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Morado recalls De Leon’s big role in Lady Eagles perfect Season 77

Jia Morado shared how the then rookie Bea De Leon’s quick return from a finger injury turned out to be a pivotal moment for the Ateneo de Manila University’s perfect run back in UAAP Season 77 women’s volleyball tournament. The former Lady Eagles setter recalled how De Leon’s presence helped Ateneo complete an elimination round sweep for an outright Finals seat five years ago during an episode of The Score’s Kalye Confessions .      “’Dun ko nakita kung gaano ka-passionate si Bea sa volleyball,” said Morado as she talked about the middle blockers rookie season. The Poveda product was a vital cog for the then repeat-seeking Lady Eagles. Ateneo was on a ten-game winning streak when De Leon sustained an injury while training in February 2015. De Leon suffered an open dislocation on her left index finger while trying to block an attack from then fellow rookie Maddie Madayag. “Ang dami talagang nangyari doon sa rookie year n’ya,” said Morado. “Kasama na doon na-injure ang daliri nya, na na-injure sa training at akala namin na di siya makakabalik for a long time sa games namin.” De Leon was out for two weeks and missed three games before making her return in the crucial end of elims match against archrival De La Salle University. “Sobrang crucial pa naman ng mga games namin noon and in the run for rookie of the year pa naman sana siya noon,” said Morado of De Leon, who was beaten by University of Sto. Tomas’ EJ Laure and University of the East libero Kath Arado for the Rookie of Year award. “So kami parang ‘Sayang, sobrang sayang.’” “(But) she cut her recovery short para makalaro sa Ateneo-La Salle game,” added Morado. The playmaker also lauded De Leon’s dedication that season as she opted not to undergo surgery but instead just had her finger stitched as she rested for a couple of weeks. De Leon, whose finger was heavily bandaged, was a surprise starter in the match against the Lady Spikers. “’Yun bumalik siya ng maaga kahit naka-tape pa ng sobra ang daliri niya,” Morado said. “Ang laking risk nun for her kasi kapag natamaan yun masama lalala ang injury niya but she played the game of her life nu’ng bumalik siya.” Her presence gave Ateneo a big boost in the all-important match that the Lady Eagles won in four sets, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 27-25. De Leon finished with 11 points including three kill blocks to back Alyssa Valdez, who scored 29 markers. With De Leon back in the fold, the Lady Eagles went on to write history as they defeated DLSU in the Finals to retain their crown in a perfect 16-0 season sweep.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 27th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2020

WHAT IF… Bea De Leon missed the rest of Season 77?

Ateneo de Manila University achieved perfection in UAAP Season 77 after the Lady Eagles swept their way to a second straight women’s volleyball title. Stacked with powerful hitters in Alyssa Valdez, Michelle Morente, Ella de Jesus and Jho Maraguinot, Ateneo’s offense was unstoppable. The Katipunan-based squad also had prized setter Jia Morado and libero Denden Lazaro with veteran middle Amy Ahomiro. But another vital cog that made Ateneo a super team that year was the presence of rookie middle Bea De Leon. The former Poveda standout earned a starting spot in the Tai Bundit-mentored team, which the year before completed a Cinderella story with a championship.    De Leon proved her worth and even had a strong case for the coveted Rookie of the Year award. She was having a splendid season until she was forced to miss three games after suffering a finger injury during practice with Ateneo already in a 10-game romp. De Leon chose to just have her left index finger stitched and have therapy than go under the knife. She returned just in time for the pivotal end of the elimination round match against archrival De La Salle University. Getting the green light to play on the eve of the game, De Leon was surprised as she was included in the starting line-up and she did not disappoint.       De Leon, who risked aggravating her heavily bandaged finger, scored 11 points including three kill blocks in the Lady Eagles’ 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 27-25, victory that sent Ateneo straight to the Finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage. From there, Ateneo made history. But what if De Leon underwent surgery? One thing is for sure, De Leon would be out of commission for an extended period if not for the remainder of the season. Without her, Ateneo would surely be in a precarious situation in that decisive end of the elims match against the Lady Spikers. Taking down DLSU won’t be easy for the Lady Eagles to begin with. In their first meeting, Ateneo had to come back from a set down to outlast DLSU in a five sets match. Without De Leon, Coach Tai would be forced to put in either veteran but seldom-used Aeriel Patnongon or another rookie Maddie Madayag to help Ahomiro. Both rode the bench in the first Ateneo-DLSU encounter. DLSU, which was coming off a six-game win run, would be in a favorable position to exploit its height advantage and would’ve had an open sky for the Lady Spikers’ hitters.    And if DLSU won that game against an Ateneo squad missing its starting middle, that would put the semifinals in the usual Final Four format. The Lady Eagles will still have a twice-to-beat advantage and would still overpower Far Eastern University. As for DLSU, coming off a win over Ateneo, the Lady Spikers would be in high spirits against National University. The twice-to-beat Lady Spikers might not need to go to a do-or-die decider against the Lady Bulldogs. Probably, DLSU would have been spared of losing its best scorer Ara Galang from a harrowing knee injury. Of course, the Finals would’ve been a different story. Ateneo will be missing De Leon’s Finals average of eight points per game and a vital piece both on offense and defense.       But then again, the Lady Eagles still had its ace Valdez and their reliable wings to take care of the scoring as well as the steady Ahomiro. We can never know what the outcome of that Finals series would have been if De Leon missed the rest of the season. But we can surely say that De Leon’s return from that finger injury proved to be a decisive moment in the Lady Eagles' historic perfect season.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2020

WHAT IF... Dawn Macandili landed in Ateneo?

Dawn Macandili is a La Sallian through and through. From prep to college, the former Lady Spikers libero was under the De La Salle University education system. Macandili’s volleyball career started during her grade school days in DLSU-Lipa that eventually landed her a ticket to DLSU-Zobel. There she won three UAAP titles and eventually won three more with the Lady Spikers  in college. The diminutive defense specialist wore the green and white with great pride. With that said, it’s hard to imagine Macandili wearing any other color. But then what if she did? Besides, Macandili admited that she did try to get into other schools for college in case her DLSU entrance exam didn't go out well. “Nag-try din ako mag-entrance exam sa ibang school kasi siyempre baka naman ang kapal ng mukha ko ‘De La Salle ako tapos bumagsak pala ako,’” said Macandili laughing during her appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro. She mentioned two schools, Ateneo de Manila University and College of St. Benilde. So what if Macandili chose to don the blue and white instead of sister-schools DLSU and CSB’s colors? Now that’s interesting. Imagine the UAAP Season 78 and 79 Best Receiver and Season 78 Best Digger Macandili playing alongside Lazaro for the Lady Eagles. For sure, it will be a nightmare for the opposing teams considering the caliber of these liberos. Of course, Macandili would definitely take the backseat in her first two years in Seasons 76 and 77 as it would still be Lazaro’s and all-around hitter Ella De Jesus’ show. But with Lazaro and De Jesus exhausting all their playing eligibility after Season 77, the national team standout would’ve been Ateneo’s game-changer in Season 78. Macandili would’ve saved the Lady Eagles from their Achilles’ Heel: floor defense. Ateneo was sixth in digs and third in reception that season. She would’ve lightened up the defensive load on Ateneo hitters Alyssa Valdez and Jho Maraguinot. Her presence would also give the Lady Eagles a last line of defense in case opposing hitters got past middles Bea De Leon and Amy Ahomiro. And of course, it would’ve been quite a sight to watch the connection of Macandili with setter Jia Morado in Ateneo’s transition from defense to offense.         With these pieces set, the Lady Eagles’ reign might even be extended to a three-peat. Macandili’s last two seasons in Ateneo would surely be a challenging one after the departure of Valdez after Season 78 and Morado foregoing her final year in Season 80. But then again with a veteran in Macandili at the helm, Ateneo’s chances of winning another crown would’ve been higher.   ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

DID YOU KNOW? Deanna Wong dreamed of playing for DLSU

Ateneo de Manila University struck gold when it recruited Deanna Wong. The Cebuana displayed versatility and commitment when given the role of a back-up setter before sliding to a libero spot and then back again as a playmaker for the Lady Eagles.   Behind her playmaking, Ateneo was able to reclaim the UAAP women’s volleyball throne last year in Season 81 as the Lady Eagles captured their third overall title since winning back-to-back crowns in 2014 and 2015. Wong truly is a gem of a setter, earning her spot alongside other Ateneo playmaking greats Jem Ferrer and Jia Morado. But five years ago, Wong almost joined another UAAP team. The 22-year old setter admitted that she’s a fan of De La Salle University and idolized former Lady Spikers middle Mika Reyes back in high school. So it was all but natural for the University of San Jose-Recoletos product to dream of playing for the Ramil De Jesus-mentored Lady Spikers. And she almost did after the multi-titled mentor himself approached her during her stint with Central Visayas during the 2015 Palaraong Pambansa in Tagum, Davao Del Norte.   “La Salle ako before,” shared Wong during her appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro. It was Wong’s first and only Palaro stint and she never imagined to see De Jesus in person and even more approached by the mentor during a scouting run. “Kaya na-shock ako nung nandoon sina Coach Ramil. Starstruck lang wala akong masabi. Feeling ko kung nandoon ang mga players baka mas lalo akong ma-starstruck but it was a good thing si Coach Ramil lang,” said the UAAP Season 80 Best Setter. "Coach Ramil he talked to me," Wong added. Aside from DLSU, Far Eastern University also showed interest in her. “FEU they talked to me. Sina (Gen) Casugod and Ate Bernadeth Pons. Wala akong naalala na may coach sa FEU it was just them,” Wong added. But donning the green and white wasn’t meant to be for Wong. All thanks to a chance encounter between her dad, Dean, and then Ateneo men’s volleyball team coach Oliver Almadro. “Sila ni dad nagkakilala sa elevator or something,” said Wong. “I don’t know that’s what he said to me. Di ko alam bakit.” And as fate would have it, Wong really was really meant to wear the blue and white. Wong was in Bacolod that time participating in a tournament and coincidentally Almadro was also there together with the Blue Eagles competing in the UniGames.    “It happened in Bacolod. May tournament kami and dun din nangyari ‘yung UniGames. Nag-participate ang men’s volleyball team. Alam mo naman si Coach O he really recruits players and dumating siya bigla,” said Wong. From there Almadro did his best to convince Wong’s dad to allow her to play for Ateneo. Wong agreed. The Lady Eagles just landed the heir-apparent to playmaker Jia Morado.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 14th, 2020

Wong, Viray join ChocoMucho

Prized setter Deanna Wong and Caitlin Viray are now ready to take flight for the ChocoMucho Flying Titans. The Flying Titans made a recruitment coup as they officially introduced the two college standouts Sunday evening through their official Twitter account. ChocoMucho has been shoring up its lineup in time for the Premier Volleyball League Season 4, which is set to hold its Open Conference late this year if the current health crisis improves. Everything is SET. Bet you all saw this coming! Let’s all welcome Deanna Wong as she officially joins the Choco Mucho Flying Titans family! ???????? ???? @deannawongst #ChocoMucho #FlyingTitans #TitanPride pic.twitter.com/wTosQKicEe — Choco Mucho Flying Titans (@CMFlyingTitans) June 28, 2020 My oh my! It’s Caitlyn Viray! Welcome to the Choco Mucho Flying Titans family! We can’t wait to soar with you on the court! ???????????? #ChocoMucho #FlyingTitans #TitanPride pic.twitter.com/cMBVdWbsJ3 — Choco Mucho Flying Titans (@CMFlyingTitans) June 28, 2020 The ‘face reveal’ came two weeks after then team gave fans a teaser of its newest members. [Related story: Flying Titans to name newest members] ChocoMucho, which finished seventh out of nine teams last year in its debut in Season 3 Open Conference, earlier welcomed the arrival of veteran libero Denden Lazaro. Wong helped Ateneo de Manila University capture the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball title while Viray played a crucial role in University of Sto. Tomas’ return to the Finals after an eight-year drought. Wong is not new to PVL as she saw action two years ago for Ateneo-Motolite in the second edition of the Open Conference when Lady Eagles finished runners-up to powerhouse and ChocoMucho’s sister team Creamline. Viray, on the other hand, has been in the commercial league scene for quite a while.        Wong’s addition will give the Flying Titans a better direction on offense with her familiarity with college teammates Kat Tolentino, Maddie Madayag and Bea De Leon. Meanwhile, Viray’s presence will further strengthen ChocoMucho’s net defense while serving as another threat on the wing.     ......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2020

BATCH CLASH: Do you agree? Season 76 Lady Eagles will beat Season 81 Lady Eagles?

Remember when we did a Batch Clash piece pitting the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles champion team of Season 76 against the title squad of Season 81? ABS-CBN Sports laid down the statistics, team composition, strengths and the competition faced by the two Ateneo teams and let the readers decide who would fare better if they were to square off in a match.    [Related story: BATCH CLASH: Season 76 Lady Eagles vs. Season 81 Lady Eagles] It would really be interesting to see these Lady Eagles go at it, right? But again, who will emerge victorious between the two batches of UAAP champions? Without batting an eyelash, Ricky Palou, former Ateneo athletic director and one of the brilliant minds behind turning the struggling Lady Eagles into one the best women’s volleyball programs in the UAAP, gave it to the breakthrough Ateneo squad.     “I’d go for Batch 76,” Palou said during his interview on the Crossover podcast. The chief of Sports Vision, which is the organizer of the Premier Volleyball League, backed up his claim by pointing out that Batch 76 went through a tougher journey to the throne. Batch 76 was in a rebuilding stage that year after the departure of the Fab Five and under a new system with the arrival of Thai coach Tai Bundit. For him, the Lady Eagles of Season 76 are tougher. The heartstrong Batch 76 will definitely win.         “I saw how they, Coach Tai that was his first year here. He worked them really very, very hard. I was looking at some of these players and some of them were thinking of quitting because training was tough. Most of them held on,” recalled Palou, who together with the amiable and media savvy former team manager Tony Boy Liao, is the architect of the successful Ateneo volleyball program. “I figured the training that they went through and the games that they went through, even competition that they went through. So, I’d go for Batch 76,” he added.   HEIGHT vs. MAGIC Man-to-man both Alyssa Valdez and libero Denden Lazaro-Revilla agreed that Batch 76 is at a disadvantage in terms of height.         “Advantage ng Season 81 is really height,” said the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player. “We don’t have that nu’ng Season 76.” “Talo kami sa height,” Lazaro-Revilla echoed. Batch 81 boasts of a pair of 5-foot-10 and very skilled middles in Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag and a 6-foot-2 wing spiker in Kat Tolentino.   “Our middles are Amy (Ahomiro) and Aeriel (Patnongon) and Marge (Tejada) and Ana (Gopico). But Marge and Ana got injured. So we have like two lang so parang hindi namin alam. Libero kami lamang,” said Valdez. “Lamang sa height. Sa setter Jia (Morado) and Deanna (Wong)? Deanna’s taller I think,” Lazaro-Revilla said. But what they lack in ceiling, Batch 76 compensates with its superb and versatile wing spikers and solid floor defense. “I think (for Batch 81) it’s Jules (Samonte) and Ponggay (Gaston). So our open hitters would be me and Ella (de Jesus). Kay Ella pa lang, alam mo na,” Valdez said with confidence. “Tiwala kami kay Ella. Utility namin would be Mich (Morente) or Kim (Gequillana). And they have Kat.” “It’s really height vs. magic?” added Valdez. Anchored behind the consistency of the Iron Eagle Denden Lazaro and with the support of Morente and De Jesus, Batch 76 will give Batch 81 a hard time scoring. “I think lamang namin is floor defense. May tiwala ako sa teammates ko,” said Lazaro-Revilla, a two-time Best Receiver winner and Season 76 Best Digger. In which Valdez chimed in: “Si Den, si Ella and Michifu (Morente) kasi ako wala talaga kong ginagawa na floor defense.” “Hindi ka lang rume-receive pero dumedepensa ka naman,” quipped Lazaro-Revilla. “Binabawi mo naman sa mga palo mo and serves.” Looking back, Palou stressed that Batch 76’s Cinderella run is a feat that is tough to beat. Besides, that Lady Eagles team made a miracle when they survived a string of do-or-die games before toppling the four-peat-seeking and thrice-to-beat powerhouse De La Salle University in the Finals.   “But you know, you look at the competition then, look at the team of La Salle, it was a powerhouse, Aby Marano, Kim Fajardo, you look at NU they have the Santiago sisters (Dindin and Jaja), they have Myla Pablo. You look at FEU they have (Bernadeth) Pons, (Toni) Basas, all those good players,” Palou said. “So even competition-wise, the competition they fought then was better and stronger than what they had in the other group.” “I agree,” said Lazaro-Revilla. “I mean the competition that we went through nu’ng time na yun. It was tough for us because given na we were a rebuilding team. So for us it was really tough.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie EJ Laure vs. rookie Eya Laure

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

DO YOU REMEMBER… Jia Morado’s PVL debut?

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2020

Greatest Performance: SSC-R Lady Stags miracle comeback

San Sebastian College stared at a 13-point deficit in the third set against the Michelle Morente and Jia Morado-led Ateneo de Manila University. It was the two teams’ first meeting in the V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference back in August 6, 2016. The Lady Stags led by skipper Grethcel Soltones surprised the Lady Eagles, who were then in their first competitive tournament in the post-Alyssa Valdez era, in the first two sets. But Ateneo took control of the third frame early as they built a 23-10 advantage and looked poised to turn the tables around. The Lady Eagles were determined to bounce back from an opening day five-set loss to the Mylene Paat-backed Technological Institute of the Philippines. But the two points Ateneo needed to take the set never came. SSC-R made one of the most amazing comebacks in the now defunct league, cranking a 15-0 scoring barrage, to complete a stunning come-from-behind 25-23, 25-22, 25-23 win. “Hindi [namin in-expect na mananalo ng ganun],” recalled Soltones, who is now a member of PetroGazz in the Premiere Volleyball League, the rebranded V-League. “Kasi looking at the name ATENEO hindi basta-basta ‘yan.” And Soltones wasn’t exaggerating. Ateneo fielded a formidable lineup that conference. Yes, the Lady Eagles missed the services of injured Jho Maraguinot and Maddie Madayag while Valdez, who was supposed to play as a guest player, was given an assistant coach position instead. But Ateneo was coming off a UAAP runner-up finish that year and were bannered by Morente, Morado, Bea De Leon, Ana Gopico and young guns Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte. The Lady Stags knew that Ateneo will not go down without a fight. As expected, the Lady Eagles regrouped in the third and were hammering down SSC-R. Throughout Ateneo’s assault, Soltones kept reminding her teammates not to lose heart. “May sinasabi ako sa kanila noon na ‘Nothing to lose tayo. Laro lang. Kasi nakita ko tambak na kami eh’” said Soltones. “Tapos si coach Clint [Malazo] may sinabi rin na kami lang nagbibigay ng pressure sa sarili namin kaya ganun ang nangyayari.’ Ateneo was already looking for the kill. The Lady Stags said no.   Joyce Sta. Rita stopped the bleeding with a quick attack and sent Soltones to the service line, where she would hold court until the end of the match. “Nasa isip ko lang naming nun na nasa likod, depensa lang kami ni [Alyssa] Eroa. Kahit anong bola kunin para gaganahan ang nasa harap,” said Soltones. Soltones landed consecutive aces during the run and even scored a couple of points from the back row while Sta. Rita and Denice Lim putting up numbers at the frontline. Ateneo during the Lady Stags’ rally was already in disarray and slowly crumbling under pressure. It didn’t help that the Lady Eagles were also struggling with their reception. “Sabi ko kakargahan ko ang serve ko at gamitin ko pinraktis namin sa serve kasi may target kami kung ano rotation ng Ateneo,” said Soltones, who also shared that she was getting instructions from head coach Roger Gorayeb, who was watching from sidelines as he gave the coaching chores to his assistant Malazo for the tournament. Lim tied the game at 23 off a down the line hit before Sta. Rita put SSC-R at match point after a denial on Morente. Soltones sealed the deal for the Lady Stags with an ace that landed in front of Morente and De Leon, giving the Lady Eagles another bitter pill to swallow.       Ateneo and SSC-R would eventually meet in a playoff for the last semifinals spot but this time the Lady Eagles exacted revenge as they sent the Lady Stags packing. Ateneo wound up as runner-up to the Jaja Santiago-led National University.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: No time to relax for repeat-seeking Ateneo Lady Eagles

All teams will be after Ateneo de Manila University as the Lady Eagles march into UAAP Season 82 with a huge target mark on their chests. But instead of taking it as pressure in its attempt to keep the title perched in Katipunan, Ateneo embraces it. A constant reminder for the Lady Eagles to be on their toes at all times and always keep their guards up. “Since defending champs kami, everyone wants to beat us,” said incoming third year libero Dani Ravena. “Added pressure ‘yun, but at the same time, it's motivation for us not to be satisfied with one game,” added Ravena. “Everyone wants to beat us so the next game will be tougher than the last one.” Ateneo lost three vital cogs in Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon and Kim Gequillana after its title conquest last year in a dramatic come-from-behind Finals series win over University of Sto. Tomas, but still remains a powerhouse squad with key returnees and the addition of blue chip recruits. The biggest boost in the Lady Eagles’ title-retention bid is the presence of prolific scorer and court leader Kat Tolentino, who decided to make one final tour of duty. Joining Tolentino are seasoned players Jho Maraguinot and setter Jamie Lavitoria, who are making their return after skipping a year to pursue careers in the commercial league.   Ateneo will miss the services of heady playmaker Deanna Wong, who is still recovering from a shin injury, but will still have most of their championship core in Ravena, Ponggay Gaston, Jules Samonte, Vanessa Gandler, Erika Raagas and setter Jaja Maraguinot.   “Malaking factor ang pagbalik ng mga seniors sa amin and ‘yung improvement ng mga rookies and sophomores isang malaking bagay para sa amin,” said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro. Giving the Lady Eagles an even deeper arsenal this season is the integration of promising rookies led by scorer Faith Nisperos and middle Joan Narit. While the good mix of veterans and rookies combined with championship experience and support of legions of fans make the Lady Eagles a serious title contender, Almadro constantly reminds his team that a repeat won’t be given to them for free.     “Mahirap maging complacent,” he said. “Mahirap mag-settle down na nakabalik na si ganito, nakabalik na si ganyan. I’m always telling my players, it’s not about how strong you are, it’s not about being strong lang eh.” “’Di sapat sa akin yung magaling lang eh. Kailanngan talaga nandoon ang teamwork, nandoon ang effort, nandoon ang sacrifices for the team and the school,” Almadro stressed.   EYES ON YOU: Ateneo will see this season the final flight of Kat Tolentino for the blue and white as well as the debut of its prized recruit Faith Nisperos. All eyes will be on the duo as they try to bring the Lady Eagles their second straight title and fourth overall.       Nisperos showed a glimpse of what to expect from her during the pre-season as she led Ateneo to a third place finish in the PVL Collegiate Conference. The National University-Nazareth School product, who averaged 12.4 points per game with 41.46% success rate in attacks in the PVL, embraces the challenge of playing for one of the best teams in the league in the past decade.    “I just wanna do my best,” she said. “I won't pressure myself in trying to push myself too hard. Ang goal ko lang naman is gampanan ‘yung role ko sa team.” For Tolentino, who during the pre-season played for ChocoMucho in the PVL Open Conference, she will be playing a bigger role as the leader of the Lady Eagles. “My main goal for this year is to find that leadership role and show my character,” said Tolentino. “I wanna help the team using my experience the last four years. I wanna encourage my teammates to push for that same goal.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 14th, 2020

UAAP 82: Tolentino: I can t give up my final year and have that regret in future

Kat Tolentino is now one of the main stalwarts for Ateneo de Manila University. And in the UAAP 82 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, she’s ready and raring to be much more than an opposite hitter. “My main goal for this year is to find that leadership role and show my character," she shared. She then continued, "I wanna help the team using my experience the last four years. I wanna encourage my teammates to push for that same goal." Of course, to defend their title, the Lady Eagles need Tolentino to help fill the leadership void left behind by now-graduated Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag as well as injured setter Deanna Wong. The good news is the Filipino-Canadian is nothing but up to the task - especially as the first and foremost desire in her decision to return was to have no regrets. "When I decided not to play my final year (after last season), I thought I had made my final decision. I thought I was done, but as the months went by, I started to think about the UAAP and how much fulfillment you get when you play in that league," she shared. She then continued, "That's when I realized I can't let go of this opportunity. I can't just give up my final playing year and have that regret in the future." Without a doubt, having one last go-round with her teammates was a big factor in her choice to come back as well. As she put it, "Of course, I miss playing and practicing with the team. Of course, I enjoy playing pro (in the PVL), but it's just different here. I will definitely miss this."   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2020

UAAP 82: Tolentino back for last flight as a Lady Eagle

Kat Tolentino has decided to play her final year for the Ateneo de Manila University. It may have taken the power-hitter some time to think it over but Tolentino will definitely don the blue and white uniform for her fourth and last season as the Lady Eagles bid for back-to-back titles in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament starting February next year. The 6-foot-3 Filipino-Canadian on Thursday officially announced her return for the Oliver Almadro-mentored squad. “As much as I love playing for the commercial league I found that playing for the UAAP is a whole different experience,” said Tolentino, who during the off-season played for ChocoMucho in the Premier Volleyball League. "There is something so unique about the competitiveness of the UAAP that I feel is hard to recreate.  The rivalry between schools is not just about playing for pride but for something bigger than yourself. Its also about playing for your teammates and for all those who’ve supported you." Her return will give the Lady Eagles the much-needed veteran presence along with Ponggay Gaston, playmaker Deanna Wong, Jules Samonte and libero Dani Ravena. “I’ve been following the current Ateneo team especially during the PVL collegiate conference and I am proud to see how strong they are already. There's still a few more months to prepare and I look forward to being back with them and contributing in any way I can,” said Tolentino. Tolentino led Ateneo in a dramatic come-from-behind best-of-three Finals series win over the Sisi Rondina-led University of Sto. Tomas for the Lady Eagles' first title since winning it all in back in 2014 and 2015. After claiming her first crown, Tolentino gave an emotional speech during the team’s thanksgiving Mass at the Church of Gesu inside the Ateneo campus.     She talked about her three ACL injuries and unforgettable championship season before saying, “This is Kat Tolentino, No. 10, signing off” back in May this year. But it's a good thing she changed her mind with the guidance of her management, Virtual Playground. "Well, initially I thought that because I graduated college and won the championship it was time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life. I have been in college for a while and have played volleyball for well over 10 years," Tolentino explained. "So I just felt like I wanted to experience something different and start to play in the commercial league to make the most out of my volleyball career." Tolentino will play a bigger role this season not just as the team’s top scoring option but also the young Lady Eagles’ leader after the departure of Maddie Madayag and Bea De Leon. She will pilot a squad that will have promising rising stars in Faith Nisperos and Joan Narit, sophomore setter Jaja Maraguinot and Vannie Gandler.     "Our goal will always be the UAAP championship. But coming into this season I feel like I will try to bring more skills and experience from what I learned in playing for Choco Mucho in PVL," Tolentino said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 28th, 2019

UAAP 82: It s Kat’s time – Madayag on new Lady Eagles leader

Former Ateneo de Manila University star Maddie Madayag sees the return of Kat Tolentino for her final playing year as a big boost for the Lady Eagles' bid to retain the UAAP women’s volleyball crown next year in Season 82. With her and another veteran Bea De Leon’s departure following Ateneo’s conquest in Season 81, the changing of the guard is secured with Tolentino’s return. Her presence gives the Lady Eagles the much-needed leadership. “Very promising talaga especially na may senior pa rin na kayang dalhin ang team next year,” said the national team member, who led the Lady Eagles to its third UAAP title overall and first since 2015.  Tolentino on Thursday formally announced her decision to play her fourth and last eligibility year.   Madayag is confident that powerhitting Tolentino can play her role as this coming season’s Queen Eagle.  “I think it was mostly me and Bea who were parang leading the team [before] but now it's Kat’s time,” said Madayag, who is also Tolentino’s teammate alongside De Leon in ChocoMucho. “Hindi na lang siya scoring machine, leader na rin talaga siya. Di lang sa scoring kundi sa pati sa pagbuhat sa mga bata.” She sees Tolentino as not just a leader on court but more of an inspiration for the new Lady Eagles trying to spread their wings in the UAAP including prized recruit Faith Nisperos.   “Of course, titingnang inspiration ng mga mga bata si Kat kasi siyempre sino namang hindi. Lalo na si Faith kasi nakausap namin siya before na she wants to be teammates with Kat talaga,” said Madayag. “So now that her dream came true sana naman mas maging inspiration for her to play better. Kasi we saw how she played naman in the PVL di ba? It’s gonna be an exciting season.” Although Madayag admits that Tolentino has a very quiet personality, she knows that she’ll be able to handle her added responsibility well. “Actually, tahimik talaga si Kat. I think mapapakita naman niya ang leadership niya the way she plays naman eh. I think she can handle it naman,” said Madayag. “Tahimik lang siya. Nagsasalita naman siya sa training, sa game lang mukha lang siyang di nagsasalita kasi nao-overpower namin siya ni Bea, kasi masyado kaming madaldal pero kaya n’ya ‘yun,” she added. For her part, Tolentino promises to be more mature and ready to take on the leadership role. “Maybe a more mature one not just with the technical skills but also in terms of leadership for the team,” said Tolentino of what fans can expect from her.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 28th, 2019

NEW TEAMS ADD FIRE TO 2019 PVL OPEN CONFERENCE ON ABS-CBN S+A, iWANT

  The Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Season 3 Open Conference fires away this Sunday (August 11) LIVE from the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City on S+A, LIGA, and iWant featuring new teams raring to snatch the crown from defending champions Creamline Cool Smashers. From six teams last conference, PVL will feature nine star-studded and talented squads in this tournament including the returning Philippine Air Force Lady Jet Spikers led by multi-awarded setter Wendy Semana and outside hitter May Ann Pantino. NCAA Season 94 Women’s Volleyball champions, the San Beda Lady Red Spikers and their star hitters the Viray twins, Nieza and Ella, will banner the Chef’s Classic Lady Red Spikers. While the Choco Mucho Flying Titans will be led by the triple towers of Kat Tolentino, Maddie Maddayag, and Bea De Leon, who are fresh from a title run in UAAP Season 81 with the Ateneo Lady Eagles. The 2019 PVL Open Conference will also mark the much-anticipated comeback of legendary DLSU Lady Spiker Manilla Santos-Ng, who will suit up with the Titans. Volleyball fans can expect an all-out battle right away in the opening day with a double header at 2 pm between the Lady Jet Spikers and the Cool Smashers of Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado, who are more than eager to defend their Open Conference title after losing to the PetroGazz Angels last conference. Meanwhile, the Angels led by Paneng Mercado and breakout star Jonah Sabete are out to prove they are still a powerhouse even without their reinforcements as they take on the gutsy BanKo Perlas Spikers of Nicole Tiamzon and Dzi Gervacio at 4 pm. Don’t miss the opening of the 2019 PVL Open Conference this Sunday (August 11) LIVE on S+A and LIGA, on high definition on S+A HD and LIGA HD, online on iWant, sports.abs-cbn.com, and TFC.tv. For more stories and news on the PVL, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abscbnpr.com......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2019

UAAP 81 Volleyball: Alam niya na kaya ko - Ateneo s Deanna Wong on being seen as a leader by Jia Morado

Fourth-year setter Deanna Wong was no doubt an instrumental part in Ateneo de Manila University's UAAP Season 81 Women's Volleyball title run.  Wong and the Lady Eagles bested University of Santo Tomas in three matches to regain the women's title that the program last held back in UAAP Season 77. Part of that Season 77 championship team was none other than Jia Morado, who served as a mentor to Wong during her first two years with the Lady Eagles. Now, both Wong and Morado share the distinction of being the primary setters on an Ateneo championship team. [RELATED: Everything was worth the wait for Deanna Wong] Looking forward to next season, Morado has already pegged Wong as the leader of the Lady Eagles, especially with the departure of seniors such as of Bea De Leon, Maddie Madayag, and Kim Gequillana.  “If you can lead them well, man them well, marami pa ring good weapons si Deanna kasi malalakas ‘yung mga batang papasok next year. So all she has to do is be able to lead them," Morado said in an interview with ABS-CBN Sports.  Wong, for her part, sees Morado's endorsement as a challenge to step up and as a sign of confidence in her abilities.  "What I can say is that she’s just challenging me to become a leader more pa, kasi alam niya na kaya ko, so that’s me taking on that challenge," Wong told ABS-CBN Sports. "We’ll just see na lang what happens." Wong, who will be a graduating senior come UAAP Season 82, knows full well what being the leader of a defending champion team entails, and she knows just what she has to work on.  "I think I need to improve on being more responsible pa, ‘cause I think that’s what a leader has to have and also yung pagiging disciplined din," Wong explained, adding that it was responsibility and leadership that helped the Lady Eagles return to the pinnacle of UAAP women's volleyball.  "That’s what we did to be able to get this championship, it’s that characteristic." .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

UAAP Volleyball: Morado sees Wong as Lady Eagles leader in Season 82

Former Ateneo de Manila University playmaker Jia Morado sees next season as Deanna Wong’s litmus test as the Lady Eagles' new leader when they try to defend their recently reclaimed throne. The Lady Eagles completed a Season 81 Finals series comeback over University of Sto. Tomas last Saturday to end a four-year title drought and capture their third crown overall. But Ateneo also saw the departure of middles Maddie Madayag and Finals Most Valuable Player Bea De Leon along with Kim Gequillana. Top hitter Kat Tolentino, who is still eligible to suit up next season, has not yet committed to play in Season 82. With the departure of Ateneo’s veterans, Wong will pilot a relatively young crew next year – almost the same situation that Morado was in during her last run as a Lady Eagle in Season 79 following the exit of three-time MVP Alyssa Valdez the year before.   “Actually, I think I had seasoned players on my last year. A lot of my spikers, nakasama ko na rin for at least a year or two,” said Morado on Monday during her club team Creamline’s photo shoot for the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference at the ABS-CBN Integrated Sports Office.   “But Deanna next year, although nakasama niya rin naman sila this year, hindi sila nabigyan ng time together talaga sa loob ng court so it will be interesting kung paano niya ibi-build ang connection niya with the spikers,” added Morado, who helped the Lady Eagles capture the Season 76 and 77 titles. The Cool Smashers setter said that although Ateneo will miss the services of its reliable veterans, the Lady Eagles and Wong will have the luxury of playing with young and aggressive talents looking to prove themselves in the country’s premier collegiate league.   “Siyempre ‘yung familiarity with her spikers is very important and next year more of rookies ang spikers niya. But the good thing about that you can go really far with young blood lalo na ‘yung mga rookies kasi sila ganado sila,” said Morado. “If you can lead them well, man them well, marami pa ring good weapons si Deanna kasi malalakas ‘yung mga batang papasok next year. So all she has to do is be able to lead them.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

For Mike Nieto, all roads lead to leading

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

Cool Smashers officially introduce new libero Ponce

Not to be outdone by its sister-team, three-time Premier Volleyball League champion Creamline also made significant moves to beef up its roster. The Cool Smashers making sure they got all positions covered, formally introduced their latest addition in Adamson University libero Thang Ponce. Say hello to our newest ka-vibes that’s joining our #CreamlineCoolSmashers lineup! Let’s give a good vibes welcome to the former Lady Falcon, Thang Ponce! She’s a 2018 PVL Collegiate Conference Best Libero kaya she’s a strong addition to the team! #ArawArawGoodVibes pic.twitter.com/0ymKA6FDRp — Cool Smashers (@CoolSmashers) August 25, 2020 One of today’s talented liberos in the collegiate ranks, Ponce will give Creamline an extra piece to man the floor alongside starting defense specialist Kyla Atienza.      The arrival of the 2018 PVL Collegiate Conference Best Libero also filled the spot left by veteran Mel Gohing, who transferred to Motolite. Creamline’s recruitment coup came on the heels of ChocoMucho’s aggressive signings of volleyball big names including Denden Lazaro, Ponggay Gaston and Deanna Wong to play alongside Ateneo Lady Eagles teammates Bea De Leon, Maddie Madayag and Kat Tolentino. With a seasoned lineup, the Cool Smashers remain to be the team to beat come the PVL’s fourth staging of the Open Conference, which is expected to begin as soon as the government gives its green light for competition to resume amid the health crisis. Already bannered by reigning Open Conference Most Valuable Player Jema Galanza, Alyssa Valdez, setter Jia Morado, Michele Gumabao and Risa Sato, Creamline added another weapon to its arsenal early this year after tapping the services of all-around player Ella De Jesus......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

Si Coach Boc ang game-changer ko -- Dawn Macandili

If there is one person that multi-awarded libero Dawn Macandili would give credit to for all that she has achieved in her career aside from college coach Ramil de Jesus it would be assistant coach Benson Bocboc. The quiet and soft-spoken De La Salle University deputy has been De Jesus’ numbers guy on the Lady Spikers bench, his reliable scout and a trusted strategist. [Related story:  DLSU's weapon against Ateneo: Clipboard and tablet] But for Macandili he is more than just DLSU’s man who crunches numbers or the one who prepares scouting reports.   “Si Coach Boc ang game-changer ko,” Macandili said in her appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro. Macandili said that when Bocboc went on board as the Lady Spikers prepared for Season 78 – the start of DLSU’s third three-peat – he immediately went down to work to help strengthen DLSU’s floor defense particularly focusing on liberos Macandili and CJ Saga.     “Nu’ng dumating si Coach Boc, sobrang na-focus niya ang mga libero kasi ang style niya is Japanese training,” Macandili shared. “In-introduce niya kami sa mga drills na pang-Japanese. Sobrang na-amaze ako, ‘Wow Japanese style na defense.’” Macandili added that it was the first time since she joined the Lady Spikers that a practice session solely dedicated for liberos was added into their training schedule.    “Ang daming drills na pinapagawa sa amin. Natutuwa ako kasi I’m always looking forward to learning something new,” she said. Bocboc according to Macandili was very technical, correcting them down to the smallest details. “Lagi niya kaming ini-introduce sa techniques. Gusto ko siyang ma-master. So every training may pinapagawa siya sa amin. Iba rin kasi talaga siyang mag-correct, to the slightest detail,” said the Tanauan, Batangas pride. “Dun ko na-realize na volleyball is very technical. Di lang basta na marunong kang mag-receive, marunong kang mag-dig pass. Hindi, kung marunong kang mag-receive kailangan ganito ang form mo, kailangan ganito kababa, mga ganoon.” He came into the team at the most critical time as DLSU was then shifting to a new approach to its system following two straight heartbreaking championship losses to the powerhouse Alyssa Valdez-led archrival Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles. “[Up to the] smallest details ang itinuturo niya sa amin and makikita mo talaga ang effect niya sa training and sa game,” said Macandili. Under Bocboc’s guidance, Macandili had her breakout season in 2016 as she played a key role in the Lady Spikers’ ascent back to the UAAP throne. Macandili in Season 78 was named Best Receiver, which she would win again the following year, and Best Digger while helping DLSU begin another three-year reign. Macandili would continue to rack in individual accolades, winning the Most Valuable Player award in the Philippine Superliga in 2016, being named the 2nd Best Libero in the 2017 AVC Asian Women’s Senior Championship as a member of the national team before wrapping up her UAAP career by bagging the Finals MVP in Season 80 - the first defense specialist to receive the honor. All thanks to the DLSU assistant coach. “Nag-iba talaga ang mindset ko nun sa volleyball na parang ang lawak niya na ang dami ko pang di alam. Doon ako na-engganyo na I want to learn more, more, more. I want to learn more talaga,” she said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 24th, 2020

Wong names Morado, Salak among her top 5 setters

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020