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Air Force shoots down pesky Champion for second win

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Led by National Team main stay, Jeffrey Malabanan, the Philippine Air Force Air Men thwarted the comeback attempt of the Champion Infinity Active Smashers, finishing them off in four sets, 25-20, 25-21, 29-31, 25-22 in the first round of the inaugural season of the Spikers Turf at the San Juan Arena.

Malabanan served up a game-high 21 points off 19 attacks and two blocks while NU’s Tolentino paced the Airmen with 18 points. Champion’s Joven Camaganakan was instrumental in his team’s comeback attempts as the Laguna native led the Active Smashers with 18 points.

Jeffrey Malabanan got his aerial act off early as he bombarded Champion’s dazed defense for seven points in the set leading to an easy first set win for the Airmen.

The Airmen reestablished their dominance in the following set, building a 7-12 lead early. It continued on with Champion’s eight errors in the set, which propelled Air Force to a decisive 2-0 set lead.

The third set unfolded into a wild exchange of attacks that seemed inescapable for both teams. Champion fought hard to keep themselves in contention but a sudden 4-0 Air Force run buried Champion into an 14-18 hole. Champion responded with a late 4-0 run of their own highlighted by two blocks from Roland Tonquin that knotted the set at 21. From there, both exchanged points leading to an extensive deuce where Air Force held three match points but couldn’t convert enough consecutive points to take the match. Champion made good on their only set point chance at 30-29 as Tonquin drove home a quick attack to force a fourth set.

Champion found themselves in another uphill climb in the fourth set but the Airmen quickly pushed them off the cliff building a 6-10 lead and never looking back. Edwin Tolentino was pivotal for the Airmen as his open hits bailed them out of their bad receptions. Tolentino scored seven of his 18 points in the set to clinch the match for Air Force.

Air Force is now tied with PLDT at second place with a 2-1 slate. Champion falls to sixth at 1-2.

Champion looks to even its record on April 21 when it faces IEM while Air Force aims to keep rolling also against IEM on April 23.

The Scores:

Air Force (3) – Malabanan 21, Tolentino 18, Inaudito 12, Alinsunurin 10, Balse 8, Masahud 2, Lopez 2, Hamdan 1, Esteban 0, Dacurong 0, Mosuela (L)

Champion (0) – Camaganakan 18, Laja 13, Antonio 13, Mandani 8, Tonqyin 5, Honrade 4, Espiritu 2, Relata 1, Abdulwahab 1, Gomez 0, Lee 0, Hu (L), Banaga (L)

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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

SJ Belangel makes leap to top 3 of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24

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Ateneo Blue Eaglets towering teen Kai Sotto and La Salle Greenhills Junior Blazers court general Joel Cagulangan remained as the top two high school players in the Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Center 24, but there was a lot of movement this week, including the rise of SJ Belangel.

Belangel, Ateneo’s graduating floor leader had a sensational week, helping steer the Blue Eaglets to an unblemished 10-0 record. With his exploits, he was the consensus third-ranked player of the week, leapfrogging Mapua High School’s and NCAA MVP Will Gozum.

FEU-Diliman do-it-all guard L-Jay Gonzales and Katipunan swingman Dave Ildefonso also moved up the ladder while UST Tiger Cub ace CJ Cansino dropped to eighth after finishing fourth last week.

Besides movement at the top, there were also a lot of debutatants in this week’s list.

Blue Eaglets double-double machine Joaqui Manuel’s workhorse type of game paid off as he was ranked 21st this week.

After firing 51 markers last weekend, Bacolod Tay Tung High School’s Harold Alarcon was named as the 22nd top prospect.

Joshua Yerro of University of Visayas then rounded out the list.

Here is the complete Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 Week 2:

1. Kai Sotto, center, Ateneo (1)
2. Joel Cagulangan, guard, La Salle (2)
3. SJ Belangel, guard, Ateneo (5)
4. Will Gozum, center, Mapua (3)
5. L-Jay Gonzales, guard, FEU-Diliman (6)
6. Dave Ildefonso, forward, Ateneo (8)
7. Rhayyan Amsali, forward, NU (7)
8. CJ Cansino, forward, UST (4)
9. Clint Escamis, guard, Mapua (10)
10. Aaron Fermin, center, Arellano (9)
11. Terrence Fortea, guard, NU (16)
12. RJ Abarrientos, guard, FEU-Diliman (15)
13. Inand Fornilos, forward, La Salle (11)
14. Evan Nelle, guard, San Beda (12)
15. Warren Bonifacio, center, Mapua (13)
16. John Galinato, guard, Chiang Kai Shek (14)
17. Mac Guadaña, guard, Lyceum (18)
18. Raven Cortez, center, La Salle Zobel (19)
19. Harvey Pagsanjan, guard, Hope Christian (20)
20. Maui Cruz, guard, EAC (23)
21. Joaqui Manuel, forward, Ateneo (N/A)
22. Harold Alarcon, guard, Tay Tung-Bacolod (N/A)
23. Jancork Cabahug, forward, UV (17)
24. Joshua Yerro, guard, UV (N/A)

On Tuesday, January 23, the second episode of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 will air live at 7:00pm. Tonight’s special guest will be former Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas player and NBTC alumnus Jeron Teng.

The Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Centre 24 is the first-ever attempt to rank the top high school prospects in the country today.

The weekly ranking used the following criteria: league stats, impact in team, team record, leadership, defense, offense, and level of competition.

These rankings will be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

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MIT

Joyce Sta. Rita slams 28 as Lady Stags avert Cardinal upset

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Erasing a disappointing third set, the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Lady Stags upended the upset-conscious Mapua University Lady Cardinals, 25-20, 25-7, 29-31, 25-14, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The win revived the Lady Stags’ campaign after back-to-back losses to Jose Rizal University and University of Perpetual Help System DALTA. San Sebastian is now at 3-2.

“Andun pa rin naman, apat pa naman laro,” said Stags’ head coach Roger Gorayeb on their chances for the Final Four. “Sana umabot.”

Team captain Joyce Sta. Rita produced a career-high 28 points off 22 attacks, four blocks, and two serves. The senior middle hitter paced her squad’s 58 spikes, which outscored that of Mapua’s 33.

The Lady Cards capitalized on the rotation wherein Sta. Rita was in the backline in that third set turnaround. Nonetheless, Vira Guillema and the rest of the Lady Stags just turned to their experience to ultimately finish the match.

Gorayeb, nonetheless, hopes his team will toughen up mentally for the home stretch of the eliminations. “Kasi ‘yung laro, nawawala na ‘yan sa physical side, napupunta na sa psychological part ng game.”

San Sebastian will take on Colegio de San Juan de Letran (2-3) on Thursday.

Angelie Magundayao lead the Cardinals with 10 markers.

Mapua (0-5) will take on Emilio Aguinaldo College (0-5) in a battle of winless earlier that day.

The Scores:

SSC-R 3 – Sta. Rita 28, Dalisay 17, Santos 11, Encarnacion 10, Guillema 4, Tiangco 2, Eroa L.

MU 1 – Mangundayao 10, Racelis 9, Pena 9, Latayan 5, Morano 4, Frando 2, Mercado 1, Barias 0, Hermano 0, Ramilo L.

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MIT

Cardinals blast Golden Stags for third win

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After absorbing a sorry defeat from the San Beda College Red Spikers in their last outing, the Mapua University Cardinals subdued the San Sebastian College-Recolletos Golden Stags, 26-24, 25-16, 26-24, to take their third victory of the season, Tuesday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Mark Jason Egan paced the Intramuros-based squad with 14 points on eight attacks and three each of blocks and serves. Team captain Anjo Pertierra finished with 13 markers, while Alfred Pagulong had 10.

Despite a miserable reception output, Cardinals setter Raven Evangelista still had a field day as he produced 32 excellent sets on the 41 attack points of his squad.

Such would not go unnoticed as Pertierra lauded his playmaker’s production that led to the win. He said, “Sobrang ganda kung performance ni Raven. Nakapag-adjust siya sa bad reception. Kino-commend ko siya today.”

Losing that second set big, the Stags threatened to steal the third as they led 21-18 off back-to-back hits from James Eugenio and even forced a deuce. Nonetheless, a quick attack from Pertierra and an ace off Pagulong sealed the win for the Cards.

Pertierra admitted their lack of intensity almost cost them the first and third sets, and hopes the team address it as soon as the next game against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals.

“Kilala naman EAC na maganda floor defense, sobrang makapit. Sasabayan namin sila, we’ll give our best,” he shared.

That important tussle between the Cards (3-2) and the Generals (2-3) will happen on Thursday.

Former skipper Jahir Ebrahim led the Stags with 16 markers.

San Sebastian (1-4) will try to get back on winning track when they face winless Letran (0-5) later that day.

The Scores:

MU 3 – Egan 14, Pertierra 13, Pagulong 10, Damian 8, Navera 8, Evangelista 1, Bondoc L.

SSC-R 0 – Ebrahim 16, Lana 9, Eugenio 8, Ronato 6, Ongque A 3, Campuspos 1, Eusebio 1, Lazaro 0, Toledo 0, Ongque AC L, Enano L.

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AU

Kent Salado re-injures MCL, out for Go for Gold campaign

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Photo by PBA Images

Kent Salado suffers a setback

The worst fear of the Go for Gold Scratchers came true Monday evening as all-around combo guard Kent Salado re-injured the medial cruciate ligament in his right knee.

The injury was confirmed by Kent Salado and the officials of Go for Gold and he will miss the entire 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.

With under three minutes left in the third quarter of Go for Gold’s opening game against the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers Monday afternoon, the 5-foot-9 guard went for a drive but could not get the proper lift. He tried to walk it off but limped towards the audience section of the Pasig Sports Center.

“Parang may narinig nga siya na may tumunog daw,” shared Scratchers head coach Charles Tiu after their 75-68 win.

“We’re very worried.

“I think our PT said baka MCL ‘yun, so that might be a month or two, so that’s a big problem for us,” the youthful mentor added.

Salado finished the game with nine points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. He was immediately rushed to the Makati Medical Center afterwards. At around nine in the evening, the MRI showed that he tore his ACL as was initially reported by Tiebreaker Times. A second opinion, however, contradicted the initial diagnosis, showing only an MCL tear.

Prior to this, the native of Cagayan de Oro suffered a partial tear on medial collateral damage on the same knee last October 10, 2017 during Arellano’s 85-79 win over the San Sebastian Golden Stags.

With this setback, Salado was also advised to not play in the summer leagues to fully recover in time for the NCAA Season 94 Seniors Basketball tournament.

“Okay lang para NCAA na ko makapaglaro,” he said.

“Mas importante naman yun.”

The 23-year-old averaged 19.1 points, 5.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals last season. He is eligible to enter the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft.

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