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Thirdy, NeoPhoenix open home campaign against powerhouse Jets

We'll be seeing Thirdy Ravena take flight in Japan sooner rather than later. San-en NeoPhoenix plays its first pair of home games of the 2020-2021 B.League season on October 3-4 at the Hamamatsu Arena.         View this post on Instagram                   . HOME OPENING GAME???????? . . ???? 2020?10?3?????4???? ?????????? ????#?????? . ?????????2????????????????????????????????????????? . . #?????????? #B??? #?????? A post shared by ???????????? (@neophoenix_official) on Jul 12, 2020 at 9:34pm PDT NeoPhoenix will take on the powerhouse Chiba Jets, who finished the COVID-19 shortened 2019-2020 season with a 28-12 record. The Jets were also runners-up to champion Alvark Tokyo to end the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Ravena signed with the NeoPhoenix last month, becoming the first Asian import in the B.League after the initiative was first announced in 2019. [Related: Get to know San-en NeoPhoenix, Thirdy Ravena's team in Japan] Thirdy looks to boost San-en's campaign as NeoPhoenix finished in last place in the Division 1 with a 5-36 record. The team would have been up for relegation if not for the shortened season. — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 13th, 2020

Thirdy, NeoPhoenix open home campaign against powerhouse Jets

We'll be seeing Thirdy Ravena take flight in Japan sooner rather than later. San-en NeoPhoenix plays its first pair of home games of the 2020-2021 B.League season on October 3-4 at the Hamamatsu Arena.         View this post on Instagram                   . HOME OPENING GAME???????? . . ???? 2020?10?3?????4???? ?????????? ????#?????? . ?????????2????????????????????????????????????????? . . #?????????? #B??? #?????? A post shared by ???????????? (@neophoenix_official) on Jul 12, 2020 at 9:34pm PDT NeoPhoenix will take on the powerhouse Chiba Jets, who finished the COVID-19 shortened 2019-2020 season with a 28-12 record. The Jets were also runners-up to champion Alvark Tokyo to end the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Ravena signed with the NeoPhoenix last month, becoming the first Asian import in the B.League after the initiative was first announced in 2019. [Related: Get to know San-en NeoPhoenix, Thirdy Ravena's team in Japan] Thirdy looks to boost San-en's campaign as NeoPhoenix finished in last place in the Division 1 with a 5-36 record. The team would have been up for relegation if not for the shortened season. — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2020

LPGA returns with Kang posting 66 at Inverness for the lead

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Danielle Kang went more than six months without competing and looked as though she had never been away, playing bogey-free at Inverness Club for a 6-under 66 and a one-shot lead in the LPGA Drive On Championship. The LPGA Tour’s much-awaited return from the COVID-19 pandemic brought an immediate sense of its new world. Kang had no idea where she stood after a closing birde. “There aren’t any leaderboards on the golf course,” Kang said. Inverness, where Paul Azinger beat Greg Norman in a playoff at the 1993 PGA Championship, is hosting the Solheim Cup next year and offered to stage the first event back for the LPGA Tour since the Women’s Australian Open on Feb. 16. The LPGA Tour remains in northeast Ohio next week before heading to Scotland. Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England also played bogey-free for a 67. Celine Boutier of France and Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa also were at 5 under until both made bogey on the closing hole. They settled for a 68. The foremost global tour in golf attracted 130 players from some 30 countries, though it was missing the leading stars from powerhouse South Korea. Jin Young Ko, the No. 1 player in the world, and Sung Hyun Park have stayed home and are playing on the Korean LPGA. Neither is expected to travel to Scotland for the Women’s British Open in three weeks. The lone Korean among the top 10 -- a rarity given the country’s strength in women’s golf -- was Hee Young Park at 70. Kang, a former Women’s PGA champion, paid particular attention to the speed of the greens at Inverness, making six birdies and a number of key par putts to keep her round going. “Even if you hit a good shot, it’s not an easy putt,” Kang said. “I almost three-putted from 9 feet. Definitely had a really good attitude, and it was really fun to be back.” The LPGA Tour is not allowing spectators, though that wasn’t a problem for Kang. She was more concerned about her etiquette with two other players, different from a more casual attitude at home. Kang played only twice at the start of the year in the Florida events, including a third-place finish Jan. 23 at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio. The field attracted four of the top 10 from the world ranking, and Kang (No. 4) Minjee Lee of Australia (No. 8) were the only ones to break par. Lee shot 69. Nelly Korda, the highest-ranked player at No. 2 in the world, opened with two birdies in three holes and closed with another birdie. It was the part in between that cost her, and she had a 76. Lexi Thompson, who has slipped to No. 9, opened with a 73. For most of them, it was simply good to be back. Lydia Ko made a long birdie to close out her round of 69, joining Lee and Amy Olson. “I saw some of the girls and I was like, ‘Man, it’s nice to not see you through a virtual app or on social media,’” Ko said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 1st, 2020

PetroGazz not slowing down amid pandemic

PetroGazz head coach Arnold Laniog remains confident with the competitiveness of the Angels despite losing a couple of key players this year and the long layoff brought by the health crisis. Veteran hitter Paneng Mercado-de Koenigswater took a leave of absence due to pregnancy while PetroGazz parted ways with its starting setter Djanel Cheng following a successful campaign in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 last year. The Angels filled the missing pieces in their lineup by signing prized hitters Gretchel Soltones and Jerrili Malabanan while tapping Ivy Perez to replace Cheng. Laniog, who steered PetroGazz to a breakthrough PVL Reinforced Conference title exactly a year ago, told ABS-CBN Sports that the new recruits were already building chemistry with the holdovers before their preparation for the season was halted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.     “Bago mag-pandemic, nabi-build naman namin ‘yung relationship nu’ng tatlong bago sa old players,” said Laniog. “’Yun naman ang gusto namin na ma-develop ‘yung relationship ng new players, para pagdating sa game o kahit sa ensayo walang ilangan ba. Para malabas natin sa kanila ang potential nila para sa team.” Soltones, a former three-time NCAA Most Valuable Player, and Malabanan transferred to PetroGazz after their contracts with PLDT in the Philippine Superliga expired. The duo will make their return to the PVL since helping BaliPure win the 2017 Open Conference title and then PayMaya to a runner-up finish in the 2018 Reinforced Conference. The addition of the two hitters according to Laniog will give more depth to PetroGazz’s local roster especially with the PVL looking to hold the Open Conference this year once the government gives the green light for volleyball activities to resume.      “Very big addition talaga sila. Nakita namin ang potential ng dalawa, malaking bagay para sa rotation ng team. Naging mas malalim ngayon kahit sa all-Filipino,” Laniog said. The mentor also pointed out that his holdovers are ready to fill in the shoes left by Mercado-de Koenigswater at the wing spot.   “Kasi ang mga players naman namin tini-train namin as universal,” said Laniog. “So ‘yung opposite pwedeng maging open. Nandyan naman si Cai Baloaloa, si Jonah Sabete na pwedeng maglaro sa opposite side and also Malabanan.” Despite the ban on team training under the community quarantine, PetroGazz keeps a strict tab on its players. Making sure that they remain in tip-top shape through home workout activities and virtual team building sessions.     “Di pa rin namin tinatanggal ang condition ng katawan na nandoon pa rin sa fit level,” said Laniog. “Para anytime na i-allow na ng government na bumalik sa training ay ready sila.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2020

San-En NeoPhoenix big boss calls Thirdy Ravena the Philippines best player

Thirdy Ravena has already made history as the first-ever Asian import signed on to play in Japan's B.League. The three-time Finals MVP with Ateneo de Manila University is all set to suit up for San-En NeoPhoenix for the league's 2020 season. He is the first player to be joining the Japanese league by way of the "Asian Player Quotas" instituted in November of last year. The rule aims to open doors for more and more non-Japanese Asian players to join the B.League to "enhance competition in daily games… and expand business in the Asian market." And the reason for that is quite simple. "Thirdy is the best player in his country. Signing him is big for us," Phoenix Co., Ltd. President Kenjiro Hongo said in his native tongue during an online press conference formally introducing San-En's newest player on Friday. Ravena will be heading to Japan after a collegiate career that was capped off with a three-peat. Right after that, he was named into the Gilas Pilipinas pool. Now, the 6-foot-3 swingman will be looked at to help out a NeoPhoenix side that only had five wins to show in 41 games last year. "He can play shooting guard. He can play small forward. He will be a key player for us this season," Hongo said. Even more, the Japanese bigwigs have full faith that as good as Ravena already is, he can only be better - and bring them along with him. As Phoenix Co., Ltd. General Manager Seiichiro Kage put it, "He's a young player and his ability is really great. There is no limit to what he can do." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 26th, 2020

Bong and Mozzy feeling bittersweet with Thirdy leaving Ravena nest

Without a doubt, Bong and Mozzy Ravena want the best for Thirdy. And right now, they are adamant that Japan's B.League is the best for their second son's young career. "Sobrang proud namin kay Thirdy," mama Mozzy said just hours after it became official that Thirdy will be suiting up for San-En NeoPhoenix. "Gustuhin man naming nandito siya sa atin, as parents, we want yung best sa kanya. Playing internationally is where he can reach his potential." The three-time Finals MVP with Ateneo de Manila University is the first player to be joining the Japanese league by way of the "Asian Player Quotas" instituted in November of last year. The rule aims to open doors for more and more non-Japanese Asian players to join the B.League to "enhance competition in daily games… and expand business in the Asian market." In essence, Ravena will play as an Asian import for San-En NeoPhoenix. That's exactly why Papa Bong's first and foremost advice is for Thirdy to play like an Asian import. "I just told him to focus, play hard, play smart, and play as an import," he said. For the proud parents, they have no doubt whatsoever that their child will only keep on making them proud. And so, the greater worry for them is the fact that their 23-year-old son will have to live independently for quite some time. Of course, Bong and Mozzy will make sure that they will still be taking care of Thirdy. As the former put it, "Mahirap para sa magulang na mangibang-bansa ang anak. We're already planning on taking turns going there para may kasama siya." He then continued, "Pero same lang din with Kief before, pupuntahan namin siya kung sino man sa amin ang pwedeng pumunta. Better lang for Thirdy because Japan is closer." The Ravena matriarch was of the same mind. "First time mawawala nang matagal sa amin si Thirdy kaya siyempre, may worry rin kami as parents, pero alam naman namin ni Bong na kakayanin niya mag-isa," she said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2020

Workout buddies keep Valdez, Lazaro-Revilla motivated to stay in shape

Even athletes like Alyssa Valdez and Denden Lazaro-Revilla find it hard to work out at home and stay in shape with most of the country still under community quarantine. Three months – and still counting – of not being able to train, practice, do their usual routine and compete can take its toll. “For me it’s really hard because probably sabi mo nga this is the longest time (na di nakakalaro),” said Creamline star Alyssa Valdez in an interview on the Crossover podcast Tuesday night. “Usually, the whole year naglalaro [ako] with PVL, national team all throughout the year. Training twice a day sometimes.” All sporting events were halted last March as the government put Luzon under enhanced community quarantine in an effort to curb the contagion.    “So, sobrang nu’ng start ng quarantine, medyo okay pa eh. May time tayo for rest. Minsan lang ito. You took it positively na, ‘Okay para ito sa katawan ko’,” added Valdez. “But after a while, nu’ng na-extend na siya nang na-extend, parang nade-demotivate ka na rin to workout kasi we don’t know, ‘yung uncertainty kung kailan babalik ‘yung team trainings and tournament.” The newest member of ChocoMucho Lazaro-Revilla shared that although she had experienced taking a year-long hiatus from volleyball before to attend med school, she couldn’t agree more with Valdez’s sentiments. “I have more time on my hands to stay physically fit but then like what Alyssa said, may times na mawawalan ka ng gana because of the situation,” Lazaro-Revilla said. “So much uncertainty and you don’t know when training’s gonna resume, when the tournament’s gonna resume? So there are times na you’ll feel down, parang may times ako na wala akong gana to do anything actually.” Luckily for these ladies, they have the best workout buddies at home. “I think I’m lucky lang din na I’m surrounded by people na sobrang competitive, athletic so napu-push din ako na to really workout every single day,” said Valdez, who during this lockdown is staying at her boyfriend Kiefer Ravena’s house. The former Queen Eagle also has Kiefer’s siblings Ateneo basketball star Thirdy and Lady Eagles libero Dani to workout with.     Lazaro-Revilla, on the other hand, trains with husband NorthPort guard LA.    “Luckily, I have LA na sinasabayan kong mag-workout,” she said. Lazaro-Revilla added that the Flying Titans check and encourage each other to stay in shape via online meetings.   “Buti na lang I have good teammates, we encourage each other when we have team meetings and all that,” she said. Both players stressed that staying in shape and keeping themselves healthy physically and mentally is essential. Especially with the Premier Volleyball League looking at staging the fourth edition of the Open Conference late this year.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2020

DO YOU REMEMBER… Jia Morado’s PVL debut?

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2020

When We Were Volleyball Queens (Part 1)

(This story was originally published on March 23, 2015) "Pinays down Thais, bag Southeast Asian Games gold medal." This headline or anything close to it made the sports section of newspapers as one of our contingent’s shining moment in the 1993 biennial regional meet held in Singapore from June 12 to 20. Though given smaller treatment than the meteoric romp of the then Asian sprint queen Lydia De Vega in the century and 200 meter dash events, it gave pride to local volleyball.  Days before the birth of this generation’s most popular volleyball player, our national women’s team stood tall and proud as they wore their gold medals around their necks. Stepping on a platform higher than the region’s powerhouse team. It has been 22 long years since, and three months before the 28th SEA Games starts its fourth staging in the tiny island in the southern tip of the Malayan peninsula on June 5, Rosemarie Prochina recalled the campaign that brought Philippine volleyball to its highest peak. Talking with the Mane ‘N Tail coach during the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference launch, ABS-CBN Sports was taken back in time when the likes of Thelma Barina-Rojas, Zenaida Ybanez, Arlene Apostol and Leonora Escolante were the darlings of volleyball much like what Alyssa Valdez, Ara Galang, and the Santiago sisters, Dindin and Jaja, Denden Lazaro of today.    She said that their road to the SEA Games gold started when she and five other tall players from Cebu were brought to Manila for the national pool of the Philippine Amateur Volleyball Association headed by Victorico Chavez and Secretary-General Ramon “Tats” Suzara. “Ano kasi yun e, 1991 kinuha kami from Cebu. Mga tall players, tall na kami dati, may 6-foot-2, may 5-foot-10,” said the 5-foot-10 Prochina, who was recruited as a middle blocker from Southwestern University. “Pagdating namin sa Maynila parang ano, total makeover kasi galing kaming probinsiya ganyan,” she added. “Anim kaming dumating sa Maynila.” “Pagdating namin ang program nina Sir Tats hindi kami magtsa-champion agad kasi magte-train pa kami tapos may mga (nauna) sa amin sa Maynila na mga seniors na. May kasama kaming taga-FEU, at UST kasi sila yung mga darling dati,” said Prochina.     Sharpening the saw  Once under the program of PAVA, Prochina said they went through rigorous training under the tutelage of Stanislav Lyugaylo, who was part of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republic national team that won gold in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and was tapped to handle the team in 1993.  “That time training kami ng training. Nagkaroon kami ng Russian coach tapos nu’ng SEA Games ng 1991 nag-bronze medal kami,” she further explained. “Yun lang ang aim nu’n dati ganoon lang muna kasi bago lang kami e. So yun itinulu’y-tuloy lang yung programa.” The national team was given the much needed support and were even sent overseas for international exposure.  “Marami kaming pinuntahan para mag-training. Nag-Japan kami. Noong 1992 yun maraming competitions abroad, yun tulu’y-tuloy kahit maraming nag-tryout-tryouts na ganyan still yung team dinadagdagan lang,” Prochina continued. “Noong 1993 yun na yun may Russian coach kami tapos nag-training kami for one month sa Japan.” Prochina said that their Japan stint was through the initiative of Chavez and Suzara. The Filipinas were pitted against the best squads from the land of the rising suns.  “Sila yung instrumental sa team namin na pinadala kami sa Japan for one month,” she said. “Umikot kami sa mga club teams sa Japan. One month yun, rigid training yun kaya pagdating namin ng Maynila mapuputi kami na payat, as in talagang (fit).”    Adversities at home and in Singapore Prochina recollected that the team had a share of doubters and haters.    “Sa laro namin sa Singapore, dito pa lang sa Manila may mga (nagi-expect) na baka mag-champion or baka ma-disappoint lang,” she said. Some believed that it’s improbable that a group of girls can topple the Thais, who that time were aiming for a three-peat.   “Kasi nga alam mo naman, siyempre may mga detractors din kami talaga,” according to Prochina. The team proceed with their mission armed with optimism that they are ready and more prepared than in 1991. “Pagdating namin dun (sa Singapore) ang (gusto) ko lang sa team namin ay sobra kaming mag-teamwork. Kasi kaming mga baguhan tapos half naman ng team mga seniors, sina Thelma Barina, ganyan,” she said. “Magaling silang magdala ng juniors. So kaming mga bago talagang sumusunod sa kanila.” But they had a rude awakening. “Pagdating sa laro doon, actually sa first na laban namin sa Thailand talo kami e. Under four sets yata or something basta ganoon, parang marami kaming naging (pagkukulang),” she recalled. Though suffering an opening game loss, the coaching staff were solid in their faith with the team. “Pero ang coaches namin very positive sila,” Prochina said. The team got up to their feet running over their next opponents to take a finals berth. “Pero after (ng talo), panalo na kami nu’n against Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam kasi hindi rin sila ganoon kalakas,” she added.   Shopping, seriously? Prochina said that though the team racked up victories, they still felt the sting of their loss against the Thais. They were even demoralized going to the championship with Thailand, who was then lording over the competition. “Bago kami mag-champion hindi kami ganoon kapursigido, yung nag-eensayo kami pero ensayo lang,” she said. Sensing his team’s low morale, Lyugaylo asked his wards something that nobody expected.   “The day before the championship sinabihan kami ng Russian coach namin na “O you go shopping”, Prochina continued. “Kami naman “Ah, shopping lang. Bakit ganito ‘to?” she said. The day of the finals, there were no pre-game preparations, the Russian mentor asked them to go in deep meditation and after that just dance. “So nung umaga ng championship, kasi hapon yung championship against Thailand, ang sabi niya, “You go into one room and then you dance. Be happy,”” Prochina recalled. “Pero before noon pala may mga meditation na rin kami. Malaking bagay yun,” she said. “Yun yung isang nakakatulong sa team naming talaga. Yung relaxation sa mind kasi nga fit na (ang katawan namin).” And dance they did. “That morning pinasayaw niya lang kami. So kami naman walang KJ (kill joy) sa team namin kahit may mga edad na yung iba,” Prochina further related. “Sayaw-sayaw kami.” After that as they say the rest is history. “Tapos nu’ng hapon nangyari na yung nag-champion kami,” the PSL rookie mentor said. “Four sets yun at ang Thailand nun malakas, as in sobrang lakas.”   (to be continued)  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2020

Fil-Am baller Vanessa De Jesus set to go to Duke

While Filipino-American five-star recruit Jalen Green’s decision to sign with the NBA G-League’s Professional Pathway Program has been the talk of the town for the last couple of days, another Fil-Am recruit’s decision to join a prestigious collegiate basketball program has flown under the radar. In late-2019, through the early-signing period, collegiate basketball powerhouse Duke University secured the services of Vanessa De Jesus, the senior star point guard of the Sierra Canyon Girls’ Basketball Team. Sierra Canyon is also home to the sons of NBA stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. "Vanessa is a person of incredible character and consistency," said Duke University Women’s Basketball Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie, via GoDuke.com. "She plays the game immediately all the time. Vanessa has a great three-ball, can go off the bounce, can play the one or the two, and it's her maturity and her mindset that she really brings to the table.” The 5-foot-8 De Jesus averaged 15.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals in her sophomore year while leading Sierra Canyon to a 33-1 record and the state championship. In her senior year, De Jesus put up 15 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists.  A full-blooded Filipina based in Valencia, California, De Jesus also recieved offers from other universities such as Gonzaga, San Diego, and Washington. De Jesus’ impressive resumé includes being named to the All-CIF Open Division 1st team and Gold Coast League MVP in 2020 ,and the the All-CIF Southern Section Co-Player of the Year in 2019. What a game-winning shot by Vanessa De Jesus. Sierra Canyon wins in OT over Windward 56-54 pic.twitter.com/rBcEBoCUqp — eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) January 23, 2020.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 18th, 2020

Thirdy Ravena may be headed to the B.League. What s the B.League?

From what it looks like, Thirdy Ravena is set on Japan as his next basketball destination. The next time we see Thirdy take flight, it might as well be in the Japanese B.League. If he does, Ravena will be designated as an Asian import. When players are designated as imports, regardless of whatever league, those players are expected to be top guys and Thirdy is more than aware of that. [Related: Thirdy Ravena most likely headed to Japan's B.League] It's a bold move for Ravena, choosing to go pro abroad right after his collegiate career. "It's a different country and there's pressure of course, especially coming in as an Asian Import. We're expected to perform right away," he said. "Right now my challenge is how can I be best prepared for that situation," Ravena added.   WHAT IS THE B.LEAGUE? As a crash course, the B.League has three divisions, and teams in Division 1 and 2 can be promoted and relegated based on record at the end of each season, which lasts 60 games. The premier Division 1 has 18 teams divided into three conferences. Each season's champion is decided after a unique playoff set up. Top-2 teams in each conference advance, along with the two teams with the next best records, making it an 8-team postseason. The first two rounds of the playoffs are two-game series, both played at the higher seed's court. If the two teams split, a third game will be played. The Finals is a one-game knockout played at a neutral venue, much like the NFL's Super Bowl. B.League teams are allowed to field up to three foreign players, not counting those who have become naturalized citizens. However, only two imports can share the court together at any given time, and each team is allowed only one 2naturalized player. In 2014, FIBA suspended the Japanese Basketball Association after the JBA's failed merger of the Basketball Japan league and the National Basketball League. Eventually, the National Basketball League merged with the independent Basketball Japan league and the B.League was born. Alvark Tokyo has the most championships in the new league with two, which were won in the 2018 and 2019 seasons after beating the Chiba Jets in the Finals. The 2020 season, the league's fifth, was cancelled over the threat of COVID-19. "It's much like the PBA naman," Thirdy said of the B.League. "In terms of skill, I think we can match up to the B.League, sa Division 1," Ravena added.   WHAT ABOUT THE PBA? While Thirdy is set on trying to make a name for himself abroad, he's not entirely closing his door on the PBA. Much like his older brother Kiefer before him, Thirdy just wants to test himself against other competition. "Definitely not, the PBA pangarap naman ng mga Pinoy yun. Lahat tayo gusto mag-PBA," Ravena said. "Nandiyan lang yan. I mean, the opportunity right now is with Japan but the PBA [is still there]," he added. As for the little-known PBA rule that may actually ban, or at least delay, his entry to the league when he does decide to come home, Thirdy has had multiple discussions with Commissioner Willie Marcial on the matter. They're on the process of ironing everything out and Commissioner Marcial has shown support on Thirdy's plans for abroad. "Malaki rin suporta rin ni Comm, and of course my door is never closed to the PBA," Thirdy said. "Nag-usap kami ni Comm, I don't think we can say kung ano pa yung napag-usapan namin but right now we're working on it kasi sinabi niya naman siya bahala sakin," Ravena added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 3rd, 2020

From Cellar-Dweller to Contender: Basilan s phenomenal rise in the MPBL

Coming off a rough 2018-19 MPBL Datu Cup campaign, Basilan Steel-Jumbo Plastic has no way to go but up, with the help of Phenom Sports, its new management team. Phenom, led by Jax Chua, took over Basilan late last season when the Steel have already spiraled down to the bottom of the MPBL and finished the tournament tied with Rizal for the last spot of the Southern division behind a dismal 7-18 win-loss record. From there, Phenom rebuilt the team, starting with the coaching staff that has what it takes to maneuver a losing team to a victorious one. “Coming in, ‘yung outlook naming sa team, we want to bring a winning culture ditto sa Basilan. We took the challenge kahit alam naming cellar-dweller noong Datu Cup,” said Chua, who also serves as the general manager of the Steel. Coach Jerson Cabiltes took the helm for Basilan, alongside deputies Noy Catalan, Florian Pineda, Arnold Oliveros, Jinino Manansala, Joseph Guion, Migs Montero, and Dands Javier. Then came the task to build a team that exhibits the same qualities of the Basileños: determined, full of perseverance, hardworking, and has something to prove. Phenom, who also ventured into player management aside from sportswear-making, then made the moves to improve Basilan’s lineup by taking players who are no big names but can contribute in a variety of ways. “To have a winning team, not necessary naman to get big name players. Ang hinanap namin ay mga hardworking players who will buy into the system at magsa-sacrifice talaga,” Chua said. The management retained veteran Dennis Daa for his leadership while activating Cris Dumapis, who has emerged as a reliable force in the paint. They then acquired the services of shifty playmaker Hesed Gabo and sharpshooting big man Jay Collado from Quezon City, marksman Jhapz Bautista from Makati, high-leaping Bobby Balucanag and Shaq Alanas from Pasay, sparkplug Gab Dagangon from Bataan, and Michole Sorela from Navotas. They also signed PBA veterans Jonathan Uyloan and Anthony Bringas alongside Irven Palencia, an integral cog for St. Clare in NAASCU, who is also managed by Phenom. Philip Manalang, Mark Trinidad, Ar Raouf Jilkipli, Junjie Hallare, Darwin Lunor, Jett Vidal, Melgar Murillo, Harold Ng, and Reiner Bazan completed the lineup of Basilan. The Turnaround When the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup opened, the retooled Basilan started on the right foot with two straight wins against Bicol and Pampanga. But when the adrenaline ran out, the Jumbo Plastic-backed squad saw its win-loss standing at 9-8 midway through the season. Then Basilan scorched the league in its remaining 13 games, tallying 11 victories while only losing two matches. The main reason for the brilliant playoff push? The arrival of Phenom-managed collegiate talents in Allyn Bulanadi, NCAA Season 95 leading scorer and San Sebastian College-Recoletos superstar, and Philip Manalang, lead floor general of University of the East. Bulanadi, a 6-foot-3 up-and-coming star, played in the Steel’s last seven games in the elimination round on an impressive 21.71 points on 46 percent clip and 4.5 rebounds averages. Meanwhile, Manalang is a sparkplug off the bench who brings the tenacity on the defense all while contributing on the other end in various ways. Basilan entered the playoffs with a 20-10 record, good for the third spot in the tough Southern division just behind top seed Davao Occidental and second-ranked Bacoor. “Our main goal was to for a competitive team and we want to redefine Basilan through basketball. In this way, I think we have garnered so many fans and inspired yung buong Basilan province that’s why I think we have already succeeded in redefining Basilan,” Chua said. But the grind did not stop for the Steel as they marched into the postseason with the whole Basilan province rallying behind their backs. In the quarterfinals, Basilan swept Iloilo advancing into the semifinals, with a daunting task of beating second seed powerhouse Bacoor City. The Steel survived a grueling three-game series against the Strikers, coming up on top despite having home-court disadvantage for Games Two and Three. In the division finals, Basilan faced the toughest team in the South, the Davao Occidental Tigers. But Basilan showed, again and again, its heart, escaping Game One with a 74-72 victory at the Davao Sports and Tourism Complex in Tagum City. And with a shot to glory and barging into the National Finals, Basilan looked to become South kings in front of their huge following at Lamitan City Gym in Game Two, but the Tigers have other plans, spoiling Basilan’s home court and surviving with an 81-76 win. Game Three was supposed to happen last March 14, but MPBL decided to suspend the Division Finals due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “Nandito na rin kami eh, we are not here to participate lang. Given the chance and we will gladly take it. We will go all out to bring more pride to the Basileños and to repay the trust na binigay sa amin ng leaders ng Basilan especially Congressman Mujiv Hataman, Mayor Julz Hataman Governor Jim Hataman Salliman and Councilor Hegem Furigay,” added Chua. Will Basilan Steel continue their astounding playoff run to the National Finals or will Davao Occidental retain its crown in the South? No matter what, Basilan has already won the hearts of the Basileños and the whole MPBL fanbase with its tremendous turnaround from a lowly team in Datu Cup to a powerhouse in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season. More than Basketball But “Redefining Basilan” is more than basketball. Phenom Sports not only wanted to turn around people’s perception of Basilan the basketball team but give Basilan the province the appreciation it deserves. Basilan has been a hotbed of misconceptions due to the armed conflicts that happened there, but those were the days and the province has moved on. “Right from the start na nakapunta ako sa Basilan, sobrang iba nito kasi akala natin magulo ang Basilan, ang mga tao iba ang ugali pero hindi. Basilan has been enjoying a long peace na. For more than 15 years now under the leadership ng mga Hataman, naging maayos, naging focused sila sa peace and progress,” Chua on Basilan province. And basketball has played a huge part in giving the young Basileños a dream to hold on. “Yung mga kabataan, nabibigyan ng chance na mangarap na maging katulad ng idols nila,” said Chua. “They want to be the next Allyn Bulanadi, the next Hesed Gabo, the next Irven Palencia. This is what basketball is giving to the Basilan people.” The Steel has built a cult following in Basilan and it is the best feeling a player could feel. “Paglapag pa lang ng pier, everybody knows the players. They follow them like rockstars, like celebrities. They send food to the hotels, they watch our practices. Ganoon kamahal ng Basilan yung mga players nila. They saw a hardworking team who really represents Basilan’s culture - the determination, the perseverance and the hard work of the Basileños,” Chua concluded. But how did Basilan Steel get popular in the province? Meet the team behind Phenom Sports. Phenom is all-in in redefining Basilan and that’s why they have a team to do so. They have photographers in Marl Castro, Thel Suliva, and Michael Ordoñez who captured in-game pictures and the team’s interaction with the fans. Rion Balin and Jeff Palaganas are the videographers who make the video highlights of the Basilan players for the fans. Juls Claudio and Dands Javier are graphic artists who create the posters and other publication materials to be posted on the team’s social media accounts. The latter also serves as the marketing man of Phenom. Emma Bueno and Joseph Guion complete the team as coordinator and director, respectively. In a span of just a year, Phenom Sports has reached its goal of redefining Basilan, turning it to #BasilanRedefined......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 19th, 2020

FIBA By the Numbers: The future is now for Gilas

Gilas Pilipinas' new era is off to a fine start thanks to the national team's impressive road win against Indonesia to open the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers. With a relatively younger group than that previous iterations, Gilas took a while to get going but got the job done without too much trouble in the fourth quarter nonetheless. Pending new announcements for their cancelled home game against Thailand, the Indonesia road win is Gilas' last game and we'll have to wait a good nine months before the national team takes the court again. [Related: FIBA: Thirdy stars as Gilas pulls away late in win over Indonesia] With that, here's a nice ol' By the Numbers to help ease us through a much-needed Gilas break.   23 Total points for Thirdy Ravena in his first game back in Gilas Pilipinas. Thirdy just added to his stock as the most coveted Pinoy prospect outside of Kai Sotto with this performance with the national team. Ravena led Gilas with 23 points, all in the first three quarters of the win against Indonesia. Up until the national team opened the floodgates in the fourth quarter, it was Thirdy that was getting buckets for Gilas, keeping Indonesia at bay. On top of his 23 points, Thirdy also had eight rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. The future is now for the former Blue Eagle.   11 Total players in the scoring column for Gilas Pilipinas in the win against Indonesia. Thirdy's scoring outburst kept the Philippines ahead, but Gilas' balanced attack eventually overwhelmed the hosts in Sunday's 30-point win. RR Pogoy got hot in the fourth and finished with 16 points while CJ Perez, Kiefer Ravena, and Juan Gomez de Liano all scored in double figures as well. Only Isaac Go didn't score for Gilas but he did have seven rebounds in almost eight minutes of action.   15 Total steals for Gilas Pilipinas against Indonesia. Interim head coach Mark Dickel likes his team to play defense and that was pretty evident in the way Gilas was aggressive in their first game to start the Asia Cup qualifiers. Gilas recorded 15 steals in a game where Indonesia had 16 turnovers. Seven players had at least one takeaway with CJ Perez and Kiefer Ravena leading the national team with four steals each. Dwight Ramos and Poy Erram had two apiece.   32 Largest lead of the night for Gilas Pilipinas. Indonesia was within four, 51-55, late in the third before Gilas ended the quarter with a 12-2 blitz for a 67-53 lead. Come the fourth quarter, RR Pogoy started out hot and Kiefer Ravena and CJ Perez helped add the finishing touches as the national team cruised to a big road win in the Asia Cup qualifiers.   26 Total fouls on Gilas Pilipinas. It wasn't all smooth sailing for Gilas as the Pinoys were called for a grand total of 26 fouls Sunday. Early penalty situation in the second and third quarters allowed Indonesia to stick around as they connected on 20 out of 23 free throws. Eight Gilas players had at least two fouls though no player fouled out.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 24th, 2020

FIBA: Thirdy stars as Gilas pulls away late in win over Indonesia

A ton of fouls and early penalty situation for two straight quarters slowed down Gilas Pilipinas but the national team got the job done on the road nonetheless. The Philippines is on the board in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, pulling away late from Indonesia to score a 100-70 win Sunday at the Britama Arena in Jakarta. Thirdy Ravena starred for Gilas Pilipinas, leading the national team with 23 points on 50 percent shooting. He also had eight rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in 23 minutes off the bench. As Gilas struggled with its foul situation in the second and third quarters, keeping Indonesia dangerously close, it was Thirdy that was getting buckets for the Philippines. An Arki Wisnu layup put Indonesia within four, 51-55, but that proved to be the closest the hosts would get as the Philippines responded with a 12-2 run to close the third. Gilas finally pulled away in the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 32 points for the win. RR Pogoy started to open the floodgates for the Philippines, scoring nine of his 16 points early in the quarter. Kiefer Ravena and CJ Perez helped add the finishing touches in Gilas Pilipinas' first win of these qualifiers. After Thirdy and Pogoy, Perez scored 11 for Gilas while Kiefer and Juan Gomez de Liano added 10 points each. Andakara Prastawa Dhyaksa led all scorers with 28 points for Indonesia while Abraham Grahita added 17 points for the hosts. With the win, Gilas joins longtime nemesis South Korea for the early lead in Group A standings with indentical 1-0 records. Pending new updates on Gilas Pilipinas cancelled home game against Thailand, the national team's next official dates for these qualifiers will come in November. The Philippines will be on the road against South Korea on Nov. 27 and against Thailand on Nov. 30.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 23rd, 2020

Ravena, Animam headline PSA basketball honors

Three individuals who played a huge part in completing a season to remember are bound to reap the fruits of their hard work. Jack Danielle Animam and her venerable coach at National University Patrick Aquino, along with Ateneo stalwart Thirdy Ravena will be the recipients of special awards in the coming SMC-PSA (Philippine Sportswriters Association) Annual Awards Night at the Centennial Hall of the Manila Hotel. Ravena is the year’s Mr. Basketball, while Animam and Aquino are going to be the first awardees of Ms. Basketball and Coach of the Year honors from the country’s oldest media organization established in 1949. The three are part of the long honor roll list headed by 2019 Athlete of the Year Team Philippines which will be feted in a grand March 6 ceremony presented by the Philippine Sports Commission, MILO, Cignal TV, Philippine Basketball Association, Rain or Shine, and AirAsia. Animam and Aquino formed part of the undefeated National University Lady Bulldogs who extended their reign as UAAP women’s basketball champion following yet another perfect season campaign. The team copped a sixth straight UAAP title with another 16-0 record, including a sweep of University of Santo Tomas in the finals. Overall, the Bulldogs have extended their unprecedented winning streak to 96 games in a six-year span. Aquino also served as architect of the Gilas Pilipinas women’s 5-on-5 and 3x3 teams that brought home the breakthrough golds in the last 30th Southeast Asian Games. Working behind the core of the Lady Bulldogs led by Animam, Aquino steered the Filipina cagebelles on top of the podium for the first time ever by toppling long-time rival Thailand in the final game of the tournament, 91-71, ending a long year of agony for Philippine women’s basketball. They did the same thing in the inaugural 3x3 event when they likewise thrashed the Thais, 17-13, for the gold. The same season also saw the Gilas Pilipinas women’s team retaining its spot in Division A of the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup. And Ravena? The well-built Ateneo guard served as the catalyst of the Blue Eagles completing an unprecedented 16-0 campaign in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament.n The school retained the varsity title undefeated following a two-game sweep of University of Santo Tomas in the finals for their third straight championship. No men’s team in UAAP history has won the crown with a perfect 16-0 record, and was the first unbeaten champion squad since UST (14-0) in 1993. Ravena, who will forever be remembered for that iconic photo showing him standing on the scorer’s table and facing the Ateneo crowd while spreading his arms wide in the din of the championship celebration, were part of that Ateneo three-peat, which he capped by emerging as finals MVP each time, a first in UAAP history. Earlier in the year, Ravena made the final 12-man roster of Gilas Pilipinas in the final window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers as the lone collegiate player......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 10th, 2020

Madrid ends winless run at Getafe, Oblak saves Atletico

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid needed a defender to end a run of three straight draws and a worrisome scoring drought on Saturday as it resumed its Spanish league campaign after the winter break. Madrid center back Raphael Varane scored with a header after helping to play a part in an own-goal by Getafe’s goalkeeper to fuel a 3-0 victory at crosstown rival Getafe. The first win in four rounds by Zinedine Zidane’s team left it atop the standings at one point above Barcelona before the defending champions played at Espanyol hours later. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak made a pair of spectacular saves late in Atlético Madrid’s 2-1 win against Levante, ensuring it moved past Sevilla into third place on goal difference. Also, Valencia beat Eibar 1-0. Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético and Valencia will travel to Saudi Arabia to contest the new-look Spanish Super Cup next week. VARANE’S VICTORY Varane was already charged with anchoring a backline that was without the suspended Sergio Ramos. But he also came through at the other end to help get his team’s first goals after back-to-back scoreless draws. Varane was involved in an own-goal by Getafe goalkeeper David Soria to open the scoring in the 34th minute when they challenged for a high ball in the area. The Spanish league credited the goal to Soria, who appeared to knock the ball into his own net after failing to punch it clear. Varane doubled the lead in the 53rd when he was left unmarked to head home a free kick by Toni Kroos. Luka Modric added a third goal in stoppage time as Getafe lost its second of 10 league home matches this season. “We have made a good start to the year,” Zidane said. OBLAK'S SAVES Atlético got a third straight victory after scoring early and relying on Oblak to protect the three points. Thomas Partey started the attractive move that led to Correa's opener in the 13th when he played Kieran Trippier wide down the right flank. Trippier, instead of controlling the ball, used a precise single touch to send in a cross to the near post where Correa redirected it home. Roger Martí did well to level three minutes later for Levante when he swept in a lobbed pass for his ninth goal of the season. Atlético defender Felipe Monteiro hit right back for Atlético in the 19th with a powerful header. Atlético turned to Oblak to make two one-handed saves in denying Enis Bardhi late in the game. Oblak frustrated Bardhi’s excellent solo effort after he dribbled past three defenders before shooting off-balance. The Slovenia goalkeeper then surpassed that by stopping Bardhi’s point-blank header on one of the final touches of the match. “We all want to wrap the games up early, but we didn’t score the third goal that would have put it away,” Oblak said. “It was a reflex save and fortunately I stopped (Bardhi’s last attempt).” VALENCIA PREVAILS Valencia striker Maxi Gómez scored from a pass by Daniel Wass in the first half of a home win over Eibar. Valencia, which struggled early in the season, continued to climb up the table into sixth place......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2020

AC Milan s fans banking on Ibrahimovic to rescue ailing club

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press Veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is returning to help his struggling former club AC Milan, which is reeling from a humiliating defeat and languishing way behind city rival Inter Milan. Ibrahimovic's arrival resembles something of a rescue mission for a seven-time European champion fallen on tough times. That's because Milan is mired in 11th place in Serie A, a distant 21 points behind league leader Inter, and none of its players has more than four league goals this season. Matters reached a crushing low last Sunday, when Italy's most successful club in the European Cup endured its heaviest league defeat in 21 years, a 5-0 defeat at Atalanta on Sunday. The club desperately needs Ibrahimovic at his best to stem the rot and have a chance at qualifying for a European place next season. “I’ll fight together with my teammates to change the course of this season,“ said Ibrahimovic, who has never lacked confidence in a stellar and varied career. “I will do everything to make it happen.“ The 38-year-old Swede has agreed a deal until the end of the season with the option to extend the contract for another season, the club announced Friday. Ibrahimovic has taken his brash confidence with him wherever he has gone. He needed it as a shield when forging a career against considerable adversity when he was growing up in Sweden. After starting out with modest Malmö, he then impressed enough with Amsterdam-based Ajax to earn a move to Italian powerhouse Juventus at the age of 23. From there followed stints with Inter and Spanish giant Barcelona. He scored regularly for both, but for once he was overshadowed by the diminutive frame of Lionel Messi at Barca. He stayed with the Catalan club only one season, taking the hint there was a bigger star than him shining, and so joined Milan for two seasons. He then moved to Paris Saint-Germain, where he had a prolific four years, and subsequently to Manchester United and recently the LA Galaxy. But Ibrahimovic always spoke fondly of his time with the Rossoneri and keenly left the door open for a move back. “I’m coming back to a club I hugely respect and to the city of Milan I love,“ said Ibrahimovic, Sweden's record scorer with 62 international goals and owner of nearly 500 club goals. He has been named the best player in Serie A and the French Ligue 1 three times, and best foreign player in Italy five times. The deal is subject to medical examination and Ibrahimovic will be in Milan on Jan. 2 to take it, before joining his teammates for his first training session. If he's passed fit it will then be time for Ibra, as he is known, to show Milan's fans he has lost none of the old magic against Sampdoria on Jan. 6. Fittingly for a player who craves the limelight, that match is at home. Milan's fans will expect nothing less than instant success, and neither will he......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2019

Pasaol shows his class with 24 points as Zamboanga defeats Valenzuela

Zamboanga Family's Brand Sardines relied on a terrific night from Alvin Pasaol to subdue Valenzuela City Carga Backload Solution, 85-78, in Tuesday night action of the Chooks To Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season. Val City were playing in their alternate home court, the brand-new Bahayang Pag-asa Basketball gym in Paso de Blas, Valenzuela City. But they could not give a full house of their fans a win, and thus stumble to 9-15. Zamboanga climbs to 15-10 as they continue their campaign for a higher playoff seed. Family's Brand star Pasaol tallied 24 points and 9 rebounds to grab the Chooks to Go Best Player Award. He revealed in his postgame interview that he is relishing the role of team leader. "Tinitignan ako ng Zamboanga team as a leader. Everyday, sa loob ng court at sa practices consistent ang ipapakita ko," said the former UE star. Family's Brand led 45-35 at the half thanks in part to Pasaol's 13 points in that time span. In a high scoring third quarter the Zamboanguenos shredded a porous Carga Backload Solution defense with balanced scoring to open up a 71-55 lead heading into the fourth. In the final quarter the home team could only get going offensively late in the game as Zamboanga secured the win. Pasaol got help on offense from Santy Santillan and Raffy Reyes, who picked up 14 and 12 points, respectively. Leading Val City in scoring was Paolo Hubalde with 16 markers. In the early evening match-up, the Davao Occidental Tigers - Cocolife withstood a strong second half charge from the Pasig Sta. Lucia Realtors to prevail, 75-71. The Tigers led 41-31 at the half but the Realtors won the third quarter 23-15 with a determined effort from Fonso Gotladera, who collected nine points, to pull to within 2, 56-54. Pasigueños Rob Manalang and Jeric Teng chipped in triples in the fourth, and when Josan Nimes laid in halfway through the fourth period, Sta. Lucia led 67-64. However, Davao roared back with an 8-0 run from Mark Yee, Ivan Ludovice and Billy Robles to seize back the initiative. In the endgame Pasig coach Bong de la Cuz eschewed his established stars and went with second-liners like Richard Velchez, Al Chavenia, and Thurlough Grealey. The shock troopers were unable to step up, and DavOc's vets closed out the game. Mark Yee was a stud for Davao once again, scoring 22 points and hauling down 16 boards. Such was the ex-pro's dominance that he had a triple double even before the third period was over. Manalang topscored for Pasig with 15. Cocolife wins a fourth straight game to climb to 20-3 and open up a 2-game lead atop the South Division over Bacoor. Pasig falls to 14-9. The first game saw the Pampanga Giant Lanterns - ADG Group of Companies lord over the Pasay Voyagers, 75-65. Lanterns guard Mark Cruz conducted a masterclass on how to play the point, dishing out 14 assists, six more than the rest of his team and only two less than the entire Voyagers squad combined. He also contributed 14 points, one less than Levi Hernandez's team-high 15. A stingy Kapampangan defense held Pasay to just 35% shooting as they drop to 13-11. ADG Group of Companies controlled the contest for most of the game but there was a late scare when a Jason Opiso three-bomb pulled Pasay to within five, 64-59, with two and a half minutes remaining. Opiso was Pasay's leading scorer with 12 points. The Giant Lanterns quashed the uprising with a Hernandez three and Dexter Maiquez jumper. Pampanga improves to 15-9 in the North Division......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 18th, 2019

Eric Cray keeps crown in SEA Games hurdles

NEW CLARK CITY, TARLAC - Eric Cray stumbled out of the gates in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, but closed his campaign with a flourish as he defended his title in men’s 400m hurdles, Tuesday at the NCC Athletics Centre here. Cray turned on the jets in the last turn of the race and ultimately took home his fourth gold medal in a row in the event. The Filipino-American wound up with a total time of 50.21 seconds - .600 better than his closest competitor. This is a fine finish for Cray after he had been disqualified in the men’s 100m race due to false starts in the qualifying heats. Seizing silver is Indonesian Edwin Binsar while bagging bronze is Vietnamese Cong Lich Quach. —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 10th, 2019