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SEA GAMES: The silver that glittered like gold

When the editorial staff of ABS-CBN Sports was tasked to come up with our most memorable coverage, it didn’t take long for this writer to respond. The Philippine men’s volleyball team’s Southeast Asian Games semifinal match was the first thing that came to mind. Pesonally, that game against the highly-fancied Thailand squad topped all the countless volleyball matches that I’ve covered in my career. I’m at a loss for words on how to describe the emotions I felt that chilly night of December 8, 2019. Around 6,700 fans filled the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City not knowing that what they were about to witness was something historic. A magical night that would take away the frustrations they felt the day before when the more popular women’s team finished the preliminary round winless. For us sportswriters covering that assignment, we knew the Filipinos were up for a tough ride. Thailand ruled the last four editions of the event. On the other hand, the Philippines’ last significant outing in the biennial meet was a bronze medal finish back in 1991 – or when the current national team’s oldest member, setter Jessie Lopez was just five-years old.      Did we doubt our own team? Let’s just say we prayed to the high heavens to give us something positive to write about. But don’t get us wrong. Those who followed the formation and preparation of the squad knew it would yield results come the SEA Games. After all, in all three batches of the Nationals that participated in the regional sports meet since 2015, this particular team had the longest time to prepare – around eight months to be exact. The team’s composition itself looked really promising. For the first time, two of country’s best hitters in Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas, who both have experience playing in the Japan V. League,  donned the tricolors together. Espejo returned after skipping the 2017 edition so did his teammates in the 2015 squad Rex Intal and setter Ish Polvorosa. Bagunas was on his second tour of duty along with team captain John Vic De Guzman, Mark Alfafara, RanRan Abdilla and libero Jack Kalingking. Head coach Dante Alinsunurin, who was appointed to handle the team after Oliver Almadro and Sammy Acaylar in 2015 and 2017, respectively, tapped an old hand in Lopez and injected young bloods in playmaker Owa Retamar, Jau Umandal, Kim Malabunga, Ricky Marcos and Francis Saura. As part of their buildup the Nationals joined the Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Championship July last year.          The Filipinos achieved a great feat when they won bronze. Fans were able to witness the Nationals’ campaign via YouTube streaming while we volleyball writers, got to file our full stories through the help of De Guzman and Bagunas (God bless their beautiful hearts) who supplied us with game stats and granted postgame interviews. It’s just a shame I never got to cover the team’s training in Japan when the Nationals’ preparation went on full throttle. (Note: A little confusion in the training camp coverage assignments had me flying to Japan with the women’s squad and Lance Agcaoili of Spin.ph joining the men’s team. But it was a great experience, nonetheless, and I’m grateful for Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. for the opportunity.)     I was as confused as the other sportswriters present during the draw for the group stage a couple of months before the SEA Games when Alinsunurin chose to join the four-team bracket with Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia. Those three teams are considered contenders every SEA Games edition. And earning a semifinal spot would be harder compared to the other group composed of Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore. Fortunately, the gamble was worth it. Espejo and Bagunas were superb offensively, Malabunga and Retamar made their presence felt and the Nationals’ blocking shocked Cambodia and Vietnam as the Filipinos swept them both to secure a semis seat.   Then came the steamrolling Indonesians. Honestly, I thought the Nationals would sweep their way to the group’s top seeding. That way the PHI’s would've avoided a semis clash with Thailand. Forced to take on the defending champions, the Filipinos found themselves down in the first set. They got back in the second frame before yielding the third. And when the Thais came to match point, 24-21, in the fourth we all thought it was over. Fans were slowly emptying the bleachers not wanting to see the impending defeat. I was already waiting for the final score. Ready break the result. Then a miracle happened. The Nationals nibbled on the Thais' lead to force a deuce. After another deadlock, the Filipinos stole the set. The fifth frame was classic story of ‘who wants it more will win.’ An extended set made it even more dramatic. I vividly remember that sequence when Bagunas hammered the game-clinching kill off a lob from Lopez. After that all that I can recall was me pumping my fist up in the air and slapping the hardest high-fives I ever did with those inside the press room while howling like a madman.    The national team assured itself of a silver after 42 years. A silver after four freaking decades. They did it. Of course, the Indonesians bullied their way to winning the gold medal in a sweep of the inexperienced Filipinos. But who cares, the host team exceeded its podium expectations. That silver that glittered like gold made that coverage truly memorable. But it never crossed my mind that it would be the last important volleyball event that I will get to report. (Note: It would’ve been the UAAP if not for the health crisis that put all sporting events to a halt. Sad.) And that’s why I ended up writing these last few paragraphs. A farewell from this section. From my first article for this website back on December 1, 2014 – a post-mortem of Petron’s breakthrough title in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix – to my last published story, these were all written with only one thing in mind: in the service of the Filipino sports fan worldwide. Our run may have not been perfect, of course, we had our flaws. We had our fair share of criticisms from fans, athletes, sports personalities and sometimes even from our partner leagues and properties. We accepted our shortcomings. We tried to be better. But we are proud of what we did. We take pride with how we delivered sports stories through various digital executions that showcased sports beyond the confines of competition. On midnight of September 1 while most of you lay sound asleep, deep in slumber, hopefully, having a good dream and hours away from waking up looking forward to a better day, this website will be snapped out of existence.  More than half a decade of sharing stories to the Filipino sports fan will be seeing its last presence online on Monday – a holiday to celebrate the nation’s heroes. This website will then hear its final buzzer, its final whistle. Thousands of articles – written with passion, dedication and love – will be taken down as this website goes offline together with majority of ABS-CBN Sports’ social media accounts. But soon, hopefully, it will once again see the light of day.    We do hope that you will remember us, for we will remember all of you who made us your Kapamilya.   -- 30 --   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles Mark Escarlote has served as a sub-section editor for ABS-CBN Sports' website since 2014. He is among thousands of ABS-CBN employees who will be retrenched on August 31, 2020.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

Pros brace for tough grind at Langer

While emphasis is on shotmaking and putting, most pros believe it will also be a question of staying power as they gear up for a gruelling duel for top honors in the last of two bubble tournaments in the Philippine Golf Tour restart beginning Tuesday (Dec. 8) at the Riviera Golf and Country Club in Silang, Cavite......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsDec 6th, 2020

Young Gilas cagers brace for experienced Thais

The Nationals, who will be spearheaded by Kobe Paras, Isaac Go, Dave Ildefonso, Dwight Ramos and brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, are scheduled to tackle the Thais at 9 p.m. (Philippine time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 26th, 2020

Intal considers semis win over Thais in SEA Games better than UAAP titles

Winning three titles in the UAAP is already an incredible feat. But for Ateneo de Manila University product Rex Intal, those college championships pale in comparison with the ecstasy he felt when the Philippine national men’s volleyball team toppled powerhouse Thailand in the semifinals of the 30th Southeast Asian Games last year. [Related story: SEA GAMES: PHI men's volleyball team advances to the gold medal round] A member of the Nationals who captured a historic silver medal in the biennial meet, Intal considers their thrilling come-from-behind win that dethroned Thailand in the knockout semis as the most memorable game he has ever played in.    “For me it was one of the best games talaga na nalaruan ko. Not the best performance pero best games na most unforgettable,” said Intal in his appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro. “Actually most unforgettable game na talaga.” The former Blue Eagle middle went as far as saying that the victory over the Thais, which was watched by an electric crowd inside the PhilSports Arena last December, even topped the three titles he had while playing for Ateneo.   “Naramdaman ko talaga na may tumalo na sa first, second and third UAAP championships. Sorry UAAP pero iba ‘yung SEA Games na naramdaman ko. Iba ang naramdaman ko nu’ng umabot kami ng Finals,” said Intal, who with PHI squad teammates Marck Espejo and Ish Polvorosa led the Blue Eagles to a UAAP grand slam from Season 77 to 79.   “Individually ah, hindi 'yung combined na three UAAP championships,” cleared Intal. “Siguro kapag combined medyo same.” The Nationals faced top seed Thailand, which ruled the previous four editions, on December 8 in the crossover semis attended by a 6,700-strong crowd.   The experience of playing in front of the home crowd in an all-important game that time was a surreal feeling according to Intal. “Grabe ang experience na ‘yun. Ang saya maglaro nu’ng time na ‘yun kasi first time ‘yung buong crowd hindi hiwalay,” said Intal of the atmosphere inside the venue compared to what he’s used while playing in the UAAP. “Lahat nagtsi-cheer talaga. In front of the home crowd ang sarap maglaro sa crowd na ‘yun,” he added. “Isa ‘yun sa di ko makakalimutan na experience sa buong buhay ko.” It was a dramatic win for the Nationals as they came back from a 1-2 deficit and a scary 21-24 hole in the fourth set to upset Thailand in five sets.   “Nu’ng nanalo kami nung napalo na ni Bryan ang bola sigawan na kami nun,” recalled Intal, who scored six points in the match playing in four sets. “’Di kami makapaniwala. As in lahat ng boses na mayroon kami kailangan naming ilabas.” “Totoo pala na kailangan mong kurutin yung sarili mo, ‘Totoo ba ‘to? Totoo ba ‘to?’” he added. “’Yung inisip ko nun ay ‘di ‘yung natalo namin ang Thailand. Ang naisip ko was may medal na kami.” That win assured the Philippines of a silver medal for the first time since its runner-up finish in the 1977 SEA Games in Malaysia and a rematch against group stage tormentors Indonesia. The Indonesians were too much for the inexperienced Filipinos as the host team yielded in straight sets. But still, although the Nationals fell short in the gold medal round for Intal the whole SEA Games experience especially their conquest of Thailand will always be on the top of his list.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2020

ON THIS DAY: Dawn Macandili was named Asia’s 2nd Best Libero

Dawn Macandili has reached great heights in her storied volleyball career. Three UAAP titles with De La Salle University, success in the commercial league including a Most Valuable Player award, numerous individual honors and a regular stint in the national team since 2017 are some of the highlights on her stacked resume. However, Macandili’s greatest personal achievement is when the Tanauan, Batangas native stood tall alongside Asia’s biggest name in women’s volleyball. Three years ago on this day, the diminutive defense specialist of the national team earned the honor of being one of the continent’s finest during the 2017 AVC Asian Senior Women's Volleyball Championship. Although the Filipinas ended up in eighth place in the 14-country field, Macandili gave the local crowd a sense of pride when she stepped on the podium to receive her 2nd Best Libero award. A reward worth all the dives, tumbles and running all over the court to chase the ball to keep the play alive. “Bawing-bawi,” the 24-year old libero said then. What made that night extra special for Macandili was it was also on that same day the year before when she became the first libero in a local commercial league to win an MVP award. In 2016, Macandili spearheaded F2 Logistics to the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference throne and on her way to bagging the highest individual award. During the competition, Macandili was the catalyst of the Nationals’ transition from defense to offense. Her court smarts, timing and athleticism in manning the floor proved to be a valuable asset for the then Francis Vicente-mentored squad. She made her biggest impact when the Filipinas defeated Southeast Asian powerhouse Vietnam. Macandili tallied 19 digs and 12 excellent receptions in a 27-25, 26-24, 17-25, 25-23, win over the Vietnamese in the quarterfinals classification round. Her impact during the course of the competition didn’t go unnoticed. The crowd inside the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna exploded in jubilation when Macandili’s name was called during the awarding of individual honors. Macandili during that memorable night stood alongside Asian stars Risa Shinnabe of  tournament champion Japan, who was named MVP, Korean star hitter Kim Yeon-Koung and Chatchu-on Moksri of Thailand, legendary Thai setter Nootsara Tomkom, middles Hattaya Bamrungsuk of Thailand and Japanese Nana Iwasaka and Chinese opposite hitter Jin Ye. Japanese Mako Kobata was the 1st Best Libero winner. “I think it shows that we Filipinos can achieve greater heights if we put our mind to it,” Macandili told ABS-CBN Sports in a separate interview.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 17th, 2020

ONE Championship: Kevin Belingon open to facing Martin Nguyen in a rematch

So far, only three people have been able to defeat reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin Ngyuen throughout his impressive career.  Two of those fighters - Marat Gafurov and Bibiano Fernandes - were reigning and defending champions when they beat Nguyen.  The other one beat Nguyen for the vacant interim ONE Bantamweight World Championship when Nguyen was arguably at the peak of his powers as the reigning ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion back in 2018. That man is none other than Kevin Belingon, who went on to become the bantamweight division’s king later that year.  Belingon has since lost the championship and is coming off back-to-back defeats at the hands of bantamweight rival Fernandes.  Because of that, the Team Lakay star’s main focus now is to regain the bantamweight crown.  But if ONE Championship comes calling with an opportunity at Nguyen and the featherweight title however, Belingon says he isn’t one to turn down another chance at a world championship.  “For me, the priority is still getting the ONE Bantamweight World Title back, but of course I am willing to challenge Martin for the belt if given the opportunity by ONE,” Belingon told ONE Championship. “Still, regaining my belt remains my top priority.”  The Belingon-Nguyen matchup was undoubtedly one of 2018’s best matches, with the two stars going the full five rounds. Belingon cemented his status as the bantamweight division’s top contender with a unanimous decision win over Nguyen, who himself was hunting for an unprecedented third world championship in as many weight divisions.  Since then, Nguyen has been unstoppable at featherweight, taking out former titleholder Narantungalag Jadambaa and Koyomi Matsushima to retain the featherweight championship.  With Belingon already owning a victory over Nguyen, it wouldn’t be surprising for ONE to give him a shot at the featherweight throne.  Belingon believes however that the sequel just be as hard, if not harder than the first meeting.  “If we face each other again, I expect the same tough Martin Nguyen who I faced before, someone who hits very hard and has very good timing,” he said.  If Belingon were to choose however, he says he’d prefer to face Fernandes again.  “If it comes to that? I think I’d prefer facing Bibiano again," Belingon admitted. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 6th, 2020

ON THIS DAY: Philippine volleyball makes SEA Games return

On this day five years ago, the Philippines made its return in the Southeast Asian Games after a 10-year hiatus. The hyped PHI women’s team saw action for the first time in the 2015 Singapore edition of the biennial meet and faced Indonesia in a match that drew headlines even before the actual game at the OCBC Arena Hall 2. In a controversial move, the Philippines filed a protest against Indonesia, demanding a gender test for its powerful spiker Aprilia Manganang because of her masculine appreance and physique. The request was denied by the Singaporean SEA Games organizing committee, citing that the FIVB had already cleared Manganang in a previous FIVB-sanctioned tournament. [Related story: Philippine request for gender test on Indonesian player denied] The protest backfired for the Filipinas as they were given a rude welcome by the Indonesians, particularly Manganang. Manganang let the Filipinas know that no amount of distraction will get her out of her game as she banged in 13 points to power Indonesia to a 25-22, 25-20, 25-14, win. [Related story: PHI protest backfires as inspired Manganang waxed-hot] Alyssa Valdez, who was the Team Philippines' flag-bearer, paced the Pinays with 15 points, but the towering sisters Jaja Santiago and elder sibling Dindin Santiago-Manabat were neutralized and had only seven and two points, respectively. It was a big letdown for the Nationals, who were bracketed in Group B together with Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. That SEA Games edition format assured the top two teams from each bracket at least a bronze medal. However, it did mark the historic return of the Philippines in the SEA Games since winning bronze in the 2005 Manila edition.    The Philippine women’s team that time was composed of Valdez, the Santiago sisters, Rhea Dimaculangan, Grethcel Soltones, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Maika Ortiz, Jia Morado, Rachele Anne Daquis, Aby Marano, Bea De Leon and Denden Lazaro under head coach Roger Gorayeb. In men’s play, the Filipinos found early success after beating Malaysia, 20-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-19, in their Group A opener. The Philippines was bracketed with Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia. Marck Espejo led that PHI team together with John Vic De Guzman, AJ Pareja, Rex Intal, Josh Villanueva, Kheeno Franco, Edward Camposano, Ysay Marasigan, Sandy Montero, Peter Torres, Timothy Sto. Tomas and Ish Polvorosa with Oliver Almadro calling the shots.     ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 10th, 2020

Beauty queens divided as Miss Universe Philippines, other countries open to transgender bets

After Miss Universe Spain 2018 Angela Ponce made a splash as the first transgender woman to have competed in the Miss Universe pageant, the Miss Universe Vietnam organization follows through with its acceptance of Do Tay Ha, a Business Administration student at the Ho Chi Minh University, as the national pageant's first transgender applicant......»»

Category: entertainmentSource:  philstarRelated News14 hr. 44 min. ago

Baldwin back in Gilas saddle

Veteran coach Tab Baldwin makes another tour of duty calling the shots for Gilas Pilipinas as he mentors the youthful Nationals in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers beginning Wednesday in Clark......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 13th, 2021

2 Chinese caught with P1B shabu in separate raids

Two alleged Chinese nationals were arrested as authorities seized around 155 kilograms of suspected shabu with an estimated value of P1.053 billion in two separate drug busts on Sunday......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJun 13th, 2021

Hanoi SEAG grapples with COVID-19

The Philippines is spearheading eight Southeast Asian countries that are against the postponement of the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam in November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 10th, 2021

Host Vietnam may postpone SEAG this year due to Covid

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam plans to postpone this year’s Southeast Asian Games, state media said Wednesday, as the country grapples with a new virus outbreak. The regional Olympics are due to be held in Hanoi and 11 other locations – some of them at the epicentre of the fresh Covid-19 wave – from November 21 […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 9th, 2021

Philippines among 8 nations calling for SEA Games to push through this year

The Philippines has spearheaded eight of the 11 Southeast Asian countries in pushing against the postponement of the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam in November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 9th, 2021

Danao track brings out best of mountain bike team

The Philippine mountain bike team is literally leaving no stone unturned as it gears up for the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam in November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJun 8th, 2021

Vietnam begs public for ‘vaccine fund’ donations after virus surge

HANOI, Vietnam (AFP) — Vietnam, once a model for its successful handling of the pandemic, has started asking for public donations to buy vaccines as it struggles to contain a new coronavirus wave. The Southeast Asian country has vaccinated only about one percent of its population of nearly 100 million, and authorities have become increasingly […] The post Vietnam begs public for ‘vaccine fund’ donations after virus surge appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 8th, 2021

Hanoi SEA Games being postponed?

The Southeast Asian Games Federation will meet tomorrow to discuss the possibility of rescheduling the 31st SEA Games edition in Hanoi, Vietnam in November due to the rising COVID-19 cases in the region......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 7th, 2021

SEA Games to be postponed?

The 31st Southeast Asian Games is facing the risk of getting moved to a later date or canceled altogether due to the rising cases of coronavirus infections in Vietnam and the rest of the region. Vietnamese sports officials admitted that they are having difficulty organizing the prestigious biennial meet that will feature 520 events in […] The post SEA Games to be postponed? appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 7th, 2021

US, magdo-donate ng 7-M ng kanilang 80-M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses sa Pilipinas at iba pang Asian countries

Ni Karen David     INANUNSYO ng White House na ang 7 million doses ay bahagi ng initial batch ng 25 million doses na idodonate ng US sa iba’t ibang bansa.   Bukod sa Pilipinas, ang makakatanggap ng donasyong bakuna sa Asya ay ang India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  pinasglobalRelated NewsJun 6th, 2021

Electronics makers told to brace for extended global chip shortage

Electronics manufacturers should brace for an extended shortage in raw materials as the revert to lockdown in many Asian economies would slow the production of chips globally until next year, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2021

Guidelines for training of SEAG athletes set

The Joint Administrative Order No. 2020-0001 on Sports has issued supplemental guidelines for the conduct of bubble training of Philippine Team-bound for 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2021