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2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup BPC Race: Giants dominate first two weeks

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As expected, giants continue to tower in the PBA today, while players with new teams or under new systems have seemingly breathe new life to their careers.

With two weeks into the PBA Philippine Cup, we take a look at some of the top players who’ve provided impact early on.

1. June Mar Fajardo, San Miguel Beermenpba-2015GCFG3 Fajardo

Already the reigning back to back Most Valuable Player in the league, Fajardo is showing even more improvement, and that is scary for the rest of the league (although certainly good for Gilas!). He led the Beermen to back to back wins while averaging 17.5 PPG on above 50 percent shooting, 14.5 RPG, and 2 BPG. He is on the right track to win another BPC, given the stats + winning, and he just has to stay healthy and efficient.

2. Sean Anthony, NLEX Road WarriorsPBA Ph Cup - Sean Anthony

The Road Warriors (2-0) are the best defensive team right now in the PBA, allowing only 89.6 points per 100 possessions and Anthony’s addition has had big implication so far. In two games, Anthony averaged 15.5 RPG (NLEX leads the league in total rebounds) on top of his 12.5 PPG and 4.5 APG. The hardworking forward has not only plugged the hole at the four spot but is giving the Road Warriors a lot more.

3. Vic Manuel, Alaska AcesPBAS41 PH Cup - Ala BW - Manuel

Manuel is averaging only 20 minutes with the Aces, and yet he is putting up 17.5 PPG and 8.5 RPG, shooting close to 60 percent from the field. He continues to become the Aces’ premier post option, and it showed against TNT where he compiled 22 points and 13 rebounds in only 21 minutes.

4. Greg Slaughter, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel

Barangay Ginebra’s switch to a triangle system has given Slaughter the benefit of getting more touches and becoming a premier offensive option. In his career, Slaughter is averaging only above 10 field goal attempts per game. In his first two outings, he had 19 FG-A per game. He is averaging 27.5 PPG and 21.5 RPG on a higher usage rate of 30 (compared to 23.2 and 21.1 in the past two seasons) and expect him to be a better big under Tim Cone.

5. Stanley Pringle, Globalport Batang PierPBAS41 Ph Cup - GP SH - Pringle

The Batang Pier split their first two assignments against San Miguel and Star, and Pringle has been the most efficient player so far for coach Pido Jarencio. Pringle put up 21.5 PPG and 4 APG in the first two games, and what is even more impressive is his three-point shooting, which is at 57.1 percent.

Honorable mentions

James Yap, Star HotshotsPBA PH CUP - ROS SH - James Yap

Like Slaughter, Yap playing under Jason Webb’s guard-driven system is getting him more leeway to take charge and get more touches. In his first three games, Yap is averaging a team-best 14.7 PPG on 15.7 field goal attempts per game. The only setback maybe him shooting just below 40 percent but expect him to fill the stat sheets now that he has more freedom.

Jayson Castro, Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texterscastro

The departure of Jimmy Alapag made it clear Jayson Castro is the Tropang Texters’ leader now, and best scoring guard. In his first two games which TNT split, Castro is averaging 23.5 PPG. He is hoisting 14.5 field goal attempts per match, slightly higher than his 2014-15 average of 13.9, and is shooting 51.7 percent from the field. In addition, he already got 17 free throw attempts in his first two games, getting to the basket several times to draw contact.

JR Quinahan, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters

JR Quinahan shooting over Ronald Tubid

JR Quinahan shooting over Ronald Tubid

The Elasto Painters are 2-0 right now and Quinahan has been their best frontcourt player. Quinahan is averaging 15.5 PPG on over 10 shots per game and 6.5 RPG, having a more conscious effort to attack inside given the absence of Paul Lee — Rain or Shine’s best scorer.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

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Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the bout returned to the feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for Phoenix Fuel Masters Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to Mahindra Floodbuster.

But that achievement of his won’t be that memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat they had absorbed into the hands of Paul Lee and Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix was there in contention all through out the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But then, the Hotshots’ comebacking skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” expressed the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face Barangay Ginebra next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Basketball

Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to its’ first win after a historic 16-game skid at the expense of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover the six-foot-four forward made.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made it. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all by himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he got frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

Alab’s bench however could not sustain the effort of the starters that led to them clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a sparkplug, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided the spark for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. were on-point with the former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards that resulted to the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan to slice the lead to as low as four points. Free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28 when they take on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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