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Barty upset in Cincy semifinals, misses top spot for US Open

By Joe Kay, Associated Press MASON, Ohio (AP) — Ashleigh Barty's chance to move back to No. 1 was only one victory away. At the end of an up-and-down week, she didn't have another comeback left. Barty lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open on Saturday, adding to the tournament's week of upsets and injuries. The women's bracket has a lot questions with New York just around the corner. No. 1 isn't one of them. Barty's seven-week run atop the field ended when Naomi Osaka edged ahead of her in the latest ranking. A victory Saturday would have moved Barty back ahead for the U.S. Open. Instead, she dropped the opening set for the third straight match and this time, there was no digging out. "A week that we battled through," Barty said. "I think at times I played some good stuff. At times, I played some pretty awful stuff." Which will it be for Barty at the Open? And will Osaka be in good enough shape to defend her title? Osaka dropped out of her semifinal match Friday with discomfort in her left knee that caused her worry. She still plans to play in New York, but it's unclear whether the knee will be a problem. And then there's Serena Williams, who retired in the finals at Toronto last Sunday because of back spasms. She also withdrew from Cincinnati before her first match, but stuck around to cheer sister Venus until her loss in the quarterfinals. For Barty, it was another instance of a slow start leaving her trying to dig out. This time, a resurgent Kuznetsova gave her no openings, knocking off a top-five player for the second time this week to reach her first final of the season. "Sveta was unreal today," Barty said. It's been awhile since her play has been described that way. The 153rd-ranked player is recovering from seven-month layoff because of a knee injury. Playing in her ninth event of the season, she got her game together, winning her first Premier-level semifinal since 2017 at Madrid. "Well, sometimes in life it's like this," Kuznetsova said. "It's like really small things change everything. Definitely it's different momentum I have now." She'll face Madison Keys , who beat Sofia Kenin 7-5, 6-4 with the help of 14 aces. Keys ended her streak of failing to make it past the second round of her last three tournaments, reaching the final in Cincinnati for the first time. In the men's bracket, David Goffin reached his first Masters 1000 final by beating Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4 . Goffin also is on an upswing after falling to No. 33 in the ATP rankings on June 10, his lowest since September 2014. "Of course, it was a tough period there," Goffin said. "I was coming back from injuries. I had some trouble with my confidence. I couldn't find my rhythm, my game. So it's great now. I'm feeling great. I'm back at my best tennis." Defending champion Novak Djokovic was scheduled for an evening match against Daniil Medvedev. The men's bracket also took several notable hits throughout the week. Originally billed as a reunion of the Big Four — Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray together for the first time since January — it quickly lost its luster. Nadal dropped out after winning the Rogers Cup, citing fatigue. Murray played singles for the first time since hip surgery in January and lost his opening match. And Federer, the seven-time champion, failed to reach the weekend, losing in the quarterfinals......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 18th, 2019

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

Collins oust Svitolina, Stosur upsets Kerber in Brisbane

By John Pye, Associated Press BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Danielle Collins needed less than an hour to beat 2018 champion Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-1 at the Brisbane International on Monday, already a better start to the Australian summer than she made in her breakthrough trip last year. Collins lost in her main draw debut to Petra Kvitova in Brisbane last year, but rebounded to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open. She had never won a main draw match at a major until going on a five-match roll at Melbourne Park in 2019, including an upset over then-No. 2 Angelique Kerber. The 26-year-old American finished last year at No. 31 in the rankings, posting five top 20 wins in the season. She has added another one already after dismantling the sixth-ranked Svitolina, who was runner-up at last year's season-ending WTA Finals and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Collins will play either Donna Vekic or qualifier Yulia Putintseva in the next round, and possibly 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur after that. The 35-year-old Stosur, a wild-card entry in her 10th appearance at the tournament in her home state, upset Kerber 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) to advance beyond the first round in Brisbane for the first time since 2016. “That's exactly the start anyone wants is to win their first one. I'm very, very happy with that win over Angie," Stosur said. “It's probably my first top-20 win in a little while, so to come out and play well ... it was great feeling." Stosur led 5-2 and had a chance to serve for the first set before Kerber rallied and won five straight games, then get within two points of clinching it when she took a 5-1 lead in the tiebreaker. On a stadium court — the main arena is reserved for the ATP Cup, which is running concurrently in Brisbane until Wednesday — Stosur won the next six points to regain momentum. There were no breaks of serve in the second set, and Stosur controlled the tiebreaker this time. The win ended a run of four losses to former No. 1-ranked Kerber, a three-time major champion, and improved her record to 6-4 in their head-to-head meetings. Barbora Strycova beat seventh-seeded Johanna Konta 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and Americans Alison Riske and Sofia Kenin opened with wins. Riske beat Karolina Muchova 6-4, 6-2 and Kenin beat Anastasija Sevastova 7-6 (1), 6-4. Top-ranked Ash Barty and second-seeded Karolina Pliskova had first-round byes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2020

Shaky start to No. 1 Naomi Osaka s US Open title defense

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Naomi Osaka put her right hand in the shape of a gun and pointed two fingers at her temple, her face grim, while she looked toward her guest box. She'd just dropped the second set, moments after wasting a match point, as her U.S. Open title defense got off to a shaky start Tuesday. Her body language told the story: the eye rolls, the balled up fists covering her face at a changeover, the racket resting atop her head. Stretched to a third. Anna Blinkova takes the second set 7-6(5) off of defending champion Naomi Osaka!#USOpen pic.twitter.com/bb7WEuJZPz — US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 27, 2019 Back in Arthur Ashe Stadium, where she beat Serena Williams in last year's chaotic final, the No. 1-seeded Osaka kept digging holes and kept climbing out of them, eventually emerging with a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 victory over 84th-ranked Anna Blinkova of Russia in the first round. "I don't think I've ever been this nervous in my life," Osaka told the crowd during her post-match interview. "For me, I just came off really slow and I never really found my rhythm." The 21-year-old from Japan wore a black sleeve over her left knee, which has been an issue recently. But it wasn't so much her movement as her erratic strokes that presented problems for Osaka, who finished with 50 unforced errors, more than double Blinkova's total of 22. "You kind of want to do well after you did well last year," Osaka said, when asked why she felt so many jitters while trailing 3-0 and 4-1 at the outset. "Just definitely," she said, "didn't want to lose in the first round." Osaka avoided that sort of disappointment. Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 21-year-old from Greece who was seeded No. 8, did not. He lost in the first round for the second Slam in a row — and made a lot of noise on his way out, saying during a late dispute with chair umpire Damien Dumusois: "You're all weirdos." After getting broken to trail 4-3 in the last set of his 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 7-5 loss to Andrey Rublev, Tsitsipas was fiddling around with a plastic bag of sweat bands and head wraps at a changeover when Dumusois announced it was time for play to resume. Tsitsipas said he wasn't ready; Dumusois, essentially, told him that was too bad. Tsitsipas told the official, who already had warned him about getting coaching help, to go ahead and call him for a violation; Dumusois obliged, docking a point. "This chair umpire, I don't know, he has something against me. I don't know why," said Tsitsipas, who upset Roger Federer en route to the Australian Open semifinals in January but bowed out of Wimbledon in the first round. Another highly seeded man went out when No. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut, a Wimbledon semifinalist, was defeated by Mikhail Kukushkin 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, while No. 14 John Isner and 2014 champion Marin Cilic each won in straight sets. No. 2 Rafael Nadal and No. 4 Dominic Thiem were in later matches. In other women's results on Day 2, two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza was eliminated by Alison Riske of the U.S. 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, while two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and No. 13 seed Belinda Bencic both won in two sets. During the professional era, which began in 1968, only two U.S. Open women's champions have lost in the first round the following year: It happened in 2005 to Svetlana Kuznetsova and again in 2017 to Angelique Kerber — who was beaten by none other than Osaka, ranked 45th at the time and yet to get past the third round at a major tournament. Osaka thought back to that match Tuesday. "I could kind of see how stressed out (Kerber) was and that was in my favor," Osaka said. "I don't want to give people that look." This victory, difficult as it was, stretched Osaka's winning streak in hard-court Grand Slam matches to 15, which includes her run to the titles at Flushing Meadows in 2018 and at the Australian Open in January. Those helped her become the first Japanese tennis player to be ranked No. 1, a spot she regained this month. Osaka has spoken rather openly about the struggles she's had dealing with pressure and expectations this season. She said Tuesday that she hoped figuring out how to get past Blinkova — who is now 0-2 at the U.S. Open and 0-4 against top-10 opponents — would boost her moving forward. "It helps me a lot, because I learn from the tougher matches," Osaka said. "It helps me be prepared and try to learn and adjust my game plan.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2019

Madison Keys, Daniil Medvedev get 1st titles in Cincy

By Joe Kay, Associated Press MASON, Ohio (AP) — Two unexpected champions embraced their first Rookwood championship trophies, concluding a week that brought more questions than clarity to the upcoming U.S. Open. Who's going to be healthy on the women's side? Will stumbles in the men's bracket at the Western & Southern Open carry over to New York? And are Madison Keys and Daniil Medvedev capable of carrying their newfound momentum into a Grand Slam event? After winning the biggest tournament title of their careers, they were already getting asked about how it might transfer to the bigger stage. Keys rallied late in both sets and beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 7-6 (5) Sunday for her second title of the season and easily the biggest of her career. After flameouts in her last three tournaments and a tough draw for the week, she couldn't imagine the outcome. Back on the court to receive the trophy , she told the crowd: "If you told me this is where I would be a week ago, I would have laughed in your face!" Yet there she was, back in the Top 10 on a surprising upswing heading to New York. She'll move up to the No. 10 ranking after a gritty showing that was typical of her week. She broke Kuznetsova to pull even in both sets at 5-5 and then pulled them out with a steady serve. Keys hadn't made it past the second round in her last three tournaments, including Wimbledon. Now she's got a good feeling with her favorite Grand Slam event at hand. "It's definitely a great building block," Keys said. "I want to do well in New York and have a good end to the season." At 34, Kuznetsova was the oldest finalist in the Western & Southern Open's history. She beat three top-10 players in a tournament — Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova and Ashleigh Barty — for the first time in her 19-year career. The 153rd-ranked player got a late start on the season as she completed a seven-month recovery from a knee injury. In her ninth tournament of the season, she got her game together and got her best result in two years. "Honestly, I didn't expect to be so good at this tournament," she said. After what happened in Cincinnati during the week, nobody knows what to expect in the women's bracket in New York. Serena Williams dropped out of Cincinnati because of back spasms that also forced her to withdraw from the final in Toronto. Naomi Osaka, the defending U.S. Open champion, withdrew from her semifinal match on Friday with discomfort in her left knee that left her worried about her condition heading to New York. There's some intrigue on the men's side, too. The bracket in Cincinnati was billed as a reunion of the Big Four — Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray back together for the first time since January. None of them made it to the final. Nadal won the Rogers Cup last Sunday and withdrew from the Western & Southern, citing fatigue. Murray played singles for the first time since hip surgery in January and lost his opening match. Seven-time champion Federer was knocked out in the quarterfinals, and Djokovic lost to Medvedev in the semifinals with the crowd cheering him on. The Russian thanked the crowd for its support after beat David Goffin 7-6 (3), 6-4 for his first Masters 1000 title Sunday. It was his third straight final, but the first time he'd won. Medvedev lost to Nadal on Montreal a week earlier, then went on to reach his sixth final of this season, most on the ATP tour. He's won twice. "To finally lift the trophy this week is an amazing feeling," Medvedev said. At age 23, he became the youngest Cincinnati champion since Murray at age 21 in 2008. "Congratulations," Goffin told him, "and I think you're ready for New York.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2019

Naomi Osaka s knee injury brings uncertainty to US Open

By Joe Kay, Associated Press MASON, Ohio (AP) — Naomi Osaka felt a strange sensation in her left knee, different than anything she'd experienced. The U.S. Open champion left the court worried about whether she'll be in shape to defend her precious title. Osaka retired from her quarterfinal match at the Western & Southern Open on Friday, unsure what's going on in the knee. She expected to get an MRI. For now, the player currently ranked No. 1 in the world is concerned about her chances of making another deep run in New York. "Last year, I won the U.S. Open," she said. "This year, I'm trying to play the U.S. Open." The problem came out of the blue. Osaka split two sets with Sofia Kenin. She felt something unusual in the knee while serving early in the third set. After a timeout to have it examined and wrapped, she played a couple more points before retiring. "I have no idea what's going on," she said. With that, Kenin advanced to the semifinals for the second straight week. During her run to the semifinals in Toronto, she knocked off then-No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, an upset that allowed Osaka to move up to the top ranking. Barty is in position to snatch it back heading into the Open. She beat Maria Sakkari 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 with an encouraging all-around effort. "Still not quite there, but we're getting better and better each match," the French Open champion said. "I think that's the beauty of being able to stay alive in the tournament is to give myself an opportunity to keep getting better. I think I'm still aiming to obviously do very well here, but the big picture is New York in 10 days' time." She needs some work on those first sets, though. Barty got ahead 5-2 in her opening set and got sloppy, letting it slip away. It was the second straight day that Barty rallied after dropping a first set. She fought off a match point during a three-set win over Anett Kontaveit on Thursday, showing poise that she'd need to draw upon again a day later. "There is certainly no panic, where it gets to the stage where I'm kind of overwrought or can't think straight," she said. "I'm still able to, more times than not, have the ability to relax and kind of stay clear and come back to what works." Barty will face Svetlana Kuznetsova, who reached her first semifinal of the season by beating third-seeded Karolina Pliskova 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3. Kuznetsova is playing only her ninth event after missing the start of the season because of a knee injury. On a hot, humid afternoon, she got treatment for tightness in her upper right leg after the second set and twice again during the final one. On the men's side, qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew because of illness, sending David Goffin into the semifinals. Nishioka had a good tournament showing, beating sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori — a player he called his hero — and Alex De Minaur to reach the quarterfinals. Goffin will face Richard Gasquet, who advanced with a three-set victory over Roberto Bautista Agut. Gasquet had groin surgery in January and fell to No. 68 in the ATP rankings on July 29, his lowest in nine years. He's back in an ATP Masters 1000 semifinal for the first time since 2013 in Miami. Seven-time champion Roger Federer was upset Thursday, leaving Novak Djokovic as the only high seed left in the bracket......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 16th, 2019

WHAT IF… Bea De Leon missed the rest of Season 77?

Ateneo de Manila University achieved perfection in UAAP Season 77 after the Lady Eagles swept their way to a second straight women’s volleyball title. Stacked with powerful hitters in Alyssa Valdez, Michelle Morente, Ella de Jesus and Jho Maraguinot, Ateneo’s offense was unstoppable. The Katipunan-based squad also had prized setter Jia Morado and libero Denden Lazaro with veteran middle Amy Ahomiro. But another vital cog that made Ateneo a super team that year was the presence of rookie middle Bea De Leon. The former Poveda standout earned a starting spot in the Tai Bundit-mentored team, which the year before completed a Cinderella story with a championship.    De Leon proved her worth and even had a strong case for the coveted Rookie of the Year award. She was having a splendid season until she was forced to miss three games after suffering a finger injury during practice with Ateneo already in a 10-game romp. De Leon chose to just have her left index finger stitched and have therapy than go under the knife. She returned just in time for the pivotal end of the elimination round match against archrival De La Salle University. Getting the green light to play on the eve of the game, De Leon was surprised as she was included in the starting line-up and she did not disappoint.       De Leon, who risked aggravating her heavily bandaged finger, scored 11 points including three kill blocks in the Lady Eagles’ 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 27-25, victory that sent Ateneo straight to the Finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage. From there, Ateneo made history. But what if De Leon underwent surgery? One thing is for sure, De Leon would be out of commission for an extended period if not for the remainder of the season. Without her, Ateneo would surely be in a precarious situation in that decisive end of the elims match against the Lady Spikers. Taking down DLSU won’t be easy for the Lady Eagles to begin with. In their first meeting, Ateneo had to come back from a set down to outlast DLSU in a five sets match. Without De Leon, Coach Tai would be forced to put in either veteran but seldom-used Aeriel Patnongon or another rookie Maddie Madayag to help Ahomiro. Both rode the bench in the first Ateneo-DLSU encounter. DLSU, which was coming off a six-game win run, would be in a favorable position to exploit its height advantage and would’ve had an open sky for the Lady Spikers’ hitters.    And if DLSU won that game against an Ateneo squad missing its starting middle, that would put the semifinals in the usual Final Four format. The Lady Eagles will still have a twice-to-beat advantage and would still overpower Far Eastern University. As for DLSU, coming off a win over Ateneo, the Lady Spikers would be in high spirits against National University. The twice-to-beat Lady Spikers might not need to go to a do-or-die decider against the Lady Bulldogs. Probably, DLSU would have been spared of losing its best scorer Ara Galang from a harrowing knee injury. Of course, the Finals would’ve been a different story. Ateneo will be missing De Leon’s Finals average of eight points per game and a vital piece both on offense and defense.       But then again, the Lady Eagles still had its ace Valdez and their reliable wings to take care of the scoring as well as the steady Ahomiro. We can never know what the outcome of that Finals series would have been if De Leon missed the rest of the season. But we can surely say that De Leon’s return from that finger injury proved to be a decisive moment in the Lady Eagles' historic perfect season.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: First to impress in men’s volleyball

Fans got a chance to witness UAAP Season 82 men’s volleyball action early this month after a long delay following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). It was just unfortunate that the tournament needed to be put on halt in light of the latest development regarding the spread of the virus and the government's decision to put the National Capital Region under community quarantine. But in a single week fans got a taste of the league’s centerpiece second semester sporting event. It was short, honestly, but it did satisfy [sort of] the fans’ craving for UAAP volleyball. Let’s look back at some of the men's division players who made an impact in their first few outings.   LLOYD JOSAFAT Playing for a team composed of second-year players and rookies, University of the East sophomore Lloyd Josafat displayed maturity and leadership early in the Red Warriors’ campaign. Josafat set the scoring standard this season after firing 32 points to help UE silence University of the Philippines in four sets before the season was put to a halt. He unleashed 28 attack points off 53 attempts and added three kills blocks and an ace to put the Red Warriors in the win column after opening the season with a loss. Josafat had 10 markers in UE’s straight sets defeat to Far Eastern University.    JUDE GARCIA The graduating veteran played the hero’s role to help preserve Far Eastern University’s pristine record as last year’s runner-up tries to complete unfinished business this season. Garcia exploded for 27 points in a five-set escape act over University of Sto. Tomas for the Tamaraws’ second win in as many games and a share of the top spot with defending champion National University. Garcia, who scored crucial hits in the fifth set, had a crisp attacking clip as he nailed 21 attacks off 39 attempts. He also added three kill blocks and three aces for a well-rounded offensive outing.    Garcia took a backseat in the opener, scoring nine points in the Tams’ sweep of UE in a game that FEU dominated with its balance scoring.   LOUIS GASPAR GAMBAN This rookie made a name for himself not only as a dangerous scorer for University of the Philippines but also as an entertainer and energizer inside the court. Gamban backed his court sass and swag with an amazing performance both on offense and defense, making him one of  the rookies to watch this season. The University of Perpetual Help recruit made an unforgettable introduction when he powered the Fighting Maroons to a shocking, straight sets upset win over Ateneo de Manila University to open the season. Gamban scored 10 points to back another impressive freshman in John Lomibao, who had 11 markers, and laced his debut stats with six excellent receptions as UP snapped a 12-game head-to-head losing streak to the Blue Eagles. Gamban posted 11 points, 14 excellent receptions and 10 digs in the Fighting Maroons’ four-set defeat at the hands of UE.    JAU UMANDAL A stint with the national team did wonders for Umandal. The converted wing spiker showcased his scoring prowess after averaging 23 points per game for UST. Although the Golden Spikers have yet to win a game this season after two empty trips, Umandal gave UST faithful a ray of hope with his consistency. Umandal, a member of the national squad that won silver in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, delivered 25 points with 24 coming off kills in his first game in a four-set loss to National University. He followed it up with a 21-point production spiked with 13 excellent receptions but all his efforts went down the drain as UST bowed down to FEU in five sets.   OWA RETAMAR Expectations are high for setter Retamar after his amazing stint with the national team in the SEA Games as its main playmaker. The sophomore did not disappoint. Retamar dished out 21 excellent sets that helped NU pound 59 attacks in its opening day win over UST. He backed his great playmaking with six points. Retamar followed it up with 16 excellent sets and four points in the Bulldogs’ dominating win over Adamson University as NU kept a spotless record on top of the standings.   CHU NJIGHA Njigha is slowly taking over the leadership role for Ateneo. The Season 79 Rookie of the Year stepped up big time to help the Blue Eagles bounce back from an opening day loss. He finished with 20 points built on 18 kills and two kill blocks in Ateneo’s straight sets win over De La Salle University. Njigha finished with 12 points in the Blue Eagles’ opening day defeat at the hands of UP.   JOHN MARK RONQUILLO The rookie made his presence felt for DLSU when he debuted with 11 points – all off attacks. Although his effort was not enough to lift the Green Spikers past Ateneo, Ronquillo gave DLSU faithful a glimpse of their future star. Together with another freshman in Vince Maglinao, DLSU could be looking at the cornerstones of the Green Spikers’ rise back to UAAP men’s volleyball prominence.     LEO MIRANDA Adamson U started on the wrong foot after suffering a beating at the hands of NU. But it didn’t stop skipper Leo Miranda from trying. Miranda was limited to only seven points but he compensated his cold offensive outing with his floor defense as he tallied 16 digs and 16 excellent receptions.      Show your school spirit. Get official UAAP university licensed merchandise from www.uaapstore.com.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 16th, 2020

Cebu’s Team Adroit misses tourney’s top spot due to internet connection problem

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu’s Dota 2 team, Team Adroit, missed their opportunity to secure the top spot in the Los Angeles Major 2020 Southeast Asia Closed Qualifiers following a loss to Team Fanatic during the playoff semifinals held on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Team Fanatic that consists of players coming from different Southeast Asian […] The post Cebu’s Team Adroit misses tourney’s top spot due to internet connection problem appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 11th, 2020

Alex Eala and Indonesian partner win Australian Open Junior Girls doubles title

Filipina junior tennis star Alex Eala and partner Priska Madelyn Nugroho of Indonesia were crowned as the 2020 Australian Open Junior Doubles' champions after defeating Matilda Mutavdzic of England and Ziva Falkner of Slovenia, 6 - 1, 6 - 2, in the Final on Friday.    The fourth-seeded tandem of Eala and Nugroho got off to a torrid start in the first set with a 5 - 0 advantage.   In the second set, Falkner-Mutavdzic held the lead in the first game, but Eala-Nugroho won the next three games and never looked back. Eala and Nugroho opened the doubles tournament with a two-set win over the pair of Russia’s Elina Avanesyan and Ukraine’s Liubov Kostenko.  The pair followed that up with another two-setter against the tandem of Julie Belgraver of the Netherlands and Pia Lovric of Slovenia to enter the quarterfinals.  There, Eala and Nugroho bested the French tandem of Aubane Droguet and Selena Janicijevic to earn a spot in the semifinals.  The duo reached the final after upsetting the top-seeded pair of Kamilla Bartone of Latvia and Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 1-6, 7-5, 10-8, on Thursday.   Eala is the second Filipino tennis player to win a title at the Australian Open Juniors tournament.  Francis Casey Alcantara won the 2009 Australian Open Boys' Doubles event with Hsieh Cheng-peng of Chinese Taipei beating Mikhail Biryukov and Yasutaka Uchiyama, 6–4, 6–2 in the final. The 14-year old Eala, who is a scholar of the Rafa Nadal Academy, bowed out of the singles race after a 1-6, 3-6 loss to 16th-seeded Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong in the 3rd Round earlier in the week  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 31st, 2020

Alex Eala bows out of Australian Open singles race, semis-bound in doubles

Filipina junior tennister Alex Eala has had a busy couple of days in the on-going Australian Open.  Following victories in the first and second round of the Junior Girls’ Singles tournament, the 14-year old Eala bowed out of the singles race after a 1-6, 3-6 loss to 16th-seeded Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong in the 3rd Round.  Eala won’t be heading home just yet however, as she still has a chance to claim Australian Open glory alongside Junior Girls’ Doubles partner Priska Madelyn Nugroho of Indonesia.  The fourth-seeded tandem of Eala and Nugroho opened the doubles tournament with a two-set win over the tandem of Russia’s Elina Avanesyan and Ukraine’s Liubov Kostenko.  The pair followed that up with another two-setter against the tandem of Julie Belgraver of the Netherlands and Pia Lovric of Slovenia to enter the quarterfinals.  There, Eala and Nugroho bested the French tandem of Aubane Droguet and Selena Janicijevic to earn a spot in the semifinals.  Standing in between the Eala-Nugroho tandem and a trip to the finals is the top-seeded pairing of Latvia’s Kamilla Bartone and Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 29th, 2020

Federer heads into unknown in Aussie Open

Melbourne—Roger Federer is on a collision course with Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open but must first avoid an upset against Tennys Sandgren, while women’s top seed Ashleigh Barty carries home hopes in Tuesday’s quarter-finals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 28th, 2020

Kerber out of Adelaide International with lower back injury

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber sustained a lower back injury and retired from her Adelaide International match on Wednesday. The former world No. 1 trailed 6-2, 2-0 in her match against Dayana Yastremska when she stopped playing. Kerber, who won the Australian Open in 2016 and also has Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles, had on-court medical help for the injury and then retired. Kerber lost in the first round to Sam Stosur last week at the Brisbane International. In other second-round women's matches in Adelaide, Donna Vekic beat Maria Sakkari 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 and American Danielle Collins upset her seventh-seeded compatriot Sofia Kenin 6-3 6-1, to secure a quarterfinal spot. In the men's ATP tournament at the same venue, third-seeded Andrey Rublev beat Sam Querrey 6-3, 6-3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 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

PBA: Qualls says NorthPort needs to go back to being the underdog

NorthPort needed to topple the playoffs top-seed just to get to the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup semifinals. And once there, they even kept surprising with a 34-point rout of favored Ginebra in Game 1 of their best-of-five series. Come Game 2, though, the Gin Kings restored order and handed the Batang Pier their own 35-point beatdown. And the crowd favorites were able to do that all because they knew they were behind and they played like it. "They were just hungrier than we were. Everybody on their team played well and they outhustled us," Michael Qualls, NorthPort's American reinforcement, said post-game. And for Qualls, that could not happen again if he and the rest of the eight-seeded squad are to upset Ginebra. "NorthPort, we're the underdogs. We're supposed to be the team that outhustles the other team because when they have that on their side, it's tough to beat them," he said. He then continued, "We got to be the enforcers. If anything, we want to dictate the tempo." Of course, the 6-foot-4 super scorer knows full well that mindset has to begin with him. As he put it, after still getting 20 points, but shooting 8-of-26 from the field, "I just got to hit my open shots. I was getting wide open shots so I just got to make them because the team depends on me to score." He then continued, "I have to score the ball to put us in a better situation and everybody else will follow suit. I just got to be a leader." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 17th, 2019

Barcelona s disputed draw adds fuel to upcoming clasico

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — A disputed decision not to award a late penalty may have cost Barcelona the Spanish league lead entering Wednesday's “clásico” against Real Madrid. Barcelona was held to a 2-2 draw at Real Sociedad on Saturday, giving Madrid a chance to go into the midweek match at Camp Nou Stadium with a two-point lead if it beats Valencia on Sunday. Barcelona was expected to file a formal complaint to the Spanish soccer federation over the non-call, which came after Real Sociedad defender Diego Llorente appeared to pull down Gerard Piqué by his jersey in stoppage time. Neither the referee nor video review thought there was enough to award a penalty. Barcelona was especially upset because Real Sociedad's first goal came on a penalty awarded in a similar situation after Sergio Busquets grabbed Llorente's jersey in the first half. “The one on Gerard was clearer than mine,” Busquets said. “If the referee saw the first one, he had to see that one as well. I think he saw it, but didn't want to make the call.” Spanish powerhouses Madrid and Barcelona will meet for the first time this season in a match postponed from October because of a separatist rally in the Catalan capital. “We don't know whether we will still be leaders or not, that's out of our hands now,” Busquets said. “But we will enter the match with good momentum. We have been improving and we'll be playing at home.” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde didn't rest any of his top players, using Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Antoine Griezmann in the attack. Messi didn't play in the team's Champions League match at Inter Milan on Tuesday. Barcelona, which had won nine of its last 10 league games, was outplayed during most of the match at Reale Arena. Fifth -place Sociedad creating most of the scoring chances and restrained Barcelona, which was in control for short periods of the game but couldn't capitalize on its chances to seal the victory. “We are upset despite a draw against a team like Barcelona,” Real Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil said. “We did more than they did, we could have taken the three points.” Mikel Oyarzabal opened the scoring for the hosts by converting a 12th-minute penalty kick after Busquets was caught grabbing Llorente inside the area. Barcelona recovered with two fast breakaways, one late in the first half and another soon after the break. Griezmann equalized in the 38th by flicking the ball past goalkeeper Álex Remiro from inside the area. Griezmann, who played nine seasons with Real Sociedad, didn't celebrate his goal. “I have a lot of respect for those who have given me everything,” said Griezmann, who has scored three goals in his last five matches. Suárez put the visitors ahead in the 49th with a strike into the open net after a short pass by Messi. The hosts equalized in the 62nd with a close-range shot by striker Alexander Isak after Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen couldn't fully clear a cross. Oyarzabal had also scored the last time Real Sociedad beat Barcelona, in a league match back in 2016. Barcelona had won seven straight matches against Real Sociedad in all competitions. Real Sociedad has won only one of its last five league matches. It had lost its last five league games against Barcelona. ATLÉTICO MOVES UP Atlético Madrid beat Osasuna 2-0 at home to end a three-match winless streak in the league. Álvaro Morata and Saúl Ñíguez scored a goal each in the second half to lift Atlético back to fourth place, the last qualification spot for the Champions League. Diego Simeone's team had won only one of its last six league games. Tenth-place Osasuna had lost one of its last seven matches in the league. ATHLETIC STALLS Athletic Bilbao was held by Eibar to a 0-0 home draw in a match between two Basque Country teams. It was the second winless game in a row for sixth-place Athletic, which hadn't been held scoreless in four straight league games. Eibar, sitting in 16th place, had lost four straight league matches. LEVANTE REBOUNDS A late winner by North Macedonia midfielder Enis Bardhi gave Levante a 2-1 win at Granada, ending the team's two-game losing streak. Bardhi scored with a shot from outside the area in the 89th minute. Levante moved to 11th, one point behind Granada......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 15th, 2019

SEA Games: Tiwala lang sa isa t isa -- Espejo on miracle win

The Philippine men’s volleyball team stared at Thailand’s huge match point advantage in the fourth set. Thailand, a powerhouse team on a mission to win its fifth straight SEA Games title, needed just one point to finish off the Filipinos on Sunday in their 30th Southeast Asian Games men’s volleyball semifinals. The Thais held a 24-21 lead. Refusing to roll down and die, the Filipinos, 92 ranks lower than Thailand, came back to life to write a historic feat 42 years in the making. The Philippines booked a rare gold medal date with Indonesia in the country’s first men’s volleyball final since losing to Cambodia in the inaugural 1977 edition of the meet in Malaysia after ousting Thailand, 17-25, 25-20, 23-25, 27-25, 17-15, in front of 6,700 crowd at the rocking PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.  Their feat hinged on one simple word: trust. The host team saved three match points to knot the set before Bryan Bagunas scored to put the PHI up, 25-24.       Amorntep Konhan answered with a hit but Bagunas hammered another kill before the PHI completed the comeback after an attack error by Thailand to force a decider. Marck Espejo, a power server and top hitter, was on the service line during that pivotal stretch when the Nationals kept their necks above water. “Kahit nu’ng fourth set hindi ko alam kung idya-jump serve ko ba o ipo-float,” he recalled. He opted to just make sure his serve will go in. Never mind if Thailand will easily receive his serve, he knew his teammates will get the defensive stop.  “Sabi ko, ‘Hindi i-float ko na lang. Tiwala lang sa isa’t isa,’” said Espejo. “As in kinakabahan ako sa loob ng court nun. Di ko alam.” “Nu’ng natapos ang fourth set nagti-thank you kami kay Lord,” he added. “May breaks talaga siguro sa amin pumanig ang breaks talaga. Wala talagang imposible kung gusto mo lahat pwedeng mangyari.” The Nationals’ character was tested in the fourth set. The fifth turned out to be one for the ages. Kim Malabunga broke a 12-12 tie in the fifth frame with a huge kill block to put the Nationals up. Konhan tied it at 13 after Thailand called time. Kittinon Namkhunthod put Thailand at match point but Konhan sent his serve out. Konhan scored on an off the block hit but Malabunga tied it again at 15. Then the stars aligned in favor of the Filipinos. Bagunas got a kill block in after an unsuccessful challenge by Thailand before sealing the win with a thunderous hammer to an open spot at the back.    “Para sa akin naman kasama namin si Lord nu’ng naglalaro kasi umaga pa lang sumadya kami sa church para sa game na to kasi sobrang mahalaga tong game na to sa amin,” said Bagunas, who rained down 27 points to lead the Nationals. “Sobrang nakakaproud kasi ilang years na sila nagcha-champion tapos tinalo namin sila,” added Bagunas, who is in his second SEA Games stint. “Doon lumabas yung skills ng bawat isa. Talagang sobrang saya hindi namin ma-explain yung saya namin.” The mission is not yet over for the Filipinos as they are still facing the only team to hand them a loss in the competition. But they are undaunted. They know the battle will be a hard one but they have each other's back. Each trusting each other as brothers marching to the biggest fight of their lives.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 8th, 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

Federer, Djokovic both lose in Shanghai quarterfinals

By Sandra Harwitt, Associated Press SHANGHAI (AP) — Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic went from perfectly unbeatable to unbelievably beaten in the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Masters. Federer and Djokovic had been a combined 13-0 in Shanghai with a spot in the semifinals on the line, but both lost Friday. Federer saved five match points in the second set and received a point penalty in the third in the 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3 loss to fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev. Djokovic, the defending champion, lost to sixth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. "He deserved the victory," Djokovic said of the 21-year-old Tsitsipas. "He was the better player in the second and third sets. I started well in the first set, but I wasn't sharp enough." Djokovic had been 8-0 in quarterfinal matches at the Shanghai Masters, and won four titles. Federer had been 5-0. Federer received a code violation for hitting a ball into the stands, and then received a point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after flicking a ball into the air when trailing 3-0 in the third set. When asked about the point penalty after the match, Federer didn't want to go into any detail. "So you could write on Twitter, you mean?" Federer answered. "No, it would be nice to write something nice once also about the game. "Next question." The 22-year-old Zverev now leads Federer 4-3 in career meetings. "I mean, they're knocking on the door big time, the young guys," Federer said. "It's exciting. They're great. It's really open now, I think, for the finish of this tournament." Zverev will next play Matteo Berrettini, an 11th-seeded Italian who defeated fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem 7-6 (8), 6-4. Until Friday's match, Djokovic had won 24 straight sets in Asia, a run that included last year's Shanghai Masters and the title in Tokyo last week. Tsitsipas has now beaten Djokovic twice in three matches. The Greek player defeated Djokovic in their first meeting at the 2018 Toronto tournament and Djokovic won their match in Madrid this season. "It's the best comeback that I have ever had probably," Tsitsipas said of Friday's victory. Tsitsipas also earned a place at the year-end ATP Finals for the first time on Friday. But that was guaranteed when third-seeded Daniil Medvedev beat Fabio Fognini 6-3, 7-6 (4) in another quarterfinal match. Medvedev, who will face Tsitsipas in Saturday's semifinals, is one match away from reaching a sixth consecutive tournament final. He reached his first Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open, and then won titles in Cincinnati and St. Petersburg. Medvedev leads the tour with 57 match wins this season and is 40-1 on hard courts when winning the first set. The only time he lost a hard-court match after winning the first set was against Gael Monfils in Rotterdam. Prior to Friday's match, Fognini said Medvedev was one of the most dangerous players to face. "If some top players like Fabio can say this about me, shows that I'm on the good way, I'm playing good, and it's not easy to play against me," Medvedev said. "Surely, yeah, that's what I tried to show today on the match and it worked out.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2019

PVL: Motolite halts skid, Angels’ win streak

Motolite bared its teeth in the closing stretch of the fifth set to breathe new life to its semifinals bid after snapping PetroGazz’s eight-game winning streak with a 22-25, 25-13, 25-16, 16-25, 15-11, decision on Wednesday in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Open Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Down, 5-7, in the fifth, Tots Carlos, Isa Molde and Bern Flora connived in a decisive run that gave Motolite a three-point cushion that kept the Angels at bay to improve to 8-5 win-loss record and snap a two-game slide. Carlos dropped 20 points with 17 coming off kills including the game-clinching hit that put PetroGazz’s winning run to a screeching halt. The University of the Philippines standout also had three kill blocks and spiked her stats with 21 digs and 15 excellent receptions. “It was a hard game. PetroGazz is very very good and experienced team,” said Motolite coach Godfrey Okumu. “To us today was one of those do-or-die games like if we lose this game then maybe say bye-bye to the semifinals. By winning this game, we kept our hopes alive to make it to the Final Four. It’s a big relief.” Molde got 12 markers while Aie Gannaban posted 10 points for Motolite, which received 37 points off PetroGazz’s errors. Flora got nine points in four sets of action while Fhen Emnas dished out 24 excellent sets for Motolite. Motolite erased an early deficit in the fifth set with a 6-1 counterattack to take an 11-8 advantage. The Angels closed in at 12-10 but an attack from Flora followed by a Cai Baloaloa attack error put Motolite at match point. Carlos sealed the two-hour, eight-minute match with a hit. PetroGazz, which beat Motolite in the first round, remained at second spot despite absorbing its third defeat in 12 games. Jonag Sabete led the Angels with 14 points including 12 kills and added 19 digs and 16 excellent receptions. Baloaloa had 11 points, Jeanette Panaga had a quiet 10-point outing while Jovielyn Prado finished with seven points, 13 digs and 15 excellent receptions.   ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 9th, 2019