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MVP Bagunas, Bulldogs make it two in row

Bryan Bagunas was named Most Valuable Player before Game Two of the UAAP Season 81 men’s volleyball......»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarMay 16th, 2019

MVP Bagunas, Bulldogs make it two in row

Bryan Bagunas was named Most Valuable Player before Game Two of the UAAP Season 81 men’s volleyball......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 16th, 2019

GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Afril Bernardino s almost quadruple-double

One more steal, one more steal and Afril Bernardino would have had the first and only quadruple-double in the history of the UAAP. National University's do-it-all guard tallied a triple-double of 17 points, 10, rebounds, and 10 assists at the end of their 78-42 demolition job of fellow contender Far Eastern University in the UAAP 79 Women's Basketball Tournament. At the same time, she also wound up with nine steals - falling just one shy of a feat as rare as available tickets in an Ateneo-La Salle game. Nonetheless, that game put on display all that made Bernardino one of the greatest talents the league has ever seen. As she always does, she made her presence felt all over the court from the get-go and made good on a free throw to cap off their 21-5 start. The 5-foot-7 playmaker would not let her foot off the pedal from that point and led the reigning and defending champions in a 31-9 third quarter tsunami that drowned the Lady Tamaraws once and for all. In the end, it was just another win, the 45th in a row for National U dating back to 2014. It was also just another evidence forwarded by Bernardino for the case of her being the undisputed MVP at season's end. Post-game, though, true to form, head coach Pat Aquino also made it a point to give credit to their total team effort. As he put it, "Afril almost had a quadruple-double, but without her teammates, hindi niya magagawa yun. The fact na palaging may Jack (Animam) and Gemma (Miranda), malaki yun." Indeed, Miranda had 21 points and nine rebounds while Animam had 15 points and 10 rebounds to provide backup. Still, that wasn't even the first time the then-21-year-old flirted with a quadruple-double. In an earlier game in that tournament, she collected 22 points, 11 steals, 10 assists, and seven rebounds in the Lady Bulldogs' 103-49 beatdown of University of Sto. Tomas. At the end of that game, Coach Pat could only sing the praises of his prized ward. "Siguro, siya yung pinakamagaling ngayon sa college," he said. Make no mistake, though, the multi-titled mentor again made it a point to mention Bernardino's teammates, "Again, I told her na without her teammates, she could not do this." Without a doubt, National U is a well-oiled machine that has churned six consecutive championships and 96 straight wins and counting. It was Bernardino who set the standard at how exactly that well-oiled machine should be run. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2020

WHAT IF...Tony Koyfman played for the Blue Eagles in UAAP Season 80 Finals?

In UAAP Season 79, Ateneo de Manila University completed an amazing sweep of the men’s tournament. The Blue Eagles stamped their class on the competition thanks to the powerful tandem of Marck Espejo and Tony Koyfman and the then graduating pair of Rex Intal and Josh Villanueva as they went unbeaten in 16 games, including a pair of thrilling five-setters in the championship series against National University. However, the following season proved to be huge challenge for Ateneo not just because of the departure of Intal and Villanueva but also with the absence of Koyfman. The Russian-American skipped Season 80 because of health issues. With the 6-foot-8 opposite hitter out, Espejo had to shoulder most of the scoring load for the Blue Eagles in his swan song. Ateneo managed to advance to the Finals, but Espejo, who made history with his 55-point explosion in the semis against Far Eastern University, could only do so much against the onslaught of the Bulldogs as the Blue Eagles' three-year reign crumbled in two games.        Ateneo sorely missed the services of Koyfman in that series. But what if Koyfman suited up for the Blue Eagles in that championship showdown? Koyfman would have given Ateneo an added offensive threat, first of all. The Blue Eagles that season still had one the one of the league’s best playmakers in Ish Polvorosa and with him controlling the offense and with more options at hand, it would surely have caused problems for the Bulldogs’ net defense. Koyfman’s presence would have eased the scoring burden of Espejo, who was the obvious marked man in that series. In Season 79, Koyfman averaged 14.5 points per game in the Finals on his way to winning the Finals Most Valuable Player award. With the tandem of Koyfman and Espejo at the wings, it would also free up other scoring threats like Ron Medalla, John Rivera, Gian Glorioso and middle Chu Njigha. Koyfman would’ve also been an imposing defensive piece for Ateneo at the net. With him around to help Glorioso and Njigha, the Blue Eagles would’ve given NU’s top spikers Bryan Bagunas and James Natividad a hard time penetrating their attacks or pose a challenge for Kim Malabunga and Francis Saura at the middle.           Another key contribution that he could've given the Blue Eagles was his championship experience. The Bulldogs paraded an intact core. It would've had been a better matchup had the Katipunan-based squad had another veteran available.  Although, we cannot say if Ateneo can indeed complete the four-peat with Koyfman around against a very determined NU squad, we can agree that he was a missing piece to the Blue Eagles championship puzzle that season.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2020

TAKE-TWO: These players made the most of their second chances

Comeback is real could not be any truer than in sports where nothing is ever over until the sound of the final buzzer. That goes as well off the court where nothing is ever over until, well, until somebody says it is. That is very much evident in all these players who did not necessarily have the best of first tries, but did nothing but make the most out of another shot once it presented itself. We begin with Colegio de San Juan de Letran's trio of talented transferees who were cast away from their UAAP schools only to get into their groove inside the Walls of Intramuros. Bonbon Batiller looked like he was University of the East's next top gun before taking his talents to the Knights. Now, he is an NCAA champion. Larry Muyang found no place in his one year in De La Salle University, but was finally given the chance to stand strong as one of Letran's big, bad pillars all the way to the title. Perhaps the most feel-good story, however, is Fran Yu who was lost in the shuffle in his single season as a Red Warrior before blossoming when it mattered most for the Knights. With that, he could now be called Finals MVP. The University of the Philippines has also leaned on quite a few talented transferees as it ushered in its new era of legitimate contention. Of course, Bright Akhuetie was no slouch when he was doing the heavy lifting for University of Perpetual Help, but when he moved to Diliman, he proved to be the difference in the Fighting Maroons' first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals since 1986. And oh, the Nigerian powerhouse is also State U's first MVP in 32 years. Jun Manzo, who first showcased his skills for University of the Visayas, was also a key cog in the maroon and green's two straight trips to the playoffs. So was Jaydee Tungcab who morphed from next big thing for Adamson University to dependable two-way player for UP. Ricci Rivero, meanwhile, is yet to reach the same heights he already has back as a Green Archer, but is set for a bigger year for the Fighting Maroons as they try for a third Final Four in a row - and who knows, even a breakthrough championship. In terms of championships, however, the most successful talented transferee is Ateneo de Manila University's Will Navarro. The versatile forward frequently lauded by head coach Tab Baldwin for his efficiency started his collegiate career as a backup in San Beda University before finding and fortifying his role with the Blue Eagles. With that, he has celebrated back-to-back titles. With a trophy of his own is Arellano University's Justin Arana who was hailed as Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-5 big man rose as a talented tower for the Chiefs because he was finally given the break he was once hoping to get in University of Sto. Tomas. More minutes was also what Shaun Ildefonso got when he traded in the Ateneo blue and white for the blue and gold of National University. Not only that, he was also named team captain for the Bulldogs. In Perpetual, a trio of transferees also showed the way. Ben Adamos brought his end-to-end game from San Beda, Edgar Charcos fulfilled his playmaking promise from UE, and Kim Aurin delivered his all-around goods from Jose Rizal University to Las Pinas. Other players who made the most of their second chances are: --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2020

UAAP s last decade dominated by back-to-back MVPs

Three players have hoisted the MVP trophy in back-to-back seasons in the last decade of UAAP Men's Basketball. That means that 60 percent of the top individual player awards in the past 10 years are owned by just three names. Ben Mbala's 2016 remains the best of the best among the bunch as not only did he average a dominant double-double of a league-best 20.6 points and a league-best 16.2 rebounds on top of a league-best 2.4 blocks as well as 1.4 steals and 1.2 assists, he also delivered a dominant 15-1 title to De La Salle University. The Cameroonian powerhouse had an encore next year as he normed a double-double of 26.0 points and 13.1 rebounds to go along with 2.5 blocks, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals, but fell just short of a second straight championship no thanks to Ateneo de Manila University. The Blue Eagles have a back-to-back MVP of their own in Kiefer Ravena in 2014 and 2015. Neither of Ravena's plums, however, came with a championship as those were won by National University and Far Eastern University, respectively in those years. Make no mistake, though, he was a key cog in the latter part of Ateneo's five-peat in his first three seasons. Also falling shy of a team title is Bulldogs' superstar Ray Parks Jr. who was the top individual player in 2011 and 2012. The Filipino-American laid the groundwork for the blue and gold's return to relevance as they slowly but surely climbed to contention. And in the first year in the post-Parks Jr. era, National U, at long last, broke through and bagged its first championship since 1954. The Tamaraws, meanwhile, also have two MVPs in the last decade, but those were won by different players in RR Garcia (2010) and Terrence Romeo (2013) Neither won a team title as well, whether it be before, during, or after their seasons as top individual players. Finally, the league's last two MVPs had seasons to remember for their respective schools. In 2018, Bright Akhuetie became the University of the Philippines' first top individual player since Eric Altamirano in 1986. A year later, Soulemane Chabi Yo brought back the trophy to University of Sto. Tomas - the first one to do so since Dylan Ababou in 2009. Breaking it down school-by-school, La Salle, Ateneo, National U, and FEU each have two MVP trophies while UP and UST have one apiece. Ken Bono was Adamson University's last MVP in 2006 while University of the East last won the MVP with James Yap in 2003. Here is the full list of NCAA MVPs in the last decade: 2010 - RR Garcia, G, FEU 2011 - Ray Parks Jr., G, National U 2012 - Ray Parks Jr., G, National U 2013 - Terrence Romeo, G, FEU 2014 - Kiefer Ravena, G, Ateneo 2015 - Kiefer Ravena, G, Ateneo 2016 - Ben Mbala, C, La Salle 2017 - Ben Mbala, C, La Salle 2018 - Bright Akhuetie, C, UP 2019 - Soulemane Chabi Yo, F, UST --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 27th, 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

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

SUPER SHOWDOWN: UST four-peat vs La Salle four-peat

It has been a week since the legend of Aric Del Rosario came to a close. And of course, the passing of the always amiable mentor fondly called "Tatay Aric" only recalled his most memorable milestone - that of four consecutive championships for University of Sto. Tomas. In the same way that Del Rosario and the Growling Tigers lorded over the early-to-mid '90s, however, so did De La Salle University dominate the late '90s and early '00s. With first-time head coach Franz Pumaren at the helm, the Green Archers ran roughshod over the rest of the league for their very own four consecutive championships. And so, from 1993 to 2001, the UAAP became a battleground for supremacy between two teams - two teams that each won four titles in a row and two teams that would ultimately go down in history. Which four-peat was more impressive, however? This is the question we hope to answer in ABS-CBN Sports' Super Showdown. To concretize the strengths and weaknesses of Coach Aric's UST and Coach Franz's La Salle when compared to one another, we will be judging them in five categories (talent, system, level of competition, legacy, and impact) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. TALENT You can't win four consecutive championships without talent - and without a doubt, both UST and La Salle were filled to the brim with talent in those days. All of Estong Ballesteros, Chris Cantonjos, Bal David, Dennis Espino, Rey Evangelista, Patrick Fran, Gerard Francisco, Henry Ong, Dale Singson, Siot Tangquincen, and Richard Yee were Growling Tigers in their four-peat. Meanwhile, the Green Archers had Dino Aldeguer, Don Allado, Mac Cardona, Mike Cortez, Mac Cuan, BJ Manalo, Renren Ritualo, Carlo Sharma, Adonis Sta. Maria, Mon Jose, Dominic Uy, Cholo Villanueva, Willy Wilson, and Joseph Yeo in their four-peat. Weighed against one another, La Salle had more players who became key contributors for PBA contenders in Cardona, Cortez, Ritualo, and Yeo. UST makes up for this with consistency, however, as not only did the likes of Espino, David, Evangelista, and Yee turn into rotation players in the PBA, they did so for a longer time compared to their green and white counterparts. More than that, the Growling Tigers hold a trump card over the Green Archers in this department in the form of national team players Espino and Evangelista. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 SYSTEM In terms of name recognition, the famed "Pumaren Press" remains well-known to this day. With dogged defenders such as Aldeguer, Cortez, Jose, Cuan, and Villanueva at the head of the attack, playing against La Salle back then was not at all a fun proposition for opponents. Those turnovers were then quickly converted into easy baskets that, more often than not, led to wins - a recipe for success that still works until now. However, UST had some of the most complete teams in UAAP history during its four-peat and would most probably have had all the answers in the face of full-court pressure. In David, Fran, Francisco and Tangquincen, the Growling Tigers had steady ballhandlers who would have been prepared to the utmost by "Tatay Aric." And once they crossed over to their side of the court, good luck trying to stop, or even just slow down, Espino or Cantonjos at the post. Put simply, Del Rosario's black and gold machine just didn't have any holes or leaks back then. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION The UAAP was a gauntlet of good to great teams in La Salle's four-peat. For sure, winning a championship - let alone four in a row - was a tall task back then. Standing in the Green Archers' way were an Ateneo side that had Rich Alvarez, Rico Villanueva, Paolo Bugia, Larry Fonacier, and LA Tenorio; an FEU side that had Leo Avenido and Celino Cruz; a National U side that had Edward Asoro, Froilan Baguion, Alfie Grijaldo, and Rey Mendoza; a UE side that had Paul Artadi, Ronald Tubid, and James Yap; and a UST side that had Cyrus Baguio. Through its dynasty, the green and white had to down their archrival Blue Eagles once in the Finals, the Tamaraws twice in the Finals and once in the semis, the Growling Tigers twice in the semis and once in the Finals, and the Bulldogs once in the semis, That's not to say UST's four-peat was way easier, however. When the Growling Tigers sat on the throne, coming for them were Adamson's Kenneth Duremdes, who averaged more than 30 points per game in 1993, and EJ Feihl; Ateneo's Vince Hizon and Ritchie Ticzon; FEU's Long David and Nestor Echano; La Salle's Tony Boy Espinosa, Elmer Lago, Alvin Magpantay, Cali Orfrecio, Mark Telan, and Jason Webb; and National U's Danny Ildefonso and Lordy Tugade. Make no mistake, many of those names would go on to be PBA superstars themselves and the black and gold went through all of them and came away as winner. It's just that, during the Green Archers' four-peat, the league was fast becoming the killer competition from top to bottom that it is today. Advantage La Salle's four-peat, 10-8 IMPACT UST's 14-0 season sweep in 1993 forced the league to change its rules - rules that are enacted up to now. That year saw the supposed debut of the Final Four, but with the Growling Tigers winning each and every game of the elimination round, the new format wasn't meant to be. According to the then-league rule, a team that goes perfect through the elims is automatically the champion of the tournament. And so, after that year, that rule was no more and now, a team that goes perfect through the elims would still have to play in the Finals. How that UST dynasty was built also became the template for many championship cores to come as it heavily recruited outside Metro Manila. In fact, Tatay Aric was the pioneer in bringing over talent from Pampanga, now considered one of the hotbeds of Philippine basketball, with recruits like Espino. In the same light, La Salle's four-peat also expanded the league's horizons abroad with the likes of Cortez and Wilson taking their talents from the US to their native land. From then until now, Filipino-foreign players have actually become some sort of signature for Coach Franz, but there could be no doubt that he has only used it to great effect. The Green Archers' time at the top also coincided with archrival Ateneo's rise, rekindling a rivalry that would bring all of the UAAP to greater and greater heights. In all, however, UST just set the bar for what a team could win in the modern era - a bar that La Salle itself did its very best to clear. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 LEGACY In Taft Avenue, championships have become the standard as La Salle has taken home three more trophies since its four-peat. In Espana, that '90s four-peat remains the glory days as UST has only been able to add one more title from there. Meaning, up to today, the Growling Tigers' four consecutive championships from 1993 to 1997 mean the world to Thomasians. Meanwhile, for Lasallians, that run from 1998 to 2001 is only expected for their teams - not the consecutive championships per se, but the continued contention, at the very least. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 (Photo courtesy of UAAP Classics on Facebook) FINAL SCORE, 48-46, for UST's four-peat.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 2nd, 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

UAAP 82: UP grinds out 1-0 win vs. NU in Men’s Football

University of the Philippines dug deep to get its first win in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Football Tournament. The Fighting Maroons emerged victorious with a 1-0 outcome against National University, Sunday at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. UP was dominant throughout the game and it took the Diliman school the 50th minute of the match to finally get what it deserved. Fighting Maroons forward Anton Guariña found himself through on goal and he performed a spectacular finish to draw first blood. Guarina then had a big opportunity to double State U’s cushion but he failed to hit the target that time around. Arturo Alleje also had a chance to put the contest safely to bed as he was through on goal, only for NU goalkeeper Jhonrel Salintao to deny him with a fine stop. “I thought first half we really executed well. We delivered on the gameplan. We created opportunities. We just didn’t finish,” said UP head coach Anto Gonzales. Unfortunately, things then turned ugly in the contest between both teams.  A small commotion broke out between the two camps and NU’s Elmer Sampaga was ejected for his role in the incident The Fighting Maroons should have gained the lead within the first half but magnificent shot-stopping by but Salintao kept them at bay time and time again. The Bulldogs also had a goal ruled out late in the game due to a foul. The result raises UP’s points tally to 4 while coach Dan Padernal’s NU has yet to make its mark this season. “In the second half, we expect the boys to manage the games better. It also happened against Ateneo. We were already leading and then we lose steam for whatever reason. We start to get disorganized so it’s something we really need to work on,” added Gonzales......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 8th, 2020

UAAP 82: Rookie Stephen Marasigan powers UST to opening day win in Men’s Football

Thanks to late heroics from goalkeeper Ralph Logronio and rookie Stephen Marasigan, University of Santo Tomas secured a 1-0 victory over National University in the UAAP Season 82 Men's Football Tournament, Thursday morning at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. After a nip-and-tick first 80 minutes, the breakthrough goal finally came at the 81st minute when Marasigan, who was brought on as a substitute, delivered an instant impact for Allado’s men as he unleased a fine strike that eventually became the first goal of the season. “At least kahit papano nakakuha kami ng 1-0, kahit tight siya,” said UST coach Marjo Allado. “Kailangan namin i-organize ulit yung team and then questionable talaga dun yung match fitness." Both sides went close to breaking the deadlock in the first half.  The Golden Booters were awarded a freekick right at the edge of the NU box near the end of the period. UST’s Glen Ramos then stepped up to unleash a powerful strike, which ended up getting denied by the goalpost.  On the other end, in stoppage time, Bulldogs forward Angelo Paring was through on goal but his attempt his the side-netting. Things then got heated in stoppage time.  A commotion broke out between the two squads and the Bulldogs were cunning enough to try and take advantage of it via a quick throw-in. Rookie Bryan Ybanez was through on goal, but his attempt was parried away by Logronio’s magnificent stop. The result gives UST three valuable points to open its campaign while NU has to make do with none.  Additionally, the Bulldogs can only lament the fact Keivenn Banagodos was sent off after being given two yellow cards. "Hopefully, this Sunday against Ateneo, it will be much better," said Allado......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 5th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: Bulldogs shake off gritty Golden Spikers

National University weathered a tough challenge put up by University of Sto. Tomas, 27-25, 23-25, 25-19, 27-25, on Wednesday to start its three-peat bid on the right track in the UAAP Season 82 men’s volleyball tournament at the MOA Arena. The Bulldogs had some scary moments in the closing stretch of the fourth   set before pulling through in their first game in the post-Bryan Bagunas era. Sophomore Nico Almendras put matters on his own hands to save the day for NU, saving a set point, 25-25, in the fourth frame before Berhashidin Daymil put the Bulldogs at match point. Almendras, the Season 81 Rookie of the Year, put the game away with a sharp serve that the Golden Spikers failed to control.      Almendras had 20 points built on 17 kills, two aces and a block with 14 excellent receptions fot NU. James Natividad had 11 markers and seven digs while Owa Retamar tallied 21 excellent sets to help the Bulldogs hammer down 59 hits. Transferee Edward Camposano announced his return in the UAAP after a two-year hiatus with a 19-point explosion for NU. Camposano, who transferred from University of the East, had 15 attacks and four blocks.   (To be updated)   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 4th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: NU to unleash new warrior Camposano

Two years removed from UAAP action, Edward Camposano is eagerly waiting to get back on the court and reintroduce himself in Season 82 men’s volleyball tournament. Although his expected return got pushed back a couple of weeks following the suspension of all second semester events following the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it didn’t diminish the fire inside the 23-year old hitter. Coming in as a new member of the three-peat-seeking National University Bulldogs after transferring from University of the East, Camposano vows to bring the same if not better game and intensity he had during his three years with the Red Warriors. “Excited na excited po lalo na’t first and last ko sa NU na maglalaro so all-out po talaga,” said Camposano, who had to wait two years to suit up for the Bulldogs. “Lahat ng paghihirap at excitement na makapaglaro pong muli ako [ilalabas ko sa laro].” Camposano made immediate impact in his first year with UE and even bagged the Season 77 Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, the open hitter had little support from the cellar-dwelling Red Warriors. The former national team member parted ways with UE after Season 79 where he averaged 12.9 points per game with 43.10% success rate on attacks and had 0.24 aces per set. Camposano transferred to NU and completed his one-year residency but chose to sit out Season 81 with just one year left to play. His decision turned out to be a good one as the Bulldogs will need his scoring prowess to fill in the big shoes left by already graduate reigning Most Valuable Player Bryan Bagunas.    “Pressure po kasi gawa po nang iniwan nila na champion so kailangan din po naming mag-trabaho para makuha ang three-peat,” he said. Playing under national team coach Dante Alinsunurin, who steered the country to a silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games last December, and alongside PHI squad members setter Owa Retamar and libero Ricky Marcos, Camposano knows the weight of playing for NU. And he is ready to do his part in his first and last stint with the Bulldogs. “Mayroon pong pressure lalo na po’t professional and national coach ang coach namin. Nakaka-pressure lang din po talaga. Basta kung ano ang gustong mangyari nina coach, susunod lang po,” he said. Come game time, expect nothing less from returning Camposano.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 25th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: NU Bulldogs keeping a close guard of the throne

Defending champion National University is looking to sustain its winning form in the post-Bryan Bagunas era. Although the Bulldogs lost a prolific scorer in Bagunas along with veterans Kim Malabunga, Madzlan Gampong and Francis Saura after their successful back-to-back title run last year, NU remains to be a formidable team with key returnees which include national team members setter Joshua Retamar and libero Ricky Marcos. But the holdovers know that protecting their crown this UAAP Season 82 won't be an easy task especially with a very competitive field this year. "Kailangan naming pag-igihan at paghirapan kasi ang daming nawala sa amin," said Marcos, who together with team captain James Natividad and three other seniors are on their swan songs. Retamar, who was the main setter of the Nationals who won the silver medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games last December, stresses that they have to play mature this year if they want to keep their hold of the throne.  "Ang mindset po naming lahat na kailangan po talaga mag-mature kami sa lahat ng ginagawa namin sa court. Lalo na ang mga decision-making namin," said the 19-year old playmaker. "So kailangan lahat ng kilos, lahat ng decision-making namin sa loob ng court pulido po at lahat nasa sistema ng nilalaro namin." Also making his return is last year's top rookie Nico Almendras while the Bulldogs added a new weapon in Edward Camposano, the Season 77 Rookie-of-the-Year. Camposano, a transferee from University of the East, is expected to fill in the shoes left by Bagunas.  "Ok naman po [ang connection] namin. Same na same sa way ng atake, halos same lang po sila ni Kuya Bry," said Retamar of Camposano, who was a member of the national team that saw action in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games. For Natividad, he is confident that Bulldogs remain to be as dangerous as they were the year before. "Malaking bagay na nawala ang apat na seniors. Pero bilib din ako kay Coach Dante [Alinsinurin], kahit nawala ang mga seniors namin may mga pumalit na halos apat na taon na sa second six," said Natividad. "Kumbaga hinasa sila para pag-graduate ng mga seniors may papalit na maayos." "'Yun siguro ang pinagkaiba namin sa ibang teams," he added. As part of their preparations, the Bulldogs trained in Japan to address their weaknesses and further develop their strengths. "Sa Japan talagang nag-training kami sa defense and blocking. Dati problema namin ang service receive pero sa Japan yun po talaga ang natutunan namin and na-improve," said Retamar. ---  Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 18th, 2020

Ildefonsos part ways with National U after UAAP 82

Dave Ildefonso's strong start to his collegiate career will be put on hold. Ildefonso will be moving on from National University and will continue his collegiate career elsewhere. No less than brand new Bulldogs head coach Goldwin Monteverde confirmed the development, Sunday. A week ago, the 6-foot-3 swingman was already reported to have talked with officials from the Sampaloc-based school about transferring. Coach Gold affirmed the reports and added that "most probably," Ildefonso will be heading back to Ateneo de Manila University. The now-20-year-old made a name for himself as a versatile wing for the Blue Eaglets' contending teams in the Jrs. From there, he committed to National U where he averaged 16.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in two seasons. If Ildefonso does make his way back to Katipunan, he will first have to sit out a season before reuniting with former teammates SJ Belangel and Jason Credo and then joining forces with the likes of Ivorian tower Ange Kouame and Ramos brothers Dwight and Eli. Asked about his impending homecoming, however, the former Batang Gilas standout gave neither a confirmation nor a denial. What's certain, he said, is that he will be announcing his next step within the week. The second of the siblings is not the only family member leaving National U as patriarch Danny Ildefonso is also no longer part of the coaching staff. The PBA great and school legend had spent the last three years as an assistant for former coach Jamike Jarin. Meanwhile, Shaun Ildefonso is staying put in blue and gold. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2020

20 for 20: Pinoy Sports Personalities to Watch in 2020

As we enter a new decade, ABS-CBN Sports takes a look at 20 Pinoy sports personalities destined to shine in 2020.    Kiefer Ravena After an 18-month wait, Kiefer Ravena is finally back in basketball. Despite only playing in the PBA’s third conference, his impact was immediate, leading NLEX to the number 1 seed in the Governors’ Cup. The Road Warriors didn’t advance sure, but if Kiefer can impact a team that way in limited time, wait until you see what he can do with a full offseason.   Alex Eala At just 14 years old, Filipina tennister Alex Eala is already turning heads, and she’s yet to turn pro. With a runner-up finish at the ITF Mayor’s Cup in Osaka, Japan and her first ITF Juniors title in Cape Town, South Africa, Alex has had quite the fruitful year, leading to a career-best 11th-place ranking in the ITF Juniors table to finish the year.  Heading into 2020, Eala now has her sights set on turning pro as she plans to join more professional tournaments to raise her ranking even more. Expect the young tennis star to make even more headlines in the coming year.     Bryan Bagunas A vital cog in the national team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Bagunas is considered as one of the best Filipino volleyball players in this generation. Eyes will be on his blossoming international career playing as an import in the Japan V. Premier League.         Margielyn Didal While already a household name in Philippine skateboarding due to her success in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Margielyn Didal made even more waves in 2019. The 20-year old Cebuana reached the semifinals of the 2019 SLS World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and captured gold in the 2019 National Championships and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.  Didal is currently looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and if she can do so, it’s highly likely that the Pinay skater can become an even bigger star in the industry.    Marck Espejo After his spectacular collegiate career with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Marck Espejo's colorful career as part of the men's national volleyball team and in the club league continues to blossom. Just like Bryan Bagunas, Espejo will be showing his skills internationally with a stint in Thailand following a historic silver medal finish at the 30th SEA Games.   Yuka Saso After a decorated amateur career that saw her  participate in major tournaments such as the Ladies’ European Tour, the Summer Youth Olympics and claim top honors in the 2018 Asian Games, 2018 and 2019 Philippine Ladies Open, and the 2019 Girls’ Junior PGA Championship, 18-year old Pinay golfer Yuka Saso finally made the jump to pro in November of 2019.  With even more competitions in store plus a 2020 Tokyo Olympics berth in her crosshairs, it’s quite likely that we hear more about Saso in the coming months.  Carlos Yulo Perhaps no other young athlete in the Philippines shot to stardom faster than gymnastics phenomenon Carlos Edriel Yulo. After a gold medal finish in the floor exercise at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Yulo hauled in even more hardware in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, taking home two more gold medals and five silvers.  Yulo’s spectacular 2019 earned him a spot in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and if his SEA Games and World Championships performances are any indication, Caloy is bound for another podium finish on the biggest stage there is.   Eya Laure Last UAAP season’s rookie of the year will return as the heir apparent of Season 81 MVP Sisi Rondina. With her national team stint, all eyes will be on the younger Laure as she reunites with older sister EJ as they try to bring University of Sto. Tomas back in the Finals after falling short last year. Hidilyn Diaz 2019 was another big year for Olympic silver medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, highlighted by her first ever gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Diaz also finished with silver medals in the 2019 Asian Championships and a bronze in the 2019 World Championships.  All those podium finishes are crucial in Diaz’s quest for another Olympics berth in 2020. Should the 28-year lock up another spot in the Summer Games in Tokyo, we could see another Olympic medal coming home.    Kat Tolentino  After initially announcing that she would not come back for her final season in the UAAP, Kat Tolentino changed her decision and will suit up for the Ateneo Lady Eagles once last time, providing a great morale-booster in their bid for back-to-back titles. Tolentino’s leadership will be tested as she will be leading a young team.      Joshua Pacio 23-year old Joshua “The Passion” Pacio proved to be the brightest spot for Philippine MMA stable Team Lakay in 2019. After opening the year with a questionnable decision loss to Yosuke Saruta, Pacio silenced any doubts in the rematch and regained the ONE Strawweight World Championship with a highlight-reel headkick knockout. Pacio would follow that up with another masterful performance, this time with a second-round submission win over top contender Rene Catalan before the end of the year.  2020 is shaping up to become another banner year for the rising Pinoy star, as he’s scheduled for another title defense on January 31st in Manila, this time against former champ Alex Silva of Brazil. A win for Pacio will solidify his claim of being the best strawweight ever in ONE Championship history.     Louie Romero The Adamson University freshman displayed great potential during the pre-season when she piloted the Lady Falcons to title win in the PVL Season 3 Collegiate Conference. Romero is expected to be a gem of a setter for the young Adamson squad hoping make a return in the UAAP Final Four. Manny Pacquiao While eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao is certainly in the twilight of his professional boxing career, 2019 showed that he is still one of the best around. A successful title defense over Adrien Broner followed by an impressive dismantling of the previously-undefeated Keith Thurman to capture the WBA’s primary world title proved that even at 40, Manny Pacquiao is still a big name in the sport.  With Pacquiao targeting an early return in 2020, more big names are lined up to fight “the People’s Champ”, including names like Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and even a title-unification bout against Errol Spence. Still, the biggest fight that is out there proves to be a rematch against Floyd Mayweather Jr, granted that “Money” finally bites.    Faith Nisperos A key addition for the repeat-seeking Ateneo de Manila University. The highly-touted rookie hitter will add height and firepower for the Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball. In the previous PVL Collegiate Conference, Nisperos flashed her scoring prowess, exploding for 35 points in one outing.   Robert Bolick The two best rookies of 2019 were CJ Perez and Robert Bolick. We know what we can expect from CJ, but Bolick is an interesting case as 2020 will be his return from knee injury. Bolick could still win Rookie of the Year, but even if he doesn’t, his return to Northport could push the reloaded Batang Pier from a Cinderella team to full-on PBA title contender.   Joshua Retamar His playmaking skills as well as his efficiency on net defense during the national team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games makes him a setter to watch out for come UAAP. Retamar is an asset for National University’s three-peat bid.       Kai Sotto The Philippines' 7-foot-2, 17-year-old is opening eyes as he suits up for Atlanta-based The Skills Factory - so much so that he has already gotten interest from quite a few US NCAA schools. Before Sotto continues breaking the glass ceiling for Filipinos, though, he will go home for a while to wear the flag with Mighty Sports-Pilipinas in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament.   Jema Galanza Coming off a great outing to close the PVL Season 3 highlighted by copping the Open Conference MVP award, expectations are high for Jema Galanza as Creamline aims to reclaim the PVL Reinforced Conference crown and complete an Open Conference three-peat.      Kobe Paras Many questioned just what the 6-foot-6 tantalizing talent would bring to the table for UP - but more often than not, he had all the answers as he led the Fighting Maroons to their second straight Final Four. In the end, Paras was actually the steadying force State U needed in what was a hyped up season. They may not have made it back to the Finals, but they still got much more motivation as they run it back for next year.   Pat Aquino What's next for the most decorated mentor in women's basketball? Pat Aquino followed up a six-peat for National U with the Philippines' first-ever gold medal in women's basketball in the SEA Games. Without a doubt, he will only continue steering the sport forward especially as the likes of UST and FEU are already gearing up to put up greater challenges in the new year.   Isaac Go Isaac Go is technically not the no. 1 pick of the 2019 PBA Draft but he is without a doubt, the no. 1 prospect of the year. His top selection from the special Gilas Pilipinas Draft is proof of that. Gilas Pilipinas has the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on deck in 2020 and as a new era dawns on the national team, all eyes will be on the biggest piece for the future that’s already drafted into the new Philippine squad......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2020

SEA Games: Tiwala lang sa isa t isa -- Espejo on miracle win

The Philippine men’s volleyball team stared at Thailand’s huge match point advantage in the fourth set. Thailand, a powerhouse team on a mission to win its fifth straight SEA Games title, needed just one point to finish off the Filipinos on Sunday in their 30th Southeast Asian Games men’s volleyball semifinals. The Thais held a 24-21 lead. Refusing to roll down and die, the Filipinos, 92 ranks lower than Thailand, came back to life to write a historic feat 42 years in the making. The Philippines booked a rare gold medal date with Indonesia in the country’s first men’s volleyball final since losing to Cambodia in the inaugural 1977 edition of the meet in Malaysia after ousting Thailand, 17-25, 25-20, 23-25, 27-25, 17-15, in front of 6,700 crowd at the rocking PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.  Their feat hinged on one simple word: trust. The host team saved three match points to knot the set before Bryan Bagunas scored to put the PHI up, 25-24.       Amorntep Konhan answered with a hit but Bagunas hammered another kill before the PHI completed the comeback after an attack error by Thailand to force a decider. Marck Espejo, a power server and top hitter, was on the service line during that pivotal stretch when the Nationals kept their necks above water. “Kahit nu’ng fourth set hindi ko alam kung idya-jump serve ko ba o ipo-float,” he recalled. He opted to just make sure his serve will go in. Never mind if Thailand will easily receive his serve, he knew his teammates will get the defensive stop.  “Sabi ko, ‘Hindi i-float ko na lang. Tiwala lang sa isa’t isa,’” said Espejo. “As in kinakabahan ako sa loob ng court nun. Di ko alam.” “Nu’ng natapos ang fourth set nagti-thank you kami kay Lord,” he added. “May breaks talaga siguro sa amin pumanig ang breaks talaga. Wala talagang imposible kung gusto mo lahat pwedeng mangyari.” The Nationals’ character was tested in the fourth set. The fifth turned out to be one for the ages. Kim Malabunga broke a 12-12 tie in the fifth frame with a huge kill block to put the Nationals up. Konhan tied it at 13 after Thailand called time. Kittinon Namkhunthod put Thailand at match point but Konhan sent his serve out. Konhan scored on an off the block hit but Malabunga tied it again at 15. Then the stars aligned in favor of the Filipinos. Bagunas got a kill block in after an unsuccessful challenge by Thailand before sealing the win with a thunderous hammer to an open spot at the back.    “Para sa akin naman kasama namin si Lord nu’ng naglalaro kasi umaga pa lang sumadya kami sa church para sa game na to kasi sobrang mahalaga tong game na to sa amin,” said Bagunas, who rained down 27 points to lead the Nationals. “Sobrang nakakaproud kasi ilang years na sila nagcha-champion tapos tinalo namin sila,” added Bagunas, who is in his second SEA Games stint. “Doon lumabas yung skills ng bawat isa. Talagang sobrang saya hindi namin ma-explain yung saya namin.” The mission is not yet over for the Filipinos as they are still facing the only team to hand them a loss in the competition. But they are undaunted. They know the battle will be a hard one but they have each other's back. Each trusting each other as brothers marching to the biggest fight of their lives.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 8th, 2019

SEA Games: After missing NU’s 6-peat, Jack hopes for gold with Gilas women

MANILA — One of National University’s basketball anchors, Jack Animam missed the Lady Bulldogs’ crowning glory in the UAAP after she was out when her team completed an undefeated 6-peat. Suffering an eye injury during the FIBA Olympic pre-Qualifying tournament in New Zealand, Animam wasn’t around for NU’s 95th and 96th straight victories in the UAAP to extend an unbeaten dynasty. Now fully healthy and back in action for Gilas Pilipinas women, Animam wants to make up by winning a gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. She’s certailnly off to a good start after the Philippines beat previous SEA Games tormentor Indonesia Thursday at the MOA Arena, 63-56. “2-3 weeks ago nandito yung collegiate team ko, nag-champion sila without me. Syempre gusto ko rin ma-emulate kung ano yung nagawa nila without me,” Animam said. “But with Gilas women. Gusto ko mag-gold. Gusto ko manalo para sa lahat ng mga taong sumusuporta samin,” she added. Animan has a habit of predicting wins — and she’s right pretty much all the time — but for 5x5 basketball in the SEA Games, she won’t make one. [Related: SEA Games: Animam predicts 3x3 gold for Gilas women] Instead, she says Gilas women will keep their focus as they know winning gold here will not be as easy as just speaking it into existence. Unlike the men’s team, the Philippine national women’s team has never won a gold medal in SEA Games basketball. At least not yet. “Basta ngayon ang masasabi ko lang, one game at a time kami,” Animam said. “Di kami pwede maging complacent, di kami pwede maging relaxed. One game at a time, papakita namin kung bakit yung women’s basketball nandito, and we will stay,” she added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 5th, 2019

UAAP Finals: Animam-less Lady Bulldogs close in on another season sweep

For the sixth straight season, National University is on the verge of rewriting history anew, topping University of Santo Tomas, 70-65, in a hardfought Game One of the UAAP Season 82 women's basketball Finals Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena and move on the cusp of a historic sixth straight championship. Kelli Hayes got things done for the Lady Bulldogs with her 16 points, four rebounds, two steals, an assist, and a block as they had to scratch and claw for this 95th straight win to extend this historic win streak. Her efforts couldn't have come at a better time with Mythical Team member Jack Animam missing the tiff. Animam hurt her right eye after getting elbowed in Gilas Womens' game against Korea last Saturday in the 2019 Fiba Women's Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament that kept her in New Zealand. "Everyone has big shoes to fill with Jack, not just Kelli," said coach Pat Aquino, relieved from the efforts that his girls showed. "I'm just happy. What can I say? I'm sad that Jack was not here with us, but happy that everyone stepped up." With NU holding on to a close 67-65 lead, Kaye Pingol buried the crucial three with 1:32 left to make it a five-point affair, before Hayes snuffed Jeorge Panti's drive in the final 37 seconds to quash UST's hopes for an upset. "I know they were going to come back. I just told the girls to keep on playing and don't mind the score and they were able to do so," he said. "I know that UST is going to come back, they've been great this season, but we always have to play NU basketball all 40 minutes." Pingol got her share of 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, and four steals, as Rhena Itesi topscored for the Lady Bulldogs with her 17 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks. Mikka Cacho also added 11 points and six rebounds as she had two of the three three-pointers for NU as it only shot 3-of-24 from deep. History is once again on the hands of the Lady Bulldogs, with a chance to lock up this sixth straight title in Game Two on Saturday, still at the same venue. Season MVP Grace Irebu bannered the Golden Tigresses with 17 points, 18 rebounds, and five blocks, as Tacky Tacatac collected 10 points, two boards, and two steals in the loss. The Scores: NU 70 -- Itesi 17, Hayes 16, Pingol 12, Cacho 11, Canuto 4, Del Carmen 4, Surada 4, Clarin 2, Bartolo 0, Cac 0, Fabruada 0, Harada 0. UST 65 -- Irebu 17, Tacatac 10, Ferrer 9, Soriano 8, Callangan 7, Gandalla 5, Portillo 4, Rivera 4, Panti 1, Gonzales 0, Javier 0. Quarters: 21-22, 41-38, 57-53, 70-65......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2019

Bagunas joins Philippine team for limited training stint

Bryan Bagunas hopes to make the most of his time training with the Philippine men’s volleyball team in Japan. The National University product joined the Nationals on Monday, reporting for training at the Sagamitana High School.  Bagunas, who is currently playing for Oita Miyoshi Weiss Adler in the Japan Premier League, will be with the squad for just four days to familiarize with the system and rotation and build chemistry.   “Friday ng morning aalis na ko kasi may game ako ng Saturday,” said Bagunas. The reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player will get a chance to see action with the Nationals in two tune-up games against FC Tokyo on Tuesday and Thursday.    “Siyempre ako sobrang masaya ako kasi nakasama na ulit ako sa training nila iba talaga sa feeling yung sarili mong bansa yung pinaglalaruan mo kaya sobrang excited ako na pumunta dito para makasama sila sa training,” said Bagunas. But it will be only time that Bagunas will share the court with his teammates in the 16-day training camp made possible by Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. and the Philippine Sports Commission as preparation for the 30th Southeast Asian Games next month in Manila. “Susulitin ko ‘to kasi ito na yung last na makikipag-training ako sa kanila kasi dadating ako SEA Games na talaga,” he said. “Kaya susulitin ko na makapag-perform ng maayos at makapag-communicate sa kanila para pagdating ng SEA Games may maipakita kaming maganda.” Looking at how the team has performed so far in their past four tune-up matches, including a win over Chiba Zelba in five sets Sunday night, Bagunas sees the Nationals are heading on the right direction in their goal of landing a podium finish in the biennial meet.   “Sa ngayon sa nakikita ko, halos talagang may communication na sa isa’t isa tsaka talagang nagkakaisa-isa na,” he said. “Nakita ko ‘yung depensa talagang grabe na rin ‘yung depensa talaga, nagtutulungan sa blockings tapos sa floor defense talagang tumaas ‘yung percentage ngayon ang daming nag-improve.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 12th, 2019