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UAAP Season 82: No time to relax for fired up Lady Eagles

Even after a dominating win to set their title defense in motion, Ateneo de Manila University feels that it is still far from the same form that won the Lady Eagles the throne last year.   Graduating hitter Kat Tolentino points out that the Lady Eagles can’t afford to relax with just a step in their long journey to remain seated on the throne.   “It was a good first win. There’s still a lot that needs to be fixed. It’s just the start of the season. It doesn’t mean anything for us,” said Tolentino on Wednesday following Ateneo’s 25-13, 25-17, 25-23, drubbing of University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament at the MOA Arena. The Lady Eagles buckled down to business and showed how serious they are in keeping the title perched in their campus in Katipunan, crushing the Fighting Maroons in one hour and 31 minutes. But the battle is far from over.   “We’re still trying to defend the crown and like what coach (Oliver Almadro) said ‘Just because you won last year, doesn’t mean that it’s the same as this year.’ So we’re gonna continue working hard,’” said Tolentino. Despite losing key players in now graduate Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag after their title conquest last season, the Lady Eagles showed that they remained to be a deep team proven by their balance scoring.      “Sabi nga kanina this game is all about teamwork and I think na, yes, we have a lot to improve on but I’m grateful na whatever we planned on and worked on, it worked. Kasi we worked as a team,” said rookie Faith Nisperos. Tolentino had plenty of help with Nisperos and Jules Samonte, who slid back to middle, chipping in 10 points each while Ponggay Gaston and returning Jho Maraguinot combining for 10 markers. The win will serve as a morale-booster for Ateneo as they prime up for a bigger battle ahead when the Lady Eagles take on archrival De La Salle University on Saturday.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMar 4th, 2020

Single game scoring sensations in UAAP women’s volleyball (Final Four era)

Scorers are aplenty in UAAP women’s volleyball. All teams have players who can bring in the numbers on the offensive end. Powerful wingers can pound missile after missile while middles can wreak havoc at the net either on quick attacks or kill blocks. Setters, if lucky, can put in points on top of their playmaking. But there are those who showed their great offensive prowess and carved their names in the record books.      Here are the players who scored 30 or more points in a single game in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament in during the past two decades.   ANGELA BENTING, ADAMSON UNIVERSITY She may not be the tallest of players on the Adamson University Lady Falcons side but Angela Benting can soar and score at any given time. Eleven years ago, Benting displayed her best scoring performance for the Lady Falcons in an epic match against an equally dangerous University of Sto. Tomas side. In UAAP Season 71, the Benting-led Lady Falcons faced the Tigresses in an all-important match at the close of the elimination round. The Lady Falcons needed a win to secure the no. 3 spot in the Final Four. Adamson with Benting at the helm drew first blood. But the Tigresses rallied in the succeeding sets just as Benting was then pouring on the points for Adamson. The Lady Falcon eventually ended up with then a league-best 33 points, but all of Benting's efforts went down the drain as the Tigresses walked away with a 22-25, 25-16, 27-25, 25-23 win. While Benting was doing her thing for Adamson, Aiza Maizo was working on hers for the Tigresses as the lefty unleashed 30 points in an exciting scoring showdown that Valentine’s Day in 2009 at The Arena in San Juan.    It was a heartbreaking loss for the Lady Falcons as they closed the elims tied with UST at 9-5 slate and were dragged to a playoff for Final Four place. The Tigresses eventually won the rematch for no. 3 spot. Unfortunately, neither team advanced to the Finals as then Rachel Anne Daquis-led defending champion Far Eastern University and Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University, who was coming off a scandalous forfeiture of games the year before, figured in the battle for the crown.     AIZA MAIZO, UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS Aiza Maizo eventually reset her UAAP personal-best two seasons later after a memorable showing against Adamson University by opening Season 73 with a bang. Pitted against Ateneo de Manila University’s Fab Five, Maizo uncorked a 32-point explosion to lead UST to victory in a five-set thriller, 25-13, 18-25, 19-25, 26-24, 15-13, on No. 27, 2010. Maizo shouldered the scoring chores for the then reigning champions Tigresses as she fired 29 off 83 attacks with three kill blocks in the match that lasted for two hours and 20 minutes. Maizo started in all sets. The Queen Tigress, whose closest back-up in points was Maru Banaticla with 12 markers, also played an all-around game with 11 digs and seven excellent receptions.   However, UST eventually lost its hold of the throne that season when DLSU reclaimed the title.     ALYSSA VALDEZ, ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY     Angela Benting’s four-year scoring record was broken by a then-sophomore Alyssa Valdez of Ateneo. The 1,784-strong crowd inside the The Arena in San Juan witnessed history unfold as Valdez exploded for 35 points in match against Adamson U. Out of her 35 points, Valdez hammered down 31 off attacks in 80 attempts. She added three kill blocks of the Lady Eagles’ 10 denials and landed an ace. Valdez also had six digs. But her feat wasn’t enough to save Ateneo as the Lady Falcons walked away with a five-set 22-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-16, 10-15, in their Season 75 start of second round eliminations meeting last January 20, 2013. However, Valdez’s scoring record would remain as the women’s benchmark in production to this day. The Queen Eagle would again breach the 30-point mark as she finished a point shy of the duplicating her personal and UAAP record in a five-set win over archrival DLSU in Season 78 Finals Game 2 that forced a series decider. The then graduating Valdez, with their three-peat bid at stake, poured 34 points to breathe new life to Ateneo, which survived 18-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11, in a grueling two-hour, eight-minute encounter witnessed by 20,126 people inside the MOA Arena on April 27, 2016.      Valdez pounded 32 attack points off 76 attempts in a heroic stand for the Lady Eagles, who unfortunately surrendered the crown in Game 3. Valdez would eventually break her career-high with 39 points in an 18-25, 27-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-9 win over the Laoag Power Smashers while playing for Bureau of Customs in the defunct V-League on Oct. 5, 2016.   SISI RONDINA, UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS Sisi Rondina never got the chance to display her full potential in her first year with UST, taking a back seat in indoor volleyball behind another freshman in EJ Laure in Season 77. She finally got her chance to shine under then new head coach Kungfu Reyes in Season 78 as a starter for the Tigresses. Rondina reintroduced herself with an inspired performance as she fired 30 points in UST’s season-opener on Febuary 3, 2016. The Cebu pride displayed crisp attacking with 25 kills off 55 attempts and added three aces and a pair of kill blocks. But it wasn’t enough as UST bowed to Adamson U, 22-25, 21-25, 25-20, 30-28, 14-16, and came two points short of tying Aiza Maizo’s team record in points. Lady Falcon Jema Galanza was two points shy of reaching the 30-point mark. Three years after her 30-point game, Rondina surpassed her career-best and became the Tigresses’ top scorer in a single game when she pumped in a league-best-tying 35 points in a five-set game against Ateneo on March 20, 2019. Rondina pounded away as she scattered 30 kills in 102 tries and had three kill blocks and a pair of aces in a sorry 25-19, 25-22, 27-25, 25-22, 15-11, defeat. While Rondina equaled Valdez’s scoring record, Lady Eagle Maddie Madayag wrote a new standard in kill blocks with 11 erasing the nine denials established by DLSU’s Celine Hernandez in 2008.   TOTS CARLOS, UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES Power-hitter Tots Carlos tied Aiza Maizo’s scoring feat when the University of the Philippines star dropped 32 points against the Sisi Rondina-led Tigresses. With the then Lady Maroons struggling to climb the ladder in the first round of Season 80 and limping from a four-game slide, Carlos took matters into her own hands. The then third year player blasted 27 attack points off 64 tries and added three kill blocks and landed two aces in UP’s 31-33, 25-23, 25-16, 25-12, win over UST on February 28, 2018. The win stopped the Lady Maroons’ bleeding but UP for the second straight year eventually bowed out of the race for a Final Four slot. However, Carlos’ career-high production put her on top of UP’s single-game scoring list.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 6th, 2020

Greatest Performance: Marck Espejo’s 55-point game

Playing in a sport where posting records is hard to do, Marck Espejo proved that he is a cut above the rest. In his last year in the UAAP, Espejo led then-defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in an amazing Final Four victory, defying the odds stacked against the Blue Eagles. The five-time Most Valuable Player not only carried Ateneo on his shoulders for another trip to the Finals, but Espejo also registered a league scoring record in an incredible display of his offensive prowess, determination and heart.      Espejo did that two years ago in the UAAP Season 80 semifinals against twice-to-beat Far Eastern University on a balmy Saturday morning. Fans inside the Mall of Asia Arena were all up on their feet in the closing stretch of the fifth set. The raucous crowd were about to witness history unfold before their eyes.  Playing in his final year for the blue and white, Espejo knew that their three-year reign was hanging in the balance. The Blue Eagles survived the nip-and-tuck fourth set to force a decider after going down, 1-2, in the match against the confident Tamaraws. Espejo already had 44 points. In the first four sets the open spiker fired missile after missile to frustrate FEU, which was already committing three blockers on Espejo to no avail. He just kept coming. He was unstoppable. One more final push and Ateneo will get a chance to live to fight another day.   Espejo assumed the Herculean task of providing the much-needed firepower in the deciding frame. He was running on pure adrenaline. Espejo stepped up big time in the deciding frame when he scored 11 of Ateneo’s points. The King Eagle, who held the Blue Eagles together in the fourth frame, wreaked havoc in the fifth set and gave Ateneo an 8-5 lead. FEU closed the gap 8-9 before the Blue Eagles extended their advantage to 11-8 off an off the block kill by Espejo. The Ateneo star finished off FEU with a thunderous spike to cap the Blue Eagles' closing 4-1 assault with the last four points all coming from Espejo.  “’Yung points naman po, hindi ko siya iniisip. Basta iniisip ko lang, ‘pag binigay sa akin 'yung bola, kailangan ko pumuntos, kasi para sa team ko naman 'yun eh,” said the soft-spoken Espejo, whose monster production in the series opener came from 47 attacks, six kill blocks and two aces. The King Eagle pushed Ateneo at match point with a kill block before Espejo put the icing on the cake with a powerful smash that shattered the two-man block of FEU. That was the last of Espejo’s league-record 55 points – the highlight of the Blue Eagles’ 18-25, 25-13, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9 win. WATCH:  “Nagulat nga ako, sabi ko, typographical error ba ito?” said a surprised Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro, who was on his last year with the Blue Eagles before taking over the Lady Eagles the following season The mentor, who in Season 81 steered Ateneo back to the women’s division throne, admitted that no one on his bench knew that Espejo was already putting up record numbers. He just instructed his setter Ish Polvorosa to toss the ball to Espejo for a high percentage attack. “Hindi namin alam. Hindi nga namin alam eh,” said Almadro. “Minsan nga, naano pa ako kay Ish (Polvorosa) - 'Ish, bigay mo na kay Marck, bigay mo na kay Marck.' 'Yun pala, he is making these points na.” Espejo again wreaked havoc in the winner-take-all match, scoring 37 points as the Blue Eagles booted out FEU for a fifth straight championship dance with archrival National University.         However, Ateneo’s dynasty crumbled at the hands of the Bryan Bagunas-led Bulldogs.    It was a painful defeat to close Espejo’s collegiate career. But didn’t diminish the sparkle of Espejo’s performance in his swan song especially is record feat, which might stand as the league’s scoring benchmark for years.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 1st, 2020

UAAP Season 82: There s more in us that is coming -- Okumu

University of the Philippines head coach Godfrey Okumu can point out a dozen things they did wrong in the Fighting Maroons’ disappointing opening day defeat in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament. However, the mentor remains defiant that the fight in UP is alive and well and that his wards just played a fraction of what they are really capable of.   “It is not how I wanted to start. I'll just say that it's a wake-up call,” said Okumu, who spent extra time inside their dugout to talk to his crew following the Fighting Maroons’ 13-25, 17-25, 23-25, black and blue beating at the hands of defending champion Ateneo de Manila University on Wednesday. The third-year coach felt that his team played too tight in the first two sets and drifted away from their game plan. It didn’t help they were committing strings of errors that added to their frustration. UP gave away 29 points to Ateneo off its miscues.   “We did not relax until the third set. We were in a hurry, we were not composed,” said Okumu. UP got buried early in the first two frames, trailing in double digits in some stretches.  The Fighting Maroons did show resistance in the third, giving the Lady Eagles quite a scare only to crumble in the end. “I hope that we will find composure in the next games. If we are, our game would come,” said Okumu. “I believe we only performed at ten-percent of what we are capable of. The scoreline, unforced errors,” he added. “I still believe we can do better. I believe that we just did a fraction of what we are.” After the match, the Fighting Maroons had a long talk inside their locker room.   “We were just telling them just what any coach would say -- what is coming next and how we can adjust,” said Okumu. “Because it's not about the skill, it's about the mental toughness. We only brought it back during the third set. If that was our ten-percent, I believe there's more in us that is coming.” UP’s character will be tested on Saturday when it faces University of the East.     Show your school spirit. Get official UAAP university licensed merchandise from www.uaapstore.com. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 5th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: No time to relax for repeat-seeking Ateneo Lady Eagles

All teams will be after Ateneo de Manila University as the Lady Eagles march into UAAP Season 82 with a huge target mark on their chests. But instead of taking it as pressure in its attempt to keep the title perched in Katipunan, Ateneo embraces it. A constant reminder for the Lady Eagles to be on their toes at all times and always keep their guards up. “Since defending champs kami, everyone wants to beat us,” said incoming third year libero Dani Ravena. “Added pressure ‘yun, but at the same time, it's motivation for us not to be satisfied with one game,” added Ravena. “Everyone wants to beat us so the next game will be tougher than the last one.” Ateneo lost three vital cogs in Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon and Kim Gequillana after its title conquest last year in a dramatic come-from-behind Finals series win over University of Sto. Tomas, but still remains a powerhouse squad with key returnees and the addition of blue chip recruits. The biggest boost in the Lady Eagles’ title-retention bid is the presence of prolific scorer and court leader Kat Tolentino, who decided to make one final tour of duty. Joining Tolentino are seasoned players Jho Maraguinot and setter Jamie Lavitoria, who are making their return after skipping a year to pursue careers in the commercial league.   Ateneo will miss the services of heady playmaker Deanna Wong, who is still recovering from a shin injury, but will still have most of their championship core in Ravena, Ponggay Gaston, Jules Samonte, Vanessa Gandler, Erika Raagas and setter Jaja Maraguinot.   “Malaking factor ang pagbalik ng mga seniors sa amin and ‘yung improvement ng mga rookies and sophomores isang malaking bagay para sa amin,” said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro. Giving the Lady Eagles an even deeper arsenal this season is the integration of promising rookies led by scorer Faith Nisperos and middle Joan Narit. While the good mix of veterans and rookies combined with championship experience and support of legions of fans make the Lady Eagles a serious title contender, Almadro constantly reminds his team that a repeat won’t be given to them for free.     “Mahirap maging complacent,” he said. “Mahirap mag-settle down na nakabalik na si ganito, nakabalik na si ganyan. I’m always telling my players, it’s not about how strong you are, it’s not about being strong lang eh.” “’Di sapat sa akin yung magaling lang eh. Kailanngan talaga nandoon ang teamwork, nandoon ang effort, nandoon ang sacrifices for the team and the school,” Almadro stressed.   EYES ON YOU: Ateneo will see this season the final flight of Kat Tolentino for the blue and white as well as the debut of its prized recruit Faith Nisperos. All eyes will be on the duo as they try to bring the Lady Eagles their second straight title and fourth overall.       Nisperos showed a glimpse of what to expect from her during the pre-season as she led Ateneo to a third place finish in the PVL Collegiate Conference. The National University-Nazareth School product, who averaged 12.4 points per game with 41.46% success rate in attacks in the PVL, embraces the challenge of playing for one of the best teams in the league in the past decade.    “I just wanna do my best,” she said. “I won't pressure myself in trying to push myself too hard. Ang goal ko lang naman is gampanan ‘yung role ko sa team.” For Tolentino, who during the pre-season played for ChocoMucho in the PVL Open Conference, she will be playing a bigger role as the leader of the Lady Eagles. “My main goal for this year is to find that leadership role and show my character,” said Tolentino. “I wanna help the team using my experience the last four years. I wanna encourage my teammates to push for that same goal.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 14th, 2020

Si Coach Boc ang game-changer ko -- Dawn Macandili

If there is one person that multi-awarded libero Dawn Macandili would give credit to for all that she has achieved in her career aside from college coach Ramil de Jesus it would be assistant coach Benson Bocboc. The quiet and soft-spoken De La Salle University deputy has been De Jesus’ numbers guy on the Lady Spikers bench, his reliable scout and a trusted strategist. [Related story:  DLSU's weapon against Ateneo: Clipboard and tablet] But for Macandili he is more than just DLSU’s man who crunches numbers or the one who prepares scouting reports.   “Si Coach Boc ang game-changer ko,” Macandili said in her appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro. Macandili said that when Bocboc went on board as the Lady Spikers prepared for Season 78 – the start of DLSU’s third three-peat – he immediately went down to work to help strengthen DLSU’s floor defense particularly focusing on liberos Macandili and CJ Saga.     “Nu’ng dumating si Coach Boc, sobrang na-focus niya ang mga libero kasi ang style niya is Japanese training,” Macandili shared. “In-introduce niya kami sa mga drills na pang-Japanese. Sobrang na-amaze ako, ‘Wow Japanese style na defense.’” Macandili added that it was the first time since she joined the Lady Spikers that a practice session solely dedicated for liberos was added into their training schedule.    “Ang daming drills na pinapagawa sa amin. Natutuwa ako kasi I’m always looking forward to learning something new,” she said. Bocboc according to Macandili was very technical, correcting them down to the smallest details. “Lagi niya kaming ini-introduce sa techniques. Gusto ko siyang ma-master. So every training may pinapagawa siya sa amin. Iba rin kasi talaga siyang mag-correct, to the slightest detail,” said the Tanauan, Batangas pride. “Dun ko na-realize na volleyball is very technical. Di lang basta na marunong kang mag-receive, marunong kang mag-dig pass. Hindi, kung marunong kang mag-receive kailangan ganito ang form mo, kailangan ganito kababa, mga ganoon.” He came into the team at the most critical time as DLSU was then shifting to a new approach to its system following two straight heartbreaking championship losses to the powerhouse Alyssa Valdez-led archrival Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles. “[Up to the] smallest details ang itinuturo niya sa amin and makikita mo talaga ang effect niya sa training and sa game,” said Macandili. Under Bocboc’s guidance, Macandili had her breakout season in 2016 as she played a key role in the Lady Spikers’ ascent back to the UAAP throne. Macandili in Season 78 was named Best Receiver, which she would win again the following year, and Best Digger while helping DLSU begin another three-year reign. Macandili would continue to rack in individual accolades, winning the Most Valuable Player award in the Philippine Superliga in 2016, being named the 2nd Best Libero in the 2017 AVC Asian Women’s Senior Championship as a member of the national team before wrapping up her UAAP career by bagging the Finals MVP in Season 80 - the first defense specialist to receive the honor. All thanks to the DLSU assistant coach. “Nag-iba talaga ang mindset ko nun sa volleyball na parang ang lawak niya na ang dami ko pang di alam. Doon ako na-engganyo na I want to learn more, more, more. I want to learn more talaga,” she said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 24th, 2020

Wong names Morado, Salak among her top 5 setters

Deanna Wong is considered as one of top talents who make the future of Philippine volleyball look bright. A UAAP title in Season 81 and a Best Setter award in Season 80 are some of the accomplishments she collected as setter of the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles. As talented and skilled as she is, Wong looks up to the legends that made and still making their marks in the local volleyball scene. Here is Wong’s list of Top 5 Pinay setters.    JIA MORADO “Well number one siyempre Ate Jia [Morado], my mentor talaga so wala nang bakit number one siya,” said Wong during her appearance on So She Did! Heady with great court vision and solid connection with her hitters best describe Morado. The UAAP Season 77 Best Setter established her legendary status during her stay with the Lady Eagles, who she piloted to back-to-back UAAP titles. Morado, who is a member of the national team, also helped Creamline win three titles in the Premier Volleyball League while collecting five straight Best Setter awards in the two-conference league.     TINA SALAK Longevity. This makes Salak a legend among the setters in the country. The 44-year old playmaker started to make waves when she led Far Eastern University to a couple of championships in the mid-90s. Salak was also the main setter of the 2005 Southeast Asian Games bronze medal team – the last squad to earn a podium finish in the biennial meet. The Army personnel played in the PVL and in the Philippine Superliga up until 2018 before going full time as coach of De La Salle-Zobel girls team.    KIM FAJARDO De La Salle University won three titles during her stint with the Lady Spikers. Fajardo is well-known for her well-rounded approach in playmaking. She easily adapts with the style of her hitters, good at reading the defense and a vocal leader inside the court. The Batangas native bagged three Best Setter awards and a Best Server recognition during her stay with the green and white. Her fierce competition with Morado made the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry extra colorful. Fajardo is also enjoying a successful career with F2 Logistics in the PSL and is a member of the national team.    JEM FERRER A member of the Ateneo Fab Five, Ferrer can be considered as one of the Lady Eagles who paved the way for Ateneo’s success in the UAAP. Ferrer was named Best Setter three times and helped the Lady Eagles advance to their first-ever Finals appearance in Season 74. Ferrer remains as one of the PVL’s top playmakers.   RHEA DIMACULANGAN University of Sto. Tomas has yet to find a setter that would equal the caliber of Dimaculangan. With her orchestrating the Tigresses’ plays, UST went on to win the Season 72 crown while bagging the Best Server and Finals Most Valuable Player honors. Dimaculangan is a member of the national team.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020

Blue Eagles credit Bundit, Lady Eagles as inspirations in success

Multi-titled coach Tai Bundit had a hand in the success of the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles when they won three straight UAAP titles from Season 77 to 79. Not to take any credit away from Oliver Almadro for his hard work to turn the Blue Eagles into a powerhouse, but the former national team mentor did pick a thing or two from Bundit’s system which he added to his program. One of which is Bundit’s notorious trip to Ateneo’s track oval. Known for his Spartan-like training program, Bundit strengthened the stamina and conditioning of the Lady Eagles through sprints around the oval which players have to accomplish within a given time limit. “Dahil kay Coach Tai napa-oval na rin kami. Sinisisi namin si Coach Tai rin dun sa oval,” said former Blue Eagle Rex Intal laughing while recalling his dreaded visits to the track oval on his appearance on Volleyball DNA. “Actually, inis na inis na kami kay Coach Tai dahil sa oval.” “Kapag may mahirap kayong [Lady Eagles] ginagawa [gagawin din namin],” he added. But aside from Bundit’s training program the biggest influence the Thai mentor imparted to the Blue Eagles was the heartstrong mantra that fueled the Lady Eagles into winning their breakthrough UAAP title in 2014. “Siguro we really looked up to them [Lady Eagles],” said the 2019 Southeast Asian Games silver medalist. In Season 76, both the Blue Eagles and the Lady Eagles advanced to the Finals. The Lady Eagles were on their third straight Finals appearance while the Blue Eagles earned a championship spot for the first time in years.   Interestingly, the Ateneo men’s team seemed to have a better chance of winning the crown against National University compared to the Lady Eagles, who faced a series of do-or-die matches before taking on the thrice-to-beat De La Salle University in the Finals. “Grabe ‘yun akala namin mas malaki pa ‘yung chance namin na mag-champion kasi grabe ang run nila talaga eh. Akala talaga namin mas malaki ‘yung chance namin or either both magtsa-champion,” said Intal, who was on his sophomore year when Ateneo challenged the then reigning champion NU in the first of five consecutive Finals showdowns. However, it was the Lady Eagles who came up with the championship in tow. “Sobrang nakaka-proud ang women’s team nu'ng season na yun,” said Intal. “Sa amin naman experience-wise nagkulang kami pagdating ng Finals. Parang may daga kami sa dibdib nun.” The Bulldogs were just too much for the rookie Marck Espejo-bannered Blue Eagles. After the defeat, Almadro immediately talked to his players. “Grinupo kaagad kami ni Coach Oliver sa gitna ng court sa side namin. Hinuddle n’ya kami. Nagce-celebrate ang lahat pero naka-huddle kami. Umiiyak ang team, si Coach O umiiyak,” Intal recalled. “Sabi niya, ‘Guys tingnan nyo ang mga tao na nandito, tingnan nyo ang mga sumuporta sa inyo. Ini-expect nyo ba yan nu’ng simula ng season? Ini-expect nyo ba na aabot tayo rito? Walang nag-expect ng ganyan pero nandito sila sionuportahan tayo. Naniniwala sila na kaya natin.’” “’Next year babawi tayo. Next year tayo naman ang magsi-celebrate,’” the mentor added.    Almadro’s words were true. The following year, the Blue Eagles began what would be a three-peat dynasty.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2020

DID YOU KNOW? Deanna Wong dreamed of playing for DLSU

Ateneo de Manila University struck gold when it recruited Deanna Wong. The Cebuana displayed versatility and commitment when given the role of a back-up setter before sliding to a libero spot and then back again as a playmaker for the Lady Eagles.   Behind her playmaking, Ateneo was able to reclaim the UAAP women’s volleyball throne last year in Season 81 as the Lady Eagles captured their third overall title since winning back-to-back crowns in 2014 and 2015. Wong truly is a gem of a setter, earning her spot alongside other Ateneo playmaking greats Jem Ferrer and Jia Morado. But five years ago, Wong almost joined another UAAP team. The 22-year old setter admitted that she’s a fan of De La Salle University and idolized former Lady Spikers middle Mika Reyes back in high school. So it was all but natural for the University of San Jose-Recoletos product to dream of playing for the Ramil De Jesus-mentored Lady Spikers. And she almost did after the multi-titled mentor himself approached her during her stint with Central Visayas during the 2015 Palaraong Pambansa in Tagum, Davao Del Norte.   “La Salle ako before,” shared Wong during her appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro. It was Wong’s first and only Palaro stint and she never imagined to see De Jesus in person and even more approached by the mentor during a scouting run. “Kaya na-shock ako nung nandoon sina Coach Ramil. Starstruck lang wala akong masabi. Feeling ko kung nandoon ang mga players baka mas lalo akong ma-starstruck but it was a good thing si Coach Ramil lang,” said the UAAP Season 80 Best Setter. "Coach Ramil he talked to me," Wong added. Aside from DLSU, Far Eastern University also showed interest in her. “FEU they talked to me. Sina (Gen) Casugod and Ate Bernadeth Pons. Wala akong naalala na may coach sa FEU it was just them,” Wong added. But donning the green and white wasn’t meant to be for Wong. All thanks to a chance encounter between her dad, Dean, and then Ateneo men’s volleyball team coach Oliver Almadro. “Sila ni dad nagkakilala sa elevator or something,” said Wong. “I don’t know that’s what he said to me. Di ko alam bakit.” And as fate would have it, Wong really was really meant to wear the blue and white. Wong was in Bacolod that time participating in a tournament and coincidentally Almadro was also there together with the Blue Eagles competing in the UniGames.    “It happened in Bacolod. May tournament kami and dun din nangyari ‘yung UniGames. Nag-participate ang men’s volleyball team. Alam mo naman si Coach O he really recruits players and dumating siya bigla,” said Wong. From there Almadro did his best to convince Wong’s dad to allow her to play for Ateneo. Wong agreed. The Lady Eagles just landed the heir-apparent to playmaker Jia Morado.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 14th, 2020

Wong feels responsible for Ateneo s failure to advance to the UAAP S80 Finals

Deanna Wong felt that Ateneo de Manila University's failure to advance to the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball Finals was on her. Given the huge responsibility to lead the Lady Eagles as starting setter after veteran Jia Morado decided to forego her final year, Wong admitted that she faced heavy pressure and self-doubt. “I think it was me thinking of kung kaya ko ba ‘to?” shared Wong on Volleyball DNA. Ateneo was coming off six straight championship appearances, including winning back-to-back titles, heading into Season 80. Expectations were high for the Lady Eagles that year despite Morado calling it quits after Ateneo’s runner-up finish the season before. The Lady Eagles had veterans Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon, Kat Tolentino and Jho Maraguinot under coach Tai Bundit. Ateneo was one of the favorites to advance to the Finals. Fulfilling the role left by Ateneo ace setters before her, according to the Cebuana playmaker, was too big of a responsibility especially for a third year player who saw limited action the year before. It didn’t help that during her sophomore year, Wong played as a reliever in both libero and setter positions.  “Sina Ate Jem (Ferrer), sina Ate Jia they are really great setters and for me it’s just, I came from the province I don’t know anything. Ganito, ganyan. Hindi ako medyo ginagamit ni Coach Tai dati. Pressured? Yeah, I think it was a little pressure,” said Wong. Ateneo had a disappointing start, losing their first two games, and the Lady Eagles were obviously still adjusting to a different setter going through the elimination round. That was when Wong felt the pressure the most. “Pero sa isip ko lang kung kaya ko bang dalhin ang team? Kung kaya ko bang gawin ang ginawa nina Ate Jia na umabot sa Finals? I think that was the point na kaya di kami umabot ng Finals kasi ganoon ang inisip ko,” said Wong. Ateneo managed to advance to the Final Four, but for the first time in three years, the Lady Eagles were at a disadvantage after landing in third spot for a collision course with twice-to-beat Far Eastern University. The Katipunan-based squad ended its season early.      “Disappointed din sa self ko kasi I wasn’t able to lead the team as I should have kasi ang dami kong iniisip eh,” said Wong, who won tghe Best Setter honors that season. “Iniisip ko kung ano ang sinasabi ng mga tao, ng alumni, ng mga fans.” A good talk with Morado, according to Wong, made her realize that she needed not to compare herself to other Ateneo setters. She had to play her game. “As what ate Jia keep on telling me talaga iba kami eh. We’re different people. Like don’t compare myself to her daw. Kasi iba ang kakayanan ko and iba ang kaya kong gawin. Just be myself daw most especially talaga be confident. Kasi I really lack confidence on myself,” she said. Wong redeemed herself the following season. “Nu’ng fourth year it was more of the team na pino-focus ko. I just did what I was supposed to do lang nu’ng fourth year. So di ko na masyado pinapansin ang mga sinasasabi ng ibang tao,” said Wong. Playing with confidence, Wong steered Ateneo back into the Finals and eventually back into throne as the Lady Eagles defeated University of Sto. Tomas in three games to claim the Season 81 title and the team’s third overall championship. Wong skipped the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-cancelled Season 82. She remains undecided for a last tour of duty for Ateneo next year. But if ever Wong decides to return, the Lady Eagles could be looking at a bright future ahead.   ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2020

No club team yet for Jho Maraguinot

Jho Maraguinot's future plans are still not set in stone. Asked on last Fridays' The Prospects Pod about her next steps after her fifth and final year for Ateneo de Manila University was cut short, she answered, "Honestly, ngayon, wala." The continuing COVID-19 crisis, at first, suspended UAAP 82 after Maraguinot and the Lady Eagles had already played two games. And ultimately, the pandemic forced the league to cancel all of Season 82. "Nung una, in denial ako. As in nung first time na nag-suspend ng games, sabi ko, yung nangyayari, parang hindi ko pinaniniwalaan," she shared. "But then nung na-cancel na yung season, sobrang na-disappoint ako. Doon ko rin nasabing ang dami talagang apektado sa COVID." With that, the spiker's fifth and final year ended earlier than expected. Not only that, the unexpected end also put a wrench in the plans she had prepared. "Dapat, after the season ko aayusin (yung next steps), pero yun nga. Yung plano ko after the season, naudlot lahat so ngayon, wala pa. Hindi ko pa alam," she said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 19th, 2020

Ateneo s Jho Maraguinot on one more year: Matanda na ako

Jho Maraguinot was nothing but thrilled to be teammates with younger sister Jaja for Ateneo de Manila University in UAAP 82. "First time ko maglalaro with my sister so sobrang excited ako like everyone in the family," she said in last Friday's The Prospects Pod. "Alam naman din namin yung na dahil sa pinagdaanan namin sa training, magiging maganda yung season." Enter COVID-19, unfortunately. The continuing crisis, at first, suspended the season after the Maraguinots and the Lady Eagles had already played two games. And ultimately, the pandemic forced the league to cancel all of Season 82. With that, Jho did get to play with Jaja - but not all throughout a tournament. And with that, the older Maraguinot's fifth and final year ended earlier than expected. Even if that would come to fruition, however, Jho says - for now, at the very least - she's leaning towards just letting unfinished UAAP 82 be her last. "For me, mahirap na decision siya. Personally, ako, matanda na ako e. Pumasok ako ng Ateneo, I was 16 or 15 tapos, if maglaro man ako next year, aalis ako 25," she shared. She then continued, "Parang, it's too long na for me. Sana nag-double-degree na ako." At the same time, though, the spiker knows full well how special it still is to be able to play with her sister - especially with the latter getting to be the setter for the former. "Actually, sinabihan na nga niya ako, pero pinangunahan ko na rin siya. Sinabi ko sa kanyang, matanda na ako ha. Yung mga rookies ko nung senior na ako, graduate na rin so gusto mo pa rin ba ako mag-stay?" she said. Only time would tell if eligibility rules would be relaxed and whether or not Maraguinot makes use of it. For now, though, she has this to say to the Ateneo faithful: "Thank you sa inyong lahat. Next season, magkakatabi na tayo sa bench." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2020

WHAT IF… Ateneo didn t lose to La Salle for an elims sweep in UAAP 80

History lesson: Ateneo de Manila University is the first-ever team to sweep the season - both elimination and championship rounds. Winning each and every one of its 16 games in the eliminations and then winning back-to-back games in the UAAP 82 Finals, the Blue Eagles were perfect en route to being hailed as king for the third year in a row. It was a momentous milestone that let all of Isaac Go, Thirdy Ravena, Adrian Wong, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt to move on from their collegiate careers on the highest of highs. Only, they could have actually made history two years prior. In Season 80, the blue and white won 13 games in a row to start the season. And then, in the last game in the elims, they were thwarted by archrival De La Salle University, 76-79. And so, Ateneo fell short of an elims sweep and an automatic advance into the Finals. They were then upset in the first game of the Final Four by Far Eastern University before taking care of business in the do-or-die match. In the championship round, they went toe-to-toe with the Green Archers and ultimately prevailed - winning the first of their three-peat. However, how would the story have gone if and only if the Blue Eagles got an elims sweep? If so, they would have jumped straight into the Finals, therefore jumping over the Tamaraws who had always given them a tough time. If so, a stepladder playoff would have taken place, with Ron Dennison, Arvin Tolentino, and fourth-seeded FEU charging through third-seeded Adamson University led by Jerrick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti. If so, in the next rung, back-to-back Season MVP Ben Mbala and La Salle would have made quick work of the Tamaraws. If so, it would still be Ateneo-La Salle in the championship round for the second straight season. Still, if so, the Blue Eagles' record would have been perfect at that point. Then in Game 1, well-rested Ravena and company would then impose their will on their archrivals for a convincing victory. Mbala and Ricci Rivero would not quit just yet, however, and energize La Salle to a well-earned win in Game 2. Game 3 would then, pretty much, play out the way it played out in real life - a close contest that had Isaac Go hitting the win-sealing three. In the end, Blue Eagle, the king, still. And in the end, they still don't get a perfect season. Worse, however, is the fact that the story would have been a lot less interesting. Without having been challenged by FEU in the Final Four, Ateneo would not have witnessed the beginning of Go's rise Remember, it was the 6-foot-9 big man who fired a triple to send the do-or-die match into overtime. Then in the extra period, Go made good on an impossible short stab just as he was falling to the floor to ice the game. Put simply, a world without those shots is not a world worth living in. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2020

10 things that make Alyssa Valdez phenomenal

Alyssa Valdez has arguably made the biggest impact in Philippine volleyball.   Her skills, passion and charisma endeared her to volleyball supporters, purists or casual fans, from all walks of life. She brings energy and leadership to every team that she’s joined. Valdez draws a huge crowd every time she plays. Valdez is the poster girl of the sport that for years struggled to draw mainstream attention in a nation which considers basketball as its biggest sporting event. The 27-year old pride of San Juan, Batangas is the face of local volleyball. So on her birthday today, let’s look at some of the things that makes the Phenom really phenomenal.   Two-time UAAP women’s champion Valdez is Ateneo de Manila University’s undisputed Queen Eagle. Talks about the Lady Eagles’ breakthrough championship will not be complete without the mention of her name. After two years of bridesmaid finishes, Ateneo bagged its first-ever UAAP title in 2014 after beating the thrice-to-beat De La Salle University in four games in the Finals despite leading a young band of Lady Eagles playing under the new system of Thai coach Tai Bundit. The following year, Ateneo, with Valdez at the helm, retained its crown in a tournament-sweeping fashion.      Three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Her skills during her collegiate career stood out among her peers. Valdez’s effort was rewarded with three Most Valuable Player awards in Season 76, Season 77 and in her last playing year in Season 78 in 2016. She also pocketed the Season 76 Finals MVP award.   Young phenom Valdez didn’t build her reputation overnight. It was her hard work and effort that brought her where she is right now. She was still a diamond in the rough when she was recruited by University of Sto. Tomas in a regional meet. But the Espana-based squad polished Valdez into a real gem of a player. Valdez, backed by a powerful lineup that featured the likes of Kim Fajardo and Jaja Santiago, won three straight UAAP girls’ titles and in the process collected three season MVPs. She was also named UAAP high school athlete of the year twice.        National team mainstay With her talents, dedication and good work ethics, Valdez has been a mainstay with the national team. Her first tour of duty was in 2008 when she represented the country in the Asian Youth Championship held in Pasig City. She joined the PHI Team in the 2014 FIVB Southeast Asian Zone qualifier in Vietnam. In 2015, she donned the tricolors for the Asian U-23 Championship and on the same year saw action in the country’s return in the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore after a decade of absence. Since then Valdez participated in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur and 2019 Manila SEA Games. She also took part in the 2017 Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.     2015 SEA Games flagbearer Valdez also carries the honor as being the first-ever volleyball player to become the PHI flag-bearer in the SEA Games. She marched holding the national color in front of Team Philippines during the traditional parade of nations inside the OCBC Arena in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games.   Accomplished commercial league star She has been collecting commercial league titles since high school starting from the Shakey’s Girls Volleyball League. Valdez was also successful in the different conferences of the defunct V-League, racking up championships and individual accolades. In the Premier Volleyball League, she powered Creamline to three titles including a sweep of the Season 2 Reinforced and Open Conferences in 2018. She won three conference MVP awards.      Import abroad International leagues took notice of Valdez’s talents and charm so it’s not surprising that she landed offers to play abroad. Valdez played as an import in Thailand for 3BB Nakornnont from 2016 to 2017. After her stint in Thailand, Valdez flew to Taiwan to play for Attack Line.   Host, Actress, TV personality Valdez is a regular fixture in different sports shows in ABS-CBN S+A. She’s a host, courtside reporter and a game analyst.   Valdez also had a few showbiz stints. She appeared in some Kapamilya teleserye including a cameo in ‘And I Love You So’ in 2016 alongside Julia Barretto and Miles Ocampo and in the movie ‘My Letters to Happy’ with by TJ Trinidad and Glaiza De Castro.    Aside from her TV and movie career, Valdez is also one of the most recognizable athlete product endorsers.   Social media influencer She is also one of the most popular Filipino athlete on social media. As of posting, Valdez has 1.9 million Twitter followers, 1.3 million followers on Instagram and her YouTube channel has more than 76,000 subscribers.   Featured in the Olympics Channel website While the likes of Sisi Rondina, Jaja Santiago and Bryan Bagunas were featured in the FIVB website, Valdez’s impact on Philippine Volleyball was highlighted in a feature article in no less than the Olympic Channel website. The article touched about her humble beginnings to her meteoric rise and why she is regarded as the nation’s brightest star in the sport. These are just some of the things take make Valdez a true pride of our nation in the sport Happy birthday, Alyssa!.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2020

Wong, Viray join ChocoMucho

Prized setter Deanna Wong and Caitlin Viray are now ready to take flight for the ChocoMucho Flying Titans. The Flying Titans made a recruitment coup as they officially introduced the two college standouts Sunday evening through their official Twitter account. ChocoMucho has been shoring up its lineup in time for the Premier Volleyball League Season 4, which is set to hold its Open Conference late this year if the current health crisis improves. Everything is SET. Bet you all saw this coming! Let’s all welcome Deanna Wong as she officially joins the Choco Mucho Flying Titans family! ???????? ???? @deannawongst #ChocoMucho #FlyingTitans #TitanPride pic.twitter.com/wTosQKicEe — Choco Mucho Flying Titans (@CMFlyingTitans) June 28, 2020 My oh my! It’s Caitlyn Viray! Welcome to the Choco Mucho Flying Titans family! We can’t wait to soar with you on the court! ???????????? #ChocoMucho #FlyingTitans #TitanPride pic.twitter.com/cMBVdWbsJ3 — Choco Mucho Flying Titans (@CMFlyingTitans) June 28, 2020 The ‘face reveal’ came two weeks after then team gave fans a teaser of its newest members. [Related story: Flying Titans to name newest members] ChocoMucho, which finished seventh out of nine teams last year in its debut in Season 3 Open Conference, earlier welcomed the arrival of veteran libero Denden Lazaro. Wong helped Ateneo de Manila University capture the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball title while Viray played a crucial role in University of Sto. Tomas’ return to the Finals after an eight-year drought. Wong is not new to PVL as she saw action two years ago for Ateneo-Motolite in the second edition of the Open Conference when Lady Eagles finished runners-up to powerhouse and ChocoMucho’s sister team Creamline. Viray, on the other hand, has been in the commercial league scene for quite a while.        Wong’s addition will give the Flying Titans a better direction on offense with her familiarity with college teammates Kat Tolentino, Maddie Madayag and Bea De Leon. Meanwhile, Viray’s presence will further strengthen ChocoMucho’s net defense while serving as another threat on the wing.     ......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2020

Tolentino misses warmth, love of Ateneo fans

Aside from the adrenaline rush and heart-pounding action, what Kat Tolentino misses the most in the UAAP are the Ateneo de Manila University fans. Considered as arguably the most rabid and hardcore supporters of a team in the country’s premier collegiate league, the Lady Eagles fans, who come from all walks of life and some aren’t even students or alumni of the school, left quite an impression to the Fil-Canadian. “I mean the fans are so supportive, they are so dedicated in supporting Ateneo,” said Tolentino during her appearance in ‘So She Did!’ podcast. Ateneo fans truly are the energizer of the Lady Eagles. They make every arena where Ateneo plays virtually the Lady Eagles’ home court. They form a sea of blue and their presence alone can put chills down the spines of every team Ateneo faces. And when they cheer – or occasionally jeer – they are sure to bring the noise. “For me, I mean just the way that every point is like cheered for, it’s not just like towards the end or the crucial point. It’s just crazy how when you do anything, they’re gonna react, they’re gonna scream or whatever. It doesn’t even matter if you score or whatever,” said Tolentino, who helped Ateneo win its third title overall in Season 81 last year. But aside from that, what Tolentino likes about the Lady Eagles fans the most are their genuine love and loyalty to the team. “I remember my first year I was so shocked, just because after the game, it wasn’t even during the game I got shocked, it was after when we got out to the bus, and there were like hundreds of people outside just waiting,” she said. “Imagine we still took an hour to shower, to get changed and to get all of our stuff. But they were all just waiting there outside, like it’s already getting dark, it’s past dinner time, they were just waiting for us just to say ‘hi’ or just to get an autograph or something” Tolentino added. That encounter according to Tolentino made her realize that the support of the Lady Eagles fans goes beyond the game. It’s intimate. “I’m just thankful for that just because it doesn’t just show that they are trying to watch the game, that’s it. They also want to meet us and they wanna say ‘hi’ so I’m just thankful to experience that,” said Tolentino. Tolentino, who is yet to decide if she will come back one last time to play for Lady Eagles, flew back to Canada after the cancellation of Season 82 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2020

Volleyball players think staredowns sure to stay in the new normal

Staredowns are sure to stay in volleyball. Actually, it might be the norm in the new normal when the time comes that volleyball leagues are allowed to resume their respective tournaments. In the pilot episode of TBH, collegiate stars Ponggay Gaston of Ateneo de Manila University, Michelle Cobb of De La Salle University, University of Sto. Tomas’ Eya Laure and Rosie Rosier of University of the Philippines talked about different topics including the return of volleyball. Gaston felt that volleyball should be one of the sports that the government should allow to resume once the health crisis gets better. “Kasi it's less contact di ba? It’s a non-contact sport and dream ko sana makalaro na tayo,” said the team captain of the reigning UAAP champions Lady Eagles.   “Wala na lang manonood, maybe televised. Pero iniisip ko kasi there’s so many technical things that are needed to be than for this to happen,” Gaston added. “Pero sana volleyball ang mauna kasi anim na lang kayo sa court hindi naman magkadikit ang posisyon di ba?” However, the Ateneo star also wondered how they would react on court if they have to follow physical distancing. “Pero ang iniisip ko sanay tayong makipagyakapan sa teammates, mag-apir-apir lalo na ‘pag in the moment lalo na kapag nagka-point. I guess ngayon kailangan staredown, staredown muna,” said Gaston, drawing laughter from the crew especially Laure and Cobb. The Lady Spikers setter and Tigresses’ top hitter are notorious with their staredowns and gestures to express their emotions during games. “Forte ko na ‘yan no! Di na ‘yan new normal,” Cobb quipped. Laure chimed in. “Normal pa din sa amin 'yung ganoon,” said the UAAP Season 81 Rookie of the Year. “It’s gonna be a part of the new normal,” Gaston said. “Kasi di ka naman lumalapit sa tao, titingnan mo lang eh di ba?” Shifting to serious talk, the group also discussed the possibility of holding games behind closed doors. “Imagine playing sa big game tapos ang tahimik,” said Cobb. Laure mentioned how her brother Echo celebrated the back-to-back boys’ basketball championships of Nazareth School of National University in an empty arena.    “Iba pa rin feeling kapag may nanonood,” said Laure. For Rosier, it will definitely be different but sports in general must adapt to the current health situation.  “It’s gonna be super different without allowing people watching. It’s gonna be hard but I think it’s this thing about sports it’s adaptable, its flexible,” she said. “For a new normal there must be a way to advertise sports and at the same time enjoy it.” Catch ‘TBH’ every Tuesday with replays at 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on LIGA Channel 86, and LIGA HD on Channel 183 on SKY Cable and Destiny......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2020

Kat Tolentino: How she ended up as a Lady Eagle

Suffering an injury is a dreadful experience for any athlete. What more if it’s a career-threatening one? Kat Tolentino went through three harrowing knee injuries in a span of three years – two of those she suffered while in Canada. But those misfortunes played a big role in convincing Tolentino to fly to the Philippines and eventually become one of the most recognized names in collegiate volleyball. The Ateneo de Manila University volleyball star in an interview on So She Did podcast shared how she ended up in the Lady Eagles' nest.   “It was actually a long story but basically, when I was in Grade 11, my brother was out there in the Philippines already, he was playing basketball for Ateneo and I was just visiting him for vacation,” said Kat, sister of former Blue Eagle Vince. The Ateneo volleyball management that time already knew who the 6-foot-2 spiker was and she was invited to train with the then Roger Gorayeb-mentored Lady Eagles. “I actually don’t even have the shoes at that time or any like knee pads,” she recalled. “So I have to borrow from my cousin and then I borrowed knee pads from the men’s team.” She played with the team but it didn’t convince her to follow the footsteps of her brother, living alone in a tropical country that is thousand of miles away from home. “For me I was in Grade 11 at that time and I didn’t really think like, ‘Oh I want to go to the Philippines’. In fact, I was kind of confused why my brother moved there,” said Tolentino, who is currently back in Canada after the cancellation of the UAAP Season 82 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “I think, it’s just crazy because at that time, I was getting mad at my mom because I was like, ‘Why are you making me move to the Philippines?’ I was only like Grade 11,” she added. Tolentino that time wasn’t ready to get out of her comfort zone. Naturally, she chose to stay in the Great White North. Tolentino was in University of Canada when she suffered her second left anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2014, a year after her first.    “I went to University in Canada for one year and I don’t know if you know that I had three ACL injuries. So the second ACL injury, I was in University in Canada but I just decided after I got the second one in Canada, I needed change and I wanted to experience something different,” she said. Tolentino thought a new environment might change her fortune. Luckily, the Lady Eagles’ door remained open. “Ateneo contacted me when they heard I got injured again,” she said. “They said that they’re still willing to help me and wanted to help me with my rehab and therapy and they had a very good surgeon. So yeah, they just called up and I ended up there.” The hype was high for the Fil-Canadian when she finally got the chance to don the blue and white when the then two-time UAAP champion Ateneo joined the now defunct Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference in July 2015. But the injury bug followed her to the Philippines and once again bit Tolentino hard. The hitter suffered a right ACL injury while warming up and had to undergo another operation and months of rehabilitation. She was forced to miss UAAP Season 78 and watched helplessly from the sidelines as archrival De La Salle University dethroned the Lady Eagles. After months of therapy, Tolentino finally made her official debut in the UAAP in Season 79 in 2017 – a victorious welcome over University of Sto. Tomas. Ateneo fell short in the Finals that year. The following season, the Lady Eagles missed the championship entirely for the first time in six years. In Season 81, Tolentino helped Ateneo capture its third title. She announced after winning the crown that she’s leaving the team but decided to make a return for a swan song this year. Unfortunately, the league cancelled the tournament after just four playdates. Asked if she’ll be back for another tour of duty if given the chance, Tolentino admitted that she’s still thinking about it. “I think for me it’s not something I can decide now,” she said. “I would be thankful if they would allow me to go back but I can’t say anything right now.” Looking back, Tolentino would like to think that her second ACL injury brought her to Ateneo. It wasn’t the best of situation to be in to make a life-changing decision but it in the end it turned out just fine.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2020

Dani Ravena can be the next leader of the Lady Eagles

Former Ateneo de Manila University star Denden Lazaro-Revilla sees libero Dani Ravena playing a bigger role for the Lady Eagles in their bid to retain their crown. Speaking on the Crossover podcast on Tuesday, the two-time UAAP champion said that aside from her defensive responsibilities, Ravena’s leadership will be needed by the Lady Eagles come Season 83 next year.    “I heard na she’s very vocal sa team and ‘yung energy niya na she brings on the court every time she steps in is a huge boost sa team,” said Lazaro-Revilla, who helped Ateneo win back-to-back titles in Seasons 76 and 77. “So she’s a vital cog in the Ateneo team right now.” The then sophomore Ravena anchored the Lady Eagles floor defense in Season 81 Finals against University of Sto. Tomas. Despite a quiet outing in the elimination round, Ravena played her role well in three games of the championship series averaging 14.3 digs and almost eight digs per match. With the possible departure of some of their senior players following the cancelled Season 82, Ravena’s leadership will be needed by Ateneo more than ever come Season 83 especially with young bloods coming in.    Lazaro-Revilla, who is set to play for ChocoMucho in the Premier Volleyball League, also praised Ravena’s improvement skills-wise considering that Miriam College product is just a converted defensive specialist. “Actually malaki yung in-improve niya given na she was only converted from a setter. She was a setter in high school then she was converted into a libero,” she said. “So malaking responsibility yun kasi she rose into the spotlight and then of course Ateneo is looking to win a championship. That’s not an easy task,” Lazaro-Revilla added. Aside from Ravena, the multi-titled libero also mentioned rookie libero Roma Doromal as vital piece on floor defense for Ateneo.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 19th, 2020

BATCH CLASH: Do you agree? Season 76 Lady Eagles will beat Season 81 Lady Eagles?

Remember when we did a Batch Clash piece pitting the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles champion team of Season 76 against the title squad of Season 81? ABS-CBN Sports laid down the statistics, team composition, strengths and the competition faced by the two Ateneo teams and let the readers decide who would fare better if they were to square off in a match.    [Related story: BATCH CLASH: Season 76 Lady Eagles vs. Season 81 Lady Eagles] It would really be interesting to see these Lady Eagles go at it, right? But again, who will emerge victorious between the two batches of UAAP champions? Without batting an eyelash, Ricky Palou, former Ateneo athletic director and one of the brilliant minds behind turning the struggling Lady Eagles into one the best women’s volleyball programs in the UAAP, gave it to the breakthrough Ateneo squad.     “I’d go for Batch 76,” Palou said during his interview on the Crossover podcast. The chief of Sports Vision, which is the organizer of the Premier Volleyball League, backed up his claim by pointing out that Batch 76 went through a tougher journey to the throne. Batch 76 was in a rebuilding stage that year after the departure of the Fab Five and under a new system with the arrival of Thai coach Tai Bundit. For him, the Lady Eagles of Season 76 are tougher. The heartstrong Batch 76 will definitely win.         “I saw how they, Coach Tai that was his first year here. He worked them really very, very hard. I was looking at some of these players and some of them were thinking of quitting because training was tough. Most of them held on,” recalled Palou, who together with the amiable and media savvy former team manager Tony Boy Liao, is the architect of the successful Ateneo volleyball program. “I figured the training that they went through and the games that they went through, even competition that they went through. So, I’d go for Batch 76,” he added.   HEIGHT vs. MAGIC Man-to-man both Alyssa Valdez and libero Denden Lazaro-Revilla agreed that Batch 76 is at a disadvantage in terms of height.         “Advantage ng Season 81 is really height,” said the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player. “We don’t have that nu’ng Season 76.” “Talo kami sa height,” Lazaro-Revilla echoed. Batch 81 boasts of a pair of 5-foot-10 and very skilled middles in Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag and a 6-foot-2 wing spiker in Kat Tolentino.   “Our middles are Amy (Ahomiro) and Aeriel (Patnongon) and Marge (Tejada) and Ana (Gopico). But Marge and Ana got injured. So we have like two lang so parang hindi namin alam. Libero kami lamang,” said Valdez. “Lamang sa height. Sa setter Jia (Morado) and Deanna (Wong)? Deanna’s taller I think,” Lazaro-Revilla said. But what they lack in ceiling, Batch 76 compensates with its superb and versatile wing spikers and solid floor defense. “I think (for Batch 81) it’s Jules (Samonte) and Ponggay (Gaston). So our open hitters would be me and Ella (de Jesus). Kay Ella pa lang, alam mo na,” Valdez said with confidence. “Tiwala kami kay Ella. Utility namin would be Mich (Morente) or Kim (Gequillana). And they have Kat.” “It’s really height vs. magic?” added Valdez. Anchored behind the consistency of the Iron Eagle Denden Lazaro and with the support of Morente and De Jesus, Batch 76 will give Batch 81 a hard time scoring. “I think lamang namin is floor defense. May tiwala ako sa teammates ko,” said Lazaro-Revilla, a two-time Best Receiver winner and Season 76 Best Digger. In which Valdez chimed in: “Si Den, si Ella and Michifu (Morente) kasi ako wala talaga kong ginagawa na floor defense.” “Hindi ka lang rume-receive pero dumedepensa ka naman,” quipped Lazaro-Revilla. “Binabawi mo naman sa mga palo mo and serves.” Looking back, Palou stressed that Batch 76’s Cinderella run is a feat that is tough to beat. Besides, that Lady Eagles team made a miracle when they survived a string of do-or-die games before toppling the four-peat-seeking and thrice-to-beat powerhouse De La Salle University in the Finals.   “But you know, you look at the competition then, look at the team of La Salle, it was a powerhouse, Aby Marano, Kim Fajardo, you look at NU they have the Santiago sisters (Dindin and Jaja), they have Myla Pablo. You look at FEU they have (Bernadeth) Pons, (Toni) Basas, all those good players,” Palou said. “So even competition-wise, the competition they fought then was better and stronger than what they had in the other group.” “I agree,” said Lazaro-Revilla. “I mean the competition that we went through nu’ng time na yun. It was tough for us because given na we were a rebuilding team. So for us it was really tough.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 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