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Aoki defends title at ONE Championship s & ldquo;Enter the Dragon& rdquo;

Aoki defends title at ONE Championship s & ldquo;Enter the Dragon& rdquo;.....»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardMay 16th, 2019

Team Lakay stars shine as S+A brings back ONE Championship fights

Filipino warriors from Team Lakay will show us how to fight with all heart and might this April as ABS-CBN S+A gives us world-class mixed martial arts (MMA) action from ONE Championship all month. Witness Team Lakay’s rising star Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang notch another rousing victory as one of the featured fighters in “ONE Warrior Season 4.” The travel series and talent show hosted by MMA legend Rich Franklin will have its Philippine premiere on Sunday (April 5) from 6 pm to 12 mn, followed by 30-minute telecasts every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9 pm. Adiwang’s first round knockout on Brazilian Alber Correia Da Silva was one of the best moments that season, which aired in February 2019 and was won by Japanese submission specialist Kimihiro Eto.  Thunder Kid’s Team Lakay teammate Joshua “The Passion” Pacio will also take the spotlight as S+A airs “ONE: Roots of Honor” on April 16 at 9 pm.  Pacio redeemed himself in the co-main event, defeating Yosuke Saruta via split decision to take back the ONE Strawweight World Championship. The fight also featured ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin Nguyen, who knocked out former titleholder Narantungalag Jadambaa to extend his reign. On April 17, it’s Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio’s turn to show Filipino courage through his domination of Korean Kim Kyu Sung in their Flyweight World Grand Prix bout in e “ONE: Enter the Dragon.” Fighting alongside the former champion from Team Lakay  in this card were superstars Shinya Aoki and Christian Lee, who figured in a Lightweight World title showdown.  On April 23, watch Danny “The King” Kingad make his presence felt in the MMA world with a split decision win over Australian Reece McLaren in “ONE: Dawn of Heroes,” which also featured legends Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez. The next day, April 24, see the gallant stand of Filipino fighters Brandon Vera, and Team Lakay’s Kevin Belingon and Kingad in the biggest event in martial arts history, the two-part “ONE: Century” event in Japan. S+A closes the month with “ONE: Masters of Fate” on April 30, which had Filipinos Pacio and Rene Catalan fighting each other in the main event. The Passion won the fight, while other Pinoy fighters like Eduard Folayang, Robin Catalan, and Eustaquio also entering the win column.  Apart from these world-class MMA events, fight fans will also enjoy looking back at other outstanding bouts in “ONE: Championship Classics” every Tuesday at 9:30 pm starting April 14 and never before seen footage and behind-the-scenes moments in “ONE: Official Film” every Saturdays at 9:30 pm beginning April 18.   S+A will also air “ONE: Greatest Rivalries” every Sunday at 9:30 pm starting April 19 and “ONE: Spirit of a Warrior” every Monday at 9 pm beginning April 20. For the latest news in sports, follow @ABSCBNSports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 6th, 2020

ONE Championship: Honorio Banario finally gets shot at Shinya Aoki

For years, Honorio "The Rock" Banario has been itching to test his mettle against Japanese submission wizard Shinya "Tobikan Judan" Aoki.   The Baguio City native always dreamed of standing across the Circle with Aoki ever since “The Rock” won the inaugural ONE Featherweight World Title by technical knockout against Eric "The Natural" Kelly at ONE: RETURN OF WARRIORS in February 2013. It was that same year that Aoki defeated Kotetsu "No Face" Boku by second-round submission at ONE: KINGS AND CONQUERORS to become the ONE Lightweight World Champion. Six years later, the Team Lakay representative will finally know what it is like to lock horns with Aoki. The two tangle at ONE: CENTURY on 13 October at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan. "He is a legend," Banario said. “He’s still on the top of his game and his skills never change. I’m a fan of how he was able to stay on top ever since he was younger.”   Banario was surprised at first when he got the news because he comes off back-to-back loses against Lowen Tynanes at ONE: HERO’S ASCENT last January and "Crazy Dog" Dae Sung Park at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES this past month. Aoki, meanwhile, also lost in his previous outing when he dropped the ONE Lightweight World Title to Christian "The Warrior" Lee at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON last May.   With the golden ticket in the palm of his hands, he vows to cash it in. “At first I was shocked because my losses are piling up one after the other, yet they gave me Aoki - so I took it. This is an opportunity to bounce back and face a legend of this sport.” Banario said. “If I win, maybe I’ll shoot back up the rankings. I’ll definitely prepare for this and test my skills with Aoki.”   For Banario, it is all about confidence and knowing that anything can happen inside the Circle. “For me it can really go either way,” Banario said.   “We all know the level that he’s on, but I believe that we can pull it off if we execute our game plan. I see that he sometimes looses focus when he gets hit, so if we manage to execute our game plan, then we’ll have a chance.” Watch ONE Championship’s next event, ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH, on 6 September in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It will be the organization’s first ever all-Super Series event. To catch all the action, download the ONE Super App. More From ONE Championship Dae Sung Park Clubs His Way To Victory Over Honorio Banario Honorio Banario Credits His Toughness To Life On The Farm Honorio Banario: ‘A Champion Is Nothing Without Honor'    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2019

Strikers and Submission Specialists headline ONE Championship in May

A pair of explosive Muay Thai world title fights takes to the grand arena of ONE Championship this Friday (May 10) when Muay Thai superstars Nong-O Gaiyanghadao and Petchdam Petchyindee Academy take on separate foes in ONE Championship’s WARRIORS OF LIGHT card that will air LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A, S+A HD, and iWant Sports starting at 9:30 pm. The two Thai superstars will be fighting for the ONE Muay Thai Bantamweight World Championship and ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship belts respectively. Nong-O will be competing against Japanese warrior Hiroaki Suzuki while Petchdam faces Elias Mahmoudi of Algeria. The largest fight promotions outfit in Asia also prepared an explosive MMA card for May 17, that will be ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki’s first defense against Singapore’s submission artist, Christian Lee, in ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON which will also air LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, and iWant Sports at 8:30 pm.   Aside from the striking masters, Pinoy MMA fans can also look forward to the return of Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio to the cage, months after his defeat from Adriano Moraes, in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix against Korean Kim Kyu Sung. Former UFC fighter Sage Northcutt will also make his ONE Championship debut against Brazilian mixed martial artist Cosmo Alexandre. Fight fans will be able to witness explosive kickboxing and Muay Thai masterclasses from the likes of Italian stallion Giorgio Petrosyan, against Petchmorakot and Dutch striking master Nieky Holzken versus compatriot Regian Eersel, in the successive fightcards. The names of the fighters lined up may be new to Filipino fight fans’ ears with the exception of Eustaquio and Aoki, who put to sleep Filipino MMA hero Eduard Folayang in Japan, and Lee. But the competing Muay Thai and kickboxing masters have already been introducing themselves via the ONE Super Series that focuses on the art of striking with powerful roundhouse kicks, dangerous elbows, as well as flashy spin attacks.   Don’t miss the two explosive ONE Championship fightcards airing on S+A, S+A HD, and streaming LIVE on iWant Sports starting with ONE: WARRIORS OF LIGHT this Friday (May 10) at 9:30 pm. ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON will air on May 17 LIVE on S+A and S+A HD, with livestreaming on iWant, at 8:30 pm.   For more stories and news on Aisa’s largest fight promotions company, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abscbnpr.com......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2019

3 exciting matches to watch at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE

There will be no shortage of action this Friday, 28 February, when ONE Championship lights up “The Lion City” for ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.  In the main event, Stamp Fairtex defends her ONE Women’s Atomweight Kickboxing World Title against Janet “JT” Todd in the main event, while Sam-A Gaiyanghadao takes on Rocky Ogden for the inaugural ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Title in the co-main event.  Three Filipinos will also enter the Circle that night when Honorio “The Rock” Banario tangles with Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai, Denice “The Menace Fairtex” Zamboanga battles Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi, and Mark “Tyson” Fairtex Abelardo clashes with “Pretty Boy” Troy Worthen.  But the action does not end there. Here are three more must-see match-ups on the card.    Yoshihiro Akiyama vs Sherif Mohamed When Yoshihiro “Sexy Yama” Akiyama competes, everybody watches. That has been the case for pretty much his whole martial arts career, which spans nearly two decades. And not much will change when he battles Sherif “The Shark” Mohamed on the main card.  It will be a battle between two top-notch grapplers – Akiyama bringing in his judo background and Mohamed showcasing his wrestling. They are also two athletes who are more than willing to exchange on the feet, setting up what could be an exciting tactical battle.  And with both men coming off losses, it would not be surprising to see either athlete go for broke in this match.    Amir Khan vs Kimihiro Eto The lightweight division has always been loaded with talent, and the clash between Amir Khan and Kimihiro Eto will highlight that.  With both men looking to solidify their spot in the division, expect non-stop action the moment the opening bell rings.  Coming off a loss against "Crazy Dog" Dae Song Park, Eto would want nothing more than to pick up an impressive win against the hometown favorite to get himself back in contention for the World Title.  Despite coming off a win against Ev “ET” Ting, Khan also has something to prove as he was criticized for playing it safe in the win.    Ritu Phogat vs Wu Chiao Chen 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling World Champion Ritu "The Indian Tigress" Phogat made a successful debut when she stopped Nam "Captain Marvel" Hee Kim in just one round at ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS. Now training at Evolve MMA, the expectations for Phogat are through the roof, and those expectations will only intensify if she defeats “Miss Red” Wu Chiao Chen.  A win for Phogat would add another player to the already loaded ONE women’s atomweight strawweight division. But that will be easier said than done against Chen, who hopes to have a debut to remember by pulling the upset rug from underneath on the Indian wrestler.    ONE Championship returns to “The Lion City” for ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE this Friday, 28 February, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Three Filipinos in Honorio “The Rock” Banario, Denice “The Menace Fairtex” Zamboanga, and Mark “Tyson” Fairtex Abelardo will also enter the Circle that night.   Catch ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE on Friday, January 28th, LIVE at 8:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23! .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 27th, 2020

ONE Championship: Geje Eustaquio hopes to see teammate Danny Kingad become a champion

It wasn’t too long ago that Team Lakay’s Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio was on top of the ONE Championship flyweight  landscape.   In 2018, the Filipino striker defeated Kairat Akhmetov and Adriano Moraes - the division’s only other titleholders - on his way to becoming the ONE Flyweight World Champion.   Eustaquio’s reign came to a halt at the start of 2019 however, when he dropped the title back to Moraes in a trilogy match in Manila that saw the Brazilian grappler score a unanimous decision win after five rounds.   While many believed that Eustaquio deserved to win the bout, himself and his Team Lakay stablemate included, as the saying goes, “it is what it is.”   Now, Eustaquio is on the comeback trail and has bounced back with a unanimous decision win over South Korean newcomer Kim Kyu Sung at ONE: Enter The Dragon in Singapore and is hoping to once again regain his spot at the pinnacle of the division.   While the 30-year old is working his way back up, he is also helping his teammate and fellow flyweight contender Danny “The King” Kingad make it to the top as well.   The 22-year old Kingad is currently in the semifinals of fhe ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix and is set to face a familiar opponent in Akhmetov.   Eustaquio hopes that young stablemate can mirror what he did to defeat the Kazakh wrestler.   “For now, yung bata is hungry, and the skills we are working on, we are working with his distance right now, para if we can duplicate the things I did the last time that we fought for the interim title,” Eustaquio shared. “Hopefully magagawa din niya yun and we will have the same result.”   “So basically, ang ginagawa namin now, in terms of kay Danny is the distance and the timing,” Eustaquio added.   Kingad is two wins away from becoming the Flyweight World Grand Prix champion and is two wins away from once again challenging Moraes for the title, and fully behind him is Eustaquio and the rest of Team Lakay. Eustaquio is hopeful to see his teammate also become a champion in the in the biggest martial arts promotion in the world.   “We talk about it as a family here, and we encourage each and every one. We motivate him na don’t stop training, you have to keep grinding, you’re close to your goals or your dream to become a world champion, because I believe they’re going to give a belt to the Grand Prix, the Grand Prix Champion has a belt.”   “It’s a title, and it’s every athlete’s dream to become a World Champion, and he’s almost there. Two wins, and he’ll also be considered as a titleholder or a World Champion. Hopefully, he will work his ass off and he will have the right attitude in this competition,” Eustaquio continued.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2019

ONE Championship: Heading into cage return, Geje Eustaquio’s focus is on getting better

Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio has a great opportunity to get back on track this coming Friday, May 17th at ONE: Enter The Dragon in Singapore.   In his first match since dropping the title to Adriano Moraes in Manila back in September, the former flyweight king makes his return against South Korean Kyu Sung Kim.   And while Eustaquio’s journey back to the title could begin with a win against Kim, the Team Lakay star says that his only focus is on getting better.   “For now, ang nasa isip ko is to get better and better, and of course to implement yung gameplan na ginawa namin ni Coach Mark [Sangiao] and the rest of the team sa upcoming May 17,” Eustaquio told ABS-CBN Sports. “Yun lang muna ang nasa attention ko as of now.”   [RELATED: Geje Eustaquio hungry and motivated in comeback, says head coach]   Against the taller and younger Kim, Eustaquio faces a competitor who is a proven finisher, with seven of his nine wins coming via stoppage, five coming via KO or TKO.   Eustaquio, a gifted striker in his own right, welcomes the challenge that the South Korean possesses.   “Based sa mga nakita namin na competition niya, he’s more of a striker, most of his wins are via punches, so sa tingin ko it’s going to be a good fight.”   And while he’s more than willing to stand and trade with Kyu, Eustaquio isn’t afraid to take whatever opportunities that fight may present.   “Sa akin, I believe we have the best, world class striking in Team Lakay, we can do that, but of course, this is mixed martial arts, if you have the opportunity, you have to take it.” Eustaquio stated. “Sometimes, you have to focus on the game plan, but if you have the opportunity, why not take it? Capitalize on the opportunity and take the chance.”   Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio, who will be fighting on May 17th at ONE #EnterTheDragon in Singapore, sparring with Brave CF bantamweight Jeremy Pacatiw | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/RybPltvsuj — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) May 11, 2019   For the past few years, Eustaquio has enjoyed seeing his name on the marquee of ONE Championship cards, headlining his last four events all over Asia.   This time around, the 30-year old finds himself on the middle of the card, but maintains that this isn’t much of an issue to him.   After all, he’s been here before, he says.   “Sa akin, actually it doesn’t matter. It’s just another day in the office. I’ve been there for many times, it’s just another day in the office.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2019

WHAT IF: Eduard Folayang had stopped Eddie Alvarez back in 2019?

In August of 2019, the Mall of Asia Arena in Metro Manila played host to arguably one of the biggest matches in ONE Championship lightweight history.  In one corner was Filipino mixed martial arts icon and hometown favorite Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang, a two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion who was looking to bounce back after dropping the title to Japanese legend Shinya Aoki in Japan earlier that year.  Standing in the opposite corner was American star Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, a former UFC and Bellator Lightweight Champion and one of ONE’s biggest acquisitions in recent memory. Like Folayang, Alvarez was also looking to get back on track after a disappointing KO loss to Timofey Nastyukhin in his ONE debut.  Considered a dream match by ONE Championship fans, Folayang versus Alvarez was billed as East versus West. One of ONE’s pioneers against one of ONE’s newest stars.  As much as the storylines made the match very intriguing, the stakes were quite high as well.  With the semifinals of the then-ongoing ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix doomed by injuries, the Folayang-Alvarez bout was elevated to Grand Prix semifinals status, meaning that the winner would go on to face Turkish knockout artist Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev in the Finals at ONE: CENTURY.  For Folayang, it was a step towards reclaiming the title that he held at the start of the year. For Alvarez, it was a way to erase the memory of his bitter debut loss and also a step closer towards capturing his third major world championship.  While the Folayang-Alvarez was the third-to-the last bout on the bill, for many of the Pinoy fans in attendance at the MOA Arena that night, it sure felt like the main event.  From the opening bell, the crowd was buzzing, anxious to see of their hometown hero could pull off the massive victory.  Chants of “Folayang! Folayang!” rang through MoA Arena just seconds before the Pinoy connected on a solid counter left hook that definitely got the American star’s attention.  After a flurry of kicks from Folayang, the briefly fell into a nervous silence as Alvarez caught a leg kick and managed to get Folayang to the ground before trapping him in a standing guillotine.  Folayang simply shrugged off the half-hearted submission attempt, much to the delight of the partisan-Pinoy crowd. So far so good for Team Philippines.  A flying knee from Alvarez collided with a spinning back kick from Folayang, which elicited some oohs and ahhs from the crowd, which was ready to go off as soon as their bet landed something big.  Folayang began to pick up steam as he launched strike after strike, throwing kicks, punches, and elbows. It was clear that the Team Lakay star was in control of the stand-up aspect of the fight.  Then, at the 3:37 mark of the first round, the big strike that the fans were waiting for finally came. Folayang, with his massive tree-trunk legs, whipped a right low kick that connected on Alvarez’s left leg, sending the American down to the mat. The way Alvarez sat back down, it looked like he was hurt.  Sensing blood in the water, Folayang went for the kill and began dropping fists as Alvarez tried to defend himself. A failed armbar attempt from Alvarez forced Folayang to reposition himself, moving into side control while still throwing hammerfist after hammerfist.  Then, all of a sudden, Alvarez managed to slip his right hand in between Folayang’s legs and then flip the Pinoy over. Just like that, it was Alvarez who was on top.  Unlike his Pinoy opponent however, Alvarez remained calm and slowly transitioned into full mount. Making things worse, Folayang, likely looking to prevent and ground and pound damage, turned and gave up his back.  Almost immediately, Alvarez sinked his hooks in and flattened Folayang out before locking in a rear naked choke and forcing the Pinoy to tap out.  While he did win, Alvarez would miss out on the Finals anyway after an injury would force him to withdraw as well. As a result, Dagi ended up facing - and losing to - reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee.  Folayang was offered the Finals spot against Dagi, but last-minute visa issues would prevent him from being able to step up.  The loss was quite a painful one to swallow, not just for Folayang, but also for the fans.  Folayang admitted after the fight that he had rushed to get the finish, causing him to be a bit careless and make some costly mistakes.  "I was too eager to get the finish, and I think that’s the mistake, I became impatient, and I wanted to finish him as soon as possible but it didn’t go that way, so, that happened," Folayang explained.  But WHAT IF Folayang hadn’t rushed? Close your eyes and imagine:  After chopping Alvarez down with the leg kick at the 3:37 mark, Folayang pounced and picked his spots, landing some good shots to the head, enough to stun the American and force the referee to step in and stop the fight.  Or, what if instead of pouncing, Folayang allowed the visibly hurt Alvarez to get back up and from there, continued to punish The Underground King’s leg (or legs) en route to a TKO finish.  Folayang would have booked his ticked to the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix Finals. More importantly, Folayang would have been able to add Alvarez to the name of legend’s he’s beaten, and it would have skyrocketed his stock to even greater heights.  Would he have been able to defeat Dagi in the Finale? Of course it was very much possible. At the rate Dagi was knocking guys out up to that point, Folayang would have likely been considered an underdog, but a high-level striker like Folayang is never without his chances.  If Folayang had been able to get past Dagi as well, it would set up a very intriguing matchup between himself and Lee, which could have been a good matchup for the Pinoy star.  Now, Folayang finds himself once again looking to bounce back following a close loss to Dutch striker Pieter Buist.  Still hungry for a third run as world champion, Folayang will need to work his way back to the top of the division.  Who knows? Maybe two or three wins in, Folayang could find himself standing opposite Alvarez once again, with the chance to re-write history. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News20 hr. 51 min. ago

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

PB(A)BL: Christian Standhardinger adds to own hype with Hong Kong stop

Not all players take the same route going to the PBA, each player will have his own story to tell. This series will be about those who chose a different path, those who had to hustle overseas at one point in their careers before eventually landing in the PBA. Here, we take a look at current big-name PBA players who spent some time in the other major basketball league with Philippine teams in the region: the Asean Basketball League. They don’t have to play for a Filipino team, after all, the ABL is a great place where Filipino talents can shine even while playing for other countries. [Related: PB(A)BL: Like a Dragon, Matthew Wright brought fire in Malaysia's dream season] The penultimate entry to the series is about Christian Standhardinger and impressive season with Hong Kong Eastern.   Stop and Go Christian Standhardinger became one of the busiest basketball players in the region by the time he travelled to Manila in mid-2017 following his call-up to Gilas Pilipinas. The Fil-German forward became the national team’s de facto naturalized player during that year’s Jones Cup, FIBA-Asia Cup, and SEA Games. After Gilas was removed from medal contention in the FIBA-Asia Cup in Lebanon, Standhardinger left to join the SEA Games team in Kuala Lumpur. In between, Standhardinger found the time to sign with the ABL’s Hong Kong Eastern and make himself available for the PBA Draft (more on that later). Standhardinger officially debuted for Hong Kong Eastern on November 19 2017, scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in a win against Alab Pilipinas. Hong Kong entered the 2017-2018 season as defending champions and with Standhardinger, the team obviously targeted back-to-back titles. Unfortunately, HK couldn’t keep its success against Alab. Despite taking home-court advantage, Hong Kong got swept in the semifinals by the Philippine team led by Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman. Alab would go on to win the championship, beating Mono Vampire in five games. Standhardinger played a total of 22 games in his lone ABL season for Hong Kong, shooting 50 percent from the field for 22.5 points per game on top of 11.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals. He had his most productive outing in Thailand, posting 40 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, and five steals in a Hong Kong win over Mono Vampire.   Gilas to ABL to PBA Christian Standhardinger officially made his Gilas debut in July 2017 in the Jones Cup and would eventually help the team to a fourth-place finish. Exactly one month after his Gilas debut, it was reported that he would suit up for Hong Kong Eastern. In early September, Standhardinger declared for the PBA Draft and was taken first overall by the Beermen on October 29, 2017. The Draft became infamous as San Miguel made a deal with Kia to acquire the number 1 pick. The deal, approved by then PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa, caused enough controversy that the PBA Board actually separated into two separate factions. The deal also paved the way for Narvasa’s resignation and Willie Marcial stepping in to become the new PBA Commissioner. But back to Standhardinger, CS didn’t immediately join the Beermen as less than a month after the PBA Draft, the ABL season would start. After months of anticipation, Standhardinger finally debuted for San Miguel in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup but the Beermen failed to defend their mid-season title, losing to Ginebra in the Finals. Despite a rocky stint with San Miguel, CS would win two championships with the team in the 2019 season. But even as the Beermen went through all that trouble to acquire the rights to pick him first, Standhardinger only lasted four full conferences with the team. Standhardinger’s trade away from San Miguel made big news late in 2019, but the move pretty much “freed” the hard-working forward. With Northport Standhardinger led the Batang Pier to the Governors’ Cup semifinals, having a better finish than San Miguel. CS also won his first-ever Best Player of the Conference award after an incredible breakout performance for his new team.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 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

3 key takeaways from ONE: FIRE & FURY

It was another explosive night for ONE Championship as it opened 2020 in the Philippines in the most exciting way possible. On Friday, 31 January, ONE: FIRE & FURY went down in Manila, Philippines with a bang, and the martial arts world was left begging for more action. With another event in the bag, here are three key takeaways from the Mall Of Asia Arena.    Joshua Pacio’s Skills Are Growing At A Blistering Pace Any strawweight who watched Joshua “The Passion” Pacio defend his World Title against Alex “Little Rock” Silva should be concerned, especially with the 24-year-old Filipino closing all the holes in his game.  Pacio looked crisp on the feet as always, but it was his ground game that turned out to be the difference in this match.  The Baguio City native was confident to roll with one of the best grapplers in the organization and, at times, he was even on the offensive, attempting a guillotine choke and a heel hook in the bout.  “Yes I was surprised. We all know the level of Silva’s grappling, so Joshua really surprised me with the confidence that he showed in the bout – he was even the one attacking at times,” Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao said.  With Pacio picking up confidence on the ground game to compliment his world class striking, the rest of the division looks in trouble.    “Thunder Kid” May Be The Next Big Strawweight Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang said in the past that entertaining fans is just as important as winning.  On Friday, he proved it was not just lip-service.  Adiwang was a burning ball of energy and then some as he needed just one round to dispatch Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit in the lead card of the night.  The 26-year-old rocked his Thai counterpart early on before raining down heavy ground and pound from the mount. Though Mitsatit survived the initial onslaught, Adiwang still finished the bout in style as he locked on a kimura and forced the submission.    The Lightweight Division Keeps Getting Deeper  Eduard “Landslide” Folayang found out firsthand how difficult his climb back to the pinnacle of the ONE Lightweight division will be after absorbing a razor-thin split decision loss to Pieter “The Archangel” Buist in the co-main event of the evening.  At age 36, Folayang has been adamant in saying he still wants to regain his World Title, and for two rounds he looked good against the bigger Dutchman.  All it took, though, was one well-timed head kick from Buist early in the third to change the direction of the match for good as the Combat Brothers standout turned the bout to his favor and later stole the victory.  Aside from Buist, who targets a showdown with ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee, the division also boasts top talent like Saygid Guseyn “Dagi”  Arslanaliev, Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, Lowen Tynanes, and Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki for starters. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 3rd, 2020

ONE Championship kicks off 2020 with ONE: A NEW TOMORROW

ONE Championship will start the year with a bang when ONE: A NEW TOMORROW unfolds this Friday, 10 January, at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.  Bannering the show is the rematch between reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon  and Jonathan “The General” Haggerty, the sequel to their clash at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES last August where the Thai won the belt.  Joining Rodtang and Haggerty on the main card is ONE Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion Stamp Fairtex, who battles Puja “The Cyclone” Tomar in a mixed martial arts strawweight contest.  As for local heroes, Roel “Akiyama” Rosauro is the lone Filipino in the event. He competes in the lead card against Yohan “The Ice Man” Mulia Legowo.   The rematch between Rodtang and Haggerty was supposed to happen earlier, but “The General” had to turn it down. He was still recovering from the decision loss, and he felt like mentally he was far from ready.  Now fully recovered, Haggerty plans to spoil Rodtang’s homecoming in Thailand.  “They gave me the immediate rematch [months ago], which I’m very thankful for, but I had to turn it down. In my head, I wasn’t ready. I was still recovering from the loss. I could have jumped straight back in, but then you’re not 100 percent. I’ve done that before and did not get the result I wanted,” Haggerty said.   “It was very hard for me to turn down a rematch, but now is the right time. I know it’s right, and come 10 January, it will [show that I’ve made] the right decision.” After getting frustrated by Rodtang the last time out, the Englishman promises things to do things differently this time.   “I will come less emotional because, in the fight with Rodtang, he wants you to get emotional. He wants you to fight him. He wants you to bring out your war instincts where you’re not comfortable,” Haggerty said.  “I’m going to stick off my jab and stick off my teep. I’m going to frustrate him. Let him come to fight — which he normally does — and hope we catch him with what we’ve been working on.” ONE: A NEW TOMORROW is just a precursor for things to come as The Home Of Martial Arts opens the first two months of the year with four events.  Before January ends, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio defends his ONE Strawweight World Title against former titlist Alex “Little Rock” Silva at ONE: FIRE & FURY on 31 January at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.  February is just as busy for the largest martial arts organization in the world. They will host ONE: WARRIOR’S CODE in Jakarta, Indonesia on 7 February before returning to the Lion City with ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE on 28 February.  These are just some of the 50 events ONE and ONE Esports have planned for another milestone year. Catch Rodtang and Haggerty battle it out at The Home Of Martial Arts’ first event of 2020 – ONE: A NEW TOMORROW – this Friday, 10 January at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.    Catch ONE: A NEW TOMORROW LIVE at 9:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2020

ONE Championship: Eduard Folayang looks forward to Sage Northcutt s arrival in the lightweight division

Eduard "Landslide" Folayang is excited about "Super" Sage Northcutt’s decision to move to the stacked ONE Championship lightweight division.   Folayang, a three-time ONE Lightweight World Champion, thinks a lot of big names would welcome Northcutt's arrival in their territory.   “The division is so stacked and there are a lot of people waiting for him,” the Team Lakay superstar said.    “This is another challenge in the lightweight division, and this would certainly be a challenge for him as well.”   The 23-year-old multi-time Karate World Champion from the United States made his ONE Championship debut at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON last May, but it went differently from what Northcutt imagined.    Northcutt suffered a crushing 29-second knockout loss at the hands of Cosmo "Good Boy" Alexandre, a defeat so devastating that he had to undergo surgery after the match.    For Folayang, that loss does not define Northcutt and he is excited to see what “Super” is truly capable of.    “That fight did not show the full potential of Sage when he last fought. Maybe his move to the lightweight division will help, as he will be big for the division,” Folayang said.    “I’d like to see his first match at lightweight first and then from there, maybe we can assess his skills and how he fares in the lightweight division.”   “Hopefully, he has an ace up his sleeve in his move to lightweight.”   As expected, “Landslide” is one of those athletes waiting for the highly-touted Northcutt in his move to the division.    “We cannot undermine the possibility of Folayang versus Northcutt. As time passes, I know the world will become smaller for the two of us, so it’s always a nice possibility,” he said.    “This is a fight I’m interested in.”   Folayang, however, refused to look too far ahead for now as he battles Ahmed "Wolverine" Mujtaba at ONE: FIRE & FURY on 31 January at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.   “While that would be a good match, of course my entire focus is on my match on 31 January.”   It remains to be seen if a showdown between Folayang and Northcutt could ever come to fruition. For now, the Baguio City native has to pass the tough test that awaits him in Manila.   In the meantime, ONE Championship returns to martial arts action this Friday, 10 January, for ONE: A NEW TOMORROW at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2020

20 for 20: Pinoy Sports Personalities to Watch in 2020

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2020

New Stars and New Eras: A look back at MMA in 2019

2019 was once again a pretty eventful year in terms of mixed martial arts, especially on the local front. In 2019, we saw Pinoy stars rise and fall, and some have managed to rise again before the decade’s end. Before we look forward to 2020, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest storylines in the world of Filipino, Asian and international mixed martial arts.   Team Lakay’s Troubles 2019 kicked off with not one, not two, but five world champions from the famed Filipino MMA stable Team Lakay. Pinoy MMA icon Eduard Folayang was on his second run as the ONE Lightweight World Champion, Kevin Belingon was enjoying his status as the ONE Bantamweight World Champion, Geje Eustaquio reigned over the flyweight division as the ONE Flyweight World Champion, and rising star Joshua Pacio, the ONE Strawweight World Champion, was the team’s youngest titleholder. Outside ONE, Stephen Loman continued on his reign as the BRAVE CF Bantamweight World Champion. And then, the dominoes began to fall. Pacio was the first to drop his title, losing a close split decision to Japan’s Yosuke Saruta. Eustaquio followed suit, dropping a controversial decision to rival Adriano Moraes, and then Folayang and Belingon would also lose their titles in heartbreaking fashion at ONE: A New Era in Japan. It was, to say the least, a rough start to the year for the Benguet-based team, but they would manage to bounce back before the year was done, with Folayang and Eustaquio both claiming wins to end the year.   The Rise of "The Passion" 23-year old prodigy Joshua “The Passion” Pacio was the youngest member of Team Lakay to hold a title heading into 2019, and heading into 2020, he remains the lone member of  Team Lakay to hold a ONE world title. After losing to Yosuke Saruta in January, Pacio was granted an immediate rematch and made good on the second opportunity by blasting Saruta with a head kick to score the KO and reclaim the ONE Strawweight World Championship. Pacio would then take on the clear-cut number one contender in fellow Pinoy Rene “D’ Challenger” Catalan, and make quick work of him as well, scoring a second-round submission win to retain the title. Even before the end of the year, Pacio already has his next assignment, as he’s set to face former champion Alex Silva at ONE: Fire and Fury in Manila on January 31st. A win for Pacio cements his status as one of, if not, the best ONE strawweight ever. While Team Lakay’s 2019 was, for the most part, a struggle, Pacio was no doubt the Team’s brightest spot.   A New Era 2019 proved to be another milestone year for Asia-based martial arts promotion ONE Championship, as they were able to penetrate new markets in terms of live shows as well as broadcast deals. ONE began the year with a new partnership with Turner Broadcasting, which gave North American fans access to ONE’s brand of martial arts through B/R Live and TNT. In terms of live events, ONE was able to finally plant their flag in one of the biggest markets for MMA in the world, Japan. In March, ONE put on their first ever show in Japan, ONE: A New Era in Tokyo, which featured some of the promotion’s biggest names including  Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Shinya Aoki, Angela Lee, Aung La N Sang, Eduard Folayang, and many more. To celebrate their historic 100th event, ONE returned to Tokyo for ONE: Century, their biggest card ever, featuring seven world title bouts and the promotion’s biggest stars, and then some.   In 2020, ONE plans to break through to even more new markets, possible including a show in the United States.   The ‘Return’ of Jon Jones While Jon Jones officially reclaimed his spot at the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division in December of 2018, it was in 2019 that he returned to his dominant ways. After stopping Alexander Gustafsson in 2018 to reclaim the UFC Light Heavyweight crown, Jones handily defeated tough challengers in Anthony Smith and Thiago “Maretta” Santos to retain the titles. While the Smith and Santos bouts were lackluster in the eyes of many, it showed that even on his bad days, Jon Jones is better than most people on their best days.   “Rush” Retires Again While it was something that was expected, 37-year old Georges St-Pierre officially retired from MMA, again, in February. The former long-time welterweight king and pound-for-pound great made a triumphant return to the UFC in 2017, dethroning Michael Bisping to become the new UFC Middleweight Champion. GSP would never get to defend the title, as he would relinquish it not long after due to concerns with ulcerative colitis. While GSP has remained inactive since, the whispers of a super-fight with reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov remain present, and 2020 could possibly see that coming to fruition.   Grand Prix Greatness In 2019, ONE Championship introduced a new and exciting attraction, the ONE Lightweight and Flyweight World Grand Prix tournaments.  Eight of the best fighters from each division would battle it out in a tournament-style competition, and the winner would become the ONE World Grand Prix Champion and earn a title shot against the division's respective titleholder.  Making their debuts in the lightweight and flyweight tournaments were former UFC champs Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson respectively, and as it played out the two would have very different outcomes.  Alvarez saw himself get upset in the quarterfinals by Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin. The former UFC lightweight king would get another chance in the tournament after defeating Eduard Folayang in a last-minute semifinal matchup, but another injury would keep him out of the finale at ONE: Century in Tokyo. Reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee ended up stepping in on short notice to defeat tournament favorite Saygid Guseyn Arslanalieve and become a double-champion.  Johnson, meanwhile, breezed through his quarterfinals and semifinals bouts to set up a finale showdown with Filipino star Danny Kingad. In the Finale, Kingad fought valiantly but ultimately fell to Johnson via Unanimous Decision, setting up a must-see matchup between DJ and reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes in 2020.    Baddest Motherf**ker Jorge Masdival has long been a staple in the UFC’s lightweight ranks for years, but it wasn’t until 2019 that “Gamebred” made headlines. After a hiatus in 2018, Masvidal returned with a bang in 2019, knocking out former title challenger Darren Till, and then followed that up with a 5-second flying knee knockout over former ONE Welterweight king Ben Askren. The popularity and momentum that Masvidal had garnered was enough to bring a certain Stockton star out of retirement and that set up one of the most talked-about UFC title bouts in 2019: Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz for the title of Baddest Motherf**ker. Masvidal lived up to the name and pieced Diaz up with strikes in the early rounds, before eventually opening up a cut that was just too big for the fight to go on. Much to the dismay of Masvidal, Diaz, and the crowd in New York, the fight was stopped. Still, it was nothing short of a testament to just how dangerous the new and improved version of Jorge Masvidal is. Expect him to challenge for a title in 2020.   MMA stars shine in 2019 SEA Games A number of Pinoy mixed martial artists showcased their skills in different battlegrounds during the recently-concluded 2019 Southeast Asian Games, which was held in the Philippines. from November 30 to December 11. Reigning URCC champion Mark “Mugen” Striegl took home gold in Combat Sambo, while former ONE title challenger Rene Catalan settled for Silver after an injury dashed his dreams of getting gold. Another URCC veteran in Ariel Lee Lampacan also took home SEA Games gold, this time in the Muay Thai competition. ONE Super Series veteran Ryan Jakiri took home silver. The SEA Games kickboxing event saw three MMA stars from Team Lakay take home gold medals, as Gina Iniong, Jerry Olsim, and Jean Claude Saclag all reigned over their respective divisions. Iniong, of course, is a ONE Women’s Atomweight contender, while Olsim is a veteran of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series. Saclag, meanwhile, is one of Team Lakay’s representatives in the Japan-based promotion Shooto.       .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2019

ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS Results: Filipina Denice Zamboanga impressive in ONE debut

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - The largest global sports media property in Asian history, ONE Championship™ (ONE), closed 2019 on a high note, giving fans another thrilling evening of world-class martial arts action. The Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur played host to ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS, featuring the absolute best in global martial arts talent. In the main event, Muay Thai legend Sam-A Gaiyanghadao made history by becoming a two-sport and two-division World Champion by defeating China’s “Golden Boy” Wang Junguang by unanimous decision to become the new ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Champion. In a five-round back-and-forth bout, Sam-A’s speed and experience shone through as he outstruck and outmaneuvered Wang for the majority of the contest. In the end, it was Sam-A who prevailed, capturing his second World Championship in ONE.  In the co-main event, Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov of Russia survived China’s “Muay Thai Boy” Zhang Chenglong to become the new ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion. Ramazanov started out strong, using his reach to connect on Zhang, leading to a knockdown in the third round. Zhang came to life in the later rounds, looking to swing the momentum in his favor. After five rounds of striking action, it was Ramazanov who earned the decision and finally realized his dream of becoming a ONE World Champion.  Denice “The Menace Fairtex” Zamboanga of the Philippines was impressive in her ONE Championship debut, edging out hometown favorite Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan by unanimous decision. Zamboanga was relentless in her takedown attempts as she was able to take Radzuan down at will and control her on the ground in the first two rounds. Radzuan tried to bounce back in the final round, throwing up submission attempt after submission attempt, but in the end, it wasn’t enough to sway the judges, as Zamboanga came away victorious. Malaysia’s own Agilan “Alligator” Thani had the hometown crowd on their feet after scoring an exciting split decision win over American newcomer Dante Schiro. Thani was able to control Schiro on the ground in the opening round, but the American rallied in the second and nearly finished the bout with a deep rear naked choke. Thani, however, was more effective with his game plan all throughout the contest. After three rounds of action, it was Thani who walked away with a razor-thin decision win.  Former ONE World Title challenger Reece “Lightning” McLaren of Australia returned to the winner’s circle in spectacular fashion, submitting Indian rising star Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat in the first round. McLaren put on a grappling clinic as he took Mangat down and imposed his will on the ground early. Towards the closing moments of the first round, McLaren was able to get to the mounted position and seamlessly transitioned into a rear naked choke, forcing Mangat to tap out with just seconds remaining.  Andrei “Mister KO” Stoica of Romania recorded the biggest win of his kickboxing career, knocking out Brazilian star Anderson “Braddock” Silva in just the first round. Stoica did well in keeping his distance from the hard-hitting Silva before uncorking a massive right hook of his own that had the Brazilian on unsteady footing. Stoica put Silva down with a thunderous right jab that spelled the beginning of the end for his opponent, who tried to answer the count but was visibly too rocked to continue.  Highly-touted South African standout Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane announced his arrival to ONE Championship with a dominant unanimous decision win over ONE Warrior Series contract winner Ryuto “Dragon Boy” Sawada of Japan. Masunyane’s grappling was simply too much to handle, as he was able to take Sawada down and keep him grounded. After three rounds of action, Masunyane walked away with the clear-cut victory.   In a ONE Super Series Muay Thai contest, Elias “The Sniper” Mahmoudi of Algeria authored a masterful performance, trumping Thai legend Lerdsila Phuket Top Team across three tough rounds. Lerdsila was aggressive, showcasing his trademark power kicks from start to finish. Mahmoudi, however, was long and stayed mostly out of range with his reach. From the outside, Mahmoudi sniped Lerdsila with his combinations. Although the bout was close and both men had their moments, it was Mahmoudi who emerged the victor in the end with all three judges scoring the bout in his favor. China’s “The Ghost” Chen Rui came forth with a virtuoso performance against Malaysian hometown bet Muhammad “Jungle Cat” Aiman, bagging a unanimous decision for his efforts across all three judges’ scorecards. Chen stormed out of the gates in round one, pushing the pace with his aggression. Chen had Aiman hurt on the back foot on a couple of occasions, but the Malaysian was able to recover well. Action continued much the same for the rest of the bout, with Chen landing a handful of big shots while Aiman played defense and was a shade behind the majority of the contest. Myanmar’s “The Dragon Leg” Tial Thang came out to a thunderous chorus of cheers, as he made his walk to the ONE Circle with teammates ONE Light Heavyweight and Middleweight World Champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang, and ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen. Thang certainly did not disappoint, putting together a noteworthy performance against game challenger “The Kid” Kim Woon Kyoum of South Korea. Thang was aggressive all throughout, doing some good damage both on the feet and on the ground. Kim stood right in front of him, but was slightly a step behind for the majority of exchanges. In the end, all three judges scored the bout in favor of Thang to win by unanimous decision. South Korea’s “The Big Heart” Yoon Chang Min turned in another dominant performance, battering Filipino opponent Rodian “The Redeemer” Menchavez on the feet before finishing him with a submission. Yoon picked Menchavez apart methodically in the first round, wearing the Filipino down with pinpoint accurate strikes. In the second round, Yoon continued his dominance, beating Menchavez to the punch on every occasion. Not long after, Yoon locked in a Ninja Choke to force the tap, notching his fourth straight victory in ONE. In a Muay Thai contest, former Shoot Boxing Super Bantamweight Champion Taiki “Silent Sniper” Naito of Japan continued his unbeaten run so far in ONE Super Series, defeating former WKA European Champion Rui Botelho of Portugal by unanimous decision. Naito unleashed a bevy of leg kicks and body attacks to keep Botelho off center for the duration of the bout. Although Botelho would try his best to remain competitive, Naito was far too slick and accurate. In the end, all three judges scored the bout in favor of Naito. ONE Championship newcomer Rayane Bastos of Brazil made a triumphant promotional debut, finishing the highly-regarded Sovannahry Em via first-round submission to kick off the festivities at ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS. After a brief exchange of strikes on the feet, action hit the mat, giving Bastos an opportunity to showcase her ground skills. Not long after, Bastos caught Em in a guillotine choke in full mount, forcing the tap. Official results for ONE: MARK OF GREATNESS ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Championship: Sam-A Gaiyanghadao defeats Wang Junguang by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 5 rounds ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Championship: Alaverdi Ramazanov defeats Zhang Chenglong by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 5 rounds Mixed Martial Arts Atomweight: Denice Zamboanga defeats Jihin Radzuan by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds Mixed Martial Arts Welterweight: Agilan Thani defeats Dante Schiro by Split Decision (SD) after 3 rounds Mixed Martial Arts Flyweight: Reece McLaren defeats Gurdarshan Mangat by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:35 minutes of round 1 Kickboxing Light Heavyweight: Andrei Stoica defeats Anderson Silva by Knockout (KO) at 1:57 minutes of round 1 Mixed Martial Arts Strawweight: Bokang Masunyane defeats Ryuto Sawada by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds Muay Thai Flyweight: Elias Mahmoudi defeats Lerdsila Phuket Top Team by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds Mixed Martial Arts Bantamweight: Chen Rui defeats Muhammad Aiman by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds Mixed Martial Arts Bantamweight: Tial Thang defeats Kim Woon Kyoum by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds Mixed Martial Arts Catchweight (77 KG): Yoon Chang Min defeats Rodian Menchavez by Submission (Ninja Choke) at 1:45 minutes of round 2 Muay Thai Flyweight: Taiki Naito defeats Rui Botelho by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds Mixed Martial Arts Atomweight: Rayane Bastos defeats Sovannahry Em by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 2:40 minutes of round 1.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 9th, 2019

ONE Championship: Joshua Pacio breaks down masterful performance against Rene Catalan at ONE: Masters of Fate

ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio cemented his status as ONE Championship’s top strawweight after successfully defending his title against compatriot Rene “D’ Challenger” Catalan in the main event of ONE: Masters of Fate in Manila last November 8th.  In Catalan, Pacio was facing a challenger that was riding a six-fight winning streak that included an impressive demolition of former two-time titleholder Yoshitaka Naito.  Still, the 23-year old Team Lakay star imposed his will against Catalan, dominating the striking aspect before getting the Arm-Triangle submission in the second round. It was a performance that further solidified Pacio’s status as the division’s top dog.  While Pacio was nothing short of dominant against Catalan, he believed that the Pinoy veteran was indeed deserving of a title shot, especially after coming in with an impressive winning streak.  “Para sa akin, oo naman. Siyempre, nakita ko yung improvements niya. Six-fight winning streak, lalo na nung tinalo niya si Naito, dun talaga ako na-impress,” Pacio stated after the fight. “Naimpress ako dun sa pagka-panalo niya kay Naito, masasabi ko worthy talaga siya na challenger.” To his credit, Catalan came prepared to test Pacio - arguably one of Team Lakay’s most talented grapplers - on the mats, as he threatened the defending champion with a couple of submission attempts.  “Nasurprise ako nung nag-heel hook siya,” Pacio admitted. “Sabi niya lumagatok yung paa ko, oo pero baka dahil lang kulang sa stretching, pero hindi talaga ako nakuha doon. Medyo tight yung kneebar, pero sa training, nirereview na namin yun eh. Kunyari nakuha ka sa ganitong posisyon, anong gagawin mo? Wag kang mag-papanic, maghanap ka kung paano ka aalis, so ganun yung ginawa ko, hindi ako nag-panic.” Pacio tried to counter with a submission of his own, but decided to abandon the attempt after deciding that he would not be able to execute it completely. “Mali kasi yung posisyon ko eh. Hindi ko din yun makukuha, kaya ako yung unang bumitaw, tapos roll, roll, roll hanggang matanggal,” Pacio explained. “The Passion” did end up getting the submission later on, which he says was the game plan all along. It was Pacio’s striking however, that got everything going.  “Submission talaga, pero hindi ko ine-expect na siya yung mag-aattempt ng takedown, kasi nung nag-back kick ako nung round one, nginitian ako, tapos biglang nag-takedown,” Pacio detailed.  “Ay, alam ko na 'to. Wrestler ka na ngayon. Na-feel ko eh. 'Yes, dito na.' sabi ko, siya yung nag-takedown, nag-initiate, mas gusto ko yun, kasi dun pupunta yung gameplan ko.” It was indeed a masterful performance on the young Lakay’s part, as he successfully defends his title for the first time, something that he wasn’t able to do during his first run as champion.  “Siyempre, napaka-saya kasi gaya nga nung sabi ko nung sa unang interview, you're not a champion until you defend your belt, so napaka-saya ko kasi na-defend ko successfully.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2019

ONE Championship: Andun pa yung fire - Eduard Folayang highly motivated as he begins his comeback

After absorbing back-to-back defeats for just the second time in his professional mixed martial arts career, Filipino star Eduard “Landslide” Folayang once again finds himself on the comeback trail as he tries to once again have his hand raised in victory inside the ONE Circle.  The former two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion dropped the title to Shinya Aoki in the first defense of his second run as champion back in March, and then followed that up with a loss to Eddie Alvarez in August.  At 34 years of age, there really isn’t much left for Folayang to prove. A professional since 2007, Folayang has a respectable 21-8 professional record which includes championships in regional promotions and two world championship runs under the ONE banner. As it stands, he is already the face of Filipino MMA.  If he were to, say, hang his gloves up and dedicate his life to coaching future champions from Team Lakay, it’s highly unlikely that anyone would take it against him.  Yet, Folayang is gearing up for a return to action at ONE: Masters of Fate this coming Friday, November 8th at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Manila, Philippines. He faces Mongolian up-and-comer Amarsanaa “Spear” Tsogookhu in the co-main event. When asked what keeps him motivated, even after back-to-back losses, the former Philippine Wushu National Team Member and multiple-time SEA Games gold medalist says that he believes there’s still a lot for him to show.  “Yung pakiramdam na alam mong mayroon ka pang potential, hindi mo pa nai-uunleash yung full potential mo, yun yung parang nagpapalakas sa akin, na hindi pa dapat mag-give up, kasi still, andun parin yung fire na mag-rise up again,” Folayang told ABS-CBN Sports. “I think purposely, inallow ni God [yung mga losses ko] para makita ko yung mga areas na kailangan kong ayusin and yung mga pagkakamali talaga na kailangan kong iwasan sa mga future bouts ko.” For Folayang, the Alvarez bout in Manila last August is one that stung quite a bit.  A former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion, Alvarez’s signing with ONE was met with lots of hype and anticipation. As early as then, a potential matchup with Folayang was already something that fans of the Asian martial arts promotion were intrigued to see.  When the bout was finally going to take place, it was billed as a must-see matchup between two of the division’s biggest stars.  Indeed, the bout lived up to the hype as it included a little bit of everything that a fight fan would want to see. Folayang, a striking expert, was the more aggressive fighter on the feet and was able to use his best weapon - his tree-trunk legs - to do damage and chop Alvarez down.  Once he had dropped “The Underground King” Folayang went in for the kill, and that eagerness to get the finish was what ultimately led to the Pinoy hero’s downfall in the match.  While obviously hurt by the chopping leg kick he had absorbed just moments earlier, Alvarez remained composed as he tried to survive the landslide of strikes coming from Folayang. The American found his opening and flipped Folayang over for the reversal before taking the Filipino’s back and finally getting the Rear Naked Choke Submission, forcing the hometown bet to tap out.  “Gina-gauge ko yung sarili ko eh, alam mo yun? Yung expectations ko sa kanya, hindi ganun eh. Sobrang taas, tapos nung laglaban kami, naramdaman ko, pero siyempre, nakalimutan ko siguro na magaling din siya sa ground, or either nang-gigil ako na gusto kong tumayo ulit para tapusin na namin yung laban sa taas,” Folayang explained.  “Siguro yun yung naging mga pagkakamali ko that time, na ayaw ko maulit. Hindi ako naging composed sa sarili ko, nakalimutan ko na yung laban ay mixed martial arts, kung saan lahat ng angle, kapag dun ka kinuha, kahit nananalo ka na sa isang area, hindi yun yung laban eh. Yung laban ay yung kung natapos na. Siguro yun yung parang nakita ko na nagkamali ako,” he added.  Had Folayang won, he would have advanced to the Finals of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix at ONE: Century in Tokyo, Japan.  Alvarez ultimately pulled out after an injury had barred him from competing in the finale against Turkey’s Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev. Arslanaliev ultimately lost to Christian Lee, who stepped in as Alvarez’s replacement.  Throughout his career, Folayang has had some rather heartbreaking losses, but the Alvarez one has to be up there as one of the most, especially since he was quite dominant in the opening moments of the bout.  Folayang admits that it took quite a bit for him to get over that.  “Hindi [ako agad naka-get over] eh, kasi everytime, may makaka-salubong na na ireremind sayo, ‘Sayang!’ yung ganun,” But it was also that bout against Alvarez - specifically that sequence that nearly ended the fight in his favor - that somehow made him realize what he is still capable of.   “Dun ko din talaga nakita na, kung yung ganung level ni Alvarez, sa kalakasan niya, nasurpass ko, I think mayroon pa talaga eh. Hindi ko pa talaga nare-reach yung full potential ko eh, may mas maipapakita pa ako na mas magandang performance, lalo na kapag idinagdag ko yung mga experience ko na kagaya nung mga ganung experience.” To help move past the loss, Folayang returned to the gym to help his teammates who were getting ready for their big matches in Tokyo.  Hardly taking any damage in the loss to Alvarez, Folayang was pretty much in shape to get back in action, and a small window of opportunity appeared when it was announced that Alvarez had pulled out.  According to ONE Championship Chairman Chatri Sityodtong, Folayang was the first option to replace Alvarez, but with just around two weeks left before fight night, visa issues prevented the Filipino star from stepping in, opening the door for Lee to do so.  “Siyempre, hindi naman natin alam kung ano yung mangyayari, kasi professional na tayo, kailangan lagi parin tayong handa, although siyempre, yung nasa utak natin talaga ay gusto natin lumaban, kaya nagte-training pa din. So nung sinabi yung late replacement kay Dagi, nag-oo ako, pero unfortunately, hindi talaga siguro time,” Folayang said.  The time for Folayang’s comeback, as it turns out, was the month after.  Facing a relatively unknown opponent in Tsogookhu, Folayang has the chance to get back on track and pick up a solid win, but it could also prove to be a high-risk challenge, as Tsogookhu was impressive in his debut against veteran Shannon Wiratchai.  Folayang says that he fully understands the risk behind the fight, but to be able to get back to the top of the division, he must be able to face risk head on.  “Yun yung maganda sa MMA, the more na naiintindihan mo na it’s high risk, alam mo yun. Kasi kahit sabihin mo na more experienced ka, kung mag-commit ka ng single mistake, kakainin ka eh, so, yun. We are fighters, as much as possible, kung sino man yung mag-sstand dun sa way natin, kailangan natin i-face para makabalik tayo doon sa inaasam natin.”   Catch ONE: MASTERS OF FATE live on Friday, November 8th LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23 on LIVESTREAM via the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook Page and on iWant starting at 8:30 PM. ONE: MASTERS OF FATE will also air on Sunday's Best on November 17th, Sunday, at 11:30 PM with local commentatry from Anton Roxas and Theo Castillo  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 7th, 2019

Unforgettable UAAP Final Four Moments

A Final Four in any of the UAAP seasons in the last 26 years has always been memorable and epic. Since Season 56, the format has intensified the competitiveness in the league, as it has since given four teams the chance at a championship, instead of just two teams in the 55 seasons prior. Here we witnessed dramatic, climactic face-offs between the first and fourth placers, and the second and third placers, with the top two teams enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage. This is to determine who will slug it out in the Finals. Yet there are rare instances when a school tops the eliminations unscathed, just like this year’s mighty Ateneo Blue Eagles, who advanced to the Finals outright after sweeping the round. In this case, a stepladder Final Four is implemented wherein the third and fourth battle each other in a do-or-die match before facing the second placer, which has a twice-to-beat advantage. And yes, these teams have made their playoff wars exciting and spectacular with a level of play that is truly exceptional. Here are some of the most powerful, controversial, heroic, and reverberating moments in the UAAP Final Four that have been forever etched in our minds:   1) UP enters Finals for first time in 32 years in Season 81 In their first Final Four appearance in 21 years, the UP Fighting Maroons had the utmost desire to make history once more with the battlecry “Atin ‘To,” captain Paul Desiderio’s famous call to arms.  And, in Season 81, barreling into the semifinals was already a gigantic feat, having been in the cellar for quite a while in the UAAP.  But they wanted more, and facing a championship-ready Adamson Soaring Falcons was an immense challenge with its lean and mean arsenal, given how the San Marcelino cagers had waylaid the competition in the eliminations, including the defending champions Ateneo. But they were unfazed with Adamson’s twice-to-beat advantage, and in Game 1, they would beat the odds, as the Fighting Maroons and the Soaring Falcons ended up tied at 71-all with three seconds to go. As Juan Gomez de Liano was inbounding, he found an open Bright Akhuetie near the basket to convert the game-winner for UP to arrange a winner-take-all.  And in the decider, it was again a tedious trek for both teams, with the game tied for the last time at 87-all in overtime. Then, the fiery captain will again own it for the Fighting Maroons as he swooshed a jumper off Adamson’s Sean Maganti with 6.6 seconds left. With Falcon guard Jeron Lastimosa missing a three off a timeout as time ran out led to utter euphoria in the Maroon-dominated Araneta Coliseum, spilling out to the numerous UP campuses across the nation, as the Fighting Maroons entered the Finals for the first time in 32 years. They would be denied a repeat of their 1986 title run however by the back-to-back champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, which won the Finals convincingly.   2) Blue Eagle Gec Chia’s miracle “shot” in Season 65 Season 65 was certainly the most unforgettable for the Ateneo Blue Eagles as it achieved a flurry of milestones. Already with a well-developed line-up and the immense motivation to win it all, after their previous heartbreaking campaigns, the Eagles had beaten the league-leading and four-peat-hunting DLSU Green Archers in the last game of the eliminations, denying them a sweep and an outright finals berth. And in third place at the end of the elims, the Eagles would face another formidable squad, the James Yap and Paul Artadi-enforced second-placers UE Red Warriors. After staging a stunning upset in the first game of their Final Four match-up, 84-78, Ateneo again engaged UE in a close, hard fought decider and both teams were tied at 70-all with 7.8 seconds left.  With LA Tenorio trapped in the offensive play, he would kick the ball out to the gutsy marksman Gec Chia, who would rise to the occasion and soar over a phalanx of defenders to make that miracle “Shot” heard everywhere as time expired. That unforgettable shot pushed the Eagles into that climactic end to a 14-year title drought in the Finals by that Herculean drubbing of La Salle.   3) FEU’s Mac Belo buries last-second corner three against La Salle in Season 77 On October 1, 2014, the defending champions DLSU Green Archers threatened the second placers FEU Tamaraws, with a menacing win in their first match in the Final Four of Season 77, nearing to book another trip to the Finals. In Game Two, with 24 ticks remaining, the Tamaraws used up the remaining seconds with the intent of taking the last shot.  FEU point guard Mike Tolomia then barreled his way through the paint, drawing two La Salle defenders and leaving Mac Belo free at the corner. With a little over two seconds to go, Tolomia would hand the ball off to Belo for a catch-and-shoot beyond the arc at the right corner and buried the three as time expired, giving the Tamaraws a return trip to the Finals. They would, however, eventually lose to a gritty NU Bulldogs, which won their first title in 60 years.   4) FEU eliminates Ateneo with Mac Belo’s follow up buzzer beater in Season 78 In Season 78, the FEU Tamaraws would most certainly want another crack at the title, after losing to NU the previous year. And they were really scorching hot in the eliminations, ending up tied with the UST Growling Tigers at the top of the heap, but dropped to second place due to a lower quotient. In the Final Four, they would face the third placers Ateneo Blue Eagles with a twice-to-beat advantage. On November 21, 2015, the FEU and Ateneo were stuck in a really close game with Roger Pogoy waxing hot for the Tams, and Kiefer Ravena leading all departments for the Eagles. With ten seconds to go, Adrian Wong of Ateneo streaked for a layup after a Richard Escoto miss. Wong’s daredevil shot was deflected and the ball ended up in the hands of Mike Tolomia, who rushed back to the FEU side of the court for the final shot. He would make a gallant incursion with a near acrobatic layup with one second to go. And as the ball rimmed out, a well-positioned Mac Belo was below the basket for the quick, buzzer beating putback that once more sent the Tamaraws to the Finals. FEU would then claim their 20th title overall over the UST Growling Tigers in the Finals.   5) FEU's Miko Roldan hits game-winner against Ateneo in Season 63  Mac Belo breaking the hearts of Ateneans with that buzzer beater in Season 78 was like history repeating itself. Fifteen years earlier, the Tamaraws, led by Celino Cruz and Edwin Bacani, also engaged the Blue Eagles to a Final Four battle, with Ateneo having that twice-to-beat privilege.  Led by Rich Alvarez, LA Tenorio and Larry Fonacier, the Blue Eagles were really soaring to get that elusive title it last won in 1988. And in the first game in the Final Four, people were expecting the Blue Eagles to cruise past FEU, having beaten them twice in the elims.  But the Tamaraws really gave them a hell of a match. As Andrew Cruz flubbed two charities in the dying seconds that should have given the Blue Eagles a comfortable three-point lead, FEU gunner Miko Roldan sank a semi-hook shot at the buzzer in the ensuing play to break the hearts of Ateneans everywhere and extend the series, 61-60. In the decider, Cruz and Bacani would conspire for 39 points to complete a monster upset, 75-67, and reach the Finals. The defending champions DLSU Green Archers, led by the legendary Renren Ritualo, was just too much for the Tams in the Finals and copped their three-peat.   6) Fight-marred Ateneo-La Salle Final Four series in Season 66 Joseph Yeo was all over the court in a scoring binge while Rookie-of-the-Year JVee Casio showed a glimpse of being a clutch player as the DLSU Green Archers, the fourth seed, took their storied rivalry with defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, the top seed, to a tenacious, heated Final Four war. Heightened emotions were at play since Ateneo’s colossal Finals victory the previous season, and the animosity between the two ballclubs was at its fiercest and most intense. In Game 1, after La Salle’s Jerwin Gaco’s putback sent the game into overtime, the extended play’s physicality went to overdrive. With 1:31 left in overtime, Gaco bumped LA Tenorio in the battle for the loose ball. Tenorio would then sneak a punch at Gaco, who then nudged the Ateneo guard. This led to a bench-clearing brawl, as players punched, kicked and shoved each other while the coaches tried to break up the fight even as referees whistled repeatedly.  La Salle’s Ryan Arana kicked Ateneo’s Wesley Gonzales from behind and the league meted the Archer with a one-game suspension. Also suspended were Tenorio and fellow Blue Eagle Christian "Badjie" del Rosario. The Archers would prevail after the five-minute extension, 76-72. The decider was also as heated with on-court and off-court flare-ups and violent confrontations between players and supporters. Ateneo’s steady offense, however, prevailed in the final minute, as the Blue Eagles hung on to 74-68 victory, entering the Finals for the second straight year. FEU, however, would deny Ateneo a back-to-back run, winning the championship in two games.   7) UST trounces NU twice to become first fourth placer to eliminate the top-seed in a Final Four series in Season 76 The NU Bulldogs were on a roll, and 2013 seemed to be their year, with Bobby Ray Parks returning after back-to-back MVP seasons and leading them to reach the top of the standings at the end of eliminations. But they have their Achilles heel—the dribblers of Espana—who have exerted their mastery of the Bulldogs, winning twice in the elims. And bad news for the Bulldogs, they would meet the UST Growling Tigers, which ended at fourth place, in the Final Four.  In Game 1, a red-hot Kevin Ferrer would lead UST to its biggest margin of 18 within the match, but they needed to fend off NU’s late charge, 71-62, to force a rubber match. And in the winner-take-all, UST completed its mastery of top-ranked Bulldogs, again with a game-long dominance to end at 76-69, marking the first time a fourth seed would snatch a Finals berth from a first-placer in the league.   8) NU’s Alfred Aroga’s monster block on Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena in Season 77 After a frustrating loss to UST in the Season 76 Final Four, NU would get another crack at gaining that elusive Finals appearance. But in the next chapter of the semifinals, NU will hope for a Cinderella finish to gain that berth, trying to beat the top placers Ateneo Blue Eagles, just like what UST did to them in the previous year when they were the top-seed. Jay-Jay Alejandrino and Troy Rosario led NU’s surge in the fourth quarter of the first game to spoil Ateneo’s twice to beat to force a deciding game. In the rubber match, no clear advantage was evident in the majority of the game. But after NU’s Gelo Alolino broke a 63-all tie with two charities off a foul from Ateneo’s Nico Elorde, 65-63, Kiefer Ravena would try to send the game to overtime with a drive against several NU defenders with three seconds left.  He failed however after NU’s Alfred Aroga swatted his attempt as time expired—a monster block that brought NU to its first finals appearance in 44 years. The Bulldogs would then wallop the FEU Tamaraws in the Finals, 2-1, to clinch their first title in 60 years. 9) Coming out party of UE’s Paul Lee in Season 72 The UE Red Warriors had come off from a heartbreaking Finals loss to the DLSU Green Archers in Season 70 after sweeping the eliminations, and another hurtful exit the succeeding year with a Final Four defeat at the hands of the Ateneo Blue Eagles. The Red Warriors would then make another trip to the Final Four in Season 72, which was the coming out party of prolific scorer Paul Lee, as the league’s third best after the eliminations. UE would battle second placers FEU for the chance to enter the Finals once more after the Season 70 debacle. They extended the series after Lee led a late game spurt with three consecutive three-pointers in a devastating 18-5 run, he would end up with a game-high 26 points. In the rubber match, with UE trailing FEU in the first half, the Red Warriors would make an explosive comeback in the second half and would again rely on the dependable Lee and Pari Llagas for their late-game heroics. Llagas would lift UE up for good with two straight field goals, 72-70, while Lee showed nerves of steel as he sank four consecutive free throws at the end of the game, 78-72, to give UE their Finals ticket. UE, however, would bow to powerhouse Ateneo Blue Eagles in the Finals in three games.   10) UST’s Jojo Duncil completes winning three-point play that frustrated UE in Season 69 By this time, the UE Red Warriors were in their fifth straight Final Four appearance. And in Season 69, UE would land at second place after the eliminations behind Ateneo, relishing its twice-to-beat advantage.  In the Final Four, UE would face a determined UST Growling Tigers, who were seeking redemption after last winning the championship in 1996, the last year of their 90s four-peat dynasty. UST would eke out a hard-earned Game 1 victory, 79-75 victory over UE that led to a deciding Game 2. In this clincher, both UST and UE kept the match close.  And in the final quarter, with the score tied at 79-all in the dying seconds, Growling Tiger Jojo Duncil converted on a tip-in, and-1, after a previous miss and teammate Jervy Cruz’s failed putback. Duncil would then complete the three-point play to give the UST an 82-79 edge, a few seconds left. UE’s Marcy Arellano would drive unmolested for an easy two to cut the lead to a solitary point, 82-81, nearing the end of the game. After UST committed a turnover, the Red Warriors had the chance to drop the game-winner but UE’s Jorel Cañizares missed a medium-range jump shot and a follow-up. Teammate Robert Labagala would then grab the rebound, but time ran out on the Recto dribblers. UST entered the Finals and annexed its first UAAP title in 10 years over the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Will there be another unforgettable Final Four moment in this current Season 82? Catch the start of the stepladder Final Four hostilities with the do-or-die match between the UST Growling Tigers and the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday, November 6, for the right to meet the twice-to-beat second placers UP Fighting Maroons on Sunday, November 10......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2019

ONE Championship: Team Lakay head coach Sangiao wary of Catalan s striking in title bout against Pacio

Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao is on the lookout for Rene "The Challenger" Catalan’s powerful left hand in the all-Filipino World Title showdown.  Sangiao’s prized pupil – Joshua "The Passion" Pacio – defends his ONE Strawweight World Title against the 40-year-old at ONE: MASTERS OF FATE on 8 November at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila. “Now this is a good fight. You can’t underestimate Rene because his hands have already been proven, particularly his left hand,” Sangiao said.  But hands aside, Catalan’s ground game has also been improving over the years. He demonstrated that against former ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka "Nobita" Naito at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR in March. But Sangiao spots some weakness in Catalan’s game and thinks his age will play a factor in the match.  “We’re looking for weaknesses in Rene. We’ve seen some, and I think we should also consider his age. That’s where we’ll work on him,” Sangiao said, looking to capitalize on his 23-year-old’s youth.  “We’ll treat this as the same. Whether you’re a Filipino or not, wherever we are, we’ll have to prepare for it,” he said. “He has to treat this fight as if it is his last.”   Catch ONE: MASTERS OF FATE live on Friday, November 8th LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23 on LIVESTREAM via the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook Page and on iWant starting at 8:30 PM. ONE: MASTERS OF FATE will also air on Sunday's Best on November 17th, Sunday, at 11:30 PM with local commentatry from Anton Roxas and Theo Castillo.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2019