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DID YOU KNOW? Deanna Wong dreamed of playing for DLSU

Ateneo de Manila University struck gold when it recruited Deanna Wong. The Cebuana displayed versatility and commitment when given the role of a back-up setter before sliding to a libero spot and then back again as a playmaker for the Lady Eagles.   Behind her playmaking, Ateneo was able to reclaim the UAAP women’s volleyball throne last year in Season 81 as the Lady Eagles captured their third overall title since winning back-to-back crowns in 2014 and 2015. Wong truly is a gem of a setter, earning her spot alongside other Ateneo playmaking greats Jem Ferrer and Jia Morado. But five years ago, Wong almost joined another UAAP team. The 22-year old setter admitted that she’s a fan of De La Salle University and idolized former Lady Spikers middle Mika Reyes back in high school. So it was all but natural for the University of San Jose-Recoletos product to dream of playing for the Ramil De Jesus-mentored Lady Spikers. And she almost did after the multi-titled mentor himself approached her during her stint with Central Visayas during the 2015 Palaraong Pambansa in Tagum, Davao Del Norte.   “La Salle ako before,” shared Wong during her appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro. It was Wong’s first and only Palaro stint and she never imagined to see De Jesus in person and even more approached by the mentor during a scouting run. “Kaya na-shock ako nung nandoon sina Coach Ramil. Starstruck lang wala akong masabi. Feeling ko kung nandoon ang mga players baka mas lalo akong ma-starstruck but it was a good thing si Coach Ramil lang,” said the UAAP Season 80 Best Setter. "Coach Ramil he talked to me," Wong added. Aside from DLSU, Far Eastern University also showed interest in her. “FEU they talked to me. Sina (Gen) Casugod and Ate Bernadeth Pons. Wala akong naalala na may coach sa FEU it was just them,” Wong added. But donning the green and white wasn’t meant to be for Wong. All thanks to a chance encounter between her dad, Dean, and then Ateneo men’s volleyball team coach Oliver Almadro. “Sila ni dad nagkakilala sa elevator or something,” said Wong. “I don’t know that’s what he said to me. Di ko alam bakit.” And as fate would have it, Wong really was really meant to wear the blue and white. Wong was in Bacolod that time participating in a tournament and coincidentally Almadro was also there together with the Blue Eagles competing in the UniGames.    “It happened in Bacolod. May tournament kami and dun din nangyari ‘yung UniGames. Nag-participate ang men’s volleyball team. Alam mo naman si Coach O he really recruits players and dumating siya bigla,” said Wong. From there Almadro did his best to convince Wong’s dad to allow her to play for Ateneo. Wong agreed. The Lady Eagles just landed the heir-apparent to playmaker Jia Morado.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 14th, 2020

Wong names Morado, Salak among her top 5 setters

Deanna Wong is considered as one of top talents who make the future of Philippine volleyball look bright. A UAAP title in Season 81 and a Best Setter award in Season 80 are some of the accomplishments she collected as setter of the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles. As talented and skilled as she is, Wong looks up to the legends that made and still making their marks in the local volleyball scene. Here is Wong’s list of Top 5 Pinay setters.    JIA MORADO “Well number one siyempre Ate Jia [Morado], my mentor talaga so wala nang bakit number one siya,” said Wong during her appearance on So She Did! Heady with great court vision and solid connection with her hitters best describe Morado. The UAAP Season 77 Best Setter established her legendary status during her stay with the Lady Eagles, who she piloted to back-to-back UAAP titles. Morado, who is a member of the national team, also helped Creamline win three titles in the Premier Volleyball League while collecting five straight Best Setter awards in the two-conference league.     TINA SALAK Longevity. This makes Salak a legend among the setters in the country. The 44-year old playmaker started to make waves when she led Far Eastern University to a couple of championships in the mid-90s. Salak was also the main setter of the 2005 Southeast Asian Games bronze medal team – the last squad to earn a podium finish in the biennial meet. The Army personnel played in the PVL and in the Philippine Superliga up until 2018 before going full time as coach of De La Salle-Zobel girls team.    KIM FAJARDO De La Salle University won three titles during her stint with the Lady Spikers. Fajardo is well-known for her well-rounded approach in playmaking. She easily adapts with the style of her hitters, good at reading the defense and a vocal leader inside the court. The Batangas native bagged three Best Setter awards and a Best Server recognition during her stay with the green and white. Her fierce competition with Morado made the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry extra colorful. Fajardo is also enjoying a successful career with F2 Logistics in the PSL and is a member of the national team.    JEM FERRER A member of the Ateneo Fab Five, Ferrer can be considered as one of the Lady Eagles who paved the way for Ateneo’s success in the UAAP. Ferrer was named Best Setter three times and helped the Lady Eagles advance to their first-ever Finals appearance in Season 74. Ferrer remains as one of the PVL’s top playmakers.   RHEA DIMACULANGAN University of Sto. Tomas has yet to find a setter that would equal the caliber of Dimaculangan. With her orchestrating the Tigresses’ plays, UST went on to win the Season 72 crown while bagging the Best Server and Finals Most Valuable Player honors. Dimaculangan is a member of the national team.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020

Wong feels responsible for Ateneo s failure to advance to the UAAP S80 Finals

Deanna Wong felt that Ateneo de Manila University's failure to advance to the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball Finals was on her. Given the huge responsibility to lead the Lady Eagles as starting setter after veteran Jia Morado decided to forego her final year, Wong admitted that she faced heavy pressure and self-doubt. “I think it was me thinking of kung kaya ko ba ‘to?” shared Wong on Volleyball DNA. Ateneo was coming off six straight championship appearances, including winning back-to-back titles, heading into Season 80. Expectations were high for the Lady Eagles that year despite Morado calling it quits after Ateneo’s runner-up finish the season before. The Lady Eagles had veterans Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon, Kat Tolentino and Jho Maraguinot under coach Tai Bundit. Ateneo was one of the favorites to advance to the Finals. Fulfilling the role left by Ateneo ace setters before her, according to the Cebuana playmaker, was too big of a responsibility especially for a third year player who saw limited action the year before. It didn’t help that during her sophomore year, Wong played as a reliever in both libero and setter positions.  “Sina Ate Jem (Ferrer), sina Ate Jia they are really great setters and for me it’s just, I came from the province I don’t know anything. Ganito, ganyan. Hindi ako medyo ginagamit ni Coach Tai dati. Pressured? Yeah, I think it was a little pressure,” said Wong. Ateneo had a disappointing start, losing their first two games, and the Lady Eagles were obviously still adjusting to a different setter going through the elimination round. That was when Wong felt the pressure the most. “Pero sa isip ko lang kung kaya ko bang dalhin ang team? Kung kaya ko bang gawin ang ginawa nina Ate Jia na umabot sa Finals? I think that was the point na kaya di kami umabot ng Finals kasi ganoon ang inisip ko,” said Wong. Ateneo managed to advance to the Final Four, but for the first time in three years, the Lady Eagles were at a disadvantage after landing in third spot for a collision course with twice-to-beat Far Eastern University. The Katipunan-based squad ended its season early.      “Disappointed din sa self ko kasi I wasn’t able to lead the team as I should have kasi ang dami kong iniisip eh,” said Wong, who won tghe Best Setter honors that season. “Iniisip ko kung ano ang sinasabi ng mga tao, ng alumni, ng mga fans.” A good talk with Morado, according to Wong, made her realize that she needed not to compare herself to other Ateneo setters. She had to play her game. “As what ate Jia keep on telling me talaga iba kami eh. We’re different people. Like don’t compare myself to her daw. Kasi iba ang kakayanan ko and iba ang kaya kong gawin. Just be myself daw most especially talaga be confident. Kasi I really lack confidence on myself,” she said. Wong redeemed herself the following season. “Nu’ng fourth year it was more of the team na pino-focus ko. I just did what I was supposed to do lang nu’ng fourth year. So di ko na masyado pinapansin ang mga sinasasabi ng ibang tao,” said Wong. Playing with confidence, Wong steered Ateneo back into the Finals and eventually back into throne as the Lady Eagles defeated University of Sto. Tomas in three games to claim the Season 81 title and the team’s third overall championship. Wong skipped the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-cancelled Season 82. She remains undecided for a last tour of duty for Ateneo next year. But if ever Wong decides to return, the Lady Eagles could be looking at a bright future ahead.   ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2020

I don’t deserve it yet – Wong on playing for national team

Deanna Wong is an accomplished setter in her own right. She helped Ateneo de Manila University win the UAAP Season 81 championship last year and bagged the league’s Best Setter award the season before. The 22-year old playmaker is considered as one of the finest setters in the country today alongside other big names like veterans Jia Morado, Kim Fajardo and Rhea Dimaculangan. She would be a welcome addition to the national team if she decides to try her luck and vie for a spot for the tricolors. But as talented as she is, Wong feels that she still has a lot to prove to even be considered a candidate for a slot in the national squad. “I don’t know. I don’t think I belong there,” said Wong during her appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by former national team libero Denden Lazaro and Anton Roxas.   Actually, the Cebuana setter was supposed to suit up for the Philippine women’s U-23 volleyball team last year that participated in the Thailand Open but Wong had to back out because of a right shin injury. Wong was among the collegiate players invited by the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. in the national pool. Although it has always been her dream to represent the country, Wong says that she has to focus first on getting back to her old competitive form especially after a long layoff. Wong had to skip UAAP Season 82, which was halted because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as she was still recovering from her injury. “Well, I think it’s everyone’s dream to be playing for the country naman. I would love to do it,” she said. “But I think when the time is right siguro kasi for me I don’t deserve it yet. I don’t deserve to be there muna.” Wong then vows that she’ll work her way back into getting another shot at playing for the national team. “I’ll keep on working hard so that one day kapag in-invite na ako sa national team why not di ba?” said Wong.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

How Pinoy athletes kept winning during the lockdown

Sporting events may be suspended or canceled, but that won't stop your favorite Filipino athletes from inspiring or entertaining people as they spend their extra time off doing worthwhile activities during the lockdown period. From reaching out to affected communities to learning a new skill, here are what your idols are up to during the community quarantine. 1)  Proudly serving the nation as frontliners Some athletes have taken their in-game dedication off the court, as they proudly serve the country as frontliners during the COVID-19 pandemic. MPBL players such as Bacoor City's Eric Acuña and Bacolod-Master Sardines' Jopher Custodio are currently heeding the call as frontliners for the Philippine Army, as well as their fellow soldiers UST women’s volleyball coach Kung Fu Reyes and volleyball star Jovelyn Gonzaga. Pasay Voyager's Dhon Reverente also suited up for the Philippine Navy while his teammate Jesse Bustos is serving in the frontlines in another way, using his camera as a photojournalist for a daily newspaper.  2)  Raising funds and holding donation drives Your beloved players continue to exemplify teamwork in these challenging times as they help the dedicated frontliners and affected households in different parts of the country. UST student-athletes joined former Golden Tigresses star Sisi Rondina in auctioning their jerseys for a cause to donate supplies to the frontliners of Barangay Luz in Cebu City. Meanwhile, volleyball legends Alyssa Valdez and Charo Soriano led a fundraiser called "Volleyball Community Gives Back PH," which aims to supply frontliners in the country with PPEs and other essentials—with celebrities like Kathryn Bernardo and Pia Wurtzbach joining their cause. Former DLSU Lady Spikers standout and Creamline utility spiker Michele Gumabao also provided relief packs and gave them personally to the affected communities in Pampanga with the help of the group Your 200 Pesos. 3)  No days off for training and getting the gains Leagues and competitions may have been put on hold, but athletes won't be stopped from keeping themselves in tiptop shape. Observing quarantine, ONE Championship's heavyweight champion Brandon Vera took his workout to the forest, preparing for his upcoming bout against Arjan Bhullar, while Team Lakay fighters, such as Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, and Joshua Pacio improvised household materials as gym equipment. National athletes, such as karateka Junna Tsukii, wushu artist Agatha Wong, and Olympic medalist Hidilyn Diaz, did rigorous training sessions at home to keep themselves in form for upcoming tournaments. High-flyer Ricci Rivero also taught his fans some basic dribbling drills to improve basketball handles—as seen in an episode of "Upfront" on LIGA cable sports channel. 4) Unlocking new skills and focusing on fave hobbies Your fave sports idols also overcame boredom by learning new skills and focusing on their favorite hobbies. For instance, DLSU Green Archers guard Aljun Melecio learned to cook scrumptious lechon while taking a time-out from the hardwood. UAAP volleyball champion and national team player Rex Intal also reminded us that he is a dedicated painter with his mixed portrait of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, channeling his passion for sports and art into one. And did you know that top local setter Jia Morado is a talented photographer? Check out her Instagram and be amazed by her works. 5)  Taking their talents to TikTok Athletes joined the trending TikTok craze as a source of entertainment during the lockdown. Former UAAP stars Kim Kianna Dy and Jema Galanza posted their dance covers of Young Thug's "Relationship," and Deanna Wong took on "The Weekend" dance challenge. UST Golden Tigresses' rookie Imee Fernandez also wowed the TikTok crowd with a pre-workout dance video, which garnered over 600,000 views online. For Ateneo Blue Eagles guard SJ Belangel, TikTok has also been his avenue to overcome his shyness, doing hilarious skits online.   6)  Becoming stars online No live sports to entertain the audiences? It's not a problem for these athletes who continue to provide fun content to every sports fan, with the help of ABS-CBN Sports. Catch Shaun Ildefonso as he does an entertaining commentary about everything sports on "SRSLY." Also watch Cherry Nunag’s wacky chikahan with famous athletes in "Kalye Confessions: Stay-at-Home Edition." Lastly, the lockdown won't stop the basketball conversation as Beau Belga chats with your favorite hoop idols online, while still chowing down on their fave treats on "Extra Rice with Beau Belga." Watch all of these on ABS-CBN Sports' Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and YouTube channel. Also stay tuned for more new offerings from the sports arm of ABS-CBN.  These athletes have proven they are truly winners in and out of the court. While waiting for live sports to return, you can rewatch the best games of these athletes on LIGA (SD channel 86 and HD channel 183 on SKYCable) and game highlights and special features on ABS-CBN Sports' social media pages and official YouTube account. ABS-CBN Sports will continue its commitment to providing a variety of world-class, exciting, and inspiring content to every Pinoy sports fan. Visit sports.abs-cbn.com and follow @ABSCBNSports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For updates, you may also visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom or follow @ABSCBNPR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

LIGA Schedule for Thursday, May 28th, 2020

ABS-CBN S+A may be off the air for now, but don't worry! You can still catch your favorite sports events on LIGA!  Here's what's showing for Thursday, May 28th!   12:00 AM - 2019 SEA Games Swimming 1:30 AM - 2019 SEA Games Women's Volleyball:  3:30 AM - LIGA Rewind - NCAA Season 94 Men’s Basketball: EAC vs. San Sebastian 5:30 AM - Team FitFil 6:00 AM - LIGA Rewind - NCAA Season 94 Men’s Basketball: Letran vs. San Beda 8:00 AM -  UPFRONT: Kat Tolentino / Jema Galanza & Deanna Wong 8:30 AM - Kapamilya Daily Mass 9:00 AM - LIGA Rewind - Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Battle for 3rd Place: BanKo Perlas vs. PacificTown Army 11:00 AM - LIGA Rewind - Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Finals Game 2: PetroGazz vs. Creamline 1:00 PM - UPFRONT: Kat Tolentino / Jema Galanza & Deanna Wong 1:30 PM - LIGA Rewind - UAAP Season 79 Men's Volleyball Semifinals: NU vs. FEU 3:30 PM - Team FitFil 4:00 PM - LIGA Rewind - UAAP Season 79 Women's Volleyball: NU vs. Adamson 6:00 PM - UPFRONT: Kat Tolentino / Jema Galanza & Deanna Wong 6:30 PM - LIGA Rewind - UAAP Season 81 Men's Basketball: Ateneo vs. NU 8:30 PM - LIGA Rewind - UAAP Season 81 Men’s Basketball: FEU vs. DLSU 10:30 PM - Pinoy Pride Presents: Milan "El Metodico" Melindo 11:30 PM - 2019 SEA Games Swimming   Catch your favorite sports events on LIGA channel 86 and LIGA HD channel 183 on Sky Cable!  LIGA is also available nationwide thru its 200 Cable affiliates......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2020

Michele Gumabao shares her source of strength

Michele Gumabao exudes confidence, strength and power. An accomplished volleyball player both in the collegiate and commercial leagues, a beauty queen and a TV personality, Gumabao is an example of an empowered woman.   But just like all of us, she had to go through challenges, adversities and the temptation of just giving up especially during the time when she entered the world of beauty pageant two years ago. The multi-titled winger recalled her struggles playing for De La Salle University during her collegiate career and how she almost called it quits just days into her participation in the 2018 Binibining Pilipinas in a Lunchtime Chats with James podcast interview. It was a whole new environment for Gumabao, whose career up until that time revolved around volleyball and the occasional dab into showbiz.   “Everything that I’ve been through – volleyball, beauty pageants – it may all seem impossible, it seemed impossible for me when I first started because it was something unnatural for me,” Gumabao told host Favor Church Senior Pastor James Aiton. “So how I know how everything was just orchestrated for me and I know that. Because that no matter how hard I tried when I was in college, I wanted to quit so many times.” “And even when I joined Binibining Pilipinas, I know a lot of people don’t know this, but the first two days, I was already out to quit,” continued the 27-year old Gumabao. That’s when she turned to her unbreakable faith in God. “It was really God, I know that it was Him because if it was me, I would have never pushed through any of those things,” she said. Out of the 40 women who joined the pageant, Gumabao won one of the six crowns at stake taking the Binibining Pilipnas Globe title. Gumabao represented the country in the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania and landed at the Top 15 while bagging the Miss Social Media and Dream Girl recognitions.    Bigger purpose Gumabao, daughter of former PBA player and actor Dennis Roldan, made a name for herself in women’s volleyball when she joined the DLSU Lady Spikers with whom she won straight three titles. Her success continued in the commercial league in the Philippine Superliga, the defunct Shakey’s V-League and the Premier Volleyball League as well as landing a spot in the national team.   But Gumabao, who is now playing for three-time PVL champion Creamline, knew she’s bound for something bigger. “At first my whole life was just revolving around sports. From being a volleyball player, I became a coach after I graduated. I started my own program for kids. And that's when I realized how everything I've been through from this point is meant for something bigger, and there has to be a purpose for it,” she said. “And that's when I saw the reward or that feeling that you get when you share your passion especially to the younger generation. That’s what I wanted to do, and that’s how I first started,” Gumabao added. “And through the years, after I’ve met a lot of our beauty queens in show business, I’ve met almost all of them, and I’ve seen how much impact they have in society, how much people look up to them and how their voice is always heard. People just have so much respect for beauty queens.” That’s was when she realized that being a beauty queen could be the avenue to share her advocacy and to inspire more people.  “It opened my eyes to so many things that I could do more. That being in sports is not just an area that I can be stuck in or I can just move into, so when I joined Binibining Pilipinas, it just opened my eyes to so much more opportunities to share what I’ve been through, to show who I am, and to also share God to a lot more people,” said Gumabao.   Second chance Even after her Miss Globe stint, Gumabao still dreamed of representing the country in the Miss Universe. Just when she thought her chance of vying for the coveted title was done, an opportunity came knocking last year after Binibining Pilipinas parted ways with the Miss Universe franchise, which formed its own pageant. “As of 2019, I told myself that I wouldn’t join any other pageant again because I can’t join Binibining Pilipinas again even when I wanted to vie for the title of Miss Universe because I won already in Miss Globe,” Gumabao said. “So last year a lot of people were asking me to join other beauty pageants, I was very hesitant.” “I remember I was in the States around this time last year, and I was just talking to my sisters and I was praying what God really wanted for me back then,” she recalled. “If Miss Universe has their own pageant, then that’s the only time I’m going to join again. This happened late, late, late last year and when they announced then that’s the confirmation I needed to be able to try one more time.” Gumabao successfully qualified for the inaugural new Miss Universe Philippines early this year.     “I know that there’s so much more things that I have yet to do, I have yet to share about not only my advocacy which is sports, but just to be able to make an impact especially to the youth,” she said. “So that’s really what I’m trying to advocate for now.” The coronation night was supposed to happen in May but unfortunately with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, all Miss Universe Philippines activities are suspended. “As of now, everything is suspended up until further notice, until we can get back on track,” said Gumabao. “The coronation night was originally on May 3, now, they announced it's in June second week.” Here’s the full podcast interview:.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 25th, 2020

Athlete vloggers to watch during the Community Quarantine

With sporting events cancelled and people being urged to #StayHome during the government-mandated Community Quarantine for the next month due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, sports fans are looking for a way to pass the time and still get a fix from their favorite athletes.  And with those athletes likely also staying at home as well, they're likely going to have a lot of time to do some vlogging, so here are some athlete vlogs that you might want to check out during the Community Quarantine (provided that you've done all your school work and Work From Home assignments)   PAUL LEE  (Paul Dalistan Lee PH) The one and only "Angas ng Tondo" is now on YouTube! The three-time PBA Champion floor general from the Magnolia Hotshots is new to vlogging and while there are only a pair of videos on his page, they're surely must-watch for Paul Lee fans.  In his latest video, Paul Lee asks which YouTubers he should collab with or pass.    CARMELA TUNAY (Anong Tunay) Filipina volleybelle Carmela Tunay, who's also done some on-air work as a host and analyst for ABS-CBN S+A has taken her talents to YouTube, where she hosts a Q&A/Game Show-type of program featuring some of the country's hottest athletes as guests. Tunay has played "Anong Tunay?!" with the likes of Thirdy Ravena, Kim Fajardo, Deanna Wong and Jema Galanza, and the most-watched episode (with over half-a-million views): Ricci Rivero.    TEAM LAKAY (Team Lakay Miles) If you're a fan of the Philippines' premier martial arts stable, then this is a sure-subscribe for you. Team Lakay Miles shows what goes on behind the scenes in training and during fight week, fight night, and training starring some of the country's best fighters. Plus, it also has full-length fights from Team Lakay Championship, featuring some up-and-coming Pinoy talent.    ABY MARAÑO (Abigail Maraño) VLOG MODE, DON'T CARE. Former DLSU Lady Spikers star Aby Maraño has been in the vlog game now for over a year, and she's documented a ton of events, from vacations to overseas training with the Philippine National Team. If you're a fan of Tyang Aby, you're not going to want to miss out on these.    KIM KIANNA DY (Kim Kianna Dy)  From one former Lady Spiker to another! Kim Kianna Dy is also quite the active vlogger. From trips to Bali to Workout Challenges, to Bag Raid, KKD has some quality content on her YouTube channel!    JOE DEVANCE (The Devances) If you've wanted to get an in-depth look at the off-court life of ten-time PBA Champion Joe Devance of the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, then this is the channel for you! While there are some videos on the channel from two years back, it looks like Joe and his wife Monica have taken this vlogging thing seriously just about a month ago. Check it out:    DOUG KRAMER (Team Kramer) Probably the most established athlete vlogger would be former UAAP star and recently retired PBA player Doug Kramer (along with wife Cheska Garcia-Kramer and kids). Team Kramer, as they've called themselves, have been producing vlogs for five years now, and have transcended the sporting world, amassing an amazing 601K subscribers, with their most popular video - a house tour - garnering a whopping 4.5-million views. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 16th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: No time to relax for repeat-seeking Ateneo Lady Eagles

All teams will be after Ateneo de Manila University as the Lady Eagles march into UAAP Season 82 with a huge target mark on their chests. But instead of taking it as pressure in its attempt to keep the title perched in Katipunan, Ateneo embraces it. A constant reminder for the Lady Eagles to be on their toes at all times and always keep their guards up. “Since defending champs kami, everyone wants to beat us,” said incoming third year libero Dani Ravena. “Added pressure ‘yun, but at the same time, it's motivation for us not to be satisfied with one game,” added Ravena. “Everyone wants to beat us so the next game will be tougher than the last one.” Ateneo lost three vital cogs in Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon and Kim Gequillana after its title conquest last year in a dramatic come-from-behind Finals series win over University of Sto. Tomas, but still remains a powerhouse squad with key returnees and the addition of blue chip recruits. The biggest boost in the Lady Eagles’ title-retention bid is the presence of prolific scorer and court leader Kat Tolentino, who decided to make one final tour of duty. Joining Tolentino are seasoned players Jho Maraguinot and setter Jamie Lavitoria, who are making their return after skipping a year to pursue careers in the commercial league.   Ateneo will miss the services of heady playmaker Deanna Wong, who is still recovering from a shin injury, but will still have most of their championship core in Ravena, Ponggay Gaston, Jules Samonte, Vanessa Gandler, Erika Raagas and setter Jaja Maraguinot.   “Malaking factor ang pagbalik ng mga seniors sa amin and ‘yung improvement ng mga rookies and sophomores isang malaking bagay para sa amin,” said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro. Giving the Lady Eagles an even deeper arsenal this season is the integration of promising rookies led by scorer Faith Nisperos and middle Joan Narit. While the good mix of veterans and rookies combined with championship experience and support of legions of fans make the Lady Eagles a serious title contender, Almadro constantly reminds his team that a repeat won’t be given to them for free.     “Mahirap maging complacent,” he said. “Mahirap mag-settle down na nakabalik na si ganito, nakabalik na si ganyan. I’m always telling my players, it’s not about how strong you are, it’s not about being strong lang eh.” “’Di sapat sa akin yung magaling lang eh. Kailanngan talaga nandoon ang teamwork, nandoon ang effort, nandoon ang sacrifices for the team and the school,” Almadro stressed.   EYES ON YOU: Ateneo will see this season the final flight of Kat Tolentino for the blue and white as well as the debut of its prized recruit Faith Nisperos. All eyes will be on the duo as they try to bring the Lady Eagles their second straight title and fourth overall.       Nisperos showed a glimpse of what to expect from her during the pre-season as she led Ateneo to a third place finish in the PVL Collegiate Conference. The National University-Nazareth School product, who averaged 12.4 points per game with 41.46% success rate in attacks in the PVL, embraces the challenge of playing for one of the best teams in the league in the past decade.    “I just wanna do my best,” she said. “I won't pressure myself in trying to push myself too hard. Ang goal ko lang naman is gampanan ‘yung role ko sa team.” For Tolentino, who during the pre-season played for ChocoMucho in the PVL Open Conference, she will be playing a bigger role as the leader of the Lady Eagles. “My main goal for this year is to find that leadership role and show my character,” said Tolentino. “I wanna help the team using my experience the last four years. I wanna encourage my teammates to push for that same goal.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 14th, 2020

UAAP 82: Tolentino: I can t give up my final year and have that regret in future

Kat Tolentino is now one of the main stalwarts for Ateneo de Manila University. And in the UAAP 82 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, she’s ready and raring to be much more than an opposite hitter. “My main goal for this year is to find that leadership role and show my character," she shared. She then continued, "I wanna help the team using my experience the last four years. I wanna encourage my teammates to push for that same goal." Of course, to defend their title, the Lady Eagles need Tolentino to help fill the leadership void left behind by now-graduated Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag as well as injured setter Deanna Wong. The good news is the Filipino-Canadian is nothing but up to the task - especially as the first and foremost desire in her decision to return was to have no regrets. "When I decided not to play my final year (after last season), I thought I had made my final decision. I thought I was done, but as the months went by, I started to think about the UAAP and how much fulfillment you get when you play in that league," she shared. She then continued, "That's when I realized I can't let go of this opportunity. I can't just give up my final playing year and have that regret in the future." Without a doubt, having one last go-round with her teammates was a big factor in her choice to come back as well. As she put it, "Of course, I miss playing and practicing with the team. Of course, I enjoy playing pro (in the PVL), but it's just different here. I will definitely miss this."   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: Wong on the right track on road to recovery

Deanna Wong accepts the fact she will be just on the sidelines cheering for the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles in their back-to-back title bid in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament. The setter is taking her time on her road to recovery from a stress fracture on her right shin.   “It’s hard, its rough, its difficult pero ganoon talaga ang sports. Injury really happens,” said Wong. “Patiently waiting [to recover]. Be patient lang siguro for my time siguro to comeback to play. Full recovery lang [muna] siguro.” The playmaker is currently working on getting back in top form.   “I’m getting there. Kaka-start ko lang ulit mag-training pero more to improve pa rin,” said the Season 80 Best Setter. “OK na siya [shin] pero minsan sumasakit lang. I think kasi hindi nagagamit siya for ilang months ang shin ko kaya sumasakit now na ginagamit ko na siya,” added Wong, who is already back in training. “Pero if ilang beses na ako magti-training feeling ko magiging OK naman siya.” But the setter admits that she misses playing for the blue and white, competing against the best collegiate squads in the country and feeling the electric atmosphere inside the arena.   “Sobra namang (miss ko ang UAAP). What I like most is playing talaga and yung UAAP naman is sort of nandoon ang intensity, nandoon ang goosebumps,” she said. It also pains her to see her good friend Ponggay Gaston playing her swan song in what could have been their last dance together as Lady Eagles. “I’ll be missing playing but not only that but playing alongside my teammates lalo na si Ponggay na my one and only batchmate left na lang,” she said. Wong believes that even without her, Ateneo has the experience and arsenal to extend its reign for another year. The Lady Eagles eye to duplicate the back-to-back championships of the Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo squad back in Season 76 and 77.   “Back-to-back yan,” said a very confident Wong. “Tiwala lang siguro. I think they have to jell as one as a team kasi iba’t iba nanggaling eh. Sina Ate Kat (Tolentino), Ate Jho (Maraguinot) parang how many years hindi naglaro together. Teamwork lang siguro ang kailangan.” Talking about the setters that will fill her spot, Wong is confident that sophomore Jaja Maraguinot and returning veteran Jamie Lavitoria can take the Lady Eagles back to the Promised Land. “Kaya na nila yun,” she said. “Kaya ni Jaja yun, kaya na nila Ate Jamie yun. They know what to do naman.” As for her return on Season 83, Wong wants to think about it first. “Di ko pa alam,” said Wong. “Possible but no promises.”       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 4th, 2020

UAAP 82: Tolentino back for last flight as a Lady Eagle

Kat Tolentino has decided to play her final year for the Ateneo de Manila University. It may have taken the power-hitter some time to think it over but Tolentino will definitely don the blue and white uniform for her fourth and last season as the Lady Eagles bid for back-to-back titles in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament starting February next year. The 6-foot-3 Filipino-Canadian on Thursday officially announced her return for the Oliver Almadro-mentored squad. “As much as I love playing for the commercial league I found that playing for the UAAP is a whole different experience,” said Tolentino, who during the off-season played for ChocoMucho in the Premier Volleyball League. "There is something so unique about the competitiveness of the UAAP that I feel is hard to recreate.  The rivalry between schools is not just about playing for pride but for something bigger than yourself. Its also about playing for your teammates and for all those who’ve supported you." Her return will give the Lady Eagles the much-needed veteran presence along with Ponggay Gaston, playmaker Deanna Wong, Jules Samonte and libero Dani Ravena. “I’ve been following the current Ateneo team especially during the PVL collegiate conference and I am proud to see how strong they are already. There's still a few more months to prepare and I look forward to being back with them and contributing in any way I can,” said Tolentino. Tolentino led Ateneo in a dramatic come-from-behind best-of-three Finals series win over the Sisi Rondina-led University of Sto. Tomas for the Lady Eagles' first title since winning it all in back in 2014 and 2015. After claiming her first crown, Tolentino gave an emotional speech during the team’s thanksgiving Mass at the Church of Gesu inside the Ateneo campus.     She talked about her three ACL injuries and unforgettable championship season before saying, “This is Kat Tolentino, No. 10, signing off” back in May this year. But it's a good thing she changed her mind with the guidance of her management, Virtual Playground. "Well, initially I thought that because I graduated college and won the championship it was time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life. I have been in college for a while and have played volleyball for well over 10 years," Tolentino explained. "So I just felt like I wanted to experience something different and start to play in the commercial league to make the most out of my volleyball career." Tolentino will play a bigger role this season not just as the team’s top scoring option but also the young Lady Eagles’ leader after the departure of Maddie Madayag and Bea De Leon. She will pilot a squad that will have promising rising stars in Faith Nisperos and Joan Narit, sophomore setter Jaja Maraguinot and Vannie Gandler.     "Our goal will always be the UAAP championship. But coming into this season I feel like I will try to bring more skills and experience from what I learned in playing for Choco Mucho in PVL," Tolentino said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 28th, 2019

UAAP Volleyball: Morado sees Wong as Lady Eagles leader in Season 82

Former Ateneo de Manila University playmaker Jia Morado sees next season as Deanna Wong’s litmus test as the Lady Eagles' new leader when they try to defend their recently reclaimed throne. The Lady Eagles completed a Season 81 Finals series comeback over University of Sto. Tomas last Saturday to end a four-year title drought and capture their third crown overall. But Ateneo also saw the departure of middles Maddie Madayag and Finals Most Valuable Player Bea De Leon along with Kim Gequillana. Top hitter Kat Tolentino, who is still eligible to suit up next season, has not yet committed to play in Season 82. With the departure of Ateneo’s veterans, Wong will pilot a relatively young crew next year – almost the same situation that Morado was in during her last run as a Lady Eagle in Season 79 following the exit of three-time MVP Alyssa Valdez the year before.   “Actually, I think I had seasoned players on my last year. A lot of my spikers, nakasama ko na rin for at least a year or two,” said Morado on Monday during her club team Creamline’s photo shoot for the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference at the ABS-CBN Integrated Sports Office.   “But Deanna next year, although nakasama niya rin naman sila this year, hindi sila nabigyan ng time together talaga sa loob ng court so it will be interesting kung paano niya ibi-build ang connection niya with the spikers,” added Morado, who helped the Lady Eagles capture the Season 76 and 77 titles. The Cool Smashers setter said that although Ateneo will miss the services of its reliable veterans, the Lady Eagles and Wong will have the luxury of playing with young and aggressive talents looking to prove themselves in the country’s premier collegiate league.   “Siyempre ‘yung familiarity with her spikers is very important and next year more of rookies ang spikers niya. But the good thing about that you can go really far with young blood lalo na ‘yung mga rookies kasi sila ganado sila,” said Morado. “If you can lead them well, man them well, marami pa ring good weapons si Deanna kasi malalakas ‘yung mga batang papasok next year. So all she has to do is be able to lead them.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

‘Muscle Man’ powers Alaska over Rain or Shine

PBA Images Streaking Alaska handed Rain or Shine its first loss Thursday night after escaping with an 89-88 win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles City, Pampanga. Vic Manuel flashed his pre-pandemic form when it mattered, hitting 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Aces rallied from being down 75-68 midway in the period before enduring excruciating moments in the end to pick up their third straight victory after a 0-2 start. Jeron Teng had 13 points and eight assists while Abu Tratter and rookie Barkley Ebona added 10 points apiece for Alaska, which has been playing sound basketball following losses to TNT and Meralco. “When things didn’t go our way, we went back to just doing things we know we could do well that is defending and improving that aspect. We felt that would make it easy on the offensive end,” said Aces coach Jeffrey Cariaso. Alaska has limited its opponents to 83.7 points during the three wins, including against Rain or Shine. Manuel’s jumper and a running one-hander gave the Aces leads of 85-80 and 87-83 under the last two minutes, but his clutch shots nearly went for naught when the Elasto Painters gave them a scare. Beau Belga cut the gap to a point 89-88 with 7.3 seconds left, then forced Alaska guard Jvee Casio to lose the ball out of bounds off Teng’s inbound, giving Rain or Shine a chance to steal the game. Rey Nambatac, who came through in the clutch against San Miguel Beer and NorthPort, tried to do it again when he used a Belga pick to go for a driving layup. But Nambatac missed a finger roll against two defenders before time expired. The loss denied Rain or Shine a 4-0 start and a share of second place with idle Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. It also spoiled a career game from Sidney Onwubere, who topscored for the Elasto Painters with 16 points. The former Emilio Aguinaldo College standout was averaging 1.4 points in 20 games last season. Javee Mocon and Adrian Wong, the first Rookie of the Week winner of the PBA Press Corps, added 14 and 12 points for Rain or Shine. The scores: ALASKA 89 — Manuel 18, Teng 13, Tratter 10, Ebona 10, Herndon 9, DiGregorio 7, Brondial 7, Casio 5, Ahanmisi 5, Galliguez 3, Ayaay 2, Marcelino 0. RAIN OR SHINE 88 — Onwubere 16, Mocon 14, Wong 12, Torres 10, Belga 10, Nambatac 7, Norwood 5, Yap 5, Doliguez 3, Rosales 2, Ponferada 2, Rivero 2, Tolentino 0. Quarters: 22-18, 38-41, 61-63, 89-88......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 22nd, 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

Cool Smashers officially introduce new libero Ponce

Not to be outdone by its sister-team, three-time Premier Volleyball League champion Creamline also made significant moves to beef up its roster. The Cool Smashers making sure they got all positions covered, formally introduced their latest addition in Adamson University libero Thang Ponce. Say hello to our newest ka-vibes that’s joining our #CreamlineCoolSmashers lineup! Let’s give a good vibes welcome to the former Lady Falcon, Thang Ponce! She’s a 2018 PVL Collegiate Conference Best Libero kaya she’s a strong addition to the team! #ArawArawGoodVibes pic.twitter.com/0ymKA6FDRp — Cool Smashers (@CoolSmashers) August 25, 2020 One of today’s talented liberos in the collegiate ranks, Ponce will give Creamline an extra piece to man the floor alongside starting defense specialist Kyla Atienza.      The arrival of the 2018 PVL Collegiate Conference Best Libero also filled the spot left by veteran Mel Gohing, who transferred to Motolite. Creamline’s recruitment coup came on the heels of ChocoMucho’s aggressive signings of volleyball big names including Denden Lazaro, Ponggay Gaston and Deanna Wong to play alongside Ateneo Lady Eagles teammates Bea De Leon, Maddie Madayag and Kat Tolentino. With a seasoned lineup, the Cool Smashers remain to be the team to beat come the PVL’s fourth staging of the Open Conference, which is expected to begin as soon as the government gives its green light for competition to resume amid the health crisis. Already bannered by reigning Open Conference Most Valuable Player Jema Galanza, Alyssa Valdez, setter Jia Morado, Michele Gumabao and Risa Sato, Creamline added another weapon to its arsenal early this year after tapping the services of all-around player Ella De Jesus......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 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

WHAT IF... Dawn Macandili landed in Ateneo?

Dawn Macandili is a La Sallian through and through. From prep to college, the former Lady Spikers libero was under the De La Salle University education system. Macandili’s volleyball career started during her grade school days in DLSU-Lipa that eventually landed her a ticket to DLSU-Zobel. There she won three UAAP titles and eventually won three more with the Lady Spikers  in college. The diminutive defense specialist wore the green and white with great pride. With that said, it’s hard to imagine Macandili wearing any other color. But then what if she did? Besides, Macandili admited that she did try to get into other schools for college in case her DLSU entrance exam didn't go out well. “Nag-try din ako mag-entrance exam sa ibang school kasi siyempre baka naman ang kapal ng mukha ko ‘De La Salle ako tapos bumagsak pala ako,’” said Macandili laughing during her appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro. She mentioned two schools, Ateneo de Manila University and College of St. Benilde. So what if Macandili chose to don the blue and white instead of sister-schools DLSU and CSB’s colors? Now that’s interesting. Imagine the UAAP Season 78 and 79 Best Receiver and Season 78 Best Digger Macandili playing alongside Lazaro for the Lady Eagles. For sure, it will be a nightmare for the opposing teams considering the caliber of these liberos. Of course, Macandili would definitely take the backseat in her first two years in Seasons 76 and 77 as it would still be Lazaro’s and all-around hitter Ella De Jesus’ show. But with Lazaro and De Jesus exhausting all their playing eligibility after Season 77, the national team standout would’ve been Ateneo’s game-changer in Season 78. Macandili would’ve saved the Lady Eagles from their Achilles’ Heel: floor defense. Ateneo was sixth in digs and third in reception that season. She would’ve lightened up the defensive load on Ateneo hitters Alyssa Valdez and Jho Maraguinot. Her presence would also give the Lady Eagles a last line of defense in case opposing hitters got past middles Bea De Leon and Amy Ahomiro. And of course, it would’ve been quite a sight to watch the connection of Macandili with setter Jia Morado in Ateneo’s transition from defense to offense.         With these pieces set, the Lady Eagles’ reign might even be extended to a three-peat. Macandili’s last two seasons in Ateneo would surely be a challenging one after the departure of Valdez after Season 78 and Morado foregoing her final year in Season 80. But then again with a veteran in Macandili at the helm, Ateneo’s chances of winning another crown would’ve been higher.   ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

Always About the People

“Solid!” That was the only reaction, or lack thereof, that I could muster after that first breakaway slam of Kiefer Ravena’s UAAP collegiate basketball career over the outstretched arms of UST’s foreign center, Karim Abdul. Moments before, you could see Kiefer was going to go hard, as it was a one-on-one breakaway and he had the speed advantage over Abdul, who was hot on his heels. Little did I know that he was going to go for that highlight that would announce his entry into college basketball. That reaction, that loss for words, can pretty much sum up my past 10 years of covering college basketball for ABS-CBN Sports.  They first asked me to write about my most memorable UAAP game coverage; but I must confess, I was never really good at remembering exact details of games, unlike some of my fellow sportscasters, or even coaches I know, who remember almost detail for detail, or play by play. My memories come in highlights, or sometimes even just flashes of good or memorable plays.  I remember a 6’8”, 18-year old Ben Mbala, whom we first saw a glimpse of while Anton Roxas and I were covering the CESAFI league in the hot and humid Cebu Coliseum, sometime around 2012. He was playing for the Southwestern University Cobras, wasn’t as built and polished as when he was with DLSU, but you could already see the raw talent and athleticism. Fast forward a few years, I remember well how he took the UAAP by storm, with his monster dunks, and how he piloted La Salle to a championship while winning league MVP in Season 79.  I remember the heralded rookie season of Kiefer Ravena in the men’s division, after a storied juniors career. Kiefer won Rookie of the Year honors and helped lead Ateneo to two more titles to round up their 5-peat, before it was Jeron Teng’s turn to lead the Green Archers to a championship over his elder brother Jeric and the UST Growling Tigers.  I remember Bobby Ray Parks Jr. and his back-to-back MVP seasons. He was arguably the most complete college player during that time. It was painful to see his team fall short especially during his second MVP year. The Bulldogs made history the year after though, with Alfred Aroga, Troy Rosario, and Gelo Alolino now at the helm, winning the school’s first ever championship after more than forty years. I would argue that the past decade saw some of the brightest UAAP college basketball stars, both local and foreign, take to the hard court. It would almost be unfair to start naming them because I’ll surely end up leaving some names worthy enough to be mentioned. But we all remember Greg Slaughter, Ryan Buenafe, RR Garcia, Terence Romeo, Mac Belo, RR Pogoy, Roi Sumang, Charles Mamie, Alex Nuyles, Jericho Cruz, Papi Sarr, Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, Aljun Melecio, Kiefer and Thirdy, Bobby Ray, Alfred Aroga, Kevin Ferrer, Karim Abul, Jeric Teng, Ange Kuoame, Matt and Mike Nieto, Paul Desiderio, Juan GDL, and the list goes on and on… all of them making their mark in the UAAP the past ten years. Aside from the highlights, there were the more mundane, behind-the-scenes memories, especially covering out-of-town games when we used to do the CESAFI and the PCCL. That was basketball coverage at its purest. There was a time we traveled to Lanao Del Sur to cover the Mindanao regional selection of the PCCL. Lanao was about another two to three hour drive from Cagayan de Oro along a dark highway with trees and mountains all around; and where there was only one mall in the entire town. Or when we traveled by van to La Union to cover the north regional selection of the PCCL… or even staying a whole week at the Cebu Grand Hotel, for the VisMin regional selection. Coverages then were bare bones: no real-time stats or live graphics, and I would even sometimes have to tally the points and rebounds of each player in-game on my notebook just so that I’d have some semblance of stats to mention on the coverage. Still, those games were so much fun because the players, getting their first shot at national TV coverage, would leave everything out on the floor.  In a year or so, both the UAAP and the NCAA will announce their respective new homes, and new broadcast teams will have the privilege of covering the best collegiate basketball players in the country. That’s how the ball bounces. I’m a firm believer that in life there are seasons, and a perfect time for everything. I’m just thankful for the opportunities thrown my way. If you were to ask me why the coverage of the UAAP helped build the league into what it is today, my answer would be simple: it was always about the people. At the end of the day, what makes the UAAP and its coverage great are the stories of the people that play, coach, officiate, cover, and run the games. It’s not really about the championships or the awards, but rather the challenges, hardships, and journeys of each of the individuals that brought them there.  And it is also about the directors, producers, cameramen, reporters and make-up artists that make sure that the audience sees what is supposed to be seen – the winning basket, a fan’s priceless reaction, the agony in defeat, and the glory of victory. It’s what Boom Gonzalez or Mico Halili would always say, that our job as anchors and analysts is to tell the people watching at home the story of what is happening in the game in the best way possible.  I just want to tip my hat to all the people that allowed us to do our jobs the best way possible. From our directors, producers, cameramen, floor directors, fellow panelists, courtside reporters, league officials, statisticians, make-up artists, and all those people behind the scenes whom we worked with, know that we were able to give our best because of you; and the UAAP coverage will not be what it is if not for all of your hard work and dedication.  It was, is, and will always be about the people. Marco Benitez was the team captain for the Ateneo Blue Eagles when they won the UAAP Season 65 men's seniors basketball title in 2002. Marco eventually covered collegiate basketball as analyst for ABS-CBN Sports starting in 2010. He is presently the President of the Philippine Women's University (PWU)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

WHAT IF Marck Espejo played for DLSU?

We all know what Marck Espejo brought to Ateneo when he donned the Blue Eagles jersey in the UAAP. He led the blue and white to three straight titles in five consecutive Finals appearances in indoor volleyball and captured Ateneo’s first and so far lone championship in beach volleyball. As a player, Espejo achieved a feat difficult to surpass if not replicate. A Rookie of the Year award, five straight Most Valuable Player honors aside from other individual accolades. The Marikina pride even registered the league’s most points in a game with 55 during his last tour of duty with the Blue Eagles in Season 80. Espejo’s impact left a lasting imprint not only to the Blue Eagles but also to the entire league. Arguably, his persona could even also be attributed to the renewed popularity of men’s volleyball in the country which for years failed to bask in the same limelight enjoyed by women’s play. Indeed, Ateneo found a precious gem in Espejo. But what if Espejo decided to take his talents to a different school? Let’s say, De La Salle University. After all the green and white was actually one of Espejo’s options heading into college. [Related story: DID YOU KNOW? Marck Espejo almost played for DLSU] If Espejo played for the Green Spikers, he would definitely be a game changer. The Ateneo-National University championship rivalry wouldn’t have happened. Instead, it would’ve been the Bulldogs and Green Spikers duking it out for the crown during Espejo’s UAAP stint.      “Kung sa amin siya naglaro panigurado malaki ‘yung impact sa team namin kasi alam naman natin si Marck malakas talaga siya kahit buong team kaya niyang dalhin,” former DLSU setter and now assistant coach Geuel Asia told ABS-CBN Sports. Asia, who played for the Green Spikers from Season 75 to Season 79, added that he’s very familiar with Espejo's game as they were teammates when the National Capital Region ruled the 2012 Palarong Pambansa in Lingayen, Pangasinan.       “So malakas ang impact niya sa DLSU kung sakali. Power and mind maglaro si Marck so malaki ang matutulong niya sa DLSU,” said the former national team playmaker and Espejo's Cignal HD Spikers teammate. "Fit din siya sa system. Kahit na anong sistema aayon sa kanya, magiging comfortable siya."  In fact, with him on board DLSU in Season 76, the Green Spikers might have even gotten a trip to the Final Four. The Green Spikers, who finished third n Season 75, were eliminated by Adamson University in the playoff for no. 4 spot the following season.  Imagine Espejo adding more firepower to DLSU, which already had Season 75 MVP Red Christensen, Raymark Woo, Aaron Calderon, Ralph Calasin and Philip Cerveza. “Sobrang lakas talaga kung nangyari ‘yung ganun. Kasi yun din time na yun malakas si Woo eh,” said Asia. With Espejo, who was second in scoring in his rookie year and was in the top 10 in spiking, blocking, service and digs, DLSU might not even need to go to the playoff for a semis spot. Heck, the Green Spikers might even land at no. 2 - just like how Espejo led Ateneo into the Finals in Season 76 to face NU – considering that Christensen, Woo and Cerveza that year were consistently producing big numbers and contributing well on defense.      Of course, that team would still find it difficult to surpass the powerhouse Peter Torres-led Bulldogs in the championship. But at least that would’ve given DLSU the much-needed championship experience. Let’s say Woo didn’t suffer a knee injury during the pre-season while playing in a ligang labas that forced him to sit out  year, then DLSU would have remained a solid contender in Season 77. There might even have been the possibility that the Green Spikers ended a decade-long title-drought that year as they would have been parading an experienced and solid lineup composed of Espejo, Woo, setters Brendon Santos and Asia, libero Jopet Movido, Calderon, Christensen, Mike Frey, Arjay Onia, Cris Dumago and Calasin. The possibility of DLSU winning another title or two in the next three seasons with Espejo at the helm might not be far from reality.    But then of course Season 80 would be a different story. That year the Green Spikers would’ve parted ways with most of its veterans leaving Espejo, Onia, Dumago and Frey leading a young team piloted by third year setter Wayne Marco.    Even if DLSU did manage to crawl its way back into the Finals in Espejo’s last year, it would be extremely difficult to hurdle the Bulldogs parading a tall and very talented crew led by ace hitter Bryan Bagunas, Kim Malabunga, Madzlan Gampong, James Natividad, Francis Saura, setter Kim Dayandante and libero Ricky Marcos.    But then again, a DLSU squad bannered by Espejo in the UAAP would have definitely been a sight to behold. Too bad we could only imagine the what ifs.   ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2020

Cruz-Behag, Baron recall De Jesus words of wisdom

De La Salle University head coach Ramil de Jesus is the type of coach who won’t mince his words when addressing his team. If he wants to get his message across he’ll tell it straightforward. No sugarcoating. While some may take it against the mentor, his Lady Spikers understand that it is just how De Jesus wants his players to learn. It is his way of motivating them to be better. Cha Cruz-Behag and Majoy Baron shared on The Collective, how De Jesus’ ‘choice’ words fueled their desire to step up and bring honor to DLSU back in their playing days in the UAAP.      Cruz-Behag recalled how she was challenged by De Jesus.   “Back in Season 68 that was my rookie year. When we finally won that Game 3, nag-champion na kami, we were celebrating. Ang saya-saya. Nakaka-proud,” said Cruz-Behag, who still plays for De Jesus with F2 Logistics in the Philippine Superliga. But the mentor put Cruz-Behag in her place.    “After some time we went back to training. Coach came in and he talked to us rookies and sinabi niya sa amin na kaming mga bata wala kaming karapatan to celebrate and wala kaming karapatan na umastang champion,” Cruz-Behag said. “Kasi langaw lang kami sa likod ng kalabaw.” It stuck in her head. “Para sa akin ang lalim ng dating kasi nga naman ‘di naman talaga kami ‘yung nagtrabaho to earn that championship. It was really our seniors who worked hard for it,” she said. “I took it as a challenge. Gusto ko dumating naman ang panahon na we’re gonna win out own championship. I want to feel that we earned it and we truly deserved it. So di na niya kami tatawaging langaw and magiging promoted na kami to kalabaw,” Cruz-Behag added. Unfortunately, Cruz-Behag had to wait another three years before earning her stripes as DLSU was suspended in Season 69 (2006-07) while she skipped Season 70 (2007-08). Cruz-Behag won her first title in her return in Season 71, won a silver the following year before leading DLSU to back-to-back titles in Seasons 73 and 74 where she was named Finals MVP both times. Meanwhile, Baron was the Lady Spikers’ team captain when De Jesus called their performance as ‘pambarangay’ following a humiliating loss to Adamson in Season 80. “As a captain ina-accept ko na ang pangit talaga ng laro namin that time. Sobrang unacceptable talaga ng loss na yun against Adamson,” said Baron. De Jesus’ statement became a trending topic and drew mixed reactions from volleyball fans. “Medyo na-bash din si coach nun,” recalled Baron. “But for us players we get Coach Ramil eh.” The Lady Spikers understood what De Jesus wanted them to understand. They responded by winning 11 straight wins including a sweep in the Finals to complete the Taft-based squad’s third three-peat and 11th overall crown. As for Baron, she won the Season MVP honors capping off her collegiate career on a high note. De Jesus is quick to call-out the mistakes of his wards, that’s his style. His words may sometimes be harsh. But his statements always serve their purpose......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2020