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CAMPEONE: Year of the Tiger (2010)

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

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnApr 26th, 2020

A new format for FedEx Cup brings clarity and curiosity

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Justin Thomas has a two-shot lead, and the Tour Championship hasn't even started. If that seems difficult to fathom, consider that someone could win this week without having the lowest 72-hole score. And remember, such a radical change was to make the FedEx Cup finale easier to follow. The first staggered start in PGA Tour history — Thomas begins at 10-under par, the bottom five players are at even par — unfolds Thursday at East Lake when 30 players who reached the final stage of the FedEx Cup playoffs chase the $15 million prize, the biggest payout in golf history. "I could see a scenario where come Sunday, 15 guys might have a chance to win the entire thing," Rory McIlroy said Wednesday. "It will be exciting. It will be different. But at the same time, you've just got to go out there and try to play some good golf and not look around at what other guys are doing, and trust that by the end of the week things will hopefully even out." The idea behind the new format was to bring clarity to the FedEx Cup by having only one winner Sunday. Each of the last two years, one player won the Tour Championship and another player won the points-based FedEx Cup. It was especially awkward last year because while Justin Rose won the FedEx Cup, all anyone cared about was seeing Tiger Woods in his red shirt celebrating a two-shot victory, his first in five years. "My bank manager didn't mind," Rose said. One function of the FedEx Cup hasn't changed: It was designed to give an advantage to players who had the best season, and who played their best golf in the postseason when the points were valued four times higher. Now, the advantage is strokes to par. Thomas, who won the BMW Championship last week to become No. 1 in the FedEx Cup, tees off Thursday already at 10-under par. Patrick Cantlay is No. 2 and will start at 8 under, followed by Brooks Koepka at 7 under, Patrick Reed at 6 under and McIlroy at 5 under. The next groups of five players in the standings will be at 4 under, 3 under, 2 under, 1 under and even par. The leaderboards on the course, online and on television will show only the score to par, not what was shot each day. "The FedEx Cup is not a tournament. The Tour Championship is now for the FedEx Cup," PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. "So when you make that transition, you have to recognize there are 45 tournaments that precede it." If nothing else, the new format eliminates the kind of math that would give even Bryson DeChambeau a headache, computing where players needed to finish to earn points to win. Last year for example, Rose was the No. 2 seed and his birdie on the last hole gave him a three-way tie for fourth, enough points to win the cup. Dustin Johnson was the No. 4 seed and finished third. If he had finished in a two-way tie for second, he would have won the cup. Using this year's format, Rose would have won the FedEx Cup by one shot over Woods because as the No. 2 seed, Rose would have started six shots better. Now it's time to see if it will work. "I think it's hokey," Cantlay said. "It's weird to have a format no one has ever seen. And I think it's a shame we lose the Tour Championship. I haven't gone through it. No one has. I'm going to reserve final judgment until I've gone through the week." Whoever finishes with the lowest score to par wins the FedEx Cup and gets credit for winning the Tour Championship, even if he doesn't have the lowest score in the Tour Championship. Meanwhile, the tour will keep track of conventional scoring — everyone will the first year — to award world ranking points. "For all of us guys chasing, the first day will be important," said Rose, who is No. 17 and thus starts at 2 under. "You can't give up more shots." Most curious about the format is how many players have a reasonable chance of winning. McIlroy won his first PGA Tour event at Quail Hollow in 2010 when he made eagle on his 16th hole Friday to make the cut on the number. He shot 66-62 on the weekend to rally from nine shots behind. "And that was just two rounds," McIlroy said. "With two extra rounds, you can free-wheel it. There's a lot more volatility." There have been a number of players who made the cut on the number and rallied from big deficits over 36 holes. Carl Pettersson shot 60-67 on the weekend to come from nine back in the 2010 Canadian Open. Brad Faxon rallied from 12 shots behind with a 65-61 finish in Hartford in 2005. It could be wild on the weekend. Or maybe Thomas opens with a pair of 64s and makes it a runaway. He is keeping it simple. "I'm just going to have to try to play another golf tournament and act like everyone's starting at zero and try to shoot the lowest 72 holes," Thomas said. "Because I know if I do that, then I should be OK.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2019

Column: FedEx Cup about the money, not the majors

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — The FedEx Cup is still about the money. Whoever wins this week at the Tour Championship gets $15 million, more than Greg Norman's career earnings on the PGA Tour. The FedEx Cup might one day be as much about prestige. Tiger Woods (twice), Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk won the first four FedEx Cup titles, and all four will be in the World Golf Hall of Fame if they're not in already. The last four winners were Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. That's good company to keep. The FedEx Cup was never about major championships. Woods is absent from East Lake, this time not by choice but because he didn't qualify. It stands out because of his last two victories, Nos. 80 and 81, both in Georgia. The first was the Tour Championship, the most electric moment in golf all of last year. Woods won at East Lake to cap a remarkable return from four back surgeries, a DUI arrest stemming from his reliance on painkillers and his own fears that he would never compete again. Memories would be a lot stronger if he were here. Instead, he becomes the seventh player to win the Tour Championship and not be eligible to return the following year during the FedEx Cup era. Should he be at East Lake? It seems that way because of his other victory, this one in April at Augusta National, as captivating as any of his 15 majors. Woods said Sunday at Medinah when his season officially ended that he was disappointed and he wished he could be at East Lake. But he hardly was torn up over it, for one reason. "I'm the one with the green jacket," he said of winning the Masters. He also has company. British Open champion Shane Lowry didn't make it to East Lake, either. He has a claret jug at home in Ireland to console him. This is the fifth time in 13 years of the FedEx Cup that at least two major champions were not at the final event, usually with extenuating circumstances involved. Five major champions who didn't make it to East Lake were not PGA Tour members, three of them in 2010 — Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Martin Kaymer. The last time was in 2016, when Masters champion Danny Willett and British Open champion Henrik Stenson fell short. Willett didn't become a PGA Tour member until after he won the Masters. Stenson had a knee injury he wanted to protect for the Ryder Cup and wound up playing just two playoff events. Given their stature, it would seem the majors should get more FedEx Cup points than a measly 20% bump. For example, Woods received 600 points for winning that little invitational at Augusta National. That's only 100 points more than Kevin Tway got for winning the Safeway Open. Could it be more? Sure. Does it need to be? Not necessarily. Would anyone even be talking about major champions not being at East Lake if not for Woods being one of them? Because while the PGA Tour has drastically changed its season with the FedEx Cup format, what hasn't changed is what matters — winning majors. The reward for capturing a Grand Slam event is worth far more than having a tee time at East Lake and a chance to win $15 million. Besides, it's not like Woods and Lowry didn't have the opportunity. Woods played only six times after he won the Masters — three times he failed to make the cut, the other three he was a combined 39 shots behind the leader — and finished the season with 12 events. Lowry played 14 times, a product of having only conditional status at the start of the year. He had middle-of-the-pack performances at two playoff events. He finished 57 points short of East Lake, which equates to being two shots better at Liberty National and at Medinah. "I think what it says is that it's really hard to get to Atlanta and the Tour Championship," PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. "You've got to play exceedingly well over the course of an entire season. And with volatility, there's risk." The volatility refers to the playoff events offering four times as many points. If any change should be considered, perhaps triple the value would do the trick. Or the tour could double the points for the first event and triple the points for the next one. It really doesn't matter. The majors are over. Names are etched on silver trophies and in golf lore. The FedEx Cup is merely an end-of-the-year competition to keep golf compelling and to give the PGA Tour season a definitive end. It hasn't done any harm. If anything, it has kept the best players competing against each other after the majors. And they all get rich when it's over. Total bonus money for the 30 players who made it to Atlanta is $46 million. That's what they will be chasing over the next four days. Woods and Lowry now can only look behind them. The view is just as sweet......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2019

Lowry, Holmes share Open lead as McIlroy leaves with cheers

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — Everyone in the massive grandstand rose to cheer and celebrate a bold performance by Rory McIlroy, who longed for such support and affection on his walk toward his final hole at Royal Portrush in the British Open. Except this was Friday. And now McIlroy can only watch on the weekend as one of his best friends, Shane Lowry of Ireland, goes after the claret jug. Lowry birdied four of his opening five holes on his way to a 4-under 67 and shared the 36-hole lead with J.B. Holmes, who had a 68. Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood were one shot behind. Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth were three back. That can wait. This day was all about McIlroy, who kept the sellout crowd on edge as he tried to make the cut after opening with a 79. The roars had the intensity of a final round as McIlroy ran off five birdies in seven holes to brighten a gloomy sky over the North Atlantic. Needing one last birdie, his approach took a wrong turn along the humps left of the 18th green. He made par for a 65. "It's a moment I envisaged for the last few years," McIlroy said. "It just happened two days early." He was disappointed. He was proud of his play. Mostly, though, he said he was "full of gratitude toward every single one of the people that followed me to the very end and was willing me on." "As much as I came here at the start of the week saying I wanted to do it for me, by the end of the round there today I was doing it just as much for them," he said. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson won't be around, either. It was the first time in 77 majors they have played as professionals that both missed the cut in the same major. Darren Clarke, who honed his game on the Dunluce Links as a junior and now calls Portrush home, missed the cut in a most cruel fashion with a triple bogey on his final hole. And now the first British Open in Northern Ireland since 1951 moves on without them, still with the promise of a great show. Lowry was so nervous he was shaking on the tee when the tournament began Thursday, swept up in the emotion of an Open on the Emerald Isle, and on a course he knows. He gave fans plenty to cheer when he opened his second round with three straight birdies, added a birdie on the fifth and holed a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 10 to reach 10 under, making him the only player this week to reach double figures under par. The cheers were as loud as he has heard. "Just incredible," Lowry said. "You can't but smile, but can't but laugh how it is. There's no point trying to shy away from it. It's an incredible feeling getting applauded on every green, every tee box. I'm out there giving my best, trying to do my best for everyone." He three-putted the 14th, saved par on the next three holes with his deft touch around the greens, and closed with a bogey to fall back into a tie with Holmes, who played earlier in the day and was the first to post at 8-under 134. Holmes won at Riviera earlier this year, and then failed to make the cut in eight of his next 12 tournaments as he battled a two-way miss off the tee and felt so bad that he never thought he'd recover. But he did enough in Detroit three weeks ago to regain some confidence, and he has been in a groove at Portrush. "You can have that great round and that day where everything goes right. But it's nice to get two rounds in a row," Holmes said. "It shows a little consistency. And two days in a row I've hit the ball really well and putted well." Fleetwood and Westwood, two Englishmen at different stages in their careers, each had a 67 and will play in the group ahead of Lowry and Holmes. Westwood is 46 and can make a case as the best active player without a major considering his status — a former No. 1 in the world and on the European Tour — and the number of near misses in the majors, such as Muirfield and Turnberry at the Open, Torrey Pines in the U.S. Open and Augusta National when Mickelson out played him in 2010. Is it too late? Westwood wasn't willing to look that far ahead. "There's too much ground to cover before Sunday night," Westwood said. "There's a long way to go in this tournament. I've never felt under that much pressure, to be honest. You lads write about it. I've always gone out and done my best. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen, and if it doesn't, it doesn't." The experience of winning majors was behind them. Justin Rose had a 67 and was two shots behind, along with Cameron Smith of Australia and Justin Harding of South Africa. Another shot back was a group that included Koepka, who has won three of the last six majors. He was in a tie for eighth, the 16th time in his last 17 rounds at the majors he has ended a round in the top 10. Koepka wasn't happy with much about his 2-under 69, calling it "a little bit disappointing," perhaps because he played in dry weather and only a mild wind. "But at the same time, I'm close enough where I play a good weekend, I'll be in good shape," he said. Spieth hasn't quite figured out how to get the ball in play more often — too many bunkers on Thursday, too much high grass on Friday. But that putter is not a problem, and it carried him to a collection of mid-range birdie and par putts for a 67. "I'm in contention. I feel good," Spieth said, winless since his Open title at Royal Birkdale two years ago. "I feel like if I can continue to improve each day, hit the ball better tomorrow than I did today, and better on Sunday than Saturday, then I should have a chance with how I feel on and around the greens." Graeme McDowell, born and raised in Portrush, played well enough to make the weekend. He finished with four straight pars for a 70 to make the cut on the number at 1-over 143, and felt the pressure of sticking around for the home crowd. Woods, meanwhile, began this major championship season as the Masters champion, ended it as a mystery. He missed the cut in two of the next three majors, and never seemed fully fit or engaged at the British Open. He was 3 under for his round through 11 holes with hopes of making it to the weekend, but he had no more birdies and finished with two bogeys for a 70 to miss by five shots. "I'm going to have my hot weeks. I'm going to be there in contention with a chance to win, and I will win tournaments," Woods said, facing the reality of a 43-year-old who has gone through eight surgeries on his knee and back. "But there are times when I'm just not going to be there.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2019

Koepka at British Open with a local lad as his caddie

By Chris Lehourites, Associated Press PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — Brooks Koepka's biggest asset during this year's British Open won't be in his bag, it'll be on his bag. The four-time major winner will be walking around Royal Portrush, a course new to most of the players in the field, with a native expert helping him negotiate the sharp elevation changes of the century-old links course on the northern coast of Northern Ireland. His caddie, Ricky Elliott, is a local lad. "Every hole I just step up on, 'You tell me what to do. You've played it more than anybody,'" said Koepka, who is on such a roll at majors he may be one of the few players who doesn't need extra help. "So just let him figure it out. He knows his spots to miss it. The spots to come in from, with different hole locations and different winds." Elliott grew up in Portrush, and grew up playing at Royal Portrush. The pair started working together shortly after the 2013 British Open, when Phil Mickelson won at Muirfield. It only took a phone call to put things in motion. "We had about a 30-minute phone conversation. I liked the way he went about things," Koepka said Tuesday. "He was kind of light. He was joking on the phone. And that's somebody I want, I want somebody that's not going to be so focused in all the time. My personality, I laugh and joke on the golf course. I know it doesn't look like it, but the camera is not on us all the time. He's pretty laid back." Koepka has excelled over the last couple of years with Elliott on his bag, particularly at the major tournaments. After winning his second straight U.S. Open title last year, Koepka won his second straight PGA Championship this year. And he didn't do badly at the other two majors this season either, finishing second at the Masters and at the U.S. Open. "The whole reason I show up is to win. That's what I'm trying to do," Koepka said of his major results. "It's incredible. But at the same time, it's been quite disappointing, you know? Finishing second sucks. It really does." Tiger Woods, the one who edged Koepka to win this year's Masters, came to Northern Ireland looking for a little local knowledge. He said he texted Koepka, hoping to get some advice on the course. "What he's done in the last four major championships has been just unbelievable. To be so consistent, so solid. He's been in contention to win each and every major championship," Woods said. "And I said, 'Hey, dude, do you mind if I tag along and play a practice round?' I've heard nothing." Koepka will play his first two rounds at Royal Portrush alongside 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Shubhankar Sharma. And like many great champions in all sorts of sports, Koepka is full of self-belief heading into the final major of the season. "I think you always have to have a chip on your shoulder, no matter what it is," Koepka said. "Every great athlete and every major sport always has one. "Over the last year and a half, I just felt like if other guys had done what I had done it would be a bigger deal. Now it doesn't matter to me. I've got my own chip on my shoulder for what I'm trying to accomplish. ... How many majors I want to win, how many wins, my own accomplishments." With his trust in his own ability to deliver the big shots and his trust in his caddie's ability to deliver that little bit of extra insight on a course that hasn't hosted the British Open since 1951, Koepka is on the short list of favorites this week. "Definitely have a little bit more confidence having him on the bag this week," Koepka said of Elliott, "knowing this golf course so well.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 17th, 2019

Fowler and the USGA off to a good start at US Open

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Rickie Fowler had an ideal start Thursday in the U.S. Open, and so did the USGA. Pebble Beach was as gentle as could be in the opening round, and Fowler was among those who took advantage with six birdies for a 5-under 66, giving him a share of the early lead with Xander Schauffele and Louis Oosthuizen. The notorious wind off the Pacific coast was little more than a breeze. The course was lush green and relatively soft. The USGA wanted to start conservatively and make it progressively more difficult, a forecast of dry weather gives officials a lot more control. This was the day to take advantage. Schauffele, who keeps showing up in golf's biggest events, holed a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th to join Fowler at 66. Oosthuizen holed out for eagle from 95 yards at No. 11, his second hole of the day. "It's a very soft start to a U.S. Open, which is a good thing," Rory McIlroy said after a 68, his first sub-70 round at the U.S. Open since he won at Congressional in 2011. "They can do whatever they want with from here. It's not as if you're starting with a course that's in the condition like a Sunday, and then you get three days and it sort of starts to get away from you." Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods played in the afternoon. Koepka reached 4 under through seven holes until a bogey on No. 8, while Woods had three birdies to atone for a double bogey on par-3 fifth. He was 1 under through seven. Scott Piercy made bogey on the 18th for a 67. He was the first player to get everyone's attention when he made three birdies and an eagle through the opening six holes — the scoring holes at Pebble — and was 5 under. Graeme McDowell saw the score when he walked off the 10th green at the start of his round and quipped to his caddie, "All the USGA radios are going off and they're saying, 'Turn off the water — NOW!'" McDowell won the last U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010 when it was so difficult he made only one birdie in the final round and no one broke par for the week. Even as he saw low scores on the board — he had a bogey-free 69, one of 16 rounds in the 60s among the early starters — McDowell feared what was to come. What really got his attention was Phil Mickelson being some 30 feet above the hole at No. 1, which should ordinarily have been a lightning fast putt. Mickelson left it short. "I don't think level par wins this week," he said. "Careful what you wish for, because I think we're going to see it come the weekend." Mickelson, in his fifth attempt at the career Grand Slam, opened with a 72 that certainly didn't hurt him, but only two birdies held him back. Two of his bogeys came from missing the fairway with an iron off the tee. The other was a careless three-putt — he missed from 22 inches. Dustin Johnson was only one shot better, and he could have been a lot worse except for a magnificent short game, no shot better than his flop shop from well behind the eighth green to 2 feet. He nearly drove the green on No. 4, a dangerous shot because the coast line hugs the right side. Why driver? "Because I'd bogeyed the last two holes," Johnson said with a wry smile. "I needed a birdie." That wasn't impatience that often dooms chances at a U.S. Open. That was recognition that scores were to be had, and this might be the best day. Fowler picked up three birdies in seven holes, dropped a shot at the turn and added three birdies on the back. It's the second time in three years at the U.S. Open he has started well — he had a 65 in the first round at Erin Hills — but the focus is on how he finishes. Even though he's 30, with seven victories on the PGA Tour and European Tour combined, Fowler is on that list of best without a major, perhaps because he's had so many top finishes. So the start was important. "It was very stress free," Fowler said. "You never feel in cruise control at a major, especially a U.S. Open, but the execution was very good today. ... It was the worst I could have shot, so that's a good thing. I'm happy with the start. You can't go out and win it up the first day, but you can obviously take yourself out of it and you're having to fight back." Schauffele also appears poised to break through in his third full year on tour. He first gained attention with his tie for fifth in his U.S. Open debut two years ago, and he tied for sixth last year at Shinnecock Hills. He also has runner-up finishes in the British Open and the Masters. His big break came at the end when he caught his drive off the toe and it hit off a rock framing the left side, bounding down the fairway. From there, he only had 8-iron to set up his eagle. "Very fortunate, and happy we capitalized on a really lucky break," he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2019

UST welcomes its PG of the future in Cebu Jrs. MVP LA Casinillo

University of Sto. Tomas is going out of its way to make sure it remains in contention from now until the foreseeable future. With that, the Espana-based schools is getting its hands on a combo guard who won MVP in the CESAFI Jrs. in the form of LA Casinillo. Last year, the 6-foot-1 playmaker led Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu all the way to its first title since 2016. Now, he is all set to join forces with Jacob Cortez in leading the Tiger Cubs into continued contention starting UAAP Season 83. "I promise UST that I will give my very best. Hopefully, I will bring out the leadership and the skills I've learned in SHS-Ateneo," he said. Just 17-years-old, Casinillo is a promising prospect who, for UST head coach Aldin Ayo, will be key to the entire program's future. He will be following in the footsteps of Mark Nonoy who starred for the Tiger Cubs before making an immediate impact as Rookie of the Year with the Growling Tigers. For the Bacolod native, coach Aldin - now the overseer of the black and gold's Srs. and Jrs. programs - is the first and foremost reason why he's taking his talents to UST. "I chose UST because I feel that I'm in good hands with coach Aldin Ayo," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News4 hr. 16 min. ago

Phil and James Younghusband discuss their retirement and future with Philippine football

In a span of just months, Filipino-British football stars Phil and James Younghusband both announced their retirement from the sport, thus ending the Younghusband era in Philippine football.  Phil and James were crucial parts of the Philippine Azkals’ biggest moments, including the Miracle in Hanoi during the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, as well as their recent milestones with the AFC Asian Cup berth.  In November of 2019, Phil, the Philippine Azkals’ leading goalscorer announced that he was calling it a career, and in June of 2020, his older brother James followed suit. As it turns out, that wasn’t the original plan for James, who initially wanted hang his spikes up at the end of the year. Speaking to Cedelf Tupas on the Crossover Podcast, James shared that he actually wanted to play out the whole 2020 Philippines Football League season, but the COVID-19 pandemic axed those plans.  “Originally, my plan was to finish off the year with Ceres with the whole 2020 season but of course, with the pandemic and the situation and football put on hold especially now here with it still on break, I just felt it was time to announce, I’ve decided to end it a bit earlier,” James said.  Ceres-Negros was the final stop on James’ long and decorated professional Philippine club football career, which began in 2011.  While 2019 was indeed an eventful year for James on the pitch, he admits he would have wanted a proper end to his career.  “Winning the double last year, getting the chance to play in AFC in the Champions League and with AFC Cup, it was a nice way to end it, but of course, would have been nice to finish the year.” With the uncertainty of things given the COVID-19 pandemic however, James felt that the time was right to put a bow on what has been a great career.  “Just felt with the momentum of being on break, I had to announce it now, and seeing around, waiting around, wondering when the league would restart but I felt yeah, it was time to announce it and I’m just thankful to everyone for the great messages and the great articles…itreally feels great to see that appreciation.” James admitted that seeing his younger brother retire first did play a part in influencing his decision as well.  “Yeah, I think as well. During this time, you’re sitting at home, a lot of time to think and evaluate yourself and your life, and as well, my brother he’s starting a family, me as well I felt there’s other things in life I want to experience as well and a new chapter to begin.” “It played a part as well, we had a great run as well, great memories as well and I just felt the time was right during this pandemic to announce it,” James added.  As for Phil, he explained that his decision to retire last year came after a series of setbacks coupled with him getting ready to start a family.  “I mean there’s a lot of ups and downs and the downs can really bring you down and it came to a point that I had successive blows with the folding of Davao, with not being able to start in games in the Asian Cup, it was very disappointing and my morale was very low and I was getting married at the time, losing my job when I knew I had to fund a wedding,” Phil admitted.  “I just knew my priorities when my wife, we were starting a family and I just felt very unmotivated with football so those successive blows really took its toll on me and I knew I didn’t wanna feel that again and I want security and start a family, your priority is family you gonna want to support them and make sure they never in a vulnerable position so I decided I want to be in a position where I can support them and give them security,” Phil continued.  Unfortunately, unlike in most other Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines is still struggling to keep a local club football league afloat, which can largely be attributed to the clubs themselves struggling to get financial support.  “Playing in Philippine football is not gonna give me that because there’s been numerous times clubs folded and look what’s going on now, it’s really tough,” Phil said. “I was in the same position of a lot of players are going through now in Philippine football where clubs are going to find financial support and it’s very difficult. I empathize with anyone in that position.”  While the Younghusband era in Philippine football may be over in terms of them being players, there remains a large possibility that the two remain involved in a different capacity, whether it be coaching or otherwise. “I think it’s now time where I wanna start pursuing a possibility in coaching and learning more about coaching,” he shared. “I would actually like to travel as well to different countries and learn about different cultures about football also, and different philosophies,” said James.  “I wanna travel to different countries and learn different ways of styles of football, coaching football. My goal was always to help develop Philippine football and to go abroad, learn, and come and share that to the Philippines,” he continued.  “James and I have always said a lot of our knowledge and experience were gained at Chelsea Football Club. We were able to watch the best players in the world every day, the best facilities, being under the best coaches in the world and most of our knowledge and experience has come from that but we feel if we want to grow in the sport and we want to help develop football even more in the Philippines, we need to go abroad and gain more knowledge, more experience and be able to bring it back again to the Philippines,” Phil added.  “I think we still have a lot to offer Philippine football, whether that’s next year or the year after. We don’t know but we still have something to offer,” he continued......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 3rd, 2020

Column: Johnson back to winning now after brief knee concern

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer It only looks as though Dustin Johnson barely has a pulse on the golf course. One moment made him a little nervous. It wasn't the tee shot that rolled toward the railroad tracks and barely crossed the out-of-bounds line, right after he had taken a two-shot lead in the final round of the Travelers Championship. It wasn't even the tee shot two holes later that was headed for the water until it landed softly enough to stay dry, even though his feet got wet hitting the next one. That's just golf. Good or bad, he moves on. No one has a shorter memory. What caused concern was his knee. Johnson missed three months at the end of last year recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair cartilage damage. He lost another three months when golf shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And then as he worked overtime getting ready to resume, the knee started acting up. He called his partner, Paulina Gretzky, on the Tuesday before the Colonial and said he was coming home. The next day the knee felt better, so he stuck it out and missed the cut. “I was nervous,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I had an MRI when I got home, and everything with my surgery had healed great. It was just a strained tendon.” Whether it was time away from golf and then an abundance of practice, Johnson isn't sure. “Obviously,” he said, “everything is better now.” Johnson won the Travelers Championship for his 22nd victory worldwide, ending a drought of 490 days that matched the longest of his career. It was more exciting than it needed to be, which often is the case with his entertaining brand of golf. After going out of bounds on the 13th, he answered with a 15-foot birdie putt and then got a rare break for him — Johnson's ledger remains heavily skewed toward misfortune on the course — when his ball stayed out of the water. One victory doesn't always signal he's on his way. One shot did it for Butch Harmon, his swing coach who was watching from Las Vegas. With a one-shot lead playing the 18th, Johnson smoked his driver 351 yards, setting up a flip wedge and two putts for the win. “He was leaking oil a little on the back nine,” Harmon said. “His bounce-back is incredible. But the key to me was knowing he had to drive it well on 18. I told him when I talked to him later, that was the part I appreciated the most. Yeah, that was just like Oakmont.” The drive on the daunting closing hole at Oakmont in Pennsylvania, reputed to be the toughest course in America, is what Johnson considers one of the signature shots of his career. It sealed his victory at the 2016 U.S. Open, which remains his only major title. Johnson turned 36 last week. There is still plenty of time to fix the one area of his resume that — with his talent — is sorely lacking. What also got Harmon's attention was where Johnson won. The TPC Riverland Highlands in Connecticut is a par 70 at 6,841 yards, hardly known as a course for big hitters. Johnson played the two par 5s in just 2 under for the week and still shot 19-under 261, his sixth straight victory with a score of 19 under or better. His 22 victories have come on 18 courses. He has won at sea level (Doral) and mile-high altitude (Mexico City). He has won on courses that reward power (Crooked Stick) and shot-making (Riviera). Pebble Beach; the TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee; Kapalua and Chapultepec in Mexico City are the only courses where he has won twice. Johnson wasn't aware of this. “I think it shows my game is suitable for any course,” he said. “I like a variety of golf courses. And a lot of these courses that I didn't like then, I've grown to like now.” He paused before adding with a laugh, “And I wasn't hitting it as straight.” If there are “horses for courses,” this might make him mostly a thoroughbred. He's not alone in that department, of course. Rory McIlroy, the current No. 1 player in golf, has won 26 times on 22 courses around the world, with his only repeat victories at Quail Hollow, TPC Boston and both courses in Dubai (Emirates and Jumeirah Estates). Ditto for Tiger Woods, even if it doesn't seem that way. Woods has eight victories at Torrey Pines, Firestone and Bay Hill. He has five victories at Augusta National, Muirfield Village and Cog Hill. They are among 19 courses where he has won multiple times. That's mainly because Woods wins a lot. Phil Mickelson has 47 wins worldwide on 25 courses, with multiple wins on 14 courses. “Being able to adapt is a huge deal, play on different golf courses,” Bryson DeChambeau said. “That's what I'm trying to learn how to do. I think that will happen down the road if I just keep playing good golf, but being able to adapt in different situations and play in different conditions, win everywhere, is pretty impressive." When he's on his game, when he's healthy, Johnson is as impressive as anyone. A winner again, he plans to spend two weeks at home in Florida before returning for the Memorial. He hasn't won there yet......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2020

Hilton Head field stacked with winners, but no Tiger Woods

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — The field for the RBC Heritage next week includes 114 players who have won on the PGA Tour, the most of any event since the tour began keeping track in 2000. It just doesn't have Tiger Woods. For the second straight week, the top five in the world will be competing as golf resumes its schedule from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown that began in March. The Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial was the first event back, with protocols that included mandatory testing for players, caddies and essential personnel when they arrive. All 487 tests were negative. Rory McIlroy, the world's No. 1 player, will be at Hilton Head for the first time since 2009. Brooks Koepka will be playing for the first time. Missing from the top 10 for the second straight week are Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott and Tommy Fleetwood, the latter two living overseas. Woods only played Hilton Head one time, in 1999. It was thought he might return at Hilton Head, especially with no likely appearances for him until the Memorial on July 16-19. Speculation increased when a marine tracking site indicated his yacht “Privacy” was just off the Georgia coast near Sea Island. But there could be family obligations as his daughter's 13th birthday is Thursday. The RBC Heritage is followed by the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit and a new tournament for this year at Muirfield Village that precedes the Memorial, which Woods has won five times......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2020

ONE Championship: Mom-to-be Gina Iniong to take a longer break from competition

It might be quite a while until we see Team Lakay women’s atomweight contender Gina “Conviction” Iniong back inside the ONE circle, if we ever do see her back in action, that is.  From late 2019 to early 2020, Iniong had quite the eventful couple of months, competing and winning gold in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games’ kickboxing tournament, and then defeating Asha Roka in her return to ONE Championship in January.  After that busy stretch, the newly-married Iniong had already planned on taking a bit of time off to spend with her husband Richard Araos. Now, it looks like she’s going to take more time off to become a mom.  According to Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao, Iniong actually thought about calling it a career after learning about her pregnancy.  “She thought about retirement, but I told her, ‘Don’t think about it yet.’ I told her to focus on her pregnancy and then maybe she can make decisions after if she really wants to stop,” Sangiao told ONE Championship. “I told her that it is hard to decide right now. I’ve seen a lot of people retire, then come out of retirement. It’s best for her to just focus on her well-being and pregnancy, and then worry about the next steps in her career later,” Sangiao continued.  The 30-year old Iniong has been competing professionally since 2010 and boasts a 9-4 record. She has won three of her last four bouts inside the ONE circle and is certainly one of the division’s top contenders.  Motherhood however, can definitely change a person’s perspective on things.  “Even before the SEA Games, she was telling me that she wanted to focus on her family. She said they’re getting older and they already want to have a child,” Sangiao explained.  “This is such a huge blessing for her. She wanted this for a long time, and it was given,” he added.  Still, just looking at the landscape of mixed martial arts, a number of fighters have managed to keep competing at a high level, even after becoming a mother, so it definitely isn’t out of the question for Iniong.  Still, at the end of the day, the decision will fall on the shoulders of the Team Lakay standout.  “We cannot really tell if Gina Iniong will return. It’s her decision. We cannot really say,” Sangiao admitted.   “We told ONE already about it, and they sent their congratulations. They also told her not to think about retirement at this time. It’s her life and whatever she does, we’ll support her,” Sangiao concluded......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

Dawn Macandili: It All Started With a Flying Shoe

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

MMA Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell plays peacekeeper in California protest

Legend has it that former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell got his “The Iceman” moniker from keeping cool and stress-free before the fight.  As it turns out, Liddell can keep himself pretty cool and collected in pretty much any high-stress situation.  As seen on a news report from ABC 7 in the United States, Liddell kept his chill as he helped diffuse a high-tension situation at a George Floyd protest in Huntington Beach, California.  In the video, Liddell can be seen breaking up altercations and getting in between protesters who appear to be losing their tempers.  Protests have been widespread all over the United States in the past few days as people have rallied against racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd, an un-armed African-American man who was violently and forcefully subdued by Minneapolis Police, which resulted in his tragic death.  Some of the protests have been peaceful while others have escalated into vandalism, looting, destruction of property, and even violence.  Liddell, according to the report, was out in the streets looking to make sure that things didn’t go off the rails as business owners feared for their establishments and their own safety.  “It’s good to see people defending their city, and it’s terrible, violence begets violence. Violence doesn’t help anybody,” Liddell said.  “We all know what happened was wrong, everybody I know thinks it was wrong, it’s hard to watch,” Liddell continued, talking about the footage of Floyd being choked to death as a police officer knelt on his neck.  Liddell however says that violence, destruction, and looting isn’t the right way to go about protesting.  “But this does not help, destroying cities, destroying people, hurting people does not do any good for anybody. So hey, protest all you want, just do it peacefully.”  Another light heavyweight great, Jon Jones, was also seen actively trying to prevent destructive protesting in his area in New Mexico.  The 50-year old Liddell is best known for his career with the UFC, which spanned from 1998 to 2010. In 2005, Liddell captured the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship and defended it four times. In 2009, Liddell was inducted to the promotion’s Hall of Fame.  In 2018, Liddell came out of retirement after 8 years to face long-time rival Tito Ortiz in a trilogy bout which was the headliner of Golden Boy Promotions’ first MMA show. Liddell lost to Ortiz by KO in the first round.  (READ ALSO: MMA legend Tito Ortiz says he's been offered a fight with Mike Tyson).....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 2nd, 2020

Tiger, Manning win star-studded match, raise $20 M

Tiger Woods says while his surgically repaired back may never be 10-out-of-10 again, it won’t stop him from being healthy and ready to go when the PGA Tour starts up again. The 44-year-old Woods says he’s been able to use the down time during the coronavirus pandemic to get himself in shape for an expected […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsMay 25th, 2020

Woods-Manning prevail; charity match raises $20M

Tiger Woods says while his surgically repaired back may never be 10-out-of-10 again, it won’t stop him from being healthy and ready to go when the PGA Tour starts up again. The 44-year-old Woods says he’s been able to use the down time during the coronavirus pandemic to get himself in shape for an expected […] The post Woods-Manning prevail; charity match raises $20M appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsMay 25th, 2020

Out of the Woods: Tiger emerges for TV match with Lefty, QBs

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The purpose is to raise $10 million or more for COVID-19 relief efforts, and provide entertainment with four of the biggest stars from the PGA Tour and NFL. Another appeal to the Sunday made-for-TV exhibition, “The Match: Champions for Charity,” is a chance to see Tiger Woods swing a golf club for the first time in 98 days. Live golf is on television for the second straight Sunday, this one with the game's biggest headliner. Woods was last seen on television Feb. 16 at the Genesis Invitational, where he moved cautiously in California's chilly late winter weather and posted weekend rounds of 76-77 to finish last among the 68 players who made the cut at Riviera. He skipped a World Golf Championship in Mexico City, and said his surgically repaired back wasn't quite ready in sitting out the opening three weeks of the Florida swing. And then the pandemic took over, and there has been no place to play. This is a reasonable start. Woods and retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning will face Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, who won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and signed this year with Tampa Bay. The match will be at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. It is Woods' home course and about 20 minutes from Seminole, where last week Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff ushered golf's return to live television. What to make of Woods? His only interviews were with GolfTV, the Discovery-owned channel with whom Woods has a financial deal, and a playful Zoom call with the other match participants hosted by Ernie Johnson of Turner Sports, which is televising the match. He described his health in the April 9 interview with GolfTV as “night and day.” “I feel a lot better than I did then,” Woods said. “I've been able to turn a negative into a positive and been able to train a lot and get my body to where I think it should be.” Mickelson has missed the cut in four of his five tournaments this year — the exception was third place at Pebble Beach, where he started the final round one shot behind Nick Taylor and closed with a 75. Just like last week, rust is to be expected for players who haven't competed in two months — three, in the case of Woods. Manning, meanwhile, is retired and is a golf junkie. Brady remains employed, and this week got in some informal work with his new teammates in Tampa Bay. No fans will be allowed, just like last week at Seminole. One difference is the players will be in their own carts, whereas the four PGA Tour players last week carried their bags. But this is as much about entertainment as competition. It's the second edition of a match between Woods and Mickelson, the dominant players of their generation and rivals by name, but not necessarily by record. Woods has 82 career victories to 44 for Mickelson, leads 15-5 in major championships and 11-0 in winning PGA Tour player of the year. Mickelson won their first made-for-TV match over Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, a pay-per-view event that ran into technical problems and was free for all. Lefty won in a playoff under the lights for $9 million in a winner-take-all match. He also has a 5-3-1 advantage over Woods in the nine times they have played in the final round on the PGA Tour, most recently in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2012 when Mickelson shot 64 to a 75 for Woods. He also stopped two streaks. Woods was going for his seventh straight PGA Tour victory when Mickelson beat him at Torrey Pines in 2000. Later that year, Woods had won 19 consecutive times on the PGA Tour when he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead until Mickelson beat him at the Tour Championship. Woods, however, captured the streak that mattered, holding off Mickelson in the final group at the Masters in 2001 to hold all four professional majors at the same time. The banter was lacking in Las Vegas, and perhaps having Manning and Brady will change the dynamics. The broadcast includes Charles Barkley providing commentary and Justin Thomas, whom Woods has embraced, on the course as a reporter in his television debut. After this exhibition, golf has two weeks before the PGA Tour is set to return at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. Mickelson plans to play. Woods has not said when he will return......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

Here’s why Djokovic almost quit 10 years ago

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has revealed how he considered quitting tennis in 2010 as he struggled against great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The 32-year-old was ranked third in the world and had lifted his first Grand Slam at the 2008 Australian Open. But he was plunged into the depths of despair in […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2020

Column: No fans means same sport, different arena

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Rory McIlroy contemplated what golf would be like without fans. This was five days before there was no golf at all. “I'd be OK with it,” he said at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, unaware the new coronavirus was about to shut down golf for at least three months. “It would be just like having an early tee time on the PGA Tour.” And then he added with a laugh, “I guess for a few guys, it wouldn't be that much different.” McIlroy had one of those early times when he was a 20-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour. He teed off in the second round of the Honda Classic at 6:59 a.m. So this will be going back in time for McIlroy, along with the rest of the sport. The PGA Tour set a target of June 8-14 at Colonial in Texas to resume its schedule, with no fans for at least a month. Even if the Charles Schwab Challenge doesn't prove to be the return, golf will be without spectators whenever it starts. Will it matter? Low score still wins, no matter who's there to see it. But it will be a new arena. “I could play without fans, but I don't think I'd play as well,” McIlroy said Tuesday on his GolfPass podcast with Carson Daly and Stephen Curry. “Especially on a Sunday, back nine, you feed off that energy. You hear roars on other parts of the golf course and you sort of know what's going on. All those dynamics are in play when you have people there." The dynamics go beyond noise, of course. Nathan Grube, the tournament director of the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, is preparing it to be the third tournament, the last weekend in June, if golf resumes on schedule. There is hope. There is excitement. There are no grandstands being erected. That wouldn't be a big problem at the TPC River Highlands, which features a stadium design and allows for good viewing, especially over the closing holes. But imagine other courses without stands, without hospitality suites, with nothing but green grass, white sand in the bunkers, the occasional water hazard. Think about Mackenzie Hughes trying to play a cut into the 18th green at the Honda Classic, only to pull it into the middle of the bleachers. He was given a free drop. Years ago, the safe play on the 18th at Doral was to put it into the grandstands beyond the green to take water out of the equation, knowing there would be a free drop. “They're not going to catch errant shots on some holes,” said Mark Russell, a senior rules official on the PGA Tour. They are temporary immovable obstructions, and they are a big part of modern golf. That's why the USGA, and then the R&A, created a number of drop zones (white circles) in front of the grandstands around the 18th hole, starting with Winged Foot in 2006, to avoid taking too much time figuring out where to drop for shots into or behind the stands. In a few cases, it allowed for a player to advance his ball closer to the hole without hitting it. Speaking of Winged Foot, consider that no fans on the course means the rough will remain just that. Phil Mickelson, as an example, has been known to hit tee shots so far off line that the ball comes to rest in an area where gallery traffic has trampled thick grass and led to a reasonable lie. (Maybe if there were no fans at Winged Foot, he would have had to play toward the 18th fairway instead of hitting 3-iron, which led to double bogey and a runner-up finish in the 2006 U.S. Open.) Fans were Arnold Palmer's best friends — literally, in so many cases, but also keeping some of his wild shots from straying too far off line. Tiger Woods once came to the 18th hole at Bay Hill tied for the lead when he pulled his tee shot. It was headed out of bounds but instead struck one of the thousands of spectators in the neck. From grass that had been flattened by the gallery, he hit 5-iron to 15 feet and made birdie to beat Mickelson by one shot. No gallery? It's happened before, most recently in Japan because of flooding. Before that, Congressional had no fans for the third round of the AT&T National because of trees downed by a wind storm. Woods, the biggest draw in golf, won both tournaments. Sound is underrated in golf, especially at scenic Augusta National. Woods spoke to studying every leaderboard so when he heard a roar, he would have a better idea of who did what. Max Homa recalled his first PGA Tour victory, a year ago this week at the Wells Fargo Championship, and how electric it was walking up the 18th fairway. The next tournament he plays will be different. “It will be weird,” Homa said Tuesday. “I imagine the first person to win, it probably will be the strangest of their lives. It sounds very selfish of us to not want to play in front of fans because it won't be electric. But people are craving sports, craving entertainment. I'd carry my bag in front of nobody if needed.” Without fans, without noise and excitement, it won't be the same. But it will be golf. And for the time being, that will do......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2020

UAAP s last decade dominated by back-to-back MVPs

Three players have hoisted the MVP trophy in back-to-back seasons in the last decade of UAAP Men's Basketball. That means that 60 percent of the top individual player awards in the past 10 years are owned by just three names. Ben Mbala's 2016 remains the best of the best among the bunch as not only did he average a dominant double-double of a league-best 20.6 points and a league-best 16.2 rebounds on top of a league-best 2.4 blocks as well as 1.4 steals and 1.2 assists, he also delivered a dominant 15-1 title to De La Salle University. The Cameroonian powerhouse had an encore next year as he normed a double-double of 26.0 points and 13.1 rebounds to go along with 2.5 blocks, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals, but fell just short of a second straight championship no thanks to Ateneo de Manila University. The Blue Eagles have a back-to-back MVP of their own in Kiefer Ravena in 2014 and 2015. Neither of Ravena's plums, however, came with a championship as those were won by National University and Far Eastern University, respectively in those years. Make no mistake, though, he was a key cog in the latter part of Ateneo's five-peat in his first three seasons. Also falling shy of a team title is Bulldogs' superstar Ray Parks Jr. who was the top individual player in 2011 and 2012. The Filipino-American laid the groundwork for the blue and gold's return to relevance as they slowly but surely climbed to contention. And in the first year in the post-Parks Jr. era, National U, at long last, broke through and bagged its first championship since 1954. The Tamaraws, meanwhile, also have two MVPs in the last decade, but those were won by different players in RR Garcia (2010) and Terrence Romeo (2013) Neither won a team title as well, whether it be before, during, or after their seasons as top individual players. Finally, the league's last two MVPs had seasons to remember for their respective schools. In 2018, Bright Akhuetie became the University of the Philippines' first top individual player since Eric Altamirano in 1986. A year later, Soulemane Chabi Yo brought back the trophy to University of Sto. Tomas - the first one to do so since Dylan Ababou in 2009. Breaking it down school-by-school, La Salle, Ateneo, National U, and FEU each have two MVP trophies while UP and UST have one apiece. Ken Bono was Adamson University's last MVP in 2006 while University of the East last won the MVP with James Yap in 2003. Here is the full list of NCAA MVPs in the last decade: 2010 - RR Garcia, G, FEU 2011 - Ray Parks Jr., G, National U 2012 - Ray Parks Jr., G, National U 2013 - Terrence Romeo, G, FEU 2014 - Kiefer Ravena, G, Ateneo 2015 - Kiefer Ravena, G, Ateneo 2016 - Ben Mbala, C, La Salle 2017 - Ben Mbala, C, La Salle 2018 - Bright Akhuetie, C, UP 2019 - Soulemane Chabi Yo, F, UST --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 27th, 2020

STAYING POWER: These schools have great grassroots programs

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2020

PB(A)BL: Asi Taulava was 'The Rock' again with San Miguel Beer

Not all players take the same route going to the PBA, each player will have his own story to tell. This series will be about those who chose a different path, those who had to hustle overseas at one point in their careers before eventually landing in the PBA. Here, we take a look at current big-name PBA players who spent some time in the other major basketball league with Philippine teams in the region: the Asean Basketball League. They don’t have to play for a Filipino team, after all, the ABL is a great place where Filipino talents can shine even while playing for other countries. [Related: PB(A)BL: Stanley Pringle's Warrior Ways] Today, we continue with Asi Taulava and his detour to the ABL version of the San Miguel Beermen.   Rock On At the peak of his powers, Asi Taulava was one of the most dominant forces the PBA has ever seen. His crowning achievement came in 2003, when Asi was the PBA’s Most Valuable Player and led Talk ‘N Text to the All-Filipino title. Of course, Taulava was Finals MVP and the Best Player of the Conference as well. With big numbers and an even bigger personality, Asi was poised to keep dominating. Unfortunately, issues regarding his eligibility would haunt the Fil-Tongan and he would eventually overstay his welcome with Talk ‘N Text. In 2007, the Phone Pals engaged the Coca-Cola Tigers in a blockbuster trade, shipping Taulava for Ali Peek and a pick that would later turned out to be Jared Dillinger. Asi was refreshed as a Tiger, in his first conference with the team eliminating Talk ‘N Text from the playoffs. After about three seasons however, a slower Asi would be traded to a new team in Meralco. A stint with the Bolts wouldn’t necessarily energize Asi, and his two seasons with the team saw him post career-low numbers. After declining a max extension with Meralco, Taulava’s true career boost would come away from the PBA. Signing with the San Miguel Beermen in the ABL in 2013, Asi would rock on. Taulava averaged a solid 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds in his debut ABL season and in a close vote, he beat teammate Chris Banchero, Thailand’s Froilan Baguion, Saigon’s Jai Reyes, and Indonesia’s Mario Wuysang to win MVP, 10 years after winning the same award in the PBA. Just like a decade prior, Taulava would pick up a title, as San Miguel Beer swept the Indonesia Warriors in the best-of-5 Finals. San Miguel Beer in the ABL and Talk ‘N Text in the PBA remain as Asi’s only two titles in his career as of this writing. “The best thing about my stint in the ABL was that I got my confidence back,” Taulava told the league website about his stint with San Miguel Beer. “Winning that ABL championship meant a lot to me. It’s something I’ll always look back to,” he added.   ABL back to the PBA Following his ABL championship, a 40-year-old Asi would make his comeback in the PBA, signing with Air21 for the 2013 Governors’ Cup. However, he only played three games to end the season. Boosted by his ABL performance, Taulava would regain some of his lost touch in the PBA in his first full season with Air21. Asi and the Express would eliminate second-ranked San Miguel Beer in the quarterfinals of the Commissioner’s Cup before pushing eventual Grand Slam champions San Mig Coffee to a do-or-die in the semifinals. Averaging close to 15 points a game and 12 rebounds, Taulava battled for the MVP award of the 2014 season, eventually losing to June Mar Fajardo. Asi however, would win Comeback Player of the Year instead. As Air21 was eventually acquired by NLEX, Taulava would continue his strong run even as a Road Warrior, even making the All-PBA 2nd team in 2016. Age has slowed Asi tremendously since but in 2020, he continues to make history. When he plays his first game with NLEX in the new PBA season, 47-year-old Taulava officially becomes the first PBA player to play in the league in four separate decades.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2020