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PBA Finals: Terrence takes last shot at haters after first title

Terrence Romeo has been the subject of criticism for much of his PBA career. He’s been called a lot of harsh things and he’s being mainly attacked for his lack of team success and his supposed attitude problem. Romeo still has some things to work on in terms of controlling his emotion but Terrence finally crossed out a major bucket list entry by winning his first PBA title. After San Miguel’s Game 7 win over Magnolia in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup Finals, Romeo is now a champion and Terrence couldn’t help but take one last shot at his detractors. “Mga haters ko lagi akong mine-message sa Instagram, sa Twitter. Mine-message ako na hindi raw ako magcha-champion. Talented daw ako, nasa akin daw lahat ng award pero never daw ako magcha-champion, Malas daw ako sa San Miguel,” Romeo said. “So parang gusto kong sabihin sa kanila ngayon na paki message nila ako ulit sa Instagram ko and mamaya pag nag-post ako ng picture, pag nag-post ako ng trophy paki-message ako ulit lahat sila sabihin nila lahat ng gusto nila. Malamang bago na yon. Hindi na nila masasabi na hindi ako magcha-champion so kailangan ko ng bago sa mga haters sabihin nila lahat ng gusto nila isa isa sila. Gusto ko lahat sabay-sabay sila sabihin nila,” he added. Romeo was man enough to admit that the constant hate thrown towards him affected his psyche particularly when he was piling up points but failed to pile up wins. When he was traded to TNT, supposedly his first real chance at a championship, things unraveled so fast and the situation actually got worse for Terrence. “Actually naapektuhan ako before kasi three years kong hinawakan sunud-sunod yung scoring champion. Binigay ko yung best ko every conference pero one-time lang ako nakaabot ng semis,” Romeo said. “Lahat ginagawa ko hindi ko maabot yung dream ko. So ayon, nalipat ako ng Talk ’N Text. Pagdating ko ng Talk ’N Text ganon din, hindi rin ako umabot ng semis,” he added. Finding his way to San Miguel Beer, Romeo discovered a home and has learned to embrace his role behind the team’s more established stars. Sacrificing individual honor, Terrence finally got the dream he’s been chasing for a long time and it’s all worth it. “At least, para sa akin nafulfill ko pa rin na naging part ako ng champion team na may natulong pa rin ako,” he said. “Siguro naniniwala ako, pinanghawakan ko na lang na si God talagang may plano para sa isang tao. So inantay ko lang talaga yung perfect timing niya kung kailan niya ibibigay sa akin. Eto na yung time na yon kaya lahat ng haters ko mag-ingay,” Romeo added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 16th, 2019

PBA FINALS: Will Terrence actually call it quits if Beermen win title?

Could Terrence Romeo really end up with just one PBA title and then call it quits? You never know. Terrence Romeo is just preparing for his very first PBA Finals as San Miguel Beer takes on Magnolia for the 2019 Philipine Cup title. However, if and when the Beermen complete a 5-peat in the All-Filipino, Romeo could end up retiring from basketball for good. “Excited. Pero syempre hindi ko naman pwedeng isipin lang yun palagi eh. Syempre kailangan pa rin namin maglaro ng yun nga, game, kumbaga best-of-7. So hindi pupwedeng champion na kaagad,” Romeo said on his first-ever PBA Finals. “Kumbaga, one game at a time tapos kung makukuha namin yun, kahit papano nakuha ko na yung pinakakulang para sakin. I mean, kulang na award para sa sarili ko. Tapos yun, baka magretire na ko after,” he added. Talks of a possible retirement for Romeo are coming out of the blue just now. But if Terrence ends up fulfilling his ultimate dream, he might just actually call it quits. Romeo has exactly zero championships in his basketball career dating back to high school. He’s been in the PBA since 2013 and this upcoming Finals is his first true shot at a championship. “Pag-iisipan ko pa, pag-iisipan ko pa [retirement]. Kasi yun lang talaga yung pinaka-dream ko eh, mag-champion sa PBA kasi wala nga akong championship simula college days ko, high school days. Tapos nagcha-champion ako kumbaga sa barangay lang. So ayun, yun lang,” Romeo said. “Hindi kasi madalas ko binibiro yung family ko na pag nag-champion ako sa PBA, gusto ko na mag-retire, sabi ko. Eh yun, baka gusto yata maaga ako mag-retire eh para ano.. ay, maaga ako mag-champion para maaga ako mag-retire,” he added. All this talk of retirement comes with San Miguel actually winning the All-Filipino title this year. If the Beermen complete history with a fifth straight championship, then maybe Terrence can talk think about retirement again. Or maybe not. “Hindi pa. Pag-iisipan pa lang, pag-iisipan pa lang. Pag-iisipan ko pa lang,” Romeo said. “Pag nag-retire naman pwede naman bumalik ulit eh, diba? Or hindi na?” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2019

Tim Cone on winning a PBA Grand Slam: 'Everything has to work'

One of the greatest dynasties in PBA history was Alaska in the 1990s. In four seasons from 1995 to 1998, the Milkmen won seven championships in 12 conferences. Of course, the crown jewel came in the middle in 1996 with Alaska's Grand Slam win. As everyone knows, it’s not easy to win a Grand Slam in the PBA. The 1996 Alaska team was the fourth team to accomplish the rare feat. In the 45-year history of the league, only five teams have been able to complete as a season sweep. In a special reunion in the the 2OT podcast of PBA broadcasters Magoo Marjon and Carlo Pamintuan, several key members of the 1996 Alaska Grand Slam team reminisced about their heydays. Easily the most insightful is just how much it takes for a team to complete a triple crown. Coach Tim Cone went through what his Alaska team did to win the Grand Slam in 1996, and as a two-time Grand Slam winner, Cone is the one with the most authority to discuss the topic. “A lot of teams get there, but very few finish the job,” Cone said. “There’s a lot of teams that have won the first two conferences, and then for some reason, the chemistry is just hard to sustain all the way through the whole year. You saw what happened to San Miguel last year, they had a lot of pressure and kinda implode in that third conference,” he added. After the 1996 Alaska team, the 2014 San Mig Coffee also coached by Cone ended up as the last team so far to win a Grand Slam. The 2011 Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters came one win away from a Grand Slam but their Finals series against Petron showed a lot of cracks for what was supposedly a very composed squad. They lost Game 7 to Blaze Boosters pretty bad. San Miguel had a shot at the Grand Slam in 2017 and 2019, but the Beermen lost to Cone’s Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals of the Governors’ Cup each time. In 2019, San Miguel imploded in the third conference, with three local players suspended for a fight in practice with injured import Dez Wells. Having a strong team is not enough to win a Grand Slam, everything has to fall into place pretty much. “People kinda throw out the Grand Slam easily, but everything has to work,” Cone said. “The third conference is the hardest, because there’s just so much more added pressure. But what made this group special [1996 Alaska] was that pressure didn’t affect them because the chemistry was so tight and we were so comfortable with Sean [Chambers],” coach Tim added. The 1996 Alaska team was meticulously built for years ever since the Milkmen won their first-ever PBA title in 1991. For the Grand Slam season, Alaska broke through with a Philippine Cup title win against Purefoods before Sean Chambers returned and the team outlasted an underdog Shell team to win the Commissioner’s Cup in seven games. With Chambers back for the Governors’ Cup, Alaska struggled to start but ended up tearing the whole league up, rolling to a 4-1 Finals win over Ginebra to complete the triple crown. “Sean was like a baby’s blanket for us. When he came in, we all hugged that blanket and took it wherever we could,” Cone said. “We didn’t have a normal pressure that other teams went through with an import that doesn’t really understand what’s going on and how important this is to everybody. Sean knew, and he already won the second conference for us. It was a perfect storm,” Coach Tim added. The Alaska episode of 2OT can be watched in full here, with a lot of stories of how Coach Tim avoided being fired in the early 1990s as they built the eventual Grand Slam team, acquiring key pieces like Jeffrey Cariaso and Bong Hawkins.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2020

Sneaker Stories: Jordan s era-defining shoes for 'The Last Dance'

It’s gotta be the shoes. Sneakers are all the craze these days, everyone’s after them whether you’re an actual sneakerhead or just in it for the business of it. Since footwear is pretty big on basketball, some of the more coveted ones are basketball shoes after all, you know, made for actual performance, basketball folks are naturally the source of some heat. The Sneaker Stories series takes a minor twist today, focusing on the GOAT himself. With the release of The Last Dance, the 10-episode docuseries featuring Michael Jordan, now seems like the perfect time to take a look at the shoes that defined His Airness’ 1997-1998 season. [Related: Sneaker Stories: Around the world in Matthew Wright's boat shoes]   He Got Game The Air Jordan XIII was the flagship shoe worn by Michael for the 1997-1998 season, his last as a Chicago Bull and the focus of The Last Dance. Designed by the legendary Tinker Hatfield, the XIIIs were inspired by MJ’s other persona as The Black Cat, with the midsole supposed to mimic the paw of a panther. The heel jewel - the hologram - is for the cat’s eye that instills fear to those who make contact. [Related: Prepare for The Last Dance with these essential Michael Jordan pieces] A forgotten detail about the XIIIs is that the black Playoff colorway might as well be the shoe worn by Jordan for his last shot as a Bull. Up 3-1 in the 1998 Finals, the Bulls were down two to the Jazz at home for Game 5. Jordan tried to go for the title but his final three at the buzzer missed, sending the series back to Salt Lake City for Game 6.   Big Apple While Jordan Brand makes a ton of money with its retro business, Jordan himself rarely wore his older shoes back when he was playing. It was all about his latest flagship. One of the exceptions came in 1998, when Jordan wore a retro of the Air Jordan 1. The model originally first released in 1985, and MJ wore the retro of the Chicago colorway in New York at the Madison Square Garden, torching the Knicks for 42 points in a win Bulls win.   Last Shot The Air Jordan XIV was the last sneaker Jordan wore as a Bull, however, the shoe didn’t release for retail until the next NBA season. Still, Jordan debuted the shoe way early, wearing it three times during the 1998 NBA Finals against the Jazz. The black and red colorway was on the feet of His Airness when he stripped Karl Malone of the basketball late in Game 6 and Chicago trailing by one. Then, with his unreleased flagship, Jordan put the moves on Bryon Russell, elevated for his signature mid-range jumper, and handed the Bulls a sixth championship with one more iconic swish. The black and red 14s would be later aptly-named “Last Shot” and Jordan himself provided a timeless moment for the model. However, the same shoe wouldn’t hit retail until March of 1999. The 14s actually debuted with the Candy Cane colorway late in 1998. Also designed by Hatlfield, the 14s were inspired by Jordan’s Ferrari 550 Maranello.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2020

20 for 20: Pinoy Sports Personalities to Watch in 2020

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2020

Djokovic and Nadal on course to meet in Paris Masters final

PARIS (AP) — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal remain on course to face off in the Paris Masters final, a 55th match in their intense rivalry, after winning their quarterfinals in straight sets on Friday. Djokovic demolished seventh-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1, 6-2 after losing to the Greek three weeks ago in the Shanghai quarterfinals. It could have been even quicker since he led the first set 5-0, 40-0, but Tsitsipas saved three set points and held serve. Nadal had a more demanding contest against 2008 champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, with the first set tiebreak reaching 3-3 after Nadal double faulted. But when the veteran Spaniard broke the unseeded Frenchman at the start of the second he took control in a 7-6 (4), 6-1 win. "It was a tough first set where I had to play at a very high level," Nadal said after beating Tsonga for the 10th time in 14 meetings. Nadal and Djokovic are vying for the year-end No. 1 ranking. Nadal will guarantee it for the fifth time if he wins the Paris Masters for the first time, while Djokovic is chasing a fifth title at Bercy Arena and a sixth year-end finish as No. 1. Iin Saturday's semifinals, he takes on Grigor Dimitrov while Nadal plays Denis Shapovalov. Nadal is 1-1 in career meetings with the Canadian, while Djokovic has an 8-1 lead over the U.S. Open semifinalist Dimitrov. Djokovic, chasing a 77th career title, even impressed himself with the level of his performance. "I played one of the best matches of the season. I prepared myself very well for this match. I lost to Stefanos in Shanghai and obviously I went through the videos, understanding what I did well, what I didn't do so well," Djokovic said. "I served well. I read his serve very well, as well. Put him under pressure constantly." He broke Tsitsipas in the third game of the second set, then held and broke to love for 4-1. Tsitsipas, who dropped his serve four times, appeared to hurt his left ankle when retrieving a shot near the baseline in the second set. Serving for the match, Djokovic clinched it on his first match point when Tsitsipas whipped a forehand long following a short rally. Djokovic, last year's runner-up, is wary of Dimitrov, who beat Roger Federer in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. Although Dimitrov has won only eight career titles — and none since the ATP Finals in 2017 for his biggest prize — Djokovic talked him up. "He has been one of the best talents we had in the sport in the last decade for sure. There's been a lot of comparison with his game and Federer's game," Djokovic said. "Since the U.S. Open he's playing at a different level, a high level. He always had the game; it's just sometimes it's a matter of things coming together, really, mentally and at the right time." Djokovic also noted that Dimitrov, who is set to break back into the top 20 rankings next week after plummeting to No. 78 in August, has found a way to overcome a weakness on backhand. "The backhand was always his kind of weaker shot ... so most of the players (tried) to attack that vulnerable side of his game," Djokovic said. "But he mixes it up really well with the slice. He blocks a lot of returns and gets back into play and he moves extremely well. He's one of the fittest guys on the tour. So that helps him, always being in the right position." Dimitrov reached his second semifinal this season by beating Cristian Garin 6-2, 7-5. Shapovalov crushed Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-2, ending the Frenchman's hopes of reaching the season-ending ATP Finals in London and sending U.S. Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini there instead......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2019

San Beda takes LPU’s best shot, still takes seventh straight win in NCAA 95

San Beda University continued to have all the answers for modern-day rival Lyceum of the Philippines University for a convincing 88-73 victory in the two team’s first meeting in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre. The now-vacated places of Robert Bolick and Javee Mocon were simply filled by Evan Nelle and James Canlas as the Red Lions remained unscathed through seven games in their title defense. Well aware of all LPU had up its sleeve, San Beda was in complete command for majority of the matchup. "Unang-una, nagpapasalamat ako sa players ko for all the sacrifices they have had the past few days preparing for LPU," a more than satisfied head coach Boyet Fernandez said post-game. Of course, the Pirates kept coming and were within six, 64-70, inside the last seven minutes. In the next four minutes, however, Nelle sparked a 14-0 charge that re-increased the Red Lion edge to 84-64. The red and white would not be threatened the rest of the way as they re-asserted their mastery over the LPU crew they had downed in the Finals of the last two years. Nelle wound up with 14 points, all but five coming in the final frame, to go along with seven rebounds and four assists while "Bandana Bro" Canlas also added nine markers, four boards, and three dimes. Topping the scoring column for the defending champions was Calvin Oftana who posted a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double while Cameroonian bruiser Donald Tankoua had 19 markers and six boards of his own. Even after taking down another playoff hopeful, however, San Beda is well aware is has a long way to go. "Hopefully, we won't stop here. it's only one game and we have so many to go," coach Boyet said. On the other hand, the Pirates were sank for just the second time in eight games. Mike Nzeusseu, their powerhouse from Cameroon, paced them with 18 points and nine rebounds and he was backstopped by Jaycee Marcelino who had 13 markers, five assists, three steals, and two boards. BOX SCORES SAN BEDA 88 - Oftana 20, Tankoua 19, Doliguez 15, Nelle 14, Canlas 9, Bahio 8, Abuda 3, Etrata 0, Soberano 0, Cuntapay 0, Alfaro 0, Carino LPU 73 - Nzeusseu 18, Marcelino JC 13, David 10, Marcelino JV 8, Santos 6, Ibanez 5, Navarro 4, Pretta 3, Caduyac 2, Tansingco 2, Valdez 2, Guinto 0 QUARTER SCORES: 29-17, 44-36, 61-58, 88-73 —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2019

Eduard Folayang, Danny Kingad lead Filipino charge at ONE: Dawn of Heroes

The big stars are out to shine as ONE Championship heads to the Mall of Asia Arena for the third time this year with their biggest offering yet.  ONE: Dawn of Heroes, which takes place on Friday, August 2nd, will feature the biggest and most-stacked martial arts event to ever grace Philippine soil.  Of course, the Philippines will be well-represented on fight night, as five of the country's best mixed martial artists from the famed Team Lakay gym in La Trinidad, Benguet will take center-ring, led by none other than two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard "Landslide" Folayang.  The 35-year old Pinoy MMA hero will be stepping up to his biggest challenge yet, as he faces former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion Eddie "The Underground King" Alvarez in what is now a semi-final match in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix.  The winner of the match will head into the finals to face Turkish knockout artist Saygid "Dagi" Guyseyn Arslanaliev at ONE: Century in Tokyo, Japan this October for the right to be crowned ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Champion and earn a shot at the ONE Lightweight World Championship.  The Folayang-Alvarez matchup is, by all accounts, a dream matchup pitting one of Asia's best against one of North America's best. Both men have a fan-friendly style that will surely result in fireworks inside the ring.  Also competing in an important matchup will be Team Lakay young star Danny "The King" Kingad, who takes on Australia's Reece "Lightning" McLaren in a ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semi-final bout.  Kingad is one of the Philippines' most promising young talents and is on track for what could be a second shot at the ONE Flyweight World Championship. Standing in his way however, is a dangerous veteran in McLaren, who is also looking to return to the world title picture.  Rounding out the Filipino contingent on this massive ONE: Dawn of Heroes card is former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio who meets Japanese up-and-comer Yuya "The Little Piranha" Wakamatsu, former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio "The Rock" Banario who takes on South Korea's Dae Sung Park, and featherweight contender Edward "The Ferocious" Kelly who faces China's "The Stalker" Xie Bin.  Also on the card will be former long-time UFC Flyweight World Champion and pound-for-pound great Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, who faces Japan's Tatsumitsu "The Sweeper" Wada in the other ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semi-final bout.  The winners of the Kingad-McLaren and Johnson-Wada bouts will meet in the flyweight tournament finale which is also set to take place at ONE: Century in Tokyo this October.  Headlining the stacked card will be reigning and defending ONE Featherweight World Champions and self-proclaimed 'adopted Filipino' Martin "The Situ-Asian" Nguyen taking on Japanese challenger Koyomi "Moushigo" Matsushima in the main event, and English Muay Thai star Jonathan "The General" Haggerty putting his ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Championship on the line against Thai icon Rodtang "The Ironman" Jitmuangnon.      Don't miss out on the exciting martial arts action! Catch ONE: Dawn of Heroes this Friday, August 2nd LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23 starting at 8:30 PM. Livestreaming will also be available on the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook Page starting at 5:00 PM as well as on the iWant app! .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2019

Danny Kingad doesn t want to face teammate Geje Eustaquio, not even for a title shot

No amount money or negotiations can make Danny "The King" Kingad step inside the Circle against his teammate Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio. The 23-year-old from Baguio City will lock horns with former ONE Bantamweight World Title challengerReece "Lightning" McLaren in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semi-finals at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES on 2 August at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. On the other hand, the former ONE Flyweight World Champion Eustaquio will also appear on the same card when he takes on Yuya "Little Piranha" Wakamatsu in a ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix alternate bout. A win from "Gravity" that evening would give him a guaranteed slot in the Grand Prix if any athletes withdraw from the tournament - meaning a Team Lakay versus Team Lakay matchup could be on the horizon. “If it was up to me, I really don’t want it,” Kingad said. “But that’s if it’s up to me. I just don’t want to split our team on the premise of a World Title shot.”  The young phenom, however, understands that at the end of the day - it’s the higher ups of ONE Championship that have the final say on their potential clash.  “If they really want it, they’ll have to give us a raise,” Kingad said with a laugh. "Maybe they should just visit us in the gym to watch us spar. There we grind everyday.”  Jokes aside, Kingad said he does not see himself competing against a fellow martial artist from Team Lakay.  He would rather step down and give any of his teammates the opportunity to vie for a World Title, citing that the renowned stable is too invested in its tight-knit brotherhood for him to even entertain the thought of standing across the Circle against a family member. And maybe that is what makes Team Lakay special.  “Maybe I would just beg off and give the opportunity to them,” said Kingad. “We’re brothers and we’re a family. I don’t want to do anything that could affect that.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 22nd, 2019

PBA: Terrence Jones new tropa wants to send him back to the NBA

Over the last couple of seasons, the PBA has seen its share of super imports. Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee immediately comes to mind. Meralco’s Allen Durham and Phoenix’s Eugene Phelps fit in that mold too. Alaska’s Mike Harris is in that list as well. The uber-talented Glen Rice Jr. could have made it if he just got it together. But for the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, TNT brought not just any other import. Tired of underperforming for the past few conferences, the KaTropa went ahead and signed former Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones for the mid-season joust. With Jones, TNT went the super — SUPER — import route and it has been worth every penny for the KaTropa, at least so far.   ROCKET MAN Many former NBA players have played in the PBA before, that’s not a new thing. But what makes Jones special is that he’s at his peak of his powers now as he plays his first stint in the PBA. Jones is a former first-round pick and was a legitimate NBA contributor. In his best NBA season, in 2013-2014 for Houston, Jones started 71 games and had career-high numbers of 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. This dude is legit. “Oo iba, iba siya talaga,” guard RR Pogoy said of Jones. (Yes, he’s really different). In just one conference, Pogoy and Jones have clicked as teammates. Terrence has admitted that RR is one of his favorite local targets when he’s trying to spot an open teammate when opposing teams double on him. Pogoy admits that Jones is one of the best, if not the best, import he’s ever played with. “Pwedeng-pwede pa siya talaga sa NBA eh. Iba yung skills niya,” he added. (He could still play in the NBA. His skills are just different).   THE DIFFERENCE TNT has ran pretty much the same system for years. Whether you like this team or now, they know what style they want to play andd they identify players that fit that system well. The KaTropa have dominated the PBA without a traditional big man. Ask other teams, they’ve been blindsided and bamboozled by a TNT offense led by diminutive point guards like Jimmy Alapag and Jayson Castro. However, the KaTropa have hit another rough patch. The team hasn’t made it to the PBA semifinals since 2017. Their 2018 campaign was a lot like the horror 2016 year with the only difference being three seasons ago, they actually made it to the semifinals of the Governors’ Cup as a no. 1 seed. Last year, they won zero playoff games and missed the playoffs altogether once so in essence, 2018 was a worse nightmare for the KaTropa. It didn’t help that in the previous All-Filipino, they were practically a missed 24-second violation away from ending the San Miguel Beer Philippine Cup dynasty. The winning formula no longer works for TNT. Or at the very least, it’s not as effective. Enter Terrence Jones. “Malaking tulong talaga siya sa team namin. Kung ano yung kulang samin, parang fit na fit talaga siya eh. Napa-dali na lang yung mga buhay namin sa basketball,” Pogoy said of Jones. (He’s a big help to our team. What we lack, he fits right in. Our basketball lives are easier with him). “Yung rebounding tsaka yung pagka-shot blocker niya [malaking tulong]. Naiilang din yun kalaban namin eh, sa rebound naman naco-control namin kasi may malaki na kami, yun naman talaga kulang namin,” Pogoy added. (His rebounding and his presence as a shot blocker is a huge help). In 10 games so far, Jones is averaging 14.9 rebounds per game. That may not seem much for an import but he’s never had fewer than 10 in a game and has hit a high 22 rebounds. His shot blocking has helped TNT shore up its overall defense as well with Jones averaging 2.9 rejections a game with his three best performances coming against Columbian (7 blocks), Ginebra (6 blocks), and San Miguel (5 blocks). The last two teams feature perhaps the two best frontlines in the league today by a wide margin. Aside from his defensive presences, Jones is a force on offense as well, averaging 34.5 points on close to 50 percent shooting. He’s hit over 30 points eight times and over 40 points four times. Scoring will be a given for a player of his caliber but what sets him apart is his ability to locate open teammates and willingly pass the ball to them. Jones is good for at least four assists in every game and he’s topped out at 16 dimes so far. In 10 games, he’s rounding up to 7.7 assists per outing which leads all imports, and the whole league actually. “Talagang willing passer siya, hinahanap din niya talaga yung mga kasama niya. Kumbaga di niya inaako lahat yung scoring load,” forward Troy Rosario said of his new frontcourt tandem in Jones. (He’s a willing passer. He really tries to find his teammates and he’s not trying to shoulder all the scoring load). “Kami ready pa rin kami lagi. Syempre yung experience niya sa NBA talagang pinapakita niya dito, natutulungan din niya kami kung saan kami dapat lumugar sa plays kasi advanced na siya eh, kahit di na sabihin ni coach alam na niya dapat gawin,” he added. (We’re just ready as locals. He’s really showing his NBA experience here, he’s helping us to where we need to be on plays because he’s so advanced he knows what to do even before coach tells us).   THE LEADER Aside from putting up big numbers across the board, there’s one underrated factor about Terrence Jones that has led to him making a positive impact on TNT. Jones made an effort to be a leader for the KaTropa and his teammates have rallied behind him for sure. The result is in the way they play and the way they win in the Commissioner’s Cup. “I think it’s come to them [TNT locals] listening and understanding that I have a little experience on what it takes to try to win and be a good teammate,” Jones said of his leadership role with the KaTropa and how it worked out. “They listened and understood that and we’ve been having fun ever since,” he added. TNT is full of alpha-level players but Jones’ NBA resume has certainly helped in making them line up behin their import and provide support. The the KaTropa have been running like a well-oiled machince with that set up. “Leadership pa lang niya ang laking tulong na samin. As locals, ginagawa lang namin kung ano dapat namin gawin para maka-contribute din and para matulungan din siya,” Rosario said. (His leadership alone is a big help for us. As locals, we just try to do what we need to do to contribute and to help him out). “Magaling siya, isa talaga siya mga leader namin ngayon. Talagang nili-lift up niya kami, di lang sa salita pati sa gawa,” Pogoy added. (He’s great, he’s one of our leaders now. He really lifts us up not just with words but with action as well)   THE LONG ROAD BACK TO THE ASSOCIATION It would be incredible if TNT ends up having Terrence Jones as a resident import the same way Ginebra has Justin Brownlee or Phoenix has Eugene Phelps or Meralco having Allen Durham. However, the KaTropa know that their super import still has a good shot of returning to the NBA and they plan on helping him get back there. “Syempre goal namin makapasok sa playoffs, nagawa na namin yun. Ang susunod na step is next round sa playoffs. Malaking tulong din yun sa kanya kasi yung pangalan niya bumabango ulit,” Rosario said. (Our goal is to make the playoffs and we did that. Now the next step is to get to the next round of the playoffs. That’s a big help for him to get his name out there again). “Preparation na rin kasi alam namin na after dito, meron siyang invites sa mga training camps,” he added. (It’s also good preparation because we know after this, he has some invites to camps). With TNT at 9-1 and a top-2 seed in the playoffs, the team is certainly favored to win in the Commissioner’s Cup. And perhaps one of Jones’ best ways to once again get some traction is to put up great numbers for a championship team in a big league like the PBA. There’s a big check mark on the numbers part and while he can’t win a title by his lonesome, Jones has an entire tropa that has his back. “Lalo na kung mag-champion kami, mabango yung pangalan niya di ba?” Pogoy said. (If we win the championship, that’s good for his name, right?). “Marami naman nags-scout diyan, nakikita siya and maganda pinapakita niya. Feel ko [kaya bumalik sa NBA],” he added. (There’s people that scout him, seeing him and how good he’s been performing. I feel [he can make it back to the NBA]). Of course, winning a PBA championship does not directly award Jones and NBA roster spot. However, he appreciates that his team backs him up in that regard. Right now TNT’s super import is just concerned about playing well with his team and winning more games. “I appreciate it, I wish nothing but the best for all my teammates as well,” Jones said. “I hope you guys see that while we’re playing, we’re smiling and enjoying one another when anybody scores. It’s just like a family atmosphere,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2019

NCAA 95: Will third time be the charm for TY Tang-coached CSB?

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 10-8, 5th YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Kendrix Belgica, Justin Gutang, Yankie Haruna, Clement Leutcheu, Unique Naboa WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Ladis Lepalam, Mark Sangco GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Carlo Young WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM CSB? A year ago, CSB came oh so close to finally breaking through to the Final Four. Now in NCAA Season 95, the Blazers are bringing back a mostly intact core that only lost two-way guard Carlo Young. Even so, rising star Justin Gutang remains in green and white alongside tireless workhorse Kendrix Belgica, hard-nosed forward Edward Dixon, pint-sized playmaker Unique Naboa, and Cameroonian center Clement Leutcheu. “We have no doubt Edward Dixon and Kendrix Belgica will be stepping up for us big time.” – head coach TY Tang They will also be joined by a couple of sophomores being eyes to take the next step in Prince Carlos and Robi Nayve as well as a pair of standouts from CSB-La Salle Green Hills in 6-foot-8 raw project Ladis Lepalam and long-limbed wing Mark Sangco. All that may very well be the perfect mix TY Tang has long been looking for now in his third year at the helm – and that elusive playoff berth may very well be within reach for the Taft-based team. “We can always say we are ready but the result will show if we are or we are not. For us, we are just looking forward to again play in the NCAA.” – head coach TY Tang WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM CSB? NCAA Season 95 is Gutang’s time to transform from an impact rookie to a bonafide star. Without a doubt, CSB will go wherever its Filipino-American takes it, but that also means that the do-it-all swingman would need to take on more of a leadership role for his young supporting cast. “In terms of playing inside the court, no doubt na siya talaga ang leader namin, but more than the on-court stuff, it's more of his character, yun ang hinahanap namin sa kanya. When you're a leader, you're supposed to command and earn the respect of your team. That's where we want him to lead. He's still a work-in-progress with his maturity, pero nag-improve naman.” – head coach TY Tang In that light, it’s only a step in the right direction that the Blazers are, at long last, getting to add talent from its thriving high school program. Lepalam and Sangco may be under the radar pickups, but both are more than capable of being key cogs for a contender. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR CSB? CSB has long been longing for another run to the Final Four, or even the Finals, after the school took the league by storm by winning the championship in its early years of membership. In recent history, the Blazers have fallen a win or two short of the playoffs more than a few times. With the field as wide open as it has been in a long while, NCAA Season 95 may just be the opening they need to finally get that Final Four monkey off their backs. “To get to the playoffs is our main goal.” – head coach TY Tang WHERE WOULD CSB BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 95? CSB will be fighting with its all for a place in the Final Four, but it is far from a shoo-in. Coach TY needs even more lucky bounces to go his way if he is to finally accomplish the mission he set out for with the Blazers. WHEN IS CSB’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 95? CSB begins its quest for a breakthrough when it wages war against Emilio Aguinaldo College on July 9 at the Filoil Flying V Centre. As always, the latest season of the first and oldest collegiate league in the country will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream. HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE NINE OTHER TEAMS IN NCAA SEASON 95: Young guns to be wind beneath JRU’s wings for NCAA 95 EAC turning over a new leaf for NCAA 95 Kent Salado back in the driver's seat for Arellano in NCAA 95 Mapua Srs. out to reap the rewards of its champion Jrs. team Health only thing standing in way of Baste's best shot at a title --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2019

Gatecrasher Tottenham takes on storied Liverpool in CL final

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Familiar territory for Liverpool. So very unfamiliar for Tottenham. The second all-English Champions League final in history pits one of Europe's most successful clubs against a side unexpectedly gatecrashing the continent's elite. After losing last year's final to Real Madrid, Juergen Klopp's Liverpool has another shot at lifting the European Cup for a sixth time on Saturday. Tottenham doesn't get its hands on trophies often. The north London club is contesting a Champions League final for the first time, the culmination of an improbable run that has shaken the soccer establishment. "It is something that we have changed at the club," Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen said. "How people look at the club. How people think about us players at Spurs." Much has been made of Liverpool's 29-year domestic title drought — that came within a couple of points of ending three weeks ago — but Tottenham's stretches back exactly twice as long to 1961. Despite that, the club has made an unexpected march to the biggest game in club soccer without anything near the kind of lavish spending that clubs like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have thrown — unsuccessfully — toward the same pursuit. Manager Mauricio Pochettino hasn't even been able to sign a single player in the last two transfer windows — a first for a Premier League club — because of a frugal environment brought on by the club's recently completed $1 billion-plus new stadium. And yet he has just celebrated a fourth consecutive top-four finish in the Premier League by seeing off bigger spending rivals Arsenal and Manchester United. Qualifying for the Champions League is seen as an achievement alone for a club which has only reached four second-tier European finals, mostly recently winning the now-defunct UEFA Cup in 1984. Since Pochettino took charge in 2014, Tottenham's net spend on transfers is estimated to be less than 30 million pounds ($38 million). That is around a sixth of Liverpool's net spend over the last five years. "You can either take it that the manager has got full confidence in what he's worked with in the last two years, that he believes in you and doesn't want to bring in anyone to challenge for your position," Tottenham defender Danny Rose said before flying to Madrid. "Or you can take it that nobody wants to join Tottenham, the club hasn't been able to provide the funds to buy anyone." That's not the accusation leveled at Liverpool owner John Henry, who also runs the Boston Red Sox in MLB. Klopp's answer to losing last season's final was jettisoning blundering goalkeeper Loris Karius and — briefly — breaking the goalkeeping transfer record to sign Alisson Becker from Roma for $85 million. That final in Kiev was agony for Mohamed Salah, who was forced off in the opening half hour with a shoulder injury before Liverpool lost 3-1. The striker has struggled to live up to the 44 goals he scored last season, with a haul of 26 in all competitions in a front three alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. Now the target is preventing Liverpool falling to a third Champions League final loss since the club's last victory in 2005. "Everything feels better this time around," Salah said, "and we have more experience than the last time." That experience pushed Manchester City to the final day in the Premier League title race and amassed 97 points that would usually be enough to secure the crown. "If there was a prize for the biggest development in the last 12 months then it's going to the Reds, that's how it is," Klopp said. "The boys did a really amazing job, but we get that it's about winning competitions." Pochettino faces the same jibes as Klopp about his inability to land a trophy. Although Klopp did win the Bundesliga twice at Borussia Dortmund before joining Liverpool in 2015 — but also lost a Champions League final with Dortmund and a Europa League final with Liverpool. Pochettino, a former Argentina defender, is now in his third managerial role after Espanyol and Southampton, and still awaiting a winner's medal. Winning the biggest prize in Europe wouldn't be bad place to start for a manager so often linked with moves to bigger clubs. "We can provide our fans and our people and our family, of course, the best happiness in football that you can provide," Pochettino said. "I think today to talk about individual thing is a little bit embarrassing and ashamed because you know I think I am not important." But Pochettino has taken much of the credit for steering Tottenham to the final after collecting only one point from the opening three group stage games. Progress to the round of 16 was only secured thanks to a late equalizer by Lucas Moura at Barcelona in the group finale. Even after Harry Kane limped out of the quarterfinals first leg against Manchester City, Tottenham found a way to cope without its leading striker. Fernando Llorente's goal — and a favorable stoppage-time VAR denial of Raheem Sterling's strike — clinched a frenzied aggregate win at City. In the semifinals, Moura scored with almost the final kick of the second leg to complete a hat trick and overturn a 3-0 aggregate deficit. If Kane recovers from his ankle injury, Moura is likely to return to the bench. "No one expected us to be here at start of competition," Rose said. "No one expected us to be here after the quarters or the semis." Liverpool also pulled off an improbable semifinal result to see off Barcelona by recovering from 3-0 down. And form is on Klopp's side heading into Saturday's game at the Atletico Madrid stadium. Although Tottenham only finished two places below Liverpool in fourth, there was a 26-point gap between the sides and the north London club lost both league encounters 2-1. "It's not that we were five levels above them," Klopp said. "But that's how a final actually should be.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 31st, 2019

PBA FINALS: The Rematch is on between SMB and Magnolia

All roads lead to The Rematch after all. Magnolia takes another shot at dethroning San Miguel Beer as the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup Finals officially tip off Wednesday at the Big Dome. The Hotshots lost last year’s All-Filipino Finals in just five games and despite being the most recent PBA champions, their road in this particular tournament has been tough. Magnolia started the season 0-3 and the Hotshots were down in both their series against Ginebra and Rain or Shine in the quarterfinals and the semifinals respectively. Nevertheless, the Hotshots managed to run it back and they hope for a different result this time. Easier said than done however as San Miguel has since added two key pieces in order to complete as historic 5-peat. After winning a fourth consecutive Philippine Cup last season, the Beermen kept the core and installed Christian Standhardinger and Terrence Romeo to the mix, making an already-formidable unit all the more imposing. Game 1 will tip off at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday live at the Big Dome.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2019

Built by Bo, bonded for Bo, believe in Bo

This is not the first time that Bo Perasol has had a recruiting haul this huge. Now heading into his fifth season in the University of the Philippines, he has brought in blue-chip recruits such as Gerry Abadiano and Carl Tamayo and talented transferees like Joel Cagulangan, CJ Cansino, and Malick Diouf to a team that already has Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, and Ricci Rivero. And don't forget that Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan are only sitting out the next season - and what lies beyond for them is yet to be determined. This is not that different from his time in Ateneo de Manila University when he scored UAAP Jrs. Season MVP Jerie Pingoy, UAAP Jrs. Finals MVP Hubert Cani, NCAA Mythical selection CJ Perez, and NCAA Jrs. standout Arvin Tolentino in his first few years. Those promising prospects then joined forces with Blue Eagle stalwarts Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal Unfortunately, all of Pingoy, Cani, Perez, and Tolentino - along with the rest of the so-called "Magnificent 7" - found themselves with academic deficiencies and, therefore, ineligible by the blue and white's standards. Not long after, they transferred to different schools and squads and then had varying degrees of success. Will Coach Bo's tale get a different ending this time with the Fighting Maroons? Perasol is making sure of that. "From my experience in Ateneo, natuto ako. Ngayon, meron kaming grupo sa programa na nagha-handle lang ng academics ng players," he shared. He then continued, "Sinasamahan sila sa mga klase, pinapakilala sa mga propesor, ine-explain na player natin yan, pag merong problema, coordinate lang po tayo." Apparently, this academic assistance team is made up of former student-managers who have graduated. Now, their first job is all about seeing to it that State U would not have to go through the same sort of headache Ateneo had with its "Magnificent 7." With that, you could be sure that UP's pillars of honor and excellence still stand strong even as all these new faces join Men's Basketball Team. "Walang special consideration. Pumapasok sila, bumabagsak sila. Binibigyan sila ng extra work, humihingi sila ng extra work," Coach Bo said. He then continued, "Ang ine-explain ko lagi sa players at sa professors, ang mahalaga, basta masipag pumasok at nagpapakita ng intensyong matuto." STARRING AND STRIKING At present, just about everybody is still getting used to blue-chip recruits and talented transferees going for UP. That is why there are more questions than answers each and every time they announce a new player. And along with the question of whether or not all these new faces would be up to par in terms of the honor and excellence the Philippines' prime public university prides itself in, there is a question of just how the Fighting Maroons got here in the first place. How could State U, not that far removed from its self-proclaimed "dark days," get all of these players? And not just players, at that, but many big name players. The categorical answer? The program could now afford it. "Meron nang pondo salamat sa sponsors," head coach Bo Perasol explained. "For example, kung makikita mo lang yung patches sa harap ng jersey, malaking pera yun. Nag-aagawan ang marami para dun." At present, the shot-caller said that UP has eight corporate sponsors all getting together for the funds for the program. And unlike Ateneo which has Manny V. Pangilinan or National University which has Hans Sy as primary backers, the Fighting Maroons' system is quite different. "Ang source ng funds ng UP, halos lahat galing sa alumni. Tapos lahat yun, mina-manage ng nowheretogobutUP," coach Bo said. According to its website, nowheretogobutUP (NTGBUP) is "a volunteer group of UP alumni that aims to help, assist, and support the development, improvement, and advancement of the varsity program of UP." All of the finances it manages, however, are not necessarily donations. As Perasol put it, "Yung model ng UP is unique kasi yung support nila, kailangan may balik din from us." For example, the tactician said that many of their players have made appearances, online in this continuing COVID-19 crisis and in person prior to the pandemic, to cheer up employees of Palawan Pera Padala, one of the team's sponsors. More importantly, Coach Bo reminded yet again that the only reason they have all these new faces is because they have to. He pointed out how Abadiano and Filipino-American Sam Dowd would make up for the losses of Jun Manzo and Juan GDL as well as how Diouf and Cansino are already waiting in the wings once Bright Akhuetie and Ricci Rivero graduate. "We're also recruiting for the impending need," Perasol said. "Hindi naman ito biglaan. Since nagsimula kami rito, we all did this nang dahan-dahan lang. Kaya rin yung support from alumni for funding, hindi na rin naging mahirap." DREAMING Still, the mere fact that UP is now a big-time player on and off the court in collegiate basketball seemed so farfetched just five years ago. Before Bo Perasol, the Fighting Maroons were stuck in a vicious cycle. Now, though, they have back-to-back playoff appearances and have traded blows with traditional powerhouses for recruits and transferees. All of this made possible because the very moment he came in, Coach Bo already knew the secret to success. "You cannot build a program without funds," he said. Perasol furthered that his biggest takeaway from his time in Ateneo was that competing with the traditional powerhouses on the court entailed competing with them as well off of it. "Alam ko yung kakayanan ng Ateneo and siyempre, kakumpetensya ko rin nun yung La Salle so alam ko rin yung kanila. Ganun na rin ang kakayanan ng NU and yung iba pa, kakayanin din nila kung gustuhin nila," he said. He then continued, "Kaya kung ang objective ng programa is to be in the top four, your program should be levelled din sa capacity ng top four." The General Santos native then went on to point out how training in the country or abroad, recruitment local and overseas, housing, and food and nutrition all have costs. "To sum it up, everything you're going to do would entail financing. Hindi ito kakayanin ng UP as a public school dahil wala namang pondo ang gobyerno para dyan," he said. He then continued, "Ang pinakasagot nalang ng school is yung scholarship. And siyempre, yung nag-aaral ka sa UP." That doesn't mean, however, that their hands were tied. In fact, the answer to the questions had always been there. "The good thing about UP is there's millions of alumni all over the world and a lot are successful people and businessmen who are willing to help," Perasol said. BELIEVING Indeed, having educated Filipinos for over 112 years now, UP has, without a doubt, more than a few successful alumni. It was all a matter of uniting - and then unleashing - them. Even before Bo Perasol came home to Diliman, NTGBUP was already organized. They were not necessarily thrilled with the Fighting Maroons, though. "Nung una, dahan-dahan lang, ambag-ambag lang para merong kakainin, pambayad sa dorm. Merong nag-donate ng shoes," Coach Bo said. He then continued, "Pero siyempre, they want first and foremost a program with improvements and direction." NTGBUP and the UP community got just that from Perasol as a 3-11, seventh-place finish in 2015 became a 5-9, sixth-place finish in 2016 in Coach Bo's first year. In his second year, the squad improved to a  6-8, fifth-place finish. From there, the Fighting Maroons have been in the Final Four for back-to-back years now - and even made the Finals in 2018. "Nagsimula maging excited ang alumni nung nagsimula ring manalo," he shared. "When we started winning, nagkaroon hindi lang ng physical support, but financial support as well. We were ascending eh." In his third year at the helm, State U, finally, officially had corporate sponsors. And you know how that year went? That was when they ended a 21-year Final Four drought and then a 32-year Finals absence. Safe to say, the sleeping giant was awoken. "Yes, sleeping giant talaga tayo and when we say nagising, ang pinaka-catalyst was the winning," its fearless leader said. Now, UP MBT has a mean machine of financial support on its back, paving the path for its big-time recruiting haul in 2020. Even better, they now have a loud and proud fanbase that is making up for all the lost time they stayed away during the "dark days." "Actually, sa pitches ko sa recruitment, kasama sa presentation ko yung machi-cheer sila nang ganung klaseng crowd," Coach Bo said. SURVIVING At the same time, though, that loud and proud fanbase expects much, much more from this brand new power. For each and every one of them, Bo Perasol has but one reminder. "What we have done in the past years is to level up lang. We have a new gym, we have all these players, we can train abroad," he said. He then continued, "Pero yung mga Ateneo, La Salle, 20 to 30 years na nilang ginagawa yan. What we did was just to level up alongside them." Again and again, Coach Bo has said that what he has been doing is, put simply, putting UP in the best position to win. Still, with a roster as overflowing with talent as this, he could only acknowledge that just about everybody sees them as having gone championship or bust. Credit to him, however, Perasol was blunt with his assessment that he would also be disappointed if they would not be able to taste their first championship since 1986 sooner than later. "Yes, it will be a failed plan kung hindi tayo makakakuha ng championship in the next three to five years," he said. He then continued, "Yan naman talaga ang plano and ang ginagawa natin ngayon is all going towards that objective." And again and again, he is putting all those great expectations on his shoulders - and on his shoulders alone. "Ako naman, hindi ko rin pwedeng hindi gawin itong ganitong recruitment kasi hindi rin naman ako magkakaroon ng chance kung ganun. I have to be in the best position to succeed so that we are in the best position to succeed," he said. Only time would tell if all the seeds he has sown would bear fruit. But Coach Bo is already guaranteeing that whatever happens then, he would have no regrets. "In the end, alam ko namang babalik ang lahat sa akin. Alam na alam ko namang ako ang leader ng team," he said. He then continued, "Ang mahalaga is we gave ourselves a chance. Anuman ang outcome, basta nabigyan natin ang sarili natin ng pagkakataon." After years and years and years as the laughingstock of men's basketball, it looks like it's now UP's turn to smile and wave. Whether or not that ultimately turns into jumps for joy for their first title in three decades remains to be seen. But maybe, just maybe, Coach Bo is right - this is all worth it just to have a chance to compete. Just remember that in the "dark days," that chance to compete wasn't there at all. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 30th, 2020

Aljun Melecio s never-ending quest to prove he belongs

Aljun Melecio has these hardware sitting pretty on his trophy case: UAAP 78 Jrs. MVP, UAAP 79 Rookie of the Year, UAAP 79 champion. Now heading into his fifth and final year in De La Salle University, he remains recognized as one of the best point guards in all of college. Well, recognized by just about everybody except himself. Asked if he feels worthy to stand alongside the likes of NCAA 95 Finals MVP Fran Yu or UAAP 82 Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy, he answered, modest as always, "Nope. I don't. Wala pa akong napapatunayan." Yes, the 5-foot-8 super scorer who was then head coach Aldin Ayo's "most-wanted recruit" feels he is yet to prove himself. Yes, the primetime playmaker who was once comforted by Tab Baldwin after the Green Archers had lost the championship despite his 16 points in Game 3 of the Finals feels he is yet to prove himself. That in itself is not necessarily surprising, though. And that's because all throughout his young career, Melecio has felt, again and again, that he has to prove himself. He had to prove himself even to La Salle, his home of nine years now. "Actually, 'di naman ako ni-recruit ng Zobel dati," he shared. "To be honest, my mindset at that time ay mag-Team B lang sa Zobel para pag may games, mas magagamit ako. Kaysa naman mag-Team A ako and nakaupo lang sa bench." BREAK IN Aljun Melecio, now a graduating guard, is La Salle's most recent homegrown product. Of the Green Archers' probable UAAP 83 roster, the now-22-year-old is the lone player to have come from the Taft-based school's Jrs. programs - and mind you, they have two in La Salle Zobel and La Salle Green Hills. In DLSZ, Melecio was a scoring dynamo who once dropped 42 points on archrival Ateneo de Manila High School. Did you know, though, that he wasn't even supposed to wear the green and white? "I was supposed to transfer sa UST nung high school," he recalled. "Pero napag-usapan naming family na since si kuya, nasa Zobel na nung time na yun, mas okay sigurong Zobel na lang din ako para magkasama kami." Aljun was referring to older brother Aleck who was also his teammate for three years with the Jr. Archers. If not for Aleck, however, Aljun would have suited up for University of Sto. Tomas High School where good friend Renzo Subido had already committed to play for college. After all, it was Subido, and dad Henry, who had convinced the Melecios to move to Manila from Bukidnon. "The reason talaga why we took the risk to come here was because of Coach Henry," Aljun shared, looking back at the time when all of them were repping Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. "They invited us to play basketball in Manila kaya malaki ang utang na loob namin sa Subido family." While Coach Henry and Renzo have been always there to lend a helping hand, that did not necessarily make the transition any easier - especially for a 10-year-old kid who was born and bred in Valencia City. "Grabe yung sacrifice na ginawa namin just for me to have more opportunities in life. That was a big adjustment not just for me, but also for my parents," Melecio said. He then continued, "Dumating yung time na ayoko nang bumalik sa Manila kasi na-homesick ako. Looking back now, normal lang naman siguro yun, lalong-lalo na bata pa ako." BREAKTHROUGH Make no mistake about it, looking back now, Aljun Melecio has no regrets. As he put it, "It was all worth it." Of course, he also had lady luck smile on him somewhat as, yet again following the footsteps of Subido, he transferred from Lourdes to DLSZ. And there, he found yet another mentor willing to believe in him. "Sina Coach Boris [Aldeguer], pagdating ko sa Zobel, they invited me to join yung practice ng Team A. Nagulat ako na kaya ko naman pala so doon na nag-start yung confidence ko," he said. Indeed, Melecio did not let Coach Boris down as in his first year, he proved to be a building block in their rebuild. While the boys from Alabang eventually ended outside the playoff picture, he had made more than enough noise to get the attention of the Philippine national youth team. There, DLSZ's top gun got his first taste of wearing the flag as part of the Batang Gilas training pool. "Masayang-masaya ako nun na makasama sa practice team dahil dream ko talaga maging part nun," he narrated. "May jersey lang and makasali lang ako sa practice, masayang-masaya ako." There, Melecio showcased his skills alongside other promising prospects such as Nieto twins Mike and Matt as well as Jolo Mendoza of Ateneo, Renzo Navarro of San Sebastian College-Recoletos, and Jollo Go of Hope Christian High School. And there, yet again, he knew full well he had to prove himself. During training itself, the new kid on the block believed he was doing so. At the same time, however, he had to come face-to-face with another beast altogether - how to get to practice in the first place. As it turned out, the then-13-year-old had to commute from south to north each and every time he participated in Batang Gilas training. How did his trips go? "From Alabang, mag-tricycle ako to [Alabang] Town [Center] then jeep going to Starmall [Alabang]. After nun, bus to Magallanes, MRT, then LRT, tapos jeep ulit," he shared. He then continued, "So papunta pa lang to Moro, pagod na ako. Then after practice, mag-commute na naman pauwi." Fortunately for him, there were also kind hearts like the Nieto twins who took him to the LRT station in Katipunan or Evan Nelle whom he rode with going back south. Still, around 33km and about an hour separated DLSZ in the south and Ateneo's Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in the north - indeed, that was some sort of workout already. BREAKDOWN In the long run, that was, unfortunately, much too much for young Aljun Melecio. While wearing the flag would have meant much, he also felt circumstances, such as that hell of a commute that cost him PHP 200 for a one-way trip, held him back from giving his all. Instead, Melecio felt he could do much more if he just rechanneled his energy to DLSZ. "After ilang weeks na ginagawa ko yung routine na yun, I started asking myself kung paano maayos yung priorities ko. Pinakiramdaman ko kung saan ako mag-iimprove so I talked to Coach Boris," he said. He the continued, "And I decided na mag-all in sa Zobel." All in for the Jr. Archers, he did, and boy, did it prove to be the right call. He was just getting started in UAAP 76, slowly but surely getting a grasp of both his capabilities and confidence as he helped the green and white barge back into the Final Four. Then in Season 77, it all clicked as he shot the green and white to the second rung of the stepladder all while putting up per game counts of 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.3 steals. Without a doubt, he willed his way into the Mythical Team that included the Nieto twins, his batchmates in Batang Gilas. The following year, with averages of 22.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.3 steals, he carried DLSZ all the way to the Finals where they stole one game from eventual champion Nazareth School of National University. And oh, he was the unanimous MVP of Season 78, besting the likes of future Gilas Pilipinas pool members Justine Baltazar and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Even then, though, he wouldn't call himself the best of the best. "I didn't think na I belonged kasi never kong gustong isipin na ganun ako," he said. He then continued, "Ang alam ko lang, I worked extra hard, I had extra motivation to play. Thankfully, coach Boris supported my decision and dahil dun, na-boost yung confidence ko." BREAK FREE From there, Aljun Melecio did nothing but go onto greater and greater heights in La Salle's Srs. squad. Never tell him he has accomplished anything, though, as he would be the first to tell you that you're wrong. Up until now, he feels that he is yet to prove himself. He hopes to prove that he has what it takes to be behind the wheel for the Green Archers' new era. He hopes to prove that he could bounce back following the worst statistical season for him. And he hopes to prove that he has every right to be mentioned in the same breath as his one-time teammates in the Batang Gilas pool and his batchmates who are now part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool. "Lahat naman, ginagawa kong motivation," he said. "May it be positive or negative, we all have our timing so I'm just being patient para sa kung anuman ang ibibigay na chance sa akin." If and when that next shot at wearing the flag comes along, Melecio only vows to do what he has never stopped doing. Asked about getting a golden opportunity at the Gilas pool, he answered, "That's still a dream for me. I know I still have a lot to prove." He then continued, "But I will give my all if given the chance to represent. I always do." If and when that time comes, there would be no more 33km distance, one-hour travel time, or PHP 200 cost. Still, Aljun Melecio would work just as hard - if not more - as he did when he once had to commute south to north just to get to practice. Don't forget, proving himself is already second nature to him. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

Eduard Folayang: When an underdog finally became a world champion

In the five years that I was with the ABS-CBN Sports website, I was fortunate enough to have covered quite a number of memorable sports moments, so when I was asked to write about which was the most memorable for me, it was tough to narrow it down to just one single coverage. I could have written about Letran’s momentous upset of a dynasty-seeking San Beda in the NCAA Season 91 Finals, or I could have written about the Philippine Azkals making history by clinching a spot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.  Being an MMA fan, I could have written about getting to be Octagon-side for the UFC’s first and only trip to Manila, which was indeed a dream come true for me.  When I think about it however, the coverage that sticks with me to this day, even four years later, was being cage-side, just inches away from Eduard  “Landslide” Folayang as he pummeled Shinya Aoki to become the ONE Lightweight World Champion in Singapore back in 2016.  I tell people about that night all the time, and I believe I’ll continue to do so for the rest of my life.  A Fan First As I mentioned earlier, I’m an MMA fan. In fact, being a fan was actually how I eventually got into sports writing.  During my first year or so with ABS-CBN, I got wind of a show on Balls Channel entitled “The Takedown” which was, you guessed it, about the UFC. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to be a part of that show, in any capacity. I even offered to research or write for free, LOL.  While I never did get to work on the show (because unfortunately, it lasted only a few episodes), I did get to make some connections (shoutout to Sir Lori, Ms. Jo, and Ms. Anna!) which eventually landed me a gig as a UFC writer for the Balls Channel Website. During that time, I got to meet and interview stars like BJ Penn, Alexander Gustafsson, Urijah Faber, Cung Le, and even Arianny Celeste. For an MMA fan like me, it was like working a dream job. It was a pretty sweet gig.  Eventually, that job with the Balls Channel Website would lead me to a spot on the ABS-CBN Sports Website which was launched in 2015. By 2016, I had started covering Asia-based MMA promotion ONE Championship quite a bit because ABS-CBN had signed a broadcast deal with them, and because ONE had a ton of homegrown Pinoy fighters on their roster, most notably Folayang and the Team Lakay guys.  Folayang, whose contract with ONE expired in March of 2016, re-signed with the promotion and returned to action in August, defeating Adrian Pang by Unanimous Decision in Macau. That win over Pang earned Folayang the biggest bout of his career at that point: a title shot against reigning champion Aoki.  When I learned of that title fight, I was very excited for Folayang, but had little expectations for his chances, being that Aoki was a legend in the sport.  Best Seat in the House Eduard Folayang finally getting to fight for a world championship was a huge deal for Filipino MMA fans, especially those that had followed the Baguio-based star’s career since his days in the URCC. The Pinoy star was on ONE’s first ever event, but could never seem to gain enough momentum to compete for a world title, until that point.  That November night in Singapore, all the years of work sacrifice that Folayang had put in during his nine-year MMA career would finally pay off.  This was only my second time to cover a ONE event overseas, so apart from having to write stories, I also had to take pictures. Learning from my past mistakes, I asked if I could have a spot cage-side so that I could take some at least decent photos. Thankfully, the ONE people agreed and gave me a spot just beside one of the judges’ tables.  I had the best seat in the house.  Now, as I said, I had tapered my expectations for the fight. I had seen what Aoki could do in the cage. I’ve seen the guy break peoples’ bones before, so honestly, I was just hoping that he wouldn’t injure Folayang. Our guy was the underdog heading into this fight, no doubt about it.  Of course, as a Filipino and as a fan I was hoping for a massive upset. The beautiful thing about MMA is anything can happen.  Shock The World This was legitimately the first time that I felt nervous covering a fight. It’s like that feeling you have when your favorite basketball team is in a close game with just seconds left.  That first round was a frigging whirlwind of emotions if you’re a Pinoy MMA fan. It looked like Aoki was within moments of being able to submit Folayang on multiple occasions.  The second round was a little bit more relaxed for Folayang, especially since he had been able to survive Aoki’s opening round grappling blitz. It looked like he was a bit more confident and he started to throw some of his trademark spinning kicks and elbows.  A miscalculated flying knee attempt led to another Aoki takedown, but this time around, Folayang appeared a little more calm and relaxed under the pressure.  Late in the round, Folayang began to attack Aoki’s torso with punches and kicks, and it looked like it had the Japanese legend a bit winded. The tide had shifted.  Heading into the third round, there was a different feeling in the air. It felt like Aoki was done, and it felt like Folayang knew it.  In the opening seconds of that fateful third frame, Folayang knew exactly what Aoki was going to do and had an answer for it. Aoki shot in for a takedown, and Folayang countered it with a jumping knee to the jaw.  For a brief second, Folayang was on his behind, but managed to outmuscle Aoki and deliver another vicious knee.  “Oh sh*t!” I yelled internally while scrambling to take photos of the ensuing beatdown.  Folayang turned Aoki over and began to connect with punch after unanswered punch.  Without taking my eye away from my camera’s viewfinder, I started yelling for Folayang to finish it.  Folayang continued to punish Aoki with piston-like punches as the Singapore Indoor Stadium began to erupt.  For what felt like an eternity, referee Yuji Shimada watched as Folayang unloaded nine years worth of heartbreak and frustration into a ground-and-pound sequence.  And then, it was over.  There was a new lightweight king.  AND NEW! EDUARD FOLAYANG STOPS SHINYA AOKI IN ROUND 3! — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) November 11, 2016     The Landslide Reigns As much as I would have wanted to keep it cool, I started to freak out. I looked to my right and saw my fellow Pinoy journalists doing the same, one was even standing on the table, cheering the new world champion on.  At that point, I had watched UAAP championships, NCAA championships, even some boxing world championships, but this one was different. I knew what Folayang had gone through. I knew that the odds were stacked against him.  As the confetti began to rain down and the celebration inside the ring continued, I recomposed myself and started to take pictures again. I wanted to be able to capture this moment.  After the official decision and the post-fight interview, I remember calling out to Folayang so that I could take a photo of him with his shiny new toy.  I’ve gotten to witness other members of Team Lakay become champions since then. I’ve been blessed enough to see Geje Eustaquio, Kevin Belingon and Joshua Pacio all become titleholders within a single year. While getting to see Team Lakay draped in gold to end 2018 was definitely a sight to behold, being there cage side as ‘Manong Ed’ realized a life-long dream was definitely an experience that I won’t soon forget.  Folayang's title win wasn't Team Lakay's first world champmionship, and it isn't the last. For me however, I think it's the most important, because it showed that no matter how many times you fall, you can still find your way to the top.  Everyone loves a good underdog story.  -- Santino Honasan has served as a sub-section editor for ABS-CBN Sports' website since 2015. He is among thousands of ABS-CBN employees who will be retrenched on August 31, 2020. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

2020 king of recruiting crown remains on UP’s head

Who was our King of Recruiting in 2018? Find out here. Who was our King of Recruiting in 2019? Find out here. --- From 2007 to 2015, the University of the Philippines only had 13 wins to show in 126 games total. That time is self-deprecatingly called in Diliman as the dark days. Due to that disappointing standing, the Fighting Maroons had the toughest time bringing in recruits. And due to that lack of pieces to the puzzles, they lost even more. Safe to say, State U was stuck in a vicious cycle in the dark days. That’s not to say they didn’t have blue-chip recruits back then as in their time, all of Woody Co, Mark Juruena, Mike Gamboa, Kyles Lao, Jett Manuel, and Mikee Reyes were among the best high school players. Only, a blue-chip recruit or two does not make a team. Fast forward to now and oh, how things have changed. Last year, UP was hailed as ABS-CBN’s King of Recruiting alongside University of the East. “On the strength of the transfers of Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero, the Fighting Maroons… are worthy of the title,” it said then. And the season before that, the maroon and green was also up there with the best of them in terms of recruitment, having brought in the likes of eventual Season MVP Bright Akhuetie, Will Gozum, and Jaydee Tungcab. Indeed, there was nowhere to go but up. That has only continued this year as UP has left no doubt that it is now a force to reckon with in terms of recruitment. Early on, they already had a solid haul in Joel Cagulangan, once the best point guard in high school, and tireless workhorse Malick Diouf. And then, the shock of shocks. As it turned out, Nazareth School of National University stalwarts Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano were going to be Fighting Maroons. Meaning, for the first time in recent history, the most promising prospect coming out of high school is headed to Diliman. Not only that, State U also answered its biggest question heading into next season – the question at point guard, filling in for Jun Manzo. But as it turned out, they weren’t done just yet - no, our friends, they weren’t done just yet. Tamayo and Abadiano’s departure from National U was shocking, without a doubt, but CJ Cansino’s exit from University of Sto. Tomas was even more so. Cansino, against his will, decided to move on from his alma mater since 2015 due to personal reasons. Fortunately for him, he landed on his feet. Now, the Fighting Maroons have ready-made replacement for Rivero as well as a leader in the shades of Paul Desiderio for UAAP 84. And that, our friends, is why we have no choice but to put the 2020 King of Recruiting crown on UP’s head once more. Tamayo and Abadiano are the bluest of blue-chip recruits this year and Cagulangan, Cansino, and Diouf are among the most talented transferees, but also joining them in the maroon and green will be scoring machine RC Calimag from La Salle Green Hills, burly big Miguel Tan from Xavier High School, Filipino-American playmaker Sam Dowd, Filipino-Australian tower Ethan Kirkness, physical forward Jancork Cabahug from University of Visayas, and versatile wing CJ Catapusan from Adamson University. The former Bullpups are guaranteed ato be contributors even as rookies while Calimag, Tan, and Dowd are going to shore up a bench that had just lost Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Of course, Diouf, Kirkness, Cansino, Cabahug, and Cagulangan are still serving residency, but when they will be eligible, they will get a shot at a squad that will look brand new. All of Bright Akhuetie, J-Boy Gob, David Murrell, Noah Webb, and Rivero are graduating players while Paras is only guaranteed to play one more year. That means that after Season 83, the Fighting Maroons may very well have to fill six spots. That means that UP is not only beefing up for UAAP 83, it is also securing its future. If not for the shock of shocks, though, the crown would have been claimed by De La Salle University which sent a statement that it is back and better than ever. Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio may be playing their fifth and final years in college, but the green and white’s future has only brightened following this prolonged preseason. First and foremost, Kevin Quiambao, the third leg in that National U tripod of talent out of high school, has the capability and confidence to follow in the footsteps of Baltazar. Hopefully, he will be eligible for Season 83, but if not, what’s certain is he will be playing in UAAP 84. Alongside him as pieces for the future are super scorers CJ Austria and Emman Galman, all-around swingman Joshua Ramirez, and Filipino-Americans Jeromy Hughes, Kameron Vales, and Philips bros. Benjamin and Michael. Among all those, Jonnel Policarpio, likened to a young Arwind Santos, has the highest upside, but the Fil-Ams have much potential as well. And don’t forget that Evan Nelle, the primetime playmaker from San Beda University, is just getting primed and prepped to take the reins when Melecio leaves. Of course, the caveat here is that we are all in uncharted territory due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis. And in that light, the next season of the UAAP remains far away and a lot could still happen until then. While majority of the local blue-chip recruits have already committed, talents from abroad and transferees from other schools could still come and change the game. With that being said, there remains no doubt that UP and La Salle have made the biggest noise in the offseason. However, it’s not actually the Fighting Maroons or the Green Archers who got the lion’s share of the best graduating players in the 2020 NBTC 24. Yes, that honor belongs to Lyceum of the Philippines University which is finally reaping the rewards of its rising Jrs. program with NCAA 95 Jrs. MVP John Barba and Batang Gilas playmaker Mac Guadana being promoted as full-fledged Pirates. Guadana could do it all and looks like the next great guard in the Grand Old League while fearless slasher is Barba is a perfect complement to him. Add another fiery guard in John Bravo and sweet-shooting big man Carlo Abadeza and LPU has restocked its coffers after losing Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee and Cameroonian powerhouse Mike Nzeusseu. In all though, the 2020 NBTC 24 was dominated by UP… and San Beda. Of the annual rankings’ 15 graduating players, four would be Fighting Maroons and another four would be Red Lions. Yes, San Beda’s grassroots program is back on track with its Jrs. championship core all remaining in red and white. Rhayyan Amsali, ranked no. 1 in the 2020 NBTC 24, is the most college-ready high school player while Justine Sanchez is a long-limbed forward who could turn out to be the next Calvin Oftana, you know, the NCAA 95 MVP. Yukien Andrada, meanwhile, is only continuing to develop his two-way game and Tony Ynot is a 3-and-D weapon who had even left an impression on Jalen Green. And hey, as somebody said, don’t sleep on the UAAP’s three-time defending champions. Ateneo may already be missing Isaac Go, Thirdy Ravena, Adrian Wong, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt and they may not be making noise as of late, but they are still welcoming Dave Ildefonso and Dwight Ramos with open arms. Ildefonso will only be good to go come UAAP 84, but Ramos is already being seen by head coach Tab Baldwin as a difference-maker for the Blue Eagles in Season 83. Eli, Dwight’s younger brother, is also in the mix to backstop SJ Belangel and Tyler Tio. Note also that former blue-chip recruit Inand Fornilos may very well finally get his shot while both Jolo Mendoza and Raffy Verano are also back. Ateneo’s foe in the Finals last year also reloaded quite a bit as for the third year in a row, UST will be sending the Tiger Cubs’ best player to the Srs. squad. Following in the footsteps of Cansino and Mark Nonoy, post player Bismarck Lina will be a Growling Tiger next season. Alongside him to fortify the frontcourt are Christian Manaytay, Bryan Samudio, and Bryan Santos while bolstering the backcourt are Joshua Fontanilla and Paul Manalang. Speaking of fortifying the frontcourt, Far Eastern University is the team that got the biggest boost in terms of size. With 6-foot-7 Nigerian Emman Ojoula’s residency over and done with, the go-go guards of the Tamaraws have yet another weapon to burn opponents with. CESAFI MVP Kevin Guibao and transferee Simone Sandagon are no slouches either while Cholo Anonuevo has a roster spot waiting for him if and when he decides to come home after trying his luck in the US. RJ Abarrientos no longer appears here as he was already in FEU’s list last year. These are the new faces to see for the other teams: CSB Blazers LETRAN Knights JRU Heavy Bombers MAPUA Cardinals ADAMSON Soaring Falcons UE Red Warriors --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

Zamboanga siblings Drex and Denice look to impress at ONE: A NEW BREED

The Zamboanga siblings join ONE Championship’s long list of successful broods when The Home Of Martial Arts returns this Friday, 28 August, at ONE: A NEW BREED in Bangkok, Thailand.  Top-ranked Filipina atomweight Denice “The Menace” Zamboanga looks to keep a stronghold on her number one contender status when she faces Watsapinya “Dream Girl” Kaewkhong in a mixed martial arts bout.  Making this special for “The Menace” is the fact that she will be competing with her older brother in Filipino World Champion Drex “T-Rex” Zamboanga, who is slated to make his ONE debut against Detchadin Sornsirisuphathin. “I’m very happy to be competing once more, because it’s been awhile since I last fought, so I’m grateful to be a part of this card in Thailand,” she said.  “Aside from actively competing once more, what makes me really happy is I’ll be fighting alongside my brother on the same card.” The younger of the Zamboanga siblings has already made her presence felt in The Home Of Martial Arts.  The undefeated Filipina scored convincing wins over Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan and former ONE Atomweight Women’s World Title challenger Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi, earning her the right to face longtime division ruler “Unstoppable” Angela Lee as announced by ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.  A dominant performance here for the Filipina would only make her case stronger.  Also competing on the card is Filipina-American KC “Pinay Fight” Carlos, who will look to pull the upset-rug from underneath the rolling Wondergirl Fairtex in a strawweight Muay Thai battle.  In the card’s headliner, Stamp Fairtex defends her ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Title against Allycia Hellen Rodrigues while “Left Meteorite” Kulabdam Sor. Jor. Piek Uthai battles Rodlek PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym in the ONE Muay Thai Bantamweight Tournament Finals, where a shot at reigning World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao is at stake.  ONE: A NEW BREED will air Friday, 28 August, in a closed-door, audience-free setting in Bangkok, Thailand. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: La Salle Paraiso vs UST Paraiso

Brent Paraiso made his name as a determined defender during his days in De La Salle Zobel. He rode that effort and energy all the way to a spot on the fully loaded lineup for De La Salle University in UAAP 79. Not only that, the 6-foot-2 swingman actually started five games for the Green Archers in their dominant 16-1 title run. Paraiso's norms were not necessarily eye-opening, but he contributed nonetheless to a championship - especially to a defense predicated on "mayhem." The year after, he yet again started five games as they wound up as runners-up. From there, however, the La Salle lifer decided to take his talents somewhere else - University of Sto. Tomas, to be exact. And in his first year as a Growling Tiger, he showed off a more well-rounded game, averaging 7.2 points and totaling 28 threes. The numbers were higher, without a doubt, but he also became less of an enforcer in black and gold. Meaning, the Brent Paraiso of now is not necessarily the Brent Paraiso of before - a fiery competitor that got under the skin of opponents all while getting his teammates going. Do you miss that old Brent? Or do you like the new Brent better? That is what we weigh against each other in this week's ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. To figure out who comes out on top between the old Brent and the new Brent, we will be judging them in five categories (shooting, finishing, defense, role, and attitude) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. SHOOTING The new Brent is well on his way to becoming a 3-and-D guy. Paraiso made good on a respectable 32.6 percent of his 86 shots from downtown. For reference, he only attempted 11 triples in his two years in La Salle and only converted one of them. Of course, more minutes meant more openings for him to put up shots, but there is still no doubt that his stroke is now surer. Advantage, UST Paraiso 10-8 FINISHING Paraiso has never been known as a shot-creator. In black and gold, however, he has become more confident with his ballhandling. With that, the new Brent no longer settles for jump shots and could slice and dice his way to the ring if he wants to. Once inside, he prefers floaters and still has work to do in terms of taking it up strong. Still, this is an improvement from his days in La Salle when he was more of just a catch-and-shoot threat. Advantage, UST Paraiso 10-9 DEFENSE Quick feet and active hands have always been there for Paraiso. And in UST, he has coupled those with wisdom coming from age and experience. Still, the new Brent could not come close to the old Brent in terms of sticking to his man and standing his ground. That Paraiso was only third to Ben Mbala and Kib Montalbo in energizing La Salle's "mayhem." While his steal counts were never up there, but head coach Aldin Ayo always knew full well he could count on his youthful workhorse to do his best against an opposing team's weapon. Advantage, La Salle Paraiso 10-9 ROLE Starting games has been one of Paraiso's roles since his rookie season. From being a quality minutes guy in La Salle, though, he is now a regular rotation piece in UST. The old Brent proved worthy of being a sparkplug for the Green Archers in their first- and second-place finishes. As a Growling Tiger, however, he also proved he could be much more than that as they made it all the way to the Finals. Now, the new Brent is somebody who could impact the game on offense just as much as he could do so on defense. Advantage, UST Paraiso 10-9 ATTITUDE The old Brent is the classic played you would love on your side and you would hate on the other. The new Brent is no longer like that as he has matured and just puts his full focus on his role for UST. For out taste, though, Paraiso the enforcer remains a player to remember - much more than the more well-rounded player now in black and gold. Advantage, La Salle Paraiso 10-9 FINAL: 48-46 for UST Paraiso --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020

Toronto s Nurse is most impressive coach says G League s Shaw

The 2018-2019 season was a milestone year for the Toronto Raptors. With Kawhi Leonard leading the way, the Raptors finished with 58 wins for their second-best regular season in franchise in history. In the playoffs, Toronto embarked on one of the most inspiring runs ever. The Raptors culminated their journey with a six-game conquest of the two-time champion Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for their first NBA title. A lot of last season's success falls on the players led by Kawhi, but Toronto's championship win also coincided with Nick Nurse's first-year as head coach. This season, Kawhi is no longer a Raptor but Toronto retained the no. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs on the strength of their best regular season ever as a franchise. Toronto's success in 2020 makes Nurse's impact pretty evident. Despite losing their no. 1 star, Coach Nick still has the champion Raptors as arguably the team to beat in these years playoffs. "Hands down for me, the most impressive coaching job that I've seen this year was Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors. I was impressed last year in his rookie season as well," G League Select Team coach Brian Shaw said in an interview set up by NBA Philippines. "I think people expected for the Toronto Raptors to drop off because Kawhi Leonard is not there, but he had them playing competitively all season long. I still think they're the team to beat until somebody knocks them off," he added. Shaw says Nurse's genius lies behind his ability to cook up defenses to go against multiple teams and multiple star players. True enough, the Raptors are second in the NBA in defensive rating. Toronto is also no. 1 in steals among all teams in the NBA bubble. "I was impressed by his schemes, particularly defensively. Nick Nurse has shown the ability to take the other team's stars out of the game by using unconventional methods. I've seen games where he's played box-and-one, triangle-and-two, zone defense," Shaw said. "We know that whoever team's stars can beat you, what he does is throws the whole defense at those guys and see if the rest of the team can beat us. I think he's unique in that way, in some of the approaches he takes on the defensive end," Shaw added of Coach Nurse.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 17th, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent of their potential when they play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost a podium finish to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure, but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.]   [Updated Notes: The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020