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Adamson’s Len Cortel welcomed all changes to her role this season

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Having just won two consecutive games in dominant fashion, the Adamson Lady Falcons are figuring to continue their long standing tradition of making the Final Four and making noise once they get there; which was a steep proposition seeing all the key loses to their lineup from last season.

There were gaping holes left by those players which Adamson had the proper fillers in their roster for, but it was clear that someone had to give way. One of the quirkier ways Adamson’s brain-trust decided to plug those gaps was to put Marleen Cortel, who has been playing as an opposite hitter in all her years playing volleyball, in the lead libero role to possibly pull something close to fellow Adamsonian Bang Pineda’s conversion with the Cagayan Valley Rising Sun.

“Sa Uni Games unang binanggit sa akin kung willing daw ba ako mag-libero. At first di ko talaga alam kung paano ako magrereact kasi spiker talaga ako for four years sa UAAP tapos bigla na lang last year ko, maglilibero ako bigla. Pero in the end nung nag decide na talaga si Coach na libero na talaga ako, I took it as a challenge,” said Cortel.

“Nagtrabaho na lang ako lalo, hindi ko na rin lang inisip na kakabahan ako. Ginawa kong goal ko na mapatunayan ko na may napanindigan ako in five years dito (UAAP). Maganda rin kasi may naitutulong ako sa team,” she added.

Cortel’s conversion has been key in Adamson’s suddenly dynamic offense in more ways than one. Her commitment to playing the back row has allowed the budding Mylene Paat to take the opposite hitter position. Paat is a tall and powerful spiker who used to play the middle blocker position, slotting her as an outside hitter allows Adamson to pair her with another blocker in team captain Faye Guevarra or Erika Alkuino, to form a formidable blocking tandem for opposing open spikers, usually a team’s best spiker. This is a favorable turn of events for Adamson who has lacked length in their frontline over the past few seasons. According to Cortel, blocking is the key to their success.

“Pag gumana iyun (blocking), wala na eh, ok na eh, susunod na dun yung pagpalo saka iyung depensa. Wala na rin kameng poproblemahin sa depensa sa likod kasi madalas ang pupunta na lang sa amin drop ball o top spin na lang.”

Paat is also lefty like Cortel, which really makes her like an open spiker on the opposite side of the net; a hefty advantage considering Adamson also has powerful spikers in Mands Villanueva and breakout star, Gemma Galanza strafing from the other side of the net.

Len-Len, as Cortel is more fondly known, has not been a slouch in her new role. She has always been a hard worker with a penchant for floor defense, a signature trait for all Lady Falcons. Cortel has been consistent in her receptions; which has given new setter Fhen Emnas the luxury of simply setting the ball for her spikers.

But perhaps the biggest change she had to adjust to was Coach Sherwin Meneses deciding to make someone else captain of the team as Cortel was pegged as the team’s captain last season. Usually, teams have their captain graduate before moving on to a new leader, which puts Cortel in what could be an awkward predicament, but the Marketing major has full trust in her Coach and the new captain.

“May prupose naman si Coach kung bakit siya (Guevarra), iyung ginawang captain. Advantage yun kasi mas matanda si ate Faye sa akin. Pero sabi nga ni Coach dapat lahat kami (Seniors) parang team captain na rin kaya tumutulong pa rin kami,” said Cortel.

After stomping on their perennial rivals, FEU, and with most of their fellow Final Four aspirants limping out of the gate, Admason now looks like a lock to make a deep trip into the season. Once we get the chance to look back at Adamson’s success this season, we shouldn’t forget the sacrifices their former captain had to make to unlock her team’s potential.

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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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Basketball

PBA slaps fines on Yeng Guiao, Chris Ross

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Yeng Guiao and Chris Ross opt to move on

The much-talked about tilt that pitted the San Miguel Beermen and the NLEX Road Warriors last January 18 featured numerous confrontations and exchanges. But none was more heated than what happened between fiery head coach Yeng Guiao and emotional defensive cog Chris Ross.

With 1:46 remaining in that game, Guiao and Ross figured in a verbal altercation that resulted to the latter being slapped with his second technical foul of the contest.

San Miguel head coach Leo Austria alledged that Guiao threw a racial slur at Ross that triggered the Filipino-American.

The league though could not find any hard evidence that this occurred.

“Upon review of the incident, consulting possible witnesses to the event and discussing the matter with both parties, the alleged racist remark attributed to Coach Guiao could not be established,” the league said in a statement. “Coach Guiao has denied such allegation while Chris Ross has opted to move forward and said that he would not want to discuss the matter further. However, Coach Guiao and Chris Ross will be subject to appropriate fines for their respective misconduct.

“As a result, the Office of the Commissioner finds no sufficient basis to discuss the matter of an alleged racist remark uttered by Coach Guiao. It may be recalled that in a previous incident, a heavy penalty was imposed for a racist remark that was clearly proven.

“Rest assured that any act that is racially derogatory and pejorative in nature will be dealt with sternly by the league,” the statement ended.

As a result, Guiao is fined PHP 11,000 for obscene gesture, use of profane language and engaging in a verbal altercation while Ross is fined the amount of PHP 2,600 for incurring two technical fouls, both for verbal altercation.

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Basketball

MPBL aims to give local talent biggest exposure

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CONTRIBUTED Photo

After months of planning, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League will finally raise its curtains on Thursday, January 25 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Unlike the other leagues in the country, the MPBL wants to give Filipino aspirants from local communities a chance to shine on national TV.

“I would like to say, this is the noble project of our founder and chairman, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Talagang dream niya ito, matulungan ‘yung mga grassroots,” said MPBL head of marketing Arnold Vegafria during the league’s press conference. “And from the grassroots, to the collegiate players and also professionals na gusto niyang tulungan, mabigyan ng chances, makalaro at ma-expose ang skills nila para matulungan ang mga basketbolista not only sa Metro Manila but this is gonna be all over the Philippines.

“Simula muna sa Metro Manila and key cities in Luzon. Soon it will go to Visayas and Mindanao.”

The first conference for the league is the Anta Raja Cup. 10 teams from Luzon will compose the league, namely Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Caloocan, Imus, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Quezon City, and Valenzuela.

Though it may be ambitious, the league wants to continue the dream started by the Metropolitan Basketball Association which is to create a league that has a home and away format.

“For the longest time, after ng MBA, I think it’s 20 years ago na ‘yun, I think it’s due na rin for our basketball fans around the country, ‘yung mga sa provinces, ‘cause ‘yung advantage nito is ‘yung games mismo, dadalhin mo sa kanila. Unlike before sa mga liga natin, naka-stay lang sila sa isang venue,” said league commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.

“Maraming factors ngayon, traffic and time-consuming. Pero itong liga natin, tayo ang magdadala mismo sa mga tao, sa mga basketball fans. Sa tagal-tagal ng walang organized, or high-level na basketball tournament, ito na ‘yung time na makikita ng mga basketball fans natin na up close and personal ang mga ini-idolo nila, lalo na ang mga hometown hero nila,” the PBA legend furthered.

Armed with this vision, the league plans to be the country’s premier amateur league, helping build the dreams of the Filipino youth.

“It’s an amateur league. Kaya nga natin siya tinatawag na liga para sa lahat ng Pilipino, kasi lahat dito as long as Filipino ka, kasali ka,” shared Duremdes.

“Kagaya ng sinasabi ni Sen. Manny, matutulungan natin ang mga players ng grumaduate sa college na walang mapaglaruan, mga ex-pro na hindi masyado nabigyan ng exposure sa PBA, may exposure sila dito. Tapos yung mga grassroots player natin, malay mo springboard nila ang MPBL and who knows they will represent the country in the national team.

“Ito ang nakikita ni Sen Manny, mga players na out of school or the big leagues, ma-expose sila sa MPBL at mapansin sila ng national team or pro team,” he furthered.

The league’s first game will feature Caloocan taking on Paranaque at the Big Dome. Tickets are priced at P300, P200, P150, P100 while the Gen Ad will be open for all.

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CSB

Lady Blazers evade upset-hungry Lady Generals

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The College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers avoided a major upset, slipping past the winless Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals, 25-17, 18-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-7, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

After winning the opening set, the Lady Blazers collapsed in the following frames, surrendering errors and fumbling passes. The Lady Generals took full advantage and grabbed all the momentum, rued Saint Benilde head coach Arnold Laniog.

“Nabigyan nga namin ‘yung kalaban ng confidence, kaya tuloy-tuloy na sila kanina. Mataas pa rin ‘yung tendency ng team ko mag-relax,” Laniog said. “Kung tutuusin, may advantage talaga ‘yung team namin. Nahihirapan lang talaga kami makabangon kapag nauunahan kami. Mabuti na lang kanina nakabawi kami noong huling dalawang sets.”

The Lady Generals took their turn making errant plays, allowing the Lady Blazers to grab a 15-7 lead in the fourth set and force a decider. Anchored by the imposing presence of their middle blockers Ranya Musa and Rachel Austero, the Lady Blazers raced to a 10-2 in the final set and sealed the win.

Austero finished with 17 points while Musa added 15. The pair also combined for seven of CSB’s 13 blocksm Austero also provided five aces.

The Lady Blazers (3-2) take on fellow Final Four aspirant Jose Rizal University (2-3) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Generals had no player score in double-digits as they pulled 48 points from Benilde’s errors. Yvette Tongco and Arina Reyes, nonetheless, provided nine points apiece.

The Lady Generals (0-5) get their best chance at their first of the season when they face also-ran Mapua University (0-4) also on Wednesday.

The Scores

CSB (3) – Austero 17, Musa 15, Cui 8, Ventura 8, Abriam 5, Daguil 5, Enginco 5, Cardiente 1, Pablo 1, Dolorito 0, Lim (L), Torres (L)

EAC (2) – Reyes 9, Tongco 9, Binondo 8, Lumbo 8, Tasis 4, Pablo 3, Magbanua 2, Chan 0, Yongco 0, Medina (L)

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CSB

Blazers rally from 0-2 deficit, fend off Generals for fourth win

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Defending NCAA men’s volleyball champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers completed a huge comeback from an 0-2 hole and upended the gritty Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 19-25, 20-25, 25-7, 25-14, 15-11, Monday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Generals stormed through the first two sets, leaning on better transition and their service game. Joshua Mina and Chris Ilano poured in most of their combined 27 points in these frames.

Nonetheless, when the Blazers realized that they needed to turn up its aggressiveness, it was cruise control from there.

“Nung first two sets, nag-relaxed kami, ‘di kami aggressive sa atake, sa blocking,” Benilde senior middle blocker Jethro Orian lamented. “Eh yung kalaban, masipag sila.”

EAC imploded in the next two sets, coughing up most of its 41 miscues during the frame. The reigning champions capitalized on the situation with heightened aggression.

Halfway into the eliminations, Orian shared that the Blazers needed to continue their hard work.

“Kailangan pa naming mas maging aggressive. Mas tumrabaho sa dapat naming again,” he said.

Captain Isaah Arda registered a 19-point outing, 17 coming off attacks. Orian’s fellow center attacker Francis Basilan finished with 12 markers.

The Blazers (4-1) will battle the Jose Rizal University (0-5) on Wednesday.

Mina starred for the Generals with 16 points.

The Generals (2-3) will lock horns with Mapua University (2-2) on Thursday, in a tussle for survival.

The Scores:

CSB 3 – Arda 19, Basilan 12, Orian 9, Bacani 9, Bautista 9, Magsino 4, Rojas 1, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

EAC 2 – Mina 16, Ilano 11, Rasing 11, Castellano 8, Lim 6, Garcia 2, Guinto 1, Panoy 0, Lumbar 0, Magadan L, Bagdoc L.

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