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2015 Master Game Face MVP Cup: Survival Kit

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Four teams square off in the 2015 Master Game Face MVP Cup which shall open on Friday, September 11 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Gilas Pilipinas headlines the cast of squads, as they continue to prepare for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China from September 23 to October 3.

The MVP Cup serves as a training ground for the team, which recently announced their final 12 and also an opportunity for the Philippine-based fans to get a glimpse of the Gilas squad before the team leaves for the FIBA Asia joust.

Gilas will face New Zealand club team Wellington Saints, the Chinese Taipei national team, and PBA squad Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in the tournament.

Before four teams see action in the MVP Cup, here is a backgrounder on all four squads.

Gilas Pilipinas

Terrence Romeo Gilas

The Philippine national basketball team is gearing for a shot at the 2016 Olympic basketball tournament in Rio de Janeiro and winning the FIBA Asia gold gives them an outright spot.

Head coach Tab Baldwin named his final 12, composed of Andray Blatche, Asi Taulava, Sonny Thoss, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris, Gabe Norwood, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Calvin Abueva, JC Intal, Dondon Hontiveros, Jayson Castro, and Terrence Romeo.

After a silver medal finish in the 2015 William Jones Cup, Gilas wants to further improve on their on-court chemistry and to fine-tune its game heading into the most important battle this year.

Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters

Mo-Tautuaa-and-Troy-Rosario

The reigning PBA Commissioner’s Cup champions are preparing for the next PBA season which unfolds on October, and this is a tournament to test their new acquisitions and check how they will blend with the team.

Rookies Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario plus guard Denok Miranda are among the new faces in the TNT lineup. With Castro and De Ocampo among those with Gilas, these names will likely get most of the playing time.

With Jimmy Alapag and Kevin Alas already with Meralco and NLEX, respectively, this would be a good test for Miranda to see how he fits and what his role will be with the squad for the upcoming season.

Chinese Taipei

From crichomes.com

The Chinese Taipei national team made a big splash in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship in Manila, thanks to the addition of Quincy Davis III, the team’s naturalized player.

Davis was the fifth leading scorer of the tournament, averaging 14.7 points per game while also adding 9 rebounds per outing. He had 5 double-doubles throughout that edition of the FIBA Asia helping Taipei place 4th, only a win short of making the World Cup.

Davis’ entry also allowed Tseng Wen-Ting to slide at the 4 spot and concentrate on his outside game. For so long, Tseng has been manning the center spot but now, he has the luxury of being the main four guy of the team.

The key win was a 96-78 trouncing of powerhouse China in the quarterfinals of that tournament, a statement win which echoed throughout Asia.

Another player to watch is Lin Chih-Chieh, Taipei’s all-around wing guy who can hit from anywhere on the floor. Lin averaged 10.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 4.9 APG in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.

Both were part of the bronze-medal winning Taipei squad in the recent Jones Cup.

Wellington Saints


The Wellington Saints are the runners-up of the 2015 season of the New Zealand NBL. They finished with a 12-6 card in the eliminations, defeated the Nelson Giants in the semi-finals but fell to Southland Sharks in the championship.

The Saints finished with a 3-5 card in the Jones Cup, good for 6th place.

Playing head coach Kevin Braswell did not have the strongest possible team for the Jones Cup, and went with a short rotation.

One thing is for sure, he knows who the go-to guys are in this crew.

Here are four names to look out for.

Big man Ray Turner led the Saints in the frontcourt, notching 3 double-doubles in the Jones Cup while averaging 15.6 PPG and 9.9 RPG. Another center, Bryan Davis, is their best offensive option in the froncourt as he put up 16.4 points a game.

In the backcourt, Brook Ruscoe and Eric Devendorf are the gunners expected to lead the New Zealand-based side. Ruscoe shot 37.1 percent from three-point area and averaged 10.8 points per outing, helping the team space the floor.

Devendorf meanwhile put up 17.3 points a game to lead the Saints in scoring, showing the ability to hit from anywhere on the floor and get to the free throw line several times with his aggressiveness.

Here is the full schedule of the MVP Cup:


September 11
4:15 PM Wellington Saints (New Zealand) vs Chinese Taipei
7:00 PM Gilas Pilipinas vs Talk ‘N Text

September 12
3:00 PM Talk ‘N Text vs Chinese Taipei
5:00 PM Wellington Saints vs Gilas Pilipinas

September 13
3:00 PM Wellington Saints vs Talk ‘N Text
5:00 PM Gilas Pilipinas vs Chinese Taipei

All games will be played at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

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Basketball

Willie Marcial on next PBA Commissioner: ‘It should either be an attorney or a marketing expert’

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The PBA is still in the midst of finding the league’s 10th commissioner. And if current officer-in-charge Willie Marcial is to be asked, the league’s next top executive should either be a legal or a marketing expert.

“Sa akin yung attorney o kaya (marunong) sa marketing,” Marcial told scribes during the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association Forum, Wednesday afternoon at the Tapa King restaurant inside Araneta Center in Cubao.

Marcial’s own criteria for the next commissioner is solidly based from the characteristics of previous commissioners he had worked with, from Leo Prieto in the early 1980s up to Chito Narvasa from 2015 to 2017.

The last two PBA commissioners have been Chito Salud, a lawyer, and Chito Narvasa, a businessman.

“May commisioner na ‘pag ito nagsabi nirerespeto. May commissioner na magaling sa marketing. May commissioner na magaling sa mga rules. May commissioner naman na talagang disiplinado,” he said.

But for the former media bureau chief, it does not matter on whoever will assume the head office next, as he believes that the league has enough manpower to run the league regardless of the next commish.

“Tatakbo naman ang PBA ‘pag ito mga kasama mo,” said the league’s long-time external affairs and communications head, pointing at his technical committee in Eric Castro, Roscelle Teotico, and Jun Bengua. “Alam na nila eh. Alam nila mga sistema, lalo sa mga matatagal na sa PBA. Mahal nila ang PBA. Kaya kung sino magiging susunod na commissioner, ‘wag silang magalala sa mga empleyado ng PBA.

“Hindi nila pababayaan ang PBA.”

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Basketball

OIC Willie Marcial insists ‘walang pagbabago’ in return of physical play in PBA

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The return of physicality in PBA games early this 43rd season has drawn raves from the coaches and the fans. At last, the matches are decided by the players themselves and not by the way the referees blow their whistles.

All the fans, the players, and ultimately the coaches have been longing for this, as physical play had been heavily controlled during the administration of former commissioner Chito Narvasa from 2015 to 2017.

“The games are being called a little differently now. They’re allowing a little bit more contact or a lot more contact,” said Meralco Bolts head coach Norman Black.

“I love it. I’m an old school guy so you can imagine. No harm, no foul.”

“The physicality’s good. It’s good for the game. It’s real men going at it,” opined Alaska Aces head coach Alex Compton on the other hand, seconding Black’s sentiments.

“I like the direction the league is going in with officiating.”

It is just one of the many positive changes that are currently taking place in the league under the management of officer-in-charge Willie Marcial. But he insisted that tweaks haven’t really been made in terms of calling games.

“Wala, pinapalaro lang namin. Walang pagbabago yun,” said the amiable league official on Monday evening, when he paid Gilas Pilipinas a surprise visit at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.

“Pinapalaro lang namin yung mga players.”

All that he’s doing, according to Marcial, is simply reminding the referees to be firm with their calls.

“Sinabihan ko lang yung mga referees na, ‘Manindigan kayo kung ano talaga.'”

With more consistent calls comes the shorter duration of games compared to the past two seasons, as time-consuming reviews by referees and officials has not occurred in matches too often this season.

“Mas mabilis na (mga laro ngayon),” said Marcial, also the league’s former external affairs and communications head.

“One hour (and) 56 (minutes), one hour 52… ‘Di umaabot ng dalawang oras eh.”

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Boxing

Manny Pacquiao eyes bout against Vasyl Lomachenko

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Even if he has hinted at retirement numerous times, Senator Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38KO) continues to stress that the time is not yet now.

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Wednesday morning, the 39-year-old sure hall of famer reiterated his stance that he and his camp are still looking for the best fights possible.

“I am not retired yet. Alam mo na-mimiss ko yun boxing e,” Pacquiao told Karen Davilla.

“I’m still okay.”

Pacquiao, who lost his last bout against Jeff Horn last July 2, is not afraid that another loss might affect his legacy.

Pressed about who he wants to fight next, boxing’s only eight-division world champion disclosed that he is currently under negotiations with the camp of WBO Super Featherweight Champion Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8KO).

“Wala akong problema kung Amir Khan. May discussion din ngayon kay Lomachenko, he is the number one pound-for-pound fighter,” Pacquiao shared.

“Hindi pa na-finalize pero this year.”

Pacquiao is eyeing an April date for the bout, as it will be the time the senate goes on a break.

“This year, by April. Pangako ko sa mga tao na hindi maapektuhan ang trabaho ko. April, magandang idea dahil off kami from March 23 to May 13. April wala kaming trabaho,” a confident Pacquiao added.

“Three months is more than enough time to prepare.”

However, there is still one hindrance to the bout, according to Pacquiao. The two camps have yet to agree on which weight class the bout will be held.

According to reports, Lomachenko wants the bout to be at lightweight — a division Pacquiao has not been in for the last 10 years.

“Hindi pa sure. Nag-uusap pa about sa timbang.”

One thing is for sure — Pacquiao is hungrier than ever.

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Football

Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory

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Photo from the-AFC.com

2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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