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2014 PFF Peace Cup Finals: Survival Kit

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For those watching the 2014 PFF Peace Cup Finals tomorrow live at the Rizal Memorial Stadium or on the telly, here are 3 things to look out for in the game (plus a WILDCARD!).

The Dooley Effect

Coach Thomas Dooley paired winger James Younghusband with Phil upfront

Azkals Head Coach Thomas Dooley has been quick to stamp his imprint on the Philippine National Team. Dooley’s trotted out some unconventional line-ups in his brief time with the squad, often to great effect. In the Azkals’ tune-up match against UFL bigwigs Global FC, Dooley sent out the troops in an aggressive 3-5-2 formation, generating excited (and nervous) discussion amongst the Azkals faithful. The Philippines’ blowout victory over Chinese Taipei also featured two interesting positional shifts, as the Azkals’ head honcho paired winger James Younghusband with Phil upfront. Furthermore, Dooley shunted Kaya FC attacking midfielder Kenshiro Daniels all the way to right fullback. The radical tinkering did pay off though, as James Younghusband notched a goal from the forward slot, and Daniels acquitted himself well in his new role. It’ll be interesting to see what tricks the Azkals’ boss will pull out of his sleeve in the final.

The Burmese Messi

#10 Kyaw Ko Ko’s fancy footwork and creativity have caught the eye of football fanatics across the region, earning him the moniker “Burmese Messi”

 

While not a household name, ardent followers of the Azkals will be wary of one Burmese player in particular. Myanmar’s 21 year old number 10, Kyaw Ko Ko, will be the focal point of the White Angels’ attack. The Burmese superstar’s fancy footwork and creativity have caught the eye of football fanatics across the region, earning him the moniker “Burmese Messi”. Such is Kyaw Ko Ko’s talent that even foreign clubs have sniffed around for his services. In 2012, Nurnberg FC of Germany’s world-famous Bundesliga invited a 19-year old Kyaw Ko Ko to a trial at the club. Alas, a concrete offer never materialized, but that does not in any way diminish the threat Kyaw Ko Ko poses. His skill was on full display in Myanmar’s opening 4-1 demolition of Challenge Cup champions Palestine, where Kyaw Ko Ko set up two goals for his side. Kyaw Ko Ko’s second assist drew audible gasps from the crowd, which included the Chinese Taipei squad. The human highlight reel deftly flicked the ball over two defenders before beating two more with a lightning quick run, setting up Nanda Lin Kyaw Chit with a precise pass. The shifty forward is prone to roaming across a fluid Burmese frontline, and every single member of the Azkals’ defense will have to be on full alert to deal with Kyaw Ko Ko.

Youth in Revolution

One of the players to watch: the 22-year old Manny Ott

Head Coach Thomas Dooley has not been afraid to hand responsibility over to the more junior members of the Azkals. The 22 year-old Mark Hartmann, the UFL’s leading scorer, drew the most praise following his 2 goals in 20 minutes against Chinese Taipei, but a host of other young Azkals have been making waves as well. Three 19 year-olds (Amani Aguinaldo, Kenshiro Daniels and Daisuke Sato) started at the back for the Philippines against the Formosans, and it will be telling if Dooley trusts that same inexperienced backline in the Finals clash with the wily Burmese. Young guns OJ Porteria and UE superstar Fitch Arboleda are in the Azkals squad as well, but their participation in the final match is a lot more unlikely than that of their defensive-minded counterparts. 22 year-old Manny Ott will also be a player to watch, as, in the absence of the mutinous Stephen Shrock, Dooley handed the keys to the midfield to the Ceres FC star. The Philippines’ supporters will probably get a tantalizing glimpse of the Azkals’ future this Saturday night.

THE WILDCARD

Ultras Filipinas or Ubos Filipinos?

Will the Azkals get more support on a Saturday or will they again be playing in front of an empty Rizal Memorial Stadium?

While the Azkals put on a footballing clinic in their demolition of Chinese Taipei, the crowd failed to materialize. The bleachers were mostly empty despite the reduction of ticket prices, and the grandstands were barely half full. The 7pm kick-off for the match was admittedly a bit early for a weekday game, and the recent rainy weather probably scared off some prospective supporters, but the pathetic turnout was still depressing. The one bright side for the under-appreciated Azkals was the presence of the football-crazy Ultras Filipinas, who serenaded the Philippine National Team with chants and cheers for the entirety of the rain-drenched match. Will the Azkals get more support on a Saturday or will they again be playing in front of an empty Rizal Memorial Stadium?

 

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ABL

Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa

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After going a horrid 5-for-17 from the stripe during their first loss of the season last January 9, Christian Standhardinger made sure to make good on his free throws to power the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a dominant 99-79 rout of the Formosa Dreamers, Thursday evening in Southorn Stadium.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who tallied 37 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime loss to Saigon, went a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The contest itself was not close, as the defending champions were able to impose their will on the bottom-ranked squad, leading by as much as 23 points, 93-70, after two free throws by Standhardinger with 2:58 remaining.

If Standhardinger was having a good day with his free throws, the entire Formosa squad could not say the same, going 13-of-27 from the line.

Tyler Lamb had 25 markers as well for Hong Kong, while Ryan Moss grabbed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Lenny Daniel paced Formosa with 25 points and 11 rebounds. World Import Ronnie Aguilar had 14 points and 16 rebounds but went just 5-for-14 from the field.

With the win, Hong Kong goes to 8-1, while the Dreamers fell to 1-8.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes 3×3 World Cup breaks Philippine Arena record

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short of copping Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different beast.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad suffered a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even fashioning multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino, as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. The 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the duo — and the rest of the Jawbreakers — now have the experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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