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Has Ateneo found its mojo in Game 2?

The Ateneo Lady Eagles finally showed up in the UAAP women’s volleyball finals ,winning Game Two in four sets (26-24, 14-25, 25-21, 25-15) to set up a winner-take-all Game Three Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarMay 16th, 2019

SUPER SHOWDOWN: La Salle Ricci-UP Ricci

The University of the Philippines' future remains bright with Ricci Rivero coming back for more. After a solid season in his first go-round in maroon and green, the all-around swingman will join forces yet again with Bright Akhuetie and Kobe Paras as the Fighting Maroons set out to build on back-to-back playoff appearances. For sure, State U's future is still secure with Rivero in the fold. Not too long ago, though, the just turned 22-year-old was also the future in De La Salle University. In fact, he was supposed-to-be the Green Archers' next great homegrown talent. It wasn't meant to be, however, as circumstances led him out of Taft Avenue and into Diliman. Still, his time in green and white remains his most successful yet - what with a championship and a Mythical selection under his belt. If it were up to you, which Ricci Rivero would you have on your side? The Ricci Rivero who had just launched off en route to greater and greater heights in La Salle or the Ricci Rivero who has been more grounded and more well-rounded in UP? That is what we try to compare and contrast in this week's ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. In studying the player he was and the player he is, we will be comparing those two in five categories (inside scoring, outside scoring, defense, health, and impact) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. INSIDE SCORING The very first thing Rivero did in UP? Oop an alley. .@_ricciiirivero turns 22 today. The ride's just begun for the Euro step king ???? pic.twitter.com/QzCK5DHZS5 — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) May 25, 2020 Yes, his first basket as a Fighting Maroon was a right-handed hammer to finish off a setup by Jun Manzo. The 6-foot-2 swingman has long had the hops, even in his time in La Salle Green Hills, but he has complemented all that now in State U with the capability and confidence to finish with either hand. Along with that, Rivero also wields the wisdom to, at times, just absorb contact and get the points from the line. That is a far cry from his younger days when he was wont to force the issue, leading to many, many wild shots. Make no mistake, La Salle Ricci was already a beast in the paint, but now, he has paired that up with beauty of finishes in maroon and green. Advantage UP Ricci, 10-9 OUTSIDE SCORING The sidestep will always and always be linked to Rivero. Safe to say, that is his trademark whether it be in the open court or in set plays. In UP, however, the Isabela native has found more room to be able to execute his Euro-steps - and that's because he has become more of a three-point threat. From nine made threes in 18 games in his second season in La Salle, he has upped that mark to 13 made threes in 16 games in his first year as a Fighting Maroon. Of course, there remains much room for improvement, but it could not be questioned that Rivero is now an inside-outside force. Advantage UP Ricci, 10-9 DEFENSE Rivero's hops also translates to defense as he could have a highlight block just as he could have a highlight dunk. He also has the quick feet to stay in front of his matchups. While he is solid at that end in UP, the former Greenie was actually a dogged defender in La Salle. In sync with the rest of the Green Archers in Aldin Ayo's patented "mayhem," Rivero was a menace all over the court for opposing guards and totaled 27 steals. More than the numbers, though, it was the effort and the energy that were very much evident while he was defending as a Green Archer. Advantage La Salle Ricci, 10-9 HEALTH More than a few aches and pains slowed down Rivero in his first year in UP. It’s already well-known that the Fighting Maroons were never at full strength in Season 82 and the brand new Youtuber was the perfect personification of that as he did not come close to 100 percent. Proving his talent, he still produced, but there is no question he could have done much more if he was at his maximum. That maximum is where he was at in La Salle, especially in his second year wherein he busted out all the way to the Mythical Team by posting per game counts of 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 steals. This, even though he came off the bench seven times out of 18. Of course, the bigger burden as a Fighting Maroon takes time to getting used to and who knows, in his encore in maroon and green, he will be at the peak of his powers anew. Advantage La Salle Ricci, 10-9 IMPACT Rivero started nine games and, alongside Akhuetie and Paras, was tasked to make sure UP got going right from tip-off. For the most part, he did just that and was a key cog in the Fighting Maroons’ first-ever second-seed and twice-to-beat advantage. Come the endgame, however, there seemed to be much difference from when he was in La Salle. The star of Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Otlum” was the green and white’s energizer off the bench, but was also one of its big guns when it mattered most. Whenever Cameroonian powerhouse Ben Mbala was bogged down, there was Rivero to pick up the slack. That was no truer than in Game 2 of the Season 80 Finals when he dropped 14 of his 18 points in the second half to energize his side to a winner-take-all matchup opposite archrival Ateneo de Manila University. Ultimately, they were dethroned, but the human highlight reel's big-time Game 2 made sure there was no Finals sweep. He may get to that point once more, no doubt, but for now, his last year in La Salle remains to be the biggest mark he has made. Advantage La Salle Ricci, 10-9 FINAL SCORE: 48-47 for La Salle Ricci.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 26th, 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

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

ON THIS DAY: Tigresses end 8-year Finals stint wait

The packed Mall of Asia Arena rocked as University of Sto. Tomas rookie Eya Laure hammered the final blow that toppled the three-year dynasty of De La Salle University.     Supporters of the Tigresses went wild as the referees blew the final whistle signaling the end of the Espana-based squad’s eight long years of waiting to step back into the championship round. Exactly a year ago, UST booked a trip to the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals.    The duel went the full five sets with the Tigresses walking away with a 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10, victory behind the duo of Laure and then graduating Queen Tigress Sisi Rondina. That match gave fans a feel of the classic rivalry between the two proud schools. Prior to their Final Four meeting, the Lady Spikers and Tigresses squared off four days before to dispute the twice-to-beat advantage after finishing the elimination round tied at 10-4.      UST defeated DLSU in four sets in the playoff behind Rondina’s 29-point explosion.    The Tigresses, who were looking to avenge their Season 77 semis defeat at the hands of DLSU, came into Final Four riding the crest of their five-game winning streak. The Lady Spikers, on the other hand, were on a two-game slump which started with their stinging five-set loss to Far Eastern University to close the elimination round that dragged DLSU into a playoff for the no. 2 spot in the semis. UST was brimming with confidence in the Final Four match. Laure and Rondina found their mark early, punishing the Lady Spikers defense with their missiles while Caitlin Viray and KC Galdones kept DLSU attackers at bay with great net defense. The first two sets were easy picking for UST. Then the Lady Spikers fought back. DLSU forced a deciding set after pulling away from a close 18-17 lead to a 23-19 advantage capped by a Des Cheng crosscourt hit. Viray scored back-to-back points for UST to trim down its deficit to 23-21 but committed a service error in the next play. Laure saved two set points but the Tigresses were whistled for a net touch to end the fourth set. The Lady Spikers took advantage of UST’s 13 errors in the third set to escape a sweep. DLSU came back from a 11-15 down in the third frame with six unanswered points for a 17-15 advantage. The Lady Spikers widened their cushion to 24-19, Laure saved a set point before Cheng sealed the frame to set up a mad dash to the finish. In the final set, the Tigresses raced to a 10-5 lead before DLSU made a final push to cut its deficit to 11-10 off an Aduke Ogunsanya attack after an overreception by UST. Tigresses setter Alin Bicar scored a kill on the next play followed by a service ace before Laure's back-to-back hits to send UST back in the Finals for the first time since Season 73 when the Espana-based squad finished as bridesmaid to the Lady Spikers. UST ended DLSU’s 10-year Finals run and denied the Lady Spikers a four-peat for the third time in two decades. The Tigresses challenged Ateneo de Manila University in the Finals. UST won the series opener, but came up short in the next two games as the Lady Eagles claimed their third title overall.   ---          Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2020

TAKE-TWO: These players made the most of their second chances

Comeback is real could not be any truer than in sports where nothing is ever over until the sound of the final buzzer. That goes as well off the court where nothing is ever over until, well, until somebody says it is. That is very much evident in all these players who did not necessarily have the best of first tries, but did nothing but make the most out of another shot once it presented itself. We begin with Colegio de San Juan de Letran's trio of talented transferees who were cast away from their UAAP schools only to get into their groove inside the Walls of Intramuros. Bonbon Batiller looked like he was University of the East's next top gun before taking his talents to the Knights. Now, he is an NCAA champion. Larry Muyang found no place in his one year in De La Salle University, but was finally given the chance to stand strong as one of Letran's big, bad pillars all the way to the title. Perhaps the most feel-good story, however, is Fran Yu who was lost in the shuffle in his single season as a Red Warrior before blossoming when it mattered most for the Knights. With that, he could now be called Finals MVP. The University of the Philippines has also leaned on quite a few talented transferees as it ushered in its new era of legitimate contention. Of course, Bright Akhuetie was no slouch when he was doing the heavy lifting for University of Perpetual Help, but when he moved to Diliman, he proved to be the difference in the Fighting Maroons' first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals since 1986. And oh, the Nigerian powerhouse is also State U's first MVP in 32 years. Jun Manzo, who first showcased his skills for University of the Visayas, was also a key cog in the maroon and green's two straight trips to the playoffs. So was Jaydee Tungcab who morphed from next big thing for Adamson University to dependable two-way player for UP. Ricci Rivero, meanwhile, is yet to reach the same heights he already has back as a Green Archer, but is set for a bigger year for the Fighting Maroons as they try for a third Final Four in a row - and who knows, even a breakthrough championship. In terms of championships, however, the most successful talented transferee is Ateneo de Manila University's Will Navarro. The versatile forward frequently lauded by head coach Tab Baldwin for his efficiency started his collegiate career as a backup in San Beda University before finding and fortifying his role with the Blue Eagles. With that, he has celebrated back-to-back titles. With a trophy of his own is Arellano University's Justin Arana who was hailed as Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-5 big man rose as a talented tower for the Chiefs because he was finally given the break he was once hoping to get in University of Sto. Tomas. More minutes was also what Shaun Ildefonso got when he traded in the Ateneo blue and white for the blue and gold of National University. Not only that, he was also named team captain for the Bulldogs. In Perpetual, a trio of transferees also showed the way. Ben Adamos brought his end-to-end game from San Beda, Edgar Charcos fulfilled his playmaking promise from UE, and Kim Aurin delivered his all-around goods from Jose Rizal University to Las Pinas. Other players who made the most of their second chances are: --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 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

REWIND RANKINGS: Juan GDL, Mallillin, and 17 NBTC All-Stars

The National Basketball Training Centre 24 is now on its third year and through its run, it has been graced by the likes of Kai Sotto, Joel Cagulangan, SJ Belangel, Carl Tamayo, Rhayyan Amsali, and Kevin Quiambao as top three talents. From 2018 onward, a selection committee made up of scribes from ABS-CBN Sports, ESPN5, Spin, and Tiebreaker Times have reviewed the best of the best in the NCAA, UAAP, MMBL, CESAFI-NBTC, and FCAAF and then ranked them in the definitive list of the most promising prospects in the Philippines. That list of names then became the final roster for the annual NBTC All-Star Game. Even before the NBTC 24, though, the grassroots national tournament has organized All-Star Games with 24 of the most promising prospects in the Philippines. And so, wouldn't it be fun if the All-Stars before 2018 will get the NBTC 24 treatment? In this space, the current selection committee will be retroactively ranking the NBTC All-Stars in their respective years from the game's debut in 2012 all the way to 2017. Now, we'll do the 2017 NBTC All-Stars - the time when the undisputed top talent came from a "two-win" team. --- From out of nowhere in UAAP 79, Adamson High School had the best team in all of high school. And that's because from out of nowhere, the Baby Falcons had the best player in all of high school. Behind first-year player Encho Serrano, the blue and white blasted off to an 11-1 start and looked like a freight train headed towards the school's first championship since 1993. Only, Adamson and Serrano, all of a sudden, ran into a wall - a wall that ultimately forfeited each and every one of their wins. Not only that, the 5-foot-11 ball of energy was deemed supposed-to-be ineligible for the season and had a surefire MVP award - as well as a title they were favored to take home - taken away from him. Still, there was no doubt that in 2017, Serrano was the top talent - what with his non-stop motor that none of his opponents, and even his teammates, could keep up with. Posting per game counts of 19.3 points in 58 percent shooting and 8.1 rebounds, the Kapampangan finally found his game and his home in his third try. And so, he is the rightful no. 1 in our re-rankings despite the fact that he comes from a "two-win" team - and not even the NBTC 24's valuing of wins first and foremost could take that away from him. Behind him in our Rewind Rankings is L-Jay Gonzales of UAAP champion Far Eastern University-Diliman. The primetime playmaker didn't actually play in the All-Star Game after failing to show up for tryouts. Nonetheless, his breakout when it mattered most - the Finals where he stuffed the stat sheet with averages of 9.5 points, 8.0 assists, and 6.5 rebounds - was more than enough to thrust him right into the front of the re-rankings even ahead of MVPs Troy Mallillin of La Salle Green Hills and Juan Gomez de Liano of the University of the Philippines Integrated School. Mallillin was solid if unspectacular for the Greenies who fell short of the Finals in the NCAA while Juan GDL was a one-man show that fell short of contending for the Final Four in the UAAP. The NCAA MVP and the UAAP MVP would have to settle for no. 4 and no. 5, respectively, as the third spot would have to go to Ateneo de Manila High School's SJ Belangel who, in only his second season, already established himself as the best point guard in high school. Belangel's teammate Kai Sotto - the now 7-foot-2, 17-year-old Filipino making noise in the US - was slotted at 15th after his rookie year in the UAAP. Then, he pretty clearly had a long ways to go as the likes of undersized big men Kenji Roman of FEU-Diliman and Karl Penano of Nazareth School of National University had their way with him. As a whole, the UAAP dominated this re-rankings as its players occupied all but one of the top six spots. Mallillin and Arellano High School's Aaron Fermin are the only NCAA players in the top 10 while Jonas Tibayan from Chiang Kai Shek yet again emerged as the best player from other leagues. In all, the 2017 NBTC All-Stars counted 10 players from the NCAA, nine players from the UAAP, four players from other leagues in Manila, and one player from Cebu. This is the final NBTC 24 for 2017 - retroactively, that is: 1. Encho Serrano, F/G, Adamson 2. L-Jay Gonzales, G, FEU-Diliman 3. SJ Belangel, G, Ateneo 4. Troy Mallillin, F, LSGH 5. Juan Gomez de Liano, G, UPIS 6. John Lloyd Clemente, G/F, National U 7. Jonas Tibayan, F, Chiang Kai Shek (blue no. 18) 8. Aaron Fermin, C, Arellano (grey no. 18) 9. Dave Ildefonso, F/G, Ateneo 10. Inand Fornilos, F, UST (leftmost, in yellow top) 11. Rom Junsay, G, Mapua 12. Harvey Pagsanjan, G, Hope (photo courtesy of FIBA) 13. Guillmer Dela Torre, G, Arellano 14. Sam Abu Hijleh, F, San Beda 15. Kai Sotto, C, Ateneo 16. Rhayyan Amsali, F, National U 17. Evan Nelle, G, San Beda 18. John Galinato, G, Chiang Kai Shek 19. Germy Mahinay, C, San Beda 20. Sherwin Concepcion, F, Mapua 21. Migs Oczon, G, Chiang Kai Shek 22. Unique Naboa, G, LSGH 23. Jancork Cabahug, F, UV 24. Lars Sunga, F, Arellano.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2020

BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 4

In case you missed it: BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 1 BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 2 BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 3 --- Pingoy Rule: Never back down. --- Jerie Pingoy enjoyed his time in Ateneo de Manila University. Actually, perhaps, he enjoyed too much. After a so-so rookie year as a Blue Eagle, the 5-foot-11 point guard then struggled with his grades. That put him - along with John Apacible, Hubert Cani, Kemark Carino, Clint Doliguez, CJ Perez, and Arvin Tolentino - in danger of being sidelined for UAAP 79 as the Katipunan-based school is, famously, strict with its academic requirements for student-athletes. Years later, Pingoy made it clear, though, that he just barely missed out on the cut. "'Di ako bagsak. Probi (probationary) lang ako kasi nagkulang lang ako ng 0.1 na QPI (Quality Point Index)," he recalled, through chuckles, in a phone interview. Indeed, Spin's Reuben Terrado reported then that "Perez and Pingoy could take summer classes in order to meet Ateneo's QPI and become eligible to play." Whatever it was, the now-25-year-old had another problem on his hands - not that long after finally putting behind him the complications his college commitment brought about. Talking about the two-year residency put on the shoulders of Pingoy, then-Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol said, "The time he needed to mature and adjust also affected his studies." The situation he found himself in may have been remedied, but the fact of the matter is that he didn't do enough to go over the academic bar the Blue Eagles have set. "Simply put, he didn't meet the required QPI, or grade requirements, for that year," Epok Quimpo, team manager from then to now, said. NEW NAME And it's not as if what was happening on-court was that much better. After a standout stint in high school, Pingoy averaged 3.5 points and 2.8 assists in his first - and ultimately, last - year in Ateneo. Not only that, he found himself, more often than not, the one chasing the tail of fellow point guard Matt Nieto. Pingoy was actually the starter in his first game, officially, as a Blue Eagle in UAAP 78. As the season rolled along, however, the blue and white grew to have more trust in Nieto, who would come to be known as "Matty Ice," or, when push came to shove, just put Kiefer Ravena at point. Make no mistake, though, Pingoy was never a bad teammate. "'Di ko iniisip na kakompetensya ko sina Cani o Matt. Iniisip namin talaga na one as a team kami," he said. He then continued, "Kung sino nandun sa court, we support. Lagi nga naming sinasabi ni Cani, kung si Matt nasa loob, cheer lang kami." In the end, the Cebuano failed to fulfill for Ateneo the promise he once had as a one-time champion and back-to-back MVP in the UAAP Jrs. "Sayang lang na we weren't given an opportunity to prove ourselves na kaya naming makipagsabayan. Kulang kami sa playing time, sa totoo lang, but still, it was a good run for me, yung sa Ateneo," he said. And so, sooner than later, the on-court struggles came to a head with the off-court struggles. In 2016, Pingoy decided to leave the school he decided to leave Far Eastern University-Diliman for. "Nagsisialisan na mga kasama ko so naisip ko, wala na akong kasama," he said, referring to the transfers of Cani and Tolentino to FEU, Carino and Doliguez to San Beda University, and Perez to Lyceum of the Philippines University. He then continued, "Eh that time, tinatawagan na rin ako ng Adamson. Sabi ko, what if dito ko makuha yung chance na ma-prove ulit na ito na ako?" NEW NEST Pingoy got to try and answer that question as he transferred to Adamson University. "I needed a change. Gusto kong mag-iba ako. Nag-decide akong ibang Jerie Pingoy naman," he said. "Siyempre, Franz Pumaren din yun. Alam kong nakakapagod yung practice, pero sabi ko kakayanin ko 'to." Of course, with his transfer, Pingoy had to undergo another year of residency - this, adding to the two he had to serve out of high school. Once he was finally eligible for the Soaring Falcons, though, Pingoy wasted no time giving glimpses of the player many believed he was or was going to be. In UAAP 80, he posted per game counts of 7.1 points, 5.1 assists, 2.6 steals, and 2.5 rebounds and was a key cog as Adamson yet again made it to the Final Four. Finally, he was having fun and playing fun. "Adamson, it's a nice school. Yung Falcons, we had a good team. Naging masaya ako sa Adamson," he said. As it turned out, however, another storm was on the horizon. NEW NIGHTMARE In the final frame of the last game of the UAAP 80 elimination round, Pingoy landed on the foot of FEU's Jasper Parker and had to be helped off the floor. Initial diagnosis had him with a sprained left foot. It was much more than that, apparently, as the sprain only opened the floodgates on the bone spurs that had long been building up inside his left foot. And so, right after Adamson bowed out of contention, he decided to have surgery to take care of all the bone spurs. "Inoperahan ako nung December 2017 sa Pampanga and pagkatapos, I was thinking na all good na siya. Kaya lang, the following months, nung January or February 2018, nafi-feel kong 'di pala siya okay," he shared and added that he went outside Manila because the operation would be cheaper there. He then continued, "Ang sakit pa rin ng paa ko. 'Di ako maka-practice o makalaro nang todo kasi tumatakbo akong parang naka-tiptoe yung kaliwa ko." Pingoy went on to practice and play through the pain all the way to UAAP 81 where it became clear that he wasn't the player he was just a year ago and only normed 3.3 points, 2.1 assists, and 1.9 rebounds. "Sobrang frustrating kasi yung last year ko sa Adamson, 'di talaga ako fit nun. Yung laro ko, medyo bitin," he said. He then continued, "'Di naman ganun laro ko. Ang laking factor na naoperahan akong hindi successful." Yes, ultimately, it was concluded that the surgery he had was a failure. After that season, Pingoy had his left foot checked on by famed sports doctor Raul Canlas and what the latter told the former was nothing but a punch to the gut. "Sabi niya, bakit daw hindi inoperahan yung mismong may bone spurs," he said. Canlas was only willing to make it right, but of course, there was the matter of payment and, unfortunately, Pingoy was forced to pay out of his pocket as, by then, he had already decided to forgo his fifth and final playing year with Adamson. "Pagtapos ng season, sabi ko na sa kanilang 'di na ako tutuloy kasi nahihirapan ako sa paa ko. Baka ano pang mangyari sa akin kung pinilit ko," he said. Once a highly recruited player, Pingoy, right then and there, had no one to turn to but himself. NEXT ON BEST-OF-5 SERIES: THE PINGOY RULES: "Sila yung nagbibigay ng inspirasyon sa akin. Iniisip ko, para sa mga anak ko 'to, para sa kinabukasan nila." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 11th, 2020

UAAP football stars express sadness, disappointment over Season 82 cancellation

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has greatly affected the Philippines, among the rest of the world, many of the country’s sporting leagues have been left with no choice but to postpone or cancel their tournaments. For the University Athletic Association of the Philippines or the UAAP, the decision to cancel their 82nd season completely came after the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon was extended until April 30th. For a lot of the second-semester sport athletes, it meant an abrupt end to a tournament that they’ve been preparing for for months, which is the case for the participants of the UAAP football tournaments. Already delayed two weeks due to an initial COVID-19 scare, the UAAP football tournaments lasted a total of three playdates. (READ ALSO: UAAP volleyball players react to Season 82 cancellation) “As a team we're all devastated of course, that this is how our season had to end. Months of preparation and sacrifice for the UAAP season and we weren't able to play it out,” said AJ Arcilla, goalkeeper for the defending champion Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles. “It's heartbreaking honestly, knowing that we won't be able to play the sport that we all love.” Arcilla added that he was fortunate enough to be able to fly home to his family in California before travel bans and lockdowns were put in motion. With that, he sees a silver lining to the otherwise difficult situation. “Personally, I was able to go home to my family in California and spend time with them, which is something I don’t get to do very often so I’m very grateful for that. I just hope and pray that everyone is able to spend time at home and stay healthy and safe despite the current situation.” For Adamson University sophomore Rey Poncardas, what stings the fact that the months of preparation have been all for naught. “Siyempre nasasayangan ako, kasi almost one year yugn pag-hihirap namin sa training, araw-araw gumigising ng maaga.” Poncardas admits however that he saw the cancellation coming because of the rising number of cases of the COVID-19 virus in the country. “Expect ko din na maca-cancel yung season kasi palala ng palala yung virus eh.” Now, with an extended off season in front of him, the second-year midfielder plans to work on improving himself for the coming season. “Para sa akin, sakripisyo lang sa training and stay focused lang po palagi, disiplina sa sarili.” While Ateneo’s Arcilla and Adamson’s Poncardas still have some playing years left on their UAAP careers, there are others who might be looking at the end of their days as collegiate athletes. “Personally, I was quite disappointed when I heard the season won’t push through because I really wanted to leave the team with good results,” said senior University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons forward JB Borlongan. “But with what is going on right now, our number one priority is the safety of everyone so I just have to accept everything that’s happening.” Borlongan was instrumental in UP’s last two title reigns in UAAP Season 78 and UAAP Season 80. If this is indeed this is the end of the line for Borlongan in his college career, the two-time UAAP champion says he can hold his head high and be proud what he was able to achieve. “Personally, I’m happy with what the team and I achieved during those 5 years. My most memorable moments with the team were Season 78 and 80 because I think those were the seasons were we played really well as a team and every game, we were really hungry to play,” Borlongan concluded. Far Eastern University Tamaraws right back Martin Salilig was expecting for the season to be cancelled, but admits that the news hit him differently once his expectations became reality. “I was in my workout yesterday when I found out about the cancellation of UAAP season 82. I was shocked and disappointed. Disappointed because of the situation and not because of the decision of the board,” Salilig explained. “Actually, I’m expecting that to happen, pero iba pala pag official cancelled na talaga. Sobrang sakit.” It was all the more difficult for Salilig who had hoped his final year could have played out differently. “It’s all about hard work, dedication and sacrifice, me and whole team gave it our all to show our best shot this season. I was not able to continue my workout because of sadness, naupo na lng ako sa sala, reminiscing all the memories I had with UAAP and with FEU.” “Knowing it’s my last playing, it broke my heart so much because I know inside of me, I want to do more, I want to play more. It never came to my mind that I will end my UAAP this way. I don’t know what’s next but still hoping for a positive outcome. We still want to play,” Salilig continued. Like Salilig, De La Salle University Green Archers team captain Jed Diamante was expecting for the worst, but actually hearing it happen was a different story. “From the time the games were postponed due to the pandemic, you can’t avoid thinking about all the possible scenarios the tournament could take, and the cancellation was honestly one of those being considered.” “However, mentally preparing ourselves for the decision of the board may not have been enough to prepare us from hearing the news because honestly it took us, especially the seniors, by surprise,” he continued. “I believe everyone has their own reasons for how they reacted to the news because we are all going through different situations amidst this global crisis.” “Although disheartening as it may seem, the decision of the board may be what is best for everyone at this stage. What we're going through is beyond sports and I sincerely hope that everyone is safe and healthy wherever they may be,” Diamante continued. Diamante hopes that fate would allow him to return to the pitch for one more season. If not, then he’s nothing but grateful for the opportunity and the experience. “Hopefully it's not [my last year yet] but if it were, then what I can say is I enjoyed every second of [my UAAP career]. By being able to wear the Green and White alone opened so many opportunities for me to grow as a student-athlete and as a person.” “I’ll also keep close to my heart the connections that were built throughout the years with my family on the field - my teammates and coaches. I'm profoundly blessed to have experienced all the challenges and victories with this group of respectable and genuine men,” he added. Although disheartening as it may seem, the decision of the board may be what is best for everyone at this stage. What we're going through is beyond sports and I sincerely hope that everyone is safe and healthy wherever they may be,” Diamanted concluded. Because of his transfer to National University, Bulldogs striker Rico Andes had to sit UAAP Season 81 out due to residency. In Season 82, he was supposed to be one of the focal points of a revamped NU side. “Nanghihinayang ako lalo na’t last playing year ko na sa UAAP, at gusto ko rin sanang suklian yung NU sa binigay nila sa akin na opportunity,” Andes said. “Pero wala namang may gustong mangyari ito. Lahat ng teams naman ang nag-handa ng ilang months at may gustong maabot this season, pero ngayon po, ang pinaka-importante ay ang kalusugan at kaligtasan ng lahat.” “Nakakapang-hinayang man pero alam kong ito ang ika-bubuti ng lahat,” he added. Because of the year off, Andes says that having the season end this way hurts a little more. “[Sobrang sakit po]. Naghintay ako ng mahigit isang taon para bumawi at makabalik sa UAAP tapos ito pa nangyari,” he stated. Andes may not have been able to taste UAAP glory, but the speedy scorer says he’s grateful for the experiences he was able to go though during his five-year UAAP career, if this is indeed the end. “Hindi man ako nakaranas na maka-kuha ng championship, pero sa limang taon ko sa UAAP, sobrang grateful ko sa tiwalang ipinadama ng mga coaches, teammates, friends, at familiy ko, especially sa nanay ko. Sobrang thankful ako sa FEU na nag-bukas sa akin ng football opportunity at naging tahanan ko ng ilang taon.” “Sobrang pasasalamat ko din sa NU na nag-bigay sa akin ng pangalawang tahanan. Walang kapantay na saya. Napaka-raming maliit at malalaking bagay ang natutunan ko sa UAAP career ko,” Andes concluded.      “Sa totoo lang, talagang nasayangan ako nung nag-cancel na yung UAAP ng mga natitirang games, kasi unang-una, sayang yung one year o higit pa na preparation para lang dun,” shared University of the East goalkeeper Franklin Rieza, who could also be on his way out. “Sakin kasi, parang last ko na din, kaya sayang talaga.” If given the chance to return next year, Rieza added the he wouldn’t hesistate, especially if the team still needs him by then. “Depende na, kasi graduation na lang hinihintay ko for this year eh, pero kung kakailanganin pa ako sa team, bakit hindi?” Following their forgettable UAAP Season 81 campaign, senior University of Santo Tomas striker Conrado Dimacali was hoping that Season 82 would be a bounce-back season for himself and the Growling Tigers. “Siyempre una po nalulungkot ako kasi last year na namin nila [Aljireh] Fuchigami, AJ Pasion, Jayson Rafol, at Ralph Logornio. Kaming mga graduating, gusto namin bumawi dahil nung last year na nangyari sa amin na hindi kami naka-pasok sa top-4, kaso yun lang nga, dahil sa nangyayari ngayon, wala din kami magagawa, pero masakit talaga,” Dimacali expressed. “Sobrang nakakalungko talaga, hindi nami ine-expect na magiging ganito yung last year namin.” While the future remains unclear for seniors like Dimacali, he’s hoping for the best and hoping for another chance to don the blue and gold of Espanya. Whatever happens, it was still quite the memorable collegiate run for the Growling Tigers scorer. “Yung pinaka-memorable sa akin yung Season 80 kasi yun yung nasa Finals kami, kaso hindi lang talaga para sa amin yun. Yung natutunan ko bilang college player ay maging strong sa loob ng football field at i-command yung mga teammates ko ng maayos sa loob at labas ng football field.”  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 8th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: First to impress in women’s volleyball

Fans got a chance to witness UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball action last week after a long delay following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). It was just unfortunate that the tournament needed to be put on halt in light of the latest development regarding the spread of the virus for the safety of players, officials and fans. But in a single week fans got a taste of the league’s second semester centerpiece sporting event. It was short, honestly, but it did [sort of] satisfy the fans’ craving for UAAP volleyball. Let’s look back at some of who players that made immediate impact for their respective teams in the week that was.   MARGOT MUTSHIMA The Congolese recruit debuted with a bang for National University, helping the Lady Bulldogs score a major upset over last year’s runner-up University of Sto. Tomas in five sets. Towering at 6-foot-2 and playing at the wing spot, the foreign student-athlete fired 23 points she collected from 20 attacks and three aces. Mutshima followed it up with 13 markers coming off seven kills, three blocks and three aces as NU demolished Adamson University in straight sets.   EYA LAURE Carrying the torch for the now graduate Sisi Rondina, the Season 81 Rookie of the Year showed that University of Sto. Tomas is in good hands The Tigresses’ first game may not be the ideal start that UST wanted after losing to National University in five sets but Laure displayed her well-rounded game with 20 points, 19 on attacks, and added 18 digs. She then led the Tigresses to a straight sets bounce back win over Far Eastern University, scoring 16 points on 12 kills, three kill blocks and an ace. Laure also posted 14 digs and eight excellent receptions.     FAITH NISPEROS The blue chip recruit of defending champion Ateneo de Manila University after two games strengthened her case for the coveted rookie of the year honors. Nisperos announced her arrival with 10 points – all on attacks – and seven excellent receptions in the Lady Eagles’ 25-13, 25-17, 25-23, drubbing of University of the Philippines. She then proved that her debut was no fluke when Nisperos blasted 13 markers including 10 from spikes in her first taste of the storied Ateneo-De La Salle University rivalry. Unfortunately, she was the only Lady Eagle in double figures as Ateneo bowed down in four sets.       RISA SATO After missing action last year, the graduating middle played her role well for National University both as a court leader and scoring option.    In her first game back, Sato finished with seven kill blocks in her 17-point outing in the Lady Bulldogs’ win over UST. Sato then had eight markers, half off kill blocks, as NU crushed Adamson U.    EJ LAURE Two years removed from UAAP wars because of a stubborn shoulder injury, Laure reminded the league of who she is. The Season 77 Rookie of the Year dropped 17 points, 15 on spikes, and laced her comeback performance with 20 digs and 12 excellent receptions in a loss to NU. She then picked up from where she left off and hammered 10 of her 12 points on kills in a win over FEU.   THEA GAGATE The towering De La Salle University rookie passed her baptism of fire with flying colors. Gagate showed no signs of rookie jitters as she registered 10 points in the Lady Spikers’ first game and opening day victory over archrival Ateneo. The 6-foot-2 freshman wreaked havoc at the net as she anchored the DLSU’s solid net defense with five kill blocks that frustrated the Lady Eagles.   ISA MOLDE The graduating UP knows how to bounce back in style after a disappointing first game. Coming off a stinging straight sets defeat at the hands of Ateneo in their first game, Molde registered a season-high 24 points in the Fighting Maroons’ four-set win over University of the East.  She had 18 attacks, four kill blocks and a pair of aces for an all-around scoring effort. Molde opened her season with nine points, seven off kills, and seven digs   TIN TIAMZON In the first game of her swan song, Tiamzon did not disappoint after exploding for 17 points in DLSU’s win over Ateneo. The graduating hitter smashed 14 spikes, had a pair of kill blocks and an ace to go with 12 digs and 13 excellent receptions for the Lady Spikers. Her best moment so far in the season was getting that badge of honor high-five from head coach Ramil De Jesus after scoring a point.    LORENE TORING Adamson U received a reality check in their first game of the season, losing in three sets to NU. However, the Lady Falcons found a gem in lanky in Toring after the rookie displayed an all-around game on offense. Toring finished with 11 points coming off six spikes, two kill blocks and three aces.     JEANNETE VILLAREAL FEU lost most of its scorers last year, leaving a rebuilding team to campaign in Season 82. Fortunately, the Lady Tamaraws still have a silent operator in Villareal. She opened the season with 11 points as FEU gored UE in straights sets. Villareal finished with eight kills, two kill blocks and an ace. But the Lady Tams failed to sustain their momentum as they fell victim to UST in three sets with Villareal providing seven markers.    TOTS CARLOS Playing in her final season, Carlos delivered consistently as expected. She was the lone bright spot for UP in an opening day loss to Ateneo, finishing with 11 points as the only Fighting Maroon in double figures. Carlos then provided 15 markers including 12 from attacks for UP in its four-set rebound win over UE. She added nine digs.    JEL QUIZON Coming into the season, the UE rookie playmaker already knew she has big shoes to fill as replacement for now graduate Season 81 Best Setter Lai Bendong. Quizon did her job well - albeit not translating into victories – for the Lady Warriors. She debuted with 18 excellent sets and scored three points in a lost cause against FEU. Quizon then tallied 21 excellent sets, seven more than the total of UP, and four markers in a four-set loss to the Fighting Maroons.         Show your school spirit. Get official UAAP university licensed merchandise from www.uaapstore.com. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 13th, 2020

UAAP 82: UP grinds out 1-0 win vs. NU in Men’s Football

University of the Philippines dug deep to get its first win in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Football Tournament. The Fighting Maroons emerged victorious with a 1-0 outcome against National University, Sunday at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. UP was dominant throughout the game and it took the Diliman school the 50th minute of the match to finally get what it deserved. Fighting Maroons forward Anton Guariña found himself through on goal and he performed a spectacular finish to draw first blood. Guarina then had a big opportunity to double State U’s cushion but he failed to hit the target that time around. Arturo Alleje also had a chance to put the contest safely to bed as he was through on goal, only for NU goalkeeper Jhonrel Salintao to deny him with a fine stop. “I thought first half we really executed well. We delivered on the gameplan. We created opportunities. We just didn’t finish,” said UP head coach Anto Gonzales. Unfortunately, things then turned ugly in the contest between both teams.  A small commotion broke out between the two camps and NU’s Elmer Sampaga was ejected for his role in the incident The Fighting Maroons should have gained the lead within the first half but magnificent shot-stopping by but Salintao kept them at bay time and time again. The Bulldogs also had a goal ruled out late in the game due to a foul. The result raises UP’s points tally to 4 while coach Dan Padernal’s NU has yet to make its mark this season. “In the second half, we expect the boys to manage the games better. It also happened against Ateneo. We were already leading and then we lose steam for whatever reason. We start to get disorganized so it’s something we really need to work on,” added Gonzales......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 8th, 2020

UAAP 82: Ateneo cruises to 6-1 win over UST in Men s Football

Ateneo de Manila University's offense was running on all cylinders, as the defending champions cruised to a 6-1 victory over University of Santo Tomas to record their first win in the UAAP Season 82 Men's Football Tournament, Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.  Team captain Nino Herrera was in the forefront of the Blue Eagles' offensive attack, as he was able to draw first blood just ten minutes in, firing from outside the box off a Luka Alleje assist.  In the 27th minute, Mark Nacional was the reciepient of a well-placed cross as he was charging into the box, leading to an easy tip-in past UST keeper Ralph Logronio.  At the 40-minute mark, Nacional again made his presence felt on the offensive end, this time being the playmaker as he found Alleje for Ateneo's third goal. Two minutes later, Herrera's risky pass inside the box found its way to the back of the net, courtesy of a Sam Lim header, making it a 4-0 drubbing at the midway point.  The scoring spree spilled over into the second half for Ateneo, as Herrera made good on a penalty kick in the 53rd minute following a UST foul inside the box to make it a comfortable 5-0 cushion. It was Herrera's third goal of the young UAAP season.  The Growling Tigers managed to pull one back in the 69th minute, courtesy of rookie Stephen Marasigan, who recorded his second goal of the year.  Jabez Setters put the finishing touches in the 75-minute mark, as he easily scores on a header off a keeper miscue.  "Yung target talaga namin for this game was to get the three points," said Ateneo head coach Jaypee Merida. "Yun din, to improve palagi, so na-improve namin yung movement namin from the UP game. Yung movement ng UP, talagang unpredictable, di mo ma-control kung saan nang-gagaling, so yung nangyari siguro against UST dito is talagang nag-improve yung movement and yung hunger to score talaga.  With the win, Ateneo snags their first win of the tournament, bouncing back from their opening day draw to University of the Philippines. The defending champions now have 4 points in the tournament.  UST meanwhile absorbs their first loss of the season after taking their opening matchup against National University. The Growling Tigers sit at 3 points. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 8th, 2020

Figueroa lets UAAP 82 MVP award do talking for him

Jake Figueroa was a shock to just about everybody as the MVP of the UAAP 82 Boys Basketball Tournament. The rookie recruit from San Fernando, Pampanga was an unknown to start the season before busting out for averages of 13.2 points, 14.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks. With that, he was the runaway MVP - a recognition he himself didn’t see coming. “‘Di ko po talaga inasahan kasi rookie lang ako,” he said, not even a week since his win was announced. Indeed, nobody had the 6-foot-2 forward emerging as the top individual player with the likes of Nazareth School of National University twin towers Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao as well as Ateneo de Manila High School primetime playmaker Forthsky Padrigao still here. And on the court, he’s also not one to grab attention as he is far from expressive with his emotions. “Etong batang ‘to, ‘di talaga ‘to nagsasalita e. Mahiyain pa e,” head coach Mike Fermin shared. He then continued, “Ako pa nga kailangan magsabing bigyan siya ng bola.” Still, Figueroa made noise because he let his game do the talking. “‘Di po talaga ako humihingi ng bola. Kung ano lang pong kailangan ng team,” he said. Still, with just energy and effort, he is the first Baby Falcon to win MVP since Mark Juruena. And for that, he is nothing but thankful to the school that took a chance on him. “Binalik ko lang po lahat ng tiwala ng Adamson sa akin,” he said. After all, as it turns out, more than a few teams from both the UAAP and the NCAA had the chance to get the 17-year-old breakout star, but opted otherwise. And so, Figueroa found a home in Adamson - and not only that, he helped renovate that home into something that can compete with the best of them. —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2020

2019: To sweep or not to sweep in collegiate basketball

The 2019 collegiate basketball season will always be remembered as the time when all of NCAA defending champion San Beda, UAAP Men’s defending champion Ateneo, and UAAP Women’s defending champion National U were trying for season sweeps. Two of them did it, one of them didn’t. All in all, though, that storyline that had something to do with history defined NCAA 95 and UAAP 82. A tale of two leagues – when it comes to foreign student-athletes NCAA 95 was the last season wherein the Grand Old League’s 10 member-schools were still able to trot out foreign student-athletes. This, after more than a decade of the likes of Sam Ekwe, Sudan Daniel, Allwell Oraeme, Prince Eze, and Mike Nzeusseu setting the bar higher for big men. Over in UAAP 82, Beninese ball of energy Soulemane Chabi Yo and Ivorian tower Ange Kouame jostled throughout the tournament for the recognition as top individual player. In the end, Chabi Yo followed in the footsteps of Cameroon’s Ben Mbala and Nigeria’s Bright Akhuetie as Season MVPs. The NCAA will go local from here on out while the UAAP will still parade promising prospects from overseas – what’s certain is that both leagues will go all-out to ascertain that the action will never stop. Rising stars become shining stars Robert Bolick left San Beda with a big, big hole at point guard – only for Evan Nelle to waste no time proving the Red Lions remain in good hands. UST’s fast and furious attack needed a fast and furious playmaker – and the Growling Tigers got just that in the form of Mark Nonoy. In his first year as FEU’s lead guard, L-Jay Gonzales showed time and time again why he was always seen as the next one in the Tamaraws’ long, long line of great guards. The story of the season in terms of guards, however, has got to be Fran Yu who came out of nowhere to energize Letran to a pleasant surprise of a championship. UP might 2019 was the first time in a long, long while – or maybe even ever – that UP was considered a shoo-in for the Final Four. The Fighting Maroons had just ended a 32-year Finals absence and a 21-year playoff drought last year and came into this season still with Bright Akhuetie, Jun Manzo, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan, but also now with Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero. In all, State U lived up to the hype and made it back-to-back Final Four appearances, but at the same time, fell short of fulfilling the promise of its fully loaded line-up. Still, continued contention is nothing but a welcome development for Diliman which had been experiencing dark, dark days for far too long. Gilas Pilipinas calling With Tab Baldwin overseeing the program, Gilas Pilipinas will try once more to take a long-term, big-picture view – especially with the 2023 FIBA World Cup looming large. With that, the American-Kiwi mentor tapped on five collegiate standouts to form the foundation of the national team – Ateneo’s Isaac Go and Nieto twins Mike and Matt, UE’s Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian’s Allyn Bulanadi. And with that, the Philippines is yet again leaning on the best of the best of collegiate basketball to wear the flag and do the country proud. It’s a new day, it’s a new generation The NCAA hit home runs in each and every one of its coaching changes. Bonnie Tan raised banner no. 18 for Letran in his first year. Randy Alcantara has Mapua prepped and primed to take flight. Louie Gonzalez has given JRU an attitude. Oliver Bunyi and Cholo Martin have EAC and Arellano, respectively, headed in the right direction. The same cannot be said for the UAAP as both of its new head coaches found themselves on the outside looking into the playoff picture. Jermaine Byrd had La Salle fighting, but ultimately failed to find a finishing kick. UE also kept coming with the leadership of Lawrence Chongson, but eventually ended eliminated. Teeth out, claws out, all-out UST has a proud program in basketball, but only had nine wins to show in 42 games from 2016 to 2018 That all came to an end in 2019 as Aldin Ayo had the Growling Tigers, well, growling from the get-go. Bombing away at their opponents and forcing them to keep up, Espana made its mark as a legitimate contender that made it all the way to the Finals. There, they were sent away by Ateneo’s championship-winning machine, but the future remains bright for the black and gold with all of Season MVP Chabi Yo, Rookie of the Year Nonoy, captain CJ Cansino, Brent Paraiso, and Sherwin Concepcion, among others, coming back for more. Fitting farewell for Ateneo’s championship core Thirdy Ravena. Isaac Go. Mike Nieto. Matt Nieto. Adrian Wong. Those five left Ateneo on top of the world – having claimed a three-peat as well as completed a historic season sweep. And without a doubt, those five were also the catalysts in this new golden age for the Blue Eagles – a golden age which has seen them set and then raise the standard for team glory time and time again. Katipunan will have a tough time moving forward from those five, but at the same time, having the likes of Ange Kouame, Will Navarro, Gian Mamuyac, and SJ Belangel just waiting in the wings makes it easier. Who run the world? National U has not lost a game in 2,270 days. National U has not lost a game in 74 months. National U has not lost a game in six years. The last time head coach Pat Aquino had to lift up the spirits of his Lady Bulldogs was back in October 5, 2013 when they bowed to La Salle in the winner-take-all Finals Game 3. Since then, the blue and gold has been the gold standard of women’s basketball all while giving its opponents the blues. That didn’t change this year as behind Jack Animam and Rhena Itesi as well as welcome additions Kelli Hayes and Camille Clarin, National U continued to have all the answers – even for back-to-back Season MVP Grace Irebu and UST. Shock the system Letran was, in no way, given a chance to deny archrival San Beda’s bid for a perfect season – or much more, win the championship altogether. But the Knights didn’t listen and took that chance themselves, catching just everybody by surprise by taking Game 1 and dealing the Red Lions their first defeat in the season. San Beda bounced back in Game 2, but in the decider, Jerrick Balanza, Bonbon Batiller, Larry Muyang, and Yu just willed Letran to the title. Now, the Knights are kings for the 18th time – and indeed, they had no import, but had no problem. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2019

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

MPBL: Asistio and Villarias heat up as Bataan downs Zamboanga at home

In an awesome display of long-range sniping, the Bataan Risers held off Zamboanga Family's Brand Sardines 92-79 in Thursday night's featured game at the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season. Playing in front of their fans at the Bataan People's Center in Balanga, the Risers shot 50 percent from rainbow country, 13 from 26, to help bury the Mindanaoan team. Their shooting percentage from three-point land was nine percentage points better than their clip from within the arc. Two names stood out for the home team: Byron Villarias and Anton Asistio. Villarias led all scorers with 23 points on six for eight shooting from three point range while Asistio was white-hot in the third quarter, hitting all five of his three-point attempts in a surreal 5-minute span where he picked up all 15 of his points. "Ang confidence ko galing sa coaches at teammates ko. Alam nila na ang strength ko is shooting. Yan ang hinahanap nila sa akin," said the former Ateneo Blue Eagle. Asistio's jaw-dropping outburst early in the third looked to have doomed Zamboanga, who trailed 35-53 at that juncture. But Zamboanga who had shot just 24 percent from the field in the first half, suddenly found their groove and unspooled an astonishing 16-0 run to pull to within two, 53-51. Leading the way was a razor-sharp Ryan Costelo, who detonated with 19 points in the quarter including four triples of his own. Zamboanga scored 35 points in that quarter, 10 more than they amassed in the entire first half. At the start of the fourth, it was anyone's game with Jong Uichico's men in front 64-60. But whatever momentum the visitors gained in the third vaporized in the last period. Buoyed by a throaty Bataeno crowd, Villarias scored eight points early on, Alvin Pasaol conributed seven and Bataan coasted to victory as Zamboanga ran out of steam. Costelo could only add one more point to his tally as he finished with 20 points. Bataan level their record at 5-5 while Zamboanga, still missing injured cogs Harold Aroleda and Joseph Nalos, are at 6-5. In the second match-up of the day new father Jopher Custodio was the hero as Bacolod Master Sardines emerged 69-68 victors over the Binñan City Krah Heroes. Custodio drained a top-of-the-key triple with 44 seconds left that proved to be the game-winner. Custodio only arrived at halftime reportedly because he rushed to Balanga from a hospital in Quezon City, where his wife had just given birth. He finished with 5 points in 17 minutes of action. Pao Javelona topscored for the Negrenses with 22 points along with 10 assists. Outside-sniping Bacolod was level 52-52 with inside-banging Biñan after three quarters. In a battle of former NU Bulldogs, Javelona dueled withy Krah's Kyle Neypes, and with under two minutes to go the score was knotted again at 66. After Custodio's triple, Biñan homegrown Allan Mangahas cut the deficit to 69-68 with an audacious drive down the middle. After Custodio missed on the next possession Macky Acosta flubbed a lay-up, but when the ball went out the refs reviewed the play and gave the ball to Krah with six tenths of a second left. Neypes' catch and shoot was no good and Bacolod escaped with the win to go to to 4-7. The Laguna side slips to 4-9. Neypes paced the Heroes with 20 points. In the first game on the day's schedule Iloilo United Royals used a ferocious fourth-quarter burst to dismiss the Marikina Shoemasters, 70-55. The Mariqueños were competitive through the first 30 minutes, helped by a strong 19-point third quarter that left them level with the Royals at 44-44 entering the final canto. But midway through the fourth Iloilo showed their class and ruthlessly pounded the Shoemasters to submission. Marikina's Daryl Pascual produced a layup to put them ahead 50-46 with six minutes to go. It would be the Shoemasters' last field goal of the game. Iloilo went on a 24-5 run to finish the contest, highlighted by seven points from Samboy De Leon, a triple from Eric Rodriguez, and baskets and dimes from Aaron Jeruta. Meanwhile on the flip side Marikina served up brick after brick. De Leon topped the scoring charts for Iloilo with 14, followed by Richard Escoto's 13. The Mariqueños could only shoot 27% from the field and were led by Yves Sazon's 15 markers. The Ilonggos improve to 6-4 while Marikina continues to languish in the bottom of the North division with a 1-9 slate......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2019

Kawhi Leonard s improved playmaking has Raptors on cusp of Finals

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com MILWAUKEE -- At some point in the regular season, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse had a feeling that his team's best player would be even better in the playoffs. "He seemed to cruise to 30 points a lot of nights," Nurse said of Kawhi Leonard. "Thirty is a lot in this league, and that's why I kept saying, 'Geez, it just feels like there's another gear here with this guy that we're going to see.'" [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Leonard acknowledged as much in early March. "There's 82 games and for me, these are just practices," he said, "and playoffs is when it's time to lace them up." Nurse's reaction when he heard that? "Now we're talking." Indeed, Leonard has taken things to another level in this postseason, playing big minutes, making huge shots, and defending at an elite level. But Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals brought something new. Leonard scored 35 points in the biggest win in Toronto Raptors franchise history, a 105-99 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks that gave the two-seed a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 in Toronto on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Fifteen of those 35 points, including two huge step-back three-pointers over the seven-foot-tall Brook Lopez, came in the fourth quarter. That wasn't the new part. This was Leonard's seventh game of 35 or more points in this postseason. And you might recall a couple of big fourth-quarter shots over a seven-footer in the last series. Leonard also played smothering defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo. That wasn't new either. Since Game 3, Leonard, with plenty of help from his teammates, has made the presumed MVP look somewhat mortal. The new part was the number "9" in the assists column. In 570 career games (regular season and playoffs combined) prior to Thursday, Leonard had never recorded as many as nine assists. That he did it in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on the road and against the league's No. 1 defense says a lot about Leonard as a big-game star. That, given his star status, he had never had nine assists before just as much about his history as a playmaker. Leonard may be the most complete player in the game right now, but his passing can still get better. It doesn't come naturally to him. In regard to making his teammates better, Leonard is certainly not LeBron James. And you can even say that Antetokounmpo, still emerging as a superstar himself, has been better at reading the defense and finding open shooters. In the regular season, Leonard recorded assists on just 12.2 percent of his possessions, the fifth lowest rate among 35 players with a usage rate of 25 percent or higher. And his assist rate has actually been lower (11.7 percent) in the playoffs. But over the last two series, Leonard has been the focus of the Philadelphia and Milwaukee defenses. At times, he has tried to score through multiple defenders. And often, because his teammates weren't willing or able to do much offensively themselves and because he was scoring so efficiently, he was probably right to force things. Leonard forced little on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). He drove into the teeth of the Bucks' defense, saw where the help was coming from, and made the right play. "We keep stressing that in this series and in the last series, too," Nurse said. "When you've drawn two, you've done your job. You've got to find the guy who's open." And on the 22 possessions in which he drove, the Raptors scored 29 points, 10 from Leonard himself and 19 from his teammates. "Pretty much try to stay with a consistent mindset throughout the whole game," Leonard said of his performance. "Just trying to read the defense throughout the entire game, see what's working." It was all working, whether it was Leonard calling his own number or making plays for others. And it certainly helps that the others have seemingly found their mojo. Fred VanVleet, who shot 6-for-42 over a nine-game stretch from Game 2 of the conference semis through Game 3 of this series, is a 63 percent shooter (10-for-12 from three-point range) when he has more than one child. All of Leonard's nine assists in Game 5 were on three-pointers - so he accounted for 62 (59 percent) of the Raptors' 105 points via his own points and assists - and four of them were to the dad who hasn't slept much since Fred Jr. was born on Monday. "Any time he chooses to get the rest of us involved," VanVleet said of Leonard, "it's going to bode well for our offense. The rest of us just got to be ready to step up and knock them down." VanVleet had both the biggest shot of the night - a three from the right wing off a Leonard kick-out that broke a 93-93 tie with 2:19 to go - and the quote of the night when asked about his formula for success: "Zero sleep, have a lot of babies, and go out there and let loose." The Raptors' offense has been the biggest key to this series, because Toronto's defense, when it has been set, has been tremendous. They've kept Antetokounmpo from getting all the way to the basket, and they've been able to recover out to and contest the Bucks' shooters. While the Raptors scored 1.32 points per possession when Leonard drove in Game 5, the Bucks scored at a rate less than half of that (0.57, 12 points on 21 possessions) when Antetokounmpo drove. "We've got to play good offense," Nurse said, "not turn it over and score the basketball, because if you don't, they're getting what they want, which is downhill basketball in a hurry. If we can score it, if we can take care of it, we can get our defense set up, for the most part we get down and guard them and make the shots a lot tougher." Just six days ago, the Raptors were a possession away from falling into an 0-3 hole, one that no team in NBA history has ever come back from. Now, they've won three straight games against the team that hadn't lost three straight all season. After scoring less than a point per possession over the first two games of this series, the Raptors have scored 110.3 per 100 over the last three. The defense feeds off of the offense. And the offense feeds off of the star that keeps taking things to a new level. "I'm not afraid of the moment," Leonard said. "I enjoy it." The Kawhi Leonard that we saw in Games 1-4 against Philadelphia (when he averaged 38.0 points on 62 percent shooting) was a preposterously efficient scorer, good enough to keep his team even in the second round. The Kawhi Leonard that we saw on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) has his team playing even better ... and just one win from the NBA Finals. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

UAAP 81 Volleyball: Everything was worth the wait for Deanna Wong

Deanna Wong can now call herself a UAAP champion.  The fourth-year playmaker helped the Ateneo Lady Eagles to their first UAAP Women's Volleyball Championship since Season 77 with a 2-1 Finals Series win over the very game University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses, led by season MVP Sisi Rondina.  The championship capped off an impressive season for the Lady Eagles, but it was not without its hurdles, as they found themselves in three do-or-die matches throughout course of the semifinals and the finals.  But of course, the victory is made sweeter because of the challenges along the way, and for Wong, the championship made the last four years of hard work and sacrifice all worth it.  "Everything is worth the wait lang talaga," Wong told ABS-CBN Sports. "This has been a very long and very hard journey for me, personally." Wong became Ateneo's lead setter in UAAP Season 80, following the departure of two-time champion and former Best Setter Jia Morado after Season 79.  [RELATED: Morado sees Wong as Lady Eagles' leader in Season 82] While her first season as the Lady Eagles' primary playmaker ended in heartbreak after getting booted out in the semifinals by FEU, Wong and Ateneo bounced back with a vengeance in Season 81, finishing the the best record in the league and ultimately, the title.  "Sa dami ng pinagdaanan ko, sobrang hirap, mahirap talaga, and I think, sobrang overwhelming lang and nakuha namin yung goal namin, and it was my first championship in the UAAP, it’s really great," she continued.  Now, even days after helping steer the Lady Eagles back to the summit of UAAP Women's Volleyball, Wong admits that it has yet to sink in.   "Parang hindi ko parin mapaniwalaan eh, kasi after four years of being in college, ngayon ko lang naranasan talaga," Wong said with a wide smile on her face. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

UAAP Season 81 Finals: Masaya ang mga dilawan -- UST coach Reyes

No political reference here. University of Sto. Tomas head coach Kungfu Reyes was just too happy not only for his Tigresses, who moved just a win away from the coveted crown, but also for the community that supported their squad. Yup, for those yellow-clad supporters of the Espana-based squad.       “Masaya ang mga dilawan ngayon kasi panahon ng UST,” said Reyes during the live postgame interview with S+A panel Anton Roxas and Noreen Go after the Tigresses swept Ateneo de Manila University, 25-17, 25-16-, 25-20, on Saturday in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball best-of-three Finals series at the Big Dome.        “No, no! Kaya dilaw kasi UST naman kami mga dilaw naman kami,” added Reyes as the press room burst into laughter. The Tigresses stepped closer to reclaiming the throne it last held back in Season 72. Game 2 of the Finals is on Wednesday at the MOA Arena. “Di lang naman kaming mga coaches at players pero pati UST community naging masaya sa outcome ng laro,” said Reyes. UST came in well-prepared, as they found a way to pry open the vaunted net defense of the much taller Lady Eagles. The Tigresses behind Season Most Valuable Player Sisi Rondina and Rookie of the Year Eya Laure found their mark as Ateneo crumbled on their feet. “Pinag-aralan namin kung saan kami pwedeng lumusot kay Ateneo kasi considering na sila ‘yung no. 1 blocking team sa tournament natin,” said Reyes. “Gumagawa lang rin kami ng paraan para, ano naman din siguro kakayanin naman namin kasi kami naman ang No. 1 scoring team dun sa league.” The Espana-based squad, who before the match was on a 15-game losing streak to the Lady Eagles since Season 74 semis, rained down 46 attack points, outgunning Ateneo’s 24.   “I have the first two best spikers sa league so malaking bagay,” said Reyes referring to Rondina and Laure, who scored 23 and 11 points, respectively. Reyes also praised his teams har work to follow their game plan to the tee. “Kung paano na lang namin ika-counter yung atake namin sa kanila dahil yung depensa nila dun kami nagbibigay din ng extra time para ma-counter namin kung gaano sila kagaling mag-block, kung paano kami makakakuha ng second chance point,” he said. Truly the ‘dilawans’ were happy on Saturday. The Tigresses now look forward to make the sea of yellow happier.           --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2019

Coach O takes time to tell UE it also deserves to be in UAAP F4

Ateneo de Manila University took no time in dispatching University of the East, Sunday at Filoil Flying V Centre. The Lady Eagles blanked the Lady Warriors and needed just a little under an hour and a half to formalize its place as the playoffs top-seed. Post-game, though, blue and white head coach Oliver Almadro lingered longer than usual in the opposite side. Asked about it afterward, he answered, "We want to give credit sa UE. Na-push talaga kami forward." Graduating Lady Warriors with a little heart-to-heart with Coach O ???? #UAAPSeason81Volleyball pic.twitter.com/iY3RWdBO5R — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) Abril 28, 2019 Super touching gesture from @kowchO commending the graduating players of the UE Lady Warriors! Medyo naluha ako pagkatapos. Grabe. #UAAPSeason81Volleyball pic.twitter.com/xovcfBgxhH — Cleverlyn Mayuga (@clevmayuga) Abril 28, 2019 Indeed, Coach O's girls may have won in straight sets, but their opponents still put up a fight. In particular, in the second, Ateneo found itself down by three, 21-24, until Maddie Madayag and Kat Tolentino connived in a 6-1 blitz to steal the set. That was more than enough to prove that, indeed, UE was better than its 3-11 win-loss record. "I've been telling my players that we have to respect their players. [Laizah] Bendong is most likely a candidate for Best Setter, Kath Arado is a candidate for Best Digger and Best Receiver, [Judith] Abil is no. 5 sa scoring, then si [Mean] Mendrez is no. 7 sa scoring," Coach O said. He then continued, "They are in the top spots, individually, and the coaching staff is doing very well. That's why I told them they pushed us forward; they really pushed us." Up against the league-leaders, Mendrez had 12 points, Abil had 11 markers, Arado had 28 excellent digs and 12 excellent receptions, and Bendong had nine excellent sets. And for that, the Lady Eagles believe that, if only there was a way, the Lady Warriors have all the right to have their campaign go just a little longer. "They deserve also to be in the Final Four. Kung pwedeng lahat yang eight na yan, may slots sa Final Four e," Coach O said. He then continued, "But UE, they're also deserving." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2019