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MerryMart sets final IPO price at P1 The Manila Times

MerryMart sets final IPO price at P1 The Manila Times The Manila Times.....»»

Category: newsSource: manilanews manilanewsMay 23rd, 2020

MerryMart sets final IPO price at P1

MERRYMART Consumer Corp. announced on Friday that it had set its final initial public offering (IPO) price at P1 per share. In a disclosure, the Sia-led grocery chain said that, through the offering, which consists of 1,594,936,709 common shares, it looks to generate as much as P1.6 billion. The offer period is from May 27 […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsMay 23rd, 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

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

(This story was originally published on April 20, 2018) Newly-appointed head coach Roger Gorayeb looked at his line-up heading into UAAP Season 71. A champion mentor of NCAA powerhouse San Sebastian College - Recoletos, Gorayeb had in his hands a gargantuan task of rebuilding the Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program. Just a few months before, Ronald Dulay, the mentor before him, landed a trio of blue chip recruits who were fresh from a successful stint in the Palarong Pambansa. Angeline "Dzi" Gervacio, Fille Saint Cainglet and Jamenea "Jem" Ferrer just joined the Katipunan-based squad. Gervacio and Cainglet were products of St. Scholastica's College in Manila while Ferrer was a gem from Hope Christian School under girl’s volleyball guru Jerry Yee. Looking at his 15-woman line-up with the season just a few months ahead, Gorayeb knew he needed to do something drastic. The roster just won’t do. Talking to then athletic director Ricky Palou and team manager Tony Boy Liao, the mentor told the team officials that he intended to cut five players from the list. One could just imagine the shock in their faces. “Nakita ko may line-up pero player-playeran lang yung ganoon bang tipo, 15 ata yun. Sabi ko ‘Magtatanggal ako ng lima then magre-recruit ako,’” he said. The three rookies were in. Middle Bea Pascual, Kara Acevedo and libero Steph Gabriel retained their spots. He needed more. “Sa mga tinira kong players, si Kara Acevedo sabi niya, ‘Coach mayroong player ang ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy) na gumraduate naka-exam na rito pasado.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige papuntahin mo,’” said Gorayeb. It was Gretchen Ho. “Sa akin kasi ang talagang nagyaya sa akin si Coach Ron Dulay. Si Kara Acevedo teammate ko and she’s been recruited by Ateneo. So one summer wala akong magawa naki-train lang ako noon tapos nagustuhan nila ang laro ko and then fourth year noong graduate na ako I passed the ACET then niyayaya na nila ako,” Ho said. “Then nagbago ng coach na si Coach Roger and dun niya ako nakita.”   “Pagdating ko ng March (sa Ateneo) wala na akong way para maka-recruit pa. Ang nangyari yung tatlo accepted na kaagad. Si Gretchen tinanong ko sabi ko, ‘ano ba ang laro mo?’ Sabi niya the usual panggitna, tres,” Gorayeb recalled. “So sinubukan ko pero ang laro niya tres hindi quick. Siya panggitna pero hindi quicker na gusto ko saka yung height niya (maliit). Kaya lang si Gretchen takbo ng takbo, mahilig magtatakbo so sabi ko sige pwede na yan. Wala namang player na during that time. So kinuha ko si Gretchen.” Gorayeb just needed just one more. “Ngayon nagkaroon ng STCAA (Southern Tagalog Calabarzon athletic association) eh kulang pa ako ng isa, wala akong panggitna. Ang gitna ko during that time si Bea lang tapos si Gretchen so wala akong pamalit. So naisipan ko may nakita ako sa STCAA,” he said. He spotted a lanky player from Canossa Academy-Lipa, Aillysse Nacachi. “Sabi ko kay Sir Tony pagtyagaan ko na lang ito kahit hindi naman kalakasan at wala naman na rin akong choice na makapili kasi rush ang pagdating ko dyan. Nakiusap lang sila sa akin na magbuo ako ng team kasi si Ronald nag-resign,” said Gorayeb. Another freshman could’ve had ended up with Ateneo, Hope’s libero Melissa Gohing. But a few obstacles prevented her from fulfilling her promise to join Ferrer in Ateneo. She instead chose to join the ladies in green and white in Taft.    SOMETHING PROMISING December 7, 2008. Far Eastern University Gym. Excitement filled the air. Fans, mostly volleyball purists and some who just came to support their classmates or were just curious to see a new spectacle after the basketball season ended, slowly settled in their seats for the women’s division’s second game. It was Adamson University, the previous year’s runner-up, which just visited the turf of their arch nemesis and defending champion FEU, which was led by that era’s finest and most popular volleybelle Rachel Anne Daquis. Fans wanted to see if the Lady Falcons still had the same firepower they had the previous season with the loss of top setter Janet Serafica and power hitter Sang Laguilles. A rookie-laden Ateneo squad should be easy pickings with Angela Benting, rookie Pau Soriano and libero Lizlee Anne Gata in the roster. Besides the Lady Falcons got the Lady Eagles’ number. Or so they thought. “Naalala ko nu’ng time namin sinasabi sa amin ng seniors namin na, ‘Hay naku ang lakas ng Adamson, never kami nanalo dyan,’” Cainglet, now happily married to Taguig mayor Lino Cayetano and with three beautiful children, recalled.  But the Lady Eagles stunned Adamson in the opening set. The Lady Falcons took the next two frames. Ateneo stole the fourth.  “Ako naalala ko ano eh, parang alam namin na lahat kasi kami palaban. Nasa amin yun. Tapos binigyan kaming lahat ng chance to be in the first six so parang dream come true,” said Ho, now an ABS-CBN host. “Naalala ko rin na palaban kaming lahat kumbaga nothing to lose eh so ang ano namin, sumasabay kami sa laro and nu’ng nakita na namin na ‘Ay kaya pala natin ‘to guys. Kaya pala naming lumaban.’” Still, Adamson had the upper hand in experience. The Lady Falcons, used to pressure and were steady at crunch time, outlasted Ateneo.           The young Katipunan-based squad fell short, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, 25-15, 8-15. But for the Fab 5, it was a loss that felt like a resounding victory. “Parang sobrang natutuwa kami and everybody in the crowd, kaya siguro kami natawag na Fab 5 kasi rookies kami pero kahit ganoon palaban kami,” said Ho. “Saka close game. Five sets yun.” However, it was the first of five five-set matches that Ateneo will drop that season including one in the second round against the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University. “Pero ang problema di kami nananalo ng five sets. Parang ilan lang ang naipanalo namin na ganoon. Feeling ko na-overwhelm kami na ‘Uy nananalo tayo.’ May ganoong disbelief ng konti pero alam namin na may ibubuga kami,” said Ho. “Definitely, our rookie season was full of five-set matches. It was tough, we felt like we were so close, but still so far away. At some point, it gave us frustration also. We just couldn't figure out that time what is it that's still lacking because we couldn't win the five-set matches,” according to Nacachi. “People said, it was because the team was still so inexperienced. We still didn't have the tenacity unlike of those more matured teams. But we didn't take it as bad, it was a learning experience for us all at the end. We had to learn how to develop that finishing will to be able to win games like that in the future.” The Fab 5 finished their rookie season with a 6-8 slate at fifth spot.   ‘MAY MEDAL NA TAYO’ Gorayeb remembered on their second year the look on Pascual’s face in their last elimination game match against Adamson. Already wrapping up their first win over the Lady Falcons, Pascual was giddy. “Natatawa nga ako dyan kay Bea kasi papanalo na kami nu’n tapos sumesenyas na siya ng tres. Sabi ko, ‘Hoy anong ginagawa mo?’ Yun pala sobrang saya na niya kasi for the first time in 30 years magkaka-medal na sila,” he said. It was the most important match of the season for the Lady Eagles. With the Fab 5 already in their sophomore year, Ateneo was already making great strides. The Lady Eagles closed that season’s elims with five straight wins capped off with a victory over Adamson. Ateneo posted a 10-4 win-loss mark to enter the Final Four legitimately. “Ang nangyari kasi nu’ng time nila Charo (Soriano) kaya sila nakapasok sa semis kasi may nag-squeal na si (Jacq) Alarca di pala naka-enroll nu’n kaya na-forfeit mga laro ng La Salle,” said Gorayeb. The Fab 5 proved that they were not just a bunch of much-hyped up pretty faces. They backed it up with their skills on court. It didn’t matter that Ateneo were swept by eventual champion University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four.      But the podium finish of Season 72 was short-lived. Adamson got its revenge in the last game of Season 73 elims, bumping off the Lady Eagles for a podium finish. The loss put Ateneo in a collision course with the twice-to-beat DLSU, who could’ve completed an elims sweep if not only for a forfeited match against University of the East after UAAP found out that Carmela Garbin and Clarisse Yeung participated in a ‘ligang labas’ while the season was onoing, in the Final Four. Ateneo gave the Lady Spikers a scare before succumbing in another heartbreaking five-set match. The Lady Eagles finished fourth but that lone semis game gave Ateneo and its maturing Fab 5 enough experience to dream for something big – A ticket into the Finals.      ‘HINOG NA KAYO’ The first three years saw the gradual improvement for Ateneo. But Season 74 proved to be the turning point for the Fab 5. A fresh new recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school, who just completed a year of residency, came into picture and with the Fab 5 armed with years of experience, the Lady Eagles’ fate will forever be changed. Alyssa Valdez, a highly recruited open spiker just like Gervacio, Cainglet-Cayetano and Ferrer years back, gave renewed excitement for the Ateneo faithful. “Alyssa's joining with Ateneo was a great turning point for us. We needed as much support we can get, and Alyssa's entrance to the team was a great boost to the team's morale,” said Nacachi. “The girl is a powerhouse and we felt like with her presence, the team finally became solid.” “We were able to play around with the positions and the rotations, since we had different versatile open players who can also greatly play other roles,” she added. “We were also able to formulate a lot of plays and attacks because Alyssa can generally do all kinds; open, running, quick, name it all. She gave the team the power and the versatility that we previously lacked from the past seasons.” Social media was just gaining traction then but the Lady Eagles were already on the radar of volleyball purists through online forums. For the first time, Ateneo was considered a legitimate contender.   The Fab 5 proved it by winning 11 games in the elimination round, losing only to UST once and dropping two against the Lady Spikers. Valdez’s arrival gave Ferrer an even broader option on offense. It eased the scoring load off the shoulders of Cainglet and Gervacio, who was then moved to an opposite position. “I guess sakto lang din yung dating niya because by that time Kara Acevedo graduated so someone had to fill in her spot so coach Roger decided for me to move to utility or opposite,” said Gervacio. “And then sakto Alyssa naman could fill in the spot na other open spiker.” “So timing din na we had all the pieces put together at the right time,” she added. With a good performance in the elims despite missing a legit middle in Bea Pascual and the entry of Aerieal Patnongon barred by academic problems, Ateneo finished second and for the first-time was armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles faced an experienced Tigresses side in the last stepladder semis stage. UST just came from a hard-fought four-set do-or-die match against FEU and were banking on their four-set win over Ateneo in the second round to force another sudden death. Ateneo’s date with destiny was sealed with a four-set win over the Tigresses, who then bid goodbye to Maika Ortiz and Judy Anne Caballejo. “Pinu-push na rin kami ni Coach Roger noon eh, ‘Hinog na kayo ngayon. Kasi dalawang taon na lang, kailangan makapasok na kayo sa Finals,’” said Ho. “Somehow senior na rin kami,” added Cainglet.  “Season 74 was really the target season for us to be in the finals and target even to win the championship,” according to Nacachi. “During this time, we were already thinking we could not afford to not go in the finals.” “So it was with our mindset and our level of commitment that we were able to finally reach our goal of reaching the finals,” she added. “We had enough experience that time already, and it was really time for us to show the level of game maturity the team had obtained from the past seasons.” But then they had to face an unbeaten team. Unscathed in 14 games, De La Salle University was poised to complete a perfect season. The Lady Eagles spoiled it. Ferrer outplayed DLSU setter Mika Esperanza, 57-42, in excellent sets as Ateneo handed the Lady Spikers its first loss after 25 straight victories in a come-from-behind 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, Finals opener win. Witnessed by 3,002 spectators inside the then The Arena in San Juan, all of the Fab 5 produced points. Cainglet had 19 behind Valdez’s 24, Gervacio scored 12, Ho had 10, Nacachi finished with five while Ferrer had one. Gorayeb made a big gambit and it worked. “Dahil sa wala kong panggitna, yung laro namin ng La Salle, ginawa kong quicker si Alyssa. Kasi si Alyssa nakakapalo. Nagulat si Ramil (de Jesus) dun.” It was a big win. A huge upset. Unfortunately, Ateneo needed to win two more.  DLSU held a thrice-to-beat advantage.   THAT SWAG After Ateneo made a miracle in Game One, fans began to feel a new rivalry born. The attendance spiked. From just 3,000 spectators, the gate attendance more than doubled its size. The interest was there. Fans of traditional powers began to notice the Lady Eagles as a rising team. For the first time, a squad with no previous championship experience except for a title during the Marcos era in a different collegiate league, made a giant jolt. Everybody wanted to see what these girls would do next.    The Lady Eagles, still high on adrenaline after their Game 1 upset, took the opening set in Game 2. But just like in their opener, a well-experienced DLSU squad adjusted to take the next three frames to move a step closer to a repeat crown. With then Rookie of the Year Ara Galang, Season Most Valuable Player Aby Marano, an intimidating Michele Gumabao and a very efficient Finals MVP Cha Cruz teaming up for the kill, the Lady Spikers ripped Ateneo apart in Game 3 in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13. “Sabi nga ni Dzi na nadyan na lahat eh. So I guess noong Season 74 nandoon na pero may kulang pa rin,” said Ho. “I guess we we’re able to make it to the Finals pero wala pa kaming championship experience.” Ferrer agreed. "Siguro ang kulang yung championship experience kasi nasa La Salle na ‘yun eh. Ilang years na silang nagpa-finals, nag-champion and for Ateneo doon pa lang namin sinimulan," said the three-time Best Setter. Lacking championship experience is one thing, but Ateneo during that time wasn’t ready for DLSU’s most feared weapon: the Lady Spikers’ swag.  “They have that swag,” said Gervacio. “Everyone knows about it naman. It’s really Coach Ramil’s style talaga kasi as I remember when we were first year, four out of six of the players inside the court were rookies and even if we go against the powerhouses UST, FEU, Adamson, hindi sila yung nakikita nyo na kapag championship na rivalry, na swag, angas, stare down. Pero La Salle talaga kahit sino ang kalaban nila they’ll bring that attitude inside the court.” That Finals series cemented a new rivalry that will become one of the most celebrated in the sport. “I think it also helped that Ateneo-La Salle basketball didn’t face also,” said Gervacio. “Siyempre nandoon ang hunger for the rivalry eh and timely din na its been Ateneo-La Salle na rin sa volleyball.”   CLOSING A CHAPTER The Fab 5 were now in their fifth and last year. They wanted to leave a winning legacy. The pieces were already there. Gorayeb had at his disposal five seniors, a rising star in Valdez, a sophomore middle in Amy Ahomiro, a versatile Ella De Jesus, a steady libero in Denden Lazaro and a new kind of weapon – a massive crowd that can turn any venue into a sea of blue.              As expected, the second installment of the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry was set into place. Both sweeping their semis opponents. The Lady Spikers crushed National University while the Lady Eagles shot down Adamson. Game One was a shocker. DLSU heading into the Finals are on a 14-game roll but were stunned in the first two sets with Ateneo stepping on the gas. But a string of miscues, mostly from the service line, did the Lady Eagles in as they allowed the Lady Spikers to force a decider. DLSU, smelling blood, punished Ateneo to eke out a 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, victory inside the Big Dome witnesses by 17,342-strong gate attendance. Then the series transferred to a newly-built, state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena that drew a crowd of 18,799. The first two frames were frustrating for the Lady Eagles.   Ateneo came back to life in the third set to gain a 9-5 lead. But DLSU easily erased it with Ateneo crumbling under pressure. The Lady Spikers were on an onslaught. Sophomore Galang pushed DLSU at matchpoint with a cold-blooded ace that went in a few inches from the baseline. The score, 24-16. It was a tense moment for the Fab 5. A long rally ensued in the next play. Gervacio, with all her might pounded a kill. Her hand making a great contact on the ball off Ferrer’s backset.     Smack! The ball ricocheted off the hands of DLSU’s Wensh Tiu before falling on the same landing area of Gervacio, who tried to dive for a dig together with Lazaro. DLSU swept Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. Game over.          “Kahit hindi kami nanalo alam naming ibinigay namin ang lahat namin, all-out talaga kaya wala kaming pagsisisi,” said Ho. It was the end of the Fab 5 era, but they left more than what any of them could have imagined. "I remember so many people or fans telling me that they started really watching UAAP Volleyball because of our batch. And that is really touching and fulfilling to know. Knowing that you were able to leave an impact like that to people. We were not able to bring even a single championship to our school, Ateneo, but we were able to touch a lot of people's hearts despite that," Nacachi shared. The Fab 5 closed a colorful chapter of Ateneo volleyball in tears. They were there during the Lady Eagles’ birth pains. They labored. They shed tears, blood and sweat. They laid the foundation for something big. The Fab 5 planted the seeds that would eventually bear fruit and would change the course of Ateneo women’s volleyball program forever. Glory didn’t happen during their time. It started in theirs.    Amidst the roar of the crowd, the falling confetti, banging of drums and the echoing chant of ‘Animo La Salle’ from the sea of green, the Fab 5 hugged each other tight. They found comfort in each other. It was their time to say goodbye. For those who remained – Valdez, Lazaro, Ahomiro, De Jesus – the defeat added fuel to their already blazing desire to bring glory for the blue and white. They were the next in line, heirs to an unfinished business. WATCH: FAB 5 Reunion Part 1 and Part 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News19 hr. 55 min. ago

MerryMart braves COVID headwind with IPO

MerryMart Consumer Corp. has set its final initial public offering (IPO) price at P1 per share, making it the first company to brave the current turbulent market due to COVID-19. In a notice to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc. on Friday, the retailer company led by Edgar “Injap” Sia II said it will initially list […] The post MerryMart braves COVID headwind with IPO appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2020

DO YOU REMEMBER... the Lady Stags’ not so perfect seasons?

It’s not uncommon to see a team squander a huge advantage. A defeat like that will surely sting. But what more in a championship series and in a situation where a squad holds a thrice-to-beat advantage? San Sebastian College found itself on the wrong side of history after its infamous collapse in the NCAA women's volleyball finals. Twice. Not only did Lady Stags came up short of winning the crown while holding a thrice-to-beat advantage in consecutive seasons, but in those two series the Lady Stags only won one game. In a thrice-to-beat scenario, the team holding the advantage need only two victories to wrap the series. The disadvantaged side must win three times. Getting in that position is not easy. It means, a team must sweep the elimination round. And if you did brush off all your rivals that would mean you're the dominant team. Easily, the title favorite According to the NCAA Season 91 and 92 rules, the sweeping team gets an outright Finals seat armed with a twice-to-win advantage. A 1-0 lead in a virtual best-of-five series. The rest will have to duke it out in a stepladder semifinals to earn a championship seat. The unbeaten team will have fresh legs as it gets enough rest while waiting for its Finals opponent. For the other team, it means more games and no time for rest plus the possibility of wear and tear. The odds were stacked in favor of the Lady Stags. Or so they thought. SSC-R was a force to be reckoned with in those two seasons. Leading the Lady Stags was power-hitter and bulk-scorer Grethcel Soltones. She had a solid supporting cast in Nikka Dalisay, Jolina Labiano, Dangie Encarnacion, Kat Villegas, setter Vira Guillema and libero Alyssa Eroa under multi-title head coach and NCAA legend Roger Gorayeb. In Season 91, SSC-R fielded a well-experienced roster which came from two unsuccessful championship trips in the previous three years. The Lady Stags crushed all of their nine competitions in the elims including the CJ Rosario, Jovielyn Prado and Dana Henson-bannered Arellano U, which the year before beat SSC-R for the title. SSC-R completed its elims sweep after beating College of St. Benilde in four sets and got a nine-day rest. The Lady Blazers took the long route to secure a Finals seat, beating University of Perpetual Help in first stepladder semis before dethroning the Lady Chiefs. The Lady Stags came in the Finals brimming with confidence as they faced the same squad they defeated before their break. SSC-R barely escaped a tightly-contested extended first set but the Lady Stags unraveled in the next three frames. CSB coach Macky Carino knew that SSC-R will live and die with Soltones so he sent his best net defenders Jeanette Panaga, Janine Navarro and Ranya Musa to clog the net. SSC-R was also plagued with errors and miscues in their reception. The second game followed the same pattern with only Soltones scoring in double figures and the Lady Stags finding themselves on the brink of collapse. Soltones, upon receiving her second straight Most Valuable Player award, saved SSC-R from total collapse as she scored 31 points in a four-set escape in Game Three. But it all just delayed the inevitable doom that would befall the Lady Stags. In the series decider, CSB showed no signs of fear as it already faced two do-or-die matches before. SSC-R crumbled in the first two sets, showed life in the third before eventually yielding as the Lady Blazers claimed a historic breakthrough title in vanquishing a more seasoned rival. It was the same nightmare that the Lady Stags encountered the following season. Again, Soltones rallied SSC-R back to the Finals outright on her swan song. Once again with a thrice-to-beat advantage. Arellano U, on the other hand, got its revenge over CSB in the last stepladder match to book a championship showdown against the Lady Stags. The Lady Chiefs, behind Andrea Marzan, Regine Arocha and Mary Anne Esguerra, stunned SSC-R in straight sets in the series opener. It was Rialen Sante and Prado who did most of the damage in Game 2 as Arellano U beat the Lady Stags in a come-from-behind five-setter. And on Valentine’s Day 2017, SSC-R absorbed another humiliating defeat. Thrice-to-beat. Thrice beaten.        Soltones closed her NCAA career as a three-time MVP and one of the most decorated players in the league. But she will always be haunted by the ghost of her past. A legacy stained by the misfortune of leading a team found wanting in titles. The Lady Stags since then failed to recover their lost glory as they bowed out of the final four the following year for the first time in decades. SSC-R followed the same dark path the year after.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2020

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

STAYING POWER: These schools have great grassroots programs

Ateneo de Manila University has won it all three times in a row in the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament. The most recent of which was a season sweep that just yet again proved that in recent history, Blue Eagle the king. Of course, head coach Tab Baldwin deserves much credit for that - he wouldn't take it, but he could. At the same time, though, the blue and white has also given coach Tab all the materials he needs to assemble a juggernaut. And those materials? Ateneo itself, for the most part, discovered and developed them. More than half of the Blue Eagles in UAAP 82 were formerly Blue Eaglets. And even in high school, Nieto twins Mike and Matt, BJ Andrade, SJ Belangel, Geo Chiu, Jason Credo, and Gian Mamuyac were champions. Funnily enough, Thirdy Ravena, who has three Finals MVPs to his name, was unable to take a title in the Jrs. as he was denied by Hubert Cani's Nazareth School of National University and Jerie Pingoy's Far Eastern University-Diliman. Still, Ravena plus those seven other ex-Eaglets all played their part in their season sweep. If you count Ange Kouame, who was taken in even before college and finished his high school in Multiple Intelligence International School, then that makes nine homegrown players for Ateneo. That, without a doubt, makes Katipunan the site of the most successful grassroots program in recent history. And the Blue Eagles are far from finished as they already have the likes of Ian Espinosa, Josh Lazaro, Lebron Lopez, and Forthsky Padrigao waiting in the wings. Not that far behind are usual suspects FEU and San Beda University. Last season, the green and gold counted five Baby Tams who were full-fledged Tams. Add RJ Abarrientos and Cholo Anonuevo to that list and next season, FEU may also very well have half of its Srs. squad grown from its Jrs. program. The Red Lions, meanwhile, had Peter Alfaro, Prince Etrata, Evan Nelle, and Ain Obenza coming from their high school ranks. Only Nelle wound up as a key cog in their almost-season sweep, but with his departure, bigger things are now going to be expected from Alfaro and Etrata. Even more, with standout Red Cubs Rhayyan Amsali, Yukien Andrada, Justine Sanchez, and Tony Ynot coming in, Mendiola would reap the rewards of its stout Taytay program once more. Also enjoying the resurgence of its high school team is San Sebastian College-Recoletos which could boast that top gun RK Ilagan as well as rotation players Michael Are, Rommel Calahat, Alex Desoyo, Gelo Loristo, Jessie Sumoda, and Ken Villapando were former Staglets. For its part, University of Sto. Tomas has CJ Cansino and Mark Nonoy getting promoted from its Jrs. program. Those two comprise the Growling Tigers' backcourt of the present and the future and they have another proud product from the Tiger Cubs coming in the form of Bismarck Lina. Mapua University and Jose Rizal University are yet to barge back into the Final Four, but their rebuild is right on track thanks to building blocks from their high school squads. All of Denniel Aguirre, Warren Bonifacio, Joaqui Garcia, Paolo Hernandez, Eric Jabel, Noah Lugo, Jasper Salenga, Justin Serrano, and Laurenz Victoria are Red Robins-turned Cardinals while the Heavy Bombers now have their core four in ex-Light Bombers John Amores, JL Delos Santos, Marwin Dionisio, and Thomas Vasquez. The University of the Philippines had a growing grassroots program with Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan as well as Will Gozum having come from UP Integrated School. With the GDLs choosing to sit out UAAP 83 and Gozum choosing to transfer to College of St. Benilde, however, the Fighting Maroons have no homegrown players on the roster, at present. That could change, though, if Joe GDL makes the cut or if, next year, current Jr. Maroons Jordi GDL, Aldous Torculas, and Ray Allen Torres opt to stay put. That is also what Adamson University is hoping Jake Figueroa, the UAAP 82 MVP, and Matty Erolon would do after their last year as Baby Falcons. After all, Lorenz Capulong, AP Manlapaz, and Joem Sabandal have already proven to be capable and confident Soaring Falcons. Lyceum of the Philippines University is yet to see a seamless transition from its high school to its college teams, but in NCAA 95 MVP John Barba and former Batang Gilas Mac Guadana, they seem to have their very first homegrown stars. With head coach Goldwin Monteverde taking the reins of the Bulldogs after going back-to-back with the Bullpups, National U looks like it will finally have a clearly connected basketball program. John Lloyd Clemente is already there alongside RJ Minerva, Chino Mosqueda, and Migs Oczon and all of Gerry Abadiano, Kevin Quiambao, and Carl Tamayo may very well join them for coach Gold's first year in the Srs. Meanwhile, De La Salle University has had quite the up and down track record in taking full advantage of its TWO high school programs. Only Aljun Melecio, a former Jr. Archer, and Joel Cagulangan, a former Greenie, were the homegrown Green Archers last season and with the latter having moved on, only the former remains. La Salle's shortcoming has been CSB's gain as the Blazers have only welcomed with open arms La Salle Green Hills products Ladis Lepalam, Sidney Mosqueda, Unique Naboa, Mark Sangco, and Luigi Velasco as well as DLS Zobel product Prince Carlos. Here are the other teams who had homegrown players on their rosters last year: ARELLANO CHIEFS Marlon Espiritu. Kent Segura. Lars Sunga. LETRAN KNIGHTS Christian Balagasay. Jerrick Balanza. Neil Guarino. Kurt Reyson PERPETUAL ALTAS Jasper Cuevas. Jielo Razon. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2020

UAAP volleyball’s most memorable Finals five-setters (2010-19)

UAAP volleyball fans just love to see matches go the full five sets. It means more action, more suspense and more drama as the game goes to an exciting climax. What more if it happens in the Finals? We’ve listed down some of the exciting five-set championship games in the past decade.     SEASON 74: FEU-UST Men’s Finals Game 2 (Feb. 29, 2012) For the past four years prior to Season 74, University of Sto. Tomas dominated the men’s competition. For two straight seasons, the Emil Lontoc-mentored Tigers had Far Eastern University’s number in the Finals.    In Season 74, the Tamaraws finally got their long-awaited revenge but not after surviving a war of attrition in Game 2. FEU went down, 1-2, in the match with the Mark Alfafara and Salvador Depante-led Tigers determined to keep UST’s five-peat bid alive following a stinging straight-set defeat in the series opener. The Tamaraws, who topped the eliminations, but was forced by De La Salle University to a do-or-die in the Final Four, fought back in the fourth behind JR Labrador and Arvin Avila to drag the match to a dramatic decider. The fifth set went as close at it could get with FEU just keeping a slim lead heading into the final stretch. The Tams moved at championship point off a Labrador off the block hit only to see the Tigers save two match points on a middle attack by Season Most Valuable Player Jayson Ramos and a Depante crosscourt hit. FEU coach George Pascua called time to stop the bleeding before setter Pitrus De Ocampo set up the then graduating Kirk Beliran for the finishing blow off a combination attack to complete the 25-27, 25-15, 19-25, 25-21, 15-13, victory. The Tams ended a four-year title drought for their 25th title overall.              SEASON 76: Ateneo-DLSU Women's Finals Game 3 (March 12, 2014) We all know how great Ateneo de Manila University was when they toppled the then four-peat-seeking and thrice-to-beat De La Salle University in the women’s Finals of UAAP Season 76. But in the four games that two proud teams fought, Game 3 decided the fate of the series. Yes, the series didn’t end here, but it definitely shifted the momentum to the eventual champion Lady Eagles and broke the Lady Spikers’ will. The Finals protagonists split the first two games with DLSU moving just a win away from extending its reign. Ateneo took control of the first two sets, but the Lady Spikers were able to mount a comeback to claim the next two to set up a decisive fifth frame. The race to the finish became thrilling as well as controversial.       It started out as a nip-and-tuck battle before DLSU built a 12-8 separation to move within three points from the crown. Drawing energy from crowd, the Alyssa Valdez-led Lady Eagles answered with a 6-1 blitz to move at match point. Ara Galang answered with a hit and a kill block to put the Taft-based squad at championship point. Valdez delivered at crunch time with a kill followed by a through the block kill by Michelle Morente for a 16-15 match point advantage. Then came the controversial call in the last play. DLSU setter Kim Fajardo was whistled for a double-contact as she tried to setup a play close to the net after a poor reception that ended the game, 25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 16-25, 17-15, as the shocked DLSU side held their hands in the air in disbelief.      It was the series’ backbreaker as Ateneo, with momentum on its side, finished off the Lady Spikers in straight sets in the series decider for the Lady Eagles’ breakthrough title and first of back-to-back crowns.   SEASON 78:  Ateneo-DLSU Women's Finals Game 2 (April 27, 2016) The then grand slam-seeking Ateneo Lady Eagles and DLSU Lady Spikers faced off in the Finals for the fifth straight time in Season 78. Eyeing redemption after finishing second for two straights seasons, DLSU shocked favored Ateneo led by its graduating hero Valdez in the series opener. The Lady Spikers were looking to finish off the Lady Eagles in Game 2. DLSU seemed to be on the right track when they took the first two sets. But Valdez, the Season Most Valuable Player, carried Ateneo on her back as the Lady Eagles rallied in the next two frames to force a deciding frame. With Valdez leading the way and momentum shifting on their side, the Lady Eagles were able to create a 10-7 separation. DLSU closed the gap, 11-13, only to see Ateneo hammer down the final blows. Jho Maraguinot scored an off the block kill before Amy Ahomiro turned back Majoy Baron to seal Ateneo’s 18-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11. Valdez registered her then second-best scoring performance of 34 points including 32 kills. But the feat just delayed DLSU’s redemption season as the Lady Spikers took Game 3 and knocked the crown off the Lady Eagles’ heads for a victorious sendoff to graduating stars Mika Reyes, Ara Galang and Cyd Demecillo.     SEASON 79: Ateneo-DLSU Women's Finals Game 2 (May 6, 2017) Just like the previous year, DLSU stared at an Ateneo squad determined to drag the Season 79 Finals series to a deciding battle. The Lady Eagles were able take a 1-2 match advantage. The Lady Spikers regrouped in the fourth to put the match in another wild wind up. Riding the momentum of its fourth set win, DLSU raced to an early 6-2 advantage and looked poised to go for the kill as the Lady Spikers stretched their advantage to 10-4. Ateneo fought back, chipping away DLSU’s lead to close in, 9-12. Tin Tiamzon gave the Lady Spikers more breathing room only for Jho Maraguinot to cut DLSU’s lead to three once again. A Majoy Baron quick attack pushed the Lady Spikers at championship point before Maraguinot threw in the white towel after sending her attack long as DLSU walked away with a 19-25, 25-14, 18-25, 25-18, 15-10, victory and a 10th overall title.       SEASON 79: Ateneo-NU Men's Finals series (May 2 and May 6, 2017) It was the Ateneo Blue Eagles perfect season. The Marck Espejo, Rex Intal, Josh Villanueva and Tony Koyfman bannered Blue Eagles completed a rare 16-0 season sweep. But the Ateneo had to go through the proverbial eye of the needle to achieve the feat especially in the Finals series where the Blue Eagles needed stave off the gritty Bryan Bagunas and Fauzi Ismail-led NU Bulldogs in five sets twice. And in both games, Ateneo had to comeback from a 1-2 match deficit. Espejo dropped 29 points to lead the Blue Eagles to a 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 25-18, 15-13, Game 1 win. The Season MVP again went firing on all cylinders in Game 2 as he scored 27 points including a 25-of-49 attacking clip in Ateneo’s 18-25, 25-16, 20-25, 25-18, 15-13, title-clincher. Ateneo claimed its third straight crown.    WORTH MENTIONING SEASON 70: FEU-Adamson Women's Finals Game 3 (March 2, 2008) When we talk about dramatic five-set finishes, the meeting between FEU and Adamson in Game 3 of Season 70 women’s will always be included in the classic list.   Yes, it happened 12 years ago. But hey, it deserves recognition. The Lady Tams boasted of a deep roster of talents in Rachel Anne Daquis, Maica Morada, Season MVP Wendy Semana, Majo Cafranca, Anna Abanto and rookie Shaira Gonzales. On the other hand, the Lady Falcons had Sang Laguilles, Angela Benting, Jill Gustillo, Michelle Segodine, prized libero Lizlee Ann Gata and Janet Serafica. After splitting the first two games, Adamson came a set close to its first-ever crown in Game 3 after taking a 2-1 match lead. But Daquis came alive in the fourth helping breathe new life to the Nes Pamilar-mentored Lady Tams. The fifth frame started out close before FEU unleashed five unanswered points to turn a 2-4 deficit to a 7-4 lead. Adamson responded with two straight points to move within one, 7-6, only to allow the Lady Tams to again pull away. Shirt-tugging Morada pushed FEU at match point, 14-8, off a kill before Benting saved a point for Adamson. But a late substitution on Segodine, who was supposed to take serve, by service specialist Jennifer Hiponia proved to be fatal. Hiponia under tremendous pressure put too much power on her serve as FEU escaped with a 14-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 15-9, victory and its 29th title overall.             SEASON 80: Ateneo-FEU men’s Final Four (April 21, 2018) It wasn’t a Finals game but the performance of Marck Espejo in this historic Final Four battle against FEU in Season 80 made this five-set clash worth mentioning. The then four-peat-seeking Ateneo was pitted against twice-to-beat Tamaraws. Espejo rewrote history as he carried the Blue Eagles on his back with a 55-point game to escape with a 18-25, 25-13, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9, win that forced a do-or-die match. The five-time MVP had a monster production of 47 attacks, six kill blocks and two aces. He scored 11 of Ateneo’s fifth set output. The Blue Eagles eventually clinched the last Finals spot but were dethroned by the Bulldogs.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

Remembering UP s one win that was basically a championship

The University of the Philippines is now a legitimate contender in UAAP Men's Basketball. With one Finals appearance, two playoff berths, one MVP, and three Mythical selections in the last two years, it's safe to say that the Fighting Maroons have, indeed, become Winning Maroons. With all that, comes greater expectations, though - however far from reality they may be. "There was a time last year when we were putting so much pressure on the team," S+A analyst Mikee Reyes, who donned the maroon and green from 2009 to 2014, said. "Understandable naman, kasi the make-up of that team was far from how the teams of before were so obviously, the expectations were high." When looking at where State U is now, its climb to contention could actually be traced back to a single game, a sole win, a singular event. SLEEPLESS IN SHUTTLE Of course, the origin story is much richer - what with the 13-113 record from 2007 to 2015 and the trio of winless and couple of one-win seasons in the same timeframe. But when it all comes down to it, however, nowhere to go but up was born on August 9, 2014. Before the sun rose on that day, UP was burdened with a 27-game losing streak. And before the sun rose on that day, Reyes, then still the squad's starting point guard, didn't get much sleep. "Actually, hindi maganda gising ko nun. I've been diagnosed with insomnia and nangyayari siya when I least expect it," he recalled. He then continued, "What a time for it to have come then. 'Di ako nakatulog talaga." The last time the Fighting Maroons could call themselves winners then was back in August 19, 2012 - two years ago, two seasons ago, and even two coaches ago. Facing off with a rebuilding Adamson University side, however, they felt pretty good about their chances. "Obviously, everyone was anxious na kasi loss after loss after loss, but at the same time, we were pretty close as a team so we just picked each other up," Reyes said. "We felt like we were bound for a breakthrough." Reyes remembered how then, State U had, at times, gone toe-to-toe with perennial contenders Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University. "There were moments when we showed our potential, but just couldn't close it out. Alam namin kung anong kaya namin," he said. And that, coupled with a sound game plan, was where they drew their confidence from. "We felt like we just had to stop Jansen [Rios] and Don [Trollano]. We felt like we had more weapons din so laban lang nang laban," Reyes said. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN As it turned out, Reyes brought his A-game and wound up with a career-high 28 points. Apparently, a pregame power nap proved key. "Nakatulog ako sa bus going to MOA tapos nakatulog ako sa halfcourt during warm-ups. I remember Darwish Bederi (had to wake) me up pa nga," he said through chuckles. JR Gallarza turned in his own best game and had 24 points and six rebounds. "Si Coach Ramil (Cruz), there were times na ilalabas na niya kami ni JR kasi natakot siyang baka sobrang mapagod kami, but we told him na ilalaban na namin 'to. He let us play and our confidence came from him as well," Reyes said, referring to the late Ramil Cruz who had to step in for suspended shot-caller Rey Madrid. And with a relatively louder and prouder maroon and green crowd behind it, UP overcame a slow start and erased a six-point disadvantage early on and erected a 34-23 edge late in the first half. "Pagpasok ng court was the first time we felt people actually believed we could win. Andaming tao. It wasn't so loud, pero there were definitely more people there compared to our past games," Reyes said. That’s when the Fighting Maroons knew that was a must-win game. "Na-feel mo talaga sa crowd, na-feel mo talga sa seniors na we had to win because if natalo pa sa Adamson, nangangamoy 0-14 na naman. Last game of the first round na yun e so if all teams (would have beaten) us already, mahirap nang makakuha ng kumpyansa sa second round," Reyes said. Still, the Soaring Falcons put up a fight and turned what was once a 24-point deficit into just a score of 64-73 with 45.5 ticks to go on the clock. Kyles Lao and Jarrell Lim proved steady from the stripe, however, and kept Adamson at bay once and for all. When the final buzzer sounded, State U could finally breathe easy as the final score read 77-64 in their favor. JOY STORY At long last, after 720 days, after 28 tries, it was a winner once more. Reyes has no doubt whatsoever that was his biggest win as a player. "It's always gonna be my biggest win. I never really won much as a player for UP so sobrang sarap to finally get rid of that curse," he said. And if he had to choose between the win and the career game, he would choose the win each and every time. As he put it, "In college basketball, you could play a very, very good game, but if you lose, parang wala rin. I was just lucky my career-high came in a win because without a win, it wouldn't be memorable at all." After that breakthrough, the Fighting Maroons celebrated like champions - lighting the night with a bonfire at the famed Sunken Garden inside the Diliman campus. Years later, those same players would be candid enough to call that celebration "pathetic" - just like they have been candid enough to call their time the "dark days." Only, in the grand scheme of things, that bonfire wasn't pathetic as it actually became the setting for the resurrection of a new Diliman Commune - a school and its students, staff, and alumni getting together for one cause. That cause? Trying and trying and trying to build a winner in men's basketball - and ultimately, all sports. "I believe that game, that win, that was the start of everything. Mukhang 'di rin naman nakalimutan ng community yun," Reyes said. Now, State U is, indeed, a winner. And the players from the "dark days" only hope that the school and its faithful appreciate just how far they have come. "Those of us who were there in the 'dark days,' we know how one win was basically a championship for us. That's why I tend to remind myself and everybody to just enjoy each win," Reyes said. He then continued, "Sobrang lakas na ng team ngayon, but we still have to remember where UP came from." With Season 81 MVP Bright Akhuetie, Season 82 Mythical selection Kobe Paras, and Season 80 Mythical selection Ricci Rivero, UP is nothing but hopeful for yet another bonfire that may come next season. That bonfire, though, would no longer be called "pathetic" and would no longer be set in the "dark days." That bonfire would, hopefully, be to celebrate the Fighting Maroons' first championship since 1986. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: Black s Ateneo vs Baldwin s Ateneo

Ateneo de Manila University has, put simply, reigned supreme over UAAP Men's Basketball in recent history. Blue Eagle has been the king eight times out of the last 12 tournaments. That dominance has bookended just three other teams who have won championships in that same timeframe. The first bookend was a five-peat that was engineered by then-already multi-titled mentor Norman Black from 2008 to 2012. The other - from 2017 and still counting - bookend has former national team coach Tab Baldwin calling the shots And Ateneo does not look like its slowing down anytime soon as its future remains secure in the hands of Ivorian tower Ange Kouame, emerging primetime playmayer SJ Belangel, and Filipino-American recruit Dwight Ramos. Between the two bookends, however, which Blue Eagle string of championships shines brighter? That is what we set out to figure out in this ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. In grading the greatness of Black's five-peat and Baldwin's three-peat, we will be judging them in five categories (talent, system, level of competition, dominance, and legacy) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. TALENT Black's five-peat had Kiefer Ravena while Baldwin's three-peat had Thirdy Ravena. So let's call that a draw. In terms of everything else, however, there is just no doubt that Ateneo had the most talented team for majority of its five-peat. The twin towers of Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao were followed by Justin Chua and then Greg Slaughter. Steady Chris Tiu was replaced by Jai Reyes and Eric Salamat who were then replaced by Kirk Long and Emman Monfort who were then replaced by Ravena and Juami Tiongson. At the wings were then likes of Ryan Buenafe, Nico Salva, and Oping Sumalinog. Majority of these players were true blue-chip recruits who decided to go to Ateneo, get-together with other promising prospects, and just run roughshod over the UAAP. Let's be clear here, anybody and everybody would want to go to war with that championship core of Ravena (Thirdy, that is), Isaac Go, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt to go along with whoever the versatile four-man is - be it Vince Tolentino or Raffy Verano or Will Navarro - and either Chibueze Ikeh or Kouame, but in terms of sheer top-level talent, the five-peat has the three-peat beat. Advantage Black's Ateneo, 10-8 SYSTEM The signature of Black's Ateneo teams was a complete team that had a killer inside-outside combo. Tiu and Al-Hussaini. Monfort and Chua. Ravena and Slaughter. And whenever it mattered most, there was always a clutch player to come through - be it Tiu or Salamat or Buenafe. That's the benefit of having the most talented team most of the time. The slight edge here, however, would have to go the egalitarian system Baldwin has installed in these Blue Eagles. Baldwin's boys take pride in the fact that, indeed, all of them are ready and raring to contribute whenever called upon. More often than not, the core plays somewhere between 12 to 24 minutes, but not one player could say his minutes are assured as their mentor always preaches that each and every one of his boys should never stop being better. That means that at any given point in time, somebody is always there to step up for somebody - "next man up" as they love to call it. Take for instance, that four-spot which first saw Tolentino doing the dirty work and once he graduated, Verano just filled in the spot. And when the Filipino-American ran into academic issues, was there any problem whatsoever? None at all because Navarro was there to come to be known as "Mr. Efficiency." Most definitely, there is no better system in collegiate basketball than what Baldwin has in place through this Ateneo three-peat. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION Six other member-schools made it to the playoffs at least once during Ateneo's five-peat - the lone exception being the University of the Philippines which was then still trudging through its so-called "dark days". In that run, the Blue Eagles had to contend with Far Eastern University with the likes of Mac Baracael, Mark Barroca, RR Garcia, and Terrence Romeo; University of the East with the likes of Marcy Arellano, Elmer Espiritu, Paul Lee, and James Martinez; Adamson University with the likes of Lester Alvarez, Rodney Brondial, and Alex Nuyles; De La Salle University with the likes of Jvee Casio, Rico Maierhoffer, and Jeron Teng; University of Sto. Tomas with the likes of Dylan Ababou, Karim Abdul, and Jeric Teng; and National University with the likes of Emmanuel Mbe and Ray Parks Jr. For their part, Ateneo's three-peat team saw the Bulldogs and the Red Warriors both fail to make the Final Four during its time on top. Still, they had to run through a gauntlet of good to great teams such as the Ben Mbala and Ricci Rivero-led Green Archers, the Jerrick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti-led Soaring Falcons, and the Arvin Tolentino and Wendell Comboy-led Tamaraws. Through it all, the Blue Eagles also had to play spoiler in the climb to contention of the Fighting Maroons with Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, Rivero, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan as well as the return to relevance of the Growling Tigers with Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, Mark Nonoy, and Soulemane Chabi Yo. The difference here then becomes the arrival of MVP-level foreign student-athletes. In La Salle's Mbala, UP's Akhuetie, and UST's Chabi Yo, Ateneo's three-peat team had to wage war with three of the best recruits from abroad before winning the championship. For sure, Al-Hussaini, Chua, and Slaughter mentored by Black would have been able to make something happen if ever they were matched up with those three, but the fact remains that nowadays, there is just more foreign talent in the UAAP. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 DOMINANCE With a five-peat, Black did something that has not been done in the UAAP since UE won seven titles in a row in the '60s under the legendary Baby Dalupan. Through that time, Ateneo registered a couple of one-loss and a pair of two-loss seasons - and the only struggle, relative to them, was a 10-4, second-seed elimination round finish in Season 73. Still, through that time, the Blue Eagles only had one loss in all of its playoff series - a 68-88 shocker of a defeat to the Red Warriors in Game 2 of the Season 72 Finals. Somehow, though, Baldwin's historic feat was more impressive as their 16-0 romp through Season 82 is the first-ever of its kind in men's basketball. Before this, all previous season sweeps in men's basketball wound up with 14-0 records. The three-peat Blue Eagles also boast of a better elims standing as they only lost a total of three times there in three years. Their two losses in the playoffs are worse compared to the five-peat team, but Season 82's 16-0 is still better than either Season 71 or Season 74's 16-1. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 LEGACY Black opened the floodgates for Ateneo to be a destination for blue-chip recruits from outside Katipunan. Remember, before this, the Blue Eagles' 2002 championship was built on the shoulders of former Blue Eaglets Rico Villanueva, Wesley Gonzales and Larry Fonacier - the non-homegrown key cogs being LA Tenorio from San Beda High School and two-time UAAP Srs. MVP Rich Alvarez, who played high school ball overseas. Through that five-peat, though, the blue and white became the undisputed king of recruiting as it got Salva from San Beda, Buenafe and Salamat from San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Tiu and Chua from Xavier and Chiang Kai Shek, respectively, and Baclao, Slaughter, and Sumalinog from the Visayas. Yes, Ravena was there, but many of Black's key cogs were still blue-chip recruits from outside Katipunan. In comparison, Baldwin's championship core, for the most part, are former Blue Eaglets in Ravena (again, Thirdy, that is), Anton Asistio, SJ Belangel, Gian Mamuyac, and the Nieto twins. Even Kouame is, in essence, a homegrown key cog as he was taken in by Ateneo even before college and finished his high school in nearby Multiple Intelligence International School In all, the blueprint may have been different, but the building was the same in the end - a blue and white dynasty. Draw, 10-10 FINAL SCORE: 48-47 for Baldwin's Ateneo.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2020

REWIND RANKINGS: Thirdy, Arvin T., and 14 NBTC All-Stars

The National Basketball Training Centre 24 is now on its third year and through its run, it has been graced by the likes of Kai Sotto, Joel Cagulangan, SJ Belangel, Carl Tamayo, Rhayyan Amsali, and Kevin Quiambao as top three talents. From 2018 onward, a selection committee made up of scribes from ABS-CBN Sports, ESPN5, Spin, and Tiebreaker Times have reviewed the best of the best in the NCAA, UAAP, MMBL, CESAFI-NBTC, and FCAAF and then ranked them in the definitive list of the most promising prospects in the Philippines. That list of names then became the final roster for the annual NBTC All-Star Game. Even before the NBTC 24, though, the grassroots national tournament has organized All-Star Games with 24 of the most promising prospects in the Philippines. And so, wouldn't it be fun if the All-Stars before 2018 will get the NBTC 24 treatment? In this space, the current selection committee will be retroactively ranking the NBTC All-Stars in their respective years from the game's debut in 2012 all the way to 2017. Next, it's the 2014 NBTC All-Stars - a class that was composed of several players from two teams who had perfect seasons. --- Both San Beda High School and Nazareth School of National University completed clean sweeps of their respective tournaments in 2013. The Red Cubs were the class of the NCAA Jrs. after going 18-0 in the elimination round and then disposing of La Salle Green Hills via two consecutive convincing victories in the Finals. The Bullpups were right there with them after winning each and every one of their 14 matches in the elims before stamping their class on Ateneo de Manila High School in the championship round. Perfect runs are a rarity and that's why it would be a no-brainer that players from San Beda and National U would top our retroactive rankings - as, famously, the NBTC 24 values winning first and foremost. That means that Red Cub Arvin Tolentino and Bullpup Hubert Cani vault over NCAA MVP Prince Rivero of LSGH and UAAP MVP Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo. And that's not just because of who wound up with the biggest wins. Tolentino only proved to be worthy of the hype as the best big man coming out of high school as he displayed his versatility en route to the Finals MVP. Cani was himself Finals MVP as nobody from the blue and white had an answer for his steady play that turned up the volume when it mattered most. Of course, even then, there was no denying the tantalizing talent that was Ravena and, in the future, he would go on to be the top talent from this class and won three championships with Ateneo. Rivero, meanwhile, had for himself a solid stint in college as well, but never got to harness his full potential as a banger in La Salle. The year also saw the charge of San Sebastian back into the forefront of the high school wars led by Mythical Teamers Michael Calisaan and Rhanzelle Yong. The year was definitely dominated by the NCAA and the UAAP as those leagues held down the top 13 spots. Hope Christian big man John Apacible and point guard Arjan Dela Cruz were the first players outside those tournaments at 14th and 15th, respectively. Going farther down the list, however, there hides Isaac Go who was a raw project in Xavier before rising to great heights in Ateneo. A noteworthy absence in the All-Star Game is LSGH's Kobe Paras who, by then, was already priming and preparing to go to the US and play in the NCAA. In all, the 2014 NBTC All-Stars counted 11 players from the NCAA, seven from the UAAP, and 6 players from other leagues in Manila. In the top 10, the NCAA also boasted of occupying the most seats with six. This is the final NBTC 24 for 2014 - retroactively, that is: 1. Arvin Tolentino, F, San Beda 2. Hubert Cani, G, National U 3. Thirdy Ravena, F, Ateneo 4. Prince Rivero, F, LSGH 5. JP Cauilan, F, National U 6. Michael Calisaan, F, San Sebastian 7. Revrev Diputado, G, San Beda 8. Javee Mocon, F, San Beda 9. Rhanzelle Yong, F, San Sebastian 10. Diego Dario, G, UPIS 11. Enzo Battad, F, National U 12. Richard Escoto, F, FEU-Diliman 13. Radge Tongo, G, San Beda 14. John Apacible, C/F, Hope 15. Arjan Dela Cruz, G, Hope 16. Alfren Gayosa, F/G, San Sebastian 17. Chino Mosqueda, G, National U 18. Med Salim, F, Chiang Kai Shek 19. Isaac Go, C, Xavier 20. Ryan Costelo, G, San Sebastian 21. Jarrell Lim, G, Xavier 22. Ivan Villanueva, F, Letran 23. Jobert Mercado, G/F, Hope 24. Justine Serrano, F, Mapua.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 8th, 2020

Single game scoring sensations in UAAP women’s volleyball (Final Four era)

Scorers are aplenty in UAAP women’s volleyball. All teams have players who can bring in the numbers on the offensive end. Powerful wingers can pound missile after missile while middles can wreak havoc at the net either on quick attacks or kill blocks. Setters, if lucky, can put in points on top of their playmaking. But there are those who showed their great offensive prowess and carved their names in the record books.      Here are the players who scored 30 or more points in a single game in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament in during the past two decades.   ANGELA BENTING, ADAMSON UNIVERSITY She may not be the tallest of players on the Adamson University Lady Falcons side but Angela Benting can soar and score at any given time. Eleven years ago, Benting displayed her best scoring performance for the Lady Falcons in an epic match against an equally dangerous University of Sto. Tomas side. In UAAP Season 71, the Benting-led Lady Falcons faced the Tigresses in an all-important match at the close of the elimination round. The Lady Falcons needed a win to secure the no. 3 spot in the Final Four. Adamson with Benting at the helm drew first blood. But the Tigresses rallied in the succeeding sets just as Benting was then pouring on the points for Adamson. The Lady Falcon eventually ended up with then a league-best 33 points, but all of Benting's efforts went down the drain as the Tigresses walked away with a 22-25, 25-16, 27-25, 25-23 win. While Benting was doing her thing for Adamson, Aiza Maizo was working on hers for the Tigresses as the lefty unleashed 30 points in an exciting scoring showdown that Valentine’s Day in 2009 at The Arena in San Juan.    It was a heartbreaking loss for the Lady Falcons as they closed the elims tied with UST at 9-5 slate and were dragged to a playoff for Final Four place. The Tigresses eventually won the rematch for no. 3 spot. Unfortunately, neither team advanced to the Finals as then Rachel Anne Daquis-led defending champion Far Eastern University and Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University, who was coming off a scandalous forfeiture of games the year before, figured in the battle for the crown.     AIZA MAIZO, UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS Aiza Maizo eventually reset her UAAP personal-best two seasons later after a memorable showing against Adamson University by opening Season 73 with a bang. Pitted against Ateneo de Manila University’s Fab Five, Maizo uncorked a 32-point explosion to lead UST to victory in a five-set thriller, 25-13, 18-25, 19-25, 26-24, 15-13, on No. 27, 2010. Maizo shouldered the scoring chores for the then reigning champions Tigresses as she fired 29 off 83 attacks with three kill blocks in the match that lasted for two hours and 20 minutes. Maizo started in all sets. The Queen Tigress, whose closest back-up in points was Maru Banaticla with 12 markers, also played an all-around game with 11 digs and seven excellent receptions.   However, UST eventually lost its hold of the throne that season when DLSU reclaimed the title.     ALYSSA VALDEZ, ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY     Angela Benting’s four-year scoring record was broken by a then-sophomore Alyssa Valdez of Ateneo. The 1,784-strong crowd inside the The Arena in San Juan witnessed history unfold as Valdez exploded for 35 points in match against Adamson U. Out of her 35 points, Valdez hammered down 31 off attacks in 80 attempts. She added three kill blocks of the Lady Eagles’ 10 denials and landed an ace. Valdez also had six digs. But her feat wasn’t enough to save Ateneo as the Lady Falcons walked away with a five-set 22-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-16, 10-15, in their Season 75 start of second round eliminations meeting last January 20, 2013. However, Valdez’s scoring record would remain as the women’s benchmark in production to this day. The Queen Eagle would again breach the 30-point mark as she finished a point shy of the duplicating her personal and UAAP record in a five-set win over archrival DLSU in Season 78 Finals Game 2 that forced a series decider. The then graduating Valdez, with their three-peat bid at stake, poured 34 points to breathe new life to Ateneo, which survived 18-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11, in a grueling two-hour, eight-minute encounter witnessed by 20,126 people inside the MOA Arena on April 27, 2016.      Valdez pounded 32 attack points off 76 attempts in a heroic stand for the Lady Eagles, who unfortunately surrendered the crown in Game 3. Valdez would eventually break her career-high with 39 points in an 18-25, 27-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-9 win over the Laoag Power Smashers while playing for Bureau of Customs in the defunct V-League on Oct. 5, 2016.   SISI RONDINA, UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS Sisi Rondina never got the chance to display her full potential in her first year with UST, taking a back seat in indoor volleyball behind another freshman in EJ Laure in Season 77. She finally got her chance to shine under then new head coach Kungfu Reyes in Season 78 as a starter for the Tigresses. Rondina reintroduced herself with an inspired performance as she fired 30 points in UST’s season-opener on Febuary 3, 2016. The Cebu pride displayed crisp attacking with 25 kills off 55 attempts and added three aces and a pair of kill blocks. But it wasn’t enough as UST bowed to Adamson U, 22-25, 21-25, 25-20, 30-28, 14-16, and came two points short of tying Aiza Maizo’s team record in points. Lady Falcon Jema Galanza was two points shy of reaching the 30-point mark. Three years after her 30-point game, Rondina surpassed her career-best and became the Tigresses’ top scorer in a single game when she pumped in a league-best-tying 35 points in a five-set game against Ateneo on March 20, 2019. Rondina pounded away as she scattered 30 kills in 102 tries and had three kill blocks and a pair of aces in a sorry 25-19, 25-22, 27-25, 25-22, 15-11, defeat. While Rondina equaled Valdez’s scoring record, Lady Eagle Maddie Madayag wrote a new standard in kill blocks with 11 erasing the nine denials established by DLSU’s Celine Hernandez in 2008.   TOTS CARLOS, UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES Power-hitter Tots Carlos tied Aiza Maizo’s scoring feat when the University of the Philippines star dropped 32 points against the Sisi Rondina-led Tigresses. With the then Lady Maroons struggling to climb the ladder in the first round of Season 80 and limping from a four-game slide, Carlos took matters into her own hands. The then third year player blasted 27 attack points off 64 tries and added three kill blocks and landed two aces in UP’s 31-33, 25-23, 25-16, 25-12, win over UST on February 28, 2018. The win stopped the Lady Maroons’ bleeding but UP for the second straight year eventually bowed out of the race for a Final Four slot. However, Carlos’ career-high production put her on top of UP’s single-game scoring list.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 6th, 2020

Greatest Performance: Marck Espejo’s 55-point game

Playing in a sport where posting records is hard to do, Marck Espejo proved that he is a cut above the rest. In his last year in the UAAP, Espejo led then-defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in an amazing Final Four victory, defying the odds stacked against the Blue Eagles. The five-time Most Valuable Player not only carried Ateneo on his shoulders for another trip to the Finals, but Espejo also registered a league scoring record in an incredible display of his offensive prowess, determination and heart.      Espejo did that two years ago in the UAAP Season 80 semifinals against twice-to-beat Far Eastern University on a balmy Saturday morning. Fans inside the Mall of Asia Arena were all up on their feet in the closing stretch of the fifth set. The raucous crowd were about to witness history unfold before their eyes.  Playing in his final year for the blue and white, Espejo knew that their three-year reign was hanging in the balance. The Blue Eagles survived the nip-and-tuck fourth set to force a decider after going down, 1-2, in the match against the confident Tamaraws. Espejo already had 44 points. In the first four sets the open spiker fired missile after missile to frustrate FEU, which was already committing three blockers on Espejo to no avail. He just kept coming. He was unstoppable. One more final push and Ateneo will get a chance to live to fight another day.   Espejo assumed the Herculean task of providing the much-needed firepower in the deciding frame. He was running on pure adrenaline. Espejo stepped up big time in the deciding frame when he scored 11 of Ateneo’s points. The King Eagle, who held the Blue Eagles together in the fourth frame, wreaked havoc in the fifth set and gave Ateneo an 8-5 lead. FEU closed the gap 8-9 before the Blue Eagles extended their advantage to 11-8 off an off the block kill by Espejo. The Ateneo star finished off FEU with a thunderous spike to cap the Blue Eagles' closing 4-1 assault with the last four points all coming from Espejo.  “’Yung points naman po, hindi ko siya iniisip. Basta iniisip ko lang, ‘pag binigay sa akin 'yung bola, kailangan ko pumuntos, kasi para sa team ko naman 'yun eh,” said the soft-spoken Espejo, whose monster production in the series opener came from 47 attacks, six kill blocks and two aces. The King Eagle pushed Ateneo at match point with a kill block before Espejo put the icing on the cake with a powerful smash that shattered the two-man block of FEU. That was the last of Espejo’s league-record 55 points – the highlight of the Blue Eagles’ 18-25, 25-13, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9 win. WATCH:  “Nagulat nga ako, sabi ko, typographical error ba ito?” said a surprised Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro, who was on his last year with the Blue Eagles before taking over the Lady Eagles the following season The mentor, who in Season 81 steered Ateneo back to the women’s division throne, admitted that no one on his bench knew that Espejo was already putting up record numbers. He just instructed his setter Ish Polvorosa to toss the ball to Espejo for a high percentage attack. “Hindi namin alam. Hindi nga namin alam eh,” said Almadro. “Minsan nga, naano pa ako kay Ish (Polvorosa) - 'Ish, bigay mo na kay Marck, bigay mo na kay Marck.' 'Yun pala, he is making these points na.” Espejo again wreaked havoc in the winner-take-all match, scoring 37 points as the Blue Eagles booted out FEU for a fifth straight championship dance with archrival National University.         However, Ateneo’s dynasty crumbled at the hands of the Bryan Bagunas-led Bulldogs.    It was a painful defeat to close Espejo’s collegiate career. But didn’t diminish the sparkle of Espejo’s performance in his swan song especially is record feat, which might stand as the league’s scoring benchmark for years.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 1st, 2020

REWIND RANKINGS: Melecio, Rivero, and 16 NBTC All-Stars

The National Basketball Training Centre 24 is now on its third year and through its run, it has been graced by the likes of Kai Sotto, Joel Cagulangan, SJ Belangel, Carl Tamayo, Rhayyan Amsali, and Kevin Quiambao as top three talents. From 2018 onward, a selection committee made up of scribes from ABS-CBN Sports, ESPN5, Spin, and Tiebreaker Times have reviewed the best of the best in the NCAA, UAAP, MMBL, CESAFI-NBTC, and FCAAF and then ranked them in the definitive list of the most promising prospects in the Philippines. That list of names then became the final roster for the annual NBTC All-Star Game. Even before the NBTC 24, though, the grassroots national tournament has organized All-Star Games with 24 of the most promising prospects in the Philippines. And so, wouldn't it be fun if the All-Stars before 2018 will get the NBTC 24 treatment? In this space, the current selection committee will be retroactively ranking the NBTC All-Stars in their respective years from the game's debut in 2012 all the way to 2017. First up, it's the 2016 NBTC All-Stars - and you will be amazed at just how overflowing with talent this class is. --- 2016. This was when LSGH's Ricci Rivero was, hands-down, the best player in the NCAA, but was disqualified from individual awards due to his ejection in an elimination round game. And so, Mike Enriquez of Mapua swooped in to seize MVP, but interestingly, was left out of the NBTC All-Star Game. Over in the UAAP, DLSZ's Aljun Melecio was himself the undisputed top talent, but was no match for the 1-2 punch of Justine Baltazar and John Lloyd Clemente and the well-oiled machine that was National U. Still, never forget that the Bullpups swept the elimination round only to fall short of a perfect season as Melecio proved why he was Season MVP in Game 2 of the Finals. As always, all eyes were on the NCAA and the UAAP, but two of the most sought after recruits actually played outside those tournaments. Chiang Kai Shek's Jonas Tibayan was the most complete player in high school then and his end-to-end game was actually more than enough to let him suit up for the Gilas Pilipinas cadets in the 2017 Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship. Meanwhile, Tyler Tio was a one-man fireworks show for Xavier and his scoring sprees would lead him to be touted as the next pride of the Golden Stallions. We haven't even mentioned Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan who both made the UAAP Mythical Team, but would have to settle for places outside the top five in our Rewind Rankings as UPIS only had three wins to show - and of course, the NBTC 24 values winning first and foremost. In all, the 2016 NBTC All-Stars counted 10 players from the UAAP, six players from the NCAA, six players from other leagues in Manila, and two players from Cebu. The UAAP, likewise, dominated the top 10 with two Bullpups and a Jr. Archer landing in the top three. Chiang Kai Shek and Xavier also managed to snag two spots in the top six while the NCAA's highest ranking player was a Greenie at no. 4. This is the final NBTC 24 for 2016 - retroactively, that is: 1. Justine Baltazar, C, National U (white no. 11) 2. Aljun Melecio, G, DLSZ 3. John Lloyd Clemente, F, National U 4. Jonas Tibayan, F, Chiang Kai Shek (blue no. 18) 5. Ricci Rivero, G, LSGH 6. Tyler Tio, G, Xavier (white no. 11) 7. Evan Nelle, G, San Beda (white no. 10) 8. Javi Gomez de Liano, F, UPIS 9. Sherwin Concepcion, F, Mapua 10. Juan Gomez de Liano, G, UPIS 11. Sam Abu Hijleh, F, San Beda 12. John Galinato, G, Chiang Kai Shek 13. Jolo Mendoza, G, Ateneo 14. Jed Colonia, G, SHS-Ateneo 15. Gian Mamuyac, G/F, Ateneo 16. Germy Mahinay, C, San Beda 17. Rhayyan Amsali, F, National U 18. Harvey Pagsanjan, G, Hope 19. Jethro Madrigal, G/F, LSGH 20. Will Gozum, C, UPIS 21. Jancork Cabahug, F, UV 22. Marvel Jimenez, G, Hope 23. EJ Agbong, F, Adamson 24. Rendell Lee, G, Xavier.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 1st, 2020

PBA: KaTropa take workouts outside as COVID-19 limits Luzon

PBA teams can't practice for at least two weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has now put all of Luzon under enhanced community quarantine. Regardless, PBA players are doing what they can to stay in shape, with the Alaska Aces starting a home workout challenge. [Related: PBA: Aces start home workout challenge with Manila under Community Quarantine] Other teams, like TNT KaTropa, have taken things outside, getting creative with their own individual workouts. David Semerad is out there doing pull ups on a kubo, while Lervin Flores is doing ab exercises on the post of a basketball court. TNT's top big men in Poy Erram and Troy Rosario are doing their sets outside as well. How are you guys keeping fit during these times?   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 17th, 2020

Haikyuu and other anime to binge now that the sports world has stopped

Metro Manila is under Community Quarantine and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country continue to spike, breaking the triple-digit mark. Most major sporting events worldwide are either suspended until further notice or cancelled altogether. People are advised to stay home to help contain the novel coronavirus. Reruns of classic games can only do so much to fulfill all of our sporting fix during these unprecedented times. With that being said, why not try sports anime? Here are some you can binge-watch now that there's no actual sports going on. Binge-watch at home of course, stay safe out there, Kapamilya.   HAIKYUU One week of UAAP Season 82 volleyball was certainly not enough, especially with how long we had to actually wait for it. If you're yearning for some volleyball, how about give Haikyuu a try. With Hinata Shoyo and the rest of his Karasuno High School volleyball team under the spotlight, Haikyuu is arguably the best sports anime ever, it's certainly the best volleyball anime out there. Season 4 is currently ongoing, which means you have three previous seasons you can just binge to catch up. You'll want to hit quick sets after you watch this show, but you shouldn't because we're supposed to stay home and there's more sports anime to watch.   SLAM DUNK Everyone knows Slam Dunk, it's the anime that got most of us into basketball. Younger people, now is the perfect time to catch this classic of a show. People around this writer's age (born in the 1990s), now is the perfect time to rewind. Let Hanamichi "Basketball Genius" Sakuragi, and the rest of the crazy bunch at Shohoku High take our minds off of the fact that sports just actually stopped.   KUROKO NO BASKET Another basketball anime, Kuroko has a pretty interesting premise. Five outstanding players from a powerhouse junior high, known as "The Generation of Miracles," go their separate ways in high school and instantly become rivals. Title character Tetsuya Kuroko played behind the Generation of Miracles and has joined Seirin High with another freshman, Taiga Kagami. Together, they lead Seirin's quest to victory, with the Generation of Miracles standing in their way because of course. Think of Kuroko as Slam Dunk on steroids and get in the zone with this highly-rated anime about the sport near and dear to our hearts.   HAJIME NO IPPO Another classic, Hajime no Ippo follows title character Makunouchi Ippo as he goes on a quest to become a champion boxer. Bullied his entire life, Ippo found boxing as his escape. Ippo's passion, hard work, and determination will be more than enough to inspire you, just don't go around punching poeple after you watch this anime.   FREE! Swimming is good way to combat the scorching summer heat, but under current circumstances, that's not exactly advisable. Instead, consider Free and Haruka Nanase's freestyling ways. Iwatobi High's swim team could help refresh us all as we deal with the quarantine and the summer heat.   EYESHIELD 21 American football is not as popular in the Philippines, as evidenced by the NFL's limited exposure here. Still, it's a pretty compelling sport and Eyeshield 21 is a nice way to get a crash course about it. Our hero here is Sena Kobayakawa, who much like Ippo, is always bullied. Unlike Ippo, he uses his incredible speed to literally run away from his bullies. Sena becomes his high school's running back but is listed as team secretary to prevent rival schools from recruiting him, hence becoming the title character "Eyeshield 21."   PRINCE OF TENNIS Most teams on sports animes are considered underdogs, but not Seishun Gakuen. Seigaku is different in a sense that this team is loaded and an actual contender, they just need that extra oomph to get over and that's where protagonist Ryoma Echizen comes in. The Prince of Tennis definitely has oomph, and then some. Much like Slam Dunk, Prince of Tennis is a classic from yesteryear. Much like Eyeshield 21 is to football, this anime will ease you into tennis but with the anime twist, of course.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 16th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 13th, 2020