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Alaska completes turnaround; ends Ginebra’s campaign



Down by as much as 16, the top-seeded Alaska Aces turned the game around late in the second half, as they ended up winning and eliminating the Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel, 114-108, to advance to the PBA Governor’s Cup semis, to be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday.

Ginebra trailed by seven early on at 11-4, but the eighth-seeded Kings went on to build a 12-0 rampage in the first quarter including back-to-back three-point plays by LA Tenorio and Sol Mercado. In the process, the Kings also fished for Romeo Travis’ second personal foul in the opening minutes of the game. Also, by getting the crowd support early, Ginebra gained a five point lead with defensive stops piling up, and Sol Mercado knocking down a trey to make it 19-14.

Despite nursing foul issues, Travis went on to finish majority of the first quarter, but Ginebra kept on pushing in transition as Mercado once again scored, becoming the first player to score double digits in this game. Calvin Abueva started the scoring spree from the second unit players for both teams, but Jiwan Kim and the rest of the Ginebra squad ended the first period up by four.

Abueva and RJ Jazul provided five fast points that enabled Alaska to tie the game at 32 in two minutes into the second quarter. However, Ginebra was quick to respond as their two reinforcements punched in a trifecta and a powerful three-point play to pull away by six again. The Aces’ second unit struggled to score from the perimeter, while Orlando Johnson kept on pounding the rock inside to increase their lead to double digits.

Alaska entered the penalty situation as Ginebra led by 11 with over four minutes to play in the first half. They increased it to a dozen, but Chris Banchero and Travis combined for four points in the dying seconds to slice the lead down to single digits, heading into the halftime break. At the end of 24 minutes, Ginebra was shooting nearly 49% from the field compared to Alaska’s subpar 32%.

Four minutes into the third quarter, the Kings went flying in and built a 16 point cushion completed by a three-point play by Japeth Aguilar. During the stretch, Alaska struggled as they missed six out of their first eight attempts that caused the lead to swell, while their scoring also slowed down. Travis was a one-man wrecking crew for his squad as he carried the load offensively for the Aces in the first nine minutes of the third. By the 3:48 mark of the third, Johnson and Abueva wrestled for position underneath that led to several extracurriculars as the game started to heat up.

After a series of technical fouls, the defensive pressure started to work for Alaska as it led to multiple fast-break points in their end. They made a 14-3 run including eight points with two threes by Dondon Hontiveros. They eventually outscored the Kings by ten during the period, 32-22 and led entering the fourth and final quarter.

In the fourth, Alaska gained momentum that helped them maintain the advantage, and even increased the score to 91-84 with under eight minutes left in regulation. Vic Manuel played huge at the start of the fourth period, as he scored timely baskets inside despite starting the game cold off the bench. The locals also delivered on the defensive end as Ginebra got cold in shooting from distance. Meanwhile, Cyrus Baguio scored to make it a dozen point game, which left the Kings rattled and stunned with the turnaround done by the Aces.

Down by 13, Ginebra tried to save its season for the last time with under two minutes to go with Johnson draining three 3-pointers late. However, Chris Banchero, Vic Manuel, and JVee Casio punched in the game-sealing baskets and free throws to keep the Kings at late, and more importantly, propel their team to the semis.

Travis ended up with 29 points and grabbing 21 rebounds to go with six assists and three blocked shots. Alaska also had 49 points from their bench players compared to Ginebra’s 11. Johnson topped Ginebra with 28, while Sol Mercado had a fine last outing with 21 points and seven dimes.

The scores:

Alaska (114) – Travis 29, Thoss 14, Manuel 14, Hontiveros 13, Baguio 10, Banchero 9, Abueva 8, Casio 7, Dela Rosa 5, Jazul 3, Exciminiano 2, Baclao 0, Menk 0

Ginebra (108) – Johnson 28, Mercado 21, Slaughter 19, Tenorio 14, Kim 5, Baracael 4, Marcelo 2, Pena 0, Monfort 0, Brondial 0

Quarterscores: 27-31, 45-53, 77-75, 114-108


*Photo from PBA Images

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After getting first D-League experience, Zark’s-Lyceum ready to get loose



After a hesitant performance in their PBA D-League debut last Thursday that resulted in a loss to the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers seemingly caught up with the league’s style of play on Tuesday.

Zark’s-Lyceum displayed their true form and stamped their class all over the Batangas-EAC Generals with a 37-point destruction, 112-75 — so far the biggest winning margin the franchise has ever had in its D-League history.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams we’re playing against with,” said Zark’s-Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson after the match at Pasig Sports Center. “But the things we want to mind are those things we control.

“We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways.”

Robinson’s claim was strongly backed up by the numbers that the Jawbreakers produced.

CJ Perez had 21 points and 10 rebounds. MJ Ayaay produced 15 points and 10 boards, and Mike Nzeusseu delivered 14 markers and 11 boards.

Even the bench made their presence felt in the victory. With guard Jaycee Marcelino spearheading the supporting cast’s charge with 12 markers, the bench contributed a remarkable 56 points to their total output.

Photo by PBA Images

“Ano lang, cinontrol lang namin yung pace kasi yun naman talaga yung laro namin, yung mabilisan,” said the 24-year-old do-it-all forward, who also collected three steals.

“Kailangan talaga mabilisan para ma-execute namin yung mga ginagawa namin.”

This week will be a rough one for the Pirates, as they will play right away this Thursday against the AMA Online Education. And for Perez, he strongly believes that they will be able to carry over their momentum.

“Oo. Nandun pa. Energy talaga yung puhunan namin para makalaro ng maayos.”

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Bonbon Batiller shows what he can bring to Letran in D-League debut



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Tuesday proved to be a double debut for Bonbon Batiller. Aside from beginning his first foray in the PBA D-League, it also marked his debut for the Letran Knights, who are carrying the Wang’s Basketball Couriers franchise.

And the 5-foot-11 guard showed what he can bring to the table. Batiller collected 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists to help the Knights raise the curtains of their campaign with a 93-75 rout of the Batangas-EAC Generals.

“Nagworkout yung pinagpraktisan namin,” said Batiller. “Nagbunga rin yung tinuro samin ni Coach Jeff (Napa) lalo sa depensa. Tsaka siguro sa rebounds — laking lamang namin sa rebound. Nagsipag mga bigs namin.”

But what has him even more satisfied is the warm reception and trust he’s had from the Knights, even if he has spent barely a year with them after transferring from University of the East last 2017.

“Masaya po kasi tinanggap nila ako sa Letran ng buong-buo,” said Batiller, who normed 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals with UE in two years. “Tsaka yung tiwala nila na makakatulong ako sa team nandoon.

“Kaya masaya ako sa pinakita nila sa akin.”

That is why the General Santos native is hard-pressed to prove himself to Letran, saying that he’s all about giving back to the school that gave him another opportunity to resume his young, up-and-coming basketball career.

“Kailangan kong may mapatunayan na deserving ako sa binigay na second chance sa akin ni Letran,” said Batiller, who decided to switch schools partly due to academic reasons.

“Malaki ang utang ko sa Letran.”

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Bienvenido Maranon scores brace as Ceres-Negros eliminates Brisbane Roar



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Philippine club football just achieved its biggest continental result yet

The inaugural Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros Football Club eliminated three-time Australian champions Brisbane Roar in the 2018 AFC Champions League’s second preliminary round with a 3-2 stunner, away at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane.

With the win, the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions are set to face Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian next January 30, 2018 at the Haihe Educational Football Stadium in Tianjin, China, to book a seat in the group stages.

Brisbane were the favorites for this tie and it showed, as Ceres started the contest on the back foot. Italian striker Massimo Maccarone handed the home side the lead in the 35th minute when he turned in Brett Holman’s pass.

Maccarone’s goal could have lowered the Busmen’s moral, but Risto Vidakovic’s men took it as a motivation rather than a downer. In fact, Ceres replied in the best way possible when Bienvenido Maranon scored his first goal of the match two minutes from halftime, thanks to a scramble in the Brisbane box.

By all accounts, Ceres had already made Philippine football proud at halftime. By this stage last year, Brisbane had accrued a 4-0 halftime cushion against Global Cebu en route to a 6-0 rout.

Today, though, Brisbane faced tougher resistance at Ceres’ hands. That resistance turned into a full-fledged revolt in the 65th minute when Maranon directed the ball past a helpless Jamie Young to give the Busmen their first taste of the lead.

Maranon’s goal well and truly turned the tide in Ceres’ favor. Brisbane were stunned. The home side are the defending A-League champions, but are currently eighth in the table this season and would soon face elimination from Asia’s premier club competition.

Already up 2-1, the Busmen finally achieved some breathing room in the 75th minute when Omid Nazari scored from close range to give Ceres a two-goal cushion over Brisbane.

Nazari’s goal not only sealed the win for Ceres, it also propelled Philippine football into the big leagues. Not even a late goal from French midfielder Éric Bauthéac could prevent the Busmen’s victory.

After five minutes of stoppage time, Ceres emerged 3-2 winners against Brisbane Roar. Come what may against Tianjin seven days from now, the Busmen have already achieved Philippine football’s biggest result since their own achievement in last season’s AFC Cup.

Who knows? Maybe Ceres can pull off another upset?

Ceres-Negros XI: Doblas (GK), Super, Mike Ott, Ingreso, Maranon, Porteria, Schrock, De Murga (C), Munoz, Nazari, Christaens.

Brisbane Roar XI: Ingham, Bowles, Papadopoulos, Maccarone, Holman, Khalfallah, Oxborrow, McKay (C), Hingert, Young (GK), Franjic.

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CJ Perez, Zark’s-Lyceum vent ire on Batangas-EAC with 37-point romp



Photo by PBA Images

CJ Perez and the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers finally lived up to their hype, as they clobbered the Batangas-EAC Generals to score a 37-point beatdown, 112-75 for their first win, Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.

It was an all-out attack from the Jawbreakers, as they beat the Generals to the bite and took control of the game early, with Mike Nzeusseu and Jaycee Marcelino guiding their side to the 48-33 lead at halftime which they would never surrender.

Perez paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while MJ Ayaay tallied a double-double with his 15 markers, 10 boards, and three assists.

Cameroonian student-athlete Nzeusseu also delivered 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists. Marcelino had eight first half points and wound up with 12 off the bench, as the reserves chipped in 56 huge points in the tussle.

Coach Topex Robinson lauded the Jawbreakers for quickly adjusting to the style of the PBA D-League just days after falling to the Marinerong Pilipino, 92-94, back in opening day.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams were playing against with. But the things we want to mind are those things we control. We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways,” he said.

Earvin Mendoza and Cedric de Joya both had 16 points for the Generals in the losing effort.

Zark’s-Lyceum look to continue to roll when they face the AMA Online Education Titans on Thursday, January 25. EAC-Batangas, on the other hand, take on the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers on Monday, January 29.

The Scores:

Zark’s-Lyceum 112 — Perez 21, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Serrano 10, Baltazar 8, Santos 8, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 6, Marata 4, Liwag 4, Ibañez 2, Cinco 2, Pretta 0.

Batangas-EAC 75 — E. Mendoza 16, De Joya 16, Tampoc 12, Laude 9, Pate 8, Maguliano 6, Altamirano 5, Diego 3, Garcia 0, Dela Peña 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0.

Quarterscores: 19-14, 48-33, 84-47, 112-75.

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