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WHAT IF Marck Espejo played for DLSU?

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

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 19th, 2020

Intal considers semis win over Thais in SEA Games better than UAAP titles

Winning three titles in the UAAP is already an incredible feat. But for Ateneo de Manila University product Rex Intal, those college championships pale in comparison with the ecstasy he felt when the Philippine national men’s volleyball team toppled powerhouse Thailand in the semifinals of the 30th Southeast Asian Games last year. [Related story: SEA GAMES: PHI men's volleyball team advances to the gold medal round] A member of the Nationals who captured a historic silver medal in the biennial meet, Intal considers their thrilling come-from-behind win that dethroned Thailand in the knockout semis as the most memorable game he has ever played in.    “For me it was one of the best games talaga na nalaruan ko. Not the best performance pero best games na most unforgettable,” said Intal in his appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro. “Actually most unforgettable game na talaga.” The former Blue Eagle middle went as far as saying that the victory over the Thais, which was watched by an electric crowd inside the PhilSports Arena last December, even topped the three titles he had while playing for Ateneo.   “Naramdaman ko talaga na may tumalo na sa first, second and third UAAP championships. Sorry UAAP pero iba ‘yung SEA Games na naramdaman ko. Iba ang naramdaman ko nu’ng umabot kami ng Finals,” said Intal, who with PHI squad teammates Marck Espejo and Ish Polvorosa led the Blue Eagles to a UAAP grand slam from Season 77 to 79.   “Individually ah, hindi 'yung combined na three UAAP championships,” cleared Intal. “Siguro kapag combined medyo same.” The Nationals faced top seed Thailand, which ruled the previous four editions, on December 8 in the crossover semis attended by a 6,700-strong crowd.   The experience of playing in front of the home crowd in an all-important game that time was a surreal feeling according to Intal. “Grabe ang experience na ‘yun. Ang saya maglaro nu’ng time na ‘yun kasi first time ‘yung buong crowd hindi hiwalay,” said Intal of the atmosphere inside the venue compared to what he’s used while playing in the UAAP. “Lahat nagtsi-cheer talaga. In front of the home crowd ang sarap maglaro sa crowd na ‘yun,” he added. “Isa ‘yun sa di ko makakalimutan na experience sa buong buhay ko.” It was a dramatic win for the Nationals as they came back from a 1-2 deficit and a scary 21-24 hole in the fourth set to upset Thailand in five sets.   “Nu’ng nanalo kami nung napalo na ni Bryan ang bola sigawan na kami nun,” recalled Intal, who scored six points in the match playing in four sets. “’Di kami makapaniwala. As in lahat ng boses na mayroon kami kailangan naming ilabas.” “Totoo pala na kailangan mong kurutin yung sarili mo, ‘Totoo ba ‘to? Totoo ba ‘to?’” he added. “’Yung inisip ko nun ay ‘di ‘yung natalo namin ang Thailand. Ang naisip ko was may medal na kami.” That win assured the Philippines of a silver medal for the first time since its runner-up finish in the 1977 SEA Games in Malaysia and a rematch against group stage tormentors Indonesia. The Indonesians were too much for the inexperienced Filipinos as the host team yielded in straight sets. But still, although the Nationals fell short in the gold medal round for Intal the whole SEA Games experience especially their conquest of Thailand will always be on the top of his list.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2020

DID YOU KNOW? Marck Espejo almost played for La Salle

Marck Espejo’s arrival to Ateneo de Manila University brought miracles for the Blue Eagles. Former head coach Oliver Almadro even anointed Espejo as ‘God’s gift’ to the Ateneo men’s volleyball program, which for years struggled to keep up with other powerhouse teams in the UAAP. He brought the Blue Eagles to the Finals in his first year. Although the squad fell short against National University, Espejo’s performance made Ateneo an emerging power. With the prized Marikina recruit at the helm, Ateneo captured its breakthrough title in Season 77, which the Blue Eagles kept for two more years. Espejo’s name is synonymous to that of Ateneo's grand slam. But did you know that Espejo almost chose the color green of the Katipunan-based squad’s archrival De La Salle University? Yes, we all know that Almadro discovered a jewel in the then second-year high school Espejo when the mentor was still a part of the Bulldogs coaching staff. However, fate planned a different course for both Espejo and Almadro. Almadro parted ways with NU and Espejo went through a rough time in his last year in high school. Different universities approached the promising Espejo the following year since meeting Almadro during his third year Palarong Pambansa stint. But in his fourth year he suffered a left arm injury while playing in an inter-barangay basketball tournament, barring Espejo from joining his last Palarong Pambansa. His absence in the national meet pushed him out of the radar of scouts.     “Before Palaro ayun nga nabalian ako so wala pong coaches na nakakakilala po sa akin kundi si Coach O lang po talaga,” said Espejo in an interview on 2OT podcast last Saturday. Espejo was already looking to commit to another school that time.    “Balak ko po sana pumasok sa La Salle,” Espejo shared. But Almadro knew that to turn Ateneo into a contender he needed to get Espejo.   “Pero last minute parang pinahanap ako ni Coach O sa players niya, kay JP Pareja para mag-Ateneo ako,” said Espejo. He immediately grabbed the opportunity when he was offered to play for the Blue Eagles. “Siyempre ‘yung Ateneo po kasi dream school ko po talaga ‘yun so wala po talagang second thought, pumasok na po talaga ako,” said Espejo. “Saka ‘yung volleyball po ginamit ko po talaga para makapasok sa magandang university pero yun nga po, since nakapasok na po ako sa Ateneo parang inisip ko na lang po yung long-term na education po talaga.” Under Almadro’s guidance, Espejo turned into one of the most powerful and efficient hitters in the UAAP. He further evolved into an all-around player and the face of Philippine men's volleyball. Espejo led Ateneo to a three-peat while winning Rookie of the Year in Season 77 and bagging the Most Valuable Player award five times.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 6th, 2020

BATCH CLASH: Season 76 Bulldogs vs Season 81 Bulldogs

Seven years ago, National University made history by claiming its breakthrough UAAP men’s volleyball title. The following season, the Bulldogs blasted their way to back-to-back titles. It took NU four years to return on top after snapping Ateneo de Manila’s three-season reign before duplicating a repeat championship the following year. Two different breeds of Bulldogs will take center stage in this week’s edition of Batch Clash as we pit the back-to-back NU champion teams of Season 76 and Season 81. Just like in the past showdowns, we’ll see which team will shine brighter based on offense, net defense, floor defense, level of competition and playoff performances. Then, we'll let you decide which batch is better.   OFFENSE Height, speed and power. That’s the name of the game for the Bulldogs. Both teams took advantage of these strengths to extend their respective reigns. Batch 76 had Reuben Inaudito, Edwin Tolentino, Peter Torres and Berlin Paglinawan while Batch 81 featured the high-flying Bryan Bagunas, Nico Almendras and James Natividad. With the departure of Ateneo’s Marck Espejo, Bagunas dominated the scoring category in Season 81. The 6-foot-5 open spiker averaged 20.3 points per game in his swan song. Bagunas was also hitting with precision, nailing 53.49% success rate in attacks while landing an average of 0.47 ace per frame. Bagunas had a steady back-up with Almendras averaging 10.2 points per game while Natividad normed with nine markers per outing. Natividad had a 42.92% spike success rate and averaged 0.24 ace per set while Almendras had a 38.93% attacking rate.   Compared to Batch 81, the Bulldogs of Season 76 had more balanced scoring. Inaudito averaged 12.1 points per game with a 40.18% success rate in kills and an average of 0.23 ace per frame. Paglinawan averaged 11.5 points per game, Torres had 10.3 markers per outing while Tolentino normed 9.8 points. Tolentino was hitting 36.14% with a 0.31 average ace per set.   In the setters’ head-to-head match-up, Vince Mangulabnan was dishing out an average of 6.75 excellent sets per frame while Owa Retamar had 7.40 assists per set. Incidentally, both NU playmakers finished second in the category to Ateneo setters Ish Polvorosa and Lawrence Magadia, in their respective seasons. As a team, Batch 76 had a 41.96% success rate in spikes and landed an average of 1.17 aces per set. Batch 81 recorded a 45.82% success rate in attacks with 1.27 aces per frame. In setting, Batch 76 tallied 6.98 average excellent sets per frame compared to Batch 81’s 7.84.   NET DEFENSE      In the battle of defensive walls, Batch 76 had three players in the top 10. Torres averaged 0.69 kill blocks per set, Reyson Fuentes had 0.62 while Inaudito posted 0.54. Batch 76 normed 3.10 kills blocks per frame. Taking care of business at the net for Batch 81 were Francis Saura (0.62), Kim Malabunga (0.49) and Almendras (0.47). Batch 81 averaged 2.80 kill blocks per set.   FLOOR DEFENSE Floor defense wasn’t really the strong suit of NU ever since. Both batches did struggle when their net defense didn't work the way they wanted it to. Batch 76 was dead last in digs as a team with just 3.87 digs per set and its reception wasn’t impressive either with just a 21.29% efficiency. Libero Mark Dizon of Batch 76 averaged 1.27 digs per set and a 29.74% efficiency in reception. Batch 81 averaged 11.24 digs per set with a decent 55.61% efficiency rate in reception. However, unlike Batch 76, the Season 81 Bulldogs didn’t rely too much in their libero for digs. Ricky Marcos had 3.51 digs per set and was backed by Natividad’s 2.42. Marcos had a 62.20% reception efficiency.     LEVEL OF COMPETITION Batch 76 saw the rise of what would become one of the most explosive and well-rounded players in the UAAP in years. Ateneo’s then rookie Espejo made an immediate impact in his first year together with Blue Eagles Rex Intal and Ysay Marasigan. University of Sto. Tomas had that season’s top scorer Mark Alfafara, Romnick Rico and Anthony Arbast. Bannering Adamson University were Michael Sudaria and Bryan Saraza while Red Christensen and Raymark Woo led De La Salle University. Far Eastern University had Ian Dela Calzada, Greg Dolor and Alexis Faytaren. University of the Philippines was spearheaded by Evan Raymundo and Jeffrey Lansangan; while University of the East had Angelone Soria and Ace Mandani. Batch 81 also battled against a strong field with FEU’s Jude Garcia and JP Bugaoan; Ateneo’s Tony Koyfman and Ron Medalla; Paolo Pablico and George Labang of Adamson; Chris Dumago and Billie Anima of DLSU; UST’s Joshua Umandal and Wewe Mendina; Mark Millete and Jerry San Pedro of UP and the pair of Cliffor Inoferio and Lloyd Josafat of UE.      PLAYOFF PERFORMANCE Batch 76 finished the elimination round with a 12-2 win-loss record for the top seed. The Season 76 Bulldogs swept Adamson, which had to defeat DLSU in the playoff for no. 4, in the Final Four to face a young Ateneo side. In the Finals, the seasoned NU squad bullied its way to series sweep of the Blue Eagles as the Bulldogs won their second title. Batch 81 started off on the wrong foot, dropping their first game against the Tamaraws. The Bulldogs bounced back from a bad start to win their next 13 games to take the top seed in the Final Four. They ran over Adamson in straight sets in the semis before crushing the Tams in two games in the Finals rematch of the two proud teams six years the making.   VERDICT Who do you think is the better Bulldogs squad?   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2020

Espejo set for Japan V. League return

Japan is becoming a top destination for Filipino athletes, either in basketball or volleyball, as power spiker Marck Espejo is set to return to the Japan V. League this year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 25th, 2021

Espejo hops over to Bahrain

Marck Espejo, the best men’s volleyball player in the country today, is bringing his act to Bahrain......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 5th, 2020

Brent Paraiso leaves UST Tigers

Paraiso, who previously played for the DLSU Green Archers before transferring to UST, will not be eligible to play in the UAAP anymore......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsAug 30th, 2020

SEA GAMES: The silver that glittered like gold

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

SEA GAMES: The silver that glittered like gold

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 24th, 2020

Wong names Morado, Salak among her top 5 setters

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020

Blue Eagles credit Bundit, Lady Eagles as inspirations in success

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2020

Cignal stalwarts Daquis, Espejo clash in Mobile Legends tourney

Cignal stars Rachel Anne Daquis and Marck Espejo showcased their esports skills in the Mobile Legends tournament organized by Cignal Ultra for fans amid the pandemic......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsAug 6th, 2020

Team Espejo bests Team Daquis in Mobile Legends showdown

Marck Espejo proved that he is clutch not just in volleyball but also in Mobile Legends as his crew outplayed Team Daquis in crunch time, 3-2, on Wednesday. The 2019 Southeast Asian Games silver medalist showed that he has ice in his veins as he came up with a late double kill to wipe out the Rachel Anne Daquis-led opposing squad in the battle of two Cignal HD Spikers stars. Espejo, who led Cignal to a season sweep of the two-conference Spikers’ Turf last year, and his crew composed of Wendel Miguel and professional ML players Bensanity, Tsajin and RHEA squandered a 2-1 lead and needed some clutch plays in the decider to bag the victory. (Watch the match here) Espejo’s twin kills and Bensanity’s triple kill finished off Team Daquis in the fifth game. Espejo and Miguel displayed great potential during the match as they held their own against pro players. Daquis and Cignal teammate Norielle Ipac also contributed well for Team Daquis, backed by ImbaDeejay, Hadess and Yebmaester, in a gallant stand.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie Dindin Santiago vs. rookie Jaja Santiago

Towering sisters Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jaja Santiago left lasting impacts in the UAAP. Versatile, talented and intimidating are just some of the traits the siblings share. Both are vital cogs in their local commercial league club and are valuable assets to the national team. International clubs even took notice of the Santiago sisters’ dominant presence and high-level volleyball skills that they landed deals to play in the prestigious Japan V. Premier League. And of course if you’re a University of Sto. Tomas faithful you’ll often wonder what the Tigresses would have achieved if the sisters stayed in Espana instead of moving to National University. Looking back, we saw how the Santiago sisters evolved into what they are today. With their towering presence, both immediately made valuable contribution during their debut seasons? But then again, which Santiago made a bigger impact in their rookie year? Dindin’s first year with UST or Jaja’s maiden tour of duty for NU?   OFFENSE and DEFENSE Dindin right now stands at 6-foot-2 while Jaja is listed at 6-foot-5, even if we deduct a few inches from their current height during their respective debuts they’ll still be pretty tall compared to the rest of the field. In Season 72, Dindin complemented an already stacked Tigresses. Though overshadowed by legends Aiza Maizo and Angeli Tabaquero, Dindin made a decent contribution on offense averaging almost six points per game. Dindin was on UST’s top five in the blocking department. Compared to her older sister, Jaja’s rookie year in Season 76 was more impressive. Jaja averaged 10.7 points per outing behind her Dindin (16.7), who was then on her last year after transferring to NU. Jaja had a 41.99% success rate in attacks – landing at second spot overall after Dindin’s (46.10%). The younger Santiago normed 0.50 kill blocks per set to anchor the Lady Bulldogs’ net defense.        TEAM IMPACT Dindin was a welcome addition to the Tigresses. However, playing in a squad filled with veterans left Dindin little room to display her full potential. Maizo and Tabaquero shared much of the scoring load while Maika Ortiz, Maru Banaticla and Judy Ann Caballejo provided the extra punch. But Dindin did play her role well as one of head coach Shaq delos Santos’ prized recruits. Dindin, indeed, made her presence felt in her own little way as UST climbed its way into the Finals. Jaja’s entry in Season 76 put NU as one of the top contenders to challenge the then reigning three-peat champion De La Salle University. Together with her sister, they formed NU’s dreaded twin towers and with the likes of Mina Aganon, Aiko Urdas and Myla Pablo, many predicted the Lady Bulldogs would make it all the way to the Finals. In fact, NU almost did before the Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo de Manila University spoiled everything.      As a consolation for all her hard work, Jaja was the runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year award   COMPETITION Dindin played in a very competitive field. She took on a number of powerhitters and precision spikers like De La Salle University’s Big Three in Paneng Mercado, Jacq Alarca and Cha Cruz. Dindin also faced Adamson University’s Angela Benting and Pau Soriano, Ateneo had Dzi Gervacio and Fille Cainglet, Far Eastern University’s Cherry Vivas, NU’s Mervic Mangui, Mela Lopez of University of the Philippines and Kite Rosale of University of the East. Jaja, on the other hand, had to contend with an equally powerful field. Valdez was on a different level that season, so was DLSU with the trio of Ara Galang, Aby Marano and Mika Reyes. Bang Pineda was wreaking havoc for Adamson, FEU had Bernadeth Pons, Mela Tunay and Pam Lastimosa were the stars of UST, UP had their own towers in Kathy Bersola and Angeli Araneta while Shaya Adorador was UE’s standout.      LASTING IMPRESSION Dindin, of course, was the fortunate one among the siblings. She experienced the glory of winning championship after helping the Tigresses dethrone the Lady Spikers in her first year. That championship remains as UST’s last title to this day. But what really stuck was Dindin’s decision to jump ship a season after winning the crown. Dindin made the headlines when she left UST to join the Lady Bulldogs in a move that drew mixed reactions and a whole lot of speculations in what convinced her to drop the black and gold for NU’s colors. Dindin’s transfer was followed by Jaja committing to NU after a successful run with UST’s high school team. Jaja won the RoY award and helped NU move a win closer to a Finals appearance. The Lady Bulldogs were armed with a twice-to-beat advantage but NU’s twin towers and talents were not enough to overcome the steamrolling Lady Eagles. Jaja’s career started off at least on a good note considering how far NU advanced after years of frustrations. Jaja would eventually lead the Lady Bulldogs to two more Final Four appearance with their last in Season 80 – the same year when she bagged the Most Valuable Player award.     Now who’s the better rookie Santiago? Hard to tell. On one side, you have Dindin who won a championship while on the other you have Jaja with her individual accomplishments and accolades.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 31st, 2020

DID YOU KNOW? Manilla Santos-Ng almost played for Letran

Manilla Santos-Ng holds legendary status at De La Salle University. Despite her 5-foot-4 frame, Santos-Ng stood tall among her peers in a volleyball program known for the might of its players’ height as she led the Lady Spikers to its historic first UAAP three-peat. In her swan song in 2009, Santos-Ng left a winning legacy by powering DLSU to another title. The school honored the current ChocoMucho Flying Titan’s contribution to DLSU volleyball by retiring her no. 14 jersey, further cementing her status as one of the Lady Spikers’ greats. But her donning of the green and white almost didn’t happen. She got an earlier offer to play for another school across Taft Avenue. “Before nun kasi ang CSB, ‘yung coach kumausap sa akin ng diretso pero di ko masyado binigyan ng attention because it was too early for me to decide,” Santos-Ng shared on Volleyball DNA. “Parang maaga yata niya akong natanong eh. So parang nakalimutan ko siya eventually.” The Hope Christian School product then tried out for Letran, which was handled by the late Nes Pamilar. “And then after nun I tried out in Letran under Coach Nes,” she said. “The players were really nice, they’re so friendly, malalakas din sila.” Just when Santos-Ng was feeling comfortable with the Lady Knights an offer too hard to resist came her way. “Hindi ako aware na merong nanonood sa akin. Pero naalala ko somebody asked coach Jerry (Yee) to invite me in one of their trainings. ‘Yun ‘yung sa La Salle,” said Santos-Ng. She immediately grabbed the huge opportunity given to her. “When I found out na may invitation sa La Salle siyempre hindi na ako nagdalawang-isip,” said Santos-Ng. It was love at first sight according to Santos-Ng the moment she stepped inside the school’s gym. She felt the Animo spirit. “Pagpunta ko doon na-love at first sight talaga ako roon sa school kasi compared doon sa high school gym talagang na-amaze ako, napa-wow ako. Sabi ko, ‘Gusto ko maging part ng team na ito,’ she recalled. “So ‘yung confidence level ko medyo parang mataas pero ‘di pa talaga ako sure kung makakapasok ako dun.” “Nu’ng pagdating ko doon nakita ko ang mga players sina ate Anne Remulla, sila Des Hernandez, sina Ate Em Penetrante and na-intimidate ako. You know why? Obviously they are tall players talaga,” Santos-Ng continued. “Di ako familiar sa kanila, even the school ‘yung background nila I don’t know pa pero I saw some familiar faces na I played against back in high school.” She admitted that she didn’t make much of an impact during her first year but continued to work on her game. When head coach Ramil De Jesus gave her the much-awaited break the following year, Santos-Ng did not disappoint. She built her reputation from there as DLSU won three straight championships. A suspension from the league denied the Lady Spikers a chance to shoot for a four-peat. Santos-Ng skipped Season 70 before returning the following year to lead DLSU back to the throne in her farewell tour of duty. Looking back, Santos-Ng knew that her heart beats for DLSU the moment she was informed of the school’s invitation.   “In my heart I decided already na gusto ko talaga sa La Salle,” she said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 27th, 2020

Former Lady Spiker Esperanza finishes med school

Former De La Salle University women’s volleyball team standout Mika Esperanza obtained her medical degree on Tuesday. The four-time UAAP champion announced her milestone on her Twitter and Instagram accounts. Hi, I officially got my medical degree today. ???????????? We'll have our (virtual) graduation on July 29!!! ? Congrats Batch 2020!!! ???????? — mika esperanza (@mikaaa01) July 14, 2020 Esperanza, the UAAP Season 73 Rookie of the Year, finished med school at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERM). Her virtual graduation is scheduled on July 29.         View this post on Instagram                   when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it." - Paulo Coelho Indeed, the universe has its ways. ? I knew what I wanted to be since grade 1. The goal didn't change even if I became an athlete along the way. ???? First I want to thank Tito Perry and Tito Bomboy for helping me out when they knew I was looking for a scholarship for med school. They made calls, talked to people and made sure my story was heard. I cannot thank you enough for helping me realize my dream. ? To Sir Fred, thank you. You didn't know me and you just knew I needed financial support. You have helped countless students like me without asking anything in return except to study well. Words will not be enough to truly express my gratitude to you. 4 years walang binayaran magulang ko because of you. I wish people knew more about you and your kind heart. ? To UERM as a whole. Thank you for the education. You made me a better student and a grounded individual after 4 years. I will always look back to the journey that shaped me. ? To my groupmates, professors, residents, nurses, PGIs and staff, thank you. ? You made each day bearable. I learned alot through our time together may it be for a short while or for a whole year. To my friends outside med school, thank you. Sorry for the missed dinners and get together. You stayed with me and cheered me on for 4 years. ? To the Moreno family, thank you. Especially during my clerkship where I didn't have time to go home. You all made me feel welcome all the time. I will be forever grateful. ? To my Lasallian education, thank you. ? Through La Salle, so many doors opened for me. I was a scholar in college and I met wonderful alumni that still helps me to this day. I cannot emphasize enough how lucky I was that I was given the opportunity to play and study for and in La Salle. ? Lastly, to my family. Mama and Papa may doktor na kayo. ? Ate Anna, Ate Lexa and MJ, thank you for the unwavering support while I was in med school. All I have done and I have achieved is for my family. I hope I made you all proud. ? MARIA MIKAELA S. ESPERANZA Doctor of Medicine Batch 2020 A post shared by Mika Esperanza (@mikaesperanza) on Jul 14, 2020 at 3:25am PDT A consistent Dean’s Lister, Esperanza took up Biology in DLSU as her pre-med course before shifting to Psychology. As a student-athlete, Esperanza was a vital cog for the Ramil De Jesus-mentored Lady Spikers, winning a three-peat from Season 73 to 75 before closing her collegiate career with another title in Season 78. She last played for Cocolife in the Philippine Superliga back in 2017.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2020

Marck Espejo recalls atmosphere in historic SEA Games men s volleyball run

What struck Espejo the most was the number of supporters watching their game, with men's volleyball often taking a backseat to its female counterpart......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 12th, 2020

MICHELE GUMABAO: It’s not just swag, it’s a statement

Before her queenly poise and grace, Michele Gumabao was known for one particular characteristic – her swag. Back in her days with De La Salle University, she would always get under the skin of her rivals with her on-court antics. Gumabao had a deep arsenal to tick off her opponents: staredowns, shrugs, head shakes and her maddening grin.   It was what the Lady Spikers' fans loved about her. For the supporters of other teams, it was what they loved to hate about Gumabao. But what she did inside the court during her four-year stay with the Ramil De Jesus-mentored squad was not just about playing psywar, for Gumabao she needed every ounce of that swag to build her confidence. She wanted to prove her doubters and non-believers wrong and give them something extra. A statement.           “I wasn’t recruited. I wasn’t scouted by anybody,” said Gumabao during her Kamustahan session on Creamline’s Facebook page. “I tried out in La Salle because I wanted to go to La Salle. I wanted to study in La Salle but I never dreamt of becoming a volleyball player,” added the School of the Holy Spirit-QC product. Gumabao, whose sister Kat also played for the Lady Spikers in the mid-2000s, debuted in the UAAP in Season 72. The then defending champion Lady Spikers were stacked with veteran stars in Jacq Alarca, Paneng Mercado, Cha Cruz and Mel Gohing along with prized rookies Aby Marano and Joanne Siy. Gumabao’s rookie season wasn’t as impressive as her batchmates. She didn’t get much playing time while Siy and Marano joined the starting line-up. Gumabao knew she wasn’t as good as them that time skills-wise. “I knew back then ‘yung skills ko (di mataas ang level). 'Yung skills ko back then noong nag-uumpisa ako it isn’t how it is now,” said the Cool Smashers stalwart. “Kumbaga lahat ng natutunan ko sa La Salle, lahat ng itinuro sa akin nina coach, nang mga seniors ko at that time, mga teammates ko, that made who I am as a volleyball player.” “’Yun talaga ang nagbigay sa akin ng lakas ng loob para maglaro.” Season 73 was Gumabao’s breakout year. Consistently included in the starting rotation, Gumabao would rack up points to back Alarca, Mercado, Cruz and Marano. Aside from contributing points and wreaking havoc with her solid net defense, Gumabao provided energy and swag to DLSU. With her improved game, Gumabao helped the Lady Spikers reclaim the title they lost the season before and also bagged the Best Blocker award. She would win it again the following season while powering DLSU to a back-to-back reign. In Season 75, Gumabao won the Finals Most Valuable Player award as the Lady Spikers completed a three-peat. She decided to forego her last playing year.    Looking back, she knew she went through a lot. “Naaalala ko nung first time akong maglaro, my debut game in the UAAP. Sobrang dami kong bashers and to think wala pa masyado o hindi pa sikat ng social media nun pero ang dami ko nang bashers,” recalled Gumabao. “Kesyo saan daw ako nanggaling o di raw ako magaling. I look weird playing volleyball or bakit ako starter. So many questions, so many doubters, so many haters.” “Kaya siguro I had so much to prove when I started playing volleyball noong college kaya siguro ako ganoon maglaro. Very passionate, very mayabang, maangaas. Kasi ang dami mong paghuhugutan,” she continued. Gumabao admitted that she has mellowed down since then. “Natuto akong mag-slowdown ng kaunti sa mga celebration but of course same effort, same level of play. It’s not all physical, it’s now more on mental ngayon as you get older,” she said. But most of the time people would still tell her that they want to see the college Michele Gumabao brand of play. “Ang daming nagsasabi sa akin nito na they miss the swag, they miss the angas sa loob ng court. I do admit I was different nu’ng college days ko. Medyo may pinapatunayan si ate nu’ng college eh,” said Gumabao.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 10th, 2020

ON THIS DAY: Philippine volleyball makes SEA Games return

On this day five years ago, the Philippines made its return in the Southeast Asian Games after a 10-year hiatus. The hyped PHI women’s team saw action for the first time in the 2015 Singapore edition of the biennial meet and faced Indonesia in a match that drew headlines even before the actual game at the OCBC Arena Hall 2. In a controversial move, the Philippines filed a protest against Indonesia, demanding a gender test for its powerful spiker Aprilia Manganang because of her masculine appreance and physique. The request was denied by the Singaporean SEA Games organizing committee, citing that the FIVB had already cleared Manganang in a previous FIVB-sanctioned tournament. [Related story: Philippine request for gender test on Indonesian player denied] The protest backfired for the Filipinas as they were given a rude welcome by the Indonesians, particularly Manganang. Manganang let the Filipinas know that no amount of distraction will get her out of her game as she banged in 13 points to power Indonesia to a 25-22, 25-20, 25-14, win. [Related story: PHI protest backfires as inspired Manganang waxed-hot] Alyssa Valdez, who was the Team Philippines' flag-bearer, paced the Pinays with 15 points, but the towering sisters Jaja Santiago and elder sibling Dindin Santiago-Manabat were neutralized and had only seven and two points, respectively. It was a big letdown for the Nationals, who were bracketed in Group B together with Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. That SEA Games edition format assured the top two teams from each bracket at least a bronze medal. However, it did mark the historic return of the Philippines in the SEA Games since winning bronze in the 2005 Manila edition.    The Philippine women’s team that time was composed of Valdez, the Santiago sisters, Rhea Dimaculangan, Grethcel Soltones, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Maika Ortiz, Jia Morado, Rachele Anne Daquis, Aby Marano, Bea De Leon and Denden Lazaro under head coach Roger Gorayeb. In men’s play, the Filipinos found early success after beating Malaysia, 20-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-19, in their Group A opener. The Philippines was bracketed with Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia. Marck Espejo led that PHI team together with John Vic De Guzman, AJ Pareja, Rex Intal, Josh Villanueva, Kheeno Franco, Edward Camposano, Ysay Marasigan, Sandy Montero, Peter Torres, Timothy Sto. Tomas and Ish Polvorosa with Oliver Almadro calling the shots.     ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 10th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie EJ Laure vs. rookie Eya Laure

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020