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From ball games to video games, GDLs push each other to be better

Juan Gomez de Liano is the best GDL - in terms of NBA 2K, that is. "I am the 2K god no doubt. Nobody can beat me," he said in The Prospects Pod where he was the guest alongside brothers Joe, Javi, and Jordi. "Si Javi, plays off (ang) fatigue e tapos si Joe, laging nagpe-press and it's really easy to break the press." And Jordi? "I'd say kami ni Jordi top two." When it comes to one-on-one on the basketball court itself, though, the playing field is pretty much level. Asked who wins the most in head-to-head ball games, Juan answered, "Sometimes me, sometimes Javi, sometimes Joe, pero si Jordi has a lot of work to do." Of course, bragging rights matter to brothers - especially if there are four of them. For the GDLs, though, their fire and desire to be better than one another is nothing but a good thing. "Our competitiveness makes us better. Our competitiveness raises up our game," Javi said. He then continued, "Example, when we lift weights, kami ni Joe and Juan, laging nagpapabigatan ng bench press, shoulder press. Hindi kami magpapatalo kung sino pinakamabigat magbuhat e." Yes, for the brothers-slash-proud products of the University of the Philippines, working out is a competition in itself. Again, that is nothing but a good thing. As Javi put it, "Iron sharpens iron e." That is also exactly why when it comes to pick up games, the GDLs apparently do not like being teammates. "Siyempre, whenever we play with each other, gusto naming magkalaban. Bwakaw kasi sila e," Joe said, with a laugh. He then continued, "Saka gusto namin (makita) who's the best sa amin. Ganun. Pero of course, we don't take it personally. We just wanna prove na 'O, I'm the best.'" In the end, having their constant challengers living with them under the same roof has, indeed, only gotten the best out of the brothers. "For me, it's just a blessing na every day, we motivate each other. Yung competitive nature namin sa bahay, ibang level talaga ever since we were kids e so we like to compete," Juan shared. He then continued, "We are never afraid of anything. All we wanna do is win." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 9th, 2020

Westbrook wins battle of guards vs. former teams

By Michael C. Wright, NBA.com HOUSTON -- Russell Westbrook scrapping under the rim for a loose ball with good friend Steven Adams set the tone for odd visuals Monday in a clash between star point guards facing their former teams. Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul returned to Houston for the first time since the Rockets moved him for first-round picks and pick swaps over the summer to acquire Westbrook, who dominated the night of reunions by nearly logging his second consecutive triple-double (21 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists) to fuel a 116-112 triumph. Brodie coming up big to help us get the W! ????21pts ????12reb ????9ast pic.twitter.com/Q18ZxHsMSJ — Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 29, 2019 In doing so, Westbrook nearly became the first player to post triple-doubles against all 30 NBA teams. “This is how it goes,” Westbrook said. “When I hoop, I have no friends. On the court, they know not to talk to me. Steven’s a real close friend of mine. But inside those lines, there’s no friends. Spalding, that’s my friend, and my teammates. That’s it. If you try to be my friend, I ain’t gonna say s--- to you.” Shortly after saying those words, Westbrook walked down the hall to the Thunder locker room, where he hugged coach Billy Donovan before entering as his former teammates dressed. Westbrook played 11 years for the Thunder before the July trade, and earned NBA All-Star recognition on eight occasions in addition to capturing the 2017 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award. “He obviously has done an enormous amount for the organization, for the state and the city,” Donovan said. “I’ve always respected how hard he competed and played. We had a chance to spend four great years together. It was good to just connect.” As Westbrook strolled into the locker room, several Thunder officials approached him for hugs. Glass of water in hand, the point guard eventually settled near Adams’ locker adjacent to injured guard Andre Roberson. Nearby, Paul dressed and joked that Westbrook could be fined by the league for entering the opponent’s locker room, which drew laughter from all over the room. Westbrook eventually moved to Paul’s locker, where the two talked quietly for several minutes. On the floor, though, Westbrook overcame a slow start to dominate over the final three quarters which helped push the Rockets to their second consecutive victory. Westbrook finished at a game-best plus-19, while James Harden led all scoring with 40 points. Westbrook has posted a 20-point double-double in all three of Houston’s games this season, including a triple-double Saturday in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Westbrook has also pulled down 38 rebounds over his first three games, which ranks as the most by a Rocket through the first three games of the season since Dwight Howard registered 51 rebounds during the 2013-14 season. Congrats to @russwest44 of the @HoustonRockets for moving up to 20th on the all-time ASSISTS list! pic.twitter.com/CAxe023sQd — NBA (@NBA) October 29, 2019 In addition, Westbrook moved into 20th on the NBA’s all-time assists list (6,918). “He just brings a different dynamic to the game: his speed, his pace, his athleticism, his playmaking ability,” Harden said. “He does so much and creates for his teammates. It’s pretty tough to guard. He’s a superstar. But he’s getting offensive rebounds, he’s hustling. He’s doing the dirty things that help you win. It feels good to have that on your side.” On the other side, Paul didn’t fare as well against his former team, finishing with 15 points and four assists. Paul missed his first five shots, making his first bucket with 54.9 seconds left in the first half. At the 5:57 mark of the first quarter during a timeout, the Toyota Center played a tribute video featuring Paul’s days as a Rocket that lasted a minute and 30 seconds, ending with the message of “Thank you CP3.” The crowd gave Paul a standing ovation as he waved to the fans from the bench area, before hugging Houston guard Eric Gordon as he checked back into the game. Thank you, @CP3! pic.twitter.com/xshVifhtFI — Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 29, 2019 “The fans here were always great to me. Some of the people here became like family to me,” Paul said. “And I try to stay in touch with those who were as genuine as could be. I had some great memories here. I’m grateful to the fans for how they always treated me and my family. I’ll forever be grateful for that.” Paul played two seasons in Houston (2017-19), averaging 17.1 points, 8.0 assists and 5 rebounds, before the club traded him to Oklahoma City. Paul helped the Rockets to a franchise-best record of 65-17 in his first season, but they fell in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors. With the Rockets leading that series 3-2, Paul suffered a hamstring injury that forced him out of the last two games. “He’s one of the best point guards that’s ever played and still is. What he does is incredible,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “With his knowledge of the game, his competitiveness, he’s going to be around for a while. He was just really good for us. It’s hard to win a whole lot more than what we won with him. We could’ve gone a little bit further in the playoffs. One year, he just got a hamstring problem. Then the next year, it just didn’t work out. It’s hard to be better than what he was.” Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2019

Giants may not have to worry about Eli getting hurt anymore

By Tom Canavan, Associated Press EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — For the first time in about a decade, the New York Giants seemingly don't have to worry about Eli Manning getting hurt. In just two preseason games, first-round draft pick and heir apparent Daniel Jones has shown he can play in the NFL. Take a look at the statistics. Jones is 16 of 19 for 228 yards and two touchdowns. He's completed 84.2% of his passes with a 151.8 quarterback rating. No one ever would have felt the same about former backups Geno Smith, Alex Tanney, Davis Webb, Josh Johnson, Ryan Nassib or Kyle Lauletta in recent years. Jones has changed that feeling by his play. When he takes over remains to be seen. Giants co-owner John Mara said recently he would love to see Manning remain the starter all season and for Jones not to play. Coach Pat Shurmur seconded that approach after New York won its second straight game. So far, there is no need to make the move. Manning has looked good playing just two series. He had a three-and-out against the Jets and hit all four of his passes in engineering a first-drive touchdown against the Bears. He is 5 of 5 for 42 yards and a TD. His quarterback rating is 143.8. Shurmur has said Jones is getting ready to play. On Saturday, in discussing the Giants' 32-13 win over Chicago on Friday night, the coach refused to say if Jones was ready. "I think when his time comes, he's going to be ready," Shurmur said. "I still think we've got training camp left to push through, we've got preseason games left to push through. I would say right now, we're three weeks from any of us being ready, so that's sort of where we're at. We've got work to do, and so that's how I approach that. That would be my answer to that question, I guess." Jones wasn't perfect against the Bears. He lost two fumbles. The first came when he and center Jon Halapio failed to get together on a snap in the red zone. The second came after he was sacked, the result on not keeping two hands on the ball. "You don't want to make any mistakes, but I think it was going to happen and you realize that," Jones said after the game. "There are going to be some mistakes and just figuring that out sometimes. I didn't try to make any mistakes." After watching video of the game, Shurmur felt the Giants were a little loose with the ball overall. TJ Jones, who caught a touchdown pass from Daniel Jones on Friday, muffed a punt. Linebacker Nate Stupar dropped an interception, and the Giants' receivers dropped three other passers. Running back Rod Smith also had a fumble. "Those are all correctable, every one of those, and those are the things that we will continue to focus on as we go through camp," Shurmur said. If there is a concern for Shurmur, it has to be the defense. The first unit gave up a touchdown to Sam Darnold and the Jets on the opening drive in the first game, and backup Chase Daniel led Chicago's second offensive unit to a field goal on the opening series. The Bears did not play their starters. Shurmur downplayed the fast starts, noting the defense limited the Bears to one touchdown and two field goals and had eight 3-out-series. "There were many things that were good," Shurmur said. "Certainly, you don't want anybody to score on the first drive, but I think there was an improvement this game, we forced them to kick a field goal, so I don't see a trend there. Like everything, though, we're fighting to get better in all areas throughout the game." At least Jones seems to be ready......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2019

Five things we learned from Game 4 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 105-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2019 NBA Finals on Friday at Oracle Arena: 1. Dynasties eventually become ‘die-nastys’ Will we get one more game at Oracle Arena? The scene of so much Golden State wonderfulness the past five seasons? A building about to be abandoned when the Warriors move from Oakland to a state-of-the-art arena across the Bay? Hold up. Asking one more game out of the Warriors seems a lot at the moment. These guys just suffered their second consecutive home playoff loss by 10 points or more, something that hasn’t happened to this franchise in 50 years. After three straight games scoring precisely 109 points, the Warriors came up 15 short Friday (Saturday, PHL time). They are 0-9 overall this season when held to double digits, and 0-11 in the playoffs during the Steve Kerr era, when they score 94 or fewer. And now they’re on the wrong side of a 3-1 deficit, lacking everything from certain healthy bodies to an edge, a sharpness that was missing in the second half. Granted, Golden State once held a 3-1 edge in a Finals, all the way back in 2016 … when LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers chased them down and became the only Finals team to claw out of such a chasm. The Warriors did the same to Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference finals. So they not only have a blueprint, they have the know-how and an opportunity to do it again. Like Kerr before him on Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) postgame podium, Warriors forward Draymond Green spoke of simply trying to win one basketball game, the next game, as the proper way to dig out of this series hole. But then he dropped his guard and mentioned winning three in a row, something the Warriors have done often. But they’re a whole year removed from doing that in a Finals (last year’s sweep of the Cavs) with a healthy Kevin Durant. This is a more worn-down, tired team. In fact, Game 4 was more than Golden State’s 102nd game of 2018-19, regular and postseason combined. It was the 102nd playoff game of their five consecutive Finals runs, which means they have crammed an extra season-plus into their schedules compared to the underachievers on lottery teams sitting at home. From the looks of it Friday (Saturday, PHL time), these guys are ready to be toppled, like the Lakers in 1989 and again in 2004, like the Heat in 2014 and the Cavaliers last June. The boisterous Raptors fans who staged their takeover of the Warriors’ building after Game 4 were merely mirroring what their favorite team did on the court from halftime on. Golden State could not stop it. Rudy Tomjanovich might still be inclined to scream into the darkness. (“Never underestimate the heart of a champion!”) But pride only takes you so far, and that’s mostly what the Warriors have left. 2. Third quarter? That’s Toronto’s now It took the Raptors more than 18 minutes to score 30 points Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), stymied by the pace of the game and particularly Golden State’s scrappy, hustling defense. Immediately after halftime, it took Toronto only 12 minutes to put up 37. The time of death for Golden State on Friday was immediately after Kawhi Leonard drained consecutive three-pointers – “F-you” shots, teammate Fred VanVleet memorably coined them – that boosted Toronto from a four-point deficit to a 12-point advantage. The Warriors already had played well enough to rightly feel they should have had a bigger cushion; falling behind so rudely seemed to buckle the defending champs. That they feel third quarters are their birthright made the switcheroo intolerable. “We had a big problem with the third quarter in Game 2,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “We had to make some adjustment there to try to combat the way they come out of the half. We made the decision to put Fred in, [first] in Game 3 and then Game 4 again. Mostly it's to try to keep up pace of our offense going. It gives us two point guards out there that can push the ball, get it in and get it going, and it kind of paid off. “I know Kawhi's two big three's to start the half really changed the whole feel of everybody. Everybody was like, ‘Okay, man, we know we are here, let's go,’ and we just kind of kept going from those two three's.” For the Warriors, who have done that to so many others, turnabout was a pain in the rump. “Oh, this sucks,” Draymond Green recalled thinking as Toronto took control of the quarter. “It sucks really bad. You just try and do whatever you can to change it. Get a stop, get a bucket, get some momentum.  Every time we did, they answered.” Green was asked about the difficulty of rattling the stone-faced Leonard with whatever defensive tactic Golden State could muster, and brushed the question aside. “I don't think you're ever going to rattle Kawhi. Not sure we used that word one time in our scouting report, ‘We're going to rattle him,’” Green said. But it’s not just Leonard now. It’s the Raptors. Time after time, whenever Golden State revved up with a couple of scoring possessions, signaling to their fans they ready to make a run, Toronto snuffed it with a three-pointer or a well-executed pick and roll. They’ve got a team of Kawhis-in-training, unflappable lately if not as inscrutable. “Most teams will take cues from their leaders or their star players, so I think that spreads around a little bit,” Nurse said. But he also praised vets such as Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and VanVleet for how steady they’ve been. Now, with the temptation to imagine hoisting a championship trophy, the Raptors might be expected to buy into the stat that, of the 34 teams in The Finals who have led 3-1, 33 of them got their rings. But this team is so focused, so resolute in taking care of business down to the smallest and most mundane task, that all Nurse might have to do is remind them how many aspiring champs won three games in a Finals and still headed into summer empty-handed. (It's 19.) No trophy, no rings. 3. A surge from Serge The chemistry between Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry was evident in their playful banter on the podium Friday night. Each slipped into his role, Lowry as the instigator, Ibaka as the target of his playful jibes. “You joining me?” Lowry asked, as Ibaka got to the podium a half minute after him. “Serge Ibaka, everybody. You all know him. Nice outfit. Worth a lot of money. Is that jacket real leather?” “Yes, it’s real leather,” Ibaka said. "Pants too tight, he can't even sit down,” Lowry said. On court, Ibaka’s defensive impact and 20 points in reserve dampened a lot of Warrior enthusiasm. There are nights when Ibaka comes across like Chief in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a large, lumbering and rather stiff option near the rim with very little to say. Some nights, he even seems to be asleep. But still waters often run deep, too deep for the Warriors in Game 4, it turned out. Ibaka’s here-today, gone-tomorrow shooting touch had him playing in a way that none of Golden State’s three centers – DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney or Andrew Bogut – could match. “Once he gets into the series," Nurse said, "which he did in Game 3 with the blocked shots and the rebounding and stuff, he seems to stay in the series. He usually gives you all of it.” Said Lowry, about knowing when a Serge surge is coming: “He doesn't say anything. When Serge is effective defensively is when he's at his best. I think the scoring just comes. We're going to make sure he gets that pick-and-pop jump shot, he's rolling … When he brings that intensity and that fierceness, it's kind of tough to stop him on both ends of the floor.” 4. Stephen Curry had a bad game One of the most famous pieces of magazine journalism ever was entitled, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” by Gay Talese, a profile written when Sinatra obviously was ill of body and temper, and didn’t even grant Talese an interview. So our headline kind of tells the story as his did: Curry, one of the top five players in the NBA and probably the greatest overall shooter of all time, was not his two-time MVP self. He wasn’t even the Game 3 version (47 points). The Warriors point guard scored 20 fewer points in this one, and was 2-of-9 from three-point range. He missed all five of his shots from the arc in the first half and he picked up some obvious frustration fouls. Curry played 43 of the 48 minutes, and Golden State was outscored by 11 points when he was on the court. “It wasn’t his best game,” Kerr said. Evaluating Curry, for the Warriors, was going to come down to breaking down video and keeping the faith. Evaluating him, for the rest of us, is getting complicated these days by a sense that Curry did not get his due in past Finals – at least in terms of winning the Bill Russell Award as Finals MVP. But that’s no excuse to don rose-colored glasses every time he hits the floor. As scintillating as his performance was in defeat Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) as the Warriors’ only healthy threat, his Game 4 work was raggedy and unproductive. “They have been aggressive all series and trying to take space away from me and Klay,” Curry said. “I missed some shots early that I usually make, especially from the three-point line. But overall, I thought I got good looks.” Every game doesn’t need to be a referendum on the level of Curry appreciation. He might have deserved more consideration as Finals MVP in 2015, when Andre Iguodala snagged it with a strong performance in the clinching game. And even though Kevin Durant was an easy choice in 2017, there were some who felt Curry was more essential (including this voter). In some cosmic and just way, Curry probably should have been recognized with hardware somewhere among the three. But all signs are pointing to Leonard now, so Curry might have to muddle along with "only" those two Maurice Podoloff trophies for regular-season MVP, along with his All-NBA berths and assorted accolades, his ginormous contract and bounty of commercial endorsements, three rings (unless this series turns around) and a better life than most people who’ve ever walked the planet. 5. Durant to play in Game … 8? It’s possible that Durant will come walking through Rick Pitino’s proverbial door and seize what’s left of the championship series by the throat, playing like the two-time Finals MVP he is. Failing that, if there’s a Game 6, maybe that’s the night Durant at least does a Willis Reed impersonation, limping through the Oracle tunnel to a thunderous roar and hitting a couple of early shots to inspire his teammates to something special. (There still, alas, would be a pesky Game 7 for which to account, back in Toronto, likely muddying the drama.) Then again, maybe Durant doesn’t come back at all. For The Finals or with the Warriors, period. Speculation at this point is all over the map. Some think the Warriors planned to hold him out until things got really dire, to buy extra healing time and maybe not use him at all. Others now believe Durant’s rehab process of his strained right calf back-slid to some degree on Thursday, when he participated in a checkpoint workout with the training staff. A few folks think he never was going to return, regardless. After all, the All-NBA forward hasn’t played since May 8 (May 9, PHL time), missing nine fairly important games. This is a league where injuries typically face an “If this were a playoff game, would he play?” threshold. Durant has been nearly as absent from this NBA postseason as LeBron James. Look, all injuries are different, and even the same type of injury can have different timelines with different sufferers. Klay Thompson rushing back from his hamstring issue after skipping only Game 3 is at the crazy-resilient end of the durability scale. Kevon Looney basically rose from the ashes, giving the Warriors a rim runner and 10 points with six rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. He had been ruled out for the rest of the series after suffering a rib cartilage fracture in his crash to the floor in Game 2. After anticipation of Durant’s availability got out in front of his reality for a few days, the chatter is more tempered now. There’s a shrug and a whiff of uncertainty folded into every mention. If Durant had his Thursday workout, he would have played Friday (Saturday, PHL time). If he had a setback … Heck, at this point it might be more pragmatic for the medical peeps to declare him out and let the Warriors who’ve come this far see this through, yea or nay. “As far as KD, there's been hope that he will come back the whole series,” Draymond Green said. “So that's not going to change now. Obviously we hope to have him, but we'll see what happens. We don't make that final call, he don't really even make that final call.  His body will tell him if he can get out there or not. And if he can, great. And if not, you still got to try to find a way to win the next game.” The Warriors had been holding out hope for Durant’s return as if he was their ace in the hole, imagining him with zero rust or rhythm issues once back and no limitations on his gait. But he has passed the “In case of emergency, break glass” point of urgent help possibilities. Now Durant resembles more the keg hanging from a Saint Bernard dog’s collar. It’s a nice idea, but when was the last time one of those dogs saved somebody who literally drank from the little barrel? Toronto is in a foreign land, by NBA standards. But it ain’t the Alps. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2019

Kib Montalbo taught Ben Mbala just what it takes to be a leader

Game in and game out, Ben Mbala plays with a fire that could light up just about anybody playing with him - or even playing against him. Safe to say, the two-time MVP and one-time champion puts his heart on his sleeve and puts it out there for everybody to see. Of course, he wants his teammates to have the same sort of fire whenever they play. One of Mbala's biggest realizations, however, is that not all are wired that way. "During practice, I was the guy with the hot temper. You know when you want to do so good, so well that you start pushing everybody else. A guy like Abu [Tratter], I can tell him, 'Man, come on, you're a man. Move your ass!" he said in the inaugural episode of The Prospects Pod last Friday. He then continued, "But some other guys, you got to be a little bit gentle and take them to the side and talk to them differently." Apparently, his eyes wouldn’t have been opened if not for Kib Montalbo. "I'm just lucky Kib was there because he taught me that," he shared, "He taught me how to communicate with my teammates, how to get across messages I was lucky to have a guy like that." Indeed, Montalbo is highly regarded for his leadership - and he proved that to the Cameroonian powerhouse time and time again not just in practice, but in-game as well. "I'm an emotional player and he was always one of those to get me like, 'Calm down! The game is not over. Stay focused!' After, I was like, 'Okay, my bad,'" the latter recalled. That leadership, without a doubt, only rubbed off on Mbala. "I'm just glad to have guys like that to push me over and over. I'd like to say thank you to him for pushing me so much," he said. He then continued, "I wouldn't probably where I am if it wasn't for guys like Kib." At the same time, Montalbo, also known as "The Man of Steal," was the key to the now-25-year-old's development at the defensive end. "He pushed me to play defense on everybody else - guards, big guys - because the (defense) you see him do during games, he does that to me every practice," Mbala shared. He then continued, "I would be so mad when I'll try to post then he'll come steal the ball without me seeing him coming. In the end, that helped me play better." From there, challenged by Montalbo, we were all witnesses to how "Big Ben" guarded all sorts of players from Papi Sarr to Alvin Pasaol and from Thirdy Ravena to Paul Desiderio. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2020

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

(This story was originally published on April 20, 2018) Newly-appointed head coach Roger Gorayeb looked at his line-up heading into UAAP Season 71. A champion mentor of NCAA powerhouse San Sebastian College - Recoletos, Gorayeb had in his hands a gargantuan task of rebuilding the Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program. Just a few months before, Ronald Dulay, the mentor before him, landed a trio of blue chip recruits who were fresh from a successful stint in the Palarong Pambansa. Angeline "Dzi" Gervacio, Fille Saint Cainglet and Jamenea "Jem" Ferrer just joined the Katipunan-based squad. Gervacio and Cainglet were products of St. Scholastica's College in Manila while Ferrer was a gem from Hope Christian School under girl’s volleyball guru Jerry Yee. Looking at his 15-woman line-up with the season just a few months ahead, Gorayeb knew he needed to do something drastic. The roster just won’t do. Talking to then athletic director Ricky Palou and team manager Tony Boy Liao, the mentor told the team officials that he intended to cut five players from the list. One could just imagine the shock in their faces. “Nakita ko may line-up pero player-playeran lang yung ganoon bang tipo, 15 ata yun. Sabi ko ‘Magtatanggal ako ng lima then magre-recruit ako,’” he said. The three rookies were in. Middle Bea Pascual, Kara Acevedo and libero Steph Gabriel retained their spots. He needed more. “Sa mga tinira kong players, si Kara Acevedo sabi niya, ‘Coach mayroong player ang ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy) na gumraduate naka-exam na rito pasado.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige papuntahin mo,’” said Gorayeb. It was Gretchen Ho. “Sa akin kasi ang talagang nagyaya sa akin si Coach Ron Dulay. Si Kara Acevedo teammate ko and she’s been recruited by Ateneo. So one summer wala akong magawa naki-train lang ako noon tapos nagustuhan nila ang laro ko and then fourth year noong graduate na ako I passed the ACET then niyayaya na nila ako,” Ho said. “Then nagbago ng coach na si Coach Roger and dun niya ako nakita.”   “Pagdating ko ng March (sa Ateneo) wala na akong way para maka-recruit pa. Ang nangyari yung tatlo accepted na kaagad. Si Gretchen tinanong ko sabi ko, ‘ano ba ang laro mo?’ Sabi niya the usual panggitna, tres,” Gorayeb recalled. “So sinubukan ko pero ang laro niya tres hindi quick. Siya panggitna pero hindi quicker na gusto ko saka yung height niya (maliit). Kaya lang si Gretchen takbo ng takbo, mahilig magtatakbo so sabi ko sige pwede na yan. Wala namang player na during that time. So kinuha ko si Gretchen.” Gorayeb just needed just one more. “Ngayon nagkaroon ng STCAA (Southern Tagalog Calabarzon athletic association) eh kulang pa ako ng isa, wala akong panggitna. Ang gitna ko during that time si Bea lang tapos si Gretchen so wala akong pamalit. So naisipan ko may nakita ako sa STCAA,” he said. He spotted a lanky player from Canossa Academy-Lipa, Aillysse Nacachi. “Sabi ko kay Sir Tony pagtyagaan ko na lang ito kahit hindi naman kalakasan at wala naman na rin akong choice na makapili kasi rush ang pagdating ko dyan. Nakiusap lang sila sa akin na magbuo ako ng team kasi si Ronald nag-resign,” said Gorayeb. Another freshman could’ve had ended up with Ateneo, Hope’s libero Melissa Gohing. But a few obstacles prevented her from fulfilling her promise to join Ferrer in Ateneo. She instead chose to join the ladies in green and white in Taft.    SOMETHING PROMISING December 7, 2008. Far Eastern University Gym. Excitement filled the air. Fans, mostly volleyball purists and some who just came to support their classmates or were just curious to see a new spectacle after the basketball season ended, slowly settled in their seats for the women’s division’s second game. It was Adamson University, the previous year’s runner-up, which just visited the turf of their arch nemesis and defending champion FEU, which was led by that era’s finest and most popular volleybelle Rachel Anne Daquis. Fans wanted to see if the Lady Falcons still had the same firepower they had the previous season with the loss of top setter Janet Serafica and power hitter Sang Laguilles. A rookie-laden Ateneo squad should be easy pickings with Angela Benting, rookie Pau Soriano and libero Lizlee Anne Gata in the roster. Besides the Lady Falcons got the Lady Eagles’ number. Or so they thought. “Naalala ko nu’ng time namin sinasabi sa amin ng seniors namin na, ‘Hay naku ang lakas ng Adamson, never kami nanalo dyan,’” Cainglet, now happily married to Taguig mayor Lino Cayetano and with three beautiful children, recalled.  But the Lady Eagles stunned Adamson in the opening set. The Lady Falcons took the next two frames. Ateneo stole the fourth.  “Ako naalala ko ano eh, parang alam namin na lahat kasi kami palaban. Nasa amin yun. Tapos binigyan kaming lahat ng chance to be in the first six so parang dream come true,” said Ho, now an ABS-CBN host. “Naalala ko rin na palaban kaming lahat kumbaga nothing to lose eh so ang ano namin, sumasabay kami sa laro and nu’ng nakita na namin na ‘Ay kaya pala natin ‘to guys. Kaya pala naming lumaban.’” Still, Adamson had the upper hand in experience. The Lady Falcons, used to pressure and were steady at crunch time, outlasted Ateneo.           The young Katipunan-based squad fell short, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, 25-15, 8-15. But for the Fab 5, it was a loss that felt like a resounding victory. “Parang sobrang natutuwa kami and everybody in the crowd, kaya siguro kami natawag na Fab 5 kasi rookies kami pero kahit ganoon palaban kami,” said Ho. “Saka close game. Five sets yun.” However, it was the first of five five-set matches that Ateneo will drop that season including one in the second round against the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University. “Pero ang problema di kami nananalo ng five sets. Parang ilan lang ang naipanalo namin na ganoon. Feeling ko na-overwhelm kami na ‘Uy nananalo tayo.’ May ganoong disbelief ng konti pero alam namin na may ibubuga kami,” said Ho. “Definitely, our rookie season was full of five-set matches. It was tough, we felt like we were so close, but still so far away. At some point, it gave us frustration also. We just couldn't figure out that time what is it that's still lacking because we couldn't win the five-set matches,” according to Nacachi. “People said, it was because the team was still so inexperienced. We still didn't have the tenacity unlike of those more matured teams. But we didn't take it as bad, it was a learning experience for us all at the end. We had to learn how to develop that finishing will to be able to win games like that in the future.” The Fab 5 finished their rookie season with a 6-8 slate at fifth spot.   ‘MAY MEDAL NA TAYO’ Gorayeb remembered on their second year the look on Pascual’s face in their last elimination game match against Adamson. Already wrapping up their first win over the Lady Falcons, Pascual was giddy. “Natatawa nga ako dyan kay Bea kasi papanalo na kami nu’n tapos sumesenyas na siya ng tres. Sabi ko, ‘Hoy anong ginagawa mo?’ Yun pala sobrang saya na niya kasi for the first time in 30 years magkaka-medal na sila,” he said. It was the most important match of the season for the Lady Eagles. With the Fab 5 already in their sophomore year, Ateneo was already making great strides. The Lady Eagles closed that season’s elims with five straight wins capped off with a victory over Adamson. Ateneo posted a 10-4 win-loss mark to enter the Final Four legitimately. “Ang nangyari kasi nu’ng time nila Charo (Soriano) kaya sila nakapasok sa semis kasi may nag-squeal na si (Jacq) Alarca di pala naka-enroll nu’n kaya na-forfeit mga laro ng La Salle,” said Gorayeb. The Fab 5 proved that they were not just a bunch of much-hyped up pretty faces. They backed it up with their skills on court. It didn’t matter that Ateneo were swept by eventual champion University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four.      But the podium finish of Season 72 was short-lived. Adamson got its revenge in the last game of Season 73 elims, bumping off the Lady Eagles for a podium finish. The loss put Ateneo in a collision course with the twice-to-beat DLSU, who could’ve completed an elims sweep if not only for a forfeited match against University of the East after UAAP found out that Carmela Garbin and Clarisse Yeung participated in a ‘ligang labas’ while the season was onoing, in the Final Four. Ateneo gave the Lady Spikers a scare before succumbing in another heartbreaking five-set match. The Lady Eagles finished fourth but that lone semis game gave Ateneo and its maturing Fab 5 enough experience to dream for something big – A ticket into the Finals.      ‘HINOG NA KAYO’ The first three years saw the gradual improvement for Ateneo. But Season 74 proved to be the turning point for the Fab 5. A fresh new recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school, who just completed a year of residency, came into picture and with the Fab 5 armed with years of experience, the Lady Eagles’ fate will forever be changed. Alyssa Valdez, a highly recruited open spiker just like Gervacio, Cainglet-Cayetano and Ferrer years back, gave renewed excitement for the Ateneo faithful. “Alyssa's joining with Ateneo was a great turning point for us. We needed as much support we can get, and Alyssa's entrance to the team was a great boost to the team's morale,” said Nacachi. “The girl is a powerhouse and we felt like with her presence, the team finally became solid.” “We were able to play around with the positions and the rotations, since we had different versatile open players who can also greatly play other roles,” she added. “We were also able to formulate a lot of plays and attacks because Alyssa can generally do all kinds; open, running, quick, name it all. She gave the team the power and the versatility that we previously lacked from the past seasons.” Social media was just gaining traction then but the Lady Eagles were already on the radar of volleyball purists through online forums. For the first time, Ateneo was considered a legitimate contender.   The Fab 5 proved it by winning 11 games in the elimination round, losing only to UST once and dropping two against the Lady Spikers. Valdez’s arrival gave Ferrer an even broader option on offense. It eased the scoring load off the shoulders of Cainglet and Gervacio, who was then moved to an opposite position. “I guess sakto lang din yung dating niya because by that time Kara Acevedo graduated so someone had to fill in her spot so coach Roger decided for me to move to utility or opposite,” said Gervacio. “And then sakto Alyssa naman could fill in the spot na other open spiker.” “So timing din na we had all the pieces put together at the right time,” she added. With a good performance in the elims despite missing a legit middle in Bea Pascual and the entry of Aerieal Patnongon barred by academic problems, Ateneo finished second and for the first-time was armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles faced an experienced Tigresses side in the last stepladder semis stage. UST just came from a hard-fought four-set do-or-die match against FEU and were banking on their four-set win over Ateneo in the second round to force another sudden death. Ateneo’s date with destiny was sealed with a four-set win over the Tigresses, who then bid goodbye to Maika Ortiz and Judy Anne Caballejo. “Pinu-push na rin kami ni Coach Roger noon eh, ‘Hinog na kayo ngayon. Kasi dalawang taon na lang, kailangan makapasok na kayo sa Finals,’” said Ho. “Somehow senior na rin kami,” added Cainglet.  “Season 74 was really the target season for us to be in the finals and target even to win the championship,” according to Nacachi. “During this time, we were already thinking we could not afford to not go in the finals.” “So it was with our mindset and our level of commitment that we were able to finally reach our goal of reaching the finals,” she added. “We had enough experience that time already, and it was really time for us to show the level of game maturity the team had obtained from the past seasons.” But then they had to face an unbeaten team. Unscathed in 14 games, De La Salle University was poised to complete a perfect season. The Lady Eagles spoiled it. Ferrer outplayed DLSU setter Mika Esperanza, 57-42, in excellent sets as Ateneo handed the Lady Spikers its first loss after 25 straight victories in a come-from-behind 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, Finals opener win. Witnessed by 3,002 spectators inside the then The Arena in San Juan, all of the Fab 5 produced points. Cainglet had 19 behind Valdez’s 24, Gervacio scored 12, Ho had 10, Nacachi finished with five while Ferrer had one. Gorayeb made a big gambit and it worked. “Dahil sa wala kong panggitna, yung laro namin ng La Salle, ginawa kong quicker si Alyssa. Kasi si Alyssa nakakapalo. Nagulat si Ramil (de Jesus) dun.” It was a big win. A huge upset. Unfortunately, Ateneo needed to win two more.  DLSU held a thrice-to-beat advantage.   THAT SWAG After Ateneo made a miracle in Game One, fans began to feel a new rivalry born. The attendance spiked. From just 3,000 spectators, the gate attendance more than doubled its size. The interest was there. Fans of traditional powers began to notice the Lady Eagles as a rising team. For the first time, a squad with no previous championship experience except for a title during the Marcos era in a different collegiate league, made a giant jolt. Everybody wanted to see what these girls would do next.    The Lady Eagles, still high on adrenaline after their Game 1 upset, took the opening set in Game 2. But just like in their opener, a well-experienced DLSU squad adjusted to take the next three frames to move a step closer to a repeat crown. With then Rookie of the Year Ara Galang, Season Most Valuable Player Aby Marano, an intimidating Michele Gumabao and a very efficient Finals MVP Cha Cruz teaming up for the kill, the Lady Spikers ripped Ateneo apart in Game 3 in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13. “Sabi nga ni Dzi na nadyan na lahat eh. So I guess noong Season 74 nandoon na pero may kulang pa rin,” said Ho. “I guess we we’re able to make it to the Finals pero wala pa kaming championship experience.” Ferrer agreed. "Siguro ang kulang yung championship experience kasi nasa La Salle na ‘yun eh. Ilang years na silang nagpa-finals, nag-champion and for Ateneo doon pa lang namin sinimulan," said the three-time Best Setter. Lacking championship experience is one thing, but Ateneo during that time wasn’t ready for DLSU’s most feared weapon: the Lady Spikers’ swag.  “They have that swag,” said Gervacio. “Everyone knows about it naman. It’s really Coach Ramil’s style talaga kasi as I remember when we were first year, four out of six of the players inside the court were rookies and even if we go against the powerhouses UST, FEU, Adamson, hindi sila yung nakikita nyo na kapag championship na rivalry, na swag, angas, stare down. Pero La Salle talaga kahit sino ang kalaban nila they’ll bring that attitude inside the court.” That Finals series cemented a new rivalry that will become one of the most celebrated in the sport. “I think it also helped that Ateneo-La Salle basketball didn’t face also,” said Gervacio. “Siyempre nandoon ang hunger for the rivalry eh and timely din na its been Ateneo-La Salle na rin sa volleyball.”   CLOSING A CHAPTER The Fab 5 were now in their fifth and last year. They wanted to leave a winning legacy. The pieces were already there. Gorayeb had at his disposal five seniors, a rising star in Valdez, a sophomore middle in Amy Ahomiro, a versatile Ella De Jesus, a steady libero in Denden Lazaro and a new kind of weapon – a massive crowd that can turn any venue into a sea of blue.              As expected, the second installment of the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry was set into place. Both sweeping their semis opponents. The Lady Spikers crushed National University while the Lady Eagles shot down Adamson. Game One was a shocker. DLSU heading into the Finals are on a 14-game roll but were stunned in the first two sets with Ateneo stepping on the gas. But a string of miscues, mostly from the service line, did the Lady Eagles in as they allowed the Lady Spikers to force a decider. DLSU, smelling blood, punished Ateneo to eke out a 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, victory inside the Big Dome witnesses by 17,342-strong gate attendance. Then the series transferred to a newly-built, state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena that drew a crowd of 18,799. The first two frames were frustrating for the Lady Eagles.   Ateneo came back to life in the third set to gain a 9-5 lead. But DLSU easily erased it with Ateneo crumbling under pressure. The Lady Spikers were on an onslaught. Sophomore Galang pushed DLSU at matchpoint with a cold-blooded ace that went in a few inches from the baseline. The score, 24-16. It was a tense moment for the Fab 5. A long rally ensued in the next play. Gervacio, with all her might pounded a kill. Her hand making a great contact on the ball off Ferrer’s backset.     Smack! The ball ricocheted off the hands of DLSU’s Wensh Tiu before falling on the same landing area of Gervacio, who tried to dive for a dig together with Lazaro. DLSU swept Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. Game over.          “Kahit hindi kami nanalo alam naming ibinigay namin ang lahat namin, all-out talaga kaya wala kaming pagsisisi,” said Ho. It was the end of the Fab 5 era, but they left more than what any of them could have imagined. "I remember so many people or fans telling me that they started really watching UAAP Volleyball because of our batch. And that is really touching and fulfilling to know. Knowing that you were able to leave an impact like that to people. We were not able to bring even a single championship to our school, Ateneo, but we were able to touch a lot of people's hearts despite that," Nacachi shared. The Fab 5 closed a colorful chapter of Ateneo volleyball in tears. They were there during the Lady Eagles’ birth pains. They labored. They shed tears, blood and sweat. They laid the foundation for something big. The Fab 5 planted the seeds that would eventually bear fruit and would change the course of Ateneo women’s volleyball program forever. Glory didn’t happen during their time. It started in theirs.    Amidst the roar of the crowd, the falling confetti, banging of drums and the echoing chant of ‘Animo La Salle’ from the sea of green, the Fab 5 hugged each other tight. They found comfort in each other. It was their time to say goodbye. For those who remained – Valdez, Lazaro, Ahomiro, De Jesus – the defeat added fuel to their already blazing desire to bring glory for the blue and white. They were the next in line, heirs to an unfinished business. WATCH: FAB 5 Reunion Part 1 and Part 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

CAMPEONE: Year of the Tiger (2010)

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 26th, 2020

UAAP Season 82 volleyball tidbits

The UAAP cancelled Season 82 after the government extended the enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic putting an abrupt end to centerpiece second semester sport volleyball. The crowd-drawing tournament ran for just a week or a total of four playdates. It was disappointingly short but the season proved to be an exciting one with memorable matches, performances and moments. Here are some of them:   DELAYED OPENING The tournament was supposed to open February 15, but was pushed back two weeks after the government confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country.  Interestingly, the UAAP on its first-ever second semester press conference on February 11 announced the original schedule to push through only to call a postponement of all sporting events a day after.      FIRST SEASON 82 MATCH The men’s match of University of East and Far Eastern University opened the season on March 3 with a gate attendance of 908 spectators. It was a one-sided affair with the Tamaraws scoring a 25-10, 25-22, 25-23, win. Rookie JJ Javelona made a great introduction, finishing with 11 points with all but one coming off attacks, while senior Peter Quiel had 10 markers.       LAST MATCH University of Sto. Tomas and FEU played what turned out to be the last game of the season on March 8. The Tigresses swept the Lady Tamaraws, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, with sisters Eya and EJ Laure scoring 16 and 12 points, respectively.   RESULTS  The NU Lady Bulldogs defeated the UST Tigresses in the lone five-set match in the women’s division. Four games were decided in straight sets while two were concluded in four frames. Adamson U played only one match and was the only team which failed to win a set.  In men’s play, FEU beat UST in five sets in the only match that went the full distance. There were four matches that ended in straight sets and two in four frames. DLSU and Adamson played only one game each and both lost in straight sets.    HIGHEST SINGLE-GAME SCORING OUTPUT University of the Philippines senior Isa Molde scored the most points in a single game in the women’s division this year with 24. Molde had 18 kills, four kill blocks and a couple of aces in a four-set victory over the UE Lady Warriors.  Red Warrior Lloyd Josafat held the highest single-game scoring output in men’s play with 32 points in a four-set win over UP. The sophomore hammered 28 attacks with three kill blocks and an ace     CROWD-DARLING Fighting Maroon Louis Gamban became the talk of the town after an inspired debut for UP. The recruit from University of Perpetual Help powered the Fighting Maroons to a straight sets upset win over Ateneo de Manila University. He backed his court sass and swag with an amazing performance both on offense and defense   BIGGEST GATE ATTENDANCE As expected, the first meeting between reigning women’s champion Ateneo and DLSU drew the biggest live audience in Season 82. A 12,907-strong crowd filled the MOA Arena forming a sea of blue and green despite the then rising threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.     FIRST VIDEO CHALLENGE The UAAP introduced the use of video challenge in Season 82. However, the technology was unavailable during the first playdate of the season because of technical problems. The NU Bulldogs had the honor of calling the first-ever video challenge on March 8 in their game against UST. NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin called for a net violation challenge in the first set with the Bulldogs protecting a 20-19 advantage. The challenge was unsuccessful but NU went on to claim the win in four sets.          LAST POINT Tigresses hitter Blove Barbon pounded the last point of the season in UST’s dominating win over the Lady Tamaraws. Barbon hammered a backrow attack off a Maji Mangulabnan set to break the FEU’s three-woman wall to cap off the match.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2020

UAAP Season 82 volleyball tidbits

The UAAP cancelled Season 82 after the government extended the enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic putting an abrupt end to centerpiece second semester sport volleyball. The crowd-drawing tournament ran for just a week or a total of four playdates. It was disappointingly short but the season proved to be an exciting one with memorable matches, performances and moments. Here are some of them:   DELAYED OPENING The tournament was supposed to open February 15, but was pushed back two weeks after the government confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country.  Interestingly, the UAAP on its first-ever second semester press conference on February 11 announced the original schedule to push through only to call a postponement of all sporting events a day after.      FIRST SEASON 82 MATCH The men’s match of University of East and Far Eastern University opened the season on March 3 with a gate attendance of 908 spectators. It was a one-sided affair with the Tamaraws scoring a 25-10, 25-22, 25-23, win. Rookie JJ Javelona made a great introduction, finishing with 11 points with all but one coming off attacks, while senior Peter Quiel had 10 markers.       LAST MATCH University of Sto. Tomas and FEU played what turned out to be the last game of the season on March 8. The Tigresses swept the Lady Tamaraws, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, with sisters Eya and EJ Laure scoring 16 and 12 points, respectively.   RESULTS  The NU Lady Bulldogs defeated the UST Tigresses in the lone five-set match in the women’s division. Four games were decided in straight sets while two were concluded in four frames. Adamson U played only one match and was the only team which failed to win a set.  In men’s play, FEU beat UST in five sets in the only match that went the full distance. There were four matches that ended in straight sets and two in four frames. DLSU and Adamson played only one game each and both lost in straight sets.    HIGHEST SINGLE-GAME SCORING OUTPUT University of the Philippines senior Isa Molde scored the most points in a single game in the women’s division this year with 24. Molde had 18 kills, four kill blocks and a couple of aces in a four-set victory over the UE Lady Warriors.  Red Warrior Lloyd Josafat held the highest single-game scoring output in men’s play with 32 points in a four-set win over UP. The sophomore hammered 28 attacks with three kill blocks and an ace     CROWD-DARLING Fighting Maroon Louis Gamban became the talk of the town after an inspired debut for UP. The recruit from University of Perpetual Help powered the Fighting Maroons to a straight sets upset win over Ateneo de Manila University. He backed his court sass and swag with an amazing performance both on offense and defense   BIGGEST GATE ATTENDANCE As expected, the first meeting between reigning women’s champion Ateneo and DLSU drew the biggest live audience in Season 82. A 12,907-strong crowd filled the MOA Arena forming a sea of blue and green despite the then rising threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.     FIRST VIDEO CHALLENGE The UAAP introduced the use of video challenge in Season 82. However, the technology was unavailable during the first playdate of the season because of technical problems. The NU Bulldogs had the honor of calling the first-ever video challenge on March 8 in their game against UST. NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin called for a net violation challenge in the first set with the Bulldogs protecting a 20-19 advantage. The challenge was unsuccessful but NU went on to claim the win in four sets.          LAST POINT Tigresses hitter Blove Barbon pounded the last point of the season in UST’s dominating win over the Lady Tamaraws. Barbon hammered a backrow attack off a Maji Mangulabnan set to break the FEU’s three-woman wall to cap off the match.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2020

UAAP Season 82 volleyball tidbits

The UAAP cancelled Season 82 after the government extended the enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic putting an abrupt end to centerpiece second semester sport volleyball. The crowd-drawing tournament ran for just a week or a total of four playdates. It was disappointingly short but the season proved to be an exciting one with memorable matches, performances and moments. Here are some of them:   DELAYED OPENING The tournament was supposed to open February 15, but was pushed back two weeks after the government confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country.  Interestingly, the UAAP on its first-ever second semester press conference on February 11 announced the original schedule to push through only to call a postponement of all sporting events a day after.      FIRST SEASON 82 MATCH The men’s match of University of East and Far Eastern University opened the season on March 3 with a gate attendance of 908 spectators. It was a one-sided affair with the Tamaraws scoring a 25-10, 25-22, 25-23, win. Rookie JJ Javelona made a great introduction, finishing with 11 points with all but one coming off attacks, while senior Peter Quiel had 10 markers.       LAST MATCH University of Sto. Tomas and FEU played what turned out to be the last game of the season on March 8. The Tigresses swept the Lady Tamaraws, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, with sisters Eya and EJ Laure scoring 16 and 12 points, respectively.   RESULTS  The NU Lady Bulldogs defeated the UST Tigresses in the lone five-set match in the women’s division. Four games were decided in straight sets while two were concluded in four frames. Adamson U played only one match and was the only team which failed to win a set.  In men’s play, FEU beat UST in five sets in the only match that went the full distance. There were four matches that ended in straight sets and two in four frames. DLSU and Adamson played only one game each and both lost in straight sets.    HIGHEST SINGLE-GAME SCORING OUTPUT University of the Philippines senior Isa Molde scored the most points in a single game in the women’s division this year with 24. Molde had 18 kills, four kill blocks and a couple of aces in a four-set victory over the UE Lady Warriors.  Red Warrior Lloyd Josafat held the highest single-game scoring output in men’s play with 32 points in a four-set win over UP. The sophomore hammered 28 attacks with three kill blocks and an ace     CROWD-DARLING Fighting Maroon Louis Gamban became the talk of the town after an inspired debut for UP. The recruit from University of Perpetual Help powered the Fighting Maroons to a straight sets upset win over Ateneo de Manila University. He backed his court sass and swag with an amazing performance both on offense and defense   BIGGEST GATE ATTENDANCE As expected, the first meeting between reigning women’s champion Ateneo and DLSU drew the biggest live audience in Season 82. A 12,907-strong crowd filled the MOA Arena forming a sea of blue and green despite the then rising threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.     FIRST VIDEO CHALLENGE The UAAP introduced the use of video challenge in Season 82. However, the technology was unavailable during the first playdate of the season because of technical problems. The NU Bulldogs had the honor of calling the first-ever video challenge on March 8 in their game against UST. NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin called for a net violation challenge in the first set with the Bulldogs protecting a 20-19 advantage. The challenge was unsuccessful but NU went on to claim the win in four sets.          LAST POINT Tigresses hitter Blove Barbon pounded the last point of the season in UST’s dominating win over the Lady Tamaraws. Barbon hammered a backrow attack off a Maji Mangulabnan set to break the FEU’s three-woman wall to cap off the match.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2020

UAAP Season 82 volleyball tidbits

The UAAP cancelled Season 82 after the government extended the enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic putting an abrupt end to centerpiece second semester sport volleyball. The crowd-drawing tournament ran for just a week or a total of four playdates. It was disappointingly short but the season proved to be an exciting one with memorable matches, performances and moments. Here are some of them:   DELAYED OPENING The tournament was supposed to open February 15, but was pushed back two weeks after the government confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country.  Interestingly, the UAAP on its first-ever second semester press conference on February 11 announced the original schedule to push through only to call a postponement of all sporting events a day after.      FIRST SEASON 82 MATCH The men’s match of University of East and Far Eastern University opened the season on March 3 with a gate attendance of 908 spectators. It was a one-sided affair with the Tamaraws scoring a 25-10, 25-22, 25-23, win. Rookie JJ Javelona made a great introduction, finishing with 11 points with all but one coming off attacks, while senior Peter Quiel had 10 markers.       LAST MATCH University of Sto. Tomas and FEU played what turned out to be the last game of the season on March 8. The Tigresses swept the Lady Tamaraws, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, with sisters Eya and EJ Laure scoring 16 and 12 points, respectively.   RESULTS  The NU Lady Bulldogs defeated the UST Tigresses in the lone five-set match in the women’s division. Four games were decided in straight sets while two were concluded in four frames. Adamson U played only one match and was the only team which failed to win a set.  In men’s play, FEU beat UST in five sets in the only match that went the full distance. There were four matches that ended in straight sets and two in four frames. DLSU and Adamson played only one game each and both lost in straight sets.    HIGHEST SINGLE-GAME SCORING OUTPUT University of the Philippines senior Isa Molde scored the most points in a single game in the women’s division this year with 24. Molde had 18 kills, four kill blocks and a couple of aces in a four-set victory over the UE Lady Warriors.  Red Warrior Lloyd Josafat held the highest single-game scoring output in men’s play with 32 points in a four-set win over UP. The sophomore hammered 28 attacks with three kill blocks and an ace     CROWD-DARLING Fighting Maroon Louis Gamban became the talk of the town after an inspired debut for UP. The recruit from University of Perpetual Help powered the Fighting Maroons to a straight sets upset win over Ateneo de Manila University. He backed his court sass and swag with an amazing performance both on offense and defense   BIGGEST GATE ATTENDANCE As expected, the first meeting between reigning women’s champion Ateneo and DLSU drew the biggest live audience in Season 82. A 12,907-strong crowd filled the MOA Arena forming a sea of blue and green despite the then rising threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.     FIRST VIDEO CHALLENGE The UAAP introduced the use of video challenge in Season 82. However, the technology was unavailable during the first playdate of the season because of technical problems. The NU Bulldogs had the honor of calling the first-ever video challenge on March 8 in their game against UST. NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin called for a net violation challenge in the first set with the Bulldogs protecting a 20-19 advantage. The challenge was unsuccessful but NU went on to claim the win in four sets.          LAST POINT Tigresses hitter Blove Barbon pounded the last point of the season in UST’s dominating win over the Lady Tamaraws. Barbon hammered a backrow attack off a Maji Mangulabnan set to break the FEU’s three-woman wall to cap off the match.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2020

UAAP Season 82 volleyball tidbits

The UAAP cancelled Season 82 after the government extended the enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic putting an abrupt end to centerpiece second semester sport volleyball. The crowd-drawing tournament ran for just a week or a total of four playdates. It was disappointingly short but the season proved to be an exciting one with memorable matches, performances and moments. Here are some of them:   DELAYED OPENING The tournament was supposed to open February 15, but was pushed back two weeks after the government confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country.  Interestingly, the UAAP on its first-ever second semester press conference on February 11 announced the original schedule to push through only to call a postponement of all sporting events a day after.      FIRST SEASON 82 MATCH The men’s match of University of East and Far Eastern University opened the season on March 3 with a gate attendance of 908 spectators. It was a one-sided affair with the Tamaraws scoring a 25-10, 25-22, 25-23, win. Rookie JJ Javelona made a great introduction, finishing with 11 points with all but one coming off attacks, while senior Peter Quiel had 10 markers.       LAST MATCH University of Sto. Tomas and FEU played what turned out to be the last game of the season on March 8. The Tigresses swept the Lady Tamaraws, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, with sisters Eya and EJ Laure scoring 16 and 12 points, respectively.   RESULTS  The NU Lady Bulldogs defeated the UST Tigresses in the lone five-set match in the women’s division. Four games were decided in straight sets while two were concluded in four frames. Adamson U played only one match and was the only team which failed to win a set.  In men’s play, FEU beat UST in five sets in the only match that went the full distance. There were four matches that ended in straight sets and two in four frames. DLSU and Adamson played only one game each and both lost in straight sets.    HIGHEST SINGLE-GAME SCORING OUTPUT University of the Philippines senior Isa Molde scored the most points in a single game in the women’s division this year with 24. Molde had 18 kills, four kill blocks and a couple of aces in a four-set victory over the UE Lady Warriors.  Red Warrior Lloyd Josafat held the highest single-game scoring output in men’s play with 32 points in a four-set win over UP. The sophomore hammered 28 attacks with three kill blocks and an ace     CROWD-DARLING Fighting Maroon Louis Gamban became the talk of the town after an inspired debut for UP. The recruit from University of Perpetual Help powered the Fighting Maroons to a straight sets upset win over Ateneo de Manila University. He backed his court sass and swag with an amazing performance both on offense and defense   BIGGEST GATE ATTENDANCE As expected, the first meeting between reigning women’s champion Ateneo and DLSU drew the biggest live audience in Season 82. A 12,907-strong crowd filled the MOA Arena forming a sea of blue and green despite the then rising threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.     FIRST VIDEO CHALLENGE The UAAP introduced the use of video challenge in Season 82. However, the technology was unavailable during the first playdate of the season because of technical problems. The NU Bulldogs had the honor of calling the first-ever video challenge on March 8 in their game against UST. NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin called for a net violation challenge in the first set with the Bulldogs protecting a 20-19 advantage. The challenge was unsuccessful but NU went on to claim the win in four sets.          LAST POINT Tigresses hitter Blove Barbon pounded the last point of the season in UST’s dominating win over the Lady Tamaraws. Barbon hammered a backrow attack off a Maji Mangulabnan set to break the FEU’s three-woman wall to cap off the match.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2020

UAAP Season 82 volleyball tidbits

The UAAP cancelled Season 82 after the government extended the enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic putting an abrupt end to centerpiece second semester sport volleyball. The crowd-drawing tournament ran for just a week or a total of four playdates. It was disappointingly short but the season proved to be an exciting one with memorable matches, performances and moments. Here are some of them:   DELAYED OPENING The tournament was supposed to open February 15, but was pushed back two weeks after the government confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country.  Interestingly, the UAAP on its first-ever second semester press conference on February 11 announced the original schedule to push through only to call a postponement of all sporting events a day after.      FIRST SEASON 82 MATCH The men’s match of University of East and Far Eastern University opened the season on March 3 with a gate attendance of 908 spectators. It was a one-sided affair with the Tamaraws scoring a 25-10, 25-22, 25-23, win. Rookie JJ Javelona made a great introduction, finishing with 11 points with all but one coming off attacks, while senior Peter Quiel had 10 markers.       LAST MATCH University of Sto. Tomas and FEU played what turned out to be the last game of the season on March 8. The Tigresses swept the Lady Tamaraws, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, with sisters Eya and EJ Laure scoring 16 and 12 points, respectively.   RESULTS  The NU Lady Bulldogs defeated the UST Tigresses in the lone five-set match in the women’s division. Four games were decided in straight sets while two were concluded in four frames. Adamson U played only one match and was the only team which failed to win a set.  In men’s play, FEU beat UST in five sets in the only match that went the full distance. There were four matches that ended in straight sets and two in four frames. DLSU and Adamson played only one game each and both lost in straight sets.    HIGHEST SINGLE-GAME SCORING OUTPUT University of the Philippines senior Isa Molde scored the most points in a single game in the women’s division this year with 24. Molde had 18 kills, four kill blocks and a couple of aces in a four-set victory over the UE Lady Warriors.  Red Warrior Lloyd Josafat held the highest single-game scoring output in men’s play with 32 points in a four-set win over UP. The sophomore hammered 28 attacks with three kill blocks and an ace     CROWD-DARLING Fighting Maroon Louis Gamban became the talk of the town after an inspired debut for UP. The recruit from University of Perpetual Help powered the Fighting Maroons to a straight sets upset win over Ateneo de Manila University. He backed his court sass and swag with an amazing performance both on offense and defense   BIGGEST GATE ATTENDANCE As expected, the first meeting between reigning women’s champion Ateneo and DLSU drew the biggest live audience in Season 82. A 12,907-strong crowd filled the MOA Arena forming a sea of blue and green despite the then rising threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.     FIRST VIDEO CHALLENGE The UAAP introduced the use of video challenge in Season 82. However, the technology was unavailable during the first playdate of the season because of technical problems. The NU Bulldogs had the honor of calling the first-ever video challenge on March 8 in their game against UST. NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin called for a net violation challenge in the first set with the Bulldogs protecting a 20-19 advantage. The challenge was unsuccessful but NU went on to claim the win in four sets.          LAST POINT Tigresses hitter Blove Barbon pounded the last point of the season in UST’s dominating win over the Lady Tamaraws. Barbon hammered a backrow attack off a Maji Mangulabnan set to break the FEU’s three-woman wall to cap off the match.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2020

From Cellar-Dweller to Contender: Basilan s phenomenal rise in the MPBL

Coming off a rough 2018-19 MPBL Datu Cup campaign, Basilan Steel-Jumbo Plastic has no way to go but up, with the help of Phenom Sports, its new management team. Phenom, led by Jax Chua, took over Basilan late last season when the Steel have already spiraled down to the bottom of the MPBL and finished the tournament tied with Rizal for the last spot of the Southern division behind a dismal 7-18 win-loss record. From there, Phenom rebuilt the team, starting with the coaching staff that has what it takes to maneuver a losing team to a victorious one. “Coming in, ‘yung outlook naming sa team, we want to bring a winning culture ditto sa Basilan. We took the challenge kahit alam naming cellar-dweller noong Datu Cup,” said Chua, who also serves as the general manager of the Steel. Coach Jerson Cabiltes took the helm for Basilan, alongside deputies Noy Catalan, Florian Pineda, Arnold Oliveros, Jinino Manansala, Joseph Guion, Migs Montero, and Dands Javier. Then came the task to build a team that exhibits the same qualities of the Basileños: determined, full of perseverance, hardworking, and has something to prove. Phenom, who also ventured into player management aside from sportswear-making, then made the moves to improve Basilan’s lineup by taking players who are no big names but can contribute in a variety of ways. “To have a winning team, not necessary naman to get big name players. Ang hinanap namin ay mga hardworking players who will buy into the system at magsa-sacrifice talaga,” Chua said. The management retained veteran Dennis Daa for his leadership while activating Cris Dumapis, who has emerged as a reliable force in the paint. They then acquired the services of shifty playmaker Hesed Gabo and sharpshooting big man Jay Collado from Quezon City, marksman Jhapz Bautista from Makati, high-leaping Bobby Balucanag and Shaq Alanas from Pasay, sparkplug Gab Dagangon from Bataan, and Michole Sorela from Navotas. They also signed PBA veterans Jonathan Uyloan and Anthony Bringas alongside Irven Palencia, an integral cog for St. Clare in NAASCU, who is also managed by Phenom. Philip Manalang, Mark Trinidad, Ar Raouf Jilkipli, Junjie Hallare, Darwin Lunor, Jett Vidal, Melgar Murillo, Harold Ng, and Reiner Bazan completed the lineup of Basilan. The Turnaround When the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup opened, the retooled Basilan started on the right foot with two straight wins against Bicol and Pampanga. But when the adrenaline ran out, the Jumbo Plastic-backed squad saw its win-loss standing at 9-8 midway through the season. Then Basilan scorched the league in its remaining 13 games, tallying 11 victories while only losing two matches. The main reason for the brilliant playoff push? The arrival of Phenom-managed collegiate talents in Allyn Bulanadi, NCAA Season 95 leading scorer and San Sebastian College-Recoletos superstar, and Philip Manalang, lead floor general of University of the East. Bulanadi, a 6-foot-3 up-and-coming star, played in the Steel’s last seven games in the elimination round on an impressive 21.71 points on 46 percent clip and 4.5 rebounds averages. Meanwhile, Manalang is a sparkplug off the bench who brings the tenacity on the defense all while contributing on the other end in various ways. Basilan entered the playoffs with a 20-10 record, good for the third spot in the tough Southern division just behind top seed Davao Occidental and second-ranked Bacoor. “Our main goal was to for a competitive team and we want to redefine Basilan through basketball. In this way, I think we have garnered so many fans and inspired yung buong Basilan province that’s why I think we have already succeeded in redefining Basilan,” Chua said. But the grind did not stop for the Steel as they marched into the postseason with the whole Basilan province rallying behind their backs. In the quarterfinals, Basilan swept Iloilo advancing into the semifinals, with a daunting task of beating second seed powerhouse Bacoor City. The Steel survived a grueling three-game series against the Strikers, coming up on top despite having home-court disadvantage for Games Two and Three. In the division finals, Basilan faced the toughest team in the South, the Davao Occidental Tigers. But Basilan showed, again and again, its heart, escaping Game One with a 74-72 victory at the Davao Sports and Tourism Complex in Tagum City. And with a shot to glory and barging into the National Finals, Basilan looked to become South kings in front of their huge following at Lamitan City Gym in Game Two, but the Tigers have other plans, spoiling Basilan’s home court and surviving with an 81-76 win. Game Three was supposed to happen last March 14, but MPBL decided to suspend the Division Finals due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “Nandito na rin kami eh, we are not here to participate lang. Given the chance and we will gladly take it. We will go all out to bring more pride to the Basileños and to repay the trust na binigay sa amin ng leaders ng Basilan especially Congressman Mujiv Hataman, Mayor Julz Hataman Governor Jim Hataman Salliman and Councilor Hegem Furigay,” added Chua. Will Basilan Steel continue their astounding playoff run to the National Finals or will Davao Occidental retain its crown in the South? No matter what, Basilan has already won the hearts of the Basileños and the whole MPBL fanbase with its tremendous turnaround from a lowly team in Datu Cup to a powerhouse in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season. More than Basketball But “Redefining Basilan” is more than basketball. Phenom Sports not only wanted to turn around people’s perception of Basilan the basketball team but give Basilan the province the appreciation it deserves. Basilan has been a hotbed of misconceptions due to the armed conflicts that happened there, but those were the days and the province has moved on. “Right from the start na nakapunta ako sa Basilan, sobrang iba nito kasi akala natin magulo ang Basilan, ang mga tao iba ang ugali pero hindi. Basilan has been enjoying a long peace na. For more than 15 years now under the leadership ng mga Hataman, naging maayos, naging focused sila sa peace and progress,” Chua on Basilan province. And basketball has played a huge part in giving the young Basileños a dream to hold on. “Yung mga kabataan, nabibigyan ng chance na mangarap na maging katulad ng idols nila,” said Chua. “They want to be the next Allyn Bulanadi, the next Hesed Gabo, the next Irven Palencia. This is what basketball is giving to the Basilan people.” The Steel has built a cult following in Basilan and it is the best feeling a player could feel. “Paglapag pa lang ng pier, everybody knows the players. They follow them like rockstars, like celebrities. They send food to the hotels, they watch our practices. Ganoon kamahal ng Basilan yung mga players nila. They saw a hardworking team who really represents Basilan’s culture - the determination, the perseverance and the hard work of the Basileños,” Chua concluded. But how did Basilan Steel get popular in the province? Meet the team behind Phenom Sports. Phenom is all-in in redefining Basilan and that’s why they have a team to do so. They have photographers in Marl Castro, Thel Suliva, and Michael Ordoñez who captured in-game pictures and the team’s interaction with the fans. Rion Balin and Jeff Palaganas are the videographers who make the video highlights of the Basilan players for the fans. Juls Claudio and Dands Javier are graphic artists who create the posters and other publication materials to be posted on the team’s social media accounts. The latter also serves as the marketing man of Phenom. Emma Bueno and Joseph Guion complete the team as coordinator and director, respectively. In a span of just a year, Phenom Sports has reached its goal of redefining Basilan, turning it to #BasilanRedefined......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 19th, 2020

Blazers beat Heat 115-109 in Iguodala s debut for Miami

  BY ERIK GARCÍA GUNDERSEN Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard had 33 points and eight assists, Gary Trent Jr. scored 22 points and the Portland Trail Blazers beat Miami 115-109 on Sunday night in Andre Iguodala's debut with the Heat. Iguodala had two points in his first game since the NBA Finals. Hassan Whiteside had 11 points and 17 rebounds against his former team, including an pair of free throws with 11.5 seconds left that gave Portland a seven-point lead. Goran Dragic had 27 points for Miami, which played without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Duncan Robinson had 19 points, but just four after halftime. Iguodala, acquired from Memphis before the trade deadline, made his Miami debut in the first quarter, wearing No. 28. He made an impact with a block of Portland’s Mario Hezonja. In the second quarter, Hezonja sprained his left ankle and did not return, leaving Portland with just eight available players. After a foul was called on Lillard with 0.9 seconds left in the third quarter, Blazers coach Terry Stotts challenged the call. The call was overturned after the review, which showed a clean block by Lillard and a loose ball foul on Dragic. Lillard made both free throws to give the Blazers a 93-83 lead heading into the final period. Iguodala began the fourth quarter with an assist to Chris Silva on an alley-oop. A steal by Iguodala on the next possession led to Robinson's 3-pointer, forcing a Blazers timeout with 11:01 left. Carmelo Anthony drew a technical foul with 6:03 left and Robinson made the free throw to cut Portland’s lead to 99-94. A free throw by Whiteside gave Portland a 111-103 lead with 90 seconds left. Bam Adebayo's layup cut the Blazers' lead to 111-108 with 46 seconds left. However, Lillard answered back with a layup of his own to push the lead back to 113-108 with 25 seconds left. After the Heat had three opportunities to cut into the lead, Whiteside grabbed the rebound and was fouled. TIP-INS Heat: Sunday was the first game for the Heat with new additions Iguodala and Jae Crowder. Iguodala hasn’t played a game since the NBA Finals last June with the Warriors, but the 2015 Finals MVP has plenty of respect in the league still. “I see a winning player,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “He is an experienced, winning player. A very good wing defender. I think he complements the Miami roster really well, with the versatility that he brings at both ends.” Trail Blazers: Lillard's recent sizzling stretch caught the eye of Miami coach Eric Spoelstra. “It’s been a little bit of a habit of mine,” he said. “We play our game East Coast time and I throw on a West Coast game and it usually ends on Portland for the last two weeks with what this guy has been doing. The whole league has been watching. They’re in a desperate situation trying to make the playoffs. You have to respect the urgency and toughness and focus that they are going to bring into every single game.” Lillard had averaged over 41 points per game over the past 10 games entering Sunday. UP NEXT Heat: Monday night at Golden State Warriors. Trail Blazers: Tuesday night at New Orleans Pelicans......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 10th, 2020

DeRozan scores 25, Spurs rally from 18 down, beat Raptors

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points, Rudy Gay had 15 and the San Antonio Spurs rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 105-104 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). San Antonio used a big fourth quarter to win for the third time in four games. Derrick White scored 13 points for the Spurs, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 11. DeRozan also collected eight rebounds and four assists while topping 20 points for the 11th straight game. San Antonio trailed 82-69 to begin the fourth but opened the quarter with a 19-5 run, taking an 88-87 lead on Aldridge’s layup with 6:34 to play. The Spurs led 100-91 with 2:37 left, but Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka each made 3-pointers as Toronto tied it 100-100 on Ibaka’s shot from distance with 1:17 left. Siakam broke the tie by making the second of two free throws with 41 seconds left, but Marco Belinelli replied with a 3 for the Spurs, making it 103-101 with 28 seconds remaining. After a Toronto timeout, Siakam missed a shot that would have tied the game. San Antonio’s Lonnie Walker IV grabbed the rebound, Lowry fouled DeRozan, and the former Raptors star pushed the lead to four points by making a pair from the line. Lowry replied with a deep 3, cutting the deficit to one, and Aldridge missed a pair of free throws with four seconds left, but Siakam’s long 3-pointer bounced off the backboard at the buzzer. DeRozan missed his first three free throws but made 11 straight the rest of the way. He didn’t score until 1:25 remained in the first half and attempted just three shots in the first two quarters, but made six of nine attempts in the second half. Ibaka had 21 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, and Lowry had 16 points and a season-high 15 assists for the Raptors. Ibaka’s double-double was his career-best eighth straight. He’s the third Toronto player to achieve the feat. Chris Bosh did it five times and Donyell Marshall did it once. San Antonio’s comeback spoiled the returns of Siakam and Powell, each of whom had missed 11 games since a Dec. 18 (Dec. 19, PHL time) win at Detroit. Powell scored 20 points and Siakam had 15, including 12 in the first quarter. FAMILY FIRST While battling San Antonio’s Bryn Forbes for a loose ball in the third, Lowry landed heavily on Toronto’s baseline, just in front of where his family was seated. Lowry got up and gave his son a kiss on the cheek, then returned to the court. TIP-INS Spurs: Playing in Toronto as a visitor for only the second time, DeRozan received loud applause when he was introduced before the game. Fans rose for a standing ovation when DeRozan was honored with a tribute video during a first-quarter timeout, part of Toronto’s 25th anniversary celebration. Raptors: Toronto is still without center Marc Gasol, who has also been out since Dec. 18 (Dec. 19, PHL time), and guard Fred VanVleet, who sat for the third straight because of a strained right hamstring. UP NEXT Spurs: Visit the Miami Heat on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Raptors: Visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2020

Texans roar past Bills for 22-19 win in OT

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — Deshaun Watson’s teammates talked all week about how they never feel as if they’re out of any game when No. 4 is on the field. On Saturday Watson showed why the Houston Texans have so much trust in him, when the quarterback’s dazzling performance late after a tough start led them to a playoff victory. Watson spun out of a would-be sack and coolly completed a pass that set up the winning field goal in overtime as the Texans rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit for a 22-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the playoffs. DeAndre Hopkins was asked to describe Watson’s play on Saturday to somebody who might have missed the game. “I hope everyone watched this today, but he's amazing,” Hopkins said. “You can't put too many words on it.” Both teams punted on their first possessions of overtime — the first extra period in an AFC wild-card game since January 2012. On Houston’s next drive, Watson evaded a sack by wriggling away from one defender and bouncing off another before rolling out to find Taiwan Jones for a 34-yard reception to set up first-and-goal. Watson flexed both arms as the crowd at NRG Stadium went wild — knowing their team was in position to pull off another comeback win to Houston's playoff history. “I told myself to stay up. I mean, it's do-or-die now. I just had to make the play,” Watson said. Ka'imi Fairbairn then kicked a 28-yard field goal to lift Houston to the victory. The Texans (11-6) advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs next weekend where they’ll face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Texans got a boost from the return of J.J. Watt, who had a sack that helped spark his team. Houston scored 19 straight points to take the lead before Stephen Hauschka’s 47-yard field goal tied it with 5 seconds left to force overtime. “We never quit, regardless,” Watson said. “Whatever it takes to get the win. I mean, we're going to keep fighting.” Watt was wowed by the play of Watson. “The play he made at the end of the game — nobody makes that play,” he said. “The guy’s unbelievable. I’m very thankful and lucky to have him as my quarterback. That’s why you play the whole game.” It was Watt's first game after sitting out since October with a torn pectoral muscle. “This is why you come back,” Watt said. “I don't know if I meant to come back for these many plays or this much extra time, but these feelings, these emotions, these fans, these players, Deshaun Watson and all the guys on this team, this is why you come back.” The win gives the Texans their first playoff victory since the 2016 season and extends Buffalo’s postseason losing streak to six games, with their most recent playoff win coming in 1995. It’s the first wild-card overtime game since the Broncos beat the Steelers 29-23 in the 2011 season. The game conjured memories of another huge comeback in a wild-card game. The last time teams from Houston and Buffalo met in the playoffs it was in a game that is known as “The Comeback.” The Bills set an NFL record for the largest comeback in NFL history by rallying from a 32-point deficit for a 41-38 overtime win against the Houston Oilers in a wild-card game in 1993. This time Josh Allen and the Bills (10-7) used a dominant first half to build a 13-point lead and were up 16-0 in the third quarter, before Allen began to struggle. “He was just trying to do too much and getting a little bit extreme with what he felt like we needed at the time,” coach Sean McDermott said. “But overall, we just didn’t make enough plays.” Watson had 247 yards passing and ran for 55 yards and Hopkins had 90 yards receiving. Watson led the Texans to the victory despite being sacked seven times, led by three from Jerry Hughes, and hit 12 other times. Allen threw for 264 yards, ran for 92 and caught a touchdown pass on a trick play in the first quarter, but often looked rattled late in his playoff debut. Houston couldn’t get anything going on offense before halftime and had 81 yards in a first half where Hopkins didn’t catch a pass for the first time since Week 16 of the 2017 season. They were finally able to sustain a drive on their second possession of the third quarter when Hopkins had receptions of 14 and 10 yards to help move the ball. The Texans cut the lead to 10 when Watson dragged two defenders into the end zone on a 20-yard touchdown run. Watson then dived into the end zone for a 2-point conversion that got Houston within 16-8 with about two minutes left in the third. The Bills were driving early in the fourth quarter when Allen was sacked by Whitney Mercilus and fumbled, and it was recovered by Jacob Martin at the Buffalo 47. Houston cashed in on the miscue with a 41-yard field goal that cut the lead to 16-11 with about 11 minutes to go. Watson connected with Carlos Hyde on a 5-yard touchdown pass and Hopkins on a 2-point conversion with about five minutes left to put the Texans on top 19-16. Hopkins had a 41-yard reception earlier in that drive. The Bills were in field-goal range on their next drive when Allen got a 14-yard penalty for intentional grounding and Buffalo lost a down to bring up fourth down. They went for it and Allen was sacked by Jacob Martin for a 19-yard loss to give Houston the ball back with 1:41 left. “We didn’t execute how we should have, and we didn’t make as many plays as we should have,” Allen said. “That’s what it really comes down to. They made one more play than us.” The Texans trailed 13-0 at halftime and Hopkins fumbled on their opening drive of the third quarter to give Buffalo the ball at the Houston 32. Watt sacked Allen for a loss of 8 yards on third down and the Bills settled for a 38-yard field goal to extend the lead to 16-0. Allen scrambled 42 yards for a first down on Buffalo’s first possession for its longest rush of the season. Two plays later, the Bills used some trickery to take the lead when John Brown threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Allen to make it 7-0. Brown’s pass was wobbly, but Allen was wide open despite having to slow down to grab it. It was early in the second quarter when Allen appeared to fumble, and it was recovered by Houston. But the play was reviewed and overturned, giving Buffalo the ball at the Houston 32. The Bills were unable to move the ball after that and made a 40-yard field goal to make it 10-0. The Bills added another 40-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter to push the lead to 13-0 at halftime. NOT SO FAST Houston’s DeAndre Carter looked to have made a major mistake when caught the opening kickoff of the second half in the end zone and tossed the ball toward a referee without taking a knee. The Bills scooped it up and thought they had scored a touchdown on the play. But the play was reviewed, and it was determined that Carter “gave himself up” so it was called a touchback and Houston kept the ball. WATT’S HEALTH Watt was pleasantly surprised with how good he felt on Saturday in his return from injury. But there was one moment where he was a bit worried that his surgically repaired pectoral muscle wouldn’t hold up. As he was about to dive to try and grab Allen, he wondered if that could be the moment where he was re-injured. “But I dove and landed right on it, popped up, checked it out and looked over at the doctor who was standing like 10 feet away,” he said. “And I was like: ‘It’s all right.’” UP NEXT Bills: Season over. Texans: Advance to divisional round......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2020

Knicks spoil Anthony s return to MSG, win 3rd straight

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Mitchell Robinson made all 11 shots and had 22 points, Julius Randle added 22 points and 13 rebounds, and the New York Knicks spoiled Carmelo Anthony's strong return to Madison Square Garden by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 117-93 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for their season-high third straight victory. Anthony scored 26 points, his most since returning to the NBA, and was cheered before and during the game at the arena where he played 6 1/2 seasons. But he was on the bench at the start of the Knicks' 14-0 run early in the fourth quarter that broke open the game. Reggie Bullock made two 3-pointers during the spurt and scored 11 points in his Knicks debut. He signed with the team during the summer but hadn't played because of a herniated disk. Damian Lillard was held to 11 points on 5-for-20 shooting after scoring 30 or more in the previous three games. The All-Star guard did have 10 rebounds and eight assists, but he missed his first six 3-pointers before making his only one of the game. That was on the final shot of the third quarter, cutting New York's lead to 83-77. The Blazers were still down just six after consecutive baskets by CJ McCollum, but Bullock made his two 3s and Frank Ntilikina and Bobby Portis hit one in between. Portis then finished the run with two free throws to push the lead to 101-81. Anthony was loudly cheered when he was the last Portland player introduced during starting lineups and many times when he had the ball. But the cheers were soon for Robinson, whose high-flying performance tied the Knicks record for most makes without a miss. TIP-INS Trail Blazers: Portland started a five-game road trip and doesn't play its first home game of 2020 until Jan. 11 (Jan. 12, PHL time), when it hosts Milwaukee. ... It was Anthony's 20th career game against the Knicks. He was averaging 27.8 points, his most against any opponent Knicks: Snapped a six-game losing streak in the series. ... Ntilikina had nine points and 10 assists. ... Portis scored 17 points. UP NEXT Trail Blazers: At the Washington Wizards on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Knicks: Visit the Phoenix Suns on Friday (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2020

Mitchell s big 2nd half stymies Blazers rally in Jazz win

By Matthew Coles, Associated Press SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 28 of his 35 points in the second half to power the Utah Jazz to a 121-115 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Rudy Gobert, who had 16 points and 15 rebounds, forced Carmelo Anthony into an air ball with 22.4 seconds remaining and blocked Damon Lillard’s driving shot with 5.2 seconds left to quell the Trail Blazers’ furious fourth-quarter rally. Lillard scored 34 points, including a pair of 30-foot contested 3-pointers in the final minutes, and CJ McCollum tallied 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Blazers (14-18), who have dropped two straight after winning four in a row. McCollum, who struggled with his accuracy all night, finally made a jumper to cap a 10-0 Portland spurt to draw within 100-93 with 7:23 to play. Gobert made a basket and a free throw, but McCollum scored five more points in a 7-0 run to trim the lead to 103-102. But Mitchell seemed to have an answer for every improbable Blazer shot down the stretch. The Jazz (19-12), who have won six of the last seven games, took their largest lead at 86-63 after Gobert’s push shot in the lane. Lillard scored eight straight points but Mitchell wouldn’t let Lillard go on one of his epic runs without a response. Mitchell scored 10 points in the final 1:29 of the third quarter to boost the Jazz lead back to 20. The Jazz guard was 5-for-5 from the field and 5-for-6 and had 16 points in the period. Joe Ingles, who has been thriving in the starting lineup, scored 26 points a game after tying his career high of 27. He made his first six shots and already had 14 points when the Trail Blazers were stuck on 10. Often prodded by his teammates to shoot more, he danced around multiple screens on the perimeter and was continually left open. The Australian sharpshooter has scored 13 or more in seven straight games after averaging less than eight points a game before that point. Cleveland traded Jordan Clarkson to the Jazz for guard Dante Exum and two future second-round draft picks on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Hours after passing his physical, Clarkson checked in with 4:05 left in first quarter and made a pull-up jumper off the dribble, a minute later. That’s not a shot Jazz fans have seen Exum take. He got nine attempts in his 11-minute stint and scored 9 points but missed all three of shots in the second half. The 27-year-old Clarkson averaged 14.6 points per game this season and is tasked to bring punch to Utah’s anemic second unit. In his final game for the Cavaliers, Clarkson scored a season-high 33 points to lead Cleveland over Memphis. Exum, the No. 5 overall pick in 2014, didn’t play in his last six games. TIP-INS Trail Blazers: Lillard, who missed all 10 3-point attempts in Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) loss to New Orleans, made three 3s by halftime and had 17 points. ... Portland outscored Utah 26-7 in the first 7:20 of the fourth quarter. ... Both Anthony and Royce O’Neale committed in-bound fouls in the final 18 seconds resulting in a free throw and the ball. Jazz: Ingles was so hot to start the game, he let the Trail Blazers know it and was hit with a taunting technical. ... Mike Conley missed five games with a sore hamstring. He then re-injured it in his first game back and has missed four more games. ... The Jazz waived Jeff Green on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) and signed Rayjon Tucker from the Milwaukee Bucks’ G-League affiliate. Tucker didn’t play Thursday (Friday, PHL time). UP NEXT The Trail Blazers host the Los Angeles on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). The Jazz visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2019

Barca and Madrid lead in Spain at winter break despite flaws

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Even though Barcelona and Real Madrid have yet to dominate like in past seasons, the two heavyweights are at the top of the Spanish league for the winter break. Lionel Messi’s Barcelona will head into 2020 with a two-point advantage over second-place Madrid after completing 18 of 38 rounds. Barcelona got off to a slow start with only two wins in the first five rounds before newcomer Antoine Griezmann started to click with Messi and Luis Suárez, and the Catalan club ended the year without a loss in seven rounds. “There are times when you win the league by a wide margin and when everyone expects you to wrap it up months in advance that it loses excitement,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, who is seeking a third consecutive league crown with the team, said Tuesday. “It is better when you win the league on the last round and by one point.” Madrid has only one loss - a 1-0 defeat at Mallorca in October - but it has drawn seven games, including its last three. Its continued scoring problems since Cristiano Ronaldo left two summers ago have left it without a goal in five encounters. "We had difficulties at the beginning of the season, but now we are much better and strong defensively, improving every day,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said after Sunday’s 0-0 home draw with Athletic Bilbao. “Today we couldn’t score, but the important thing is to create the chances and we're going to turn this around in 2020 for sure.” A Sevilla side that has been revitalized by former Madrid and Spain manager Julen Lopetegui, and by the new players brought in by sporting director Ramón “Monchi” Rodríguez, is in third place at five points back. Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid has experienced trouble up front after losing Griezmann in the summer, but its revamped defense has kept it in fourth place, seven points behind Barcelona. PLAYER OF THE SEASON SO FAR Messi leads the league with 13 goals in just 13 appearances due to an injury that kept him out of the opening games. He is also credited with six assists by the league as he continues at age 32 to be the team’s best scorer and playmaker. An honorable mention goes to Karim Benzema for stepping up his play after the injury-hit Eden Hazard failed to make an impact since joining Madrid on a club-record transfer from Chelsea. Benzema is second in the league with 12 goals in 17 matches. SURPRISE OF THE SEASON The breakout player is Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Odegaard, who is playing at the Basque club on loan from Madrid. Odegaard has excelled as a precise passer and is leading one of the most attractive attacks in the league. Sociedad is in fifth place, just one point behind Atlético. Sevilla continues to introduce talented newcomers in powerful defender Diego Carlos and physical forward Lucas Ocampos, both of whom have stood out and are likely on the radar of bigger clubs. GOAL OF THE SEASON Suárez scored not only the best goal so far this season in Barcelona’s 5-2 rout of Mallorca on Dec. 7 but one of the best in his goal-studded career. The Uruguay striker wowed Camp Nou when he used an audacious strike with the back of his right heel to scoop the ball around the diving goalkeeper and just inside the far post from a tight angle. The goal put the perfect finish to a flowing passing combination between Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto to break down Mallorca’s tightly packed defense. It unquestionably goes into the annals of Barcelona’s most beautiful goals. WHO'LL BE CHAMPION? With Messi, defending champion Barcelona is favored to edge a Madrid team that has yet to replace Ronaldo’s missing firepower. Messi has led Barcelona to 10 league titles in 15 seasons. “We haven’t reached our ceiling,” Griezmann said after scoring the opening goal in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Alavés. “I am feeling good before the holidays. Messi is the best in the world. We have a great squad, and when we need a push, Messi provides it.” CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION While Barcelona and Madrid will surely get Champions League spots, Sociedad and a Valencia side that is coming on strong after a tumultuous coaching change could threaten Sevilla and Atlético for the other two berths. Getafe, which was in the running for a top-four finish last season until faltering late, cannot be ruled out despite its modest profile. WHO’S GOING DOWN? Espanyol earned Europa League qualification last campaign, but it has been in a mess since both top scorer Borja Iglesias and ex-coach Francesc “Rubi” Ferrer left for Real Betis in the summer. The Barcelona-based club is in last place after winning just two of 18 matches and it fired Pablo Machín, its second coach of the season, on Monday. Espanyol has yet to win at home in the league this season and its fans are asking for a goal-scorer - in addition to yet another coach - in the January transfer market. Leganés and Mallorca are likely to also feature in the relegation fight. Celta Vigo has been the biggest disappointment of the season so far and is also near the bottom. But with Spain striker Iago Aspas and former Barcelona midfielders Rafinha and Denis Suárez it has the talent to rebound if it shores up its defense......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2019

Kawhi Leonard, Clippers rally to beat Lakers 111-106

By Dan Greenspan, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 11 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and had 12 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-106 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)in the NBA’s marquee Christmas game. Montrezl Harrell had 18 points off the bench, Paul George added 17 and the Clippers improved to 2-0 against the Lakers this season. Kyle Kuzma led Los Angeles with 25 points. LeBron James had 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, and Anthony Davis had 24 points. The Lakers have lost four straight games. Los Angeles had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but video review showed James touched the ball last after Patrick Beverly knocked it away as James went up for a 3. George hit two free throws for the final margin. Lou Williams made two free throws — after a questionable foul call against Davis for tapping the swingman after his transition layup rimmed out — to give the Clippers a 105-103 lead with 3:29 Leonard, who had a 3 to cap a 7-0 run and tie it at 101 with 5:14 remaining, then made four late free throws. TIP-INS Clippers: Williams had six points and seven rebounds. ... The Clippers had a 50-42 edge in rebounds. Lakers: The Lakers bench outscored the Clippers' backups 49-36. … James played in 14th Christmas Day game, second in NBA history to Kobe Bryant at 16. UP NEXT Clippers: Host Utah on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Lakers: At Portland on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2019