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It’s an opportunity to grow -- Madayag on National team call-up

After a long wait, Maddie Madayag will finally get a chance to play for the national team. “Masaya ako kasi ngayon lang ako nagkaroon ng chance na makasali talaga,” said Madayag after her recent call up for the national pool. Madayag with UAAP Season 81 1st Best Middle Blocker Roselyn Doria and veteran opposite spiker Jovelyn Gonzaga were the latest players to be included in the pool that will train for the 30th Southeast Asian Games. “I’m very glad na sila Coach Shaq [Delos Santos] wanted to get me kasi it’s an opportunity rin as a player na I can grow,” said the ChocoMucho standout. The two-time UAAP champion had been invited to join the pool before but conflict in her UAAP schedule as part of the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles and her studies prevented were the major obstacles for her to commit.     “Kasi first year ako underage ako, second year na-injure ako tapos third year, fourth year hanggang pag-graduate ako I was committed to Ateneo eh,” said the UAAP Season 81 2nd Best middle blocker. “I really couldn’t play for the national team kasi UAAP season.” Madayag said that it has always been her dream to be in the national team and play for the country. “Nu’ng season pa lang tinatanong ako kung interested ako sabi ko, ‘Oo naman, ba’t naman aayaw ako maglaro para sa bayan,’” said Madayag. She also explained that she and teammate Kat Tolentino didn’t get a chance attend the tryouts called by Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. because it was held either near the UAAP season or with the tournament already on going.    “Nu’ng UAAP pa di rin kami naka-tryout ni Kat kasi we had training tsaka may games kami,” she said. “During the season parang tinatanong talaga ako if I wanted to join sabi ko oo naman talaga. Hindi lang talaga ako available at that time.”   Big shoes to fill Madayag's inclusion came just in time after 6-foot-5 middle blocker Jaja Santiago failed to get a clearance from her Japan V. Premier League club Ageo Medics to suit up for the national team in the SEA Games that the Philippines will host in November. Santiago won’t be available in the biennial meet with the Japan League season set to begin on October 27.       “Mas masaya kung andoon si Jaja di ba? We’ll still give our best naman tsaka it’s a team effort so kung ano yung gusto ng team yun naman yung lalabas, said Madayag. Aside from Santiago, Tots Carlos, Celine Domingo, Angel Cayuna, Jema Galanza and Jerrili Malabanan withdrew from the pool according to Delos Santos.   With Santiago out, Madayag as well as the remaining middles in the pool Mika Reyes, skipper Aby Marano, Majoy Baron and Doria will have big shoes to fill. “Doon naman sa filling in kay Jaja marami din kaming gitna sa roster e,” said Madayag. “We’re gonna train harder for the spot of Jaja to fill it in and we’re gonna give our all para sa bayan.” Madayag, Gonzaga and Creamline’s Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado will join the national pool in Thailand on September 15. The bulk of the pool leaves for Thailand on Saturday for the 12-day training camp before seeing action in the Southeast Asian Grand Prix in Nakhon Ratchasima from Sept. 20 to 22.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnSep 4th, 2019

Embiid stars as 76ers beat Bucks 121-109

By Dan Gelston, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid outplayed Giannis Antetokounmpo in Philadelphia's first home Christmas game in 31 years, collecting 31 points and 11 rebounds to help the 3-point happy 76ers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 121-109 on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Tobias Harris sank five 3s, Josh Richardson and Furkan Korkmaz each had four and even Embiid hit three as part of Philly's season-high 21 3s (on 44 attempts) against a Bucks team that had the best record in the NBA. Harris and Al Horford hit 3s over the final 90 seconds to push back a late Bucks run, and the Sixers improved to 16-2 at home. There was a charged atmosphere for the anticipated matchup featuring Embiid and Ben Simmons taking on Khris Middleton and Antetokounmpo. Fans dressed as elves, wore ugly sweaters and held signs that said all they wanted for Christmas was a Sixers win. They got it, with Embiid using the national showcase to play like an MVP in a dominant first half that helped the Sixers take the biggest halftime lead (21 points) against the Bucks under coach Mike Budenholzer. Embiid scored 23 points and was disruptive defensively, holding Antetokounmpo to 4-for-14 shooting in the half. The Sixers hit 11 3s in the half and made the NBA-best Bucks (27-5) look like anything but Eastern Conference contenders. Embiid stood firm under the basket, arms extended sky high on one Antetokounmpo drive in transition. Embiid absorbed the contact and the "Greek Freak" lost control of the ball, one of six Milwaukee turnovers at the break. 76ers coach Brett Brown said before the game the Bucks were "NBA royalty." They have a ways to go before they're crowned tops in the East. With fans chanting "Trust the Process!" on Embiid free throws, the All-Star center was worthy of the holiday highlight video. "I reminded our team, people in America have more appreciation for this day in the NBA," Brown said. "We're grateful for the opportunity." The Sixers aced their test against the NBA's best. "I'm not going to overvalue one game," 76ers general manager Elton Brand said, "but it's a good barometer." It wasn't just Embiid that flustered the Bucks. Korkmaz was knocked on his rear and buried Philly's 16th 3 of the game late in the third for a 93-67 lead that had the crowd going wild. Korkmaz's shot capped a string of 3s on five straight Sixers baskets. Mike Scott, the reserve better known for his man-of-the-people popup appearances, became the seventh Sixer to hit a 3 for a 98-70 lead. The 76ers led 100-73 through three. Middleton scored 31 points and Antetokounmpo had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Antetokounmpo got flustered over a perceived missed call and was whistled for a technical in the fourth. Brand held a state-of-the-franchise press conference before the game and preached chemistry and continuity would eventually get the Sixers among the best in the East, a conference many pundits picked them to win. "We are going to get there," Brand said. "Home-court advantage is important but having Joel healthy in the playoff in May, June, that is important to us. We could still grow into a team that could be a No. 1 seed." For a game, the 76ers sure played like one. TIP-INS Bucks: The Bucks trailed by 29 and held only an early three-point lead. 76ers: Embiid had his seventh game this season with 30 points and 10 rebounds. He scored 20 points before halftime for the second time this season. ... Simmons had 15 points and 14 assists. BANNER TIME Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo admired the 2016 and 2018 Villanova national championship banners that hang in the rafters. The former Wildcats star was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player in the '18 title run. "There's two of them things. That's tough," he said. TRADE MARKET "I always look at opportunities to improve the team. That is my job to make sure Brett and the group have the pieces to compete for a championship. Right now, I am definitely encouraged," Brand said. UP NEXT Bucks: Play Friday (Saturday, PHL time) at Atlanta. 76ers: Open a four-game trip Friday (Saturday, PHL time) at Orlando......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2019

Aljun Melecio s never-ending quest to prove he belongs

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

Congress promises PSC funding for Tokyo Olympics

Lawmakers promised to heed the Philippine Sports Commission’s call for financial support for the Tokyo Olympics next year. Congressmen who are members of the Committee on Youth and Sports Development gave a positive response when the government’s sports arm lobbied for Tokyo 2021 budget in the House of Representatives.   "Rest assured that we will do our part to get the funding for this Olympics. All hands are in. Dapat lahat tayo dito. This is the best chance we have," said committee head Rep. Eric Martinez. He added that they would discuss the matter with the Department of Budget and Management and schedule it the soonest time possible because the athletes "need that budget for the Olympics." PSC Chairman William 'Butch' Ramirez during the regular committee meeting on Wednesday bared the sports agency's need for its slashed funds to continue supporting the training and competitions of Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers and hopefuls vying for slots.   "We were one of those government offices who also contributed to the Bayanihan Act. The DBM deducted from us. Para sa amin malaking bagay 'yun kasi kasama doon 'yung Olympic budget namin. Hanggang ngayon po bakante 'yan. It's an opportunity for us to ask, we need your help," expressed Ramirez. After presenting the Olympic budget request of more than P182 Million for Tokyo-bound athletes and hopefuls made by Chef de Mission (CDM) Mariano Araneta to the PSC, the sports agency chief highlighted the push Congress can give to the country's Olympic dream.     "Rep. Bambol Tolentino has initially supported ‘yung P180 million na allowances ng atleta which was approved by the bicam, and to be approved by the President. Thank you sa lahat ng congressman na sumuporta. Pero 'yung Olympic budget namin, we are hoping again for your support," said Ramirez. The PSC chief informed the body that "the Philippine Sports Commission is operating on the savings coming from PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation)" and that "when we talk about the elite athletes of the national team, the budget being used is the NSDF (National Sports Development Fund)” prompting PSC to lessen grassroots sports program related to local government units. "Dito kami naka-focus sa elite athletes. We still have some budget just enough for us to reach December," admitted Ramirez in his response to Committee Vice-Chair Jericho Nograles' inquiry on the PSC's funds. To aid in the government’s effort to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, P596 million from the National Sports Development Fund and another P773 million from the General Appropriations Act by the DBM was slashed from the PSC’s budget. Gymnast Caloy Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena and boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial already qualified for the Summer Games. Eighty-two more hopefuls are training to earn spots in the Tokyo Olympics.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

DID YOU KNOW… Maddie Madayag started off as a wushu artist

Maddie Madayag is poetry in motion when it comes to her blocking. Her defense at the net is an art form. But before the Davaoena flexed her muscles into becoming one of this generation’s notable middle blockers, she excelled in a different art - martial arts that is. Madayag already donned the tricolors performing on the mat as a wushu artist long before the former Ateneo de Manila University hammered her way into winning two UAAP titles and landing a spot in the national women’s volleyball team. Before pounding the volleyball or putting up a great wall at the net to stop an opponent’s attack, Madayag wowed judges with her routines with weapons especially with the long spear or quiang. However, her love affair with the Chinese martial arts started with a little nudge from her mother, Donna. “I actually tried taekwondo and ballet but then it didn’t work for me. Nag-wushu ako noong elementary but then only because my mom forced me. Para lang matuto ako mag-self defense,” said Madayag during her appearance in Volleyball DNA.      “I don’t know. I was kind of lazy siguro back then. I wanted to watch TV, cartoons, I just wanted to chill. But then my mom wanted me to learn other things din naman. She didn’t want me to stay at home,” added Madayag. It didn’t take long for Madayag to appreciate the sport.   “After nu’ng summer I learned to love the sport so I told my mom I wanted to continue,” she said. Showing talent, athleticism and being naturally competitive, Madayag landed a spot in the junior team. She even competed in the 2009 Asian Junior Wushu Championship in Macau where she won a medal.   Her wushu stint, however, ended when she entered high school. Madayag cited conflict of schedule as the reason for leaving the sport. Then came her interest in volleyball.     “My friends (in Davao Christian High School) told me na, ‘Tara Madz tryout tayo sa volleyball’. After ng tryout na yun ako lang na-recruit because I was the tall one,” said Madayag, who added that she was around 5-foot-8 that time. It was volleyball that opened an opportunity for the Southern lass to fly to the Big City and eventually land on the Lady Eagles’ nest in Katipunan. Madayag accomplished great things after fully embracing the team sport. But what if Madayag pursued her first love? For sure with her talent she’ll get a spot in the national team alongside wushu star Agatha Wong.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 24th, 2020

Jovelyn Gonzaga: A soldier s heart

National team star Jovelyn Gonzaga continues to fulfill her duty as a soldier serving the locally stranded individuals (LSI) inside the Philippine Army camp in Taguig. Since the start of the lockdown, Gonzaga as well as other volleyball players and coaches, who are also enlisted military personnel, heeded the call in the war against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in different fronts as frontliners. The opposite hitter of the Army Lady Troopers in the Premier Volleyball League and Cignal in the Philippine Superliga has been on duty in Fort Bonifacio since the start of the community quarantine four months ago. Gonzaga in a lengthy but heartwarming post on her Instagram account shared her experience and realizations while on her tour of duty. “With this pandemic crippling our nation. I once again feel the importance and value of what we do as soldiers serving the country,” she wrote. “We are tasked to take care of the LSIs. And the inspiration I am getting every day on duty from our displaced countrymen despite of all the challenges surrounding their conditions is really remarkable.”         View this post on Instagram                   1/2 PROUD ARMY.. I remember the days when I was just starting my playing career. I was hesitant and full of doubt until I find my niche and understand my deeper why? Why am I doing these things? And where is passion coming from. All my life since I started playing volleyball, I always make it a point that my resiliency is always in check. Though there were some instances that I intend to give up? However, the desire in me to do better withstand all these challenges. That same resiliency and passion is what keeps me going until now. As a professional volleyball player and as a soldier. Serving the country is in my DNA, while playing for the country and as a soldier serving my countryman. With this pandemic crippling our nation. I once again feel the importance and value of what we do as a soldier in serving the country. We are tasked to take care of the LSI’s. And the inspiration I am getting every day on duty from out our displaced countrymen despite of all the challenges surrounding their conditions is really remarkable. And instead of me writing about them? I would rather write something from me and the lessons I’ve learned meeting them first hand. And this is my story. My regular day is training, duty and training. Sometimes go out for other stuff but most often times it’s me being a soldier and an athlete altogether. When we were call to duty in taking care of the LSI’s? Mixed emotions hit me. There’s excitement, pity and I would say fear of the unknown as we took on our new tour of duty within our territory. As we received our first batch of LSI’s. You can see in their eyes the struggles they’ve been through. However, you can also sense the sigh of relief from their actions that things will be better compared to their previous conditions. You can feel in the air the longingness of our LSI’s to go home and be with their families. Regardless of their uncertainties with regards to the acceptance of their home provinces on returning LSI’s. We all know that not all provinces are welcoming their LSI’s due to the danger of spreading Covid-19 in their respective places. @yourphilippinearmy To be continued..... A post shared by Jovelyn Gonzaga (@bionic_ilongga) on Jul 12, 2020 at 6:34pm PDT The Ilongga spiker said that she can also relate to the plight of the LSIs holed up in the camp while waiting for clearance to get back to their homes. “I remember when I was just new here in Manila. I am always looking forward to that opportunity that I can go home and visit my family. I know the struggle of being far from your family. But then again, I think, my condition is far away better than their current situation,” Gonzaga posted. Gonzaga continued by saying that the resiliency and the spark of hope in the eyes of the LSIs serves as her inspiration.            View this post on Instagram                   2/2 PROUD ARMY Longing to go home is somewhat I can personally relate. I remember when I was just new here in Manila. I am always looking forward to that opportunity that I can go home and visit my family. I know the struggle of being far from your family. But then again, I think, my condition is far away better than their current situation. This is where I draw my inspirations. These LSI’s desire to come home notwithstanding all the hassles and challenges are very admirable. This is where you will feel the value of having a family to come home to. The strong family ties we Filipinos have will always be the reason and the foundation of each and every LSI’s I met and will be meeting in the next coming days. The Filipino bayanihan spirit is very evident since no one is too selfish not to share what they have to help others. The resiliency I have and the toughness these LSI’s are showing is what made us Filipinos invincible amidst any circumstances. This experience I am in right now will always be my driving force in serving my country more. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas. Mabuhay tayong mga Filipino. @yourphilippinearmy Collab w/ @iamjlac ♥? A post shared by Jovelyn Gonzaga (@bionic_ilongga) on Jul 12, 2020 at 6:38pm PDT With positive cases still on the rise, LSIs in different holding facilities could be looking at an extended time away from their families. But rest assured that military personnel like Gonzaga will always be there to serve......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2020

Centennial team bronze remains as coach Tim s 'lowest point'

Very few will question Tim Cone's status as the greatest coach in PBA history. With 22 championships and two Grand Slam wins, coach Tim has nothing left to prove in the PBA. Cone's place in the history of Philippine basketball is sealed, but did coach Tim ever consider venturing out and winning outside the country as well? "No. Actually never. I never really thought about it, I never applied anywhere else. I never looked to coach anywhere else. I love the PBA," Cone said. Coach Tim made the revelation on the fourth episode of Coaches Unfiltered. "If Phil Jackon would call me and say, 'come coach the Knicks. Come be an assistant to the Knicks.' It's something that from a personal stand or personal growth stand for I'd have to think about," he added. Cone is pretty fine with his PBA career, and no international teams have come calling anyway, so there was no reason for him to try and go anywhere else. Coach Tim's international experience includes him handling the national team twice in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and in the 1998 Asian Games. Cone says coaching the Centennial Team, which finished with a bronze medal over two decades ago, gave him his "lowest point." "No one's ever called me so there's no reason for me to go anywhere. I enjoyed coaching the national teams. The Asian Games were really hard on me and that's the lowest point of my career in terms of emotion," coach Tim said. "It was losing in the Asian Games, I thook that harder that any championship in the PBA, losing to Korea and China. But no, I haven't really thought of coaching internationally. Never really had the opportunity to coach international. So either way, no," Cone added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 5th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2020

CAMPEONE: Year of the Tiger (2010)

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 26th, 2020

Dad-to-be Phil Younghusband switches focus from football to fatherhood

Since officially hanging up his football spikes back in November of 2019, Filipino football star Phil Younghusband has been pretty much focused on building a family. Reconnecting with former long-time Philippine Men’s National Football Team teammate Neil Etheridge on Etheridge’s Isolation Catch-Up show on Instagram Live, Younghusband talked about how married life has been. Younghusband married Margaret Hall back in July of 2019, and the two recently just moved in to a new house in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.         View this post on Instagram                   Thank you to everyone that shared our special day with us. We are overwhelmed by all the incredibly kind and touching messages that we have received. We would like to thank all of our family and friends most sincerely for all their love, support and guidance during our engagement. To all of our wedding suppliers, we cannot thank you enough for all you did and all the help you gave. Our wedding day was magical and it felt like a true fairytale. We are looking forward to our future together. With all our love, Mags and Phil. ??????20.07.19 #Marriage #Husband #Wife #Love #Happiness #Family #Friends #Magical #Fairytale #Dreamy #Enchanting #Wedding #HappilyEverAfter A post shared by Phil Younghusband (@philyounghusband10) on Jul 23, 2019 at 3:53am PDT “Married life is…I feel I have more confidence,” shared Younghusband. “I feel I’m never alone, I’ve always got someone there to support me and be there by my side. It’s been great so far, I love it, I’ve really enjoyed it.” After two years of dating, Younghusband proposed to Hall in December of 2017. “Married life has been amazing, I’m so proud to introduce Mags as Mrs. Younghusband, when I’m filling out forms, when she’s filling out forms, to see her write ‘Margaret Younghusband’, I feel really proud with every little thing we do. We just moved to England and we’ve got a place together for the first time here in England, as a married couple, so I think just everything we do, I feel just a little bit more proud, I have a little bit more confidence, it’s an amazing feeling,” Younghusband continued. While Younghusband ended the chapter of his life as a football player, the Azkals’ top goalscorer and record holder in matches played is now preparing for a brand new chapter of his life: fatherhood. Phil and Margaret are expecting their first child, a baby boy, later this year.         View this post on Instagram                   @magshall_ and I are excited to let everyone know that we are expecting a new addition to the Younghusband family in the Summer of 2020 ???????????? Mags has just entered her 2nd trimester and so far, she is doing really well ???? It has been our dream to be parents for a long time now and for our wishes to come true, we feel truly blessed by the Lord ???????? We hope to be half as good as parents as our Mother’s and Father’s have been to us and those parents we have surrounded ourselves with. Thank you to everyone for the support and we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas filled with love and happiness ?????? Thank you to @niceprintphoto for capturing our special moments and @lindsaycoalog for the makeup ???????? #Love #Happiness #Husband #Wife #Blessings #Pregnancy #BabyYounghusband #Joy #Family #Christmas #Thankful #TheYounghusbands #Philippines #Manila #England #Kent A post shared by Phil Younghusband (@philyounghusband10) on Dec 22, 2019 at 12:43am PST “When we found out Mags was pregnant - we took three tests - and when we found out, it was very emotional. We cried a little, and, it’s hard to put into words,” Younghusband shared. “For me, on a personal level, 2019 was an incredible year. Not so much, professional, but personally, it was a fantastic year. I can’t put into words when we found out that Mags was pregnant. I think it was the most amazing blessing, that you can create a life.” Younghusband talked about being able to finally become a role model for his son after he himself had looked up to a number of role models when he was younger. “For me, it’s a dream. I mentioned it on a post before, you surround yourself with role models and father figures all the time…and to know that you’re going to be in the same position, you look up to them and try to think about their strengths as fathers, to know that I’ll be in the same position and have to feel the same emotions that my father did about myself and James and Keri, it’s incredible, it’s very exciting, I can’t wait.” “It’s an incredible feeling to know that you created this life,” he added. With Younghusband being the undeniable face of Philippine football for more or less a decade, the immediate expectation for his son would be to follow in his footsteps. Younghusband says that he’ll support his son in whatever he wants to do, but given how popular football is in the UK, there’s no doubt that he gets exposed to “the beautiful game.” “You how it is when you grow up in England, we’ve got football everywhere, so I’m sure he’ll be exposed to it. I’ll support him in whatever,” Younghusband said. So does this mean that Filipino football fans can look forward to another generation of Younghusband excellence? “Obviously, we’ll expose him to all kinds of sports, our priority is to make sure that they’re active, but I think, with the amount of football you’re exposed to in this country, it’s inevitable,” Younghusband concluded. While Phil has said goodbye to his days as a football player, the Filipino-British striker believes that he still has a lot to do in Philippine football, and would even be open to joining the Azkals coaching staff if the opportunity presents itself. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020

UAAP football stars express sadness, disappointment over Season 82 cancellation

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 8th, 2020

UAAP 82: For Faith Nisperos, Ateneo has always been where the heart is

The lights will be no brighter and the stage will be no bigger for Faith Nisperos as she embarks on her rookie year for Ateneo de Manila University. No matter what everybody else expects from her, however, Nisperos can rest assured about one thing - she's at home. "It really feels like a homecoming. I've been to a different school - it was a different environment, a different culture," she shared. She then continued, "I'm really thankful na God has given me an opportunity to come back here. I've missed this eh." Before starring for Nazareth School of National University's championship teams, the 5-foot-11 spiker was a prized prospect from Ateneo de Davao. And when the time came for her to decide on the next step for her future, she heeded her original alma mater's call to come back. Despite being one of the undisputed rookies to watch in the UAAP 82 Women's Volleyball Tournament, however, Nisperos said she will take it all in at her own pace. As she puts it, "I just wanna do my best. I won't pressure myself in trying to push myself too hard." She then continued, "Ang goal ko lang naman is gampanan yung role ko sa team." That goes as well for what will be a much anticipated matchup against National U - also her alma mater and Ateneo's chief rival to secure her services. When that time comes, the 19-year-old said she will just keep playing her game. "That day na makakalaban ko former teammates ko, knowing myselft, magiging emotional ako that day. But emotions aside, laro lang pagdating sa court," she said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2020

Ateneo football star Jarvey Gayoso wraps up legendary UAAP career

Ateneo football star Jarvey Gayoso announced that he will be foregoing his fifth and final playing year in the UAAP to prepare for a professional club stint overseas.  In a lengthy, heartfelt post on Instagram, Gayoso announced that he would not be returning to the Ateneo Men's Football Team this year, just days before the start of the UAAP Football tournaments.  "After much thought and deliberation, and with the guidance of Ateneo de Manila University and the AMFT, I have decided not to return to the UAAP this year," Gayoso wrote. " Although this was a tough decision to make, ultimately I had to choose what I believe would be what’s best for me and my future." The opportunity, Gayoso detailed, came following his most recent National Team call-up during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games here in the Philippines.  "After my stint at this year’s South East Asian games, God blessed me with an opportunity to play professional football overseas. Thus, in preparation for this huge task, I have made the decision to join a local professional team." The 22-year old added that he will continue to finish schooling in the Ateneo, as this was a 'lifelong dream.'          View this post on Instagram                   After much thought and deliberation, and with the guidance of Ateneo de Manila University and the AMFT, I have decided not to return to the UAAP this year. Although this was a tough decision to make, ultimately I had to choose what I believe would be what’s best for me and my future. After my stint at this year’s South East Asian games, God blessed me with an opportunity to play professional football overseas. Thus, in preparation for this huge task, I have made the decision to join a local professional team. I will, however, continue to pursue my college degree at the Ateneo, as this has also been a lifelong goal. I have played my heart out for the Ateneo for 8 wonderful years. 8 years that have brought me trials, triumph, and memories I will keep with me forever. As a student, my biggest task was to balance my academics and my love for the sport and along with this, came setbacks that tested my ambition. Being an athlete, I was given the opportunity to compete in football and track and field which strengthened my athleticism and versatility. As a football player, I have suffered devastating losses which helped build my character. And taking on the responsibility of representing my country and my alma mater showed my heart and my passion for the beautiful game. So to my dear Ateneo, I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to strive for an Ateneo education, while proudly representing the blue and white. Playing for the Ateneo has improved every aspect of my life and opened numerous doors for me and I could never thank you enough. Choosing the Ateneo was and will always be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. To the 12th men, thank you for your continuous support and love for the game and for cheering us on through every minute. Thank you for all your sacrifices - for coming to watch our games under the heat of the sun, taking the time off your busy schedules to watch us do what we’re most passionate about, and for crying, celebrating, and fighting with us. (1/2) A post shared by Jarvey Gayoso (@jarveygayoso) on Feb 5, 2020 at 7:11am PST           View this post on Instagram                   To my teammates, thank you for being a part of my journey as a player. You have all taught me many important things in football and constantly pushed me to be the best that I can be for the team. Thank you all for giving your one big fight whenever we’d face the most difficult situations. We have gone through painful losses, celebrated championship highs, some players have been with me since high school, while others were new faces, but one thing was constant throughout, we were a brotherhood, a wolf pack. It has been an honor playing alongside each and every one of you. To the coaching staff, managers and coach JP Merida, thank you for guiding me to become who I am today. Thank you for pushing me to work my hardest and trusting me to give my all for the team. You have always been like a father to me, coach. I’m thankful that we were able to achieve championships together. I believed in your system and coaching style and it has led, not only me, but the entire football program to greater heights. I know I carry a big part of your legacy and I will continue to keep it as my inspiration wherever my passion takes me. To my family, I thank you for your undying support. Thank you for keeping me grounded and guiding me through situations I couldn’t deal with on my own. I stand proud representing the Ocampo-Gayoso name across my jersey knowing I have such wonderful people in my life cheering me on. You’ve all inspired me to continue carrying the torch Lolo Ed and Lolo Poch once carried. It’s a scary step I’m about to take but knowing that you will all be there for me makes this journey a whole lot more exciting. The Ateneo and the Ateneo Men’s football team have prepared me well enough for my next step. I know the team will continue to represent the Ateneo name with the highest honor. As I continue on with my journey, know that my heart will ALWAYS BLEED BLUE. I will continuously strive to leave a legacy in this beloved school and I will always carry the Jesuit values instilled in me. You have all been a blessing in my journey and I hope to continue to make all of you proud. This is Jarvey Ocampo Gayoso, number 11 signing off! (2/2) A post shared by Jarvey Gayoso (@jarveygayoso) on Feb 5, 2020 at 7:11am PST A third-generation sports star, Jarvey is the son of PBA veteran Jayvee Gayoso and the grandson of Filipino sporting great Ed Ocampo, and the nephew of De La Salle coach and former National Team member Alvin Ocampo.  In his four seasons in the UAAP, Gayoso was nothing but impressive as he was able to lead the Blue Eagles to two UAAP Men's Football Championships (Season 79, Season 81) and a Runner-Up finish in Season 78, while also claiming two Most Valuable Player Honors and a remarkable four Best Striker nods. During his time in the UAAP, the Blue Eagles never missed a final four appearance. Gayoso will likely go down in UAAP and Ateneo history as one of the best to ever lace up a pair of football cleats. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 6th, 2020

The Philippines to host 2020 Badminton Asia Championships

The Philippines is set to host a continental event next month. Badminton Asia has awarded the country the hosting rights for the third-ever Badminton Asia Team Championships, set to take place from February 11-16, 2020 at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum. For Badminton Asia Chief Operating Officer Chit Boon Saw, he believes that the Philippines is currently undergoing another boom in the sport that is why it was time for it to host the continental meet. "I think the Philippines is one of the fastest developing nations in badminton. And it is good to bring an event like this in a developing badminton country," said Saw as the last time the country hosted the Asian Championships (individual) back in 2001. "The game can be promoted to the masses better with an event like this." Besides being a qualifier for the Thomas (Men's) and Uber (Women's) Cups set in Denmark this May, the tournament will also be one of the last chances for the shuttlers to accumulate points in order to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With this, over 290 shuttlers from all over the continent are expected to arrive -- headlined by defending men's champion Indonesia and women's champion Japan. Fifteen men's teams and 14 women's squads will compete in the biennial meet. Each division will be divided into groups of four with the top two teams in each group advancing to the knockout stage. The team format is a best-of-five encounter with three singles matches and two doubles matches. Saw sees this tournament as an opportunity for the Philippine national team to gain new experience in the sport. "I hope the Philippine team takes this as an opportunity to learn and grow in the team event. As you know, there are not a lot of team tournaments in the world so this will be a good opportunity to learn on your home court," he said as the Philippines went 1-2 in the men's side and 0-3 in the women's division during the 2018 edition of the meet. Moreover, on behalf of Badminton Asia, the executive is confident that the Philippine Badminton Association is going all out in making this event that will host some of the world's best shuttlers a success. "I think it will be a successful event because of the venue and the people working in the event. The venue is really suitable. I believe that it will be a good hosting.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2020

Dimaculangan seeks redemption in PHI team return

TOKYO --- Denied of a podium finish two years ago, veteran setter Rhea Dimaculangan, just like the entire Philippine national women’s volleyball team, has her eyes set on winning a medal in front of the home crowd in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila next month. Reactivated for the national squad after withdrawing from the team last year, Dimaculangan is now bent on helping steer the Philippine team in the right direction to end a 14-year medal drought.    “Siguro kung kinulang man kami noon mas ibibigay pa namin ang best namin ngayon,” said Dimaculangan, who played in the previous two editions of the biennial meet, where the Philippines went home empty-handed. The former University of Sto. Tomas star skipped national team duties last year because of personal reasons. But the call to represent the country in the SEA Games is too great to resist, so when national team head coach Shaq Delos Santos - who was her mentor back in college and is the coach of her club team Petron - tried to convince her to return, Dimaculangan obliged.     “Naisip ko na rin din na duty rin ito eh sa national team. Siguro parang di rin naman masama na bumalik and nakita ko naman na parang kailangan din nila ng tulong,” she said. “Nandito lang ako para tumulong and national team yan, so why not?” Plus, playing on home soil is a rare opportunity to that can't be missed. “Sayang din ang opportunity kung palalagpasin ko ito kasi especially sa Pilipinas gagawin ang SEA Games,” she said. Inserted in the SEA Games line-up earlier this month at the entry of names deadline, Dimaculangan seamlessly fit in with the team.   “Di naman mahirap mag-adjust din kasi parang ‘yung iba naman nakasama ko na before,” said Dimaculangan. “Siguro mas kailangan ko lang i-adjust ang sarili ko sa iba-ibang sets pero di naman siya ganoon kahirap kasi tulungan lang sa team. Gina-guide rin naman nila ako. Ok naman. Di naman mahirap makisama.” Dimaculangan is the only playmaker left in the 12-day training camp here, made possible by Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. and the Philippine Sports Commission, after Jia Morado returned to Manila just five days in because of club duties, and reserve Jasmin Nabor failing to have her papers processed in time to join the team. For Dimaculangan, she’s happy to see the team improve each day. “Di ko masasabi ang percent pero sa ilang araw ko pa lang na nakakasama sila training parang mabilis siyang mag-improve,” she said. “[Sa tune-up games] nakikita namin ang struggle pero at least dun kami natututo at nakikita namin kung saan kami mahina. Kung ano ang dapat gawin at kung ano ang mga solusyon para maayos yung mga problema na yun.” And with the kind of preparation the Philippine team is going through, Dimaculangan’s dream of winning a medal isn’t far-fetched anymore. “Siguro mas prepared ngayon kasi marami rin namang liga na magkakasama. Kahit makikita mo yung shchedule na hindi lagi buo pero makikita mo naman na committed ang lahat,” she said. Feeling ko naman kaya naman [mag-podium]. Ang goal mo is maka-medal.”     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2019

Philippine team continues to fine tune court chemisty

TOKYO --- The Philippine national women’s volleyball team continues to work on its chemistry inside the court. Pitted against a pair of Japan Division 2 club teams, the Nationals are slowly building their cohesiveness despite winning only one set in seven frames played in their tune-up games Saturday held at the Yamanashi Chuo Bank gym. The Filipinas again took a two-hour bus to get to Yamanashi, travelling along the mountain ranges on a cool and breezy morning to get to their host club’s gym, which gives a picturesque view of the snow-capped peak of the lovely Mount Fuji. But on court, the Nationals, who are now without Alyssa Valdez and setter Jia Morado after the duo returned to Manila Friday to fulfill their club duties, got a reality check against Yamanashi Chuo Bank and another visiting team, the Yamagata Prestige International Aranmare. The three teams played each other in alternating sets. Yamagata bested the Filipinas, 26-24, 25-22, 25-17, but the Nationals avoided a shutout with a tight fourth set win in its 19-25, 24-26, 23-25, 25-23, result over the Yamanashi Chuo Bank. “Magandang opportunity para sa amin na makalaro ang ganitong klase ng team,” said head coach Shaq Delos Santos of their third tune-up match date in the 12-day Japan training for the 30th Southeast Asian Games next month made possible by Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. and the Philippine Sports Commission. Delos Santos, just like in their first two practice games, stressed the importance of being patient and sustaining their level of intensity.   “Kailangan naming i-improve ang patience ng team kapag naglalaro. Kasi hindi mo sila [Japanese teams] basta-basta mababagsakan ng bola,” he said. “Kailangan kapag umaatake ka at dumidiskarte ka tuluy-tuloy hangga’t di namamatay ang bola.” The Nationals were able to salvage a set win in a come-from-behind fashion. Down, 20-22, the Filipinas fought back against Yamanashi with a 4-1 closing run capped by Maddie Madayag’s block and a quick attack. Delos Santos rotated his lineup, trying different combinations in each frame played. The Nationals were able to take set point advantages against both their rivals in their early games but the Filipinas squandered both chances, something that Delos Santos wanted his team to address. “Nakakatuwa kasi ang score namin not naman sobrang layo, konti na lang, so parang pwedeng ipanalo. Pero yun ang isa pa sa kailangan naming i-improve yung sa end game namin,” he said. Against Yamanata, the Filipinas took a 24-23 advantage in the first set but a costly error allowed their rivals to steal the frame. The same happened in the second set against Yamanashi as Majoy Baron sent her serve long with the Philippines at set point advantage before the host club scored off back-to-back hits to take the frame. The Filipinas were able to keep up with the Japanese clubs in the succeeding sets with Baron, Mylene Paat, skipper Aby Marano, Madayag and reserve Roselyn Doria working hard at the net while Kalei Mau, Ces Molina, Eya Laure, Jovelyn Gonzaga and reserve Aiza Maizo-Pontillas contributed on offense. Kat Arado and Dawn Macandili manned the floor well and lone setter Rhea Dimaculangan playing in all sets. But it was the finishing kick that was lacking except for the last set. The Nationals travelled back to Sagamihara at around 6:00 p.m. and brought with them the lessons learned in their trip together with luscious green grapes – a well-known local produce – given to them by their gracious hosts. Up next for the squad is a tune-up game on Monday against Japan V. Premier League team Hitachi but on Sunday the team will take a little breather.   ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 26th, 2019

Lagari na lang – Eya Laure on double duty Sunday

Eya Laure braces for a long Sunday as the University of Sto. Tomas star and national women’s volleyball team member is set for double duty that will take her from a battle in San Juan to an encounter in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. “Lagari nalang din kasi siyempre, dalawa e,” said Laure, who will wear the Tigresses jersey in the morning before donning the Nationals’ tri-colors in the afternoon.   The UAAP Season 81 Rookie of the Year will banner the Tigresses in their bid to secure a for a Finals spot in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Collegiate Conference in a sudden death against Ateneo de Manila University. Game 3 of the semis series is scheduled at 9:00 a.m. at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.      Scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m. on the same day is the Nationals’ home stand against Indonesia in the second leg of the ASEAN Grand Prix in Sta. Rosa Multi-purpose Gym in Laguna. Despite the hectic and exhausting schedule which will likely include dreadful traffic congestion from San Juan to Laguna, Laure is more than willing to serve her school and the country.     “Hindi mo naman kasi pwedeng bitawan 'yung dalawa e, kumbaga si coach (Kungfu Reyes) din 'yung makakapagsabi. Ako naman, ire-ready ko lang ulit,” she said. Laure said that she just wants to take advantage of the opportunities given to her. “Sabi din naman sa akin ni Coach Kungfu yun na ang opportunity na ibinibigay sa akin wag ko sayangin. Lagi kong ipakita ang capability ko as a player kumbaga every day nagti-training tapos grabe rin ang pinagdadaanan,” said Laure. Laure will suit up for the Nationals for the second time after seeing action in the opening leg of the four-nation tournament in Thailand two weeks ago. “After nito may UAAP pa, may Foton, kumbaga sama-sama tapos may aral pa. Minsan lang din kasi dumating ito sa akin. Kapag nagkaroon ng opportunity, iga-grab ko talaga ang ibibigay ng best ko in any way na pwede akong makatulong sa national team, sa UST and sa club team ko,” she added. The Nationals will miss the services of setter Jia Morado, Alyssa Valdez, Maddie Madayag and Jovelyn on Gonzaga on Saturday because of their club duties when the Filipinas face powerhouse Thailand. With just Jasmine Nabor available as setter, Laure, who won a Best Setter award back in high school, is ready to work as backup playmaker, if necessary.    “Ako naman parang sa UST lang. Kahit anong ibigay sa aking posisyon ready ako,” she said. “Kung anong role ang ibigay sa akin go lang ng go.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2019

FIBA: Alapag humbled and honored to be considered as next Gilas coach

MACAU — Gilas Pilipinas has no head coach following Yeng Guiao’s resignation last week. Several names have been mentioned as possible replacements and one such name has been that of Jimmy Alapag. Alapag, who hit perhaps the most significant shot in Gilas history back when he was still playing, has seen the posts and comments on social media. Coach Jimmy is honored to be mentioned but says that kind of stuff is way out of his control. “It’s hard to comment because that decision-making process is out of my control. But I’ve seen the comments and it’s humbling,” Alapag told a handful of Filipino reporters here. “It’s an abosolute honor. You all know how much the Gilas program means to me,” he added. Gilas legend Jimmy Alapag is humbled and honored to be considered as next head coach of the national team ????????????#Gilas #GilasPilipinas #FIBAWC #PBA2019 pic.twitter.com/v76EHNOgOI — Paul Kennedy Lintag (@paullintag8) September 17, 2019 Coach Yeng’s resignation from Gilas came at the heels of the national team’s last-place finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Despite losing by a combined 147 points in China, Alapag says Gilas is still more than capable of competing against the world’s best, it’s just a matter of putting it all together overall. The countdown for the national team is at four years as the country will be the main host of the 2023 World Championships. “This last World Cup, it was tough. I think we all know it wasn’t our best performance and we’re capable of much better. It happens,” Alapag said. “Rather than blame anyone or anything like that, it’s just a matter of how can we move forward and be better. We have time to prepare but that time will pass really fast so it’s gonna be important for whoever makes the decision that we understand what we want to do,” he added. There’s no clear favorite on who will take over as head coach for Gilas Pilipinas. But if Alapag gets the call, he’s ready to go. “I would be ready,” he said. “I think that job is a unique opportunity but it’s also a huge responsibility. We all know how passionate we are about basketball, I share that same passion. If ever that were the case, we’ll see,” Alapag added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2019

Valdez not closing door on joing National team in Thailand

Alyssa Valdez is not closing her door on a possibly participating in the ASEAN Grand Prix but all will depend on national team head coach Shaq Delos Santos and the X-ray result of her ankle injury. The Creamline star injured her right ankle on Thursday and was advised to rest for at least a week and to undergo therapy that forced her to miss the Nationals’ training camp in Thailand. Counting the seven-day rest, Valdez will miss the Nationals' last few days of buildup but could be available to join the squad in the ASEAN Grand Prix to be held at Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand from Sept. 20-22 if ever she gets the green light from her doctors.   It will also be up to head coach Shaq Delos Santos and Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. if they will fly her in time for the tournament.    “It will depend sa X-ray so I cannot diagnose or asses kung ano talaga ang nangyari sa paa ko. Ako, it would be unfair kasi I really had no time to prepare also with the team,” she said Saturday. “If I’m allowed to play it’s really the call of the coaches also and the management if I’ll be able to be a part and join the team.” Valdez was supposed to join teammate Jia Morado, Maddie Madayag of ChocoMucho, Jovelyn Gonzaga of PacificTown Army, Eya Laure of University of Sto. Tomas and Nationals assistant coach Kungfu Reyes on their flight to Thailand on Sunday.           “We’ll talk about it kasi it’s going to be a long week din naman to recover and prepare for the upcoming games. We’re hoping for the best na siyempre to really represent the country and be there to support these girls,” said Valdez. The three-time Premier Volleyball League Most Valuable Player hurt her ankle during practice. “Thursday morning sa training namin I was trying to block Mama Fille (Cainglet-Cayetano) kasi mag-spike siya. So pagka-land ko I stepped on her foot and I suffered an ankle injury,” she recalled. “I think it’s mid-foot kaya pina-X-ray ni Doc (Raul Canlas).” Valdez watched from the sidelines as the Cool Smashers’ crush winless Chef’s Classics, 25-11, 25-14, 25-21, for their ninth win in as many games on Saturday.   “Probably this is the first time people also saw me na di na talaga pinalaro. Nakaapak talaga ako. First time ko rin nakaapak coming from a jump so medyo nanibago lang siguro ang paa ko,” she explained. Valdez said that there’s still some swelling on her foot but is hopeful that she'll recover soon. “Namamaga pa rin but for the past three days way better. Nu’ng first day talaga I can’t walk din but now I can walk na,” she said. “Mas tolerable na yung pain. Hopefully mas mabilis din ang recovery.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 14th, 2019