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Hamilton eyes super weird seventh Silverstone triumph

Fresh from two dominant triumphs, Lewis Hamilton will seek to complete an early-season hat-trick and extend his home wins record to seven without his usual impassioned supporters in "super weird" circumstances at this weekend's British Grand Prix......»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardJul 30th, 2020

Hamilton forcing rivals to & lsquo;count sheep& rsquo; at 70th GP

Silverstone, United Kingdom—Lewis Hamilton returns to Silverstone this weekend knowing he faces another “serious challenge” with even softer tires and hotter conditions for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix than those he overcame on his way to a dramatic triumph in last Sunday’s British Grand Prix......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 7th, 2020

Column: The revolving door at No. 1 in the world ranking

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Jon Rahm is the No. 1 player in the world. The best player in golf? That depends on the week. Webb Simpson looked to be tough to beat when he won the RBC Heritage, giving him two victories, a runner-up finish and a third place in his last six PGA Tour events. But then Dustin Johnson won the Travelers Championship, renewing conversations that when he puts in the time, no one has a greater package of talent. During his two weeks off, however, golf became obsessed with super-sized Bryson DeChambeau and his 200 mph ball speed that carried him to victory in Detroit, his seventh straight top 10. And then two days after DeChambeau took a 10 — ideal for gymnastics, not so much for golf — on the 15th hole at Muirfield Village to miss the cut, Rahm built an eight-shot lead at the turn and held on for a victory at the Memorial that sent him to No. 1 in the world. For how long? Longer than Tom Lehman, for sure. Of the 24 players who have been No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986, Lehman was there the shortest time — one week. And just his luck, he took that week off, so he never even played a tournament at No. 1 in the world. Rory McIlroy, whom Rahm replaced at No. 1, and Justin Thomas can return to the top if they win the World Golf Championship this week in Memphis, Tennessee. At least that's easier to track than two weeks ago, when five players at the Memorial had a mathematical chance of reaching No. 1. Whether the reason is depth or parity, it's become a revolving door that doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon. Brooks Koepka started the year at No. 1, and McIlroy took over in February. Rahm was asked Tuesday if he considered them the best players in the world while they were at No. 1, and if he looks at himself that way now. “I think nowadays it's really tough to determine one player,” Rahm said. "Because yeah, Brooks is having a hard year right now. He's not playing his best. But he has won four majors in the last few years. Rory played amazing last year. It's hard to dictate one player alone. But it would be foolish of me to say that I'm not here thinking I'm the best player. “And I think all the great players out there who have got to this point are playing like they believe they're the best player,” he said. “In golf, you need to prove that every week.” McIlroy and Johnson have done that better than anyone over the last decade. McIlroy has reached No. 1 on eight occasions for a total of 106 weeks. Johnson has been there five times for a total of 96 weeks. During their longest stretches — 64 weeks for Johnson, 54 weeks for McIlroy — there was little argument. With Tiger Woods, there was no argument. Not since Woods in 2009 has a player started and finished a year without surrendering the No. 1 ranking. It was the eighth time Woods did that. Consider the 281 consecutive weeks Woods was No. 1, from the 2005 U.S. Open until the 2010 HSBC Champions. In the last 281 weeks, No. 1 has changed hands 27 times. Phil Mickelson was never on that list, and Rahm was quick to point out that playing against Woods in his prime certainly didn't help Lefty's cause. “But it still doesn't take away from what I've done,” Rahm said. “Now at the same time, getting here, it's great. I played great golf the last four years. ... It's not only to get here. but to stay here, hopefully for a long time.” Of the previous 23 players to reach the top of the ranking, seven won in their debut at No. 1. The most recent was Johnson in 2017 at the Mexico Championship, his second of three straight wins. The most timely belonged to Adam Scott, who had three chances to reach No. 1 by winning, and then got there during a week off. He returned and won at Colonial. The best was Ian Woosnam. He got to No. 1 in 1991 and then won the Masters. It's just a number. Rahm understands the world ranking enough to realize it's a product of two years, not one week. He should be proud, just as the 23 others before him. Thomas reached No. 1 after The Players Championship in 2018 and didn't play until the Memorial. He conceded to feeling a little different. “I just remember being a little more nervous because it's like all eyes are on you, and you're the best player in the world, so you feel like you should kind of play up to that,” he said. He tied for eighth. It could have been worse. Jordan Spieth missed the cut in his debut at No. 1. Adding to the volatility of the No. 1 ranking is the strength of the fields, which have been loaded with the world's best players since the restart and will remain strong with this World Golf Championship, the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup playoffs and then the U.S. Open, all in the next two months. Getting to No. 1 is hard work. These days, staying there might be even harder......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 29th, 2020

Hamilton takes responsibility for costly Italian GP pit-stop error

Lewis Hamilton blamed himself for the mistake that led to him being penalised in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix in which he finished seventh after a storming drive from the back of the field......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 7th, 2020

Bottas beats Hamilton to take 70th Anniversary pole

Silverstone, United Kingdom—Valtteri Bottas outpaced his Mercedes teammate and world championship leader Lewis Hamilton by the finest of margins on Saturday (Sunday Philippine time) to claim a dramatic pole position for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 9th, 2020

I wasn t good enough : Hamilton admits Bottas deserves Silverstone pole

Silverstone, United Kingdom | World champion Lewis Hamilton admitted he "wasn't good enough" after Valtteri Bottas showed just why champions Mercedes re-signed him for 2021 earlier this week by grabbing pole position at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Saturday.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 9th, 2020

Of F1 kings and kingship

I find the talks questioning the legitimacy of Lewis Hamilton’s legacy (now that he is eyeing to win his seventh Formula One championship via a shortened race calendar) as completely and utterly absurd......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2020

Hamilton says British GP was & lsquo;hardest turnaround& rsquo;

Silverstone, United Kingdom—Lewis Hamilton admitted his recovery on Saturday (Sunday Philippine time) from a spin to claim a record-smashing pole position for the British Grand Prix had been his “hardest turnaround”......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

Hamilton shatters lap record to grab British Grand Prix pole

Lewis Hamilton smashed the track record twice on Saturday to grab a record seventh British Grand Prix pole position with a stunning performance in a tense qualifying session......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

Hamilton bows head, raises fist to celebrate Styrian triumph

Spielberg Bei Knittelfeld, Austria—Lewis Hamilton raised a podium fist to salute the global anti-racism protests on Sunday as he celebrated his first win this season and the 85th of his career at the Styrian Grand Prix in a performance so dazzling that his Mercedes team boss described him as a “unicorn”......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 13th, 2020

Hamilton eyes Schumacher record

London—Seven months after they last competed in earnest, the Formula One circus will push a post-lockdown reset button to open the 2020 season in Austria on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJun 30th, 2020

Another GenSan boxer eyes stardom

  By NICK GIONGCO       Super-featherweight Mark Bernaldez, a stablemate of new sensation Mike Plania, becomes the second Filipino fighter to enter the ring during the coronavirus era when he faces Albert Bell of the US in an eight-round catchweight clash at 132 lbs on July 2 in Las Vegas. Just last week, Plania grabbed the […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie EJ Laure vs. rookie Eya Laure

University of Sto. Tomas fans waited a long time to see sisters EJ and Eya Laure play together for the Tigresses after their explosive tandem won it all for the school during their stint with the girls' team. UAAP Season 82 saw the reunion of the Laure sisters albeit brief – two games to be exact – before the tournament was scrapped because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  One could just imagine what impact the Laure siblings would have brought to the Tigresses if not for the cancellation of the season. Skills-wise, both can contribute on points as well as provide support on defense. They have already proven it during their respective rookie seasons. In fact, both earned Rookie of the Year awards. But which Laure played better in her maiden stint with the black and gold? For this week’s ‘Super Showdown: Volleyball edition’, we compare the two well-rounded siblings based on their offense and defense, impact, competition and lasting impression for the Tigresses.        OFFENSE AND DEFENSE EJ brought the much-needed firepower for the then Odjie Mamon-mentored Tigresses in Season 77. In her first year, EJ averaged 11.7 points per game while providing help on net and floor defense. However, her main role in that UST batch was to contribute on points at the wing. She had a 32.17% success rate in attacks. On the defensive side, EJ contributed 13 kill blocks while playing a decent role on floor defense.     Eya, on the other hand, gave UST an added scoring option to a squad that already had veteran Sisi Rondina and 6-foot-2 Milena Alessandrini.     Eya averaged 16.4 points per outing behind Rondina’s 18.5 points per game in the elimination round of Season 81. Eya placed second in UST kill blocks with 19 during the elims behind Kecelyn Galdones’ 23. Eya also punched in 35.90% of her attacks.    TEAM IMPACT EJ gave UST faithful a ray of light when the highly-recruited talent decided to remain with UST after powering the Junior Tigresses to the girls’ title the year before.   The Season 76 Girls’ MVP adjusted well with setter Alex Cabanos and showed good chemistry with veterans Pam Lastimosa, Mela Tunay and Ria Meneses. EJ’s presence also brought back the UST crowd that in the past two years slowly dwindled after lumbering at fifth and sixth place in Season 75 and 76, respectively. Just like her older sister, Eya brought excitement to the Tigresses supporters. UST was then coming off its worst finish in decades – landing at seventh place in Season 80. Eya, Rondina and Alessandrini formed the deadly trio that brought great promise for UST heading into the season. The former high school MVP, Best Setter and two-time Best Opposite Spiker winner did not disappoint right from her debut game.   COMPETITION Although the favorite for the RoY award, EJ had to contend with one of league’s best batch of rookies. She played alongside another promising freshman in Rondina, who delivered UST’s first gold medal of the season in beach volleyball while bagging the rookie of the year and MVP awards. Ateneo had a prized recruit in middle Bea de Leon while De La Salle University's rookies were Eli Soyud and Aduke Ogunsanya. Far Eastern University also introduced solid young guns in ChinChin Basas, Heather Guino-o and Jerrili Malabanan. National University had Jorelle Singh and University of the Philippines got then rookie libero Ayel Estranero. Adamson University recruited a solid middle in Joy Dacoron while University boasted of skilled newcomers in libero Kath Arado and Judith Abil. EJ did pocket the RoY award as expected. But for the first time in the last two decades EJ shared the recognition with another impressive freshman in Arado – the first libero to receive the award since Mel Gohing of DLSU in Season 71. Just like her older sister, Eya came in as the odds-on favorite for RoY, considering the implementation of the K-12 education program. However, she still had to work to lay her claim. Eya faced her high school rivals Princess Robles, Ivy Lacsina of Jen Nierva of National University. Jolina Dela Cruz made immediate impact as DLSU’s leading scorer while Far Eastern University got Lycha Ebon, who unfortunately had her rookie year cut short after sustaining a knee injury.   LASTING IMPRESSION While EJ did give UST the boost it needed, the Tigresses still closed Season 77 outside of the top four. UST finished the elimination round with 6-8 win-loss record tied with FEU at fourth to fifth spot. Actually, UST came one set win away to a bus ride to the stepladder semifinals. EJ in the most important game for the Tigresses went cold, scoring only five points in just three sets of action. She started in the first two frames that UST yielded, sat out the third and fourth sets with Rondina playing better, before playing off the bench in the fifth.       It would take EJ two more years for a taste of a Final Four appearance. Unfortunately, EJ suffered a shoulder injury that forced her to sit out two seasons. Eya was a vital cog in the Tigresses’ rise in Season 81. She was consistent and her all-around game was a plus for the Kungfu Reyes-mentored team, which closed the elims with a 10-4 mark tied with the Lady Spikers. Eya’s heroics during the playoff against DLSU for the semis twice-to-beat advantage, where she dropped 17 points in the Tigresses’ four set win, pushed UST on the brink of ending an eight-year Finals stint drought. Eya erupted for 25 points in the Final Four to dethrone the four-peat seeking Lady Spikers in five sets. She backed Rondina in UST shocking Game 1 sweep of Ateneo in Game 1 of the Finals. Eya also showed big heart and great character in Games 2 and 3 despite playing hurt only to close her first year with a heartbreak after losing to the seasoned Lady Eagles. She averaged 10.6 points per game in the Finals.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

Out of the Woods: Tiger emerges for TV match with Lefty, QBs

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The purpose is to raise $10 million or more for COVID-19 relief efforts, and provide entertainment with four of the biggest stars from the PGA Tour and NFL. Another appeal to the Sunday made-for-TV exhibition, “The Match: Champions for Charity,” is a chance to see Tiger Woods swing a golf club for the first time in 98 days. Live golf is on television for the second straight Sunday, this one with the game's biggest headliner. Woods was last seen on television Feb. 16 at the Genesis Invitational, where he moved cautiously in California's chilly late winter weather and posted weekend rounds of 76-77 to finish last among the 68 players who made the cut at Riviera. He skipped a World Golf Championship in Mexico City, and said his surgically repaired back wasn't quite ready in sitting out the opening three weeks of the Florida swing. And then the pandemic took over, and there has been no place to play. This is a reasonable start. Woods and retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning will face Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, who won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and signed this year with Tampa Bay. The match will be at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. It is Woods' home course and about 20 minutes from Seminole, where last week Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff ushered golf's return to live television. What to make of Woods? His only interviews were with GolfTV, the Discovery-owned channel with whom Woods has a financial deal, and a playful Zoom call with the other match participants hosted by Ernie Johnson of Turner Sports, which is televising the match. He described his health in the April 9 interview with GolfTV as “night and day.” “I feel a lot better than I did then,” Woods said. “I've been able to turn a negative into a positive and been able to train a lot and get my body to where I think it should be.” Mickelson has missed the cut in four of his five tournaments this year — the exception was third place at Pebble Beach, where he started the final round one shot behind Nick Taylor and closed with a 75. Just like last week, rust is to be expected for players who haven't competed in two months — three, in the case of Woods. Manning, meanwhile, is retired and is a golf junkie. Brady remains employed, and this week got in some informal work with his new teammates in Tampa Bay. No fans will be allowed, just like last week at Seminole. One difference is the players will be in their own carts, whereas the four PGA Tour players last week carried their bags. But this is as much about entertainment as competition. It's the second edition of a match between Woods and Mickelson, the dominant players of their generation and rivals by name, but not necessarily by record. Woods has 82 career victories to 44 for Mickelson, leads 15-5 in major championships and 11-0 in winning PGA Tour player of the year. Mickelson won their first made-for-TV match over Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, a pay-per-view event that ran into technical problems and was free for all. Lefty won in a playoff under the lights for $9 million in a winner-take-all match. He also has a 5-3-1 advantage over Woods in the nine times they have played in the final round on the PGA Tour, most recently in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2012 when Mickelson shot 64 to a 75 for Woods. He also stopped two streaks. Woods was going for his seventh straight PGA Tour victory when Mickelson beat him at Torrey Pines in 2000. Later that year, Woods had won 19 consecutive times on the PGA Tour when he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead until Mickelson beat him at the Tour Championship. Woods, however, captured the streak that mattered, holding off Mickelson in the final group at the Masters in 2001 to hold all four professional majors at the same time. The banter was lacking in Las Vegas, and perhaps having Manning and Brady will change the dynamics. The broadcast includes Charles Barkley providing commentary and Justin Thomas, whom Woods has embraced, on the course as a reporter in his television debut. After this exhibition, golf has two weeks before the PGA Tour is set to return at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. Mickelson plans to play. Woods has not said when he will return......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton shares her incredible story on Rich Franklin s Franklin Speaking podcast

Bethany Hamilton’s inspiring story has captured the imagination of millions who have been moved by her unbreakable spirit in the face of adversity.   The American surfer inspired people across the globe when she returned to the sport she loved, despite the loss of her left arm in a shark attack. Her following has continued to grow because of her subsequent success, and recently, her 2019 documentary, Unstoppable, which is currently streaming on Netflix.  Rich Franklin is also no stranger to adversity. He battled for acceptance and success to become recognized as the best middleweight mixed martial artist in the world as UFC Champion, before becoming Vice President of the world’s largest martial arts organization, ONE Championship.  The hall-of-fame athlete has also encountered many fascinating characters during his career, particularly as the host of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series, and his new video podcast, Franklin Speaking, which takes the audience on a deep dive as he and co-host Jonathan Fong discover their guests’ stories.   Bethany is among the most colorful and inspiring characters Rich has met. After she first got on a board aged 8, she was a precocious talent in the surfing world who gained her first sponsor just a year later. However, aged 13, a shark took her arm when she was out surfing with a friend.  Losing a limb, particularly at such a young age, would have made most ordinary people give up on their dreams of surfing entirely. But despite such a traumatic ordeal, Bethany was back among the waves just a month later and went on to win competitions all over the world.  She also appeared everywhere from Oprah to Ellen and wowed viewers with her exceptional strength of will. Soon, Bethany evolved from being seen as an unfortunate victim into an inspirational role model.    At times, however, being in the limelight comes at a cost. Having made the transformation from the world of education to mixed martial arts, Rich can relate to the prospect of having to adjust to a sudden wave of attention, and asked about that on the show.  “How did you manage? Especially at that age, because I had trouble with this. I used to be a high school teacher and, what seemed like overnight, my life turned into something where people were standing in line for autographs. How did you manage this at the age of 13?”  Bethany’s responses offered a glimpse into just how difficult it was for her to deal will so much attention at such a tender age.  “It took me a long time to get to a place where I was more accepting of it. The only thing that kept me sane was having good friends and surfing. I think over time, I just saw the beauty in storytelling, and sharing my life was really impactful, and I saw the value of that. I wanted to let that be a part of my life.”  The 30-year-old is certainly no stranger to big challenges. There was one, in particular, which left Rich in awe as he quizzed her about surfing ‘Jaws’ in Maui, which is home to some of the biggest waves in the world.  ‘’The wave could literally take out a house. It’s just so enormous and powerful with the type of waves that are death-defying. I’ve always had a drive for bigger surf, even when I was younger. I was always chasing bigger waves than my peers.”  Bethany, now a mother of two, is a multiple award-winner, has had a film and numerous documentaries made about her inspirational life story, and has published eight books. Her latest venture is an online course entitled Unstoppable Year, which she broke down to Rich and Jonathan.   “I’m taking all of the things I’ve learned along the way or the things I’ve done that have empowered me to overcome and kind of live a somewhat unstoppable life. I’m not perfect, but kind of carrying on life with that unstoppable feeling and knowing that we can overcome when tough stuff comes our way, we can be a blessing to others. We can live thoughtfully and we can change our mindset from negative to positive. Every little choice we make can have a huge impact on our future. We’re packaging that into something really rad and life-changing for people. It really is changing people’s lives, so it’s super fun to be a part of.”  The way Bethany tackles conquering adversity and crushing extraordinary challenges impressed Rich, and their chat offered a fascinating look at how far a strong mindset can get you.  Though she was one of the first guests on the show, her story has set a high bar for what’s to come in the future.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2020

East Asia Super League eyes September opening for Terrific 12 tiff

The East Asia Super League, which included PBA teams in the past two years, could still push through with its Terrific 12 tournament this year barring any major setback amid the still unresolved COVID-19 pandemic......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 18th, 2020

Kai Sotto s greatest performances in the UAAP Jrs.

When he was just 15-years-old, Kai Sotto recorded the first triple-double in the high school ranks since 2003. Not only that, he did it on the biggest stage and under the brightest lights he had been on at that point. With 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks, the 7-foot-2 tantalizing talent lifted Ateneo de Manila High School to an 86-70 Game 1 triumph over Nazareth School of National University in the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Finals. N????PE! WATCH! Every single block from Kai Sotto's triple-double performance vs NU! (22P 16R 11B) #UAAPSeason80Jrs pic.twitter.com/VZwusEMV42 — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) February 23, 2018 The Blue Eaglets needed each and every one of those as, early on, they found themselves down, 0-8, and then, 17-30. Come the third quarter, however, Sotto stood strong and got together with SJ Belangel, Jason Credo, and Dave Ildefonso for a white-hot 33-5 blast that erased the double-digit deficit and erected a 50-35 advantage for the blue and white. They wouldn't look back from there to move one win away from the championship. That power performance proved, once and for all, that the son of PBA veteran Ervin Sotto was the real deal. And look where he is now, about to see action in the G League and only one step away from the NBA. Right after that game, Ateneo was nothing but proud of its towering teen who answered the call of his head coach. "Actually, he (has been) playing subpar. Maybe, it's because he's not in shape, pero me and Kai, we have a personal relationship," then-mentor Joe Silva said. He then continued, “I text him, he texts me and he texted me, ‘Coach, abangan niyo. Eto na, makikita niyo yung totoong Kai Sotto.’ True enough, he proved to be a man of his word.” Apparently, in the eyes of the Blue Eaglets, Sotto's per game counts of 12.9 points in 57.4 percent shooting, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks before the Finals left much room for improvement. And in Game 1, he indeed answered the call en route to a championship and a Finals MVP. At 15-years-old, he had already been making history - so it's no surprise he's only continuing to do so now until the foreseeable future. Here are Kai Sotto's other power performances from his time as an Ateneo Blue Eaglet: Career-high 36 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 assists as Ateneo def. the University of the Philippines Integrated School, 77-60, in the UAAP 81 first round 27 points, 22 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks as Ateneo def. Far Eastern University-Diliman, 77-61, in the UAAP 81 second round 26 points, 20 rebounds, and 3 blocks as Ateneo def. De La Salle Zobel, 88-59, in the UAAP 81 second round 26 points, 25 rebounds, and 4 blocks as Ateneo bowed to National U, 53-64, in the UAAP 81 Finals Game 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2020

Australia eyes July rugby restart with Western Force returning

A competition between Australia's four Super Rugby teams could be launched in early July as coronavirus restrictions ease, with the axed Western Force and Japan's Sunwolves as possible participants, officials revealed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsMay 12th, 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

MPBL Commissioner Duremdes: 'We’re going to finish the season'

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season will push through with its stalled division and national finals. MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes gave this assurance Wednesday to quash speculations the league is going to cancel the remaining games of its third season in the wake of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. As to when will be the resumption of the division finals, Duremdes said it will depend on the national government’s decision on easing up restrictions on the staging of public gatherings, including sports events. “We’re going to finish the season, said Duremdes, who is holed up in his hometown of Koronadal, South Cotabato. “We’re just waiting for the clearance of the national government.” President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to announce whether the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), in effect until April 30, will be lifted, extended, or modified. Though the consensus is a modified ECQ will be implemented, Duremdes said there are a lot of issues to be tackled before the MPBL can resume. “First, we need to advice the four teams (San Juan Knights, Makati Super Crunch, Davao Occidental Tigers, Basilan Steel) involved since they are all coming from inactivity and the players need to get back in shape,” said Duremdes. “Then we need to consider the stand of the LGUs (local government units). Other factors to be considered, according to Duremdes, are land travel, resumption of domestic flights, sea travel, and the availability of hotels, restaurants, and game venues. “We can play as soon as the ECQ is lifted but behind closed doors,” said Duremdes. “Hopefully the situation brightens up.” Both the South division finals between San Juan and Makati and the North division finals between Davao and Basilan are tied at 1-1, forging Game 3 deciders. San Juan beat Makati, 76-60, in their series opener but Makati rebounded with a 91-88 victory in Game 2 held behind closed doors at FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan. Basilan edged Davao, 74-72, in Game 1 in Tagum City, but Davao equalized with an 81-76 triumph in Game 2 held at the jampacked Lamitan City Gymnasium. The division winners will dispute the Lakan Season national crown in a best-of-five series. The Batangas City Tanduay Athletics ruled the inaugural MPBL Anta Rajah Cup participated in by 10 teams, while the San Juan Knights emerged champions of the 26-team Datu Cup. Now boasting 31 teams, MPBL is supposed to open its fourth season on June 12, but it will be moved back owing to recent developments. Like Duremdes, MPBL founder and CEO (chief executive officer) Sen. Manny Pacquiao is also bent on finishing the Lakan Season once the coronavirus gets contained. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: Ayo s Mayhem Letran vs Tan s Big, Bad Letran

In the last decade, only one school has stood between San Beda University and its complete and utter dominance of NCAA Men's Basketball. That school? The Red Lions' archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran. In 2015, the Knights came from out of nowhere to put a stop to San Beda's search for a sixth straight title. Four years later, the Red Lions were going for a fourth consecutive championship and, more impressively, a season sweep only to be resoundingly rejected, yet again, by their archrivals. And so, Mendiola is home to 80 percent of total trophies since 2010. The other 20 percent, though? They are proudly presented in Intramuros. Come to think about it, though, which triumph over its fierce foe was sweeter for Letran? Here in ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown, that is what we aim to answer. To determine who comes out on top between the blue and red's proud champions, we will be judging them in five categories (frontcourt, backcourt, coaching, level of competition, and shock factor) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. FRONTCOURT The trademark of Aldin Ayo's very first championship team was that of playing much bigger than its expectations, its own size, and its, more often than not, bigger opponents. Ayo's nominal center was 6-foot-5 Jom Sollano while his regular 4-man was 6-foot-4 Kevin Racal. Off the bench, his first quote-unquote big was 6-foot-3 Felix Apreku. Still, those three played their roles to a tee and, along with the rest of the team, assembled a well-oiled machine that made the most of its speed advantage. Fast forward four years and "undersized" could no longer be used to describe Letran. In 6-7 Christian Balagasay, 6-6 Jeo Ambohot, 6-6 Pao Javillonar, 6-5 Larry Muyang, 6-4 Ato Ular, and 6-4 Mark Sangalang, Bonnie Tan finally had big, bad weapons in his arsenal. And for sure, those big, bad weapons flipped what was once a chink in the armor of the Knights into a super strength. And for sure, this department would be dominated by that rotation of ready and raring big men. Advantage 2019 Letran, 10-8 BACKCOURT The two teams' Finals MVP both come from the backcourt. Mark Cruz, like he has always done, came up big for Letran and averaged 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 3.0 steals Fran Yu, meanwhile, used the big stage and bright lights to break out to the tune of norms of 13.7 points, 6.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. In those two, the Knights had capable and confident counters to San Beda's own primetime playmakers in Baser Amer and Evan Nelle. The edge here, however, would have to go to Cruz whose signature play in the winner-take-all Game 3 was not a shot. Rather, it was a setup - after driving through the lane and drawing defenders with under a minute left, he found Sollano open at the baseline. Sollano only made good on the assist and his shot proved to be the go-ahead basket for the title. Add Rey Nambatac's offense and Mcjour Luib's defense here and Ayo's Letran just had a more well-rounded backcourt compared to Tan's which also included Jerrick Balanza and Bonbon Batiller. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 COACHING Ayo is one of the best collegiate coaches in all of the Philippines. He has seen Tab Baldwin win the last three titles in the UAAP, but it still wasn't that long ago when he won back-to-back championships with different teams and in different leagues. Time and time again, the youthful mentor has proven to get the most out of his players - from the Cruz-Nambatac-Racal triumvirate in Letran to Ben Mbala-Jeron Teng De La Salle University and now, University of Sto. Tomas with Soulemane Chabi Yo, Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, and Mark Nonoy. What he doesn't have, however, are the so-called "super friends" of Tan. Through the NCAA 95 Finals, NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio and assistant Jeff Napa were sharing their mind with the Knights themselves during timeouts. They were informal additions to regular assistants Rensy Bajar, Lou Gatumbato, Raymond Tiongco, and Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio. Even more were behind the bench in Letran special assistant to the rector for sports development and San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua, NorthPort team manager Erick Arejola, Columbian governor Bobby Rosales and head coach Johnedel Cardel, and Magnolia governor Rene Pardo. Asked about all those behind his back, Tan answered then, "In business, you need partners to be successful and in sports naman, we need friends lalo na yung mga may alam kung paano manalo. Friends ko yan lahat so welcome sila - brainstorm and synergy kami." Still, it's already a given by this point that competition only fuels the already burning fire inside Ayo. With that, there is just no doubt that he would only push himself harder and farther in the face of Tan and his so-called "super friends." And the one-time NCAA and one-time UAAP champion coach much more motivated than ever is nothing but a scary thought. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION NCAA 91 was the year of "Kagulo sa NCAA." Then, six squads out of 10 had a legitimate claim to a playoff berth. So competitive was the field that Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado's Arellano University as well as a University of Perpetual Help side that had Scottie Thompson, Prince Eze, and Bright Akhuetie fell short of the Final Four. Illustrating the competition even further, the season's Finalists only had one member of the Mythical Team between them - San Beda's Art Dela Cruz. On the other hand, NCAA 95's playoff cast was completed a week before the end of the elimination round. Yes, there was a Red Lion team that automatically advanced to the Finals and had three out of five Mythical selections. Still, that tournament's fourth-seed was San Sebastian College-Recoletos who had an 11-7 standing. Comparing that to NCAA 91's fourth-seed in Mapua University who sported a 12-6 slate and the 2019 Golden Stags wouldn't even make the 2015 playoffs. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 SHOCK FACTOR It was a shock to see Letran upset San Beda in Game 1 of the NCAA 95 Finals after the latter won each and every game in the elimination round, It was even more of a shock to see the Knights actually topple the dynastic and season sweep-seeking Red Lions. Still, there was always an outside shot of that happening. "Letran is one of three shoo-ins for the Final Four – as well as a strong contender to wage war in the Finals and even possibly, hoist the trophy," ABS-CBN Sports stated in its preseason preview for the blue and red then. "This fully loaded lineup has the makings of a dynasty-ender – what’s only up in the air is if it would be motivated enough to do just that." On the other hand, nobody, nobody at all aside from Ayo had Letran contending in NCAA 91 - much more, winning it all. As ABS-CBN Sports stated in its preseason preview then, "It remains to be seen if the Knights' fortified defense and added offensive firepower can overcome their lack of size especially against the Final Four teams, all of whom have only gotten bigger." Even when the Knights finally charged to the championship round, not that many gave them a chance. In fact, all that doubt became tattooed on the mind of Ayo whose first words in the post-game conference when they finally claimed the crown was, "Joey, follow your heart!" The fiery mentor was referring to the Philippine Star's Joey Villar who said in the leadup to the Finals that his heart wants to root for Letran, but his mind knows San Beda would win. He wasn't alone. Even Ayo had to admit that his players themselves didn't believe until the season was already underway. "Sa totoo lang, nung team-building namin nung preseason, nung tinanong ko kung naniniwala ba silang magcha-champion tayo, they laughed. Nung natalo lang namin yung JRU nung (second game of the season), dun lang sila naniwala.," he said then. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 FINAL SCORE: 48-46 for 2015 Letran.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020