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Air Force dismantles IEM in four sets



Philippine Air Force (PAF) Air Spikers shook off a rusty start to gain victory over Instituto Estetico Manila (IEM) Volleymasters in four sets, 25-20, 25-19, 16-25, and 25-16 in the Spikers’ Turf Season One Open Conference, this morning at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan

The match had a slow start, as both teams committed errors that kept their scores close. The PAF Air Spikers, however, heated up quickly through their attacks midway into the set to pull away; 16-8, their biggest lead of the set. Unfortunately for the Air Spikers, The EIM Volleymasters regained their bearings heading into the latter part of the set, 23-18, behind Jeffrey Jimenez’s quick hit. Furthermore, after a Ruben Inaudito attack off a combination play that sent PAF to set point, 24-18, IEM nailed two straight hits to spark a run, 24-20. Despite their efforts, the Air Spikers had the last laugh when IEM’s Michael Conde failed to launch his service over the net, giving PAF the first set 25-20.

IEM started the second set with erroneous attacks, granting PAF the advantage to seize the early lead, 8-4. However, IEM managed to keep the set close midway, 16-13, as they improved their net defense to bar attacks by the opposing team. PAF then managed to pull away and score within five in closing the set, 20-15, as a result of IEM’s countless attack errors. The Volleymasters’ miscues in the offensive end cost them the set, as Jimenez’ service error let PAF walk away with a 2-0 advantage, 25-19.

The Air Spikers looked to close the match in three sets, but IEM decided to turn things around to deflect any chances of a sweep. The Volleymasters waxed hot early as they quickly posted an 11-3 lead behind the spark of Jophius Banang and Kirk Beliran. PAF, however, adjusted to inch within striking distance, 16-10, to make the set more respectable. Nevertheless, IEM could not be stopped when they provided answers for every attack Air Force gives. The Volleymasters scored three straight attacks capped by a service ace from Banang to own the third set, 25-16, forcing the match to go to a fourth set.

The Volleymasters picked up where they left off from the previous set, as they led the Air Spikers 8-4 early in the fourth set. But after a call by the referee that did not favor their side, IEM saw themselves being outclassed by a veteran team in Air Force, as the latter rose back from the deficit, and unfurled a 9-1 scoring spree to regain the lead, 14-9. From then on, the Air Spikers never looked back; their pesky quick attacks from Jeffrey Malabanan had proven to be too much for IEM to handle. PAF made easy work of the Volleymasters in the set, 25-16, ending the match at four sets.

After the game, we had the opportunity to speak with the Philippine Air Force head coach SSG. Rhovyl Verayo about the team’s performance against IEM. “Nung makalamang ng two sets, nag-relax sila. Alam naman natin na maganda ang floor defense ng IEM, dati pa yan sa PSL pa lang. Nawala pa receive namin,” the staff sergeant for the Philippine Air Force told us. “Kaya nung interval nung third set papuntang fourth set, sinabi ko sa kanila magfocus sa receive.”

When asked about the goals of the Air Spikers for this tournament, Coach Verayo told us that the short term goal is to get to the Top 4. “Ang next game namin is against Army, so kapag nanalo kami dun malapit na namin makamit ang unang goal namin na maka-Top 4.”

Finally, we also had a chance to speak with National University Men’s Volleyball team head coach and Philippine Air Force team member Dante Alinsunurin after the game. Alinsunurin did not play in this game because he was experiencing some knee soreness. In his place, Jeffrey Malabanan stepped up for the team. Coach Alinsunurin told us that Malabanan needed to step up in times like these. “Si Jeff, alam naman niya na siya ang aasahan ng team. Maganda ang blocking niya buong game at malaking bagay yun para sa amin.” Coach Alinsunurin told us that he will definitely play on Tuesday, April 28 against Army.

Malabanan led the Air Spikers’ assault with 14 points, 11 of which coming from spikes. Edwin Tolentino chipped in 12, while Inaudito added 10. Jimenez had 16 points for IEM in a losing effort.

With the win, PAF improved to 3-1. Their next assignment will be PLDT Home Ultera on Tuesday, April 28.

The Scores:

PAF (3) – Malabanan 14, Tolentino 12, Inaudito 10, Merza 8, Hamdan 4, Balse 4, Lopez 3, Dacurong 3, Mosuela L, Tanjanlangit (L)
IEM (1) – Jimenez 16, Banang 13, Raymundo 13, Beliran 9, Dela Calzada 6, Canlas 5, Bacolod 3, Timbal 1, Almario (L)


Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’



Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence



For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense



Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs



It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue as they are, it looks like another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be excuses.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” asserted Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort that the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco have a chance to end their slump against the Kia Picanto this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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