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Petron sweeps Sta. Lucia to advance to Pool C

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After being handed their first loss of the season last Saturday, the Petron Blaze Spikers bounced back, blasting the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors in a straight set win, 25-18, 25-16, 25-20, in a Tuesday evening bout at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

The Blaze Spikers will boast a 2-1 win-loss record when they head to Pool C with the Cignal HD Spikers. And coach Shaq delos Santos hopes that his team will enter the round with a sense of urgency.

“Knowing our team, kailangan pa namin mapiga yung talent and skills ng bawat isa. Sa next round kasi darating na yung pressure kaya kailangan pa namin mag ensayo,” Coach Delos Santos shared.

As early as the first set, aside from allowing too many attacks and service aces from Petron, the Lady Realtors’ errors with rotation, service, and miscommunication hurt their chances to bag their first win in the first round.

In the second set, despite Sta. Lucia taking an early lead due to Petron’s errors and attacks, the Blaze Spikers eventually cleaned up their play.

Delos Santos shared, “Kanina madami kaming attack errors. Kailangan naming gandahan pa yung first ball para maka-set play.”

Their defense tightened up and their offense became more precise, rewarding them an 8-0 run nailing Sta. Lucia at 15 points. The bleeding only stopped after Petron’s error, for which Sisi Rondina immediately made up with an emphatic spike, and Remy Palma’s block finished the second set at 25-16.

The third set became a Petron party after they hit another 8-0 run thanks to Pons and Rondina’s attacks. Sta. Lucia continued to commit errors, most especially on attack. The Blaze Spikers finished the set and the match, 25-20.

Bernadeth Pons paced Cignal with 10 points, while Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Cherry Rondina chipped in nine and seven markers respectively. All 14 Blaze Spikers played in the game.

Sta. Lucia’s Fil-Am MJ Phillips’ impressive 12 markers were not enough to even come close to the dominant Blaze Spikers.

The Lady Realtors limp to a 0-2 slate. They will face the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers on Thursday, June 15, at the Strike Gym in Bacoor City. – By: Danine Cruz

The Scores:

Petron (3) – Pons 10, Pontillas 9, Rondina 7, Palma 6, Reyes 3, Tunay 3, Meneses 3, Basas 3, Molina 2, Hingpit 2, Aganon 1, Dimaculangan 1, Pineda (L), Duremdes (L).

Sta. Lucia (0) – Phillips 12, Navarro 8, Clemente 4, Gendrauli 4, Raslan 3, Cheng 1, Rivera Re 1, Sabete 1, Lastimosa 1, Salamagos 0, Sante 0, Rivera RJ (L), Enclona (L).

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PBA considering creating schedule in line with FIBA WCQ windows

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With the full schedule of the 43rd season yet to be finalized, the PBA board of governors is strongly looking to create a league calendar that will mesh accordingly with the windows of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think the board has already [discussed things] regarding the schedule,” said commissioner Chito Narvasa during the PBA’s presser Wednesday at Okada Manila. “It was taken into consideration, the schedule of the FIBA tournaments. 

“That’s what the board has agreed on already.”

The Asian Qualifiers yield various windows spread across 2017 all the way to early 2019. The qualifying windows for 2018 will be held in the months of February, June, July, September, and November.

Four of the mentioned months — February, June, July, and September — will intersect with the upcoming PBA season. And that is what the league and its’ board will have to look upon to cater the needs of the Gilas Pilipinas.

The second window for Gilas begins on February 22, 2018 when it faces Australia in Adelaide. This will then be followed with a home game against Japan on February 25. This will coincide with the Philippine Cup.

Things may have yet to be smoothened out between the PBA and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, but vice chairman Mon Fernandez lauded the Philippines’ recent victory that is the hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“We should be very happy and proud that the Philippines won together with Indonesia and Japan,” said the former NLEX governor. “We look forward to the hosting and we have a couple of years to prepare for it.

“It’s a significant event for Philippine basketball.”

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How all imports in the PSL Finals are connected

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The volleyball world is incredibly small and close-knit. Nothing better encapsulates that point like the on-going Chooks-to-Go/PSL Grand Prix Finals between the Petron Blaze Spikers and the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers.

Petron has the well-traveled Lindsay Stalzer on their side. Aside from this being her fourth stint in the PSL, Stalzer has campaigned everywhere from Europe to Asia. Earlier this year, the former PSL Most Valuable Player led Indonesian club Jakarta Elektrik to a championship.

Her partner there? F2 Logistics’ Venezuelan scoring machine Maria Jose Perez.

“She’s such a great player,” Stalzer said of her former teammate after Petron took Game One of the Finals.

“We’re really good friends off the court. But she knows too that when we’re on opposing sides of the net, that it’s all business and we have to try to get our team the win.”

“Lindsay’s a great player,” conceded Perez, who topped the Cargo Movers with 15 points in Game One.

“She’s also a really good teammate and you can see it with how well she bonds with her teammates in Petron.”

The squads’ other two foreign reinforcements also share a connection. Just last year, F2 Logistics’ Kennedy Bryan had a rather controversial falling out in the Korean Volleyball Association with club Expressway Hi-Pass.

Her replacement? Petron’s Hillary Hurley.

The hard-hitting Souther Californinan remembers her stint in Korea fondly where she had a memorable scoring duel with former Petron import Alaina Bergsma. She even got a tattoo to remind her of Korea.

Still, Hurley admits that she is yet to win a championship in the international scene. A win away from winning the Grand Prix trophy, Hurley is incredibly excited to leave the Philippines with gold.

“I’ve always been very close. We’ve won a few tournaments, a few rounds, but never a whole season like this,” said Hurley, who is a known scorer around Europe.

“Honestly, being in the Philippines has been such a blessing. I would want nothing more than to get the championship for my teammates and for all the incredible who have supported us along the way.”

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San Miguel still seen as team to beat for Philippine Cup

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Despite missing top overall pick Christian Standhardinger for the entirety of the 2017-18 Philippine Cup, the PBA board of governors still see the San Miguel Beermen as the consensus favorites to bag the All-Filipino crown for the fourth straight year.

Besides San Miguel, the teams are also wary with what the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the TNT Katropa will bring.

“TNT, Ginebra, and San Miguel,” said Magnolia Hotshots governor Robert Non.

“TNT, intact ‘yung line-up. They also have bigs who can match-up with June Mar [Fajardo], same is true with Ginebra, Greg [Slaughter] is back in the line-up, so are their rookies.”

“TNT,” quipped Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua.

“SMB hindi pa malakas yan wala pa si Standhardinger. Second conference pa.”

“Of course, San Miguel. And then Ginebra, and TNT,” added Rain or Shine governor Mert Mondragon. “They have good players, they have extremely good coaches. Basta mahusay sila lahat.”

“Kami sa Rain or Shine, for the information of the rest of you, we have five players who are out. [Raymond] Almazan, Jericho Cruz, Jireh [Ibanes],” disclosed Mondragon.

Same as Rain or Shine, the Meralco Bolts are also saddled with injuries to start the season.

“I think we’re coming this season with a lot of injuries, Ranidel de Ocampo and Reynel Hugnatan are sidelined, Cliff Hodge as well. We have four new players, KG Canaleta, Jason Ballesteros, Mac Baracael and Nico Salva,” shared Meralco alternate governor Ryan Gregorio.

Kia governor Bobby Rosales and TNT assistant team manager Magnum Membrere though gave an interesting take on who they think is the darkhorse for the conference.

“I think a darkhorse in the all-Filipino is NLEX,” Rosales said.

“For me number one yung San Miguel, Ginebra, sa tingin ko ‘yung NLEX,” furthered Membrere.

The representatives of Alaska, Blackwater, Phoenix, and NLEX though are confident that they can shock the league.

“For Alaska, hopefully, we’ll be performing better this season. Reason being, intact line-up,” expessed Alaska’s Dickie Bachmann.

“Just like Dickie, we’re hoping we could improve. There’s no way to go but up, we were losing last conference. We got the coaches of Alaska and we’ve got a good rookie so it’s nowhere to go but up,” said Phoenix’s Raymond Zorilla.

“Personally For Blackwater, we have Raymar Jose and I think he will be a big help to Poy Erram. We depend on Poy Erram and when he gets injured, the whole team collapses. Now we have a second option and hopefully he will give the team a good chance,” said Silliman Sy.

“You’ve seen NLEX in the first two conferences, we were in the bottom, but in the last conference, NLEX performed reasonably well and we will continue to improve,” vowed incoming chairman Mon Fernandez.

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PBA governors stand united to open Season 43

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Despite the on-going leadership struggle in the league, there’s no stopping the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) from resuming operations, as Asia’s first pro league will open its’ 43rd season this Sunday, December 17.

“As what I said in the PBA Press Corps Awards Night, December 17 is still the date for the season opening of Season 43,” league chairman Mikee Romero said during the PBA’s presser, Wednesday afternoon at Okada Manila.

“Ang sabi ko nga ho eh hindi pwede mawala ang PBA sa Pilipino, or ang Pilipino mawala sa PBA.”

Gracing the event were the vast majority of the governors — Mon Fernandez of NLEX, Robert Non of San Miguel, Alfrancis Chua of Ginebra, Rene Pardo of Magnolia, Dickie Bachmann of Alaska, Mert Mondragon of Rain or Shine, Raymond Zorrilla of Phoenix, Silliman Sy of Blackwater, Bobby Rosales of Kia. Joining them were TNT assistant team manager Magnum Membrere and Meralco alternate governor Ryan Gregorio.

And for those who had attended the press conference, it was definitely a sight to behold, that it speaks volumes that even just for now, differences were set aside all for the betterment of the beloved league.

“I think we’re a very solid group at this point in time,” Romero opined. “As what we promised — that promise did not come from me, the promise came from all 12 teams… Ito pong December 17 suportahan natin. Business as usual.

“This Sunday, what we should be watching are the players, the superstars of Philippine basketball. 43 years, ang masasabi ko lang, let the games begin.”

The impasse wasn’t discussed during the presser, as the league requested moments prior to the event that the members of the press refrain from asking questions about it. Commissioner Chito Narvasa though was in attendance, but did not grant any interviews.

With the league still in a bit of a turmoil, it is still a mystery on how the 43rd season will roll out. Vice Chairman Mon Fernandez did not go into detail about their plans, but he promised to “make the PBA very relevant to the Filipinos.”

“There are a lot of plans but we cannot reveal yet,” said the former NLEX governor. “Definitely, what the board promises you is we will have a more exciting year and we’ll continue to delight the millions of fans of the PBA.

“We promise that with your support, we will continue to make the PBA very relevant to the Filipinos.”

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