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SUPER SHOWDOWN: 13 season sweep vs 20 perfect run of Bullpups

Not only has Nazareth School of National University gone undefeated through the tournament in UAAP Boys Basketball, it has actually done it twice in the last seven years. The Bullpups did it in 2013 as Jeff Napa guided and Hubert Cani led them in warding off all oncomers and winding up 16-0. Seven years later, head coach Goldwin Monteverde's well-oiled machine stamped its class on all its opponents en route to an unbeaten title defense. With that, the Sampaloc-based school can now boast of having, arguably, two of the top teams in high school history. Head-to-head, though, which squad's season sweep was more impressive? That, that is exactly what we will delve into in ABS-CBN Sports' Super Showdown. In grading the greatness of each team's perfect run, we will be judging them in five categories (frontcourt, backcourt, coaching, depth, and level of competition) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. FRONTCOURT Carl Tamayo is the best big man to come out of high school in recent history. The 6-foot-7 modern big man's averages of 11.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in the elimination round were ho-hum, but he unleashed his true self in the Finals where the posted a per game double-double of 19 markers and 18 boards. Put 6-foot-8 Kevin Quiambao and his norms of 12.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.4 blocks beside that and the '20 National U team had two of the most talented towers in all of the Jrs. division. Coach Jeff, a well-renowned big man whisperer, has his bigs prepared to the utmost in each and every game, but '13 Bullpups' JP Cauilan, Mark Dyke, and Kins Go are just no match for the power and potential of the Tamayo-Quiambao pairing. That gap more than made up for the inexperience of '20 National U's wings in Harold Alarcon, Reyland Torres, and Nat Tulabut when matched up opposite the battle-tested wiles of Enzo Battad and Chino Mosqueda from the '13 Bullpups. Advantage '20 Bullpups, 10-8 BACKCOURT Cani, without a doubt, underwhelmed in his college career, but there was always a reason why several squads were interested in him coming out of high school. Simply put, he was a true-blue-chip recruit and his 24.5-point, 7.0-assist, 4.0-rebound, and 2.0-steal averages when it mattered most made him nothing but worthy as Finals MVP. Make no mistake, Terrence Fortea and Gerry Abadiano are true-blue-chip recruits in their own right, but the '13 version of Cani was just on another level - a big guard who can make plays as well as take matters into his own hands. Backstop him with steady Philip Manalang and '13 National U trumps the '20 Bullpups guard rotation of Fortea, Abadiano, Ernest Felicilda, and Steve Nash Enriquez. Advantage '13 Bullpups, 10-9 COACHING Both Coach Jeff and Coach Gold are undisputed master-builders in high school. Napa transformed National U from a once-league doormat into a dynasty while Monteverde has been a winner anywhere and everywhere, be it Chiang Kai Shek College or Adamson High School or with the Bullpups. Coach Jeff's trademark has long been mining raw big men and molding them into forces while Coach Gold has always had total team effort as his signature. Considering the lineups of the two teams, though, it was Napa who got the most out of his players. Cani was the '13 Bullpups one and only shining star, but Coach Jeff had perfect roles for do-it-all Cauilan, monster rebounder Dyke, and two-way swingman Mosqueda. On the other hand, Coach Gold had tantalizing talents in Abadiano, Fortea, Quiambao, and Tamayo, among others, and then made them all work in a system. And so, the slight edge here goes to Napa who turned scraps into a machine - but still, it should never be disregarded how masterful it was that Monteverde let his constellation of stars shine bright in their own ways. Advantage '13 Bullpups, 10-9 DEPTH There is no debate that the National U of '20 will blow the '13 Bullpups out of the water in terms of total talent. The National U of '20 had Tamayo and Fortea coming off the bench for crying out loud all while Quiambao and Abadiano made sure they started strong. Even more, the likes of Alarcon, Torres, and Felicilda never got headlines and highlights, but were actually the grease that made sure the juggernaut was running as well as it should. In comparison, the '13 Bullpups, more often than not, went eight-deep with Cani flanked by Battad, Cauilan, Dyke, Go, Manalang, Mosqueda, and John Rey Lapiz. Man-for-man, the National U of '20 was just fully loaded as promising prospects Enriquez, Kenji Duremdes, and Echo Laure are only just waiting for their turn at the controls. Advantage '20 Bullpups, 10-8 LEVEL OF COMPETITION The '20 National U won by an average of 25.8 points and only had three single-digit wins through the tournament. The '13 Bullpups, meanwhile, won by an average of 12.5 points and had 10 single-digit wins through the tournament. That alone doesn't tell the full story, though. The '13 Bullpups' road to a season sweep was actually rockier as it featured matchups with Ateneo de Manila University with Aaron Black, Jolo Mendoza, Thirdy Ravena, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt; Far Eastern University-Diliman with Brandrey Bienes, Wendell Comboy, Richard Escoto, Christian Fajarito, Marvin Lee, and Domingo twins JJ and JS; De La Salle Zobel with QJ Banzon, Aljun Melecio, Brent Paraiso, and Renzo Subido; and even Diego Dario and Joe Gomez de Liano's the University of the Philippines Integrated School and Raymar Caduyac's University of the East. And yet, they were able to take care of Thirdy's Blue Eaglets by an average margin of victory of 12.5 points in the Finals. That was the same average margin of victory for '20 National U opposite FEU-Diliman which went to war led by Cholo Anonuevo, Jorick Bautista, and Penny Estacio. While Anonuevo, Bautista, and Estacio are tantalizing talents, they are only coming into their own and far from the player that Season MVP Thirdy was for Ateneo. No doubt, talent was all over the league even past those '20 Finalists in the form of Adamson High School with Season MVP Jake Figueroa and Matty Erolon; Ateneo's Josh Lazaro, Lebron Lopez, and Forthky Padrigao; University of Sto. Tomas' Jacob Cortez and Bismarck Lina; and UPIS' Sean Torculas, Jordi GDL, and Ray Allen Torres. In all, however, the level of competition in 2013 was higher as '20 National U didn't face a team as talented as Thirdy's Blue Eaglets or a more complete team than the Baby Tams. Advantage '13 Bullpups, 10-8 FINAL SCORE, a draw at 46-46.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMar 24th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: La Salle Ricci-UP Ricci

The University of the Philippines' future remains bright with Ricci Rivero coming back for more. After a solid season in his first go-round in maroon and green, the all-around swingman will join forces yet again with Bright Akhuetie and Kobe Paras as the Fighting Maroons set out to build on back-to-back playoff appearances. For sure, State U's future is still secure with Rivero in the fold. Not too long ago, though, the just turned 22-year-old was also the future in De La Salle University. In fact, he was supposed-to-be the Green Archers' next great homegrown talent. It wasn't meant to be, however, as circumstances led him out of Taft Avenue and into Diliman. Still, his time in green and white remains his most successful yet - what with a championship and a Mythical selection under his belt. If it were up to you, which Ricci Rivero would you have on your side? The Ricci Rivero who had just launched off en route to greater and greater heights in La Salle or the Ricci Rivero who has been more grounded and more well-rounded in UP? That is what we try to compare and contrast in this week's ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. In studying the player he was and the player he is, we will be comparing those two in five categories (inside scoring, outside scoring, defense, health, and impact) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. INSIDE SCORING The very first thing Rivero did in UP? Oop an alley. .@_ricciiirivero turns 22 today. The ride's just begun for the Euro step king ???? pic.twitter.com/QzCK5DHZS5 — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) May 25, 2020 Yes, his first basket as a Fighting Maroon was a right-handed hammer to finish off a setup by Jun Manzo. The 6-foot-2 swingman has long had the hops, even in his time in La Salle Green Hills, but he has complemented all that now in State U with the capability and confidence to finish with either hand. Along with that, Rivero also wields the wisdom to, at times, just absorb contact and get the points from the line. That is a far cry from his younger days when he was wont to force the issue, leading to many, many wild shots. Make no mistake, La Salle Ricci was already a beast in the paint, but now, he has paired that up with beauty of finishes in maroon and green. Advantage UP Ricci, 10-9 OUTSIDE SCORING The sidestep will always and always be linked to Rivero. Safe to say, that is his trademark whether it be in the open court or in set plays. In UP, however, the Isabela native has found more room to be able to execute his Euro-steps - and that's because he has become more of a three-point threat. From nine made threes in 18 games in his second season in La Salle, he has upped that mark to 13 made threes in 16 games in his first year as a Fighting Maroon. Of course, there remains much room for improvement, but it could not be questioned that Rivero is now an inside-outside force. Advantage UP Ricci, 10-9 DEFENSE Rivero's hops also translates to defense as he could have a highlight block just as he could have a highlight dunk. He also has the quick feet to stay in front of his matchups. While he is solid at that end in UP, the former Greenie was actually a dogged defender in La Salle. In sync with the rest of the Green Archers in Aldin Ayo's patented "mayhem," Rivero was a menace all over the court for opposing guards and totaled 27 steals. More than the numbers, though, it was the effort and the energy that were very much evident while he was defending as a Green Archer. Advantage La Salle Ricci, 10-9 HEALTH More than a few aches and pains slowed down Rivero in his first year in UP. It’s already well-known that the Fighting Maroons were never at full strength in Season 82 and the brand new Youtuber was the perfect personification of that as he did not come close to 100 percent. Proving his talent, he still produced, but there is no question he could have done much more if he was at his maximum. That maximum is where he was at in La Salle, especially in his second year wherein he busted out all the way to the Mythical Team by posting per game counts of 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 steals. This, even though he came off the bench seven times out of 18. Of course, the bigger burden as a Fighting Maroon takes time to getting used to and who knows, in his encore in maroon and green, he will be at the peak of his powers anew. Advantage La Salle Ricci, 10-9 IMPACT Rivero started nine games and, alongside Akhuetie and Paras, was tasked to make sure UP got going right from tip-off. For the most part, he did just that and was a key cog in the Fighting Maroons’ first-ever second-seed and twice-to-beat advantage. Come the endgame, however, there seemed to be much difference from when he was in La Salle. The star of Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Otlum” was the green and white’s energizer off the bench, but was also one of its big guns when it mattered most. Whenever Cameroonian powerhouse Ben Mbala was bogged down, there was Rivero to pick up the slack. That was no truer than in Game 2 of the Season 80 Finals when he dropped 14 of his 18 points in the second half to energize his side to a winner-take-all matchup opposite archrival Ateneo de Manila University. Ultimately, they were dethroned, but the human highlight reel's big-time Game 2 made sure there was no Finals sweep. He may get to that point once more, no doubt, but for now, his last year in La Salle remains to be the biggest mark he has made. Advantage La Salle Ricci, 10-9 FINAL SCORE: 48-47 for La Salle Ricci.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 26th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: CJ s 2017 LPU vs Calvin s 2019 San Beda

A perfect run in NCAA Men's Basketball, as it stands today, has not been done. Yes, San Beda University scored a season sweep in 2010, but that tournament totaled nine teams - meaning, the Red Lions won 16 elimination round games as well as two more in the best-of-three Finals for an overall record of 18-0. Even farther back, San Sebastian College-Recoletos didn't lose once in several seasons from the 1980s to the 1990s, but played, at maximum, 13 games. As it stands today, the Grand Old League has 10 squads - making for 18 elims matches and then a race-to-two championship round. As such, an eye-popping 20-0 perfect run has not been done. In the last three years, two teams have come close - CJ Perez's Lyceum of the Philippines University in 2017 and Calvin Oftana's San Beda in 2019. After winning each and every game in the elims, however, both squads went on to lose in the Finals - and so, not only did they miss out on a season sweep, but also got denied of a championship. Looking back, which almost-but-not-quite was more powerful - and therefore, more painful? That is what we hope to answer in this ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. In reviewing the elims masterpiece and Finals meltdown of the two teams, we will be judging them in five categories (elims dominance, expectations exceeded, inherent talent, competition, and Finals fight) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. ELIMS DOMINANCE Simply put, San Beda just ran roughshod over the rest of the league in the NCAA 95 elims. Doubted after having lost Robert Bolick and Javee Mocon, the Red Lions sent a statement that the title still goes through them and beat up their opponents by an average of 18.9. In the end, their closest call was a four-point triumph over archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran and the number of their single-digit wins were a staggering, well, three out of 18. For comparison, LPU normed a winning margin of 12.8 in the Season 93 elims - with more than a few close calls against also-rans in Arellano University, Emilio Aguinaldo College, and Mapua University. After ambushing the rest of the league with their run-and-gun game, the Pirates had to fight tooth and nail in the stretch run of the elims. In fact, in the last game before the playoffs, LPU needed two extra periods to put away San Beda. Yes, a win is a win, but it's clear as day that between the wo teams, it was the 2019 Red Lions who dominated the elims. Advantage San Beda, 10-8 EXPECTATIONS EXCEEDED As aforementioned, San Beda was expected to go through growing pains in 2019 as they had lost Bolick and Mocon and would have to rely on a talented yet young core of James Canlas, Evan Nelle, and Calvin Oftana. Still, the Red Lions were the Red Lions - and in recent history, a playoff fixture in the Grand Old League. And so, expectations were quite a bit lower - for the dynasty in Mendiola, that is - and the red and white did nothing but far exceed them with an unbeaten run in the elims. Still, back in 2017, LPU literally came out of nowhere to go undefeated in the elims. On a sunken ship in their first years in the NCAA, the Pirates finally got winds in their sails in the form of Perez and Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee. Those three, alongside captain MJ Ayaay and Cameroonian powerhouse Mike Nzeusseu, led them to their first-ever playoff berth which they got with their 13th win in as many games in the season. And with an 18th consecutive victory, LPU then booked for itself an automatic advance into its first-ever Finals. Expectations were highest in school history for the Pirates with Perez in tow, but nobody at all assumed they were sailing straight to the championship round. Advantage LPU, 10-9 INHERENT TALENT 2017 was the year that Perez became Perez. Putting up per game counts of 19.3 points in 45.1 percent shooting on top of 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.9 steals, the 6-foot-1 swingman was the undisputed MVP. At the same time, the Marcelino twins terrorized opposing backcourts by making an immediate impact as end-to-end menaces. Add to that Ayaay and Nzeusseu and LPU had a championship core - just about everybody else didn't know it just yet. On the other hand, 2019 was the first time that, arguably, San Beda wasn't the most talented team in the tournament. Make no mistake, the Red Lions remained loaded with the likes of "Bandana Bros." Canlas and Nelle, but it was actually former reserve forward Oftana who emerged as the league's top individual player with norms of 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 blocks. Still, in the end, San Beda went 18-0 in the elims by staying true to itself - utilizing an uncompromising total team effort. Advantage LPU, 10-9 COMPETITION LPU had to traverse rough seas in 2017 for its elims sweep. Back then, San Beda had Bolick and Mocon, Jose Rizal University had Teytey Teodoro and Jed Mendoza, San Sebastian had Michael Calisaan and Allyn Bulanadi, Letran had Rey Nambatac and Bong Quinto, and Arellano had Kent Salado and Lervin Flores. Even more, the Mythical Team had Perez, teammate Nzeusseu, Red Lion Mocon, Sidney Onwubere from non-Final Four team EAC, and University of Perpetual Help's Nigerian tower Prince Eze. Fast forward to 2019 and household names were hard to come by as the Mythical Team had San Beda's Oftana, a former reserve forward; Nelle, a former backup point guard; Canlas, a former secondary scorer; as well as San Sebastian late-bloomer Bulanadi and LPU playmaker Jaycee Marcelino. Of those five, Marcelino was the most recognizable name - and he was not necessarily known for putting a team on his back. Safe to say, Season 93 was much more competitive than Season 95. Even more, 2019 was the last year with foreign student-athletes and by then, only three remained. Tankoua is as solid as they come, Nzeusseu is spectacular at times, and College of St. Benilde's Clement Leutcheu is serviceable. The crop of reinforcements in 2017, though, had those three as well as MVP runner-up Eze of Perpetual, Hamadou Laminou of EAC, and JRU's Abdul Wahab Abdul Razak and Abdel Poutuouchi. Advantage LPU, 10-8 FINALS FIGHT Both LPU and San Beda woke up from dreaming of a perfect season in Game 1 of the Finals. The Pirates were sent crashing back to earth by the defending champion Red Lions and were ultimately swept in the championship round of Season 93. On the other hand, San Beda went the distance with archrival Letran in the Season 95 Finals, but was also at the losing end. Also, if not for Bonbon Batiller's botched reverse layup in the dying moments, Game 2 may have had a different ending, and the Red Lions may have been swept as well. Still, the fact that San Beda was able to take one from the eventual champions nudges it ahead of LPU which went winless in the championship round after a perfect elims. Advantage San Beda, 10-9 FINAL SCORE, 47-46, for LPU.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 7th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: UST four-peat vs La Salle four-peat

It has been a week since the legend of Aric Del Rosario came to a close. And of course, the passing of the always amiable mentor fondly called "Tatay Aric" only recalled his most memorable milestone - that of four consecutive championships for University of Sto. Tomas. In the same way that Del Rosario and the Growling Tigers lorded over the early-to-mid '90s, however, so did De La Salle University dominate the late '90s and early '00s. With first-time head coach Franz Pumaren at the helm, the Green Archers ran roughshod over the rest of the league for their very own four consecutive championships. And so, from 1993 to 2001, the UAAP became a battleground for supremacy between two teams - two teams that each won four titles in a row and two teams that would ultimately go down in history. Which four-peat was more impressive, however? This is the question we hope to answer in ABS-CBN Sports' Super Showdown. To concretize the strengths and weaknesses of Coach Aric's UST and Coach Franz's La Salle when compared to one another, we will be judging them in five categories (talent, system, level of competition, legacy, and impact) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. TALENT You can't win four consecutive championships without talent - and without a doubt, both UST and La Salle were filled to the brim with talent in those days. All of Estong Ballesteros, Chris Cantonjos, Bal David, Dennis Espino, Rey Evangelista, Patrick Fran, Gerard Francisco, Henry Ong, Dale Singson, Siot Tangquincen, and Richard Yee were Growling Tigers in their four-peat. Meanwhile, the Green Archers had Dino Aldeguer, Don Allado, Mac Cardona, Mike Cortez, Mac Cuan, BJ Manalo, Renren Ritualo, Carlo Sharma, Adonis Sta. Maria, Mon Jose, Dominic Uy, Cholo Villanueva, Willy Wilson, and Joseph Yeo in their four-peat. Weighed against one another, La Salle had more players who became key contributors for PBA contenders in Cardona, Cortez, Ritualo, and Yeo. UST makes up for this with consistency, however, as not only did the likes of Espino, David, Evangelista, and Yee turn into rotation players in the PBA, they did so for a longer time compared to their green and white counterparts. More than that, the Growling Tigers hold a trump card over the Green Archers in this department in the form of national team players Espino and Evangelista. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 SYSTEM In terms of name recognition, the famed "Pumaren Press" remains well-known to this day. With dogged defenders such as Aldeguer, Cortez, Jose, Cuan, and Villanueva at the head of the attack, playing against La Salle back then was not at all a fun proposition for opponents. Those turnovers were then quickly converted into easy baskets that, more often than not, led to wins - a recipe for success that still works until now. However, UST had some of the most complete teams in UAAP history during its four-peat and would most probably have had all the answers in the face of full-court pressure. In David, Fran, Francisco and Tangquincen, the Growling Tigers had steady ballhandlers who would have been prepared to the utmost by "Tatay Aric." And once they crossed over to their side of the court, good luck trying to stop, or even just slow down, Espino or Cantonjos at the post. Put simply, Del Rosario's black and gold machine just didn't have any holes or leaks back then. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION The UAAP was a gauntlet of good to great teams in La Salle's four-peat. For sure, winning a championship - let alone four in a row - was a tall task back then. Standing in the Green Archers' way were an Ateneo side that had Rich Alvarez, Rico Villanueva, Paolo Bugia, Larry Fonacier, and LA Tenorio; an FEU side that had Leo Avenido and Celino Cruz; a National U side that had Edward Asoro, Froilan Baguion, Alfie Grijaldo, and Rey Mendoza; a UE side that had Paul Artadi, Ronald Tubid, and James Yap; and a UST side that had Cyrus Baguio. Through its dynasty, the green and white had to down their archrival Blue Eagles once in the Finals, the Tamaraws twice in the Finals and once in the semis, the Growling Tigers twice in the semis and once in the Finals, and the Bulldogs once in the semis, That's not to say UST's four-peat was way easier, however. When the Growling Tigers sat on the throne, coming for them were Adamson's Kenneth Duremdes, who averaged more than 30 points per game in 1993, and EJ Feihl; Ateneo's Vince Hizon and Ritchie Ticzon; FEU's Long David and Nestor Echano; La Salle's Tony Boy Espinosa, Elmer Lago, Alvin Magpantay, Cali Orfrecio, Mark Telan, and Jason Webb; and National U's Danny Ildefonso and Lordy Tugade. Make no mistake, many of those names would go on to be PBA superstars themselves and the black and gold went through all of them and came away as winner. It's just that, during the Green Archers' four-peat, the league was fast becoming the killer competition from top to bottom that it is today. Advantage La Salle's four-peat, 10-8 IMPACT UST's 14-0 season sweep in 1993 forced the league to change its rules - rules that are enacted up to now. That year saw the supposed debut of the Final Four, but with the Growling Tigers winning each and every game of the elimination round, the new format wasn't meant to be. According to the then-league rule, a team that goes perfect through the elims is automatically the champion of the tournament. And so, after that year, that rule was no more and now, a team that goes perfect through the elims would still have to play in the Finals. How that UST dynasty was built also became the template for many championship cores to come as it heavily recruited outside Metro Manila. In fact, Tatay Aric was the pioneer in bringing over talent from Pampanga, now considered one of the hotbeds of Philippine basketball, with recruits like Espino. In the same light, La Salle's four-peat also expanded the league's horizons abroad with the likes of Cortez and Wilson taking their talents from the US to their native land. From then until now, Filipino-foreign players have actually become some sort of signature for Coach Franz, but there could be no doubt that he has only used it to great effect. The Green Archers' time at the top also coincided with archrival Ateneo's rise, rekindling a rivalry that would bring all of the UAAP to greater and greater heights. In all, however, UST just set the bar for what a team could win in the modern era - a bar that La Salle itself did its very best to clear. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 LEGACY In Taft Avenue, championships have become the standard as La Salle has taken home three more trophies since its four-peat. In Espana, that '90s four-peat remains the glory days as UST has only been able to add one more title from there. Meaning, up to today, the Growling Tigers' four consecutive championships from 1993 to 1997 mean the world to Thomasians. Meanwhile, for Lasallians, that run from 1998 to 2001 is only expected for their teams - not the consecutive championships per se, but the continued contention, at the very least. Advantage UST's four-peat, 10-9 (Photo courtesy of UAAP Classics on Facebook) FINAL SCORE, 48-46, for UST's four-peat.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 2nd, 2020

2020 king of recruiting crown remains on UP’s head

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: San Beda-Adamos-Perps Adamos

As it stands today, Ben Adamos is one of the best young big men in the Philippines. The 6-foot-6 center was a double-double machine in his first season for University of Perpetual Help. Posting per game counts of 11.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists he stood as the pillar of the Altas’ challenging, yet still competitive campaign. Even before his transfer to Las Pinas, however, Adamos was already standing strong. In particular, his first year in San Beda University had him functioning as the modern big man in head coach Jamike Jarin's modern game plan. Starting 13 games and providing a big boost off the bench in the 10 others, he averaged 5.9 points and 3.3 rebounds as the Red Lions reclaimed the throne. Unfortunately, a year later, he got lost in the shuffle in new mentor Boyet Fernandez's more deliberate offensive and defensive schemes. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for him to get a golden opportunity to take his talents elsewhere. Now, the 22-year-old is continuing to showcase his skills as a modern big man who has nothing but a high ceiling for the future of his young career. Which Ben Adamos is more impressive, though? The one who ran and gunned with San Beda? Or the one who makes a living inside and outside in Perps? The answer will be made known in this week's ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. To figure out who comes out on top between the two versions, we will be judging them in five categories (inside scoring, outside scoring, defense, consistency, and impact) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. INSIDE SCORING With his size, Adamos always has an advantage at the rim. Where he differs from the usual bigs, however, is the versatility of his moves down low. Adamos could face up just as good as he could back down - he would not overpower his fellow bigs, but he has nifty footwork to get himself to a spot he likes. In Perpetual, though, he has improved his nose for the ball which puts him at the right place, at the right time as evidenced by his 2.8 offensive rebounds per game. For reference, he had 1.3 boards per game in his time in San Beda. Advantage, Perps Adamos 10-9 OUTSIDE SCORING   What makes a modern big man is a sweet stroke from outside the paint - and Adamos has just that. Be it from mid-range or long-range, he could take and make a shot. It was in San Beda where he showed off this shooting touch, serving as a stretch-4 or stretch-5 for their run-and-gun offense and totaling 12 triples and many, many long 2s as Dan Sara and Robert Bolick's pick-and-pop partner. Adamos still launches long-range missiles in Perpetual, 10 in total to be exact, but he is, more often than not, stationed at or near the paint. That means that the true modern big man - in terms of offense, at the very least - was what we saw in Adamos as a Red Lion. Advantage, San Beda Adamos 10-9 DEFENSE Adamos was never much of a paint protector in San Beda - he didn't have to be as they had Donald Tankoua and Arnaud Noah. When needed, however, he still proved to be up to the task and had averages of 1.4 blocks. Fast forward to his time in Perpetual and Adamos realized his potential at the defensive end as he averaged 1.9 blocks. He was firm at the rim, without a doubt, but could also keep up with wings and guards thanks to his quick feet. Of course, Adamos wasn't Prince Eze at that end, but he more than made up for his height and length difference with the Nigerian tower with a whole lot of effort and energy. Advantage, Perps Adamos 10-9 CONSISTENCY San Beda's championship winning machine has always operated through total team effort. That means that, yes, Adamos had more than a few good to great games in Season 92, but also had some games where he had to take a backseat to the likes of Robert Bolick, Javee Mocon, and Davon Potts. In Perps, though, he is the main man in the middle and is a double-double threat game in and game out. As Frankie Lim's starter all throughout the tournament, Adamos got together with Edgar Charcos as the inside-outside combination that made sure the Altas remained a tough out. Advantage, Perps Adamos 10-9 IMPACT Coach Jamike had tantalizing talents in Bolick, Mocon, Potts, and Tankoua, but it was modern big man Adamos who made sure they played new-age basketball. Capable and confident of scoring from all over, he was often the recipient and finisher of set-ups by Bolick and Dan Sara. Make no mistake, Adamos made an immediate impact in his first year in Perpetual and made sure they had a ready-made replacement for MVP Eze. His role in red and white under Jarin, however, remains his most perfect fit. Advantage, San Beda Adamos 10-9 FINAL: 48-47 for Perps Adamos.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 13th, 2020

WHAT IF… Bullpups denied Kai, SJ, and Dave a championship?

History lesson: In a single season, Ateneo de Manila High School had 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto, primetime playmaker SJ Belangel, and super scorer Dave Ildefonso alongside versatile forwards Jason Credo and Joaqui Manuel. For sure, that core was good enough to win it all - and did just that in their last year all together in UAAP 80. The Blue Eaglets swept the elimination round and as such, automatically advanced into the Finals. There, they matched up opposite modern-day rival Nazareth School of National University, but after a convincing 86-70 victory in Game 1, the series looked like a mismatch. Only, the Bullpups thought otherwise. In particular, sharpshooter Migs Oczon turned in his best game yet and scored eight of his 17 points in the payoff period to shoot his team to a 70-67 decision. And so, come the winner-take-all Game 3, momentum was, all of a sudden, with the blue and gold. Even more, the lead was actually with National U inside the last five minutes of Game 3. Their six-point lead, though, would not hold as Belangel, Sotto, and Manuel rallied Ateneo to a well-earned 63-58 win. The backbreaker for the Bullpups proved to be the towering teen's putback of Manuel's miss that put his team back ahead with under two minutes left. He did that at the expense of solid rebounders Michael Malonzo and Rhayyan Amsali. But what if they just got that one rebound? If so, the edge would have remained with National U - albeit a one-point edge at that - and they could then build on it at the other end. However, Kai is Kai and there will always be a good to great chance of him making that same play. In that case, the better what if for the boys from Sampaloc is this: what if Terrence Fortea never cooled down? The gunslinger's floater, triple, and assist to Amsali was the backbone of the run that put them on top, 54-48, with 4:18 remaining. From that point, however, Fortea got locked up and was unable to impact the game any further. Of course, he was just 16-years-old during that time - and really, in his first year as one of his side's big guns. At the same time, though, the 5-foot-11 guard had already been playing three seasons for National U at that point. With that, there was also a good to great chance that he would have broken free from the shackles of the Blue Eaglets' defense in the endgame. If so, with Fortea remaining red-hot, National U then completes a comeback from the ages - besting their elimination round-sweeping opponents in three games. Not only would they deny Ateneo a perfect season, they would deny all of Sotto, Belangel, Ildefonso, Credo, and Manuel of a championship altogether. The Bullpups would then head into their title defense even scarier, welcoming Gerry Abadiano, Kevin Quiambao, and Carl Tamayo with open arms. Still, their top gun would, without a doubt, be Fortea. For the Blue Eaglets, Belangel, Credo, Ildefonso, and Manuel fall short of moving on from the Jrs. on the highest of highs and that contending core winds up as an underachiever. For his part, however, Sotto comes back with a vengeance, and may very well have done better than his MVP campaign of 25.1 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.6 blocks. More than that, the tantalizing talent puts Ateneo his back all the way to a rematch with National U - and the roles would then be reversed. National U is the favorite while Ateneo is the underdog. And then, who knows, it would be Kai Sotto doing a Terrence Fortea. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie EJ Laure vs. rookie Eya Laure

University of Sto. Tomas fans waited a long time to see sisters EJ and Eya Laure play together for the Tigresses after their explosive tandem won it all for the school during their stint with the girls' team. UAAP Season 82 saw the reunion of the Laure sisters albeit brief – two games to be exact – before the tournament was scrapped because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  One could just imagine what impact the Laure siblings would have brought to the Tigresses if not for the cancellation of the season. Skills-wise, both can contribute on points as well as provide support on defense. They have already proven it during their respective rookie seasons. In fact, both earned Rookie of the Year awards. But which Laure played better in her maiden stint with the black and gold? For this week’s ‘Super Showdown: Volleyball edition’, we compare the two well-rounded siblings based on their offense and defense, impact, competition and lasting impression for the Tigresses.        OFFENSE AND DEFENSE EJ brought the much-needed firepower for the then Odjie Mamon-mentored Tigresses in Season 77. In her first year, EJ averaged 11.7 points per game while providing help on net and floor defense. However, her main role in that UST batch was to contribute on points at the wing. She had a 32.17% success rate in attacks. On the defensive side, EJ contributed 13 kill blocks while playing a decent role on floor defense.     Eya, on the other hand, gave UST an added scoring option to a squad that already had veteran Sisi Rondina and 6-foot-2 Milena Alessandrini.     Eya averaged 16.4 points per outing behind Rondina’s 18.5 points per game in the elimination round of Season 81. Eya placed second in UST kill blocks with 19 during the elims behind Kecelyn Galdones’ 23. Eya also punched in 35.90% of her attacks.    TEAM IMPACT EJ gave UST faithful a ray of light when the highly-recruited talent decided to remain with UST after powering the Junior Tigresses to the girls’ title the year before.   The Season 76 Girls’ MVP adjusted well with setter Alex Cabanos and showed good chemistry with veterans Pam Lastimosa, Mela Tunay and Ria Meneses. EJ’s presence also brought back the UST crowd that in the past two years slowly dwindled after lumbering at fifth and sixth place in Season 75 and 76, respectively. Just like her older sister, Eya brought excitement to the Tigresses supporters. UST was then coming off its worst finish in decades – landing at seventh place in Season 80. Eya, Rondina and Alessandrini formed the deadly trio that brought great promise for UST heading into the season. The former high school MVP, Best Setter and two-time Best Opposite Spiker winner did not disappoint right from her debut game.   COMPETITION Although the favorite for the RoY award, EJ had to contend with one of league’s best batch of rookies. She played alongside another promising freshman in Rondina, who delivered UST’s first gold medal of the season in beach volleyball while bagging the rookie of the year and MVP awards. Ateneo had a prized recruit in middle Bea de Leon while De La Salle University's rookies were Eli Soyud and Aduke Ogunsanya. Far Eastern University also introduced solid young guns in ChinChin Basas, Heather Guino-o and Jerrili Malabanan. National University had Jorelle Singh and University of the Philippines got then rookie libero Ayel Estranero. Adamson University recruited a solid middle in Joy Dacoron while University boasted of skilled newcomers in libero Kath Arado and Judith Abil. EJ did pocket the RoY award as expected. But for the first time in the last two decades EJ shared the recognition with another impressive freshman in Arado – the first libero to receive the award since Mel Gohing of DLSU in Season 71. Just like her older sister, Eya came in as the odds-on favorite for RoY, considering the implementation of the K-12 education program. However, she still had to work to lay her claim. Eya faced her high school rivals Princess Robles, Ivy Lacsina of Jen Nierva of National University. Jolina Dela Cruz made immediate impact as DLSU’s leading scorer while Far Eastern University got Lycha Ebon, who unfortunately had her rookie year cut short after sustaining a knee injury.   LASTING IMPRESSION While EJ did give UST the boost it needed, the Tigresses still closed Season 77 outside of the top four. UST finished the elimination round with 6-8 win-loss record tied with FEU at fourth to fifth spot. Actually, UST came one set win away to a bus ride to the stepladder semifinals. EJ in the most important game for the Tigresses went cold, scoring only five points in just three sets of action. She started in the first two frames that UST yielded, sat out the third and fourth sets with Rondina playing better, before playing off the bench in the fifth.       It would take EJ two more years for a taste of a Final Four appearance. Unfortunately, EJ suffered a shoulder injury that forced her to sit out two seasons. Eya was a vital cog in the Tigresses’ rise in Season 81. She was consistent and her all-around game was a plus for the Kungfu Reyes-mentored team, which closed the elims with a 10-4 mark tied with the Lady Spikers. Eya’s heroics during the playoff against DLSU for the semis twice-to-beat advantage, where she dropped 17 points in the Tigresses’ four set win, pushed UST on the brink of ending an eight-year Finals stint drought. Eya erupted for 25 points in the Final Four to dethrone the four-peat seeking Lady Spikers in five sets. She backed Rondina in UST shocking Game 1 sweep of Ateneo in Game 1 of the Finals. Eya also showed big heart and great character in Games 2 and 3 despite playing hurt only to close her first year with a heartbreak after losing to the seasoned Lady Eagles. She averaged 10.6 points per game in the Finals.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

DO YOU REMEMBER... the Lady Stags’ not so perfect seasons?

It’s not uncommon to see a team squander a huge advantage. A defeat like that will surely sting. But what more in a championship series and in a situation where a squad holds a thrice-to-beat advantage? San Sebastian College found itself on the wrong side of history after its infamous collapse in the NCAA women's volleyball finals. Twice. Not only did Lady Stags came up short of winning the crown while holding a thrice-to-beat advantage in consecutive seasons, but in those two series the Lady Stags only won one game. In a thrice-to-beat scenario, the team holding the advantage need only two victories to wrap the series. The disadvantaged side must win three times. Getting in that position is not easy. It means, a team must sweep the elimination round. And if you did brush off all your rivals that would mean you're the dominant team. Easily, the title favorite According to the NCAA Season 91 and 92 rules, the sweeping team gets an outright Finals seat armed with a twice-to-win advantage. A 1-0 lead in a virtual best-of-five series. The rest will have to duke it out in a stepladder semifinals to earn a championship seat. The unbeaten team will have fresh legs as it gets enough rest while waiting for its Finals opponent. For the other team, it means more games and no time for rest plus the possibility of wear and tear. The odds were stacked in favor of the Lady Stags. Or so they thought. SSC-R was a force to be reckoned with in those two seasons. Leading the Lady Stags was power-hitter and bulk-scorer Grethcel Soltones. She had a solid supporting cast in Nikka Dalisay, Jolina Labiano, Dangie Encarnacion, Kat Villegas, setter Vira Guillema and libero Alyssa Eroa under multi-title head coach and NCAA legend Roger Gorayeb. In Season 91, SSC-R fielded a well-experienced roster which came from two unsuccessful championship trips in the previous three years. The Lady Stags crushed all of their nine competitions in the elims including the CJ Rosario, Jovielyn Prado and Dana Henson-bannered Arellano U, which the year before beat SSC-R for the title. SSC-R completed its elims sweep after beating College of St. Benilde in four sets and got a nine-day rest. The Lady Blazers took the long route to secure a Finals seat, beating University of Perpetual Help in first stepladder semis before dethroning the Lady Chiefs. The Lady Stags came in the Finals brimming with confidence as they faced the same squad they defeated before their break. SSC-R barely escaped a tightly-contested extended first set but the Lady Stags unraveled in the next three frames. CSB coach Macky Carino knew that SSC-R will live and die with Soltones so he sent his best net defenders Jeanette Panaga, Janine Navarro and Ranya Musa to clog the net. SSC-R was also plagued with errors and miscues in their reception. The second game followed the same pattern with only Soltones scoring in double figures and the Lady Stags finding themselves on the brink of collapse. Soltones, upon receiving her second straight Most Valuable Player award, saved SSC-R from total collapse as she scored 31 points in a four-set escape in Game Three. But it all just delayed the inevitable doom that would befall the Lady Stags. In the series decider, CSB showed no signs of fear as it already faced two do-or-die matches before. SSC-R crumbled in the first two sets, showed life in the third before eventually yielding as the Lady Blazers claimed a historic breakthrough title in vanquishing a more seasoned rival. It was the same nightmare that the Lady Stags encountered the following season. Again, Soltones rallied SSC-R back to the Finals outright on her swan song. Once again with a thrice-to-beat advantage. Arellano U, on the other hand, got its revenge over CSB in the last stepladder match to book a championship showdown against the Lady Stags. The Lady Chiefs, behind Andrea Marzan, Regine Arocha and Mary Anne Esguerra, stunned SSC-R in straight sets in the series opener. It was Rialen Sante and Prado who did most of the damage in Game 2 as Arellano U beat the Lady Stags in a come-from-behind five-setter. And on Valentine’s Day 2017, SSC-R absorbed another humiliating defeat. Thrice-to-beat. Thrice beaten.        Soltones closed her NCAA career as a three-time MVP and one of the most decorated players in the league. But she will always be haunted by the ghost of her past. A legacy stained by the misfortune of leading a team found wanting in titles. The Lady Stags since then failed to recover their lost glory as they bowed out of the final four the following year for the first time in decades. SSC-R followed the same dark path the year after.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020

National U a winner anew as Quiambao tops Final UAAP NBTC 24

National U remains the gold standard in UAAP boys basketball after being crowned champion for the second straight season. One of the cornerstones in the Bullpups’ run to a special sweep of Season 82 was graduating big man Kevin Quiambao. Quiambao was a force at both ends of the floor with his output of 12.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 blocks also earning him a seat in the Mythical Team. The 6-foot-8 center's consistent play throughout the tournament did not go unnoticed as he has been hailed as the no. 1 player in the UAAP NBTC 24 high school player rankings. Adamson's Jake Figueroa placed second after an unforgettable rookie year that saw the runaway Season MVP leading the Baby Falcons back into the semifinals. Carl Tamayo ranked third and saved his best for last as he was named Finals MVP for the second year in a row. Ateneo double-double machine Josh Lazaro and FEU super scorer Penny Estacio rounded out the top five. Bismarck Lina of UST finished sixth followed by Blue Eaglet Lebron Lopez. Completing the top 10 are FEU’s Cholo Anonuevo, National U’s Terrence Fortea, and Ateneo’s Fortshky Padrigao. Below is the final list of the UAAP NBTC 24 rankings: National U has had twin towers for two years in a row now, but in #UAAPSeason82, there was no doubt Kevin Quiambao towered above all throughout the tournament. That is why he is the no. 1 player in the Final UAAP NBTC 24. pic.twitter.com/HKjW1dZ2yS — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) March 18, 2020 Final #UAAPSeason82 NBTC 24 2? Adamson's Jake Figueroa 3? National U's Carl Tamayo 4? Ateneo's Josh Lazaro 5? FEU-Diliman's Penny Estacio (@p_nny11) pic.twitter.com/1ORNzKi77P — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) March 18, 2020 Final #UAAPSeason82 NBTC 24 6? UST's @bismarcklina 7? Ateneo's Lebron Lopez 8? FEU-Diliman's Cholo Anonuevo 9? National U's @TerrenceForteaa pic.twitter.com/eHHG3A1Xah — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) March 18, 2020 Final #UAAPSeason82 NBTC 24 1?0? Ateneo's @padrigaoforth 1?1? UPIS' Aldous Torculas 1?2? National U's @gerryabadiano08 1?3? Adamson's Matty Erolon pic.twitter.com/BYarVQfHp1 — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) March 18, 2020 Final #UAAPSeason82 NBTC 24 14 National U's Reyland Torres 15 UST's Jacob Cortez (@ki11a__) 16 UE's CJ Austria 17 FEU-Diliman's Patrick Sleat (@sleatyboy) 18 FEU-Diliman's @_JorickBautista — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) March 18, 2020 Final #UAAPSeason82 NBTC 24 19 National U's Ernest Felicilda 20 DLSZ's @KeanBaclaan 21 Adamson's Joshua Barcelona 22 UPIS' @jordigdl6 23 DLSZ's Ivan Cudiamat 24 Ateneo's Ian Espinosa (@idpespinosa) — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) March 18, 2020 Due to COVID-19, the Chooks-to-Go NBTC League National Finals as well as the annual All-Star Game have been postponed and tentatively rescheduled. Originally scheduled to take place from March 21 to 27 at SM Mall of Asia Arena, the event backed by Chooks-to-Go, SMART, Vivo, Darlington, Phoenix Fuels, Epson, Gatorade, Go for Gold, and Molten has been penciled in for April 20 to 26 still at the same venue......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 18th, 2020

Fortea fires up Bullpups in Finals Game 1 domination of Baby Tams

Nothing was going right for Nazareth School of National University in Game 1 of the UAAP 82 Boys Basketball Tournament Finals as it took time to get going after a one-month layoff. That was until Terrence Fortea was sent in. Going online from the very moment he came off the bench, Fortea energized the Bullpups back to life as they ultimately had all the answers for very game Far Eastern University-Diliman, 79-61, Friday at Filoil Flying V Centre. The defending champions scored the first basket as well as a bonus before the Baby Tamaraws rang off 17 unanswered points for what was, all of a sudden, a double-digit lead following the first five minutes. "Nawala kami nung first part. We started slow lalo sa defensive end, pero buti na lang, nag-pick up," head coach Goldwin Monteverde said. It was at that point, though, that the sparkplug guard was sent in and scored six points in a 14-5 run that made it a close contest once more with National U just down, 17-22. "'Di kami nag-expect na everything will be perfect. Whatever challenges, we'll face it as a team," coach Gold said. Gerry Abadiano then brought the backup and dropped 10 points in the second quarter, including back-to-back baskets that put them up, 37-29. The Bullpups’ lead would only swell to as big as 25 points the rest of the way. In the end, Fortea scored 24 points, all but eight coming in the first half, while Abadiano contributed 14 markers, seven rebounds, and four assists. Twin towers Kevin Quiambao and Carl Tamayo then owned the paint as each posted a 12-point, 14-rebound double-double while Nat Tulabut came off the bench to chip in 10 markers, eight boards, and a standout defensive effort on Cholo Anonuevo. The championship, as well as a rare season sweep, is within reach for the blue and gold as they head into Game 2 on Monday still at the same venue. Anonuevo topped the scoring column for FEU-Diliman with 13 points, but he only had two points in the second half. The defense was more merciless for top gun Penny Estacio who was held to just six markers in 1-of-17 shooting from the field. BOX SCORES NU 79 - Fortea 24, Abadiano 14, Quiambao 12, Tamayo 12, Tulabut 10, Felicilda 3, Alarcon 2, Torres 2, Enriquez 0 FEU-DILIMAN 61 - Anonuevo 13, Bautista 10, Pasaol 10, Libago 8, Bagunu 7, Estacio 6, Sleat 4, Padrones 3, Saldua 0 QUARTER SCORES: 17-22, 43-36, 67-48, 79-61 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 6th, 2020

A fan in last season sweep, Fortea now the leading man in Bullpups bid for perfect UAAP 82

Terrence Fortea and Nazareth School of National University are one win away from a perfect season. After overcoming Far Eastern University-Diliman in Game 1 of the Finals, the Bullpups have now won all 15 games in the UAAP 82 Boys Basketball Tournament and need just one more mark for a rare 16-0 championship. Fortea had a major role in that as he energized the defending champions after their slow start and ended with 24 points built on five triples on top of three rebounds. Clearly, that was the sparkplug guard's best game of the season - and that was all motivated by something he had seen seven years ago. "Nung first year ko sa NU, naalala kong nanonood ako sa venue nung nagse-celebrate na sina Hubert," he recalled. "Ginawa ko yung motivation habang wala pa kaming laro. Nandun na kasi kami sa goal namin na yun at nakikita naming kaya rin naming gawin." In 2013, Jeff Napa-coached and Hubert Cani-led National U completed a clean sweep of the season - something that hadn't been done before or since in the high school ranks. And apparently, a then-12-year-old Fortea had front row seats to history being made. Now, he wants nothing more than to make history of their own. As he put it, "Siguro, sobrang laking bagay yun kasi NU rin yung nakagawa nun. Sa amin, kaya rin naming gawin, pero back-to-back (championships) naman. Ibang storya naman." The 5-foot-11 scoring machine and the rest of the Bullpups try to do just that in Game 2 on Monday. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 6th, 2020

Captain Gerry proud of Bullpups resilience in face of Baby Tams charge in Game 1

Nazareth School of National University took Far Eastern University-Diliman's best shot - and still won by 18 points. Down 3-17 early in Game 1 of the UAAP 82 Boys Basketball Finals, the Bullpups just turned it on behind Terrence Fortea and Gerry Abadiano and scored a convincing 79-61 victory. The defending champions hit the game's first basket as well as a bonus, but then saw the Baby Tamaraws fire 17 unanswered points. In that timeframe when nothing was going right, National U never doubted. "Lagi kong iniisip sa sarili ko at lagi kong sinasabi sa teammates ko na malamangan man kami, kailangan lang naming patunayan yung laging sinasabi ni Coach Gold [Monteverde] na resilience," team captain Abadiano said. He then continued, "Malamangan man kami or matambakan, babangon kami, ba-bounce back kami, babawi kami. Tuloy-tuloy kami hanggang tumunog yung final buzzer." The Bullpups did that, and more, dominating their opponents, 64-31, from the five-minute mark of the first quarter to the end of the third period. "As a leader, nakaka-proud yung ganun kasi nakikita ko sa teammates ko yung sinasabi ko sa kanilang 'di tayo titigil," their skipper said. Now, the blue and gold is one win away from a perfect season - something that has only been seen once in the high school ranks back in 2013. At the same time, though, Abadiano is reminding his teammates not to look too far ahead. "Parang dati pa rin, maglalaro lang kami tapos bonus na lang kung na-sweep yung season. Kung anuman yung outcome, basta binigay namin yung best namin, tatanggapin namin," he shared. He then continued, "Sinwerte lang na yun nga, puro panalo, pero 'di pa naman tapos kasi may Game 2 pa. Stay in the present pa rin kami." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 6th, 2020

EYES ON YOU, KID: UAAP 82 Jrs. players to watch

The first round of the UAAP 82 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with. And we can’t wait for the second round to get started just so we could get even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players: CARL TAMAYO and KEVIN QUIAMBAO – Nazareth School of National University TAMAYO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.7 points, 52.3 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists QUIAMBAO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.7 points, 51.4 percent shooting, 10.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.7 assists 7-foot-2, 17-year-old Kai Sotto was, hands down, the top individual talent last year in UAAP Jrs. – but even he was no match for National U’s twin towers who stood as the pillars in their dominant championship. A year later, Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao have only been better all while the Bullpups have breezed to a clean sweep of Round 1. The 6-foot-7 Tamayo is yet to explode, but is still posting per game counts that any team would want their big man to have. The 6-foot-8 Quiambao, on the other hand, has had for himself a couple of powerful performances and finds himself in the league’s top five in rebounds and blocks. Either of them would have no problem whatsoever making this list on their own, but together, National U’s twin towers, well, tower over all the competition. LEBRON LOPEZ and JOSH LAZARO – Ateneo de Manila University LOPEZ’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.1 steals LAZARO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 13.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.1 steals What National U has in imposing big men, Ateneo has in versatile forwards. Lebron Lopez and Josh Lazaro are long-limbed, athletic, and agile and it is when they share the floor together that the Blue Eagles do the most damage. Lopez, standing at 6-foot-5, has the higher ceiling between the two and is now already in the league’s top five in blocks and rebounds, but he remains in the process of putting it all together after having a tough time seeing the court when he was still in La Salle Green Hills. The 6-foot-4 Lazaro, meanwhile, has always been solid even when he was reppin’ San Beda and has only translated that, as well as a more well-rounded game, now in blue and white. Katipunan may have lost Sotto, but its future remains secure with these talented transferees who have done nothing but make an immediate impact. GERRY ABADIANO – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.5 steals Other guards have the highlights and the numbers, but in terms of being a court general, Gerry Abadiano is still the standard. National U has the most loaded team in all of high school, but its engine remains in good condition with much thanks to the leadership of Abadiano. The Bullpups’ boat just could not be rocked with the 5-foot-11 guard’s hands at the wheel as everybody from Carl Tamayo to Echo Laure and from Terrence Fortea to Steve Nash Enriquez heeds the call of their captain. And when the blue and gold needs a shot all of a sudden? All of us could count on Abadiano to hit his patented midrange jumper. Now that’s a leader. FORTHSKY PADRIGAO – Ateneo de Manila University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 19.4 points, 19 total threes, 4.4 rebounds, 4.0 steals, 3.9 assists No doubt about it, Ateneo is now Forthsky Padrigao’s show to run for the foreseeable future. With his running mate in Sotto having taken his talents to the US, Padrigao has been thrust into the spotlight by his lonesome – and he has done nothing but shine. The playmaking is still there as the 5-foot-11 guard is tops in the league in assists, but he has now also unleashed his scoring skills to the tune of 19.4 points per game – second-best among all players. The shooting percentages have a long ways to go, but it’s just a matter of time before Padrigao truly makes himself into Katipunan’s next great point guard. PENNY ESTACIO – Far Eastern University-Diliman ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.1 points, 16 total threes, 6.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.7 steals There’s a reason FEU-Diliman went all-out in securing the services of Penny Estacio – and he has wasted no time repaying their full faith. A year after showing promise at the point of the attack for San Beda, Estacio has now blossomed into a primetime playmaker for the Baby Tamaraws. The 5-foot-11 guard could make plays for his teammates, of course, but as of right now, his capabilities and confidence are all about making plays for himself all the way to the top five in scoring. And make no mistake, Estacio is no points guard – he also uses his long limbs to good use by harassing opposing guards into turnovers he quickly converts into scoring opportunities for the green and gold. TERRENCE FORTEA – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.6 points, 19 total threes, 2.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists To be honest, Terrence Fortea has not had a good season – for his high standards, at the very least. The shooting percentages have not been kind to Fortea thus far as he is yet to hit the mark, especially from beyond the arc. Still, the 5-foot-10 scoring guard remains a frightening sight for opponents with the ball in his hands and with his uber-quick release always threatening. Terrence gonna Terrence and shooters gonna shoot – and all of the league is not at all looking forward to the game where the shots finally fall and fall and fall for Fortea. JOHN EROLON – Adamson High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.6 points, 25 total threes, 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals There’s a new marksman in town – and he is wearing the colors of Adamson. John Erolon, the Baby Falcons’ prized recruit from Dumaguete’s St. Louis of Don Bosco, has only proven that his shooting touch in the 2019 National Basketball Training Centre was no mirage as he has scorched the UAAP Jrs. nets for the second-most total threes after the first round. The other facets of his game have much room for improvement, of course, but there is no doubt that the rookie already has an elite skill on lock. KEAN BACLAAN – De La Salle Zobel ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals DLSZ has not had its day under the sun since the days of Aljun Melecio, but with the entry of talented transferee Kean Baclaan, it hoped its time would come again. Thus far, Baclaan has held up his end of the bargain with his super scoring already making its way to the UAAP Jrs. all while doing a little bit of everything else. Now, all that’s left for the 5-foot-8 playmaker to do is to energize the rest of his teammates so that the Jr. Archers could finally put an end to their three-year playoff drought. SEAN TORCULAS – University of the Philippines Integrated School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 10.6 points, 17.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 2.4 blocks Yes, UPIS remains winless. Yes, head coach Paolo Mendoza’s eight-man rotation plays somewhere between 15 to 34 minutes per game. Yes, statistics never tell the true story. Still, being first in rebounds, first in blocks, second in assists, and third in steals in a league filled to the brim with talent is nothing to brush aside – especially if you are an undersized forward. That’s exactly what Sean Torculas has done after Round 1, though, and it is, without a doubt, all because his motor never stops working. That’s exactly what a rebuilding team wants and needs from its building block. JACOB CORTEZ – University of Sto. Tomas ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals UST has its own talented transferee who has, thus far, flown under the radar, in Jacob Cortez. Nonetheless, the son of ex-pro Mike Cortez has begun to open eyes as he has the ability to score from all over the floor. With “Cool Cat” genes in him, the 5-foot-9 has only made sure that the Tiger Cubs remain a threat in the post-Mark Nonoy era. HONORABLE MENTIONS Jorick Bautista – Far Eastern University-Diliman John Dalisay – De La Salle Zobel --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2019

Texans grab AFC South lead with 24-21 victory over Titans

By The Associated Press NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Houston Texans grabbed control of the AFC South by beating the Tennessee Titans 24-21 Sunday. The defending division champs are looking for Houston's fourth AFC South title in six years under coach Bill O'Brien. The Titans haven't won this division since 2008, and Mike Vrabel is Tennessee's third coach since then. Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a 29-yard field goal with 3:26 left for the winning points. The Texans (9-5) nearly blew a 14-0 halftime lead. Deshaun Watson threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns, but Tennessee also intercepted him twice inside the Titans 1. The Titans (8-6) snapped a four-game win streak with only their second loss in seven games. Now they will need help in the final two games to earn their second playoff berth in three seasons. When the Titans tied it at 14 early in the fourth quarter, the Texans scored 10 straight points. Carlos Hyde ran for a 10-yard TD, then Fairbairn's field goal finished Houston's scoring. Ryan Tannehill hit Dion Lewis with an 11-yard TD pass with 2:04 left to pull Tennessee within 24-21. But the Titans used backup kicker Ryan Santoso on the onside kick, and the ball only went 7 yards before being smothered by Texans safety Justin Reid. BILLS 17, STEELERS 10 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Josh Allen threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Kroft with 7:55 to play and Buffalo clinched a playoff spot, beating Pittsburgh. The Bills secured their second playoff berth in three seasons under coach Sean McDermott. Buffalo trailed 10-7, but scored on two possessions in the fourth quarter, as Allen rallied the Bills for a comeback win for the fifth time this season. Consecutive interceptions by Jordan Poyer and Levi Wallace on Pittsburgh’s last two possessions sealed the victory. The surging Steelers had an opportunity to leapfrog the Bills for the top AFC wild card spot, but Buffalo snapped Pittsburgh’s three-game win streak. Buffalo won for the fourth time in five games and recorded its first 10-win season since 1999. The Bills also beat the Steelers for the second time ever in Pittsburgh. Allen completed 13 of 25 passes for 139 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Allen, who also rushed for a score, has only lost consecutive games once in his career. Kroft scored his first touchdown since 2017 when he played for Cincinnati. Devin Singletary rushed for 87 yards and John Brown caught seven passes for 99 yards. He became Buffalo’s first 1,000-yard receiver since 2015. Devlin Hodges completed 23 of 38 passes for 202 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. PACKERS 21, BEARS 13 GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Jones ran for two scores, Davante Adams caught another in the 200th edition of he NFL's oldest rivalry. With the win, the Packers (11-3) clinched a playoff spot and swept the regular-season series between the teams for the 15th time in the last 26 seasons and the seventh time in the last 11 seasons. Green Bay defeated Chicago 10-3 in the season opener. Green Bay now leads the all-time series 99-95-6. The Bears (7-7) saw their three-game win streak end. The Packers improved to 19-5 against their NFC North rival with Rodgers as the starting quarterback. Rodgers completed just 16 of 33 passes for a pedestrian 203 yards but did enough to secure the victory. The two-time MVP entered the day with a 103.2 career passer rating against the Bears, the highest in league history of quarterbacks with at least 250 passes against Chicago. He had a 78.2 rating on Sunday. Mitchell Trubisky completed his first five pass attempts for the Bears but for only 18 yards. Chicago's offense opened the game with three straight punts and a turnover on downs. Trubisky finished 28 of 53 for 321 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. PATRIOTS 34, BENGALS 13 CINCINNATI (AP) — Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes to move within one of the NFL career record, Stephon Gilmore returned one of his two interceptions 64 yards for a score, and the Patriots clinched a playoff berth. A week that started with intrigue — a Patriots crew videotaping the Bengals' sideline in Cleveland — concluded with more New England history. The Patriots have made the playoffs 11 consecutive seasons, extending their NFL record. Brady had touchdown passes of 23 and 7 yards that left him with 538 for his career, one shy of Peyton Manning's record. The Patriots (11-3) haven't been as overwhelming in this playoff push, getting just enough out of the 42-year-old Brady and more than enough out of the league's top-ranked defense. Thousands of Patriots fans filled the stadium and chanted Brady's name as the minutes ran off. Brady was 15 of 29 for 128 yards and a pair of sacks. The Patriots broke a two-game losing streak with four interceptions in the second half. Gilmore picked off Andy Dalton twice in the third quarter, with his second pick-6 of the season putting New England in control. The Patriots pushed their league-leading interception total to 25. The Bengals (1-13) got a touchdown pass from Dalton that ended a streak of 20 straight games without reaching the end zone on their opening drive. All they managed the rest of the way was a pair of field goals. CHIEFS 23, BRONCOS 3 KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns, and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were on the receiving end of many of his biggest throws, as the AFC West champions romped to remain in the hunt for the No. 2 playoff seed and a potential first-round bye. Like a bunch of kids getting a snow day from school, the Chiefs enjoyed every minute of it. Hill caught five passes for 67 yards and both scores, and Kelce hauled in 11 catches for 142 yards to become the first tight end in NFL history with four consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, helping the Chiefs (10-4) beat the Broncos for the ninth straight time. Denver (5-9) hasn't won in Kansas City since Sept. 17, 2015. The Chiefs outscored their longtime division rival 53-9 this season. Whether it was the snowy weather or the suddenly stout Chiefs defense, the Broncos were so inept offensively that Kelce had more yards receiving at the start of the fourth quarter than they had total offense (139 yards). Phillip Lindsay was bottled up on the ground, and former Missouri standout Drew Lock — who grew up in the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit, Missouri — spent most of the day seeing red jerseys bearing down on him. The rookie quarterback was 18 of 40 for 208 yards and an egregious interception in the end zone. COWBOYS 44, RAMS 21 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes and Ezekiel Elliott ran for two scores. The Cowboys (7-7) ended their second three-game losing streak of the season, and the defending NFC East champions stayed even with Philadelphia atop the division with a showdown looming next week. The defending NFC champion Rams (8-6), who already needed help to get into the playoffs, didn't help themselves with another poor showing a week after their most impressive game of the season in a win over Seattle. Their loss clinched playoff berths for Seattle, San Francisco and Green Bay. After rushing for a franchise playoff-record 273 yards in a 30-22 divisional win over the Cowboys last January, the Rams were held to 22 while Dallas churned out a season-high 263. Todd Gurley had 11 carries for 20 yards. Coming off two of his better games of the season, Rams quarterback Jared Goff had a rough outing that looked better because of his fourth-quarter numbers with the outcome decided. He finished 33 of 51 for 284 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Cowboys' No. 1-ranked offense kept rolling with a season high in points to go with 475 yards, including scoring drives of 90 and 97 yards. FALCONS 29, 49ERS 20 SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Matt Ryan teamed with Julio Jones on a 5-yard pass that was ruled a touchdown after a replay reversal with 2 seconds left. Jones was called short of the goal line with the Falcons (5-9) trailing 22-17. But a replay showed the ball breaking the plane with the Jones in the air while being tackled by Jimmie Ward. When things couldn't get crazier, they did: On the final kickoff, Atlanta scored another touchdown when Olamide Zaccheaus came up with the ball as the 49ers were tossing it around in desperation. The 49ers (11-3) still clinched their first playoff berth since a 2013 run to the NFC championship game with the Rams' loss at Dallas. In an afternoon when Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense hardly shined, San Francisco's other units did their best to hold off Ryan until the quarterback exhibited the poise of a former MVP in a dramatic final minute — or, make that 12 seconds. Facing his former team and now in his third year as 49ers coach, Kyle Shanahan's high-powered offense fizzled much of the day. Shanahan spent two seasons as offensive coordinator in Atlanta coaching Ryan during his 2016 MVP year when the Falcons set a franchise record by scoring 540 points and Ryan had career bests in yards passing (4,944), TD passes (38) and passer rating (117.1). Then the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead on New England in the Super Bowl and Shanahan left for the Bay Area shortly after. VIKINGS 39, CHARGERS 10 CARSON, Calif, (AP) — Dan Bailey kicked four field goals and Ifeadi Odenigbo scored Minnesota's second defensive touchdown in three games. Los Angeles led 10-9 midway through the second quarter before Minnesota scored 30 unanswered points. The Chargers (5-9), who have dropped four of their last five, committed seven turnovers, their most since having seven against the Giants in 1986. The seven turnovers resulted in 20 Minnesota points. Mike Boone ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and Kirk Cousins threw for 207 yards and a TD for the Vikings (10-4), who have won four of their last five to remain in possession of the NFC's last playoff spot. Melvin Gordon fumbled twice and Philip Rivers threw three interceptions. Rivers, who threw for 307 yards, has been picked off 10 times in the past five games. LA appeared to be in field goal range at the Vikings 26. But on second-and-2, Rivers fumbled when he was sacked by Danielle Hunter. Austin Ekeler recovered it at the 38 and tried to make a play but also fumbled. Odenigbo then scooped up the loose ball and went 56 yards for a touchdown to give Minnesota a 19-10 lead. Boone, who had 49 yards on 13 attempts, had most of his carries in the second half after Dalvin Cook was injured. He had touchdown runs of 8 and 2 yards in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. SEAHAWKS 30, PANTHERS 24 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Russell Wilson threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns, Chris Carson ran for 133 yards and two scores. The Seahawks (11-3) wrapped up a postseason berth for the seventh time in the last eight seasons with a Rams loss at Dallas. They also tied San Francisco for the NFC West lead. It was the 100th regular season win for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Seattle scored on its first three possessions as Wilson completed 8 of 10 passes for 175 yards, with 19-yard touchdown passes to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for a perfect 153.8 QB rating. Chris Carson added a 16-yard TD run as the Seahawks built a 20-7 lead at halftime. But Seattle had to hold on after nearly surrendering a 30-10 lead with 7:28 left in the game as Carolina (5-9) got two touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey scored on a 15-yard run and Kyle Allen found Curtis Samuel for a 5-yard score to make it a one-possession game with 3:19 left. But the Seahawks overcame two holding penalties and Wilson connected on a 14-yard pass to Lockett on a third-and-11 to help the Seahawks run out the clock. EAGLES 37, REDSKINS 27 LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Carson Wentz recovered from a late fumble by leading a 75-yard, go-ahead scoring drive and throwing his third touchdown pass of the day to keep the Eagles' NFC East hopes on track. Wentz threw TD passes to running back Miles Sanders, tight end Zach Ertz and receiver Greg Ward and was 30 of 43 for 266 yards. The 4-yard pass from Wentz to Ward with 26 seconds left put Philadelphia up for good and electrified a stadium full of green-clad Eagles fans. Wentz's ability to bounce back from some accuracy issues and a turnover means the Eagles (7-7) are tied with Dallas in the division race with a game against the Cowboys coming next week. Of course, Wentz didn't do it by himself. Sanders rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 50 yards. The Eagles defense that struggled to stop Washington's Dwayne Haskins most of the afternoon got him to fumble for a touchdown return by Nigel Bradham on the game's final play. Coming off an overtime victory against Eli Manning and the New York Giants, a loss to Washington (3-11) could've had the Eagles facing elimination next week. CARDINALS 38, BROWNS 24 GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kenyan Drake ran for four touchdowns, Kyler Murray threw for 219 yards and a score and the Cardinals snapped a six-game losing streak. Murray got the best of a much-anticipated showdown with Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield. The two were teammates in college at Oklahoma and both won Heisman Trophies before being selected with the No. 1 overall picks by their respective teams in back-to-back years. Murray completed 19 of 25 passes and also ran for 58 yards. Drake, acquired midseason in a trade with the Dolphins, ran for a season-high 137 yards and scored a touchdown in every quarter. He's the first Cardinals player to score four rushing touchdowns in a game since 1993. Arizona pushed ahead 28-17 late in the third quarter when Drake scored his third touchdown on a 1-yard run, one play after the Cardinals won a pivotal challenge. Cleveland's Damarious Randall was called for defensive pass interference after a review, reversing the no-call on the field. Cleveland's Nick Chubb — who came in as the NFL's leading rusher — finished with 127 yards on the ground. Mayfield completed 30 of 43 passes for 247 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. JAGUARS 20, RAIDERS 16 OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Gardner Minshew threw two TD passes to Chris Conley in the final 5:15 of the game and the Jaguars spoiled the final scheduled game at the Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders (6-8) broke out to a 16-3 lead and appeared comfortably ahead before falling apart in the closing minutes to put a damper on an already somber day in Oakland. The Jaguars (5-9) drove 79 yards to draw within 16-13 on Minshew's 6-yard TD pass to Conley. The Raiders tried to run out the clock and got a pair of first-down runs from Josh Jacobs and another from Derek Carr. But Carr was ruled out of bounds with 2:05 to play after sliding down, sparing the Jaguars from using a timeout. Oakland then got a delay of game in the confusion and Tyrell Williams dropped a third-down pass. Daniel Carlson then missed a 50-yard field goal, only to get another chance after Parry Nickerson was called for running into the kicker. Carlson missed again from 45 yards and the Jaguars took over at the 35 with 1:44 to go. Minshew moved them downfield and connected with Conley on the 4-yard score with 31 seconds left. GIANTS 36, DOLPHINS 20 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning threw two touchdowns in what might have been his final home start for the Giants and New York snapped a franchise record-tying nine-game losing streak. Saquon Barkley ran for 112 yards and scored two walk-in touchdowns and New York's much-maligned defense added a safety as the Giants (3-11) handed the Dolphins (3-11) their second loss in as many weeks at MetLife Stadium. Manning, who lost his starting job to first-round draft pick Daniel Jones in Week 3 and got it back last week when the rookie sprained an ankle, threw a 51-yard scoring pass to Golden Tate in the second quarter. He threw a go-ahead 5-yarder to Darius Slayton on the opening series of the second half. The 38-year-old also threw three interceptions, two of which set up by field goals by Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders. With 1:50 left, Manning (20 of 28 for 283 yards) was taken out by coach Pat Shurmur and replaced by Alex Tanney, drawing his second standing ovation from those left in the crowd. He walked to the sideline and was congratulated by teammates while the crowd chanted "Eli Manning.'' He even smiled. Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose game slipped after taking a big hit on a third-quarter scramble, threw two touchdowns to DaVante Parker, the second one with the game out of reach. BUCCANEERS 38, LIONS 17 DETROIT (AP) — Jameis Winston became the first player in NFL history to throw for 450 yards in consecutive games. Winston threw three touchdowns in the first half — four overall — and a career-high 458 yards one week after throwing for 456 yards. The Buccaneers (7-7) have won four straight and five of six, but their surge started too late for them to get in the playoffs race. Detroit (3-10-1) has dropped seven games in a row and 10 of 11, increasing the scrutiny of embattled coach Matt Patricia. The Lions looked like they were still competing for their coach, and themselves, after falling behind 21-0 in the first half. Running back Wes Hills, signed Saturday, ran for a second TD early in the fourth quarter to cut Tampa Bay's lead to 24-17. The comeback hopes ended with a thud. Sean Murphy-Bunting returned an interception 70 yards for a score and a 14-point lead. Winston followed with his fourth TD pass, connecting with Breshad Perriman for a third time......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 16th, 2019

SUPER SHOWDOWN: La Salle s Justine Baltazar v Letran s Larry Muyang

Almost two decades ago, the power of Pinatubo was felt all over the Philippines. Now in 2019, two towers from Pampanga are making their presence felt in the premiere collegiate leagues of the country. De La Salle University's Justine Baltazar and Colegio de San Juan de Letran's Larry Muyang are the undisputed best local big men in the UAAP and in the NCAA, respectively. Baltazar has done a stand up job replacing Cameroonian MVP Ben Mbala while Muyang has made sure the Knights are no longer pushovers in the paint. So what happens when an irresistible force like Baltazar collides with an immovable object like Muyang? That's what we're here to find out in the second edition of the Super Showdown as we pit Philippine collegiate basketball's top Filipino centers against one another - judging them in five categories (post scoring, perimeter scoring, rebounding, defense, and playmaking) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. POST SCORING These two learned from one of the best in the business in so-called big man whisperer Jeff Napa. Napa discovered and then developed Baltazar in Nazareth-NU and then harnessed the potential of Muyang in Letran. When it all boils down to it, though, Muyang's bulk is just perfect for the back to the basket game and he has honed his skills so much that even the likes of Cameroonians Donald Tankoua and Mike Nzeusseu have a tough time bodying him up. Baltazar is no slouch posting up, make no mistake, but his lankier frame is also not that much of a problem for bigger defenders such as Nigerian Bright Akhuetie or Senegalese Alex Diakhite. Letan's big boy has a big body in need of big sustenance - and it just so happens that he can do just that by feasting inside the paint. Advantage, Muyang, 10-9 PERIMETER SCORING Put simply, Baltazar is a threat from outside while Muyang is not - not yet, at the very least. La Salle's versatile center has the touch to take and make shots from long-range as well as mid-range. In fact, he already has five triples to his name in eight games in the season. On the other hand, Letran calls for its hulking center to make a living down low and, as such, he has not had that many chances to show off his shooting. More than that, Baltazar is the prototype for the modern big man - a tall, long-limbed, and agile giant who needs to be defended even when he's standing behind the arc. Advantage, Baltazar, 10-9 REBOUNDING Baltazar just had for himself a 25-point, 25-rebound double-double. In terms of cleaning up the glass in the UAAP, nobody is better aside from the foreign student-athletes, with his norms of 12.5 rebounds the fourth-best in all of the league. Muyang inhales his fair share of rebounds, but also lags behind in terms of cleaning up his teammates' misses. Of course, the simple explanation is that La Salle just has the more athletic big man compared of Letran's more ground-bound behemoth. Advantage, Baltazar, 10-9 DEFENSE Rim protection has always been Baltazar's elite skill - even when he was just a raw prospect as a Bullpup. Now, he has blossomed into a menace patrolling the paint and his mere presence can alter shots, if not swat them away all the way. And because he is more ground-bound, Muyang was never one to host a block party, but he more than holds his own inside thanks to his bulk. Bottom line, though, La Salle can actually boast of having the more well-rounded two-way player. Advantage, Baltazar, 10-9 PLAYMAKING Muyang is such a force down low that he attracts double and triple-teams. As such, he always has a golden opportunity to make plays for his teammates and, more often than not, makes the right plays. After all, it wasn't that long ago that Muyang, along with Jeo Ambohot, Christian Fajarito, and Bong Quinto, all clogged the paint, but still had many, many assists to share among them. This is then the department where Baltazar has the biggest room for improvement as he only has a total of eight assists in the season. Advantage, Muyang 10-9 FINAL SCORE, 48-47 for La Salle's Justine Baltazar.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 10th, 2019

PVL: Cool Smashers eye first round sweep this week

Defending champion Creamline is out to continue its winning romp and complete a first round sweep this week in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Open Conference. Parading a perfect 6-0 win-loss record, the Cool Smashers are set to take on PacificTown Army on Wednesday before wrapping up the opening round against BaliPure on Saturday. Three-time Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez has been playing consistently in the conference and with a solid backup in Jema Galanza, Risa Sato and Michele Gumabao with setter Jia Morado utilizing Creamline’s full arsenal, the Cool Smashers are favored to come up on top in their last two assignments. But Creamline is sure to encounter tough resistance from both rivals. The Cool Smashers will be tested first by the Lady Troopers, who are raring to halt a two-game slide after starting the season-ending conference with back-to-back wins. Game time on Wednesday is at 4:00 p.m. and will air live on LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and via livestream. Creamline will then face an upset-conscious Water Defenders three days after at 6:00 p.m. in a showdown that will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and via livestream. Another streaking team in Motolite (4-1) targets to stretch its winning run to five in a row on Sunday against PetroGazz at 6:00 p.m. But before facing Motolite, the Angels (3-2) get a crack at ChocoMucho which is on a two-game slide for a 2-3 slate on Wednesday. Meanwhile in the Collegiate Conference, unbeaten Adamson University and Ateneo de Manila University dispute the first semifinals seat in Group A when they cross paths at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. Both squads lead the group with 3-0 win-loss records. In Group B, unscathed University of Sto. Tomas (3-0) tries to secure a Final Four berth in a showdown with Far Eastern University at 10:00 a.m. also on Sunday. Games in the Collegiate Conference are all available via iWant and livestream.   ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2019

Cone rewards Japeth with more minutes ‘to get him in shape’

Japeth Aguilar topscored Barangay Ginebra with 20 points against Meralco. (PBA Images) Some were probably wondering why coach Tim Cone kept Japeth Aguilar on the floor even though Barangay Ginebra San Miguel already had the game won against Meralco Sunday night. “I left him out there the whole time, just so to get him in shape,” Cone said after Ginebra’s 105-91 victory at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center. Aguilar finished with a game-high 20 points, scoring nine during a nine-minute appearance in the fourth quarter, something Cone said is something he rarely does. But Cone explained that having such exposure even in a blowout contest could bode well for Aguilar in the long run since the Finals Most Valuable Player of last season’s Governors’ Cup entered the bubble only days before the restart. And it has resulted in averages of 9.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in wins over NLEX and Blackwater. “We really don’t have time to get him in shape by working out because the games come so fast,” said Cone.  “Though we have a big margin, I wasn’t taking Japeth out. That’s unusual for me, but I saw it as a purpose and to stay on the floor and keep working. Hopefully that will make him better into our next game.” Ginebra is hoping that would be the case as it enters a stretch of difficult games against tough opponents. The Kings return to action on Wednesday against the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, who opened the conference with two straight wins. Next is Ginebra’s “Bubble Clasico” showdown with Magnolia on Sunday followed by a clash with another sister team in defending five-time champion San Miguel Beer on Oct. 30......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2020

For Mike Nieto, all roads lead to leading

Mike Nieto's leadership is not just for the basketball court. Apparently, his voice carries just as much weight inside the Nieto household in Cainta. "Hanggang bahay, umaabot yung pagli-lead ko," he shared with a laugh. "Rinig na rinig palagi boses ko sa bahay. Since I've proven to them na I can be a leader sa court, siyempre, I can also be a leader dito sa bahay." What does that mean exactly? Well, let's just say that whenever the Nieto family decides they want and need some quality time together, it's the 23-year-old who sets the time and the place where it would happen. "I think nasanay na rin kasi sila na ako ang palaging nagsasalita kahit sa ganyang bagay so most of the time, ako na talaga nagsasabi saan at anong oras kami pupunta," he said. This is not at all that surprising as when you talk about Mike Nieto, you talk about leadership. That has long been the calling card of the 6-foot-2 swingman - from his days as a Blue Eaglet to his time as a Blue Eagle and from his stint in Batang Gilas to his current run in the Gilas Pilipinas pool. But… Why do people say that in the first place? What is it with Mike Nieto that just speaks, leader? FTW: For The tWin To get the answer, we need to go back to the start. As in, the very, very start. Technically, Mike is the leader of the four Nieto siblings as he is the firstborn of Ateneo de Manila legend Jett and super mom and dentist Girlie. Matt is his brother, but is younger by two minutes. Make no mistake, though, the twins have always gotten along. "Kami ni Matt, ever since, close na talaga kami. We started playing basketball at the age of six and from then on, naging magkasama na kami sa lahat ng bagay," Mike said. He then continued, "Even course namin sa college, pareho kaya almost lahat ng classes namin, classmates kami. Ever since talaga, unusual na hindi kami magkasama." Indeed, the Nieto twins have always been some sort of a package deal. Hence, the reports of their commitment to Ateneo for college had headlines such as "Ateneo scores 'twin kill' as Nieto brothers commit to play for Blue Eagles." Through and through, however, Mike was thought to be the leader - even though Matt is the point guard. The reason for that? Because "Big Mike" is more vocal. And why is he more vocal" Well, because he had a two minute headstart on "Matty Ice" at letting his voice be heard. Seriously, though, Mike said it was just because he doesn't waste any time at all in being vocal - and that's why he's being heard first and more often. "Siguro, mas maingay lang kasi ako kay Matt. Ako kasi, kapag may nakita akong mali sa ginagawa ng teammates ko, siguradong makakarinig agad sila sa akin," he shared. He then continued, "Hindi ako papayag na lilipas ang isang bagay na alam kong makakasama sa team. Talagang maglalabas at maglalabas ako ng mga salita hanggang ma-solve ang problema." That doesn't mean that Matt doesn't lead, though. As his twin put it, "Matt is the leader on the court. That's the assignment Coach Tab [Baldwin] gave him and I think he has done well with that." Well, yeah, Matt has three rings as court general of the Blue Eagles' dynasty to show for that. LOL: Lead out Loud It was another court general altogether, however, who had made the biggest mark on Mike Nieto. While he never was a point guard due to his wide frame, he was always trying to emulate one of the best ball-handlers in the history of Philippine basketball. "Jimmy Alapag is my role model when it comes to leadership," he said. "I'm just very lucky that for a long time now, he would talk to me on how I can affect the team positively on and off the court." When Alapag was in his prime as captain of Gilas Pilipinas, Nieto was put on the pedestal as skipper of Batang Gilas. While he knew full well that was a tall task, he was also eager to prove himself worthy. "Sa Batang Gilas under coach Jamike [Jarin], he made me team captain kahit second year high school pa lang ako. But that made me realize na I have the capabilities of being a leader," he said. With that, Mike had the responsibility of making sure the likes of Paul Desiderio, Richard Escoto, Jollo Go, Jolo Mendoza, and Renzo Navarro were kept in line. And from then on, he just did not stop keeping at it. Whether it be as the Jrs. MVP as a Blue Eaglet or a rotation regular as a Blue Eagle, Nieto's biggest contribution has always been his leadership. "Being a leader is never easy. At the end of the day, you have to gain the trust of your teammates and your coaches - that's the hardest part," he said. Ask his teammates from high school, many of whom were still his teammates come college, and they would say they always have his back. "Buti na lang nakuha ko ang tiwala ng lahat ng tao na nakapaligid sa akin. Kaya rin ako nag-succeed being the team captain ng every team na nagiging part ako," he said. While he has always had the full faith of longtime teammates and good friends Thirdy Ravena, Gian Mamuyac, Mendoza, and of course, twin Matt, Mike could only acknowledge that it was another challenge altogether being the voice of the team that swept the season. "Ang malaking naging difference ngayong college from high school, kinailangan kong magsalita ng English mas madalas," he said, through chuckles. With foreigners such as Ange Kouame and Filipino-foreigners like Raffy Verano, Nieto, indeed, did have to make sure his communication lines were crystal clear. The thing about leaders, though, is that they give their all in anything and everything - whether that be giving a pep talk or passing the message to somebody like Kouame who only started learning English in 2017. IMO: In My Opinion And the thing about leaders? They do not necessarily care about themselves. Imagine Mike Nieto, a Jrs. MVP, a team captain for Batang Gilas, a literal blue-blood in Katipunan. Do you know his averages through their three-peat? In 47 games total, he saw 14.2 minutes of action and had 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Still, that did not matter at all. All that mattered for Mike are all those Ws. "To be a leader, you have to prove palagi that you can lead on and off the court," he said. "I think yun ang napatunayan ko kay coach Tab - na handa akong i-sacrifice ang personal goals ko para sa ikabubuti ng team. Wala akong pakialam sa sarili ko since ang nasa utak ko lang is kung ano ang makabubuti para sa team namin." But did he? Did Nieto prove himself to Coach Tab - a coach who has gone around the world and seen it all? The talented tactician's statement right after Ateneo completed its perfect run through UAAP 82 speaks volumes. “Look at all of us and think about where we’re gonna be in 10 or 15 years, you’ll forget most of us,” he said in the post-game conference where he sat alongside the Nieto twins, Ravena, Isaac Go, and Adrian Wong. “But you won’t forget Mike Nieto.” Coach Tab then went on to explain why he said so. As he put it, "Mike is a natural leader. Mike is a communicator. Mike is a thinker. In terms of touching people, making lives better, and making sure that everybody around him has a better chance than what he has, that’s our captain." High praise coming from the very mentor who has been getting nothing but high praise. Safe to say, though, Mike has proven himself to coach Tab. TBC: To Be Continued In doing so, Mike Nieto has also made it possible for the two of them to continue working together. Mike, twin Matt, fellow Blue Eagle Go, University of the East's Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian College-Recoletos' Allyn Bulanadi were the first five names listed for the Gilas pool. The likes of Ravena, Dwight Ramos of Ateneo, Justine Baltazar of De La Salle University, Dave Ildefonso then of National University, and the University of the Philippines foursome of Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano, Kobe Paras, and Jaydee Tungcab also made the list not long after. But the fact remains that "Big Mike" - he of zero starts, but three titles in a row in his last three years in blue and white - was one of the first names there. With that, he is now one of the few Batang Gilas players who have successfully gotten promoted to the Men's team. "Of course, sino bang ayaw i-represent ang bansa natin, 'di ba? That's why I'm very grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Gilas pool," he said. He then continued, "That's why I've been working on my game even harder so that I can provide whatever Gilas needs from me." Of course, what Gilas would need from Nieto is, first and foremost, his leadership. After all, that is still and would always be his greatest strength. To do so, though, the youngster would have to prove himself yet again - not only to Filipinos who are forever invested in their national team, but more importantly, his teammates, many of whom are already superstars in the PBA. For Mike, however, this is nothing new - nothing new at all. "Ever since I was in grade school, people have been doubting that I can progress my game to the next level. What we can't forget is that at the end of the day, it's in your hands if you want to prove them wrong or prove them right," he said. He then continued, "I actually enjoy these kinds of moments since dito talaga lalabas ang totoong pagkatao mo. Ang sigurado ko lang, I will fight for my spot in Gilas." And so, from a successful high school career and then an even more successful college career, Nieto is now seeking success as part of the Gilas pool. Does he deserve to be there? That's for the haters to hate, the doubters to doubt, and the bashers to bash. And that's for Mike Nieto to lead them out of the darkness. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: La Salle Paraiso vs UST Paraiso

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020