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SEA Games champions captivate the nation with inspiring performances

Winning the hearts of Filipinos everywhere with their discipline, perseverance, and hard work, MILO Champions Carlos Yulo, Kiefer Ravena, Pauline Lopez, Mary Joy Tabal, and Alyssa Valdez brought pride and honor to the country during the recently concluded 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. With an entire nation energized and rallying support for five of the brightest stars in Philippine sports, they reasserted our position in the regional arena and proved why the future is bright for the next generation of champions. MILO congratulates its sports ambassadors for their impressive medal finishes and hard-fought efforts in the SEA Games, of which the Philippines also earned the overall championship, besting the 10 other countries with a tally of 387 medals: 149 gold, 117 silver, and 121 bronze. “The 30th Southeast Asian Games marked another historic milestone for the advancement of Philippine sports,” says Nestlé Philippines-MILO Vice President Veronica Cruz. “As a longstanding partner and advocate, MILO is honored to be a part of the journeys of Caloy, Kiefer, Pauline, Mary Joy, and Alyssa while remaining steadfast in building a nation of champions, bannering our one Laban Pilipinas battlecry.”  Yulo has come a long way from playing in the streets with his friends and competing in the MILO Little Olympics. The first Filipino gymnastics world champion, and just the second countryman to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, continued his meteoric rise as he competed in front of a spirited home crowd for the first time, bagging two gold medals (all-around and floor exercise) and five silvers (pommel horse, steady rings, vaults, parallel bars, and horizontal bar). Before Lopez began reaping numerous awards here and abroad, she tested her mettle by winning the 2007 MILO-PTA (Philippine Taekwondo Association) tournament gold medal. As one of the brand’s newest ambassadors, she continues to empower other Filipinas to break barriers and overcome obstacles as seen in her women’s under 57kg gold medal victory. Securing his record fifth straight SEA Games gold medal in men’s basketball, Ravena proudly exemplified how comebacks are stronger than setbacks. The MILO BEST Center 2001 graduate and longtime ambassador proved doubters wrong with his unbreakable spirit and unquestionable dedication to the country, even as a late addition to the team’s lineup. A six-time regining National MILO Marathon Queen and first Filipino marathon Olympian, Tabal gave her all in an inspired showing, finishing with a silver in the women’s marathon. She is optimistic in her pursuit of other key tournaments next year as she competes in the Tokyo 2020 Marathon and looks to qualify in the 2020 Olympics. Valdez and company exceeded expectations, putting up a valiant effort with a fourth-place finish in front of their adoring fans at the 30th SEA Games. With a near-podium finish, the MILO sports ambassador and volleyball MVP remains determined to win a medal for the country. “We are one with the people in celebrating the Champions and all the athletes who represented the country in the 30th SEA Games, showcasing what it truly means to be a champion in sports and in life. More than the wins and recognition, MILO believes in the importance of  lifelong values learned in sports and remains committed to nourishing the ambitions of Filipinos,” adds MILO Sports Executive Lester P. Castillo.  As a gold partner of the 30th SEA Games, MILO helped energize a nation of champions with the first taste of the NEW MILO for tomorrow’s champions. Attendees of the games in select fan zones and venues were able to try the more delicious and nutritious Champion formula. ### About MILO MILO has been in the Philippines for over 50 years and is the country’s favorite chocolate malt powdered milk drink that can be prepared with hot or cold milk or water.  Every mug of MILO contains the goodness of Cocoa, Malt, Milk, and Activ-Go® - a special blend of Protomalt®, Vitamins, and Minerals. It is high in Vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12, C, and is a good source of Iron, for energy release from food.  About Nestlé Philippines Over a hundred years after it first started operations in the country, Nestlé Philippines, Inc. (NPI) today is a robust and stable organization, proud of its role in bringing the best food and beverage throughout the stages of the Filipino consumers’ lives. The Company employs more than 3,200 men and women nationwide, and is among the country’s Top 10 Corporations.  Driven by its purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future, Nestlé today produces and markets products under some of the country’s trusted brands such as NESCAFE, NIDO, MILO, NESTEA, MAGGI, BEAR BRAND, NESTLÉ and PURINA, among others. Its product range has expanded to include coffee, milk, beverages, non-dairy creamer, food, infant nutrition, ice cream and chilled dairy, breakfast cereals, confectionery and pet care......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnDec 17th, 2019

UAAP Season 82 celebrates unity and sportsmanship in virtual closing ceremony

Despite an abrupt end to UAAP Season 82 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s premier collegiate league will officially wrap up the season on a high note with a virtual closing ceremony that will celebrate unity and sportsmanship in the entire UAAP community. The special online event, hosted by Mico Halili and Denice Dinsay of ABS-CBN Sports, will go live on July 25 (Saturday) at 4 pm on the ABS-CBN Sports website (sports.abs-cbn.com), Facebook, and YouTube accounts, with delayed telecast on LIGA cable sports channel at 7 pm. The closing ceremony will be a culmination of the first and second semester UAAP sports, highlighting the success and hard work of the eight member schools while also putting the spotlight on the athletes who were unable to finish their season due to the cancelation of the games. “Lalabas 'yun doon sa closing ceremonies, just to highlight na, one, as a community, as a nation, we are here to help everyone, that's one. And two, itong mga atleta na 'to na mga hindi nakapaglaro or natapos, they are part of Season 82," said UAAP Season 82 president Em Fernandez of host school Ateneo de Manila University in an interview with ABS-CBN News. UAAP announced the cancelation of Season 82 on April 7 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Second semester sports such as volleyball, football, baseball, softball, track and field, lawn tennis, and 3x3 basketball were not completed or did not start at all. The UAAP will also be awarding UST as general champions for both the high school and seniors divisions. This is the sixth straight overall championship for the Tiger Cubs and fourth straight for the Growling Tigers. Also set to receive their awards are the Season 82 MVPs for high school and college, while selected athlete-scholars from the different universities will also be recognized. The league, however, will be unable to award an Athlete of the Year for this season. The online gathering, according to ABS-CBN Integrated Sports head Dino Laurena, will celebrate the dedication of all athletes and the efforts of the entire UAAP community, noting that it has always been their mission in ABS-CBN Sports to honor and pay tribute to the work and dedication of athletes, no matter what the circumstances or challenges the sports organization is confronting.  “ABS-CBN Sports remains faithful to its advocacy of promoting the values that sports teaches all of us.  It is in this light that we want to pay tribute to our athletes who put in months of sacrifice and preparation to be able to play at a high level in the UAAP. We hope they stay hungry and passionate about the game they love, and we cannot wait to see them playing again,” he said.    Spicing up the celebration are feature performances by ABS-CBN artists Ylona Garcia and Inigo Pascual. Sponge Cola and Itchyworms, the Pinoy rock bands that performed the official UAAP Season 82 anthem “Ang Ating Tagumpay” at the opening ceremony, will also make a special appearance.  Sticking to Season 82’s theme of “All For More,” the UAAP will also recognize the efforts of schools and athletes by honoring those who have done charity work during the pandemic.  Fans will also be able to look back at last season’s game highlights as well as hear from some of their favorite players. To formally symbolize the end of UAAP Season 82, there will be a virtual turning over of hosting duties of Ateneo to its rival school De La Salle University for Season 83. ABS-CBN Sports has been the official broadcaster of the UAAP since 2000. Together, they have championed sports among the Filipino youth, have given a break to many young, talented athletes, and strengthened the local sports community in the past two decades. Celebrate sports culture in the Philippines with Kapamilya sports fans by watching the UAAP Season 82 closing ceremony on July 25 (Saturday) at 4 pm on the ABS-CBN Sports website (sports.abs-cbn.com) and ABS-CBN Sports Facebook and YouTube accounts. Catch also the delayed telecast on cable sports channel LIGA at 7 pm, with a replay on July 26 at 4:30 pm. For more sports news, follow @ABSCBNSports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, subscribe to the ABS-CBN Sports YouTube channel, or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abscbnpr.com......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 21st, 2020

Liverpool lands 1st world title, Qatar passes pre-2022 test

By Rob Harris, Associated Press DOHA, Qatar (AP) — After tens of billions of dollars spent on infrastructure, and skepticism over this tiny gas-rich nation's suitability as a sporting host, a World Cup has finally been handed out in Qatar. It was Liverpool lifting FIFA's lesser-regarded Club World Cup trophy on Saturday night. In three years, the biggest prize in soccer will be handed out in a stadium yet to be completed. The Club World Cup, which ended Saturday with Roberto Firmino sealing Liverpool's 1-0 victory over Flamengo in extra time, has been the first major international footballing test of Qatar's readiness. With a 45,000-strong crowd packed into Khalifa Stadium, Qatar has shown it can fill a venue with sports fans —- unlike at the track and field world championships earlier this year. “Everybody was for different reasons on the edge pretty much but I saw so many sensationally good performances and I'm really happy of course for our supporters,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. “The atmosphere in the stadium was great." But it is a stadium touched by the welfare concerns that have dogged Qatar's building work since being awarded the main 32-team World Cup in 2010 by FIFA. A British worker plunged to his death during the construction phase in conditions later deemed to be dangerous. This was a Club World Cup trip also tinged in tragedy for the losing finalists from Brazil. When fire engulfed a dormitory at Flamengo's academy in Brazil in February, 10 players — all between 14 and 16 years old — died. “It was a very sad moment in Flamengo's history and, I believe, in Brazilian football as well," midfielder Everton Ribeiro said in Doha. “Lives were lost, dreams were lost.” Flamengo was ordered by a Rio de Janeiro judge earlier this month to pay the equivalent of $2,500 a month to the families of 10 victims and three injured players. Flamengo, which appealed the decision, is already paying families about $1,200 a month. “If the situation is settled with the families, as soon as possible, including the support that Flamengo is already giving, it will be better for everybody,” Ribeiro said. Flamengo's grief was followed by success not achieved by a Brazilian side since Pele's Santos in 1963. The Brazilian championship was won in November, 24 hours after clinching a first Copa Libertadores title since 1981 in a continental triumph which earned a reunion with Liverpool. When the European champions and South American champions met in a single-game version of the Club World Cup 38 years ago, Flamengo beat Liverpool 3-0. Since the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, football has tilted in Europe's favor over South America but the very staging of this seven-team Club World Cup in the Persian Gulf shows where so much of the wealth now comes from in the sport. And it was a Brazilian player prized away from his homeland to Europe as a 19-year-old, initially by Hoffenheim in Germany, who settled this final for Liverpool in the 99th minute. Firmino was still inside his own half when captain Jordan Henderson launched the defense-splitting pass that set Liverpool on the path to glory. As Firmino raced through Flamengo territory unchallenged, Sadio Mane held up the ball received from Henderson. When Firmino reached the penalty area, Mane squared to the Brazilian, who took three touches to control the ball past defender Rodrigo Caio before knocking it into the net. Firmino also struck in the semifinal victory over Monterrey on Wednesday, giving him two goals in as many games in the Khalifa Stadium, having only netted once in the previous 16 games for Liverpool in all competitions. “I couldn't be more happy for him that he could score that goal because ... (of) what this competition means to Brazil, to South American people,” Klopp said. After netting the World Cup winner, Firmino raced away in celebration, ripping off his jersey and leaping into the air. Firmino and his teammates will have to wait some time to attach FIFA's gold Champions Badge to their jerseys. Liverpool anticipates it will only be allowed to be worn in the Champions League, which resumes in February, rather than weekly in the Premier League. It may have to settle with lifting the Premier League trophy in May for the first time. As Liverpool added the world title to its sixth European Cup collected in June, back in England its pursuit of the Premier League was helped by Leicester losing to Manchester City. A domestic title drought stretching back to 1990 for the 18-time English champions is well-placed to end with Liverpool holding a 10-point lead over Leicester ahead of Thursday’s game against its second-place rival. “Liverpool are enjoying their best time in their decade,” Flamengo coach Jorge Jesus said. "They played a tremendous match and Flamengo were excellent also. "We were a match for Liverpool. I'm fully pleased with what Flamengo have done. Brazilian clubs in future will be contenders to European clubs and we have exhibited that today.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2019

Success didn t come overnight for Yulo, Petecio and Obiena

What makes every victory sweet are the compelling stories behind the most glorious of triumphs. Beyond the statistics, the points, the records, it’s always the journey that make sports conquests inspiring.  For Olympians and champions pole vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo and world championship gold medalist female boxer Nesthy Petecio, success didn’t come overnight. They shared the same experiences where they bled, shed tears, felt pain, experienced regret and lost. It was never easy.   “’Yung sports kasi it can be brutal for us,” said Obiena, who was the first Filipino to book a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last month. “That kind of makes winning sweet. It’s a series of ups and downs.” “I think everybody here… now we’re champions but we lost a lot of times before we actually won,” he added.   TOUGH ROAD The 23-year-old vaulter remembered how devastated he was when he sustained a knee injury in 2017. Obiena just jumped to a new national record prior to that injury. From there, he needed to work his way back up again. Just like Obiena, Petecio also faced a tough road. The lowest point for the Davaoena was when she lost via a controversial 2-3 split decision to Chinese Yin Jun Hua in the 2018 Asian Games featherweight match that could’ve catapulted her to the gold medal bout.        “’Yung experience ko sa Asian Games sobrang na-down po ako nun kumbaga sabi ko sa sarili ko noon baka hindi para sa akin ang boxing,” Petecio said. “Kasi pinaghirapan ko po yung apat na gold po ako sunud-sunod po doon para i-prepare ang sarili ko sa Asian Games tapos ganoon po ang nangyari. Down na down po ako nun.” It was so painful that the 27-year old pug thought of hanging her gloves for good. “Alam po ni Coach Boy [Velasco] yun, sinasabi ko po kay coach na magtatrabaho na lang po ako kasi naka-graduate naman din po ako ng associate course sa University of Baguio. Sabi ko sa sarili ko kaya ko pala maghanap ng ibang work.” Meanwhile, Yulo was just 16 then when he left his family in Manila to train for three years under the tutelage of Japanese coach Munehiro Kugiyama. One could just imagine what goes through the mind of a teenager in a foreign land away from his parents and friends.     “Sa Japan, nu’ng unang taon ko po dun, actually nu’ng three months ko po dun OK naman po siya di masama,” Yulo recalled. “Pero nalulungkot na po ako noong mga sumunod na araw, nami-miss ko na po ang family ko.” His Japan training did wonders for Yulo as he became a consistent medalist in the 2018 world cup series last year winning medals in Melbourne and Baku in vault and in Doha and Cottbus in floor exercise.   But homesickness and the difficult routine training, Yulo admitted, almost broke him. “Yung mga trainings ko po dun hindi siya masaya, sobra pong hirap. Araw-araw po naiyak ako kasi di ko po siya kaya, susuko na ako,” he said. “Last two years po sinabi ko rin sa coach na magku-quit na ako kasi sobrang wala po eh parang tae di po maganda sobra ang training.” “Pauli-ulit lang po ang araw. Parang hinihintay ko lang po matapos ang araw,” added Yulo. Then Yulo suffered a big blow in 2018 Asiad when he crashed to 7th place in the floor exercise. “Sa Asian Games din po wala ako sa kondisyon nun,” Yulo said. “Pumunta lang ako ng gym para mag-training pero hindi po talaga galing sa puso.” “Hindi po ako makapag-focus nun tuwing competition. Marami rin po kasi akong pagkakamali bago yung preparation ko sa Asian Games din po,” he added. “Hindi po ako nanalo ng medals dun, naka-finals po pero di ako nanalo ng medals. May chance po pero hindi po para sa akin siguro yun.”   REDEMPTION For the three sports heroes, it was when they hit rock-bottom when they realized that they were actually on solid ground where they could stand up and rise above the adversities they faced. It is in the darkest of nights where the stars shine the brightest. After a seventh place finish in the Asian Games, Obiena cleared 5.71 meters in the Asian Championships in Doha, Qatar last April. He then set a new national record of 5.76 meters to rule the Universiade in Naples, Italy last July. Obiena went on a roll as he cleared 5.81 meters in a tournament in Italy last month to secure a berth in the Tokyo Games. “We're very lucky to have the Philippines as the country we represent,” he said. “Sometimes I compete and I'm the only Filipino there in the stadium then I see a tiny flag waving and it's just nice and that kind of makes me happy and makes me feel lucky that I get to show the world that there is a Filipino vaulting here and we actually exist.”    Yulo, on the other hand, needed a short talk with her mother, Angelica, and a trip to the church to clear his mind. “Umuwi po ako at kinausap ko po ang mama saka papa ko. Sinabi ko po sa kanila na nahihirapan na ako, gusto ko na mag-quit. Sinabi ni mama sa akin na, ‘Ikaw, pero sayang kasi ang mga pinaghirapan mo. Nasimulan mo na ba’t di mo pa tapusin?'” “Kinabukasan nagsimba kami tapos nag-sink in po sa utak ko na grabe ang dami ko na ring pinagdaananan sobrang nakaka-stress pala,” he recalled. Clinging on the vow to surpass his bronze medal in the world championship last year, Yulo made sure that he’ll be ready in the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship in Stuttgart, Germany. “Ngayon tinarget ko talaga na di na maulit ang nangyari dati na umi-stop ako na walang magawa parang naiiyak na lang. Gusto ko lumaban at ipagmalaki sa lahat na kaya ko,” he said. Late Saturday night in the Philippines, Yulo made his historic stride on the other side of the world. Yulo bagged gold in the floor exercise final with a score of 15.300, besting Israeli Artem Dolgopyat (15.200), who dropped his shoulder when the Filipino's score flashed on the screen, and Ruoteng Xiao (14.933) of China. All-around, Yulo wound up 10th in the competition. “Hindi ko ini-expect na maka-medal ako kasi nung nakita ko ang score ng kalaban 15.2 po siya, hindi ko pa po nari-reach ang score [na yun],” said Yulo. After his routine, Yulo sat beside the Israeli gymnast and waited for his score. “Na ano ko na lang sa sarili ko na parang training lang ‘to. Gusto ko ipakita sa buong mundo na maganda ang gymnastics ko, na kahit matalo ako nu’ng araw na yun iniisip ko na lang na ginawa ko ang best ko,” he said. He then made history. Less than 24 hours after Yulo’s feat, on the Eastern Front, a Filipina carried the nation’s pride on top of the boxing ring in Russia. “’Yung mga kalaban ko po hindi po basta-basta po kasi nakikita ko rin po sa kanila na willing na willing din po nila na panalunin ang laban po,” Petecio recalled. “Kung gaano kadami ang suntok ko, dinadamihan din nila. Dinadaan ko na lang po lakas kasi alam kong mas malakas ako sa kanila.” She was a favorite during the prelims up to the semifinals, with the crowd in Ulan-Ude cheering her on. But the complexion changed when she entered the ring before the gold medal match. She was up against the hometown bet.    Despite fighting in hostile territory, Petecio bested Liudmila Vorontsove to annex the gold medal via split decision.    The victory was doubly sweet for Petecio. It was her long-awaited payback.            “Bago po yung final bout ko po, sabi ko po sa sarili ko na ‘Akin na ‘to’. Di ko na ibibigay ito,” she said. “Kasi noong 2014 last world championship nag-silver lang ako tapos Russian ang nakatalo sa akin. So sabi ko hindi ko na ipapaulit po na tatalunin ako ulit ng Russian. Akin na ‘to. Kini-claim ko na po sa sarili ko.” Having the gold medal finally on her neck, Petecio was just happy that she made the right decision just when she thought that her career was already bleak with the stinging Asian Games loss. ”Iniisip ko that time kung ano ang purpose ko kung bakit nag-boxing ako. Binalikan ko po ang insipirasyon ko, yung pamilya ko,” said Petecio, who once lived in a house made of tarpaulin and was financed by then Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to fly to Manila to pursue amateur boxing.     ”Nagdasal po ako kay God nung time na yun na, ano ba talaga ang dahilan kung bakit di niya ibinigay sa akin ang inaasam kong gold sa Asian Games,” she added. ”Nagpursige po ako ulit, bumangon po ako paunti-unti sa tulong ng mga coaches ko din and ito po nakuha ko na ang ginto sa world.” Looking back, the trio now had a clear understanding why they had to go through trials that tested not only their character but also their faith in themselves. “Part of our life is challenges, everyday struggles and its just a series of good memories that makes us who we are now,” said Obiena. The new breed of Filipino heroes are now enjoying the fruits of their hard work and sacrifice. The accolades came pouring in left and right. However, the trio agree that they are just at the beginning of their journey. They still have to make a home stand in the 30th Southeast Asian Games next month. For Petecio, a Tokyo Games ticket also awaits early next year in her attempt in the Asian qualifier in China. Obiena and Yulo also gun for podium finishes in Tokyo.   The road ahead is still long. It will never be a smooth and easy ride. But they will be ready. For flag and country.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2019

SEA GAMES: The silver that glittered like gold

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

SEA GAMES: The silver that glittered like gold

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

Pinoy surfer Casugay receives international Fair Play award

Surfer Roger Casugay was honored with the Pierre de Coubertin Act of Fair Play Award by the Comitee International du Fair-Play (International Fair Play Committee) for his heroic deed during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. The men’s longboard gold medalist in the 30th edition of the biennial meet hosted by the country became the first Filipino to receive the prestigious sportsmanship award named after the father of the international Olympic movement. International Surfing Association (ISA) Membership and Development Manager Alex Reynolds informed the United Philippine Surfing Association of Casugay’s achievement Tuesday. The award will be officially handed to Casugay on October 27. He is expected to fly to Monaco to personally receive the award, should the crisis permit. Casugay also has an option to receive the award virtually. The 26-year old Casugay, a native of San Fernando, La Union drew headlines for his heroic act of saving Indonesian competitor Arip Nurhidayat, who broke his ankle leash and was swept by giant waves. Organizers of the surfing event decided to rerun the competition as Casugay went on to win the gold medal. “We are very proud of Roger because he has truly exemplified the true meaning of being a Filipino and a sportsman,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman and 30th SEAG Chef de Mission William ‘Butch’ Ramirez in a statement. “Above all, it is a more fulfilling achievement to be recognized for character than skills and achievements. It shows who we are as people and as a nation,” added the PSC Chief. UPSA President Dr. Jose Raul Canlas also expressed pride on Casugay’s recognition. “It is nice to recognize an athlete not only for his athletic skills but also for his humanity. Holding surfing during the Southeast Asian Games is a milestone event. It paved the way for the ISA to recognize the region and allowed Roger to be also recognized,” he said. Casugay was the flag bearer and recipient of the “Fair Play” award during the SEA Games closing ceremonies held in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. Filipino surfers finished as overall champions in the sports’ SEA Games debut with two gold, two silver and three bronze medals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2020

Even courtside reporter Tricia Robredo lived NU s no regrets mentality in UAAP 77

National University had to take the rougher road to reach the mountaintop in UAAP 77. First, the Bulldogs had to come out on top of Roi Sumang's University of the East for the fourth-seed. Next, they had to come through against top-seeded and twice-to-beat Ateneo de Manila University with Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal showing the way. Finally, they had to claim the crown at the expense of Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia-led Far Eastern University in three games, having lost the Finals opener. In the end, though, at long last, Jhocson Street was to be the venue of a championship celebration anew. National U won it all because it played every game like it was its last - and, well, many of those matchups could, indeed, have been its last. That's exactly why in each and every game in that Cinderella run, they made sure to leave their all on the floor. "Ang battle cry namin nun was 'no regrets' kasi talagang ang dami naming knockout nun so nilagay namin sa board yun," head coach Eric Altamirano said in last week's The Prospects Pod. He then continued, "We put it there, 'no regrets.' Ano man ang abutin namin, okay lang as long as binigay namin lahat. Every game, that's what we reminded each other." Apparently, that mentality wasn't for coaches and players alone. In fact, long before that Cinderella run, one person in the Bulldogs' camp was already having no regrets. "Before the season, when ABS-CBN called me for my second and last, I was tentative pa kung babalik pa talaga ako kasi I was already in med school," courtside reporter Tricia Robredo shared in her surprise appearance in the same episode. "Pero yun nga, like sabi ni Coach E, mare-regret ko yun kung hindi ako bumalik." Robredo was coming off her rookie year as CSR, but was already done with her premed course by then. Meaning, med school proper was already awaiting her. Years later, though, the 26-year-old now studying for the board exams has no regrets about her decision. "Lalo na nga nag-champion pa sila. Sobrang saya nila, very light ang atmosphere that season. Not only light, pero kahit hindi sila kina-count na isa sa mananalo, sobrang tatapang nila," she shared. She then continued, "Kaya towards the end of the season, alam mong may chance kasi go lang sila. Sobrang inspiring to be in their presence kaya masaya naman akong naging part ako nun kunwari kahit 'di naman ako naglaro." And for the UAAP 77 champions, they would not have wanted another CSR to be standing alongside them as they made history. As Coach E put it, "Well, sa akin, personally talaga, when you talk about NU Season 77, hindi mawawala si Trish." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2020

Fil-Am UFC veteran Mark Muñoz shares his thoughts on the state of Filipino MMA

Apart from basketball and, as of recent years, volleyball, combat sports like boxing and mixed martial arts have been quite popular among Filipino sports fans.  A lot of credit for that goes to the likes of eight-division boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao, four-division boxing champion Nonito Donaire Jr., Donnie Nietes, and those who came before them like Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, Pancho Villa, and Gerry Peñalosa, all of whom made it big on the world stage.  In recent years, a number of Filipinos are have also made a name for themselves in the global mixed martial arts arena, and one of the early big stars was none other than former UFC veteran Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Muñoz.  From 2009 to 2015, Muñoz was one of the UFC’s top middleweight contenders and proudly carried the Filipino flag with him each time he stepped inside the Octagon.  In May of 2015, on the UFC’s inaugural fight card in Manila, Muñoz retired in front of his kababayans after a unanimous decision win over Luke Barnatt.  (READ ALSO: Filipino-American MMA star Mark Muñoz recalls retirement bout in Manila) Muñoz’s run in the UFC came at a time when the North American promotion was easily accessible to fans in the Philippines, and he became a household name in terms of Filipino MMA.  Now, five years after Muñoz’s retirement, MMA in the Philippines has never been more popular, thanks in large part to promotions like the Asia-based ONE Championship, which holds around four events in Manila every year, and of course, the URCC, the Philippines’ first-ever MMA promotion.  Today, homegrown Filipino talents like Eduard Folayang, Joshua Pacio, Kevin Belingon, Denice Zamboanga, Chris Hoffman, an many others have also gotten their time to shine on the world stage, and Muñoz believes that it’s because Filipinos are natural fighters.  “I just feel Filipinos in general have that combat mentality. That’s already inside of them,” Muñoz said on The Hitlist vodcast. “I feel that Filipinos, from the days that we have to get our independence from the Spanish, Jose Rizal, he’s a hero in the nation, it’s just embedded in our culture, in our blood, so I just feel like Filipinos in general would be amazing fighters.” Munoz made special mention of guys like former ONE world champions Folayang and Belingon, as well as URCC champions Hoffman, and Ernesto Montilla Jr.  “I mean you just look at the…Filipinos now, it’s growing and getting better. I’ve been following Eduard Folayang. He’s an amazing representative of the Philippines, Kevin Belingon, he’s the man. I think there’s another one that was on the card when I fought, Mark Eddiva is good. I know I’m leaving out a lot of fighters, there’s Ernesto Montilla Jr., when I was there in training, a guy caught my eyes, Chris Hoffman trained with me and helped me out. I know he’s doing big things in the Philippines. I think he’s URCC champion.”  “There’s a lot of good fighters in the Philippines. I know I’m leaving out a lot and I don’t want to do that but there’s a lot of good talents in the Philippines and I wanna come, I wanna be there and help them in wrestling, in MMA wresting, in ground and pound, in everything that was my specialty in MMA,” he added.  While Filipinos have indeed excelled in mixed martial arts, one aspect continues to be perceived as the Filipino fighter’s weakness is the ground game, whether it be wrestling or grappling.  (READ ALSO: Mark Muñoz not ruling out MMA return) Today’s young stars, guys like Team Lakay’s Pacio and Danny Kingad have displayed some exceptional grappling in their past performances, but Muñoz, a former collegiate wrestler and current wrestling coach, made a living off taking guys down and keeping them grounded.  “I think the common thing that everyone says with MMA is wrestling. Wrestling is the ultimate neutralizer. If you don’t have a good understanding of wrestling, you’re gonna have a really hard time becoming one of the, being ranked in the world or even be a champion,” Muñoz explained. “If you look at all the champions now, or the ones that are ranked in the world. A lot of them have background in wrestling. I feel that that’s something that the Philippines needs.” Muñoz has always said that one of the things he would most like to do is to help develop wrestling in the Philippines and hopes to one day be able to finally fulfill that mission.  “I’m the guy to do that for them. I need to make sure I spend time in the Philippines to be able to help that,” he continued......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 19th, 2020

How Pinoy athletes kept winning during the lockdown

Sporting events may be suspended or canceled, but that won't stop your favorite Filipino athletes from inspiring or entertaining people as they spend their extra time off doing worthwhile activities during the lockdown period. From reaching out to affected communities to learning a new skill, here are what your idols are up to during the community quarantine. 1)  Proudly serving the nation as frontliners Some athletes have taken their in-game dedication off the court, as they proudly serve the country as frontliners during the COVID-19 pandemic. MPBL players such as Bacoor City's Eric Acuña and Bacolod-Master Sardines' Jopher Custodio are currently heeding the call as frontliners for the Philippine Army, as well as their fellow soldiers UST women’s volleyball coach Kung Fu Reyes and volleyball star Jovelyn Gonzaga. Pasay Voyager's Dhon Reverente also suited up for the Philippine Navy while his teammate Jesse Bustos is serving in the frontlines in another way, using his camera as a photojournalist for a daily newspaper.  2)  Raising funds and holding donation drives Your beloved players continue to exemplify teamwork in these challenging times as they help the dedicated frontliners and affected households in different parts of the country. UST student-athletes joined former Golden Tigresses star Sisi Rondina in auctioning their jerseys for a cause to donate supplies to the frontliners of Barangay Luz in Cebu City. Meanwhile, volleyball legends Alyssa Valdez and Charo Soriano led a fundraiser called "Volleyball Community Gives Back PH," which aims to supply frontliners in the country with PPEs and other essentials—with celebrities like Kathryn Bernardo and Pia Wurtzbach joining their cause. Former DLSU Lady Spikers standout and Creamline utility spiker Michele Gumabao also provided relief packs and gave them personally to the affected communities in Pampanga with the help of the group Your 200 Pesos. 3)  No days off for training and getting the gains Leagues and competitions may have been put on hold, but athletes won't be stopped from keeping themselves in tiptop shape. Observing quarantine, ONE Championship's heavyweight champion Brandon Vera took his workout to the forest, preparing for his upcoming bout against Arjan Bhullar, while Team Lakay fighters, such as Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, and Joshua Pacio improvised household materials as gym equipment. National athletes, such as karateka Junna Tsukii, wushu artist Agatha Wong, and Olympic medalist Hidilyn Diaz, did rigorous training sessions at home to keep themselves in form for upcoming tournaments. High-flyer Ricci Rivero also taught his fans some basic dribbling drills to improve basketball handles—as seen in an episode of "Upfront" on LIGA cable sports channel. 4) Unlocking new skills and focusing on fave hobbies Your fave sports idols also overcame boredom by learning new skills and focusing on their favorite hobbies. For instance, DLSU Green Archers guard Aljun Melecio learned to cook scrumptious lechon while taking a time-out from the hardwood. UAAP volleyball champion and national team player Rex Intal also reminded us that he is a dedicated painter with his mixed portrait of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, channeling his passion for sports and art into one. And did you know that top local setter Jia Morado is a talented photographer? Check out her Instagram and be amazed by her works. 5)  Taking their talents to TikTok Athletes joined the trending TikTok craze as a source of entertainment during the lockdown. Former UAAP stars Kim Kianna Dy and Jema Galanza posted their dance covers of Young Thug's "Relationship," and Deanna Wong took on "The Weekend" dance challenge. UST Golden Tigresses' rookie Imee Fernandez also wowed the TikTok crowd with a pre-workout dance video, which garnered over 600,000 views online. For Ateneo Blue Eagles guard SJ Belangel, TikTok has also been his avenue to overcome his shyness, doing hilarious skits online.   6)  Becoming stars online No live sports to entertain the audiences? It's not a problem for these athletes who continue to provide fun content to every sports fan, with the help of ABS-CBN Sports. Catch Shaun Ildefonso as he does an entertaining commentary about everything sports on "SRSLY." Also watch Cherry Nunag’s wacky chikahan with famous athletes in "Kalye Confessions: Stay-at-Home Edition." Lastly, the lockdown won't stop the basketball conversation as Beau Belga chats with your favorite hoop idols online, while still chowing down on their fave treats on "Extra Rice with Beau Belga." Watch all of these on ABS-CBN Sports' Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and YouTube channel. Also stay tuned for more new offerings from the sports arm of ABS-CBN.  These athletes have proven they are truly winners in and out of the court. While waiting for live sports to return, you can rewatch the best games of these athletes on LIGA (SD channel 86 and HD channel 183 on SKYCable) and game highlights and special features on ABS-CBN Sports' social media pages and official YouTube account. ABS-CBN Sports will continue its commitment to providing a variety of world-class, exciting, and inspiring content to every Pinoy sports fan. Visit sports.abs-cbn.com and follow @ABSCBNSports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For updates, you may also visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom or follow @ABSCBNPR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

When We Were Volleyball Queens (Part 2)

(This story was originally published back in March 24, 2015) Back in 1993 the Philippine national team defied the odds by toppling the region’s women’s volleyball giant Thailand. Rosemarie Prochina, part of the national team sent to the 17th Southeast Asian Games, continues with her story of the things that transpired during the last shining moment of our Filipina athletes in the sport.    Buy gold? No, we’ll win them   Prochina revealed that they had an extra motivation in the championship match against Thailand after an incident involving her teammate Bernadeth Burcelis. A Thai tried to get into their heads. A warning shot of psychological warfare, perhaps an attempt to bully the Filipinas out of their wits.      “Actually yung team manager nila kinantyawan kami nu’ng mag-shopping kami,” Prochina said. “Sinabihan niya si Burcelis, sabi niya “Oh you buy many, many golds now because tomorrow you will only get silver.” The Filipina didn’t talk back, she and the national team simply let their game do the talking.      “Yun ang sabi niya. So kami parang di naman din niya sinabi sa amin (kaagad), pero sa kanya (Burcelis) OK lang yun. Basta maglaro lang kami,” Prochina said. During the game, Prochina said that everybody was doing their part even those sitting on the bench. “Yun ang maganda sa team namin na kahit na kaming nasa bench, di ako first six kasi,” she admitted. “Kaming nasa bench kahit parang di kami makakalaro nandoon kami sa bench nagpi-pray, lahat todo support. Tapos kapag may timeout, magma-massage kami sa mga teammates namin.” Zenaida Ybanez also won the Best Spiker and Most Valuable Player award while Leonora Escolante was named Best Setter.  For Prochina their feat showed the never-say-die spirit of the Filipinas. “So yun very (inspiring) ang pagkapanalo dun kasi underdogs kami,” she said.    Coach Tai, the lover boy?  SEA Games is not just about athletes trying to outplay their opponents for a podium spot. The biennial meet is organized for the purpose of developing friendship and camaraderie among nations. And some tried to take this fellowship into another level. Prochina gave away a secret that involves a name that is very famous in the volleyball circle today. Ateneo de Manila coach Tai Bundit did capture the hearts of local fans with his charm and heart strong mantra proven by the Lady Eagles’ back-to-back UAAP crown but 22 years ago the Thai had an early encounter with the Filipinos – and we are not talking about how he and his team demolished the PHI men’s squad. It was about something romantic. “Yung coach nila (Ateneo) magkasabayan kami sa national team,” said Prochina, who’s an Ateneo fan herself. “Yung coach nila na si Tai nagpang-abot kami.” The Thai women’s team looked at the Filipinas with fire in their eyes, but not Bundit as he glowed with sparks of stars and moonshine while focused on a Pinay whose name gives happiness to his heart.   Yes, before Bundit danced his signature ‘kitiki-Tai’ moves, he tried to tango.            “Kami yang (magkakasabayan) noong nanliligaw-ligaw pa yan sa teammate ko, si Joy Degoroztisa,” Prochina said in a chuckle. “Ewan ko kung nagkasagutan sila, huh!” she continued. “Naku baka (mapagalitan ako ni Joy) kasi nanligaw siya (Bundit) dun. Si Joy nasa Kuwait na siya ngayon.” Asked for more juicy details, Prochina said that her memory is a bit sketchy about the whirlwind romance.   “Actually, di ko masyado (nasubaybayan na yung nangyari) kasi nga yung laro di ba ilang weeks lang yun tapos hindi ko na alam kung anong nangyari,” Prochina added. And she really has no idea if Bundit got one through the block or totally got shut down. Bundit is now happily married while Degoroztisa is based in Kuwait.   “Masakit para sa amin”  After the team brought home the mint, the Pinays failed to win it all in the next SEAG editions paving way for Thailand’s domination in the region.  The Thais got their revenge on their turf in 1995 against the Filipinas in the finals. Again winning another gold after two years at the expense of PHI, who had bronze finishes in 2001, 2003 and in 2005 edition held in Manila.  Sadly, in the next four SEA Games no women’s team were fielded and the Pinays were overtaken by in terms of competitiveness by Vietnam and Indonesia.     “Masakit para sa amin kasi hanggang ngayon hindi pa rin na-break,” a regretful Prochina said. “Nag-20 years na hindi pa rin na-break yung record, nag-post ako sa FB sabi ko “Happy 20th year sa pagka-gold naming”, ganyan, pero napakasakit kasi wala pang pumalit,” she added. “Hindi ka-proud na kayo lang kasi siyempre parang anong nangyari sa programa ng volleyball sa Pilipinas?” A degradation of the sport she painfully watched. “Yung 1995 malakas pa rin yun kahit nawala na yung iba,” she said. “Maraming mga matatangkad gaya nina Cherry Rivera Macatangay, Roxanne Pimentel, si Joy Degoroztisa, Estrella Tan Enriquez na nag-convert na lang sa basketball kasi nawala na nga yung (volleyball program).”   New beginning  The dream of standing taller than Thailand may still be years away, but Prochina is happy that there is a rebirth of volleyball in the country. With the sport having an avenue outside of collegiate leagues with the Shakey’s V-League and Philippine Superliga and the interest of the nation to volleyball taking its roots again, the future looks bright. “Yung volleyball sa atin paangat na talaga saka sobrang happy kaming mga older players na nakikitang ganoon na ang progress ng volleyball sa Pilipinas,” she said. It’s a fact that we are not at par in skills and development wise with the Thais – a solid proof of it is having their players fielded as imports to raise the level of competition in our local leagues – but Prochina is glad that we are now taking small steps.      “Kasi lumayo na ang Thailand e, lumayo ng milya-milya and nawala tayo. Pero kaya yang (mahabol) wala namang imposible,” she said. “Pero mas malalaki nga tayo actually. Ang players natin may 6-foot-5, may mga ganoon. Yung mga players natin malalaki. “Sa atin lang siguro yung continuity ng training, at ng support.” Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas, Inc. as part of their volleyball program has formed an Under-23 men’s and women’s team that will compete in the Asian age group championships on May. After skipping volleyball events in four SEAG editions, the PHI will field both men’s and women’s teams for the meet in Singapore on June.            Promise of tomorrow          Prochina believes that PHI volleyball has a bright future and a repeat of their feat two decades ago is not far away.  “Of course. Malalaki and mas may advantage ang mga bata ngayon kasi sila yung skills at techniques nila meron na. Yung sa katawan, sa bilis, sa talon, meron,” she said. “Kami noon dinevelop pa. Ako personally dinevelop ako, kung hindi dahil sa coaches ko na sina coach Kid Santos and coach Emil Lontoc, na naniwala sa akin na gagaling ako at aabot ako sa level na ganoon, hindi ako tutuloy,” Prochina added. “Hindi katulad ngayon sobrang andami nating players na malalakas.” She is also overwhelmed by the fan base this generation of players built. “Marami talaga ngayon. Pero noong 2005 na naglaro kami ng V-League (for PSC (Lady Legends) nakakatawa lang noon na mayroong mga nagdadala (ng mga gamit) na mayroong mga signature naming na mga lumang players. Sinasabi nila na “Ay fan kami sa inyo.” Kami naman “Ay talaga, mayroon pala kaming mga fans,”” she said. “Mas malaki na (ang fanbase) kasi sa social media, alam na ng lahat ng tao ang nangyayari sa volleyball.”    Comparison Prochina picked Ateneo when asked if what team in her opinion mirrors the character of the 1993 team. “Kasi sila nag-start sila from scratch e. Tapos yung mga bata alam mong obedient sila sa nakikita mo sa laro. Hindi ko naman sinasabi na hindi obedient yun ibang teams ha,” she justified. “Pero kasi yung Ateneo galing talaga sila sa baba.” She also cited that long before Ateneo practiced meditation before and during games, they were already doing it as part of their routine. “Yes matagal na. Kasi nung nakita ko sila (Ateneo in meditation) sabi ko “Ah Ok. Kasi nag-coach din ako ng mga five years ago (in University of Asia and the Pacific) yun din ang itinuturo ko sa mga players na malaking bagay yung meditation,” she said. “Kasi sa SMAP (Sports Medicine Association of the Philippines) dati sa PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) sila ang nag-handle sa amin na nilagay kami sa isang room (for meditation),” Prochina added. “Tinantanong pa nga namin ang isa’t isa kung nakakatulong. Nakakatulong talaga siya tapos tinuruan nila kami na bago matulog, ayun, dapat may relaxation technique kami. Na dapat relaxed, alisin ang tension sa katawan tapos isipin mo na kinabukasan madali lang yung game. Yun talaga, malaking bagay siya." Just like Ateneo, they enjoyed every game. They are the original happy team. “Oo. Kasi yang si coach Emil Lontoc ang sinasabi niyan kapag maglalaro na kami “tiwala sa sarili at mag-enjoy sa game.” Yun yung sinasabi nila kapag magi-game kami. Kasi kung hindi ka naman magi-enjoy the game wala na, ano yun? E volleyball ito,” she said. And she agrees that Ateneo’s Alyssa Valdez is the new face of volleyball in the country – the phenom that was yet to be born a few days after they bagged the SEAG gold.  “Of course, siya talaga. Kahit asawa ko idol siya. Humble yung bata, bilib ako sa bata,” Prochina explained. “Nakikita ko yung eagerness niya. ‘Yung kapag umatras siya na papatay siya ng bola, makikita mo talaga yung killer’s instinct niya. Kapag naglaro na 100% talaga siya.” For Prochina, Valdez is Barina-Rojas of her time -- a sign of hope.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles          .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2020

Valverde questioned after another late collapse by Barcelona

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona had once again played great, led through goals by Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, yet still managed to let it slip away. Barcelona squandered one of its best performances of the season by conceding two late goals to Atlético Madrid, falling 3-2 in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. Messi equalized after Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion scored for Atletico, and Griezmann put Barcelona deservedly ahead 2-1. But the goalkeeping of Jan Oblak, Atlético's star this season, kept Barcelona out for the rest of the way while Álvaro Morata leveled with a penalty kick in the 82nd minute and Ángel Correa completed the dramatic turnaround in the 86th. For Barcelona, the chance to add a minor trophy from a mini-tournament played thousands of miles away is not the main worry. The concern is Barcelona’s odd knack of losing control of games that look like a sure victory. Whether it's a question of overconfidence, a lack of fitness or just momentary lapses that cost the team dearly, the pressure is on coach Ernesto Valverde. Messi and other team leaders defended Valverde, whose very good overall record at Barcelona has been blemished by shocking defeats. “It’s normal that when you lose and don’t reach your objectives, and when our fans see that the team is not playing like they would like, that people talk and say things,” Messi said. “We have to be more united than ever, remain a strong group and get through this. “This year we will try to play like we did today (before the late goals) and not commit childish errors like those we committed.” But that didn’t stop the Spanish sports media reporting that Barcelona club officials met with midfield great Xavi Hernández to probe him as a possible replacement for Valverde either now or next season. Xavi left Barcelona in 2015, following 17 trophy-laden seasons, for Qatari club Al-Sadd, where he coaches. The speculation that he could soon be returning home led to Al-Sadd saying no move was imminent. “The issue of Xavi going to Barcelona is normal and expected because he will be at his club and it’s his first home and he must return there in the future, but as of today, Xavi is the coach of Al-Sadd.” Al-Sadd general manager Turki Al-Ali said in a statement on the club website. “Xavi and his team are focusing on tomorrow’s match against Al-Rayyan, and we know that a club with the size and professionalism of Barcelona will take to official channels to speak of such matters,” Al-Ali said. Barcelona’s loss at the King Abdullah Sports City on Thursday came five days after it conceded an 88th-minute equalizer at Espanyol in the Spanish league. The late goal by Wu Lei also came on a desperate counterattack similar to both of Atlético's late attacks that led to goals, when Barcelona’s backline was out of sync and let a pass through to a player with only goalkeeper Neto to beat. Wu’s goal ruined a superb match by Luis Suárez, who had scored with a fine touch and made a difficult pass for an assist. Suárez also backed Valverde on Thursday by taking the blame for the stumble against Atlético. “This loss shows we have room to improve,” the Uruguay striker said. “It shows us that there are mistakes that we can’t make because we were in charge of the game and we let them mount counterattacks … but the coach is not at fault. They were mistakes that we made.” Barcelona has drawn three of its last four league matches, but still lead the competition on goal difference ahead of Real Madrid. The team was leading before finishing 2-2 at Real Sociedad last month; lost 3-1 at Levante after Messi had put them ahead in November; and gave up a goal in the 81st in a 2-2 draw at Osasuna in August. Those setbacks would not be as worrisome for Barcelona if the team had not completely collapsed in the Champions League in recent seasons, most recently a humiliating 4-0 loss at Liverpool after winning the first leg of the semifinals 3-0. Valverde’s job was then in even more jeopardy at the end of last season after Barcelona lost the Copa del Rey final to Valencia, casting a shadow of doubt over the Spanish league champions. Club president Josep Bartomeu, however, has stuck by the former player who is known for his intelligence and unflappable attitude. Valverde is in his third season at Barcelona. He has won back-to-back Spanish league titles and one Copa del Rey final. A European Cup has eluded him. Valverde said he was used to the criticism as part of a job that was never secure. “We coaches always work with the idea of giving it our all to each match,” Valverde said. “We know how soccer is and that there is a permanent instability in teams when you are not getting good results or when you lose. Now that we have lost I suppose people will talk about it, but I remain focused on my job.” Valverde’s next job is to prepare for the visit of Granada on Jan. 19. In the meantime, Atlético will face crosstown rival Real Madrid in the Super Cup final on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 11th, 2020

ABS-CBN S+A’S “THE SCORE” LOOKS BACK ON THE BEST OF 2019 IN PH SPORTS

ABS-CBN S+A wraps up a milestone year for Philippine sports with a two-part special of “The Score,” featuring champion athletes in basketball and volleyball, and medalists from the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG). Joining veteran sports anchor Mico Halili on December 30 (Monday) to discuss the year in basketball are kings of the hardcourt Fran Yu and Jerrick Balanza from the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball champion Letran Knights and John Wilson and Mike Ayonayon of MPBL Datu Cup champion San Juan Knights, and Southeast Asia women’s basketball queens Afril Bernardino and Janine Pontejos. Afril and Janine helped make 2019 one for the books for Philippine women’s basketball as members of the teams that clinched the gold medals in SEAG women’s basketball and women’s 3x3. Other SEAG heroes and heroines will also be part of the program as Mico shifts the discussion to Team Philippines’ 387-medal haul in the region’s biennial sporting event. To share their thoughts on the Filipinos’ historic feat are CJ Concepcion (Fencing), Carlo Peña (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), Kim Kilgroe (Triathlon), Jasmine Alkhaldi (Swimming), Christiana Means (Skateboarding), and Meggie Ochoa (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). On December 31 (Tuesday), former volleyball superstar and now multisport athlete and “Umagang Kay Ganda” anchor Gretchen Ho takes over the special to focus on the sensational year for Philippine volleyball. Premier Volleyball League (PVL) 2019 Open Conference champions Creamline Cool Smashers will be represented by national athletes Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado with teammates Jema Galanza and Kyla Atienza, while 2019 Reinforced Conference champions Petro Gazz Angels will be represented by Cherry Nunag, Jonah Sabete, and Chie Saet. Joining them in the roundtable are UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball champion Ateneo Lady Eagles’ setter Deanna Wong and middle blocker Maddie Madayag, who also represented the country in the SEAG. As in previous years, ABS-CBN Sports has been delivering the inspiring stories of Filipino athletes through its coverage of tournaments in various local and international leagues on multiple media platforms including S+A on TV, S+A HD, LIGA, and LIGA HD on cable, and online on iWant, sports.abs-cbn.com, and the ABS-CBN Sports social media accounts and YouTube channel. In 2020, the sports arm of the country’s leading media and entertainment conglomerate will continue to highlight the greatness and positive values of Filipino sports idols and icons. Don’t miss “The Score: Best of 2019” two-part special on December 30 and 31, 6 pm on ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD. Watch online on iWant. For sports news, follow @ABSCBNSports on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2019

2019 SEA Games kicks off with memorable welcome festivities

The Philippines welcomed the athletes, officials and delegates from the participating countries in the 30th Southeast Asian Games with a festive atmosphere during the lavish opening ceremony Saturday. A world-class presentation featuring the Filipino culture and heritage with performances from the country’s most talented performers highlighted the event inside the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena to officially kickoff the region’s biennial sports meet. Flag-bearers Margielyn Didal, Meggie Ochoa, EJ Obiena, Eumir Felix Marcial and Kiyomi Watanabe led Team Philippines during the traditional parade of participating athletes while Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach served as muse of the host nation. President Rodrigo Duterte officially declared the SEA Games open. House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who is also the head of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, said in his speech that, ‘In  Southeast Asian we are passionate, we are ready to make sacrifices, we are disciplined, we are believers of teamwork and we firmly believe that everyone deserves our respect.” Lani Misalucha led the singing of the Philippine national anthem followed by a five-part production number with performances from musical artists like Apl.de.Ap, Aicelle Santos, Robert Sena, Christian Bautista, KZ Tandingan, Elmo Magalona, Inigo Pascual, the TNT Boys and Ana Fegi. The Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group's performance ranged from traditional and cultural dances of the Philippines to modern Filipino pop culture.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2019

SEA Games: Opening ceremonies live on ABS-CBN Channel 2, livestream

A spectacle of colors showcasing the Filipino culture and heritage with performances from the country’s most talented entertainers highlight the opening ceremonies of the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Saturday at the Philippine Arena. Athletes, sports officials and dignitaries from the 11 member nations will gather in a night of festivities that will officially kickoff the hostilities in the biennial sports meet. The opening ceremonies will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will air live on ABS-CBN Channel 2, iWant and via livestream. Delayed broadcast will be available on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183. President Rodrigo Duterte will officially declare the Games open   Lani  Misalucha will lead the singing of the Philippine national anthem. A five-part production number will follow in the opening extravaganza, while musical artists like Apl.de.ap, Aicelle Santos, Robert Sena, Jed Madela, Christian Bautista, KZ Tandingan, Elmo Magalona, Inigo Pascual, Ana Fegi and the TNT Boy will be performing in the one and a half hour program. The Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group will perform a range of dances from traditional to modern hip-hop. Leading Team Philippines in the traditional parade of athletes are flag-bearers Margielyn Didal, Meggie Ochoa, EJ Obiena, Eumir Felix Marcial and Kiyomi Watanabe while Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach will serve as muse of the host nation. Senator and boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao will carry the torch for the momentous lighting of the cauldron some 90 kilometers away from the 55,000-seater indoor arena.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2019

Unforgettable UAAP Final Four Moments

A Final Four in any of the UAAP seasons in the last 26 years has always been memorable and epic. Since Season 56, the format has intensified the competitiveness in the league, as it has since given four teams the chance at a championship, instead of just two teams in the 55 seasons prior. Here we witnessed dramatic, climactic face-offs between the first and fourth placers, and the second and third placers, with the top two teams enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage. This is to determine who will slug it out in the Finals. Yet there are rare instances when a school tops the eliminations unscathed, just like this year’s mighty Ateneo Blue Eagles, who advanced to the Finals outright after sweeping the round. In this case, a stepladder Final Four is implemented wherein the third and fourth battle each other in a do-or-die match before facing the second placer, which has a twice-to-beat advantage. And yes, these teams have made their playoff wars exciting and spectacular with a level of play that is truly exceptional. Here are some of the most powerful, controversial, heroic, and reverberating moments in the UAAP Final Four that have been forever etched in our minds:   1) UP enters Finals for first time in 32 years in Season 81 In their first Final Four appearance in 21 years, the UP Fighting Maroons had the utmost desire to make history once more with the battlecry “Atin ‘To,” captain Paul Desiderio’s famous call to arms.  And, in Season 81, barreling into the semifinals was already a gigantic feat, having been in the cellar for quite a while in the UAAP.  But they wanted more, and facing a championship-ready Adamson Soaring Falcons was an immense challenge with its lean and mean arsenal, given how the San Marcelino cagers had waylaid the competition in the eliminations, including the defending champions Ateneo. But they were unfazed with Adamson’s twice-to-beat advantage, and in Game 1, they would beat the odds, as the Fighting Maroons and the Soaring Falcons ended up tied at 71-all with three seconds to go. As Juan Gomez de Liano was inbounding, he found an open Bright Akhuetie near the basket to convert the game-winner for UP to arrange a winner-take-all.  And in the decider, it was again a tedious trek for both teams, with the game tied for the last time at 87-all in overtime. Then, the fiery captain will again own it for the Fighting Maroons as he swooshed a jumper off Adamson’s Sean Maganti with 6.6 seconds left. With Falcon guard Jeron Lastimosa missing a three off a timeout as time ran out led to utter euphoria in the Maroon-dominated Araneta Coliseum, spilling out to the numerous UP campuses across the nation, as the Fighting Maroons entered the Finals for the first time in 32 years. They would be denied a repeat of their 1986 title run however by the back-to-back champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, which won the Finals convincingly.   2) Blue Eagle Gec Chia’s miracle “shot” in Season 65 Season 65 was certainly the most unforgettable for the Ateneo Blue Eagles as it achieved a flurry of milestones. Already with a well-developed line-up and the immense motivation to win it all, after their previous heartbreaking campaigns, the Eagles had beaten the league-leading and four-peat-hunting DLSU Green Archers in the last game of the eliminations, denying them a sweep and an outright finals berth. And in third place at the end of the elims, the Eagles would face another formidable squad, the James Yap and Paul Artadi-enforced second-placers UE Red Warriors. After staging a stunning upset in the first game of their Final Four match-up, 84-78, Ateneo again engaged UE in a close, hard fought decider and both teams were tied at 70-all with 7.8 seconds left.  With LA Tenorio trapped in the offensive play, he would kick the ball out to the gutsy marksman Gec Chia, who would rise to the occasion and soar over a phalanx of defenders to make that miracle “Shot” heard everywhere as time expired. That unforgettable shot pushed the Eagles into that climactic end to a 14-year title drought in the Finals by that Herculean drubbing of La Salle.   3) FEU’s Mac Belo buries last-second corner three against La Salle in Season 77 On October 1, 2014, the defending champions DLSU Green Archers threatened the second placers FEU Tamaraws, with a menacing win in their first match in the Final Four of Season 77, nearing to book another trip to the Finals. In Game Two, with 24 ticks remaining, the Tamaraws used up the remaining seconds with the intent of taking the last shot.  FEU point guard Mike Tolomia then barreled his way through the paint, drawing two La Salle defenders and leaving Mac Belo free at the corner. With a little over two seconds to go, Tolomia would hand the ball off to Belo for a catch-and-shoot beyond the arc at the right corner and buried the three as time expired, giving the Tamaraws a return trip to the Finals. They would, however, eventually lose to a gritty NU Bulldogs, which won their first title in 60 years.   4) FEU eliminates Ateneo with Mac Belo’s follow up buzzer beater in Season 78 In Season 78, the FEU Tamaraws would most certainly want another crack at the title, after losing to NU the previous year. And they were really scorching hot in the eliminations, ending up tied with the UST Growling Tigers at the top of the heap, but dropped to second place due to a lower quotient. In the Final Four, they would face the third placers Ateneo Blue Eagles with a twice-to-beat advantage. On November 21, 2015, the FEU and Ateneo were stuck in a really close game with Roger Pogoy waxing hot for the Tams, and Kiefer Ravena leading all departments for the Eagles. With ten seconds to go, Adrian Wong of Ateneo streaked for a layup after a Richard Escoto miss. Wong’s daredevil shot was deflected and the ball ended up in the hands of Mike Tolomia, who rushed back to the FEU side of the court for the final shot. He would make a gallant incursion with a near acrobatic layup with one second to go. And as the ball rimmed out, a well-positioned Mac Belo was below the basket for the quick, buzzer beating putback that once more sent the Tamaraws to the Finals. FEU would then claim their 20th title overall over the UST Growling Tigers in the Finals.   5) FEU's Miko Roldan hits game-winner against Ateneo in Season 63  Mac Belo breaking the hearts of Ateneans with that buzzer beater in Season 78 was like history repeating itself. Fifteen years earlier, the Tamaraws, led by Celino Cruz and Edwin Bacani, also engaged the Blue Eagles to a Final Four battle, with Ateneo having that twice-to-beat privilege.  Led by Rich Alvarez, LA Tenorio and Larry Fonacier, the Blue Eagles were really soaring to get that elusive title it last won in 1988. And in the first game in the Final Four, people were expecting the Blue Eagles to cruise past FEU, having beaten them twice in the elims.  But the Tamaraws really gave them a hell of a match. As Andrew Cruz flubbed two charities in the dying seconds that should have given the Blue Eagles a comfortable three-point lead, FEU gunner Miko Roldan sank a semi-hook shot at the buzzer in the ensuing play to break the hearts of Ateneans everywhere and extend the series, 61-60. In the decider, Cruz and Bacani would conspire for 39 points to complete a monster upset, 75-67, and reach the Finals. The defending champions DLSU Green Archers, led by the legendary Renren Ritualo, was just too much for the Tams in the Finals and copped their three-peat.   6) Fight-marred Ateneo-La Salle Final Four series in Season 66 Joseph Yeo was all over the court in a scoring binge while Rookie-of-the-Year JVee Casio showed a glimpse of being a clutch player as the DLSU Green Archers, the fourth seed, took their storied rivalry with defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, the top seed, to a tenacious, heated Final Four war. Heightened emotions were at play since Ateneo’s colossal Finals victory the previous season, and the animosity between the two ballclubs was at its fiercest and most intense. In Game 1, after La Salle’s Jerwin Gaco’s putback sent the game into overtime, the extended play’s physicality went to overdrive. With 1:31 left in overtime, Gaco bumped LA Tenorio in the battle for the loose ball. Tenorio would then sneak a punch at Gaco, who then nudged the Ateneo guard. This led to a bench-clearing brawl, as players punched, kicked and shoved each other while the coaches tried to break up the fight even as referees whistled repeatedly.  La Salle’s Ryan Arana kicked Ateneo’s Wesley Gonzales from behind and the league meted the Archer with a one-game suspension. Also suspended were Tenorio and fellow Blue Eagle Christian "Badjie" del Rosario. The Archers would prevail after the five-minute extension, 76-72. The decider was also as heated with on-court and off-court flare-ups and violent confrontations between players and supporters. Ateneo’s steady offense, however, prevailed in the final minute, as the Blue Eagles hung on to 74-68 victory, entering the Finals for the second straight year. FEU, however, would deny Ateneo a back-to-back run, winning the championship in two games.   7) UST trounces NU twice to become first fourth placer to eliminate the top-seed in a Final Four series in Season 76 The NU Bulldogs were on a roll, and 2013 seemed to be their year, with Bobby Ray Parks returning after back-to-back MVP seasons and leading them to reach the top of the standings at the end of eliminations. But they have their Achilles heel—the dribblers of Espana—who have exerted their mastery of the Bulldogs, winning twice in the elims. And bad news for the Bulldogs, they would meet the UST Growling Tigers, which ended at fourth place, in the Final Four.  In Game 1, a red-hot Kevin Ferrer would lead UST to its biggest margin of 18 within the match, but they needed to fend off NU’s late charge, 71-62, to force a rubber match. And in the winner-take-all, UST completed its mastery of top-ranked Bulldogs, again with a game-long dominance to end at 76-69, marking the first time a fourth seed would snatch a Finals berth from a first-placer in the league.   8) NU’s Alfred Aroga’s monster block on Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena in Season 77 After a frustrating loss to UST in the Season 76 Final Four, NU would get another crack at gaining that elusive Finals appearance. But in the next chapter of the semifinals, NU will hope for a Cinderella finish to gain that berth, trying to beat the top placers Ateneo Blue Eagles, just like what UST did to them in the previous year when they were the top-seed. Jay-Jay Alejandrino and Troy Rosario led NU’s surge in the fourth quarter of the first game to spoil Ateneo’s twice to beat to force a deciding game. In the rubber match, no clear advantage was evident in the majority of the game. But after NU’s Gelo Alolino broke a 63-all tie with two charities off a foul from Ateneo’s Nico Elorde, 65-63, Kiefer Ravena would try to send the game to overtime with a drive against several NU defenders with three seconds left.  He failed however after NU’s Alfred Aroga swatted his attempt as time expired—a monster block that brought NU to its first finals appearance in 44 years. The Bulldogs would then wallop the FEU Tamaraws in the Finals, 2-1, to clinch their first title in 60 years. 9) Coming out party of UE’s Paul Lee in Season 72 The UE Red Warriors had come off from a heartbreaking Finals loss to the DLSU Green Archers in Season 70 after sweeping the eliminations, and another hurtful exit the succeeding year with a Final Four defeat at the hands of the Ateneo Blue Eagles. The Red Warriors would then make another trip to the Final Four in Season 72, which was the coming out party of prolific scorer Paul Lee, as the league’s third best after the eliminations. UE would battle second placers FEU for the chance to enter the Finals once more after the Season 70 debacle. They extended the series after Lee led a late game spurt with three consecutive three-pointers in a devastating 18-5 run, he would end up with a game-high 26 points. In the rubber match, with UE trailing FEU in the first half, the Red Warriors would make an explosive comeback in the second half and would again rely on the dependable Lee and Pari Llagas for their late-game heroics. Llagas would lift UE up for good with two straight field goals, 72-70, while Lee showed nerves of steel as he sank four consecutive free throws at the end of the game, 78-72, to give UE their Finals ticket. UE, however, would bow to powerhouse Ateneo Blue Eagles in the Finals in three games.   10) UST’s Jojo Duncil completes winning three-point play that frustrated UE in Season 69 By this time, the UE Red Warriors were in their fifth straight Final Four appearance. And in Season 69, UE would land at second place after the eliminations behind Ateneo, relishing its twice-to-beat advantage.  In the Final Four, UE would face a determined UST Growling Tigers, who were seeking redemption after last winning the championship in 1996, the last year of their 90s four-peat dynasty. UST would eke out a hard-earned Game 1 victory, 79-75 victory over UE that led to a deciding Game 2. In this clincher, both UST and UE kept the match close.  And in the final quarter, with the score tied at 79-all in the dying seconds, Growling Tiger Jojo Duncil converted on a tip-in, and-1, after a previous miss and teammate Jervy Cruz’s failed putback. Duncil would then complete the three-point play to give the UST an 82-79 edge, a few seconds left. UE’s Marcy Arellano would drive unmolested for an easy two to cut the lead to a solitary point, 82-81, nearing the end of the game. After UST committed a turnover, the Red Warriors had the chance to drop the game-winner but UE’s Jorel Cañizares missed a medium-range jump shot and a follow-up. Teammate Robert Labagala would then grab the rebound, but time ran out on the Recto dribblers. UST entered the Finals and annexed its first UAAP title in 10 years over the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Will there be another unforgettable Final Four moment in this current Season 82? Catch the start of the stepladder Final Four hostilities with the do-or-die match between the UST Growling Tigers and the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday, November 6, for the right to meet the twice-to-beat second placers UP Fighting Maroons on Sunday, November 10......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2019

Nation of Champions energized for 30th SEA Games

Nation of Champions energized for 30th SEA Games.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 14th, 2019

Czechs stun England in Euro qualifying; France, Portugal win

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press It was a night of European soccer to forget for England, and one to remember for Andorra. England conceded a late goal against the Czech Republic on Friday and paid the price with its first defeat in a qualifying game in 10 years, while France and Portugal made progress in their bids for places at next year's European Championship. As for Andorra, it ended a 56-match losing streak. A goal five minutes from the end halted England's unbeaten streak in qualifying for a major competition with the Czechs beating Gareth Southgate's team 2-1. A victory in Prague would have secured a spot for England at the finals with three games to go. Instead, England squandered a one-goal lead and lost its first match in European or World Cup qualifying since falling to Ukraine in 2009. That loss came with England already qualified for the 2010 World Cup. Its last meaningful defeat in qualifying was against Croatia in 2007. "We didn't play well enough, simple as that," said Southgate. Captain Harry Kane gave England the lead in the fifth minute from the penalty spot. But Jakub Brabec leveled for the Czechs four minutes later and substitute Zdenek Ondrasek completed the comeback late with his first international goal. He scored with a low right-foot shot from inside the area. "I just wanted to hit the ball right and put it in the net," said Ondrasek, who plays for FC Dallas. "I saw tears in the eyes of my father probably for the first time in my life. It's a great win and great feeling." England had won all four of its previous games in Group A. It is tied atop the standings with the Czechs on 12 points but has one more game to play. Group strugglers Bulgaria and Montenegro drew 0-0. Top-ranked Belgium became the first team to qualify for next year's tournament on Thursday. The top two teams of each group advance automatically. The other four qualifiers will come through four tiers of playoffs in March. PORTUGAL ROLLS ON Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 94th goal for Portugal to help the defending European champions brush aside Luxembourg 3-0 in Lisbon. Ronaldo pounced on a bad pass near the area and chipped the goalkeeper in the 65th. Bernardo Silva put Portugal in control from the 16th. With Portugal 2-0 ahead, substitute Goncalo Guedes added a third goal. Ukraine kept its lead of Group B after midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi scored twice in a 2-0 victory over Lithuania. Unbeaten Ukraine has 16 points. Portugal has 11, ahead of Serbia with seven. Both Portugal and Serbia have one more game to play than Ukraine. Portugal plays at Ukraine on Monday. FRANCE ON PACE World champion France and Turkey both took big steps in qualifying with wins which consolidated their Group H lead. Olivier Giroud scored to help France earn a hard-fought 1-0 win at Iceland, while Turkey needed a 90th-minute goal from Cenk Tosun to push it past Albania 1-0 in Istanbul. Both France and Turkey have 18 points. Iceland, the revelation of Euro 2016, is in third place with 12 points and at risk of missing the 2020 edition. France hosts Turkey at Stade de France on Monday. Giroud converted a penalty in the 66th after a foul earned by Antoine Griezmann. Giroud set up Griezmann by heading down a long ball for his fellow forward, who was then fouled by Iceland's Ari Freyr Skulason. France midfielder N'Golo Kanté was ruled out of the match reportedly for a hamstring problem. It was game No. 200 for Didier Deschamps as player and now coach of France. He played 103 games for France and has directed 97 from the dugout. Steve Mandanda played in goal for France in place of Hugo Lloris, who is out with a broken elbow. FIRST WIN Andorra made history of its own in Group H with a 1-0 win over Moldova, the first time the tiny mountainous nation had avoided defeat in 57 European qualifiers. Midfielder Marc Vales headed in the Andorran goal in the 63rd after Moldova had been reduced to 10 men. Andorra, with fewer than 80,000 residents nestled in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, had lost all 56 of its previous games in European qualifying......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2019

England, Ronaldo keep up scoring form in Euro qualifying

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — England's scoring form was on display again in European Championships qualifying on Tuesday. So was Cristiano Ronaldo's. England made it four wins out of four in Group A with a 5-3 win over Kosovo and Ronaldo netted four goals in European champion Portugal's 5-1 away win at Lithuania. On a night of heavy scoring, it took the five-time Golden Ball winner's international tally to a whopping 93. Ronaldo might well hit the century mark before next year's tournament, considering Portugal still faces Lithuania at home and twice plays lowly Luxembourg. "I'm going through a good phase, but the team has been playing well too," Ronaldo said. "I'm enjoying this moment not only because of my goals, but also because of the team's performances in recent years. I just have to keep helping the team." Striker Harry Kane moved onto a more modest 26 for England, whose fans got a jolt when midfielder Valon Berisha put the visiting side ahead after just 35 seconds. They were soon reassured by Raheem Sterling's equalizer and Kane's latest goal for England, both inside the opening 20 minutes at St. Mary's Stadium in Southampton on a rare occasion England wasn't playing at Wembley Stadium. By halftime fans had been treated to five home goals, including 19-year-old winger Jadon Sancho scoring his first two for England. But the second half proved more inspiring for Kosovo's fans as they witnessed a mini-comeback, with Berisha enjoying a memorable night with a fine second goal curled into the top corner. Kane could have netted a brace, too, but saw his penalty saved by Arijanet Muric. World Cup winner France labored at times against a well-organized Andorra side in a 3-0 home win, with Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann missing a penalty for the second straight qualifier. After Kingsley Coman found a way through in the first half, center half Clément Lenglet and substitute Wissam Ben Yedder added goals after the break. DEFENSE IN QUESTION England's attack is purring with 19 goals in four games, but alarming questions will be asked of the defense. From a commanding position of 5-1 up, England leaked two goals after the break — one of those a penalty conceded by the expensively-acquired Manchester United center back Harry Maguire. Kosovo's opening goal was the result of a careless pass from defender Michael Keane. England still hasn't lost a qualifier for either the World Cup or European Championship in 10 years. But coach Gareth Southgate knows his defense has to eradicate such sloppy errors if his side wants to win Euro 2020. "The outstanding play was obvious," Southgate said, "and the errors were obvious." The Czech Republic overtook Kosovo to move into second place in Group A with nine points after a 3-0 win at Montenegro and hosts England on Oct. 11. RAMPAGING RONALDO Ronaldo scored from the penalty spot in the seventh minute, before Lithuania hit back through Vytautas Andriuskevicius' header. Portugal's second goal was given to Ronaldo before being changed to an own goal, and then given back to him on UEFA's website. The bizarre-looking 62nd-minute effort was a low shot from outside the area. It was saved by Lithuania goalkeeper Ernestas Setkus, before the ball bounced off the goalkeeper's back and went in. Three minutes later, Ronaldo tapped in from Bernardo Silva's pass, and the attacking midfielder set him up again in the 76th. William Carvalho completed the scoring in stoppage time against last-place Lithuania. Portugal is second in Group B with eight points and five behind Ukraine, which has 13 points having played one game more. Powerful striker Aleksandar Mitrovic netted twice as third-place Serbia won 3-1 away to Luxembourg. PENALTY FLOP Griezmann remains stuck on 29 international goals after hitting his spot kick too close to goalkeeper Josep Gomes in a one-sided first half where France largely struggled to turn possession into chances. Coman pounced in the 18th after latching onto Jonathan Ikone's pass behind the defense for his third goal in two France games. Griezmann's curling free kick from the left was headed in by Clément Lenglet soon after the break. Substitute Wissam Ben Yedder added the third during injury time, steering the ball in from close range after Nabil Fekir's free kick was spilled by Gomes. Turkey and France top Group H with 15 points and meet at Stade de France on Oct. 14. Striker Cenk Tosun netted twice in Turkey's 4-0 win at Moldova. Third-place Iceland slipped three points behind the top two after losing 4-2 away to Albania. Andorra has scored no goals and conceded 14 in six defeats......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 11th, 2019

Warriors injuries create opening with Finals in balance

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — From now until further notice, each game of the 2019 NBA Finals will be largely influenced not by a go-ahead basket or a big stop or a rally-induced comeback, but a hot-off-the-press medical update prior to tipoff. Is Klay Thompson's tweaky hamstring a go? Will this be the day Kevin Durant finally shakes that lingering calf strain and suits up? The hints and subtle signs seem to point toward the positive for Golden State. Thompson was a late scratch Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) because the Warriors -- with a mixture of confidence and arrogance and concern -- felt the guard missing Game 3 was perhaps best for his recovery without proving deadly in the long run. And as for Durant, he’s still “ramping up” his workouts, in the description of coach Steve Kerr, and so his status has been upgraded to "stay tuned." It has become must-watch after a 123-109 loss. Yet if the answer is negative to all of the above, the next entry on the medical report might be the grim health of the dynasty built by these two-time defending champions. Their still-under-construction monument now teeters, prone to a nudge from Toronto. The Warriors find themselves down 2-1 to the Raptors, lacking any guarantee they’ll see two of their three leading scorers back in the lineup Friday (Saturday, PHL time) for Game 4 ... or for however long this series lasts. Thompson joined Durant on the sideline, and the Raptors (as could be anticipated) pounced on the gift to seize control of the series. It was a game the Raptors had to win, and they did. The production came from multiple players, with Kyle Lowry finally making an imprint on this series and Danny Green rediscovering his long-lost three-point touch. Meanwhile, the Warriors consisted of Steph Curry and not much else. The two-time Kia MVP dazzled and fought through traps and triple-teams all night to drop a career-high 47 points, some of it on shot-making wizardry. But the short-handed Warriors were doomed when Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins in particular were underwhelming on a night they needed to be stellar for Golden State to have a chance. As a result, the atmosphere inside Oracle Arena was flatter than most of the shots taken by Curry's teammates, and this was partly due to the introduction of the starting lineups, when Thompson’s name wasn’t announced. The fans knew then, officially, that their eyes and the home team were in for a long night. While the Warriors fought, scrappy doesn’t win games at this point in the postseason, not when the other team is good and opportunistic. Playing in a hostile building for the first time in the Finals, the Raptors made a collective decision to greet fire with fire. Or, as they wrote on the blackboard inside the visitor’s locker room: Let It Rip. “I think we all kind of followed that advice,” said Danny Green. “We hadn’t really had a good team shooting night and I knew we were due.” For Toronto, it wasn’t just that they won, but that they did so with their most impressive outing in the series. And now, the question for the Raptors is this: Will their inconsistent players use this outing to turn the corner and push the Warriors, even if Thompson and/or Durant return? This is aimed, first and foremost, at Lowry. He took the “let it rip” plea personally. Entering this game, he had six baskets total in this series and at times suffered defensively. Challenged by a pregame talk from coach Nick Nurse, Lowry embraced his inner pit bull and was relentless all night. The All-Star point guard took 16 shots, making eight, for 23 points and nine assists while making his presence felt for the first time this Finals. “For me, it was just not being so passive and trying to get everyone else involved and get myself going and let everyone else feed off that,” Lowry said. He and Green re-introduced the three-pointer to the Raptors’ offense. The two shot 11-for-19 and repeatedly stole whatever momentum Golden State could generate by responding with long-distance daggers that forced fans to slump back into their seats. This from the same player who had five total three's in his previous five playoff games, ruining more than a handful of runs with momentum-deflating misses. There’s no other way to describe the last three weeks of Green’s postseason shooting but dreadful. He has only one job: Stand in the corner and shoot open 3s. He’s made a career of that. So what do the Raptors make of Green shooting 6-of-10 from deep Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)? In the short term, it helped win Game 3. In the big picture, will this confidence carry over from one night to another, or does it depend on whether Green hits his first few? Nurse said: “Danny’s buckets boosted our whole team’s confidence because we were used to relying on those most of the year.” With better production from players who had been mostly missing, the Raptors had the balance needed to deliver their highest-scoring and most efficient (52 percent shooting) contest of the series. Green and Lowry joined Kawhi Leonard (30 points) and Pascal Siakam (18) and Marc Gasol (17) to take turns pummeling the Warriors from all different directions and manners. One reason for this was Thompson’s absence. Not only is he a proven outside shooter, but his defense is top-notch as well. You could even argue that Thompson’s missing defense was just as costly as his jumper. Yet the 109 points Golden State did manage were mainly because of Curry providing nearly half the offense. Given the circumstances of being without Thompson and Durant, and the constant pressing by Toronto whenever he had the ball, this was Curry’s finest post-season effort. His shooting was superb all across the floor, making three's (six) and free throws (13-14) and in general (14-31). “It’s the Finals,” Curry said. “You give everything you’ve got, sacrifice your body when you have the opportunity. Just competitiveness and trying to play until the buzzer.” “He does things that honestly I don’t think anyone has done before," Kerr added. "The way he plays the game, the way he shoots and the combination of his ball-handling, it’s incredible to watch.” If only he had someone riding shotgun. Cousins was sloppy on both ends, with three turnovers and one basket, and a step slow on defense against Gasol. This came one game after he seemingly regained his legs and confidence to gave Golden State a much-needed lift. Green’s continued recklessness was mystifying; he often made questionable decisions as a playmaker, suffered four turnovers and once again struggled to contain Siakam. The Warriors needed Green’s best, given their missing parts, and received something less. “We’ve got to be more solid with the ball and it starts with me,” he said. “I’ve had a bunch of turnovers in every game of this series. I think if I played better with the night (Curry) had, we would have won.” And so the Warriors, while talking bravely about their next-man-up mentality and embracing their “Strength in Numbers” slogan, must realize, deep down, that preventing the Raptors from winning two more games with a handicapped team might be difficult, if not impossible. Keep in mind that Golden State hasn’t sparkled for four quarters since the first game of the Western Conference finals. The last three games of that series, and the first three of the NBA Finals, the Warriors trailed by double digits. Thompson has an off day and Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) pregame period for therapy on his hamstring, although such strains are unpredictable and tricky. Will he be able to cut and fight through screens and be bouncy for 35-plus minutes through the intensity of an NBA Finals game, or will the injury restrict him and cause Kerr to seek a healthier, yet less productive replacement? “The whole point was to not risk a bigger injury that would keep him out the rest of the series,” said Kerr, explaining a decision made in consultation with the team doctors. “I feel very comfortable with it. I never would have forgiven myself if I played him and he had gotten hurt. So you live with the decision you made. The good thing is Klay has done well the last two days; hopefully he’ll be out there Friday.” Then there’s Durant, who last played May 8 (May 9, PHL time). After doing nothing but individual drills the last few days, he’ll go through a more normal practice session that will be simulated with the help of some assistant coaches and bench players. They'll see how Durant holds up. But that won’t match the stress level of a real game. And even if Durant gets clearance for Game 4, he hasn’t played in roughly a month. What about his timing? His wind? His touch? His ability to bring the same energy on defense? All legit questions and concerns for the Warriors -- until they’re not, whenever that is. “No one cares if guys are hurt,” Green said. “Everyone wants to see us lose anyway. So I’m sure people are happy they’re hurt.” Chances are that basketball fans, even if they’re against the Warriors, want to see stars on the floor this time of year. That’s what the NBA Finals is always about: Premium players doing premium things, or failing to do so, and letting the championship odds rise or fall on their performances. This year’s Finals have been denied one star for every game, and an additional star for one game. The battle with star attrition finally cost the Warriors a postseason loss, and at the worst possible time. The flow of the remainder of the NBA Finals, then, could rest with aching tendons and muscles and the recovery powers of those who own them. “We’re missing 50 points with KD and Klay, but we’ll adjust,” said a confident Curry. “It’s a long series, you know. It’s going to be fun for us.” The next Warriors medical update will arrive Thursday afternoon (Friday, PHL time). And another one Friday (Saturday, PHL time) just prior to tipoff. All along, the Warriors have led everyone to believe that it’s only a matter of time before they’re fully healthy. But will it be in time? And even then, will it be enough against a Toronto team suddenly thinking big? Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

Five things we learned from Game 1 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 118-109 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of The Finals Thursday (Friday, PHL time) at Scotiabank Arena ... 1. So much for ‘glad to be here’ If we thought we had learned one thing about the Toronto Raptors when it comes to the NBA playoffs, it was this: They back their way into most series. Losing the opener was a tradition for this franchise -- they were 3-15 in Game 1s prior to Thursday (Friday, PHL time), dating back to their inaugural playoff run in 2000. Nothing shoves a team closer to elimination in a best-of-seven showdown than a lousy start. That’s why grabbing the opener against Golden State was so essential. Had the Raptors squandered their home-court advantage on the first night, we all would be assuming the worst for these Finals in competitive, stylistic and entertainment terms. Only by rocking the Warriors in Game 1 -- and most impressively, by refusing to cough up all of their 12-point lead in the second half -- could the Raptors generate legitimate excitement for Game 2 and beyond. Had we all been honest (and able to pull this off), we would have begun this series by spotting Toronto to a 1-0 lead -- just to handicap the defending champions and force them to show us something they haven’t in their four previous Finals trips. But such a move would have been demeaning, of course, to the Raptors. Instead, coach Nick Nurse and his affable newbies seized early control themselves. How Portland looked in the Western Conference finals, as if the Trail Blazers had maxed out and were just happy to still be involved? Toronto wanted none of that. It found a way to win when Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry were ordinary at best. And now we have a series worthy of the Larry O’Brien Trophy. 2. Triple-doubles continue to decline in value It’s fun as a game progresses to track stats, whether it’s Pascal Siakam’s absurd 11 consecutive field goals or Stephen Curry’s refusal to miss a free throw. We’re always aware of the leading scorer and his growing point total, particularly as it passes the big round numbers (30, 40, 50…). But Draymond Green’s latest triple-double was a reminder that the bar has been set too low for that stat from its inception. Green finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, which makes it a minimalist’s triple-double at best and more of a statistical fluke than an achievement. Ten assists? That’s strong any night. Ten rebounds? Solid, and necessary if no one else on your roster is claiming more than six. Ten points, though? Come on now. Green had a Jason Kidd triple-double, which isn’t mean to disparage the Hall of Fame point guard but speaks to Kidd’s limitations as a scorer for most of his career. Heck, the Warriors’ versatile forward had six turnovers, inspiring the bad “quadruple-double watch” that Kidd sparked on occasion. What Green didn’t do was put the ball through the net effectively, shooting 2-for-9 overall and 0-for-2 on three-pointers. Yes, his value to Golden State usually doesn’t rise or fall on his scoring, but he could have been more helpful in that area Thursday. When Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double in 1961-62 (and cumulatively did it over his first six NBA seasons), he was scoring 30 points per game. When Russell Westbrook matched what had been a rare feat two years ago, he too was up above 30 points nightly. But Westbrook has done it the past two seasons as well, with his scoring average dipping below 23 this season. That would seem to be near the minimum -- say, 20 points -- to gush over a player’s triple-double on a given night. We get it, double figures means 10 or more. But 10 points is no big deal at all in the NBA, so it seems silly to celebrate it when it’s the free rider on the triple-double quirk. 3. Don’t double-dawg dare an NBA player Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted after Game 1 that, by mistake more than by design, his team didn’t defensively do its job well in the early minutes against center Marc Gasol. “Gasol we left a couple times early in the game and didn't rotate, we just gave him a couple of dare shots and he knocked them down,” Kerr said. Daring is not defending, and the Warriors would be well-advised not to do that again to a player as proud and as accomplished as Gasol. He’s struggled at times as a shooter in these playoffs, shooting 34 percent in the Eastern Conference finals while going 2-for-9 on three-pointers in Games 1 and 2 of that series (both losses). It was embarrassing at times to see the affable 7'1" Spaniard miss shots badly, whether he felt that way or not. But Gasol was 10-for-20 on three-pointers entering The Finals, all during the Raptors’ four consecutive victories to eliminate the Bucks. He went 2-for-4 in Game 1 of The Finals, scoring a playoff-high 20 points to help compensate for Leonard’s and Lowry’s muted firepower. Asked about it afterward, on taking such a “dare” personally, the big man shrugged. “If you're open, you got to shoot them. Dare, no dare,” he said. “And then we go from there. If they go in, great. If not you keep taking them with confidence.” That’s speaking truth to a dare. 4. The ratings for Game 1 will soar… … if they can somehow count the number of times the Warriors and the Raptors watch and re-watch the video tape. A big theme heading into this series was the relative lack of familiarity the teams had with each other. Now, that’s a common aspect of The Finals, pitting the champs of opposite conferences and all. But given Golden State’s knowledge of the Cleveland Cavaliers after four consecutive Finals, Toronto is a relative stranger. Beyond that, key players from both sides were absent in the two regular-season meetings. But now they have a whole 48 minutes to dissect, digest and learn from. For the Warriors, who spoke about it the most, they saw things they might not have expected and things they definitely did not like. Such as? Try Siakam’s attacks on the basket (in transition and otherwise), their own inability to be the team that pushes pace and Fred VanVleet as the game’s essential reserve (15 points on a night when his three-point shot was MIA). Green, in particular, sounded as if he was going to binge-watch Siakam’s romp and figure a way to thwart the unorthodox flip shots the forward from Cameroon deployed. “He's become ‘a guy,’” Green said phrasing that as a nod of respect. “He put a lot of work into get there and I respect that. But like I said, I got to take him out of the series and that's on me.” Toronto can make use of the video for as long as the Warriors roster stays the way it is, which means sans Kevin Durant. Which leads into … 5. Who's here (and who isn't)? (And no, we don’t mean LeBron James.) Durant’s continued absence with a calf injury since Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals became an official problem in Game 1 of The Finals (the team’s first loss without him). Questions that had been bottled up for a couple weeks -- What did you miss most without Durant? How might he have changed your offense or defense? -- came spilling out from the large media crew that covers the NBA’s glamour team. Neither Kerr nor his players took the bait, which was smart. Not only would it look like excuse-making (considering how they hadn’t needed those before), it might have opened a crack of vulnerability into something wider and more troublesome. Durant is out for Game 2, but per a Yahoo Sports report is expected back at the series’ midway point (read: Game 3 or Game 4).  “KD's an all-time great player on both ends of the floor,” Curry said, “so I could sit here and talk for days about what he adds to our roster.  We obviously have proven that when he's out we can have guys step up, and that's going to be the case until he gets back.” Rushing him back would seem desperate, something the Warriors aren’t and shouldn’t be. Plus, it is early in a long series. And it really is irrelevant: NBA players and teams’ medical staffs don’t “rush back” anyone these days. Then again, once they’re ready to play -- as Golden State showed in using DeMarcus Cousins in Game 1 -- there’s no sense in letting talent help languish in street clothes. No time too, either. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 1st, 2019