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Akhuetie’s 44, Thompson’s triple double power Perpetual past Benilde

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Facing a team with virtually no size in the front court, Bright Akhuetie thoroughly demolished the College of Saint Benilde Blazers and led his University of Perpetual Help Altas to a 77-69 victory in the NCAA Season 91 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the FilOil Flying-V Arena.

The 6’8″Nigerian, Akhuetie controlled the paint and scored at will with his plethora of dribble moves and aerial maneuvers. Akhuetie issued a monstrous stat line of 44 points, 17 boards, two blocks, two assists, and two steals. Akhuetie mirrored his effort in the FilOil preseason tournament where the big man dropped 35 points and 20 rebounds on the Blazers.

Bright got his act going early, scoring 13 of his team’s 17 first quarter points while also inhaling nine rebounds. However, Benilde kept themselves afloat by finding JR Ongteco with easy drop passes, giving Ongteco six earlt points and keeping Benilde close at the end of the first quarter, 11-17.

Adjusting their defense to a modified pressing zone did not help the Blazers stop Akhuetie in the second quarter. Bright notched 14 points in the quarter alone highlighted by two old-fashioned three point plays. Jonathan Grey and JR Ongteco combined for 14 points in the quarter but was unable to keep Perpetual’s lead from ballooning to 12, 40-28, at the end of the first half.

The Blazers slowed the pace significantly for much of the third quarter as they forced the Altas into the penalty with 5:18 in the clock. Grey followed a Travis Johnson triple with a jumper that cut the Perpetual lead to five, 46-51 but that was the closest the Blazers got for the rest of the match. Scottie Thompson converted on his patented scoop shot then Akhuetie tipped in a Thompson miss to restore Perpetual’s dominance, 55-46. Johnson then followed his own miss to beat the buzzer, giving momentum and 48-55 gap to the Blazers.

The Altas blew the lid off the game in the fourth period, coaxing Benilde into multiple turnovers and scoring off easy layups on the other end. Akhuetie finished off his masterful performance with 12 points in the payoff period and two rim-rattling dunks off Blazer turnovers. Had Blazers’ rookie Jayjay Domingo not scored nine points in garbage time, the final score would have illustrated a much more dominant win for the Altas.

Coach Aric del Rosario, after years of not having a player who can man the paint, called Akhuetie as a “gift from heaven.” “Hulog siya ng langit sa amin,” the veteran coach quipped. “Isa na siguro siya sa pinakamagaling na big man na napunta sa team ko. Pagdating niya dito hindi siya marunong maglaro pero ngayon, marunong na. Madali pa siyang turuan.”

The Altas were led by the 44 big points of Bright Akhuetie, the biggest scoring production in the league since 2009. Reigning MVP Earl Thompson also notched a triple-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. For the Green side, big man JR Ongteco led the team with 23 points while Jonathan Grey scored 18 points, grabbed seven boards, dished out five assists, and stole the ball two times.

The Altas are undefeated in two contests and will face the Mapua Cardinals on Tuesday, July 7 at 4:00pm. CSB is yet to win a game and will look to end their futility against the EAC Generals at 2:00pm on the same day.

The Scores:

UPHSD (77) – Akhuetie 44, Thompson 14, Coronel 8, Oliveria 4, Ylagan 4, Dagangon 3, Gallardo 0, Tamayo 0, Dizon 0, Sadiwa 0, Elopre 0, Cabiltes 0, Pido 0

CSB (69) – Ongteco 23, Grey 18, Domingo 9, Jonson 9, Fajarito 3, Nayve 2, Castor 2, Saavedra 2, San Juan 1, Sta. Maria 0

Quarters: 17-11, 40-28, 55-48, 77-69

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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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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes to break PH Arena record come 3×3 World Cup

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short to cop Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different animal.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad had a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It however served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even having multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block while the 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the two and the rest of the Jawbreakers now have this experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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Basketball

Renzo Subido to bring Marinerong Pilipino experience to UST

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When Renzo Subido decided to skip out the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers’ UAAP Season 80 campaign, he had only one thing in mind: to improve on his craft. And he was able to do so under coach Koy Banal in the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers.

After the AMA Online Education Titans had a quick end to their campaign during the 2017 Foundation Cup, the 5-foot-9 floor general was immediately picked up by Marinerong Pilipino for the playoffs. Liking his style of play, he was again tapped for the 2018 Aspirants Cup.

And he showed a lot of growth from then, leading the Skippers to a 94-92 victory over fellow contenders Zark’s Jawbreakers. The 21-year-old tallied 20 points, three rebounds, and five assists while knocking down the crucial free throws to seal off the Lyceum-backed team.

“It was a good win for us. We’re happy that we won the game because it’s a good way to start the conference,” beamed Subido. “I’ve played against Lyceum in the past so I had familiarity with how they play.

“It was a good experience for us.”

Expectations are high for Marinerong Pilipino this conference as they are pegged as their blend of veterans and young guns are seen too overwhelming for the rest of the field. Still, Subido knows that it will be a tough climb as the other teams, especially the collegiate-based squads, have familiarity on their side.

“We’re taking it one game at a time but the goal is to win the championship,” he said. “But we know that it’s not going to be easy since we are going up against the top collegiate teams.

“So we’re just going to go all out every game.”

Besides winning the championship, Subido is on a personal mission. Being one of the seniors for the Growling Tigers next season, he hopes to learn to become a better leader for next season.

“I want to become a better leader. I know that everything I can learn this conference, I can bring to UST,” Subido expressed.

“For all I can see, coach Aldin [Ayo] is a guard-oriented coach. So I’m using all the experience I get here in Marinero, I’ll bring it to UST.”

For sure, Subido wants to make up for lost time.

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