berth. So competitive was the field that Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado's Arellano University as well as a University of Perpetual Help side that had Scottie Thompson, Prince Eze, and Bright Akhuetie fell short of the Final Four. Illustrating the competition even further, the season's Finalists only had one member of the Mythical Team between them - San Beda's Art Dela Cruz. On the other hand, NCAA 95's playoff cast was completed a week before the end of the elimination round. Yes, there was a Red Lion team that automatically advanced to the Finals and had three out of five Mythical selections. Still, that tournament's fourth-seed was San Sebastian College-Recoletos who had an 11-7 standing. Comparing that to NCAA 91's fourth-seed in Mapua University who sported a 12-6 slate and the 2019 Golden Stags wouldn't even make the 2015 playoffs. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 SHOCK FACTOR It was a shock to see Letran upset San Beda in Game 1 of the NCAA 95 Finals after the latter won each and every game in the elimination round, It was even more of a shock to see the Knights actually topple the dynastic and season sweep-seeking Red Lions. Still, there was always an outside shot of that happening. "Letran is one of three shoo-ins for the Final Four – as well as a strong contender to wage war in the Finals and even possibly, hoist the trophy," ABS-CBN Sports stated in its preseason preview for the blue and red then. "This fully loaded lineup has the makings of a dynasty-ender – what’s only up in the air is if it would be motivated enough to do just that." On the other hand, nobody, nobody at all aside from Ayo had Letran contending in NCAA 91 - much more, winning it all. As ABS-CBN Sports stated in its preseason preview then, "It remains to be seen if the Knights' fortified defense and added offensive firepower can overcome their lack of size especially against the Final Four teams, all of whom have only gotten bigger." Even when the Knights finally charged to the championship round, not that many gave them a chance. In fact, all that doubt became tattooed on the mind of Ayo whose first words in the post-game conference when they finally claimed the crown was, "Joey, follow your heart!" The fiery mentor was referring to the Philippine Star's Joey Villar who said in the leadup to the Finals that his heart wants to root for Letran, but his mind knows San Beda would win. He wasn't alone. Even Ayo had to admit that his players themselves didn't believe until the season was already underway. "Sa totoo lang, nung team-building namin nung preseason, nung tinanong ko kung naniniwala ba silang magcha-champion tayo, they laughed. Nung natalo lang namin yung JRU nung (second game of the season), dun lang sila naniwala.," he said then. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 FINAL SCORE: 48-46 for 2015 Letran.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020

What if the Santiago sisters played in the 30th SEA Games?

When the Philippines accepted the hosting rights for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, local volleyball fans had high hopes for the national women’s volleyball team. First, the squad had the experience of playing in the previous two editions of the biennial meet. Then Nationals played in the Asian Games the year before with at least a decent showing, finishing 8th out of 11 participants in their first stint in the continental sporting spectacle since 1982.    The towering sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat were also equipped with international experience having been recruited to play in the prestigious Japan V. Premier League for clubs Saitama Ageo Medics and Toray Arrows, respectively. The arrival of 6-foot-2 Fil-American Kalei Mau also added more ceiling and fire power to the Nationals.   But then came the shocker. With just a few months before the SEA Games, Jaja failed to get a clearance from her club to return to Manila to play for the Nationals while Dindin also had to withdraw from the pool. It didn’t help that issues with Mau’s residency also deprived the Nationals of another scorer. We all know what happened next. But what if the Santiago sisters suited up for another tour of duty? First, it would have given the Philippines the height advantage it needed, after all, Jaja stands 6-foot-5 and can play multiple positions while Dindin is 6-foot-2 and is an intimidating figure at the net. Of all the four participating teams in the SEA Games, the Philippines was the shortest with an average height of 5-foot-6 according to the official team rosters list. Bronze medal winner Indonesia’s lineup was a bit taller with an average height of 5-foot-7, silver medal winner Vietnam and champion Thailand both averaged around 5-foot-9. Jaja would have been a dangerous scoring option at the wing. Head coach Shaq delos Santos would’ve utilized Jaja’s versatility. Jaja last year averaged almost 12 points per game in the Japan V. League. Dindin would’ve been a big help at the middle together with Majoy Baron against the Indonesians, who played without volume hitter Aprilia Manganang, and the Vietnamese. If the Santiago sisters played, the Nationals might have duplicated their two wins over Vietnam in the ASEAN Grand Prix legs and not fall into a stinging five-set defeat in the preliminary round. The Vietnamese scored 15 kill blocks in the said match. A taller hitter would have given Vietnam quite a challenge and would ease the pressure off Alyssa Valdez. Obviously, winning a match against powerhouse Thailand is improbable but it would’ve been interesting to see how a complete Philippine team fare against the region’s dominating force. Then against the Indonesians, Jaja could’ve taken the main scoring role with Valdez struggling in form. Jaja's height advantage would have wreaked havoc on Indonesia’s net defense. The Santiago sisters would have also frustrated the Indonesian attackers or slowed down the offense of Indonesia. Two wins in the prelims would have propelled us to the Finals and assured the country of a podium finish for the first time since 2005. Of course, we can just assume that we’ll be successful with the Santiago sisters onboard. But then again, maybe, things would have been different if the Nationals had them. Let’s just hope the two will be available next year in the Vietnam edition.     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2020

SEA Games: PHI volleybelles relegated to battle for bronze

The Philippines kissed its gold medal hopes goodbye as 11-time defending champion Thailand turned back the Filipinas, 25-16, 25-22, 34-32, Thursday night in the 30th Southeast Asian Games women’s volleyball competition at the jampacked PhilSports Arena in Pasig City. Even with the overwhelming odds against the finest team in the region, the Nationals, specifically team captain Aby Marano, stayed true to their promise to give the Thais a match to remember with a gallant stand until the bitter end as the Philippines saw its championship round bid go down the drain with its second straight defeat. Thailand set up a gold medal duel with Vietnam, the other unbeaten team after two outings, for a rematch of their 2015 Singapore edition championship battle. The Thais are now on its 15th straight gold medal match appearance Vietnam, which defeated Indonesia 20-25, 25-14, 19-25, 25-18, 15-6, in the curtain-raiser, and Thailand clash on Saturday in a preview of their gold medal clash. Alyssa Valdez, who scored five points in the closing stretch including the country's last of five set point advantages in the third set, finished with 14 points with 12 coming off attacks and added 12 digs while Mylene Paat had 11 points off eight kills and two kill blocks for the Philippines. Marano and Majoy Baron posted seven markers each for  the Nationals. “Sobrang nakaka-proud kasi like every huddle namin pinag-uusapan namin, ‘Maglaro lang kayo i-enjoy natin, give your 100 percent kasi wala naman mawawala eh.’ Yun nga pakiramdam namin eh,” said PHI coach Shaq Delos Santos. “Kung matatalo ka nakakalungkot pero yung pakiramdam namin na nakapag-perform kami ng napakaganda especially yung mga players grabe yung ginawa and then marami kaming napasayang tao, nakakatuwa kasi nakikita namin yung improvement every game." “’Yun din naman goal namin hanggang ma reach namin kung ano kaya namin this SEA Games,” he added. The Thais found the Nationals a tough nut to crack the whole match. The Filipinas breathed down Thailand's neck 17-21, in the third set after a Mylene Paat back-to-back hit and a Majoy Baron ace as the Nationals fought back from a 13-19 deficit. Maddie Madayag, Valdez and Jovelyn Gonzaga saved three match points to close in, 24-22, as Thailand called time. Valdez scored off a cross and Gonzaga forced a deuce before Thailand committed a line fault to give the Philippines the set point advantage. Veteran Wilavan Apinyapong stopped Thailand's bleeding with a down the line kill. An unsuccessful challenge by PHI head coach Shaq Delos Santos resulted on another Thai match point before Valdez knotted it at 26 with an off the block kill. Pimpichaya Kokram scored for Thailand but Valdez tied it again at 27. Kokram scored on the next play before Majoy Baron countered with a monster block for 28-28 count. Thailand committed an attack error before tying it again, 29-29. Mylene Paat got a kill block only to see Thailand force another deuce. Chatchu-on Moksri sent her service short but Thailand evened the set again at 31. Valdez hammered a kill for another PHI set point advantage, but Madayag crumbled under the pressure, overcooking her serve for a 32-32 tie. Kokram pounded a down the line hit before Wilavan sealed the edge-of-your-seat match with an off speed.                Kokram had 19 points with 17 coming off attacks while Apinyapong got 15 with all but one comin off kills for Thailand. The Thais looked poised for a walk in the park domination of the same squad they had been beating in the biennial meet since dethroning the Filipinas in 1995, in what turned out to be the start of their now-two and a half decade stranglehold of the crown, after taking a 21-9 advantage in the first set following an Alyssa Valdez attack error. Marano, who after losing to Vietnam in five sets vowed to give the Thais a memorable match on home soil, anchored an inspired rally to somehow close the gap, 16-23, on a kill block. But the Thais countered to extinguish the fight from the Filipinas. Fueled by the cheering home crowd, the Nationals sprung to life in the second set with libero Dawn Macandili providing one of the highlights as she dove head first to the stands trying to retrieve the ball to no avail.    Her effort fired up her teammates to give the Thais a scare with the Philippines taking what turned out to be its biggest lead in the duel, 13-10, capped by back-to-back hits by Majoy Baron. Then the Thais did what they do best. The Philippines will take on Indonesia, also winless in two games, on Saturday in a sneak peek of the bronze medal battle. The medal round is on Monday.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles        .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 5th, 2019

Molina harbors no ill-feelings toward bashers, critics

Ces Molina’s love for her country and volleyball is bigger than the amount of criticisms and bashing that she has been receiving since her inclusion to the women’s national team two years ago. The open spiker has been the target of hurtful and mean remarks and even slanderous accusations online to the extent that Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. had to seek legal actions. But the disrespect Molina received didn’t dampen the Petron standout’s dedication to serve the country through the sport.   “Nu’ng una talaga hindi maiwasang hindi pansinin kasi medyo masasakit din ‘yung mga sinasabi nila,” said the San Beda University product. The 25-year old player once again made it to the national team roster for the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the country will host next month and critics again followed Molina like a shadow. Learning to ignore her detractors, Molina is taking everything thrown at her as a challenge and motivation to be better.     “Marami ring sumusuporta at marami ring positive na nagsasabi sa akin at nagme-message na parang i-turn mo na lang into positive lahat ng sinasabi nila,” said Molina, who debuted with the Nationals back in 2017 in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games. “Dahil dapat maging mas motivation mo yung mga ganun and to improve. Hindi yung i-take mo yun as negative na ganu’n ka naglalaro.” Molina made it to the selection for the ASEAN Grand Prix where she joined the squad for a two-week training camp in Bangkok, Thailand before marching into the first leg of the four-nation tournament. The hitter, despite the barrage of criticisms, averaged 14.3 points per game in the inaugural leg where the Philippines finished with a bronze medal.          When the tournament made its stop in Sta. Rosa, Laguna last weekend, Molina normed 9.3 points per outing as the host country again captured a third place finish.   Her hard work earned her the nod of head coach Shaq Delos Santos to join the 14-woman Philippine lineup for the biennial meet, where the country targets to end a 14-year podium finish-drought. “Ako naging motivation ko yun [criticisms], kahit maraming basher, kahit maraming may ayaw sa akin, mahal na mahal ko pa rin yung mga taong hindi sumusuporta at sumusuporta pa rin,” Molina said. Love her or hate her, Molina will serve her country to the best of her ability.         --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 10th, 2019

Nationals face Indonesia in ASEAN Grand Prix opener

National team head coach Shaq Delos Santos has high hopes for his squad as it marches into action against Indonesia in the inaugural ASEAN Grand Prix on Friday at the Terminal 21 Mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. Despite only a couple of weeks of preparation and missing a key player, the mentor believes that his team is ready to take on the Indonesians in their scheduled 3:00 p.m. match (Manila time). The Filipinas are coming off a 12-day training camp in Bangkok that saw the squad play a series of tune-up games including the Thai national team and Japan V. Premier League club Toraay Arrows. “We learned a lot from the training camp, every match we felt that we are getting better,” said Delos Santos, whose squad is also preparing for the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila in November. “Conditioning-wise and skills-wise we are good.” The Nationals have been training twice a day during the training camp and have been working on their chemistry but Delos Santos admits that the squad might be at a disadvantage especially with the team just playing together for a short time. Only 10 players from the 14-woman squad have completed the training camp with Maddie Madayag, setter Jia Morado, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Eya Laure joining the squad just last Sunday as they are all playing in the ongoing Premier Volleyball League. Top hitter and veteran national team member Alyssa Valdez skipped the training and the tournament to rest after injuring her right ankle just days before her scheduled flight to Thailand. “So we need to make quick adjustments,” said Delos Santos. “But these are mostly veteran players they can make do with what’s given. We will do our best under the circumstance.” Carrying the country’s fight are Kalei Mau, Ces Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mylene Paat, team captain Aby Marano, Majoy Baron, Roselyn Doria, Madayag, Laure, Gonzaga, liberos Dawn Macandili and Kath Arado and setters Morado and Alohi Robins-Hardy. The Nationals will face Thailand on Saturday and Vietnam on Sunday. The Philippines will host the second leg of the Grand Prix on Oct. 4-6 in Sta. Rosa, Laguna......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 19th, 2019

Valdez not closing door on joing National team in Thailand

Alyssa Valdez is not closing her door on a possibly participating in the ASEAN Grand Prix but all will depend on national team head coach Shaq Delos Santos and the X-ray result of her ankle injury. The Creamline star injured her right ankle on Thursday and was advised to rest for at least a week and to undergo therapy that forced her to miss the Nationals’ training camp in Thailand. Counting the seven-day rest, Valdez will miss the Nationals' last few days of buildup but could be available to join the squad in the ASEAN Grand Prix to be held at Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand from Sept. 20-22 if ever she gets the green light from her doctors.   It will also be up to head coach Shaq Delos Santos and Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. if they will fly her in time for the tournament.    “It will depend sa X-ray so I cannot diagnose or asses kung ano talaga ang nangyari sa paa ko. Ako, it would be unfair kasi I really had no time to prepare also with the team,” she said Saturday. “If I’m allowed to play it’s really the call of the coaches also and the management if I’ll be able to be a part and join the team.” Valdez was supposed to join teammate Jia Morado, Maddie Madayag of ChocoMucho, Jovelyn Gonzaga of PacificTown Army, Eya Laure of University of Sto. Tomas and Nationals assistant coach Kungfu Reyes on their flight to Thailand on Sunday.           “We’ll talk about it kasi it’s going to be a long week din naman to recover and prepare for the upcoming games. We’re hoping for the best na siyempre to really represent the country and be there to support these girls,” said Valdez. The three-time Premier Volleyball League Most Valuable Player hurt her ankle during practice. “Thursday morning sa training namin I was trying to block Mama Fille (Cainglet-Cayetano) kasi mag-spike siya. So pagka-land ko I stepped on her foot and I suffered an ankle injury,” she recalled. “I think it’s mid-foot kaya pina-X-ray ni Doc (Raul Canlas).” Valdez watched from the sidelines as the Cool Smashers’ crush winless Chef’s Classics, 25-11, 25-14, 25-21, for their ninth win in as many games on Saturday.   “Probably this is the first time people also saw me na di na talaga pinalaro. Nakaapak talaga ako. First time ko rin nakaapak coming from a jump so medyo nanibago lang siguro ang paa ko,” she explained. Valdez said that there’s still some swelling on her foot but is hopeful that she'll recover soon. “Namamaga pa rin but for the past three days way better. Nu’ng first day talaga I can’t walk din but now I can walk na,” she said. “Mas tolerable na yung pain. Hopefully mas mabilis din ang recovery.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 14th, 2019

PVL: Jewelle Bermillo set to do double-duty to end PVL season

Rookie libero Jewelle Bermillo had quite the eventful first conference in the Premier Volleyball League.  In her maiden run with the BaliPure Purest Water Defenders in the 2019 PVL Reinforced Conference, Bermillo was on the receiving end of a hard-hitting facial courtesy of PetroGazz import Wilma Salas, and then made the news again after an incident with teammate and import Danijela Dzakovic.  As eventful as the Reinforced Conference was for Bermillo, it was largely a forgettable one as they finished last in the standings, failing to get a win in ten matches played.  It was indeed tough, but it was also a huge learning lesson for the 19-year old as she gears up for her second PVL conference.  "Yung experience ko, andami kong na-gain, naging mature ako last conference and madadala ko yun sa Open Conference," Bermillo told ABS-CBN Sports. "Sobrang nag-grow ako sa lahat ng nagyari last conference. Naging mas matured ako, naging mas matapang ako sa loob ng court ngayon." While being the youngest on the team, Bermillo is positioned as one of the Water Defenders' leaders and anchors, and the responsibility is something that she welcomes with open arms.  "Pag sinasabi ni Coach na ako yung mag-handle sa loob ng court kasi ako na yung libero, hindi ko nafi-feel na bata ako kasi may tiwala sila sa akin, na kaya ko i-handle sila sa loob ng court, lalo na sa floor defense. Hindi ko nafi-feel na bata ako sa loob ng court." An incoming sophomore for San Sebastian College-Recoletos in the NCAA, being able to compete in the PVL, alongside some of the best talents in the country is definitely a goldmine of experience for the young libero, and she is nothing short of eager to be able to bring that experience back to her collegiate team once the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament begins next year.  "Siguro sa akin, kay Coach Roger [Gorayeb], marami siyang ineexpect sa akin na itong experience ko dito sa BaliPure, na madadala ko sa kanila para maging leader din ako sa kanila sa team namin." Bermillo will get even more training in becoming a leader in the closing leg of the PVL season, as she shared that she will not be suiting up for the Lady Stags in the Collegiate Conference, but will instead serve as an assistant coach, alongside legendary San Sebastian mentor Roger Gorayeb.  The young libero could hardly keep her excitment as she spoke about the massive opportunity.  "Sobrang excited ko, sobrang unexpected, parang, yung dream ko agad na, eto, sa age kong ‘to na naging Assistant Coach na ako ni Coach Roger, si Coach Roger pa," Bermillo said, excitement.  Bermillo adds that rather than having her play in the Collegiate Conference as well, Gorayeb saw fit to let her focus on her experience with BaliPure as a way to grow and develop as a player.  "Sabi nga ni coach sa akin, hindi ko kailangan i-pressure ka na maglaro. Yang experience na natutunan mo sa BaliPure, ilalaan natin yan para sa NCAA." Bermillo sees the job offer, so to speak, as a sign of trust from Gorayeb's side, and it should prove to be an invaluable experience, especially for someone who still has years to go in the collegiate ranks.  "Ito, yung pagiging Assistant Coach ko sa kanila, sa mother team ko, ituturo ko lang sa kanila, iga-guide ko sila kung ano yung mga natutunan at na-experience ko last conference. Sobrang laking bagay, kasi para sa akin, malaki yung tiwala sa akin ni Coach Roger, kaya binigay niya yung ganung responsibility, parang sa kanya, alam niya na kaya ko na agad yung ganung responsibility, kaya sobrang thankful ako na nagkaroon siya ng tiwala na ibigay sa akin yung position na maging Assistant Coach itong collegiate conference." she added.  Bermillo admits that she did try to convince Coach Roger to let her suit up for San Sebastian as well, but with the Collegiate Conference and the Open Conference set to overlap, the schedule would be a problem and it would put too much on the young libero's shoulders.  "Sobrang pinilit ko talaga si Coach na mag-laro ako, pero sabi niya mahihirapan daw ako kasi nga sabay po yung games namin ng BaliPure tapos may sched pa po na parehas may game yung collegiate tapos kami, kaya naisipan na lang niya na gawin akong Assistant Coach para mapag-sabihan ko rin yung mga bata. May mga mas bata pa sa akin na maglalaro sa akin, mga first year, sabi niya ikaw na mag-guide sa kanila," she explained. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2019

Petron wins fifth straight; Foton escapes in five

BACOOR CITY --- Petron brushed off a sluggish start before completing a sweep of Generika-Ayala, 26-24, 25-12, 25-19, on Tuesday in the 2019 Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference at the Strike Gym here. The Blaze Spikers started out flat, falling behind, 11-17, in the opening frame before sparking a huge run to turn the tables around. “Slow start lang talaga siguro yung receive at attack namin nagstruggle kami,” Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos said. “Kahit malaki yung lamang nakakatuwa kasi hinabol talaga ng team hanggang sa naipanalo namin.” The Blaze Spikers capitalize on their first set comeback to take the fight out of the Lifesavers for their fifth straight win for a 7-1 win-loss slate. “Malaking bagay sa akin yan dahil ang Generika halos lahat ng team kaya nilang i-beat, siyempre kami din kaya rin nila kami,” added Delos Santos. “Pero siyempre pinaghandaan talaga namin sila mabuti dahil alam naming pag gumana yung team nila, mahihirapan kami.” Bernadeth Pons scored all but one of her 18 points off attacks and added nine excellent receptions for the Blaze Spikers. Ces Molina finishwd with 12 points and displayed great floor defense with 21 digs and three excellent receptions while Remy Palma got 13 markers for Petron. Angeli Araneta was the only Generika-Ayala player in double figures with 10 points. Fiola Ceballos had nine markers for the Lifesavers, who dropped to 5-3 card. Meanwhile, Foton completed a come-from-behind 18-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-15, 15-4 win over Sta. Lucia for a 5-3 mark. Jaja Santiago, substitute spiker Marian Buitre and Dindin Santiago-Manabat powered the Tornadoes to kick off their second-round campaign.  Santiago delivered 22 points built on 14 kills, six blocks and two service aces while Buitre, who was fielded in the third set, showed her worth with 15 points off eight attacks, five aces and two blocks. Manabat, for her part, added 13 markers. Foton tightened its hold of the solo fourth place with its fourth straight victory. Pam Lastimosa put up 13 points and 15 digs for Sta. Lucia. Rachel Austero had 11, while Amanda Villanueva added 10 markers including 12 excellent receptions as their team dropped to 1-7 card. Sta. Lucia head coach Babes Castillo didn’t field MJ Phillips while libero Alex Bollier is out for at least a week for a week due to patellar tendinitis on her left knee......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2019

To get me prepared for the SEA Games -- Mau on her transfer

Filipino-American power-hitter Kalei Mau found a new home in F2 Logistics. The 6-foot-2 open spiker chose to join the Cargo Movers not only to help F2 Logistics reclaim the 2019 Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference crown but also to improve her game in time for the 30th Southeast Asian Games under the system of Ramil de Jesus.      “The reason why I chose F2 was mainly I thought about what team will benefit me as a player,” said Mau on Thursday in Day 2 of the national women’s volleyball team practice at the Arellano University Gym in Taft.   Mau transferred to the Cargo Movers after her former team United VC disbanded just days before the 2019 PSL AFC. F2 Logistics last won the AFC title back in 2016.  [Related story: Cargo Movers sign Kalei Mau] The hitter said that playing under De Jesus will benefit her for her first-ever stint for the tri-colors. “For a long time in UVC we didn’t really have a system that I was used to in playing overseas and playing back home in the States,” she said. “What I wanted to do is to try and find something close to my training level back in the States back to when I was playing in college just to really get me prepared for the SEA Games.” Playing for the F2 Logistics, Mau will be playing alongside national team teammates Aby Marano, libero Dawn Macandili and middle blocker Majoy Baron.   “I asked a lot of people what’s the best environment to put myself in if that’s my end goal. So I chose F2 not only because they have a good coach but also they have most of my teammates here in the national team,” said Mau. “The girls in the gym, they’re really holding me accountable.” The Hawaiian started to train with the Cargo Movers Thursday morning.     “The only thing that I would say is I would really want to spend a little more time connecting with my setters there, just because I know that a lot of Filipina setters they’re smaller,” said Mau. “A lot of the hitters here are also smaller. It might be a little hard to try to adjust but it’s not impossible.” Mau will need to adjust and make a connection with F2 Logistics setters Kim Fajardo, a former member of the national squad,  and Alex Cabanos. “What I like is high and faster sets to the pin. Something that a connection that me and Alohi (Robins-Hardy) like it was natural to,” said Mau. “But definitely, I’m excited to play with the setters that we have in our gym and see where it’s gonna take us.”   ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2019