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Intal considers semis win over Thais in SEA Games better than UAAP titles

Winning three titles in the UAAP is already an incredible feat. But for Ateneo de Manila University product Rex Intal, those college championships pale in comparison with the ecstasy he felt when the Philippine national men’s volleyball team toppled powerhouse Thailand in the semifinals of the 30th Southeast Asian Games last year. [Related story: SEA GAMES: PHI men's volleyball team advances to the gold medal round] A member of the Nationals who captured a historic silver medal in the biennial meet, Intal considers their thrilling come-from-behind win that dethroned Thailand in the knockout semis as the most memorable game he has ever played in.    “For me it was one of the best games talaga na nalaruan ko. Not the best performance pero best games na most unforgettable,” said Intal in his appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro. “Actually most unforgettable game na talaga.” The former Blue Eagle middle went as far as saying that the victory over the Thais, which was watched by an electric crowd inside the PhilSports Arena last December, even topped the three titles he had while playing for Ateneo.   “Naramdaman ko talaga na may tumalo na sa first, second and third UAAP championships. Sorry UAAP pero iba ‘yung SEA Games na naramdaman ko. Iba ang naramdaman ko nu’ng umabot kami ng Finals,” said Intal, who with PHI squad teammates Marck Espejo and Ish Polvorosa led the Blue Eagles to a UAAP grand slam from Season 77 to 79.   “Individually ah, hindi 'yung combined na three UAAP championships,” cleared Intal. “Siguro kapag combined medyo same.” The Nationals faced top seed Thailand, which ruled the previous four editions, on December 8 in the crossover semis attended by a 6,700-strong crowd.   The experience of playing in front of the home crowd in an all-important game that time was a surreal feeling according to Intal. “Grabe ang experience na ‘yun. Ang saya maglaro nu’ng time na ‘yun kasi first time ‘yung buong crowd hindi hiwalay,” said Intal of the atmosphere inside the venue compared to what he’s used while playing in the UAAP. “Lahat nagtsi-cheer talaga. In front of the home crowd ang sarap maglaro sa crowd na ‘yun,” he added. “Isa ‘yun sa di ko makakalimutan na experience sa buong buhay ko.” It was a dramatic win for the Nationals as they came back from a 1-2 deficit and a scary 21-24 hole in the fourth set to upset Thailand in five sets.   “Nu’ng nanalo kami nung napalo na ni Bryan ang bola sigawan na kami nun,” recalled Intal, who scored six points in the match playing in four sets. “’Di kami makapaniwala. As in lahat ng boses na mayroon kami kailangan naming ilabas.” “Totoo pala na kailangan mong kurutin yung sarili mo, ‘Totoo ba ‘to? Totoo ba ‘to?’” he added. “’Yung inisip ko nun ay ‘di ‘yung natalo namin ang Thailand. Ang naisip ko was may medal na kami.” That win assured the Philippines of a silver medal for the first time since its runner-up finish in the 1977 SEA Games in Malaysia and a rematch against group stage tormentors Indonesia. The Indonesians were too much for the inexperienced Filipinos as the host team yielded in straight sets. But still, although the Nationals fell short in the gold medal round for Intal the whole SEA Games experience especially their conquest of Thailand will always be on the top of his list.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 21st, 2020

SEA GAMES: The silver that glittered like gold

When the editorial staff of ABS-CBN Sports was tasked to come up with our most memorable coverage, it didn’t take long for this writer to respond. The Philippine men’s volleyball team’s Southeast Asian Games semifinal match was the first thing that came to mind. Pesonally, that game against the highly-fancied Thailand squad topped all the countless volleyball matches that I’ve covered in my career. I’m at a loss for words on how to describe the emotions I felt that chilly night of December 8, 2019. Around 6,700 fans filled the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City not knowing that what they were about to witness was something historic. A magical night that would take away the frustrations they felt the day before when the more popular women’s team finished the preliminary round winless. For us sportswriters covering that assignment, we knew the Filipinos were up for a tough ride. Thailand ruled the last four editions of the event. On the other hand, the Philippines’ last significant outing in the biennial meet was a bronze medal finish back in 1991 – or when the current national team’s oldest member, setter Jessie Lopez was just five-years old.      Did we doubt our own team? Let’s just say we prayed to the high heavens to give us something positive to write about. But don’t get us wrong. Those who followed the formation and preparation of the squad knew it would yield results come the SEA Games. After all, in all three batches of the Nationals that participated in the regional sports meet since 2015, this particular team had the longest time to prepare – around eight months to be exact. The team’s composition itself looked really promising. For the first time, two of country’s best hitters in Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, who both have experience playing in the Japan V. League,  donned the tricolors together. Espejo returned after skipping the 2017 edition so did his teammates in the 2015 squad Rex Intal and setter Ish Polvorosa. Bagunas was on his second tour of duty along with team captain John Vic De Guzman, Mark Alfafara, RanRan Abdilla and libero Jack Kalingking. Head coach Dante Alinsunurin, who was appointed to handle the team after Oliver Almadro and Sammy Acaylar in 2015 and 2017, respectively, tapped an old hand in Lopez and injected young bloods in playmaker Owa Retamar, Jau Umandal, Kim Malabunga, Ricky Marcos and Francis Saura. As part of their buildup the Nationals joined the Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Championship July last year.          The Filipinos achieved a great feat when they won bronze. Fans were able to witness the Nationals’ campaign via YouTube streaming while we volleyball writers, got to file our full stories through the help of De Guzman and Bagunas (God bless their beautiful hearts) who supplied us with game stats and granted postgame interviews. It’s just a shame I never got to cover the team’s training in Japan when the Nationals’ preparation went on full throttle. (Note: A little confusion in the training camp coverage assignments had me flying to Japan with the women’s squad and Lance Agcaoili of Spin.ph joining the men’s team. But it was a great experience, nonetheless, and I’m grateful for Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. for the opportunity.)     I was as confused as the other sportswriters present during the draw for the group stage a couple of months before the SEA Games when Alinsunurin chose to join the four-team bracket with Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia. Those three teams are considered contenders every SEA Games edition. And earning a semifinal spot would be harder compared to the other group composed of Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore. Fortunately, the gamble was worth it. Espejo and Bagunas were superb offensively, Malabunga and Retamar made their presence felt and the Nationals’ blocking shocked Cambodia and Vietnam as the Filipinos swept them both to secure a semis seat.   Then came the steamrolling Indonesians. Honestly, I thought the Nationals would sweep their way to the group’s top seeding. That way the PHI’s would've avoided a semis clash with Thailand. Forced to take on the defending champions, the Filipinos found themselves down in the first set. They got back in the second frame before yielding the third. And when the Thais came to match point, 24-21, in the fourth we all thought it was over. Fans were slowly emptying the bleachers not wanting to see the impending defeat. I was already waiting for the final score. Ready break the result. Then a miracle happened. The Nationals nibbled on the Thais' lead to force a deuce. After another deadlock, the Filipinos stole the set. The fifth frame was classic story of ‘who wants it more will win.’ An extended set made it even more dramatic. I vividly remember that sequence when Bagunas hammered the game-clinching kill off a lob from Lopez. After that all that I can recall was me pumping my fist up in the air and slapping the hardest high-fives I ever did with those inside the press room while howling like a madman.    The national team assured itself of a silver after 42 years. A silver after four freaking decades. They did it. Of course, the Indonesians bullied their way to winning the gold medal in a sweep of the inexperienced Filipinos. But who cares, the host team exceeded its podium expectations. That silver that glittered like gold made that coverage truly memorable. But it never crossed my mind that it would be the last important volleyball event that I will get to report. (Note: It would’ve been the UAAP if not for the health crisis that put all sporting events to a halt. Sad.) And that’s why I ended up writing these last few paragraphs. A farewell from this section. From my first article for this website back on December 1, 2014 – a post-mortem of Petron’s breakthrough title in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix – to my last published story, these were all written with only one thing in mind: in the service of the Filipino sports fan worldwide. Our run may have not been perfect, of course, we had our flaws. We had our fair share of criticisms from fans, athletes, sports personalities and sometimes even from our partner leagues and properties. We accepted our shortcomings. We tried to be better. But we are proud of what we did. We take pride with how we delivered sports stories through various digital executions that showcased sports beyond the confines of competition. On midnight of September 1 while most of you lay sound asleep, deep in slumber, hopefully, having a good dream and hours away from waking up looking forward to a better day, this website will be snapped out of existence.  More than half a decade of sharing stories to the Filipino sports fan will be seeing its last presence online on Monday – a holiday to celebrate the nation’s heroes. This website will then hear its final buzzer, its final whistle. Thousands of articles – written with passion, dedication and love – will be taken down as this website goes offline together with majority of ABS-CBN Sports’ social media accounts. But soon, hopefully, it will once again see the light of day.    We do hope that you will remember us, for we will remember all of you who made us your Kapamilya.   -- 30 --   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles Mark Escarlote has served as a sub-section editor for ABS-CBN Sports' website since 2014. He is among thousands of ABS-CBN employees who will be retrenched on August 31, 2020.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

SEA GAMES: The silver that glittered like gold

When the editorial staff of ABS-CBN Sports was tasked to come up with our most memorable coverage, it didn’t take long for this writer to respond. The Philippine men’s volleyball team’s Southeast Asian Games semifinal match was the first thing that came to mind. Pesonally, that game against the highly-fancied Thailand squad topped all the countless volleyball matches that I’ve covered in my career. I’m at a loss for words on how to describe the emotions I felt that chilly night of December 8, 2019. Around 6,700 fans filled the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City not knowing that what they were about to witness was something historic. A magical night that would take away the frustrations they felt the day before when the more popular women’s team finished the preliminary round winless. For us sportswriters covering that assignment, we knew the Filipinos were up for a tough ride. Thailand ruled the last four editions of the event. On the other hand, the Philippines’ last significant outing in the biennial meet was a bronze medal finish back in 1991 – or when the current national team’s oldest member, setter Jessie Lopez was just five-years old.      Did we doubt our own team? Let’s just say we prayed to the high heavens to give us something positive to write about. But don’t get us wrong. Those who followed the formation and preparation of the squad knew it would yield results come the SEA Games. After all, in all three batches of the Nationals that participated in the regional sports meet since 2015, this particular team had the longest time to prepare – around eight months to be exact. The team’s composition itself looked really promising. For the first time, two of country’s best hitters in Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, who both have experience playing in the Japan V. League,  donned the tricolors together. Espejo returned after skipping the 2017 edition so did his teammates in the 2015 squad Rex Intal and setter Ish Polvorosa. Bagunas was on his second tour of duty along with team captain John Vic De Guzman, Mark Alfafara, RanRan Abdilla and libero Jack Kalingking. Head coach Dante Alinsunurin, who was appointed to handle the team after Oliver Almadro and Sammy Acaylar in 2015 and 2017, respectively, tapped an old hand in Lopez and injected young bloods in playmaker Owa Retamar, Jau Umandal, Kim Malabunga, Ricky Marcos and Francis Saura. As part of their buildup the Nationals joined the Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Championship July last year.          The Filipinos achieved a great feat when they won bronze. Fans were able to witness the Nationals’ campaign via YouTube streaming while we volleyball writers, got to file our full stories through the help of De Guzman and Bagunas (God bless their beautiful hearts) who supplied us with game stats and granted postgame interviews. It’s just a shame I never got to cover the team’s training in Japan when the Nationals’ preparation went on full throttle. (Note: A little confusion in the training camp coverage assignments had me flying to Japan with the women’s squad and Lance Agcaoili of Spin.ph joining the men’s team. But it was a great experience, nonetheless, and I’m grateful for Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. for the opportunity.)     I was as confused as the other sportswriters present during the draw for the group stage a couple of months before the SEA Games when Alinsunurin chose to join the four-team bracket with Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia. Those three teams are considered contenders every SEA Games edition. And earning a semifinal spot would be harder compared to the other group composed of Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore. Fortunately, the gamble was worth it. Espejo and Bagunas were superb offensively, Malabunga and Retamar made their presence felt and the Nationals’ blocking shocked Cambodia and Vietnam as the Filipinos swept them both to secure a semis seat.   Then came the steamrolling Indonesians. Honestly, I thought the Nationals would sweep their way to the group’s top seeding. That way the PHI’s would've avoided a semis clash with Thailand. Forced to take on the defending champions, the Filipinos found themselves down in the first set. They got back in the second frame before yielding the third. And when the Thais came to match point, 24-21, in the fourth we all thought it was over. Fans were slowly emptying the bleachers not wanting to see the impending defeat. I was already waiting for the final score. Ready break the result. Then a miracle happened. The Nationals nibbled on the Thais' lead to force a deuce. After another deadlock, the Filipinos stole the set. The fifth frame was classic story of ‘who wants it more will win.’ An extended set made it even more dramatic. I vividly remember that sequence when Bagunas hammered the game-clinching kill off a lob from Lopez. After that all that I can recall was me pumping my fist up in the air and slapping the hardest high-fives I ever did with those inside the press room while howling like a madman.    The national team assured itself of a silver after 42 years. A silver after four freaking decades. They did it. Of course, the Indonesians bullied their way to winning the gold medal in a sweep of the inexperienced Filipinos. But who cares, the host team exceeded its podium expectations. That silver that glittered like gold made that coverage truly memorable. But it never crossed my mind that it would be the last important volleyball event that I will get to report. (Note: It would’ve been the UAAP if not for the health crisis that put all sporting events to a halt. Sad.) And that’s why I ended up writing these last few paragraphs. A farewell from this section. From my first article for this website back on December 1, 2014 – a post-mortem of Petron’s breakthrough title in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix – to my last published story, these were all written with only one thing in mind: in the service of the Filipino sports fan worldwide. Our run may have not been perfect, of course, we had our flaws. We had our fair share of criticisms from fans, athletes, sports personalities and sometimes even from our partner leagues and properties. We accepted our shortcomings. We tried to be better. But we are proud of what we did. We take pride with how we delivered sports stories through various digital executions that showcased sports beyond the confines of competition. On midnight of September 1 while most of you lay sound asleep, deep in slumber, hopefully, having a good dream and hours away from waking up looking forward to a better day, this website will be snapped out of existence.  More than half a decade of sharing stories to the Filipino sports fan will be seeing its last presence online on Monday – a holiday to celebrate the nation’s heroes. This website will then hear its final buzzer, its final whistle. Thousands of articles – written with passion, dedication and love – will be taken down as this website goes offline together with majority of ABS-CBN Sports’ social media accounts. But soon, hopefully, it will once again see the light of day.    We do hope that you will remember us, for we will remember all of you who made us your Kapamilya.   -- 30 --   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles Mark Escarlote has served as a sub-section editor for ABS-CBN Sports' website since 2014. He is among thousands of ABS-CBN employees who will be retrenched on August 31, 2020.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

BATCH CLASH: Season 76 Bulldogs vs Season 81 Bulldogs

Seven years ago, National University made history by claiming its breakthrough UAAP men’s volleyball title. The following season, the Bulldogs blasted their way to back-to-back titles. It took NU four years to return on top after snapping Ateneo de Manila’s three-season reign before duplicating a repeat championship the following year. Two different breeds of Bulldogs will take center stage in this week’s edition of Batch Clash as we pit the back-to-back NU champion teams of Season 76 and Season 81. Just like in the past showdowns, we’ll see which team will shine brighter based on offense, net defense, floor defense, level of competition and playoff performances. Then, we'll let you decide which batch is better.   OFFENSE Height, speed and power. That’s the name of the game for the Bulldogs. Both teams took advantage of these strengths to extend their respective reigns. Batch 76 had Reuben Inaudito, Edwin Tolentino, Peter Torres and Berlin Paglinawan while Batch 81 featured the high-flying Bryan Bagunas, Nico Almendras and James Natividad. With the departure of Ateneo’s Marck Espejo, Bagunas dominated the scoring category in Season 81. The 6-foot-5 open spiker averaged 20.3 points per game in his swan song. Bagunas was also hitting with precision, nailing 53.49% success rate in attacks while landing an average of 0.47 ace per frame. Bagunas had a steady back-up with Almendras averaging 10.2 points per game while Natividad normed with nine markers per outing. Natividad had a 42.92% spike success rate and averaged 0.24 ace per set while Almendras had a 38.93% attacking rate.   Compared to Batch 81, the Bulldogs of Season 76 had more balanced scoring. Inaudito averaged 12.1 points per game with a 40.18% success rate in kills and an average of 0.23 ace per frame. Paglinawan averaged 11.5 points per game, Torres had 10.3 markers per outing while Tolentino normed 9.8 points. Tolentino was hitting 36.14% with a 0.31 average ace per set.   In the setters’ head-to-head match-up, Vince Mangulabnan was dishing out an average of 6.75 excellent sets per frame while Owa Retamar had 7.40 assists per set. Incidentally, both NU playmakers finished second in the category to Ateneo setters Ish Polvorosa and Lawrence Magadia, in their respective seasons. As a team, Batch 76 had a 41.96% success rate in spikes and landed an average of 1.17 aces per set. Batch 81 recorded a 45.82% success rate in attacks with 1.27 aces per frame. In setting, Batch 76 tallied 6.98 average excellent sets per frame compared to Batch 81’s 7.84.   NET DEFENSE      In the battle of defensive walls, Batch 76 had three players in the top 10. Torres averaged 0.69 kill blocks per set, Reyson Fuentes had 0.62 while Inaudito posted 0.54. Batch 76 normed 3.10 kills blocks per frame. Taking care of business at the net for Batch 81 were Francis Saura (0.62), Kim Malabunga (0.49) and Almendras (0.47). Batch 81 averaged 2.80 kill blocks per set.   FLOOR DEFENSE Floor defense wasn’t really the strong suit of NU ever since. Both batches did struggle when their net defense didn't work the way they wanted it to. Batch 76 was dead last in digs as a team with just 3.87 digs per set and its reception wasn’t impressive either with just a 21.29% efficiency. Libero Mark Dizon of Batch 76 averaged 1.27 digs per set and a 29.74% efficiency in reception. Batch 81 averaged 11.24 digs per set with a decent 55.61% efficiency rate in reception. However, unlike Batch 76, the Season 81 Bulldogs didn’t rely too much in their libero for digs. Ricky Marcos had 3.51 digs per set and was backed by Natividad’s 2.42. Marcos had a 62.20% reception efficiency.     LEVEL OF COMPETITION Batch 76 saw the rise of what would become one of the most explosive and well-rounded players in the UAAP in years. Ateneo’s then rookie Espejo made an immediate impact in his first year together with Blue Eagles Rex Intal and Ysay Marasigan. University of Sto. Tomas had that season’s top scorer Mark Alfafara, Romnick Rico and Anthony Arbast. Bannering Adamson University were Michael Sudaria and Bryan Saraza while Red Christensen and Raymark Woo led De La Salle University. Far Eastern University had Ian Dela Calzada, Greg Dolor and Alexis Faytaren. University of the Philippines was spearheaded by Evan Raymundo and Jeffrey Lansangan; while University of the East had Angelone Soria and Ace Mandani. Batch 81 also battled against a strong field with FEU’s Jude Garcia and JP Bugaoan; Ateneo’s Tony Koyfman and Ron Medalla; Paolo Pablico and George Labang of Adamson; Chris Dumago and Billie Anima of DLSU; UST’s Joshua Umandal and Wewe Mendina; Mark Millete and Jerry San Pedro of UP and the pair of Cliffor Inoferio and Lloyd Josafat of UE.      PLAYOFF PERFORMANCE Batch 76 finished the elimination round with a 12-2 win-loss record for the top seed. The Season 76 Bulldogs swept Adamson, which had to defeat DLSU in the playoff for no. 4, in the Final Four to face a young Ateneo side. In the Finals, the seasoned NU squad bullied its way to series sweep of the Blue Eagles as the Bulldogs won their second title. Batch 81 started off on the wrong foot, dropping their first game against the Tamaraws. The Bulldogs bounced back from a bad start to win their next 13 games to take the top seed in the Final Four. They ran over Adamson in straight sets in the semis before crushing the Tams in two games in the Finals rematch of the two proud teams six years the making.   VERDICT Who do you think is the better Bulldogs squad?   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2020

Blue Eagles credit Bundit, Lady Eagles as inspirations in success

Multi-titled coach Tai Bundit had a hand in the success of the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles when they won three straight UAAP titles from Season 77 to 79. Not to take any credit away from Oliver Almadro for his hard work to turn the Blue Eagles into a powerhouse, but the former national team mentor did pick a thing or two from Bundit’s system which he added to his program. One of which is Bundit’s notorious trip to Ateneo’s track oval. Known for his Spartan-like training program, Bundit strengthened the stamina and conditioning of the Lady Eagles through sprints around the oval which players have to accomplish within a given time limit. “Dahil kay Coach Tai napa-oval na rin kami. Sinisisi namin si Coach Tai rin dun sa oval,” said former Blue Eagle Rex Intal laughing while recalling his dreaded visits to the track oval on his appearance on Volleyball DNA. “Actually, inis na inis na kami kay Coach Tai dahil sa oval.” “Kapag may mahirap kayong [Lady Eagles] ginagawa [gagawin din namin],” he added. But aside from Bundit’s training program the biggest influence the Thai mentor imparted to the Blue Eagles was the heartstrong mantra that fueled the Lady Eagles into winning their breakthrough UAAP title in 2014. “Siguro we really looked up to them [Lady Eagles],” said the 2019 Southeast Asian Games silver medalist. In Season 76, both the Blue Eagles and the Lady Eagles advanced to the Finals. The Lady Eagles were on their third straight Finals appearance while the Blue Eagles earned a championship spot for the first time in years.   Interestingly, the Ateneo men’s team seemed to have a better chance of winning the crown against National University compared to the Lady Eagles, who faced a series of do-or-die matches before taking on the thrice-to-beat De La Salle University in the Finals. “Grabe ‘yun akala namin mas malaki pa ‘yung chance namin na mag-champion kasi grabe ang run nila talaga eh. Akala talaga namin mas malaki ‘yung chance namin or either both magtsa-champion,” said Intal, who was on his sophomore year when Ateneo challenged the then reigning champion NU in the first of five consecutive Finals showdowns. However, it was the Lady Eagles who came up with the championship in tow. “Sobrang nakaka-proud ang women’s team nu'ng season na yun,” said Intal. “Sa amin naman experience-wise nagkulang kami pagdating ng Finals. Parang may daga kami sa dibdib nun.” The Bulldogs were just too much for the rookie Marck Espejo-bannered Blue Eagles. After the defeat, Almadro immediately talked to his players. “Grinupo kaagad kami ni Coach Oliver sa gitna ng court sa side namin. Hinuddle n’ya kami. Nagce-celebrate ang lahat pero naka-huddle kami. Umiiyak ang team, si Coach O umiiyak,” Intal recalled. “Sabi niya, ‘Guys tingnan nyo ang mga tao na nandito, tingnan nyo ang mga sumuporta sa inyo. Ini-expect nyo ba yan nu’ng simula ng season? Ini-expect nyo ba na aabot tayo rito? Walang nag-expect ng ganyan pero nandito sila sionuportahan tayo. Naniniwala sila na kaya natin.’” “’Next year babawi tayo. Next year tayo naman ang magsi-celebrate,’” the mentor added.    Almadro’s words were true. The following year, the Blue Eagles began what would be a three-peat dynasty.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2020

10 things that make Alyssa Valdez phenomenal

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2020

For Mike Nieto, all roads lead to leading

Mike Nieto's leadership is not just for the basketball court. Apparently, his voice carries just as much weight inside the Nieto household in Cainta. "Hanggang bahay, umaabot yung pagli-lead ko," he shared with a laugh. "Rinig na rinig palagi boses ko sa bahay. Since I've proven to them na I can be a leader sa court, siyempre, I can also be a leader dito sa bahay." What does that mean exactly? Well, let's just say that whenever the Nieto family decides they want and need some quality time together, it's the 23-year-old who sets the time and the place where it would happen. "I think nasanay na rin kasi sila na ako ang palaging nagsasalita kahit sa ganyang bagay so most of the time, ako na talaga nagsasabi saan at anong oras kami pupunta," he said. This is not at all that surprising as when you talk about Mike Nieto, you talk about leadership. That has long been the calling card of the 6-foot-2 swingman - from his days as a Blue Eaglet to his time as a Blue Eagle and from his stint in Batang Gilas to his current run in the Gilas Pilipinas pool. But… Why do people say that in the first place? What is it with Mike Nieto that just speaks, leader? FTW: For The tWin To get the answer, we need to go back to the start. As in, the very, very start. Technically, Mike is the leader of the four Nieto siblings as he is the firstborn of Ateneo de Manila legend Jett and super mom and dentist Girlie. Matt is his brother, but is younger by two minutes. Make no mistake, though, the twins have always gotten along. "Kami ni Matt, ever since, close na talaga kami. We started playing basketball at the age of six and from then on, naging magkasama na kami sa lahat ng bagay," Mike said. He then continued, "Even course namin sa college, pareho kaya almost lahat ng classes namin, classmates kami. Ever since talaga, unusual na hindi kami magkasama." Indeed, the Nieto twins have always been some sort of a package deal. Hence, the reports of their commitment to Ateneo for college had headlines such as "Ateneo scores 'twin kill' as Nieto brothers commit to play for Blue Eagles." Through and through, however, Mike was thought to be the leader - even though Matt is the point guard. The reason for that? Because "Big Mike" is more vocal. And why is he more vocal" Well, because he had a two minute headstart on "Matty Ice" at letting his voice be heard. Seriously, though, Mike said it was just because he doesn't waste any time at all in being vocal - and that's why he's being heard first and more often. "Siguro, mas maingay lang kasi ako kay Matt. Ako kasi, kapag may nakita akong mali sa ginagawa ng teammates ko, siguradong makakarinig agad sila sa akin," he shared. He then continued, "Hindi ako papayag na lilipas ang isang bagay na alam kong makakasama sa team. Talagang maglalabas at maglalabas ako ng mga salita hanggang ma-solve ang problema." That doesn't mean that Matt doesn't lead, though. As his twin put it, "Matt is the leader on the court. That's the assignment Coach Tab [Baldwin] gave him and I think he has done well with that." Well, yeah, Matt has three rings as court general of the Blue Eagles' dynasty to show for that. LOL: Lead out Loud It was another court general altogether, however, who had made the biggest mark on Mike Nieto. While he never was a point guard due to his wide frame, he was always trying to emulate one of the best ball-handlers in the history of Philippine basketball. "Jimmy Alapag is my role model when it comes to leadership," he said. "I'm just very lucky that for a long time now, he would talk to me on how I can affect the team positively on and off the court." When Alapag was in his prime as captain of Gilas Pilipinas, Nieto was put on the pedestal as skipper of Batang Gilas. While he knew full well that was a tall task, he was also eager to prove himself worthy. "Sa Batang Gilas under coach Jamike [Jarin], he made me team captain kahit second year high school pa lang ako. But that made me realize na I have the capabilities of being a leader," he said. With that, Mike had the responsibility of making sure the likes of Paul Desiderio, Richard Escoto, Jollo Go, Jolo Mendoza, and Renzo Navarro were kept in line. And from then on, he just did not stop keeping at it. Whether it be as the Jrs. MVP as a Blue Eaglet or a rotation regular as a Blue Eagle, Nieto's biggest contribution has always been his leadership. "Being a leader is never easy. At the end of the day, you have to gain the trust of your teammates and your coaches - that's the hardest part," he said. Ask his teammates from high school, many of whom were still his teammates come college, and they would say they always have his back. "Buti na lang nakuha ko ang tiwala ng lahat ng tao na nakapaligid sa akin. Kaya rin ako nag-succeed being the team captain ng every team na nagiging part ako," he said. While he has always had the full faith of longtime teammates and good friends Thirdy Ravena, Gian Mamuyac, Mendoza, and of course, twin Matt, Mike could only acknowledge that it was another challenge altogether being the voice of the team that swept the season. "Ang malaking naging difference ngayong college from high school, kinailangan kong magsalita ng English mas madalas," he said, through chuckles. With foreigners such as Ange Kouame and Filipino-foreigners like Raffy Verano, Nieto, indeed, did have to make sure his communication lines were crystal clear. The thing about leaders, though, is that they give their all in anything and everything - whether that be giving a pep talk or passing the message to somebody like Kouame who only started learning English in 2017. IMO: In My Opinion And the thing about leaders? They do not necessarily care about themselves. Imagine Mike Nieto, a Jrs. MVP, a team captain for Batang Gilas, a literal blue-blood in Katipunan. Do you know his averages through their three-peat? In 47 games total, he saw 14.2 minutes of action and had 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Still, that did not matter at all. All that mattered for Mike are all those Ws. "To be a leader, you have to prove palagi that you can lead on and off the court," he said. "I think yun ang napatunayan ko kay coach Tab - na handa akong i-sacrifice ang personal goals ko para sa ikabubuti ng team. Wala akong pakialam sa sarili ko since ang nasa utak ko lang is kung ano ang makabubuti para sa team namin." But did he? Did Nieto prove himself to Coach Tab - a coach who has gone around the world and seen it all? The talented tactician's statement right after Ateneo completed its perfect run through UAAP 82 speaks volumes. “Look at all of us and think about where we’re gonna be in 10 or 15 years, you’ll forget most of us,” he said in the post-game conference where he sat alongside the Nieto twins, Ravena, Isaac Go, and Adrian Wong. “But you won’t forget Mike Nieto.” Coach Tab then went on to explain why he said so. As he put it, "Mike is a natural leader. Mike is a communicator. Mike is a thinker. In terms of touching people, making lives better, and making sure that everybody around him has a better chance than what he has, that’s our captain." High praise coming from the very mentor who has been getting nothing but high praise. Safe to say, though, Mike has proven himself to coach Tab. TBC: To Be Continued In doing so, Mike Nieto has also made it possible for the two of them to continue working together. Mike, twin Matt, fellow Blue Eagle Go, University of the East's Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian College-Recoletos' Allyn Bulanadi were the first five names listed for the Gilas pool. The likes of Ravena, Dwight Ramos of Ateneo, Justine Baltazar of De La Salle University, Dave Ildefonso then of National University, and the University of the Philippines foursome of Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano, Kobe Paras, and Jaydee Tungcab also made the list not long after. But the fact remains that "Big Mike" - he of zero starts, but three titles in a row in his last three years in blue and white - was one of the first names there. With that, he is now one of the few Batang Gilas players who have successfully gotten promoted to the Men's team. "Of course, sino bang ayaw i-represent ang bansa natin, 'di ba? That's why I'm very grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Gilas pool," he said. He then continued, "That's why I've been working on my game even harder so that I can provide whatever Gilas needs from me." Of course, what Gilas would need from Nieto is, first and foremost, his leadership. After all, that is still and would always be his greatest strength. To do so, though, the youngster would have to prove himself yet again - not only to Filipinos who are forever invested in their national team, but more importantly, his teammates, many of whom are already superstars in the PBA. For Mike, however, this is nothing new - nothing new at all. "Ever since I was in grade school, people have been doubting that I can progress my game to the next level. What we can't forget is that at the end of the day, it's in your hands if you want to prove them wrong or prove them right," he said. He then continued, "I actually enjoy these kinds of moments since dito talaga lalabas ang totoong pagkatao mo. Ang sigurado ko lang, I will fight for my spot in Gilas." And so, from a successful high school career and then an even more successful college career, Nieto is now seeking success as part of the Gilas pool. Does he deserve to be there? That's for the haters to hate, the doubters to doubt, and the bashers to bash. And that's for Mike Nieto to lead them out of the darkness. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

Always About the People

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

Wong names Morado, Salak among her top 5 setters

Deanna Wong is considered as one of top talents who make the future of Philippine volleyball look bright. A UAAP title in Season 81 and a Best Setter award in Season 80 are some of the accomplishments she collected as setter of the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles. As talented and skilled as she is, Wong looks up to the legends that made and still making their marks in the local volleyball scene. Here is Wong’s list of Top 5 Pinay setters.    JIA MORADO “Well number one siyempre Ate Jia [Morado], my mentor talaga so wala nang bakit number one siya,” said Wong during her appearance on So She Did! Heady with great court vision and solid connection with her hitters best describe Morado. The UAAP Season 77 Best Setter established her legendary status during her stay with the Lady Eagles, who she piloted to back-to-back UAAP titles. Morado, who is a member of the national team, also helped Creamline win three titles in the Premier Volleyball League while collecting five straight Best Setter awards in the two-conference league.     TINA SALAK Longevity. This makes Salak a legend among the setters in the country. The 44-year old playmaker started to make waves when she led Far Eastern University to a couple of championships in the mid-90s. Salak was also the main setter of the 2005 Southeast Asian Games bronze medal team – the last squad to earn a podium finish in the biennial meet. The Army personnel played in the PVL and in the Philippine Superliga up until 2018 before going full time as coach of De La Salle-Zobel girls team.    KIM FAJARDO De La Salle University won three titles during her stint with the Lady Spikers. Fajardo is well-known for her well-rounded approach in playmaking. She easily adapts with the style of her hitters, good at reading the defense and a vocal leader inside the court. The Batangas native bagged three Best Setter awards and a Best Server recognition during her stay with the green and white. Her fierce competition with Morado made the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry extra colorful. Fajardo is also enjoying a successful career with F2 Logistics in the PSL and is a member of the national team.    JEM FERRER A member of the Ateneo Fab Five, Ferrer can be considered as one of the Lady Eagles who paved the way for Ateneo’s success in the UAAP. Ferrer was named Best Setter three times and helped the Lady Eagles advance to their first-ever Finals appearance in Season 74. Ferrer remains as one of the PVL’s top playmakers.   RHEA DIMACULANGAN University of Sto. Tomas has yet to find a setter that would equal the caliber of Dimaculangan. With her orchestrating the Tigresses’ plays, UST went on to win the Season 72 crown while bagging the Best Server and Finals Most Valuable Player honors. Dimaculangan is a member of the national team.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020

WHAT IF Marck Espejo played for DLSU?

We all know what Marck Espejo brought to Ateneo when he donned the Blue Eagles jersey in the UAAP. He led the blue and white to three straight titles in five consecutive Finals appearances in indoor volleyball and captured Ateneo’s first and so far lone championship in beach volleyball. As a player, Espejo achieved a feat difficult to surpass if not replicate. A Rookie of the Year award, five straight Most Valuable Player honors aside from other individual accolades. The Marikina pride even registered the league’s most points in a game with 55 during his last tour of duty with the Blue Eagles in Season 80. Espejo’s impact left a lasting imprint not only to the Blue Eagles but also to the entire league. Arguably, his persona could even also be attributed to the renewed popularity of men’s volleyball in the country which for years failed to bask in the same limelight enjoyed by women’s play. Indeed, Ateneo found a precious gem in Espejo. But what if Espejo decided to take his talents to a different school? Let’s say, De La Salle University. After all the green and white was actually one of Espejo’s options heading into college. [Related story: DID YOU KNOW? Marck Espejo almost played for DLSU] If Espejo played for the Green Spikers, he would definitely be a game changer. The Ateneo-National University championship rivalry wouldn’t have happened. Instead, it would’ve been the Bulldogs and Green Spikers duking it out for the crown during Espejo’s UAAP stint.      “Kung sa amin siya naglaro panigurado malaki ‘yung impact sa team namin kasi alam naman natin si Marck malakas talaga siya kahit buong team kaya niyang dalhin,” former DLSU setter and now assistant coach Geuel Asia told ABS-CBN Sports. Asia, who played for the Green Spikers from Season 75 to Season 79, added that he’s very familiar with Espejo's game as they were teammates when the National Capital Region ruled the 2012 Palarong Pambansa in Lingayen, Pangasinan.       “So malakas ang impact niya sa DLSU kung sakali. Power and mind maglaro si Marck so malaki ang matutulong niya sa DLSU,” said the former national team playmaker and Espejo's Cignal HD Spikers teammate. "Fit din siya sa system. Kahit na anong sistema aayon sa kanya, magiging comfortable siya."  In fact, with him on board DLSU in Season 76, the Green Spikers might have even gotten a trip to the Final Four. The Green Spikers, who finished third n Season 75, were eliminated by Adamson University in the playoff for no. 4 spot the following season.  Imagine Espejo adding more firepower to DLSU, which already had Season 75 MVP Red Christensen, Raymark Woo, Aaron Calderon, Ralph Calasin and Philip Cerveza. “Sobrang lakas talaga kung nangyari ‘yung ganun. Kasi yun din time na yun malakas si Woo eh,” said Asia. With Espejo, who was second in scoring in his rookie year and was in the top 10 in spiking, blocking, service and digs, DLSU might not even need to go to the playoff for a semis spot. Heck, the Green Spikers might even land at no. 2 - just like how Espejo led Ateneo into the Finals in Season 76 to face NU – considering that Christensen, Woo and Cerveza that year were consistently producing big numbers and contributing well on defense.      Of course, that team would still find it difficult to surpass the powerhouse Peter Torres-led Bulldogs in the championship. But at least that would’ve given DLSU the much-needed championship experience. Let’s say Woo didn’t suffer a knee injury during the pre-season while playing in a ligang labas that forced him to sit out  year, then DLSU would have remained a solid contender in Season 77. There might even have been the possibility that the Green Spikers ended a decade-long title-drought that year as they would have been parading an experienced and solid lineup composed of Espejo, Woo, setters Brendon Santos and Asia, libero Jopet Movido, Calderon, Christensen, Mike Frey, Arjay Onia, Cris Dumago and Calasin. The possibility of DLSU winning another title or two in the next three seasons with Espejo at the helm might not be far from reality.    But then of course Season 80 would be a different story. That year the Green Spikers would’ve parted ways with most of its veterans leaving Espejo, Onia, Dumago and Frey leading a young team piloted by third year setter Wayne Marco.    Even if DLSU did manage to crawl its way back into the Finals in Espejo’s last year, it would be extremely difficult to hurdle the Bulldogs parading a tall and very talented crew led by ace hitter Bryan Bagunas, Kim Malabunga, Madzlan Gampong, James Natividad, Francis Saura, setter Kim Dayandante and libero Ricky Marcos.    But then again, a DLSU squad bannered by Espejo in the UAAP would have definitely been a sight to behold. Too bad we could only imagine the what ifs.   ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2020

Nagdalawang-isip ako dahil kay Coach Tai -- Galanza on playing for Creamline

Jema Galanza is one of the top hitters of the star-studded Creamline Cool Smashers in the Premier Volleyball League. Her all-around game and consistent performance makes her a vital cog for the Cool Smashers, who have won three titles since Galanza joined the pink-clad club team two years ago. But apparently, the former Adamson University standout had some second thoughts about staying with Creamline after her first conference back in 2018.   All because of her fear of Cool Smashers coach Tai Bundit and his well-known Spartan-like training program. “Nagdadalawang-isip ako sa totoo lang dahil kay Coach Tai,” Galanza shared on Volleyball DNA. “Kinakabahan ako. Baka mamatay ako [sa training].” However, Galanza chose to stay and be mentored and trained by the same coach that steered Ateneo de Manila University to back-to-back titles in the UAAP. “Pero sabi ko sige na nga. Lahat naman ng mga players niya gumaling so mag-stay na lang ako,” said Galanza. It proved to be a great career decision for Galanza as Creamline won its second PVL title and completed a sweep of the Open and Reinforced Conferences that year. Galaza then got her biggest break in the 2019 Open Conference, when Bundit put his trust on her to carry Creamline’s scoring chores. She played her role well during the stretch when ace hitter Alyssa Valdez missed a string of games because of a foot injury and training stint with the national team. Galanza, who signed with Creamline on a ‘temporary’ playing deal before getting an extension, helped the Cool Smashers complete a tournament sweep and was eventually honored as Conference Most Valuable Player and 1st Best Outside Spiker.      Looking back, Galanza admitted that Bundit’s training style is indeed not for the faint-hearted. “Naiyak din ako habang nagti-training,” she said. “Pero at least naging OK naman.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 6th, 2020

Dani Ravena can be the next leader of the Lady Eagles

Former Ateneo de Manila University star Denden Lazaro-Revilla sees libero Dani Ravena playing a bigger role for the Lady Eagles in their bid to retain their crown. Speaking on the Crossover podcast on Tuesday, the two-time UAAP champion said that aside from her defensive responsibilities, Ravena’s leadership will be needed by the Lady Eagles come Season 83 next year.    “I heard na she’s very vocal sa team and ‘yung energy niya na she brings on the court every time she steps in is a huge boost sa team,” said Lazaro-Revilla, who helped Ateneo win back-to-back titles in Seasons 76 and 77. “So she’s a vital cog in the Ateneo team right now.” The then sophomore Ravena anchored the Lady Eagles floor defense in Season 81 Finals against University of Sto. Tomas. Despite a quiet outing in the elimination round, Ravena played her role well in three games of the championship series averaging 14.3 digs and almost eight digs per match. With the possible departure of some of their senior players following the cancelled Season 82, Ravena’s leadership will be needed by Ateneo more than ever come Season 83 especially with young bloods coming in.    Lazaro-Revilla, who is set to play for ChocoMucho in the Premier Volleyball League, also praised Ravena’s improvement skills-wise considering that Miriam College product is just a converted defensive specialist. “Actually malaki yung in-improve niya given na she was only converted from a setter. She was a setter in high school then she was converted into a libero,” she said. “So malaking responsibility yun kasi she rose into the spotlight and then of course Ateneo is looking to win a championship. That’s not an easy task,” Lazaro-Revilla added. Aside from Ravena, the multi-titled libero also mentioned rookie libero Roma Doromal as vital piece on floor defense for Ateneo.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 19th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie EJ Laure vs. rookie Eya Laure

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

Dawn Macandili: It All Started With a Flying Shoe

Libero Dawn Macandili had to start somewhere before becoming Miss Everywhere. Her first venture into volleyball – the start of her successful journey – is as memorable as the pair of shoes she was wearing that day. Coming from a sports-loving family, it’s all but natural for the former De La Salle University star to be into sports. Her father played hoops for Jose Rizal University for a while but had to give it up as he was already juggling his studies and work. Macandili's paternal grandmother was a slugger on a softball team and her brother played basketball before shifting to tennis. Her eldest sister played volleyball and then became a team captain of a cheering squad in college while her other sister fell in love with tennis.   She ended up choosing volleyball as her sport.      “I started playing (volleyball) in the middle of fifth grade,” said Macandili, who recalled that she was around 11-years-old then when she joined the De La Salle University-Lipa team. The national team standout shared a humorous anecdote about her official volleyball game debut. Back then she was a spiker. “My first-ever official volleyball game was back when I was in Grade 5 and I was playing in Skechers with Velcro straps,” she said.   “In the middle of the game while I was running for the ball, one of my shoes came off,” Macandili continued. “That was the most memorable first game ever.” From there Macandili never looked back. Transferring to De La Salle-Zobel, Macandili was given a new role under Ramil De Jesus, who was also the coach La Salle's high school team.    “At first, I was a spiker for DLS-L’s grade school team because my teammates were almost the same height as me. When I moved up to the high school team I played libero as my height wouldn't suffice (as a spiker) anymore,” she said. “Our coach in the high school team was coach Ramil de Jesus. I, being a Lasallian at heart, could not imagine studying anywhere else but in DLSU,” Macandili added. “Another big factor was that coach Ramil is a great mentor and has produced elite players. I thought that if I was going to play in college. I was gonna play for him.” She won three high school UAAP titles from Season 73 to 75. Macandili was also a member of the team that won gold in the 2010 and 2012 Guam Youth Games and helped NCR win the Palarong Pambansa 2013 gold medal where she was also named Best Libero. Naturally, she moved up to play for the Lady Spikers in college. Her first two years weren’t as successful as she wished it to be after DLSU lost to Ateneo in the UAAP Finals in Season 76 and 77. The Lady Spikers got their payback in Season 78 and won two more titles as Macandili closed her collegiate career a champion. In that three-year reign, Macandili bagged two Best Receiver awards, Best Digger honors and the Season 80 Finals Most Valuable Player award.   She brought her success to the Philippine Superliga, winning numerous titles and individual accolades, including the 2016 All Filipino Conference MVP. Macandili joined the national team in 2017 and saw action in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games, 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and in the Manila SEA Games last December 2019.  Macandili was also recognized as 2nd Best Libero in the 2017 AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship held in Binan, Laguna. Looking back, Macandili can’t help but be grateful on that first volleyball game of hers. After all, the shoe that flew off somewhere brought her to where she is now.     That gem of a memorable moment never fails to put a smile on her face.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

How Pinoy athletes kept winning during the lockdown

Sporting events may be suspended or canceled, but that won't stop your favorite Filipino athletes from inspiring or entertaining people as they spend their extra time off doing worthwhile activities during the lockdown period. From reaching out to affected communities to learning a new skill, here are what your idols are up to during the community quarantine. 1)  Proudly serving the nation as frontliners Some athletes have taken their in-game dedication off the court, as they proudly serve the country as frontliners during the COVID-19 pandemic. MPBL players such as Bacoor City's Eric Acuña and Bacolod-Master Sardines' Jopher Custodio are currently heeding the call as frontliners for the Philippine Army, as well as their fellow soldiers UST women’s volleyball coach Kung Fu Reyes and volleyball star Jovelyn Gonzaga. Pasay Voyager's Dhon Reverente also suited up for the Philippine Navy while his teammate Jesse Bustos is serving in the frontlines in another way, using his camera as a photojournalist for a daily newspaper.  2)  Raising funds and holding donation drives Your beloved players continue to exemplify teamwork in these challenging times as they help the dedicated frontliners and affected households in different parts of the country. UST student-athletes joined former Golden Tigresses star Sisi Rondina in auctioning their jerseys for a cause to donate supplies to the frontliners of Barangay Luz in Cebu City. Meanwhile, volleyball legends Alyssa Valdez and Charo Soriano led a fundraiser called "Volleyball Community Gives Back PH," which aims to supply frontliners in the country with PPEs and other essentials—with celebrities like Kathryn Bernardo and Pia Wurtzbach joining their cause. Former DLSU Lady Spikers standout and Creamline utility spiker Michele Gumabao also provided relief packs and gave them personally to the affected communities in Pampanga with the help of the group Your 200 Pesos. 3)  No days off for training and getting the gains Leagues and competitions may have been put on hold, but athletes won't be stopped from keeping themselves in tiptop shape. Observing quarantine, ONE Championship's heavyweight champion Brandon Vera took his workout to the forest, preparing for his upcoming bout against Arjan Bhullar, while Team Lakay fighters, such as Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, and Joshua Pacio improvised household materials as gym equipment. National athletes, such as karateka Junna Tsukii, wushu artist Agatha Wong, and Olympic medalist Hidilyn Diaz, did rigorous training sessions at home to keep themselves in form for upcoming tournaments. High-flyer Ricci Rivero also taught his fans some basic dribbling drills to improve basketball handles—as seen in an episode of "Upfront" on LIGA cable sports channel. 4) Unlocking new skills and focusing on fave hobbies Your fave sports idols also overcame boredom by learning new skills and focusing on their favorite hobbies. For instance, DLSU Green Archers guard Aljun Melecio learned to cook scrumptious lechon while taking a time-out from the hardwood. UAAP volleyball champion and national team player Rex Intal also reminded us that he is a dedicated painter with his mixed portrait of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, channeling his passion for sports and art into one. And did you know that top local setter Jia Morado is a talented photographer? Check out her Instagram and be amazed by her works. 5)  Taking their talents to TikTok Athletes joined the trending TikTok craze as a source of entertainment during the lockdown. Former UAAP stars Kim Kianna Dy and Jema Galanza posted their dance covers of Young Thug's "Relationship," and Deanna Wong took on "The Weekend" dance challenge. UST Golden Tigresses' rookie Imee Fernandez also wowed the TikTok crowd with a pre-workout dance video, which garnered over 600,000 views online. For Ateneo Blue Eagles guard SJ Belangel, TikTok has also been his avenue to overcome his shyness, doing hilarious skits online.   6)  Becoming stars online No live sports to entertain the audiences? It's not a problem for these athletes who continue to provide fun content to every sports fan, with the help of ABS-CBN Sports. Catch Shaun Ildefonso as he does an entertaining commentary about everything sports on "SRSLY." Also watch Cherry Nunag’s wacky chikahan with famous athletes in "Kalye Confessions: Stay-at-Home Edition." Lastly, the lockdown won't stop the basketball conversation as Beau Belga chats with your favorite hoop idols online, while still chowing down on their fave treats on "Extra Rice with Beau Belga." Watch all of these on ABS-CBN Sports' Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and YouTube channel. Also stay tuned for more new offerings from the sports arm of ABS-CBN.  These athletes have proven they are truly winners in and out of the court. While waiting for live sports to return, you can rewatch the best games of these athletes on LIGA (SD channel 86 and HD channel 183 on SKYCable) and game highlights and special features on ABS-CBN Sports' social media pages and official YouTube account. ABS-CBN Sports will continue its commitment to providing a variety of world-class, exciting, and inspiring content to every Pinoy sports fan. Visit sports.abs-cbn.com and follow @ABSCBNSports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For updates, you may also visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom or follow @ABSCBNPR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

Majoy Baron in FIVB website feature article: Enjoying both volleyball and fashion worlds

Filipino volleyball stars continue to make headlines in the FIVB website. Majoy Baron’s humble volleyball journey to her slaying it on the catwalk and her incredible story of striving to be at her best in both worlds is the latest Filipino volleyball  feature article on the site. The F2 Logistics middle blocker shared the news on her Instagram post on Sunday.               View this post on Instagram                   Thank you FIVB for the feature. I am humbled to be able to share my journey not only as a volleyball player but also as a model. I hope to inspire others to go beyond their limitations. Pursue your passions and don’t be afraid to do the things you love. You are limitless ?? Click full article on my bio! A post shared by Majoy Baron (@majoybaron) on Jun 6, 2020 at 6:20pm PDT “Thank you FIVB for the feature,” she posted. “I am humbled to be able to share my journey not only as a volleyball player but also as a model. I hope to inspire others to go beyond their limitations. Pursue your passions and don’t be afraid to do the things you love. You are limitless.” Baron, who is a mainstay in the national team since 2018, told the website that she fell in love with beauty pageants growing up. It was her first love. “Before I became a volleyball player, I used to enjoy joining beauty pageants,” the 5-foot-10 stunner on and off the court told the website. “In the Philippines, beauty pageants are very popular. Miss Universe is our Super Bowl and is one of the major events the Filipinos look forward to every year. Growing up with that energy and enthusiasm, pageants and modelling easily became my first love.” Baron added that walking on the ramp puts her on a different high. “There was a rush every time I would put on a beautiful designer garment and walk down an elevated ramp in front of an audience,” she said. “What I enjoyed the most was transforming into a different person that was totally removed from my real self even just for a few minutes.” Her modelling career had to take a backseat when the Concepcion, Tarlac native was recruited to play for the Ramil De Jesus-mentored De La Salle University Lady Spikers in the UAAP. “My skills in high school weren't sufficient to make me stand out, I was tall and that was it. After a national tournament, only two schools scouted me for college. I was very grateful to even receive an offer from two schools with well-known and established volleyball programmes,” she said. “Going to DLSU for college turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Baron continued. “It still gives me goose bumps remembering the time I was playing for the them. Those championships, trophies and individual awards we got were the fruits of our unending hard work and dedication to the sport.” Her first two years with the green and white were disappointing with DLSU losing to archrival Ateneo de Manila University in Season 76 and 77. Baron became a UAAP champion in 2016 in her third year and in her fourth year with the squad, she bagged Season 79 Most Valuable Player award as well as leading the Lady Spikers to a back-to-back. She left a winning legacy after closing her collegiate career as a three-peat champion. Baron also enjoyed a flourishing career in the commercial league, helping the Cargo Movers collect titles in the Philippine Superliga. Her talents and skills also landed her a spot in the national team. Baron saw action in the 2018 Asian Games and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and was named Best Middle Blocker twice in the two-leg 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix. She returned to modelling after college, squeezing in photo shoots for magazines, product endorsements and fashion shows, in between her commitments with her club and national squad. “It was not hard juggling volleyball and modelling duties, but the determination and discipline that I honed while playing volleyball took over. Know your priorities, pursue excellence, and push to be better than before,” said Baron, who was the fourth Filipino featured in the website after Jaja Santiago, Sisi Rondina and Bryan Bagunas.     ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2020

Bryan Bagunas: Basketball s loss is volleyball s gain

Who would’ve thought that a flubbed lay-up in a basketball game would convince Bryan Bagunas to embrace a different sport that eventually brought him success? The Southeast Asian Games silver medalist shared on The Score’s Kalye Confessions an anecdote on how his volleyball career started. Just like most boys in this hoops-crazy nation, Bagunas initially found interest playing basketball. He tried volleyball just out of curiosity.    During his sophomore year in high school, the Balayan, Batangas native joined both basketball and volleyball competitions in his school’s intramurals. A rather embarrassing moment made him realize that basketball may not be for him. “Naglaro ako ng basketball. Kaso nag-iisa na lang ako, nag-layup ako sablay,” recalled the Oita Miyoshi Weiss Adler import in the Japan V. Premier League. “Kaya sabi ko parang ayoko nang mag-basketball ah.” He fared better in volleyball. “Eh ‘di ‘yun sa volleyball naman. Nag-OK naman, second year high school ata kami nun nu’ng nag-champion kami nun sa Intrams eh,” he said. “Eh ‘di ‘yun kinuha na nila ako. Dun na nagsimula ‘yun.” From there he became a member of Balayan National High School’s volleyball team and was eventually chosen to represent Region IV-A in the 2014 Palarong Pambansa in Sta. Cruz, Laguna in his senior year. Although his team was booted out in the quarterfinals by eventual gold medalist Western Visayas, National University scouts noticed Bagunas' height and talent.     Bulldogs head coach Dante Alinsurin and his assistant Jessie Lopez offered Bagunas a chance to play for the then reigning two-time UAAP men’s volleyball champion NU.   “Si Coach Jessie siya pa kumuha ng phone number ko nun saka si Coach Dante. Tapos pinuntahan nila ako sa bahay sa Balayan, Batangas,” said Bagunas. His first three years with the Bulldogs resulted in heartbreaks as NU fell short in the Finals against the Marck Espejo-bannered Ateneo de Manila University. Bagunas finally won his first UAAP title in Season 80 when the Bulldogs knocked the crown off the Blue Eagles’ heads. He led NU to back-to-back titles the following year where he also bagged the Most Valuable Player award for a perfect collegiate career exit. Bagunas has been a member of the national team since 2017. In the 2019 SEA Games, Bagunas helped the Philippines establish history by taking the silver medal for the first time since 1977. He is also the second homegrown talent to be tapped as an import in Japan after Espejo. Bagunas is enjoying great success in volleyball, all thanks to a missed lay-up.   ---         Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2020

DO YOU REMEMBER… Jia Morado’s PVL debut?

Creamline is a powerhouse team in the Premier Volleyball League. Boasting of a deep roster of talents led by strong hitters in Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza and Michele Gumabao, the Cool Smashers have in their collection a total of three titles in three years including back-to-back Open Conference crowns. And making this star-studded team work and the Creamline players function at their best is setter Jia Morado. Morado joined the pink-clad squad in the PVL’s Open Conference back in 2017 after a short hiatus following Ateneo de Manila University’s runner-up finish in UAAP Season 79. In Creamline, which finished third in the Reinforced Conference during the league's inaugural season, Morado reunited with Valdez after last seeing action together in the UAAP in 2016.    The playmaker’s first official game as a Cool Smasher was on July 1, 2017 when Creamline opened its tournament campaign against the Jema Galanza-led Adamson University-Akari at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Morado got the starting role as the Cool Smashers’ main setter the previous conference Alex Cabanos took a backseat. In front of a very excited 1,205-strong crowd, Morado, who a couple months before announced her decision to forego her final year with the Lady Eagles after losing to archrival De La Salle University in the UAAP Finals, once again wove her magic. Despite still adjusting with her new teammates, Morado sure brought out the best in her spikers. Rosemarie Vargas hammered 16 attacks in her 18-point explosion, Valdez also had 16 kills for 18 markers while Pau Soriano got 11 points as Morado pulled the strings of the Creamline’s offense for an opening-day, 25-17, 18-25, 25-15, 25-22, win. Morado registered impressive numbers in her first action in the PVL. She dished out 36 excellent sets that helped the Cool Smashers nail the bulk of their 49 attack points. Morado also posted six points coming off three spikes, a kill block and two aces. On the defensive end, Morado was as sharp as she put up seven digs. “It feels great to play. It’s a great experience playing with new players naman this time,” said Morado in her first PVL post-game interview. In that first match, Morado also faced off with a young Adamson playmaker in Louie Romero. The then Kings’ Montessori setter held her own against Morado with 34 excellent sets. The Cool Smashers would eventually win their next six games in the single round eliminations. However, with Valdez joining the national team in its training for the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games, Creamline came up short in the semifinals against eventual champion BaliPure and settled for a third place finish. Morado won her first of five Best Setter awards in her debut tournament.     ---         Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2020

WHAT IF… National U failed in must-win run to historic title

History lesson: From 1954 to now, National University only has two titles to show in UAAP Men's Basketball. The Bulldogs won it all in 1954 before going through a six-decade wait for another championship. The wait was finally over when the blue and gold side coached by Eric Altamirano and led by Gelo Alolino, Glenn Khobuntin, and Troy Rosario took home the trophy to Sampaloc. Without a doubt, it was a happy ending to a colorful story, but it was, also without a doubt, a shock to just about everybody. Sans back-to-back MVP Ray Parks Jr., National U wound up with a 9-5 standing at the end of the elimination round. That was pretty good, relative to the long-suffering squad, but that also meant they stood on level ground with University of the East. And if they were to get the better of the Red Warriors for the fourth-seed, they would then be matched up opposite top-seed Ateneo de Manila University and eventual MVP Kiefer Ravena and eventual Mythical selection Chris Newsome. The other bracket wasn't a slouch either as it featured a Far Eastern University with Mac Belo or a De La Salle University with Jeron Teng. Against all odds, though, the Bulldogs did it - coming out on top of UE, coming through against Blue Eagles twice, and claiming the crown in three games at the expense of the Tamaraws. At long last, Jhocson Street was to be the venue of a championship celebration anew. To do so, thought, they had to walk the knife's edge as, aside from the Finals, their first three games after the elims were all must-win. What if they failed there? What if, even in just one of those three tries, the odds proved to be insurmountable? While the Red Warriors, despite the presence of Roi Sumang and Charles Mammie, would remain to be a tall task, there's still a better than good chance that they still fall to Khobuntin, Rosario, and company. And so, we have the blue and gold moving on to a duel with Ateneo. On a high from staying alive, the Bulldogs have a good chance at still stealing the playoff game behind J-Jay Alejandro's breakout game. Game 2, however, should have been where, ultimately, their dreams were dashed. In the real world, National U eked out a two-point triumph over the Blue Eagles on the back of Alfred Aroga's 14-point, 12-rebound double-double. In the what if world, Ateneo shows them the door once and for all in the do-or-die game as Ravena comes out way more determined than his five-point, 2-of-10 effort in the first half. In the Finals, though, FEU gets the better of the Blue Eagles and wins the first of its back-to-back championships. Newsome still fails to graduate on the highest of highs, but at least, he gets to go out in the championship round. Ravena and Von Pessumal return for their fifth and final seasons hungrier than ever, but also fall short of going out on top. For National U, the waiting game continues - and with Khobuntin and Rosario graduating, making the Final Four in Season 78 wouldn't even be a certainty. They still do so, but will also still be booted out by Finals-bound University of Sto. Tomas. Just like the real world, the what if world will then see the exit of Coach Eric and the Bulldogs will be searching for a brand new mentor. It could have still been one-time NCAA champion coach Jamike Jarin, but it could also have been Jeff Napa who gets promoted after winning three titles in UAAP Jrs. What's certain is the National U Bulldogs would still be longing for its first championship since Ramon Magsaysay was President of the Philippines. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2020

PetroGazz solidifies semis bid

PetroGazz strengthened its Final Four berth after booting out BaliPure from contention, 25-20, 26-24, 25-23, in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the PCV Socio-Civic and Cultural Center in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte on Tuesday. Grethcel Soltones waxed hot with 14 points to lead the Angels to their fifth win in seven games for a […] The post PetroGazz solidifies semis bid appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2021