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WHAT IF… Bea De Leon missed the rest of Season 77?

Ateneo de Manila University achieved perfection in UAAP Season 77 after the Lady Eagles swept their way to a second straight women’s volleyball title. Stacked with powerful hitters in Alyssa Valdez, Michelle Morente, Ella de Jesus and Jho Maraguinot, Ateneo’s offense was unstoppable. The Katipunan-based squad also had prized setter Jia Morado and libero Denden Lazaro with veteran middle Amy Ahomiro. But another vital cog that made Ateneo a super team that year was the presence of rookie middle Bea De Leon. The former Poveda standout earned a starting spot in the Tai Bundit-mentored team, which the year before completed a Cinderella story with a championship.    De Leon proved her worth and even had a strong case for the coveted Rookie of the Year award. She was having a splendid season until she was forced to miss three games after suffering a finger injury during practice with Ateneo already in a 10-game romp. De Leon chose to just have her left index finger stitched and have therapy than go under the knife. She returned just in time for the pivotal end of the elimination round match against archrival De La Salle University. Getting the green light to play on the eve of the game, De Leon was surprised as she was included in the starting line-up and she did not disappoint.       De Leon, who risked aggravating her heavily bandaged finger, scored 11 points including three kill blocks in the Lady Eagles’ 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 27-25, victory that sent Ateneo straight to the Finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage. From there, Ateneo made history. But what if De Leon underwent surgery? One thing is for sure, De Leon would be out of commission for an extended period if not for the remainder of the season. Without her, Ateneo would surely be in a precarious situation in that decisive end of the elims match against the Lady Spikers. Taking down DLSU won’t be easy for the Lady Eagles to begin with. In their first meeting, Ateneo had to come back from a set down to outlast DLSU in a five sets match. Without De Leon, Coach Tai would be forced to put in either veteran but seldom-used Aeriel Patnongon or another rookie Maddie Madayag to help Ahomiro. Both rode the bench in the first Ateneo-DLSU encounter. DLSU, which was coming off a six-game win run, would be in a favorable position to exploit its height advantage and would’ve had an open sky for the Lady Spikers’ hitters.    And if DLSU won that game against an Ateneo squad missing its starting middle, that would put the semifinals in the usual Final Four format. The Lady Eagles will still have a twice-to-beat advantage and would still overpower Far Eastern University. As for DLSU, coming off a win over Ateneo, the Lady Spikers would be in high spirits against National University. The twice-to-beat Lady Spikers might not need to go to a do-or-die decider against the Lady Bulldogs. Probably, DLSU would have been spared of losing its best scorer Ara Galang from a harrowing knee injury. Of course, the Finals would’ve been a different story. Ateneo will be missing De Leon’s Finals average of eight points per game and a vital piece both on offense and defense.       But then again, the Lady Eagles still had its ace Valdez and their reliable wings to take care of the scoring as well as the steady Ahomiro. We can never know what the outcome of that Finals series would have been if De Leon missed the rest of the season. But we can surely say that De Leon’s return from that finger injury proved to be a decisive moment in the Lady Eagles' historic perfect season.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 27th, 2020

ABL Season 10 Preview

With the 10th Season of the ABL officially underway, we’ve been witnesses to one of the more colorful and exciting off seasons in the past few years. This is a testament to the ever-growing level of competition the league has seen year in and year out, as teams are doing their best to make sure that they enter the season with as competitive a lineup as they can muster. After another banner season which saw the CLS Knights defeat perennial contender the Singapore Slingers, everything is up for grabs. Established teams have entered into rebuilding mode, former champions have gone the direction of youth, regular contenders have added more depth both among their imports and locals, while this year’s expansion club boasts of one of the more impressive lineups we’ve seen from an expansion club in recent memory. All of this just makes for an even more exciting tenth season as the ABL continues to rise to greatness. Here is a quick rundown of what to expect from each of the teams: San Miguel Alab Pilipinas  (Regular season record: 18-8, 2nd, lost to HK Eastern in the quarterfinals) Former ABL Champs San Miguel Alab Pilipinas will be fielding a virtually new squad this 2019-2020 season, with Lawrence Domingo and Brandon Rosser as the only holdovers from Coach Jimmy Alapag’s 2018-2019 campaign. Gone are 3-time local MVP Bobby Ray Parks, Jr, former Defensive Player of the Year Renaldo Balkman and PJ Ramos. Instead, Alab will be relying on Fil-American guards Jason Brickman and Jeremiah Gray to lead their cast of locals. Brickman is no stranger to winning, after having led the Westports Malaysia Dragons to an ABL championship in 2016, and Mono Vampire to a Finals appearance two seasons ago. He remains one of the league’s best passers and has a knack for making winning plays. Jeremiah Gray meanwhile, is arguably Alab’s most touted local addition, and the 6’4” scorer could be one of the most exciting locals to watch out for this season. Since joining the ABL three seasons ago, Alab has finished the regular season no lower than 3rd place, but after last season’s early post season exit against the Hong Kong Eastern, Coach Jimmy Alapag and the rest of the squad are looking to bring the franchise back to the ABL Finals. Formosa Dreamers (Regular season record: 19-7, First, lost to Mono Vampire in the quarterfinals) The Formosa Dreamers shocked the ABL last season when, after finishing with a dismal 1-19 record in their inaugural season, the Dreamers finished at the top of the heap after the regular season with a 19-7 record. It was short-lived however, as the team from Taiwan bowed out in the first round of the post-season to the 8th seeded Mono Vampire of Thailand.  None of the three imports (Will Artino, Malcolm Miller and Tevin Glass) who steered them to a first-place elimination round record will be back this season, and neither will Coach Dean Murray. Instead, the Dreamers will be tapping former Saigon Heat Head Coach Kyle Julius, who steered the Heat to the franchise’s first winning season and playoff victory, to call the shots from the sidelines. They’ve also added two explosive imports in Jerran Young and Marcus Keene. Young, the 6’6” wingman who averaged 19ppg, 7.1rpg, and 2.3 spg to help bring the Slingers back to the ABL Finals last season. Keene meanwhile, suited up for two games for Mono Vampire last season and averaged 32.5ppg before being cut. Look for these two imports to power the Dreamers fast paced offense together with Taiwanese National Team mainstay Jet Chang, and reliable locals Kenny Chien, Lee Hsueh-Lin, and Wu Sung-Wei.   Hong Kong Eastern (Regular Season record: 13-13, 7th, defeated Alab Pilipinas in the quarterfinals, lost to Singapore Slingers in the Semifinals) 2017 ABL Champion Hong Kong Eastern has reset their program, parting ways with 2017 Coach of the Year Edu Torres, as well as former world import MVP, Marcus Elliot. They’ve opted to go with younger imports in Trey Kell (23 years old) and TJ Price (26 years old), while retaining last season’s replacement to Sam Deguara, Michael Holyfield. They’ve also tapped former NBA G-League coach Jordan Brady as Torres’ replacement.  Trey Kell is a talented scorer, standing 6’4”, and averaged 21.6ppg, 7.9rpg, and 4.8apg at the Canadian National Basketball League where he was named Finals MVP. TJ Price meanwhile is another scoring guard who averaged 16.7ppg, 3.3rpg, and 3.2apg in the Hungarian League A Division. Talented as their imports may be however, the success of Eastern’s rebuild will still largely depend on the contributions from the locals.     Kuala Lumpur Dragons (Regular Season record: 8-18, 9th, did not advance to the post season) Key Players: Will Artino, Amir Bell, Cade Davis Now known as the Kuala Lumpur Dragons, the 2016 ABL Champs have long road ahead to retain their past glory. Having not made it to the last three postseasons, Head Coach Jamie Pearlman will be relying heavily on former Creighton Bluejay and Formosa Dreamers center, Will Artino. Artino averaged a double-double in his first season in the ABL, and led the Dreamers to first place at the end of last year’s regular season. He will be partnered up with a solid shooter in Cade Davis, and Amir Bell, a 6’4” guard from Princeton, who averaged 10.4ppg, 4.2rpg, and 3.9apg for Agrigento in the Italian League 2nd Division. It will be interesting to see how this new mix of imports will blend with their locals, especially in a tough bracket that includes San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, Mono Vampire, Singapore Slingers, and the Saigon Heat.   Macau Black Bears (Regular Season Record:14-12, 6th, lost to the Singapore Slingers in the quarterfinals) Key Players: Mikh McKinney, Kenny Manigault, Brandon Edwards, Lai Ka Tong, Jenning Leung When Anthony Tucker went down to injury last season, so did Macau’s hopes of really contending for the ABL crown. Granted, Mikh McKinney was the league’s best scorer and Ryan Watkins, the best rebounder, but without their former World Import MVP and best playmaker, the Black Bears simply could not advance.  This season, gone are Tucker and Watkins. McKinney will have the explosive and athletic Kenny Manigault as his backcourt mate. Manigault averaged 17.1ppg and 5.3rpg playing in Finland. Their third import is 6’6” Brandon Edwards, who will be tasked to mix it up inside with the best big men of the league. It will be tough for this guard-laden Macau squad, and they will rely mostly on a small-ball style, utilizing McKinney’s and Manigault’s athleticism to relentlessly attack defenses and create opportunities for themselves and the rest of their teammates.   Mono Vampire Basketball Club (Regular Season Record: 11-15, 8th, defeated Formosa Dreamers in the quarterfinals, lost to CLS Knights Indonesia in the Semifinals) Key Players: Mike Singletary, Ryan Watkins, Tyler Lamb, Freddie Lish, Moses Morgan Mono Vampire proved that they were dead serious on making it back to the Finals this upcoming ABL Season. Last year, after bucking a slow start, Mono Vampire added Romeo Travis, Malcolm White, and Freddie Lish midseason, and still ended up becoming the hottest team to close the regular season. They also surprised everyone by eliminating the top seeded Formosa Dreamers despite being the 8th seeded team in the post-season.  This year they brought back their solid core of Tyler Lamb, Mike Singletary, Freddie Lish, and Moses Morgan; while also adding the one of last year’s most efficient imports and rebounding leader Ryan Watkins from the Macau Black Bears. 6’1” Preston Knowles, the former Louisville Cardinal, will be manning the point guard spot, as former world import MVP Anthony Tucker, will miss the season due to another foot injury. Regardless of Tucker’s absence however, Mono Vampire looks to possess one of the league’s deepest rosters.    Saigon Heat (Regular Season record: 14-12, 5th, lost to CLS Knights Indonesia in the quarterfinals) Key Players: Chris Charles, Gary Forbes, Sam Thompson, Sang Dinh, Chris Dierker, Tam Dinh Coming from their most successful season thus far where they won their first ever playoff game, the Saigon Heat are poised to make waves this coming ABL season. Their local core of Khoa Tran, Sang Dinh and Chris Dierker, has been further bolstered by VBA MVP and Sang’s older brother, Tam Dinh (24.5ppg, 54.8% FG%), who will look to carry his scoring ways in the ABL. The Heat have also chosen to add length and experience, signing ABL All-time 10 Honoree Chris Charles, NBA veteran Gary Forbes, and former Ohio State Buckeye, Sam Thompson. However, the Heat will no longer be with head coach Kyle Julius -- architect of their playoff runs the past 2 seasons – as he is now with the Formosa Dreamers. In his place, the team has tapped 2-time Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) Coach of the Year Kevin Yurkus, to lead the squad.    Singapore Slingers (Regular Season record: 16-10, 3rd, defeated the Macau Black Bears in the quarterfinals, defeated HK Eastern in the Semifinals, lost to the CLS Knights Indonesia in the Finals) Key Players: Xavier Alexander, Marcus Elliot, Anthony McClain, Delvin Goh, Leon Kwek Arguably the most talked about offseason transfer belonged to the Singapore Slingers with their signing of former World Import MVP Marcus Elliot. Elliot played the last 3 seasons with Hong Kong Eastern where he averaged 23ppg, 7.6rpg, and 6.5apg. He also ranks 3rd in the ABL’s all-time scoring list, and has the second most career triple-doubles next the Slingers’ Xavier Alexander, last season’s Import MVP. With Elliot and Alexander, Singapore would now possess the league’s most potent backcourt, although there will surely be a period of adjustment, as both players are used to having the ball in their hands for most of the game. Further bolstering Coach Neo Beng Siang’s lineup is the addition of 7-foot big man Anthony McClain, a walking double-double, who most recently normed 17.8ppg and 13.6rpg in Taiwan’s Super Basketball League. Providing local support as well are Delvin Goh, who has continuously improved every season, and the returning Leon Kwek, who’s scoring and heads up play was sorely missed last season when he had to sit out due to National Service commitments.   Macau Wolf Warriors  Regular Season record: 2-24, 10th, did not advance to the post season) Key Players: Steven Thomas, Julian Boyd, Douglas Herring, Cai Chen After a dismal inaugural season, record-wise, the Wolf Warriors are looking to follow in the footsteps of the Formosa Dreamers, who rebounded from their 1-19 debut season to top the elimination round of season 2018-2019. They’ve brought in former ABL Champion Coach Todd Purves to mastermind the team’s rebuild, as well as ABL import legend and All-time Ten Honoree Steven Thomas, and ABL Champion Douglas Herring, who led the CLS Knights to their first ever ABL Championship last season. Rounding out their import lineup is Julian Boyd, a prolific scorer who averaged 22.5ppg and 9.9rpg, in his most recent stint in Iceland’s domestic professional league. Cai Chen, their top local last season, will try to prove that his 19.7ppg and 7.4rpg was no fluke, as he will try to lead their cast of locals to a better finish this time around.  Taipei Fubon Braves (new) Key Players: OJ Mayo, Charles Garcia, Joseph Lin, Lin Chih-Chieh, Tseng Wen-Ting One of the most interesting and exciting expansion teams the ABL has seen in a long while, the Taipei Fubon Braves not only bring with them a winning tradition, but a star-studded lineup. Champions of the local Taiwan Super Basketball League, the Braves will be parading arguably the best ex-NBA player to play in the league in OJ Mayo, former NBA D-League player and double-double machine, Charles Garcia, as well as 7’4” behemoth Sim Bhullar, and Taiwanese National Team veterans Lin Chih-Chieh and Tseng Wen-Ting. Another notable name on their lineup is Joseph Lin, younger brother of former NBA star Jeremy Lin.  Coach Roger Hsu’s team will be coming into the ABL with a lot of hype surrounding them; but with their chemistry and championship pedigree, he hopes the transition from their domestic league to the higher level of competition in the ABL will be a smooth one......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 16th, 2019

Belga stars in OT as Rain or Shine continues good run inside bubble

Beau Belga delivered when it mattered most in the overtime period. (PBA Images) Beau Belga had the last laugh with a stirring performance Tuesday night as Rain or Shine grinded out an 85-82 overtime win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center. Belga scored five of his 20 points in the five-minute extension, a follow-up after missing a layup and a three-pointer that gave the Elasto Painters an 83-78 lead, and added 10 rebounds and four assists as the Elasto Painters pulled out a win while handing the Kings a second straight loss following a 4-0 start. But Rain or Shine needed one lucky break to secure its fourth win in five games inside the bubble known as Smart Clark Giga City after Ginebra cut the deficit to 83-80. Jewel Ponferada retrieved the ball after Rey Nambatac slipped before hitting a running one-hander for his only points with five seconds to go to make it an 85-80 lead for the Elasto Painters. Rain or Shine bounced back after falling short against Alaska, 89-88, last week while needing an extra day of rest when Sunday’s game with Blackwater was cancelled due after one of the Elite’s players initially tested positive for COVID-19. No one motivated coming into the game more than Belga, who was out to prove something after seeing a social media comment earlier in the day. “May isang hater na binatikos ako sa social media na puro pananakit lang daw ginagawa ko sa PBA and I just to prove him wrong,” Belga said during a postgame interview on One Sports. Coach Caloy Garcia was also glad that Belga was not the only player to step up for the Elasto Painters. Mark Borboran scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds while James Yap earned a starting role and produced a season-high 13 points. Nambatac only had eight points, but produced one of the game’s biggest shot with a three-pointer that tied the knot at 76-all with 2.1 seconds to go in regulation. Kris Rosales also scored all of his eight points in the first quarter that saw Rain or Shine take a 24-15 lead and forced Ginebra to play catch up throughout. Ginebra had to slowly inch its way back from being down 39-24 in the second behind Stanley Pringle and Scottie Thompson. Pringle’s jumper put the Kings ahead, 74-73, with over two minutes remaining in the fourth before Borboran missed two free throws and Gabe Norwood muffing a medium-range jumper. LA Tenorio got fouled and made a pair of charities for a three-point Ginebra lead before Nambatac continued his knack to have the ball in the clutch with the game-tying triple on the next play. Thompson finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks and Pringle had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists but Ginebra couldn’t recover from Sunday’s loss to sibling rival Magnolia. The scores: RAIN OR SHINE 85 — Belga 20, Borboran 13, Yap 12, Nambatac 8, Rosales 8, Onwubere 3, Norwood 3, Ponferada 2, Wong 0, Torres 0. GINEBRA 82 — Thompson 21, Pringle 20, Aguilar J. 13, Tenorio 10, Devance 6, Caperal 5, Mariano 3, Chan 2, Dillinger 2, Tolentino 0. Quarters: 24-15, 45-36, 61-57, 76-76 (Reg), 85-82 (OT)......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 27th, 2020

James, Davis power Lakers past Trail Blazers for 2-1 lead

By BRIAN MAHONEY AP Basketball Writer LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — LeBron James had 38 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, Anthony Davis scored 12 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 116-108 on Saturday night (Sunday morning in the Philippines) for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference first-round series. The Lakers shut down the high-scoring Blazers for the second straight game after the No. 1 seed was knocked off in Game 1. This was Portland's highest-scoring performance in the series and it wasn't close to good enough. Damian Lillard scored 34 points despite a dislocated left index finger and CJ McCollum added 28 for the Trail Blazers. They will try to even the series in Game 4 on Monday. Portland was down only three with about 9 1/2 minutes left. But Davis then re-entered and started scoring from everywhere, turning lob passes into dunks or stepping outside for jumpers. The Lakers' defense handled the rest, limiting the Blazers to just three field goals over more than seven minutes as they pushed the lead to 109-98 with a little more than 2 minutes to go. Carmelo Anthony added 20 points in his first good game of the series. He was 4 for 17 in the first two games and he started Game 3 with seven straight misses before making his eighth — by tipping in his own miss. The Blazers made a lineup change, inserting Hassan Whiteside to play alongside Jusuf Nurkic in a big starting five. The unit got Portland off to a good start and the Blazers nursed the early lead all the way through the second quarter without ever really stopping James, who was 5 for 6 for 15 points in eight minutes in the period. But McCollum capped his 13-point period with a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer, making it 57-53. James and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined for 12 straight points to send the Lakers from six down to a 70-64 lead. The Blazers came right back behind Anthony, who made three straight jumpers before a dunk on the break tied it at 72. The Lakers surged back ahead with a 10-0 burst that made it 89-78 and they led by seven entering the fourth. TIP-INS Lakers: Caldwell-Pope had 13 points. ... Davis missed four of his five free throw attempts in the opening minutes and finished 7 for 14. Trail Blazers: Nurkic scored 10 points. ... The Blazers were outrebounded 55-38. MISSING COLLINS Portland coach Terry Stotts said Zach Collins (left ankle stress reaction) was still in the bubble but didn't know for how long. The forward separated his left shoulder in October but returned to play in the seeding and play-in games before having to be shut down because of the ankle. “As much as we miss him, I just feel bad for him because he had put so much work into being ready for this,” Stotts said. “And because of the hiatus it gave him the opportunity to play this season, which we weren’t sure he was going to be able to have if there was no hiatus. So it looked like things were lining up well for him so it’s really disappointing for him.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

Spurs keep playoff hopes alive with 123-105 win over Rockets

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The Spurs aren’t out of it yet. Keldon Johnson had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and San Antonio kept alive its chances of becoming the first team in NBA history to make 23 consecutive playoff appearances with a 123-105 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday (Wednesday in the Philippines). San Antonio has won three straight and five out of seven since arriving in the Florida bubble. DeMar DeRozan added 23 points. Jakob Poeltl finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. A total of seven Spurs reached double figures. Johnson said his mindset since the season restarted has been to fill in whatever role is asked of him. “Whether it's hustling, running the floor — just doing whatever I need to do to help us win,” he said. “Help from my teammates has definitely helped the game slow down for me." Popovich said Johnson is playing with the confidence they saw when they drafted him 29th overall last year. “That’s what he does," Popovich said. "He’s a high-energy guy. He's very physical. Very competitive. Very coachable. He’s just a winner.” The Western Conference is guaranteed to have a play-in for its final playoff spot, with Memphis beginning the day with just a half-game lead over Portland and one game ahead of Phoenix and San Antonio. The Spurs will need help to be one of the teams playing this weekend for the final spot in the West, but made sure they couldn't be eliminated Tuesday with their win. Russell Westbrook had 20 points and seven turnovers in his first game back in the lineup for Houston after missing two games with a bruised right quadriceps. Jeff Green had 17 points. Ben McLemore added 16. The Rockets played without guards James Harden (rest) and Eric Gordon (ankle). Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said the most important part of their final two games before the playoffs will be getting Westbrook some quality minutes so that he is fresh. “Get some of the rust off, build up his legs a little bit,” D'Antoni said. “We'll try to get through these two games and just try to get guys physically ready to go next week.” Westbrook said he isn't worried about finding his timing before the playoffs begin. “I'll get it back,” he said. The Spurs took control in the second quarter, outscoring the Rockets 35-24. San Antonio led by as many as 29 points. San Antonio built a 19-point lead in the first half. DeRozan set the tone with 15 points in the opening 24 minutes, with Lonnie Waker IV, Poeltl and Johnson each scoring 10. TIP-INS Rockets: Went 14 of 48 from the 3-point line. ... Danuel House Jr. sat out with a toe injury. Spurs: Patty Mills (rest) missed his third straight game. WIN-WIN Regardless of whether the Spurs make the playoffs, Popovich is proud of how his young players have stepped up in during their time in the bubble. “Part of it is you have to be realistic,” Popovich said. “I don’t think our chances of winning the championship were great at the beginning of this, nor are they now. If that’s a fact, then you need to do everything you can to develop and be prepared for next season. “The development has been off the charts. We’re thrilled with it. So it’s a win-win no matter what.” Popovich said it would be “thrilling” to get some help and have a chance to extend their season, but he’s not using it as a measuring stick for the season. “We’ve already accomplished what we thought we were capable of accomplishing, that’s what’s important. If we got in now it would be icing on the cake.” UP NEXT Rockets: Play Pacers on Wednesday (Thursday in the Philippines) Spurs: Conclude their seeding schedule Thursday (Friday in the Philippines) against Utah......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent of their potential when they play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost a podium finish to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure, but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.]   [Updated Notes: The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Rays hold Yankees to 2 hits in 1-0 win

By The Associated Press ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Pinch-hitter Michael Perez hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning on his 28th birthday, six Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a two-hitter and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the AL East-leading New York Yankees 1-0 on Friday night. Yoshi Tsutsugo drew a leadoff walk from Adam Ottavino (2-1) in the eighth and went to second with one out when Kevin Kiermaier walked. Both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch before Perez put the Rays up 1-0 on his fly to center. Chaz Roe (2-0) went the final two innings for the win. Masahiro Tanaka allowed one hit and struck out five over five innings, retiring his final 13 batters after giving up a first-inning single to Yandy Diaz. The Yankees’ right-hander needed just 59 pitches in his second start after beginning the season on the concussion list after being struck in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s liner during a July 4th summer camp simulated game. Three New York pitchers also limited the Rays to just two hits. MARLINS 4, METS 3 NEW YORK (AP) — Francisco Cervelli hit a three-run homer, Humberto Mejia impressed in his abbreviated major league debut and Miami kept up its surprising surge. The Marlins won their sixth in a row and improved to 7-1 — they’re 5-0 since missing more than a week because of the team’s coronavirus outbreak. Cervelli waved and pointed to the imaginary fans in the seating areas after hitting his second homer of the season. Jonathan Villar added an RBI double in Miami’s four-run second. Dominic Smith homered for the Mets, who have lost seven of nine. New York scored its other runs in the eighth on a throwing error by third baseman Brian Anderson and RBI single by J.D. Davis. Stephen Tarpley (2-0) pitched two innings for the win. Nick Vincent escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and finished for his first save since 2016 with Seattle. Michael Wacha (1-2) allowed four runs and six hits in five innings. WHITE SOX 2, INDIANS 0 CHICAGO (AP) — Dylan Cease worked his way through five shutout innings, and the Chicago White Sox beat Aaron Civale and Cleveland. Cease walked the leadoff man four times and hit a batter, but wiggled out of trouble each time. The right-hander allowed two hits and struck out four. The Indians went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base, continuing a season-long problem and wasting a terrific start by Civale. They had won three in a row. Civale (1-2) allowed five hits, struck out five and walked one in seven innings. Cleveland played without manager Terry Francona and hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo. Francona missed his sixth straight game while addressing a gastrointestinal issue he has been dealing with for months. The team announced before the series opener that Van Burkleo had opted out of the 2020 season because of the coronavirus. RED SOX 5, BLUE JAYS 3 BOSTON (AP) — Alex Verdugo hit two solo homers over the Green Monster, Mitch Moreland had a two-run shot and Boston’s beleaguered staff rebounded to lift the Red Sox past Toronto. Verdugo also robbed Travis Shaw of a homer with a leaping grab and Moreland had a bases-loaded walk to help Boston win its second straight following a four-game losing streak. Cavan Biggio hit a solo homer, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette each had an RBI double for Toronto, which has dropped five of six. Moreland’s homer sailed just over the 380-foot sign at the edge of the Blue Jays’ bullpen in right off starter Tanner Roark (1-1) in the third inning for his fourth homer. Reliever Heath Hembree (2-0) got three outs for the victory and Brandon Workman the final three for his third save. ROYALS 3, INDIANS 2 KANSAS CITY, Mo, (AP) — Ryan McBroom hit a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning and Kansas City held Minnesota to a pair of solo homers. Nick Heath and Nicky Lopez also drove in runs for the Royals, who have won two straight after a six-game slide. Jakob Junis served up homers to Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez before leaving with two outs in the fifth inning, and Greg Holland (2-0) led four relievers in holding down the Twins the rest of the way. Trevor Rosenthal retired the final three batters in order for his second save. Matt Wisler (0-1) served up McBroom’s homer as Minnesota lost a one-run game for the second consecutive night. REDS 8, BREWERS 3 MILWAUKEE (AP) — Trevor Bauer turned in another stellar outing, and Matt Davidson and Nick Castellanos homered to lead Cincinnati. Bauer (2-0) gave up three hits and one run in six innings while striking out 12. The Reds scored six runs in the second off Milwaukee starter Eric Lauer (0-1), ending a 24-inning scoring drought. Cincinnati had pushed across three runs before Davidson’s three-run homer, his first of the season, which barely cleared the wall in center field. The Reds (6-8) lost 13-0 to Cleveland on Thursday night, failing to score in the last 23 innings of the home-and-home series. PADRES 3, DIAMONDBACKS O SAN DIEGO (AP) — Zach Davies retired the first 13 Arizona batters, Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a leadoff homer and rookies Jake Cronenworth and Edward Olivares also went deep to lead San Diego. Davies (2-1) took a perfect game into the fifth before giving up consecutive one-out singles to Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta. He got out of the jam by retiring the next two batters on popups. Davies allowed three singles in 5 2/3 innings, struck out six and walked none. Four relievers finished the combined four-hitter for San Diego’s first shutout. Kirby Yates pitched the ninth for his second save in two chances. Luke Weaver (0-3) went only three innings, allowing two runs and two hits with three strikeouts and one walk. TIGERS 17, PIRATES 13, 11 INNINGS PITTSBURGH (AP) — Niko Goodrum drove in five runs, two on a double in a big 11th inning that sent Detroit past Pittsburgh. Both teams finished with 16 hits, surprising since each club had four players in the starting lineup batting under .190. Those numbers soon changed as Detroit played its first game in five days. Erik Gonzalez drove in six runs. He homered, doubled and singled twice as Pittsburgh lost for the eighth time in nine games and fell to 3-11. It was 12-all after nine innings and Jeimer Candelario broke a 13-all tie with an RBI single in the 11th. Austin Romine singled home another run and Goodrum capped the inning with his line drive to right field. Candelario finished with three hits and three RBIs. Rookie Bryan Garcia (2-0) got the win despite giving up the 10th-inning run. Dovydas Neverauskas (0-2) allowed all four runs in the 11th. ATHLETICS 3, ASTROS 2, 13 INNINGS OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Marcus Semien singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 13th to lift Oakland to its seventh straight win in a game that matched the longest this season with baseball’s new extra-innings rule. Alex Bregman hit an RBI double in the top of the 13th inning only for the A’s to tie it on Austin Allen’s single in the bottom half against Cy Sneed (0-2). J.B. Wendelken (1-0) worked three strong innings and the A’s finally delivered after squandering bases-loaded chances in the 10th and 12th. Houston lost its third straight. The Astros were supposed to visit Oakland months ago in late March for their first road trip of 2020 after a sign-stealing scam that blemished baseball during the offseason. Coronavirus delayed the Bay Area trip. Robbie Grossman hit a tying homer in the seventh and Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman made a terrific stop on Jose Altuve’s sharp grounder to keep the game tied in the 10th. ROCKIES 8, MARINERS 4 SEATTLE (AP) — Daniel Murphy had a key two-run single and later hit a two-run home run, Garrett Hampson and Charlie Blackmon added solo shots, and Colorado won for the sixth time in seven games. Murphy’s hit with two outs in the sixth ended the night for Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi (0-1) and gave Colorado a 4-1 lead. Colorado then feasted on Seattle’s shaky bullpen. Hampson hit his first home run of the season with two outs in the seventh, and Blackmon led off the eighth with his third long ball. Murphy capped his night lining the first pitch from reliever Yohan Ramriez into the right-field seats with one out in the eighth. Colorado starter Antonio Senzatela (3-0) threw six strong innings, allowing two earned runs and struck out five. DODGERS 7, GIANTS 2 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mookie Betts homered for the first time at Dodger Stadium, and Max Muncy, Will Smith and Edwin Ríos went deep to lead Los Angeles. The Dodgers have won three in a row and eight of 10. Betts was back in the lineup for the first time since injuring his left middle finger last Sunday in Phoenix. He didn’t waste any time, doubling in his first at-bat. He homered into the left-field pavilion in the third, tying the game 1-all. Two batters later, Justin Turner’s RBI single gave Los Angeles the lead for good, 2-1. The Dodgers pummeled Jeff Samardzija in the fourth. Muncy homered to the right-field pavilion leading off. Smith slugged his second homer of the season — both against the Giants — that eluded a leaping Darin Ruf in left field, extending the lead to 5-1. Samardzija (0-2) struggled again in the fifth, and was pulled after loading the bases with no outs. Samardzija was charged with six runs (five earned) and seven hits in four-plus innings. Dylan Floro (1-0) got the victory, giving up one hit in one inning with two strikeouts. RANGERS 4, ANGELS 3 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Mike Trout homered again on his birthday, but Robinson Chirinos drove in two runs without a hit and Texas snapped a three-game losing streak. Trout turned 29, and homered for the fifth time in the seven big league games he has played on his birthday. The three-time AL MVP put the Angels up 2-0 in the first with his 444-foot drive over their bullpen in left-center. Chirinos had a sacrifice fly in the second inning, then walked with the bases loaded as part of a three-run fourth when the Rangers went ahead to stay when all of those runs were unearned. Jordan Lyles (1-1), one of three offseason additions to the Rangers rotation, struck out five in 5 1/3 innings. Rafael Montero, activated from the injured list earlier in the day, worked a perfect ninth for his first career save capped by Trout’s game-ending strikeout. Angels starter Griffin Canning (0-2) threw more balls (45) than strikes (43) while walking six batters in 3 2/3 innings. ORIOLES 11, NATIONALS 0 BALTIMORE (AP) — Even Chris Davis got in on the act for the suddenly slugging Orioles, doubling his season total by collecting two of Baltimore’s 19 hits and raising his average from .087 to .143 in a big win over Washington. Seven of the Orioles’ nine starting position players each got at least a pair of hits. José Iglesias led the way by going 4 for 4 with three RBIs, and Renato Núñez added a three-run homer to back left-hander Tommy Milone (1-1), whose six-inning outing was the longest by an Orioles pitcher this year. Milone, who was drafted by the Nationals in 2008 and briefly pitched for them in 2011 and 2018, allowed just three hits and didn’t walk anyone. The Orioles were coming off getting swept in four games at home by the cobbled-together, coronavirus-struck Miami Marlins. But after scoring a grand total of once through the first three games of that series, Baltimore put up seven runs in the finale Thursday, then kept on swinging well Friday against the reigning World Series champion Nationals and starter Aníbal Sánchez (0-2)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2020

Nationals beat Blue Jays 4-0 in 10 in road game at home

By The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Adam Eaton’s bases-loaded chopper broke a scoreless tie in the 10th inning on a close play and Asdrúbal Cabrera followed with a three-run triple, helping the Nationals snap a three-game losing streak by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 Wednesday night. In a quirky game befitting this pandemic-altered, upside-down season, Toronto’s team played its “home opener” at Washington — batting in the bottom half of each inning, wearing its white uniforms, playing its players’ walk-up music and even blaring the song “OK Blue Jays,” the club’s traditional seventh-inning stretch staple. Toronto’s Nate Pearson, in his big league debut, and Washington’s Max Scherzer, in his 358th start in the majors, put up plenty of zeros. So did the relievers that followed. In the top of the 10th, though, Washington moved ahead on an odd-looking play. After starting with the automatic runner on second base Washington loaded the bags with two walks from Toronto’s sixth pitcher, Shun Yamaguchi (0-2). After two strikeouts, Eaton bounced a ball off the mound. Second baseman Cavan Biggio grabbed it and tried to dive glove-first at the bag, but was edged out by runner Andrew Stevenson. After a replay review of more than two minutes, the “safe” call was upheld, making it 1-0. Cabrera then homered. Daniel Hudson (1-0) got five outs for the win. DODGERS 4, ASTROS 2, 13 INNINGS HOUSTON (AP) — The Dodgers and Astros showed no carry-over from a fracas in the series opener that led to suspensions, and Edwin Ríos hit a two-run homer in the 13th inning to lift Los Angeles over Houston. No pitches were thrown above or behind any batters, nobody made any ugly faces and everyone remained in their respective dugouts. The loudest noise was the crack of Ríos’ bat when he took Cy Sneed (0-1) deep for a leadoff homer — a two-run drive under the new extra-innings rule that starts with an automatic runner on second base. The Dodgers played without manager Dave Roberts, suspended one game for his part in Tuesday night’s testy matchup that saw the dugouts clear. Bench coach Bob Geren managed the team in Roberts’ absence. Los Angeles used nine pitchers, but not Joe Kelly. The reliever was suspended for eight games by Major League Baseball after buzzing a fastball behind the head of Alex Bregman, then striking out Carlos Correa and mockingly taunting him by sticking out his tongue and pouting his bottom lip. TIGERS 5, ROYALS 4 DETROIT (AP) — JaCoby Jones hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning, and Detroit’s bullpen came through again to beat Kansas City. A night after pitching six scoreless innings in a win over the Royals, the Tigers’ relievers held Kansas City without a baserunner for four. Detroit rallied from a 4-0 deficit thanks in large part to Jones, who doubled twice before connecting off Ian Kennedy (0-1) for his third homer. Jonathan Schoop also went deep for the Tigers. Maikel Franco hit two doubles and a single for Kansas City, and Whit Merrifield had two hits and scored twice. Bryan Garcia (1-0) earned his first big league win, one of four Detroit relievers who pitched in the game. Joe Jimenez worked the ninth for his fourth save. YANKEES 9, ORIOLES 3 BALTIMORE (AP) — The New York Yankees stepped in for the Miami Marlins and ruined Baltimore’s home opener, hitting three home runs to back right-hander Gerrit Cole. The Orioles were originally slated to launch the home portion of the abbreviated 60-game schedule against Miami, but the Marlins were ordered to take a hiatus after several players and coaches contracted COVID-19 over the weekend. New York was scheduled to play Philadelphia on Wednesday, but the Phillies’ season was put on hold as a precaution because they were Miami’s opponent in the opening series. So Major League Baseball thrust the Yankees and Orioles together while the Marlins and Phillies recover. Cole (2-0) gave up three runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings to win his 18th straight decision. After DJ LeMahieu homered off Asher Wojciechowski (0-1) on the game’s second pitch, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks both went deep in the third for a 5-1 lead. GIANTS 7, XXX 6 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Mike Yastrzemski homered twice, the second a towering solo shot into McCovey Cove in the ninth inning, lifting San Francisco past San Diego. Donovan Solano had a three-run home run in the eighth and Alex Dickerson also went deep as the Giants rallied to beat the Padres, who entered the the game tied for the best record in baseball. Brandon Crawford added three hits for San Francisco. Manny Machado and Trent Grisham homered for San Diego. The Giants trailed 6-3 with two outs in the eighth before rallying. MARINERS 10, ANGELS 7 ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Kyle Seager drove in three runs, Dylan Moore hit a three-run homer and Seattle rallied from two late deficits. Moore connected during the Mariners’ five-run sixth, and Seager put the Mariners ahead for good with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning of Seattle’s second victory of the season. Shohei Ohtani had a three-run homer, Mike Trout got three hits and Justin Upton hit his 300th career homer for the Angels, who have lost four of six. Brian Goodwin homered and added a two-run double that put the Angels ahead in the sixth. Seattle surged back in front by battering Los Angeles’ bullpen, which flopped mightily in a game featuring four lead changes. The Angels’ bullpen yielded eight runs — one more than it had given up in LA’s first five games combined. The Mariners made their decisive rally in the seventh against Jacob Barnes (0-1). Bryan Shaw (1-0) allowed five baserunners and gave up three runs in the sixth. Dan Altavilla pitched the ninth for his first save. WHITE SOX 4, INDIANS 0 CLEVELAND (AP) — Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jiménez hit sacrifice flies and Chicago scored four runs in the ninth inning — three charged to ineffective Cleveland closer Brad Hand. The Indians got eight terrific innings from No. 5 starter Zach Plesac. He struck out a career-high 11, shut out the White Sox on three hits and continued a strong run of Cleveland pitching to start the season. Rookie Luis Robert hit a two-run single in the ninth as Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak and salvaged one game in the series. Chicago starter Lucas Giolito matched Plesac pitch for pitch through six, holding the Indians scoreless on four hits. It was a nice bounce back by the All-Star right-hander, who gave up a home run in Minnesota on his first pitch of the season and was touched for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. RED SOX 6, METS 5 NEW YORK (AP) — Christian Vázquez hit a tying home run off Seth Lugo in the seventh inning and a two-run single against Justin Wilson in a three-run eighth, rallying Boston. Boston had lost four in a row following its opening day win over Baltimore -- the equivalent of 11 straight over a full season -- that included a pair of defeats to the Mets at Fenway Park. New York closed with a run in the ninth, when a diving stop by third baseman Rafael Devers helped Brandon Workman strand the bases loaded. Workman recovered for his first save of the year by striking out Yoenis Céspedes and retiring Robinson Canó on a soft liner to shortstop. Jacob DeGrom, throwing at up to 101 mph, extended his consecutive scoreless streak to 31 innings before allowing a pair of runs in the fourth but got his second straight no-decision, allowing two runs and three hits in six innings with four strikeouts. He left with a 3-2 lead, but Vázquez tied the score when he drove a hanging curveball from Lugo for his second home run this season. RANGERS 7, DIAMONDBACKS 4 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) —Joey Gallo hit a tying, two-run homer in the eighth inning and Texas scored three more runs after that to snap a three-game losing streak. After Gallo lined an opposite-field shot to left off Andrew Chafin (0-1) for his second homer of the season, the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs. Elvis Andrus then hit a two-run single before Nick Solak added an RBI single. Todd Frazier hit his first homer and had two doubles for Texas, whose five-run inning accounted for only one run fewer than it had scored combined in their first four games in the new $1.2 billion stadium with a retractable roof. Jonathan Hernandez (1-0) got the win despite giving up two runs in the eighth, and Nick Goody worked a perfect ninth for his first save. ROCKIES 5, ATHLETICS 1 OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — German Márquez struck out eight over six impressive innings to bounce back after losing on opening day, and Colorado wrapped up a successful season-opening road trip. Charlie Blackmon delivered an insurance run with an RBI double in the eighth, then reached on an error in the ninth that led to a pair of runs. Garrett Hampson hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fourth to help back Márquez (1-1). Carlos Estévez relieved Márquez and escaped the seventh unscathed with the tying run on second. Jairo Diaz struck out Robbie Grossman with the bases loaded in the eighth, putting Oakland at 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position during these two games. Matt Chapman homered in the bottom of the first for the A’s. Colorado came right back when Tony Wolters hit a tying single in the top of the second against Frankie Montas (0-1). BRAVES 7, RAYS 4 ATLANTA (AP) —Freddie Freeman homered and drove in three runs on a four-hit night, leading Atlanta in its home opener. Freeman, stricken with the coronavirus before the shortened season and became so ill that he feared for his life, has quickly reclaimed his place as one of the game’s most feared hitters. He hit his first homer of the season in the third, a two-run shot into the empty seats in right field, and added an RBI single that capped a three-run sixth after Tampa Bay pulled ahead with three runs in the top half. The Braves snapped Tampa Bay’s four-game winning streak. Tampa Bay scrapped out an unearned run off Mike Soroka in the fifth and pulled ahead for the first time in the sixth, doing the bulk of the damage after Darren O’Day (1-0) took over for the Atlanta starter. With two outs, Kevin Kiermaier drove in the tying run and Hunter Renfroe followed with a two-run single that put the Ray ahead 4-2. But the Tampa Bay bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Andrew Kittredge gave up back-to-back doubles, retiring only one hitter before giving way to Oliver Drake (0-1). The funky right-hander had a chance to escape with the lead intact, but Willy Adames bobbled a high chopper by Ozzie Albies that was ruled an infield hit. Freeman followed with his fourth hit of the night, lining an RBI single to right-center. Albies was thrown out at third to end the inning, but Ender Inciarte had already crossed the plate with the go-ahead run. BREWERS 3, PIRATES 0 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff allowed one hit and struck out 10 while working into the seventh inning as the Brewers beat struggling Pittsburgh. Woodruff (1-1) retired 19 of 21 batters, allowing a swinging bunt single to Phil Evans in the first. Pittsburgh didn’t manage another baserunner until Evans walked leading off the seventh. Woodruff threw 92 of his 61 pitches for strikes against a lineup that is struggling to produce. The Pirates are hitting a majors-worst .171 during their 2-4 start. Ben Gamel gave Woodruff all the support he would need with a third-inning two-run homer over the right-field seats off Joe Musgrove (0-2). REDS 12, CUBS 7 CINCINNATI (AP) — Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel homered in their returns from a COVID-19 scare, Nick Castellanos added a grand slam, and Cincinnati ended a four-game losing streak. Sonny Gray (2-0) extended his major league record to 35 consecutive starts allowing six hits or fewer. He gave up only Ian Happ’s double and fanned 11 as he pitched into the seventh inning. Moustakas and Senzel missed the last three games after feeling sick a day after teammate Matt Davidson went on the injured list because he tested positive for the coronavirus. After passing tests, they returned and helped the Reds to their best run total of the season. Kyle Hendricks (1-1) threw a three-hit shutout against the Brewers in the season opener but couldn’t make it through the fifth inning against Cincinnati. Moustakas had a two-run shot in the fourth, and Hendricks left after Eugenio Suárez’s bases-loaded single an inning later. TWINS 3, CARDINALS 0 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rich Hill pitched five scoreless innings in a smooth Minnesota debut, backed by Eddie Rosario’s homer and Nelson Cruz’s RBI double. Alex Avila, another Minnesota newcomer, had an RBI single. Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect ninth for his first save, and the Twins finished a two-game sweep to improve to 4-1. Currently the second-oldest player in the majors, the 40-year-old Hill needed only 68 pitches to pick up his first victory for a Twins team that signed him this winter with the assumption he’d be ready around midsummer after his recovery from elbow surgery. The Cardinals, after winning their first two games against Pittsburgh, have scored four runs on 15 hits over a three-game losing streak. Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-1) struck out eight over 3 2/3 innings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 30th, 2020

Stewart, Bird return; Storm beat Liberty in Ionescu s debut

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Breanna Stewart had 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals in her first WNBA game since helping Seattle win the 2018 championship, sending the Storm past the New York Liberty 87-71 Saturday in the season opener for both teams. The 2020 WNBA season, delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, will be played in a bubble at the IMG Academy. Stewart missed all of last season after tearing her Achilles tendon while playing for her Russian club team in April2019. Jewell Loyd scored 14 points and Sue Bird — who also missed the 2019, because of a knee injury — added 11 points, hitting 3 of 5 from 3-point range, and five assists for Seattle. Sabrina Ionescu had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in her WNBA debut. Ionescu, the No. 1 pick in April’s draft , was 4-of-17 shooting, including 0 of 8 from 3-point range, and committed four turnovers. Layshia Clarendon led the Liberty with 20 points. Neither team took the court for the national anthem and there was a 26 second moment of silence for Breonna Taylor. Taylor, an African American emergency medical technician, was shot dead in her apartment by Louisville Metro Police officers executing a no-knock search warrant on suspicion of drug possession. No drugs were found. Loyd hit a 3-pointer and then converted a three-point play before Stewart made a layup to make it 34-26 and the Storm led the rest of the way. Jordin Canada scored six points during a 14-4 run to open the fourth quarter that gave the Storm their largest lead when she found Stewart for a 3-pointer that capped the spurt and made it 80-61 with 4:44 to play. New York's Kia Nurse left the game early in the second quarter because of an ankle injury and did not return......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 26th, 2020

Finau, Palmer share lead at Memorial as Tiger hangs on

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Tony Finau figured he was on the right track when he shot 59 at Victory Ranch last week in Utah. That kind of score isn't happening at Muirfield Village, where the greens are getting firmer by the hour. Finau still took enough confidence from playing with his kids at home during a week off, and it translated into 14 birdies over two days and a share of the 36-hole lead at the Memorial. Finau recovered from two bogeys after three holes of his second round Friday, making birdie on the rest of the par 5s and finishing with a wedge to 2 feet for birdie and a 3-under 69. That put him at 9-under 135 with Ryan Palmer (68), who had only one bogey over two rounds. The way Muirfield Village is playing, both are impressive. They were a shot in front of Jon Rahm (67), who has another chance to reach No. 1 in the world this week for the first time in his career. U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland had a 70 and was two behind. For Tiger Woods, it was a matter of making it to the weekend. Woods said his back felt stiff while warming up, and missing a pair of 3-footers didn't make him feel any better. He managed two birdies and a 7-foot par save on his final three holes for a 76 that allowed him to make the cut on the number at 3-over 147, matching his highest 36-hole score at the Memorial. “Not very good,” Woods said. “I three-putted two holes early, and whatever kind of momentum I was going to create, I stifled that early and fought it the rest of the day.” Finau elected to stay home last week instead of playing Muirfield Village twice in a row. He won't compare Victory Ranch with Muirfield Village, though it inspired him. He was 14-under par through 16 holes until making a bogey on the 17th hole and settling for his second sub-60 round away from the PGA Tour. “I don't know how many times I've been 14 under through 16 holes on a good golf course,” Finau said. “But it told me I was in good form and just told me how good I am at scoring. So I think I definitely carried some of that right into this week, and that confidence I think is pretty cool.” The cut of 147 matched the highest of the season — it also was 147 at Bay Hill. Among those going home was Bryson DeChambeau, who was in reasonable shape until hitting his tee shot into a hazard on the 15th, taking a penalty drop, hitting the next two out-of-bounds and making 10. It was his highest score on a hole in his career. DeChambeau came into the Memorial having finished in the top 10 in seven straight tournaments, and having 19 consecutive rounds at par or better. He left with rounds of 73-76, and without comment. Dustin Johnson shot 80-80 for the highest 36-hole score of his PGA Tour career Collin Morikawa, who won at Muirfield Village last week in a playoff over Justin Thomas, recovered from a 76 with a 70 to make the cut with one shot to spare. Thomas had a 67 and was six shots behind. The way Muirfield Village began to look Friday, the weekend at the Memorial might be more about hanging on than going low. The course is replacing all the greens after this week, so officials are letting them go. It doesn’t matter if they’re so fast the grass dies because they’re being ripped up, anyway. Brooks Koepka appeared to hit a solid bunker shot from right of the 16th green until it rolled out a few feet past the hole, and then a few more feet until it was off the green and resting against the collar of rough. That wasn't his biggest problem. Koepka dumped a shot in the water on his final hole at No. 9 and made double bogey for a 75. That put him at 3-over 147, same as Woods. Rory McIlroy shot 72, which goes in the book as a round of even par. It was anything but that. He hit into the creek and muffed a chip for a double bogey on the par-5 11th. He smoked a fairway metal to 8 feet for eagle on the par-5 fifth. He hit wedge to 10 feet for a pair of birdies. He chunked a wedge into a bunker and made bogey. He was at 2-under 142. “I don't know what it was,” he said. “It was a few birdies and an eagle thrown in there and a few mistakes. There's some good in there, some mediocre and there was some pretty poor shots. But I battled back well.” Palmer played the Workday Charity Open last week at Muirfield Village and missed the cut. Instead of staying in Ohio, he went home to Texas to work with swing coach Randy Smith, and he found a fix to whatever was holding him back. “One little, small flaw in my back swing,” Palmer said. He also did some work on the greens with Steve Stricker, and Palmer feels good enough about his chances on the weekend. Stricker didn't do too badly, either. The 53-year-old Ryder Cup captain had a 67 and was at 4-under 140, along with Jim Furyk, who turned 50 two months ago and shot 68......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2020

Morado recalls De Leon’s big role in Lady Eagles perfect Season 77

Jia Morado shared how the then rookie Bea De Leon’s quick return from a finger injury turned out to be a pivotal moment for the Ateneo de Manila University’s perfect run back in UAAP Season 77 women’s volleyball tournament. The former Lady Eagles setter recalled how De Leon’s presence helped Ateneo complete an elimination round sweep for an outright Finals seat five years ago during an episode of The Score’s Kalye Confessions .      “’Dun ko nakita kung gaano ka-passionate si Bea sa volleyball,” said Morado as she talked about the middle blockers rookie season. The Poveda product was a vital cog for the then repeat-seeking Lady Eagles. Ateneo was on a ten-game winning streak when De Leon sustained an injury while training in February 2015. De Leon suffered an open dislocation on her left index finger while trying to block an attack from then fellow rookie Maddie Madayag. “Ang dami talagang nangyari doon sa rookie year n’ya,” said Morado. “Kasama na doon na-injure ang daliri nya, na na-injure sa training at akala namin na di siya makakabalik for a long time sa games namin.” De Leon was out for two weeks and missed three games before making her return in the crucial end of elims match against archrival De La Salle University. “Sobrang crucial pa naman ng mga games namin noon and in the run for rookie of the year pa naman sana siya noon,” said Morado of De Leon, who was beaten by University of Sto. Tomas’ EJ Laure and University of the East libero Kath Arado for the Rookie of Year award. “So kami parang ‘Sayang, sobrang sayang.’” “(But) she cut her recovery short para makalaro sa Ateneo-La Salle game,” added Morado. The playmaker also lauded De Leon’s dedication that season as she opted not to undergo surgery but instead just had her finger stitched as she rested for a couple of weeks. De Leon, whose finger was heavily bandaged, was a surprise starter in the match against the Lady Spikers. “’Yun bumalik siya ng maaga kahit naka-tape pa ng sobra ang daliri niya,” Morado said. “Ang laking risk nun for her kasi kapag natamaan yun masama lalala ang injury niya but she played the game of her life nu’ng bumalik siya.” Her presence gave Ateneo a big boost in the all-important match that the Lady Eagles won in four sets, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 27-25. De Leon finished with 11 points including three kill blocks to back Alyssa Valdez, who scored 29 markers. With De Leon back in the fold, the Lady Eagles went on to write history as they defeated DLSU in the Finals to retain their crown in a perfect 16-0 season sweep.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent when the play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.]   [Updated Notes: The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent when the play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.] The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2020

Greatest Performance: SSC-R Lady Stags miracle comeback

San Sebastian College stared at a 13-point deficit in the third set against the Michelle Morente and Jia Morado-led Ateneo de Manila University. It was the two teams’ first meeting in the V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference back in August 6, 2016. The Lady Stags led by skipper Grethcel Soltones surprised the Lady Eagles, who were then in their first competitive tournament in the post-Alyssa Valdez era, in the first two sets. But Ateneo took control of the third frame early as they built a 23-10 advantage and looked poised to turn the tables around. The Lady Eagles were determined to bounce back from an opening day five-set loss to the Mylene Paat-backed Technological Institute of the Philippines. But the two points Ateneo needed to take the set never came. SSC-R made one of the most amazing comebacks in the now defunct league, cranking a 15-0 scoring barrage, to complete a stunning come-from-behind 25-23, 25-22, 25-23 win. “Hindi [namin in-expect na mananalo ng ganun],” recalled Soltones, who is now a member of PetroGazz in the Premiere Volleyball League, the rebranded V-League. “Kasi looking at the name ATENEO hindi basta-basta ‘yan.” And Soltones wasn’t exaggerating. Ateneo fielded a formidable lineup that conference. Yes, the Lady Eagles missed the services of injured Jho Maraguinot and Maddie Madayag while Valdez, who was supposed to play as a guest player, was given an assistant coach position instead. But Ateneo was coming off a UAAP runner-up finish that year and were bannered by Morente, Morado, Bea De Leon, Ana Gopico and young guns Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte. The Lady Stags knew that Ateneo will not go down without a fight. As expected, the Lady Eagles regrouped in the third and were hammering down SSC-R. Throughout Ateneo’s assault, Soltones kept reminding her teammates not to lose heart. “May sinasabi ako sa kanila noon na ‘Nothing to lose tayo. Laro lang. Kasi nakita ko tambak na kami eh’” said Soltones. “Tapos si coach Clint [Malazo] may sinabi rin na kami lang nagbibigay ng pressure sa sarili namin kaya ganun ang nangyayari.’ Ateneo was already looking for the kill. The Lady Stags said no.   Joyce Sta. Rita stopped the bleeding with a quick attack and sent Soltones to the service line, where she would hold court until the end of the match. “Nasa isip ko lang naming nun na nasa likod, depensa lang kami ni [Alyssa] Eroa. Kahit anong bola kunin para gaganahan ang nasa harap,” said Soltones. Soltones landed consecutive aces during the run and even scored a couple of points from the back row while Sta. Rita and Denice Lim putting up numbers at the frontline. Ateneo during the Lady Stags’ rally was already in disarray and slowly crumbling under pressure. It didn’t help that the Lady Eagles were also struggling with their reception. “Sabi ko kakargahan ko ang serve ko at gamitin ko pinraktis namin sa serve kasi may target kami kung ano rotation ng Ateneo,” said Soltones, who also shared that she was getting instructions from head coach Roger Gorayeb, who was watching from sidelines as he gave the coaching chores to his assistant Malazo for the tournament. Lim tied the game at 23 off a down the line hit before Sta. Rita put SSC-R at match point after a denial on Morente. Soltones sealed the deal for the Lady Stags with an ace that landed in front of Morente and De Leon, giving the Lady Eagles another bitter pill to swallow.       Ateneo and SSC-R would eventually meet in a playoff for the last semifinals spot but this time the Lady Eagles exacted revenge as they sent the Lady Stags packing. Ateneo wound up as runner-up to the Jaja Santiago-led National University.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2020

Tiger s last Masters as much about family as a green jacket

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Tiger Woods walked off the 18th green as a Masters champion for the fifth time, a major champion for the 15th time, and the sensation was unlike anything he had ever felt. More memorable than any shot — the 8-iron that trickled by the hole at the 16th was the decisive blow — was the purposeful stride toward his son, grabbing Charlie with both arms, lifting the boy and turning from side to side. His mother was next. His daughter. His loyal support staff. And then a lineup of players outside the clubhouse, some of them in green jackets. They had been upstairs in the locker room reserved for champions, yet they shared a feeling with the entire golf world. Memories gave way to reality. “That's going to be in people's minds forever,” Rickie Fowler said last month, just two days before the Masters was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Was it his biggest win? It would be hard to rate that over his first Masters title in 1997, a “hello, world” moment not tied to advertising. Woods set 20 records that signaled the arrival of a brand of dominance never seen in golf. The most historical? His 2001 victory at Augusta gave him a sweep of the four majors in a span of 294 days. He stands alone there. This was no less significant because of what it meant — to Woods, to his sport, to peers who grew up idolizing him and to a worldwide audience that had reason to believe it might never happen again. “I had just an amazing amount of emails and texts that were flowing in,” Woods said in a conference call leading up to the Masters. “But I was more surprised by the amount of videos of people watching the Masters and seeing their reaction when I hit the shot on 16 or when I made the putt, whether it was on airplanes or in airports or restaurants. “The amount of emotion that people were showing, that's what blew my mind." That's what made this Masters different from his other four, this major different from the other 14. Adam Scott doesn't usually stick around when he's finished with a major. One exception was in 2006 after the U.S. Open at Winged Foot when he was headed for the airport and turned around when close friend Geoff Ogilvy emerged the winner. He finished Sunday at Augusta National about the time all hell broke loose at Amen Corner. “You got a sense, as he was kind of taking the lead on the back nine, that something special could be happening,” Scott said. “There was a lot of guys watching in the champion's locker room and I stayed and watched. You don't often get that group of people together very often. You just had that sense it's a significant moment in the sport again.” Gary Woodland wasn't about to miss it. “I don't usually watch much golf,” he said. “I had my family there. I was flying out Sunday afternoon. I played early that day, and we pushed the flight back. I wanted to watch that.” The only mystery is where it leads. Woods was never the same the rest of the major season. He played nine holes of practice at Bethpage Black and missed the cut in the PGA Championship. He was never a factor at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, site of his 15-shot victory, as untouchable as any of his records. He missed the cut at the British Open. Woods had another knee surgery to repair minor cartilage damage. And then he won again, this time in Japan, to tie the PGA Tour's victory record with No. 82. In only two starts this year, in chilly California weather, he didn't look like the Masters champion. His back felt stiff and he skipped three tournaments he ordinarily plays. And now golf is shut down, which Woods said has given him time for his 44-year-old body to feel stronger. He had caddie Joe LaCava come down a month after the Masters to watch the final round together. Woods has watched that Masters plenty of times, and he taped a segment with Jim Nantz for perspective unlike any other for CBS to show it again Sunday to fill the void of not having the Masters this April. Each time Woods won a major — even the first of his 15 — it was one major closer to the 18 won by Jack Nicklaus. This one was different. This was more about satisfaction and redemption than a thirst for more. Woods said his kids once looked at him as the “YouTube” golfer because they never saw him at his best. They were at Carnoustie in the summer of 2018 when he had the lead briefly in the final round of the British Open. They were with him at Augusta National, and that meant as much as the green jacket he wore — the jacket, he said, they fought over who could wear it on the flight home. “It's been incredible for myself and my family to be a part of this, and for me to be the current Masters champion, it's crazy that somehow it all came together for one week,” he said. “One magical week.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2020

BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 2

In case you missed it: BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 1 --- Pingoy Rule: Never look back. --- Along with being a champion and back-to-back MVP in UAAP Jrs., Jerie Pingoy is best known for a league rule that was put in effect after his actions. There's even a possibility that many know Far Eastern University-Diliman's once promising prospect just from having been the poster boy of the so-called "Pingoy Rule." Back in 2012, Pingoy had for himself a title run and a second straight top individual player award in his last year in high school. And so, more than a few were interested in securing the services of the 5-foot-11 point guard. Ultimately, the decision came down to moving on up to FEU's Srs. squad or moving on to Ateneo de Manila University. The latter was what Pingoy decided to be best for him. Not long after, the league instituted a new rule that required two-year residency for student-athletes who transfer from one UAAP high school to another UAAP college. As such, the then-18-year-old was forced to stay on the sidelines for two years. And even then, he already knew how much those two years would mean to his future. Fast forward to now and Pingoy is far removed from being a true blue-chip recruit out of high school or even a talented transferee in college. Now, he is just like any other player hoping for another shot to prove himself. Now, the Cebuano could only rue what could have been. "Unang-una, nasasayangan ako sa years na 'di ako nakapaglaro. Kung nakapaglaro ako ng dalawang taon, mag-iiba yung takbo ng panahon," he said in a phone interview. He then continued, "'Di magiging ganito." CODE RED Momentum is a true thing in sports - much more in basketball where the action goes on and on and on. And coming off a championship and back-to-back MVPs, Pingoy's confidence and capabilities were as high as they have been as he took on a new challenge in Ateneo. Only, he was not eligible to play in the UAAP Seniors just yet. Simply put, Pingoy lost all the momentum he already had after leaving FEU-Diliman. "For sure, mag-iiba talaga yung laro ko kapag nakapag-start ako agad. Once makapaglaro ako right after high school, mas magiging mature ako eh, mas malalaman ko agad yung laro sa college," he shared. He then continued, "Hindi ko natantsa agad sa Ateneo na ganun pala sa college. Nung naglaro na ako, 'di na ako rookie sa age, pero rookie pa rin ako sa laro." Indeed, after putting up per game counts of 21 points to go along with 5.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.1 steals in his championship and MVP season as a Baby Tamaraw, two years later, he averaged 3.5 points and 2.8 assists as a rookie Blue Eagle. For Pingoy's former mentor, it was clear as day that the long layoff, as well as all the talk surrounding his decision, had a negative effect. "May impact sa bata yung nangyari kasi naka-distract lahat yun sa pag-usad ng career niya. Sa tingin ko lang, if he (would have stayed) in FEU, magkakaroon siya ng peace of mind," former FEU-Diliman head coach Mike Oliver answered when asked to look back at one of the most controversial college commitments the country has witnessed. He also added, "Yung nangyari kasi, because naging talk of the town siya, I think nagkaroon ng malaking pressure sa kanyang every time na maglalaro siya, he has to show how good he really is." GOLD IS GOLD Of course, Pingoy was still seeing action - albeit with Ateneo's Team Glory Be on the smaller stage and under the dimmer lights of minor tournaments like the Fr. Martin Cup. Still, that could not compare to the competition of the UAAP - a level of competition that was already at the tip of his fingers in high school and only needed to be grasped in college. "Nahirapan akong mag-adjust kasi for two years, 'di ko naman alam laro ng Team A. Siyempre, iba naman yung nasa Team B kasi iba pa rin yung nandun ka (sa UAAP) at nakakalaro kahit konti lang," he said. Still, years later, Pingoy has no regrets about transferring to Katipunan. As he put it, "Nalungkot lang ako kasi nga sayang, pero 'di ako nagsisisi." And while he did not necessarily tap into his potential, he remains nothing but proud of his time wearing the blue and white - from Team Glory Be to the Blue Eagles. "Proud ako na yung batch namin nina Fonzo Gotladera yung unang Team B na nag-champion. Masayang-masaya ako dun," he shared. He then continued, "At least, nakapabigay ako ng isang championship sa Ateneo - kahit Team B lang." At the same time, Pingoy said he also made it a point then to get to know the Atenean way. "Sa Ateneo, tinuturo maging 'man for others.' Yun talaga ang natutunan ko dun aside from matututong mag-English," he shared with a laugh. He then continued, "Pero ngayong naaalala ko nga, iba talaga sa Ateneo. Magiging wiser ka talaga eh." WHITE LIGHT That wisdom has apparently allowed Pingoy to bear no ill will towards those who disagreed with his decision. From then to now, he remains adamant that he has no problems whatsoever against the ill-fated "Pingoy Rule." "'Di talaga ako nagalit kahit kanino. Iniisip ko lang lagi that time na okay lang yan and everything happens for a reason," he said. He then continued, "Kung ginagawa nila yun, ibig sabihin, ayaw ka nila." Now, the "Pingoy Rule" is no more as Congress had passed the "Student-Athlete Protection Act (SAPA)" which, for one thing, prohibits residency rules on high school graduates transferring to a different school for college. If this were already law before he committed to any college, he wouldn’t have had to undergo residency at all. However, the SAPA was passed in 2015 and by then, Pingoy had already served two years. Meaning, it was a case of too late the hero. While it didn't do him any favors personally, though, Pingoy is nothing but glad to have been part of a much-welcome change. "Deep inside, naramdaman ko rin naman dating napaka-unfair nila, pero ngayon, okay na yun. Unfair sa akin dati, pero masaya ako ngayon kasi yung mga bata, makakapili na ng school na gusto nila talaga," he said. He then continued, "Sobrang masaya ako dun. Sobrang thankful ako dun." That means that now, any recruit, from blue-chippers to solid players, could choose whatever college they want without having to think that they could lose their momentum from high school. Indeed, he could rest assured that anybody as highly recruited as he was would now be free to decide what’s best for them. However, it may very well take some time before we witness anybody like him - because without a doubt, Jerie Pingoy was a man among boys in high school. NEXT ON BEST-OF-5 SERIES: THE PINGOY RULES: "Ateneo gave me an opportunity na matulungan yung family ko. I wasn't thinking of myself lang that time. The opportunity was there e, why not grab it?" --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 9th, 2020

Two-week ban from gym as Blue Eaglets turn attention to studies

For the first time in four years, Ateneo de Manila High School will not be playing in the Finals in the UAAP 82 Boys Basketball Tournament. The third-seeded Blue Eaglets' campaign came to a close at the hands of fourth-seeded Adamson High School as the two teams met in the first rung of the stepladder playoffs a week ago. Rather than rue their missed opportunity and stopped streak, however, the kids from Katipunan have instead wasted no time turning their attention from the court to the classroom. Ateneo's young guns are now shooting for high scores in their classes - especially as the UAAP season had forced them to miss several classes. With that, Josh Lazaro, Lebron Lopez, Forthsky Padrigao and the rest of the Blue Eaglets have been told to give their full focus to their academics - so much so that for the next two weeks, they have been locked out of the gym. "I personally banned them from Moro (Lorenzo Gym) for the next two weeks. Kailangan nilang bumawi sa absences and missed tests," head coach Reggie Varilla said. And so, for now, don't expect any action on the court for the blue and white - all the action they're gonna get will be inside the classroom. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 20th, 2020

Fajarito return makes NCAA 95 champ Letran bigger, badder

Already the biggest obstacle for the rest of the NCAA, Colegio de San Juan de Letran has gotten even bigger for Season 96. The Knights will enter their title defense with Christian Fajarito resuming his collegiate career. In fact, the 6-foot-6 big man already made his official return to the blue and red in the 2020 Philippine Collegiate Champions League. "Sobrang sarap. Habang naglalaro ako, bumalik talaga yung dugong Letran," he said. In Fajarito, the defending champions are getting an end-to-end big who will join forces with Larry Muyang, Jeo Ambohot, Ato Ular, and Pao Javillonar. Without a doubt, that is a formidable frontline that has all the capability and confidence to dominate the Grand Old League - especially with no more foreign student-athletes playing. Even more, the 24-year-old is more determined than ever as he missed out on Letran's title run last year. "Nanghihinayang din, siyempre, na sana, nandun ako last year, sana, nag-champion kaming magkakasama," he shared. He then continued, "Kaso hindi rin pwede panghinayangan masyado kasi pumili ako kung championship o pamilya. Medyo mahirap, pero kinailangan e." Fajarito stepped away from the Knights a season ago to play in the MPBL. His decision was a personal one as he needed to support his family. Now, however, all is well and good with the family and the talented tower can set his sights on a title of his own. "Yung nangyari last year, hindi ko kaya ibigay sa kanila yung lahat ko kaya kung nasa lineup man ako, madadala rin nila yun kasi magkakapatid kami," he said. He then continued, "Ngayong pagbalik ko, ibabalik ko na lang yung dapat kong binigay sa kanila last season." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 18th, 2020

Clippers hand Cavs worst home loss in franchise history

  STEVE HERRICK Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — Lou Williams scored 25 points and the Los Angeles Clippers routed Cleveland 133-92 on Sunday night, the Cavaliers' worst home loss in franchise history. Cleveland's previous worst was a 39-point loss to Chicago in 2012. Paul George had 22 points and Marcus Morris added 10 in his first game with Los Angeles, which led wire-to-wire without star forward Kawhi Leonard. Andre Drummond started in his first game with Cleveland after being acquired from Detroit at the deadline. He scored 19 points and had 14 rebounds in 29 minutes. The Clippers didn't miss Leonard, who was out because of a sore left knee. Morris, acquired from New York at the trade deadline, started in Leonard's spot at power forward and played 22 minutes. The Clippers were obviously angry following an embarrassing 142-115 loss in Minnesota on Saturday. Los Angeles shot 70% percent in the first quarter, making 14 of 20 from the field. Los Angeles' biggest lead was 45 points in the fourth quarter after coach Doc Rivers had given his starters the rest of the night off. Drummond's presence was Cleveland's lone bright spot. He brought the crowd to its feet in the first quarter with a one-handed dunk off a lob pass from Cedi Osman. Drummond also hit two 3-pointers, his career high for a game, and again drew a big ovation. Morris knocked Drummond to the floor with a hard foul as Cleveland's center tried to score in the third quarter. The play was upgraded to a flagrant foul after a review. Drummond's acquisition couldn't stop Cleveland's skid. The Cavaliers have lost 12 straight at home and 13 of 14 overall. Morris' final game with the Knicks came in Cleveland on Feb. 3. He scored 26 points in New York's overtime win. Drummond replaced Tristan Thompson, who has started 48 games. Thompson came off the bench and scored seven points in 19 minutes. Kevin Love had 10 points in 26 minutes. .TIP-INS Clippers: Leonard missed his 13th game of the season. ... G Patrick Beverley (strained right groin) was out for second straight game. ... Los Angeles wore throwback Buffalo Braves uniforms. The franchise played in Buffalo from 1970-78. Cavaliers: Drummond is 3 for 24 on 3-pointers this season. .... Thompson hit his fourth career 3-pointer in the second quarter. ... Kevin Porter Jr. had 17 points. WELCOME BACK Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue was the Cavaliers' coach during their 2016 NBA championship season. He returned to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for the first time since being fired by Cleveland after six games last season. Lue was given a standing ovation and waved to the crowd when he was introduced during a timeout. UP NEXT Clippers: Visit Philadelphia on Tuesday. Cavaliers: Host Atlanta on Wednesday. Cleveland's last win at home came over the Hawks on Dec. 23......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 10th, 2020

MPBL: Makati demolishes Caloocan in 42-point rout; Davao bounces back

Makati-Super Crunch ended its two-game skid in emphatic fashion, romping Caloocan-Victory Liner by 42 points, 119-77, in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila, Wednesday. Joshua Torralba powered the romp with 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting including six treys, helping Makati to a 21-6 win-loss record, still at third spot in the Northern division. Josrph Sedurifa chipped in 16 points, six rebounds, and six assists while Cedric Ablaza added 15 markers and nine boards. John Rey Villanueva and Rudy Lingganay also finished in double figures in points with 13 and 11, respectively. "We are still in the adjustment phase pero sobrang happy ako kasi inaccept ng players yung challenge. The win should be really credited to the players because they played very well," said coach Beaujing Acot, who earned his first win as Makati's head tactician. The Super Crunch-backed squad opened the game scorching, zooming to a 14-2 advantage, punctuated by back-to-back triples by Torralba, and never looked back. Joseph Manlangit's rim-rattling jam in the waning seconds of the game gave Makati its biggest lead of the game at 42, 119-77. Makati's bench did the heavy lifting with 64 points against Caloocan's 34. Paul Sanga paced Caloocan with 17 points and six rebounds while Damian Lasco had 14 markers. The loss allowed the Supremos to drop their fourth-straight game and slip to the ninth spot in the North behind a 14-13 card, half-a-game behind Pasay at 14-12 in the same division. In the earlier game, Nueva Ecija broke away late, thwarting Bulacan, 85-78. Leading by just a point, 72-71, Jai Reyes took over for the Rice Vanguards. He scored the next 10 points for his team - a floater, an and-one, and five freebies - to restore order with 2:09 left, 82-73. However, the Kuyas wouldn't go without a fight as Dennis Santos and Jovit Dela Cruz cut Nueva Ecija's lead to five, 82-77 with 37.89 ticks left. But they could not buy a basket in the waning seconds to give their foes the victory. "Our pick and roll today was good, marami kaming nakuha out of that. We just slowly chipped away even though Bulacan was in control most of the game," said Rice Vanguards assistant coach Carlo Tan. Reyes registered 20 points and 15 assists as the also-ran Nueva Ecija improved to 9-18 in the Northern division. Tonino Gonzaga also delivered 20 markers of his own with seven rebounds while Justin Arana beasted in the paint, tallying 19 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocked shots. The Rice Vanguards flexed their muscles on the defensive end, limiting Bulacan to a measly 25-of-78 clip, good for just 32.1 percent, while they buried 43.5 percent of their attempts. Dela Cruz led the Kuyas with 14 points and six rebounds while JR Taganas contributed 13 markers, eight boards, and four dimes. With the loss, Bulacan halted its six-game winning streak and fell to 18-9, tied with 1Bataan-Camaya Coast for the fourth and fifth spots in the North. In the first contest, Davao Occidental-Cocolife got back on the winning track after topping Parañaque-Yabo Sports, 78-70. The Tigers raised their win-loss card to 22-4, three days after absorbing a humiliating 84-65 defeat at the hands of San Juan -- their Datu Cup finals tormentor. "Parañaque played tough. This is another learning experience for us. It is good playing against those hungry and young teams," said Davao coach Don Dulay. Trailing, 63-76 with 3:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, Parañaque made one last run, launching seven unanswered points, capped by Keith Pido's jumper, 70-76, with 45 ticks left. But it was too little, too late as Bogs Raymundo answered with a deuce on the other end before the Patriots missed their shots to end the match. With Parañaque ahead 27-21 in the second period, the Tigers unleashed a 16-1 surge, capped by Mark Yee's layup to gain control, 37-28, with 3:28 left. Yee came through with a big double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds alongside six assists, Emman Calo had 13 markers built on three treys. Chester Saldua added 11 points, five steals, and four boards. James Abugan's 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block could not stop Parañaque from dropping its seventh-straight loss as they slipped to 8-20, 13th in the Northern division. The Scores: FIRST GAME Davao Occidental-Cocolife 78 - Yee 17, Calo 13, Balagtas 12, Saldua 11, Robles 10, Raymundo 10, Ludovice 3, Bonleon 2, Gaco 0, Mocon 0, Forrester 0, Adormeo 0. Paranaque-Yabo Sports 70 - Abugan 14, Pido 12, Sunga 11, Solis 10, Mangalino 10, Saguiguit 7, Banzali 4, Begaso 2, Larotin 0, Antonares 0, Lucente 0, Menguez 0. Quarterscores: 18-23, 43-34, 64-52, 78-70. SECOND GAME Nueva Ecija 85 - Reyes 20, Gonzaga 20, Arana 19, Sarao 7, Sabellina 6, Monte 6, Martinez 3, Garcia 2, Dela Cruz L. 2, Celada 0, De Leon 0. Bulacan 78 - Dela Cruz J. 14, Taganas 13, Escosio 11, Diputado 9, Alabanza 9, Nermal 8, Alvarez 5, Santos 5, Capacio 2, Arim 2, Siruma 0. Quarterscores: 11-21, 36-39, 56-61, 85-78. THIRD GAME Makati-Super Crunch 119 - Torralba 24, Sedurifa 16, Apinan 16, Ablaza 15, Villanueva 13, Lingganay 11, Baloria 8, Asoro 8, Cruz 2, Manlangit 2, Importante 2, Morales 2, Cayanan 0, Sta. Maria 0. Caloocan-Victory Liner 77 - Sanga 17, Lasco 14, Escalambre 11, Labing-isa 9, Tongco 7, Ambulodto 5, Cervantes 5, Marilao 4, Sarangay 2, Gonzales 2, Cayson 1, Garcia 0. Quarterscores: 29-16, 60-42, 89-59, 119-77......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 23rd, 2020

Tatum and Brown lead Celtics to 113-101 win over Bulls

By Ken Powtak, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 21 points, Jaylen Brown 19 and the Boston Celtics coasted to a 113-101 victory over the Chicago Bulls Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Enes Kanter had 15 points and nine rebounds, Kemba Walker added 14 points and Marcus Smart had 12 points for Boston, which won its second straight after a season-high three-game losing streak. Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 30 points, including a couple of highlight dunks. Thaddeus Young added 17 points for Chicago, which has lost seven of eight. The Bulls trailed by 55-37 at halftime, but came out with a 17-5 run over the initial 4 minutes of the second half. Lavine had six points in the spree. Chicago cut its large deficit at intermission to six points twice in the third, the last 67-61 on Kris Dunn’s 3-pointer from directly in front of Boston’s bench, but the Celtics closed the quarter with an 8-2 spurt to take an 83-71 edge into the fourth. The Bulls never really threatened in the final quarter. They closed it to 95-84 with just under 6 minutes to play on Daniel Gafford’s put-back basket, but never tested Boston the rest of the way. TIP-INS Bulls: C Gafford returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with a sprained left ankle. … C Wendell Carter Jr. missed his fourth straight with a sprained right ankle. Celtics: C Daniel Theis missed the game with right knee soreness. … G Marcus Smart went to the floor early in the second quarter after banging his left knee into Ryan Arcidiacono’s right knee. Smart got up slowly after a short delay, but stayed in the game. He also was limping later in the quarter. TOTAL CONTROL The Celtics only trailed once in the game — 6-4 in the opening quarter — and that was just for 22 seconds. They opened their first double-digit lead (21-9) on Walker’s 3 pointer and shot 52.5 % in the opening quarter (21 of 40) en route to a 28-14 lead at the break. UP NEXT Bulls: Host the Wizards on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Beat Washington on the road in the clubs’ first game, 110-109, in overtime on Dec. 18. Celtics: Host the Pistons Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) in the teams’ second meeting of the season. Boston won the first, 114-93, at home on Dec. 20 (Dec. 21, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2020