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Lydia Ko snaps title drought with dominant Lotte Championship win

Lydia Ko ended her three-year LPGA title drought in impressive style Saturday, firing a final-round 65 to win the Lotte Championship by seven strokes......»»

Category: lifestyleSource: abscbn abscbnApr 18th, 2021

National U s historic championship was an Altamirano family affair

National University's 60-year title drought came to a close in 2014.  And according to head coach Eric Altamirano, it was already predetermined even before the season started. "Ang totoo nyan, nung offseason nun, puro kami talo, hindi talaga kami nananalo sa mga liga. One day, kasama ko si Luigi, kinukwento ko sa kanya na nag-struggle nga ang team," he shared in The Prospects Pod, referring to his second son.  He then continued, "Pero sabi ni Luigi, 'Dad magcha-champion tayo ngayon.' As I look back now, I remember that day na sinabi nga ni Luigi yun and nagkatotoo nga."  At the end of UAAP 77, Luigi proved prophetic, witnessing his dad guide the Bulldogs to a long-awaited and much-desired title.  Of course, the dominant defense, the difference-making presence of Alfred Aroga, and the total team effort of the blue and gold contributed to that.  At the same time, very much key was the all-out support of coach Eric's wife, children, and entire household.  "Tinuring nila kami na parang sarili nilang mga anak," pesky guard Pao Javelona shared. "Sobrang grateful ko kanila tita Marissa pati sa wives ng iba pang coaches kasi iba yung turing nila sa amin. Sobrang laking bagay ng mga Altamirano sa amin."  In the brilliant tactician's six-season stint in Sampaloc, wife Marissa, sons Anton and Luigi, daughter Aby, and several other members of the household were fixtures behind the scenes.  While coach Eric was, well, coaching, the other Altamiranos were also right there as much-welcome helping hands - on or off the court.  "Ako, tumira ako sa bahay nila, parang anak na talaga ang turing nila sa akin kasi sa iisang bubong lang kami nakatira," now-Gilas Pilipinas forward Troy Rosario said. "Pagpupunta kami ng practice, si coach Eric na nga gumigising sa akin. Si tita Marissa, lahat ng mga kailangan, kumpleto."  Indeed, in the same way that coach Eric changed the culture of basketball in National U, so did he and his family change the lives of his players. "Siguro, nung first three years ko sa NU, sobrang pasaway ako sa kanya. Talagang hindi ako sumusunod kasi may sarili akong mundo nun na parang sobrang bilib siguro ako sa sarili ko," versatile wing Glenn Khobuntin said.  He then continued, "Pero kung pinabayaan lang niya ako nun, hindi ko alam kung anong mangyayari sa life ko. Nadiretso buhay ko nung palagi pa rin niya akong kinakausap after practice."  Now, Khobuntin has the Altamiranos as the template for what he wants his own family to become. "When I had my own family na, doon ko na-realize kung bakit niya ginagawa yun. Parang gusto ko ngang magmura kapag naiisip ko e," he said.  He then continued, "Grabe. Sobrang thankful akong nakilala ko sila kasi hindi lang sa basketball yung impact nila sa akin e. Kung paano i-handle ni coach E yung family niya, ganun din gusto ko."  In the end, the team captain of the Bulldogs' UAAP 77 champion team could do nothing but express how much he loved his mentor.  "I love you, coach," Khobuntin said. "Thank you."  Without a doubt, his teammates only share the same sentiments.  ---  Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 26th, 2020

No doubt, Monteverde has set a gold standard in National U

From last year to this year, Nazareth School of National University has just been a cut above the rest in high school. The Bullpups won the championship in UAAP 81 and then followed it up with more crowns in National Basketball Training Center, Palarong Pambansa, and ASEAN School Games. And then in UAAP 82, not only did they defend their title, they did so by sweeping the season. According to head coach Goldwin Monteverde, there is actually no secret to that sustained success. All National U did was keep its eyes on the prize. Asked what spurred them on in the face of all obstacles, the softspoken mentor answered, "On our part, it's more of yung commitment namin talaga." Of course, the 16 wins in 16 games is more than enough proof that the Bullpups' way works. Along with that, Coach Gold was just proud to have been a witness to his boys staying true to their identity throughout the tournament. As he put it, "Wala akong nakita sa team namin na selosan. It's all about the team, it's all about supporting each other." He then continued, "Never ko rin silang nakitaang playing for the crowd. Basta naka-focus lang sila sa goal nila." And that is why in the title-clinching Game 2 behind closed doors, the blue and gold just played its game all the way to a convincing victory. "Walang audience, pero si coach Gold, talagang na-train na kaming i-express lang yung laro namin na hindi dapat pang-impress sa ibang tao," Finals MVP Carl Tamayo shared. "Play lang kami para sa team. Ang importante sa amin, makuha yung goal namin na pinaghihirapan namin araw-araw." Now, the Sampaloc-based school is nothing but hopeful that Coach Gold brings over the same winning mentality as he transitions to its Srs. squad. National U has not made the Final Four since the days of Gelo Alolino, but with the moving up of the veteran tactician, that playoff drought may very well come to an end. In the same way that promising prospects Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano, Terrence Fortea, and Kevin Quiambao came together for a dominant two-year run, the Bulldogs are only looking forward to the coming together of John Lloyd Clemente, JV Gallego, and Shaun Ildefonso for a return to relevance. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 18th, 2020

When the Philippines showed its best as SEA Games hosts in 1981, 1991 and 2005

Hosting the biennial Southeast Asian Games, just like any international multi-sport competition, offers an opportunity for a country to flaunt its best—in terms of organizing the event, making the tournament stand-out, and unleash a vaunted athletic campaign against the region’s best. Before this year’s SEA Games, the Philippines has hosted the SEA Games three times—all of which were momentous and ground-breaking. And in each successive staging, the Filipinos went up the medal standings, reaching the top in the country’s most successful showing in international sports when the country last hosted the biennial event 14 years ago. 1981 This was the first time the Philippines took the cudgels in hosting the Games. Already in its 11th staging, the SEA Games became a centerpiece event of President Ferdinand Marcos’s presidency, as it highlighted his administration’s heightened focus on sports development. This was through the initiative of Marcos nephew Michael Keon’s Gintong Alay program.  The Games was known as the launching pad of Asia’s sprint queen Lydia de Vega, who marveled everyone with her speed and track prowess that earned her the Gold in record-breaking performances in the 100, 200, and women’s relay teams. Isidro del Prado was another track phenom, ruling the 400 meters also in record fashion. The Games was the breakthrough year in Philippine sports as it produced a bountiful harvest in Golds from track and field, cycling, bowling, boxing, basketball, swimming, and weightlifting, among others. The Philippines ended at third, its highest place at the time, with 55 golds, 55 silvers, and 77 bronze medals for a total 187 medals. 1991 Ten years after its impressive first-ever SEA Games hosting, a new government and political climate enveloped the biennial meet. Under President Corazon Aquino, the 16th SEA Games showed the remarkable change the country attained since the 1986 EDSA Revolution, which would be emphasized with an astonishing medal performance, almost topping the 16th edition if not for Indonesia’s marathon gold.  Swimming took the spotlight with ace tanker Eric Buhain capturing a record six golds, making him the most bemedalled athlete, and Akiko Thompson becoming the crowd darling, donning two golds. Bea Lucero also achieved a first-ever milestone of being the only athlete to win medals in two sporting events—two golds in gymnastics in 1987 Jakarta and a gold in the bantamweight division of women’s taekwondo in the 1991 Manila games. A 27 year-old Lydia de Vega-Mercado reclaimed the Asian sprint queen title by winning the Gold in the 100 meters over compatriot Elma Muros and Malaysian Goldivasamy Shanti. Muros, however, won the 100 meter hurdles and won the long jump gold for four successive stagings—a SEA Games first.  The Philippines would rule several sport events with a gold rush in swimming, boxing, basketball, shooting, wushu, track and field, taekwondo, bowling, billiards, among others. Its 91 Gold, 62 Silver, 84 Bronze, and 237 total medal count was good for second. 2005 It took fourteen years before Manila hosted the SEA Games again. And in 2005, its rise as the regional powerhouse in sports was completed with the contingent under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reaching the top of the medal standings.  The 23rd  staging was unprecedented, starting with the Opening Ceremonies being held at the Quirino Grandstand instead of a sports stadium, drawing an immense live audience—estimated as the largest ever for a sports event at 200,000. It was the grandest, having the widest array of sports legends appearing in the grand parade of colors, such as SEA Games legends Lydia de Vega-Mercado and Akiko Thompson, Olympic silver medalist Onyok Velasco, top basketball player Allan Caidic, and champion equestrienne Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski. When the Philippine delegates arrived, they were accompanied by Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman, actress Angel Locsin, and then World Boxing Council Lightweight Champion Manny Pacquiao.  Best of all, the Philippines erased the stigma of being the “sick man” of Asian sports, as it won golds left and right, even in sport events it was not usually dominant. Diver Sheila Mae Perez, swimmer Miguel Molina, rower Benjamin Tolentino Jr., and billiards ace Alex Pagulayan were the winningest Filipino athletes with three golds each. Wushu had the most golds with 11, followed by track and field, aquatics, boxing, billiards and snooker, taekwondo, traditional boat race, fencing, wrestling, bowling, judo, and archery. In addition, the Philippines won golds in arnis, karatedo, muay, rowing, shooting, lawn tennis, cycling, dance sports, golf, gymnastics, softball, baseball, lawn balls, equestrian, and pencak silat.  In total, the Philippines won the overall championship with an astonishing 113 gold, 84 silver, 94 bronze, and 291 total medal haul—its best ever in international competitions. Will the Philippines match or eclipse its historic achievement 14 years ago and continue its rise in the medal tally when it hosts the biennial event? Catch the 30th SEA Games in various locations in the Philippines from Saturday, November 30 until Wednesday, December 11 on ABS-CBN S+A, ABS-CBN S+A HD, Liga, Liga HD, iWant Sports, and sports.abs-cbn.com. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2019

Red Bull threatens Ferrari s status as 2nd best team in F1

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Ferrari has a fight on its hands. Just not the one it wants. Red Bull is threatening to replace it as Formula One's next-best team behind a dominant Mercedes after Max Verstappen outperformed Ferrari's drivers at the Spanish Grand Prix. Verstappen took third place on Sunday behind race winner Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. That allowed the Red Bull driver to move past Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel into third place overall with 66 points to Vettel's 64. Hamilton and Bottas are far in front with 112 and 105 points, respectively. "I knew we could take the fight to Ferrari," Verstappen said after being cheered by the large number of Dutch fans who had come to the race decked in orange T-shirts. Verstappen and his supporters have good memories of the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit. His win here in 2016 made him F1's youngest race winner at age 18. While another victory was out of the question given Mercedes' pace, Verstappen didn't have too much trouble staying in front of the Ferraris. "We were close to Ferrari in qualifying," he said. "I am happy to be back on the podium and third in the championship. It is good to close the gap." As F1's most successful team, Ferrari entered the season with renewed hopes of challenging Mercedes after rising talent Charles Leclerc joined Vettel in a potentially potent driving lineup. Ferrari was faster on this same track during two weeks of preseason testing this winter and had brought in a new engine for the race. But Mercedes was unfazed and stormed to a fifth one-two finish in as many races to further demoralize its rivals. Vettel tried to get the jump on the Mercedes at the race start from third on the grid. But the move only succeeded in making Bottas flinch and letting Hamilton go clear. After Vettel's tires locked up, Verstappen slipped past into third place. Even though there are 16 races left, it looks like Ferrari will likely have to wait another year to end its constructors title drought that dates back to 2008. "The updates we brought here to Barcelona, both on the aero front and on the engine, worked well and we are more than pleased with them, but they proved to be insufficient," said Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto. "Now we have to analyze and think about what did not work. And when it comes to that, as of today I don't think we have a precise answer." As for Hamilton, he said he had taken notice of improvements that Red Bull had made after switching to a Honda engine this season. The defending champion also said he missed a better effort from Ferrari. "We welcome a battle and it would be great to fight with Ferrari and Red Bull," said Hamiton. "I prefer it when they are in the mix with us. It is much better when we can compete with another team.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2019

Saso slips to solo 3RD

After a hot 64-64 start, Yuka Saso slowed down with a one-under 71 Friday to find herself down by four against new leader Lydia Ko heading into the final round of the LPGA Lotte Championship in Oahu, Hawaii......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 17th, 2021

Saso leads former world no. 1 Ko by 2 at LPGA Lotte

Yuka Saso fired a second straight 64 to take a two-stoke halfway lead over former world number one Lydia Ko in the LPGA Lotte Championship on Thursday......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 16th, 2021

PH& rsquo;s Saso grabs share of LPGA lead in Hawaii

Los Angeles—Yuka Saso and Brittany Altomare shared the lead in the opening round of the LPGA Lotte Championship on Wednesday, finishing atop a tight leaderboard that also includes Canadian Brooke Henderson in search of her third straight title......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsApr 15th, 2021

Coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown dead at 78

By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — John Thompson, the imposing Hall of Famer who turned Georgetown into a “Hoya Paranoia” powerhouse and became the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men’s basketball championship, has died. He was 78 His death was announced in a family statement released by Georgetown on Monday. No details were disclosed. “Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on but, most importantly, off the basketball court. He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else,” the statement said. “However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear everyday.” One of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport, Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and molded it in his unique style into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by center Patrick Ewing in 1984. Georgetown reached two other title games with Thompson in charge and Ewing patrolling the paint, losing to Michael Jordan’s North Carolina team in 1982 and to Villanova in 1985. At 6-foot-10, with an ever-present white towel slung over his shoulder, Thompson literally and figuratively towered over the Hoyas for decades, becoming a patriarch of sorts after he quit coaching in 1999. One of his sons, John Thompson III, was hired as Georgetown’s coach in 2004. When the son was fired in 2017, the elder Thompson -- known affectionately as “Big John” or “Pops” to many -- was at the news conference announcing Ewing as the successor. Along the way, Thompson said what he thought, shielded his players from the media and took positions that weren’t always popular. He never shied away from sensitive topics -- particularly the role of race in both sports and society -- and he once famously walked off the court before a game to protest an NCAA rule because he felt it hurt minority athletes. “I’ll probably be remembered for all the things that kept me out of the Hall of Fame, ironically, more than for the things that got me into it,” Thompson said on the day he was elected to the Hall in 1999. Thompson became coach of the Hoyas in 1972 and began remaking a team that was 3-23 the previous season. Over the next 27 years, he led Georgetown to 14 straight NCAA tournaments (1979-92), 24 consecutive postseason appearances (20 NCAA, 4 NIT), three Final Fours (1982, 1984, 1985) and won six Big East tournament championships. Employing a physical, defense-focused approach that frequently relied on a dominant center -- Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo were among his other pupils -- Thompson compiled a 596-239 record (.715 winning percentage). He had 26 players drafted by the NBA. One of his honors -- his selection as coach of the U.S. team for the 1988 Olympics -- had a sour ending when the Americans had to settle for the bronze medal. It was a result so disappointing that Thompson put himself on a sort of self-imposed leave at Georgetown for a while, coaching practices and games but leaving many other duties to his assistants. Off the court, Thompson was both a role model and a lightning rod. A stickler for academics, he kept a deflated basketball on his desk, a reminder to his players that a degree was a necessity because a career in basketball relied on a tenuous “nine pounds of air.” The school boasted that 76 of 78 players who played four seasons under Thompson received their degrees. He was a Black coach who recruited mostly Black players to a predominantly white Jesuit university in Washington, and Thompson never hesitated to speak out on behalf of his players. One of the most dramatic moments in Georgetown history came on Jan. 14, 1989, when he walked off the court to a standing ovation before the tipoff of a home game against Boston College, demonstrating in a most public way his displeasure against NCAA Proposition 42. The rule denied athletic scholarships to freshmen who didn’t meet certain requirements, and Thompson said it was biased against underprivileged students. Opposition from Thompson, and others, led the NCAA to modify the rule. Thompson’s most daring move came that same year, when he summoned notorious drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III for a meeting in the coach’s office. Thompson warned Edmond to stop associating with Hoyas players and to leave them alone, using his respect in the Black community to become one of the few people to stare down Edmond and not face a reprisal. Though aware of his influence, Thompson did not take pride in becoming the first Black coach to take a team to the Final Four, and he let a room full of reporters know it when asked his feelings on the subject at a news conference in 1982. “I resent the hell out of that question if it implies I am the first Black coach competent enough to take a team to the Final Four,” Thompson said. “Other Blacks have been denied the right in this country; coaches who have the ability. I don’t take any pride in being the first Black coach in the Final Four. I find the question extremely offensive.” Born Sept. 2, 1941, John R. Thompson Jr. grew up in Washington, D.C. His father was always working — on a farm in Maryland and later as a laborer in the city — and could neither read nor write. “I never in my life saw my father’s hands clean,” Thompson told The Associated Press in 2007. “Never. He’d come home and scrub his hands with this ugly brown soap that looked like tar. I thought that was the color of his hands. When I was still coaching, kids would show up late for practice and I’d (say) ... ‘My father got up every morning of his life at 5 a.m. to go to work. Without an alarm.‘” Thompson’s parents emphasized education, but he struggled in part of because of poor eyesight and labored in Catholic grammar school. He was moved to a segregated public school, had a growth spurt and became good enough at basketball to get into John Carroll, a Catholic high school, where he led the team to 55 consecutive victories and two city titles. He went to Providence College as one of the most touted basketball prospects in the country and led the Friars to the first NCAA bid in school history. He graduated in 1964 and played two seasons with Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics, earning a pair of championship rings as a sparingly used backup to Bill Russell. Thompson returned to Washington, got his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia and went 122-28 over six seasons at St. Anthony’s before accepting the job at Georgetown, an elite school that had relatively few Black students. Faculty and students rallied around him after a bedsheet with racist words was hung inside the school’s gym before a game during the 1974-75 season. Thompson sheltered his players with closed practices, tightly controlled media access and a prohibition on interviews with freshmen in their first semester -- a restriction that still stands for Georgetown’s basketball team. Combined with Thompson’s flashes of emotion and his players’ rough-and-tumble style of play, it wasn’t long before the words “Hoya Paranoia” came to epitomize the new era of basketball on the Hilltop campus. Georgetown lost the 1982 NCAA championship game when Fred Brown mistakenly passed the ball to North Carolina’s James Worthy in the game’s final seconds. Two years later, Ewing led an 84-75 win over Houston in the title game. The Hoyas were on the verge of a repeat the following year when they were stunned in the championship game by coach Rollie Massimino’s Villanova team in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Success allowed Thompson to rake in money through endorsements, but he ran afoul of his Georgetown bosses when he applied for a gambling license for a business venture in Nevada in 1995. Thompson, who liked playing the slot machines in Las Vegas, reluctantly dropped the application after the university president objected. Centers Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo turned Georgetown into “Big Man U” under Thompson, although his last superstar was guard Allen Iverson, who in 1996 also became the first player under Thompson to leave school early for the NBA draft. “Thanks for Saving My Life Coach,” Iverson wrote at the start of an Instagram post Monday with photos of the pair. The Hoyas teams in the 1990s never came close to matching the achievements of the 1980s, and Thompson’s era came to a surprising and sudden end when he resigned in the middle of the 1998-99 season, citing distractions from a pending divorce. Thompson didn’t fade from the limelight. He became a sports radio talk show host and a TV and radio game analyst, joining the very profession he had frustrated so often as a coach. He loosened up, allowing the public to see his lighter side, but he remained pointed and combative when a topic mattered to him. A torch was passed in 2004, when John Thompson III became Georgetown’s coach. The younger Thompson, with “Pops” often watching from the stands or sitting in the back of the room for news conferences, returned the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007. Another son, Ronny Thompson, was head coach for one season at Ball State and is now a TV analyst. ___ Joseph White, a former AP sports writer in Washington who died in 2019, prepared this obituary. AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2020

Built by Bo, bonded for Bo, believe in Bo

This is not the first time that Bo Perasol has had a recruiting haul this huge. Now heading into his fifth season in the University of the Philippines, he has brought in blue-chip recruits such as Gerry Abadiano and Carl Tamayo and talented transferees like Joel Cagulangan, CJ Cansino, and Malick Diouf to a team that already has Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, and Ricci Rivero. And don't forget that Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan are only sitting out the next season - and what lies beyond for them is yet to be determined. This is not that different from his time in Ateneo de Manila University when he scored UAAP Jrs. Season MVP Jerie Pingoy, UAAP Jrs. Finals MVP Hubert Cani, NCAA Mythical selection CJ Perez, and NCAA Jrs. standout Arvin Tolentino in his first few years. Those promising prospects then joined forces with Blue Eagle stalwarts Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal Unfortunately, all of Pingoy, Cani, Perez, and Tolentino - along with the rest of the so-called "Magnificent 7" - found themselves with academic deficiencies and, therefore, ineligible by the blue and white's standards. Not long after, they transferred to different schools and squads and then had varying degrees of success. Will Coach Bo's tale get a different ending this time with the Fighting Maroons? Perasol is making sure of that. "From my experience in Ateneo, natuto ako. Ngayon, meron kaming grupo sa programa na nagha-handle lang ng academics ng players," he shared. He then continued, "Sinasamahan sila sa mga klase, pinapakilala sa mga propesor, ine-explain na player natin yan, pag merong problema, coordinate lang po tayo." Apparently, this academic assistance team is made up of former student-managers who have graduated. Now, their first job is all about seeing to it that State U would not have to go through the same sort of headache Ateneo had with its "Magnificent 7." With that, you could be sure that UP's pillars of honor and excellence still stand strong even as all these new faces join Men's Basketball Team. "Walang special consideration. Pumapasok sila, bumabagsak sila. Binibigyan sila ng extra work, humihingi sila ng extra work," Coach Bo said. He then continued, "Ang ine-explain ko lagi sa players at sa professors, ang mahalaga, basta masipag pumasok at nagpapakita ng intensyong matuto." STARRING AND STRIKING At present, just about everybody is still getting used to blue-chip recruits and talented transferees going for UP. That is why there are more questions than answers each and every time they announce a new player. And along with the question of whether or not all these new faces would be up to par in terms of the honor and excellence the Philippines' prime public university prides itself in, there is a question of just how the Fighting Maroons got here in the first place. How could State U, not that far removed from its self-proclaimed "dark days," get all of these players? And not just players, at that, but many big name players. The categorical answer? The program could now afford it. "Meron nang pondo salamat sa sponsors," head coach Bo Perasol explained. "For example, kung makikita mo lang yung patches sa harap ng jersey, malaking pera yun. Nag-aagawan ang marami para dun." At present, the shot-caller said that UP has eight corporate sponsors all getting together for the funds for the program. And unlike Ateneo which has Manny V. Pangilinan or National University which has Hans Sy as primary backers, the Fighting Maroons' system is quite different. "Ang source ng funds ng UP, halos lahat galing sa alumni. Tapos lahat yun, mina-manage ng nowheretogobutUP," coach Bo said. According to its website, nowheretogobutUP (NTGBUP) is "a volunteer group of UP alumni that aims to help, assist, and support the development, improvement, and advancement of the varsity program of UP." All of the finances it manages, however, are not necessarily donations. As Perasol put it, "Yung model ng UP is unique kasi yung support nila, kailangan may balik din from us." For example, the tactician said that many of their players have made appearances, online in this continuing COVID-19 crisis and in person prior to the pandemic, to cheer up employees of Palawan Pera Padala, one of the team's sponsors. More importantly, Coach Bo reminded yet again that the only reason they have all these new faces is because they have to. He pointed out how Abadiano and Filipino-American Sam Dowd would make up for the losses of Jun Manzo and Juan GDL as well as how Diouf and Cansino are already waiting in the wings once Bright Akhuetie and Ricci Rivero graduate. "We're also recruiting for the impending need," Perasol said. "Hindi naman ito biglaan. Since nagsimula kami rito, we all did this nang dahan-dahan lang. Kaya rin yung support from alumni for funding, hindi na rin naging mahirap." DREAMING Still, the mere fact that UP is now a big-time player on and off the court in collegiate basketball seemed so farfetched just five years ago. Before Bo Perasol, the Fighting Maroons were stuck in a vicious cycle. Now, though, they have back-to-back playoff appearances and have traded blows with traditional powerhouses for recruits and transferees. All of this made possible because the very moment he came in, Coach Bo already knew the secret to success. "You cannot build a program without funds," he said. Perasol furthered that his biggest takeaway from his time in Ateneo was that competing with the traditional powerhouses on the court entailed competing with them as well off of it. "Alam ko yung kakayanan ng Ateneo and siyempre, kakumpetensya ko rin nun yung La Salle so alam ko rin yung kanila. Ganun na rin ang kakayanan ng NU and yung iba pa, kakayanin din nila kung gustuhin nila," he said. He then continued, "Kaya kung ang objective ng programa is to be in the top four, your program should be levelled din sa capacity ng top four." The General Santos native then went on to point out how training in the country or abroad, recruitment local and overseas, housing, and food and nutrition all have costs. "To sum it up, everything you're going to do would entail financing. Hindi ito kakayanin ng UP as a public school dahil wala namang pondo ang gobyerno para dyan," he said. He then continued, "Ang pinakasagot nalang ng school is yung scholarship. And siyempre, yung nag-aaral ka sa UP." That doesn't mean, however, that their hands were tied. In fact, the answer to the questions had always been there. "The good thing about UP is there's millions of alumni all over the world and a lot are successful people and businessmen who are willing to help," Perasol said. BELIEVING Indeed, having educated Filipinos for over 112 years now, UP has, without a doubt, more than a few successful alumni. It was all a matter of uniting - and then unleashing - them. Even before Bo Perasol came home to Diliman, NTGBUP was already organized. They were not necessarily thrilled with the Fighting Maroons, though. "Nung una, dahan-dahan lang, ambag-ambag lang para merong kakainin, pambayad sa dorm. Merong nag-donate ng shoes," Coach Bo said. He then continued, "Pero siyempre, they want first and foremost a program with improvements and direction." NTGBUP and the UP community got just that from Perasol as a 3-11, seventh-place finish in 2015 became a 5-9, sixth-place finish in 2016 in Coach Bo's first year. In his second year, the squad improved to a  6-8, fifth-place finish. From there, the Fighting Maroons have been in the Final Four for back-to-back years now - and even made the Finals in 2018. "Nagsimula maging excited ang alumni nung nagsimula ring manalo," he shared. "When we started winning, nagkaroon hindi lang ng physical support, but financial support as well. We were ascending eh." In his third year at the helm, State U, finally, officially had corporate sponsors. And you know how that year went? That was when they ended a 21-year Final Four drought and then a 32-year Finals absence. Safe to say, the sleeping giant was awoken. "Yes, sleeping giant talaga tayo and when we say nagising, ang pinaka-catalyst was the winning," its fearless leader said. Now, UP MBT has a mean machine of financial support on its back, paving the path for its big-time recruiting haul in 2020. Even better, they now have a loud and proud fanbase that is making up for all the lost time they stayed away during the "dark days." "Actually, sa pitches ko sa recruitment, kasama sa presentation ko yung machi-cheer sila nang ganung klaseng crowd," Coach Bo said. SURVIVING At the same time, though, that loud and proud fanbase expects much, much more from this brand new power. For each and every one of them, Bo Perasol has but one reminder. "What we have done in the past years is to level up lang. We have a new gym, we have all these players, we can train abroad," he said. He then continued, "Pero yung mga Ateneo, La Salle, 20 to 30 years na nilang ginagawa yan. What we did was just to level up alongside them." Again and again, Coach Bo has said that what he has been doing is, put simply, putting UP in the best position to win. Still, with a roster as overflowing with talent as this, he could only acknowledge that just about everybody sees them as having gone championship or bust. Credit to him, however, Perasol was blunt with his assessment that he would also be disappointed if they would not be able to taste their first championship since 1986 sooner than later. "Yes, it will be a failed plan kung hindi tayo makakakuha ng championship in the next three to five years," he said. He then continued, "Yan naman talaga ang plano and ang ginagawa natin ngayon is all going towards that objective." And again and again, he is putting all those great expectations on his shoulders - and on his shoulders alone. "Ako naman, hindi ko rin pwedeng hindi gawin itong ganitong recruitment kasi hindi rin naman ako magkakaroon ng chance kung ganun. I have to be in the best position to succeed so that we are in the best position to succeed," he said. Only time would tell if all the seeds he has sown would bear fruit. But Coach Bo is already guaranteeing that whatever happens then, he would have no regrets. "In the end, alam ko namang babalik ang lahat sa akin. Alam na alam ko namang ako ang leader ng team," he said. He then continued, "Ang mahalaga is we gave ourselves a chance. Anuman ang outcome, basta nabigyan natin ang sarili natin ng pagkakataon." After years and years and years as the laughingstock of men's basketball, it looks like it's now UP's turn to smile and wave. Whether or not that ultimately turns into jumps for joy for their first title in three decades remains to be seen. But maybe, just maybe, Coach Bo is right - this is all worth it just to have a chance to compete. Just remember that in the "dark days," that chance to compete wasn't there at all. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 30th, 2020

Zamboanga siblings Drex and Denice look to impress at ONE: A NEW BREED

The Zamboanga siblings join ONE Championship’s long list of successful broods when The Home Of Martial Arts returns this Friday, 28 August, at ONE: A NEW BREED in Bangkok, Thailand.  Top-ranked Filipina atomweight Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga looks to keep a stronghold on her number one contender status when she faces Watsapinya “Dream Girl” Kaewkhong in a mixed martial arts bout.  Making this special for “The Menace” is the fact that she will be competing with her older brother in Filipino World Champion Drex “T-Rex” Zamboanga, who is slated to make his ONE debut against Detchadin Sornsirisuphathin. “I’m very happy to be competing once more, because it’s been awhile since I last fought, so I’m grateful to be a part of this card in Thailand,” she said.  “Aside from actively competing once more, what makes me really happy is I’ll be fighting alongside my brother on the same card.” The younger of the Zamboanga siblings has already made her presence felt in The Home Of Martial Arts.  The undefeated Filipina scored convincing wins over Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan and former ONE Atomweight Women’s World Title challenger Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi, earning her the right to face longtime division ruler “Unstoppable” Angela Lee as announced by ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.  A dominant performance here for the Filipina would only make her case stronger.  Also competing on the card is Filipina-American KC “Pinay Fight” Carlos, who will look to pull the upset-rug from underneath the rolling Wondergirl Fairtex in a strawweight Muay Thai battle.  In the card’s headliner, Stamp Fairtex defends her ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Title against Allycia Hellen Rodrigues while “Left Meteorite” Kulabdam Sor. Jor. Piek Uthai battles Rodlek PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym in the ONE Muay Thai Bantamweight Tournament Finals, where a shot at reigning World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao is at stake.  ONE: A NEW BREED will air Friday, 28 August, in a closed-door, audience-free setting in Bangkok, Thailand. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: La Salle Paraiso vs UST Paraiso

Brent Paraiso made his name as a determined defender during his days in De La Salle Zobel. He rode that effort and energy all the way to a spot on the fully loaded lineup for De La Salle University in UAAP 79. Not only that, the 6-foot-2 swingman actually started five games for the Green Archers in their dominant 16-1 title run. Paraiso's norms were not necessarily eye-opening, but he contributed nonetheless to a championship - especially to a defense predicated on "mayhem." The year after, he yet again started five games as they wound up as runners-up. From there, however, the La Salle lifer decided to take his talents somewhere else - University of Sto. Tomas, to be exact. And in his first year as a Growling Tiger, he showed off a more well-rounded game, averaging 7.2 points and totaling 28 threes. The numbers were higher, without a doubt, but he also became less of an enforcer in black and gold. Meaning, the Brent Paraiso of now is not necessarily the Brent Paraiso of before - a fiery competitor that got under the skin of opponents all while getting his teammates going. Do you miss that old Brent? Or do you like the new Brent better? That is what we weigh against each other in this week's ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. To figure out who comes out on top between the old Brent and the new Brent, we will be judging them in five categories (shooting, finishing, defense, role, and attitude) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. SHOOTING The new Brent is well on his way to becoming a 3-and-D guy. Paraiso made good on a respectable 32.6 percent of his 86 shots from downtown. For reference, he only attempted 11 triples in his two years in La Salle and only converted one of them. Of course, more minutes meant more openings for him to put up shots, but there is still no doubt that his stroke is now surer. Advantage, UST Paraiso 10-8 FINISHING Paraiso has never been known as a shot-creator. In black and gold, however, he has become more confident with his ballhandling. With that, the new Brent no longer settles for jump shots and could slice and dice his way to the ring if he wants to. Once inside, he prefers floaters and still has work to do in terms of taking it up strong. Still, this is an improvement from his days in La Salle when he was more of just a catch-and-shoot threat. Advantage, UST Paraiso 10-9 DEFENSE Quick feet and active hands have always been there for Paraiso. And in UST, he has coupled those with wisdom coming from age and experience. Still, the new Brent could not come close to the old Brent in terms of sticking to his man and standing his ground. That Paraiso was only third to Ben Mbala and Kib Montalbo in energizing La Salle's "mayhem." While his steal counts were never up there, but head coach Aldin Ayo always knew full well he could count on his youthful workhorse to do his best against an opposing team's weapon. Advantage, La Salle Paraiso 10-9 ROLE Starting games has been one of Paraiso's roles since his rookie season. From being a quality minutes guy in La Salle, though, he is now a regular rotation piece in UST. The old Brent proved worthy of being a sparkplug for the Green Archers in their first- and second-place finishes. As a Growling Tiger, however, he also proved he could be much more than that as they made it all the way to the Finals. Now, the new Brent is somebody who could impact the game on offense just as much as he could do so on defense. Advantage, UST Paraiso 10-9 ATTITUDE The old Brent is the classic played you would love on your side and you would hate on the other. The new Brent is no longer like that as he has matured and just puts his full focus on his role for UST. For out taste, though, Paraiso the enforcer remains a player to remember - much more than the more well-rounded player now in black and gold. Advantage, La Salle Paraiso 10-9 FINAL: 48-46 for UST Paraiso --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020

WHAT IF Marck Espejo played for DLSU?

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2020

Arjan Bhullar promises to be tough test for ONE heavyweight king Brandon Vera

When Filipino-American ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera finally makes his return to action, it will likely come against top heavyweight contender Arjan "Singh" Bhullar.  The Indian-Canadian heavyweight, who had an impressive run in the UFC before jumping over to Asia-based ONE Championship, was impressive in his promotional debut, dominating former title contender Mauro Cerrilli en route to a unanimous decision win.  The win over Cerrilli was enough to earn Bhullar a title shot, and now, he looks to do for India what Vera did for the Philippines.  “I respect Vera for what he has accomplished in this sport. For how long he has been fighting the best, for how he has represented ONE as a champion, for what he has done for the Philippines and the Filipino people, and for what he has done for himself and his family," said Bhullar. "I want to do all of that and more for myself, for India, for Indians worldwide, and for ONE."  “Vera is a great ambassador for the sport and has treated me with the utmost respect. The feelings are mutual, until we become competitors in the Circle," Bhullar continued. Vera, who has been ONE's heavyweight king since 2015, has yet to lose in the division, and has never gone past the first round against other heavyweights as well.  As far as experience goes, Vera - who also made a name for himself in the UFC - has the distinct advantage.  “His strengths are clear. He has a tremendous amount of experience and has seen all the different looks a fighter can see in the cage. He can fight out of both stances, going forward and backward. He is well-rounded everywhere, and has excellent Muay Thai. That has allowed him to finish every single heavyweight threat he has faced,” said Bhullar. In ONE, Vera holds wins over the likes of Igor Subora, Paul Cheng, Hideki Sekine, and Cerrilli. Bhullar, a former Canadian National Wrestling Team member, is by far the toughest test tha Vera will face in ONE's heavyweight ranks.  “But none of those guys were named Arjan Singh Bhullar, nor bring what I do to the Circle," Bhullar confidently stated.  Compared to Vera, who is widely regarded as one of the faces of ONE, Bhullar is a relative unknown. If he can dethrone Vera however, it's hard to not see the 34-year old become a household name, not just in India, but in the world as well.  “I'm younger. I'm hungrier to get what I haven't yet. I have been pursuing the opportunity to be a world champion since I was in diapers. I am a lifelong athlete who still lives and breathes competition to the fullest. I don't have any other distractions or priorities in my life,” said Bhullar. Bhullar's main motivation is to be able to bring pride to India, and he's highly confident that he can get the job done against ONE's most dominant heavyweight star. “I have an entire nation and people worldwide who are supporting my quest. I have the skills that have proved problematic for Vera in his losses in the past. I have the strongest mindset to get this job done, which will carry me through the most extreme conditions. I am a winner. I am one billion strong.”      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie Dindin Santiago vs. rookie Jaja Santiago

Towering sisters Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jaja Santiago left lasting impacts in the UAAP. Versatile, talented and intimidating are just some of the traits the siblings share. Both are vital cogs in their local commercial league club and are valuable assets to the national team. International clubs even took notice of the Santiago sisters’ dominant presence and high-level volleyball skills that they landed deals to play in the prestigious Japan V. Premier League. And of course if you’re a University of Sto. Tomas faithful you’ll often wonder what the Tigresses would have achieved if the sisters stayed in Espana instead of moving to National University. Looking back, we saw how the Santiago sisters evolved into what they are today. With their towering presence, both immediately made valuable contribution during their debut seasons? But then again, which Santiago made a bigger impact in their rookie year? Dindin’s first year with UST or Jaja’s maiden tour of duty for NU?   OFFENSE and DEFENSE Dindin right now stands at 6-foot-2 while Jaja is listed at 6-foot-5, even if we deduct a few inches from their current height during their respective debuts they’ll still be pretty tall compared to the rest of the field. In Season 72, Dindin complemented an already stacked Tigresses. Though overshadowed by legends Aiza Maizo and Angeli Tabaquero, Dindin made a decent contribution on offense averaging almost six points per game. Dindin was on UST’s top five in the blocking department. Compared to her older sister, Jaja’s rookie year in Season 76 was more impressive. Jaja averaged 10.7 points per outing behind her Dindin (16.7), who was then on her last year after transferring to NU. Jaja had a 41.99% success rate in attacks – landing at second spot overall after Dindin’s (46.10%). The younger Santiago normed 0.50 kill blocks per set to anchor the Lady Bulldogs’ net defense.        TEAM IMPACT Dindin was a welcome addition to the Tigresses. However, playing in a squad filled with veterans left Dindin little room to display her full potential. Maizo and Tabaquero shared much of the scoring load while Maika Ortiz, Maru Banaticla and Judy Ann Caballejo provided the extra punch. But Dindin did play her role well as one of head coach Shaq delos Santos’ prized recruits. Dindin, indeed, made her presence felt in her own little way as UST climbed its way into the Finals. Jaja’s entry in Season 76 put NU as one of the top contenders to challenge the then reigning three-peat champion De La Salle University. Together with her sister, they formed NU’s dreaded twin towers and with the likes of Mina Aganon, Aiko Urdas and Myla Pablo, many predicted the Lady Bulldogs would make it all the way to the Finals. In fact, NU almost did before the Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo de Manila University spoiled everything.      As a consolation for all her hard work, Jaja was the runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year award   COMPETITION Dindin played in a very competitive field. She took on a number of powerhitters and precision spikers like De La Salle University’s Big Three in Paneng Mercado, Jacq Alarca and Cha Cruz. Dindin also faced Adamson University’s Angela Benting and Pau Soriano, Ateneo had Dzi Gervacio and Fille Cainglet, Far Eastern University’s Cherry Vivas, NU’s Mervic Mangui, Mela Lopez of University of the Philippines and Kite Rosale of University of the East. Jaja, on the other hand, had to contend with an equally powerful field. Valdez was on a different level that season, so was DLSU with the trio of Ara Galang, Aby Marano and Mika Reyes. Bang Pineda was wreaking havoc for Adamson, FEU had Bernadeth Pons, Mela Tunay and Pam Lastimosa were the stars of UST, UP had their own towers in Kathy Bersola and Angeli Araneta while Shaya Adorador was UE’s standout.      LASTING IMPRESSION Dindin, of course, was the fortunate one among the siblings. She experienced the glory of winning championship after helping the Tigresses dethrone the Lady Spikers in her first year. That championship remains as UST’s last title to this day. But what really stuck was Dindin’s decision to jump ship a season after winning the crown. Dindin made the headlines when she left UST to join the Lady Bulldogs in a move that drew mixed reactions and a whole lot of speculations in what convinced her to drop the black and gold for NU’s colors. Dindin’s transfer was followed by Jaja committing to NU after a successful run with UST’s high school team. Jaja won the RoY award and helped NU move a win closer to a Finals appearance. The Lady Bulldogs were armed with a twice-to-beat advantage but NU’s twin towers and talents were not enough to overcome the steamrolling Lady Eagles. Jaja’s career started off at least on a good note considering how far NU advanced after years of frustrations. Jaja would eventually lead the Lady Bulldogs to two more Final Four appearance with their last in Season 80 – the same year when she bagged the Most Valuable Player award.     Now who’s the better rookie Santiago? Hard to tell. On one side, you have Dindin who won a championship while on the other you have Jaja with her individual accomplishments and accolades.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 31st, 2020

Thompson snaps 7-year US PGA win drought at 3M Open

Washington---American Michael Thompson snapped a seven-year US PGA title drought on Sunday, making birdies on two of the last three holes to win the 3M Open by two strokes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 28th, 2020

PBA: TNT s missing piece? Erram says he s not, but pressure is on

TNT badly wants a PBA championship to end what has now been a long five-year drought. In order to do so, the KaTropa made a big move to acquire star center Poy Erram in a rather complicated three-team trade. The arrival of Erram have many seeing him as TNT's missing piece for its title aspirations. Personally, Erram doesn't consider himself as that piece but he does feel the pressure of joining a KaTropa team that's built to win now. "Not gonna lie, naramdaman ko yung pressure nung na-trade ako sa TNT," Erram said on 2OT. "Kasi TNT, kaya nila mag-champion eh. Pero di ko masasabi na ako yung missing piece, kasi every time naman umaabot sila sa semis, sa Finals," he added. In addition to Erram, TNT already has Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, RR Pogoy, and Ray Parks Jr. in the lineup, although that hasn't transalated to any trophies as of late. The KaTropa last won a championship in the 2015 Commissioner's Cup and they've only returned to the Finals twice since. The flagship MVP franchise hasn't had this kind of championship drought since the mid-2000s when they went six years in between All-Filipino titles. Erram's arrival plugs a lot of holes in the KaTropa system, particularly on the defensive end. The former Defensive Player of the Year gives TNT its most legitimate option at center at his height since perhaps Asi Taulava over a decade ago. "Siguro talagang may mga breaks of the game kaya di nagcha-champion. Pero I think, wala naman talagang missing piece sa team, as long as nagagawa mo yung short and long-term goals, may mga kulang lang sila siguro na di na nabibigay ng todo ng ibang player. Kunwari sila kuya Kelly [Williams], syempre tumatanda so iba na rin yung napo-produce niya," Erram said. "For me, kung ano kulang, yun lang idadag ko. Hindi naman ako scorer, kung ano lang kailangan nila, yun ang ibibigay ko. Kung kailangan nila ng depensa, kailangan ng ganito, ganya, yun ang gagawin ko. I don't consider myself as a missing piece, kasi TNT as itself, malakas na. Kailangan lang siguro nila ng isang player na willing i-accept yung role and willing na i-give up yung sarili para sa team," he added.     — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 26th, 2020

Indeed, defense won NU s first championship since 1954

National University won its first championship since 1954 at the expense of Far Eastern University. The iconic moment in that special season, however, was Alfred Aroga's big-time block on Kiefer Ravena. Aroga's rejection of Ravena's layup in the UAAP 77 Final Four thrust National University to a historic championship and thwarted Ateneo de Manila University's grand plans of redemption. That resounding rejection thrust the Bulldogs to a historic championship while also thwarting Ateneo de Manila University's grand plans of redemption. That wasn't the only defensive highlight the blue and gold had throughout that title run, though. In fact, their Season 77 was just one big defensive highlight. "Nung offseason, kasi nga, umalis si Ray, hindi namin alam identity namin tapos lahat, gustong mag-score kasi siyempre, gusto magpakita," pesky guard Pao Javelona said in last Friday's The Prospects Pod. "Pero nung patapos na yung preseason, doon namin nalaman na yung strength namin is yung defense. Kahit hindi kami maka-score, basta yung kalaban, hindi rin maka-score." That year, National U played without top gun Ray Parks Jr. for the first time in four seasons. Of course, the offense would take a step back. With that, head coach Eric Altamirano turned their full focus at the other end. "Tamang-tama yung sinabi ni Pao e. When the team started to embrace yung identity na mananalo kami sa depensa at hindi sa offense, doon nagsimula e," he said. One of the keys to do just that was making Troy Rosario and Glenn Khobuntin their starters at forward instead of substitutes for each other. "Sa akin, as a coach, ang pinaka-pivotal na ginawa kong decision was to put Glenn at 3 since when he started with us, lagi siyang 4. Nung ginawa na namin siyang 3, lumaki kami, naging defensive team kami, we can switch-all," the always amiable mentor said. From there, both Rosario and Khobuntin emerged as end-to-end players with Alfred Aroga protecting the rim and Javelona placing himself right at the grill of opposing guards. Steady Gelo Alolino completed the first five and, without a doubt, that first five was dominant on defense. Even Ravena himself could only acknowledge that fact. As he put it, "Kay Pao naman talaga ako hirap na hirap, pero what's harder is pag maiwan ko na si Pao, ang sasalubong sa akin, si Troy, si Glenn, tsaka si Alfred. Ang hirap talaga and minsan nga, nung mga panahong yun, tinitignan ko na lang sina (NU assistant) coach Joey [Guano] tsaka coach Vic [Ycasiano], sabi ko, 'Pashoot-in niyo naman ako, coach.'" He then continued, "Ang hirap talaga e. Parang nakikipagbiruan na lang ako sa kanila and that's a testament to how they really prepare." Indeed, so stout was that Bulldog defense that they won all four of their matchups that year opposite the Phenom-led Blue Eagles. And indeed, so stout was that Bulldog defense that up until now, Aroga is tattooed on the mind of Ravena. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2020

NU s marching orders in UAAP 77 title run: Kapalan ang mukha

National University transformed into a legitimate contender with the arrival of Ray Parks Jr. After two MVPs and two Final Four berths, Parks Jr. decided to move on from the Bulldogs in UAAP 77. And so, the blue and gold legitimate contender was, all of a sudden, without a main man. That was very much evident from their very first practice sans the Filipino-American guard. "First practice namin before nung season, hindi namin alam yung identity namin. Hindi namin alam kung sino yung i-score e," Troy Rosario recalled on last Friday's The Prospects Pod. He then continued, "Minsan, napuputukan na kami ng 24-second shot clock sa practice, wala pa ring tumitira. Hindi kami sanay eh." Make no mistake, even without Parks Jr., National U remained loaded with Rosario, Gelo Alolino, Glenn Khobuntin, Cameroonian powerhouse Alfred Aroga, and up-and-comers J-Jay Alejandro and Pao Javelona. Without a doubt, all of them had the capability to step up. Only, none of them had the confidence to do so. Slowly, but surely, though, that all changed. "Yung mga players, out to prove something. Lahat yan, lahat sila, eager sila to prove themselves na, you know, this is not a Bobby Ray Parks team, this is NU," head coach Eric Altamirano said. He then continued, "Ang maganda naman sa team na yun, lahat ng naiwan, talagang capable of really helping the team get the championship." Indeed, throughout the tournament, Coach Eric just kept getting the best out of his players - each and every one of them who had to come through for them to continue their contention. "Si Coach Eric, laging sinasabi sa amin na yung mga naiwan, kailangan nang kapalan yung mukha. Wala eh, wala nang ibang aasahan kundi yung mga beterano," Rosario recalled. He then continued, "Sinasabi ni coach Eric na kung ikaw, parang mediocre lang nung mga nakaraang season, ngayon, kailangan mo nang kapalan yung mukha mo. Doon ako nagising eh." And on the back of a dominant defense anchored by versatile Rosario and Cameroonian powerhouse Alfred Aroga, the Bulldogs just made enough on offense to will their way into a historic championship. As it turned out, Sampaloc did not have a ready-made replacement for Parks Jr. For that, it had to take total team effort. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2020

Column: Johnson back to winning now after brief knee concern

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer It only looks as though Dustin Johnson barely has a pulse on the golf course. One moment made him a little nervous. It wasn't the tee shot that rolled toward the railroad tracks and barely crossed the out-of-bounds line, right after he had taken a two-shot lead in the final round of the Travelers Championship. It wasn't even the tee shot two holes later that was headed for the water until it landed softly enough to stay dry, even though his feet got wet hitting the next one. That's just golf. Good or bad, he moves on. No one has a shorter memory. What caused concern was his knee. Johnson missed three months at the end of last year recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair cartilage damage. He lost another three months when golf shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And then as he worked overtime getting ready to resume, the knee started acting up. He called his partner, Paulina Gretzky, on the Tuesday before the Colonial and said he was coming home. The next day the knee felt better, so he stuck it out and missed the cut. “I was nervous,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I had an MRI when I got home, and everything with my surgery had healed great. It was just a strained tendon.” Whether it was time away from golf and then an abundance of practice, Johnson isn't sure. “Obviously,” he said, “everything is better now.” Johnson won the Travelers Championship for his 22nd victory worldwide, ending a drought of 490 days that matched the longest of his career. It was more exciting than it needed to be, which often is the case with his entertaining brand of golf. After going out of bounds on the 13th, he answered with a 15-foot birdie putt and then got a rare break for him — Johnson's ledger remains heavily skewed toward misfortune on the course — when his ball stayed out of the water. One victory doesn't always signal he's on his way. One shot did it for Butch Harmon, his swing coach who was watching from Las Vegas. With a one-shot lead playing the 18th, Johnson smoked his driver 351 yards, setting up a flip wedge and two putts for the win. “He was leaking oil a little on the back nine,” Harmon said. “His bounce-back is incredible. But the key to me was knowing he had to drive it well on 18. I told him when I talked to him later, that was the part I appreciated the most. Yeah, that was just like Oakmont.” The drive on the daunting closing hole at Oakmont in Pennsylvania, reputed to be the toughest course in America, is what Johnson considers one of the signature shots of his career. It sealed his victory at the 2016 U.S. Open, which remains his only major title. Johnson turned 36 last week. There is still plenty of time to fix the one area of his resume that — with his talent — is sorely lacking. What also got Harmon's attention was where Johnson won. The TPC Riverland Highlands in Connecticut is a par 70 at 6,841 yards, hardly known as a course for big hitters. Johnson played the two par 5s in just 2 under for the week and still shot 19-under 261, his sixth straight victory with a score of 19 under or better. His 22 victories have come on 18 courses. He has won at sea level (Doral) and mile-high altitude (Mexico City). He has won on courses that reward power (Crooked Stick) and shot-making (Riviera). Pebble Beach; the TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee; Kapalua and Chapultepec in Mexico City are the only courses where he has won twice. Johnson wasn't aware of this. “I think it shows my game is suitable for any course,” he said. “I like a variety of golf courses. And a lot of these courses that I didn't like then, I've grown to like now.” He paused before adding with a laugh, “And I wasn't hitting it as straight.” If there are “horses for courses,” this might make him mostly a thoroughbred. He's not alone in that department, of course. Rory McIlroy, the current No. 1 player in golf, has won 26 times on 22 courses around the world, with his only repeat victories at Quail Hollow, TPC Boston and both courses in Dubai (Emirates and Jumeirah Estates). Ditto for Tiger Woods, even if it doesn't seem that way. Woods has eight victories at Torrey Pines, Firestone and Bay Hill. He has five victories at Augusta National, Muirfield Village and Cog Hill. They are among 19 courses where he has won multiple times. That's mainly because Woods wins a lot. Phil Mickelson has 47 wins worldwide on 25 courses, with multiple wins on 14 courses. “Being able to adapt is a huge deal, play on different golf courses,” Bryson DeChambeau said. “That's what I'm trying to learn how to do. I think that will happen down the road if I just keep playing good golf, but being able to adapt in different situations and play in different conditions, win everywhere, is pretty impressive." When he's on his game, when he's healthy, Johnson is as impressive as anyone. A winner again, he plans to spend two weeks at home in Florida before returning for the Memorial. He hasn't won there yet......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2020

ONE Championship: Angela Lee banking on grappling experience against Denice Zamboanga

Reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela “Unstoppable” Lee has been nothing short of dominant at the top of the women’s atomweight division.    The Singaporean star has been able to dispatch every challenger put in front of her, and when she finally steps into the ONE circle once again, Lee will face another new challenger in Filipina newcomer Denice “The Menace Fairtex” Zamboanga.  Just two fights into the Asia-based promotion, Zamboanga has been impressive, posting wins over Jihin Radzuan and two-time title challenger Mei Yamaguchi. Those two outings were enough for Zamboanga to earn a shot at the queen of the atomweight division.  For her part, Lee believes that it will be an great matchup.  “I’m just excited to get back in the ONE Circle again. I’m feeling extremely motivated for my next matchup. I think it’ll be a great fight,” Lee told ONE Championship.  In her two wins, Zamboanga was able to utilize superb wrestling and grappling to grind out victories, which poses an interesting challenge to Lee, who has put her elite-level grappling to good use as well.  “I think Denice is very well-rounded,” Lee said. “She’s an up-and-coming fighter. I also think that her team did a great job in creating a smart game plan for her in the Yamaguchi fight, and she was able to execute that plan and get the decision win.” “She’s young, hungry, and well-rounded. She is the new breed of MMA fighter that can do it all. She can strike, wrestle, and grapple. But I think she may be inexperienced in certain areas of the game,” Lee added.  Lee’s grappling has been her number one weapon throughout her career, winning seven of her ten career fights via submission, including her latest victory over reigning ONE Women’s Strawweight titleholder Xiong Jing Nan.  Having a top-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt for a husband and training partner surely helps Lee’s cause.  Lee is married to fellow ONE Championship athlete and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion Bruno Pucci.  “I love training with my husband. He always pushes me hard and brings out the best in me,” said Lee. “I’m very grateful to have him as my partner in life and in training. Bruno is a second degree BJJ black belt and a two-time No Gi world champion. He has a lot of knowledge and I really appreciate everything that he shares with me.” Zamboanga definitely provides a refreshing challenge for Lee, but the reigning champion is confident in her chances of holding on to the title.  “I just think it’ll be a great fight. The fans will love it. It will definitely be exciting. But when that final bell rings, you will hear the words, ‘and still,’” Lee concluded......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 30th, 2020