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WHAT IF... Perez wasn t suspended for NCAA 94 Finals Game 1

History lesson: After missing out on the Final Four for its first six seasons in the NCAA, Lyceum of the Philippines University made back-to-back trips to the Finals in Seasons 93 and 94. The Season 93 Finals, the school's first-ever, wound up as a heartbreaking loss to eventual champion San Beda University. Memorably, the Pirates won each and every one of their 18 games in the elimination round - the first-ever team to do so in the Grand Old League - before going winless in their last two games. Of course, playoff experience and championship heart proved to be the difference for the Red Lions. In that light, Season 94 should have been a different story for LPU. Only, it wasn't. San Beda yet again swept the upstarts via convincing victories. And from Game 1, the Red Lions already knew it was all over. "Oo naman. Siyempre, mag-iiba laban kung nandun siya," then-King Lion Robert Bolick in last week's The Prospects Pod. "Sa part din namin, wala siya so tapos na. Tapos na yung laban." The "siya" he was referring to? CJ Perez, Season 93 MVP and Season 94 Mythical selection, who was not in action and not even at the venue for the series-opener. Apparently, Perez failed to notify the NCAA about his application for the 2018 PBA Draft and was therefore sanctioned with a suspension for Game 1 of the Finals. But what if he were there - there, ready and raring to play in the opener of the series where he and all of LPU were seeking redemption? The now-26-year-old had no doubt that if that were the case, the Pirates would have put up a much fiercer fight. As he put it, "Siguro, mas ginanahan pa yung mga kasama ko. Nung natambakan na kasi nung Game 1, parang nanginig na yung mga tuhod ng Game 2 eh." Sans Perez, the maroon and grey fell victim to a 19-9 start by their opponents and never recovered. Final score read 73-60 in favor of San Beda. If the 6-foot-2 playmaker were there, Cameroonian powerhouse Mike Nzeusseu would not be their top-scorer as the former had averaged 18.7 points in the prior 18 games. Of course, defensive-minded coach Boyet Fernandez would have also adjusted accordingly and the Red Lions, just like they did in last year's championship round, would have put their full focus on Perez. Still, a full-force LPU side would, for sure, have posed more problems for San Beda. In the end, Mendiola's dynasty would have still have all the answers - what with Bolick and Javee Mocon just playing their best basketball that season. That momentum would then carry over to Game 2 where the Red Lions still sweep the Pirates for their fourth championship in a row. In terms of result, Perez's presence would not have changed a thing. Nonetheless, his being there would have made for much more must-see TV. Also, his being there would not have forced him to just drown his sorrows all by his lonesome. "Ang mindset ko pa rin bago nun, tulog pa rin nang maaga para handa, pero nung sinabi na ngang 'di ako pwede maglaro, sabi ko na lang, 'Hala, ready na ako eh,'" he recalled. He then continued, through chuckles, "Nung araw na yun, nasa dorm ako, nakaupo sa couch, nanood ng laro. Nakailang beer nga ako nun." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2020

How Hackett and Harris went beyond 100 points

(This story was originally published on June 30, 2016) One-hundred-point explosions are a rarity in professional basketball. Even in the NBA, no one has ever eclipsed Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points in his game with the Philadelphia Warriors in trouncing the New York Knicks, 169-147, on March 2, 1962. So when you learn that two men, Americans playing as imports in the Philippine Basketball Association, had scored more than Wilt, you’d certainly be awed and astonished that such incredible feats in the history of the sport had actually occurred in our shores. Legends These legends, Michael Hackett, the man-mountain who leisurely takes care of business in the paint while reinforcing Ginebra San Miguel, and Tony Harris, the “Hurricane” who brings down opponents with his devastating scoring sprees through quick, shifty on court moves while playing for Swift Mighty Meaty Hotdogs, definitely left an indelible mark in PBA annals with those historic barrages that surely left everyone, foe or fan, stupefied and dazzled. Hackett, the hulking yet amiable giant, achieved the first-ever milestone on November 21, 1985 as Ginebra faced Great Taste in a battle for third place in the PBA Reinforced Conference.  His burly 6’5” frame would always have its way in the shaded lane, barreling his way through thick defensive walls and converting—all in bewildering succession. He pumped in 48 points at halftime, before scoring another 33 in the third quarter, and swishing 22 in the final period—for an eye-popping record-setting total of 103 points in one game. Breaching the Chamberlain record, Hackett had been praised as pro ball’s greatest scorer ever, even if he had not made the cut in the Los Angeles Lakers’ lineup during the Showtime era after being the 22nd pick in the 3rd round of the 1982 NBA Draft. During that conference, Hackett averaged 50 points, 20 rebounds and 6 assists in 24 games that made him a hands-down choice for Best Import. With this lofty achievement, who would even think, much less imagine that this record would be broken seven years later. Best scorer Perhaps the all-time best performing scorer in the PBA’s history walked into a packed town gym in Iloilo City on October 10, 1992 in the elimination round of the PBA Third Conference to show Robert Jaworski and his Ginebra squad what he’s got. And, it was simply merciless. Scoring relentlessly from the field through lane incursions, midrange jumpers, slam dunks off the fastbreak and baskets from beyond the arc, the Hurricane already reached the highest score anyone could produce at halftime, 59 points. Harris continued his romp in the last two quarters, just leaving the never-say-die squad in the dust with another 46 points, leading Swift to a 151-147 victory and achieving a record-breaking single-game individual score of 105, surpassing Hackett’s record by two points. This scoring record remains to this day. Indeed, a double heartbreak for the country’s most popular team and a historic achievement by the flamboyant and perplexing import. Tough fouls But what was really exceptional was that he accomplished this feat despite Ginebra players fouling him a record 52 times, which he claimed in an NBA Philippines interview two years ago as “tough fouls” with “knees purposely extended to hit my groin, or the spitting on my face.” He was unfazed and this motivated the Monroe, Louisiana native even more by converting most of his points in his amazing 105-point game from the free throw area, where he made 45 out of 53 attempts. But what’s even more mind-blowing about Harris is that this was no single-game fluke or a stroke of luck. He scored 98 points only seven days after his 105-point game to lead Swift to a 157-147 victory over Presto Ice Cream.  Harris also scored 82 points in Swift’s conquest of Purefoods in Davao City a day before that record-breaking feat.  Before all of these scoring exploits, he actually “introduced” himself to the league with an 87-point performance in his debut in routing the San Miguel Beermen, 134-106. He also had 69, 57, and 54-point games throughout the season, ending up with a record 60.4 scoring average. Best achievement The best achievement of them all was that he steered the Mighty Meaties to the RFM franchise’s first-ever PBA championship by sweeping the 7-Up Uncolas in the Finals, 4-0. It was the current Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao’s first title. After his high-flying PBA stint, Harris tried his luck in the NBA via short 10-day deals with the Boston Celtics, but fell short with a mere 5-point clip in 14 games—a far cry from the fearsome offensive form he displayed in the PBA. He has since distanced himself from professional play, and now heads a sports apparel, supplies and equipment company in Los Angeles. Hackett, on the other hand, also did not engage in competitive basketball after his spectacular PBA run from 1985 to 1988, although he had once served as an assistant coach for a school in his native Jacksonville, Florida, and is now a sales consultant for a wine and beverage firm. But even if Harris or Hackett’s storied scoring feats and iconic stints did not replicate on their real home courts and since hung their jerseys for other careers, their astounding on-court achievements in the PBA remain an inspiration for greatness in this basketball-crazy nation......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2020

Warriors boost playoff push with rout of Thunder; Clippers sweep Lakers

The first of their six-game home stand to finish the season, the Warriors tightened their hold on a spot in the play-in tournament after improving to 34-33......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 7th, 2021

Curry pours 41 as Warriors beat Bucks to end slump; Lakers top Raptors

The Warriors went on a 12-1 run in the final four minutes of the game to climb back from as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 7th, 2021

Warriors’ Curry wins NBA All-Star 3-point contest

LOS ANGELES – Golden State Warriors sharp-shooter Stephen Curry won the 3-point contest Sunday, edging Utah’s Mike Conley in the final round of the curtain-raiser to the NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta, Georgia. Curry, one of the best shooters the NBA has ever seen and the league leader in made 3-pointers in the first half […] The post Warriors’ Curry wins NBA All-Star 3-point contest appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMar 8th, 2021

Nets trip Bucks, Warriors stun Lakers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

    NEW YORK (AFP) – James Harden scored 34 points and Kevin Durant’s 30 included the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute as the NBA’s new-look Brooklyn Nets beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 125-123, on Monday. Harden, playing his second game for Brooklyn since arriving in a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets, added 12 […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 19th, 2021

Oftana, Tungcab break into Gilas 12 vs Thais on Monday

Playing their second and final game in the November window, Oftana and Tungcab will be available to play for Gilas after being listed as reserves along with the injured Allyn Bulanadi last week......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 29th, 2020

Bolts survive Gin Kings, force do-or-die Game 5 in PBA semis

After squandering a 15-point lead early in the third quarter, the Bolts were able to get back on their feet in the final salvo to keep their series alive......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 25th, 2020

Coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown dead at 78

By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — John Thompson, the imposing Hall of Famer who turned Georgetown into a “Hoya Paranoia” powerhouse and became the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men’s basketball championship, has died. He was 78 His death was announced in a family statement released by Georgetown on Monday. No details were disclosed. “Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on but, most importantly, off the basketball court. He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else,” the statement said. “However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear everyday.” One of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport, Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and molded it in his unique style into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by center Patrick Ewing in 1984. Georgetown reached two other title games with Thompson in charge and Ewing patrolling the paint, losing to Michael Jordan’s North Carolina team in 1982 and to Villanova in 1985. At 6-foot-10, with an ever-present white towel slung over his shoulder, Thompson literally and figuratively towered over the Hoyas for decades, becoming a patriarch of sorts after he quit coaching in 1999. One of his sons, John Thompson III, was hired as Georgetown’s coach in 2004. When the son was fired in 2017, the elder Thompson -- known affectionately as “Big John” or “Pops” to many -- was at the news conference announcing Ewing as the successor. Along the way, Thompson said what he thought, shielded his players from the media and took positions that weren’t always popular. He never shied away from sensitive topics -- particularly the role of race in both sports and society -- and he once famously walked off the court before a game to protest an NCAA rule because he felt it hurt minority athletes. “I’ll probably be remembered for all the things that kept me out of the Hall of Fame, ironically, more than for the things that got me into it,” Thompson said on the day he was elected to the Hall in 1999. Thompson became coach of the Hoyas in 1972 and began remaking a team that was 3-23 the previous season. Over the next 27 years, he led Georgetown to 14 straight NCAA tournaments (1979-92), 24 consecutive postseason appearances (20 NCAA, 4 NIT), three Final Fours (1982, 1984, 1985) and won six Big East tournament championships. Employing a physical, defense-focused approach that frequently relied on a dominant center -- Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo were among his other pupils -- Thompson compiled a 596-239 record (.715 winning percentage). He had 26 players drafted by the NBA. One of his honors -- his selection as coach of the U.S. team for the 1988 Olympics -- had a sour ending when the Americans had to settle for the bronze medal. It was a result so disappointing that Thompson put himself on a sort of self-imposed leave at Georgetown for a while, coaching practices and games but leaving many other duties to his assistants. Off the court, Thompson was both a role model and a lightning rod. A stickler for academics, he kept a deflated basketball on his desk, a reminder to his players that a degree was a necessity because a career in basketball relied on a tenuous “nine pounds of air.” The school boasted that 76 of 78 players who played four seasons under Thompson received their degrees. He was a Black coach who recruited mostly Black players to a predominantly white Jesuit university in Washington, and Thompson never hesitated to speak out on behalf of his players. One of the most dramatic moments in Georgetown history came on Jan. 14, 1989, when he walked off the court to a standing ovation before the tipoff of a home game against Boston College, demonstrating in a most public way his displeasure against NCAA Proposition 42. The rule denied athletic scholarships to freshmen who didn’t meet certain requirements, and Thompson said it was biased against underprivileged students. Opposition from Thompson, and others, led the NCAA to modify the rule. Thompson’s most daring move came that same year, when he summoned notorious drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III for a meeting in the coach’s office. Thompson warned Edmond to stop associating with Hoyas players and to leave them alone, using his respect in the Black community to become one of the few people to stare down Edmond and not face a reprisal. Though aware of his influence, Thompson did not take pride in becoming the first Black coach to take a team to the Final Four, and he let a room full of reporters know it when asked his feelings on the subject at a news conference in 1982. “I resent the hell out of that question if it implies I am the first Black coach competent enough to take a team to the Final Four,” Thompson said. “Other Blacks have been denied the right in this country; coaches who have the ability. I don’t take any pride in being the first Black coach in the Final Four. I find the question extremely offensive.” Born Sept. 2, 1941, John R. Thompson Jr. grew up in Washington, D.C. His father was always working — on a farm in Maryland and later as a laborer in the city — and could neither read nor write. “I never in my life saw my father’s hands clean,” Thompson told The Associated Press in 2007. “Never. He’d come home and scrub his hands with this ugly brown soap that looked like tar. I thought that was the color of his hands. When I was still coaching, kids would show up late for practice and I’d (say) ... ‘My father got up every morning of his life at 5 a.m. to go to work. Without an alarm.‘” Thompson’s parents emphasized education, but he struggled in part of because of poor eyesight and labored in Catholic grammar school. He was moved to a segregated public school, had a growth spurt and became good enough at basketball to get into John Carroll, a Catholic high school, where he led the team to 55 consecutive victories and two city titles. He went to Providence College as one of the most touted basketball prospects in the country and led the Friars to the first NCAA bid in school history. He graduated in 1964 and played two seasons with Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics, earning a pair of championship rings as a sparingly used backup to Bill Russell. Thompson returned to Washington, got his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia and went 122-28 over six seasons at St. Anthony’s before accepting the job at Georgetown, an elite school that had relatively few Black students. Faculty and students rallied around him after a bedsheet with racist words was hung inside the school’s gym before a game during the 1974-75 season. Thompson sheltered his players with closed practices, tightly controlled media access and a prohibition on interviews with freshmen in their first semester -- a restriction that still stands for Georgetown’s basketball team. Combined with Thompson’s flashes of emotion and his players’ rough-and-tumble style of play, it wasn’t long before the words “Hoya Paranoia” came to epitomize the new era of basketball on the Hilltop campus. Georgetown lost the 1982 NCAA championship game when Fred Brown mistakenly passed the ball to North Carolina’s James Worthy in the game’s final seconds. Two years later, Ewing led an 84-75 win over Houston in the title game. The Hoyas were on the verge of a repeat the following year when they were stunned in the championship game by coach Rollie Massimino’s Villanova team in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Success allowed Thompson to rake in money through endorsements, but he ran afoul of his Georgetown bosses when he applied for a gambling license for a business venture in Nevada in 1995. Thompson, who liked playing the slot machines in Las Vegas, reluctantly dropped the application after the university president objected. Centers Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo turned Georgetown into “Big Man U” under Thompson, although his last superstar was guard Allen Iverson, who in 1996 also became the first player under Thompson to leave school early for the NBA draft. “Thanks for Saving My Life Coach,” Iverson wrote at the start of an Instagram post Monday with photos of the pair. The Hoyas teams in the 1990s never came close to matching the achievements of the 1980s, and Thompson’s era came to a surprising and sudden end when he resigned in the middle of the 1998-99 season, citing distractions from a pending divorce. Thompson didn’t fade from the limelight. He became a sports radio talk show host and a TV and radio game analyst, joining the very profession he had frustrated so often as a coach. He loosened up, allowing the public to see his lighter side, but he remained pointed and combative when a topic mattered to him. A torch was passed in 2004, when John Thompson III became Georgetown’s coach. The younger Thompson, with “Pops” often watching from the stands or sitting in the back of the room for news conferences, returned the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007. Another son, Ronny Thompson, was head coach for one season at Ball State and is now a TV analyst. ___ Joseph White, a former AP sports writer in Washington who died in 2019, prepared this obituary. AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2020

Execration survives nail-biting series against Cignal Ultra to take first semis spot

Photo from Execration’s Facebook page Execration averted disaster against Cignal Ultra, pulling off a 3-2 escape to advance to the semifinals in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Pro League-Philippines (MPL-PH) Season 6 on Thursday night.  Jaylord “Hate” Gonzales’ Helcurt ran riot in the deciding Game 5 to carry the top-seeded Execration past the hard-fighting Warriors.  The Billy “Z4pnu” Alfonso-coached team will face the winner between Smart Omega and Blacklist International which are squaring off as of writing time.  Cignal wound up at the 5th-8th place and got $1,500 (P72,800).  Cignal drew first blood in the best-of-five series as it came through with a 31-minute come-from-behind victory.  The double core setup of Jaymark “Hadess” Lazaro’s Ling and Vail “tsujin” Alejo’s Wanwan sparked the comeback for the squad in red.  Execration retaliated hard to take the next two games, with Patrick James “E2MAX” Caidic’s Selena and Benedict “Bennyqt” Gonzales’ Roger leading the charge in Game 2.  A “Chak Mamba” play was witnessed in Game 3 as Joshua “Ch4knu” Mangilog on his Jawhead threw DJ “ImbaDeejay” Astibe’s Pharsa to the Lord pit to deny a base defense.  That allowed Hate’s Roger and Jeff “S4gitnu” Subang’s Uranus to finish off the game in the 15th minute.  However, Cignal–the second season champion–refused to go down without a fight, hammering out another comeback victory in Game 4 behind the triple threat of Hadess’ Ling, tsujin’s Angela and Jhones “RHEA” De Leon’s Leomord that powered the Warriors.  But then Hate on his Helcurt did not want to disappoint Execration’s legion of fans, taking charge of the squad’s demolition job in Game 5.  Armed with Blade of Despair, Endless Battle and Demon Hunter Sword, Hate ripped Cignal one-by-one as he racked up nine kills and five assists against three deaths. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 22nd, 2020

Team PH on a roll in Asian online chess

GM Banjo Barcenilla and IM Paulo Bersamina (File photo) The Philippines swept its last three round games including upset victories over top two seeds India and Kazakhstan for the No. 2 seeding in the knockout quarterfinals of the Asian Nations Online Chess Cup 2020 on Sunday. The Filipinos slew the top-seeded Indians, who were the 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad co-champions with the Russians, and then brought down the second-ranked Kazakhs via identical 2.5-1-5 scores in the seventh and eighth rounds. The Agilas then capped a perfect day with a 3-1 thrashing of Kyrgyzstan in the ninth and final round to finish second with 14 match points. The PH men’s team was actually tied with Mongolia with the same match points and first tiebreak scores (24-24) but the Nationals beat the Mongolians, 2.5-1.5, in the fifth round in the deciding tiebreak for the No. 2 seeding. The PH team drew a familiar foe in No. 7 Kazakhstan on Friday in a format where each team will play two matches and one “Armageddon” blitz game in case of a tie. The other quarterfinal pairings pit No. 1 Iran against No. 8 Singapore, No. 3 Mongolia versus No. 6 India, and No. 4 Australia against No. 5 India. Against Kyrgyzstan, Grandmaster Banjo Barcenilla and International Masters Paulo Bersamina and Haridas Pascua blasted IM Mikhail Markov, IM Asyl Abdyjapar and Ruslan Sezdebekov on boards two to four, while GM Mark Paragua blew another drawish game and succumbed to IM Semetey Tologontegin on top board. Against Kazakhstan, Bersamina and Pascua came through with the decisive triumphs while Barcenilla salvaged a draw out of a losing position. Versus India, it was Barcenilla who shone the brightest with a smashing triumph over GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly on board two while Paragua, Bersamina and Pascua fought to draws. The Lady Agilas, meanwhile, seek to hang on to the lead as they battle the heavily favored Indians in the seventh round Monday......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 18th, 2020

Behind the Scenes: The Heroes of ABS-CBN Sports

While the general public sees or hears the finished product on-air or online, most do not witness or appreciate those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes at ABS-CBN Sports. There’s an African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it took almost exactly that to make ABS-CBN Sports work. As we commemorate National Heroes Day in the country on the final day of ABS-CBN Sports, it is only fitting to acknowledge and thank those behind-the-scenes heroes who have been part of the amazing journey (DISCLAIMER: I may have left out some names, but it is purely unintentional so my apologies). Thank you, first and foremost, to our Chairman Emeritus Gabby Lopez, whose passion and love for sports led to the initiative that is ABS-CBN Sports. Thank you to our former President and CEO, Charo Santos-Concio, our current President and CEO, Carlo Katigbak, a true tennis fan, and our Chairman Mark Lopez, who showed us composure, class and grace as leaders.  Thank you to our beloved COO, Cory Vidanes, who allowed ABS-CBN Sports to reach a broader audience when it aired special events on Channel 2 as well as feature athletes and sports personalities on entertainment programs.   Thank you to the voice of ABS-CBN and former ABS-CBN Sports head, Peter Musngi, for leading the division during its early years. Thank you to Narrowcast head, Antonio “March” Ventosa, as well as his executive assistant, Trina Magallanes, for helping us navigate during the transtition period of ABS-CBN Sports.   Thank you to the captain of our ship, ABS-CBN Integrated Sports head, Dino Laurena, who inspired us to work harder and better to serve our audience.  Thank you to Sir Dino’s gatekeeper, his executive assistant, Donna Seat, who was our bridge whenever we needed to reach out to the boss. Thank you to S+A channel head and production head, Vince Rodriguez, LIGA channel head, Jojo Neri-Estacio and Business Unit Head, Jun Martinez. They were our constant guides who enabled us to provide quality content on broadcast despite immense internal and external pressure.  Thank you to the people who made sure we never went beyond our budget and reached our targets – our Finance team made up of Berg Capiz, Jem Castro and Lorna Gendrano. Thank you to our S+A On-Air team of Rommel Noviza, Janice Rulloda, Princess Basye, Biboy Diga, Mark Marinay, Arnold Saclolo, Borge Raval and Hans Espiritu as well as our Liga Channel team of  Anna Santos, Francis Patawaran, Aprille Signo and Joramie Roque, for ensuring everything airs on time.  Thank you to our Digital Head, Mico Halili, for his innovative and fresh ideas on the digitial space.   Thank you to the men and women who made our broadcast coverage as close to flawless – our Production Manager, Jennifer Jimenez, our directors, which include THE Abet Ramos, Al Neri, Raul de Ocampo and Rommel Pedrealba, and our technical directors made up of Elmond Salvahan, Jhonnald Garcia, Marvin Chavez, Bingbong Pangan, Arnold Bulaong and Joseph Vega. Thank you to the men and women who made sure our partner properties were happy with our coverage, and that everything was in place for each and every game or show we put out there – our Executive and Associate Producers Vic Caridad, Malou Neri, Ada Bayuga, Diana Sayson, Oxy del Rosario, Mae Mañalac, Aries Galot, Apples Dela Vega, Kristina Manzana, Roy Briones, Ledz Cahinhinan, JC Gonzales, Gab Gonzales and Manny Gabutina.  Thank you to those who crafted and produced memorable segments – our segment producers Eva Evangelista, Carlo Grajo, Cha Lucero, Mark Morados, Jeff Sta. Maria, Jet Montebon, Sharon Muli, Alex Brocoy, Mika Barrios, Bill Barrinuevo and Volta delos Santos as well as our video editors Pido Cruz and Fonz Fajatin. Thank you to those who put the right words into play – our writers Monica Magpantay, Paul Loyola, Jigs Guardiano, Adrian Dy, Sheiden Dela Cruz, Ken Natividad, Syjin Reyes and Migs Gomez. Thank you to those who gave the right cues to our anchors, analysts and courtside reporters – our panel director Larry "Care Mo Naman" Deang, our floor directors Miky "Gandara" Mirabueno, Lyanne Ocampo-Tan and Fritz Dizon. Thank you to the people who made sure that the right moments were captured – our Camera Control Unit made up of George Austria, Joel Supremo and Edgar Guarte, our Cameramen Lloyd Villamor, Rovic Pacis, Gerald "Superman" Fermin, Ron Fermin, Ronald Mangcoy, Michael Pico, Emman Andes, Butch Pineda and Mark Nicolas. Thank you to those who made sure we heard the sounds and voices loud and clear – our audio engineers Elias Javier, Ramil Ciruano, Albert Agbay, Jancel Abobo as well as our audiomen Joseph Nicolas and Ameng Atienza. Thank you to the guys who allowed us to get another look at the action – our EVS/Slomo Operators Joejay Abarquez, Raymond Biojon and Dido Batallion and VTR men Christian Abarquez, Kenneth Abarquez and Oliver Sañez. Thank you to the people responsible for making things more visible on our screens –our Electrician/Lighting Directors Alvin Saavedra and Jorge Paraon and our lightman Calvin Liong. Thank you to those who create those cool graphics and effects that catch our attention during games and shows - our Graphic Artists/Operators Jam Memdoza, Denice Ylagan, Erol Corpuz, Sara Concepcion, Jeff Jugueta and Kevin Camero. Thank you to the team who put the little things in order – our set-up assistants Jerald Testor, Ivan Castillo, Ferdie Mangaong, Remus Taniengra, Daniel Dimaculangan, Eduardo Dacumos, Ryan Ancheta, Allan Porsioncula, Laurence Sosa, Illac Alvarez, Benjo Asiatico, Manny Cajayon, Lepoldo Bofill, Victor Taniegra, Caleb Bautista, Jeremiah Mallari and Bennett Cabus. Thank you to the guys who provided the correct statistics and graphics – our panel scorers/GFX feeders Rico Bayuga, Ronaldo Serrano, Arvin Estabillo and Gilbert Serrano. Thank you to those who made our on-cam talents look good – our makeup artists Mylyn Concepcion, Nina Concepcion, Estrella Besabe, Norma Calubaquib and Nizel Reduta and our stylist Lyle Foz. Thank you to those who were always ready to lend a helping hand – our production assistants, Lian Salango, Pau Hiwatig, Helen Trinidad, Riri Gayoma, Jade Asuncion and Lovely Dela Cruz. Thank you for the imagination and artistry of our Creative Communications Management (CCM) team composed of Elirose Borja, Jerome Clavio, Djoanna San Jose, Lara Mae Allardo, Robin Lorete, Cristy Linga, Christopher Eli Sabat, Archimedes Asis (the voice of S+A), Jan Dormyl Espinosa, Aila Onagan and Nyro Mendoza. They say that advertising is the lifeblood of media and that we wouldn’t be able to deliver high-quality content if not for advertisers brought in our by our Sports Sales team, so thank you to our Sports Sales Heads Jojo Garcia, Nicole Moro and Ken Ti, along with our account executives Tin Saw, Annalyn Herrera, Trina Vallarta, Joey Tang, Karlo Miguel, Paul Sembrana, Mike Tan, Ray Del Castillo, and Jason Gaffud. Thank you to those who constantly pitched ideas and presented to clients on our behalf, our Business Development Executive, Tonyo Silva, and our Sports Marketing team made up of Thirdy Aquino, Maui Tang, Jason Roberto, Danica Jose, Lala Cruz and Hanz Trajano. Thank you to the people who looked out for the wellfare and concerns of our division members – our Human Resources squad made up of Arvin Crisol, James Lee, Anika Gregorio and Donna Yabut. Social media has been a game changer and enabled people to relive key moments in sports events, so thank you to our social media team made up of Jon Rodriguez, Alvin Laqui, Danine Cruz, Aia del Mundo, Melvin Rodas, Clev Mayuga, Migs Flores and Lloydie Moreno. We would also like to give special thanks to our former bosses and colleagues who have moved on from this world, Rolly V. Cruz, Danilo A. Bernardo, George G. Padolina, Marco Franco, Gerald Gicana, Rhodora "Dhanda" Panganiban, Vernie Calimlim and Erwin Evangelista.  Lastly, I personally want to thank the website content team made up of sub-section editors Santino Honasan, Mark “Mr. Volleyball” Escarlote, Norman Benjamin Lee Riego (Yes, it has to be his complete name) and Paul Lintag, former sub-section editor Milan Ordonez, former writer Philip Matel, videographers Nigel Velasquez, Rocio Avelino and Steph Toben, photographers Arvin Lim, Richard Esguerra and Joshua Albelda, former NBA Philippines website managing editor Adrian Dy, contributing writers Anton Roxas, Marco Benitez, “Doc Volleyball” AJ Pareja, Migs Bustos, Mikee “Diliman Legend” Reyes and Ceej Tantengco. While our journey in telling these stories with ABS-CBN Sports will abruptly come to a halt, it has been an honor and a pleasure serving the Filipino sports fans worldwide. We may no longer be around as an organization, but the great athletes will keep playing and inspiring and the games will continue. And so, with a sense of immense gratitude, we say: Maraming Salamat Kapamilya! Hanggang sa muli! --- Lorenzo Z. Manguiat has been the Editor-in-Chief of sports.abs-cbn.com since 2014 and Sports News Desk Head since 2015. He started as game writer for ABS-CBN Sports in 2000 and served in various other capacities within ABS-CBN. He is among the thousands of employees who will be retrenched on August 31, 2020.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 31st, 2020

Aljun Melecio s never-ending quest to prove he belongs

Aljun Melecio has these hardware sitting pretty on his trophy case: UAAP 78 Jrs. MVP, UAAP 79 Rookie of the Year, UAAP 79 champion. Now heading into his fifth and final year in De La Salle University, he remains recognized as one of the best point guards in all of college. Well, recognized by just about everybody except himself. Asked if he feels worthy to stand alongside the likes of NCAA 95 Finals MVP Fran Yu or UAAP 82 Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy, he answered, modest as always, "Nope. I don't. Wala pa akong napapatunayan." Yes, the 5-foot-8 super scorer who was then head coach Aldin Ayo's "most-wanted recruit" feels he is yet to prove himself. Yes, the primetime playmaker who was once comforted by Tab Baldwin after the Green Archers had lost the championship despite his 16 points in Game 3 of the Finals feels he is yet to prove himself. That in itself is not necessarily surprising, though. And that's because all throughout his young career, Melecio has felt, again and again, that he has to prove himself. He had to prove himself even to La Salle, his home of nine years now. "Actually, 'di naman ako ni-recruit ng Zobel dati," he shared. "To be honest, my mindset at that time ay mag-Team B lang sa Zobel para pag may games, mas magagamit ako. Kaysa naman mag-Team A ako and nakaupo lang sa bench." BREAK IN Aljun Melecio, now a graduating guard, is La Salle's most recent homegrown product. Of the Green Archers' probable UAAP 83 roster, the now-22-year-old is the lone player to have come from the Taft-based school's Jrs. programs - and mind you, they have two in La Salle Zobel and La Salle Green Hills. In DLSZ, Melecio was a scoring dynamo who once dropped 42 points on archrival Ateneo de Manila High School. Did you know, though, that he wasn't even supposed to wear the green and white? "I was supposed to transfer sa UST nung high school," he recalled. "Pero napag-usapan naming family na since si kuya, nasa Zobel na nung time na yun, mas okay sigurong Zobel na lang din ako para magkasama kami." Aljun was referring to older brother Aleck who was also his teammate for three years with the Jr. Archers. If not for Aleck, however, Aljun would have suited up for University of Sto. Tomas High School where good friend Renzo Subido had already committed to play for college. After all, it was Subido, and dad Henry, who had convinced the Melecios to move to Manila from Bukidnon. "The reason talaga why we took the risk to come here was because of Coach Henry," Aljun shared, looking back at the time when all of them were repping Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. "They invited us to play basketball in Manila kaya malaki ang utang na loob namin sa Subido family." While Coach Henry and Renzo have been always there to lend a helping hand, that did not necessarily make the transition any easier - especially for a 10-year-old kid who was born and bred in Valencia City. "Grabe yung sacrifice na ginawa namin just for me to have more opportunities in life. That was a big adjustment not just for me, but also for my parents," Melecio said. He then continued, "Dumating yung time na ayoko nang bumalik sa Manila kasi na-homesick ako. Looking back now, normal lang naman siguro yun, lalong-lalo na bata pa ako." BREAKTHROUGH Make no mistake about it, looking back now, Aljun Melecio has no regrets. As he put it, "It was all worth it." Of course, he also had lady luck smile on him somewhat as, yet again following the footsteps of Subido, he transferred from Lourdes to DLSZ. And there, he found yet another mentor willing to believe in him. "Sina Coach Boris [Aldeguer], pagdating ko sa Zobel, they invited me to join yung practice ng Team A. Nagulat ako na kaya ko naman pala so doon na nag-start yung confidence ko," he said. Indeed, Melecio did not let Coach Boris down as in his first year, he proved to be a building block in their rebuild. While the boys from Alabang eventually ended outside the playoff picture, he had made more than enough noise to get the attention of the Philippine national youth team. There, DLSZ's top gun got his first taste of wearing the flag as part of the Batang Gilas training pool. "Masayang-masaya ako nun na makasama sa practice team dahil dream ko talaga maging part nun," he narrated. "May jersey lang and makasali lang ako sa practice, masayang-masaya ako." There, Melecio showcased his skills alongside other promising prospects such as Nieto twins Mike and Matt as well as Jolo Mendoza of Ateneo, Renzo Navarro of San Sebastian College-Recoletos, and Jollo Go of Hope Christian High School. And there, yet again, he knew full well he had to prove himself. During training itself, the new kid on the block believed he was doing so. At the same time, however, he had to come face-to-face with another beast altogether - how to get to practice in the first place. As it turned out, the then-13-year-old had to commute from south to north each and every time he participated in Batang Gilas training. How did his trips go? "From Alabang, mag-tricycle ako to [Alabang] Town [Center] then jeep going to Starmall [Alabang]. After nun, bus to Magallanes, MRT, then LRT, tapos jeep ulit," he shared. He then continued, "So papunta pa lang to Moro, pagod na ako. Then after practice, mag-commute na naman pauwi." Fortunately for him, there were also kind hearts like the Nieto twins who took him to the LRT station in Katipunan or Evan Nelle whom he rode with going back south. Still, around 33km and about an hour separated DLSZ in the south and Ateneo's Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in the north - indeed, that was some sort of workout already. BREAKDOWN In the long run, that was, unfortunately, much too much for young Aljun Melecio. While wearing the flag would have meant much, he also felt circumstances, such as that hell of a commute that cost him PHP 200 for a one-way trip, held him back from giving his all. Instead, Melecio felt he could do much more if he just rechanneled his energy to DLSZ. "After ilang weeks na ginagawa ko yung routine na yun, I started asking myself kung paano maayos yung priorities ko. Pinakiramdaman ko kung saan ako mag-iimprove so I talked to Coach Boris," he said. He the continued, "And I decided na mag-all in sa Zobel." All in for the Jr. Archers, he did, and boy, did it prove to be the right call. He was just getting started in UAAP 76, slowly but surely getting a grasp of both his capabilities and confidence as he helped the green and white barge back into the Final Four. Then in Season 77, it all clicked as he shot the green and white to the second rung of the stepladder all while putting up per game counts of 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.3 steals. Without a doubt, he willed his way into the Mythical Team that included the Nieto twins, his batchmates in Batang Gilas. The following year, with averages of 22.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.3 steals, he carried DLSZ all the way to the Finals where they stole one game from eventual champion Nazareth School of National University. And oh, he was the unanimous MVP of Season 78, besting the likes of future Gilas Pilipinas pool members Justine Baltazar and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Even then, though, he wouldn't call himself the best of the best. "I didn't think na I belonged kasi never kong gustong isipin na ganun ako," he said. He then continued, "Ang alam ko lang, I worked extra hard, I had extra motivation to play. Thankfully, coach Boris supported my decision and dahil dun, na-boost yung confidence ko." BREAK FREE From there, Aljun Melecio did nothing but go onto greater and greater heights in La Salle's Srs. squad. Never tell him he has accomplished anything, though, as he would be the first to tell you that you're wrong. Up until now, he feels that he is yet to prove himself. He hopes to prove that he has what it takes to be behind the wheel for the Green Archers' new era. He hopes to prove that he could bounce back following the worst statistical season for him. And he hopes to prove that he has every right to be mentioned in the same breath as his one-time teammates in the Batang Gilas pool and his batchmates who are now part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool. "Lahat naman, ginagawa kong motivation," he said. "May it be positive or negative, we all have our timing so I'm just being patient para sa kung anuman ang ibibigay na chance sa akin." If and when that next shot at wearing the flag comes along, Melecio only vows to do what he has never stopped doing. Asked about getting a golden opportunity at the Gilas pool, he answered, "That's still a dream for me. I know I still have a lot to prove." He then continued, "But I will give my all if given the chance to represent. I always do." If and when that time comes, there would be no more 33km distance, one-hour travel time, or PHP 200 cost. Still, Aljun Melecio would work just as hard - if not more - as he did when he once had to commute south to north just to get to practice. Don't forget, proving himself is already second nature to him. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

SEA GAMES: The silver that glittered like gold

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

McIlroy, Cantlay the sole survivors to par at Olympia Fields

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) — Rory McIlroy doesn't need fans to keep his head in the game at the BMW Championship. Olympia Fields is so tough it won't allow anything but his full attention on every shot. McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay made their share of mistakes Friday and shrugged them off because that's bound to happen on the toughest test the PGA Tour has seen this year. By the end of another steamy afternoon south of Chicago, they were the sole survivors to par. One week after McIlroy admitted to going through the motions without spectators around to provide the cheers, he had a 1-under 69 to share the 36-hole lead with Cantlay. It was plenty tough for Tiger Woods, whose PGA Tour season appears to be two rounds from being over. He didn't have enough good shots to atone for his bad ones, and he had to make a 35-foot par putt on his final hole to shoot 75, leaving him nine shots behind. Woods was toward the bottom of the pack at a tournament where he needs to finish around fourth to be among the top 30 who advance to the Tour Championship. Cantlay holed a 50-foot chip for birdie, and holed out a 50-yard wedge for eagle. He also missed the green on three of the par 3s, the last one leading to a double bogey. He finished with a 6-iron out of the thick rough and made a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. It added to a 68, matching the best score of the round. They were at 1-under 139, one shot ahead of Hideki Matsuyama and Dustin Johnson, who were going in opposite directions when it was time to sign their scorecards. Matsuyama, the only player to reach 4 under at any point this week, dropped four shots over his last 10 holes for a 73. Johnson finished birdie-birdie for 69. The phrase “U.S. Open” is being heard a lot more than “FedEx Cup” this week. “I think the test is what’s helped me focus and concentrate because if you lose focus out there for one second ... just one lapse in concentration can really cost you around here,” McIlroy said. “I think one of the big keys this week is just not making big numbers. If you hit it out of position, get it back in position, make sure that your worse score is bogey and move on. Honestly, bogeys aren't that bad out here.” He made a mistake on the 14th hole by going long and left, and only a great wedge to a back pin to 5 feet kept him from a big blunder, even though he missed the par putt. He flirted with trouble later in his round on the fifth hole with a wedge from 134 yards that came up 30 yards short, the pin tucked behind a big bunker. He left that in collar short of the green and got up-and-down for bogey. Cantlay doesn't expect to hole out twice a round with wedges and hopes he can sharpen up his game a little. Still, he loves the idea of having to think and plot his way around the course. “It's about as stiff of a test as you would want,” Cantlay said. “It's very, very difficult, and you have to play from the fairway, and you have to play from below the hole, frankly. The greens have so much slope on them that you really need to be putting uphill. And so if you're in the rough, it gets exponentially harder to do that.” For those playing well — anywhere within a few shots of par in this case — it was an enjoyable challenge. For everyone, regardless of the score, it was a grind. “I don't know if any rain will matter, really,” Kevin Kisner said after a bogey-bogey finish ruined an otherwise good day and gave him a 70, leaving him three shots behind. “I think even par wins the golf tournament.” Doesn't 280 always win the U.S. Open? That's what Arnold Palmer used to say. And this feels like a U.S. Open. Go back to Shinnecock Hills two years ago in the U.S. Open to find the last time someone won at over par (Brooks Koepka). For non-majors, the tour said over par hasn't won since Bruce Lietzke at the Byron Nelson Classic in 1981. It's a massive change from last week, when Johnson won by 11 shots at 30-under 254. “Last week was fun, too,” Johnson said. “But this week is more of a grind, that's for sure. Every single hole out here is difficult. You've got to really be focused on every shot that you hit.” Among those two shots behind was Louis Oosthuizen, whose birdie in the dark on the final hole last week at the TPC Boston moved him to No. 70 to qualify for the BMW Championship. “This is the golf course I needed to do what I must do,” he said of moving into the top 30. “Look, this can go really south on you quickly. You can shoot 6, 7 over on this golf course very quickly. But if you really stick to it and play middle of the greens and lag those putts, you can make a lot of pars. And you're not going to lose spots if you're making pars.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

UAAP 81: When the sleeping giant named UP finally awakened

No cheering - that's the cardinal rule for sportswriters during coverages. In collegiate sports, not even your very own alma mater song is spared. Still, on November 28, 2018, I thought this one time could be an exception to the rule. After all, more than half of the Araneta Coliseum had their hands raised in singing "UP Naming Mahal." Certainly, not one more fist in the air could be considered conspicuous. After all, the University of the Philippines Men's Basketball Team was letting it all out right there on the court. Certainly, not one more show of emotion could be out of place. And after all, the Fighting Maroons had just done it. It, being seeing a new dawn after the so-called dark days. FROM FIGHTING TO WINNING UAAP 81 started very much like how many, many UP seasons did in recent memory. There was a lot of hope, no doubt, what with Paul Desiderio in his last year, Bright Akhuetie in his first year, Gomez de Liano brothers Juan and Javi being back for more, and Bo Perasol still at the helm. Only, being a fan of the Fighting Maroons also meant you know full well all of it couldn't be true. History is a lesson to be learned - and from the promise of Migs De Asis, Mike Gamboa, Martin Reyes, and great Filipino-American hope Mike Silungan and the potential of Mikee Reyes, Woody Co, and Kyles Lao, Diliman has learned many, many lessons, indeed. And then, the season started. A season-opening win became a 1-3 standing. A 3-3 record worsened to 3-5. Standing at an even 5-5 in the stretch run then led to winning three of the last four games in the elimination round. And before you knew it, UP, yes, UP was knocking on the door of the Final Four. Could this be it? Or could this be just the biggest disappointment the Fighting Maroons had ever served? FROM WINNING TO LOSING A winning tradition could be taken for granted. Coming from a school down south that was, is, and forever linked to a particular powerhouse, I, personally, was very much used to winning. Even more, I was right there when Joshua (or Dave, as we called him) Webb, Jeric Fortuna, and Jed Manguera led the team formerly known as the Bengals to a breakthrough championship. So, yeah, personally, my tradition was to root for a winning team - be it in the Jrs. or in the Srs. Come college, though, I traded in the shield of green and white for the luntian at pulang sagisag magpakailanman. And hey, UP Diliman is and always will be the best school in the history of man, in my eyes. In terms of basketball, though, it left much to be desired. As I was about to go to college, the Fighting Maroons went winless in back-to-back years. And then, they had three-win seasons when I was a freshie and a sophomore. In all my four years in college, I only experienced eight wins out of 56. So yeah, in State U, there was the exact opposite of a winning tradition. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Don't get me wrong here. UP is a power in many, many sports and is a contender for the general championship year in and year out. Back then, though, forgive me if I only had eyes for men's basketball.) FROM JETT TO PAUL And then, a ray of light shone bright, and brighter, and brighter. I have now grown to love Mikee Reyes - he is a great guy and a good analyst. Back then, though, he was a prime proof of what wasn't working in UP. Here was a talent who had a shot at making a name for himself and taking his team along with him for the ride, but unfortunately, just could not put it all together. Reyes was just one of many, many promising players in maroon and green who didn't have the sort of support that a winning tradition entailed. True to their name, though, the Fighting Maroons kept, well, fighting. And in his last year, Jett Manuel proved that the tides could turn in their favor. Manuel would never be the best player on De La Salle University or Ateneo de Manila University or even University of Sto. Tomas and Far Eastern University. Still, he gave his all game in and game out and grew to be a beloved player and leader in Diliman. He set the standard for the kind of fight a Maroon should have and in his last year, steered his squad to a fifth-place finish at 5-9. Not a finish to be proud of by any means, but for the first time in a long time, there were signs of life coming from State U. And that's when I knew Jett Manuel would be my forever King Maroon. However, just two years later, Paul Desiderio made me question that. FROM THEN TO NOW Definitely, Paul Desiderio is not Jett Manuel. Jett is eloquent and looks like he came from an exclusive private school, which he did. Paul speaks in short but sweet terms and is very much proud of his roots in Cebu. What they both have, though, is an undeniable love for UP and an unwavering determination to lead the Fighting Maroons to where they belong. When Manuel left, of course, the reins went to Desiderio and in his very first game as main man, he proved his worth. I know you know what I'm going to talk about - because this was the time he uttered the words that would define State U from that point onto the foreseeable future. "Atin to, papasok to!" -- Paul Desiderio during the timeout. Moments later...#UAAPSeason80 pic.twitter.com/7yafSpldJM — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 10, 2017 The maroon and green yet again fell short of the Final Four that year, but come next season, a playoff berth was, indeed, theirs for the taking. Downing La Salle in the very last game of the elims, they booked a trip to the next round for the first time since 1997. That would have been more than enough for their long-suffering faithful, but they did themselves one better - actually, two better - and upset second-seed and twice-to-beat Adamson University. Just like that, UP would be playing in its first Finals since the days of Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano, and Joe Lipa. That day, November 28, 2018, would always live on with me. FROM ME TO YOU As bad as I wanted to break the cardinal rule for sportswriters, I didn't. As bad as I wanted to stay on the floor to listen and live in the chorus singing in harmony, "Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan," I couldn't. When UP made history, I had to go back to the press room and finish my full take on the game. Just minutes before, I honestly couldn't believe the breaking report I was working on in my phone and uploading in our website. Really? The Fighting Maroons had done it. Even with the final stat sheet in my hands, I still couldn't believe it. Really? The Fighting Maroons had done it. Even through writing "those back-to-back wins have set up for them a date with defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in the best-of-three Finals slated for Saturday at the MOA Arena," I still couldn't believe it. Really? The Fighting Maroons had done it. Of course, in the very end, Ateneo was Ateneo and State U had to settle for second-place. Still, there may not be another silver medal that was worth celebrating more. You have to understand that again, this is a team not that far off from its dark days - so, yeah, this silver season was a special season. And so, at the very end of Season 81, when I saw Paul standing on the game officials' table, basking in the UP community's cries of "De-si-de-rio" and "A-tin-to," another chant was playing in my head - "You deserve it." This image, would always live on with me. At the same time, though, I was a firsthand witness to another image that told me this was just the beginning. First Finals appearance, first Finals loss. Fo sho, GDL brothers @javigdl22 and @juan_swish9 will only be better from this. #UAAPSeason81 pic.twitter.com/CMV0JH30rh — No Work Normie Riego (@riegogogo) December 5, 2018 Juan and Javi GDL sat on the makeshift awarding stage while the Blue Eagles were enjoying their back-to-back championships and Desiderio was being serenaded by the Fighting Maroons' faithful. Their eyes were welling up with tears, but deep down there, you could also see their determination to be back, to be better, and to say themselves "Atin 'to" to a championship. FROM HERE ON OUT UAAP 81 was Ateneo's, no doubt about that. UAAP 82, when UP was supposedly stronger, was still Ateneo's, yet again no doubt about that. Actually, the Fighting Maroons were even owned by runner-up UST that year - and those Growling Tigers had a Cinderella tale to tell of their own. And yet, for my money, no team in recent memory has won over everybody quite like Paul Desiderio's UP Fighting Maroons. Maybe, just maybe, that's all because I'm an Isko with student no. 2008-6*1*5. Or maybe, just maybe, it's so good to see a sleeping giant awakened - now knowledgeable of how to build a team and now knowledgeable how to put up support for that team. Or maybe, just maybe, it's so good to see homegrown stars like Diego Dario and the GDLs stay home and play home and to see a foreign student-athlete like Akhuetie shine bright both as a student and as an athlete. Or maybe, just maybe, it's so good to put your full faith in somebody like Desiderio who truly, madly, and deeply believed "Atin 'to" - even though recent history said otherwise. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. Norman Lee Benjamin Riego has served as a sub-section editor for ABS-CBN Sports' website since 2014. He is among thousands of ABS-CBN employees who will be retrenched on August 31, 2020. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

SEA GAMES: The silver that glittered like gold

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

Column: Woods gets to see and hear how the other half lives

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) — Tiger Woods arrived at Olympia Fields for the first time in 17 years, this time with no one around to chase after his every move from the moment he stepped out of the car until he walked off the course. That's not a bad thing. He'll be in a red shirt on Sunday with about the same number of people. That's not good, at least not for him. Woods is learning after three tournaments what others have begun to realize over the last three months. Some players thrive on energy from the crowd as a pick-me-up. Now the reaction, the volume, is the same for a birdie as a double bogey. Woods is one of those players who feeds off noise. “Always have,” he said. “I've played in front of thousands of people ever since I turned pro 24 years ago. It's always been odd when I haven't played in front of people. In one way, it's been nice between tees not getting tapped or getting a glove pulled out of my pocket. Those are things I've had to deal with for a very long time. “But you hit good shots and you get on nice little runs ... we don't have the same energy, the same fan energy.” This is not his issue alone, nor is it the reason he has yet to finish in the top 35 in the three tournaments he has played since golf returned from the coronavirus-caused shutdown. Hitting good shots and making putts goes a long way in any environment. Graeme McDowell was walking along the ninth fairway in the middle of his second round last week at the TPC Boston when he said he felt like a “golf zombie.” “It's like I have no soul,” he said. The courses are different and look the same. They're empty. McDowell spoke of needing the adrenaline he gets from the crowd around the first tee at a U.S. Open or Ryder Cup. Maybe some players do better with no one watching, especially if they're on edge and need something to calm them down. McDowell isn't one of them. Neither is Rory McIlroy. He played the final two rounds with Woods, as big a draw as there is in golf, with hardly anyone watching. Woods began the final round with four straight birdies and the only buzz came from Twitter. McIlroy knows about ebbs and flows in his game. He once missed four out of five cuts and won three out of four tournaments, all in a span of four months in 2012. But his play since returning to an empty stage in June is worth noting. He had had seven consecutive top 5s, including a victory at a World Golf Championship, and reached No. 1 in the world. Since the return, he has seven straight tournaments out of the top 10 and has yet to reach the back nine with a chance to win. Coincidence? Maybe. Three months off surely cost him some momentum. “This is going to sound really bad,” McIlroy said, “but I feel like the last few weeks, I've just been going through the motions. ... And look, that's partly to do with the atmosphere and partly to do with how I'm playing. I'm not inspiring myself, and I'm trying to get inspiration from outside sources to get something going. I can definitely see where Graeme is coming from." That might allow McIlroy to reconsider what he once said about Woods. He played with Woods and Justin Thomas in the opening two rounds at Riviera a few years ago and was amazed by all the commotion around Woods. “I swear, playing in front of all that, he gives up half a shot a day on the field. Like, it's two shots a tournament he has to give to the field because of all that goes on around,” McIlroy said that day. “Whoever is teeing off at 8:30 in the morning doesn't get that and can just go about his business. He has to deal with that every single time.” McIlroy missed the point. If all that commotion costs Woods two shots to the field, what does it cost the players with him? Right now, nothing. Without spectators, has Woods lost an advantage he once had? “Absolutely,” Woods replied. "Anyone who has played in front of thousands of people, it is very different. That's always been one of the things I've become accustomed to. The guys who played with me, who haven't become accustomed to it, they have only experienced one round here and there. That's been every round I've played for over two decades. “That advantage — for me, and some of the other top players — trying to deal with all that noise and the movement, that experience is no longer there.” Nick Faldo touched on this when he was discussing the 10-year anniversary of Woods winning the 1997 Masters, a watershed moment in golf. Faldo said that when he slipped the green jacket on Woods that Sunday, he thought the Masters would be the only major he could win. Sure, Augusta National suited his game. “But also because the Masters was the only major that the media was kept outside the ropes,” Faldo said. "And I thought that was going to be his biggest challenge. Now it’s his greatest asset. Everyone joining him now on the weekend at a major goes into his world. That’s Tiger’s arena. Other guys will step into that arena one week and go back out. He’s there all the time. And good luck coming into his world.” It's a new world for everyone now. It's especially different for Woods, not so much for some of the players paired with him. For the less accomplished players who always wondered what it was like to be in his shoes, the absence of spectators has allowed Woods to see what it's like to be in theirs......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

Johnson s big finish gives him 5-shot lead at TPC Boston

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Dustin Johnson arrived at the TPC Boston this week, headed to the practice range and then looked at his swing coach. “He said, ‘Bro, what am I supposed to be working on again?’” Claude Harmon said Saturday as he watched his pupil set another personal record in The Northern Trust. Johnson isn't doing much wrong at the moment, a daunting prospect to the guys trying to chase him. His birdie-eagle finish gave Johnson a 7-under 64 and stretched his lead to five shots over Harris English and Scottie Scheffler. The finish would have come in handy the day before. Johnson was an astounding 11-under par through 11 holes Friday and had the golf world curious if he would go as low as 57 to set the PGA Tour record. Instead, he finished with seven straight pars for a 60, his best ever but not what it could have been. Johnson put that behind him and looked just as good. Instead of the fast start, it was a big finish. He rolled in a 20-foot birdie on the 17th, and then holed a 40-footer up a ridge and down toward the hole for eagle on the par-5 18th. That put him at 22-under 191, his lowest 54-hole by three shots. In his mind, there is still work to be done. “I'm in a great position and like where I’m at, but I’m still going to have to go out and shoot a good score,” Johnson said. “You can go low out here and guys are going low every day, especially with the conditions we have — perfect greens, golf course is in great shape and not a lot of wind.” Johnson knows better than to think it's over. Just an hour before he signed for his 64, he was tied for the lead until English made bogeys on the 16th and 17th and missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 66. He could also think back to the HSBC Champions in Shanghai three years ago, when he had a six-shot lead in the final round and lost to Justin Rose, matching a PGA Tour record. As well as he's playing, he's only thinking of going as low as he can. “Doesn't matter what the other guys are doing,” Johnson said. “I’m just going to play my game and I’ll be aggressive when I can be and be a little more conservative when I have to be.” Scheffler, coming off the 12th round of 59 or better on the PGA Tour, had a 67. He played in the final group with Johnson, just like he did two weeks ago on the final day of the PGA Championship. On this day, it was a final pair of two players who had the lowest rounds in TPC Boston history. Only one of them shot golf's magic number, and that wasn't a topic of conversation for either of them. “I just told him nice playing,” Johnson said. Scheffler said his text messages included one from Ben Crenshaw, a big supporter of all Texas Longhorns. Otherwise, as a local NFL coach might say, it was on to Saturday. “Yesterday was awesome and the only difference going into today was everybody was telling me good round still, and that’s pretty rare,” Scheffler said. “Once I got on the course, I didn’t think once about it.” Johnson is going for his second victory of the year and could go to No. 1 in the world — provided Jon Rahm doesn't finish second — for the first time since May 2019. Tiger Woods predicted Friday there would be low scoring in the third round, and he was right — just not from him or Rory McIlroy, a star pairing for the breakfast hour. Woods birdied the last hole for a 73. McIlroy made two triple bogeys in his round of 74. They get to play again Sunday morning. Johnson will be going for his fifth FedEx Cup playoff victory, and third in this event on a third course. What matters more is how he finishes the season. The FedEx Cup already features some of the best players in golf — Woods, McIlroy, Vijay Singh, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth among them — and Johnson wants to be on that list. Johnson set the target with four birdies in eight holes before heavy rain moved in and halted the third round for 45 minutes. It also softened a TPC Boston that was getting slightly firmer. He came back and hit to tap-in range for birdie on the 12th, and the had the great finish. Johnson needed a birdie on the 18th on Friday for his first 59, and said he regrets hitting driver off the tee with a shot that tumbled down a small slope into the rough. Lesson learned? Not really. With the rain, he opted for driver again, teed it low and hit this one perfect, setting up a 5-iron to the green and his long eagle putt......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

WHAT IF Marck Espejo played for DLSU?

We all know what Marck Espejo brought to Ateneo when he donned the Blue Eagles jersey in the UAAP. He led the blue and white to three straight titles in five consecutive Finals appearances in indoor volleyball and captured Ateneo’s first and so far lone championship in beach volleyball. As a player, Espejo achieved a feat difficult to surpass if not replicate. A Rookie of the Year award, five straight Most Valuable Player honors aside from other individual accolades. The Marikina pride even registered the league’s most points in a game with 55 during his last tour of duty with the Blue Eagles in Season 80. Espejo’s impact left a lasting imprint not only to the Blue Eagles but also to the entire league. Arguably, his persona could even also be attributed to the renewed popularity of men’s volleyball in the country which for years failed to bask in the same limelight enjoyed by women’s play. Indeed, Ateneo found a precious gem in Espejo. But what if Espejo decided to take his talents to a different school? Let’s say, De La Salle University. After all the green and white was actually one of Espejo’s options heading into college. [Related story: DID YOU KNOW? Marck Espejo almost played for DLSU] If Espejo played for the Green Spikers, he would definitely be a game changer. The Ateneo-National University championship rivalry wouldn’t have happened. Instead, it would’ve been the Bulldogs and Green Spikers duking it out for the crown during Espejo’s UAAP stint.      “Kung sa amin siya naglaro panigurado malaki ‘yung impact sa team namin kasi alam naman natin si Marck malakas talaga siya kahit buong team kaya niyang dalhin,” former DLSU setter and now assistant coach Geuel Asia told ABS-CBN Sports. Asia, who played for the Green Spikers from Season 75 to Season 79, added that he’s very familiar with Espejo's game as they were teammates when the National Capital Region ruled the 2012 Palarong Pambansa in Lingayen, Pangasinan.       “So malakas ang impact niya sa DLSU kung sakali. Power and mind maglaro si Marck so malaki ang matutulong niya sa DLSU,” said the former national team playmaker and Espejo's Cignal HD Spikers teammate. "Fit din siya sa system. Kahit na anong sistema aayon sa kanya, magiging comfortable siya."  In fact, with him on board DLSU in Season 76, the Green Spikers might have even gotten a trip to the Final Four. The Green Spikers, who finished third n Season 75, were eliminated by Adamson University in the playoff for no. 4 spot the following season.  Imagine Espejo adding more firepower to DLSU, which already had Season 75 MVP Red Christensen, Raymark Woo, Aaron Calderon, Ralph Calasin and Philip Cerveza. “Sobrang lakas talaga kung nangyari ‘yung ganun. Kasi yun din time na yun malakas si Woo eh,” said Asia. With Espejo, who was second in scoring in his rookie year and was in the top 10 in spiking, blocking, service and digs, DLSU might not even need to go to the playoff for a semis spot. Heck, the Green Spikers might even land at no. 2 - just like how Espejo led Ateneo into the Finals in Season 76 to face NU – considering that Christensen, Woo and Cerveza that year were consistently producing big numbers and contributing well on defense.      Of course, that team would still find it difficult to surpass the powerhouse Peter Torres-led Bulldogs in the championship. But at least that would’ve given DLSU the much-needed championship experience. Let’s say Woo didn’t suffer a knee injury during the pre-season while playing in a ligang labas that forced him to sit out  year, then DLSU would have remained a solid contender in Season 77. There might even have been the possibility that the Green Spikers ended a decade-long title-drought that year as they would have been parading an experienced and solid lineup composed of Espejo, Woo, setters Brendon Santos and Asia, libero Jopet Movido, Calderon, Christensen, Mike Frey, Arjay Onia, Cris Dumago and Calasin. The possibility of DLSU winning another title or two in the next three seasons with Espejo at the helm might not be far from reality.    But then of course Season 80 would be a different story. That year the Green Spikers would’ve parted ways with most of its veterans leaving Espejo, Onia, Dumago and Frey leading a young team piloted by third year setter Wayne Marco.    Even if DLSU did manage to crawl its way back into the Finals in Espejo’s last year, it would be extremely difficult to hurdle the Bulldogs parading a tall and very talented crew led by ace hitter Bryan Bagunas, Kim Malabunga, Madzlan Gampong, James Natividad, Francis Saura, setter Kim Dayandante and libero Ricky Marcos.    But then again, a DLSU squad bannered by Espejo in the UAAP would have definitely been a sight to behold. Too bad we could only imagine the what ifs.   ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2020