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Coach Caloy wants rookie Adrian Wong to show true potential

Adrian Wong scored 15 points for Rain or Shine. (PBA Images) ANGELES CITY–Rookie guard Adrian Wong needed some tough love from Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia to bring out his A-game against NorthPort on Sunday.  Garcia admitted he shouted at Wong at one point, but that incident pushed the former Ateneo gunner to finish with a game-high 15 points highlighted by three triples in the Elasto Painters’ 80-78 escape against the Batang Pier at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center powered by Smart 5G.  “Actually, I shouted at him ’cause he kept on hesitating,” said Garcia after ROS chalked up its third win in as many games to join TNT atop the standings.  “He was scared inside so he was straying away from what he was supposed to play. The nice thing is he stepped up after I said that,” added the soft-spoken tactician.  Wong, who was the No. 5 overall pick in the draft last year, poured eight points in the fourth quarter, including a huge triple that gave the Elasto Painters their biggest lead at 63-52 with 5:17 left in the nip-and-tuck game.  From there, ROS leaned on its airtight defense and Rey Nambatac’s clutch free throws to seal the deal. Garcia also commended another newcomer in Clint Doliguez, who was selected next to Wong in the draft.   The former San Beda standout knocked down two three-pointers that helped the Painters climb out of an early 13-point hole.  “Clint came in and gave us quality minutes,” said Garcia......»»

Category: newsSource: mb.com.ph mb.com.phOct 18th, 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

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 9th, 2020

2019: To sweep or not to sweep in collegiate basketball

The 2019 collegiate basketball season will always be remembered as the time when all of NCAA defending champion San Beda, UAAP Men’s defending champion Ateneo, and UAAP Women’s defending champion National U were trying for season sweeps. Two of them did it, one of them didn’t. All in all, though, that storyline that had something to do with history defined NCAA 95 and UAAP 82. A tale of two leagues – when it comes to foreign student-athletes NCAA 95 was the last season wherein the Grand Old League’s 10 member-schools were still able to trot out foreign student-athletes. This, after more than a decade of the likes of Sam Ekwe, Sudan Daniel, Allwell Oraeme, Prince Eze, and Mike Nzeusseu setting the bar higher for big men. Over in UAAP 82, Beninese ball of energy Soulemane Chabi Yo and Ivorian tower Ange Kouame jostled throughout the tournament for the recognition as top individual player. In the end, Chabi Yo followed in the footsteps of Cameroon’s Ben Mbala and Nigeria’s Bright Akhuetie as Season MVPs. The NCAA will go local from here on out while the UAAP will still parade promising prospects from overseas – what’s certain is that both leagues will go all-out to ascertain that the action will never stop. Rising stars become shining stars Robert Bolick left San Beda with a big, big hole at point guard – only for Evan Nelle to waste no time proving the Red Lions remain in good hands. UST’s fast and furious attack needed a fast and furious playmaker – and the Growling Tigers got just that in the form of Mark Nonoy. In his first year as FEU’s lead guard, L-Jay Gonzales showed time and time again why he was always seen as the next one in the Tamaraws’ long, long line of great guards. The story of the season in terms of guards, however, has got to be Fran Yu who came out of nowhere to energize Letran to a pleasant surprise of a championship. UP might 2019 was the first time in a long, long while – or maybe even ever – that UP was considered a shoo-in for the Final Four. The Fighting Maroons had just ended a 32-year Finals absence and a 21-year playoff drought last year and came into this season still with Bright Akhuetie, Jun Manzo, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan, but also now with Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero. In all, State U lived up to the hype and made it back-to-back Final Four appearances, but at the same time, fell short of fulfilling the promise of its fully loaded line-up. Still, continued contention is nothing but a welcome development for Diliman which had been experiencing dark, dark days for far too long. Gilas Pilipinas calling With Tab Baldwin overseeing the program, Gilas Pilipinas will try once more to take a long-term, big-picture view – especially with the 2023 FIBA World Cup looming large. With that, the American-Kiwi mentor tapped on five collegiate standouts to form the foundation of the national team – Ateneo’s Isaac Go and Nieto twins Mike and Matt, UE’s Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian’s Allyn Bulanadi. And with that, the Philippines is yet again leaning on the best of the best of collegiate basketball to wear the flag and do the country proud. It’s a new day, it’s a new generation The NCAA hit home runs in each and every one of its coaching changes. Bonnie Tan raised banner no. 18 for Letran in his first year. Randy Alcantara has Mapua prepped and primed to take flight. Louie Gonzalez has given JRU an attitude. Oliver Bunyi and Cholo Martin have EAC and Arellano, respectively, headed in the right direction. The same cannot be said for the UAAP as both of its new head coaches found themselves on the outside looking into the playoff picture. Jermaine Byrd had La Salle fighting, but ultimately failed to find a finishing kick. UE also kept coming with the leadership of Lawrence Chongson, but eventually ended eliminated. Teeth out, claws out, all-out UST has a proud program in basketball, but only had nine wins to show in 42 games from 2016 to 2018 That all came to an end in 2019 as Aldin Ayo had the Growling Tigers, well, growling from the get-go. Bombing away at their opponents and forcing them to keep up, Espana made its mark as a legitimate contender that made it all the way to the Finals. There, they were sent away by Ateneo’s championship-winning machine, but the future remains bright for the black and gold with all of Season MVP Chabi Yo, Rookie of the Year Nonoy, captain CJ Cansino, Brent Paraiso, and Sherwin Concepcion, among others, coming back for more. Fitting farewell for Ateneo’s championship core Thirdy Ravena. Isaac Go. Mike Nieto. Matt Nieto. Adrian Wong. Those five left Ateneo on top of the world – having claimed a three-peat as well as completed a historic season sweep. And without a doubt, those five were also the catalysts in this new golden age for the Blue Eagles – a golden age which has seen them set and then raise the standard for team glory time and time again. Katipunan will have a tough time moving forward from those five, but at the same time, having the likes of Ange Kouame, Will Navarro, Gian Mamuyac, and SJ Belangel just waiting in the wings makes it easier. Who run the world? National U has not lost a game in 2,270 days. National U has not lost a game in 74 months. National U has not lost a game in six years. The last time head coach Pat Aquino had to lift up the spirits of his Lady Bulldogs was back in October 5, 2013 when they bowed to La Salle in the winner-take-all Finals Game 3. Since then, the blue and gold has been the gold standard of women’s basketball all while giving its opponents the blues. That didn’t change this year as behind Jack Animam and Rhena Itesi as well as welcome additions Kelli Hayes and Camille Clarin, National U continued to have all the answers – even for back-to-back Season MVP Grace Irebu and UST. Shock the system Letran was, in no way, given a chance to deny archrival San Beda’s bid for a perfect season – or much more, win the championship altogether. But the Knights didn’t listen and took that chance themselves, catching just everybody by surprise by taking Game 1 and dealing the Red Lions their first defeat in the season. San Beda bounced back in Game 2, but in the decider, Jerrick Balanza, Bonbon Batiller, Larry Muyang, and Yu just willed Letran to the title. Now, the Knights are kings for the 18th time – and indeed, they had no import, but had no problem. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2019

‘Muscle Man’ powers Alaska over Rain or Shine

PBA Images Streaking Alaska handed Rain or Shine its first loss Thursday night after escaping with an 89-88 win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles City, Pampanga. Vic Manuel flashed his pre-pandemic form when it mattered, hitting 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Aces rallied from being down 75-68 midway in the period before enduring excruciating moments in the end to pick up their third straight victory after a 0-2 start. Jeron Teng had 13 points and eight assists while Abu Tratter and rookie Barkley Ebona added 10 points apiece for Alaska, which has been playing sound basketball following losses to TNT and Meralco. “When things didn’t go our way, we went back to just doing things we know we could do well that is defending and improving that aspect. We felt that would make it easy on the offensive end,” said Aces coach Jeffrey Cariaso. Alaska has limited its opponents to 83.7 points during the three wins, including against Rain or Shine. Manuel’s jumper and a running one-hander gave the Aces leads of 85-80 and 87-83 under the last two minutes, but his clutch shots nearly went for naught when the Elasto Painters gave them a scare. Beau Belga cut the gap to a point 89-88 with 7.3 seconds left, then forced Alaska guard Jvee Casio to lose the ball out of bounds off Teng’s inbound, giving Rain or Shine a chance to steal the game. Rey Nambatac, who came through in the clutch against San Miguel Beer and NorthPort, tried to do it again when he used a Belga pick to go for a driving layup. But Nambatac missed a finger roll against two defenders before time expired. The loss denied Rain or Shine a 4-0 start and a share of second place with idle Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. It also spoiled a career game from Sidney Onwubere, who topscored for the Elasto Painters with 16 points. The former Emilio Aguinaldo College standout was averaging 1.4 points in 20 games last season. Javee Mocon and Adrian Wong, the first Rookie of the Week winner of the PBA Press Corps, added 14 and 12 points for Rain or Shine. The scores: ALASKA 89 — Manuel 18, Teng 13, Tratter 10, Ebona 10, Herndon 9, DiGregorio 7, Brondial 7, Casio 5, Ahanmisi 5, Galliguez 3, Ayaay 2, Marcelino 0. RAIN OR SHINE 88 — Onwubere 16, Mocon 14, Wong 12, Torres 10, Belga 10, Nambatac 7, Norwood 5, Yap 5, Doliguez 3, Rosales 2, Ponferada 2, Rivero 2, Tolentino 0. Quarters: 22-18, 38-41, 61-63, 89-88......»»

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

PBA: Kiefer already high on coach Yeng s player list

Coach Yeng Guiao hasn't even gotten to coach Kiefer Ravena for a full PBA season, and yet, the Phenom is already high on the champion mentor's list. Guiao is pretty sold on Kiefer, saying that his NLEX Road Warriors were lucky to draft Ravena no. 2 in the 2017 PBA Draft. Coach Yeng says that NLEX is also lucky now that Kiefer is back after the guard had to go through his 18-month FIBA suspension. "We were very lucky to have Kiefer, even if the price was not having him for a year and half," Guiao said on Coaches Unfiltered. "We've waited a long time for him and he also wants to show what he can do," he added. For Guiao, Kiefer possesses rare leadership qualities for a player. True enough, as a rookie, Ravena drove the Road Warriors all the way to the 2018 Philippine Cup semifinals. In his first full conference back from suspension, his second overall in the PBA, he had NLEX as the no. 1 seed in the 2019 Governors' Cup. "Kiefer is a natural leader," Guiao said. "Just his leadership qualities, his ability to think through a game, the way he's able to gain the respect of his teammates, those are qualities that are very rare when you combine them in one person," coach Yeng added. Of course, Kiefer is no slouch on the basketball court. He's one of the most gifted young stars in the PBA today and while his sample size of success in the pros is relatively small so far, there's no mistaking about his abilities. Ravena shining on a loaded NLEX backcourt says a lot about his abilities as well. "The good thing about Kiefer is he does not need to dominate the ball, not like when he was in college. I think one strong reason why we have a better team now is because he does not have to carry the load by himself, especially at the guard position," coach Yeng said. "I would rank him very high," Guiao added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

WHAT IF… Dave Ildefonso stayed in Ateneo

History lesson: As a rookie and then as a sophomore, Dave Ildefonso was the main man of National University. The 6-foot-3 swingman made an immediate impact by putting up per game counts of 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists as a rookie. He only built on those with averages of 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals in his sophomore season. Safe to say, Ildefonso made the most out of his moment as the most prized prospect in recent history for the blue and gold. And, to this day, he does not regret moving from Katipunan to Sampaloc. This, even though Ateneo de Manila University head coach Tab Baldwin memorably made it a point to make the scoring wing "rethink his decision" in their first meeting. In response, Ildefonso said then that he stands by his decision. Right decision as it may have been, his individual brilliance in National U, unfortunately, did not translate into team glory. In his first year, the son of Philippine basketball legend and school great Danny Ildefonso saw his squad stand at 4-10 at the end of eliminations. The next year was not that much better as the Bulldogs struggled to a 2-12 standing. Not long after, with a coaching change in the offing, Ildefonso announced that he was transferring to Ateneo - or, more accurately, coming home to the Blue Eagles' nest. Now 20-years-old, he will have to sit out UAAP 83 before being eligible for the blue and white in Season 84. Did you ever think, though, what would have happened if he never left, and would have never had to come home in the first place? What if Ildefonso just moved on up from Ateneo Jrs. to Srs.? If he did, he would be joining a team already loaded at the wings with Thirdy Ravena, Mike Nieto, Gian Mamuyac, Adrian Wong, Aaron Black, and BJ Andrade. As a rookie for the Blue Eagles, he would not even come close to the 27.6 minutes he actually got in National U. If so, his impact would have been still much-welcome for the blue and white, but more or less negligible to just about everybody else. Still, he would have been part of a terrific team that won it all for the second straight season. Then with Anton Asistio graduating, Black moving on, and Raffy Verano and Jolo Mendoza being sidelined, he would then be given a bigger burden in accordance with Ateneo's "next man up" philosophy. And, without a doubt, with Ildefonso, the Blue Eagles have yet another weapon in its arsenal for its triumphant march towards a historic season sweep. In this light, he would have been a champion for all of his last three seasons - one in the Jrs. and two in the Srs. And then he would enter Season 83 as one of Coach Tab's main men alongside SJ Belangel, Ange Kouame, and Dwight Ramos. For sure, Ildefonso would still shine like a star if he would have stayed in Ateneo. It would just have taken more time for him to do so. That, after all, is one of his reasons for committing to the Bulldogs in the first place. "Isipin mo, si SJ, limited minutes. Kung nag-stay ako dun, mas lalo na ako, mas limited," he said then, when the two of them were prized rookies. Indeed, the heavy minutes and the heavy workload would not have been there for Ildefonso if he would have decided to move on up from the Blue Eaglets to the Blue Eagles. At the same time, though, two championships would have been there for him. And that would have been the exact opposite of what had actually happened. The story is far from over, however, as Ildefonso has a golden opportunity to have the best of both worlds. He already is a shining star after two years standing out for National U. And now, he will still be doing so, just for an Ateneo championship juggernaut that is not going away anytime soon. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2020

PBA summons Aguilar, Wong for potential quarantine violations

Aguilar, joined by Rain or Shine rookie Adrian Wong, Isaac Go, Kobe Paras and Japan-bound Thirdy Ravena, were seen playing basketball at a Greenhills gym in a video posted on Wednesday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 3rd, 2020

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

(This story was originally published on April 20, 2018) Newly-appointed head coach Roger Gorayeb looked at his line-up heading into UAAP Season 71. A champion mentor of NCAA powerhouse San Sebastian College - Recoletos, Gorayeb had in his hands a gargantuan task of rebuilding the Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program. Just a few months before, Ronald Dulay, the mentor before him, landed a trio of blue chip recruits who were fresh from a successful stint in the Palarong Pambansa. Angeline "Dzi" Gervacio, Fille Saint Cainglet and Jamenea "Jem" Ferrer just joined the Katipunan-based squad. Gervacio and Cainglet were products of St. Scholastica's College in Manila while Ferrer was a gem from Hope Christian School under girl’s volleyball guru Jerry Yee. Looking at his 15-woman line-up with the season just a few months ahead, Gorayeb knew he needed to do something drastic. The roster just won’t do. Talking to then athletic director Ricky Palou and team manager Tony Boy Liao, the mentor told the team officials that he intended to cut five players from the list. One could just imagine the shock in their faces. “Nakita ko may line-up pero player-playeran lang yung ganoon bang tipo, 15 ata yun. Sabi ko ‘Magtatanggal ako ng lima then magre-recruit ako,’” he said. The three rookies were in. Middle Bea Pascual, Kara Acevedo and libero Steph Gabriel retained their spots. He needed more. “Sa mga tinira kong players, si Kara Acevedo sabi niya, ‘Coach mayroong player ang ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy) na gumraduate naka-exam na rito pasado.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige papuntahin mo,’” said Gorayeb. It was Gretchen Ho. “Sa akin kasi ang talagang nagyaya sa akin si Coach Ron Dulay. Si Kara Acevedo teammate ko and she’s been recruited by Ateneo. So one summer wala akong magawa naki-train lang ako noon tapos nagustuhan nila ang laro ko and then fourth year noong graduate na ako I passed the ACET then niyayaya na nila ako,” Ho said. “Then nagbago ng coach na si Coach Roger and dun niya ako nakita.”   “Pagdating ko ng March (sa Ateneo) wala na akong way para maka-recruit pa. Ang nangyari yung tatlo accepted na kaagad. Si Gretchen tinanong ko sabi ko, ‘ano ba ang laro mo?’ Sabi niya the usual panggitna, tres,” Gorayeb recalled. “So sinubukan ko pero ang laro niya tres hindi quick. Siya panggitna pero hindi quicker na gusto ko saka yung height niya (maliit). Kaya lang si Gretchen takbo ng takbo, mahilig magtatakbo so sabi ko sige pwede na yan. Wala namang player na during that time. So kinuha ko si Gretchen.” Gorayeb just needed just one more. “Ngayon nagkaroon ng STCAA (Southern Tagalog Calabarzon athletic association) eh kulang pa ako ng isa, wala akong panggitna. Ang gitna ko during that time si Bea lang tapos si Gretchen so wala akong pamalit. So naisipan ko may nakita ako sa STCAA,” he said. He spotted a lanky player from Canossa Academy-Lipa, Aillysse Nacachi. “Sabi ko kay Sir Tony pagtyagaan ko na lang ito kahit hindi naman kalakasan at wala naman na rin akong choice na makapili kasi rush ang pagdating ko dyan. Nakiusap lang sila sa akin na magbuo ako ng team kasi si Ronald nag-resign,” said Gorayeb. Another freshman could’ve had ended up with Ateneo, Hope’s libero Melissa Gohing. But a few obstacles prevented her from fulfilling her promise to join Ferrer in Ateneo. She instead chose to join the ladies in green and white in Taft.    SOMETHING PROMISING December 7, 2008. Far Eastern University Gym. Excitement filled the air. Fans, mostly volleyball purists and some who just came to support their classmates or were just curious to see a new spectacle after the basketball season ended, slowly settled in their seats for the women’s division’s second game. It was Adamson University, the previous year’s runner-up, which just visited the turf of their arch nemesis and defending champion FEU, which was led by that era’s finest and most popular volleybelle Rachel Anne Daquis. Fans wanted to see if the Lady Falcons still had the same firepower they had the previous season with the loss of top setter Janet Serafica and power hitter Sang Laguilles. A rookie-laden Ateneo squad should be easy pickings with Angela Benting, rookie Pau Soriano and libero Lizlee Anne Gata in the roster. Besides the Lady Falcons got the Lady Eagles’ number. Or so they thought. “Naalala ko nu’ng time namin sinasabi sa amin ng seniors namin na, ‘Hay naku ang lakas ng Adamson, never kami nanalo dyan,’” Cainglet, now happily married to Taguig mayor Lino Cayetano and with three beautiful children, recalled.  But the Lady Eagles stunned Adamson in the opening set. The Lady Falcons took the next two frames. Ateneo stole the fourth.  “Ako naalala ko ano eh, parang alam namin na lahat kasi kami palaban. Nasa amin yun. Tapos binigyan kaming lahat ng chance to be in the first six so parang dream come true,” said Ho, now an ABS-CBN host. “Naalala ko rin na palaban kaming lahat kumbaga nothing to lose eh so ang ano namin, sumasabay kami sa laro and nu’ng nakita na namin na ‘Ay kaya pala natin ‘to guys. Kaya pala naming lumaban.’” Still, Adamson had the upper hand in experience. The Lady Falcons, used to pressure and were steady at crunch time, outlasted Ateneo.           The young Katipunan-based squad fell short, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, 25-15, 8-15. But for the Fab 5, it was a loss that felt like a resounding victory. “Parang sobrang natutuwa kami and everybody in the crowd, kaya siguro kami natawag na Fab 5 kasi rookies kami pero kahit ganoon palaban kami,” said Ho. “Saka close game. Five sets yun.” However, it was the first of five five-set matches that Ateneo will drop that season including one in the second round against the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University. “Pero ang problema di kami nananalo ng five sets. Parang ilan lang ang naipanalo namin na ganoon. Feeling ko na-overwhelm kami na ‘Uy nananalo tayo.’ May ganoong disbelief ng konti pero alam namin na may ibubuga kami,” said Ho. “Definitely, our rookie season was full of five-set matches. It was tough, we felt like we were so close, but still so far away. At some point, it gave us frustration also. We just couldn't figure out that time what is it that's still lacking because we couldn't win the five-set matches,” according to Nacachi. “People said, it was because the team was still so inexperienced. We still didn't have the tenacity unlike of those more matured teams. But we didn't take it as bad, it was a learning experience for us all at the end. We had to learn how to develop that finishing will to be able to win games like that in the future.” The Fab 5 finished their rookie season with a 6-8 slate at fifth spot.   ‘MAY MEDAL NA TAYO’ Gorayeb remembered on their second year the look on Pascual’s face in their last elimination game match against Adamson. Already wrapping up their first win over the Lady Falcons, Pascual was giddy. “Natatawa nga ako dyan kay Bea kasi papanalo na kami nu’n tapos sumesenyas na siya ng tres. Sabi ko, ‘Hoy anong ginagawa mo?’ Yun pala sobrang saya na niya kasi for the first time in 30 years magkaka-medal na sila,” he said. It was the most important match of the season for the Lady Eagles. With the Fab 5 already in their sophomore year, Ateneo was already making great strides. The Lady Eagles closed that season’s elims with five straight wins capped off with a victory over Adamson. Ateneo posted a 10-4 win-loss mark to enter the Final Four legitimately. “Ang nangyari kasi nu’ng time nila Charo (Soriano) kaya sila nakapasok sa semis kasi may nag-squeal na si (Jacq) Alarca di pala naka-enroll nu’n kaya na-forfeit mga laro ng La Salle,” said Gorayeb. The Fab 5 proved that they were not just a bunch of much-hyped up pretty faces. They backed it up with their skills on court. It didn’t matter that Ateneo were swept by eventual champion University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four.      But the podium finish of Season 72 was short-lived. Adamson got its revenge in the last game of Season 73 elims, bumping off the Lady Eagles for a podium finish. The loss put Ateneo in a collision course with the twice-to-beat DLSU, who could’ve completed an elims sweep if not only for a forfeited match against University of the East after UAAP found out that Carmela Garbin and Clarisse Yeung participated in a ‘ligang labas’ while the season was onoing, in the Final Four. Ateneo gave the Lady Spikers a scare before succumbing in another heartbreaking five-set match. The Lady Eagles finished fourth but that lone semis game gave Ateneo and its maturing Fab 5 enough experience to dream for something big – A ticket into the Finals.      ‘HINOG NA KAYO’ The first three years saw the gradual improvement for Ateneo. But Season 74 proved to be the turning point for the Fab 5. A fresh new recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school, who just completed a year of residency, came into picture and with the Fab 5 armed with years of experience, the Lady Eagles’ fate will forever be changed. Alyssa Valdez, a highly recruited open spiker just like Gervacio, Cainglet-Cayetano and Ferrer years back, gave renewed excitement for the Ateneo faithful. “Alyssa's joining with Ateneo was a great turning point for us. We needed as much support we can get, and Alyssa's entrance to the team was a great boost to the team's morale,” said Nacachi. “The girl is a powerhouse and we felt like with her presence, the team finally became solid.” “We were able to play around with the positions and the rotations, since we had different versatile open players who can also greatly play other roles,” she added. “We were also able to formulate a lot of plays and attacks because Alyssa can generally do all kinds; open, running, quick, name it all. She gave the team the power and the versatility that we previously lacked from the past seasons.” Social media was just gaining traction then but the Lady Eagles were already on the radar of volleyball purists through online forums. For the first time, Ateneo was considered a legitimate contender.   The Fab 5 proved it by winning 11 games in the elimination round, losing only to UST once and dropping two against the Lady Spikers. Valdez’s arrival gave Ferrer an even broader option on offense. It eased the scoring load off the shoulders of Cainglet and Gervacio, who was then moved to an opposite position. “I guess sakto lang din yung dating niya because by that time Kara Acevedo graduated so someone had to fill in her spot so coach Roger decided for me to move to utility or opposite,” said Gervacio. “And then sakto Alyssa naman could fill in the spot na other open spiker.” “So timing din na we had all the pieces put together at the right time,” she added. With a good performance in the elims despite missing a legit middle in Bea Pascual and the entry of Aerieal Patnongon barred by academic problems, Ateneo finished second and for the first-time was armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles faced an experienced Tigresses side in the last stepladder semis stage. UST just came from a hard-fought four-set do-or-die match against FEU and were banking on their four-set win over Ateneo in the second round to force another sudden death. Ateneo’s date with destiny was sealed with a four-set win over the Tigresses, who then bid goodbye to Maika Ortiz and Judy Anne Caballejo. “Pinu-push na rin kami ni Coach Roger noon eh, ‘Hinog na kayo ngayon. Kasi dalawang taon na lang, kailangan makapasok na kayo sa Finals,’” said Ho. “Somehow senior na rin kami,” added Cainglet.  “Season 74 was really the target season for us to be in the finals and target even to win the championship,” according to Nacachi. “During this time, we were already thinking we could not afford to not go in the finals.” “So it was with our mindset and our level of commitment that we were able to finally reach our goal of reaching the finals,” she added. “We had enough experience that time already, and it was really time for us to show the level of game maturity the team had obtained from the past seasons.” But then they had to face an unbeaten team. Unscathed in 14 games, De La Salle University was poised to complete a perfect season. The Lady Eagles spoiled it. Ferrer outplayed DLSU setter Mika Esperanza, 57-42, in excellent sets as Ateneo handed the Lady Spikers its first loss after 25 straight victories in a come-from-behind 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, Finals opener win. Witnessed by 3,002 spectators inside the then The Arena in San Juan, all of the Fab 5 produced points. Cainglet had 19 behind Valdez’s 24, Gervacio scored 12, Ho had 10, Nacachi finished with five while Ferrer had one. Gorayeb made a big gambit and it worked. “Dahil sa wala kong panggitna, yung laro namin ng La Salle, ginawa kong quicker si Alyssa. Kasi si Alyssa nakakapalo. Nagulat si Ramil (de Jesus) dun.” It was a big win. A huge upset. Unfortunately, Ateneo needed to win two more.  DLSU held a thrice-to-beat advantage.   THAT SWAG After Ateneo made a miracle in Game One, fans began to feel a new rivalry born. The attendance spiked. From just 3,000 spectators, the gate attendance more than doubled its size. The interest was there. Fans of traditional powers began to notice the Lady Eagles as a rising team. For the first time, a squad with no previous championship experience except for a title during the Marcos era in a different collegiate league, made a giant jolt. Everybody wanted to see what these girls would do next.    The Lady Eagles, still high on adrenaline after their Game 1 upset, took the opening set in Game 2. But just like in their opener, a well-experienced DLSU squad adjusted to take the next three frames to move a step closer to a repeat crown. With then Rookie of the Year Ara Galang, Season Most Valuable Player Aby Marano, an intimidating Michele Gumabao and a very efficient Finals MVP Cha Cruz teaming up for the kill, the Lady Spikers ripped Ateneo apart in Game 3 in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13. “Sabi nga ni Dzi na nadyan na lahat eh. So I guess noong Season 74 nandoon na pero may kulang pa rin,” said Ho. “I guess we we’re able to make it to the Finals pero wala pa kaming championship experience.” Ferrer agreed. "Siguro ang kulang yung championship experience kasi nasa La Salle na ‘yun eh. Ilang years na silang nagpa-finals, nag-champion and for Ateneo doon pa lang namin sinimulan," said the three-time Best Setter. Lacking championship experience is one thing, but Ateneo during that time wasn’t ready for DLSU’s most feared weapon: the Lady Spikers’ swag.  “They have that swag,” said Gervacio. “Everyone knows about it naman. It’s really Coach Ramil’s style talaga kasi as I remember when we were first year, four out of six of the players inside the court were rookies and even if we go against the powerhouses UST, FEU, Adamson, hindi sila yung nakikita nyo na kapag championship na rivalry, na swag, angas, stare down. Pero La Salle talaga kahit sino ang kalaban nila they’ll bring that attitude inside the court.” That Finals series cemented a new rivalry that will become one of the most celebrated in the sport. “I think it also helped that Ateneo-La Salle basketball didn’t face also,” said Gervacio. “Siyempre nandoon ang hunger for the rivalry eh and timely din na its been Ateneo-La Salle na rin sa volleyball.”   CLOSING A CHAPTER The Fab 5 were now in their fifth and last year. They wanted to leave a winning legacy. The pieces were already there. Gorayeb had at his disposal five seniors, a rising star in Valdez, a sophomore middle in Amy Ahomiro, a versatile Ella De Jesus, a steady libero in Denden Lazaro and a new kind of weapon – a massive crowd that can turn any venue into a sea of blue.              As expected, the second installment of the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry was set into place. Both sweeping their semis opponents. The Lady Spikers crushed National University while the Lady Eagles shot down Adamson. Game One was a shocker. DLSU heading into the Finals are on a 14-game roll but were stunned in the first two sets with Ateneo stepping on the gas. But a string of miscues, mostly from the service line, did the Lady Eagles in as they allowed the Lady Spikers to force a decider. DLSU, smelling blood, punished Ateneo to eke out a 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, victory inside the Big Dome witnesses by 17,342-strong gate attendance. Then the series transferred to a newly-built, state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena that drew a crowd of 18,799. The first two frames were frustrating for the Lady Eagles.   Ateneo came back to life in the third set to gain a 9-5 lead. But DLSU easily erased it with Ateneo crumbling under pressure. The Lady Spikers were on an onslaught. Sophomore Galang pushed DLSU at matchpoint with a cold-blooded ace that went in a few inches from the baseline. The score, 24-16. It was a tense moment for the Fab 5. A long rally ensued in the next play. Gervacio, with all her might pounded a kill. Her hand making a great contact on the ball off Ferrer’s backset.     Smack! The ball ricocheted off the hands of DLSU’s Wensh Tiu before falling on the same landing area of Gervacio, who tried to dive for a dig together with Lazaro. DLSU swept Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. Game over.          “Kahit hindi kami nanalo alam naming ibinigay namin ang lahat namin, all-out talaga kaya wala kaming pagsisisi,” said Ho. It was the end of the Fab 5 era, but they left more than what any of them could have imagined. "I remember so many people or fans telling me that they started really watching UAAP Volleyball because of our batch. And that is really touching and fulfilling to know. Knowing that you were able to leave an impact like that to people. We were not able to bring even a single championship to our school, Ateneo, but we were able to touch a lot of people's hearts despite that," Nacachi shared. The Fab 5 closed a colorful chapter of Ateneo volleyball in tears. They were there during the Lady Eagles’ birth pains. They labored. They shed tears, blood and sweat. They laid the foundation for something big. The Fab 5 planted the seeds that would eventually bear fruit and would change the course of Ateneo women’s volleyball program forever. Glory didn’t happen during their time. It started in theirs.    Amidst the roar of the crowd, the falling confetti, banging of drums and the echoing chant of ‘Animo La Salle’ from the sea of green, the Fab 5 hugged each other tight. They found comfort in each other. It was their time to say goodbye. For those who remained – Valdez, Lazaro, Ahomiro, De Jesus – the defeat added fuel to their already blazing desire to bring glory for the blue and white. They were the next in line, heirs to an unfinished business. WATCH: FAB 5 Reunion Part 1 and Part 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

BJ Andrade suffers ACL injury, sidelined for UAAP 83

BJ Andrade will not be playing for Ateneo de Manila University in this year's UAAP Men's Basketball Tournament after injuring his right knee and needing surgery. Final results are yet to be determined, but the Blue Eagles are fearing that the injury will keep the supposedly incoming fourth-year wing out of the lineup for Season 83. "All indications show that it's an ACL tear," head coach Tab Baldwin said. Andrade suffered the apparent ACL tear in the first quarter of their 2020 Philippine Collegiate Champions League NCAA-UAAP Challenge matchup opposite San Beda University last Saturday. The 21-year-old only averaged 1.3 points, 1.1 assists, and 1.0 rebounds while playing 11 games in the blue and white's title run a season ago, but was expected to take a step forward with the departures of mainstays Thirdy Ravena, Adrian Wong, and Mike and Matt Nieto. According to Coach Tab, Andrade's surgery has been penciled in for February 21. With the timeline for recovery from ACL injuries somewhere between six to eight months, the 6-foot swingman looks like he will miss Ateneo's title defense which will begin in September. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 9th, 2020

EYES ON YOU, KID: UAAP 82 Jrs. players to watch

The first round of the UAAP 82 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with. And we can’t wait for the second round to get started just so we could get even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players: CARL TAMAYO and KEVIN QUIAMBAO – Nazareth School of National University TAMAYO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.7 points, 52.3 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists QUIAMBAO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.7 points, 51.4 percent shooting, 10.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.7 assists 7-foot-2, 17-year-old Kai Sotto was, hands down, the top individual talent last year in UAAP Jrs. – but even he was no match for National U’s twin towers who stood as the pillars in their dominant championship. A year later, Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao have only been better all while the Bullpups have breezed to a clean sweep of Round 1. The 6-foot-7 Tamayo is yet to explode, but is still posting per game counts that any team would want their big man to have. The 6-foot-8 Quiambao, on the other hand, has had for himself a couple of powerful performances and finds himself in the league’s top five in rebounds and blocks. Either of them would have no problem whatsoever making this list on their own, but together, National U’s twin towers, well, tower over all the competition. LEBRON LOPEZ and JOSH LAZARO – Ateneo de Manila University LOPEZ’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.1 steals LAZARO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 13.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.1 steals What National U has in imposing big men, Ateneo has in versatile forwards. Lebron Lopez and Josh Lazaro are long-limbed, athletic, and agile and it is when they share the floor together that the Blue Eagles do the most damage. Lopez, standing at 6-foot-5, has the higher ceiling between the two and is now already in the league’s top five in blocks and rebounds, but he remains in the process of putting it all together after having a tough time seeing the court when he was still in La Salle Green Hills. The 6-foot-4 Lazaro, meanwhile, has always been solid even when he was reppin’ San Beda and has only translated that, as well as a more well-rounded game, now in blue and white. Katipunan may have lost Sotto, but its future remains secure with these talented transferees who have done nothing but make an immediate impact. GERRY ABADIANO – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.5 steals Other guards have the highlights and the numbers, but in terms of being a court general, Gerry Abadiano is still the standard. National U has the most loaded team in all of high school, but its engine remains in good condition with much thanks to the leadership of Abadiano. The Bullpups’ boat just could not be rocked with the 5-foot-11 guard’s hands at the wheel as everybody from Carl Tamayo to Echo Laure and from Terrence Fortea to Steve Nash Enriquez heeds the call of their captain. And when the blue and gold needs a shot all of a sudden? All of us could count on Abadiano to hit his patented midrange jumper. Now that’s a leader. FORTHSKY PADRIGAO – Ateneo de Manila University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 19.4 points, 19 total threes, 4.4 rebounds, 4.0 steals, 3.9 assists No doubt about it, Ateneo is now Forthsky Padrigao’s show to run for the foreseeable future. With his running mate in Sotto having taken his talents to the US, Padrigao has been thrust into the spotlight by his lonesome – and he has done nothing but shine. The playmaking is still there as the 5-foot-11 guard is tops in the league in assists, but he has now also unleashed his scoring skills to the tune of 19.4 points per game – second-best among all players. The shooting percentages have a long ways to go, but it’s just a matter of time before Padrigao truly makes himself into Katipunan’s next great point guard. PENNY ESTACIO – Far Eastern University-Diliman ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.1 points, 16 total threes, 6.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.7 steals There’s a reason FEU-Diliman went all-out in securing the services of Penny Estacio – and he has wasted no time repaying their full faith. A year after showing promise at the point of the attack for San Beda, Estacio has now blossomed into a primetime playmaker for the Baby Tamaraws. The 5-foot-11 guard could make plays for his teammates, of course, but as of right now, his capabilities and confidence are all about making plays for himself all the way to the top five in scoring. And make no mistake, Estacio is no points guard – he also uses his long limbs to good use by harassing opposing guards into turnovers he quickly converts into scoring opportunities for the green and gold. TERRENCE FORTEA – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.6 points, 19 total threes, 2.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists To be honest, Terrence Fortea has not had a good season – for his high standards, at the very least. The shooting percentages have not been kind to Fortea thus far as he is yet to hit the mark, especially from beyond the arc. Still, the 5-foot-10 scoring guard remains a frightening sight for opponents with the ball in his hands and with his uber-quick release always threatening. Terrence gonna Terrence and shooters gonna shoot – and all of the league is not at all looking forward to the game where the shots finally fall and fall and fall for Fortea. JOHN EROLON – Adamson High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.6 points, 25 total threes, 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals There’s a new marksman in town – and he is wearing the colors of Adamson. John Erolon, the Baby Falcons’ prized recruit from Dumaguete’s St. Louis of Don Bosco, has only proven that his shooting touch in the 2019 National Basketball Training Centre was no mirage as he has scorched the UAAP Jrs. nets for the second-most total threes after the first round. The other facets of his game have much room for improvement, of course, but there is no doubt that the rookie already has an elite skill on lock. KEAN BACLAAN – De La Salle Zobel ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals DLSZ has not had its day under the sun since the days of Aljun Melecio, but with the entry of talented transferee Kean Baclaan, it hoped its time would come again. Thus far, Baclaan has held up his end of the bargain with his super scoring already making its way to the UAAP Jrs. all while doing a little bit of everything else. Now, all that’s left for the 5-foot-8 playmaker to do is to energize the rest of his teammates so that the Jr. Archers could finally put an end to their three-year playoff drought. SEAN TORCULAS – University of the Philippines Integrated School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 10.6 points, 17.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 2.4 blocks Yes, UPIS remains winless. Yes, head coach Paolo Mendoza’s eight-man rotation plays somewhere between 15 to 34 minutes per game. Yes, statistics never tell the true story. Still, being first in rebounds, first in blocks, second in assists, and third in steals in a league filled to the brim with talent is nothing to brush aside – especially if you are an undersized forward. That’s exactly what Sean Torculas has done after Round 1, though, and it is, without a doubt, all because his motor never stops working. That’s exactly what a rebuilding team wants and needs from its building block. JACOB CORTEZ – University of Sto. Tomas ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals UST has its own talented transferee who has, thus far, flown under the radar, in Jacob Cortez. Nonetheless, the son of ex-pro Mike Cortez has begun to open eyes as he has the ability to score from all over the floor. With “Cool Cat” genes in him, the 5-foot-9 has only made sure that the Tiger Cubs remain a threat in the post-Mark Nonoy era. HONORABLE MENTIONS Jorick Bautista – Far Eastern University-Diliman John Dalisay – De La Salle Zobel --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2019

Payton: Saints doing due diligence on receiver Antonio Brown

By Brett Martel, Associated Press METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Prolific but embattled free-agent receiver Antonio Brown got his chance to show the New Orleans Saints how he could help them in the playoffs. Whether Brown winds up catching passes from record-setting quarterback Drew Brees during a potential Super Bowl run remains to be seen. And the NFL could have a say in the matter — if the Saints decide to sign him. While Saints coach Sean Payton did not rule out signing Brown, he said there were no immediate plans to do so after including the four-time All-Pro in a workout with six receivers on Friday. “Not now,” Payton said, adding that coaches and the front office are “mainly doing our due diligence on all of those players. Obviously there’s a little bit more attention drawn to him because of his career. But right now it was more or less us having a chance to get to know these guys and seeing what kind of shape they’re all in.” Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told The Associated Press that Brown’s “visit with the Saints went very well and we will continue discussions with them.″ Brown also could be seen smiling widely in a photo, posted on social media, with New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson. The Saints and NBA’s Pelicans are both owned by Gayle Benson and their practice headquarters are on the same campus. Saints receiver Ted Ginn Jr. said he was among Saints players who met Brown as well. Brown has been out of the NFL since the New England Patriots cut him Sept. 20 amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations which have spawned an ongoing league investigation of the receiver. Payton had indicated on multiple occasions earlier this season that the Saints were not interested in signing Brown. “I probably wasn’t telling you the truth a few months ago,” Payton said. “We’re looking closely all the time at who are the players available, how can they help us, especially as we get ready here for this postseason?” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had no comment on the Saints’ decision to work out Brown. During NFL meetings earlier this month, Commissioner Roger Goodell said he had not yet met with Brown and that the investigation was not complete. Goodell further specified that league investigators met with Brown but “have more work to do.” When Brown was released by the Patriots, he was not placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, which would prevent other teams from signing him. However, the NFL released a statement explaining that, “As long as Mr. Brown is a free agent, placement on the Commissioner’s exempt list is not appropriate. If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time, depending on the status of the investigation. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, he may also be subject to discipline if the investigation finds that he has violated the law or league policies.” Payton said after the workout he remained uncertain whether Brown would ultimately be eligible to play in the postseason. “That’s the information that we’ve got to get from the league if we were to go down that road and we don’t have that yet,” Payton said. Brown, who caught 837 passes during nine seasons with Pittsburgh, has been dumped by three teams since the end of last season. He was benched by the Steelers after he was a no-show in the days leading up to the club’s season finale. The Steelers traded him to Oakland, which signed him to a contract that would have paid him up to $50 million over the next three seasons, only to release him before he’d played a game. The Patriots quickly moved to bring in Brown, giving him a one-year deal that would have guaranteed him $9 million and paid him up to $15 million this season. He played in one game, catching a touchdown pass at Miami in Week 2, before New England released him. Saints players who spoke after Friday’s practice sounded enthusiastic about the prospects of adding a receiver as talented as Brown. They expressed confidence in the club’s ability to vet whether a player’s previous pattern of mercurial behavior or off-the-field trouble would be an unwanted disruption. “Our front office knows what it’s doing,” linebacker and defensive captain Demario Davis. “They’ve done a good job in building a very strong team with a strong culture. We’ve got a very strong locker room.” Saints receiver Ted Ginn Jr. said that adding Brown to a receiver corps that already includes Michael Thomas — who leads the NFL with a single-season record 145 catches for 1,688 yards — would be a “great situation.” Brown has been “a top guy in this league,” Ginn said. “His attitude and the way he approaches the game and the way he plays the game, he’s kind of like, amazing.” While simply bringing in Brown for a workout could affect public perceptions of any NFL club, Payton assured that the Saints are “doing our homework.” “Part of that is credibility that we’ve already established,” Payton said. “There would be a number of players that we’ve signed or drafted over the years past; some have worked out, some that haven’t. And yet, I’ve never met him before, so it was a chance to sit down and visit with him.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2019

Coach Tab says 2019 PBA Draft just the start for Ateneo s pro production line

Ateneo de Manila University could have as many as six products get their names called in the 2019 PBA Draft. Nieto twins Mike and Matt, Aaron Black, Issac Go, and Vince Tolentino, and Adrian Wong have all declared for the rookie selection process on Sunday - and have good to great shots at turning their PBA dream into reality. According to head coach Tab Baldwin, the Blue Eagles' multi-titled mentor of the last four years, this is an exciting time to be a believer of the blue and white. "I'm very excited. We haven't seen them realize their goals yet, but when opportunity seems to be there, I'm very excited," he said. He then continued, "I hope to see all of them picked very early. I don't know whether they will be because that's up to PBA teams and coaches, but I'll be there with them, supporting them." Of the championship core that has led Ateneo's three-peat, only Thirdy Ravena has stayed away from the draft for now. Still, the fact that they have six products on deck to make the leap is nothing but a proud moment for the Katipunan-based squad. Make no mistake, though, this is just the start of many, many more Blue Eagles turning pro. "I don't feel like it's a culmination. Maybe that's for (the players), but for our program, I feel like it's the beginning. We're hoping to see all six of them picked and launching their careers," coach Tab said. Indeed, even after all six get drafted, Ateneo still has a treasure trove of talent in the likes of SJ Belangel, Gian Mamuyac, and Will Navarro. And with Baldwin guiding them, it's not a farfetched idea that sooner than later, they will be getting drafted themselves. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 7th, 2019

Ex-Eagles say they hit jackpot in getting mentored by Tab Baldwin

The 2019 PBA Draft looks like it will be yet another win for Ateneo de Manila University. With six Blue Eagles having declared and having good to great shots at turning their PBA dream into reality, the rookie selection process on Sunday may very well be yet another feather in the cap of the three-peat UAAP champions. Of course, those six know full well that they wouldn't be in the position they are now in if not for one person - head coach Tab Baldwin. "Coach Tab, kaming lima, we hit the jackpot with him," longtime captain Mike Nieto said. He then continued, "He wanted us to become good players here in college, but looking forward, he wanted us to become better professional players." Mike and twin Matt as well as Isaac Go and Adrian Wong spent the last four years of their collegiate careers under Baldwin's watchful eye. Aaron Black and Vince Tolentino, two more draft hopefuls from Ateneo, also had more than a few years learning from the American-Kiwi coach. And as it turns out, teaching his boys and turning them into PBA-ready talents is the ultimate goal of coach Tab. "Yung goal nga niya, hindi naman mag-champion. Kung tatanungin niyo siya, ang goal niya is ma-draft kami," Mike said. He then continued, "Hopefully, mangyari yun, but at the same time, we're just blessed and grateful that coach Tab is our head coach." Twin Matt only shared the same sentiment of being blessed and grateful to have played for the brilliant tactician. As he put it, "Always, we just want to say thank you kay coach Tab kasi he made us better basketball players and better people. Kung hindi dahil sa kanya, wala rin kami rito." He then continued, "I really thank him. I will never forget him." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 7th, 2019

PBA: “Gilas 5” highlight 2019 Draft

Just like in 2016, the 2019 PBA Rookie Draft will be a two-part draft proceeding, with a special draft among Gilas prospects held before the regular draft exercise.  Seventy-one players, in all, hope that their names be called and their dreams come true in the keenly awaited draft exercise set at Robinson’s Place Manila, Sunday starting at 3 p.m. Ateneo players Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, San Sebastian’s Allyn Bulanadi and UE’s Rey Suerte are five players placed in a special pool for special dispersal to Columbian Dyip, Blackwater, NLEX, Alaska and Rain or Shine. These five players are being eyed by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas for inclusion in the Gilas program for the next FIBA World Cup the country is hosting in 2013. In 2016, the PBA also held a special draft involving then Gilas cadet players Mac Belo, Matthew Wright, RR Pogoy, Jio Jalalon, Kevin Ferrer, Mike Tolomia, Carl Bryan Cruz, Von Pessumal, Ed Daquioag, Russel Escoto, Arnold Van Opstal and Alfonzo Gotladera. In the regular draft then, Raphael Banal was the top choice by Blackwater. The Dyip, the Elite, the Road Warriors, the Aces and the Elasto Painters will get cracks at Go, the Nieto twins, Bulanadi and Suerte. But the teams will only hold rights on these players, and get to enlist them only once they are released by the SBP from Gilas service. With Go in the special draft and out of the regular pool, the guessing game is who will be bestowed the honors of being the top of the 2019 draft class. Columbian owns the rights for the first pick. The complete draft order in the first round is Columbian at No. 1 followed by Blackwater at No. 2, NLEX at No. 3, Alaska No. 4, Rain or Shine Nos. 5 to 7, NorthPort No. 8, Magnolia No. 9, Barangay Ginebra No. 10, TNT KaTropa No. 11 and Columbian No. 12. In the second round, it is Ginebra, Blackwater, NLEX, Alaska, Alaska, Meralco, Rain or Shine, NLEX, Magnolia, Ginebra, Rain or Shine and NorthPort. Two other Ateneo stalwarts in Adrian Wong and Vince Tolentino, Adamson’s Sean Manganti, Letran’s Jeric Balanza and Bonbon Batiller, twin brothers Jayvee and Jaycee Marcelino of Lyceum, William McAloney of EAC, Cris Dumapig of CEU, Gwen Combo of FEU, Kid Montalbo of La Salle, Michael Salado of Arellano, Christopher Bitoon of St. Clare and Rian Michael Ayon-ayon of PCU are among the notable hopefuls.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 7th, 2019

PBA: Go, Black lead Blue Eagles in Draft sans Thirdy

Blue Eagles dominate the big names in the 2019 PBA Draft, but Ateneo’s top star will be missing out. Top prospects from the three-time UAAP champions for this year include big man Isaac Go, Adrian Wong, Vince Tolentino, and twins Matt and Mark Nieto. Also making the jump is Aaron Black, son of Meralco Bolts head coach Norman Black. After the deadline for application Friday, three-time UAAP Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena didn’t submit his papers. Other prospects for the Draft set for Dec. 8 are San Sebastian shooting marksman Allyn Bulanadi, Adamson’s Sean Manganti, and Twin brothers Jayvee and Jaycee Marcelino of Lyceum, William McAloney of EAC, PCU’s Michael Ayonanyon and UE’s Rey Suerte are also among the bright choices for first round pick. PBA coaches will get a glimpse of what these rookie aspirants can put on the floor during the two-day Draft Combine on Dec. 4 and 5 at the Hoops Center in Mandaluyong.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2019

No letup for Ateneo even after automatic advance into UAAP 82 Finals

Ateneo de Manila University completed a clean sweep of the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament on October 30. That granted the Blue Eagles an outright berth in the Finals which will commence on November 16. That also meant, though, that the two-time defending champions have no games scheduled for a little over two weeks. Still, true to form, there will be no letup for the blue and white even as they get to watch from the sidelines as the University of the Philippines, Far Eastern University, and University of Sto. Tomas all fight over the right to face off with them. "We understand that this is a significant accomplishment for a basketball team - to go through a season undefeated," head coach Tab Baldwin said. "But our job is far from done and, in fact, it's going to give harder." In that light, Coach Tab said that there will be no time to rest and relax for Ateneo. As he put it, "Well, we don't have a break. Basically, for us, it's business as usual." He then continued, "We will prepare for our opponent once we know who that is, but in the meantime, we will work to build our basketball team. We will put some new stuff in so teams won't be able to go back and review our film and say we're gonna see the same team. That's one of the advantages of the break and we're gonna have some fun." At the same time though, Baldwin also said they will use these two weeks to bolster their bonds and fortify their friendships - especially as they have five graduating players in Isaac Go, Thirdy Ravena, Adrian Wong, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt. "This is the last few weeks we're gonna spend together as a team. We know how to work hard, there are no questions about that, but we also know how to enjoy each other's company," he said. He then continued, "We need to cherish these few weeks." And so, make no mistake, the Blue Eagles' eyes remain on the ultimate prize. "I believe we have an outstanding basketball team, but we haven't proven ourselves in the last hurdle yet. I look forward to working with these guys for another few weeks to achieve that if we can," coach Tab said. He then continued, "I'm really confident we can build a better basketball team with this time so that's what we're gonna do." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2019

UAAP 82: Lady Bulldogs down Lady Falcons even after Prado s 36-point outburst

National University used a strong second half to survive Mar Prado's 36-point explosion and turn back Adamson, 99-78, Saturday in the UAAP Season 82 Women's Basketball tournament at Araneta Coliseum. Rookie Camille Clarin put up a season-best 23 points, to go with five rebounds and four assists as she led the Lady Bulldogs to their second win this year as well as extending their win streak to 82 straight games. Jack Animam also bullied her way in the paint with a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds, and three steals while Monique del Carmen had 12 points and six assists. Mikka Cacho also did her part with 11 points, Kelli Hayes got 10 points, three boards, and three assists, and Rhena Itesi added eight points and 14 rebounds for NU. As improved of a performance as it was for the Lady Bulldogs, coach Pat Aquino remains unsatisfied as he believes that his team can still perform better as the season goes. "I still can see the real potential of the team. It's not just one girl who can make it happen this year, it takes everyone to make things happen and we're getting there," he said. "I know that we started slow again, but we're just trying to be more aggressive in the coming games." NU took time to warm up before opening the floodgates in the third frame where a 28-point eruption saw it grab a 30-point edge, 71-41, after a Clarin three before ending the quarter up 20, 76-56. The game, however, wasn't easy, especially with the way Prado played as the Lady Falcon ace went 11-of-23 from the field and 14-of-21 from the charity stripe. "She played very aggressively and she really wanted to show us that she has it. That's the kind of player that if they really want it, they could do it," said Aquino in awe of Prado. "I'm so proud of her for playing that good and to coach Ewon (Arayi) for giving her the confidence and making Adamson a well-oiled team." Rose Ann Dampios contributed 14 points, five boards, and four assists for Adamson in its season opener. BOX SCORES NU 99 -- Clarin 23, Animam 14, Del Carmen 12, Cacho 11, Hayes 10, Itesi 8, Pingol 7, Surada 4, Bartolo 4, Fabruada 2, Goto 2, Canuto 1, Cac 1, Harada 0. ADAMSON 78 -- Prado 36, Dampios 14, Anticamara 9, Ornopia 6, Araja 5, Catulong 4, Mendoza 2, Dumelod 1, Ea. Alaba 1, Bilbao 0, Balane 0, Tandaan 0, Flor 0, Dionela 0, Dela Cruz 0, Ei. Alaba 0. QUARTER SCORES: 22-19, 48-37, 76-56, 99-78......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 7th, 2019

He said, he said: Browns stars Mayfield, OBJ rip NY Giants

By Tom Withers, Associated Press BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Maybe it's good the Browns and Giants won't play this season. They're already trash-talking. Comments by brash Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield and star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. created a stir at the training camps for both teams Tuesday, adding extra heat to brutally humid weather conditions. Mayfield, the outspoken and uninhibited second-year QB, strangely took a swipe at the Giants and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, the team's first-round pick this year and potential heir apparent to Eli Manning. In an interview with GQ, Mayfield said he was stunned the Giants would draft someone such as Jones, who played at Duke and was not considered one of the top QBs in this year's class. "Blows my mind," Mayfield told the magazine, adding he thinks NFL teams are flawed in their quarterback evaluation. "Some people overthink it. That's where people go wrong. They forget you've gotta win." Mayfield's remarks were then presented to Jones, who was somewhat shocked by them because he doesn't know Cleveland's quarterback. "I try not to listen to much that's said," Jones said. "I think I've done a pretty good job of that. I heard that before. I kind of have the same mindset, I certainly have a lot to focus on here, I have a lot to worry about here and I'm focused on that." He doesn't have any background or known beef with Mayfield, which is why Jones was somewhat caught off guard. "I have never spoken to him," said Jones, who went 17-19 in college. "He has an opinion. A lot of people have opinions." While Mayfield's feelings may have rubbed some the wrong way, first-year Browns coach Freddie Kitchens was unfazed. Kitchens dismissed the idea that anything Mayfield says or does will make the Browns, who have huge expectations after a 7-8-1 season and the arrival of Beckham, any more of a target. "We don't care, all right?" Kitchens said, when asked if the bull's-eye on the Browns had grown. "It is already on there so it does not matter. We will be ready to play. I do not know what a 'bull's-eye' is," he said. "I do not know what that is. Does anybody know? Does anybody know what a bull's-eye is? If they are not trying to beat our ass and we are not trying to beat their ass, I do not know what else you do. "That is what we are going to try and do, and hopefully, they try and do the same." Following practice, Mayfield posted on Instagram that his comments about Jones were taken out of context. "This is not what I said ... just so we're clear," Mayfield wrote. "I also said I was surprised I got drafted number one. Then was talking about the flaws in evaluating QBs. Where I brought up winning being important. Reporters and media will do anything to come up with a clickbait story. Heard nothing but good things and wish nothing but the best for Daniel." The former No. 1 overall pick is scheduled to meet with reporters Wednesday. As for Beckham, he can't seem to shake the Giants despite insisting he has moved on from his drama-filled days with them. In a Sports Illustrated cover story, the three-time Pro Bowler said New York turned down better trade offers to send him to Cleveland in March. The Browns acquired Beckham and defensive end Olivier Vernon for guard Kevin Zeitler, safety Jabrill Peppers and first- and third-round picks. "This wasn't no business move," he told SI. "This was personal. They thought they'd send me here to die." Shurmur, who spent part of last season sparring with Beckham or dealing with the endless theater that seems to follow him, chose not to engage any further with his former player. "Quite frankly on our list of issues of the day it really doesn't matter what Odell or Baker says," Shurmur said. "There are many other things we probably should be discussing. Again, we wish him (Beckham) well and it was a trade. We said that all along, I said I would not comment on what he says about the situation." Beckham has acknowledged struggling in the weeks after the deal. He skipped almost all of Cleveland's offseason program but he's been adamant that he's adjusted to his new team and city. Kitchens believes Beckham. "No doubt. When he came back, he was all in — exactly what he promised me he would do," Kitchens said. "I trust him. He trusts me. I will not betray him. I do not think he will betray me." NOTES: Pro Bowl DE Myles Garrett missed practice with an unspecified illness. ... Mayfield and Kitchens were presented with jerseys by Columbus Blue Jackets' Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky, who came to camp to show their support for the Browns. Kitchens followed the NHL club's playoff run last season, and he's amazed by the skill level it takes to play hockey. Has he ever tried the sport? "No, I am from Alabama," he quipped. "There are no hockey sticks. There is a football, baseball and basketball and that is about it. " ___ AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2019

Team Lakay s Gina Iniong and Joshua Pacio: Two paths, one goal

Lakay. It is the Ilocano word for old man.   But when you go up to Baguio, it has an altogether different meaning. You cannot miss that word when you drive down Benguet road, on a nifty sign attached to a normal-looking office building: Team Lakay.   The home of the best Philippine mixed martial arts team in history. Almost all of the big names local fight fans have come to cheer and love as our modern-day heroes trace their roots to the relatively small, packed training room down Benguet road, where mats are soaked with the sweat of the fighters.   Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, Honorio Banario, Rey Docyogen, Roldan Sangcha-an, and Mark Eddiva are all hallowed names in the annals of Philippine mixed martial arts, disciples of Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, who established, and groomed Team Lakay to the fearsome fighting factory that it is today.   While all the names above have ensconced themselves on pedestals, Team Lakay’s pipeline includes two more who have been fighting for recognition in recent fights: lone female fighter Gina Iniong, and ONE’s current Strawweight lynchpin and youngest champion, Joshua Pacio.   Both fighters may have started their professional fighting careers for different reasons, but Iniong and Pacio still have a lot to offer and prove for mixed martial arts in the country and in the international stage, such as being prominent fighters in the prestigious cage of ONE Championship.   CHANCE OF A LIFETIME   Gina, the first female Filipino mixed martial artist to fight and win abroad, started boxing back in high school as part of her after-school activities. When she was about to graduate, she actively sought scholarships in order to finish her education. One such opportunity presented itself in the form of an athletic scholarship, concentrating on the martial art of Wushu, which has a huge following in her hometown of Baguio City, with the University of the Cordilleras having a team of its own.   “Our former boxing coach, who was a former student of Coach Mark (Sangiao), approached me one day, telling me to join the upcoming wushu competition then for the college scholarship. So I joined it, and took a chance,” Iniong shared, recounting how she got into the world of combat sports as a young lady.   However, it was too good to be true, as she had to hurdle quite a huge problem if she wants that scholarship: a fight record. Sangiao told the young Iniong it would be difficult to get her a scholarship if she does not have a record to show in active combat in Wushu.   “I was lucky because there was a Wushu National Games here in Manila and we immediately went down and made our way there. Thankfully, I got the gold after the competition, and that paved the way for my scholarship,” said Iniong.   From there, the “Conviction” was born. After competing in numerous Wushu tournaments, Iniong finally caught the eye of Sangiao, who decided to take her under his wings and train her to be his female version inside the MMA cage.   After debuting in the Universal Reality Combat Championship in 2010, Iniong hasn’t looked back in the 12 bouts she has figured in, compiling a professional record of 8-4.  As the lone female representative of the most-successful mixed martial arts team in the Philippines, she has displayed that trademark fearsome striking prowess of fighters coming from the Lakay camp.   When asked about the fact that she is one of the only five Filipinas making the country proud inside the ONE cage, the 29-year old’s face lit up, in disbelief, in honor, in humility, for she cannot believe it herself.   “I’m very proud, and humbled, of the fact that I am the lone female fighter representing Team Lakay in ONE Championship. Many very skilled female fighters dream of being part of ONE Championship, and fight under Team Lakay, yet I am the one that Coach Mark has seen with the most potential to carry the flag inside the cage,” she said.   However, what drives Gina to fight, and it has been a well-known fact, is her mother, diagnosed with a stage 5 chronic kidney disease. In her fight against Jihin Radzuan last February, Iniong dedicated the fight to her mother, who to this day, is scared of seeing her daughter mix it up in the ring.   “To this day, she hasn’t watched me fight live, not even on TV because she is quite the nervous person, and she would only watch if she knew I won, during replays. She is very unlike my dad, who has fully supported my life as an athlete, after being a boxer himself in his younger days,” she shared.   CHALLENGE ACCEPTED   Joshua “The Passion” Pacio never intended to make mixed martial arts fighting a career growing up. The 23-year old fighter deemed it impossible back then, to reach a stage as huge as ONE Championship, due to the excellence of the fighters that he used to watch with his uncle through videos.   Add to the fact that Pacio was overweight. Obese, specifically. It made it all the more difficult for the kid to follow his dream and passion to be a fighter.   It all changed when his uncle started training him in Muay Thai, the art of the eight limbs that originated from Thailand, and considered one of the deadliest forms of combat striking. It started out as training just for fitness, but as if seeing a tiny ray of light in a dark tunnel, Pacio wanted more.   “At first, it was only for fitness, with my uncle training me, and watching videos of various MMA fights, which really inspired me to push myself harder. I really wanted to test myself, compete with the best, and it all seemed impossible when I was out of shape. My uncle really pushed me starting with Muay Thai. I started competing a few months after that, but I suffered defeat after defeat in amateur competitions. I questioned myself why I still trained afterwards. But at the same time, that’s when I realized that this is really my passion, that even if I lost my last fight,” shared the ONE Championship Strawweight king, who has not looked back since then.   “The goal for me has ever been to prove to myself that I have improved in skills, and be the best fighter I can be,” Pacio added.   He made his ONE debut three years ago, finally fulfilling his lifelong dream of professional mixed martial arts, facing a more experienced Filipino fighter in Robin Catalan at the age of 20, one of the youngest to enter ONE’s cage.   “Before I got to represent Team Lakay in ONE Championship, the roster spot was actually up for grabs. Fighters of the team figured in a Team Lakay Championship, a grand-prix style tournament within the team, for the ONE Championship contract. I fought twice victoriously in one night to get it. Two weeks later, with a ONE Championship event in Manila, that’s when I found out I am making my professional debut,” said an astounded Pacio.   Everything about the man they call “The Passion” has been hard earned. He finally tasted gold last 2018 when he decisioned the famed Yoshitaka Naito, a Japanese ground and wrestling master that forced Pacio to tap via a rear-naked choke when they first met. Facing, and losing to Naito, according to Pacio, was a revelation that he has to improve his overall skills, especially his ground game in order to play with the big boys of the cage.   Striking will definitely get you somewhere, as is with Pacio’s base as a martial artist, but one has to have more tricks up his sleeve when they aspire for the pinnacle of the competition. Joshua came back with a vengeance in 2018 to show “Nobita” that “The Passion” is no longer the young kid who will be submitted easily.   However, 2019 did not start of great for Pacio and Team Lakay, after he lost the belt in January to Naito’s contemporary in Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta in a questionable split decision. But that did not deter the young man, who has made it his personal goal to continue improving and treat each loss as a lesson, in ONE Championship’s “Roots of Honor” fight card, where he faced Saruta once more.   This time, in front of a racous Filipino crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena, Pacio did not let the judges’ cards decide as he detonated a right knee to the side of Saruta’s head late in the fourth round to reclaim his throne. The dreaded Team Lakay striking power knocked the lights out from the Japanese fighter as Baguio’s young lion let out a furious roar to celebrate his redemption.   TWO PATHS, ONE GOAL   One did it for education, the other for health. Nowadays, however, MMA means more to Iniong and Pacio than just a stepping stone to something else. It is their passion, their advocacy, their bread and butter.   They continue to grind each day, waiting for another opportunity to show what they got and get the win, not just for personal glory, but also for the country and their family.   Inspired by her ailing mother, the “Conviction” promises to keep her current winning streak up despite being up against a formidable foe in her next match. After tasting defeat from Brazilian Istela Nunes, Iniong bounced back with a split decision over Radzuan last February to get herself back on track. Right now, Gina has one thing in mind with their goal: chase that ONE Women’s Atomweight division title, currently held by Angela Lee, and become the Philippines’ very first female ONE world champion.   However, Iniong acknowledges that the path towards the gold may not be easy, as she is currently eyeing a rematch with Japanese tormentor Mei Yamaguchi, the number one-ranked Atomweight fighter whom she has fought with twice, in order to settle who the rightful challenger to Lee’s belt is.   “Everyone has gotten belts. My big brothers in the team have tasted championship. I felt jealous because I do not have a belt, and lost my fight that would have given me a title shot. This time, I will make sure that I will do my best to secure a title fight,” rued Iniong in a previous interview with ONE Championship prior to fighting Radzuan.   While Iniong wants hit paydirt, it’s all about keeping the belt on his waist for Pacio, the reigning ONE Strawweight champion. His most probable foe is his nemesis Yoshitaka Naito who he does not have a problem with facing for the third time.   “I really want to prove I am the champion, and if it’s by facing him (Naito), so be it. I also want to prove that I have greatly improved as well from the last time we fought,” he shared.   While Iniong and Pacio await their next fighting assignment, their teammates are in the thick of training for the upcoming “Dawn of Heroes” megafight card happening on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena. It features Team Lakay members, led by Edward “Landslide” Folayang, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, and Danny “The King” Kingad, who will face the best of the world as represented by Eddie Alvarez, Reece McLaren, and Yuya Wakamatsu.   The entire country will be cheering on them as the whole world watches. And maybe somehow, somewhere there will be new blood encouraged and inspired by them to take on the challenge of continuing the legacy of the nation’s best fighting team alongside Iniong and Pacio.   After all, Sangiao did not establish Team Lakay just to be some Bagiuo-based fitness gym down Benguet road. He made Team Lakay to provide a home, a family, for young Filipinos who have the heart to fight for their dream, their family, and the country.     Watch “ONE: Dawn of Heroes” on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena, to be broadcast LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD with livestreaming on iWant for all the Pinoy fight fans to see. For more stories and news one ONE Championship, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2019