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PVL: Hindi kami nakasabay -- Laniog on Game 1 loss

PetroGazz head coach Arnold Laniog admitted that the Angels were outplayed by defending champion Creamline in Game 1 of the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Open Conference best-of-three Finals on Wednesday. Outgunned and out-hustled, the Angels bowed down to the Cool Smashers, 14-25, 22-25, 25-27, in their second straight championship showdown.   “Well again, hindi kami nag-perform sa gusto naming mangyari. But siyempre, credit talaga sa Creamline 'yun,” said Laniog. The mentor expected the Cool Smashers, who has yet to taste defeat in the season-ending conference, to come out smoking. What Laniog didn’t see was his team playing below his expectations. “Sabi ko nga, as expected, gan'un ang level ng Creamline but hindi kami nakasabay,” he said. “Talagang na-control nila kami sa attack talaga, especially 'yung dalawang wings nila in (Alyssa) Valdez and (Jema) Galanza, talagang nag-step up talaga. Although na-identify naman namin na 'yun talaga ang mangyayari dahil based naman sa stats.” Creamline also made life difficult for PetroGazz with strong serves, disrupting the Angels’ passing game and the flow of its offense.   It didn’t help that PetroGazz started out slow. “As much as possible, hindi natin pwedeng makita 'yung Creamline na as early as first set, biglang nakita kaagad natin 'yung kumpiyansa kaagad nila e,” said Laniog. “Talagang mahihirapan kami 'pag gan'un.” “So sabi ko, 'yung Creamline, ang importante sa amin ay either sabayan sila o higatan pa talaga kung anong meron sila,” added Laniog, who hopes to duplicate their Reinforced Conference comeback against the same rival. “Talagang credit talaga sa Creamline, talagang gusto nila kanina.” The Angels will try to extend the series on Saturday. Game 3, if needed, is next Wednesday.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnNov 6th, 2019

CAMPEONE: Year of the Tiger (2010)

(This story was originally published on May 09, 2019) University of Sto. Tomas head coach Shaq delos Santos looked at his squad inside the dugout of The Arena in San Juan one last time. It was a cool Saturday afternoon. He took a glimpse at his graduating hitter Angge Tabaquero, who was all pumped up, but was feeling under the weather and could barely speak because of a sore throat. Delos Santos then shifted his eyes towards fourth-year team captain Aiza Maizo, Maika Ortiz, libero Jessica Curato, then to his prized rookies Dindin Santiago and Maru Banaticla. From their closed locker room, the Tigresses could hear the drums outside and felt the vibration that followed. The weekend crowd packed the venue in a sea of yellow and green. Excitement filled the air. It was electric. Less than an hour before, coach Emil Lontoc celebrated the Tigers’ conquest of Far Eastern University to complete a three-peat in the men's division. With his eyes closed, Delos Santos murmured one last prayer. Then there was a soft tap on their dugout door. It was time to march to the court for the official warm-up for Game 2 of the UAAP Season 72 women’s volleyball tournament.   THE YOUNG AND THE BOLD Delos Santos knew that they’re in for ride in Season 72.   They prided themselves with three pre-season titles, but those conquests meant nothing when it comes to their mother league. “Before mag-start (ang season), for me, hindi ko napi-feel na magtsa-champion agad kami,” said Delos Santos. “Kasi ang adjustment kailangan makita mo muna ang lahat ng naglalaro. So depende pa rin sa nilalaro ng every team na makakalaban mo.” And besides, the mentor will be navigating with a young crew, mostly in their early collegiate careers save for Maizo and returning Tabaquero, two of the remaining heroes of UST’s Season 69 championship run. Maizo was named team captain while Tabaquero, who skipped Season 71 for personal reasons, brought in the needed veteran presence to guide the squad. “Ako personally ang mindset ko sobrang hungry lang rin ako personally and I think si Aiza rin kasi halos pa-exit na rin siya nun,” said Tabaquero. “Ako sobrang gusto ko lang for myself na maka-graduate sa UAAP on a high note.” “On a high lang ako nun kumbaga, ‘Last playing year ko na ‘to wala na akong balikan pa, ibubuhos ko na lahat,’ she added. “Plus the fact na hindi ako nakapaglaro noong Season 71 dagdag gutom sa akin ‘yun.” But then again, the Tigresses remained relatively young. Dimaculangan was just in her third year, her first two saw the bitter memory of losing the title in the semifinals at the hands of the Rachel Anne Daquis-led Far Eastern University and then another Final Four heartache against the same tormentors the following year. Ortiz, Hannah Mance and Curato barely had enough experience on them so did Judy Ann Caballejo.   Then there were the young bloods. UST got a pair of blue-chip recruits in a small but high-flying power-hitter in Banaticla and a lanky 6-footer Santiago.   The Tigresses were parading a decent squad, but not a super team that they had before with Mary Jean Balse and Venus Bernal.       “Nagkaroon kami ng mga rookies noon,” said Dimaculangan. “Nu’ng time na ‘yun kumpiyansa naman ako sa team kasi bakit ka pa maghahanap ng mga wala o bakit ka pa hahanap ng mga naka-graduate na? So kung ano na lang ang meron kami siguro doon na lang.” Delos Santos, himself, was just on his second year as head coach after taking the reins from legendary mentor August Sta. Maria, who suffered a stroke in 2008. Expectations were high from the UST faithful. For the Tigresses, they just have to deliver.   STRUGGLE WITHIN The Tigresses began the season with an early litmus test. Their first game: against the defending champions De La Salle University Lady Spikers. UST faced a squad assembled to build a dynasty. DLSU was denied of a four-peat three years ago when the league suspended the school in Season 69 because of an eligibility issue with its men’s basketball team. In Season 70, the Lady Spikers were forced to forfeit games because of another eligibility issue with Jacq Alarca. The following year, in Manilla Santos’ final year, DLSU reclaimed the throne. Now, looking to for a repeat, the Lady Spikers just need to break the will of one of their threats. DLSU paraded a formidable team centered on its ‘Big Three’ in Alarca, skipper Paneng Mercado, daughter of Asia’s Sprint Queen Lydia De Vega-Mercado, and versatile hitter Cha Cruz. Then there’s the great wall of Michele Gumabao and rookies Aby Marano and Joanne Siy, who would eventually win the Rookie of the Year and Best Blocker awards. UST was facing a nightmare. But the Tigresses were undaunted. They clung on the confidence of bringing down the same giant they slew in the UniGames championship before the start of the season. With guns blazing and adrenaline in their veins, the Tigresses were able to control the match as they led, 2-1. Then comes their Achilles’ heel. UST was a determined team, but the Lady Spikers had in them the championship experience, the veteran composure of a battle-tested squad. The Tigresses had no answer to that. DLSU walked away with a 20-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 15-11, victory to start its amazing elimination round winning streak. UST recovered in the next three games, walking past University of the Philippines, a rebuilding FEU, and cellar-dwellers National University. Then came another big challenge. The Tigresses collided with a feisty young team in Ateneo de Manila University bannered by a hyped Fab Five of sophomores Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio, Fille Cainglet, setter Jem Ferrer and A Nacachi. The result was a shocker: the Lady Eagles upset the Tigresses. It may not show inside the court, but the Tigresses were struggling from the inside.   Delos Santos admitted that being a Tigress under his watch was not for the faint of heart. His relationship with the players was not smooth. He was a blacksmith trying to sharpen a deadly weapon. He needed to put his players into the blazing fire of his Spartan-like training, hammer them into shape and sharpen them into a weapon ready for brutal war.       “Napaka-strict ko kaya medyo ano sila sa akin pero at the end of the day na-realize rin nila na ang lahat ng sinasalihan naming tournament, lahat ng paghihirap namin, kapag naglalaro kami talagang quality,” he said. “’Yung pinaghirapan namin talagang nilalabas namin sa game.” Dimaculangan recalled that that season was marred with conflicts within the team. “’Yung year na 'yun ang dami talagang pinagdaanan. Ang daming naging issues,” she said declining to divulge what the problems were. “Lahat kami takot sa kanya (Delos Santos). Tapos my time din na feeling namin nabe-burnout na kami.” “Baliktad nga eh kasi kung kailan ang dami naming issue doon pa namin nasabi na ‘Ay kailangan nating mag-champion.’ Ganoon ang feeling namin,” Dimaculangan added. Tabaquero would simply describe that Tigresses team as ‘shaky’. “On the rocks ang team and noon may internal issues din,” she revealed. “Medyo magulo siya pero as players, ‘Kung may mangyari man dyan, labas na sa volleyball ‘yan. Kung ano ang pini-perform natin maglaro tayo ng maayos.’ Siguro yun na lang ang tumatakbo sa isip namin.” Whatever the issues were inside their team, the Tigresses were able to put them aside as they made an amazing run to close the eliminations. “Nagulat kami kasi sobrang nakasabay ang mga bata,” said Tabaquero. “Kami ni Aiza halos ang nag-lead sa team na ‘yun pero kasi experienced na ang mga bata na ‘yun kasi coming from UST program sila eh.” “So medyo kumbaga ang pinanggalingan nilang team mataas din so I guess doon na lang din sila humugot from their experience sa high school. Nadala na lang din siguro pagdating nila,” she added.   ENTERING THE END GAME Valentine’s Day. With most of the country looking forward to celebrate that special Sunday, the Tigresses were preparing for something bigger. It was their most-awaited rematch with the Lady Spikers, who heading into that game were already ravaging the league with 13 straight victories. One win and DLSU will enter the Finals outright armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage.   The Tigresses didn’t allow that. UST prevented a Lady Spikers elims sweep by slipping past DLSU in a thrilling five-setter. The Tigresses avoided a stepladder semifinals. UST ended the elims with a nine-game winning streak and second-best 12-2 win-loss record. From there everything changed. “Kasi nakuha nila (ang panalo) sa first round then February 14 tinalo namin sila so dun tumaas ang kumpiyansa namin na ‘Ah kaya namin itong La Salle,’” said Tabaquero. The Tigresses came in the Final Four armed with a twice-to-beat advantage against Ateneo. They split their elims head-to-head but now UST wanted to settle an old score. It was Maizo and Tabaquero who did most of the damage in the Final Four as the Tigresses crushed the Lady Eagles, 25-12, 25-23, 25-20, all while playing without starting libero Curato, who was out because of typhoid fever. “I guess kung ikaw mayroon kang chance na makapasok sa championship siguro ibibigay mo ang lahat. Laban kung laban,” said Tabaquero. “’Yun talaga ang mentalidad namin nu’ng time na yun. ‘Yun ang nag-push sa amin na, ‘For championship ito, ibibigay namin ang lahat 110%.’” Earlier that playdate, the Lady Spikers took the other Finals berth after booting out Adamson University, 16-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22.         "EH ANO NGAYON KUNG DEFENDING CHAMPION KAYO?" Maizo and Tabaquero were UST’s contrasting leaders. They're yin and yang. Maizo was a silent operator. She would rather let her work do the talking. Tabaquero was from a different world. She will get under your skin, play with your head and she was just plain nasty. “Season 69 pa lang salbahe na ako maglaro,” she admitted. “Dun lumabas ‘yung moniker ko na ‘Pamewang Queen’. Sobrang intense lang din ng game namin ng FEU nun. Parang sobrang thrashtalkan. Hindi mo man makita on-cam pero doon pa lang talagang may verbal.” She’s no different in Season 72. “Hindi naman sa mayabang ako pero nasa utak ko nu’ng time na yun, ‘Ay kaya namin kayo kasi tinalo namin kayo nu’ng eliminations,’” Tabaquero continued.  “Doon ako humugot ng lakas na, ‘hindi tayo papatalo rito.’ Sobrang inspired lang din siguro akong maglaro noon kasi ang daming tao nun. Grabe puno itong San Juan Arena,” she recalled.    Facing DLSU, Tabaquero knew they can rip the crown off the Lady Spikers’ heads. “Ako personally, ‘Eh ano ngayon kung defending champion kayo?” she said. It was 2010 and UST just needed to look at the Chinese calendar for an inspiration.    “Year of the Tiger yun, sumakto,” said Dimaculangan. “Iba ang kompiyansa namin na parang amin ‘to.” The Tigresses could see the stars aligning for them, the opportunity was there. Then came the best-of-three series opener. Delos Santos was not new to the Finals. He worked as Sta. Maria’s deputy before. But this was his biggest challenge. His shining moment. Looking back, he felt that Sta. Maria molded him for this situation. “Before nakakuha rin kami ng isa pang championship eh. Sina Bernal, Balse pero si Coach August ang head coach pa nun that time,” he said. “Ang ginawa niya that time sobrang gusto niyang mag-grow ako. Noong Finals namin against FEU, umalis siya. Hindi siya nagpunta ng game tapos nung mag-start na ang game hinahanap ko siya,” Delos Santos continued. “Tinawagan ko siya, sabi ko, ‘Boss nasaan ka?’ Nasa norte siya eh parteng norte." "Sabi ko, ‘boss nasaan ka?’ Sabi niya, ‘kayang-kaya mo na ‘yan. Ikaw ng bahala dyan,’” he said. “’Yung time na yun doon ko na-feel na grabe ang tiwala niya sa akin.” Against a taller Lady Spikers side, Delos Santos needed just one key to success: speed. “I think that time sobrang lucky ko rin kasi ang mga players ko. Yun nga sina Rhea na, sina Tabaquero, sina Aiza. So that time yung system na gusto naming mangyari, more on lalo na kailangang maging speedy kami. Mabilis kami, nakuha namin that time. Siguro yun ang naging key,” he said. “Kasi knowing La Salle ang no. 1 weapon nila is blocking eh. Bukod dun sa service nila na napakabigat, yung blocking. Mayroon silang malalaking players and ang ganda lagi ng line-up nila,” Delos Santos said. As the battle ensued, Delos Santos felt that they had the upper hand. “I think nu’ng time na ‘yun medyo na-feel ko na makukuha namin,” he said. “That time na naglaro na kami sabi ko, sa galawan na nangyayari nakuha namin yung magandang diskarte.” And that strategy was to exploit the height disadvantage of DLSU setter Kaye Martinez. For Delos Santos the best way to stop the Lady Spikers’ deadly arrows was to break their bow.  “That time malalaki sila pero meron silang maliit na setter. Maliit ang setter nila so more on dun kami nagsi-set play ng nagsi-set play,” he said. “Nagkaroon din kami ng magandang receive and then si Rhea nabibigay niya ng maayos sa mga spikers.”  It was shocker. UST recovered from a set down to beat DLSU, 24-26, 25-23, 25-16, 25-21.   For the first time in Season 72, the Taft-based squad got its back against the wall.   SHAQ THE WORLD The Tigresses were on a high as they arrived at the game venue in the last weekend of February just three days after shocking the Lady Spikers in the series opener.     Entering the venue, the Tigresses were greeted by a huge crowd of UST faithful, all hoping for the clincher.  Tabaquero was feeling ill that day. “Naalala ko may sakit ako nu’ng Game 2. Wala akong boses nun,” said the senior, who skipped Thursday’s practice to rest. But Tabaquero was determined to play one last time, give her team the firepower and angst it needed, to finish her collegiate career on top.   “Wala ng sakit-sakit, di pwedeng may sakit. Di ko na siya nararamdaman. Minsan napapagod pero wala kailangang magsakripisyo. Saka yung adrenaline ko sobrang taas nun,” said Tabaquero. As the Tigresses trooped to the court for the warm-up, they were showered by loud cheers from the UST fans. “Go USTe! Go USTe!” echoed inside the arena like a rolling thunder signaling the arrival of a storm. A serenade for conquering heroes. There was a huge banner that read: ‘Kami po ang University of Sto. Tomas.’ It added fuel to the Tigresses’ burning desire to reclaim the throne. The squad came into the venue brimming with confidence but with their supporters egging them on even before the opening serve, the Tigresses felt invincible. They were. UST dismantled the confused Lady Spikers in the first two sets, dominating DLSU with sharp angled attacks and frustrating its blockers. Defensively, the Tigresses were punishing DLSU’s attackers. “Dumipensa lang talaga kami noon saka nagkaroon kami ng first ball. ‘Yun talaga ang edge namin nun,” said Dimaculangan. “Kumbaga parang hindi ako masyadong nahirapang dumiskarte kasi alam kong darating sa akin ang bola.” The Lady Spikers’ defense was also in disarray. Even DLSU’s celebrated libero Mel Gohing, the rookie of the year the season before, was already struggling to keep up with the Lady Spikers’ net defense collapsing. “Yung mga spikers ko ang gagaling din dumiskarte and alam din nila kung ano ang gagawin nila sa bolang ibinibigay ko sa kanila,” added Dimaculangan. The Tigresses were already smelling blood.   But the Lady Spikers regrouped in the third as hitters Cruz and Mercado’s hits found their mark. Gumabao, Siy and Maarano were holding their own. DLSU took the third frame in dominating fashion. It may have turned the tides around for the Lady Spikers. It didn’t.      DLSU built an early five-point cushion in the fourth frame, but the Tigresses raced to a 16-11 lead before Gumabao stopped the bleeding with a crosscourt hit.  Maizo then landed an off speed hit over blockers Siy and Martinez, then the lefty again scored another heady off speed this time over Alarca for an 18-12 lead. Then came the deluge of errors by DLSU. The Lady Spikers crowd went quiet in the pivotal run of the Tigresses. A kill block by Ortiz put UST at championship point, 24-13, as the DLSU faithful froze, seemingly awaiting an inevitable defeat. “Parang pa-last point pa lang ata naiiyak na kaming lahat,” said Dimaculangan. An overexcited Tabaquero sent her serve long then Maizo’s attack was turned back. Two match points saved by DLSU. The Lady Spikers tried to hold on. But it was too late. Nerves got the best of Emeli Zuno as she made contact with the ball at the service line.       It sailed long. Pandemonium broke out. “Nagtatalon na kami nu’ng moment na yun, na ‘Heto na ang pinaghirapan natin.’ Ang sarap sa feeling na mag-champion ulit,” said Tabaquero after the final whistle of the season was called with UST completing the sweep with a 25-18, 25-14, 16-25, 25-15, victory.   For Delos Santos that championship was the fruit of their hard labor. “Sobrang happy kasi siyempre nagkaroon kami ng championship sa UST,” said Delos Santos of his only title for the Tigresses as head coach. “Sobrang memorable. Marami rin kaming pinagdaanan (bago makuha),” he added. UST accomplished a double-crown feat in volleyball that year, its fifth since the 1976-77, 1985-86 at 1987-88 and 1992-1993 seasons. As a reward the Tigresses earned a trip to Hong Kong. But even that trip had some good anecdotes for Delos Santos, Dimaculangan and Tabaquero. “Nag-trip to Hong Kong kami for two to three days sa Disneyland at Ocean Park,” said Delos Santos. “Sila lang mahilig mag-rides eh. Ako may phobia ako sa heights. Nung sumakay kami ng cable car para akong mahuhulog na ewan dun sa cable car.” Dimaculangan remembered vividly their flight. “Nag-Hong Kong kami noon tapos sakto pa na bumabagyo noong umalis kami noon. Buti nga natuloy kami noon eh,” she said. As for Tabaquero, unfortunately, she had to skip the trip. “Nagpunta sila ng Hong Kong pero ako di ako nakasama kasi late yung Hong Kong trip. Di ako nakasama kasi na-ACL (left injury) na ako nun sa Shakey’s V-League, yung sa championship ng San Sebastian,” she said. “Naka-schedule na ako ng surgery nun sa UST hospital kaya di ako nakasama.” “May incentive naman ako nun kahit di ako nakasama nun,” Tabaquero cleared. Ten years ago, UST ruled Season 72. It was the year of the Tiger. The year of the mighty, mighty Tigers.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 26th, 2020

PVL: Angels get payback, win sixth straight

Streaking PetroGazz got its long-awaited payback after sweeping BanKo, 25-18, 25-18, 25-22, on Wednesday to rack up its sixth win in a row in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Open Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The Angels climbed to solo second spot with a 7-2 win-loss record and exacted revenge over their first round tormentors to start their second round campaign on a high note. Jovie Prado and Jeanette Panaga led PetroGazz’s charge with 12 points each while Cherry Nunag and Jonah Sebete chipped in 11 and 10 markers, respectively.    Head coach Arnold Laniog said that the reigning Reinforced Conference champions prepared well for their rematch to avenge their four-set loss to begin their season-ending conference journey last month. “Kasi that time kagagaling lang namin sa bakasyon, dahil ‘di ba nag-champion kaya pinagpahinga ko ng matagal,” said Laniog. “Two weeks bago mag-opening lalaro na pala kami kasi supposedly ang alam namin medyo three weeks pa bago kami mag-game. Lumabas ang schedule so nandoon nga hindi ganoon ka-prepared but this time talaga going to second round nag-prepare talaga.” PetroGazz was never threatened during the match that only needed 80 minutes to conclude. Prado and Panaga combined for 21 of the Angels’ 44 attack points and built a strong wall at the net to score seven kill blocks with Nunag accounting for three. PetroGazz also took advantage of the Perlas Spikers’ spotty reception game to land seven aces. BanKo absorbed its second straight defeat as it slid to 6-5 slate at fifth spot. Dzi Gervacio scored 13 points with all but one coming off kills and added nine digs while Nicole Tiamzon and Sue Roces finished with six markers each for the Perlas Spikers.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2019

GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Arellano U’s sweep of thrice-to-beat SSC-R

Arellano University has been the dominating force in the NCAA women’s volleyball for the past three seasons. If not for the cancellation of Season 95 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Lady Chiefs would’ve made a strong case for a four-peat. But while the Lady Chiefs displayed great character to extend their reign, it was Arellano U’s impressive showing in Season 92 Finals series that built the solid foundation of its grand slam. Three years ago, the Lady Chiefs redeemed themselves from surrendering the crown the previous season by dethroning College of St. Benilde in the stepladder semifinals. Arellano U thus earned a return ticket to the Finals. However, the Lady Chiefs had to face an uphill climb in the championship series as they took on an unbeaten Grethcel Soltones-led San Sebastian College armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage. The Lady Stags handed Arellano U its only loss in the elimination round, before coming into the Finals with nine straight wins. Led by the graduating Soltones backed by a veteran crew, SSC-R looked poised to avenge its humiliating defeat the season before when they squandered the same series advantage. But the Lady Chiefs proved that they were the hungrier team. Using the death of head coach Obet Javier’s wife, Amy Marie, after a long bout with lung cancer as added motivation, Arellano U pulled off a shocker in the series opener. The Lady Chiefs swept the Recto-based squad, 25-18, 25-20, 25-16, with Rialen Sante, Jovie Prado, Andrea Marzan and Mary Anne Esguerra leading the way. Drawing first blood, Arellano U quickly shifted momentum to its favor. They played spoiler to Soltones’ third straight Most Valuable Player award in Game 2 when the Lady Chiefs survived a thrilling five-set match, 18-25, 25-16, 25-11, 26-28, 15-13, to inch closer to its second title since joining the league in 2009. Arellano kept its composure in a very tight fifth set breaking a 13-all deadlock with Regine Arocha’s off speed. SSC-R was the first top blink when Dangie Encarnacion committed an attack error that brought back the nightmare of the Lady Stags’ Season 91 Finals defeat. Then in Game 3, the Lady Chiefs celebrated Valentine’s Day by breaking the hearts of the Lady Stags, 25-15, 22-25, 25-23, 25-16. “Napakalaki sa amin ito kasi 'yung mga bata, pinaghirapan talaga namin ang taon na ito," Javier said then. "Noong first round, natalo kami sa Baste kaya nag-set kami ng goal na hindi na dapat mangyari ito. Nangyari naman."    That feat set the tone for Arellano U’s next two conquests. From there, the Lady Chiefs established its current domination of the country’s oldest collegiate league.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 13th, 2020

GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Blazers’ breakthrough NCAA title

John Vic De Guzman vowed to return for his fifth and last year in the NCAA after College of St. Benilde was shown the exit door following a stinging five-set defeat at the hands of University of Perpetual Help in the Final Four of Season 91. He promised glory. The Blazers were reduced to mere spectators that year as they watched their women’s team write history by claiming its first volleyball title in four games against a thrice-to-beat opponent. De Guzman and the rest of the Blazers promised that in Season 92, they will be the ones celebrating the championship on the court. However, the promise of a good season turned sour early when CSB opened the tournament with a bitter straight-sets defeat to the same squad that booted them out of the semis in 2016. But it didn’t dampen the Blazers' goal of bringing honor to the Taft-based squad. The squad used that defeat as fuel to their burning desire for glory. CSB banked on De Guzman, Isaah Arda, Ron Jordan and Francis Basilan with Mark Deximo orchestrated the flow of their offense as the Blazers crushed their next eight opponents in the elimination round. Closing the elims with an 8-1 win-loss record, CSB was on another collision course with the then defending champion Altas in a playoff for the Final Four top seed. The Blazers got their payback as they whipped Perpetual into submission in three sets. With momentum on its side, CSB sliced through Arellano University in straight sets to earn a seat into the best-of-three Finals and the right to challenge Perpetual for the throne. For the Blazers facing their semis tormentors the year before opened old wounds. Wounds that can only be healed by vengeance. Game 1 was all CSB. De Guzman had his way around the defense of the Altas, scoring 19 points including a 16-of-28 spiking clip, while Basilan took care of business at the net as he shut down Perpetual's spikers with four of CSB’s nine kill blocks. On that same day, the Blazers witnessed their women’s team lose its title in the stepladder semifinals. It only pushed CSB’s determination to capture the championship. In Game 2, the Blazers encountered a different Altas squad. With its back against the wall, Perpetual gave CSB a scare when it took the second and third sets after yielding the first frame. The Altas made the Blazers know that they’re not giving up their reign that easy. CSB recovered in the fourth frame and forged a deciding set. The Blazers saw themselves in a difficult situation when they trailed by five, 7-12. “Walang imposible sanay tayong pina-practice ‘to,” De Guzman reminded his team. “’Apply lang natin ‘yan. Magtiwala lang tayo sa isa’t isa. Sanay tayo sa ganito. Nagsakripisyo tayo sa ganito. Nagpakapagod tayo para rito. Kukunin natin ‘to.” The team captain’s words breathed new life to his team, which mounted a counter offensive to tie the frame at 13. De Guzman saved a match point as the two squads went neck-and-neck in the mad dash to the finish. CSB saved another match point for its final run and capped it off with Arda’s off the block hit as the Blazers finally ended their long wait to raise the championship trophy. “Talagang pinaghirapan namin ito. Personally, ito ang frustration ko simula nung college pa na di namin nakuha,” said CSB coach Arnold Laniog, whose squad finished runner-up to Emilio Aguinaldo College in Season 90.              De Guzman, in his last duty for the green and white, posted 28 points including 26 kills.       Looking back, their journey to the throne started that fateful day when they walked out of the arena with their heads bowed and hearts shattered the year before.     “Naging stepping stone namin ‘yun, nung natalo kami noon,” he shared. “Mas nag-prepare kami (after noon). Emotionally tinanggap namin siya. Ginawa namin siyang motivation.”     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2020

Buding Duremdes explains story behind Bawal ba magseryoso, coach? video

Far Eastern University libero Buding Duremdes provided serious explanation on her trending video while talking to head coach George Pascua during a timeout. During the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament last year, Pascua lashed out at Duremdes during a timeout with the Lady Tamaraws trailing by seven points, 11-18, in the second set against University of the Philippines. “Ayusin mo nga 'yang mukha mo!” Pascua lashed at Duremdes. In which she replied: “Bawal ba magseryoso, coach?” Pascua, who paused in disbelief with the answer he heard from Duremdes, called Angelica Bautista to replace her.        The clip went viral and added to Duremdes’ collection of unforgettable funny and trending moments. But in an interview on The Score’s Kalye Confessions, Duremdes cleared that she meant no disrespect to Pascua and was just trying to put her mind set on the all-important game.   “Gusto ko lang mag-focus talaga since siyempre importanteng game 'yun,” she explained. “Kung matalo kami nu’n parang mahirapan kaming makapasok nu’n sa Final Four.” That said match on April 6, 2019 was FEU and UP’s second round meeting at the Big Dome. Both teams came into the game with 6-4 win-loss slates and were tied at fourth to fifth spots with the race to the Final Four already heading into a crucial point. “Parang ganun-ganun (dikitan) yung standing namin. Di mo talaga malaman kung makapasok kami o hindi. Kaya kailangan mo talaga all-out ka eh,” Duremdes added. Fortunately, the Lady Tamaraws pulled off a 25-21, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22, victory that would help them secure the No. 4 spot in the semifinals. Duremdes, for her part, made up for her ‘seriously funny question’ with 37 digs.   ---       Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2020

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

(This story was originally published on April 20, 2018) Newly-appointed head coach Roger Gorayeb looked at his line-up heading into UAAP Season 71. A champion mentor of NCAA powerhouse San Sebastian College - Recoletos, Gorayeb had in his hands a gargantuan task of rebuilding the Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program. Just a few months before, Ronald Dulay, the mentor before him, landed a trio of blue chip recruits who were fresh from a successful stint in the Palarong Pambansa. Angeline "Dzi" Gervacio, Fille Saint Cainglet and Jamenea "Jem" Ferrer just joined the Katipunan-based squad. Gervacio and Cainglet were products of St. Scholastica's College in Manila while Ferrer was a gem from Hope Christian School under girl’s volleyball guru Jerry Yee. Looking at his 15-woman line-up with the season just a few months ahead, Gorayeb knew he needed to do something drastic. The roster just won’t do. Talking to then athletic director Ricky Palou and team manager Tony Boy Liao, the mentor told the team officials that he intended to cut five players from the list. One could just imagine the shock in their faces. “Nakita ko may line-up pero player-playeran lang yung ganoon bang tipo, 15 ata yun. Sabi ko ‘Magtatanggal ako ng lima then magre-recruit ako,’” he said. The three rookies were in. Middle Bea Pascual, Kara Acevedo and libero Steph Gabriel retained their spots. He needed more. “Sa mga tinira kong players, si Kara Acevedo sabi niya, ‘Coach mayroong player ang ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy) na gumraduate naka-exam na rito pasado.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige papuntahin mo,’” said Gorayeb. It was Gretchen Ho. “Sa akin kasi ang talagang nagyaya sa akin si Coach Ron Dulay. Si Kara Acevedo teammate ko and she’s been recruited by Ateneo. So one summer wala akong magawa naki-train lang ako noon tapos nagustuhan nila ang laro ko and then fourth year noong graduate na ako I passed the ACET then niyayaya na nila ako,” Ho said. “Then nagbago ng coach na si Coach Roger and dun niya ako nakita.”   “Pagdating ko ng March (sa Ateneo) wala na akong way para maka-recruit pa. Ang nangyari yung tatlo accepted na kaagad. Si Gretchen tinanong ko sabi ko, ‘ano ba ang laro mo?’ Sabi niya the usual panggitna, tres,” Gorayeb recalled. “So sinubukan ko pero ang laro niya tres hindi quick. Siya panggitna pero hindi quicker na gusto ko saka yung height niya (maliit). Kaya lang si Gretchen takbo ng takbo, mahilig magtatakbo so sabi ko sige pwede na yan. Wala namang player na during that time. So kinuha ko si Gretchen.” Gorayeb just needed just one more. “Ngayon nagkaroon ng STCAA (Southern Tagalog Calabarzon athletic association) eh kulang pa ako ng isa, wala akong panggitna. Ang gitna ko during that time si Bea lang tapos si Gretchen so wala akong pamalit. So naisipan ko may nakita ako sa STCAA,” he said. He spotted a lanky player from Canossa Academy-Lipa, Aillysse Nacachi. “Sabi ko kay Sir Tony pagtyagaan ko na lang ito kahit hindi naman kalakasan at wala naman na rin akong choice na makapili kasi rush ang pagdating ko dyan. Nakiusap lang sila sa akin na magbuo ako ng team kasi si Ronald nag-resign,” said Gorayeb. Another freshman could’ve had ended up with Ateneo, Hope’s libero Melissa Gohing. But a few obstacles prevented her from fulfilling her promise to join Ferrer in Ateneo. She instead chose to join the ladies in green and white in Taft.    SOMETHING PROMISING December 7, 2008. Far Eastern University Gym. Excitement filled the air. Fans, mostly volleyball purists and some who just came to support their classmates or were just curious to see a new spectacle after the basketball season ended, slowly settled in their seats for the women’s division’s second game. It was Adamson University, the previous year’s runner-up, which just visited the turf of their arch nemesis and defending champion FEU, which was led by that era’s finest and most popular volleybelle Rachel Anne Daquis. Fans wanted to see if the Lady Falcons still had the same firepower they had the previous season with the loss of top setter Janet Serafica and power hitter Sang Laguilles. A rookie-laden Ateneo squad should be easy pickings with Angela Benting, rookie Pau Soriano and libero Lizlee Anne Gata in the roster. Besides the Lady Falcons got the Lady Eagles’ number. Or so they thought. “Naalala ko nu’ng time namin sinasabi sa amin ng seniors namin na, ‘Hay naku ang lakas ng Adamson, never kami nanalo dyan,’” Cainglet, now happily married to Taguig mayor Lino Cayetano and with three beautiful children, recalled.  But the Lady Eagles stunned Adamson in the opening set. The Lady Falcons took the next two frames. Ateneo stole the fourth.  “Ako naalala ko ano eh, parang alam namin na lahat kasi kami palaban. Nasa amin yun. Tapos binigyan kaming lahat ng chance to be in the first six so parang dream come true,” said Ho, now an ABS-CBN host. “Naalala ko rin na palaban kaming lahat kumbaga nothing to lose eh so ang ano namin, sumasabay kami sa laro and nu’ng nakita na namin na ‘Ay kaya pala natin ‘to guys. Kaya pala naming lumaban.’” Still, Adamson had the upper hand in experience. The Lady Falcons, used to pressure and were steady at crunch time, outlasted Ateneo.           The young Katipunan-based squad fell short, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, 25-15, 8-15. But for the Fab 5, it was a loss that felt like a resounding victory. “Parang sobrang natutuwa kami and everybody in the crowd, kaya siguro kami natawag na Fab 5 kasi rookies kami pero kahit ganoon palaban kami,” said Ho. “Saka close game. Five sets yun.” However, it was the first of five five-set matches that Ateneo will drop that season including one in the second round against the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University. “Pero ang problema di kami nananalo ng five sets. Parang ilan lang ang naipanalo namin na ganoon. Feeling ko na-overwhelm kami na ‘Uy nananalo tayo.’ May ganoong disbelief ng konti pero alam namin na may ibubuga kami,” said Ho. “Definitely, our rookie season was full of five-set matches. It was tough, we felt like we were so close, but still so far away. At some point, it gave us frustration also. We just couldn't figure out that time what is it that's still lacking because we couldn't win the five-set matches,” according to Nacachi. “People said, it was because the team was still so inexperienced. We still didn't have the tenacity unlike of those more matured teams. But we didn't take it as bad, it was a learning experience for us all at the end. We had to learn how to develop that finishing will to be able to win games like that in the future.” The Fab 5 finished their rookie season with a 6-8 slate at fifth spot.   ‘MAY MEDAL NA TAYO’ Gorayeb remembered on their second year the look on Pascual’s face in their last elimination game match against Adamson. Already wrapping up their first win over the Lady Falcons, Pascual was giddy. “Natatawa nga ako dyan kay Bea kasi papanalo na kami nu’n tapos sumesenyas na siya ng tres. Sabi ko, ‘Hoy anong ginagawa mo?’ Yun pala sobrang saya na niya kasi for the first time in 30 years magkaka-medal na sila,” he said. It was the most important match of the season for the Lady Eagles. With the Fab 5 already in their sophomore year, Ateneo was already making great strides. The Lady Eagles closed that season’s elims with five straight wins capped off with a victory over Adamson. Ateneo posted a 10-4 win-loss mark to enter the Final Four legitimately. “Ang nangyari kasi nu’ng time nila Charo (Soriano) kaya sila nakapasok sa semis kasi may nag-squeal na si (Jacq) Alarca di pala naka-enroll nu’n kaya na-forfeit mga laro ng La Salle,” said Gorayeb. The Fab 5 proved that they were not just a bunch of much-hyped up pretty faces. They backed it up with their skills on court. It didn’t matter that Ateneo were swept by eventual champion University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four.      But the podium finish of Season 72 was short-lived. Adamson got its revenge in the last game of Season 73 elims, bumping off the Lady Eagles for a podium finish. The loss put Ateneo in a collision course with the twice-to-beat DLSU, who could’ve completed an elims sweep if not only for a forfeited match against University of the East after UAAP found out that Carmela Garbin and Clarisse Yeung participated in a ‘ligang labas’ while the season was onoing, in the Final Four. Ateneo gave the Lady Spikers a scare before succumbing in another heartbreaking five-set match. The Lady Eagles finished fourth but that lone semis game gave Ateneo and its maturing Fab 5 enough experience to dream for something big – A ticket into the Finals.      ‘HINOG NA KAYO’ The first three years saw the gradual improvement for Ateneo. But Season 74 proved to be the turning point for the Fab 5. A fresh new recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school, who just completed a year of residency, came into picture and with the Fab 5 armed with years of experience, the Lady Eagles’ fate will forever be changed. Alyssa Valdez, a highly recruited open spiker just like Gervacio, Cainglet-Cayetano and Ferrer years back, gave renewed excitement for the Ateneo faithful. “Alyssa's joining with Ateneo was a great turning point for us. We needed as much support we can get, and Alyssa's entrance to the team was a great boost to the team's morale,” said Nacachi. “The girl is a powerhouse and we felt like with her presence, the team finally became solid.” “We were able to play around with the positions and the rotations, since we had different versatile open players who can also greatly play other roles,” she added. “We were also able to formulate a lot of plays and attacks because Alyssa can generally do all kinds; open, running, quick, name it all. She gave the team the power and the versatility that we previously lacked from the past seasons.” Social media was just gaining traction then but the Lady Eagles were already on the radar of volleyball purists through online forums. For the first time, Ateneo was considered a legitimate contender.   The Fab 5 proved it by winning 11 games in the elimination round, losing only to UST once and dropping two against the Lady Spikers. Valdez’s arrival gave Ferrer an even broader option on offense. It eased the scoring load off the shoulders of Cainglet and Gervacio, who was then moved to an opposite position. “I guess sakto lang din yung dating niya because by that time Kara Acevedo graduated so someone had to fill in her spot so coach Roger decided for me to move to utility or opposite,” said Gervacio. “And then sakto Alyssa naman could fill in the spot na other open spiker.” “So timing din na we had all the pieces put together at the right time,” she added. With a good performance in the elims despite missing a legit middle in Bea Pascual and the entry of Aerieal Patnongon barred by academic problems, Ateneo finished second and for the first-time was armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles faced an experienced Tigresses side in the last stepladder semis stage. UST just came from a hard-fought four-set do-or-die match against FEU and were banking on their four-set win over Ateneo in the second round to force another sudden death. Ateneo’s date with destiny was sealed with a four-set win over the Tigresses, who then bid goodbye to Maika Ortiz and Judy Anne Caballejo. “Pinu-push na rin kami ni Coach Roger noon eh, ‘Hinog na kayo ngayon. Kasi dalawang taon na lang, kailangan makapasok na kayo sa Finals,’” said Ho. “Somehow senior na rin kami,” added Cainglet.  “Season 74 was really the target season for us to be in the finals and target even to win the championship,” according to Nacachi. “During this time, we were already thinking we could not afford to not go in the finals.” “So it was with our mindset and our level of commitment that we were able to finally reach our goal of reaching the finals,” she added. “We had enough experience that time already, and it was really time for us to show the level of game maturity the team had obtained from the past seasons.” But then they had to face an unbeaten team. Unscathed in 14 games, De La Salle University was poised to complete a perfect season. The Lady Eagles spoiled it. Ferrer outplayed DLSU setter Mika Esperanza, 57-42, in excellent sets as Ateneo handed the Lady Spikers its first loss after 25 straight victories in a come-from-behind 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, Finals opener win. Witnessed by 3,002 spectators inside the then The Arena in San Juan, all of the Fab 5 produced points. Cainglet had 19 behind Valdez’s 24, Gervacio scored 12, Ho had 10, Nacachi finished with five while Ferrer had one. Gorayeb made a big gambit and it worked. “Dahil sa wala kong panggitna, yung laro namin ng La Salle, ginawa kong quicker si Alyssa. Kasi si Alyssa nakakapalo. Nagulat si Ramil (de Jesus) dun.” It was a big win. A huge upset. Unfortunately, Ateneo needed to win two more.  DLSU held a thrice-to-beat advantage.   THAT SWAG After Ateneo made a miracle in Game One, fans began to feel a new rivalry born. The attendance spiked. From just 3,000 spectators, the gate attendance more than doubled its size. The interest was there. Fans of traditional powers began to notice the Lady Eagles as a rising team. For the first time, a squad with no previous championship experience except for a title during the Marcos era in a different collegiate league, made a giant jolt. Everybody wanted to see what these girls would do next.    The Lady Eagles, still high on adrenaline after their Game 1 upset, took the opening set in Game 2. But just like in their opener, a well-experienced DLSU squad adjusted to take the next three frames to move a step closer to a repeat crown. With then Rookie of the Year Ara Galang, Season Most Valuable Player Aby Marano, an intimidating Michele Gumabao and a very efficient Finals MVP Cha Cruz teaming up for the kill, the Lady Spikers ripped Ateneo apart in Game 3 in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13. “Sabi nga ni Dzi na nadyan na lahat eh. So I guess noong Season 74 nandoon na pero may kulang pa rin,” said Ho. “I guess we we’re able to make it to the Finals pero wala pa kaming championship experience.” Ferrer agreed. "Siguro ang kulang yung championship experience kasi nasa La Salle na ‘yun eh. Ilang years na silang nagpa-finals, nag-champion and for Ateneo doon pa lang namin sinimulan," said the three-time Best Setter. Lacking championship experience is one thing, but Ateneo during that time wasn’t ready for DLSU’s most feared weapon: the Lady Spikers’ swag.  “They have that swag,” said Gervacio. “Everyone knows about it naman. It’s really Coach Ramil’s style talaga kasi as I remember when we were first year, four out of six of the players inside the court were rookies and even if we go against the powerhouses UST, FEU, Adamson, hindi sila yung nakikita nyo na kapag championship na rivalry, na swag, angas, stare down. Pero La Salle talaga kahit sino ang kalaban nila they’ll bring that attitude inside the court.” That Finals series cemented a new rivalry that will become one of the most celebrated in the sport. “I think it also helped that Ateneo-La Salle basketball didn’t face also,” said Gervacio. “Siyempre nandoon ang hunger for the rivalry eh and timely din na its been Ateneo-La Salle na rin sa volleyball.”   CLOSING A CHAPTER The Fab 5 were now in their fifth and last year. They wanted to leave a winning legacy. The pieces were already there. Gorayeb had at his disposal five seniors, a rising star in Valdez, a sophomore middle in Amy Ahomiro, a versatile Ella De Jesus, a steady libero in Denden Lazaro and a new kind of weapon – a massive crowd that can turn any venue into a sea of blue.              As expected, the second installment of the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry was set into place. Both sweeping their semis opponents. The Lady Spikers crushed National University while the Lady Eagles shot down Adamson. Game One was a shocker. DLSU heading into the Finals are on a 14-game roll but were stunned in the first two sets with Ateneo stepping on the gas. But a string of miscues, mostly from the service line, did the Lady Eagles in as they allowed the Lady Spikers to force a decider. DLSU, smelling blood, punished Ateneo to eke out a 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, victory inside the Big Dome witnesses by 17,342-strong gate attendance. Then the series transferred to a newly-built, state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena that drew a crowd of 18,799. The first two frames were frustrating for the Lady Eagles.   Ateneo came back to life in the third set to gain a 9-5 lead. But DLSU easily erased it with Ateneo crumbling under pressure. The Lady Spikers were on an onslaught. Sophomore Galang pushed DLSU at matchpoint with a cold-blooded ace that went in a few inches from the baseline. The score, 24-16. It was a tense moment for the Fab 5. A long rally ensued in the next play. Gervacio, with all her might pounded a kill. Her hand making a great contact on the ball off Ferrer’s backset.     Smack! The ball ricocheted off the hands of DLSU’s Wensh Tiu before falling on the same landing area of Gervacio, who tried to dive for a dig together with Lazaro. DLSU swept Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. Game over.          “Kahit hindi kami nanalo alam naming ibinigay namin ang lahat namin, all-out talaga kaya wala kaming pagsisisi,” said Ho. It was the end of the Fab 5 era, but they left more than what any of them could have imagined. "I remember so many people or fans telling me that they started really watching UAAP Volleyball because of our batch. And that is really touching and fulfilling to know. Knowing that you were able to leave an impact like that to people. We were not able to bring even a single championship to our school, Ateneo, but we were able to touch a lot of people's hearts despite that," Nacachi shared. The Fab 5 closed a colorful chapter of Ateneo volleyball in tears. They were there during the Lady Eagles’ birth pains. They labored. They shed tears, blood and sweat. They laid the foundation for something big. The Fab 5 planted the seeds that would eventually bear fruit and would change the course of Ateneo women’s volleyball program forever. Glory didn’t happen during their time. It started in theirs.    Amidst the roar of the crowd, the falling confetti, banging of drums and the echoing chant of ‘Animo La Salle’ from the sea of green, the Fab 5 hugged each other tight. They found comfort in each other. It was their time to say goodbye. For those who remained – Valdez, Lazaro, Ahomiro, De Jesus – the defeat added fuel to their already blazing desire to bring glory for the blue and white. They were the next in line, heirs to an unfinished business. WATCH: FAB 5 Reunion Part 1 and Part 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

When We Were Volleyball Queens (Part 1)

(This story was originally published on March 23, 2015) "Pinays down Thais, bag Southeast Asian Games gold medal." This headline or anything close to it made the sports section of newspapers as one of our contingent’s shining moment in the 1993 biennial regional meet held in Singapore from June 12 to 20. Though given smaller treatment than the meteoric romp of the then Asian sprint queen Lydia De Vega in the century and 200 meter dash events, it gave pride to local volleyball.  Days before the birth of this generation’s most popular volleyball player, our national women’s team stood tall and proud as they wore their gold medals around their necks. Stepping on a platform higher than the region’s powerhouse team. It has been 22 long years since, and three months before the 28th SEA Games starts its fourth staging in the tiny island in the southern tip of the Malayan peninsula on June 5, Rosemarie Prochina recalled the campaign that brought Philippine volleyball to its highest peak. Talking with the Mane ‘N Tail coach during the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference launch, ABS-CBN Sports was taken back in time when the likes of Thelma Barina-Rojas, Zenaida Ybanez, Arlene Apostol and Leonora Escolante were the darlings of volleyball much like what Alyssa Valdez, Ara Galang, and the Santiago sisters, Dindin and Jaja, Denden Lazaro of today.    She said that their road to the SEA Games gold started when she and five other tall players from Cebu were brought to Manila for the national pool of the Philippine Amateur Volleyball Association headed by Victorico Chavez and Secretary-General Ramon “Tats” Suzara. “Ano kasi yun e, 1991 kinuha kami from Cebu. Mga tall players, tall na kami dati, may 6-foot-2, may 5-foot-10,” said the 5-foot-10 Prochina, who was recruited as a middle blocker from Southwestern University. “Pagdating namin sa Maynila parang ano, total makeover kasi galing kaming probinsiya ganyan,” she added. “Anim kaming dumating sa Maynila.” “Pagdating namin ang program nina Sir Tats hindi kami magtsa-champion agad kasi magte-train pa kami tapos may mga (nauna) sa amin sa Maynila na mga seniors na. May kasama kaming taga-FEU, at UST kasi sila yung mga darling dati,” said Prochina.     Sharpening the saw  Once under the program of PAVA, Prochina said they went through rigorous training under the tutelage of Stanislav Lyugaylo, who was part of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republic national team that won gold in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and was tapped to handle the team in 1993.  “That time training kami ng training. Nagkaroon kami ng Russian coach tapos nu’ng SEA Games ng 1991 nag-bronze medal kami,” she further explained. “Yun lang ang aim nu’n dati ganoon lang muna kasi bago lang kami e. So yun itinulu’y-tuloy lang yung programa.” The national team was given the much needed support and were even sent overseas for international exposure.  “Marami kaming pinuntahan para mag-training. Nag-Japan kami. Noong 1992 yun maraming competitions abroad, yun tulu’y-tuloy kahit maraming nag-tryout-tryouts na ganyan still yung team dinadagdagan lang,” Prochina continued. “Noong 1993 yun na yun may Russian coach kami tapos nag-training kami for one month sa Japan.” Prochina said that their Japan stint was through the initiative of Chavez and Suzara. The Filipinas were pitted against the best squads from the land of the rising suns.  “Sila yung instrumental sa team namin na pinadala kami sa Japan for one month,” she said. “Umikot kami sa mga club teams sa Japan. One month yun, rigid training yun kaya pagdating namin ng Maynila mapuputi kami na payat, as in talagang (fit).”    Adversities at home and in Singapore Prochina recollected that the team had a share of doubters and haters.    “Sa laro namin sa Singapore, dito pa lang sa Manila may mga (nagi-expect) na baka mag-champion or baka ma-disappoint lang,” she said. Some believed that it’s improbable that a group of girls can topple the Thais, who that time were aiming for a three-peat.   “Kasi nga alam mo naman, siyempre may mga detractors din kami talaga,” according to Prochina. The team proceed with their mission armed with optimism that they are ready and more prepared than in 1991. “Pagdating namin dun (sa Singapore) ang (gusto) ko lang sa team namin ay sobra kaming mag-teamwork. Kasi kaming mga baguhan tapos half naman ng team mga seniors, sina Thelma Barina, ganyan,” she said. “Magaling silang magdala ng juniors. So kaming mga bago talagang sumusunod sa kanila.” But they had a rude awakening. “Pagdating sa laro doon, actually sa first na laban namin sa Thailand talo kami e. Under four sets yata or something basta ganoon, parang marami kaming naging (pagkukulang),” she recalled. Though suffering an opening game loss, the coaching staff were solid in their faith with the team. “Pero ang coaches namin very positive sila,” Prochina said. The team got up to their feet running over their next opponents to take a finals berth. “Pero after (ng talo), panalo na kami nu’n against Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam kasi hindi rin sila ganoon kalakas,” she added.   Shopping, seriously? Prochina said that though the team racked up victories, they still felt the sting of their loss against the Thais. They were even demoralized going to the championship with Thailand, who was then lording over the competition. “Bago kami mag-champion hindi kami ganoon kapursigido, yung nag-eensayo kami pero ensayo lang,” she said. Sensing his team’s low morale, Lyugaylo asked his wards something that nobody expected.   “The day before the championship sinabihan kami ng Russian coach namin na “O you go shopping”, Prochina continued. “Kami naman “Ah, shopping lang. Bakit ganito ‘to?” she said. The day of the finals, there were no pre-game preparations, the Russian mentor asked them to go in deep meditation and after that just dance. “So nung umaga ng championship, kasi hapon yung championship against Thailand, ang sabi niya, “You go into one room and then you dance. Be happy,”” Prochina recalled. “Pero before noon pala may mga meditation na rin kami. Malaking bagay yun,” she said. “Yun yung isang nakakatulong sa team naming talaga. Yung relaxation sa mind kasi nga fit na (ang katawan namin).” And dance they did. “That morning pinasayaw niya lang kami. So kami naman walang KJ (kill joy) sa team namin kahit may mga edad na yung iba,” Prochina further related. “Sayaw-sayaw kami.” After that as they say the rest is history. “Tapos nu’ng hapon nangyari na yung nag-champion kami,” the PSL rookie mentor said. “Four sets yun at ang Thailand nun malakas, as in sobrang lakas.”   (to be continued)  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2020

Remembering UP s one win that was basically a championship

The University of the Philippines is now a legitimate contender in UAAP Men's Basketball. With one Finals appearance, two playoff berths, one MVP, and three Mythical selections in the last two years, it's safe to say that the Fighting Maroons have, indeed, become Winning Maroons. With all that, comes greater expectations, though - however far from reality they may be. "There was a time last year when we were putting so much pressure on the team," S+A analyst Mikee Reyes, who donned the maroon and green from 2009 to 2014, said. "Understandable naman, kasi the make-up of that team was far from how the teams of before were so obviously, the expectations were high." When looking at where State U is now, its climb to contention could actually be traced back to a single game, a sole win, a singular event. SLEEPLESS IN SHUTTLE Of course, the origin story is much richer - what with the 13-113 record from 2007 to 2015 and the trio of winless and couple of one-win seasons in the same timeframe. But when it all comes down to it, however, nowhere to go but up was born on August 9, 2014. Before the sun rose on that day, UP was burdened with a 27-game losing streak. And before the sun rose on that day, Reyes, then still the squad's starting point guard, didn't get much sleep. "Actually, hindi maganda gising ko nun. I've been diagnosed with insomnia and nangyayari siya when I least expect it," he recalled. He then continued, "What a time for it to have come then. 'Di ako nakatulog talaga." The last time the Fighting Maroons could call themselves winners then was back in August 19, 2012 - two years ago, two seasons ago, and even two coaches ago. Facing off with a rebuilding Adamson University side, however, they felt pretty good about their chances. "Obviously, everyone was anxious na kasi loss after loss after loss, but at the same time, we were pretty close as a team so we just picked each other up," Reyes said. "We felt like we were bound for a breakthrough." Reyes remembered how then, State U had, at times, gone toe-to-toe with perennial contenders Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University. "There were moments when we showed our potential, but just couldn't close it out. Alam namin kung anong kaya namin," he said. And that, coupled with a sound game plan, was where they drew their confidence from. "We felt like we just had to stop Jansen [Rios] and Don [Trollano]. We felt like we had more weapons din so laban lang nang laban," Reyes said. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN As it turned out, Reyes brought his A-game and wound up with a career-high 28 points. Apparently, a pregame power nap proved key. "Nakatulog ako sa bus going to MOA tapos nakatulog ako sa halfcourt during warm-ups. I remember Darwish Bederi (had to wake) me up pa nga," he said through chuckles. JR Gallarza turned in his own best game and had 24 points and six rebounds. "Si Coach Ramil (Cruz), there were times na ilalabas na niya kami ni JR kasi natakot siyang baka sobrang mapagod kami, but we told him na ilalaban na namin 'to. He let us play and our confidence came from him as well," Reyes said, referring to the late Ramil Cruz who had to step in for suspended shot-caller Rey Madrid. And with a relatively louder and prouder maroon and green crowd behind it, UP overcame a slow start and erased a six-point disadvantage early on and erected a 34-23 edge late in the first half. "Pagpasok ng court was the first time we felt people actually believed we could win. Andaming tao. It wasn't so loud, pero there were definitely more people there compared to our past games," Reyes said. That’s when the Fighting Maroons knew that was a must-win game. "Na-feel mo talaga sa crowd, na-feel mo talga sa seniors na we had to win because if natalo pa sa Adamson, nangangamoy 0-14 na naman. Last game of the first round na yun e so if all teams (would have beaten) us already, mahirap nang makakuha ng kumpyansa sa second round," Reyes said. Still, the Soaring Falcons put up a fight and turned what was once a 24-point deficit into just a score of 64-73 with 45.5 ticks to go on the clock. Kyles Lao and Jarrell Lim proved steady from the stripe, however, and kept Adamson at bay once and for all. When the final buzzer sounded, State U could finally breathe easy as the final score read 77-64 in their favor. JOY STORY At long last, after 720 days, after 28 tries, it was a winner once more. Reyes has no doubt whatsoever that was his biggest win as a player. "It's always gonna be my biggest win. I never really won much as a player for UP so sobrang sarap to finally get rid of that curse," he said. And if he had to choose between the win and the career game, he would choose the win each and every time. As he put it, "In college basketball, you could play a very, very good game, but if you lose, parang wala rin. I was just lucky my career-high came in a win because without a win, it wouldn't be memorable at all." After that breakthrough, the Fighting Maroons celebrated like champions - lighting the night with a bonfire at the famed Sunken Garden inside the Diliman campus. Years later, those same players would be candid enough to call that celebration "pathetic" - just like they have been candid enough to call their time the "dark days." Only, in the grand scheme of things, that bonfire wasn't pathetic as it actually became the setting for the resurrection of a new Diliman Commune - a school and its students, staff, and alumni getting together for one cause. That cause? Trying and trying and trying to build a winner in men's basketball - and ultimately, all sports. "I believe that game, that win, that was the start of everything. Mukhang 'di rin naman nakalimutan ng community yun," Reyes said. Now, State U is, indeed, a winner. And the players from the "dark days" only hope that the school and its faithful appreciate just how far they have come. "Those of us who were there in the 'dark days,' we know how one win was basically a championship for us. That's why I tend to remind myself and everybody to just enjoy each win," Reyes said. He then continued, "Sobrang lakas na ng team ngayon, but we still have to remember where UP came from." With Season 81 MVP Bright Akhuetie, Season 82 Mythical selection Kobe Paras, and Season 80 Mythical selection Ricci Rivero, UP is nothing but hopeful for yet another bonfire that may come next season. That bonfire, though, would no longer be called "pathetic" and would no longer be set in the "dark days." That bonfire would, hopefully, be to celebrate the Fighting Maroons' first championship since 1986. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

Greatest Performance: SSC-R Lady Stags miracle comeback

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2020

UAAP Season 76 will always be memorable for Jaja Santiago

Jaja Santiago’s most memorable and unforgettable UAAP moment was back in the UAAP Season 76 stepladder semifinals against Ateneo de Manila University.    It happened during her freshman year with National University, playing alongside her sister, Dindin Santiago, who was then on her swan song. It was not just because NU came close to a Finals stint or the fact that it ended with a heartbreak after the Lady Bulldogs squandered their semis advantage but because it was the last time that her father, Jojo, got to watch her and sister play. “’Yun ang huling panood din sa akin ng tatay ko na maglaro ng volleyball,” recalled Santiago in an interview in the Stay At Home edition of Kalye Confessions hosted by Cherry Nunag of PetroGazz.     During that time, Jojo, who was a law enforcer, was making up for lost time with his children. Days after NU blew their chances of advancing into the Finals to the then Alyssa Valdez-led Lady Eagles, tragedy struck the Santiago family when Jojo died in the line of duty. “Hindi ako close sa tatay ko. Kaya siya unforgettable kasi yun ang time na babawi pa lang ang tatay ko. Broken family kasi kami,” said Jaja. “’Yun yung time na babawi pa lang siya sa amin. Gumagawa siya ng way para mapalapit ang loob niya sa aming magkakapatid. Yun yung time na consistent talaga siyang nanonood ng games namin.” Jaja vividly remember the last moments she had with her father. It was a moment where she witnessed how he protected her and her sister from a heckler after the last semis match. “’Yun kasi after ng game kasi may lalaki na parang… kasi nag-hug ako sa ate ko saka sa tatay ko tapos sabi ng lalaki, ‘Hoy kayo Santiago sisters hindi naman kayo magagaling!’ Tapos sabi niya, ‘Sino ka para sabihan ang mga anak ko?’ Sabi ko, ‘Tay tama na!’ So lumabas na kami,” she said. “After nun sinundan ng tatay ko yung nagsalita, ‘yung nagsabi nun tapos kinausap niya. Di ko alam kung ano [sinabi] kasi ate ko yung sumunod sa kanya,” Jaja added. Jojo continued to comfort his daughters on the bus ride after the game and even offered to treat them the following day. “Tapos after nun eh di uwian na sumabay siya sa bus namin tapos sabi niya, ‘Nak, uuwi muna akong Nueva Ecija.’ Kasi sa Nueva Ecija siya umuuwi. ‘Uwi muna akong Nueva Ecija, magse-celebrate tayo.’ Kasi di kami pinakain ng manager namin after game,” said Jaja. “Sabi niya, ‘Hayaan mo ako ang mag-treat sa inyo bukas.’ “So ‘di sabi ko, ‘Tay wag ka na umuwi.’ Sabi ng tatay ko, ‘Di nak kailangan ko umuwi, kailangang makapaningil. Wala tayong pangkain.’ Eh to na sabi ko, ‘Tay, wag ka na umuwi.’ ‘Tay ka nang Tay, eh di naman ako lilisan,’ sabi niyang ganun,” added Jaja. Knowing that her daughters were still hurt with the loss, Jojo, kept cheering them up. “Kinagabihan ka-chat na ang ate ko sabi niya, ‘Wag na kayong malungkot para sa akin kayo ang champion.’ Sabi ko, ‘OK lang yan Tay, OK lang naman may plano si God,’ said Jaja. “After noon nag-I love you siya. Eh ako di pa ako ma-response sa kanya kasi di pa kami ganun ka-close. Kasi nga may sama pa rin ako ng loob sa kanya kasi nga iniwan nya kami.” It would be the last time that Jojo would get a chance to tell his children he loved them. “After nun kinabukasan, umaga 6:00 a.m. may tumawag sa amin na nawala na nga yung tatay ko. Yun na yung last na pagsasama saka usap,” said Jaja. That’s why even if Season 76 ended up with a painful loss, Jaja would love to see it once again be aired on TV. “Sana mapanood ko rin. Kasi napapanood ko nitong mga nakaraan nagri-replay sila ng mga games sa UAAP. Sana naman Season 76, NU vs. Ateneo yung twice beaten kami. Pwede pa yun i-replay?” she said.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 13th, 2020

Greatest Performance: Alyssa Valdez’s career-high 39 points

To have a scorer in Alyssa Valdez is a luxury for any team. The Bureau of Customs was one of those lucky squads who had the rare chance of landing a great talent and a reliable leader. But what made the Transformers luckier was the fact that Valdez registered her career-best scoring performance wearing their colors. It was back on October 5, 2016 when Valdez carved out the most productive outing of a local in the defunct V-League. Valdez, who transferred to the newly-formed Transformers after one conference with BaliPure, dropped 39 points as she lifted BOC to a come-from-behind, 18-25, 27-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-9 win over the Laoag Power Smashers in the Reinforced Conference at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City. Breaching the 30-point mark wasn’t new for the former Ateneo de Manila University star as she did it several times in the UAAP and in the previous editions of the V-League. But what made her feat even more impressive and memorable was the fact she did it on a match where BOC only had 10 available players and up against  a squad led by power-hitting stars Jorelle Singh and Grethcel Soltones.     The Transformers came into the match without Lilet Mabbayad and Pau Soriano because of technicalities with their former league while Thai imports Kanjana Kuthaisong and Nattanicha Jaisaen were on bench for the second straight game because of lack of international transfer certificates.  With four scoring options out because of technicalities, Valdez carried the heavy load to save BOC. The open spiker hammered 29 spikes with eight aces and a pair of kill blocks to go with 17 digs for an all-around performance.  Her point output eclipsed the 38 points registered by former Ateneo guest player Sontaya Keawbundit in the V-League Season 7 first conference while shattering the best scoring mark made by a local player of 37 points by former Adamson player Angela Benting back in the Season 6 second conference.       It also broke her previous best of 35 points while playing for Ateneo back in UAAP Season 75 in a five-set, 22-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-16, 10-15, loss to Adamson on January 20, 2013. With Valdez firing on all cylinders, the Transformers came back from a 1-2 match deficit to force a deciding frame. Valdez continued to pound the defense of the Power Smashers when she anchored BOC’s five-point barrage to shatter a 6-6 deadlock before her teammates Andrea Marzan and Rosemarie Vargas finished off Laoag with their contributions. Even with her incredible performance, Valdez deflected the credit to her teamates.   “I’m really happy hindi lang sa panalo eh. Masaya kami buong team kasi naglaro talaga kami not only for ourselves but also for the imports and our teammates na hindi rin nakalaro,” she said. Less than a year after, Valdez put up 37 points including 34 attacks to lead Creamline past the gritty BaliPure Water Defenders, 25-20, 28-30, 25-19, 31-29, in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference on July 5, 2017.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 13th, 2020

From Cellar-Dweller to Contender: Basilan s phenomenal rise in the MPBL

Coming off a rough 2018-19 MPBL Datu Cup campaign, Basilan Steel-Jumbo Plastic has no way to go but up, with the help of Phenom Sports, its new management team. Phenom, led by Jax Chua, took over Basilan late last season when the Steel have already spiraled down to the bottom of the MPBL and finished the tournament tied with Rizal for the last spot of the Southern division behind a dismal 7-18 win-loss record. From there, Phenom rebuilt the team, starting with the coaching staff that has what it takes to maneuver a losing team to a victorious one. “Coming in, ‘yung outlook naming sa team, we want to bring a winning culture ditto sa Basilan. We took the challenge kahit alam naming cellar-dweller noong Datu Cup,” said Chua, who also serves as the general manager of the Steel. Coach Jerson Cabiltes took the helm for Basilan, alongside deputies Noy Catalan, Florian Pineda, Arnold Oliveros, Jinino Manansala, Joseph Guion, Migs Montero, and Dands Javier. Then came the task to build a team that exhibits the same qualities of the Basileños: determined, full of perseverance, hardworking, and has something to prove. Phenom, who also ventured into player management aside from sportswear-making, then made the moves to improve Basilan’s lineup by taking players who are no big names but can contribute in a variety of ways. “To have a winning team, not necessary naman to get big name players. Ang hinanap namin ay mga hardworking players who will buy into the system at magsa-sacrifice talaga,” Chua said. The management retained veteran Dennis Daa for his leadership while activating Cris Dumapis, who has emerged as a reliable force in the paint. They then acquired the services of shifty playmaker Hesed Gabo and sharpshooting big man Jay Collado from Quezon City, marksman Jhapz Bautista from Makati, high-leaping Bobby Balucanag and Shaq Alanas from Pasay, sparkplug Gab Dagangon from Bataan, and Michole Sorela from Navotas. They also signed PBA veterans Jonathan Uyloan and Anthony Bringas alongside Irven Palencia, an integral cog for St. Clare in NAASCU, who is also managed by Phenom. Philip Manalang, Mark Trinidad, Ar Raouf Jilkipli, Junjie Hallare, Darwin Lunor, Jett Vidal, Melgar Murillo, Harold Ng, and Reiner Bazan completed the lineup of Basilan. The Turnaround When the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup opened, the retooled Basilan started on the right foot with two straight wins against Bicol and Pampanga. But when the adrenaline ran out, the Jumbo Plastic-backed squad saw its win-loss standing at 9-8 midway through the season. Then Basilan scorched the league in its remaining 13 games, tallying 11 victories while only losing two matches. The main reason for the brilliant playoff push? The arrival of Phenom-managed collegiate talents in Allyn Bulanadi, NCAA Season 95 leading scorer and San Sebastian College-Recoletos superstar, and Philip Manalang, lead floor general of University of the East. Bulanadi, a 6-foot-3 up-and-coming star, played in the Steel’s last seven games in the elimination round on an impressive 21.71 points on 46 percent clip and 4.5 rebounds averages. Meanwhile, Manalang is a sparkplug off the bench who brings the tenacity on the defense all while contributing on the other end in various ways. Basilan entered the playoffs with a 20-10 record, good for the third spot in the tough Southern division just behind top seed Davao Occidental and second-ranked Bacoor. “Our main goal was to for a competitive team and we want to redefine Basilan through basketball. In this way, I think we have garnered so many fans and inspired yung buong Basilan province that’s why I think we have already succeeded in redefining Basilan,” Chua said. But the grind did not stop for the Steel as they marched into the postseason with the whole Basilan province rallying behind their backs. In the quarterfinals, Basilan swept Iloilo advancing into the semifinals, with a daunting task of beating second seed powerhouse Bacoor City. The Steel survived a grueling three-game series against the Strikers, coming up on top despite having home-court disadvantage for Games Two and Three. In the division finals, Basilan faced the toughest team in the South, the Davao Occidental Tigers. But Basilan showed, again and again, its heart, escaping Game One with a 74-72 victory at the Davao Sports and Tourism Complex in Tagum City. And with a shot to glory and barging into the National Finals, Basilan looked to become South kings in front of their huge following at Lamitan City Gym in Game Two, but the Tigers have other plans, spoiling Basilan’s home court and surviving with an 81-76 win. Game Three was supposed to happen last March 14, but MPBL decided to suspend the Division Finals due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “Nandito na rin kami eh, we are not here to participate lang. Given the chance and we will gladly take it. We will go all out to bring more pride to the Basileños and to repay the trust na binigay sa amin ng leaders ng Basilan especially Congressman Mujiv Hataman, Mayor Julz Hataman Governor Jim Hataman Salliman and Councilor Hegem Furigay,” added Chua. Will Basilan Steel continue their astounding playoff run to the National Finals or will Davao Occidental retain its crown in the South? No matter what, Basilan has already won the hearts of the Basileños and the whole MPBL fanbase with its tremendous turnaround from a lowly team in Datu Cup to a powerhouse in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season. More than Basketball But “Redefining Basilan” is more than basketball. Phenom Sports not only wanted to turn around people’s perception of Basilan the basketball team but give Basilan the province the appreciation it deserves. Basilan has been a hotbed of misconceptions due to the armed conflicts that happened there, but those were the days and the province has moved on. “Right from the start na nakapunta ako sa Basilan, sobrang iba nito kasi akala natin magulo ang Basilan, ang mga tao iba ang ugali pero hindi. Basilan has been enjoying a long peace na. For more than 15 years now under the leadership ng mga Hataman, naging maayos, naging focused sila sa peace and progress,” Chua on Basilan province. And basketball has played a huge part in giving the young Basileños a dream to hold on. “Yung mga kabataan, nabibigyan ng chance na mangarap na maging katulad ng idols nila,” said Chua. “They want to be the next Allyn Bulanadi, the next Hesed Gabo, the next Irven Palencia. This is what basketball is giving to the Basilan people.” The Steel has built a cult following in Basilan and it is the best feeling a player could feel. “Paglapag pa lang ng pier, everybody knows the players. They follow them like rockstars, like celebrities. They send food to the hotels, they watch our practices. Ganoon kamahal ng Basilan yung mga players nila. They saw a hardworking team who really represents Basilan’s culture - the determination, the perseverance and the hard work of the Basileños,” Chua concluded. But how did Basilan Steel get popular in the province? Meet the team behind Phenom Sports. Phenom is all-in in redefining Basilan and that’s why they have a team to do so. They have photographers in Marl Castro, Thel Suliva, and Michael Ordoñez who captured in-game pictures and the team’s interaction with the fans. Rion Balin and Jeff Palaganas are the videographers who make the video highlights of the Basilan players for the fans. Juls Claudio and Dands Javier are graphic artists who create the posters and other publication materials to be posted on the team’s social media accounts. The latter also serves as the marketing man of Phenom. Emma Bueno and Joseph Guion complete the team as coordinator and director, respectively. In a span of just a year, Phenom Sports has reached its goal of redefining Basilan, turning it to #BasilanRedefined......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 19th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: Ayoko na ulit maramdaman yung pagod ka na pero di ka pa rin makatulog -- Eya Laure

Eya Laure came into the game with just one thing in mind: University of Sto. Tomas will bounce back from its opening day loss in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball. The sophomore took it to herself to make sure that the stinging collapse of the Tigresses in a five-set defeat at the hands of National University won’t happen again. “Ayoko na ulit maramdaman yung pagod ka na pero di ka pa rin makatulog,” said Laure, who admitted to losing sleep following their setback last Wednesday. On Sunday, the Season 81 Rookie of the Year was laser-focused as she put up an all-around performance to spearhead UST’s dominating 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, win over Far Eastern University.  “Siyempre, masakit naman pero yung masakit na yung feeling na ayaw mo na mangyari ulit yun sa team mo,” said Laure. Laure scattered 16 points including 12 coming off attacks and added 14 digs and eight excellent receptions for the Tigresses. Learning from their mistakes the last time out, the Season 81 runner-up stepped on the gas pedal right from the opening serve and sustained its hot run to erase the memories of their bitter campaign start.    “As a team, ‘di lang naman ako yung naglalaro eh. Alam ko sa sarili ko na ‘yung buong team naapektuhan din,” said Laure. UST rained down 45 attack points and were active at the net with six kill blocks. “Ngayon sa laro na ‘to nakita ‘yung strength ng team namin na once na mag-usap kami lalabas at lalabas yung magandang performance sa isa’t isa na makakatulong sa team namin,” said Laure. “Last game kasi medyo hindi ako nakatulog ng maayos parang sayang. Hindi ko na-explain after ng game na ‘yun ano ‘yung naramdaman ko na ayaw ko maramdaman ulit,” she added. “Kaya kahit papaano gagawin talaga namin at pupunan namin yung pagkukulang namin na ginawa namin this game.”     Show your school spirit. Get official UAAP university licensed merchandise from www.uaapstore.com.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 8th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: Josafat leading by example

Lloyd Josafat played his best game so far in his young UAAP career. The sophomore University of the East middle blocker dropped a personal-best 32 points that highlighted the Red Warriors’ rousing win over University of the Philippines on Saturday in the UAAP Season 82 men’s volleyball tournament. But the 6-foot-2 player deflected all the credit in the victory that gave UE a taste of its first win after an opening day loss to tie its victim.    “Siguro kung hindi rin dahil sa teammates ko, hindi ko mame-meet 'yung 32 points,” said Josafat. “Ayun, lagi akong nire-remind ni coach na kalma lang kasi nga 'yung UP medyo may asar.” “Sabi ni coach sa akin, kalma lang ako palagi,” he added. “Kagabi naka-mindset ako na kukunin namin 'tong panalo.” The 20-year old Business Management student-athlete got 28 points on kills off 53 attempts while adding three kill blocks and an ace.  Josafat’s explosion was what the Red Warriors, who bowed down to Far Eastern University in their season debut, needed to counter the partisan UP crowd cheering the Fighting Maroons led by their flamboyant rookie Louis Gamban.    “Ang sinasabi ko lang, 'di lang sa sarili ko kun'di pati sa mga kasama ko na kumalma lang kami, one point at a time lang. 'Yun ang sinabi ko sa kanila, kalma lang. 'Wag tayo magpadala sa crowd ng UP,’” he said. Josafat also pointed out that more than his dazzling display of his scoring prowess, the Red Warriors' hunger and dedication to cultivate a winning culture pulled them through.   “Siguro mas gigil kasi 'yun nga, mas bagong team kami,” said Josafat, who is one of the few sophomores who play as leaders for the squad laden with rookies. “So sabi ko, bago mag-start 'yung season, sinabi na namin sa mga first year na magtulungan tayo para maiangat 'yung UE. Para maiba 'yung tingin sa amin na laging nasa dulo. Ayun, magtutulungan lang kami lagi.”   Show your school spirit. Get official UAAP university licensed merchandise from www.uaapstore.com. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 7th, 2020

NCAA Season 95: Lady Altas score back-to-back wins

It wasn’t a pretty win but University of Perpetual Help head coach Macky Carino felt that his squad showed guts in carving out a 25-27, 25-23, 26-24, 14-25, 17-15, victory over Lyceum of the Philippines University for their second straight win in the NCAA Season 95 women’s volleyball competition on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Down big in a fourth set meltdown, the Lady Altas displayed nerves of steel in the frantic race to the finish in the deciding frame to improve to 2-1 win-loss record.      Jhona Rosal led Perpetual with 20 points anchored on 17 kills including the game-clinching hit while adding 16 excellent receptions and 10 digs. Bianca Tripoli had 19 markers while setter Jenny Gaviola got 10 points and dished out 13 excellent sets for the Lady Altas.   Carino admitted that the Lady Pirates seemed to be their perennial problem in the elimination round. Taking down LPU has never been easy for the Las Pinas-based squad in the past couple of seasons. “Last year din, five sets din kami niyan,” recalled Carino. "So parang, actually third game din namin 'yan against them, five sets din kami. So ngayon, at least ngayon, kahit papaano lumusot kami.” The Lady Altas went down as much as 12 points in the fourth and had to save a match point in the fifth after wasting an 11-9 lead.   “Pangit ng performance ng team ko ngayon, iba pa rin 'yung hindi sanay sa laruan, kulang sa experience,” said Carino, whose squad survived an error-filled outing after giving away 40 points off miscues. “Although majority naman ng nasa lineup ko, doon sa first six ko, naka-experience ng championship. Pero hindi pa rin sapat eh.” The Lady Altas saw their lead in the fifth evaporate and even went down, 14-13, after Shyra Umandal sent her serve wide. Tripoli broke the block in the next play before Hannah Suico gave Perpetual the match point advantage, 15-14. Tripoli sent her serve short for a 15-15 tie but a costly attack error by LPU’s Jacq Acuna off an overreceive by the Lady Altas set up Rosal’s game winner. The Lady Pirates suffered their third loss in as many games despite the efforts of Ciamelle Wanta, Alexandra Rafael and Mary Joy Onofre, who all scored 15 points each. Acuna finished with 15 while Monica Sevilla got 10 for LPU. Meanwhile, the two-time defending champion Altas made short work of the Pirates, 25-22, 33-31, 25-20, for a 3-0 record for the solo top spot in the men's division. Louie Ramirez exploded for 23 points with 22 coming off attacks while Ronniel Rosales had 15 for Perpetual, which won their 14th straight game overall since Season 93. LPU remained winless in three games. In juniors play, five-time defending champion Junior Altas improved to 3-0 after beating the Junior Pirates, 25-17, 25-17, 25-15.              --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2020

SEA Games: Really heartbreaking, really frustrating -- Valdez on bronze medal loss

Alyssa Valdez helplessly watched from the sidelines as Indonesia made a last stretch run to steal the bronze medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games women’s volleyball competition. She couldn’t help but feel a sense of regret for not being on court in what could’ve been a chance to end a 14-year medal drought for the Philippines in the biennial meet.     “Nanghihinayang siyempre. When you’re outside, you can’t contribute anything,” said Valdez, who rode the bench in the fourth and fifth set of the Nationals’ 20-25, 26-24, 15-25, 25-20, 14-16, loss to Indonesia on Monday in the battle for bronze at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City on Monday. But the hitter, who had 14 points, understood the decision of head coach Shaq Delos Santos to stick with the same line-up that forced the fifth set. After all, the Nationals went close to just a point away, 14-12, from claiming a spot in the podium since the 2005 edition of the regional sports meet with a rotation sans Valdez.   “It’s the decision of our coaches naman,” said Valdez. “Feeling ko mas nakikita nila kung ano yung mga kailangan ng team. So yun yung best decision na nangyari.” “Maganda rin naman hanggang dulo, lumaban din naman yung team,” Valdez added. But the bronze wasn’t meant for the Filipinas, who never got a chance to score again after Ces Molina’s match point off the block kill. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s really heartbreaking, really frustrating,” said Valdez. “But I think, sabi nga nila sa loob kanina, if it’s not for us, if it’s not our time, it’s not our time.” Setter Jia Morado just like Valdez played off the bench in the last four sets after starting in the first. She saw limited minutes in the fourth frame and was subbed out in the closing stretch of the deciding set. But she knew Delos Santos had a game plan in mind and those inside the court played their hearts out just like she would if she was there.   “Para sa akin, everyone naman is ready to play. Everyone is ready to step up,” said Morado. “So it's the coaches’ decision talaga kung sino ipapasok nila. Kami, kahit sinong ipasok or di kami gamitin, basta manalo para sa bayan, okay kami.” Meanwhile, Delos Santos stood by his decision. “Actually, yesterday, nag-usap na kami siyempre kung ano ang magiging diskarte ng coaches ire-respect. For us kasi, ako especially ako kasi ako ang naga-ano, di naman totally dahil hindi gagamitin or what pero yung timing, yun diskarte,” justified Delos Santos. “Siguro yung sitwasyon lang din na siyempre may nagi-step up din, merong ibang teammate niya na nagiging OK.” The second year mentor stuck with a rotation with middle Mika Reyes paired with Majoy Baron at the frontline, Ces Molina, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Eya Laure at the wings with veteran playmaker Rhea Dimaculangan and libero Dawn Macandili in the fourth frame that paid dividends. They carried the momentum up until the closing moments of the fifth frame when the Nationals went up, 12-8. But it didn’t end the way the Nationals wanted it to be. The medal drought extended for another year. Compounding the heartbreak was the fact that the Nationals lost all of their four games in the competition to finish fourth in a field of four - the worst finish for the Filipinas since their return in 2015 when the Nationals won one game in the Singapore edition and another one two years ago in Kuala Lumpur.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 9th, 2019

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 8th, 2019

SEA Games 2019: Eumir Marcial s win was for teammate John Marvin, and for all Filipinos

Filipin-British boxer John Marvin found himself on the losing end of a Split Decision result against Vietnam's Hoang Truong Dinh in the second day of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games Boxing competitions, Thursday at the PICC Forum Tent in Manila.  Marvin, the Philippines' light heavyweight, was dropped in the opening round by a well-timed counter overhand-right, and was playing catch up to the Vietnamese pug from that point. While Marvin did a lot better in the second and third rounds, it wasn't enought to sway the judges' decision as he bowed out of the tournament, unable to defend his gold medal from the 2017 SEA Games.  While it was definitely a heartbreaking loss for Marvin, he was still all smiles as he greeted fans on his way out of the competition area.  Someone who wasn't able to contain his emotions however, was Marvin's teammate and Pinoy middleweight bet Eumir Marcial.  Marcial could not hold his tears back as he came to console his fallen teammate after the loss.  The following day, it was Marcial's turn to take to the ring, and he didn't disappoint, making short work of Malaysian Azmi Mohd Aswan Che. Marcial needed just one round to defeat Che and move on to the finals of the Men's Middleweight division.  Following his spectacular win, the AIBA World Championships silver medalist explained just why he was extremely emotional following Marvin's loss.  "Sobrang close kami, lahat ng pag-hihirap namin, magkasama kami, yung training namin, talagang binigay namin yung blood, yung disiplina namin, yung hard work namin dito, para dito sa SEA Games," Marcial told the media.  "Nasaktan ako, nalungkot ako sa nangyari sa kanya, especially nung nalaman ko na kaya pala siya hindi maka-suntok kasi sobrang maga nung kamay niya. Nung first round pa lang, maga na yung kamay niya. Sabi ko kahit na na-knockdown siya, maka-bawi naman siya eh, kasi nung training andun yung, talagang gusto niyang makuha yung gold, kaya sabi ko bawi na lang sa second round pero nakita namin, lahat nating mga Pilipino na hindi siya maka-suntok ulit, so sa lahat, may injury siya, maga yung kamay niya," he continued.  With his fallen teammate in mind, Marcial came into his bout and delivered, dedicating the win to Marvin, the rest of his team, and the rest of the Filipino people.  "Sabi ko, itong game na 'to, kasi hindi siya nakakuha ng medal, so, hindi lang 'to para sa akin, hindi lang 'to para sa Pilipino, para sa amin din ito, kasi hard work namin, yung pagsasma namin, lahat. Kumbaga alam namin yung isa't-isa, kaya naging emotional ako nung natalo siya." With Marcial one more win away from a third-straight gold medal in the SEA Games, the Zamboanga-native calls for support from the Filipino people. "Hinihingi namin lahat, ng Philippine Boxing Team na suportahan niyo kami, manood kayo sa laban namin, i-cheer niyo kami, kasi we win as one naman eh. Yung panalo namin ay panalo din niyo.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 6th, 2019

UAAP Season 82 Finals: Ito yung sakit na for sure na matututo kami -- Ayo

University of Sto. Tomas head coach Aldin Ayo believed that his Growling Tigers could measure up against the mighty Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball Finals. For some it was a longshot or UST may have just overachieved but Ayo held on to his faith that they had what it takes to give Ateneo a run for its money. That’s why the Growling Tigers’ defeat hurt even more.    “In a way [overachieve] pero I told the kids na it is more painful to lose in the Finals than not making it to the Final Four,” said Ayo on Wednesday after UST absorbed a 79-86 loss to three-peat champion Blue Eagles on Wednesday at the MOA Arena. The fourth-seeded Tigers’ journey to the championship – their first since a runner-up finish in 2015 – toughened UST up when they won against Far Eastern University in the first semis stepladder phase and pulled off an upset over twice-to-beat University of the Philippines. But reality hit them hard against an unbeaten and well-experienced foe. “I told them that na dumating kami dito, we need to make sure that we are up to it,” said Ayo. “Mas masakit ito. Pero ito yung sakit na for sure na matututo kami.” The series opener showed the dominance of the Blue Eagles. The Tigers gave Ateneo a scare midway in the fourth quarter of Game 2 only to falter in the end. “Siguro, ngayong Game Two. Pero yung Game One, it was a learning experience for us especially dun sa mga rookies. I'm sure, they were able to learn a lot, especially playing in a Finals atmosphere. Dun kami nagkaproblema nung Game One,” said Ayo. “’Yung Game Two naman, there were stretches na I was really disappointed. There were things na hindi namin nagawa especially sa depensa,” he added. “But I told the boys that I may look like disappointed but actually, I was disappointed with myself and sa coaching staff. Yun yung mga bagay na tinrabaho namin nung preseason na lumabas dito sa Finals na in-exploit ng Ateneo.” The Tigers may be licking their wounds right now but what they learned this season gave UST the much needed fuel for next year. “Next season madadala namin ‘yung experience namin this season especially sa nine rookies namin,” said Ayo.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 21st, 2019

NCAA 95: Bonbon Batiller owes championship to former coach Jeff Napa

In Game 2 of the NCAA Season 95 Men's Basketball Finals last November 15, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights were within one basket away from pulling off an improbable series sweep of defending champion and favorites, the San Beda University Red Lions.  It would turn into heartbreak for the Knights however, after Bonbon Batiller botched an undergoal stab in the final seconds that would have been a go-ahead basket. San Beda would end up winning, 79-76, to force a deciding third game.  Batiller put the blame for the Game 2 loss on himself, and came out guns blazing in the deciding game, helping lead Letran to a 81-79 Game 3 win to recpature the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.  Batiller was hot early, as he scored seven of Letran's first 9 points and went on to finish with 19 markers to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.  "Isa lang masasabi ko, hindi na madulas yung bola," Batiller said with a laugh during the post-game presser.  Batiller quickly turned emotional however, as he recalled the rough road he took to get to becoming a champion in the NCAA.  Once a promising recruit for University of the East, Batiller found himself cast aside after just two seasons.  As Batiller recounted, it was former Letran head coach Jeff Napa that gave him a second chance, and for that, he has all the gratitude in the world.  "Kung may pasasalamatan ako sa grupo na ito, bago pa si Coach Bonnie, si Coach Jeff Napa. Unang-una, [nung] tinanggal ako sa UE nung 2017, basura na ako, pinulot ako ni Coach Jeff, kumbaga pinaliguan, inalagaan, ngayon champion na," Batiller shared, fighting off tears. As it turns out, Napa was also the person responsible for bringing in Finals MVP Fran Yu.  "Dalawa kami ni Fran. Tinanong ako Coach Jeff, 'San si Fran Yu?' 'Coach, nasa Thailand.''Kontakin mo, tanong mo kung gusto niya mag-Letran.' Tinanong ko, 'Bata, gusto mo ba mag-Letran? Andito ako ngayon.' Sabi niya 'Sige, uwi ako diyan. Diyan tayo mag-laro sa Letran.'" Like Batiller, Yu was also once a promising recruit with the Red Warriors, but was out of the team after just one season.  In Intramuros, Batiller and Yu were given another chance to prove themselves, and that's exactly what they set out to do, and did.  "Isa lang ang sinabi ko kay Fran, sabi ko 'Fran, kailangan natin ipakita dito, patunayan sa mga nag-doubt sa atin, mga hindi naniwala sa atin.'" "Ayun, nakuha namin ni Fran yung championship. Ang laking pasasalamat ko kay Coach Jeff," Batiller concluded. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2019