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GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Arellano U’s sweep of thrice-to-beat SSC-R

Arellano University has been the dominating force in the NCAA women’s volleyball for the past three seasons. If not for the cancellation of Season 95 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Lady Chiefs would’ve made a strong case for a four-peat. But while the Lady Chiefs displayed great character to extend their reign, it was Arellano U’s impressive showing in Season 92 Finals series that built the solid foundation of its grand slam. Three years ago, the Lady Chiefs redeemed themselves from surrendering the crown the previous season by dethroning College of St. Benilde in the stepladder semifinals. Arellano U thus earned a return ticket to the Finals. However, the Lady Chiefs had to face an uphill climb in the championship series as they took on an unbeaten Grethcel Soltones-led San Sebastian College armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage. The Lady Stags handed Arellano U its only loss in the elimination round, before coming into the Finals with nine straight wins. Led by the graduating Soltones backed by a veteran crew, SSC-R looked poised to avenge its humiliating defeat the season before when they squandered the same series advantage. But the Lady Chiefs proved that they were the hungrier team. Using the death of head coach Obet Javier’s wife, Amy Marie, after a long bout with lung cancer as added motivation, Arellano U pulled off a shocker in the series opener. The Lady Chiefs swept the Recto-based squad, 25-18, 25-20, 25-16, with Rialen Sante, Jovie Prado, Andrea Marzan and Mary Anne Esguerra leading the way. Drawing first blood, Arellano U quickly shifted momentum to its favor. They played spoiler to Soltones’ third straight Most Valuable Player award in Game 2 when the Lady Chiefs survived a thrilling five-set match, 18-25, 25-16, 25-11, 26-28, 15-13, to inch closer to its second title since joining the league in 2009. Arellano kept its composure in a very tight fifth set breaking a 13-all deadlock with Regine Arocha’s off speed. SSC-R was the first top blink when Dangie Encarnacion committed an attack error that brought back the nightmare of the Lady Stags’ Season 91 Finals defeat. Then in Game 3, the Lady Chiefs celebrated Valentine’s Day by breaking the hearts of the Lady Stags, 25-15, 22-25, 25-23, 25-16. “Napakalaki sa amin ito kasi 'yung mga bata, pinaghirapan talaga namin ang taon na ito," Javier said then. "Noong first round, natalo kami sa Baste kaya nag-set kami ng goal na hindi na dapat mangyari ito. Nangyari naman."    That feat set the tone for Arellano U’s next two conquests. From there, the Lady Chiefs established its current domination of the country’s oldest collegiate league.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 13th, 2020

GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Blazers’ breakthrough NCAA title

John Vic De Guzman vowed to return for his fifth and last year in the NCAA after College of St. Benilde was shown the exit door following a stinging five-set defeat at the hands of University of Perpetual Help in the Final Four of Season 91. He promised glory. The Blazers were reduced to mere spectators that year as they watched their women’s team write history by claiming its first volleyball title in four games against a thrice-to-beat opponent. De Guzman and the rest of the Blazers promised that in Season 92, they will be the ones celebrating the championship on the court. However, the promise of a good season turned sour early when CSB opened the tournament with a bitter straight-sets defeat to the same squad that booted them out of the semis in 2016. But it didn’t dampen the Blazers' goal of bringing honor to the Taft-based squad. The squad used that defeat as fuel to their burning desire for glory. CSB banked on De Guzman, Isaah Arda, Ron Jordan and Francis Basilan with Mark Deximo orchestrated the flow of their offense as the Blazers crushed their next eight opponents in the elimination round. Closing the elims with an 8-1 win-loss record, CSB was on another collision course with the then defending champion Altas in a playoff for the Final Four top seed. The Blazers got their payback as they whipped Perpetual into submission in three sets. With momentum on its side, CSB sliced through Arellano University in straight sets to earn a seat into the best-of-three Finals and the right to challenge Perpetual for the throne. For the Blazers facing their semis tormentors the year before opened old wounds. Wounds that can only be healed by vengeance. Game 1 was all CSB. De Guzman had his way around the defense of the Altas, scoring 19 points including a 16-of-28 spiking clip, while Basilan took care of business at the net as he shut down Perpetual's spikers with four of CSB’s nine kill blocks. On that same day, the Blazers witnessed their women’s team lose its title in the stepladder semifinals. It only pushed CSB’s determination to capture the championship. In Game 2, the Blazers encountered a different Altas squad. With its back against the wall, Perpetual gave CSB a scare when it took the second and third sets after yielding the first frame. The Altas made the Blazers know that they’re not giving up their reign that easy. CSB recovered in the fourth frame and forged a deciding set. The Blazers saw themselves in a difficult situation when they trailed by five, 7-12. “Walang imposible sanay tayong pina-practice ‘to,” De Guzman reminded his team. “’Apply lang natin ‘yan. Magtiwala lang tayo sa isa’t isa. Sanay tayo sa ganito. Nagsakripisyo tayo sa ganito. Nagpakapagod tayo para rito. Kukunin natin ‘to.” The team captain’s words breathed new life to his team, which mounted a counter offensive to tie the frame at 13. De Guzman saved a match point as the two squads went neck-and-neck in the mad dash to the finish. CSB saved another match point for its final run and capped it off with Arda’s off the block hit as the Blazers finally ended their long wait to raise the championship trophy. “Talagang pinaghirapan namin ito. Personally, ito ang frustration ko simula nung college pa na di namin nakuha,” said CSB coach Arnold Laniog, whose squad finished runner-up to Emilio Aguinaldo College in Season 90.              De Guzman, in his last duty for the green and white, posted 28 points including 26 kills.       Looking back, their journey to the throne started that fateful day when they walked out of the arena with their heads bowed and hearts shattered the year before.     “Naging stepping stone namin ‘yun, nung natalo kami noon,” he shared. “Mas nag-prepare kami (after noon). Emotionally tinanggap namin siya. Ginawa namin siyang motivation.”     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2020

DO YOU REMEMBER... the Lady Stags’ not so perfect seasons?

It’s not uncommon to see a team squander a huge advantage. A defeat like that will surely sting. But what more in a championship series and in a situation where a squad holds a thrice-to-beat advantage? San Sebastian College found itself on the wrong side of history after its infamous collapse in the NCAA women's volleyball finals. Twice. Not only did Lady Stags came up short of winning the crown while holding a thrice-to-beat advantage in consecutive seasons, but in those two series the Lady Stags only won one game. In a thrice-to-beat scenario, the team holding the advantage need only two victories to wrap the series. The disadvantaged side must win three times. Getting in that position is not easy. It means, a team must sweep the elimination round. And if you did brush off all your rivals that would mean you're the dominant team. Easily, the title favorite According to the NCAA Season 91 and 92 rules, the sweeping team gets an outright Finals seat armed with a twice-to-win advantage. A 1-0 lead in a virtual best-of-five series. The rest will have to duke it out in a stepladder semifinals to earn a championship seat. The unbeaten team will have fresh legs as it gets enough rest while waiting for its Finals opponent. For the other team, it means more games and no time for rest plus the possibility of wear and tear. The odds were stacked in favor of the Lady Stags. Or so they thought. SSC-R was a force to be reckoned with in those two seasons. Leading the Lady Stags was power-hitter and bulk-scorer Grethcel Soltones. She had a solid supporting cast in Nikka Dalisay, Jolina Labiano, Dangie Encarnacion, Kat Villegas, setter Vira Guillema and libero Alyssa Eroa under multi-title head coach and NCAA legend Roger Gorayeb. In Season 91, SSC-R fielded a well-experienced roster which came from two unsuccessful championship trips in the previous three years. The Lady Stags crushed all of their nine competitions in the elims including the CJ Rosario, Jovielyn Prado and Dana Henson-bannered Arellano U, which the year before beat SSC-R for the title. SSC-R completed its elims sweep after beating College of St. Benilde in four sets and got a nine-day rest. The Lady Blazers took the long route to secure a Finals seat, beating University of Perpetual Help in first stepladder semis before dethroning the Lady Chiefs. The Lady Stags came in the Finals brimming with confidence as they faced the same squad they defeated before their break. SSC-R barely escaped a tightly-contested extended first set but the Lady Stags unraveled in the next three frames. CSB coach Macky Carino knew that SSC-R will live and die with Soltones so he sent his best net defenders Jeanette Panaga, Janine Navarro and Ranya Musa to clog the net. SSC-R was also plagued with errors and miscues in their reception. The second game followed the same pattern with only Soltones scoring in double figures and the Lady Stags finding themselves on the brink of collapse. Soltones, upon receiving her second straight Most Valuable Player award, saved SSC-R from total collapse as she scored 31 points in a four-set escape in Game Three. But it all just delayed the inevitable doom that would befall the Lady Stags. In the series decider, CSB showed no signs of fear as it already faced two do-or-die matches before. SSC-R crumbled in the first two sets, showed life in the third before eventually yielding as the Lady Blazers claimed a historic breakthrough title in vanquishing a more seasoned rival. It was the same nightmare that the Lady Stags encountered the following season. Again, Soltones rallied SSC-R back to the Finals outright on her swan song. Once again with a thrice-to-beat advantage. Arellano U, on the other hand, got its revenge over CSB in the last stepladder match to book a championship showdown against the Lady Stags. The Lady Chiefs, behind Andrea Marzan, Regine Arocha and Mary Anne Esguerra, stunned SSC-R in straight sets in the series opener. It was Rialen Sante and Prado who did most of the damage in Game 2 as Arellano U beat the Lady Stags in a come-from-behind five-setter. And on Valentine’s Day 2017, SSC-R absorbed another humiliating defeat. Thrice-to-beat. Thrice beaten.        Soltones closed her NCAA career as a three-time MVP and one of the most decorated players in the league. But she will always be haunted by the ghost of her past. A legacy stained by the misfortune of leading a team found wanting in titles. The Lady Stags since then failed to recover their lost glory as they bowed out of the final four the following year for the first time in decades. SSC-R followed the same dark path the year after.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2020

SSC-R targets at least a semis playoff

strong>Games Wednesday: /strong> (The Arena, San Juan) 8:30 a.m. --- AU vs. CSB (jrs) 10:00 a.m. --- AU vs. CSB (m) 11:30 a.m. --- AU vs. CSB (w) 12:30 p.m. --- Perpetual vs. SSC-R (w) 2:00 p.m. --- Perpetual vs. SSC-R (m) 3:30 p.m. --- Perpetual vs. SSC-R (jrs)     Unbeaten San Sebastian College goes for at least a playoff for a semifinals spot on Wednesday when the Lady Stags return to action in the 92 sund /su NCAA women’s volleyball competition at The Arena in San Juan. Carrying an immaculate 6-0 win-loss record, SSC-R looks to remain on top of the standings and plant a foot to the next round when it takes on a dangerous Perpetual Help side in the scheduled 12:30 p.m. clash. Behind reigning back-to-back Most Valuable Player winner Grethcel Soltones, who is averaging 16.16 points per game, the Lady Stags won its first six games including a straight sets victory over the Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals last December 6 before the long holiday break. SSC-R is just three wins away from sweeping the elimination round that will propel them straight to the Finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage. In this scenario, the top three teams after the elims will play in a stepladder semis format with the no. 2 team enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage.    But Lady Stags head coach Roger Gorayeb is concerned with the mentality of his team heading into the crucial stretch of the elims with Perpetual, Lyceum of the Philippines and defending champion College of St. Benilde standing in their way.    “’Yung kasing kilos nila kung oobserbahan ko ngayon, ‘yang kilos nilang ‘yan hindi yan pang-straight (elims sweep) na panalo,” said Gorayeb. “Wala, ang dami pa nilang butas.” The mentor added that facing Perpetual will serve as an acid test for his wards. “Ang iniisip ko ngayon ay yung laro ng team ko at hindi yung laro ng iba,” he said. “Masusubukan kami sa huling tatlong laro namin.” The Lady Altas after a sluggish start won three games in a row for a 3-2 slate with Lourdes Clemente, who is averaging 10.6 points per outing, leading the way. Perpetual is coming off a 29-27, 25-15, 25-21 win over Letran last December 7. Meanwhile, CSB is also gunning for a semis spot playoff against streaking Arellano University at 11:30 a.m. The Lady Blazers sit a solo second with 6-1 slate ahead of the Lady Chiefs and idle LPU, who are tied at third and fourth spots with identical 5-1 cards. In men’s play, the league-leading Blazers (6-1) and Chiefs (5-1) face off at 10:00 a.m. while the Altas (4-1) and Stags’ showdown is slate at 2:00 p.m. In the juniors play, AU (3-2) and CSB (0-4) clash in the 8:00 a.m. opener while Perpetual (3-1) and SSC-R (0-4) collide in the 3:30 p.m. match.     ---       Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles        .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Mag-isip sila sa laro -- coach Gorayeb on Lady Stags

strong>Games on January 4: /strong> (The Arena, San Juan) 8:30 a.m. --- EAC vs LPU (jrs) 10:00 a.m. --- EAC vs. LPU (m) 11:30 a.m. --- EAC vs LPU (w) 1:00 p.m. --- Arellano vs JRU (w) 2:30 p.m. --- Arellano vs JRU (m)     San Sebastian College may be just three games away from completing an eliminations sweep to earn a free ride straight to the Finals but head coach Roger Gorayeb is still doubtful if the Lady Stags can make a repeat of their last year’s feat. The multi-titled mentor said that there’s a lot of things that his team needs to improve on heading into the final stretch of the 92nd NCAA women’s volleyball tournament.  “’Yung kasing kilos nila kung oobserbahan ko ngayon, ‘yang kilos nilang ‘yan hindi 'yan pang-straight (elims sweep) na panalo,” said Gorayeb, who wants to end a six-year title drought. “Wala, ang dami pa nilang butas.” SSC-R won its first six games to remain the only undefeated team but will next face Perpetual Help, Lyceum of the Philippines University and a championship rematch with defending champion College of St. Benilde to wrap up their elims campaign. Gorayeb said that he’s not thinking about the Lady Stags completing a sweep of the elims, but what he wants to see is for his team to play as a team and his players to do their roles and not rely too much on reigning back-to-back Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones, who is averaging 16.17 points per game.    “Actually 'di ko na tinitingnan ang sweep. Ang gusto ko lang manalo ng manalo,” said Gorayeb, whose team swept last year’s elims to advance in the Finals outright only to fall at the hands of CSB in four games. “Hindi rin naman pwedeng umasa na lang ng umasa kay Grethcel,” he added.  Gorayeb pointed out that his team should work harder both on offense and defense and must be the side dictating the tempo of the match. He added that he wants his wards to think and adjust inside the court. “At this point in time marunong na silang maglaro,” he said. “Ang problema hindi sila marunong mag-isip during the laro. Nagre-rely sila dun sa sasabihin ko sa kanila. Ayoko na ngang magsalita para kumilos na lang sila ng kumilos.” SSC-R will resume action on January 11 against Perpetual Help (3-2) before taking on LPU on January 23 while the Finals rematch against CSB is scheduled on the 25th. In case of a sweep, SSC-R will advance to be the Finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage. The next three teams after the elims will play in the stepladder semifinals with the no. 2 seed enjoying a twice-to-beat incentive.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2017

PBA: 'Perfect team' allowed Asi Taulava to dominate 2003 season

Asi Taulava is going strong heading into his 21st PBA season. The Ageless one is trying to become the first local player to play in the league for four separate decades. Taulava is one of the best players the PBA has ever seen and his banner year came in 2003 when Asi went full "The Rock" mode to dominate the league. In the 2003 season, Asi was the PBA's Most Valuable Player and was in the All-PBA 1st team and All-Defensive Team. In that year's All-Filipino, Taulava was the Best Player of the Conference and Finals MVP after leading the Talk 'N Text Phone Pals to their first championship. Even during one of the best single-season performances in the PBA, it was a "perfect team" that helped Asi stamp his class in 2003. "I had a perfect team," Taulava said on 2OT with PBA broadcasters Magoo Marjon and Carlo Pamintuan. "My first 3-4 years, remember at the time Mobiline just bought the franchise from Pepsi. The franchise was moving through cultures. The MVP group came in and now we started getting pieces," he added. As Talk 'N Text built its team, the Phone Pals ended up surrounding Asi with veterans like Vic Pablo, Bong Ravena, Mark Telan, Patrick Fran, and Donbel Belano. Talk 'N Text also added rookies Harvey Carey and Jimmy Alapag via Draft. "The big piece was bringing in Vic Pablo from Shell. Then Bong Ravena, Patrick Fran... then we added Jimmy Alapag and Harvey Carey. Bringing those guys in plugged those holes that we had," Taulava said. "We couldn't believe Jimmy fell to 10th in that Draft," Taulava added as Alapag became the final pick of the first round in the 2003 Draft. Carey was the fourth selection. Coached by Joel Banal, the Phone Pals beat Tim Cone's Alaska Aces after five grueling games in the semifinals. In the Finals, Talk 'N Text overcame a 0-2 deficit to tame Chot Reyes' Coca-Cola Tigers in six for the title. "Coke was really good at the time, they had Rudy [Hatfield], Johnny [Abarrientos], Rafi [Reavis], they had all these guys that knew how to win and at the time, they were in the semis majority of the time. That team was built to win," Taulava said. "We just happened to catch them [off guard]. I think they thought the series was over when we went down 0-2, they never thought we would fight back. Everything just happened. Lucky for us everything fell into place, because it could have easily been a 4-0 sweep," Asi added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2020

GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Joel Cagulangan s NCAA 93 playoff run

Joel Cagulangan was, hands-down, the best player in all of the NCAA Jrs. in the Season 93 playoffs. And he had to be because College of St. Benilde-La Salle Green Hills lost five of its last six games in the elimination round and had to win a knockout bout against San Sebastian College-Recoletos just to get into the Final Four. There, they had to down powerhouse San Beda High School not once, but twice before moving on to a date with defending champion Mapua High School. Safe to say, the odds were all against the Jr. Blazers in that playoff run - but one player, one player who only stood at 5-feet, 8-inches willed them to do the impossible. That was no more evident than in the winner-take-all Finals Game 3 where LSGH was trailing by one with less than a minute remaining. After getting a defensive rebound, Cagulangan got a foul for his troubles and was sent to the line where he coolly converted both free throws. Not long after, two defensive stops by partner-in-crime Joshua David finished off an improbable championship. In the end, the Butuan native had 19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and four steals to his name - unquestionably recognized as the Finals MVP. Inand Fornilos, the green and white's tireless forward then, perhaps put it perfectly when he said, “Pag wala siya, parang magiging imposible. Pag nandun siya, kayang-kaya.” And yet, that wasn't even Cagulangan's most impressive game. In another do-or-die game, this one, Game 2 against the top-seeded and twice-to-beat Red Cubs, the Jr. Blazers found themselves all even with their opponents at 103-all with less than a minute remaining in the third overtime. It was at that point, that the pint-sized playmaker sliced and diced his way to a left-handed layup. That proved to be the go-ahead basket en route to a 110-108 decision in the classic contest. There wasn't even supposed to be a third extra period as LSGH was down by three with 11 ticks to go in the clock in the second overtime before Cagulagan buried a booming triple to emphatically exclaim that the game was far from over. In the end, he had 29 points to go along with nine assists, nine rebounds, and two steals and played all but three of the possible 55 minutes in a matchup that had 22 lead changes and seven deadlocks. That performance will always be known as the first and foremost show of just how great his will to win is. Fortunately for the University of the Philippines, it will be getting to know just that as Joel Cagulangan is now its point guard of the future. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2020

10 things that make Alyssa Valdez phenomenal

Alyssa Valdez has arguably made the biggest impact in Philippine volleyball.   Her skills, passion and charisma endeared her to volleyball supporters, purists or casual fans, from all walks of life. She brings energy and leadership to every team that she’s joined. Valdez draws a huge crowd every time she plays. Valdez is the poster girl of the sport that for years struggled to draw mainstream attention in a nation which considers basketball as its biggest sporting event. The 27-year old pride of San Juan, Batangas is the face of local volleyball. So on her birthday today, let’s look at some of the things that makes the Phenom really phenomenal.   Two-time UAAP women’s champion Valdez is Ateneo de Manila University’s undisputed Queen Eagle. Talks about the Lady Eagles’ breakthrough championship will not be complete without the mention of her name. After two years of bridesmaid finishes, Ateneo bagged its first-ever UAAP title in 2014 after beating the thrice-to-beat De La Salle University in four games in the Finals despite leading a young band of Lady Eagles playing under the new system of Thai coach Tai Bundit. The following year, Ateneo, with Valdez at the helm, retained its crown in a tournament-sweeping fashion.      Three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Her skills during her collegiate career stood out among her peers. Valdez’s effort was rewarded with three Most Valuable Player awards in Season 76, Season 77 and in her last playing year in Season 78 in 2016. She also pocketed the Season 76 Finals MVP award.   Young phenom Valdez didn’t build her reputation overnight. It was her hard work and effort that brought her where she is right now. She was still a diamond in the rough when she was recruited by University of Sto. Tomas in a regional meet. But the Espana-based squad polished Valdez into a real gem of a player. Valdez, backed by a powerful lineup that featured the likes of Kim Fajardo and Jaja Santiago, won three straight UAAP girls’ titles and in the process collected three season MVPs. She was also named UAAP high school athlete of the year twice.        National team mainstay With her talents, dedication and good work ethics, Valdez has been a mainstay with the national team. Her first tour of duty was in 2008 when she represented the country in the Asian Youth Championship held in Pasig City. She joined the PHI Team in the 2014 FIVB Southeast Asian Zone qualifier in Vietnam. In 2015, she donned the tricolors for the Asian U-23 Championship and on the same year saw action in the country’s return in the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore after a decade of absence. Since then Valdez participated in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur and 2019 Manila SEA Games. She also took part in the 2017 Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.     2015 SEA Games flagbearer Valdez also carries the honor as being the first-ever volleyball player to become the PHI flag-bearer in the SEA Games. She marched holding the national color in front of Team Philippines during the traditional parade of nations inside the OCBC Arena in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games.   Accomplished commercial league star She has been collecting commercial league titles since high school starting from the Shakey’s Girls Volleyball League. Valdez was also successful in the different conferences of the defunct V-League, racking up championships and individual accolades. In the Premier Volleyball League, she powered Creamline to three titles including a sweep of the Season 2 Reinforced and Open Conferences in 2018. She won three conference MVP awards.      Import abroad International leagues took notice of Valdez’s talents and charm so it’s not surprising that she landed offers to play abroad. Valdez played as an import in Thailand for 3BB Nakornnont from 2016 to 2017. After her stint in Thailand, Valdez flew to Taiwan to play for Attack Line.   Host, Actress, TV personality Valdez is a regular fixture in different sports shows in ABS-CBN S+A. She’s a host, courtside reporter and a game analyst.   Valdez also had a few showbiz stints. She appeared in some Kapamilya teleserye including a cameo in ‘And I Love You So’ in 2016 alongside Julia Barretto and Miles Ocampo and in the movie ‘My Letters to Happy’ with by TJ Trinidad and Glaiza De Castro.    Aside from her TV and movie career, Valdez is also one of the most recognizable athlete product endorsers.   Social media influencer She is also one of the most popular Filipino athlete on social media. As of posting, Valdez has 1.9 million Twitter followers, 1.3 million followers on Instagram and her YouTube channel has more than 76,000 subscribers.   Featured in the Olympics Channel website While the likes of Sisi Rondina, Jaja Santiago and Bryan Bagunas were featured in the FIVB website, Valdez’s impact on Philippine Volleyball was highlighted in a feature article in no less than the Olympic Channel website. The article touched about her humble beginnings to her meteoric rise and why she is regarded as the nation’s brightest star in the sport. These are just some of the things take make Valdez a true pride of our nation in the sport Happy birthday, Alyssa!.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2020

GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Thompson-Jalalon s triple-double duel

Triple-doubles are rarities - and so, what is it called when two players each tally a triple-double in one game? A classic. Scottie Thompson and Jiovani Jalalon put on a show on September 4, 2015 as the former's University of Perpetual Help went at it with the latter's Arellano University in the NCAA 91 Men's Basketball Tournament. Of course, all of the Altas and all of the Chiefs were right there with them as the two teams duked it out every single second all the way through to double-overtime. When the final buzzer sounded, Jalalon and company triumphed over Thompson's crew, 84-77. At that point, Jalalon had turned in a 32-point, 15-rebound, and 10-assist masterpiece to edge out Thompson and his 24 markers, 12 boards, and 11 dishes. Yes, in that one game, two players put on a duel for the ages - a duel of triple-doubles. Even in the earlygoing, the contest was looking like it was going to be a classic as Thompson and Jalalon were firing on all cylinders right from tip-off. Perps was actually on the verge of winning, up 65-58 inside the last seven minutes before Jalalon had four points and an assist in Arellano's 10-3 rally at the end of regulation. Come the extra period, Jalalon only stepped harder on the gas, accounting for all of the points in the Chiefs' 11-2 run for a 79-70 lead. Thompson would not quit just yet and dropped five points in the last two minutes, but was turned back time and again by Jalalon who made good on all of his four shots from the stripe. In the end, Jalalon could only credit his triple-double to his will to win. As he put it, "Iniisip ko lang yung teammates ko. Hindi ko naman iniisip na habulin yung stats." He then continued, "Nagsipag lang talaga ako kasi kailangan naming manalo. Yun lang." And in the end, he came out on top of "Mr. Triple-Double" himself. For his part, Thompson had nothing but praise for the player who got the better of him in a duel of triple-doubles. "'Di naman talaga imposible yun kasi si Jio, all-around player. Gagawin din niya lahat para sa team," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2020

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

CAMPEONE: Year of the Tiger (2010)

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 26th, 2020

UAAP volleyball’s most memorable Finals five-setters (2010-19)

UAAP volleyball fans just love to see matches go the full five sets. It means more action, more suspense and more drama as the game goes to an exciting climax. What more if it happens in the Finals? We’ve listed down some of the exciting five-set championship games in the past decade.     SEASON 74: FEU-UST Men’s Finals Game 2 (Feb. 29, 2012) For the past four years prior to Season 74, University of Sto. Tomas dominated the men’s competition. For two straight seasons, the Emil Lontoc-mentored Tigers had Far Eastern University’s number in the Finals.    In Season 74, the Tamaraws finally got their long-awaited revenge but not after surviving a war of attrition in Game 2. FEU went down, 1-2, in the match with the Mark Alfafara and Salvador Depante-led Tigers determined to keep UST’s five-peat bid alive following a stinging straight-set defeat in the series opener. The Tamaraws, who topped the eliminations, but was forced by De La Salle University to a do-or-die in the Final Four, fought back in the fourth behind JR Labrador and Arvin Avila to drag the match to a dramatic decider. The fifth set went as close at it could get with FEU just keeping a slim lead heading into the final stretch. The Tams moved at championship point off a Labrador off the block hit only to see the Tigers save two match points on a middle attack by Season Most Valuable Player Jayson Ramos and a Depante crosscourt hit. FEU coach George Pascua called time to stop the bleeding before setter Pitrus De Ocampo set up the then graduating Kirk Beliran for the finishing blow off a combination attack to complete the 25-27, 25-15, 19-25, 25-21, 15-13, victory. The Tams ended a four-year title drought for their 25th title overall.              SEASON 76: Ateneo-DLSU Women's Finals Game 3 (March 12, 2014) We all know how great Ateneo de Manila University was when they toppled the then four-peat-seeking and thrice-to-beat De La Salle University in the women’s Finals of UAAP Season 76. But in the four games that two proud teams fought, Game 3 decided the fate of the series. Yes, the series didn’t end here, but it definitely shifted the momentum to the eventual champion Lady Eagles and broke the Lady Spikers’ will. The Finals protagonists split the first two games with DLSU moving just a win away from extending its reign. Ateneo took control of the first two sets, but the Lady Spikers were able to mount a comeback to claim the next two to set up a decisive fifth frame. The race to the finish became thrilling as well as controversial.       It started out as a nip-and-tuck battle before DLSU built a 12-8 separation to move within three points from the crown. Drawing energy from crowd, the Alyssa Valdez-led Lady Eagles answered with a 6-1 blitz to move at match point. Ara Galang answered with a hit and a kill block to put the Taft-based squad at championship point. Valdez delivered at crunch time with a kill followed by a through the block kill by Michelle Morente for a 16-15 match point advantage. Then came the controversial call in the last play. DLSU setter Kim Fajardo was whistled for a double-contact as she tried to setup a play close to the net after a poor reception that ended the game, 25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 16-25, 17-15, as the shocked DLSU side held their hands in the air in disbelief.      It was the series’ backbreaker as Ateneo, with momentum on its side, finished off the Lady Spikers in straight sets in the series decider for the Lady Eagles’ breakthrough title and first of back-to-back crowns.   SEASON 78:  Ateneo-DLSU Women's Finals Game 2 (April 27, 2016) The then grand slam-seeking Ateneo Lady Eagles and DLSU Lady Spikers faced off in the Finals for the fifth straight time in Season 78. Eyeing redemption after finishing second for two straights seasons, DLSU shocked favored Ateneo led by its graduating hero Valdez in the series opener. The Lady Spikers were looking to finish off the Lady Eagles in Game 2. DLSU seemed to be on the right track when they took the first two sets. But Valdez, the Season Most Valuable Player, carried Ateneo on her back as the Lady Eagles rallied in the next two frames to force a deciding frame. With Valdez leading the way and momentum shifting on their side, the Lady Eagles were able to create a 10-7 separation. DLSU closed the gap, 11-13, only to see Ateneo hammer down the final blows. Jho Maraguinot scored an off the block kill before Amy Ahomiro turned back Majoy Baron to seal Ateneo’s 18-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11. Valdez registered her then second-best scoring performance of 34 points including 32 kills. But the feat just delayed DLSU’s redemption season as the Lady Spikers took Game 3 and knocked the crown off the Lady Eagles’ heads for a victorious sendoff to graduating stars Mika Reyes, Ara Galang and Cyd Demecillo.     SEASON 79: Ateneo-DLSU Women's Finals Game 2 (May 6, 2017) Just like the previous year, DLSU stared at an Ateneo squad determined to drag the Season 79 Finals series to a deciding battle. The Lady Eagles were able take a 1-2 match advantage. The Lady Spikers regrouped in the fourth to put the match in another wild wind up. Riding the momentum of its fourth set win, DLSU raced to an early 6-2 advantage and looked poised to go for the kill as the Lady Spikers stretched their advantage to 10-4. Ateneo fought back, chipping away DLSU’s lead to close in, 9-12. Tin Tiamzon gave the Lady Spikers more breathing room only for Jho Maraguinot to cut DLSU’s lead to three once again. A Majoy Baron quick attack pushed the Lady Spikers at championship point before Maraguinot threw in the white towel after sending her attack long as DLSU walked away with a 19-25, 25-14, 18-25, 25-18, 15-10, victory and a 10th overall title.       SEASON 79: Ateneo-NU Men's Finals series (May 2 and May 6, 2017) It was the Ateneo Blue Eagles perfect season. The Marck Espejo, Rex Intal, Josh Villanueva and Tony Koyfman bannered Blue Eagles completed a rare 16-0 season sweep. But the Ateneo had to go through the proverbial eye of the needle to achieve the feat especially in the Finals series where the Blue Eagles needed stave off the gritty Bryan Bagunas and Fauzi Ismail-led NU Bulldogs in five sets twice. And in both games, Ateneo had to comeback from a 1-2 match deficit. Espejo dropped 29 points to lead the Blue Eagles to a 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 25-18, 15-13, Game 1 win. The Season MVP again went firing on all cylinders in Game 2 as he scored 27 points including a 25-of-49 attacking clip in Ateneo’s 18-25, 25-16, 20-25, 25-18, 15-13, title-clincher. Ateneo claimed its third straight crown.    WORTH MENTIONING SEASON 70: FEU-Adamson Women's Finals Game 3 (March 2, 2008) When we talk about dramatic five-set finishes, the meeting between FEU and Adamson in Game 3 of Season 70 women’s will always be included in the classic list.   Yes, it happened 12 years ago. But hey, it deserves recognition. The Lady Tams boasted of a deep roster of talents in Rachel Anne Daquis, Maica Morada, Season MVP Wendy Semana, Majo Cafranca, Anna Abanto and rookie Shaira Gonzales. On the other hand, the Lady Falcons had Sang Laguilles, Angela Benting, Jill Gustillo, Michelle Segodine, prized libero Lizlee Ann Gata and Janet Serafica. After splitting the first two games, Adamson came a set close to its first-ever crown in Game 3 after taking a 2-1 match lead. But Daquis came alive in the fourth helping breathe new life to the Nes Pamilar-mentored Lady Tams. The fifth frame started out close before FEU unleashed five unanswered points to turn a 2-4 deficit to a 7-4 lead. Adamson responded with two straight points to move within one, 7-6, only to allow the Lady Tams to again pull away. Shirt-tugging Morada pushed FEU at match point, 14-8, off a kill before Benting saved a point for Adamson. But a late substitution on Segodine, who was supposed to take serve, by service specialist Jennifer Hiponia proved to be fatal. Hiponia under tremendous pressure put too much power on her serve as FEU escaped with a 14-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 15-9, victory and its 29th title overall.             SEASON 80: Ateneo-FEU men’s Final Four (April 21, 2018) It wasn’t a Finals game but the performance of Marck Espejo in this historic Final Four battle against FEU in Season 80 made this five-set clash worth mentioning. The then four-peat-seeking Ateneo was pitted against twice-to-beat Tamaraws. Espejo rewrote history as he carried the Blue Eagles on his back with a 55-point game to escape with a 18-25, 25-13, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9, win that forced a do-or-die match. The five-time MVP had a monster production of 47 attacks, six kill blocks and two aces. He scored 11 of Ateneo’s fifth set output. The Blue Eagles eventually clinched the last Finals spot but were dethroned by the Bulldogs.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

PBA: What s in a Name? San Miguel Beermen

Name changes happen a lot in the PBA, especially with the league’s company based-teams. It’s equal parts marketing and prestige when it comes to the naming of PBA teams. There are no cities represented here and no need for sponsorships.  Out of the 12 active teams in the PBA, even the pioneers like San Miguel Beer have gone through some name changes over the years, while teams like Columbian juggle through monikers like crazy. However, there are also teams like Alaska that have stayed solid through its brand all along. This series is not about those teams though. This series is about the franchises that have taken advantage of the PBA’s somewhat unique naming convention as we shuffle through their history of changes. What’s in a name, San Miguel Beermen?   TRU Pioneers: Royal Tru-Orange San Miguel was an original team when the PBA was first established in 1975, but the Beermen name wouldn’t come until years later. The team was first known as Royal Tru-Orange, after the soft drink. It took four years and 13 conferences before Royal won a PBA title, that being the 1979 Open Conference after beating Toyota in the Finals.   San Miguel Beermen 1.0 (Early 1980s) The franchise’s first use of the San Miguel Beermen produced two Finals trips in the 1982 Reinforced Filipino Conference and the 1982 Invitational Conference. Facing Toyota for the Reinforced Filipino title, the Beermen lost in seven games. San Miguel then turned around and won the Invitational tournament against Crispa.   San Miguel Beermen 2.0 (1987 Reinforced Conference – 2007 Fiesta Conference) For a good four years in the mid-1980s, the Beermen would carry the name of Gold Eagle Beer and the Magnolia Ice Cream brand before returning as SMB in the final conference of the 1987 season. San Miguel would keep its Beermen name for two decades, winning 15 league championships to build the foundation for their status as the PBA’s winningest franchise. Several dynasties and great teams were under the Beermen banner, the first major one being the 1989 Grand Slam team coached by Norman Black. With players like Mon Fernandez, Hector Calma, Alvin Teng, Samboy Lim, Franz Pumaren, Ricardo Brown, rookie Ato Agustin, and imports Michael Phelps and Ennis Whatley, the Beermen were the top-ranked team in all three conferences and beat Shell, Purefoods, and Anejo for the Grand Slam. After the Grand Slam year, San Miguel would go three full seasons without a title, but would win a championship at least once in each of the next three seasons that followed. 1992 MVP Ato Agustin, Samboy Lim, and Allan Caidic, made sure the Beermen were well taken cared off in the early 1990s before the team would go on a mini cold period. After back-to-back titles in the 1993 Governors’ Cup and the 1994 All-Filipino, San Miguel wouldn’t win another title until a new era of Beermen, led by coach Jong Uichico, took over towards the new millennium. With the pairing of eventual two-time MVP Danny Ilfefonso and Rookie of the Year Danny Seigle, the Beermen returned on top of the PBA mountain in 1999, winning the Commissioner’s Cup and the Governors’ Cup to bring a close to the millennium. As Danny I finally emerged as the MVP, San Miguel defended its two titles in 2000. The Beermen also won the 2001 All-Filipino to complete a trifecta of championships. They actually had a chance for a Grand Slam in 2001, but SMB would lose the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup Finals to Red Bull and Sta. Lucia respectively. Still with the core of Danny I, Danny S, Dondon Hontiveros, and Olsen Racela, San Miguel would end a four-year drought and capture the 2005 Fiesta Conference with a 4-1 win over Talk ‘N Text, the franchise’s 17th title.   Magnolia Beverage Masters (2007-2008 season) The Magnolia name would come back for one season in the late 2000s for mostly uninspiring results. In the 2008 Philippine Cup, the Beverage Masters finished with a 10-8 record and entered the playoffs as the no. 5 seed. They lost in the first round. In the 2008 Fiesta Conference, the Beverage Masters again entered the playoffs as the no. 5 seed with a 10-8 record. They lost in the semis and finished fourth, ending their run with a loss to Red Bull, just like in the All-Filipino.   San Miguel Beermen 3.0 (2009 Philippine Cup – 2011 Commissioner’s Cup) Back as the San Miguel Beermen, the team rebuilt its frontline in an attempt to recreate the Danny Ildefonso-Danny Seigle tandem almost a decade prior. The Beermen dealt the no. 3 pick of the 2008 Draft to Talk ‘N Text to acquire Jay Washington. The pick was used to select Jayson Castro. San Miguel then used a trade package centered around Marc Pingris to bring Arwind Santos to the fold. However, the mega trade happened after the Beermen won the 2009 Fiesta Conference championship for the franchise’s 18th title. Unfortunately, San Miguel’s power moves wouldn’t yield immediate results, losing back-to-back Finals to Alaska and Talk ‘N Text in the 2010 Fiesta Conference and 2011 Philippine Cup respectively. The San Miguel Beermen name would experience an unprecedented result in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup when a 2-9 record landed the team in last place.   Petron Blaze Boosters (2011 Governors’ Cup – 2014 Philippine Cup) Refreshed as the Petron Blaze Boosters, Arwind Santos would lead the team to the championship of the 2011 Governors’ Cup. The title win is significant as the Blaze Boosters stopped Talk ‘N Text from winning a Grand Slam with a seven-game decision in the Finals. Unfortunately, Petron blew a 3-1 lead in the semifinals of the 2012 Philippine Cup, allowing the Tropang Texters to get their win back on their way to back-to-back All-Filipino championships. The infamous Petronovela would follow as the Blaze Boosters would consistently fail to meet expectations. After the semifinals debacle against Talk ‘N Text, Petron finished 9th and failed to make the playoffs in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup. After three underwhelming conferences, the Blaze Boosters would make their way to the Finals of the 2013 Governors’ Cup, only to lose Game 7 to San Mig Coffee. Perhaps the peak of the Petron name in the PBA came in 2012, when the Blaze Boosters selected June Mar Fajardo with the first pick of the Draft.   San Miguel Beermen 4.0 (2014 Commissioner’s Cup – present) Despite reverting back the San Miguel Beermen name, the remnants of Petronovela would remain as the team got booted out in the quarterfinals of the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup without winning a single game. The true return of the Beermen would come in the 2015 Philippine Cup, beating Alaska in a dramatic Game 7 to win the title. Coached by Leo Austria and with the core five of June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, and Alex Cabagnot, a new Beermen dynasty would be born. After the 2015 All-Filipino title, San Miguel would beat Alaska two more times in the Finals. The first one was a sweep in the 2015 Governors’ Cup before the Beermen took the Aces down again to win the 2016 Philippine Cup. The “Beeracle” run to win back-to-back All-Filipino titles will be marked in history as the first time a PBA team came back from a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-7 series. San Miguel’s next history-making event came in the 2017 Philippine Cup after the Beermen matched Talk ‘N Text’s earlier feat by becoming the second-ever Perpetual Champions with three straight All-Filipino titles. However, San Miguel has its rival beat by winning a fourth and fifth straight Philippine Cup title in the next two years. The Beermen have also attempted to win a Grand Slam twice in recent years, doing so in 2017 and 2019. Unfortunately, both bids ended at the hands of Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals of the Governor’s Cup. Still, in adding eight championships so far, the Beermen have increased their all-time lead as they now hold 27 league titles. This era also produced arguable the greatest PBA player ever in six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: CJ s 2017 LPU vs Calvin s 2019 San Beda

A perfect run in NCAA Men's Basketball, as it stands today, has not been done. Yes, San Beda University scored a season sweep in 2010, but that tournament totaled nine teams - meaning, the Red Lions won 16 elimination round games as well as two more in the best-of-three Finals for an overall record of 18-0. Even farther back, San Sebastian College-Recoletos didn't lose once in several seasons from the 1980s to the 1990s, but played, at maximum, 13 games. As it stands today, the Grand Old League has 10 squads - making for 18 elims matches and then a race-to-two championship round. As such, an eye-popping 20-0 perfect run has not been done. In the last three years, two teams have come close - CJ Perez's Lyceum of the Philippines University in 2017 and Calvin Oftana's San Beda in 2019. After winning each and every game in the elims, however, both squads went on to lose in the Finals - and so, not only did they miss out on a season sweep, but also got denied of a championship. Looking back, which almost-but-not-quite was more powerful - and therefore, more painful? That is what we hope to answer in this ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. In reviewing the elims masterpiece and Finals meltdown of the two teams, we will be judging them in five categories (elims dominance, expectations exceeded, inherent talent, competition, and Finals fight) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. ELIMS DOMINANCE Simply put, San Beda just ran roughshod over the rest of the league in the NCAA 95 elims. Doubted after having lost Robert Bolick and Javee Mocon, the Red Lions sent a statement that the title still goes through them and beat up their opponents by an average of 18.9. In the end, their closest call was a four-point triumph over archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran and the number of their single-digit wins were a staggering, well, three out of 18. For comparison, LPU normed a winning margin of 12.8 in the Season 93 elims - with more than a few close calls against also-rans in Arellano University, Emilio Aguinaldo College, and Mapua University. After ambushing the rest of the league with their run-and-gun game, the Pirates had to fight tooth and nail in the stretch run of the elims. In fact, in the last game before the playoffs, LPU needed two extra periods to put away San Beda. Yes, a win is a win, but it's clear as day that between the wo teams, it was the 2019 Red Lions who dominated the elims. Advantage San Beda, 10-8 EXPECTATIONS EXCEEDED As aforementioned, San Beda was expected to go through growing pains in 2019 as they had lost Bolick and Mocon and would have to rely on a talented yet young core of James Canlas, Evan Nelle, and Calvin Oftana. Still, the Red Lions were the Red Lions - and in recent history, a playoff fixture in the Grand Old League. And so, expectations were quite a bit lower - for the dynasty in Mendiola, that is - and the red and white did nothing but far exceed them with an unbeaten run in the elims. Still, back in 2017, LPU literally came out of nowhere to go undefeated in the elims. On a sunken ship in their first years in the NCAA, the Pirates finally got winds in their sails in the form of Perez and Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee. Those three, alongside captain MJ Ayaay and Cameroonian powerhouse Mike Nzeusseu, led them to their first-ever playoff berth which they got with their 13th win in as many games in the season. And with an 18th consecutive victory, LPU then booked for itself an automatic advance into its first-ever Finals. Expectations were highest in school history for the Pirates with Perez in tow, but nobody at all assumed they were sailing straight to the championship round. Advantage LPU, 10-9 INHERENT TALENT 2017 was the year that Perez became Perez. Putting up per game counts of 19.3 points in 45.1 percent shooting on top of 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.9 steals, the 6-foot-1 swingman was the undisputed MVP. At the same time, the Marcelino twins terrorized opposing backcourts by making an immediate impact as end-to-end menaces. Add to that Ayaay and Nzeusseu and LPU had a championship core - just about everybody else didn't know it just yet. On the other hand, 2019 was the first time that, arguably, San Beda wasn't the most talented team in the tournament. Make no mistake, the Red Lions remained loaded with the likes of "Bandana Bros." Canlas and Nelle, but it was actually former reserve forward Oftana who emerged as the league's top individual player with norms of 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 blocks. Still, in the end, San Beda went 18-0 in the elims by staying true to itself - utilizing an uncompromising total team effort. Advantage LPU, 10-9 COMPETITION LPU had to traverse rough seas in 2017 for its elims sweep. Back then, San Beda had Bolick and Mocon, Jose Rizal University had Teytey Teodoro and Jed Mendoza, San Sebastian had Michael Calisaan and Allyn Bulanadi, Letran had Rey Nambatac and Bong Quinto, and Arellano had Kent Salado and Lervin Flores. Even more, the Mythical Team had Perez, teammate Nzeusseu, Red Lion Mocon, Sidney Onwubere from non-Final Four team EAC, and University of Perpetual Help's Nigerian tower Prince Eze. Fast forward to 2019 and household names were hard to come by as the Mythical Team had San Beda's Oftana, a former reserve forward; Nelle, a former backup point guard; Canlas, a former secondary scorer; as well as San Sebastian late-bloomer Bulanadi and LPU playmaker Jaycee Marcelino. Of those five, Marcelino was the most recognizable name - and he was not necessarily known for putting a team on his back. Safe to say, Season 93 was much more competitive than Season 95. Even more, 2019 was the last year with foreign student-athletes and by then, only three remained. Tankoua is as solid as they come, Nzeusseu is spectacular at times, and College of St. Benilde's Clement Leutcheu is serviceable. The crop of reinforcements in 2017, though, had those three as well as MVP runner-up Eze of Perpetual, Hamadou Laminou of EAC, and JRU's Abdul Wahab Abdul Razak and Abdel Poutuouchi. Advantage LPU, 10-8 FINALS FIGHT Both LPU and San Beda woke up from dreaming of a perfect season in Game 1 of the Finals. The Pirates were sent crashing back to earth by the defending champion Red Lions and were ultimately swept in the championship round of Season 93. On the other hand, San Beda went the distance with archrival Letran in the Season 95 Finals, but was also at the losing end. Also, if not for Bonbon Batiller's botched reverse layup in the dying moments, Game 2 may have had a different ending, and the Red Lions may have been swept as well. Still, the fact that San Beda was able to take one from the eventual champions nudges it ahead of LPU which went winless in the championship round after a perfect elims. Advantage San Beda, 10-9 FINAL SCORE, 47-46, for LPU.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 7th, 2020

NCAA Season 95: Altas sweep elims for outright Finals seat

Another perfect elimination run, another outright trip to the Finals. Grand slam-seeking University of Perpetual Help completed a clean sweep of the elimination round for the second straight year after running over Letran, 25-14, 25-15, 25-18, on Thursday for an automatic championship seat in the NCAA Season 95 men’s volleyball competition at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The Altas dominated the nine-game elims and extended its winning run to 22 straight since Season 93. Perpetual head coach Sammy Acaylar gave all his players playing time with top Most Valuable Player contender Louie Ramirez leading the way with 10 points built on eight attacks and two aces. Ronniel Rosales and Ridzuan Muhali added eight markers each for the Las Pinas-based squad, which rained down 42 attack points. “Sa nangyari sa amin ngayon di ko naman ini-expect,” said Acaylar. “Never sa mind ko na inisip na tatalunin ko ang lahat. Di ko iniisip yun. Iniisip ko lang one step at a time.” The Altas will have to wait longer for their best-of-three championship opponent after the league announced an indefinite suspension on all sporting events as a precautionary measure in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Knights dropped to a 2-6 mark.   Christopher Cistina and Michael Doria finished with eight and seven points, respectively, for Letran. Meanwhile, Arellano University occupied the third Final Four seat after scoring a dramatic come-from-behind win over Emilio Aguinaldo College, 22-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-13, for a 6-2 win-loss record at third spot. Jesrael Liberato was instrumental in the Chiefs comeback, dropping 23 points off 18 attacks and five kill blocks while Christian Dela Paz and Kim Tan had 13 markers each. Skipper Christian Segovia added 11 points for Arellano U, which can force a playoff for a Final Four twice-to-beat advantage with a win over College of St. Benilde on Monday. The Generals remained at second spot with a 7-2 slate to close their elims campaign but the defeat put EAC in a precarious position of falling into a playoff for the twice-to-beat advantage. Joshua Mina scored 27 points with 17 digs and 24 excellent receptions in a lost cause for the Generals. Aeron Daduya had 16 markers, Danrich Melad finished with 14 while Mark Cabacang posted 12 for EAC.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles        .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2020

NCAA Season 95: AU, Perpetual rekindle rivalry in finals rematch

Three-time defending champion Arellano University faces another tough test on Wednesday in an early finals rematch against University of Perpetual Help in the NCAA Season 95 women’s volleyball competition at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The duel that promises thrilling action between two of the top title contenders is set at 12:00 noon and will air via iWant. The Lady Chiefs share the lead with College of St. Benilde after going unbeaten in five games. Arellano U is looking to capitalize on its straight sets demolition of San Beda University to re-assert its mastery over the Lady Altas, who the Lady Chiefs beat in last year’s championship series that went the full distance. All eyes are on reigning Most Valuable Player Necole Ebuen, graduating veteran Regine Arocha, Carla Donato and Mikaela Juanich as they try to preserve Arellano U’s unblemished slate and move closer to clinching a spot in the Final Four. But it won’t be an easy task with Perpetual also eyeing to sustain its current winning streak. The Lady Altas sport a 4-1 win-loss card and are coming off a sweep of Jose Rizal University last Monday. “Rematch ng finals yan. Pride din yan, siyempre ayaw namin na magpatalo sa bawat isa. Yun ang mentality namin,” said Perpetual head coach Macky Carino. The trio of Jhona Rosal, Bianca Tripoli and Shyra Umandal will lead the charge of the Lady Altas. Meanwhile, Mapua University (1-2) and Letran (1-2) cross paths at 2:00 p.m. The men’s match between three-peat-seeking Altas (5-0) and Chiefs (4-1) is set at 10:00 while at 3:30 is the Knights (0-3) and Cardinals (0-3) pairing. Reigning five-time juniors champion Perpetual (5-0) will see action at 8:30 a.m. against AU (5-0) while the Letran (2-1)-Mapua (0-3) encounter is at 5:00 p.m.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 28th, 2020

NCAA: San Beda grabs third win, share of second spot

San Beda University turned to Cesca Racraquin and Nieza Viray anew as the Lady Red Spikers kept their unbeaten card intact. The duo showed the way to help San Beda fight back from a set down to beat Letran, 24-26, 25-19, 25-18, 25-17, on Friday for its third straight win in the NCAA Season 95 women's volleyball competition at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Racraquin led all scorers with 22 points off 17 attacks, three aces and a pair of kill blocks laced with seven excellent receptions for an all-around performance for the Lady Red Spikers, who tied defending three-time champion Arellano University at second spot behind league-leading College of St. Benilde (4-0). Viray added 12 markers while Kimberly Manzano had nine points for San Beda, which had 46 kills with Lynne Matias tallying 22 excellent receptions to pilot the Lady Spikers offense. The Lady Knights fell to a 1-2 win-loss slate, dropping their second straight game. Chamberlaine Cunada was the only Letran player in double figures with 17 points. Daisy Melendres, Khryss Monteagudo and Julienne Castro finished with eight points each for the Lady Knights, who gave away 39 points off errors. Meanwhile, the Red Spikers turned back the Knights, 25-16, 23-25, 25-15, 25-20, for a 2-1 slate in men's play. In juniors' action, Letran dodged a playdate sweep after the Squires defeated the Red Cubs, 25-20, 25-14, 30-28, to tie its victim at 2-1 slate. ---  Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 24th, 2020

Unforgettable UAAP Final Four Moments

A Final Four in any of the UAAP seasons in the last 26 years has always been memorable and epic. Since Season 56, the format has intensified the competitiveness in the league, as it has since given four teams the chance at a championship, instead of just two teams in the 55 seasons prior. Here we witnessed dramatic, climactic face-offs between the first and fourth placers, and the second and third placers, with the top two teams enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage. This is to determine who will slug it out in the Finals. Yet there are rare instances when a school tops the eliminations unscathed, just like this year’s mighty Ateneo Blue Eagles, who advanced to the Finals outright after sweeping the round. In this case, a stepladder Final Four is implemented wherein the third and fourth battle each other in a do-or-die match before facing the second placer, which has a twice-to-beat advantage. And yes, these teams have made their playoff wars exciting and spectacular with a level of play that is truly exceptional. Here are some of the most powerful, controversial, heroic, and reverberating moments in the UAAP Final Four that have been forever etched in our minds:   1) UP enters Finals for first time in 32 years in Season 81 In their first Final Four appearance in 21 years, the UP Fighting Maroons had the utmost desire to make history once more with the battlecry “Atin ‘To,” captain Paul Desiderio’s famous call to arms.  And, in Season 81, barreling into the semifinals was already a gigantic feat, having been in the cellar for quite a while in the UAAP.  But they wanted more, and facing a championship-ready Adamson Soaring Falcons was an immense challenge with its lean and mean arsenal, given how the San Marcelino cagers had waylaid the competition in the eliminations, including the defending champions Ateneo. But they were unfazed with Adamson’s twice-to-beat advantage, and in Game 1, they would beat the odds, as the Fighting Maroons and the Soaring Falcons ended up tied at 71-all with three seconds to go. As Juan Gomez de Liano was inbounding, he found an open Bright Akhuetie near the basket to convert the game-winner for UP to arrange a winner-take-all.  And in the decider, it was again a tedious trek for both teams, with the game tied for the last time at 87-all in overtime. Then, the fiery captain will again own it for the Fighting Maroons as he swooshed a jumper off Adamson’s Sean Maganti with 6.6 seconds left. With Falcon guard Jeron Lastimosa missing a three off a timeout as time ran out led to utter euphoria in the Maroon-dominated Araneta Coliseum, spilling out to the numerous UP campuses across the nation, as the Fighting Maroons entered the Finals for the first time in 32 years. They would be denied a repeat of their 1986 title run however by the back-to-back champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, which won the Finals convincingly.   2) Blue Eagle Gec Chia’s miracle “shot” in Season 65 Season 65 was certainly the most unforgettable for the Ateneo Blue Eagles as it achieved a flurry of milestones. Already with a well-developed line-up and the immense motivation to win it all, after their previous heartbreaking campaigns, the Eagles had beaten the league-leading and four-peat-hunting DLSU Green Archers in the last game of the eliminations, denying them a sweep and an outright finals berth. And in third place at the end of the elims, the Eagles would face another formidable squad, the James Yap and Paul Artadi-enforced second-placers UE Red Warriors. After staging a stunning upset in the first game of their Final Four match-up, 84-78, Ateneo again engaged UE in a close, hard fought decider and both teams were tied at 70-all with 7.8 seconds left.  With LA Tenorio trapped in the offensive play, he would kick the ball out to the gutsy marksman Gec Chia, who would rise to the occasion and soar over a phalanx of defenders to make that miracle “Shot” heard everywhere as time expired. That unforgettable shot pushed the Eagles into that climactic end to a 14-year title drought in the Finals by that Herculean drubbing of La Salle.   3) FEU’s Mac Belo buries last-second corner three against La Salle in Season 77 On October 1, 2014, the defending champions DLSU Green Archers threatened the second placers FEU Tamaraws, with a menacing win in their first match in the Final Four of Season 77, nearing to book another trip to the Finals. In Game Two, with 24 ticks remaining, the Tamaraws used up the remaining seconds with the intent of taking the last shot.  FEU point guard Mike Tolomia then barreled his way through the paint, drawing two La Salle defenders and leaving Mac Belo free at the corner. With a little over two seconds to go, Tolomia would hand the ball off to Belo for a catch-and-shoot beyond the arc at the right corner and buried the three as time expired, giving the Tamaraws a return trip to the Finals. They would, however, eventually lose to a gritty NU Bulldogs, which won their first title in 60 years.   4) FEU eliminates Ateneo with Mac Belo’s follow up buzzer beater in Season 78 In Season 78, the FEU Tamaraws would most certainly want another crack at the title, after losing to NU the previous year. And they were really scorching hot in the eliminations, ending up tied with the UST Growling Tigers at the top of the heap, but dropped to second place due to a lower quotient. In the Final Four, they would face the third placers Ateneo Blue Eagles with a twice-to-beat advantage. On November 21, 2015, the FEU and Ateneo were stuck in a really close game with Roger Pogoy waxing hot for the Tams, and Kiefer Ravena leading all departments for the Eagles. With ten seconds to go, Adrian Wong of Ateneo streaked for a layup after a Richard Escoto miss. Wong’s daredevil shot was deflected and the ball ended up in the hands of Mike Tolomia, who rushed back to the FEU side of the court for the final shot. He would make a gallant incursion with a near acrobatic layup with one second to go. And as the ball rimmed out, a well-positioned Mac Belo was below the basket for the quick, buzzer beating putback that once more sent the Tamaraws to the Finals. FEU would then claim their 20th title overall over the UST Growling Tigers in the Finals.   5) FEU's Miko Roldan hits game-winner against Ateneo in Season 63  Mac Belo breaking the hearts of Ateneans with that buzzer beater in Season 78 was like history repeating itself. Fifteen years earlier, the Tamaraws, led by Celino Cruz and Edwin Bacani, also engaged the Blue Eagles to a Final Four battle, with Ateneo having that twice-to-beat privilege.  Led by Rich Alvarez, LA Tenorio and Larry Fonacier, the Blue Eagles were really soaring to get that elusive title it last won in 1988. And in the first game in the Final Four, people were expecting the Blue Eagles to cruise past FEU, having beaten them twice in the elims.  But the Tamaraws really gave them a hell of a match. As Andrew Cruz flubbed two charities in the dying seconds that should have given the Blue Eagles a comfortable three-point lead, FEU gunner Miko Roldan sank a semi-hook shot at the buzzer in the ensuing play to break the hearts of Ateneans everywhere and extend the series, 61-60. In the decider, Cruz and Bacani would conspire for 39 points to complete a monster upset, 75-67, and reach the Finals. The defending champions DLSU Green Archers, led by the legendary Renren Ritualo, was just too much for the Tams in the Finals and copped their three-peat.   6) Fight-marred Ateneo-La Salle Final Four series in Season 66 Joseph Yeo was all over the court in a scoring binge while Rookie-of-the-Year JVee Casio showed a glimpse of being a clutch player as the DLSU Green Archers, the fourth seed, took their storied rivalry with defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, the top seed, to a tenacious, heated Final Four war. Heightened emotions were at play since Ateneo’s colossal Finals victory the previous season, and the animosity between the two ballclubs was at its fiercest and most intense. In Game 1, after La Salle’s Jerwin Gaco’s putback sent the game into overtime, the extended play’s physicality went to overdrive. With 1:31 left in overtime, Gaco bumped LA Tenorio in the battle for the loose ball. Tenorio would then sneak a punch at Gaco, who then nudged the Ateneo guard. This led to a bench-clearing brawl, as players punched, kicked and shoved each other while the coaches tried to break up the fight even as referees whistled repeatedly.  La Salle’s Ryan Arana kicked Ateneo’s Wesley Gonzales from behind and the league meted the Archer with a one-game suspension. Also suspended were Tenorio and fellow Blue Eagle Christian "Badjie" del Rosario. The Archers would prevail after the five-minute extension, 76-72. The decider was also as heated with on-court and off-court flare-ups and violent confrontations between players and supporters. Ateneo’s steady offense, however, prevailed in the final minute, as the Blue Eagles hung on to 74-68 victory, entering the Finals for the second straight year. FEU, however, would deny Ateneo a back-to-back run, winning the championship in two games.   7) UST trounces NU twice to become first fourth placer to eliminate the top-seed in a Final Four series in Season 76 The NU Bulldogs were on a roll, and 2013 seemed to be their year, with Bobby Ray Parks returning after back-to-back MVP seasons and leading them to reach the top of the standings at the end of eliminations. But they have their Achilles heel—the dribblers of Espana—who have exerted their mastery of the Bulldogs, winning twice in the elims. And bad news for the Bulldogs, they would meet the UST Growling Tigers, which ended at fourth place, in the Final Four.  In Game 1, a red-hot Kevin Ferrer would lead UST to its biggest margin of 18 within the match, but they needed to fend off NU’s late charge, 71-62, to force a rubber match. And in the winner-take-all, UST completed its mastery of top-ranked Bulldogs, again with a game-long dominance to end at 76-69, marking the first time a fourth seed would snatch a Finals berth from a first-placer in the league.   8) NU’s Alfred Aroga’s monster block on Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena in Season 77 After a frustrating loss to UST in the Season 76 Final Four, NU would get another crack at gaining that elusive Finals appearance. But in the next chapter of the semifinals, NU will hope for a Cinderella finish to gain that berth, trying to beat the top placers Ateneo Blue Eagles, just like what UST did to them in the previous year when they were the top-seed. Jay-Jay Alejandrino and Troy Rosario led NU’s surge in the fourth quarter of the first game to spoil Ateneo’s twice to beat to force a deciding game. In the rubber match, no clear advantage was evident in the majority of the game. But after NU’s Gelo Alolino broke a 63-all tie with two charities off a foul from Ateneo’s Nico Elorde, 65-63, Kiefer Ravena would try to send the game to overtime with a drive against several NU defenders with three seconds left.  He failed however after NU’s Alfred Aroga swatted his attempt as time expired—a monster block that brought NU to its first finals appearance in 44 years. The Bulldogs would then wallop the FEU Tamaraws in the Finals, 2-1, to clinch their first title in 60 years. 9) Coming out party of UE’s Paul Lee in Season 72 The UE Red Warriors had come off from a heartbreaking Finals loss to the DLSU Green Archers in Season 70 after sweeping the eliminations, and another hurtful exit the succeeding year with a Final Four defeat at the hands of the Ateneo Blue Eagles. The Red Warriors would then make another trip to the Final Four in Season 72, which was the coming out party of prolific scorer Paul Lee, as the league’s third best after the eliminations. UE would battle second placers FEU for the chance to enter the Finals once more after the Season 70 debacle. They extended the series after Lee led a late game spurt with three consecutive three-pointers in a devastating 18-5 run, he would end up with a game-high 26 points. In the rubber match, with UE trailing FEU in the first half, the Red Warriors would make an explosive comeback in the second half and would again rely on the dependable Lee and Pari Llagas for their late-game heroics. Llagas would lift UE up for good with two straight field goals, 72-70, while Lee showed nerves of steel as he sank four consecutive free throws at the end of the game, 78-72, to give UE their Finals ticket. UE, however, would bow to powerhouse Ateneo Blue Eagles in the Finals in three games.   10) UST’s Jojo Duncil completes winning three-point play that frustrated UE in Season 69 By this time, the UE Red Warriors were in their fifth straight Final Four appearance. And in Season 69, UE would land at second place after the eliminations behind Ateneo, relishing its twice-to-beat advantage.  In the Final Four, UE would face a determined UST Growling Tigers, who were seeking redemption after last winning the championship in 1996, the last year of their 90s four-peat dynasty. UST would eke out a hard-earned Game 1 victory, 79-75 victory over UE that led to a deciding Game 2. In this clincher, both UST and UE kept the match close.  And in the final quarter, with the score tied at 79-all in the dying seconds, Growling Tiger Jojo Duncil converted on a tip-in, and-1, after a previous miss and teammate Jervy Cruz’s failed putback. Duncil would then complete the three-point play to give the UST an 82-79 edge, a few seconds left. UE’s Marcy Arellano would drive unmolested for an easy two to cut the lead to a solitary point, 82-81, nearing the end of the game. After UST committed a turnover, the Red Warriors had the chance to drop the game-winner but UE’s Jorel Cañizares missed a medium-range jump shot and a follow-up. Teammate Robert Labagala would then grab the rebound, but time ran out on the Recto dribblers. UST entered the Finals and annexed its first UAAP title in 10 years over the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Will there be another unforgettable Final Four moment in this current Season 82? Catch the start of the stepladder Final Four hostilities with the do-or-die match between the UST Growling Tigers and the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday, November 6, for the right to meet the twice-to-beat second placers UP Fighting Maroons on Sunday, November 10......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2019

PVL: Tigresses through to the semis

University of Sto. Tomas averted disaster as the Tigresses displayed mental toughness at crunch time to beat Far Eastern University, 25-14, 25-17, 10-25, 23-25, 15-12, and secure a Final Four slot in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Collegiate Conference Group B at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Sunday. Eya Laure and rookie Imee Hernandez delivered the goods and powered UST to its fourth straight win in as many games. The Tigresses can complete a sweep of pool play on Saturday against NCAA champion Arellano University. Laure registered 18 points with 14 from attacks, three aces and a kill block while Hernandez got 14 markers including two in UST’s closing 6-2 scoring binge in the fifth frame. Rachelle Roldan scored 10 points Grace Vernaiz and Joyce Abueg combined for 15 points for the Espana-based squad, who hammered down 56 attack points. UST flirted with disaster after allowing the Lady Tamaraws to comeback from two sets down. FEU erased a 7-4 UST lead and even went up 10-9 before the Tigresses’ escape. Head coach Kungfu Reyes was just glad that his wards responded well to the challenge and displayed great character under pressure.        “Those things na ginagawa namin sa ensayo lalabas in real game so yun na yun. Yung test of character, yun ang pinakaimportante,” said Reyes.     The Lady Tams took a 10-9 lead after an Abueg attack error but Laure answered with an off the block hit that sparked a 5-0 blitz capped by a kill block by Hernandez to push UST at match point, 14-10. FEU countered with two straight points before Angel Cayuna sent her service short to end the duel. The Lady Tams fell to 2-2 slate tied with Arellano U behind second-running College of St. Benilde (3-1) and are on the brink of missing the semis cut. France Ronquillo finished with 16 points while Czarina Carandang and Jeanette Villareal posted 12 and 10 markers, respectively, for FEU, which will need to win over Lyceum of the Philippines University next week and hope that Arellano and CSB will drop their respective last assignments to force a playoff for the last Final Four seat. Meanwhile, LPU barged in the win column after cruising past TIP, 25-6, 25-15, 25-14, in the other Group B pairing. Alexandra Rafael and Joan Doguna scored 11 points each while mary Joy Onofre had 10 markers for the 1-3 Lady Pirates,who kept the Lady Engineers winless in four games.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 8th, 2019

Mentality of giants : Self-belief fueling Klopp s Liverpool

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Like the rest of the soccer world, Juergen Klopp had his doubts. Given the scenario — the big first-leg deficit, the presence of Lionel Messi on the other side, injuries to important players — the Liverpool manager just wasn't sure, deep down, that his team could come back from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals. So he laid down a challenge. "I said to the boys before the game, 'I don't think it's possible, but because it's you I think we have a chance. Because you have the mentality of giants,'" Klopp said, recalling some of his final words before kickoff on arguably the greatest night of soccer in Anfield history. That Liverpool managed to pull off the most unlikely of 4-0 victories in the second leg is a testament not only to the quality of the team Klopp has put together but also the belief he has instilled in a group of players who don't know when they are beaten. They've shown it all season. The late goals — however bizarrely they have come — in wins over Everton, Tottenham and, most recently, Newcastle have kept Liverpool in the Premier League title race with Manchester City to the final weekend. The backs-to-the-wall 1-0 win over Napoli in the final group game in the Champions League, which sent the Reds through courtesy of the head-to-head tiebreaker of goals scored. The mental fortitude to rebound from losing to Real Madrid in last season's Champions League final in the most painful way, certainly for Mohamed Salah after his first-half shoulder injury in that match. So maybe the comeback against Barcelona was natural for this machine that Klopp has created, albeit one that has yet to win a trophy under the German coach. And it feels entirely justified that if Liverpool is to fall short in the Premier League — the team is one point behind City with a game to play — it still has the chance to end the season with some silverware in a competition that has become so synonymous with this storied English club, a five-time European champion. "I am really happy having another chance to get things right," Klopp said, referring to the 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in Kiev. "Last year, we felt we have to go back, we cannot let it stand like this. I am not sure it will happen again, so it's so special." For Klopp, it is a chance to end his six-match run of losses in cup finals stretching back to the 2013 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, when he was coach of Borussia Dortmund. Since then, he has lost two German Cup finals with Dortmund and then three title matches with Liverpool — in the English League Cup (2016), the Europa League (2016), and last year's Champions League. "I know what people say about me and losing finals," Klopp said in one of his many candid moments in a post-game news conference during which he often seemed lost for words. There's certainly no self-doubt among his players. Check out, for instance, Andrew Robertson pushing Messi on the head with two hands while the Barcelona forward was on the ground one minute into the match. This a defender who, in 2017, was playing for Hull but is now one of the most highly regarded left backs in the world. Look at Trent Alexander-Arnold, who — at the age of 20 — had the audacity to pull off a 79th-minute corner routine in which he pretended to walk away from the ball only to spin around and cross for Divock Origi to sweep in the fourth and clinching goal while Barcelona's defenders looked the other way. It was such clear-thinking amid the furnace that was Anfield on Wednesday. And then there's Origi, an afterthought at Liverpool at the start of the season after spending last year on loan at Wolfsburg in Germany before being reportedly close to sealing a loan move to Huddersfield. Now here he is, scoring the late winner against Newcastle on Saturday and adding two more against Barcelona three days later. Salah was out, recovering after a concussion. Roberto Firmino was missing, too, with a muscle strain. And Naby Keita was recently ruled out for the season. Even during the game, Robertson was taken off at halftime with a calf injury and captain Jordan Henderson played on after hurting his right knee in the first half. Henderson was everywhere in the second half, eclipsing more-esteemed Barcelona midfield rivals Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic and helping to nullify Messi as the Argentine dropped deep. "The belief we have in the changing room is amazing," Henderson said. "Look at the supporters and the lads." Indeed, the night ended with Liverpool's players and coaching staff standing arm-in-arm in a line in front of jubilant supporters in The Kop, singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" — the club's anthem. Together, they'll head to Madrid for the final, feeling it's their destiny to win European soccer's biggest prize for the sixth time......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2019

After beating cancer, fight isn t too big for Jacobs

By Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press LAS VEGAS (AP) — The moment won't be too big for Daniel Jacobs, of that he's certain. Not after going toe-to-toe with the fearsome Gennady Golovkin before dropping a narrow decision. Not after beating cancer that doctors were sure would end his career, if not his life. Canelo Alvarez will be just another obstacle in front of him when they meet Saturday night in a middleweight title unification fight. "It's not my first rodeo," Jacobs said. "I don't look forward to being nervous. If anything I'm excited." A lot of boxing fans are excited, too, about a 160-pound title fight that is the prime attraction in this gambling city on Cinco de Mayo weekend. On one side is the 28-year-old Mexican champion and one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the game. Alvarez ducks nobody, and his own two fights against Golovkin were textbook performances for those studying boxing styles in the future. And then there's Jacobs, the 32-year-old who has conquered the usual obstacles put in the way of any fighter — and then some. He was once "The Golden Child," a tough Brooklyn prospect with skills advanced far beyond his age. He became "The Miracle Man" after beating a cancerous tumor in 2011 that damaged his nerves and paralyzed his legs. It's a story that only boxing could deliver. And it's one Jacobs is happy to let everyone know about. "I never get tired of telling my story," he said. "I know that there's somebody out in the world who hasn't heard it, so I share it as much as I can talk about it." Jacobs shared it a little more this week, taking a break from training to look back at the winding path his career has taken since turning pro a dozen years ago. He talked about being knocked out in Las Vegas nine years ago. He talked about being particularly nervous for a fight he ended up winning with an early knockout. And he talked about living on his mother's couch as he tried desperately to beat a rare form of cancer while somehow keeping alive his dream of boxing, too. "Sleepless nights," Jacobs said. "Times where I used to cry. Times where I used to even doubt if I would walk right again." The cancer was osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of the disease that caused a tumor to wrap around his spine. Doctors removed it during a six-hour surgery, but not before they told Jacobs he would probably not walk again, much less fight. And now he's in a bout that will make him millions of dollars — and could make him one of the most sought-after fighters around. "I never thought about this opportunity," Jacobs said. "I always just wanted to give back to boxing and see how far I could take it. But I never thought I would fight for a world championship. I mean, this is the greatest opportunity that I could even have, let alone dream about." The opportunity came about largely because Jacobs put on the performance of his career before dropping a decision to Golovkin in 2017 in a fight that could have gone either way. He helped himself more by winning a piece of the middleweight crown his last time out, a split-decision win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko. After two close battles of his own with Triple G, Alvarez was looking for a different opponent on what traditionally is a big pay-per-view fight weekend for him in Las Vegas. Instead of pay-per-view, the fight is on DAZN, and Alvarez-Jacobs is being counted on to sell subscriptions to the streaming service. And while Alvarez is a 4-1 pick by oddsmakers to retain his handful of titles, Jacobs is not an opponent he or promoter Oscar De La Hoya is selling short. "What impresses me most is his coming back from cancer," De La Hoya said. "It's a very special fighter who does that, a very special person who does that. It shows you his character, his will to win. That's what worries me most in this fight, his mind and his heart." That could mean 12 rounds of a thinking man's fight. It could mean an all-out brawl, or something in between. The outcome of the fight is uncertain, yes. But for a time, the outcome of Jacobs' life was uncertain, too. "I'm self-motivated," Jacobs said. "When everything was taken away from me, all I wanted was to get back to the sport of boxing. It's nothing short of a miracle to get to this point. That motivates myself to be the best version of myself that I can be." Whether that's enough to beat Alvarez won't be known until Saturday night, though one thing does seem certain: A win for The Miracle Man might not be such a miracle after all......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2019