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Good luck Team PH; foreign coach sent home for suspected COVID

By TITO S. TALAO TOKYO  — The coronavirus health scare, which has reportedly affected more than 70 individuals so far inside the Olympic Village, has caught up with Team Philippines, forcing sports officials to send home a foreign head coach 24 hours before the opening of the pandemic-delayed 2020 Olympic Games. Rather than risk intervention from […].....»»

Category: newsSource: tempo tempoJul 22nd, 2021

2020 king of recruiting crown remains on UP’s head

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

Built by Bo, bonded for Bo, believe in Bo

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 30th, 2020

Aljun Melecio s never-ending quest to prove he belongs

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

Always About the People

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

Fight mars A s 9th straight win, 7-2 over Astros

By The Associated Press Benches cleared and even the stands emptied during Oakland’s 7-2 victory over the Astros on Sunday, tempers flaring at last between the AL West rivals months after Houston’s sign-stealing scandal was brought to light by Oakland pitcher Mike Fiers. Oakland’s Ramon Laureano got hit by a pitch — for the third time in the three-game series — this one by Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh. Laureano began exchanging words with animated Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron, then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward him. Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder reached Cintron, and a wild scene ensued. Players rushed out of both dugouts to join the fray. A’s and Astros players who were sitting in the seats, observing COVID-19 social-distancing protocols, also rushed onto the field. Laureano was ejected by plate ump Ted Barrett. Oakland won its ninth straight, and Houston lost its fifth in a row. Matt Olson hit a three-run homer in the third and Matt Chapman connected the very next pitch, taking the score from 1-0 to 5-0 on consecutive offerings from Astros starter Cristian Javier (1-1). Robbie Grossman also homered and Mark Canha contributed an RBI single. A’s rookie left-hander Jesus Luzardo (1-0) earned his first major league win in his second career start. BRAVES 5, PHILLIES 2, 1st game; BRAVES 8, PHILLIES 0, 2nd game PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ronald Acuna Jr. homered twice and Freddie Freeman also went deep to spoil Spencer Howard’s big league debut and Atlanta Braves completed a sweep of the doubleheader with an 8-0 win in the second game. Acuna also homered in Atlanta’s 5-2 victory in the first game. He had four hits in the second game and added his his fourth career multihomer game. The Phillies had waited since the restart to send Howard (0-1) to the mound. Freeman hit a two-run homer in the third for the early lead and Acuna had a solo shot to the opposite field in right for a 3-0 lead. Atlanta’s Max Fried (3-0) hummed along against the Phillies until needed to get out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth. Acuna hit a two-run shot off Trevor Kelley for a 6-0 lead in the sixth. In the first game, Acuna hit a two-run homer off Deolis Guerra (1-1) and Adam Duvall had a three-run double to lead the Braves. Tyler Matzek (2-0) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the win, and Mark Melancon worked a scoreless ninth for his third save. INDIANS 5, WHITE SOX 4, 10 innings CHICAGO (AP) — Delino DeShields snapped a tie with a perfectly placed squeeze bunt in the 10th inning to lift Cleveland. DeShields’ bunt drove in José Ramírez, who started the inning on second as part of baseball’s extra-inning rule for the pandemic-shortened season. Mike Freeman added a two-out RBI single that gave Cleveland a 5-3 lead. Veteran left-hander Oliver Perez got the final two outs following a 46-minute rain delay for his first save. It was just the fifth save of his 18-year career. Phil Maton (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning for the win. Jimmy Codero (0-1) allowed two runs, one earned, in the loss. José Abreu and James McCann homered for Chicago. ROYALS 4, TWINS 2 KANSAS CITY, Mo (AP) — Hunter Dozier hit a two-run single in his first at-bat since testing positive for COVID-19, and prized prospect Brady Singer earned his major league win to lead Kansas City. The Royals won their fourth in a row overall. The Twins lost all three at Kauffman Stadium and have dropped four straight. Dozier hadn’t played this season while recovering from the virus. He quickly delivered, putting the Royals ahead 2-0 in the first inning. Singer (1-1) allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. The Kansas City bullpen threw four shutout innings with Scott Barlow closed for his first save. Jose Berrios (1-2) went 5 1/3 innings giving up four runs. He allowed Maikel Franco’s leadoff homer in the sixth. RANGERS 7, ANGELS 3 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Los Angeles Angels right fielder Jo Adell was charged with a rare four-base error when a fly ball from Texas’ Nick Solak popped out of the rookie’s glove and flew the few remaining feet over the fence in the Rangers’ win. The play was initially ruled a home run for Solak, but the official scorer changed it to an error after consulting with the Elias Sports Bureau. Texas completed a three-game sweep as Lance Lynn (2-0) earned his 100th career win, losing a shutout on Tommy La Stella’s two-run homer in the fifth. Shin-Soo Choo capped a four-run fourth with a two-run single that chased Angels starter Andrew Heaney (1-1). Rougned Odor ended an 0-for-18 skid with an RBI single for the first run in the fourth. BREWERS 9, REDS 3 MILWAUKEE (AP) — Christian Yelich homered, tripled and drew a bases-loaded walk Milwaukee got its first home victory. The Brewers avoided falling to 0-5 at home for the first time since 1970, the franchise’s inaugural season in Milwaukee. Justin Smoak broke out of a slump and delivered hits from each side of the plate during a six-run rally in the sixth that put the Brewers ahead for good. Milwaukee poured it on in the seventh with back-to-back homers from Keston Hiura and Yelich. Sonny Gray (3-1) gave up three hits to the Brewers’ first four batters of the sixth and left with the score tied and runners on the corners with one out. Michael Lorenzen replaced Gray and didn’t retire any of the four hitters he faced as the Brewers eventually built a 7-2 lead. Brent Suter (2-0) earned the win with two innings of shutout relief. METS 4, MARLINS 2 NEW YORK (AP) — Jacob deGrom dodged trouble for five innings, rookie Andrés Giménez had three hits and scored three runs, and New York won a home series for the first time this season. DeGrom (2-0) allowed two runs and seven hits, marking the 25th time in his past 27 starts he permitted three runs or fewer. Jesus Aguilar hit a two-run homer in the fifth for the Marlins, who lost their second straight after getting off to a 7-1 start despite 18 players testing positive for the coronavirus. Seth Lugo tossed a scoreless ninth for his third save. Pablo Lopez (1-1) allowed three runs — two earned — and five hits in five innings. RED SOX 5, BLUE JAYS 3 BOSTON (AP) — Mitch Moreland hit two home runs, including a walk-off shot over the Green Monster to lead Boston. Xander Bogaerts drew a two-out walk from Thomas Hatch (0-1) to set up Moreland’s game-winner. Matt Barnes (1-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to get the win. The Blue Jays now head to Buffalo, New York, where they’ll play their remaining home games at the site of their Triple-A affiliate across the Niagara River from Canada. Rafael Devers also homered for the Red Sox. RAYS 4, YANKEES 3 ST. PETERSURG, Fla. (AP) — Michael Perez had an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning to lift Tampa Bay. Mike Brosseau started the ninth with a double off Zack Britton (0-1) but was thrown out at third on Brandon Lowe’s grounder. Lowe advanced to second on a wild pitch before Manuel Margot walked. After both runners advanced on Willy Adames grounder to first, Perez lined a single to right as the Rays took three of four from the AL East leaders. Brosseau and Lowe both homered in the seventh, when the Rays tied it at 3. Ryan Thompson (1-0) worked a perfect ninth for his first major league win. TIGERS 2, PIRATES 1 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Spencer Turnbull pitched seven strong innings and Miguel Cabrera singled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth for Detroit. Cabrera’s single to left-center field off Richard Rodriguez (0-1) scored Jonathan Schoop, who was hit by a pitch with two outs and took second on a wild pitch. Turnbull (2-0) allowed only one run and five hits while striking out four and walking two. Buck Farmer pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Joe Jimenez retired the side in order for his fifth save. PADRES 9, DIAMONDBACKS 5 SAN DIEGO (AP) — Dinelson Lamet was brilliant in taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning and Fernando Tatis Jr. continued his remarkable power surge with a two-run homer off winless Madison Bumgarner, who allowed four of San Diego’s club-record six long balls as the Padres beat Arizona. Manny Machado homered twice off Bumgarner. Wil Myers, Francisco Mejia and Ty France also went deep for San Diego. Lamet (2-0) had allowed only one baserunner, on a hit by pitch, until Kole Calhoun homered leading off the seventh. The right-hander struck out 11 and walked none in 6 2/3 innings. The Padres remain the only major league team without a no-hitter, having played 8,154 games since 1969 without one. With the Padres leading 9-1, Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly pitched a scoreless eighth. Bumgarner (0-3) has struggled with the Diamondbacks, who gave him an $85 million, five-year contract in December after he spent a decade with the San Francisco Giants, helping them win three World Series titles in five seasons. He allowed six runs and five hits in two innings. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said the 31-year-old lefty exited after experiencing back spasms. DODGERS 6, GIANTS 2 LOS ANGELES (AP) — AJ Pollock and Mookie Betts each hit a three-run homer to rally Los Angeles past San Francisco. The Dodgers have won nine of 12, and they took two of three in the series from their NL West rivals. Their 29 long balls lead the majors. With the Dodgers trailing 2-0, Cody Bellinger singled off Giants starter Kevin Gausman with one out in the seventh inning and Justin Turner followed with a single off submariner Tyler Rogers (1-3). Max Muncy took a called third strike, but Pollock sent a full-count pitch to left-center for his fourth homer and a 3-2 lead. Betts’ shot in the eighth made it 6-2. Jake McGee (1-0) got the win with a hitless inning. Mike Yastrzemski had a two-run single in the fifth for the Giants. MARINERS 5, ROCKIES 3 SEATTLE (AP) — Justus Sheffield pitched six shutout innings for his first major league win, Dylan Moore hit a two-run homer and Seattle slowed down Colorado. Sheffield (1-2) gave up four hits without a walk and struck out seven in his longest stint this season. He worked his way out of a jam with a strikeout to end the fifth, then sat down two more Rockies in the sixth before reaching his pitch limit. Charlie Blackmon extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a first-inning double for Colorado. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Rockies, who had won seven of eight in August -- including two straight over the Mariners. Colorado starter German Marquez (2-2) allowed six hits in seven innings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Nationals beat Blue Jays 4-0 in 10 in road game at home

By The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Adam Eaton’s bases-loaded chopper broke a scoreless tie in the 10th inning on a close play and Asdrúbal Cabrera followed with a three-run triple, helping the Nationals snap a three-game losing streak by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 Wednesday night. In a quirky game befitting this pandemic-altered, upside-down season, Toronto’s team played its “home opener” at Washington — batting in the bottom half of each inning, wearing its white uniforms, playing its players’ walk-up music and even blaring the song “OK Blue Jays,” the club’s traditional seventh-inning stretch staple. Toronto’s Nate Pearson, in his big league debut, and Washington’s Max Scherzer, in his 358th start in the majors, put up plenty of zeros. So did the relievers that followed. In the top of the 10th, though, Washington moved ahead on an odd-looking play. After starting with the automatic runner on second base Washington loaded the bags with two walks from Toronto’s sixth pitcher, Shun Yamaguchi (0-2). After two strikeouts, Eaton bounced a ball off the mound. Second baseman Cavan Biggio grabbed it and tried to dive glove-first at the bag, but was edged out by runner Andrew Stevenson. After a replay review of more than two minutes, the “safe” call was upheld, making it 1-0. Cabrera then homered. Daniel Hudson (1-0) got five outs for the win. DODGERS 4, ASTROS 2, 13 INNINGS HOUSTON (AP) — The Dodgers and Astros showed no carry-over from a fracas in the series opener that led to suspensions, and Edwin Ríos hit a two-run homer in the 13th inning to lift Los Angeles over Houston. No pitches were thrown above or behind any batters, nobody made any ugly faces and everyone remained in their respective dugouts. The loudest noise was the crack of Ríos’ bat when he took Cy Sneed (0-1) deep for a leadoff homer — a two-run drive under the new extra-innings rule that starts with an automatic runner on second base. The Dodgers played without manager Dave Roberts, suspended one game for his part in Tuesday night’s testy matchup that saw the dugouts clear. Bench coach Bob Geren managed the team in Roberts’ absence. Los Angeles used nine pitchers, but not Joe Kelly. The reliever was suspended for eight games by Major League Baseball after buzzing a fastball behind the head of Alex Bregman, then striking out Carlos Correa and mockingly taunting him by sticking out his tongue and pouting his bottom lip. TIGERS 5, ROYALS 4 DETROIT (AP) — JaCoby Jones hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning, and Detroit’s bullpen came through again to beat Kansas City. A night after pitching six scoreless innings in a win over the Royals, the Tigers’ relievers held Kansas City without a baserunner for four. Detroit rallied from a 4-0 deficit thanks in large part to Jones, who doubled twice before connecting off Ian Kennedy (0-1) for his third homer. Jonathan Schoop also went deep for the Tigers. Maikel Franco hit two doubles and a single for Kansas City, and Whit Merrifield had two hits and scored twice. Bryan Garcia (1-0) earned his first big league win, one of four Detroit relievers who pitched in the game. Joe Jimenez worked the ninth for his fourth save. YANKEES 9, ORIOLES 3 BALTIMORE (AP) — The New York Yankees stepped in for the Miami Marlins and ruined Baltimore’s home opener, hitting three home runs to back right-hander Gerrit Cole. The Orioles were originally slated to launch the home portion of the abbreviated 60-game schedule against Miami, but the Marlins were ordered to take a hiatus after several players and coaches contracted COVID-19 over the weekend. New York was scheduled to play Philadelphia on Wednesday, but the Phillies’ season was put on hold as a precaution because they were Miami’s opponent in the opening series. So Major League Baseball thrust the Yankees and Orioles together while the Marlins and Phillies recover. Cole (2-0) gave up three runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings to win his 18th straight decision. After DJ LeMahieu homered off Asher Wojciechowski (0-1) on the game’s second pitch, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks both went deep in the third for a 5-1 lead. GIANTS 7, XXX 6 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Mike Yastrzemski homered twice, the second a towering solo shot into McCovey Cove in the ninth inning, lifting San Francisco past San Diego. Donovan Solano had a three-run home run in the eighth and Alex Dickerson also went deep as the Giants rallied to beat the Padres, who entered the the game tied for the best record in baseball. Brandon Crawford added three hits for San Francisco. Manny Machado and Trent Grisham homered for San Diego. The Giants trailed 6-3 with two outs in the eighth before rallying. MARINERS 10, ANGELS 7 ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Kyle Seager drove in three runs, Dylan Moore hit a three-run homer and Seattle rallied from two late deficits. Moore connected during the Mariners’ five-run sixth, and Seager put the Mariners ahead for good with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning of Seattle’s second victory of the season. Shohei Ohtani had a three-run homer, Mike Trout got three hits and Justin Upton hit his 300th career homer for the Angels, who have lost four of six. Brian Goodwin homered and added a two-run double that put the Angels ahead in the sixth. Seattle surged back in front by battering Los Angeles’ bullpen, which flopped mightily in a game featuring four lead changes. The Angels’ bullpen yielded eight runs — one more than it had given up in LA’s first five games combined. The Mariners made their decisive rally in the seventh against Jacob Barnes (0-1). Bryan Shaw (1-0) allowed five baserunners and gave up three runs in the sixth. Dan Altavilla pitched the ninth for his first save. WHITE SOX 4, INDIANS 0 CLEVELAND (AP) — Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jiménez hit sacrifice flies and Chicago scored four runs in the ninth inning — three charged to ineffective Cleveland closer Brad Hand. The Indians got eight terrific innings from No. 5 starter Zach Plesac. He struck out a career-high 11, shut out the White Sox on three hits and continued a strong run of Cleveland pitching to start the season. Rookie Luis Robert hit a two-run single in the ninth as Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak and salvaged one game in the series. Chicago starter Lucas Giolito matched Plesac pitch for pitch through six, holding the Indians scoreless on four hits. It was a nice bounce back by the All-Star right-hander, who gave up a home run in Minnesota on his first pitch of the season and was touched for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. RED SOX 6, METS 5 NEW YORK (AP) — Christian Vázquez hit a tying home run off Seth Lugo in the seventh inning and a two-run single against Justin Wilson in a three-run eighth, rallying Boston. Boston had lost four in a row following its opening day win over Baltimore -- the equivalent of 11 straight over a full season -- that included a pair of defeats to the Mets at Fenway Park. New York closed with a run in the ninth, when a diving stop by third baseman Rafael Devers helped Brandon Workman strand the bases loaded. Workman recovered for his first save of the year by striking out Yoenis Céspedes and retiring Robinson Canó on a soft liner to shortstop. Jacob DeGrom, throwing at up to 101 mph, extended his consecutive scoreless streak to 31 innings before allowing a pair of runs in the fourth but got his second straight no-decision, allowing two runs and three hits in six innings with four strikeouts. He left with a 3-2 lead, but Vázquez tied the score when he drove a hanging curveball from Lugo for his second home run this season. RANGERS 7, DIAMONDBACKS 4 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) —Joey Gallo hit a tying, two-run homer in the eighth inning and Texas scored three more runs after that to snap a three-game losing streak. After Gallo lined an opposite-field shot to left off Andrew Chafin (0-1) for his second homer of the season, the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs. Elvis Andrus then hit a two-run single before Nick Solak added an RBI single. Todd Frazier hit his first homer and had two doubles for Texas, whose five-run inning accounted for only one run fewer than it had scored combined in their first four games in the new $1.2 billion stadium with a retractable roof. Jonathan Hernandez (1-0) got the win despite giving up two runs in the eighth, and Nick Goody worked a perfect ninth for his first save. ROCKIES 5, ATHLETICS 1 OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — German Márquez struck out eight over six impressive innings to bounce back after losing on opening day, and Colorado wrapped up a successful season-opening road trip. Charlie Blackmon delivered an insurance run with an RBI double in the eighth, then reached on an error in the ninth that led to a pair of runs. Garrett Hampson hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fourth to help back Márquez (1-1). Carlos Estévez relieved Márquez and escaped the seventh unscathed with the tying run on second. Jairo Diaz struck out Robbie Grossman with the bases loaded in the eighth, putting Oakland at 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position during these two games. Matt Chapman homered in the bottom of the first for the A’s. Colorado came right back when Tony Wolters hit a tying single in the top of the second against Frankie Montas (0-1). BRAVES 7, RAYS 4 ATLANTA (AP) —Freddie Freeman homered and drove in three runs on a four-hit night, leading Atlanta in its home opener. Freeman, stricken with the coronavirus before the shortened season and became so ill that he feared for his life, has quickly reclaimed his place as one of the game’s most feared hitters. He hit his first homer of the season in the third, a two-run shot into the empty seats in right field, and added an RBI single that capped a three-run sixth after Tampa Bay pulled ahead with three runs in the top half. The Braves snapped Tampa Bay’s four-game winning streak. Tampa Bay scrapped out an unearned run off Mike Soroka in the fifth and pulled ahead for the first time in the sixth, doing the bulk of the damage after Darren O’Day (1-0) took over for the Atlanta starter. With two outs, Kevin Kiermaier drove in the tying run and Hunter Renfroe followed with a two-run single that put the Ray ahead 4-2. But the Tampa Bay bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Andrew Kittredge gave up back-to-back doubles, retiring only one hitter before giving way to Oliver Drake (0-1). The funky right-hander had a chance to escape with the lead intact, but Willy Adames bobbled a high chopper by Ozzie Albies that was ruled an infield hit. Freeman followed with his fourth hit of the night, lining an RBI single to right-center. Albies was thrown out at third to end the inning, but Ender Inciarte had already crossed the plate with the go-ahead run. BREWERS 3, PIRATES 0 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff allowed one hit and struck out 10 while working into the seventh inning as the Brewers beat struggling Pittsburgh. Woodruff (1-1) retired 19 of 21 batters, allowing a swinging bunt single to Phil Evans in the first. Pittsburgh didn’t manage another baserunner until Evans walked leading off the seventh. Woodruff threw 92 of his 61 pitches for strikes against a lineup that is struggling to produce. The Pirates are hitting a majors-worst .171 during their 2-4 start. Ben Gamel gave Woodruff all the support he would need with a third-inning two-run homer over the right-field seats off Joe Musgrove (0-2). REDS 12, CUBS 7 CINCINNATI (AP) — Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel homered in their returns from a COVID-19 scare, Nick Castellanos added a grand slam, and Cincinnati ended a four-game losing streak. Sonny Gray (2-0) extended his major league record to 35 consecutive starts allowing six hits or fewer. He gave up only Ian Happ’s double and fanned 11 as he pitched into the seventh inning. Moustakas and Senzel missed the last three games after feeling sick a day after teammate Matt Davidson went on the injured list because he tested positive for the coronavirus. After passing tests, they returned and helped the Reds to their best run total of the season. Kyle Hendricks (1-1) threw a three-hit shutout against the Brewers in the season opener but couldn’t make it through the fifth inning against Cincinnati. Moustakas had a two-run shot in the fourth, and Hendricks left after Eugenio Suárez’s bases-loaded single an inning later. TWINS 3, CARDINALS 0 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rich Hill pitched five scoreless innings in a smooth Minnesota debut, backed by Eddie Rosario’s homer and Nelson Cruz’s RBI double. Alex Avila, another Minnesota newcomer, had an RBI single. Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect ninth for his first save, and the Twins finished a two-game sweep to improve to 4-1. Currently the second-oldest player in the majors, the 40-year-old Hill needed only 68 pitches to pick up his first victory for a Twins team that signed him this winter with the assumption he’d be ready around midsummer after his recovery from elbow surgery. The Cardinals, after winning their first two games against Pittsburgh, have scored four runs on 15 hits over a three-game losing streak. Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-1) struck out eight over 3 2/3 innings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 30th, 2020

Pro-bound Eumir Marcial could make debut by October

After signing his MP Promotions contract earlier this month, there already seems to be a number of plans in place for Eumir Felix Marcial.  While Marcial is taking steps towards his professional career, the 24-year old decorated amateur pug has maintained that his prime objective right now is to bring home a gold medal for the Philippines in the Olympics. (READ ALSO: Eumir Marcial set on going pro but maintains Olympic gold medal is top priority) Marcial secured his spot in the Tokyo Olympics before the COVID-19 pandemic forced oa postponement of the Summer games to 2021.  Keeping that in mind, MP Promotions appears to be all-in on making Marcial’s gold medal dream into a reality, and that includes gearing his professional training towards becoming the best version of himself in time for Tokyo.  “We have a lot of great things in store, getting Eumir’s career going, we’re bringing him to the US, we’ll train him here, working under some of the top trainers and good sparring, and we’re really just kind of focused on the for first year is winning that gold medal, so everything we do leading up to Tokyo, when he has a few professional fights, is gonna be with in mind that we keep everything good for Tokyo,” explained MP Promotions President Sean Gibbons on Tuesday’s PSA Forum.  With about a year before Tokyo, Gibbons hopes to have Marcial compete in around three professional bouts starting this October.  “We’d hope to possibly have about three fights, because you have about nine months, you have a year before the Olympics, almost to the day right now, but I think you have to stop about three months before, so hopefully, we’ll do something in October, and then we’ll work from there, hopefully three fights before he has to stop and go fully concentrate on the Olympics.”  Gibbons maintains that for now, all of Marcial’s moves will have his Olympics appearance in mind, meaning that his first few pro bouts will likely be 4 to 6-round contest, which is similar to what he’ll be competing in at the Summer games.  To start out, just [4 and 6-rounders] because again, we’re trying to keep in line with what he’s going to be doing in Tokyo, so everything is geared towards preparation for that, and that’s why you start off with a 4 or 6-rounder, then another 4-6 depending again, we have to talk to Eumir, talk to his coaches, talk to everybody, but the idea is to sharpen up a lot of out-of-competition, not the actual fights itself, but all the training he’ll do and, let’s say when he comes to Los Angeles, all the different types of sparring and whoever we work with, along with his coaches,”  Gibbons also gave credit to Marcial’s current coaching team with the National Team, coach Ronald Chavez and coach Don Abnett, the men who have helped transform Marcial to the decorated amateur star and prospect that he is today.  “That’s one of the things I want to say also:  he’s had very good coaches so far, they’ve done very well, so we’re going to adapt whatever Eumir wants, with his coaches, whoever the team chooses in LA to work with,” said Gibbons.  “Yung gusto ko parin kasi, yung makasama ko sa training yung coaches ko, yun parin yung gusto ko makasama dito,” explained Marcial. “Sila pa din yung gusto ko makasama dahil siyempre, Olympics parin, ito parin yung pinag-hahandaan natin, so yun yung gusto kong makasama na mga coach, kasi siyempre amateur parin yung lalaruin natin doon, and gusto ko parin ma-maintain yung style ko yung paano mag-laro sa amateur.”  The commitment to the Olympics, Gibbons says, is something that Marcial has been focused on.  “Eumir has always told me, ‘I promised my dad, I promised the country that I’m gonna win the gold medal.’, so that’s what were doing everything to start the career with, in mind to get better to beat the guy from Ukraine, to beat the Russians, to beat those guys.” As for weight class, Gibbons says that Marcial should be competing around 160-162-pounds or at middleweight in order to keep him in the same division as the one he'll be competing at in the Olympics.  "It appears that we’ll probably  be doing it at middleweight, 160-pounds right in there, 160-162-pounds because again, Eumir is fighting in the Olympics at 165-pounds, that’s 75 kilos, and again, you don’t want to take a guy too low when you’re basically just preparing everything for Tokyo. Somewhere around the weight that he’s been fighting at as an amateur."  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 21st, 2020

PBA coaches OK with league protocol and guidelines as practice resumes

Coaches of the 12 PBA teams see no problem with the protocol and guidelines that the league has put up following the government's green light to resume training.     League commissioner Willie Marcial, Deputy Commissioner Eric Castro and Legal Counsel Atty. Melvin Mendoza briefed the coaches and team managers on Friday regarding the safeguards that the PBA will implement to ensure the safety and welfare of players against the coronavirus (COVID-19). All teams are required to take a COVID test three days before training commences and another testing every 10 days. A strict hospital standard procedure in disinfection of training facilities will be followed aside from the usual before-and-after group workouts disinfection process. Players are also required to follow the 'closed circuit' method that confine their travel to home-practice facility and back. "I think the PBA has put up an effective guideline to safeguard the players. It's just a matter of attitude from the players to maintain it," said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. "I think it's good. All we have to do is follow it," said Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone. One inquiry in the well-attended meeting according to Marcial is about when scrimmages would be allowed. The commissioner said that all suggestions and concerns during the meeting will be relayed to the Board of Governors during its meeting on Saturday. With the guidelines clear, Guiao said that it will now be the responsibility of the players to adhere to the protocol for everyone’s safety. "It's up to them if we intend to keep everyone safe. Everybody should practice discipline at all times if we want this league to survive and likewise protect their livelihood," Guiao said. SMB coach Leo Austria said the players must practice the 3 Ds (discipline, determination and dedication) to keep everybody safe.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 10th, 2020

ONE champ Joshua Pacio now lives in the Team Lakay gym…literally

For the last couple of months, athletes like reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio of Team Lakay have been left with little to no alternative but to work out from home, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantines, lockdowns, and restrictions that it brought upon.  Pacio and his Team Lakay teammates have been doing a good job of keeping themselves fit even during home quarantine, but at some point, elite athletes will need to log in some gym time.  While Baguio and Benguet have already transitioned to General Community Quarantine, there remains no word as to when fitness establishments, like Team Lakay’s gym in La Trinidad, will be allowed to open up again.  (READ ALSO: Team Lakay mentor Mark Sangiao looking forward to re-opening gym once lockdown is lifted) Because of this, Pacio has decided to move into the gym for the time being in order to be able to train properly.  “If you’re an athlete you can always train at home but it’s different from the gym,” Pacio shared with ONE Championship. “When I train, I always want to improve by one percent every day. I decided to live in the gym because I know we have athletes there who can work with me.” Joining Pacio in the gym are teammates Jhanlo Sangiao, Edilberto Coquia Jr., Carlo Von Bumina-ang, and Renato Hepolito Jr.  According to Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao, former champs Eduard Folayang and Kevin Belingon also drop by the gym, but only when they absolutely need to.  “We have two rooms where we can stay, with beds,” Pacio said. “I’m just lucky to get a pass that’s why I have access to this gym,” said Pacio.  The 24-year old Pacio is on arguably the best stretch of his young career, regaining the ONE Strawweight World Championship against Yosuke Saruta back in mid-2019 and successfully defending it against Rene Catalan and former champion Alex Silva since.  The young champion, who can already be considered the promotion’s best strawweight ever, is always on a mission of self-improvement, and finding a way to get gym time in - even if it means living in it - is a testament to his hard work and dedication.  “Even though I am already at the top, I know that I have a lot of quality opponents waiting for me,” Pacio said. “Even though we’re in this situation, I have to find ways to improve.” Pacio admits that the quarantine took a toll on his fitness, but believes that he can get back on track in no time.  “Now I know I am still far from my desired shape, especially with my weight,” Pacio said. “But if they give me a date, I know I can quickly catch up. I am ready to return any time this year,” he concluded......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2020

Pinoy coach enters COVID-19 protocols

A coach from Team Philippines will be sent home following back-and-forth false positive and negative tests for COVID-19, Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino revealed during a mini conference here Thursday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 22nd, 2021

Philippine coach out of Tokyo Olympics after positive COVID-19 test

A coach of Team Philippines will be sent home following back-and-forth false positive and negative tests for COVID-19, Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino revealed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 22nd, 2021

Coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown dead at 78

By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — John Thompson, the imposing Hall of Famer who turned Georgetown into a “Hoya Paranoia” powerhouse and became the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men’s basketball championship, has died. He was 78 His death was announced in a family statement released by Georgetown on Monday. No details were disclosed. “Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on but, most importantly, off the basketball court. He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else,” the statement said. “However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear everyday.” One of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport, Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and molded it in his unique style into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by center Patrick Ewing in 1984. Georgetown reached two other title games with Thompson in charge and Ewing patrolling the paint, losing to Michael Jordan’s North Carolina team in 1982 and to Villanova in 1985. At 6-foot-10, with an ever-present white towel slung over his shoulder, Thompson literally and figuratively towered over the Hoyas for decades, becoming a patriarch of sorts after he quit coaching in 1999. One of his sons, John Thompson III, was hired as Georgetown’s coach in 2004. When the son was fired in 2017, the elder Thompson -- known affectionately as “Big John” or “Pops” to many -- was at the news conference announcing Ewing as the successor. Along the way, Thompson said what he thought, shielded his players from the media and took positions that weren’t always popular. He never shied away from sensitive topics -- particularly the role of race in both sports and society -- and he once famously walked off the court before a game to protest an NCAA rule because he felt it hurt minority athletes. “I’ll probably be remembered for all the things that kept me out of the Hall of Fame, ironically, more than for the things that got me into it,” Thompson said on the day he was elected to the Hall in 1999. Thompson became coach of the Hoyas in 1972 and began remaking a team that was 3-23 the previous season. Over the next 27 years, he led Georgetown to 14 straight NCAA tournaments (1979-92), 24 consecutive postseason appearances (20 NCAA, 4 NIT), three Final Fours (1982, 1984, 1985) and won six Big East tournament championships. Employing a physical, defense-focused approach that frequently relied on a dominant center -- Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo were among his other pupils -- Thompson compiled a 596-239 record (.715 winning percentage). He had 26 players drafted by the NBA. One of his honors -- his selection as coach of the U.S. team for the 1988 Olympics -- had a sour ending when the Americans had to settle for the bronze medal. It was a result so disappointing that Thompson put himself on a sort of self-imposed leave at Georgetown for a while, coaching practices and games but leaving many other duties to his assistants. Off the court, Thompson was both a role model and a lightning rod. A stickler for academics, he kept a deflated basketball on his desk, a reminder to his players that a degree was a necessity because a career in basketball relied on a tenuous “nine pounds of air.” The school boasted that 76 of 78 players who played four seasons under Thompson received their degrees. He was a Black coach who recruited mostly Black players to a predominantly white Jesuit university in Washington, and Thompson never hesitated to speak out on behalf of his players. One of the most dramatic moments in Georgetown history came on Jan. 14, 1989, when he walked off the court to a standing ovation before the tipoff of a home game against Boston College, demonstrating in a most public way his displeasure against NCAA Proposition 42. The rule denied athletic scholarships to freshmen who didn’t meet certain requirements, and Thompson said it was biased against underprivileged students. Opposition from Thompson, and others, led the NCAA to modify the rule. Thompson’s most daring move came that same year, when he summoned notorious drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III for a meeting in the coach’s office. Thompson warned Edmond to stop associating with Hoyas players and to leave them alone, using his respect in the Black community to become one of the few people to stare down Edmond and not face a reprisal. Though aware of his influence, Thompson did not take pride in becoming the first Black coach to take a team to the Final Four, and he let a room full of reporters know it when asked his feelings on the subject at a news conference in 1982. “I resent the hell out of that question if it implies I am the first Black coach competent enough to take a team to the Final Four,” Thompson said. “Other Blacks have been denied the right in this country; coaches who have the ability. I don’t take any pride in being the first Black coach in the Final Four. I find the question extremely offensive.” Born Sept. 2, 1941, John R. Thompson Jr. grew up in Washington, D.C. His father was always working — on a farm in Maryland and later as a laborer in the city — and could neither read nor write. “I never in my life saw my father’s hands clean,” Thompson told The Associated Press in 2007. “Never. He’d come home and scrub his hands with this ugly brown soap that looked like tar. I thought that was the color of his hands. When I was still coaching, kids would show up late for practice and I’d (say) ... ‘My father got up every morning of his life at 5 a.m. to go to work. Without an alarm.‘” Thompson’s parents emphasized education, but he struggled in part of because of poor eyesight and labored in Catholic grammar school. He was moved to a segregated public school, had a growth spurt and became good enough at basketball to get into John Carroll, a Catholic high school, where he led the team to 55 consecutive victories and two city titles. He went to Providence College as one of the most touted basketball prospects in the country and led the Friars to the first NCAA bid in school history. He graduated in 1964 and played two seasons with Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics, earning a pair of championship rings as a sparingly used backup to Bill Russell. Thompson returned to Washington, got his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia and went 122-28 over six seasons at St. Anthony’s before accepting the job at Georgetown, an elite school that had relatively few Black students. Faculty and students rallied around him after a bedsheet with racist words was hung inside the school’s gym before a game during the 1974-75 season. Thompson sheltered his players with closed practices, tightly controlled media access and a prohibition on interviews with freshmen in their first semester -- a restriction that still stands for Georgetown’s basketball team. Combined with Thompson’s flashes of emotion and his players’ rough-and-tumble style of play, it wasn’t long before the words “Hoya Paranoia” came to epitomize the new era of basketball on the Hilltop campus. Georgetown lost the 1982 NCAA championship game when Fred Brown mistakenly passed the ball to North Carolina’s James Worthy in the game’s final seconds. Two years later, Ewing led an 84-75 win over Houston in the title game. The Hoyas were on the verge of a repeat the following year when they were stunned in the championship game by coach Rollie Massimino’s Villanova team in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Success allowed Thompson to rake in money through endorsements, but he ran afoul of his Georgetown bosses when he applied for a gambling license for a business venture in Nevada in 1995. Thompson, who liked playing the slot machines in Las Vegas, reluctantly dropped the application after the university president objected. Centers Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo turned Georgetown into “Big Man U” under Thompson, although his last superstar was guard Allen Iverson, who in 1996 also became the first player under Thompson to leave school early for the NBA draft. “Thanks for Saving My Life Coach,” Iverson wrote at the start of an Instagram post Monday with photos of the pair. The Hoyas teams in the 1990s never came close to matching the achievements of the 1980s, and Thompson’s era came to a surprising and sudden end when he resigned in the middle of the 1998-99 season, citing distractions from a pending divorce. Thompson didn’t fade from the limelight. He became a sports radio talk show host and a TV and radio game analyst, joining the very profession he had frustrated so often as a coach. He loosened up, allowing the public to see his lighter side, but he remained pointed and combative when a topic mattered to him. A torch was passed in 2004, when John Thompson III became Georgetown’s coach. The younger Thompson, with “Pops” often watching from the stands or sitting in the back of the room for news conferences, returned the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007. Another son, Ronny Thompson, was head coach for one season at Ball State and is now a TV analyst. ___ Joseph White, a former AP sports writer in Washington who died in 2019, prepared this obituary. AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2020

Coke PH expands Balik Pinas program for repatriated OFWs

Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI)—the bottling arm of Coca-Cola in the country—has expanded its Balik Pinas program to national scale to reach more repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and help them start their own business at home. Gareth McGeown, CCBPI President and CEO. “Coca-Cola’s commitment to Filipinos has only grown stronger, in weathering this crisis together,” said Gareth McGeown, CCBPI President and CEO. “We will help and support where we can. Through Balik Pinas, our goal is to help repatriated OFWs who have lost their livelihood abroad to start anew, via owning and operating their own business and be successful here, at home, with their families.” With the help of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), CCBPI aims to reach more OFWs who are interested to start their own business through Balik Pinas. Data from the Department of Foreign Affairs show that as of September 2020, over 190,000 overseas Filipino workers have been repatriated. Balik Pinas gives opportunities to OFWs to be part of the Coca-Cola family as a distributor, wholesaler, or a community reseller. Balik Pinas is a journey that the company and new entrepreneurs take together at every step—from setting up the business, to sustaining it, to ensuring growth. Coca-Cola assists former OFWs in choosing a suitable business model for their area, helps in managing their cash flow and inventory, and sees to it that they are given proper guidance and training until they are fully ready and equipped to operate on their own—all in all, a sustainable and profitable business founded on practical support from a global beverage brand. According to Carlos Rivera, CCBPI Territory Sales Team in Naga City, the Balik Pinas Program started as a small-scale initiative in Naga City to help former OFWs. Just a couple of months after returning home, Carlos Manzano and his family was able to set up their business as Coca-Cola distributor through the Balik Pinas Program, which Carlos said has reshaped his life and outlook forever. IN PHOTO: Carlos and their family’s multi-cab routing unit with the Coca-Cola Naga Sales team. When the program’s pilot rollout started, the Manzanos—brothers Carlos and Jazz, and their father Lito—were among the pioneer members. Carlos and Jazz had both been working for several years in Qatar until the COVID-19 pandemic shook the trajectory of their career and, consequently, the well-being of their families. Together with their father, Lito, who also used to be an overseas worker, they set up a beverage distribution business in their hometown Naga City. Their optimism, as with any new business venture, was tempered with anxiety over how it would all turn out—especially with the considerable challenge of launching during such tenuous times until Rivera offered them membership to the Balik Pinas Program of Coca-Cola. Now, the Manzanos are running a profitable business as Coca-Cola distributors. “Even when I had to leave Qatar suddenly because of the lay-offs, I always envisioned that I would head back to work there when things settle. But with Coca-Cola’s Balik Pinas, I have a livelihood that doesn’t take me away from my family as being an OFW had,” said Carlos.  Lito can still remember his first order of 60 cases of Coke products. Now, the Manzano  family business has grown to an average of 4,000 cases a month, just five months after they started—a feat magnified for it being in the middle of a pandemic and strict quarantine measures. The Manzanos have also since invested in routing units to augment their business’s capabilities—a multicab and a tricycle. Since starting his business in 2019, Billy Belleza (left), is now one of the prominent Coca-Cola distributors in his area and has added another mini truck to serve more routes and deliveries. Billy is one of the pioneers of Coca-Cola’s Balik Pinas program. Another Balik Pinas program pioneer member is Billy Belleza who decided to return to the country after working for 20 years in Brunei. “I am really thankful that Coca-Cola reached out to me to be a part of this. They have never failed to present opportunities for me and my business to grow since I decided to take part in the Balik Pinas Program. My sales actually soared this year,” said Belleza, who is also based in Naga City. According to Rivera, Balik Pinas Program was really designed for returning OFWs like Billy, Carlos, and Jazz and their families to set up and run a viable business at home. “With their success and in light of current events, this program was expanded to operate on a national scale, so the company can lend assistance to repatriated OFWs and their families as they weather through new challenges brought on by the pandemic,” Rivera said. Coca-Cola has consistently sought to create programs to support MSMEs, more so now with the COVID-19 pandemic having disrupted countless lives and livelihoods. With programs like Balik Pinas, Coca-Cola remains firm in their commitment to help local communities, contributing to the restart of the national economy—by way of reaching out to Filipinos.  To know more about the program, you may reach Coca-Cola’s contact center at (02)-8813-COKE (2653). For SMART/PLDT users: toll-free number: 1800-1888-COKE (2653); and for GLOBE users: toll-free number: 1800-8888-COKE (2653). You may also contact 0919-160-COKE (2653) via SMS......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 24th, 2020

Where have you Christians been?

WORD ALIVE  FR. BEL SAN LUIS, SVD It happened in China a few years before the Communists expelled the missionaries. A foreign Catholic missionary came upon an old woman by the wayside, deserted, cold, and hungry. “Why do you bother about me?” the old lady whispered feebly when the priest tried to help her as best as he could. “Nobody else cares. Why should you?” * * * “God said to go out over the world and help everyone who is in need,” the priest said.  Pondering over the words of the priest, she said, “What a beautiful religion. Where did it come from? ” * * * Whereupon the priest started to tell her about God who loves us and sent his own Son Jesus Christ to save us. “Your Christ,” the old woman went on, “Where is He?” When the priest said He died two thousand years ago, she was amazed. “Do you mean to say that it has been two thousand years since Christ commanded his followers to spread his teachings? Why, where have you Christians been all this time?” * * *         This might well be the pointed question addressed to us as we celebrate World Mission Sunday today. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus commanded his apostles: “Go out into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to every nation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16,15). * * *         Pope Francis gave the Church his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). In it he proposed a profound missionary renewal of the entire Church. He asserted that we need an “evangelizing Church that comes out of herself…All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal; otherwise, it falls prey to a kind of ‘ecclesial introversion.’”  * * *         How can we be an “evangelizing Church”? Obviously, not all can go out of their country to reach out to peoples who have not known Christ. If some heroic Christians can do it as missionaries, great. But for most of us, all that we can do is be missionaries at home. * * * Remember St. Therese of the Child Jesus? She is the universal patroness of Catholic missions yet, ironically, she never stepped out of the four walls of her Carmelite cloister! She merited the title because of her burning obsession to save souls by offering every little act, every bodily pain for the conversion of immortal souls. * * * When I was ordained priest in our missionary congregation, Society of the Divine  Word (SVD), I applied to work in  Mexico, Central America. Unfortunately I never got my wish. The farthest I’ve gone to is Mexico… Pampanga! * * * That doesn’t mean, however, that I am not a genuine missionary. By my work in the media or supporting seminarians under the “Adopt A Seminarian” scholarship program, I am a missionary. What counts is not geography, but the missionary spirit or attitude. In this connection, let’s not be missionaries only on Mission Sunday. As a good Christian, the mission spirit should be an all-time continuing attitude and action. * * * Further, you can be missionaries by means of extending financial assistance. Be generous and share your resources for the support of missionaries. Money is a necessity in the work of evangelization. Churches, schools, convents, clinics, social centers are needed, especially in the “bush” mission. * * * Every Christian is a missionary. Are you doing your share? * * *             LAUGH WITH GOD. A parish priest was making an impassioned appeal to the parish council for the annual mission collection. Great was everybody’s surprise when the wealthiest but tight-fisted member of the council rose and offered to start the collection rolling with a contribution of P500. * * *           As he stood up to hand in the amount, a mild earthquake took place and some plaster from the ceiling fell and hit him on the head. A bit shaken, he withdrew the amount and said, “I guess I’d better make that P5,000.” A small voice  from the back was heard, “Hit him again, Lord.” (It’s not  known if he gave some more!).  * * *           HELPING MISSIONARY SEMINARIANS. We Filipinos are blessed because there are still a good number of young men who wish to become priests and missionaries. But they have difficulty in pursuing their priestly vocation due to financial constraints, especially this time of the COVID-19 crisis. * * *           Chip in or sponsor a year’s scholarship of a seminarian. REMEMBER: Without seminarians, we cannot have priests and missionaries. For inquiry, e-mail me at belsvd@gmail.com.  * * * FAMILY TV MASS – is aired on 5PLUS Channel 59, Cignal Cable Ch. 6, Free TV Ch. 41 at 6-7 a.m.  Sunday and anytime at “MCFI SVD Media” Account on YouTube and Facebook Page. Priest presider: FR. LOUIE PUNZALAN, SVD......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2020

UAAP 81: When the sleeping giant named UP finally awakened

No cheering - that's the cardinal rule for sportswriters during coverages. In collegiate sports, not even your very own alma mater song is spared. Still, on November 28, 2018, I thought this one time could be an exception to the rule. After all, more than half of the Araneta Coliseum had their hands raised in singing "UP Naming Mahal." Certainly, not one more fist in the air could be considered conspicuous. After all, the University of the Philippines Men's Basketball Team was letting it all out right there on the court. Certainly, not one more show of emotion could be out of place. And after all, the Fighting Maroons had just done it. It, being seeing a new dawn after the so-called dark days. FROM FIGHTING TO WINNING UAAP 81 started very much like how many, many UP seasons did in recent memory. There was a lot of hope, no doubt, what with Paul Desiderio in his last year, Bright Akhuetie in his first year, Gomez de Liano brothers Juan and Javi being back for more, and Bo Perasol still at the helm. Only, being a fan of the Fighting Maroons also meant you know full well all of it couldn't be true. History is a lesson to be learned - and from the promise of Migs De Asis, Mike Gamboa, Martin Reyes, and great Filipino-American hope Mike Silungan and the potential of Mikee Reyes, Woody Co, and Kyles Lao, Diliman has learned many, many lessons, indeed. And then, the season started. A season-opening win became a 1-3 standing. A 3-3 record worsened to 3-5. Standing at an even 5-5 in the stretch run then led to winning three of the last four games in the elimination round. And before you knew it, UP, yes, UP was knocking on the door of the Final Four. Could this be it? Or could this be just the biggest disappointment the Fighting Maroons had ever served? FROM WINNING TO LOSING A winning tradition could be taken for granted. Coming from a school down south that was, is, and forever linked to a particular powerhouse, I, personally, was very much used to winning. Even more, I was right there when Joshua (or Dave, as we called him) Webb, Jeric Fortuna, and Jed Manguera led the team formerly known as the Bengals to a breakthrough championship. So, yeah, personally, my tradition was to root for a winning team - be it in the Jrs. or in the Srs. Come college, though, I traded in the shield of green and white for the luntian at pulang sagisag magpakailanman. And hey, UP Diliman is and always will be the best school in the history of man, in my eyes. In terms of basketball, though, it left much to be desired. As I was about to go to college, the Fighting Maroons went winless in back-to-back years. And then, they had three-win seasons when I was a freshie and a sophomore. In all my four years in college, I only experienced eight wins out of 56. So yeah, in State U, there was the exact opposite of a winning tradition. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Don't get me wrong here. UP is a power in many, many sports and is a contender for the general championship year in and year out. Back then, though, forgive me if I only had eyes for men's basketball.) FROM JETT TO PAUL And then, a ray of light shone bright, and brighter, and brighter. I have now grown to love Mikee Reyes - he is a great guy and a good analyst. Back then, though, he was a prime proof of what wasn't working in UP. Here was a talent who had a shot at making a name for himself and taking his team along with him for the ride, but unfortunately, just could not put it all together. Reyes was just one of many, many promising players in maroon and green who didn't have the sort of support that a winning tradition entailed. True to their name, though, the Fighting Maroons kept, well, fighting. And in his last year, Jett Manuel proved that the tides could turn in their favor. Manuel would never be the best player on De La Salle University or Ateneo de Manila University or even University of Sto. Tomas and Far Eastern University. Still, he gave his all game in and game out and grew to be a beloved player and leader in Diliman. He set the standard for the kind of fight a Maroon should have and in his last year, steered his squad to a fifth-place finish at 5-9. Not a finish to be proud of by any means, but for the first time in a long time, there were signs of life coming from State U. And that's when I knew Jett Manuel would be my forever King Maroon. However, just two years later, Paul Desiderio made me question that. FROM THEN TO NOW Definitely, Paul Desiderio is not Jett Manuel. Jett is eloquent and looks like he came from an exclusive private school, which he did. Paul speaks in short but sweet terms and is very much proud of his roots in Cebu. What they both have, though, is an undeniable love for UP and an unwavering determination to lead the Fighting Maroons to where they belong. When Manuel left, of course, the reins went to Desiderio and in his very first game as main man, he proved his worth. I know you know what I'm going to talk about - because this was the time he uttered the words that would define State U from that point onto the foreseeable future. "Atin to, papasok to!" -- Paul Desiderio during the timeout. Moments later...#UAAPSeason80 pic.twitter.com/7yafSpldJM — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 10, 2017 The maroon and green yet again fell short of the Final Four that year, but come next season, a playoff berth was, indeed, theirs for the taking. Downing La Salle in the very last game of the elims, they booked a trip to the next round for the first time since 1997. That would have been more than enough for their long-suffering faithful, but they did themselves one better - actually, two better - and upset second-seed and twice-to-beat Adamson University. Just like that, UP would be playing in its first Finals since the days of Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano, and Joe Lipa. That day, November 28, 2018, would always live on with me. FROM ME TO YOU As bad as I wanted to break the cardinal rule for sportswriters, I didn't. As bad as I wanted to stay on the floor to listen and live in the chorus singing in harmony, "Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan," I couldn't. When UP made history, I had to go back to the press room and finish my full take on the game. Just minutes before, I honestly couldn't believe the breaking report I was working on in my phone and uploading in our website. Really? The Fighting Maroons had done it. Even with the final stat sheet in my hands, I still couldn't believe it. Really? The Fighting Maroons had done it. Even through writing "those back-to-back wins have set up for them a date with defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in the best-of-three Finals slated for Saturday at the MOA Arena," I still couldn't believe it. Really? The Fighting Maroons had done it. Of course, in the very end, Ateneo was Ateneo and State U had to settle for second-place. Still, there may not be another silver medal that was worth celebrating more. You have to understand that again, this is a team not that far off from its dark days - so, yeah, this silver season was a special season. And so, at the very end of Season 81, when I saw Paul standing on the game officials' table, basking in the UP community's cries of "De-si-de-rio" and "A-tin-to," another chant was playing in my head - "You deserve it." This image, would always live on with me. At the same time, though, I was a firsthand witness to another image that told me this was just the beginning. First Finals appearance, first Finals loss. Fo sho, GDL brothers @javigdl22 and @juan_swish9 will only be better from this. #UAAPSeason81 pic.twitter.com/CMV0JH30rh — No Work Normie Riego (@riegogogo) December 5, 2018 Juan and Javi GDL sat on the makeshift awarding stage while the Blue Eagles were enjoying their back-to-back championships and Desiderio was being serenaded by the Fighting Maroons' faithful. Their eyes were welling up with tears, but deep down there, you could also see their determination to be back, to be better, and to say themselves "Atin 'to" to a championship. FROM HERE ON OUT UAAP 81 was Ateneo's, no doubt about that. UAAP 82, when UP was supposedly stronger, was still Ateneo's, yet again no doubt about that. Actually, the Fighting Maroons were even owned by runner-up UST that year - and those Growling Tigers had a Cinderella tale to tell of their own. And yet, for my money, no team in recent memory has won over everybody quite like Paul Desiderio's UP Fighting Maroons. Maybe, just maybe, that's all because I'm an Isko with student no. 2008-6*1*5. Or maybe, just maybe, it's so good to see a sleeping giant awakened - now knowledgeable of how to build a team and now knowledgeable how to put up support for that team. Or maybe, just maybe, it's so good to see homegrown stars like Diego Dario and the GDLs stay home and play home and to see a foreign student-athlete like Akhuetie shine bright both as a student and as an athlete. Or maybe, just maybe, it's so good to put your full faith in somebody like Desiderio who truly, madly, and deeply believed "Atin 'to" - even though recent history said otherwise. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. Norman Lee Benjamin Riego has served as a sub-section editor for ABS-CBN Sports' website since 2014. He is among thousands of ABS-CBN employees who will be retrenched on August 31, 2020. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

Coach Aldin fully cooperating in probe into alleged Bicol Bubble

Aldin Ayo has acknowledged that there is an internal investigation regarding recent issues involving the University of Sto. Tomas Men's Basketball Team. "Regarding the alleged ' bubble training' in Sorsogon, I will not comment for now as UST is already investigating the matter," he said in a statement released Sunday evening. "I am fully cooperating and praying that in due time, this will be properly addressed." UST head coach Aldin Ayo has broken his silence on @cjcansino and the alleged Bicol Bubble. pic.twitter.com/Ur9mUVvrD2 — No Work Normie Riego (@riegogogo) August 23, 2020 Earlier, UST itself confirmed that it is, indeed, already looking into the so-called "Bicol Bubble" overseen by coach Aldin. This was in response to recent reports that the Growling Tigers have been in Sorsogon since June, or in the midst of the continuing COVID-19 crisis. According to ABS-CBN News' Camille Naredo, as of late, CJ Cansino, doing his duty as team captain, told coaches and management about "their desire to go home." The report went on to say that what he did "was not taken well by Ayo." Not long after, Cansino was kicked off the team and then found himself in the University of the Philippines. That sudden exit and the reasons surrounding it has apparently opened a can of worms that now involved government agencies. Along with vowing continued cooperation, coach Aldin also said he was hoping he and the rest of the basketball community could be back on the court sooner than later. As he put it, "We fervently hope that our government, with our cooperation and active participation, find ways to effectively address the debilitating pandemic so we may be able to resume a certain normalcy." He then continued, "And return to the game we passionately love, drawing the best out of each other in pursuit of total human development." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

UST: We do not tolerate violation of gov t regulation

University of Sto. Tomas has broken its silence about issues involving its Growling Tigers. The Espana-based has school confirmed that it is, indeed, already looking into its men's basketball team's so-called "Bicol Bubble" overseen by head coach Aldin Ayo. "We heard the news about the alleged breach of quarantine protocols by the UST Basketball Team in Sorsogon," its statement on Sunday said. "Accordingly, we created a committee to investigate and to inquire in this matter." pic.twitter.com/blFaLXqLnL — University of Santo Tomas (@UST1611official) August 22, 2020 Yesterday, the UAAP met with the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) and there, Executive Director Atty. Rebo Saguisag assured Chairman Abraham Mitra that actions have already been taken. The meeting was in response to recent reports that the Growling Tigers have been in Sorsogon since June, or in the midst of the continuing COVID-19 crisis. According to ABS-CBN News' Camille Naredo, as of late, CJ Cansino, doing his duty as team captain, told coaches and management about "their desire to go home." The report went on to say that what he did "was not taken well by Ayo." Not long after, Cansino was kicked off the team and is now set to transfer to the University of the Philippines. That sudden exit and the reasons surrounding it has apparently opened a can of worms that now involved government agencies. Finally reacting to all the developments, UST said that anything and everything done right now should be in accordance to safety and security measures enforced by the government. "While we adhere to the belief that physical activity can have a profoundly positive impact on physical and mental health, we believe that it should be done in compliance with guidelines issued by the government," the statement said. It then continued, "We wish to assure you that the University does not tolerate any form of violation of government regulation and it responds promptly by taking appropriate action." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

UAAP reminds member-schools to follow government rules amidst UST probe

University of Sto. Tomas is already looking into the Growling Tigers' so-called "Bicol bubble" overseen by head coach Aldin Ayo. The UAAP, through Executive Director Atty. Rebo Saguisag and President Nong Calanog of De La Salle University, met with the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) on Saturday after reports surfaced on the black and gold's alleged training sessions in their mentor's hometown. And there, the league assured the government agency that actions have already been taken by its member-school in question. "Atty. Rebo said that UST is conducting its own internal probe and promised to report to the UAAP soonest," GAB chairman Abraham Mitra said in a statement. According to Camille Naredo of ABS-CBN News, UST has been in Sorsogon since June. As of late, however, CJ Cansino, doing his duty as team captain, told coaches and management about "their desire to go home." The report went on to say that what he did "was not taken well by Ayo." Not long after, Cansino was kicked off the team and then found himself in the University of the Philippines. That sudden exit and the reasons surrounding it has apparently opened a can of worms that now involved government agencies. For its part, GAB reminded the UAAP and all sporting organizations to follow rules and regulations in the face of the continuing COVID-19 crisis. "The utmost importance is the safety of the players and students," Mitra said. That reminder, Saguisag said, would only be taken into heart by the league. "The league reiterates that it will always be guided by the lead governmental agencies and will not run counter to any of its directives. Hence, the cancellation of Season 82 and the opening of Season 83 will have to wait," he said. ABS-CBN Sports has contacted Coach Aldin, but he has refused to comment on the matter in the meantime. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020