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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: abscbn abscbnOct 10th, 2019

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 19th, 2020

Serrano carries La Salle over Letran and into Filoil Preseason semis

In a scoring spurt that last just a little over a minute, Monday at Filoil Flying V Centre, Encho Serrano put De La Salle University on his shoulders and then put away Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 80-69. Serrano scored eight straight points from the 3:44 to the 2:44 marks of the final frame to punctuate an 11-0 run that re-increased the Green Archers' lead from seven points, 65-58, to 16, 76-60. "At first, we were playing relaxed so we told them we need to make stops and we will be able to run. Ayun, naka-convert kami nung dulo," head coach Gian Nazario. The high-motor swingman wound up with 18 points on top of four rebounds, four assists, and two steals, energizing the Taft-based team to the semifinals of the 2019 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament where they will face off with Lyceum of the Philippines University. Andrei Caracut also added 15 points of his own while Justine Baltazar stuffed the stat sheet with 11 markers, nine rebounds, six assists, and four blocks. La Salle will now set its sights on a semifinals showdown on Thursday still at the same venue opposite the Pirates who will most likely be without Mike Nzeusseu, out with a hand injury, and Jaycee Marcelino, out with a nose injury. "They are still a strong team. We will prepare for them very well," coach Gian said. Allen Mina fronted the effort for the Knights with 19 points while Jeo Ambohot posted a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double. BOX SCORES LA SALLE 80 - Serrano 18, Caracut 15, Baltazar 11, Melecio 9, Manuel 7, Capacio 4, Bonggay 4, Bates 2, Cagulangan 2, David 2, Bartlett 2, Lojera 2, Lim 2, Cu 0, Escandor 0 LETRAN 69 - Mina 19, Ambohot 13, Reyson 10, Ular 9, Muyang 6, Pambid 5, Yu 3, Olivario 2, Balagasay 2, Caralipio 0, Sangalang 0, Guarino 0 QUARTER SCORES: 14-20, 35-37, 54-50, 80-69 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

TAKE-TWO: These players made the most of their second chances

Comeback is real could not be any truer than in sports where nothing is ever over until the sound of the final buzzer. That goes as well off the court where nothing is ever over until, well, until somebody says it is. That is very much evident in all these players who did not necessarily have the best of first tries, but did nothing but make the most out of another shot once it presented itself. We begin with Colegio de San Juan de Letran's trio of talented transferees who were cast away from their UAAP schools only to get into their groove inside the Walls of Intramuros. Bonbon Batiller looked like he was University of the East's next top gun before taking his talents to the Knights. Now, he is an NCAA champion. Larry Muyang found no place in his one year in De La Salle University, but was finally given the chance to stand strong as one of Letran's big, bad pillars all the way to the title. Perhaps the most feel-good story, however, is Fran Yu who was lost in the shuffle in his single season as a Red Warrior before blossoming when it mattered most for the Knights. With that, he could now be called Finals MVP. The University of the Philippines has also leaned on quite a few talented transferees as it ushered in its new era of legitimate contention. Of course, Bright Akhuetie was no slouch when he was doing the heavy lifting for University of Perpetual Help, but when he moved to Diliman, he proved to be the difference in the Fighting Maroons' first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals since 1986. And oh, the Nigerian powerhouse is also State U's first MVP in 32 years. Jun Manzo, who first showcased his skills for University of the Visayas, was also a key cog in the maroon and green's two straight trips to the playoffs. So was Jaydee Tungcab who morphed from next big thing for Adamson University to dependable two-way player for UP. Ricci Rivero, meanwhile, is yet to reach the same heights he already has back as a Green Archer, but is set for a bigger year for the Fighting Maroons as they try for a third Final Four in a row - and who knows, even a breakthrough championship. In terms of championships, however, the most successful talented transferee is Ateneo de Manila University's Will Navarro. The versatile forward frequently lauded by head coach Tab Baldwin for his efficiency started his collegiate career as a backup in San Beda University before finding and fortifying his role with the Blue Eagles. With that, he has celebrated back-to-back titles. With a trophy of his own is Arellano University's Justin Arana who was hailed as Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-5 big man rose as a talented tower for the Chiefs because he was finally given the break he was once hoping to get in University of Sto. Tomas. More minutes was also what Shaun Ildefonso got when he traded in the Ateneo blue and white for the blue and gold of National University. Not only that, he was also named team captain for the Bulldogs. In Perpetual, a trio of transferees also showed the way. Ben Adamos brought his end-to-end game from San Beda, Edgar Charcos fulfilled his playmaking promise from UE, and Kim Aurin delivered his all-around goods from Jose Rizal University to Las Pinas. Other players who made the most of their second chances are: --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: Black s Ateneo vs Baldwin s Ateneo

Ateneo de Manila University has, put simply, reigned supreme over UAAP Men's Basketball in recent history. Blue Eagle has been the king eight times out of the last 12 tournaments. That dominance has bookended just three other teams who have won championships in that same timeframe. The first bookend was a five-peat that was engineered by then-already multi-titled mentor Norman Black from 2008 to 2012. The other - from 2017 and still counting - bookend has former national team coach Tab Baldwin calling the shots And Ateneo does not look like its slowing down anytime soon as its future remains secure in the hands of Ivorian tower Ange Kouame, emerging primetime playmayer SJ Belangel, and Filipino-American recruit Dwight Ramos. Between the two bookends, however, which Blue Eagle string of championships shines brighter? That is what we set out to figure out in this ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. In grading the greatness of Black's five-peat and Baldwin's three-peat, we will be judging them in five categories (talent, system, level of competition, dominance, and legacy) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. TALENT Black's five-peat had Kiefer Ravena while Baldwin's three-peat had Thirdy Ravena. So let's call that a draw. In terms of everything else, however, there is just no doubt that Ateneo had the most talented team for majority of its five-peat. The twin towers of Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao were followed by Justin Chua and then Greg Slaughter. Steady Chris Tiu was replaced by Jai Reyes and Eric Salamat who were then replaced by Kirk Long and Emman Monfort who were then replaced by Ravena and Juami Tiongson. At the wings were then likes of Ryan Buenafe, Nico Salva, and Oping Sumalinog. Majority of these players were true blue-chip recruits who decided to go to Ateneo, get-together with other promising prospects, and just run roughshod over the UAAP. Let's be clear here, anybody and everybody would want to go to war with that championship core of Ravena (Thirdy, that is), Isaac Go, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt to go along with whoever the versatile four-man is - be it Vince Tolentino or Raffy Verano or Will Navarro - and either Chibueze Ikeh or Kouame, but in terms of sheer top-level talent, the five-peat has the three-peat beat. Advantage Black's Ateneo, 10-8 SYSTEM The signature of Black's Ateneo teams was a complete team that had a killer inside-outside combo. Tiu and Al-Hussaini. Monfort and Chua. Ravena and Slaughter. And whenever it mattered most, there was always a clutch player to come through - be it Tiu or Salamat or Buenafe. That's the benefit of having the most talented team most of the time. The slight edge here, however, would have to go the egalitarian system Baldwin has installed in these Blue Eagles. Baldwin's boys take pride in the fact that, indeed, all of them are ready and raring to contribute whenever called upon. More often than not, the core plays somewhere between 12 to 24 minutes, but not one player could say his minutes are assured as their mentor always preaches that each and every one of his boys should never stop being better. That means that at any given point in time, somebody is always there to step up for somebody - "next man up" as they love to call it. Take for instance, that four-spot which first saw Tolentino doing the dirty work and once he graduated, Verano just filled in the spot. And when the Filipino-American ran into academic issues, was there any problem whatsoever? None at all because Navarro was there to come to be known as "Mr. Efficiency." Most definitely, there is no better system in collegiate basketball than what Baldwin has in place through this Ateneo three-peat. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION Six other member-schools made it to the playoffs at least once during Ateneo's five-peat - the lone exception being the University of the Philippines which was then still trudging through its so-called "dark days". In that run, the Blue Eagles had to contend with Far Eastern University with the likes of Mac Baracael, Mark Barroca, RR Garcia, and Terrence Romeo; University of the East with the likes of Marcy Arellano, Elmer Espiritu, Paul Lee, and James Martinez; Adamson University with the likes of Lester Alvarez, Rodney Brondial, and Alex Nuyles; De La Salle University with the likes of Jvee Casio, Rico Maierhoffer, and Jeron Teng; University of Sto. Tomas with the likes of Dylan Ababou, Karim Abdul, and Jeric Teng; and National University with the likes of Emmanuel Mbe and Ray Parks Jr. For their part, Ateneo's three-peat team saw the Bulldogs and the Red Warriors both fail to make the Final Four during its time on top. Still, they had to run through a gauntlet of good to great teams such as the Ben Mbala and Ricci Rivero-led Green Archers, the Jerrick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti-led Soaring Falcons, and the Arvin Tolentino and Wendell Comboy-led Tamaraws. Through it all, the Blue Eagles also had to play spoiler in the climb to contention of the Fighting Maroons with Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, Rivero, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan as well as the return to relevance of the Growling Tigers with Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, Mark Nonoy, and Soulemane Chabi Yo. The difference here then becomes the arrival of MVP-level foreign student-athletes. In La Salle's Mbala, UP's Akhuetie, and UST's Chabi Yo, Ateneo's three-peat team had to wage war with three of the best recruits from abroad before winning the championship. For sure, Al-Hussaini, Chua, and Slaughter mentored by Black would have been able to make something happen if ever they were matched up with those three, but the fact remains that nowadays, there is just more foreign talent in the UAAP. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 DOMINANCE With a five-peat, Black did something that has not been done in the UAAP since UE won seven titles in a row in the '60s under the legendary Baby Dalupan. Through that time, Ateneo registered a couple of one-loss and a pair of two-loss seasons - and the only struggle, relative to them, was a 10-4, second-seed elimination round finish in Season 73. Still, through that time, the Blue Eagles only had one loss in all of its playoff series - a 68-88 shocker of a defeat to the Red Warriors in Game 2 of the Season 72 Finals. Somehow, though, Baldwin's historic feat was more impressive as their 16-0 romp through Season 82 is the first-ever of its kind in men's basketball. Before this, all previous season sweeps in men's basketball wound up with 14-0 records. The three-peat Blue Eagles also boast of a better elims standing as they only lost a total of three times there in three years. Their two losses in the playoffs are worse compared to the five-peat team, but Season 82's 16-0 is still better than either Season 71 or Season 74's 16-1. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 LEGACY Black opened the floodgates for Ateneo to be a destination for blue-chip recruits from outside Katipunan. Remember, before this, the Blue Eagles' 2002 championship was built on the shoulders of former Blue Eaglets Rico Villanueva, Wesley Gonzales and Larry Fonacier - the non-homegrown key cogs being LA Tenorio from San Beda High School and two-time UAAP Srs. MVP Rich Alvarez, who played high school ball overseas. Through that five-peat, though, the blue and white became the undisputed king of recruiting as it got Salva from San Beda, Buenafe and Salamat from San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Tiu and Chua from Xavier and Chiang Kai Shek, respectively, and Baclao, Slaughter, and Sumalinog from the Visayas. Yes, Ravena was there, but many of Black's key cogs were still blue-chip recruits from outside Katipunan. In comparison, Baldwin's championship core, for the most part, are former Blue Eaglets in Ravena (again, Thirdy, that is), Anton Asistio, SJ Belangel, Gian Mamuyac, and the Nieto twins. Even Kouame is, in essence, a homegrown key cog as he was taken in by Ateneo even before college and finished his high school in nearby Multiple Intelligence International School In all, the blueprint may have been different, but the building was the same in the end - a blue and white dynasty. Draw, 10-10 FINAL SCORE: 48-47 for Baldwin's Ateneo.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 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

Two new Fil-Ams, 6-11 Senegalese suiting up for La Salle in PBA D-League

Another wave of Filipino-Americans has hit De La Salle University, with Kameron Vales and Jeromy Hughes all set to debut for the green and white in the upcoming 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup. The two Fil-Ams are included in the line-up the Green Archers submitted for developmental league tipping off on Monday. There, they will join forces with the inside-outside combo of Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio in the Taft-based team's first go-round in the PBA D-League. Hughes is a 6-foot-3 swingman who averaged 9.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists last year for Wenatchee Valley College while Vales is a 6-foot guard from California who normed 9.1 markers, 1.7 boards, and 1.2 dimes a season ago for University of Regina in Canada. Also poised to make his big league debut is 6-foot-11 Senegalese Amadou N'Diaye who will give La Salle its first foreign student-athlete since Taane Samuel. The Green Archers first assignment in the regional tournament is up against Wangs-Letran, Monday at Filoil Flying V Centre. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 28th, 2020

Ramirez backtracks from Letran, brings over versatility to La Salle

Joshua Ramirez vows to keep on doing it all as he takes his talents to De La Salle University. "I will always be thankful and grateful to Letran for the opportunity to represent them with pride, but at this point, I will continue my journey with DLSU," he said. Last November, the 19-year-old had initially committed to Colegio de San Juan de Letran. It was in his one and only year as a Squire that Ramirez opened eyes with averages of 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 27.3 minutes. The Intramuros-based school had hoped that the 6-foot-3 swingman, along with his versatility, would move on up to the Knights. Now, however, Ramirez has decided to challenge himself in another school, in another team, and in another league. The former Batang Gilas player will provide a boost off the bench for first-year head coach Derrick Pumaren and mainstays Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio. He can score from the perimeter, as evidenced by his 33 total threes in his last year in the NCAA Jrs., as well as the paint where he can pull off nifty finishes with either hand. At the same time, Ramirez can be a facilitator for his teammates all while being a disciplined defender. —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 21st, 2020

Ateneo stamps class on winless Letran to sweep PCCL 2020 elims

On the back of a 30-4 third quarter onslaught, Ateneo de Manila University pounded on Colegio de San Juan de Letran and powered its way to the Final Four of the 2020 Philippine Collegiate Champions League. From a tied tally at 35-all at the half, the Blue Eagles rang off 20 unanswered points that eventually ended as a convincing 79-61 victory, Saturday at Filoil Flying V Centre. As always, the UAAP champions got contributions from up and down the roster, with Dwight Ramos and Troy Mallillin showing the way this time around with the former finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, three steals, and two assists and the latter ending with 16 markers and six boards of his own. Still, they were actually chasing down the newly crowned kings of the NCAA after one and a half quarters before Ramos sparked a late charge to end the first half. And coming out of halftime, Ateneo just turned it up a notch and only allowed two makes on defense while burning down the nets on offense. Letran would never recover and saw its campaign come to a close without a win. The undefeated Blue Eagles now await the winner of the Visayas-Mindanao group for a semifinal showdown scheduled on March 7 at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig. SJ Belangel chipped in 10 points as they ran through the gauntlet of UAAP and NCAA Finalists without a loss. Pao Javillonar fronted the effort for the Knights with 15 points. Without Larry Muyang and Ato Ular in this one, however, they didn't have enough firepower to match up with the Blue Eagles. BOX SCORES ATENEO 79 - D. Ramos 16, Mallillin 16, Belangel 10, Credo 8, Daves 6, Fornilos 6, Kouame 5, Tio 5, Navarro 4, Mamuyac 2, E. Ramos 1, Chiu 0, P. Maagdenberg 0, Berjay 0, E. Maagdenberg 0. LETRAN 61 - Javillonar 15, Fajarito 10, Yu 9, Brutas 6, Mina 5, Pambid 5, Guarino 5, Rocacurva 4, Reyson 2, Ambohot 0, Banez 0. QUARTER SCORES: 11-16, 35-35, 65-39, 79-61. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 15th, 2020

2019: To sweep or not to sweep in collegiate basketball

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2019

This is La Salle s Super 6 for UAAP Season 82

These are the players who will be key as La Salle goes against the tide as an all-Filipino team. Add @AljunJayMelecio + @jbaltazar19 + @JoshCaracut + @JamieOrme13 + @serranoencho0 + @KeyshawnEvans1 and what do you get? La Salle’s Super 6 for #UAAPSeason82. pic.twitter.com/C92YS2XIxE — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) August 30, 2019 Captain Andrei Caracut, guard UAAP Season 81 averages: 9.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists Justine Baltazar, center UAAP Season 81 averages: 12.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.3 assists Keyshawn Evans, guard 2018-2019 US NCAA averages: 7.7 points, 2.0 assists, 1.8 rebounds Aljun Melecio, guard UAAP Season 81 averages: 15.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists Jamie Orme, forward 2018-2019 US NCAA averages: 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.0 steal, 1.0 assist Encho Serrano, swingman UAAP Season 81 averages: 6.2 points, 2.7 rebounds.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 30th, 2019

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2019

Pirates challenge to rest of NCAA 95: Catch us if you can

Lyceum of the Philippines University, even without CJ Perez and MJ Ayaay, looked like the running and gunning Pirates of old at the start of the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament. Trailing fellow contender Colegio de San Juan de Letran late in their season-opener last Sunday, the Pirates unleashed the Marcelino twins, Jaycee and Jayvee. And, as always, that fast and furious backcourt did damage on both ends. For them, they were only answering the call of head coach Topex Robinson. "Sabi kasi sa amin ni coach, tayo na pinakamaliit so kailangang magdoble-effort para makuha yung panalo," Jayvee said. Jaycee only shared the same sentiment. "Paulit-ulit talaga naming sinasabi sa sarili namin na wag tayo susuko. Malaki sila so kailangan, mag-step up kaming lahat," he said. Indeed, coach Topex, a defensive-stopper himself in his playing days, has one and only one challenge for his wards - prove that height is not might. "Sabi ko sa kanila coming into the game, we have two choices, it's either we lose by just being the smallest team or we win by being the smallest team. The choice is ours," he shared. He then continued, "We might be the smallest, but what we also have is the quickest team in the league right now. We're focusing all our energy on being the smallest, but quickest team in the league and we're hoping the other teams won't catch up on our quickness." Of course, facing off against the big, bad Knights - with 6-foot-7 Larry Muyang, 6-foot-6 Paolo Javillonar, 6-foot-5 Jeo Ambohot, 6-foot-5 Christian Balagasay, and 6-foot-4 Ato Ular - will pose a problem for just about anybody. That was even more so for LPU, however, as in their showdown, their tallest players were Jayson David and Rhanzelle Yong, both standing at 6-foot-4. It didn't help either that 6-foot-6 Cameroonian power Mike Nzeusseu was also out due to a hand injury. "Dun pa lang sa parade (nung opening ceremony), grabe na nakita namin e. Kami lang maliit kasi nga wala si Mike," Jaycee said. Still, all of that didn't matter as, in the end, victory went to the "smallest, but quickest" Pirates. And if all goes according to plan throughout the rest of the tournament, then there just may not be sinking them out of contention. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2019

Young guns to be wind beneath JRU s wings for NCAA 95

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 3-15, 10th YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Ry Dela Rosa, MJ Dela Virgen, Agem Miranda WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: John Amores, John Delos Santos, Marwin Dionisio, Thomas Vasquez, Louie Gonzalez (coach) GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Jed Mendoza, Junmark Silvarez, Darius Estrella (injured), Vergel Meneses (coach) WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM JRU? With Jed Mendoza transferring to University of the East, JRU was supposed to be Darius Estrella’s show to run in NCAA Season 95. Unfortunately, Estrella, a former MVP in the NCAA Jrs., suffered another ACL injury and will be out for the year. That makes the Heavy Bombers even more of a young team as the mantle of leadership will now fall on second-year players Ry Dela Rosa and Agem Miranda. “Every day, I talk to Agem and Ry, I give them more responsibility. With their attitude, they're really up to it. Agem is really special. Ry is a team player, he does the small things.” – head coach Louie Gonzalez While those two are solid pieces, the future of Kalentong will fall upon the shoulders of a quartet of recruits from the school’s Juniors program. First and foremost among them is fearless slasher John Amores, the 17th-ranked player in last season’s NBTC 24, but playmaker John Delos Santos, steady forward Marwin Dionisio, and sparkplug Thomas Vasquez are no slouches themselves. “Yung rookies ko from high school, sobrang promising talaga. Sakin, napagandang opportunity ito to show na may connection yung program from Light Bombers to Heavy Bombers.” – head coach Louie Gonzalez WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM JRU? Without a doubt, several players will take turns in doing the heavy lifting for JRU. And so, there is no definitive player to watch from them. “The way things are running, come NCAA, wala naman akong ma-ask sa players ko. They are a young team, pero sobrang promising naman. What's good with the players right now, nag-buy in agad dun sa sistema. Yung commitment at effort na binigay sakin, sobra-sobra.” – head coach Louie Gonzalez What would be must-watch, however, is how new head coach Louie Gonzalez tries to rejigger a program that fell to the back of the pack last season with a 3-15 record. This, after an eight-year run that saw them posting an overall 81-61 record under school legend Vergel Meneses. Fortunately for Coach Louie, he will have championship experience to draw from as he was an assistant for both Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s NCAA Season 91 championship and De La Salle University’s UAAP Season 79 championship. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR JRU? Again, JRU is a young team. Aside from point guard MJ Dela Virgen, nobody from their lineup saw heavy minutes in the last two seasons. That gives all their young talent – such as second-year players Miranda and Dela Rosa and rookies Amores, Delos Santos, Dionisio, and Vasquez – the golden opportunity to break out. Coach Louie also turned La Salle into a team of scrappy upstarts that leaned on third-year studs Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio for a run that just fell a win shy of the Final Four in the UAAP a year ago – meaning, he is more than capable of doing the same for the Heavy Bombers. “One thing's for sure, lalaban 'to.” – head coach Louie Gonzalez WHERE WOULD JRU BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 95? No question, JRU will not be in the Final Four next season. “Wala naman kaming pupuntahan kundi pataas. For this one, sana 7th or 8th, medyo okay na ako kasi it’s a rebuilding team. Ang goal namin is mag-improve nang mag-improve.” – head coach Louie Gonzalez Instead, what NCAA Season 95 will mean for the Heavy Bombers is the first step in a grand plan to take flight once more. As such, at the moment, getting experience for their young talent is their primary purpose. WHEN IS JRU’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 95? JRU’s new era commences opposite San Sebastian College-Recoletos on July 9 at Filoil Flying V Centre. As always, the latest season of the first and oldest collegiate league in the country will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 27th, 2019

Caduyac, Nzeusseu power LPU past Letran

Raymar Caduyac poured 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as Lyceum of the Philippines came back from 13 points down to beat Letran, 101-96, Friday in the 2019 FilOil Flying V Preseason Tournament. The Pirates recovered from a shaky first half to remain unbeaten in three games in Group B while handing the Knights first loss in four games. Caduyac provided the much-needed offensive firepower in the pivotal stretch of the fourth frame but it was Mike Nzeusseu who dropped the hammer with a one-handed and one slam with nine ticks left to wrap the win. “We beat ourselves in the first half,” said Pirates coach Topex Robinson. “Nabulaga kami with a very good first half from Letran.” Nzeusseu led LPU with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Jaycee Marcelino had 18 points, four boards and two steals while Jayson David contributed 11 markers for the Pirates. Letran saw its winning run snapped for a 3-1 card despite  the 30-point explosion of Allen Mina. Fran Yu got 15 points, five rebounds and three assists while Tommy Olivario had 10. In other results, De La Salle University weathered Centro Escolar University’s upset scare, 71-67, for a 3-1 win-loss record in Group A while San Sebastinan College beat University of the Philippines, 73-64. Encho Serrano led the Green Archers with 18 points while Justin Baltazar finished with a double-double with 14 markers and 10 boards. Aljun Melecio chipped in with 11 points for the Taft-based squad. The Scorpions cut DLSU’s lead to 69-67 with just a minute left off a Jan Formento triple. The Green Archers came up empty in the next possession but Formento missed his triple before Serrano drilled a layup to secure the win. Formento scored 22 for CEU, which slid to 2-1 mark. RK Ilagan posted 18 points while Allyn Bulanadi finished with 16 for the Stags. Ricci Rivero scored 19 points, Jun Manzo got 12 while reigning UAAP MVP Bright Akhuetie had 11 markers in a lost cause for the Maroons.   Meanwhile, College of St. Benilde defeated Jose Rizal University, 79-56. Yankie Hanruna caught fire as he steered the Blazers to its first win in  three outing, scoring 19 points in 7-of-10 field goal shooting to go with five rebounds. Justin Gutang and James Pasturan added nine markers each as CSB dictated the tempo of the game early with a backbreaking 18-4 first quarter blitz. The Bombers were no match to the guns of the Blazers as they dropped to 0-2 mark in Group B. MJ dela Virgen scored 11 points while freshman Marwin Dionisio posted 11 for JRU.   Box scores: First game: ST. BENILDE (79) -- Haruna 19, Pasturan 9, Gutang 9, Naboa 8, Pangalangan 7, Belgica 6, Dixon 5, Young 3, Flores 3, Carlos 2, Nayve 2, Leutcheu 2, Lim 2, Javillonar 2, Lepalam 0. JRU (56) -- Dela Virgen 11, Dionisio 11, Delos Santos 10, Estrella 6, Arenal 5, Miranda 5, Jungco 2, Aguila 2, Vasquez 2, Bordon 2, Amores 0, Steinl 0, Padua 0. Quarters: 18-4, 34-23, 55-46, 79-56.   Second game: LYCEUM (101) -- Nzeusseu 20, Caduyac 18, Jc. Marcelino 18, David 11, Navarro 8, Tansingco 7, Ibanez 6, Jv. Marcelino 5, Valdez 4, Guinto 2, Santos 2, Laurente 0, Remulla 0. LETRAN (96) -- Mina 30, Yu 15, Olivario 10, Balagasay 9, Sangalang 8, Pambid 7, Reyson 7, Guarino 4, Ular 4, Muyang 1, Caralipio 0, Gallano 0. Quarters: 25-26, 48-58, 71-68, 101-96.   Third Game: DLSU (71) -- Serrano 18, Baltazar 14, Melecio 11, Caracut 9, Manuel 4, David 4, Capacio 4, Cu 2, Bates 2, Bartlett 2, Manaytay 1, Lim 0, Lojera 0, Escandor 0. CEU (67) -- Formento 22, Diouf 13, Chan 10, Fuentes 10, Lisbo 4, Uri 3, Rojas 3, Sunga 2, Caballero 0, Diaz 0, Bernabe 0. Quarters: 11-13, 26-28, 47-48, 71-67.   Fourth Game: SSC-R (73) -- Ilagan 18, Bulanadi 16, Sumoda 13, Calabat 8, Bonleon 6, Dela Cruz 4, Villapando 3, Altamirano 3, Calma 2, Desoyo 0, Loristo 0, Suico 0, Baclay 0, Tero 0, Isidro 0, Are 0. UP (64) -- Rivero 19, Manzo 12, Akhuetie 11, Gomez de Liano, Ju. 8, Murrell 6, Prado 4, Jaboneta 2, Gozum 2, Spencer 0, Tungcab 0, Gob 0. Quarters: 19-13, 37-31, 56-52, 73-64......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 17th, 2019

UP, UE share 2019 s king of recruiting crown

Who was our King of Recruiting in 2018? Find out here. --- Last season, the University of the Philippines, at long last, broke through in the UAAP. Behind the leadership of Paul Desiderio and key contributions from Season MVP Bright Akhuetie and Mythical selection Juan Gomez de Liano, the Fighting Maroons made their first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals in 32 years. Now, even without the iconic Desiderio, State U is nothing but confident it could build on its breakthrough. The reason? Well, because two of the brightest young stars in Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero are now orbiting Diliman. Paras has all the physical tools to take any league by storm and now in maroon and green, he is out to continue the legacy of his father Benjie who delivered the school’s first and only championship. Meanwhile, the Euro-stepping Rivero already knows a thing or two about taking the UAAP by storm, having been chosen for the Mythical Team when he was still playing for De La Salle University in 2017. Add big man J-Boy Gob, another transferee, to that and, indeed, UP is only equipped to keep contending. On the strength of the transfers of Paras and Rivero alone, the Fighting Maroons would have been worthy of the title of 2019 King of Recruiting. Right up there with them, though, in terms of getting a big boost in the offseason is University of the East. Absent from the Final Four in the last decade, the Red Warriors will be heading into the upcoming season with a fully stocked arsenal. Now up front for them – alongside stalwart Philip Manalang, of course – will be 6-foot-9 Senegalese Adama Diakhite, three-time champion and two-time MVP in the CESAFI Rey Suerte, and college-ready Harvey Pagsanjan, the no. 7 high school player in the 2019 NBTC 24. Diakhite is a hulking presence who will prove to be a tough matchup even for the likes of reigning MVP Akhuetie and last year’s Rookie of the year Ange Kouame. Suerte, a gifted scorer from anywhere on the court, fills right into the hole left behind by scoring dynamo Alvin Pasaol while Pagsanjan can continue making all the right plays he had been doing as the longtime beacon of hope for Hope Christian High School. Also flanking them are former Ateneo de Manila University forward John Apacible, defensive stopper Neil Tolentino, Filipino-Kiwi swingman Richie Rodger, and Filipino-Australian point guard Jasper Rentoy. And with that, UP and UE will have joint custody of the crown of the 2019 King of Recruiting. They dethrone National University which claimed the crown a year ago behind a big-time recruiting class that included Ildefonso brothers Dave and Shaun, John Lloyd Clemente, and John Galinato. Just like last year, there remains no doubt that the new Fighting Maroons and Red Warriors will make their respective sides forces to reckon with come UAAP 82. Still, several squads also made it a point to be better in the offseason. In fact, the graduating players in the 2019 NBTC 24 have been spread out among eight different teams. From the 2019 NBTC 24, the annual ranking of the best high school players in the country, 14 are moving on up to the Seniors. Adamson University is the biggest winner in terms of recruits from that ranking, with three of the top 15 players now in San Marcelino. Ninth-ranked Aaron Fermin is a double-double machine in the NCAA Jrs. and is nothing but determined to realize his potential as a two-way force under multi-titled mentor Franz Pumaren. In CESAFI standout Joshua Yerro and UAAP Jrs. Mythical selection Joem Sabandal, coach Franz also has young blood to bolster the backcourt that will no longer have Koko Pingoy. The Soaring Falcons also scored four other former Baby Falcons in big man Lorenz Capulong and wings Adam and Andrey Doria and AP Manlapaz. When it comes to reaping the rewards of its high school program, though, nobody could still touch Mapua University which again got two keep its Jrs. studs in Clint Escamis and Dan Arches, both of whom made it into the top two-thirds of the 2019 NBTC 24. Escamis and Arches are offensive guards who will give much-needed firepower to a promising core comprised of fellow Mapua HS products Warren Bonifacio, Eric Jabel, Noah Lugo, and Laurenz Victoria. Also, the Cardinals are the favorites to land NCAA 94 Jrs. Finals MVP Paolo Hernandez, another Red Robin. Also bagging two prized prospects from the 2019 NBTC 24 is La Salle which is now the place where the talented tandem of Joel Cagulangan and Joshua David get to work. Cagulangan has long been a star in the making and the NCAA 94 Jrs. MVP is, without question, Taft Avenue’s point guard of the future. The even better news is that he will still have wingman David, a tried and tested glue guy, to grow with. Also set to debut for the Green Archers are Filipino-Americans Jordan Bartlett, a speedster guard; Tyrus Hill, a high-flying forward; and Kurt Lojera, a big-bodied swingman. In all, there are six graduates from the top 10 of the 2019 NBTC 24. All of them would be on different teams in the Srs. Two players from 2019 NBTC 24 are yet to commit to any school, but there is no doubt that Red Robin Hernandez and Greenie Inand Fornilos will be able additions to any collegiate team. For the second straight year, Aldin Ayo will be adding a top three recruit out of high school as incoming sophomore CJ Cansino will now join forces with another triple-doubling talent in Mark Nonoy, a rookie who plays way beyond his years. But wait, there’s more as UST also welcomes with open arms its newest foreign student-athlete in Beninese Soulemane Chabi Yo whose speed and skill will make him a problem for the other foreign student-athletes more used to being powerhouses. Sprinkle in stretch four Sherwin Concepcion as well as versatile forwards Rhenz Abando and Brent Paraiso and there’s a reason why the Growling Tigers are now very much a darkhorse contender. L-Jay Gonzales and RJ Abarrientos remain FEU’s backcourt for tomorrow, but in the meantime, the former is poised for a breakout just as the latter is poised to wrap up his K-12 schooling. Yes, Abarrientos is not yet good to go come UAAP 82, but his steady hand is still the perfect pairing for the burst of energy that is Gonzales. Make no mistake, however, the Tamaraws have gotten help in the form of 6-foot-10 Cameroonian Patrick Tchuente as well as former Baby Tams Daniel Celzo and Jack Gloria. Letran is already the biggest it has ever been up front with NCAA 94 Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang alongside Jeo Ambohot, Christian Balagasay, and Christian Fajarito. Now, the Knights have also beefed up at the wings with Allen Mina and Mark Sangalang as well as former Red Warrior and Growling Tiger Jordan Sta. Ana. LPU will have to prove it could continue contending even without NCAA 93 MVP CJ Perez, but the good news is that now backtopping Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee are former San Sebastian College-Recoletos key cogs Alvin Baetiong, Jayson David, and Renzo Navarro. That’s still a pretty solid lineup in our books. Just like last year, the now two-time UAAP champions are mostly intact, only losing team captain Anton Asistio as well as reserve guard Aaron Black. That doesn’t mean, however, that there are no new faces in Ateneo. Geo Chiu, Kai Sotto’s twin tower, decided to stay in Katipunan just as fellow ex-Blue Eaglets RV Berjay and Jason Credo are now seeing minutes in head coach Tab Baldwin’s rotation. And oh, there is a possibility that double-double machine Fornilos, who placed no. 13 in the 2019 NBTC 24, is bound to be a Blue Eaglet. Perps is nothing but determined to build on the triumphant return to the NCAA of head coach Frankie Lim and to do that, they will be leaning on former San Beda University pillar Ben Adamos as well as ex-Adamson HS workhorse Jefner Egan. Count out the Altas at your own risk. JRU is just on the first phase of a grand rebuild, but there is no doubt that things are looking up for Kalentong. In John Amores, they now have an end-to-end force who is all set to make an immediate impact as a rookie. These are the new names to watch for the teams: Baste CSB National U San Beda --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2019

La Salle adds another Pampanga s best in Arwind-like Policarpio

De La Salle University is loading up on local talent as its sets out in its quest to return to the Final Four. In particular, the Green Archers are continuing to harvest the fruits of Pampanga's fertile ground, clinching the commitment of 6-foot-4 forward Jonnel Policarpio. Policarpio is a two-way forward who had starred for Mapua High School in the last two years. In the most recent NCAA Jrs. tournament, he continued to show just why he's being compared to Arwind Santos, using his long limbs and quickness to put up per game counts of 19.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. While the 18-year-old remains thankful for the Red Robins for taking a chance on him, he said he just could not pass up the golden opportunity to play with his fellow Kapampangans Justine Baltazar and Encho Serrano in Taft Avenue. "Pagdating ko ng Manila, dream ko na talagang makalaro sa UAAP tapos nandun pa mga kababayan ko kaya madali ko talagang napili ang La Salle," he said. Policarpio, alongside fellow new faces CJ Austria, Joshua David, Emman Galman, and Joshua Ramirez fortify a forward group that already includes Tyrus, Hill, Kurt Lojera, Joaqui Manuel, and Serrano. Unlike Austria and Galman, however, he is already eligible to play in Season 83. There, the proud product of Pampanga vows to go all-out in helping the Green Archers get back to the promised land. "Ibubuhos ko lahat para sa La Salle. Kung anong ipapagawa ni coach [Derrick] Pumaren, susundin ko hanggang sa makuha namin ang championship," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 3rd, 2020

Student-athletes helping out in pandemic emulate UAAP values

UAAP officials lauded the student-athletes of member schools for their initiative to actively extend help to those in need during this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Since the start of the community quarantine, athletes in their own capacity organized and joined fundraising drives, distributed personal protective equipment and other essentials to medical and security frontliners, handed out relief goods to affected communities and even served as frontliners. “Allow us to emphasize lang na wala kaming inutusan sa mga ‘yan. Nagugulat na lang kami na it's very voluntary,” said UAAP Executive Director Atty. Rebo Saguisag on Tuesday during the online session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum. “These are student-athletes na nag-aaral, naglalaro but at the end of the day when the nation calls for it in a broader spectrum of life they were able to respond,” added Saguisag, who was joined by Season 83 President Em Fernandez of Ateneo in the in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, Go For Gold PH and powered by Smart. Basketball stars including Ricci Rivero of University of the Philippines, Mike and Matt Nieto and Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo, Rhenz Abando and CJ Cansino of University of Sto. Tomas, Encho Serrano and Justine Baltazar of De La Salle University and women’s cager Jack Animam of National University were among those who participated in fundraising drives and donated relief goods to vulnerable communities. Animam’s teammate Ria Nabalan served as a frontliner as a Philippine Navy personnel.   Active volleyball players joined former UAAP volleyball stars in various jersey auctions and fund-raisers while other student-athletes from different sports disciplines, including fencer Maxine Esteban of Ateneo did their part to help.        “We have a lot of student-athletes who have been helping in their own capacity. We have athletes from the tennis community, athletes from the volleyball community and athletes from the fencing community who have been helping everyone. Even internally, we have athletes in the dorm who have been helping out with the relief efforts of Ateneo,” said Fernandez talking about Ateneo athletes’ efforts.   “Just to cite, the athletes of Adamson who are still in the dorm of Adamson are helping out the communities outside,” he added. Despite being affected by the pandemic themselves especially with the cancellation of Season 82 and the possibility of pushing back the opening of Season 83 to early next year, the officials gave praise to the student-athletes for their actions amid this trying time.    “It’s reflective of the values taught by each member institution and I guess the value of the UAAP wants to share. We’re all in this together,” said Saguisag.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2020

WHAT IF... Ben Mbala played his last year in La Salle

History lesson: Ben Mbala was one of the most dominant - if not the most dominant - forces the UAAP has ever seen. Winning a championship as well as back-to-back MVPs, Mbala was, hands down, the best player in all of college in his two years suiting up for De La Salle University. Technically, he had one more playing year, but decided against it to take back control of his career. This decision, coming right after the Green Archers got dethroned by archrival Ateneo de Manila University in a thrilling three-game Finals. That would just be the first of three championships in a row for the Blue Eagles who swept the University of the Philippines and the University of Sto. Tomas the following years. Meanwhile, without the Cameroonian powerhouse, the Taft-based team fell short of the playoffs the following years. Now, the green and white is trying to barge back into the playoff picture with a fourth coach in four years. It is far from a certainty that Louie Gonzalez, who replaced Aldin Ayo, would be able to hold off Gian Nazario - and active consultant Jermaine Byrd - and then Derrick Pumaren if he had led La Salle to the Final Four in UAAP 81. What is a certainty, however, is that with Mbala back in the fold, they are locks for the Final Four. And so, what if "Big Ben" played his last year in La Salle? Ateneo would remain the top-seed while Adamson University would fall to three and the University of the Philippines would fall to four. Mbala and company would then stake claim to the second-seed and the twice-to-beat advantage it entails before taking care of business yet again against the Soaring Falcons. In the other bracket, the Blue Eagles end the Cinderella story of the Fighting Maroons who would play in their first Final Four in 21 years, but would still be looking for their first Finals since 1986. With that, the rivalry trilogy would be set in motion - Ateneo-La Salle for all the glory for the third year in a row. And for the 6-foot-8 center, the rubber match would have been theirs. Asked in the inaugural episode of The Prospects Pod if they would have reclaimed the title if he had played his last year, he answered, "Yeah. I think so." Our own thought experiment, however, thinks otherwise and has the Blue Eagles getting the better of the Green Archers once more. The arrival of Rookie of the Year Ange Kouame is a brand new tall task to face for Season MVP Mbala. Of course, the now-three-time MVP still finds a way against the inexperienced Ivorian, but Ateneo's total team effort would still prove to be too much for La Salle. According to Mbala, if he had stayed, Ricci Rivero would have stayed as well and not taken his talents to UP. That means that Brent Paraiso would remain as well. A core of Mbala, Rivero, Paraiso, Andrei Caracut, Aljun Melecio, and Santi Santillan would be really nasty, but that also means Justine Baltazar would not get the room he needs to grow. They would fight with their all, for sure, but would also ultimately succumb to the Blue Eagles' otherworldly - and quite frankly, unfair - depth and balance. In the end, Ateneo still goes on to a three-peat, and counting, while La Salle just falls short for the second straight year. Mbala moves on to showcasing his skills overseas - and moves on to ribbing Kiefer Ravena that it's just a matter of time before the butt heads in the PBA. There would also be no more questions about how Kouame would have fared against the Green Archers' best foreign student-athlete. For his part, however, Mbala said that individual comparisons do not matter in basketball. "People tell me that I were there, it would (have been) a different story, but I don't do comparisons. It's not a one-on-one game, it's five-on-five," he said. He then continued, "It was not I will take the rebound and do everything I want. No, it's not that. It's not about the size, it's about the system." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 10th, 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