Advertisements


Carl Tamayo made it a point to play with the big boys in Gilas 23 for 23

Carl Tamayo had been a stalwart of Batang Gilas. Alongside 7-foot-2, 17-year-old Kai Sotto, he was a big part of the biggest-ever Philippine national youth team. Even more, though, Tamayo is also being eyed to be a big part of the future of Gilas Pilipinas itself. In fact, the 6-foot-7 modern big man was included in the 23 for 23 - a list of youngsters who were looked at as national team mainstays once the 2023 FIBA World Cup comes around. That list was concretized on 2018, when Tamayo was just 17-years-old. Still, even then, he was already standing out. So much so that the talented teen had already wowed Gilas and NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena. "Nakasama ko si Carl nung unang practice na magkakasama yung matatanda pati yung mga bata sa 23 for 23. Nun, siyempre, wala pa namang team, wala pa namang first five," he shared in The Prospects Pod. He then continued, "Pero si Carl, laging sumasama doon sa unang lima. Sinasabayan niya lagi sila June Mar [Fajardo], sila Japeth [Aguilar], sila Jayson [Castro]. Dun niya laging gustong sumabay." Yes, apparently in the very first training session of the supposed future national team, Tamayo made it a point to play with the likes of eight-time champion six-time MVP Fajardo, one-time best point guard in Asia Castro, and fan favorite Aguilar. And in Ravena's eyes, that in itself is nothing but impressive. "Ako, nasa isip ko nun, 'Okay, matapang 'tong batang 'to ha.' Kasi wala namang sinasabi, pero nag-volunteer siya agad," he shared. He then continued, "First impression ko talaga, malayo mararating ng batang 'to kasi wala siyang paki kung bago siya. Unang practice pa lang yun, kakasalang pa lang niya sa Gilas, pero ganun na kaagad yung approach niya." That even allowed the Road Warriors' lead guard to poke fun at his good friend. "Nung nakita ko yun, sinisiko ko si Troy Rosario. Sabi ko sa kanya, 'Troy, may papalit na sayo, Troy," he said, through chuckles. Of course, Tamayo isn't Rosario's replacement. Rather, hopefully, the two will join forces in a national team frontcourt ready and raring for modern basketball. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 30th, 2020

2020 king of recruiting crown remains on UP’s head

Who was our King of Recruiting in 2018? Find out here. Who was our King of Recruiting in 2019? Find out here. --- From 2007 to 2015, the University of the Philippines only had 13 wins to show in 126 games total. That time is self-deprecatingly called in Diliman as the dark days. Due to that disappointing standing, the Fighting Maroons had the toughest time bringing in recruits. And due to that lack of pieces to the puzzles, they lost even more. Safe to say, State U was stuck in a vicious cycle in the dark days. That’s not to say they didn’t have blue-chip recruits back then as in their time, all of Woody Co, Mark Juruena, Mike Gamboa, Kyles Lao, Jett Manuel, and Mikee Reyes were among the best high school players. Only, a blue-chip recruit or two does not make a team. Fast forward to now and oh, how things have changed. Last year, UP was hailed as ABS-CBN’s King of Recruiting alongside University of the East. “On the strength of the transfers of Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero, the Fighting Maroons… are worthy of the title,” it said then. And the season before that, the maroon and green was also up there with the best of them in terms of recruitment, having brought in the likes of eventual Season MVP Bright Akhuetie, Will Gozum, and Jaydee Tungcab. Indeed, there was nowhere to go but up. That has only continued this year as UP has left no doubt that it is now a force to reckon with in terms of recruitment. Early on, they already had a solid haul in Joel Cagulangan, once the best point guard in high school, and tireless workhorse Malick Diouf. And then, the shock of shocks. As it turned out, Nazareth School of National University stalwarts Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano were going to be Fighting Maroons. Meaning, for the first time in recent history, the most promising prospect coming out of high school is headed to Diliman. Not only that, State U also answered its biggest question heading into next season – the question at point guard, filling in for Jun Manzo. But as it turned out, they weren’t done just yet - no, our friends, they weren’t done just yet. Tamayo and Abadiano’s departure from National U was shocking, without a doubt, but CJ Cansino’s exit from University of Sto. Tomas was even more so. Cansino, against his will, decided to move on from his alma mater since 2015 due to personal reasons. Fortunately for him, he landed on his feet. Now, the Fighting Maroons have ready-made replacement for Rivero as well as a leader in the shades of Paul Desiderio for UAAP 84. And that, our friends, is why we have no choice but to put the 2020 King of Recruiting crown on UP’s head once more. Tamayo and Abadiano are the bluest of blue-chip recruits this year and Cagulangan, Cansino, and Diouf are among the most talented transferees, but also joining them in the maroon and green will be scoring machine RC Calimag from La Salle Green Hills, burly big Miguel Tan from Xavier High School, Filipino-American playmaker Sam Dowd, Filipino-Australian tower Ethan Kirkness, physical forward Jancork Cabahug from University of Visayas, and versatile wing CJ Catapusan from Adamson University. The former Bullpups are guaranteed ato be contributors even as rookies while Calimag, Tan, and Dowd are going to shore up a bench that had just lost Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Of course, Diouf, Kirkness, Cansino, Cabahug, and Cagulangan are still serving residency, but when they will be eligible, they will get a shot at a squad that will look brand new. All of Bright Akhuetie, J-Boy Gob, David Murrell, Noah Webb, and Rivero are graduating players while Paras is only guaranteed to play one more year. That means that after Season 83, the Fighting Maroons may very well have to fill six spots. That means that UP is not only beefing up for UAAP 83, it is also securing its future. If not for the shock of shocks, though, the crown would have been claimed by De La Salle University which sent a statement that it is back and better than ever. Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio may be playing their fifth and final years in college, but the green and white’s future has only brightened following this prolonged preseason. First and foremost, Kevin Quiambao, the third leg in that National U tripod of talent out of high school, has the capability and confidence to follow in the footsteps of Baltazar. Hopefully, he will be eligible for Season 83, but if not, what’s certain is he will be playing in UAAP 84. Alongside him as pieces for the future are super scorers CJ Austria and Emman Galman, all-around swingman Joshua Ramirez, and Filipino-Americans Jeromy Hughes, Kameron Vales, and Philips bros. Benjamin and Michael. Among all those, Jonnel Policarpio, likened to a young Arwind Santos, has the highest upside, but the Fil-Ams have much potential as well. And don’t forget that Evan Nelle, the primetime playmaker from San Beda University, is just getting primed and prepped to take the reins when Melecio leaves. Of course, the caveat here is that we are all in uncharted territory due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis. And in that light, the next season of the UAAP remains far away and a lot could still happen until then. While majority of the local blue-chip recruits have already committed, talents from abroad and transferees from other schools could still come and change the game. With that being said, there remains no doubt that UP and La Salle have made the biggest noise in the offseason. However, it’s not actually the Fighting Maroons or the Green Archers who got the lion’s share of the best graduating players in the 2020 NBTC 24. Yes, that honor belongs to Lyceum of the Philippines University which is finally reaping the rewards of its rising Jrs. program with NCAA 95 Jrs. MVP John Barba and Batang Gilas playmaker Mac Guadana being promoted as full-fledged Pirates. Guadana could do it all and looks like the next great guard in the Grand Old League while fearless slasher is Barba is a perfect complement to him. Add another fiery guard in John Bravo and sweet-shooting big man Carlo Abadeza and LPU has restocked its coffers after losing Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee and Cameroonian powerhouse Mike Nzeusseu. In all though, the 2020 NBTC 24 was dominated by UP… and San Beda. Of the annual rankings’ 15 graduating players, four would be Fighting Maroons and another four would be Red Lions. Yes, San Beda’s grassroots program is back on track with its Jrs. championship core all remaining in red and white. Rhayyan Amsali, ranked no. 1 in the 2020 NBTC 24, is the most college-ready high school player while Justine Sanchez is a long-limbed forward who could turn out to be the next Calvin Oftana, you know, the NCAA 95 MVP. Yukien Andrada, meanwhile, is only continuing to develop his two-way game and Tony Ynot is a 3-and-D weapon who had even left an impression on Jalen Green. And hey, as somebody said, don’t sleep on the UAAP’s three-time defending champions. Ateneo may already be missing Isaac Go, Thirdy Ravena, Adrian Wong, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt and they may not be making noise as of late, but they are still welcoming Dave Ildefonso and Dwight Ramos with open arms. Ildefonso will only be good to go come UAAP 84, but Ramos is already being seen by head coach Tab Baldwin as a difference-maker for the Blue Eagles in Season 83. Eli, Dwight’s younger brother, is also in the mix to backstop SJ Belangel and Tyler Tio. Note also that former blue-chip recruit Inand Fornilos may very well finally get his shot while both Jolo Mendoza and Raffy Verano are also back. Ateneo’s foe in the Finals last year also reloaded quite a bit as for the third year in a row, UST will be sending the Tiger Cubs’ best player to the Srs. squad. Following in the footsteps of Cansino and Mark Nonoy, post player Bismarck Lina will be a Growling Tiger next season. Alongside him to fortify the frontcourt are Christian Manaytay, Bryan Samudio, and Bryan Santos while bolstering the backcourt are Joshua Fontanilla and Paul Manalang. Speaking of fortifying the frontcourt, Far Eastern University is the team that got the biggest boost in terms of size. With 6-foot-7 Nigerian Emman Ojoula’s residency over and done with, the go-go guards of the Tamaraws have yet another weapon to burn opponents with. CESAFI MVP Kevin Guibao and transferee Simone Sandagon are no slouches either while Cholo Anonuevo has a roster spot waiting for him if and when he decides to come home after trying his luck in the US. RJ Abarrientos no longer appears here as he was already in FEU’s list last year. These are the new faces to see for the other teams: CSB Blazers LETRAN Knights JRU Heavy Bombers MAPUA Cardinals ADAMSON Soaring Falcons UE Red Warriors --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

2019 FIBA U19 World Cup Preview: Philippines vs Argentina

It was a nightmare of a start for Gilas Youth on Day 1 of the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup as prized big man Ariel John Edu injured his knee in a very bad way barely two minutes into the first quarter of the team's tournament opener against host Greece.  And though the Philippines fought gallantly, even leading by seven points after the first canto, they just couldn't keep the Greeks at bay for long and succumbed to a deeper Hellas quintet by game's end, 85-69.  Now the Filipino boys face even stiffer competition against the 3rd best team from last year's 2018 FIBA U18 Americas Championship -- Argentina.  The Argentines landed on the U18 Americas podium just behind perennial powerhouse Team USA and defending U19 World Champion Canada. Led by Virginia big man Francisco Caffaro and head coach Maximiliano Seigorman, Argentina won four of their six games en route to their top three finish.  On Day 1 of the current U19 World Cup in Crete, Argentina had to scramble in the end to survive a big challenge from Russia in overtime, 86-84. Prolific guard Juan Ignacio Marcos paced the victors with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals, while Caffaro led them in scoring with 17 points on 7/12 FG shooting.  It's obvious that coach Sandy Arespacochaga's crew will have to focus on containing those two guys tonight, and that task will be made even more difficult with Edu's apparent ACL injury (compounded by a meniscus tear and hairline femur fracture).  That will effectively double the pressure on wunderkind Kai Sotto to do a yeoman's job around the basket while also throwing a wrench into the projected rotation of the Gilas Youth coaching staff.  Now back-up guys Geo Chiu and Carl Tamayo will have to work extra had and play extra minutes to fill Edu's void and complement Sotto's game as much as they can.  This is where Gilas Youth is feeling the pinch of a couple of key absences in the frontline. One is De La Salle-Zobel's 6'8" beanpole Raven Cortez, who could have given the team even more ceiling, length, and athleticism had it not been for his own needed recovery time in sick bay.  Another is 6'10" Filipino-American Quentin Millora-Brown, who just committed to US NCAA Division 1 program Vanderbilt. Millora-Brown was approached by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas officials to woo him into playing for Batang Gilas as early as 2016, but he just couldn't get his paperwork in order before his 16th birthday, rendering him ineligible to play as a local for the Philippines in the future.  A lot of pressure will also be on the Philippines' guards, namely Gerry Abadiano, Dave Ildefonso, and Miguel Oczon. They were solid against the Greeks last night, but it will take even better play from them if they hope to pull the rug from under Argentina tonight.  Even more crucial will be the play of Fil-Italian Dalph Panopio, who, at times, looked flustered last night and who seemed unsure of his place in the team's system. If Panopio bounces back with a big game tonight and cancels out Marcos's production, Gilas Youth will have a shot at a monumental upset.  After everything, though, needless to say as it may seem, much of the Pinoys' collective fate will rest on Sotto's shoulders. The 7'2" slotman had a respectable outing against Greece's generally smaller frontline, but against a big name like Caffaro, the former Blue Eaglet has to deliver the goods in a big way. It'll be easier said than done, of course, as Argentina is expected to thrown their platoon of bigs, which, apart from 7'0" Caffaro, also includes 6'9" Bautista Lugarini and two guys Sotto faced at last year's U17 World Cup -- Juan Francisco Fernandez and Tomas Chapero, both also standing 6'9"......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 30th, 2019

Aljun Melecio s never-ending quest to prove he belongs

Aljun Melecio has these hardware sitting pretty on his trophy case: UAAP 78 Jrs. MVP, UAAP 79 Rookie of the Year, UAAP 79 champion. Now heading into his fifth and final year in De La Salle University, he remains recognized as one of the best point guards in all of college. Well, recognized by just about everybody except himself. Asked if he feels worthy to stand alongside the likes of NCAA 95 Finals MVP Fran Yu or UAAP 82 Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy, he answered, modest as always, "Nope. I don't. Wala pa akong napapatunayan." Yes, the 5-foot-8 super scorer who was then head coach Aldin Ayo's "most-wanted recruit" feels he is yet to prove himself. Yes, the primetime playmaker who was once comforted by Tab Baldwin after the Green Archers had lost the championship despite his 16 points in Game 3 of the Finals feels he is yet to prove himself. That in itself is not necessarily surprising, though. And that's because all throughout his young career, Melecio has felt, again and again, that he has to prove himself. He had to prove himself even to La Salle, his home of nine years now. "Actually, 'di naman ako ni-recruit ng Zobel dati," he shared. "To be honest, my mindset at that time ay mag-Team B lang sa Zobel para pag may games, mas magagamit ako. Kaysa naman mag-Team A ako and nakaupo lang sa bench." BREAK IN Aljun Melecio, now a graduating guard, is La Salle's most recent homegrown product. Of the Green Archers' probable UAAP 83 roster, the now-22-year-old is the lone player to have come from the Taft-based school's Jrs. programs - and mind you, they have two in La Salle Zobel and La Salle Green Hills. In DLSZ, Melecio was a scoring dynamo who once dropped 42 points on archrival Ateneo de Manila High School. Did you know, though, that he wasn't even supposed to wear the green and white? "I was supposed to transfer sa UST nung high school," he recalled. "Pero napag-usapan naming family na since si kuya, nasa Zobel na nung time na yun, mas okay sigurong Zobel na lang din ako para magkasama kami." Aljun was referring to older brother Aleck who was also his teammate for three years with the Jr. Archers. If not for Aleck, however, Aljun would have suited up for University of Sto. Tomas High School where good friend Renzo Subido had already committed to play for college. After all, it was Subido, and dad Henry, who had convinced the Melecios to move to Manila from Bukidnon. "The reason talaga why we took the risk to come here was because of Coach Henry," Aljun shared, looking back at the time when all of them were repping Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. "They invited us to play basketball in Manila kaya malaki ang utang na loob namin sa Subido family." While Coach Henry and Renzo have been always there to lend a helping hand, that did not necessarily make the transition any easier - especially for a 10-year-old kid who was born and bred in Valencia City. "Grabe yung sacrifice na ginawa namin just for me to have more opportunities in life. That was a big adjustment not just for me, but also for my parents," Melecio said. He then continued, "Dumating yung time na ayoko nang bumalik sa Manila kasi na-homesick ako. Looking back now, normal lang naman siguro yun, lalong-lalo na bata pa ako." BREAKTHROUGH Make no mistake about it, looking back now, Aljun Melecio has no regrets. As he put it, "It was all worth it." Of course, he also had lady luck smile on him somewhat as, yet again following the footsteps of Subido, he transferred from Lourdes to DLSZ. And there, he found yet another mentor willing to believe in him. "Sina Coach Boris [Aldeguer], pagdating ko sa Zobel, they invited me to join yung practice ng Team A. Nagulat ako na kaya ko naman pala so doon na nag-start yung confidence ko," he said. Indeed, Melecio did not let Coach Boris down as in his first year, he proved to be a building block in their rebuild. While the boys from Alabang eventually ended outside the playoff picture, he had made more than enough noise to get the attention of the Philippine national youth team. There, DLSZ's top gun got his first taste of wearing the flag as part of the Batang Gilas training pool. "Masayang-masaya ako nun na makasama sa practice team dahil dream ko talaga maging part nun," he narrated. "May jersey lang and makasali lang ako sa practice, masayang-masaya ako." There, Melecio showcased his skills alongside other promising prospects such as Nieto twins Mike and Matt as well as Jolo Mendoza of Ateneo, Renzo Navarro of San Sebastian College-Recoletos, and Jollo Go of Hope Christian High School. And there, yet again, he knew full well he had to prove himself. During training itself, the new kid on the block believed he was doing so. At the same time, however, he had to come face-to-face with another beast altogether - how to get to practice in the first place. As it turned out, the then-13-year-old had to commute from south to north each and every time he participated in Batang Gilas training. How did his trips go? "From Alabang, mag-tricycle ako to [Alabang] Town [Center] then jeep going to Starmall [Alabang]. After nun, bus to Magallanes, MRT, then LRT, tapos jeep ulit," he shared. He then continued, "So papunta pa lang to Moro, pagod na ako. Then after practice, mag-commute na naman pauwi." Fortunately for him, there were also kind hearts like the Nieto twins who took him to the LRT station in Katipunan or Evan Nelle whom he rode with going back south. Still, around 33km and about an hour separated DLSZ in the south and Ateneo's Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in the north - indeed, that was some sort of workout already. BREAKDOWN In the long run, that was, unfortunately, much too much for young Aljun Melecio. While wearing the flag would have meant much, he also felt circumstances, such as that hell of a commute that cost him PHP 200 for a one-way trip, held him back from giving his all. Instead, Melecio felt he could do much more if he just rechanneled his energy to DLSZ. "After ilang weeks na ginagawa ko yung routine na yun, I started asking myself kung paano maayos yung priorities ko. Pinakiramdaman ko kung saan ako mag-iimprove so I talked to Coach Boris," he said. He the continued, "And I decided na mag-all in sa Zobel." All in for the Jr. Archers, he did, and boy, did it prove to be the right call. He was just getting started in UAAP 76, slowly but surely getting a grasp of both his capabilities and confidence as he helped the green and white barge back into the Final Four. Then in Season 77, it all clicked as he shot the green and white to the second rung of the stepladder all while putting up per game counts of 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.3 steals. Without a doubt, he willed his way into the Mythical Team that included the Nieto twins, his batchmates in Batang Gilas. The following year, with averages of 22.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.3 steals, he carried DLSZ all the way to the Finals where they stole one game from eventual champion Nazareth School of National University. And oh, he was the unanimous MVP of Season 78, besting the likes of future Gilas Pilipinas pool members Justine Baltazar and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Even then, though, he wouldn't call himself the best of the best. "I didn't think na I belonged kasi never kong gustong isipin na ganun ako," he said. He then continued, "Ang alam ko lang, I worked extra hard, I had extra motivation to play. Thankfully, coach Boris supported my decision and dahil dun, na-boost yung confidence ko." BREAK FREE From there, Aljun Melecio did nothing but go onto greater and greater heights in La Salle's Srs. squad. Never tell him he has accomplished anything, though, as he would be the first to tell you that you're wrong. Up until now, he feels that he is yet to prove himself. He hopes to prove that he has what it takes to be behind the wheel for the Green Archers' new era. He hopes to prove that he could bounce back following the worst statistical season for him. And he hopes to prove that he has every right to be mentioned in the same breath as his one-time teammates in the Batang Gilas pool and his batchmates who are now part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool. "Lahat naman, ginagawa kong motivation," he said. "May it be positive or negative, we all have our timing so I'm just being patient para sa kung anuman ang ibibigay na chance sa akin." If and when that next shot at wearing the flag comes along, Melecio only vows to do what he has never stopped doing. Asked about getting a golden opportunity at the Gilas pool, he answered, "That's still a dream for me. I know I still have a lot to prove." He then continued, "But I will give my all if given the chance to represent. I always do." If and when that time comes, there would be no more 33km distance, one-hour travel time, or PHP 200 cost. Still, Aljun Melecio would work just as hard - if not more - as he did when he once had to commute south to north just to get to practice. Don't forget, proving himself is already second nature to him. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

WHAT IF… Bullpups denied Kai, SJ, and Dave a championship?

History lesson: In a single season, Ateneo de Manila High School had 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto, primetime playmaker SJ Belangel, and super scorer Dave Ildefonso alongside versatile forwards Jason Credo and Joaqui Manuel. For sure, that core was good enough to win it all - and did just that in their last year all together in UAAP 80. The Blue Eaglets swept the elimination round and as such, automatically advanced into the Finals. There, they matched up opposite modern-day rival Nazareth School of National University, but after a convincing 86-70 victory in Game 1, the series looked like a mismatch. Only, the Bullpups thought otherwise. In particular, sharpshooter Migs Oczon turned in his best game yet and scored eight of his 17 points in the payoff period to shoot his team to a 70-67 decision. And so, come the winner-take-all Game 3, momentum was, all of a sudden, with the blue and gold. Even more, the lead was actually with National U inside the last five minutes of Game 3. Their six-point lead, though, would not hold as Belangel, Sotto, and Manuel rallied Ateneo to a well-earned 63-58 win. The backbreaker for the Bullpups proved to be the towering teen's putback of Manuel's miss that put his team back ahead with under two minutes left. He did that at the expense of solid rebounders Michael Malonzo and Rhayyan Amsali. But what if they just got that one rebound? If so, the edge would have remained with National U - albeit a one-point edge at that - and they could then build on it at the other end. However, Kai is Kai and there will always be a good to great chance of him making that same play. In that case, the better what if for the boys from Sampaloc is this: what if Terrence Fortea never cooled down? The gunslinger's floater, triple, and assist to Amsali was the backbone of the run that put them on top, 54-48, with 4:18 remaining. From that point, however, Fortea got locked up and was unable to impact the game any further. Of course, he was just 16-years-old during that time - and really, in his first year as one of his side's big guns. At the same time, though, the 5-foot-11 guard had already been playing three seasons for National U at that point. With that, there was also a good to great chance that he would have broken free from the shackles of the Blue Eaglets' defense in the endgame. If so, with Fortea remaining red-hot, National U then completes a comeback from the ages - besting their elimination round-sweeping opponents in three games. Not only would they deny Ateneo a perfect season, they would deny all of Sotto, Belangel, Ildefonso, Credo, and Manuel of a championship altogether. The Bullpups would then head into their title defense even scarier, welcoming Gerry Abadiano, Kevin Quiambao, and Carl Tamayo with open arms. Still, their top gun would, without a doubt, be Fortea. For the Blue Eaglets, Belangel, Credo, Ildefonso, and Manuel fall short of moving on from the Jrs. on the highest of highs and that contending core winds up as an underachiever. For his part, however, Sotto comes back with a vengeance, and may very well have done better than his MVP campaign of 25.1 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.6 blocks. More than that, the tantalizing talent puts Ateneo his back all the way to a rematch with National U - and the roles would then be reversed. National U is the favorite while Ateneo is the underdog. And then, who knows, it would be Kai Sotto doing a Terrence Fortea. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2020

REWIND RANKINGS: Juan GDL, Mallillin, and 17 NBTC All-Stars

The National Basketball Training Centre 24 is now on its third year and through its run, it has been graced by the likes of Kai Sotto, Joel Cagulangan, SJ Belangel, Carl Tamayo, Rhayyan Amsali, and Kevin Quiambao as top three talents. From 2018 onward, a selection committee made up of scribes from ABS-CBN Sports, ESPN5, Spin, and Tiebreaker Times have reviewed the best of the best in the NCAA, UAAP, MMBL, CESAFI-NBTC, and FCAAF and then ranked them in the definitive list of the most promising prospects in the Philippines. That list of names then became the final roster for the annual NBTC All-Star Game. Even before the NBTC 24, though, the grassroots national tournament has organized All-Star Games with 24 of the most promising prospects in the Philippines. And so, wouldn't it be fun if the All-Stars before 2018 will get the NBTC 24 treatment? In this space, the current selection committee will be retroactively ranking the NBTC All-Stars in their respective years from the game's debut in 2012 all the way to 2017. Now, we'll do the 2017 NBTC All-Stars - the time when the undisputed top talent came from a "two-win" team. --- From out of nowhere in UAAP 79, Adamson High School had the best team in all of high school. And that's because from out of nowhere, the Baby Falcons had the best player in all of high school. Behind first-year player Encho Serrano, the blue and white blasted off to an 11-1 start and looked like a freight train headed towards the school's first championship since 1993. Only, Adamson and Serrano, all of a sudden, ran into a wall - a wall that ultimately forfeited each and every one of their wins. Not only that, the 5-foot-11 ball of energy was deemed supposed-to-be ineligible for the season and had a surefire MVP award - as well as a title they were favored to take home - taken away from him. Still, there was no doubt that in 2017, Serrano was the top talent - what with his non-stop motor that none of his opponents, and even his teammates, could keep up with. Posting per game counts of 19.3 points in 58 percent shooting and 8.1 rebounds, the Kapampangan finally found his game and his home in his third try. And so, he is the rightful no. 1 in our re-rankings despite the fact that he comes from a "two-win" team - and not even the NBTC 24's valuing of wins first and foremost could take that away from him. Behind him in our Rewind Rankings is L-Jay Gonzales of UAAP champion Far Eastern University-Diliman. The primetime playmaker didn't actually play in the All-Star Game after failing to show up for tryouts. Nonetheless, his breakout when it mattered most - the Finals where he stuffed the stat sheet with averages of 9.5 points, 8.0 assists, and 6.5 rebounds - was more than enough to thrust him right into the front of the re-rankings even ahead of MVPs Troy Mallillin of La Salle Green Hills and Juan Gomez de Liano of the University of the Philippines Integrated School. Mallillin was solid if unspectacular for the Greenies who fell short of the Finals in the NCAA while Juan GDL was a one-man show that fell short of contending for the Final Four in the UAAP. The NCAA MVP and the UAAP MVP would have to settle for no. 4 and no. 5, respectively, as the third spot would have to go to Ateneo de Manila High School's SJ Belangel who, in only his second season, already established himself as the best point guard in high school. Belangel's teammate Kai Sotto - the now 7-foot-2, 17-year-old Filipino making noise in the US - was slotted at 15th after his rookie year in the UAAP. Then, he pretty clearly had a long ways to go as the likes of undersized big men Kenji Roman of FEU-Diliman and Karl Penano of Nazareth School of National University had their way with him. As a whole, the UAAP dominated this re-rankings as its players occupied all but one of the top six spots. Mallillin and Arellano High School's Aaron Fermin are the only NCAA players in the top 10 while Jonas Tibayan from Chiang Kai Shek yet again emerged as the best player from other leagues. In all, the 2017 NBTC All-Stars counted 10 players from the NCAA, nine players from the UAAP, four players from other leagues in Manila, and one player from Cebu. This is the final NBTC 24 for 2017 - retroactively, that is: 1. Encho Serrano, F/G, Adamson 2. L-Jay Gonzales, G, FEU-Diliman 3. SJ Belangel, G, Ateneo 4. Troy Mallillin, F, LSGH 5. Juan Gomez de Liano, G, UPIS 6. John Lloyd Clemente, G/F, National U 7. Jonas Tibayan, F, Chiang Kai Shek (blue no. 18) 8. Aaron Fermin, C, Arellano (grey no. 18) 9. Dave Ildefonso, F/G, Ateneo 10. Inand Fornilos, F, UST (leftmost, in yellow top) 11. Rom Junsay, G, Mapua 12. Harvey Pagsanjan, G, Hope (photo courtesy of FIBA) 13. Guillmer Dela Torre, G, Arellano 14. Sam Abu Hijleh, F, San Beda 15. Kai Sotto, C, Ateneo 16. Rhayyan Amsali, F, National U 17. Evan Nelle, G, San Beda 18. John Galinato, G, Chiang Kai Shek 19. Germy Mahinay, C, San Beda 20. Sherwin Concepcion, F, Mapua 21. Migs Oczon, G, Chiang Kai Shek 22. Unique Naboa, G, LSGH 23. Jancork Cabahug, F, UV 24. Lars Sunga, F, Arellano.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2020

REWIND RANKINGS: Thirdy, Arvin T., and 14 NBTC All-Stars

The National Basketball Training Centre 24 is now on its third year and through its run, it has been graced by the likes of Kai Sotto, Joel Cagulangan, SJ Belangel, Carl Tamayo, Rhayyan Amsali, and Kevin Quiambao as top three talents. From 2018 onward, a selection committee made up of scribes from ABS-CBN Sports, ESPN5, Spin, and Tiebreaker Times have reviewed the best of the best in the NCAA, UAAP, MMBL, CESAFI-NBTC, and FCAAF and then ranked them in the definitive list of the most promising prospects in the Philippines. That list of names then became the final roster for the annual NBTC All-Star Game. Even before the NBTC 24, though, the grassroots national tournament has organized All-Star Games with 24 of the most promising prospects in the Philippines. And so, wouldn't it be fun if the All-Stars before 2018 will get the NBTC 24 treatment? In this space, the current selection committee will be retroactively ranking the NBTC All-Stars in their respective years from the game's debut in 2012 all the way to 2017. Next, it's the 2014 NBTC All-Stars - a class that was composed of several players from two teams who had perfect seasons. --- Both San Beda High School and Nazareth School of National University completed clean sweeps of their respective tournaments in 2013. The Red Cubs were the class of the NCAA Jrs. after going 18-0 in the elimination round and then disposing of La Salle Green Hills via two consecutive convincing victories in the Finals. The Bullpups were right there with them after winning each and every one of their 14 matches in the elims before stamping their class on Ateneo de Manila High School in the championship round. Perfect runs are a rarity and that's why it would be a no-brainer that players from San Beda and National U would top our retroactive rankings - as, famously, the NBTC 24 values winning first and foremost. That means that Red Cub Arvin Tolentino and Bullpup Hubert Cani vault over NCAA MVP Prince Rivero of LSGH and UAAP MVP Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo. And that's not just because of who wound up with the biggest wins. Tolentino only proved to be worthy of the hype as the best big man coming out of high school as he displayed his versatility en route to the Finals MVP. Cani was himself Finals MVP as nobody from the blue and white had an answer for his steady play that turned up the volume when it mattered most. Of course, even then, there was no denying the tantalizing talent that was Ravena and, in the future, he would go on to be the top talent from this class and won three championships with Ateneo. Rivero, meanwhile, had for himself a solid stint in college as well, but never got to harness his full potential as a banger in La Salle. The year also saw the charge of San Sebastian back into the forefront of the high school wars led by Mythical Teamers Michael Calisaan and Rhanzelle Yong. The year was definitely dominated by the NCAA and the UAAP as those leagues held down the top 13 spots. Hope Christian big man John Apacible and point guard Arjan Dela Cruz were the first players outside those tournaments at 14th and 15th, respectively. Going farther down the list, however, there hides Isaac Go who was a raw project in Xavier before rising to great heights in Ateneo. A noteworthy absence in the All-Star Game is LSGH's Kobe Paras who, by then, was already priming and preparing to go to the US and play in the NCAA. In all, the 2014 NBTC All-Stars counted 11 players from the NCAA, seven from the UAAP, and 6 players from other leagues in Manila. In the top 10, the NCAA also boasted of occupying the most seats with six. This is the final NBTC 24 for 2014 - retroactively, that is: 1. Arvin Tolentino, F, San Beda 2. Hubert Cani, G, National U 3. Thirdy Ravena, F, Ateneo 4. Prince Rivero, F, LSGH 5. JP Cauilan, F, National U 6. Michael Calisaan, F, San Sebastian 7. Revrev Diputado, G, San Beda 8. Javee Mocon, F, San Beda 9. Rhanzelle Yong, F, San Sebastian 10. Diego Dario, G, UPIS 11. Enzo Battad, F, National U 12. Richard Escoto, F, FEU-Diliman 13. Radge Tongo, G, San Beda 14. John Apacible, C/F, Hope 15. Arjan Dela Cruz, G, Hope 16. Alfren Gayosa, F/G, San Sebastian 17. Chino Mosqueda, G, National U 18. Med Salim, F, Chiang Kai Shek 19. Isaac Go, C, Xavier 20. Ryan Costelo, G, San Sebastian 21. Jarrell Lim, G, Xavier 22. Ivan Villanueva, F, Letran 23. Jobert Mercado, G/F, Hope 24. Justine Serrano, F, Mapua.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 8th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: 13 season sweep vs 20 perfect run of Bullpups

Not only has Nazareth School of National University gone undefeated through the tournament in UAAP Boys Basketball, it has actually done it twice in the last seven years. The Bullpups did it in 2013 as Jeff Napa guided and Hubert Cani led them in warding off all oncomers and winding up 16-0. Seven years later, head coach Goldwin Monteverde's well-oiled machine stamped its class on all its opponents en route to an unbeaten title defense. With that, the Sampaloc-based school can now boast of having, arguably, two of the top teams in high school history. Head-to-head, though, which squad's season sweep was more impressive? That, that is exactly what we will delve into in ABS-CBN Sports' Super Showdown. In grading the greatness of each team's perfect run, we will be judging them in five categories (frontcourt, backcourt, coaching, depth, and level of competition) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. FRONTCOURT Carl Tamayo is the best big man to come out of high school in recent history. The 6-foot-7 modern big man's averages of 11.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in the elimination round were ho-hum, but he unleashed his true self in the Finals where the posted a per game double-double of 19 markers and 18 boards. Put 6-foot-8 Kevin Quiambao and his norms of 12.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.4 blocks beside that and the '20 National U team had two of the most talented towers in all of the Jrs. division. Coach Jeff, a well-renowned big man whisperer, has his bigs prepared to the utmost in each and every game, but '13 Bullpups' JP Cauilan, Mark Dyke, and Kins Go are just no match for the power and potential of the Tamayo-Quiambao pairing. That gap more than made up for the inexperience of '20 National U's wings in Harold Alarcon, Reyland Torres, and Nat Tulabut when matched up opposite the battle-tested wiles of Enzo Battad and Chino Mosqueda from the '13 Bullpups. Advantage '20 Bullpups, 10-8 BACKCOURT Cani, without a doubt, underwhelmed in his college career, but there was always a reason why several squads were interested in him coming out of high school. Simply put, he was a true-blue-chip recruit and his 24.5-point, 7.0-assist, 4.0-rebound, and 2.0-steal averages when it mattered most made him nothing but worthy as Finals MVP. Make no mistake, Terrence Fortea and Gerry Abadiano are true-blue-chip recruits in their own right, but the '13 version of Cani was just on another level - a big guard who can make plays as well as take matters into his own hands. Backstop him with steady Philip Manalang and '13 National U trumps the '20 Bullpups guard rotation of Fortea, Abadiano, Ernest Felicilda, and Steve Nash Enriquez. Advantage '13 Bullpups, 10-9 COACHING Both Coach Jeff and Coach Gold are undisputed master-builders in high school. Napa transformed National U from a once-league doormat into a dynasty while Monteverde has been a winner anywhere and everywhere, be it Chiang Kai Shek College or Adamson High School or with the Bullpups. Coach Jeff's trademark has long been mining raw big men and molding them into forces while Coach Gold has always had total team effort as his signature. Considering the lineups of the two teams, though, it was Napa who got the most out of his players. Cani was the '13 Bullpups one and only shining star, but Coach Jeff had perfect roles for do-it-all Cauilan, monster rebounder Dyke, and two-way swingman Mosqueda. On the other hand, Coach Gold had tantalizing talents in Abadiano, Fortea, Quiambao, and Tamayo, among others, and then made them all work in a system. And so, the slight edge here goes to Napa who turned scraps into a machine - but still, it should never be disregarded how masterful it was that Monteverde let his constellation of stars shine bright in their own ways. Advantage '13 Bullpups, 10-9 DEPTH There is no debate that the National U of '20 will blow the '13 Bullpups out of the water in terms of total talent. The National U of '20 had Tamayo and Fortea coming off the bench for crying out loud all while Quiambao and Abadiano made sure they started strong. Even more, the likes of Alarcon, Torres, and Felicilda never got headlines and highlights, but were actually the grease that made sure the juggernaut was running as well as it should. In comparison, the '13 Bullpups, more often than not, went eight-deep with Cani flanked by Battad, Cauilan, Dyke, Go, Manalang, Mosqueda, and John Rey Lapiz. Man-for-man, the National U of '20 was just fully loaded as promising prospects Enriquez, Kenji Duremdes, and Echo Laure are only just waiting for their turn at the controls. Advantage '20 Bullpups, 10-8 LEVEL OF COMPETITION The '20 National U won by an average of 25.8 points and only had three single-digit wins through the tournament. The '13 Bullpups, meanwhile, won by an average of 12.5 points and had 10 single-digit wins through the tournament. That alone doesn't tell the full story, though. The '13 Bullpups' road to a season sweep was actually rockier as it featured matchups with Ateneo de Manila University with Aaron Black, Jolo Mendoza, Thirdy Ravena, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt; Far Eastern University-Diliman with Brandrey Bienes, Wendell Comboy, Richard Escoto, Christian Fajarito, Marvin Lee, and Domingo twins JJ and JS; De La Salle Zobel with QJ Banzon, Aljun Melecio, Brent Paraiso, and Renzo Subido; and even Diego Dario and Joe Gomez de Liano's the University of the Philippines Integrated School and Raymar Caduyac's University of the East. And yet, they were able to take care of Thirdy's Blue Eaglets by an average margin of victory of 12.5 points in the Finals. That was the same average margin of victory for '20 National U opposite FEU-Diliman which went to war led by Cholo Anonuevo, Jorick Bautista, and Penny Estacio. While Anonuevo, Bautista, and Estacio are tantalizing talents, they are only coming into their own and far from the player that Season MVP Thirdy was for Ateneo. No doubt, talent was all over the league even past those '20 Finalists in the form of Adamson High School with Season MVP Jake Figueroa and Matty Erolon; Ateneo's Josh Lazaro, Lebron Lopez, and Forthky Padrigao; University of Sto. Tomas' Jacob Cortez and Bismarck Lina; and UPIS' Sean Torculas, Jordi GDL, and Ray Allen Torres. In all, however, the level of competition in 2013 was higher as '20 National U didn't face a team as talented as Thirdy's Blue Eaglets or a more complete team than the Baby Tams. Advantage '13 Bullpups, 10-8 FINAL SCORE, a draw at 46-46.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 2020

No doubt, Monteverde has set a gold standard in National U

From last year to this year, Nazareth School of National University has just been a cut above the rest in high school. The Bullpups won the championship in UAAP 81 and then followed it up with more crowns in National Basketball Training Center, Palarong Pambansa, and ASEAN School Games. And then in UAAP 82, not only did they defend their title, they did so by sweeping the season. According to head coach Goldwin Monteverde, there is actually no secret to that sustained success. All National U did was keep its eyes on the prize. Asked what spurred them on in the face of all obstacles, the softspoken mentor answered, "On our part, it's more of yung commitment namin talaga." Of course, the 16 wins in 16 games is more than enough proof that the Bullpups' way works. Along with that, Coach Gold was just proud to have been a witness to his boys staying true to their identity throughout the tournament. As he put it, "Wala akong nakita sa team namin na selosan. It's all about the team, it's all about supporting each other." He then continued, "Never ko rin silang nakitaang playing for the crowd. Basta naka-focus lang sila sa goal nila." And that is why in the title-clinching Game 2 behind closed doors, the blue and gold just played its game all the way to a convincing victory. "Walang audience, pero si coach Gold, talagang na-train na kaming i-express lang yung laro namin na hindi dapat pang-impress sa ibang tao," Finals MVP Carl Tamayo shared. "Play lang kami para sa team. Ang importante sa amin, makuha yung goal namin na pinaghihirapan namin araw-araw." Now, the Sampaloc-based school is nothing but hopeful that Coach Gold brings over the same winning mentality as he transitions to its Srs. squad. National U has not made the Final Four since the days of Gelo Alolino, but with the moving up of the veteran tactician, that playoff drought may very well come to an end. In the same way that promising prospects Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano, Terrence Fortea, and Kevin Quiambao came together for a dominant two-year run, the Bulldogs are only looking forward to the coming together of John Lloyd Clemente, JV Gallego, and Shaun Ildefonso for a return to relevance. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 18th, 2020

UAAP 82: Tamayo wills perfect Bullpups to first triumphant title defense

Nazareth School of National University now owns five of the last nine championships in the UAAP Boys Basketball Tournament. However, Season 82 is the first time they have won back-to-back titles. Carl Tamayo made sure of that as the Bullpups still had the number of Far Eastern University-Diliman, 87-80, in Game 2 of the Finals, Monday at Filoil Flying V Centre. Tamayo was brilliant all throughout and his 26-point, 22-rebound double-double powered the defending champions to perfection as they swept the championship round in the same way they swept the eliminations. Gerry Abadiano backstopped the talented tower with 20 points, five rebounds, and three assists while Terrence Fortea scored 12 markers of his own on top of four dimes, three boards, and two steals. While the blue and gold took charge right from tip-off, the Baby Tamaraws kept coming with Penny Estacio's basket and bonus pulling them within seven, 72-79, inside the last five minutes. National U's championship core made their presence felt anew, however, as Kevin Quiambao's slam jam was followed by back-to-back bombs by Tamayo and Abadiano for an 87-72 lead with 2:11 remaining. Not long after, the Bullpups were celebrating their first triumphant title defense - winning it all in Season 82 to add to their trophy collection coming from Seasons 81, 78, 76, and 74. Along with that, they celebrated a perfect season that saw them run the gauntlet and remain unscathed after 16 games. The Sampaloc-based school is still the only squad to get a perfect run in the Boys' Division - and this is its second time to do so following the feat by their Hubert Cani-led and Jeff Napa-coached team back in 2013. Quiambao - who alongside Tamayo and Abadiano is graduating - contributed eight points and seven rebounds. John Rey Pasaol topped the scoring column for FEU-Diliman with 20 points to go along with seven rebounds, five steals, and four assists while Estacio also added 17 markers. Cholo Anonuevo contributed eight points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in his last game in high school. He is the only key cog to be graduating for the green and gold which, despite the runner-up finish, seems poised to continue contending next year. BOX SCORES NU 87 - Tamayo 26, Abadiano 20, Fortea 12, Quiambao 8, Alarcon 5, Tulabut 5, Enriquez 4, Torres 3, Buensalida 2, Mailim 2, Felicilda 0 FEU-DILIMAN 80 - Pasaol 20, Estacio 17, Bautista 13, Sleat 13, Anonuevo 8, Padrones 5, Libago 3, Bagunu 1, Saldua 0 QUARTER SCORES: 24-17, 53-45, 75-62, 87-80 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 9th, 2020

Fortea fires up Bullpups in Finals Game 1 domination of Baby Tams

Nothing was going right for Nazareth School of National University in Game 1 of the UAAP 82 Boys Basketball Tournament Finals as it took time to get going after a one-month layoff. That was until Terrence Fortea was sent in. Going online from the very moment he came off the bench, Fortea energized the Bullpups back to life as they ultimately had all the answers for very game Far Eastern University-Diliman, 79-61, Friday at Filoil Flying V Centre. The defending champions scored the first basket as well as a bonus before the Baby Tamaraws rang off 17 unanswered points for what was, all of a sudden, a double-digit lead following the first five minutes. "Nawala kami nung first part. We started slow lalo sa defensive end, pero buti na lang, nag-pick up," head coach Goldwin Monteverde said. It was at that point, though, that the sparkplug guard was sent in and scored six points in a 14-5 run that made it a close contest once more with National U just down, 17-22. "'Di kami nag-expect na everything will be perfect. Whatever challenges, we'll face it as a team," coach Gold said. Gerry Abadiano then brought the backup and dropped 10 points in the second quarter, including back-to-back baskets that put them up, 37-29. The Bullpups’ lead would only swell to as big as 25 points the rest of the way. In the end, Fortea scored 24 points, all but eight coming in the first half, while Abadiano contributed 14 markers, seven rebounds, and four assists. Twin towers Kevin Quiambao and Carl Tamayo then owned the paint as each posted a 12-point, 14-rebound double-double while Nat Tulabut came off the bench to chip in 10 markers, eight boards, and a standout defensive effort on Cholo Anonuevo. The championship, as well as a rare season sweep, is within reach for the blue and gold as they head into Game 2 on Monday still at the same venue. Anonuevo topped the scoring column for FEU-Diliman with 13 points, but he only had two points in the second half. The defense was more merciless for top gun Penny Estacio who was held to just six markers in 1-of-17 shooting from the field. BOX SCORES NU 79 - Fortea 24, Abadiano 14, Quiambao 12, Tamayo 12, Tulabut 10, Felicilda 3, Alarcon 2, Torres 2, Enriquez 0 FEU-DILIMAN 61 - Anonuevo 13, Bautista 10, Pasaol 10, Libago 8, Bagunu 7, Estacio 6, Sleat 4, Padrones 3, Saldua 0 QUARTER SCORES: 17-22, 43-36, 67-48, 79-61 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 6th, 2020

Bullpups stay spotless, Baby Tams still streaking in UAAP 82

STANDINGS Bullpups 5-0 Baby Tamaraws 4-1 Baby Falcons 3-2 Blue Eaglets 3-2 Tiger Cubs 2-3 Jr. Archers 2-3 Jr. Warriors 1-4 Jr. Maroons 0-5 Nazareth School of National University went all-out to make sure it didn’t suffer the same fate that befell new-age rival Ateneo de Manila High School in the continuing UAAP 82 Boys’ Basketball Tournament. With Kevin Quiambao towering above all and everybody else taking care of their own business, the Bullpups made quick work of University of the East, 91-49, Wednesday at Paco Arena. Quiambao was a force with a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double while Ernest Felicilda and Reyland Torres also added 12 and 11 markers, respectively, to make sure the Bullpups stayed away from the upset ax. Just four days ago, the Jr. Warriors pulled the rug from under the favored Blue Eaglets. There was no such thing happening to National U as Carl Tamayo and Terrence Fortea didn’t even have to do much with all 16 players fielded in by head coach Goldwin Monteverde contributing in the scoring column. Still, coach Gold saw much room for improvement at the other end. “Okay naman shooting namin, but yung defense namin, wala pa dun,” he said. That defense actually suffocated the Jr. Warriors to just 26 percent shooting from the field and yet, the softspoken shot-caller wants much more from his wards moving forward from their 5-0 start to the season. Right behind the Bullpups in the standings is Far Eastern University-Diliman which charged through very game University of Sto. Tomas, 80-73. Penny Estacio stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, five assists, five steals, and four rebounds while backcourt partner Jorick Bautista had his own 19 markers, six dimes, five boards, and two pilfers. With those two at the controls, the Baby Tamaraws ran circles around their opponents for a 28-6 edge in transition en route to their fourth win in a row following a season-opening loss. Bouncing back onto the win column is Ateneo de Manila High School courtesy of a 99-70 rout of the University of the Philippines Integrated School. Transferees Lebron Lopez and Josh Lazaro were big in the Blue Eaglets’ bounce back to 3-2 with the former finishing with 20 points, three rebounds, and three blocks and the latter ending with 17 markers and 13 boards. In the day’s other game, Adamson High School dropped a 32-point hammer on De La Salle Zobel, 89-57. Marcus Nitura busted out with 21 points to lead the Baby Falcons to back-to-back wins and a 3-2 standing. The Tiger Cubs, who suffered a second straight setback to fall to 2-3, were paced by Jacob Cortez who had 23 points while the Jr. Archers, sporting the same slate, were paced by Kean Baclaan and John Dalisay who had nine markers apiece. Meanwhile, Jericho Montecalvo had 14 markers to front the effort for UE even though they dropped down to 1-4 and Ray Torres showed the way for UPIS with 21 markers even though they remained winless in five games. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME FEU-DILIMAN 80 - Estacio 21, Bautista 19, Sleat 15, Bagunu 7, Remogat 6, Anonuevo 5, Padrones 4, Pasaol 3, Buenaventura 0, Libago 0, Mantua 0, Saldua 0 UST 73 - Cortez 23, Villarez 14, Salazar 13, Escoto 7, Montemayor 6, Bugarin 4, Oliva 4, Maliwat 2, Bautista 0, Biag 0, Calivozo 0, Jalbuena 0, Lina 0 QUARTER SCORES: 21-19, 46-37, 65-59, 80-73 SECOND GAME NU 91 - Quiambao 15, Felicilda 12, Torres 10, Alarcon 9, Abadiano 8, Fortea 8, Laure 6, Abiera 4, Tamayo 4, Mailim 3, Songcuya 3, Duremdes 2, Enriquez 2, Lantaya 2, Tulabut 2, Buensalida 1 UE 49 - Montecalvo 14, Austria 8, San Juan 6, Mara 5, Marasigan 5, Cabili 3, Maximo 3, Cruz 2, Serrano 2, Peralta 1, Caliwag 0, Castillo 0, Montecastro 0, Ortiz 0, Pelipel 0, Tan 0 QUARTER SCORES: 32-16, 53-25, 77-38, 91-49 THIRD GAME ATENEO 99 - Lopez 20, Lazaro 17, De Ayre 16, Padrigao 11, Jaymalin 7, Ladimo 7, Espinosa, Nieto 4, Pangilinan 4, Salvador M 4, Felix 2, Salvador G 2, Corral 0, Diaz 0, Rubiato 0, Santos 0 UPIS 70 - Torres 21, Gomez de Liano 18, Dinaculangan 17, Torculas 8, Canillas 3, Jacob 2, Napalang 1, Armamento 0, Avinado 0, Lopez 0 QUARTER SCORES: 24-17, 46-27, 70-53, 99-70 FOURTH GAME ADAMSON 89 - Nitura 21, Dominguez 10, Hanapi 10, Quinal 10, Abdulla 8, Erolon 8, Figueroa 7, Barcelona 4, Ignacio 4, Tulabut 4, Gonzaga 2, Timbancaya 1, Cosal 0, DLSZ 57 - Baclaan 9, Dalisay 9, Quimado 7, Tupas 7, Villarin 6, Milan 4, Del Mundo 3, Sevilla 3, Unisa 3, Luna 2, Macasaet 2, Omer 2, Cudiamat 0, Lawrence 0, Reyes 0 QUARTER SCORES: 16-18, 32-30, 65-46, 89-57 —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 27th, 2019

THROWBACK: FIBA 1954—the Philippines’ pinnacle as third best in world basketball

No other Asian team could eclipse what the Philippines achieved in 1954.  And this is what is considered an accomplishment that spoke of the glory the country once had—something that we had long desired to duplicate.  Sixty-five years since this stellar bunch of Filipino basketball icons first strode into Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 23, 1954, we still long for that moment, but have since made gargantuan steps in regaining that world basketball glory. It was the second FIBA World Basketball Championship, four years after the inaugural tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At that time, Asia wasn’t even in the map of international basketball, with only Europe and the Americas battling it out for dominance. It wasn’t really a surprise, considering how the sport hasn’t really reached that kind of popularity in the region for it to produce a world-caliber team. Favorite pastime Except of course in the Philippines, where basketball has already been the most popular pastime and already the source of national idols people fancy. Collegiate and commercial leagues were already drawing crowds, not to mention the everyday Filipino finding extreme joy swooshing that ball in a ring with an attached net—be it at the backyard or the neighborhood street—thanks to an overwhelming American influence that continues up to this day.  But what they really find so much delight is watching the country’s best players and ballclubs going at it—a sort of primetime top rating action drama in today’s parlance. And the main cast steps in while everyone howls or cheers, seeing San Beda’s Carlos Loyzaga’s “Big Difference” in scoring baskets with impunity from everywhere on the court or watching Letran’s Larry “The Fox” Mumar with his sly and cunning moves, running rings around the opposition for that easy two.  And, a Philippine team of basketball demigods? Insane. Silva’s 12 picks They did prove their wizardry and magic in their first shining moment—when they were called upon to play in the 1954 Manila Asian Games. True enough, they were unstoppable clinching the Gold against the Republic of China and earning the first-ever Asian slot in the Rio FIBA World Basketball tourney.  It was a team coached by the legendary Herminio “Herr” Silva, who despite his failing health, became that ingenious and innovative tactician who devised the “dash-and-dribble” and the vaunted zone and “freeze” defense that sent opponent plays in disarray.  Joining the Loyzaga and Mumar in Silva’s 12 picks from the original 24 selected by the country’s governing body were the “Rajah of Rebound” Francisco Rabat, skipper Tony Genato, Benjamin Francisco, Nap Flores, Florentino Bautista, Pons Saldana, Bayani Amador, Rafael Barretto, Mon Manulat, and Mariano Tolentino. Their poise even at the start of hostilities were already world-class. They would pound Paraguay without let-up behind Loyzaga’s 15 points in a 64-52 drubbing on opening day.  Their intensity in the first game, however, left them gasping in their second game the next day, facing a mighty host team and lost, 62-99. Despite the loss, however, they still advanced to the final round with their 1-1 slate in Group A, after Brazil ousted Paraguay, 61-52. The Filipinos will soon have its first acid test and face the United States on October 27 for its first assignment in the Final Round. The Americans, who lost to Argentina in the Gold Medal match in 1950 was definitely hungry for their first World title, but facing the Philippines proved to be their most challenging match.  Challenging the US It was a close match in the first half with the Filipinos giving the Americans a very hard time in executing their offense, trailing by a mere three points at halftime, 25-22, and even led with its largest margin at 31-26 at the start of the second half. But the US, bannered by the Illinois squad Peoria Cats, adjusted their offense and pulled away at 49-30, with three minutes left to play. The game ended with the US winning by a mere 13 points, 56-43, their lowest winning margin in the tournament.  Mumar topscored with 14 points, Loyzaga added 12, and Tolentino had 11, but the rest each had at most two points.  Eventual MVP Kirby Minter led the US with 15 points. The Philippines, despite the setback gained the respect of the world with their performance against the Americans that sent shockwaves across the tournament. Led by Flores, the Filipinos would then cruise past Formosa (now Chinese-Taipei), 48-38, on October 29. The following day, Loyzaga and Saldana each scored 20 points and Philippines clobbered Israel, 90-56. They would however lose to their Group A tormentors and hosts Brazil, 41-57. Sealing glory What really sealed their glory and place in history, however, was their successive victories against Canada, 83-76, behind Mumar’s 24 points, France, 66-60 with Loyzaga leading all scorers with 19 points, and the hotly contested match against Uruguay, 67-63 with Loyzaga bombarding 31 markers.  The match against France was memorable when Mumar had an altercation with the French behemoth 7-footer Jean-Paul Beugnot, who took issue with Mumar’s sly tactics as he defended him in a drive to the basket. Rubbing his eyes after he claimed to have been spat on, Beugnot could not do anything but notice Mumar scoring on a lay-up unmolested that sealed the win.  Already assured of the bronze, the Philippines still engaged Uruguay in a tough battle. In fact, Uruguayans had complained about the Filipinos’ rough play throughout their game.  It however spoke of the Philippines’ tenacity in getting the win, as Genato made the biggest defensive gem of all, limiting Uruguay sniper Oscar Moglia, who buried 37 points in a previous match against Canada, to a mere nine points. Loyzaga’s monster game was the key factor in the four-point win, with Mumar scoring nine, Tolentino and Barretto contributing five each, with Bautista and Manulat both had four, Rabat two and Amador one.  The US would eventually cop their first World title, manhandling Brazil in the final, 62-41. Loyzaga part of World’s Mythical Five Loyzaga ended the tournament as the second top scorer with a combined 148 points, with a 16.4 average, behind Canada’s Carl Ridd, who totaled 164, and became part of the World’s Mythical Five.  Looking back, the stature of this Philippine squad seems too lofty to even emulate, but we are slowly, yet even at a painstaking grind, getting close even with small baby steps to achieving that feat. With today’s Gilas Pilipinas already reaching unanticipated heights in this more challenging and competitive arena, especially with open basketball coming into play, the Philippines’ lost world basketball glory may soon reemerge. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2019

Gilas Youth closes campaign in 2019 World Cup at 14th-place

Gilas Pilipinas Youth ended its run in the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup by falling short against New Zealand, 70-76, Sunday night (Philippine time) inside Heraklion University Hall in Greece. Carl Tamayo had a strong showing for the second straight game with a 24-point, 12-rebound double-double while Dalph Panopio turned in his best outing in the tournament with 16 markers in this one. It was also Tamayo who had all but two points in the 8-0 run that erased a three-point deficit and erected a 66-61 advantage in favor of the Filipinos inside the last seven minutes. The Kiwis stormed back, however, and Flynn Cameron shot them to a 72-70 lead with 51 ticks to go. The Philippines had two tries at trying tally, but Dave Ildefonso's inside basket got blocked and Gerry Abadiano's floater fell short. Four made free throws by New Zealand later and Gilas Youth had to settle for 14th-place. Nonetheless, the finish is the third-best in all of Asia, ahead of China and just behind Australia and New Zealand. In their last game in the world meet, Dave Ildefonso had 16 points, five rebounds, and five assists while 7-foot-2, 17-year-old Kai Sotto had eight markers, eight boards, and four dimes. BOX SCORES NEW ZEALAND 76 -- Cameron 21, Darling 16, de Geest 15, Oswald 6, Perrott-Hunt 5, Higgins 4, Mete 4, Moors 3, Faamausili 2, Mennenga 0, Poppe 0, Stephens 0. PHILIPPINES 70 -- Tamayo 24, Ildefonso 16, Panopio 16, Sotto 8, Abadiano 2, Chiu 2, Oczon 2, Spencer 0, Amsali 0, Fortea 0, Torres 0. QUARTER SCORES: 20-15, 45-37, 59-58, 76-70. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019

2019 FIBA U19 World Cup Preview: Philippines vs New Zealand

The Philippines finally had a breakthrough in the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Heraklion Greece, beating Asian rivals China, 86-72, to be assured of at least 14th place in the biennial competition.  Their final game today will be against another team from the FIBA Asia zone -- New Zealand, which placed 2nd place overall in last year's 2018 FIBA U18 Asia Cup in Thailand and defeated Senegal last night, 87-71.  It will be a tough final assignment for coach Sandy Arespcochaga's wards, who are coming in riding high with confidence after their convincing triumph over the Chinese. The Filipinos bucked the limited minutes of Kai Sotto in that encounter as the 7'2” prized center was saddled with foul trouble and could only register 5 points, 2 rebounds, a 1 block in 13 minutes of play. Answering the call were Dave Ildefonso, Carl Tamayo, James Spencer, and Rhayyan Amsali, all of whom scored in double-digits for the Philippines.  Needless to say, it'll take another supreme team effort today if the Filipinos are to stave off what should be a very strong challenge from the Kiwis, who likewise put up a convincing win yesterday against the Senegalese.  In that match, versatile guard Flynn Cameron stood out. The DePaul University Blue Demon has been inconsistent in Heraklion, but he had his best game yet against Senegal, scoring 19 points on top of 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 steals, and 2 blocks.  Another Junior Tall Black to worry about is Euro-based Max Darling, who plies his trade for Croatia's KK Vrijednosnice Osijek. The 6'6” inside operator is one of the most athletic players in the entire field, and he has been on a tear in New Zealand's last two games, averaging 19.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per outing. Don't be surprised if he tries his hand at slowing Kai down in the paint.  Speaking of Kai, he has stumbled out of the top 10 most efficient players in the tournament after last night's below par showing, and it would be great to see him bounce back in a big way here.  The former Ateneo Blue Eaglet is among the youngest studs in Heraklion and will still be eligible for the next U19 World Cup should the Philippines qualify anew. He is currently averaging 12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game, but he will likely need even better numbers against New Zealand if Gilas Youth is to end its campaign on a bright note.  He'll expect much help from the aforementioned Ildefonso and Tamayo, who really played with aplomb against China. Ildefonso was nearly unstoppable, shooting 7 out of 12 from the floor, including 4 triples en route to an impressive 21-point, 7-assist, 6-rebound stat-line. Tamayo, for his part, was splendid with 20 points and 6 rebounds while hitting 3 triples. If those two guys can puncture the hoops again and complement Kai's inside game, the Philippines has a fair chance of finishing 13th place overall......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019

2019 FIBA U19 World Cup Preview: Philippines vs Russia

With two losses in their slate and a day's rest, our Gilas Youth U19 national team will plunge back into action later tonight against Russia on the final day of the group phase at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece.    Despite their two losses, the Filipinos actually still have a shot at finishing among the top two teams in the group, though that entails beating Russia by at least 25 points.   Now given that beating Russia alone is already quite a tall order, doing so by a quarter century may just be asking for too much already.    Still, given how our boys have played, I wouldn't put it past them to spring a surprise or two.    Against Russia, head coach Sandy Arespacochaga's wards will be up against one of the tallest teams in the entire tournament. And though the Russians don't have anyone as tall as Kai Sotto (their tallest is rarely-used Vladislav Goldin at 6'11"), they have really big wingmen who are sure to give our perimeter guys hell for 40 minutes.    Leading the way is hotshot scorer Aleksandr Ershov, who at 6'6" will be a match-up nightmare around the arc against our own guards. Ershov is the 4th-best scorer so far in the tournament, averaging 19.0 points per game while shooting 54% from the field and sinking 2.0 triples per contest.    Another guy to watch is 6'7" guard-forward NIkita Mikhailovskii, who turned a lot of heads on Day 2 by registering a triple-double with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. It was the first triple-double in the U19 World Cup since 2013, when current NBA player Dario Saric recorded 32 points, 12 boards, and 12 dimes against South Korea.    Mikhailovskii was one of the All-Star Five players in last year's 2018 FIBA U18 European Championship, and his match-up with Dave Ildefonso should be one of the most tantalizing for this encounter.    Down around the basket, much of the damage will probably come from 6'8" Dmitrii Kadoshnikov, who had 13 points and14 rebounds against Argentina on Day 1, and 6'7 Anton Kvitkovskikh, who is averaging 13.0 points and 6.5 rebounds after two games.    To have a shot against Russia, Gilas Youth's perimeter defense will have to be airtight. The Russians love to swing the ball side to side to shift the opposing defense, and coach Sandy's scrambling defense has to be on-point to neuter their foes' dangerous sniping. Russia is 4th-best in terms of three-point shooting so far, making 34.0% of their attempts from beyond the arc, including hitting 9.0 treys per outing, so our team needs to key on that to have a chance at winning.    On the other end, the Philippines must limit its turnovers. We average more than 18 turnovers per game, which is just too much at this level. Our most turnover-prone guys have been Carl Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano, and Dave Ildefonso, combining for 11.0 turnovers per game, so if those three can take better care of the ball, then odds are we can keep in step with Russia and perhaps be in a great position to steal this game in the last few minutes. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2019

Built by Bo, bonded for Bo, believe in Bo

This is not the first time that Bo Perasol has had a recruiting haul this huge. Now heading into his fifth season in the University of the Philippines, he has brought in blue-chip recruits such as Gerry Abadiano and Carl Tamayo and talented transferees like Joel Cagulangan, CJ Cansino, and Malick Diouf to a team that already has Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, and Ricci Rivero. And don't forget that Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan are only sitting out the next season - and what lies beyond for them is yet to be determined. This is not that different from his time in Ateneo de Manila University when he scored UAAP Jrs. Season MVP Jerie Pingoy, UAAP Jrs. Finals MVP Hubert Cani, NCAA Mythical selection CJ Perez, and NCAA Jrs. standout Arvin Tolentino in his first few years. Those promising prospects then joined forces with Blue Eagle stalwarts Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal Unfortunately, all of Pingoy, Cani, Perez, and Tolentino - along with the rest of the so-called "Magnificent 7" - found themselves with academic deficiencies and, therefore, ineligible by the blue and white's standards. Not long after, they transferred to different schools and squads and then had varying degrees of success. Will Coach Bo's tale get a different ending this time with the Fighting Maroons? Perasol is making sure of that. "From my experience in Ateneo, natuto ako. Ngayon, meron kaming grupo sa programa na nagha-handle lang ng academics ng players," he shared. He then continued, "Sinasamahan sila sa mga klase, pinapakilala sa mga propesor, ine-explain na player natin yan, pag merong problema, coordinate lang po tayo." Apparently, this academic assistance team is made up of former student-managers who have graduated. Now, their first job is all about seeing to it that State U would not have to go through the same sort of headache Ateneo had with its "Magnificent 7." With that, you could be sure that UP's pillars of honor and excellence still stand strong even as all these new faces join Men's Basketball Team. "Walang special consideration. Pumapasok sila, bumabagsak sila. Binibigyan sila ng extra work, humihingi sila ng extra work," Coach Bo said. He then continued, "Ang ine-explain ko lagi sa players at sa professors, ang mahalaga, basta masipag pumasok at nagpapakita ng intensyong matuto." STARRING AND STRIKING At present, just about everybody is still getting used to blue-chip recruits and talented transferees going for UP. That is why there are more questions than answers each and every time they announce a new player. And along with the question of whether or not all these new faces would be up to par in terms of the honor and excellence the Philippines' prime public university prides itself in, there is a question of just how the Fighting Maroons got here in the first place. How could State U, not that far removed from its self-proclaimed "dark days," get all of these players? And not just players, at that, but many big name players. The categorical answer? The program could now afford it. "Meron nang pondo salamat sa sponsors," head coach Bo Perasol explained. "For example, kung makikita mo lang yung patches sa harap ng jersey, malaking pera yun. Nag-aagawan ang marami para dun." At present, the shot-caller said that UP has eight corporate sponsors all getting together for the funds for the program. And unlike Ateneo which has Manny V. Pangilinan or National University which has Hans Sy as primary backers, the Fighting Maroons' system is quite different. "Ang source ng funds ng UP, halos lahat galing sa alumni. Tapos lahat yun, mina-manage ng nowheretogobutUP," coach Bo said. According to its website, nowheretogobutUP (NTGBUP) is "a volunteer group of UP alumni that aims to help, assist, and support the development, improvement, and advancement of the varsity program of UP." All of the finances it manages, however, are not necessarily donations. As Perasol put it, "Yung model ng UP is unique kasi yung support nila, kailangan may balik din from us." For example, the tactician said that many of their players have made appearances, online in this continuing COVID-19 crisis and in person prior to the pandemic, to cheer up employees of Palawan Pera Padala, one of the team's sponsors. More importantly, Coach Bo reminded yet again that the only reason they have all these new faces is because they have to. He pointed out how Abadiano and Filipino-American Sam Dowd would make up for the losses of Jun Manzo and Juan GDL as well as how Diouf and Cansino are already waiting in the wings once Bright Akhuetie and Ricci Rivero graduate. "We're also recruiting for the impending need," Perasol said. "Hindi naman ito biglaan. Since nagsimula kami rito, we all did this nang dahan-dahan lang. Kaya rin yung support from alumni for funding, hindi na rin naging mahirap." DREAMING Still, the mere fact that UP is now a big-time player on and off the court in collegiate basketball seemed so farfetched just five years ago. Before Bo Perasol, the Fighting Maroons were stuck in a vicious cycle. Now, though, they have back-to-back playoff appearances and have traded blows with traditional powerhouses for recruits and transferees. All of this made possible because the very moment he came in, Coach Bo already knew the secret to success. "You cannot build a program without funds," he said. Perasol furthered that his biggest takeaway from his time in Ateneo was that competing with the traditional powerhouses on the court entailed competing with them as well off of it. "Alam ko yung kakayanan ng Ateneo and siyempre, kakumpetensya ko rin nun yung La Salle so alam ko rin yung kanila. Ganun na rin ang kakayanan ng NU and yung iba pa, kakayanin din nila kung gustuhin nila," he said. He then continued, "Kaya kung ang objective ng programa is to be in the top four, your program should be levelled din sa capacity ng top four." The General Santos native then went on to point out how training in the country or abroad, recruitment local and overseas, housing, and food and nutrition all have costs. "To sum it up, everything you're going to do would entail financing. Hindi ito kakayanin ng UP as a public school dahil wala namang pondo ang gobyerno para dyan," he said. He then continued, "Ang pinakasagot nalang ng school is yung scholarship. And siyempre, yung nag-aaral ka sa UP." That doesn't mean, however, that their hands were tied. In fact, the answer to the questions had always been there. "The good thing about UP is there's millions of alumni all over the world and a lot are successful people and businessmen who are willing to help," Perasol said. BELIEVING Indeed, having educated Filipinos for over 112 years now, UP has, without a doubt, more than a few successful alumni. It was all a matter of uniting - and then unleashing - them. Even before Bo Perasol came home to Diliman, NTGBUP was already organized. They were not necessarily thrilled with the Fighting Maroons, though. "Nung una, dahan-dahan lang, ambag-ambag lang para merong kakainin, pambayad sa dorm. Merong nag-donate ng shoes," Coach Bo said. He then continued, "Pero siyempre, they want first and foremost a program with improvements and direction." NTGBUP and the UP community got just that from Perasol as a 3-11, seventh-place finish in 2015 became a 5-9, sixth-place finish in 2016 in Coach Bo's first year. In his second year, the squad improved to a  6-8, fifth-place finish. From there, the Fighting Maroons have been in the Final Four for back-to-back years now - and even made the Finals in 2018. "Nagsimula maging excited ang alumni nung nagsimula ring manalo," he shared. "When we started winning, nagkaroon hindi lang ng physical support, but financial support as well. We were ascending eh." In his third year at the helm, State U, finally, officially had corporate sponsors. And you know how that year went? That was when they ended a 21-year Final Four drought and then a 32-year Finals absence. Safe to say, the sleeping giant was awoken. "Yes, sleeping giant talaga tayo and when we say nagising, ang pinaka-catalyst was the winning," its fearless leader said. Now, UP MBT has a mean machine of financial support on its back, paving the path for its big-time recruiting haul in 2020. Even better, they now have a loud and proud fanbase that is making up for all the lost time they stayed away during the "dark days." "Actually, sa pitches ko sa recruitment, kasama sa presentation ko yung machi-cheer sila nang ganung klaseng crowd," Coach Bo said. SURVIVING At the same time, though, that loud and proud fanbase expects much, much more from this brand new power. For each and every one of them, Bo Perasol has but one reminder. "What we have done in the past years is to level up lang. We have a new gym, we have all these players, we can train abroad," he said. He then continued, "Pero yung mga Ateneo, La Salle, 20 to 30 years na nilang ginagawa yan. What we did was just to level up alongside them." Again and again, Coach Bo has said that what he has been doing is, put simply, putting UP in the best position to win. Still, with a roster as overflowing with talent as this, he could only acknowledge that just about everybody sees them as having gone championship or bust. Credit to him, however, Perasol was blunt with his assessment that he would also be disappointed if they would not be able to taste their first championship since 1986 sooner than later. "Yes, it will be a failed plan kung hindi tayo makakakuha ng championship in the next three to five years," he said. He then continued, "Yan naman talaga ang plano and ang ginagawa natin ngayon is all going towards that objective." And again and again, he is putting all those great expectations on his shoulders - and on his shoulders alone. "Ako naman, hindi ko rin pwedeng hindi gawin itong ganitong recruitment kasi hindi rin naman ako magkakaroon ng chance kung ganun. I have to be in the best position to succeed so that we are in the best position to succeed," he said. Only time would tell if all the seeds he has sown would bear fruit. But Coach Bo is already guaranteeing that whatever happens then, he would have no regrets. "In the end, alam ko namang babalik ang lahat sa akin. Alam na alam ko namang ako ang leader ng team," he said. He then continued, "Ang mahalaga is we gave ourselves a chance. Anuman ang outcome, basta nabigyan natin ang sarili natin ng pagkakataon." After years and years and years as the laughingstock of men's basketball, it looks like it's now UP's turn to smile and wave. Whether or not that ultimately turns into jumps for joy for their first title in three decades remains to be seen. But maybe, just maybe, Coach Bo is right - this is all worth it just to have a chance to compete. Just remember that in the "dark days," that chance to compete wasn't there at all. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 30th, 2020

For Mike Nieto, all roads lead to leading

Mike Nieto's leadership is not just for the basketball court. Apparently, his voice carries just as much weight inside the Nieto household in Cainta. "Hanggang bahay, umaabot yung pagli-lead ko," he shared with a laugh. "Rinig na rinig palagi boses ko sa bahay. Since I've proven to them na I can be a leader sa court, siyempre, I can also be a leader dito sa bahay." What does that mean exactly? Well, let's just say that whenever the Nieto family decides they want and need some quality time together, it's the 23-year-old who sets the time and the place where it would happen. "I think nasanay na rin kasi sila na ako ang palaging nagsasalita kahit sa ganyang bagay so most of the time, ako na talaga nagsasabi saan at anong oras kami pupunta," he said. This is not at all that surprising as when you talk about Mike Nieto, you talk about leadership. That has long been the calling card of the 6-foot-2 swingman - from his days as a Blue Eaglet to his time as a Blue Eagle and from his stint in Batang Gilas to his current run in the Gilas Pilipinas pool. But… Why do people say that in the first place? What is it with Mike Nieto that just speaks, leader? FTW: For The tWin To get the answer, we need to go back to the start. As in, the very, very start. Technically, Mike is the leader of the four Nieto siblings as he is the firstborn of Ateneo de Manila legend Jett and super mom and dentist Girlie. Matt is his brother, but is younger by two minutes. Make no mistake, though, the twins have always gotten along. "Kami ni Matt, ever since, close na talaga kami. We started playing basketball at the age of six and from then on, naging magkasama na kami sa lahat ng bagay," Mike said. He then continued, "Even course namin sa college, pareho kaya almost lahat ng classes namin, classmates kami. Ever since talaga, unusual na hindi kami magkasama." Indeed, the Nieto twins have always been some sort of a package deal. Hence, the reports of their commitment to Ateneo for college had headlines such as "Ateneo scores 'twin kill' as Nieto brothers commit to play for Blue Eagles." Through and through, however, Mike was thought to be the leader - even though Matt is the point guard. The reason for that? Because "Big Mike" is more vocal. And why is he more vocal" Well, because he had a two minute headstart on "Matty Ice" at letting his voice be heard. Seriously, though, Mike said it was just because he doesn't waste any time at all in being vocal - and that's why he's being heard first and more often. "Siguro, mas maingay lang kasi ako kay Matt. Ako kasi, kapag may nakita akong mali sa ginagawa ng teammates ko, siguradong makakarinig agad sila sa akin," he shared. He then continued, "Hindi ako papayag na lilipas ang isang bagay na alam kong makakasama sa team. Talagang maglalabas at maglalabas ako ng mga salita hanggang ma-solve ang problema." That doesn't mean that Matt doesn't lead, though. As his twin put it, "Matt is the leader on the court. That's the assignment Coach Tab [Baldwin] gave him and I think he has done well with that." Well, yeah, Matt has three rings as court general of the Blue Eagles' dynasty to show for that. LOL: Lead out Loud It was another court general altogether, however, who had made the biggest mark on Mike Nieto. While he never was a point guard due to his wide frame, he was always trying to emulate one of the best ball-handlers in the history of Philippine basketball. "Jimmy Alapag is my role model when it comes to leadership," he said. "I'm just very lucky that for a long time now, he would talk to me on how I can affect the team positively on and off the court." When Alapag was in his prime as captain of Gilas Pilipinas, Nieto was put on the pedestal as skipper of Batang Gilas. While he knew full well that was a tall task, he was also eager to prove himself worthy. "Sa Batang Gilas under coach Jamike [Jarin], he made me team captain kahit second year high school pa lang ako. But that made me realize na I have the capabilities of being a leader," he said. With that, Mike had the responsibility of making sure the likes of Paul Desiderio, Richard Escoto, Jollo Go, Jolo Mendoza, and Renzo Navarro were kept in line. And from then on, he just did not stop keeping at it. Whether it be as the Jrs. MVP as a Blue Eaglet or a rotation regular as a Blue Eagle, Nieto's biggest contribution has always been his leadership. "Being a leader is never easy. At the end of the day, you have to gain the trust of your teammates and your coaches - that's the hardest part," he said. Ask his teammates from high school, many of whom were still his teammates come college, and they would say they always have his back. "Buti na lang nakuha ko ang tiwala ng lahat ng tao na nakapaligid sa akin. Kaya rin ako nag-succeed being the team captain ng every team na nagiging part ako," he said. While he has always had the full faith of longtime teammates and good friends Thirdy Ravena, Gian Mamuyac, Mendoza, and of course, twin Matt, Mike could only acknowledge that it was another challenge altogether being the voice of the team that swept the season. "Ang malaking naging difference ngayong college from high school, kinailangan kong magsalita ng English mas madalas," he said, through chuckles. With foreigners such as Ange Kouame and Filipino-foreigners like Raffy Verano, Nieto, indeed, did have to make sure his communication lines were crystal clear. The thing about leaders, though, is that they give their all in anything and everything - whether that be giving a pep talk or passing the message to somebody like Kouame who only started learning English in 2017. IMO: In My Opinion And the thing about leaders? They do not necessarily care about themselves. Imagine Mike Nieto, a Jrs. MVP, a team captain for Batang Gilas, a literal blue-blood in Katipunan. Do you know his averages through their three-peat? In 47 games total, he saw 14.2 minutes of action and had 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Still, that did not matter at all. All that mattered for Mike are all those Ws. "To be a leader, you have to prove palagi that you can lead on and off the court," he said. "I think yun ang napatunayan ko kay coach Tab - na handa akong i-sacrifice ang personal goals ko para sa ikabubuti ng team. Wala akong pakialam sa sarili ko since ang nasa utak ko lang is kung ano ang makabubuti para sa team namin." But did he? Did Nieto prove himself to Coach Tab - a coach who has gone around the world and seen it all? The talented tactician's statement right after Ateneo completed its perfect run through UAAP 82 speaks volumes. “Look at all of us and think about where we’re gonna be in 10 or 15 years, you’ll forget most of us,” he said in the post-game conference where he sat alongside the Nieto twins, Ravena, Isaac Go, and Adrian Wong. “But you won’t forget Mike Nieto.” Coach Tab then went on to explain why he said so. As he put it, "Mike is a natural leader. Mike is a communicator. Mike is a thinker. In terms of touching people, making lives better, and making sure that everybody around him has a better chance than what he has, that’s our captain." High praise coming from the very mentor who has been getting nothing but high praise. Safe to say, though, Mike has proven himself to coach Tab. TBC: To Be Continued In doing so, Mike Nieto has also made it possible for the two of them to continue working together. Mike, twin Matt, fellow Blue Eagle Go, University of the East's Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian College-Recoletos' Allyn Bulanadi were the first five names listed for the Gilas pool. The likes of Ravena, Dwight Ramos of Ateneo, Justine Baltazar of De La Salle University, Dave Ildefonso then of National University, and the University of the Philippines foursome of Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano, Kobe Paras, and Jaydee Tungcab also made the list not long after. But the fact remains that "Big Mike" - he of zero starts, but three titles in a row in his last three years in blue and white - was one of the first names there. With that, he is now one of the few Batang Gilas players who have successfully gotten promoted to the Men's team. "Of course, sino bang ayaw i-represent ang bansa natin, 'di ba? That's why I'm very grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Gilas pool," he said. He then continued, "That's why I've been working on my game even harder so that I can provide whatever Gilas needs from me." Of course, what Gilas would need from Nieto is, first and foremost, his leadership. After all, that is still and would always be his greatest strength. To do so, though, the youngster would have to prove himself yet again - not only to Filipinos who are forever invested in their national team, but more importantly, his teammates, many of whom are already superstars in the PBA. For Mike, however, this is nothing new - nothing new at all. "Ever since I was in grade school, people have been doubting that I can progress my game to the next level. What we can't forget is that at the end of the day, it's in your hands if you want to prove them wrong or prove them right," he said. He then continued, "I actually enjoy these kinds of moments since dito talaga lalabas ang totoong pagkatao mo. Ang sigurado ko lang, I will fight for my spot in Gilas." And so, from a successful high school career and then an even more successful college career, Nieto is now seeking success as part of the Gilas pool. Does he deserve to be there? That's for the haters to hate, the doubters to doubt, and the bashers to bash. And that's for Mike Nieto to lead them out of the darkness. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

Current Gilas model 'not sustainable' says Coach Yeng

Creating the most ideal format for the Philippine national team remains a fiercely-discussed topic. The latest to offer his two cents is NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao, the one who had Gilas Pilipinas play in the FIBA World Cup last year. According to Coach Yeng, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas should have a working partnership with the PBA in order to keep the Gilas machine running. The SBP and the PBA have been working hand-in-hand, with a new cadet program in place even, but Guiao is not convinced that the current system can be sustainable in the long term. "To me, it's imperative that the federation should be able to work with the pro league, in our case it's the PBA. Because like the model we have right now, let's say you're taking players and you're looking forward to these players just playing for the national team and they're a separate group from the players playing in the pro league," Guiao said on Coaches Unfiltered. "I don't think that's sustainable. At a certain point, you have to break up that team and these players are going to play for the pro teams and you wait. You can do it one year or two years but after that you’re still going to break up and those guys will still wanna play a regular pro league team," coach Yeng added. As it stands, the current Gilas Pilipinas core is made up of five players led by Isaac Go. Go, together with the Nieto twins, Allyn Bulanadi, and Rey Suerte were the five picks in the special Gilas Draft last year. They all have their separate PBA mother teams but the agreement is that they're loaned to the national team through the 2023 FIBA World Cup. However, they do not have guaranteed slots in the final lineup as the current head coach still has the freedom to create his own best team, with the option to add PBA players or other amateur stars. The last Gilas team to play, against Indonesia in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers earlier this year, only Go and Matt Nieto made the team from the Gilas special draftees. "There is no national team in the world that is just a national team. There is no model like that anywhere in the world. Maski ano pang sport, all of these [players] are playing pros and then they’re being called for the national team," Guiao argues. "There is no team na oh kayo lang ang national team ha, exclusive kayong national team. There is no model like that," he added. While drafting players to focus on the national team seems like a great idea to form the foundation of the program, professional players are still going to be needed at some point. It only makes sense as one country's best players naturally play in the premier professional league. For Gilas Pilipinas to truly be competitive abroad, it will need the Philippines' best players. And those players are most likely found in the PBA, already under a grueling professional schedule. Where the national team fits in is the question. "I think it’s imperative for the SBP or the federation to work hand in hand with the PBA or the professional league. If we’re not able to do that, we’re not going to be able to send the best players for the toughest tournaments," Guiao said.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 24th, 2020

Coach Bo says all of UP s 11 offseason additions solve a problem

The University of the Philippines has just had the biggest offseason in school history. Yes, one may very well argue that the offseason that saw the arrival of RP Youth standouts Bryan Gahol, Ogie Gumatay, and Paolo Mendoza in the mid-90s is still the standard in Diliman. Still, the offseason following UAAP Season 83 has seen the Fighting Maroons open their doors to 11 promising prospects. And head coach Bo Perasol is nothing but glad to have all of them. "I was happy with who we acquired," he said in his appearance on Coaches Unfiltered. He then continued, "Especially the last two kasi sila yung nagpuno doon sa kulang namin." "The last two" Coach Bo is referring to are Nazareth School of National University stalwarts Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano, ranked no. 2 and no. 16, respectively in the 2020 NBTC 24. For State U's shot-caller, their arrival is a godsend for not just because of their big names and big games. "We really lack a point guard because Jun Manzo had graduated and Juan [Gomez de Liano] decided he's going to skip the season. Then we needed a taller 4-guy to match up with the others and also to be a substitute for Bright [Akhuetie]," he said. Indeed, Abadiano has the potential to be the answer to the maroon and green's point guard question while Tamayo stands to be their biggest recruitment get in recent history. It's not just the former Bullpups who could prove to be key in UP's program, however. According to Coach Bo, each and every one of Tamayo and Abadiano as well as fellow rookies RC Calimag, Anton Eusebio, and Miguel Tan and transferees Jancork Cabahug, Joel Cagulangan, CJ Catapusan, Malick Diouf, Sam Dowd, and Ethan Kirkness would have a part to play in Diliman's future. For UAAP 83, that means filling in the roster spots vacated by Will Gozum, Janjan Jaboneta, Pio Longa, Jaybie Mantilla, Jun Manzo, Jerson Prado, Jaydee Tungcab, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. "Nagmumukhang marami kaming ni-recruit, pero we really lack nine players kaya when I was trying to determine kung may laban ba kami doon sa mga medyo malalakas, sabi ko parang kulang. Kulang pa talaga," Perasol said. As per Coach Bo, the holdover Fighting Maroons are Bright Ahkuetie, David Murrell, J-Boy Gob, Kobe Paras, Ricci Rivero, James Spencer, and Noah Webb. That means that they would have nine roster spots to fill for next season. And now, they could do just that. As their always amiable mentor put it, "The goal is very clear to me which is to have the chance to be in the Finals again and to get the championship. First question, if wala ba yung mga players na yan, can we be in the vest position to vie for the Finals? My solid answer is no." He then continued, "I don't think we will have that chance. Next questions, will having them give us the best chance? The answer is yes." At the same time, State U is also securing its future with this big, big offseason. According to Coach Bo, he would have five graduating players for next season in Akhuetie, Gob, Murrell, Rivero, and Webb. Paras may also add to that list if he so chooses. That's where transferees Cabahug, Cagulangan, Diouf, and Kirkness come in. And with a possible return of Javi and Juan GDL as well as the probable promotion of Jr. Maroons in Colin Dimaculangan, Jordi GDL, Aldous Torculas, and Ray Allen Torres, UP's stock looks like would not be depleted in the foreseeable future. Of course, the question remains - are all these pieces perfect fits for the puzzle. That, is Perasol's and Perasol's alone to answer. "Will it post problems? Definitely. Yes. But the problems are my problems," he said. He then continued, "I have to find ways to solve those. Everything naman, nalalagay naman yan sa tamang lugar if you admit that there is a problem." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 14th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020