Advertisements


NCAA 95: Grateful Jerrick Balanza repays Letran community with championship

Letran Knights sharpshooter Jerrick Balanza had himself the perfect ending to his collegiate career as he dropped a game-high 27 points to lead his Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights to an 81-79 Game 3 win in the NCAA Season 95 Men's Basketball Finals over rivals San Beda University Red Lions, Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena, to return to the summit of the NCAA men's basketball summit.  The graduating Balanza was on fire all-game long as he drained big bucket after big bucket, none bigger than a crucial three to put the Knights up 79-73 with a minute and 29 seconds left. While San Beda would get it down to a one possession game with 5.4 ticks left, there would be no miracles for the would-have-been four-peat champs as the underdog Knights came up with a couple of crucial defensive stops, the last being a block from Balanza to secure the title.  "As a captain, kailangan kong patunayan sa team, and sa Letran community, tsaka, katulad nung sinabi ko nakaraan, kung sinong mas gusto manalo eh, so ako ginusto ko talaga, lahat ng takot ko sa tira, hindi. Inalis ko yun, talagang nilabanan ko,so yun," said Balanza, who added seven rebounds and three assists. "Maganda yung outcome, so nag-tuloy tuloy siya."  BIG SHOT JERRICK ???? #NCAASeason95 pic.twitter.com/GUJnfFi7kb — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 19, 2019 For Balanza, bringing an NCAA Men's Basketball Championship back to Intramuros was also the perfect way to repay the Letran community for everything that they've done.  Balanza was, of course, this season's most inspiring story, making a triumphant return after being sidelined midway through Season 94 due to a brain tumor from an ear infection. Balanza successfully underwent surgery in September of 2018. By July of 2019, Balanza was back in uniform for the Knights in Season 95.  Behind him every step of the way, Balanza says, was the whole Letran community, and winning a title was a way of showing gratitude.  "Sobrang bait ni God, talaga, sobra, dahil talagang lugmok na lugmok na ako nung time na yun eh," said Balanza during the post-game press conference. "Wala akong ginawa kung hindi maniwala lang sa Kanya at maging positibo, so ayun, sobrang sarap lang ng pakiramdam na napasalamatan ko yung Letran community and sa lahat ng naniwala sa amin sa pamamagitan ng [championship]." "Ito na, ito na yung ginawang way para mapasalamatan ko sila. Hindi ko man sila mapasalamatan isa-isa, ito na siguro yung ginawang way ni God." the 23-year old added.  Letran, you were always behind Jerrick. This is all for YOU! #NCAASeason95 pic.twitter.com/1MWpfL7qFJ — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 19, 2019 Coming into the season, the tall and talented Letran squad was indeed considered as contenders, but the favorites remained the defending champion Red Lions, and that standing was only reinforced by San Beda sweeping the eliminations and gaining an outright berth into the Finals.  Letran on the other hand, finished as the 3-seed and found themselves going through two do-or-die games against San Sebastian and Lyceum, before finally setting up a rematch of the NCAA Season 91 Men's Basktball Finals against the Red Lions.  Through all the adversity, there was never any doubt in Balanza that they would be able to topple the red and white giants and claim their 18th title.  "Sa amin naman kasi talaga ito eh," Balanza said with confidence. "Ako, vision ko na, na pag balik ko, magcha-champion kami kasi yun ang pinaka-magandang plano ni God para sa akin and sa team, so 'yun, tignan mo ngayon, ilang [buwan] lang, nangyari na."  After taking Game 1, Letran only proved that they were indeed a real threat to the impending San Beda dynasty, but a heartbreakingly-close loss in Game 2 nearly crushed the Knights' resolve. The graduating team captain Balanza however, would not allow that to happen.  "After ng Game 2, talagang sobrang down, yung iba akala nila hindi na kami mananalo sa Game 3, pero hindi, ako as a captain, kailangan ko silang dalhin para maglaro kami sa Game 3, and sinimulan namin sa ensayo, na parang kami na yung champion, so yun, maganda yung kinalabasan." Indeed, Balanza, as well as fellow senior Bonbon Batiller and Finals MVP Fran Yu stepped up in a big way to lead Letran to another title, their second against San Beda in the last five seasons.  "Sobra, sobra, sobra, sobra talaga, alam mo yun? Speechless ka na lang talaga, masasabi ko na lang talaga is Thank you, Lord, napaka-buti niyo sa akin," Balanza said.  With Balanza's tenure in Letran over and done with, the two-time NCAA champ hopes to have left a culture of caring within the team. He hopes to see the Knights keep the title in Intramuros next season.  "Siyempre, ako, lagi ko sinasabi sa mga teammates ko eh, kasi ako lagi talaga akong nagke-care sa mga teammates ko kasi sila na yung pangalawa kong pamilya eh, kasi mas matagal ko silang kasama kaysa sa pamilya ko, so yun, sinasabi ko sa kanila na kung ano yung iiwan namin ni Bon dito, ganun parin yung dalhin niyo next year, kasi kung paano namin kayo binuo, kung paano tayo nag-buobuo dito, mas tibayan niyo next year, balik natin sa Letran community yung back-to-back." Next for Balanza will be the professional ranks, as he and fellow senior Batiller revealed that they will be declaring for the upcoming PBA draft.  "Finished business na eh," Balanza said with a smile. "Para sa family namin, mag-aapply na na kami.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnNov 19th, 2019

New coach Jeff Napa searching for building block in CEU s post-Diouf era

Not only will Centro Escolar University have a new coach at the helm, it will also have a new foundation as it tries to continue its contention. The Scorpions have hired Jeff Napa, one of the tried and tested head coaches still available, to be their new mentor beginning in the oncoming 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup. Coach Jeff last called the shots for Colegio de San Juan de Letran from 2016 to 2018 and led them to one playoff berth. More importantly, however, he laid the groundwork for the Knights' championship in the most recent season of the NCAA by having recruited the likes of Larry Muyang, Bonbon Batiller, and Fran Yu. While his contract was not renewed by the Intramuros-based school after three years, he stayed on as consultant and remained a factor in the development of Muyang, Jeo Ambohot, and Jerrick Balanza. Of course, the 38-year-old, who has won three championships in the UAAP Jrs. as shot-caller of Nazareth School of National University, is nothing but grateful for the golden opportunity to once more call the shots in the collegiate ranks. "Very thankful ako sa CEU. Very excited din ako kasi kakaibang challenge naman," he said. Now in pink and purple, coach Jeff will be tasked to ensure that the Scorpions' sting remains as potent as ever despite the exits of former tactician Derrick Pumaren as well as Senegalese double-double machine Malick Diouf. For his part, the product of National U is nothing but looking forward to proving his worth anew. "Up to the challenge naman ako na ituloy yung winning culture nila," he said. For now, coach Jeff has started the search for a brand new big man to build around - especially as he had made a name for himself as a so-called "big man whisperer." CEU has no leads just yet, but the school has long had a rich history of dominant big men from the likes of Rod Ebondo to Diouf. Helping out Napa in his new post will be longtime lieutenant Chico Manabat. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2020

NCAA 95: Coach Aldin: Hindi mawawala yung pagiging Letranista

Colegio de San Juan de Letran last won against archrival San Beda University in Game 3 of the NCAA 91 Men's Basketball Tournament Finals - when the former got the championship at the expense of the latter. Fast forward almost five years and that title-winning team made its presence felt for the blue and red anew. Letran's core from 2015 pulled off almost perfect attendance on Saturday with head coach Aldin Ayo, JP Calvo, Mark Cruz, Mcjour Luib, Rey Nambatac, Bong Quinto, and Kevin Racal all present inside the Cuneta Astrodome. From then to now, coach Aldin sees nothing but the same sort of charge by the Knights. "Iba na ang mga players except for Jerrick [Balanza], pero if there's one thing that's constant, yung community. Nandoon pa rin yung suporta, nandoon pa rin yung 'Arriba,'" he said, referring to Jerrick Balanza who was then a rookie in their championship run and is now playing out his fifth and final year. He then continued, "In terms of how they play, it's different, pero sa ugali ng players, I think it didn't change. Magpalit man ng sistema at ng coaches, yung tradition, nandun na yun. Hindi mawawala yung magiging Letranista." And that fight, even though it ended up in a loss, will be all the Intramuros-based team needs for another breakthrough. After all, that was all that Coach Aldin's agents of "Mayhem" counted on in their Cinderella story four years ago. "Of course, masarap sa pakiramdam na babalik sa ganito. Before ka umalis, you were successful and the players, they take pride in what they were able to accomplish," the fiery mentor said. He then continued, "Siyempre, we are hoping na maulit and that's why we're here to support them." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2019

It s a Muyang-Sangalang fearsome frontcourt in Coach Bonnie Tan s NCAA First 5

Bonnie Tan has been calling the shots for Colegio de San Juan de Letran from 2019 to present. Before this, the always amiable mentor was at the helm for Lyceum of the Philippines University from 2011 to 2013. Through all of that, he has had a hand in the discovery and the development of young talent for his teams as well as the game planning for the opposing rising stars. Among all of those, who are the best of the best for him? Here is Bonnie Tan's NCAA First 5, as he told ABS-CBN Sports: LARRY MUYANG Muyang is the first and foremost reason Letran could no longer be called undersized. The 6-foot-5 behemoth is the very definition of a paint presence and is the pillar of the Knights' legitimate contention. Former coach Jeff Napa recruited and returned Muyang's confidence - and he only became better in his first year under coach Bonnie. IAN SANGALANG Before Muyang, there was another Kapampangan who made a living at the post. Sangalang used all of his 6-foot-7 frame to will his way inside and win a championship and an MVP. From the other sidelines, Coach Bonnie had, without a doubt, more than a few headaches thanks to him. JERRICK BALANZA Balanza is the homegrown star turned head surgery survivor. Having gotten through a life-threatening operation, the 6-foot-2 swingman no longer had any fear once he was cleared to play again. And in his last year, he only inspired his teammates to be just as courageous - all the way to the championship. ROBERT BOLICK Bolick was the biggest thorn on the side of Letran in coach Bonnie's turn as team manager. In fact, the 6-foot-1 playmaker went undefeated against San Beda's archrival. And so, coach Bonnie is nothing but relieved that "Big Shot Bolick" is now his lead guard over at NorthPort. JIOVANI JALALON The reason Jalalon was dubbed as "Bus Driver" by ABS-CBN Sports analysts was because he took everybody to school. And on more than one occasion, coach Bonnie and his LPU teams were taken for a ride by the primetime playmaker. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 17th, 2020

Fran Yu: Gusto namin patunayang di kami nakatsamba

Colegio de San Juan de Letran was always a legitimate contender in NCAA 95. After San Beda University won each and every one of its elimination round games, however, few, if any, gave the Knights a chance to win it all. The Red Lions, of course, were already awaiting in the championship round while their archrivals had to go through San Sebastian College-Recoletos and then Lyceum of the Philippines University. Letran did just that, though, and took care of business against RK Ilagan and the Golden Stags and then took down the Marcelino twins and the Pirates. Still, San Beda was marching towards history, two more consecutive victories away from the biggest season sweep in the Grand Old League. Only, the Knights put an end to that in Game 1, shocking the world with a 65-64 decision. In the end, Letran shocked the world even more, dethroning its fiercest foe and winning it all. Now, the boys from Intramuros are far from satisfied. "Ngayon, gusto pa rin naming mapatunayang kaya talaga naming makipagsabayan. Kasi nga, diba all-Filipino kami tapos yung nakalaban namin, hindi," Fran Yu said in last Friday's The Prospects Pod. He then continued, "Gusto namin patunayang 'di kami nakatsamba. May gusto pa kaming i-prove." Indeed, the Knights will be out to prove their title was no fluke, but will have to do so sans Jerrick Balanza and Bonbon Batiller. Fortunately for them, Yu is nothing but ready and raring to take on a bigger burden. As he put it, "Kapag point guard, kailangan mong mag-lead, kailangan mong mag-assist para buong team yung tumatakbo." He then continued, "Yung pagiging leader ko, galing kay Toto [Calvo], kay Bong [Quinto], tapos kay Jerrick [Balanza] at Bonbon [Batiller], ayun lahat sila nasa PBA na, so parang gagayahin ko na lang kung paano yung pag-lead nila sa amin." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: Ayo s Mayhem Letran vs Tan s Big, Bad Letran

In the last decade, only one school has stood between San Beda University and its complete and utter dominance of NCAA Men's Basketball. That school? The Red Lions' archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran. In 2015, the Knights came from out of nowhere to put a stop to San Beda's search for a sixth straight title. Four years later, the Red Lions were going for a fourth consecutive championship and, more impressively, a season sweep only to be resoundingly rejected, yet again, by their archrivals. And so, Mendiola is home to 80 percent of total trophies since 2010. The other 20 percent, though? They are proudly presented in Intramuros. Come to think about it, though, which triumph over its fierce foe was sweeter for Letran? Here in ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown, that is what we aim to answer. To determine who comes out on top between the blue and red's proud champions, we will be judging them in five categories (frontcourt, backcourt, coaching, level of competition, and shock factor) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. FRONTCOURT The trademark of Aldin Ayo's very first championship team was that of playing much bigger than its expectations, its own size, and its, more often than not, bigger opponents. Ayo's nominal center was 6-foot-5 Jom Sollano while his regular 4-man was 6-foot-4 Kevin Racal. Off the bench, his first quote-unquote big was 6-foot-3 Felix Apreku. Still, those three played their roles to a tee and, along with the rest of the team, assembled a well-oiled machine that made the most of its speed advantage. Fast forward four years and "undersized" could no longer be used to describe Letran. In 6-7 Christian Balagasay, 6-6 Jeo Ambohot, 6-6 Pao Javillonar, 6-5 Larry Muyang, 6-4 Ato Ular, and 6-4 Mark Sangalang, Bonnie Tan finally had big, bad weapons in his arsenal. And for sure, those big, bad weapons flipped what was once a chink in the armor of the Knights into a super strength. And for sure, this department would be dominated by that rotation of ready and raring big men. Advantage 2019 Letran, 10-8 BACKCOURT The two teams' Finals MVP both come from the backcourt. Mark Cruz, like he has always done, came up big for Letran and averaged 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 3.0 steals Fran Yu, meanwhile, used the big stage and bright lights to break out to the tune of norms of 13.7 points, 6.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. In those two, the Knights had capable and confident counters to San Beda's own primetime playmakers in Baser Amer and Evan Nelle. The edge here, however, would have to go to Cruz whose signature play in the winner-take-all Game 3 was not a shot. Rather, it was a setup - after driving through the lane and drawing defenders with under a minute left, he found Sollano open at the baseline. Sollano only made good on the assist and his shot proved to be the go-ahead basket for the title. Add Rey Nambatac's offense and Mcjour Luib's defense here and Ayo's Letran just had a more well-rounded backcourt compared to Tan's which also included Jerrick Balanza and Bonbon Batiller. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 COACHING Ayo is one of the best collegiate coaches in all of the Philippines. He has seen Tab Baldwin win the last three titles in the UAAP, but it still wasn't that long ago when he won back-to-back championships with different teams and in different leagues. Time and time again, the youthful mentor has proven to get the most out of his players - from the Cruz-Nambatac-Racal triumvirate in Letran to Ben Mbala-Jeron Teng De La Salle University and now, University of Sto. Tomas with Soulemane Chabi Yo, Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, and Mark Nonoy. What he doesn't have, however, are the so-called "super friends" of Tan. Through the NCAA 95 Finals, NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio and assistant Jeff Napa were sharing their mind with the Knights themselves during timeouts. They were informal additions to regular assistants Rensy Bajar, Lou Gatumbato, Raymond Tiongco, and Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio. Even more were behind the bench in Letran special assistant to the rector for sports development and San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua, NorthPort team manager Erick Arejola, Columbian governor Bobby Rosales and head coach Johnedel Cardel, and Magnolia governor Rene Pardo. Asked about all those behind his back, Tan answered then, "In business, you need partners to be successful and in sports naman, we need friends lalo na yung mga may alam kung paano manalo. Friends ko yan lahat so welcome sila - brainstorm and synergy kami." Still, it's already a given by this point that competition only fuels the already burning fire inside Ayo. With that, there is just no doubt that he would only push himself harder and farther in the face of Tan and his so-called "super friends." And the one-time NCAA and one-time UAAP champion coach much more motivated than ever is nothing but a scary thought. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION NCAA 91 was the year of "Kagulo sa NCAA." Then, six squads out of 10 had a legitimate claim to a playoff berth. So competitive was the field that Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado's Arellano University as well as a University of Perpetual Help side that had Scottie Thompson, Prince Eze, and Bright Akhuetie fell short of the Final Four. Illustrating the competition even further, the season's Finalists only had one member of the Mythical Team between them - San Beda's Art Dela Cruz. On the other hand, NCAA 95's playoff cast was completed a week before the end of the elimination round. Yes, there was a Red Lion team that automatically advanced to the Finals and had three out of five Mythical selections. Still, that tournament's fourth-seed was San Sebastian College-Recoletos who had an 11-7 standing. Comparing that to NCAA 91's fourth-seed in Mapua University who sported a 12-6 slate and the 2019 Golden Stags wouldn't even make the 2015 playoffs. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 SHOCK FACTOR It was a shock to see Letran upset San Beda in Game 1 of the NCAA 95 Finals after the latter won each and every game in the elimination round, It was even more of a shock to see the Knights actually topple the dynastic and season sweep-seeking Red Lions. Still, there was always an outside shot of that happening. "Letran is one of three shoo-ins for the Final Four – as well as a strong contender to wage war in the Finals and even possibly, hoist the trophy," ABS-CBN Sports stated in its preseason preview for the blue and red then. "This fully loaded lineup has the makings of a dynasty-ender – what’s only up in the air is if it would be motivated enough to do just that." On the other hand, nobody, nobody at all aside from Ayo had Letran contending in NCAA 91 - much more, winning it all. As ABS-CBN Sports stated in its preseason preview then, "It remains to be seen if the Knights' fortified defense and added offensive firepower can overcome their lack of size especially against the Final Four teams, all of whom have only gotten bigger." Even when the Knights finally charged to the championship round, not that many gave them a chance. In fact, all that doubt became tattooed on the mind of Ayo whose first words in the post-game conference when they finally claimed the crown was, "Joey, follow your heart!" The fiery mentor was referring to the Philippine Star's Joey Villar who said in the leadup to the Finals that his heart wants to root for Letran, but his mind knows San Beda would win. He wasn't alone. Even Ayo had to admit that his players themselves didn't believe until the season was already underway. "Sa totoo lang, nung team-building namin nung preseason, nung tinanong ko kung naniniwala ba silang magcha-champion tayo, they laughed. Nung natalo lang namin yung JRU nung (second game of the season), dun lang sila naniwala.," he said then. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 FINAL SCORE: 48-46 for 2015 Letran.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: Ayo s 15 Letran vs Ayo s 16 La Salle

Aldin Ayo is one of the best collegiate coaches in all of the Philippines. He has seen Tab Baldwin win the last three titles in the league he has been competing in, but it still wasn't that long ago when he did something so special that it may very well never ever be seen again. In 2015, Ayo came from out of nowhere to lead alma mater Colegio de San Juan de Letran not only to a surprise playoff berth, but to a shocking crown coming at the expense of archrival and defending champion San Beda, no less. A year later, he crossed over to De La Salle University and wasted no time assembling its Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng-powered machine into a juggernaut that went 16-1 and took the title from archrival Ateneo. Yes, Ayo won back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016 - but they came with different teams and in different leagues. Even more, he did it all by driving two definitely different vehicles - one aging, well-worn, and not expected to go anywhere far and the other customized, souped-up, and assumed to win it all. Which Ayo-coached championship is better? That's what we look into in the return of ABS-CBN Sports' Super Showdown. To determine who wins between Aldin Ayo's couple of championship teams, we will be judging them in five categories (frontcourt, backcourt, depth, mayhem, and intangibles) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. FRONTCOURT Mbala. That's it. That's more than enough for La Salle to dominate this department. The 6-foot-8 Cameroonian was so dominant in UAAP 79 that he ultimately became the first foreign student-athlete to win MVP in over two decades as he posted per game counts of 20.5 points in 53.3 percent shooting from the field, 15.6 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 1.4 steals, and 1.1 assists. Letran took pride in having gone all-Filipino and still giving the likes of Ola Adeogun and Allwell Oraeme all they could handle, but Mbala is Mbala and there will be nothing at all that 6-foot-5 Jom Sollano, 6-foot-4 Kevin Racal, and 6-foot-3 Felix Apreku could have done to even slow him down. And if by some miracle, the Knights find a way to have done so? Then the Green Archers could have just sent in Jason Perkins or Abu Tratter or even Justine Baltazar. But wait, there's more as when it mattered most, it was actually Teng who came through for the Taft-based team. Putting up per game counts of 19.0 points on 52 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in the Finals opposite archrival Ateneo, he was the undisputed MVP of the championship round as he just willed his way through the likes of Mike Nieto, Vince Tolentino, and Raffy Verano. Just imagine what he would do to the undersized Knights. Advantage La Salle, 10-8. BACKCOURT Mark Cruz is the prototype point guard for all Ayo-coached teams - fearless, fiery, and fast. Since then, Aljun Melecio and Mark Nonoy have followed his footsteps, but either is yet to put it all together like Cruz did back in 2015. Letran was not necessarily a good offensive team then and it fed off of its full-court pressure for easy looks and baskets. Still, whenever they needed a basket bad, the smallest player on the floor was, more often than not, there to come up big as he averaged 18.6 points, 4.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals and totaled a league-best 73 triples. Indeed, "Ant-man", who was named the NCAA Season 91 Finals MVP, would have posed problems for Melecio, Andrei Caracut, Thomas Torres, and even Kib Montalbo and Julian Sargent. And that's not even taking into account Cruz's fellow guards Mcjour Luib and Rey Nambatac also ready and raring to do damage. Advantage Letran, 10-9. DEPTH Mbala is scary. Teng is scary. Another thing that makes La Salle's 2016 championship team scary is the fact that its second unit would have been the starting five of several squads. Mbala, Teng, Torres, and Melecio were regulars in the first five while waiting in the wings were Caracut, Montalbo, Perkins, Sargent, Brent Paraiso, Prince Rivero and Abu Tratter On the other hand, Letran could only go six-deep with Apreku, Cruz, Luib, Nambatac, Racal, and Sollano while the likes of Jerrick Balanza, JP Calvo, and Bong Quinto were far from ready from delivering the goods just yet. And oh, La Salle's end-of-bench players for majority of the season? Well, it just included names like Baltazar, Mark Dyke, Jollo Go, and Ricci Rivero. Advantage La Salle, 10-8. MAYHEM In terms of physicality, Letran has La Salle beat in imposing the full-court pressure that was Ayo's then-trademark as the former forced opponents into 27.9 turnovers which were quickly converted into 24.6 points. What the Green Archers had far more, however, were more players who had more talent - as already ascertained by them winning the aforementioned "depth" department. That allowed them to put their opponents, including Baldwin-coached Ateneo, inside a pressure cooker where they forced 24.9 turnovers which were quickly converted into 24.2 points. In particular, Montalbo was at his very best in 2016, as he transformed into the "Man of Steal" and became the stuff of nightmares for opposing backcourts by norming a league-leading 2.8 steals. Make no mistake, Cruz and Luib would have eaten just about anybody alive who lost their nerves in the face of the blue and red "Mayhem" as they combined for 2.8 steals per game, but the green and white's deeper bench just meant their "Mayhem" never stopped. And with Montalbo, channeling his best Patrick Beverley back then, fronting the charge? Good luck to all the other teams trying to set up their offense. Advantage La Salle, 10-9. INTANGIBLES Rewind to Game 3 of the NCAA 91 Finals with Letran leading San Beda, 84-82, and Sollano at the line for one more free throw. With 6.7 ticks to go on the clock, Luib intentionally steps onto the lane even before Sollano puts up his shot. Looking at one another with questions in their eyes, Art Dela Cruz and Ola Adeogun follow Luib onto the lane. As it turns out, Luib wanted them to do just that. All along, the Knights knew the possession arrow pointed to them - and so, with the two teams committing lane violations, a jumpball was called and the ball was awarded to Letran. “Second free throw, rattles out.” “Samin!” “Nice one, Jour!” “And possession arrow points in favor of the Letran Knights!”#NCAASeason91 was, mos def, a good one. pic.twitter.com/42ODXWN9wK — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) March 19, 2020 Not long after, Cruz converted a couple of charities, but without a doubt, the play that clinched the championship for the Knights was Luib's outsmarting of Dela Cruz and Adeogun - a play that not many players would have been able to take and make, or even think about. Advantage Letran, 10-8. FINAL SCORE, 47-45 for Ayo's '16 La Salle.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 19th, 2020

2019: To sweep or not to sweep in collegiate basketball

The 2019 collegiate basketball season will always be remembered as the time when all of NCAA defending champion San Beda, UAAP Men’s defending champion Ateneo, and UAAP Women’s defending champion National U were trying for season sweeps. Two of them did it, one of them didn’t. All in all, though, that storyline that had something to do with history defined NCAA 95 and UAAP 82. A tale of two leagues – when it comes to foreign student-athletes NCAA 95 was the last season wherein the Grand Old League’s 10 member-schools were still able to trot out foreign student-athletes. This, after more than a decade of the likes of Sam Ekwe, Sudan Daniel, Allwell Oraeme, Prince Eze, and Mike Nzeusseu setting the bar higher for big men. Over in UAAP 82, Beninese ball of energy Soulemane Chabi Yo and Ivorian tower Ange Kouame jostled throughout the tournament for the recognition as top individual player. In the end, Chabi Yo followed in the footsteps of Cameroon’s Ben Mbala and Nigeria’s Bright Akhuetie as Season MVPs. The NCAA will go local from here on out while the UAAP will still parade promising prospects from overseas – what’s certain is that both leagues will go all-out to ascertain that the action will never stop. Rising stars become shining stars Robert Bolick left San Beda with a big, big hole at point guard – only for Evan Nelle to waste no time proving the Red Lions remain in good hands. UST’s fast and furious attack needed a fast and furious playmaker – and the Growling Tigers got just that in the form of Mark Nonoy. In his first year as FEU’s lead guard, L-Jay Gonzales showed time and time again why he was always seen as the next one in the Tamaraws’ long, long line of great guards. The story of the season in terms of guards, however, has got to be Fran Yu who came out of nowhere to energize Letran to a pleasant surprise of a championship. UP might 2019 was the first time in a long, long while – or maybe even ever – that UP was considered a shoo-in for the Final Four. The Fighting Maroons had just ended a 32-year Finals absence and a 21-year playoff drought last year and came into this season still with Bright Akhuetie, Jun Manzo, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan, but also now with Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero. In all, State U lived up to the hype and made it back-to-back Final Four appearances, but at the same time, fell short of fulfilling the promise of its fully loaded line-up. Still, continued contention is nothing but a welcome development for Diliman which had been experiencing dark, dark days for far too long. Gilas Pilipinas calling With Tab Baldwin overseeing the program, Gilas Pilipinas will try once more to take a long-term, big-picture view – especially with the 2023 FIBA World Cup looming large. With that, the American-Kiwi mentor tapped on five collegiate standouts to form the foundation of the national team – Ateneo’s Isaac Go and Nieto twins Mike and Matt, UE’s Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian’s Allyn Bulanadi. And with that, the Philippines is yet again leaning on the best of the best of collegiate basketball to wear the flag and do the country proud. It’s a new day, it’s a new generation The NCAA hit home runs in each and every one of its coaching changes. Bonnie Tan raised banner no. 18 for Letran in his first year. Randy Alcantara has Mapua prepped and primed to take flight. Louie Gonzalez has given JRU an attitude. Oliver Bunyi and Cholo Martin have EAC and Arellano, respectively, headed in the right direction. The same cannot be said for the UAAP as both of its new head coaches found themselves on the outside looking into the playoff picture. Jermaine Byrd had La Salle fighting, but ultimately failed to find a finishing kick. UE also kept coming with the leadership of Lawrence Chongson, but eventually ended eliminated. Teeth out, claws out, all-out UST has a proud program in basketball, but only had nine wins to show in 42 games from 2016 to 2018 That all came to an end in 2019 as Aldin Ayo had the Growling Tigers, well, growling from the get-go. Bombing away at their opponents and forcing them to keep up, Espana made its mark as a legitimate contender that made it all the way to the Finals. There, they were sent away by Ateneo’s championship-winning machine, but the future remains bright for the black and gold with all of Season MVP Chabi Yo, Rookie of the Year Nonoy, captain CJ Cansino, Brent Paraiso, and Sherwin Concepcion, among others, coming back for more. Fitting farewell for Ateneo’s championship core Thirdy Ravena. Isaac Go. Mike Nieto. Matt Nieto. Adrian Wong. Those five left Ateneo on top of the world – having claimed a three-peat as well as completed a historic season sweep. And without a doubt, those five were also the catalysts in this new golden age for the Blue Eagles – a golden age which has seen them set and then raise the standard for team glory time and time again. Katipunan will have a tough time moving forward from those five, but at the same time, having the likes of Ange Kouame, Will Navarro, Gian Mamuyac, and SJ Belangel just waiting in the wings makes it easier. Who run the world? National U has not lost a game in 2,270 days. National U has not lost a game in 74 months. National U has not lost a game in six years. The last time head coach Pat Aquino had to lift up the spirits of his Lady Bulldogs was back in October 5, 2013 when they bowed to La Salle in the winner-take-all Finals Game 3. Since then, the blue and gold has been the gold standard of women’s basketball all while giving its opponents the blues. That didn’t change this year as behind Jack Animam and Rhena Itesi as well as welcome additions Kelli Hayes and Camille Clarin, National U continued to have all the answers – even for back-to-back Season MVP Grace Irebu and UST. Shock the system Letran was, in no way, given a chance to deny archrival San Beda’s bid for a perfect season – or much more, win the championship altogether. But the Knights didn’t listen and took that chance themselves, catching just everybody by surprise by taking Game 1 and dealing the Red Lions their first defeat in the season. San Beda bounced back in Game 2, but in the decider, Jerrick Balanza, Bonbon Batiller, Larry Muyang, and Yu just willed Letran to the title. Now, the Knights are kings for the 18th time – and indeed, they had no import, but had no problem. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2019

Balanza, Saints take fight out of Heroes in NCAA All-Star

Jerrick Balanza's winning streak continues in the NCAA 95 All-Star Game. Battling back from 18 points down in the last eight minutes, Balanza and Team Saints got the better of very game Team Heroes for a well-earned 113-111, Tuesday at MOA Arena. Fresh off a championship run for Colegio de San Juan de Letran, the graduating guard came up clutch for Team Saints and converted 3-of-4 charities in the final minute to complete their comeback from an 82-100 deficit at the 7:23 mark of the final frame. Balanza wasn't on the floor, though, when Team Saints detonated their blast. Rather, it was University of Perpetual Help's Edgar Charcos and San Sebastian College-Recoletos' RK Ilagan who were at the spearhead of the charge, with the former scoring seven and the latter scoring six points in the 21-6 run that put them ahead, 108-106. Jio Jalalon's, the pride of Arellano University, short stab tied the tally at 108-all with under two minutes left, but it was at that point that the King Knight's aggressiveness led to four free throws, all but one he hit. Jalalon's connection with former running mate Kent Salado yet again pulled Team Heroes within one, 110-111, with 24.2 ticks to go, but San Beda University's Clint Doliguez and Ilagan's splits from the stripe sealed the deal once and for all for their side. In the end, Balanza had 13 points, four rebounds, and two assists en route to being recognized as All-Star Game MVP while Doliguez and Ilagan also added nine and seven markers, respectively. Altas big man Ben Adamos topped the scoring column for Team Saints with 18 points on top of nine rebounds to help Letran remain inside the winners' circle even in the exhibition game. Completing the lineup for the winners are College of St. Benilde's Aaron Umlas, Unique Naboa, and Justin Gutang; Letran's Rey Nambatac and Bonbon Batiller; Perpetual's Justine Alano and Edgar Charcos; San Beda's Ryusei Koga and AC Soberano; and San Sebastian's Chris Baluyot and Alvin Capobres. For Team Heroes, Chiefs center Justine Arana showed the way with 22 points, seven rebounds, four blocks, and two assists while Jalalon and Salado merged for 17 markers, eight boards, and seven assists. Marcelino twins Jayvee and Jaycee also made Lyceum of the Philippines University proud with the former finishing with 22 points, five rebounds, and four assists and the latter ending with 12 markers, three boards, and two dimes. Rounding out their roster are LPU's Kevin Lacap, Sidney Onwubere, JP Maguliano, and Jethro Mendoza and JP Maguliano of Emilio Aguinaldo College, Ry Dela Rosa and Agem Miranda of Jose Rizal University, and Arvin Gamboa and Noah Lugo of Mapua University BOX SCORES SAINTS 113 - Adamos 18, Balanza 14, Umlas 11, Doliguez 9, Charcos 8, Ilagan 7, Nambatac 7, Batiller 6, Capobres 6, Alano 6, Naboa 5, Soberano 5, Baluyot 4, Gutang 4, Koga 3. HEROES 111 - Arana 22, Marcelino JV. 22, Jalalon 14, Marcelino JV. 12, Gamboa 10, Maguliano 8, Miranda 7, Onwubere 5, Mendoza 5, Dela Rosa 3, Salado 3, Lugo 0. QUARTER SCORES: 26-35, 47-62, 75-92, 113-111 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 26th, 2019

Rey Nambatac has no doubt Jerrick Balanza all good to go for PBA

Rey Nambatac was there when Jerrick Balanza played his first year in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Then, the two were key cogs in Colegio de San Juan de Letran's Cinderella run to the championship. Four years later, Nambatac was yet again there as Balanza played the last game of his collegiate career. The two were wearing the same colors once more, this time for Team Saints as they waged war with Team Heroes in the revamped All-Star Game, Tuesday at MOA Arena. And there, the current King Knight showed his senior just how far he has come - with 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists in their 113-111 come-from-behind win. Balanza also came up clutch, converting 3-of-4 charities in the final minute to complete their comeback from an 82-100 deficit at the 7:23 mark of the final frame. Because of that, Nambatac was left impressed. "Para sa akin, PBA-ready na talaga si Jerrick. Kailangan lang niya i-continue yung ginagawa niya ngayon," he said. Still, the Rain or Shine rising star had advice for his former teammate. "Pagdating sa PBA, more competitive pa kailangan. As much as possibble, dapat marunong ka i-outsmart mga kalaban mo," he shared. He then continued, "Yun lang. Mga konting adjustments lang para sa akin kasi overall naman, nandun na siya e." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 26th, 2019

THROWBACK: The stunning San Beda-Letran Finals face-off in Season 91

With yet another important milestone in its more than a decade-long dominance in the NCAA, the San Beda University Red Lions seek their fourth straight men’s basketball crown in Season 95. But in their roar to four, San Beda would face not just an old rival, but also a heartbreaking tormentor in the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, which denied them a colossal, record-setting six-peat in Season 91.  While carrying a spotless 18-0 slate behind MVP Calvin Oftana, Evan Nelle, James Canlas-Kwekuteye and coach Boyet Fernandez that forced the stepladder semifinals, wherein Letran emerged as the rightful finals contender, carried by skipper Jerrick Balanza, Fran Yu, Larry Muyang, and coach Bonnie Tan, with victories over San Sebastian and Lyceum, San Beda would dread a repeat of that debacle.  But definitely, the veteran Knight Balanza, moreso AC Soberano and Donald Tankoua of the present San Beda roster, along with the 20,158 individuals inside the venue couldn’t forget that long, grueling championship night on October 29, 2015 at the Mall of Asia Arena. Storied nemeses They were already part of their respective varsity rosters, with the Knights coached then by Aldin Ayo and the Red Lions mentored at that time by Jamike Jarin, when the storied nemeses met in Game 3 of the Season 91 Finals that fateful Thursday. In each of their two previous successive Finals meetings in Seasons 88 and 89 with mostly the same lineup, the Knights would bow in three games to the Red Lions, which claimed their third and fourth consecutive titles since 2010. The first San Beda-Letran NCAA Finals match in half a century happened in 2007, with San Beda winning the crown—the Red Lions’ second straight title then after a 28-year title drought. After San Beda took its fifth straight title at the expense of the Arellano Chiefs in 2014, Letran got the chance to face the Red Lions again in the Finals of Season 91, and they would go all-out to stop their bitter rival’s date with history. A six-peat? No way, the Knights would assert in their march onto the Best-of-Three with a more formidable team under the new aggressive young coach Ayo, a former Letran player, in their bid to notch its first NCAA finals victory over the Red Lions since the heydays of the Lauro Mumar vs Carlos Loyzaga duel in the 1950s. And in the Season 91 Finals, Letran took the first game, 94-90, but San Beda emerged victorious in the second, 68-61, arranging the winner-take-all. Moment of truth When that moment of truth came, the Red Lions were reenergized with their Game 2 win and became confident in snagging that sixth straight title. Faced with this, however, the Knights remained solid and unperturbed in their iron-clad “Mayhem” armor. True enough, San Beda was shut out of focus in the beginning, as the Knights romped with a raging run-and-gun, leaving the Red Lions scoreless in a key stretch, 8-0, for a 16-7 early lead. Javee Mocon and Michole Sorela would finally provide the needed stops and lead a spirited comeback for the Red Lions. But Letran’s Rey Nambatac would drop a clutch basket to give the Knights an eight-point advantage at the end of the first quarter, 20-12. JP Calvo would continue Letran’s scorching offense in the second quarter, instigating a 10-0 run in the first minutes. But San Beda will answer a 5-0 spurt of its own behind Tankoua and Soberano’s steady shooting and consistency in the charity lane. The Knights’ high-octane offense held the Red Lions at bay, but the Mendiola dribblers’ 11-of-15 free throws would still keep Muralla cagers within striking distance. By the 1:14 mark, Roldan Sara converted a triple to give San Beda its first taste of the lead, 39-38, but Nambatac provided Letran the marginal lead at halftime with his two free throws, 40-39. See-saw battle The Lions would take over at the start of the third quarter, behind a string of baskets from Mocon and Art dela Cruz. The Knights, however, would answer with a nine-point blitz from Jomari Sollano to wrest the lead back at 51-48. Mocon would extend the see-saw battle with a putback and free throws, 52-51. But a 3-0 spurt, capped off by Kier Quinto’s twinner at the end of the period still placed Letran on top at the end of the third quarter, 54-52. By the first few minutes of the final canto, San Beda seemed frustrated by Letran’s incredible defensive game. And the Knights would dictate the tempo, preventing the Red Lions to wrest control. Letran’s offensive might was also a big factor, with Kevin Racal sinking back-to-back threes, halfway in the fourth.  Graduating players Baser Amer and Ola Adeogun would prevent a Letran pull away, keeping it a manageable four-point deficit, 60-64. But after Racal and Finals MVP Cruz’s assault from three-point land gave Letran what seemed an insurmountable 75-67 lead with 1:53 left, the Knights were silenced by a shocking 8-0 barrage by the Red Lions at the end of regulation, with Amer scoring the equalizer, 13.5 seconds left, to send the game to overtime.  Extended play During the extended play, Amer scored off a gallant incursion to pad an 82-79 lead, 1:28 remaining, setting off wild chants from the San Beda gallery. But these were then muted after four unanswered points coming from Racal’s two charities off an Adeogun foul and Sollano’s midrange jumper after a 24-second violation by the Red Lions, that put Letran in the lead once more, 83-82, with 32.6 seconds left. After successive misses by Amer and Dela Cruz, Adeogun fouled Sollano as the Knights regained possession, and the Letran center marched to the charity lane for two free throws with six seconds left. Sollano would sink the first, and flub the second. In the battle for the rebound, Letran’s McJour Luib and San Beda’s Dela Cruz were then assessed a controversial double-lane violation by referee Nestor Sambrano, who awarded ball possession to the Knights under FIBA rules of “alternating possession.” With 3.7 seconds left to play, and Letran leading at 84-82, Sara had no other choice but to foul Cruz, who would also split his charities.  First title in 10 years, championship steak ended Sorela would then miss a desperation attempt near mid-court as time expired, sending the Letran crowd to a frenzy, with the Knights bagging its first title in 10 years, breaking the hearts of Bedans everywhere as the Red Lions’ five-year championship streak has ended. Racal would top-score for the Knights with 24 markers, most of which in that key stretch in the endgame. Sollano had his career game of 19 points and seven rebounds, Cruz finishing with 14, and Nambatac, 13. Dela Cruz would lead the Red Lions with a near triple-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists. He added a steal and two blocks in his incredible all-around game. Adeogun completed his duty in San Beda with a monster double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds. Fellow outgoing Lion Amer chipped in 14 points, which was similar to the output of the prolific Mocon. Will San Beda avenge this heartbreaking loss in their first Finals rematch against Letran since Season 91 and assert its remarkable dynasty or will the Knights frustrate the Red Lions anew and waylay them in an NCAA men’s basketball championship series for the second time in a row?  Watch Game 1 of the NCAA Season 95 Finals between the San Beda Red Lions and the Letran Knights starting on Tuesday, November 12, at the Mall of Asia Arena and live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, TFC.tv, TFC, iWant and livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 12th, 2019

Balanza on NCAA 95 Finals: Ang Letran, sanay na underdog

Four years since its Cinderella championship, Colegio de San Juan de Letran is back in the Finals in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament. And very much like 2015, the Knights have to overcome the odds if they are to upend three-time defending champion and archrival San Beda University. Still, that predicament is just what the Intramuros-based squad has, time and again, proven to be capable and confident of overcoming. "Ang Letran, sanay na underdog yan. Wala kaming foreign player so talagang puso lang ang labanan - patapangan, pangil sa pangil," team captain Jerrick Balanza said. He then continued, "Sa tagal ko sa Letran, yun ang natutunan ko - na lumaban ng tama." When it last hoisted the trophy, an upstart outfit led by Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, and Kevin Racal and guided by Aldin Ayo toppled a Red Lion side fronted by Baser Amer, Art Dela Cruz, and Ola Adeogun. Now, while Letran has gotten bigger and badder all while being led by Balanza, Larry Muyang, and Fran Yu, San Beda still remains favored as it completed a clean sweep of the elimination round. For Balanza, however, that doesn't mean anything at all - especially as he, personally, has already jumped over bigger hurdles. As he put it, "Ako, confident ako at positive lang lagi. I-momotivate ko lang yung team kong maging positive." He then continued, "'Di man kami nanalo sa kanila ng dalawang beses sa eliminations, makakabawi kami sa championship ng dalawang beses kung sakali." After all, the graduating guard is living proof that mountains can be moved after having overcome a brain injury and then brain surgery to play the game he loves once more. "Lagi ko lang binabalikan lahat ng nangyari sa akin at si God lang ang nilalapitan ko. Nagdadasal ako bago lumabas kasi alam kong ito yung plano niya," he shared. He then continued, "Kaya niya ako binigyan ng sakit at kaya ako nakabalik para rito sa championship." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 12th, 2019

Letran solves LPU puzzle, sets up NCAA 95 Finals date with San Beda

Turns out, an older Fran Yu and a healthy Jerrick Balanza were all Colegio de San Juan de Letran needed to get the Lyceum of the Philippines University monkey of its back in the stepladder playoffs of the NCAA 95 Men’s Basketball Tournament. Yu razzled and dazzled in the face of pressure while Balanza came up big in the endgame as the third-seeded Knights charged right through the second-seeded Pirates for a hardfought 92-88 win, Friday at Cuneta Astrodome. Yu and Balanza conspired with Larry Muyang in the 15-2 spurt in the middle of the final frame that erased a one-point deficit and erected an 84-72 advantage. "I'll give this one to my veterans. They never gave up so it was all about determination," head coach Bonnie Tan said post-game. In that pivotal push, the graduating guard was hitting his patented midrange jumpers while the bruising big man was making good on his trademark inside baskets. It was their second-year point guard, though, who was running the show and turned in three of his 20 points and two of his six assists in that five-minute span. LPU still tried to mount a rally from there and even neared to just 87-90 with 24 ticks to go on the clock, but Muyang and Bonbon Batiller turned them back once and for all. Without a doubt, Balanza made the most out of his time on the floor as he missed Letran’s semifinals defeat to the Pirates a year ago due to a brain injury. Yu played in that sorry loss, but fell short in stepping up in  place of starter JP Calvo who incurred a leg injury in the game. That was not happening in this one as he proved capable and confident at the head of the Knights’ charge while also adding five rebounds under his belt. Muyang then pounded in 19 points and nine rebounds while Balanza poured in 11 markers and three boards. Batiller contributed 13 points, six rebounds, and six assists of his own as Letran made its way back into the Finals for the first time since its championship in 2015. "I want to give them something na 'di siguro nabigay the past few years. Siyempre, we're looking forward sa next level na laro," coach Bonnie said. There, they will faceoff with age-old rival San Beda University which is seeking another four-peat. Game 1 of the best-of-three championship round tips off on Tuesday at MOA Arena. For the Pirates, Jaycee Marcelino gave his all with 26 points, three rebounds, and three assists while Mike Nzeusseu posted a 19-marker, 15-board double-double. Falling victim to Letran's balanced attack, however, they finish out of the Finals for the first time in two years. BOX SCORES LETRAN 92 - Yu 20, Muyang 19, Batiller 13, Balanza 11, Reyson 6, Mina 5, Sangalang 5, Balagasay 4, Ular 4, Caralipio 2, Javillonar 2, Ambohot 1, Olivario 0. LPU 88 - Jc. Marcelino 26, Nzeusseu 19, David 11, Caduyac 5, Jv. Marcelino 5, Navarro 5, Tansingco 4, Ibanez 4, Remulla 4, Santos 3, Guinto 2, Valdez 0. QUARTER SCORES: 20-26, 44-40, 67-66, 92-88. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 8th, 2019

NCAA 95: Balanza on Letran-LPU: Di pa yun yung huling laro ko

Jerrick Balanza proved to be a man of his word, Tuesday at Cuneta Astrodome. Collecting 15 points, six rebounds, and four assists, the graduating guard was a big-time contributor in Colegio de San Juan de Letran's hard-fought triumph over San Sebastian College-Recoletos in their knockout bout in the stepladder playoffs of the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament. That was exactly what he said he would do heading into their do-or-die matchup. "Parati ko silang china-challenge na wag masiyahan," the team captain said at the end of the elimination round. "Kung masaya kayo dyan, kaming (seniors), hindi pa kasi pumunta tayo rito hindi lang para makapasok ng Final Four, but to play for the championship." Still, Balanza is far from satisfied. As he put it, "Nagawa ko naman, pero 'di pa ako kuntento kasi 'di pa namin nari-reach yung goal namin. Ako rin, never stop learning dapat so dapat, mas marami pang ipakita." With that, the 6-foot-2 swingman made another vow - that the Knights will continue to go all-out in another knockout bout on Friday, that one up against elimination round tormentor and second-seed Lyceum of the Philippines University. "Confident kaming madadala namin 'to sa Lyceum kasi alam kong buo kami e. Confident kaming pagtatrabahuan naming matalo yung Lyceum sa ensayo pa lang," he said. On a personal level, Balanza also promised that he will extend his collegiate career just a little longer. "'Di pa yun yung huling laro ko. Kung ako tatanungin, siyempre, ayoko talaga," he shared. He then continued, "Ayoko pang magbakasyon. Gusto ko pang makasama teammates ko nang mas matagal. Ayoko pang maghiwa-hiwalay kami." Only time will tell if the 23-year-old will keep proving to be a man of his word. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 5th, 2019

NCAA 95 Stepladder Semifinals begins on S+A and iWant

Three schools will duke it out for the right to challenge defending champion San Beda University (SBU) Red Lions in the NCAA Season 95 stepladder semifinals starting this Tuesday (November 5) at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.    The match between fourth-seeded San Sebastian College-Recoletos (SSC-R) Golden Stags and third-seeded Colegio De San Juan De Letran (CSJL) Knights will air LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A and iWant at 4 pm.    The winner of the deathmatch will be facing the waiting Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Pirates, which finished second after the elimination round, for the ticket to the championship match.   The stepladder semis came into effect after the Red Lions swept through the double round eliminations behind leading MVP candidate Calvin Oftana and talented point guard Evan Nelle.   The road to the Finals, and a date with the SBU Red Lions, is a steep one and Letran’s Jerrick Balanza, SSC-R’s Allyn Bulanadi, and LPU’s Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino can’t wait to start the trek and try to unseat the fourpeat-seeking champions.   For Balanza and Bulanadi, they both still have memories of their Season 93 duel where the Stags upended the Knights to take the last ticket to the Final Four thanks to a Michael Calisaan triple. “I want to get that back (Season 93) for Rey (Nambatac). That is still on my mind and I am looking forward to seeing Baste,” shared Balanza.   Meanwhile, LPU’s Marcelino twins are preparing for a tough match, whichever between SSC-R or Letran advances. Previously, the Pirates were the last team to sweep the eliminations and had to wait for their opponents in the Finals. “Whoever we have to face, we’ll prepare for them the same way we prepare for each game,” Jayvee Marcelino said.   Don’t miss the NCAA Season 95 stepladder semis that starts on Tuesday (November 5) LIVE on S+A from the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan at 4 pm with the CSJL Knights facing the SSC-R Stags for the chance to face the LPU Pirates before booking a Finals ticket.   For news on NCAA, follow @ABSCBNSports on Facebook and Twitter and visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 30th, 2019

San Beda-Letran must-see of all must-see matchups from August 6 to 10

These are the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament games from August 6 to 10 all of us just CAN NOT miss! TUESDAY, 10:00 a.m., Red Cubs vs Red Robins This will be a clash between the two teams that have dominated the NCAA Jrs. in the last five years. San Beda is, as expected, at the top of the standings in its quest for its first championship since 2015 – and only hungrier after suffering its first setback in the season. Just as hungry, if not more, is Mapua which is in unfamiliar territory at the bottom third of the standings – but is nonetheless coming off a breakthrough win. The Red Cubs and the Red Robins do battle and y'all can watch VIA LIVESTREAM. TUESDAY, 12:00 p.m., Letran vs CSB The hottest team in the tournament up against one of the two perfect squads in the league. Letran puts its five-game win run on the line against a CSB side which will also have to stake its spotless slate. The Knights and the Blazers do battle and y'all can watch on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant as well as livestream. THURSDAY, 2:00 p.m., Jr. Altas vs Jr. Pirates Perpetual and LPU are the two upstarts that have the confidence and capability to finally break through to the top tier of the NCAA Jrs. A statement win is at hand when the Jr. Altas led by super scorer Emman Galman and the Jr. Pirates captained by do-it-all Mac Guadana wage war in Las Pinas. The Jr. Altas and the Jr. Pirates do battle and y'all can watch VIA LIVESTREAM. THURSDAY, 4:00 p.m., Perpetual vs LPU Right after their little brothers wage war, Perpetual and LPU’s Srs. squads also figure in a heavyweight bout. A year ago, the Altas got one over the CJ Perez-fueled Pirates and the former is only hopeful for a repeat right on its home floor in Las Pinas. The Altas and the Pirates do battle and y'all can watch on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant as well as livestream. FRIDAY, 2:00 p.m., CSB vs JRU Youth will be served in this duel between upstarts. Both CSB and JRU can make a claim that they are the most pleasant surprise in the season. The two teams also have even more surprises in store when they are pitted against one another. The Blazers and the Heavy Bombers do battle and y'all can watch on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant as well as livestream. SATURDAY, 4:00 p.m., San Beda vs Letran Finally, San Beda and Letran can do battle once more in a storied venue. The fierce foes will stand opposite one another at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay for a special Saturday showcase in NCAA 95. “Bandana Bros.” James Canlas and Evan Nelle vs Jerrick Balanza and Bonbon Batiler. Donald Tankoua vs Larry Muyang. Calvin Oftana vs Jeo Ambohot. Boyet Fernandez vs Bonnie Tan. This right here is, without a doubt, the most anticipated matchup in all of the first round. Age-old rivals Red Lions and Knights do battle and y'all can watch on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant as well as livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2019

WHAT IF... Aldin Ayo stayed in Letran

History lesson: Aldin Ayo won back-to-back championships with two different teams in two different leagues. As a fresh-faced first-time head coach in the big leagues, he energized alma mater Colegio de San Juan de Letran all the way to the promised land in NCAA 91. Just months later, he then steered De La Salle University's Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng-led juggernaut to the UAAP 79 title. And so, Coach Aldin is one of the few coaches who could claim to have championships in the Philippines' top two collegiate leagues - and, most probably, the only one who could claim to have done it in succession. If there was one school and one squad where the youthful mentor would be a perfect fit, though, it could be argued that would be the Letran Knights. For one, Intramuros had been his home in his collegiate days. For another, the blue and red, despite having the second-most championships, actually enters each and every season as far from the favorite - that tag, more often than not, belongs to modern-day dynasty San Beda University. And what is Coach Aldin if not the ultimate underdog - a Sorsogon native who thrives on proving himself and proving doubters wrong. With that, let us try putting him still at the Letran bench for their title defense. Despite being the one sitting on the throne, they still would be far from the favorite as they would have lost Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal just as the Red Lions were getting Robert Bolick while Arellano University had Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado a year wiser. Still, "Mayhem" would remain in place - meaning they would not have to adjust to a new philosophy just like what had happened in the real world with new coach Jeff Napa. Even more, Coach Aldin would just unleash Rey Nambatac while also giving bigger burdens to Jerrick Balanza, Mcjour Luib, Bong Quinto, and Jom Sollano. Just as well, he would have had brought new recruits as determined as him to prove themselves. And with all of that, the Knights would have no problems whatsoever making it back to the Final Four - only this time as the third-seeded team following one-seed San Beda and two-seed Arellano. Matched up with the run-and gun Chiefs in the Final Four, they would be able to keep up and even triumph in Game 1. In the do-or-die Game 2, however, they bow to a side that, quite frankly, was the strongest on paper as it was led by, hands down, the best point guard in college in Jalalon and the most overqualified backup in Salado. The Finals then plays out just how it played out - with the Red Lions reclaiming the crown. In the end, Letran still falls short in its title defense even with Coach Aldin remaining at the helm. Nonetheless, there stayed order to all their "Mayhem." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2020

Matty Ice sets up MVP Chabi in Aldin Ayo s UAAP First 5

Aldin Ayo has been calling the shots for University of Sto. Tomas from 2018 to present. Before this, the always amiable mentor was at the helm of De La Salle University from 2016 to 2017. Through all of that, he has had a hand in the discovery and the development of young talent for his teams as well as the game planning for the opposing rising stars. Among all of those, who are the best of the best for him? Here is Aldin Ayo's UAAP First 5, as he told ABS-CBN Sports: SOULEMANE CHABI YO Of course, coach Aldin will have the UAAP 82 MVP as one of his main men. Chabi Yo is far from the traditional foreign student-athlete in that he could wield weapons from the outside just as well as he could will his way inside. The Beninese ball of energy could be slotted anywhere from the 3 to 5 positions - and sometimes, at the 2 in jumbo lineups - and is the perfect do-it-all player for Ayo's do-it-all philosophy. DAVE ANDO Asked to expound on his selection of Chabi Yo, coach Aldin bundled him together with Ando as players of interest. "I will tell you the reasons why I chose them after Season 83 - regardless of the result of our campaign," he said. Looks like UST has high hopes for its starting center as he enters his second season in black and gold. Already a solid contributor with an uncanny ability for knocking down one-handed shots from inside the arc, Ando may very well take the leap before our very eyes next year. MATT NIETO Remember Mcjour Luib's iconic free throw lane violation that sealed the deal in Colegio de San Juan de Letran's NCAA 91 championship? That is the sort of smart play that could also be expected from Nieto. "If you have a point guard like him, as a coach, you can really do your job well," coach Aldin said of the lead guard of the Ateneo de Manila University side that had downed UST for the UAAP 82 title. "One of the best point guards (in college) in terms of character and decision-making." Indeed, character and decision-making have long been the defining characteristics of "Matty Ice." JERRICK AHANMISI What coach Aldin knows, everybody else does too. "One of the best shooters in college," he said of Adamson University's top gun. What escapes the notice of many, however, is that Ahanmisi is much more than a shooter. "He reads the defense really well and he has improved his defense a lot," the UST tactician said. That two-way impact is, no doubt, a must in any Aldin Ayo team. ZACH HUANG In the renaissance of UST, names such as Chabi Yo, Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, and Mark Nonoy have made noise - but not without all-important contributions from their workhorse in Huang. A no-nonsense player, the 6-foot-3 forward just does whatever is asked of him - whether it be getting points, getting rebounds, or getting defensive stops. "The guy can play the 2, 3, and 4 spots. Aside from his versatility, he has improved his skills a lot," coach Aldin said. And Huang would only be better now he would be moving forward from the Growling Tigers. "I wish he had one more playing year so he can blossom to the player we want him to be, but I believe he can achieve that as he plays in the commercial leagues," his mentor said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2020

Letran Knights challenge all to be champions in COVID-19 crisis

Colegio de San Juan de Letran has done, and is still doing, its part in the continuing COVID-19 crisis. After reaching out to communities in need from Manila to Bulacan, the Intramuros-based school is hoping to make a difference online. Letting its men's basketball champion Knights speak, Letran had more than a few timely reminders for everybody in light of another extension to the community quarantine. "To be a real champion, you need to be good on and off the court," head coach Bonnie Tan began. Team captain, and now-Ginebra Gin King, Jerrick Balanza then chimed in, "Let us all become role models and upstanding citizens in our own communities." Chrisitian Balagasay and Larry Muyang then reiterated the essentials of social distancing, facemasks, and handwashing while Ato Ular repeated the importance of remaining at home. The champion Knights also touched on the perils of fake news with youngsters Pao Javillonar and Kurt Reyson urging all to get their information from government agencies and legitimate media. Letran then said we will triumph over COVID-19 crisis if and when we all do our part. "Real champions are not defined by their personal achievements, but their contributions to their communities and to the world." pic.twitter.com/aQe2nVA6kM — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) April 24, 2020 In the end, the Knights reminded everybody to stay safe by staying inside. That’s why #NCAASeason95 champion Letran - yes, including asst. coach LA Tenorio - reminds errbody to stay safe and stay inside. pic.twitter.com/zxsKROVmQl — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) April 24, 2020 You can watch the full video here: --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 24th, 2020

STAYING POWER: These schools have great grassroots programs

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2020

Letran greats share game-worn jerseys to raise funds for COVID-19 aid

Colegio de San Juan de Letran's past and present are coming together to form a wall to help frontliners stand strong in the face of the continuing COVID-19 crisis. Kevin Alas has fronted an effort to round up game-worn jerseys of former Knights and put them up for auction. The proceeds from there will then be used to purchase personal protective equipment for health workers doing their best against COVID-19. Alas donated a jersey from his time with Gilas Pilipinas as well as his very own Kobe 8s. Not long after, Raymond Almazan also extended a helping hand, sending out his Meralco jersey. Joining in on the fun as well was Jerrick Balanza, captain of the most recent NCAA champions, who gave his Letran jersey from last season. Other ex-Knights who are working with the Dominican Province of the Philippines, Inc. in this effort are Kevin Racal of Alaska,  RJ Jazul of Phoenix, Bonbon Batiller and JP Calvo of Columbian, and Bryan Faundo and Bong Quinto of Meralco. Larry Muyang and Fran Yu, Balanza's teammates on the 2019 titlists of the Grand Old League and still with one more year to play in blue and red, also have jerseys up for auction. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 6th, 2020