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3 things we learned: Gilas Pilipinas takes down Iran



Gilas Pilipinas shattered doubts in its biggest test of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship yet, as it took down defending gold medal winners Iran in an emphatic 87-73 win.

The all-important victory clears the Philippines’ path to claiming first seed in Group E. All the team needs to do now is to defeat India tomorrow in their last second round assignment that positions them in a place where it will not be facing China or Korea in the quarter-finals.

Gilas, as expected, went on a zone early in the match against Iran although the pick and rolls of their opponents led to kick out passes to the opposite corner or wing. Iran was able to make their outside shots early on and built a sizable margin heading into the second half.

That was when everyone else from the Gilas unit decided to become aggressive. Coupled with the right defensive strategy and the right combination on the floor, Gilas was able to out-run their foes and have a multi-faceted attack offensively, while maintaining the defensive intensity throughout the third and fourth periods for the win.

Synergy works on both endsFIBA Asia 2015 - Iran - Abueva

Again, this Gilas squad is not a mere collection of individual talents but a group which best works as a cohesive whole.

Head coach Tab Baldwin knows what to do with what tools he has, and was able to field in the right comination on the floor. He knows just who to use and who to insert given the situation.

Towards the end of the third quarter, Gilas went on a 2-1-2 zone defense. Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Dondon Hontiveros, and Andray Blatche were the five on the floor. Later, Marc Pingris checked in.

The defensive scheme funneled Iran’s drives off pick and rolls to Blatche in the middle of the paint, while the two Gilas defenders near the baseline allowed themselves an opportunity to recover should there be any kickout pass after the attack.

In the fourth quarter when the Philippines scored the knockout punch, it was Abueva who was all over the place, making an impact with his activity underneath. Ranidel de Ocampo threw his weight around too, finishing with 10 rebounds, helping Gilas narrowly beat their bigger foes in the rebounding battle, 40-39.

Pingris was scoreless in almost 18 minutes but was plus-11. Abueva was plus-16 and had 13 points and 6 rebounds.

On offense, Baldwin’s 5-out basketball opened the lanes for our aggressive guards. With Castro and Romeo taking turns in attacking the basket and creating opportunities for other teammates, it became too difficult for Iran to stop Gilas in the second half.

Blatche himself was aggressive and lured the bigs outside. He did not settle for outside shots but kept beating his defenders one on one, off the dribble with drives to the basket. He had 18 points including 11 free throw attempts.

Jayson Castro is the best point guard in AsiaFIBA Asia 2015 - Iran - Castro

And this time he made sure there is a disparity between him and his closest competitor Mehdi Kamrani of Iran.

Castro bested Kamrani in 2013 as he was selected part of the All-Star 5 in the FIBA Asia tournament, and now he proved he was simply at a different dimension.

Castro finished with a game-high 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting, scoring on a slew of drives which punished the Iranian defense. And it worked even better with the space that Gilas’ lineup creates. His tremendous ability to get to the rim at blitzing speeds is being utilized effectively and he has became even more mature with the decision-making.

An aggressive, scoring Castro is tough to beat on any night, and with his three-point shooting continuing to improve, who knows what limits there are for him.

Gilas answers questions on defense, depthFIBA Asia 2015 - Iran - Blatche

Iran was held down to only 37.2 percent from two-point distance, and committed 16 turnovers in the match as they succumbed to pressure towards the end.

With a quicker defensive unit in the second half, Hamad Haddadi struggled, and ended with only 10 points and 7 boards this time, a stark contrast from how he lorded over the competition prior to the match.

Iran was also defeated by a more eager effort from Gilas which seemed to bully them. Gilas simply brought it, especially in the second half, notwithstanding the challenge from the reigning gold medal holders.

Iran’s bench was also stymied this time. Mohamed Hassanzadeh, Oshin Sahakian, Hamed Afagh were averaging 25.8 points combined in the tournament, but all three combined for only 2 points in the match against Gilas.

They were never able to get rhythm offensively as they were too concerned withstopping Gilas’ juggernaut in the second half.

The Philippines will sure build on this win for the deeper stages of the tournament as they continue to shoot for the Olympic berth.

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Late whistle costs San Beda against Sousse to fall to 0-2



23 for 2023 cadet Robert Bolick is averaging 27.5 points per game in the tournament

After struggling to close out the UAE National Team in their opener last Friday, the San Beda College Red Lions figured in a late judgment call that did not fall into their favor, Saturday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai. Due to this, the defending NCAA Champions lost to Tuniasian club team Sousse, 78-79.

With the loss, the Red Lions fell to a 0-2 hole in the 29th Dubai Basketball Championship. But the record does not reflect how the Filipinos played.

Robert Bolick, who scored 28 points against the UAE National Team, led the charge for San Beda in their second outing had 27 points. Fellow 23 for 2023 cadet Javee Mocon added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Sousse, the second-best club team in Tunisia and boasts four national team players and an American import, led by as much as 10 points, 70-60 in the final frame.

Fired-up by the Filipinos who stormed the venue, the Red Lions answered right back with an 18-8 run capped by a booming Bolick triple with six ticks left to gain a 78-76 lead.

However, a foul was called on a Red Lion on a three-point attempt by a Sousse player. He calmly sank all three free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Donald Tankoua had eight points and 13 rebounds as he was saddled with foul trouble all throughout the game.

The Tunisian club team was paced by Radzhouane Slimane with 18 points while Ibrahim Nadarri and Joshua Cassady had 13 markers each.

San Beda will have a day break before taking on Moroccan club team Al Sale on Monday, January 22.

The Scores:

San Beda 78 – Bolick 27, Mocon 11, Tankoua 8, Noah 8, Toba 6, Soberano 6, Prebitero 4, Tongco 4, Bahio 2, Carino 2, Oftana 0, Adamos 0.

Sousse 79 – Slimane 18, Naddari 13, Cassady 13, Mouhli 11, Knioua 9, Toumi 8, Monastiri 4, Gaddour 3.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 36-39, 57-62, 78-79.

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Perpetual overpowers JRU to keep pace of Final Four



Strutting their decisive height and power advantage, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas slammed the Jose Rizal University Lady Bombers, 25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 25-21, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Altas were still heavy-handed with their errors, surrendering 35 miscues, including 12 in the second set, the only frame they lost.

The Las Piñas-based program, however, kept a scorching offensive pace, bombarding the Lady Bombers with six blocks and 12 aces. JRU had just five points combined crom those categories.

“Mataas pa talaga ‘yung tendency ng mga bata mamigay ng mga puntos. Sabi ko nga hindi kami mananalo kung tutulungan pa namin ‘yung kalaban maka-score,” rued Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño.

“Pero, unti-unte namang gumaganda ‘yung galaw ng mga bata. Lahat naman ng pagkukulang nila, tinatrabaho namin para maayos sa ensayo,” the champion mentor added.

Perpetual’s six-foot-three middle blocker Lourdes Clemente towered over the Lady Bombers with a season-high 19 points which included 14 attacks, two blocks, and three aces. Winger Cindy Imbo added 15 points.

The Lady Altas (4-1) take on the undefeated defending champs Arellano University (5-0) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Rookie Dolly Versoza paced the Lady Bombers with a game-high 21 points while captain Shola Alvarez managed 15.

The Lady Bombers (2-3) face the College of Saint Benilde (3-1) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Clemente 19, Imbo 15, Sangalang 8, Llorente 7, Tripoli 7, Gual 6, Versoza 2, Umandal 1, Estanislao 0, Medalla (L)

JRU (1) – Versoza 21, Alvarez 15, Ebuenga 5, Montojo 2, Rivera 2, Sibangan 1, Bodiongan 0, Macaraya (L)

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Marc Pingris wants Rafi Reavis to break Robert Jaworski’s record



Marc Pingris was all praises for veteran Rafi Reavis Saturday night, as the 40-year-old center made his presence felt in the Magnolia Hotshots’ 97-91 victory — their third straight win — over Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The six-foot-nine Reavis finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks — a performance perfectly punctuated by a follow-up of a Paul Lee miss with 12.5 seconds left to play that knocked out the Fuel Masters for good.

“Papasalamat ako kay Rafi na talagang kababalik lang niya pero binigay niya talaga lahat,” said Pingris after the bout, as Saturday night was just Reavis’ second outing in the 2018 Philippine Cup after recovering from a hip injury.

“Nag-usap nga kami kanina e, hindi pa siya 100 percent. So bukas, ang sabi niya babalik daw siya sa gym dahil gusto niya ibalik yung lakas ng legs dahil wala pa daw,” added the 36-year-old, who also suffered a hip injury last season.

Reavis has been playing in the league for 16 years. Seeing the work he has put in, Pingris, who finished the game with 17 rebounds, four assists, four points and two blocks, believes that the 10-time PBA champion can play for 10 more years — at least.

“You know naman Rafi eh, katulad ko rin yan eh – rebound and depensa. At tsaka sobrang vocal siya sa team eh,” beamed Pingris, who himself is a 14-year veteran. “Walang siyang inaano, talagang sinasabihan niya kung sino yung mga nagmi-mistake, kung paano kami mag-adjust, so nakikinig naman lahat sa kanya.

“Talagang nandun yung respeto namin kay Rafi.”

And if Reavis stays healthy for the next decade, Pingris wants Reavis to exceed Jaworki’s 958 games played — third most all time.

“Nasa kanya yun, basta kaya mo ba eh. As a player, kung masipag ka naman at may disiplina sa sarili mo, kaya niya yun.”

Still, Reavis has a lot of catching up to do.

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Altas surge to fifth straight win, slam Heavy Bombers



Pulling double-digit scoring outings from three spikers, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas remained unbeaten in NCAA Season 93 after a straight-set triumph over thr Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Middle blocker Ronniel Rosales topped the Altas with 13 points off 10 attacks and three blocks. Team captain Rey Taneo and Joebert Almodiel added 12 markers apiece.

The Altas dominated every scoring category, recording 44 attacks to JRU’s 26, five blocks to the Bombers’ zero, and three aces to JRU’s one.

Breezing through the first half of the season, Altas head coach Sammy Acaylar lauded his team’s consistency and hoped they continue getting better as they aim for a championship.

“So far, masasabi kong maganda ang nilalaro ng mga bata. Consistent naman ang mga galaw nila and focused sila sa mga laban,” said Acaylar.

“Pero alam nilang may ibubuga pa sila. We still need to get better and reach the championship level. Kailangan hindi mawala ‘yung ganito naming killer instinct,” the decorated mentor added.

The Altas take on a major test on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre when they face fellow undefeated squad Arellano Chiefs (4-0).

Wenjo Lahaylahay led the Bombers with 10 points while captain Patrick Rabaja managed seven.

JRU (0-5) limps into their Wednesday showdown against defending champs College of Saint Benilde (3-1).

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Rosales 13, Almodiel 12, Taneo R. 12, Muhali 7, Ramos 5, Atentar 1, Catipay 1, Salo 1, Bation 0, Solamilo 0, Taneo S. 0, Kalingking (L)

JRU (0) – Lahaylahay 10, Rabaja 7, Sulivas 6, Salazar 4, Cebrero 1, Soriano 1, Cruz 0, Ferwelo 0, Defensor (L), Flor (L)

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