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Aby Maraño proud to see Robert Bolick rise from benchwarmer to two-time NCAA champion

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There are fans. There are fanatics. There are devotees.

Then, there’s Aby Maraño.

Known for her “Beast Mode, Don’t Care” exploits on the volleyball court, Maraño also does not hold back when supporting her alma mater, the De La Salle University. She also has a different level of BMDC when supporting her beau, Robert Bolick.

A fixture in the sea of red during San Beda games, the former Lady Spiker stands out, yelping and screaming her heart out for Babes, the nickname she has affectionately given and made famous for Bolick.

There was some understandable stress with Maraño when she couldn’t watch Game Two of the NCAA Season 93 Finals, which turned out to be the title-clincher for the Red Lions. Maraño had a match in the 2017 Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, as her F2 Logistics Cargo Movers went up against the Generika-Ayala Lifesavers.

The PSL ambassador recalled being relieved when she found out that her boyfriend had clinched his second straight NCAA title.

“Kinakabahan nga ako kanina kasi gusto ko talaga panoorin [‘yung Game Two]. Nagtatanong-tanong ako kanina tapos may random guy na lumipat sa akin tas binalita na champion na nga daw. Parang nawala ‘yung kaba ko, naging mas light ‘yung feeling ko noong game,” she told Tiebreaker Times after the Cargo Movers walloped the Lifesavers. “Pero naco-compose ko pa rin naman ‘yung sarili kasi, last year, ganoon din ‘yung nangyare sa amin – may game din ako tapos di ko napanood ‘yung Finals niya. Naging positive lang kami.

“Whether I’m there or not, tiwala na lang na maglalaro siya nang mabuti.”

2017-PBA-DLeague-Aspirants-Cup-Finals-Game-3---Cignal-def-Racal---Aby-Marano-x-Robert-Bolick

When Bolick and Maraño first got together, it was clear which of them was more famous and successful. Bolick, during his days as a Green Archer, had gathered more renown as Maraño’s boyfriend than from his on-court performance.

Fast forward to today, and Bolick has arguably reached Maraño’s lofty acheivements. Bolick, with his two NCAA championships, one PBA D-League title, and D-League MVP plum, now has a reputable collection of accolades to put next to Maraño’s UAAP MVP trophy, three UAAP championships, two PSL titles, and numerous Best Blocker awards, to name a few.

Taking no credit away from Bolick’s inherent determination, Maraño admits that her blossoming volleyball career has always been a motivation for Bolick to revive his basketball career.

“Hindi naman sa nai-insecure [siya sa akin]. More of nacha-challenge siya to prove himself. Siyempre, lalake, may ego siya,” said the National Team stalwart. “There was a time na sinabi niya sa akin na kailangan niya magtrabaho at mag-step up talaga kasi nga marami na nga daw akong napatunayan, MVP, champion, National Team.

“Gusto niya ring maabot ‘yun.”

Maraño also recalls a time when she had forgotten to consider Bolick’s commitments and dearly missed his company. For now, she asserts that both are considerate of their goals and the process they undergo to achieve them.

“Kaya humingi talaga siya ng support sa akin and understanding sa time. Pinaalala niya sa akin na pareho lang kami ng sitwasyon noong collegiate player pa ako,” Maraño reminisced. “There was a time din kasi na nalimutan ko na collegiate player pa lang siya. Ino-obliga ko siya na samahan ako sa mga ganito, ganiyan. ‘Yun lang.

“Doon nag-start ‘yung discussion namin na kailngan ko siya suportahan sa goals niya. Kaya ngayon isa-isa, tiis-tiis na ‘yung companionship sa boyfriend ‘di ko din makukuha ngayon kasi pareho kami tight ang schedule with our season.”

AVC Seniors PHI vs. KOR - Marano-4115

Maraño, one of the top players in the Philippines, is ecstatic about the possibilities for Bolick, now a shoo-in for the PBA and a definite candidate for Gilas Pilipinas consideration.

She laughs off any talks of their future, joking about Bolick’s wanting kids in the next two years.

“Nagpaparinig siya na mag-ready na daw ako kasi gusto niya na magka-baby. Siyempre ayaw ko pa kasi nga gusto ko tuloy-tuloy pa ako sa paglalaro. Pero gusto niya din kasi na makakasabay niya pa sa basketball ‘yung anak niya. Ngayon, hindi ko pa iniisip kasi 24 pa lang ako and gusto ko pa humaba ‘yung volleyball career ko,” she said.

For now, Maraño wants Bolick to focus on NCAA Season 94. She’s sure that Bolick will return to play out his final year of eligibility.

Most importantly, Maraño wants Bolick to achieve something she’ll never get a chance to achieve — to graduate a champion.

“Sabi ko nga, naturingan kang King Lion tapos aalisin mo sila? Di pwede ‘yun. Bigyan mo sila ng karangalan,” Maraño said.

“Sana gumraduate siya ng maganda, ng champion. Sana maramdaman niya ‘yung feeling to graduate as a champion. Kahit hindi ko naramdaman ‘yun, ‘yun ang pangarap ko sa kanya.”

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball – from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado’s setting.

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Hong Kong Eastern deals Tanduay Alab third straight loss

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Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team continued Tanduay Alab Pilipinas’ misery early in the 9th ASEAN Basketball League, sending the Philippine side to its third straight loss, 99-96, Wednesday night at the Southorn Stadium.

The Filipino club team has now dropped to a 0-3 hole, while the defending ABL champions cruised to their fifth straight win for a clean 5-0 slate. Moreover, HK Eastern is now 2-0 in their season series with Tanduay Alab.

Tyler Lamb powered Hong Kong Eastern with 32 big points, 11 coming in the fourth quarter. World Import Marcus Elliott had a solid all-around outing with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists.

Christian Standhardinger, who is coming off a 40-point outing against Mono Vampire BC, added 25 markers — spiked by 3-of-3 treys in the fourth — in the win.

The sophomore ABL franchise was actually on pace to put an end to the league leaders’ winning streak, all thanks to several double-digit cushions they were able to establish in the first three quarters.

But it all changed come crunch time. And what transpired in the end-game on Wednesday night was similar — perhaps eerily so — to what had taken place in their first meeting last November 19 in Manila.

From an 85-88 deficit with 3:38 to go in the final quarter, Hong Kong Eastern went on an 11-0 rampage behind the exploits of reinforcements Elliott, Lamb, and Moss to establish a favorable 96-88 lead with 1:24 on the clock.

The Philippine contingent then responded with an 8-2 surge — capped by Reggie Okosa’s three — to give the home team a legit threat by trimming the deficit to just two points, 96-98, with just 15 ticks remaining.

Tanduay Alab had chances to either tie the match or even steal the W, but their shots failed to meet the bottom of the net. Lee Ki’s split freebies on the other end helped Hong Kong widen their lead, 99-96, with 11 seconds left.

And just like in their season opener, Alab looked to send the game into an extra period. Josh Urbiztondo had chances to redeem himself from that missed end-game triple back in that opener, but unfortunately, he missed again.

Ivan Johnson paced Tanduay Alab with 32 points and nine rebounds. Okosa had 25 and 13, while Ray Parks Jr. supplied 14 markers.

The Scores:

Hong Kong Eastern 99 — Lamb 32, Standhardinger 25, Elliott 20, Lee 12, Moss 6, Tang 2, Xu 2, Lau 0.

Tanduay Alab 96 — Johnson 32, Okosa 25, Urbiztondo 14, Parks 11, Celiz 6, Hontiveros 3, Sumalinog 3, Domingo 2, Javelona 0, Maierhofer 0.

Quarterscores: 20-23, 43-46, 64-66, 99-96.

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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 fall into 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 the league and its board will have to cater to 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 smoothed 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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San Miguel still seen as team to beat for Philippine Cup

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Although the team will be 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 of 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  gave an interesting take on who they think are the dark horses 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,” commented Membrere.

But the representatives of Alaska, Blackwater, Phoenix, and NLEX 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,” said league chairman Mikee Romero 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 attended the press conference, it was definitely a sight to behold, as it spoke 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 regarding the issue. Commissioner Chito Narvasa  was in attendance, but did not grant any interviews.

With the league still in some 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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