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

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

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 11th, 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

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2020

Aljun Melecio s never-ending quest to prove he belongs

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

2020 king of recruiting crown remains on UP’s head

Who was our King of Recruiting in 2018? Find out here. Who was our King of Recruiting in 2019? Find out here. --- From 2007 to 2015, the University of the Philippines only had 13 wins to show in 126 games total. That time is self-deprecatingly called in Diliman as the dark days. Due to that disappointing standing, the Fighting Maroons had the toughest time bringing in recruits. And due to that lack of pieces to the puzzles, they lost even more. Safe to say, State U was stuck in a vicious cycle in the dark days. That’s not to say they didn’t have blue-chip recruits back then as in their time, all of Woody Co, Mark Juruena, Mike Gamboa, Kyles Lao, Jett Manuel, and Mikee Reyes were among the best high school players. Only, a blue-chip recruit or two does not make a team. Fast forward to now and oh, how things have changed. Last year, UP was hailed as ABS-CBN’s King of Recruiting alongside University of the East. “On the strength of the transfers of Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero, the Fighting Maroons… are worthy of the title,” it said then. And the season before that, the maroon and green was also up there with the best of them in terms of recruitment, having brought in the likes of eventual Season MVP Bright Akhuetie, Will Gozum, and Jaydee Tungcab. Indeed, there was nowhere to go but up. That has only continued this year as UP has left no doubt that it is now a force to reckon with in terms of recruitment. Early on, they already had a solid haul in Joel Cagulangan, once the best point guard in high school, and tireless workhorse Malick Diouf. And then, the shock of shocks. As it turned out, Nazareth School of National University stalwarts Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano were going to be Fighting Maroons. Meaning, for the first time in recent history, the most promising prospect coming out of high school is headed to Diliman. Not only that, State U also answered its biggest question heading into next season – the question at point guard, filling in for Jun Manzo. But as it turned out, they weren’t done just yet - no, our friends, they weren’t done just yet. Tamayo and Abadiano’s departure from National U was shocking, without a doubt, but CJ Cansino’s exit from University of Sto. Tomas was even more so. Cansino, against his will, decided to move on from his alma mater since 2015 due to personal reasons. Fortunately for him, he landed on his feet. Now, the Fighting Maroons have ready-made replacement for Rivero as well as a leader in the shades of Paul Desiderio for UAAP 84. And that, our friends, is why we have no choice but to put the 2020 King of Recruiting crown on UP’s head once more. Tamayo and Abadiano are the bluest of blue-chip recruits this year and Cagulangan, Cansino, and Diouf are among the most talented transferees, but also joining them in the maroon and green will be scoring machine RC Calimag from La Salle Green Hills, burly big Miguel Tan from Xavier High School, Filipino-American playmaker Sam Dowd, Filipino-Australian tower Ethan Kirkness, physical forward Jancork Cabahug from University of Visayas, and versatile wing CJ Catapusan from Adamson University. The former Bullpups are guaranteed ato be contributors even as rookies while Calimag, Tan, and Dowd are going to shore up a bench that had just lost Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Of course, Diouf, Kirkness, Cansino, Cabahug, and Cagulangan are still serving residency, but when they will be eligible, they will get a shot at a squad that will look brand new. All of Bright Akhuetie, J-Boy Gob, David Murrell, Noah Webb, and Rivero are graduating players while Paras is only guaranteed to play one more year. That means that after Season 83, the Fighting Maroons may very well have to fill six spots. That means that UP is not only beefing up for UAAP 83, it is also securing its future. If not for the shock of shocks, though, the crown would have been claimed by De La Salle University which sent a statement that it is back and better than ever. Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio may be playing their fifth and final years in college, but the green and white’s future has only brightened following this prolonged preseason. First and foremost, Kevin Quiambao, the third leg in that National U tripod of talent out of high school, has the capability and confidence to follow in the footsteps of Baltazar. Hopefully, he will be eligible for Season 83, but if not, what’s certain is he will be playing in UAAP 84. Alongside him as pieces for the future are super scorers CJ Austria and Emman Galman, all-around swingman Joshua Ramirez, and Filipino-Americans Jeromy Hughes, Kameron Vales, and Philips bros. Benjamin and Michael. Among all those, Jonnel Policarpio, likened to a young Arwind Santos, has the highest upside, but the Fil-Ams have much potential as well. And don’t forget that Evan Nelle, the primetime playmaker from San Beda University, is just getting primed and prepped to take the reins when Melecio leaves. Of course, the caveat here is that we are all in uncharted territory due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis. And in that light, the next season of the UAAP remains far away and a lot could still happen until then. While majority of the local blue-chip recruits have already committed, talents from abroad and transferees from other schools could still come and change the game. With that being said, there remains no doubt that UP and La Salle have made the biggest noise in the offseason. However, it’s not actually the Fighting Maroons or the Green Archers who got the lion’s share of the best graduating players in the 2020 NBTC 24. Yes, that honor belongs to Lyceum of the Philippines University which is finally reaping the rewards of its rising Jrs. program with NCAA 95 Jrs. MVP John Barba and Batang Gilas playmaker Mac Guadana being promoted as full-fledged Pirates. Guadana could do it all and looks like the next great guard in the Grand Old League while fearless slasher is Barba is a perfect complement to him. Add another fiery guard in John Bravo and sweet-shooting big man Carlo Abadeza and LPU has restocked its coffers after losing Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee and Cameroonian powerhouse Mike Nzeusseu. In all though, the 2020 NBTC 24 was dominated by UP… and San Beda. Of the annual rankings’ 15 graduating players, four would be Fighting Maroons and another four would be Red Lions. Yes, San Beda’s grassroots program is back on track with its Jrs. championship core all remaining in red and white. Rhayyan Amsali, ranked no. 1 in the 2020 NBTC 24, is the most college-ready high school player while Justine Sanchez is a long-limbed forward who could turn out to be the next Calvin Oftana, you know, the NCAA 95 MVP. Yukien Andrada, meanwhile, is only continuing to develop his two-way game and Tony Ynot is a 3-and-D weapon who had even left an impression on Jalen Green. And hey, as somebody said, don’t sleep on the UAAP’s three-time defending champions. Ateneo may already be missing Isaac Go, Thirdy Ravena, Adrian Wong, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt and they may not be making noise as of late, but they are still welcoming Dave Ildefonso and Dwight Ramos with open arms. Ildefonso will only be good to go come UAAP 84, but Ramos is already being seen by head coach Tab Baldwin as a difference-maker for the Blue Eagles in Season 83. Eli, Dwight’s younger brother, is also in the mix to backstop SJ Belangel and Tyler Tio. Note also that former blue-chip recruit Inand Fornilos may very well finally get his shot while both Jolo Mendoza and Raffy Verano are also back. Ateneo’s foe in the Finals last year also reloaded quite a bit as for the third year in a row, UST will be sending the Tiger Cubs’ best player to the Srs. squad. Following in the footsteps of Cansino and Mark Nonoy, post player Bismarck Lina will be a Growling Tiger next season. Alongside him to fortify the frontcourt are Christian Manaytay, Bryan Samudio, and Bryan Santos while bolstering the backcourt are Joshua Fontanilla and Paul Manalang. Speaking of fortifying the frontcourt, Far Eastern University is the team that got the biggest boost in terms of size. With 6-foot-7 Nigerian Emman Ojoula’s residency over and done with, the go-go guards of the Tamaraws have yet another weapon to burn opponents with. CESAFI MVP Kevin Guibao and transferee Simone Sandagon are no slouches either while Cholo Anonuevo has a roster spot waiting for him if and when he decides to come home after trying his luck in the US. RJ Abarrientos no longer appears here as he was already in FEU’s list last year. These are the new faces to see for the other teams: CSB Blazers LETRAN Knights JRU Heavy Bombers MAPUA Cardinals ADAMSON Soaring Falcons UE Red Warriors --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

I don’t deserve it yet – Wong on playing for national team

Deanna Wong is an accomplished setter in her own right. She helped Ateneo de Manila University win the UAAP Season 81 championship last year and bagged the league’s Best Setter award the season before. The 22-year old playmaker is considered as one of the finest setters in the country today alongside other big names like veterans Jia Morado, Kim Fajardo and Rhea Dimaculangan. She would be a welcome addition to the national team if she decides to try her luck and vie for a spot for the tricolors. But as talented as she is, Wong feels that she still has a lot to prove to even be considered a candidate for a slot in the national squad. “I don’t know. I don’t think I belong there,” said Wong during her appearance on Volleyball DNA hosted by former national team libero Denden Lazaro and Anton Roxas.   Actually, the Cebuana setter was supposed to suit up for the Philippine women’s U-23 volleyball team last year that participated in the Thailand Open but Wong had to back out because of a right shin injury. Wong was among the collegiate players invited by the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. in the national pool. Although it has always been her dream to represent the country, Wong says that she has to focus first on getting back to her old competitive form especially after a long layoff. Wong had to skip UAAP Season 82, which was halted because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as she was still recovering from her injury. “Well, I think it’s everyone’s dream to be playing for the country naman. I would love to do it,” she said. “But I think when the time is right siguro kasi for me I don’t deserve it yet. I don’t deserve to be there muna.” Wong then vows that she’ll work her way back into getting another shot at playing for the national team. “I’ll keep on working hard so that one day kapag in-invite na ako sa national team why not di ba?” said Wong.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Wong, Viray join ChocoMucho

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2020

Meet the trusted trainer making sure Thirdy s true focus is on Japan

Thirdy Ravena will have to play guard for San-En NeoPhoenix in Japan's B.League. "He can play shooting guard. He can play small forward," Phoenix Co., Ltd. President Kenjiro Hongo said in his native tongue in the three-time UAAP Finals MVP's introductory press conference last Friday. "We will also try him at point guard. He will be a key player for us this season." Only, Ravena has been, for the most part, a forward in his time in Ateneo de Manila - both Jrs. and Srs. - and has only dabbled at the 2-spot for times under head coach Tab Baldwin. As it turns out, though, the 6-foot-2 all-around player has long been prepping and priming for this. And he has been doing so with the help of a trusted trainer - Jolo Tamayo of True Focus. "We have been doing things he has never done before because he's trying to become a point guard or a shooting guard. That's why we focused on ballhandling and improved his perimeter shooting to make him a deadly three-point shooter," he said. For Tamayo, it's no surprise at all that Ravena is getting the golden opportunity to showcase his skills abroad as, from the very start, the latter has proven his discipline and determination to the former. "Thirdy is very humble and hardworking. He trains as if he was an underdog and is always hungry for improvement," the youthful trainer said. Tamayo then recounted two inspiring instances of Ravena's fire and desire to be better. "One time, we were doing a drill and his nose was bleeding, but he didn't stop until the drill was over. I was so in awe because I thought he would relax when he realized (what was happening to his nose), but he still gave his 110 percent," he said. "Another instance was during the holidays when the gyms were closed early and since he came from Antipolo, I thought he wouldn't be able to train. But he said, 'Kahit dyan lang tayo sa harap ng kotse. Basta makapag-training,'" the founder of True Focus said. "We still trained in the parking lot until 12 midnight. That's how thirsty Thirdy is in training and I think this is what separates him from the rest of the competition. With all those, Tamayo just feels fortunate to have the golden opportunity to help Ravena spread his wings even further. "We were just introduced by a common friend and, to be honest, I thought it was a long shot for us to work with Thirdy," he shared. He then continued, "We were just lucky that Thirdy was free one day and he gave us a chance to show how we make things work." Even better for True Focus, having Ravena with them gives them just the boost they need to keep moving forward with their program. In particular, this is all more than enough proof for Tamayo that he is on the right path after he had to take a detour in his playing career because of an ACL injury. "This is all very fulfilling because I never had a trainer who made me better. I'm still chasing my dream to be a basketball player, but I'm very ecstatic because while doing so, I could help other young players achieve their dreams and become better in the sport they love," he said. The guard-turned-trainer once suited up for Colegio de San Juan de Letran in the NCAA Jrs. from 2015 to 2017 before a knee injury sidelined him. While on the shelf, he used all the time he had in his hands to learn tips and tricks to improve his game - tips and tricks that until now, he's sharing with students of True Focus. While their no. 1 student is now headed to Japan, Tamayo said his education with them is far from over. "We can always try out new things like virtual training and coaching, but of course, everything would still depend on Thirdy's availability. For me, I'll just watch his games in Japan and shares insights on what we need to tweak," he said. He then continued, "I will always be here to support him and once he comes back here after Japan, I'm sure he'll be a beast - a beast that will still want to be better." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 27th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2020

DO YOU REMEMBER… Jia Morado’s PVL debut?

Creamline is a powerhouse team in the Premier Volleyball League. Boasting of a deep roster of talents led by strong hitters in Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza and Michele Gumabao, the Cool Smashers have in their collection a total of three titles in three years including back-to-back Open Conference crowns. And making this star-studded team work and the Creamline players function at their best is setter Jia Morado. Morado joined the pink-clad squad in the PVL’s Open Conference back in 2017 after a short hiatus following Ateneo de Manila University’s runner-up finish in UAAP Season 79. In Creamline, which finished third in the Reinforced Conference during the league's inaugural season, Morado reunited with Valdez after last seeing action together in the UAAP in 2016.    The playmaker’s first official game as a Cool Smasher was on July 1, 2017 when Creamline opened its tournament campaign against the Jema Galanza-led Adamson University-Akari at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Morado got the starting role as the Cool Smashers’ main setter the previous conference Alex Cabanos took a backseat. In front of a very excited 1,205-strong crowd, Morado, who a couple months before announced her decision to forego her final year with the Lady Eagles after losing to archrival De La Salle University in the UAAP Finals, once again wove her magic. Despite still adjusting with her new teammates, Morado sure brought out the best in her spikers. Rosemarie Vargas hammered 16 attacks in her 18-point explosion, Valdez also had 16 kills for 18 markers while Pau Soriano got 11 points as Morado pulled the strings of the Creamline’s offense for an opening-day, 25-17, 18-25, 25-15, 25-22, win. Morado registered impressive numbers in her first action in the PVL. She dished out 36 excellent sets that helped the Cool Smashers nail the bulk of their 49 attack points. Morado also posted six points coming off three spikes, a kill block and two aces. On the defensive end, Morado was as sharp as she put up seven digs. “It feels great to play. It’s a great experience playing with new players naman this time,” said Morado in her first PVL post-game interview. In that first match, Morado also faced off with a young Adamson playmaker in Louie Romero. The then Kings’ Montessori setter held her own against Morado with 34 excellent sets. The Cool Smashers would eventually win their next six games in the single round eliminations. However, with Valdez joining the national team in its training for the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games, Creamline came up short in the semifinals against eventual champion BaliPure and settled for a third place finish. Morado won her first of five Best Setter awards in her debut tournament.     ---         Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2020

LIGA Schedule for Thursday, May 28th, 2020

ABS-CBN S+A may be off the air for now, but don't worry! You can still catch your favorite sports events on LIGA!  Here's what's showing for Thursday, May 28th!   12:00 AM - 2019 SEA Games Swimming 1:30 AM - 2019 SEA Games Women's Volleyball:  3:30 AM - LIGA Rewind - NCAA Season 94 Men’s Basketball: EAC vs. San Sebastian 5:30 AM - Team FitFil 6:00 AM - LIGA Rewind - NCAA Season 94 Men’s Basketball: Letran vs. San Beda 8:00 AM -  UPFRONT: Kat Tolentino / Jema Galanza & Deanna Wong 8:30 AM - Kapamilya Daily Mass 9:00 AM - LIGA Rewind - Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Battle for 3rd Place: BanKo Perlas vs. PacificTown Army 11:00 AM - LIGA Rewind - Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Finals Game 2: PetroGazz vs. Creamline 1:00 PM - UPFRONT: Kat Tolentino / Jema Galanza & Deanna Wong 1:30 PM - LIGA Rewind - UAAP Season 79 Men's Volleyball Semifinals: NU vs. FEU 3:30 PM - Team FitFil 4:00 PM - LIGA Rewind - UAAP Season 79 Women's Volleyball: NU vs. Adamson 6:00 PM - UPFRONT: Kat Tolentino / Jema Galanza & Deanna Wong 6:30 PM - LIGA Rewind - UAAP Season 81 Men's Basketball: Ateneo vs. NU 8:30 PM - LIGA Rewind - UAAP Season 81 Men’s Basketball: FEU vs. DLSU 10:30 PM - Pinoy Pride Presents: Milan "El Metodico" Melindo 11:30 PM - 2019 SEA Games Swimming   Catch your favorite sports events on LIGA channel 86 and LIGA HD channel 183 on Sky Cable!  LIGA is also available nationwide thru its 200 Cable affiliates......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2020

Yulo misses floor exercise finals

Tokyo---Carlos Yulo struggled in the men’s floor exercise Saturday night, resulting in his failure to advance to the finals of his favorite event in the Summer Olympic Games’ artistic gymnastics competition at the Ariyake Gymnasium......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 24th, 2021

Built by Bo, bonded for Bo, believe in Bo

This is not the first time that Bo Perasol has had a recruiting haul this huge. Now heading into his fifth season in the University of the Philippines, he has brought in blue-chip recruits such as Gerry Abadiano and Carl Tamayo and talented transferees like Joel Cagulangan, CJ Cansino, and Malick Diouf to a team that already has Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, and Ricci Rivero. And don't forget that Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan are only sitting out the next season - and what lies beyond for them is yet to be determined. This is not that different from his time in Ateneo de Manila University when he scored UAAP Jrs. Season MVP Jerie Pingoy, UAAP Jrs. Finals MVP Hubert Cani, NCAA Mythical selection CJ Perez, and NCAA Jrs. standout Arvin Tolentino in his first few years. Those promising prospects then joined forces with Blue Eagle stalwarts Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal Unfortunately, all of Pingoy, Cani, Perez, and Tolentino - along with the rest of the so-called "Magnificent 7" - found themselves with academic deficiencies and, therefore, ineligible by the blue and white's standards. Not long after, they transferred to different schools and squads and then had varying degrees of success. Will Coach Bo's tale get a different ending this time with the Fighting Maroons? Perasol is making sure of that. "From my experience in Ateneo, natuto ako. Ngayon, meron kaming grupo sa programa na nagha-handle lang ng academics ng players," he shared. He then continued, "Sinasamahan sila sa mga klase, pinapakilala sa mga propesor, ine-explain na player natin yan, pag merong problema, coordinate lang po tayo." Apparently, this academic assistance team is made up of former student-managers who have graduated. Now, their first job is all about seeing to it that State U would not have to go through the same sort of headache Ateneo had with its "Magnificent 7." With that, you could be sure that UP's pillars of honor and excellence still stand strong even as all these new faces join Men's Basketball Team. "Walang special consideration. Pumapasok sila, bumabagsak sila. Binibigyan sila ng extra work, humihingi sila ng extra work," Coach Bo said. He then continued, "Ang ine-explain ko lagi sa players at sa professors, ang mahalaga, basta masipag pumasok at nagpapakita ng intensyong matuto." STARRING AND STRIKING At present, just about everybody is still getting used to blue-chip recruits and talented transferees going for UP. That is why there are more questions than answers each and every time they announce a new player. And along with the question of whether or not all these new faces would be up to par in terms of the honor and excellence the Philippines' prime public university prides itself in, there is a question of just how the Fighting Maroons got here in the first place. How could State U, not that far removed from its self-proclaimed "dark days," get all of these players? And not just players, at that, but many big name players. The categorical answer? The program could now afford it. "Meron nang pondo salamat sa sponsors," head coach Bo Perasol explained. "For example, kung makikita mo lang yung patches sa harap ng jersey, malaking pera yun. Nag-aagawan ang marami para dun." At present, the shot-caller said that UP has eight corporate sponsors all getting together for the funds for the program. And unlike Ateneo which has Manny V. Pangilinan or National University which has Hans Sy as primary backers, the Fighting Maroons' system is quite different. "Ang source ng funds ng UP, halos lahat galing sa alumni. Tapos lahat yun, mina-manage ng nowheretogobutUP," coach Bo said. According to its website, nowheretogobutUP (NTGBUP) is "a volunteer group of UP alumni that aims to help, assist, and support the development, improvement, and advancement of the varsity program of UP." All of the finances it manages, however, are not necessarily donations. As Perasol put it, "Yung model ng UP is unique kasi yung support nila, kailangan may balik din from us." For example, the tactician said that many of their players have made appearances, online in this continuing COVID-19 crisis and in person prior to the pandemic, to cheer up employees of Palawan Pera Padala, one of the team's sponsors. More importantly, Coach Bo reminded yet again that the only reason they have all these new faces is because they have to. He pointed out how Abadiano and Filipino-American Sam Dowd would make up for the losses of Jun Manzo and Juan GDL as well as how Diouf and Cansino are already waiting in the wings once Bright Akhuetie and Ricci Rivero graduate. "We're also recruiting for the impending need," Perasol said. "Hindi naman ito biglaan. Since nagsimula kami rito, we all did this nang dahan-dahan lang. Kaya rin yung support from alumni for funding, hindi na rin naging mahirap." DREAMING Still, the mere fact that UP is now a big-time player on and off the court in collegiate basketball seemed so farfetched just five years ago. Before Bo Perasol, the Fighting Maroons were stuck in a vicious cycle. Now, though, they have back-to-back playoff appearances and have traded blows with traditional powerhouses for recruits and transferees. All of this made possible because the very moment he came in, Coach Bo already knew the secret to success. "You cannot build a program without funds," he said. Perasol furthered that his biggest takeaway from his time in Ateneo was that competing with the traditional powerhouses on the court entailed competing with them as well off of it. "Alam ko yung kakayanan ng Ateneo and siyempre, kakumpetensya ko rin nun yung La Salle so alam ko rin yung kanila. Ganun na rin ang kakayanan ng NU and yung iba pa, kakayanin din nila kung gustuhin nila," he said. He then continued, "Kaya kung ang objective ng programa is to be in the top four, your program should be levelled din sa capacity ng top four." The General Santos native then went on to point out how training in the country or abroad, recruitment local and overseas, housing, and food and nutrition all have costs. "To sum it up, everything you're going to do would entail financing. Hindi ito kakayanin ng UP as a public school dahil wala namang pondo ang gobyerno para dyan," he said. He then continued, "Ang pinakasagot nalang ng school is yung scholarship. And siyempre, yung nag-aaral ka sa UP." That doesn't mean, however, that their hands were tied. In fact, the answer to the questions had always been there. "The good thing about UP is there's millions of alumni all over the world and a lot are successful people and businessmen who are willing to help," Perasol said. BELIEVING Indeed, having educated Filipinos for over 112 years now, UP has, without a doubt, more than a few successful alumni. It was all a matter of uniting - and then unleashing - them. Even before Bo Perasol came home to Diliman, NTGBUP was already organized. They were not necessarily thrilled with the Fighting Maroons, though. "Nung una, dahan-dahan lang, ambag-ambag lang para merong kakainin, pambayad sa dorm. Merong nag-donate ng shoes," Coach Bo said. He then continued, "Pero siyempre, they want first and foremost a program with improvements and direction." NTGBUP and the UP community got just that from Perasol as a 3-11, seventh-place finish in 2015 became a 5-9, sixth-place finish in 2016 in Coach Bo's first year. In his second year, the squad improved to a  6-8, fifth-place finish. From there, the Fighting Maroons have been in the Final Four for back-to-back years now - and even made the Finals in 2018. "Nagsimula maging excited ang alumni nung nagsimula ring manalo," he shared. "When we started winning, nagkaroon hindi lang ng physical support, but financial support as well. We were ascending eh." In his third year at the helm, State U, finally, officially had corporate sponsors. And you know how that year went? That was when they ended a 21-year Final Four drought and then a 32-year Finals absence. Safe to say, the sleeping giant was awoken. "Yes, sleeping giant talaga tayo and when we say nagising, ang pinaka-catalyst was the winning," its fearless leader said. Now, UP MBT has a mean machine of financial support on its back, paving the path for its big-time recruiting haul in 2020. Even better, they now have a loud and proud fanbase that is making up for all the lost time they stayed away during the "dark days." "Actually, sa pitches ko sa recruitment, kasama sa presentation ko yung machi-cheer sila nang ganung klaseng crowd," Coach Bo said. SURVIVING At the same time, though, that loud and proud fanbase expects much, much more from this brand new power. For each and every one of them, Bo Perasol has but one reminder. "What we have done in the past years is to level up lang. We have a new gym, we have all these players, we can train abroad," he said. He then continued, "Pero yung mga Ateneo, La Salle, 20 to 30 years na nilang ginagawa yan. What we did was just to level up alongside them." Again and again, Coach Bo has said that what he has been doing is, put simply, putting UP in the best position to win. Still, with a roster as overflowing with talent as this, he could only acknowledge that just about everybody sees them as having gone championship or bust. Credit to him, however, Perasol was blunt with his assessment that he would also be disappointed if they would not be able to taste their first championship since 1986 sooner than later. "Yes, it will be a failed plan kung hindi tayo makakakuha ng championship in the next three to five years," he said. He then continued, "Yan naman talaga ang plano and ang ginagawa natin ngayon is all going towards that objective." And again and again, he is putting all those great expectations on his shoulders - and on his shoulders alone. "Ako naman, hindi ko rin pwedeng hindi gawin itong ganitong recruitment kasi hindi rin naman ako magkakaroon ng chance kung ganun. I have to be in the best position to succeed so that we are in the best position to succeed," he said. Only time would tell if all the seeds he has sown would bear fruit. But Coach Bo is already guaranteeing that whatever happens then, he would have no regrets. "In the end, alam ko namang babalik ang lahat sa akin. Alam na alam ko namang ako ang leader ng team," he said. He then continued, "Ang mahalaga is we gave ourselves a chance. Anuman ang outcome, basta nabigyan natin ang sarili natin ng pagkakataon." After years and years and years as the laughingstock of men's basketball, it looks like it's now UP's turn to smile and wave. Whether or not that ultimately turns into jumps for joy for their first title in three decades remains to be seen. But maybe, just maybe, Coach Bo is right - this is all worth it just to have a chance to compete. Just remember that in the "dark days," that chance to compete wasn't there at all. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 30th, 2020

UAAP 81: When the sleeping giant named UP finally awakened

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

Yet again, Coach Bo wants UP to embrace expectations

It still needs getting used to, but there is no doubt the University of the Philippines remains a legitimate contender in UAAP Men's Basketball. With Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, and Ricci Rivero still in tow and with 11 offseason additions, including former University of Sto. Tomas team captain CJ Cansino, the Fighting Maroons are nothing but upbeat that they would not skip a beat in Season 83 and the foreseeable future. This, even though still staring State U in the face is four-peat-seeking Ateneo de Manila University. For head coach Bo Perasol, however, the maroon and green's goal goes further than reigning and defending champion Ateneo. "It's not even about spoiling Ateneo's four-peat. It's just getting the chance to again be champions," he said in his appearance on Coaches Unfiltered. Of course, that is a tall hurdle for a team that is just two years removed from ending a 21-year Final Four drought and a 32-year Finals absence. Another aspect of changing the culture, though, is marching forward despite all that. As their always amiable mentor put it, "Alam mo, marami laging nagsasabi na, 'Coach, you have to tone down the expectations.' Sabi ko naman, 'Anong ito-tone down natin e lahat naman, gusto mag-champion 'di ba?'" He then continued, "Hindi mo masasabihan ang mga taong you can't expect much from this UP team. Hindi eh. Hindi pwede yun." That means having a singular goal no matter the noise. "It doesn't matter what others think. The only thing that should be on our mind is to be champions after three decades," Coach Bo said. He then continued, "That's my role as a head coach - to give us that position to be able to accomplish that." Yes, for the second straight season, UP is out for the championship - and not just a playoff berth. "Tapos na yung entering the Final Four. Tapos na yung laban, laban, laban lang tayo. Tapos na yan," Perasol said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

For Mike Nieto, all roads lead to leading

Mike Nieto's leadership is not just for the basketball court. Apparently, his voice carries just as much weight inside the Nieto household in Cainta. "Hanggang bahay, umaabot yung pagli-lead ko," he shared with a laugh. "Rinig na rinig palagi boses ko sa bahay. Since I've proven to them na I can be a leader sa court, siyempre, I can also be a leader dito sa bahay." What does that mean exactly? Well, let's just say that whenever the Nieto family decides they want and need some quality time together, it's the 23-year-old who sets the time and the place where it would happen. "I think nasanay na rin kasi sila na ako ang palaging nagsasalita kahit sa ganyang bagay so most of the time, ako na talaga nagsasabi saan at anong oras kami pupunta," he said. This is not at all that surprising as when you talk about Mike Nieto, you talk about leadership. That has long been the calling card of the 6-foot-2 swingman - from his days as a Blue Eaglet to his time as a Blue Eagle and from his stint in Batang Gilas to his current run in the Gilas Pilipinas pool. But… Why do people say that in the first place? What is it with Mike Nieto that just speaks, leader? FTW: For The tWin To get the answer, we need to go back to the start. As in, the very, very start. Technically, Mike is the leader of the four Nieto siblings as he is the firstborn of Ateneo de Manila legend Jett and super mom and dentist Girlie. Matt is his brother, but is younger by two minutes. Make no mistake, though, the twins have always gotten along. "Kami ni Matt, ever since, close na talaga kami. We started playing basketball at the age of six and from then on, naging magkasama na kami sa lahat ng bagay," Mike said. He then continued, "Even course namin sa college, pareho kaya almost lahat ng classes namin, classmates kami. Ever since talaga, unusual na hindi kami magkasama." Indeed, the Nieto twins have always been some sort of a package deal. Hence, the reports of their commitment to Ateneo for college had headlines such as "Ateneo scores 'twin kill' as Nieto brothers commit to play for Blue Eagles." Through and through, however, Mike was thought to be the leader - even though Matt is the point guard. The reason for that? Because "Big Mike" is more vocal. And why is he more vocal" Well, because he had a two minute headstart on "Matty Ice" at letting his voice be heard. Seriously, though, Mike said it was just because he doesn't waste any time at all in being vocal - and that's why he's being heard first and more often. "Siguro, mas maingay lang kasi ako kay Matt. Ako kasi, kapag may nakita akong mali sa ginagawa ng teammates ko, siguradong makakarinig agad sila sa akin," he shared. He then continued, "Hindi ako papayag na lilipas ang isang bagay na alam kong makakasama sa team. Talagang maglalabas at maglalabas ako ng mga salita hanggang ma-solve ang problema." That doesn't mean that Matt doesn't lead, though. As his twin put it, "Matt is the leader on the court. That's the assignment Coach Tab [Baldwin] gave him and I think he has done well with that." Well, yeah, Matt has three rings as court general of the Blue Eagles' dynasty to show for that. LOL: Lead out Loud It was another court general altogether, however, who had made the biggest mark on Mike Nieto. While he never was a point guard due to his wide frame, he was always trying to emulate one of the best ball-handlers in the history of Philippine basketball. "Jimmy Alapag is my role model when it comes to leadership," he said. "I'm just very lucky that for a long time now, he would talk to me on how I can affect the team positively on and off the court." When Alapag was in his prime as captain of Gilas Pilipinas, Nieto was put on the pedestal as skipper of Batang Gilas. While he knew full well that was a tall task, he was also eager to prove himself worthy. "Sa Batang Gilas under coach Jamike [Jarin], he made me team captain kahit second year high school pa lang ako. But that made me realize na I have the capabilities of being a leader," he said. With that, Mike had the responsibility of making sure the likes of Paul Desiderio, Richard Escoto, Jollo Go, Jolo Mendoza, and Renzo Navarro were kept in line. And from then on, he just did not stop keeping at it. Whether it be as the Jrs. MVP as a Blue Eaglet or a rotation regular as a Blue Eagle, Nieto's biggest contribution has always been his leadership. "Being a leader is never easy. At the end of the day, you have to gain the trust of your teammates and your coaches - that's the hardest part," he said. Ask his teammates from high school, many of whom were still his teammates come college, and they would say they always have his back. "Buti na lang nakuha ko ang tiwala ng lahat ng tao na nakapaligid sa akin. Kaya rin ako nag-succeed being the team captain ng every team na nagiging part ako," he said. While he has always had the full faith of longtime teammates and good friends Thirdy Ravena, Gian Mamuyac, Mendoza, and of course, twin Matt, Mike could only acknowledge that it was another challenge altogether being the voice of the team that swept the season. "Ang malaking naging difference ngayong college from high school, kinailangan kong magsalita ng English mas madalas," he said, through chuckles. With foreigners such as Ange Kouame and Filipino-foreigners like Raffy Verano, Nieto, indeed, did have to make sure his communication lines were crystal clear. The thing about leaders, though, is that they give their all in anything and everything - whether that be giving a pep talk or passing the message to somebody like Kouame who only started learning English in 2017. IMO: In My Opinion And the thing about leaders? They do not necessarily care about themselves. Imagine Mike Nieto, a Jrs. MVP, a team captain for Batang Gilas, a literal blue-blood in Katipunan. Do you know his averages through their three-peat? In 47 games total, he saw 14.2 minutes of action and had 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Still, that did not matter at all. All that mattered for Mike are all those Ws. "To be a leader, you have to prove palagi that you can lead on and off the court," he said. "I think yun ang napatunayan ko kay coach Tab - na handa akong i-sacrifice ang personal goals ko para sa ikabubuti ng team. Wala akong pakialam sa sarili ko since ang nasa utak ko lang is kung ano ang makabubuti para sa team namin." But did he? Did Nieto prove himself to Coach Tab - a coach who has gone around the world and seen it all? The talented tactician's statement right after Ateneo completed its perfect run through UAAP 82 speaks volumes. “Look at all of us and think about where we’re gonna be in 10 or 15 years, you’ll forget most of us,” he said in the post-game conference where he sat alongside the Nieto twins, Ravena, Isaac Go, and Adrian Wong. “But you won’t forget Mike Nieto.” Coach Tab then went on to explain why he said so. As he put it, "Mike is a natural leader. Mike is a communicator. Mike is a thinker. In terms of touching people, making lives better, and making sure that everybody around him has a better chance than what he has, that’s our captain." High praise coming from the very mentor who has been getting nothing but high praise. Safe to say, though, Mike has proven himself to coach Tab. TBC: To Be Continued In doing so, Mike Nieto has also made it possible for the two of them to continue working together. Mike, twin Matt, fellow Blue Eagle Go, University of the East's Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian College-Recoletos' Allyn Bulanadi were the first five names listed for the Gilas pool. The likes of Ravena, Dwight Ramos of Ateneo, Justine Baltazar of De La Salle University, Dave Ildefonso then of National University, and the University of the Philippines foursome of Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano, Kobe Paras, and Jaydee Tungcab also made the list not long after. But the fact remains that "Big Mike" - he of zero starts, but three titles in a row in his last three years in blue and white - was one of the first names there. With that, he is now one of the few Batang Gilas players who have successfully gotten promoted to the Men's team. "Of course, sino bang ayaw i-represent ang bansa natin, 'di ba? That's why I'm very grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Gilas pool," he said. He then continued, "That's why I've been working on my game even harder so that I can provide whatever Gilas needs from me." Of course, what Gilas would need from Nieto is, first and foremost, his leadership. After all, that is still and would always be his greatest strength. To do so, though, the youngster would have to prove himself yet again - not only to Filipinos who are forever invested in their national team, but more importantly, his teammates, many of whom are already superstars in the PBA. For Mike, however, this is nothing new - nothing new at all. "Ever since I was in grade school, people have been doubting that I can progress my game to the next level. What we can't forget is that at the end of the day, it's in your hands if you want to prove them wrong or prove them right," he said. He then continued, "I actually enjoy these kinds of moments since dito talaga lalabas ang totoong pagkatao mo. Ang sigurado ko lang, I will fight for my spot in Gilas." And so, from a successful high school career and then an even more successful college career, Nieto is now seeking success as part of the Gilas pool. Does he deserve to be there? That's for the haters to hate, the doubters to doubt, and the bashers to bash. And that's for Mike Nieto to lead them out of the darkness. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 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

CJ Cansino chooses UP as his next school, Fighting Maroons as his new squad

For CJ Cansino, there was one and only one ending to this phrase: nowhere to go but? Cansino will be taking his talents to the University of the Philippines, and the Fighting Maroons have added yet another big-time weapon to their already overflowing arsenal. Last Thursday, the 6-foot-2 swingman decided to move on from University of Sto. Tomas, his alma mater of the last five years, due to personal reasons.   The rejuvenated program wasted no time getting in touch, with head coach Bo Perasol and team management meeting with Cansino and his parents just hours after news broke. There, the family deeply rooted in Valenzuela was said to have been blown away by State U's pitch. UP painted a picture of Cansino alongside the likes of Gerry Abadiano, Joel Cagulangan, Malick Diouf, and Carl Tamayo once he becomes eligible for UAAP 84. There is also the possibility that Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan will be making a return to the maroon and green by then. That was much too much to say no to and the 20-year-old will now join that ultra-talented lineup, serving his residency for the next year. Cansino was a homegrown product of UST, first standing as a key cog in the Tiger Cubs' return to relevance before staking claim to the Jrs. MVP in his last year in high school. The do-it-all guard wasted no time committing to the Growling Tigers and made an immediate impact as a candidate for the Rookie of the Year nod which ultimately went to Ateneo de Manila University's Ange Kouame. Last year, Cansino put up per game counts of 5.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists all while standing as team captain in their storybook run to the Finals. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 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

WHAT IF Marck Espejo played for DLSU?

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2020

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