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Alaska prevails over gallant NLEX stand, gain solo lead

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The Alaska Aces displayed their depth once more.

This time, the Aces were able to stave-off a gallant fourth quarter stand by Sean Anthony and the NLEX Road Warriors, 89-81, to gain solo lead and to book the first of ten playoffs spots in the 2015-16 PBA Smart Bro Philippine Cup early Friday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The game started with both teams struggling from the field as both teams displayed excellent switcing on defense to force the other to well-contested attempts. Alaska was able to gain a 14-7 lead later in the first quarter with veteran Eric Menk leading the charge. After Alaska’s group substitution with 4:25 left in the quarter, the Aces imposing frontline line of Nonoy Baclao and Vic Manuel forced the Road Warriors to shoot from the outside as Eric Camson and Kevin Alas were able to cut the lead. However, Manuel continued his hot-shooting for the season in scoring four quick points on the elbow while Calvin Abueva was able to knockdown a jumper with 12 seconds remaining to give Alaska a 23-15 lead to enter the second frame.

The Alaska defense continued to be on point in the second quarter in limiting NLEX to just four points in the first five minutes of the quarter. Even with Alas and Jonas Villanueva gaining their touch, the Aces lead continued to balloon Sonny Thoss, Tony Dela Cruz, and Ping Exciminiano were able to extend the Alaska lead to 11, 42-31, to enter the break.

NLEX veteran Asi Taulava went out of the locker room aggressive as his team looked to chip into the Alaska lead. Taulava’s production though was negated by the depth of the Aces as Alaska continued to make the stops on defense while excellent ball movement helped extend the Alaska lead to a game-high 20 points, 64-44, after a JVee Casio jumper, his first points of the game, coming off a pick-and-pop play with 3:30 remaining in the third stanza. The Road Warriors were able to end the quarter with a 8-4 run to cut the Alaska lead to 16, 68-52.

With the momentum they gained to close-out the quarter, the Road Warriors frontline of Anthony and Enrico Villanueva pounded their way to the paint to slowly chip-in to the Alaska lead. And just like in the first three quarter, Alaska was again in penalty but it came earlier in the fourth with 9:31 left in regulation. The Boyet Fernandez-mentored squad took advantage of this as they consistently pounded the paint to grab fouls. Behind Sean Anthony, Asi Taulava, and Villanueva were able to cut the lead to just four, 82-78, with 1:55 remaining. However, spitfire guard Casio was able to knock down a booming triple coming from a Thoss dish that gave Alaska some breathing room. A Jonas Villanueva-jumper, his first in the second half, was quickly answered by a teardrop by Baguio with 1:10 left. A split on the stripe by Anthony, who had 18 fourth quarter points, and a turnover by him paved the way for free throws by Thoss that gave Alaska an 89-81 win, their sixth of the season.

After the game, Alaska head coach Alex Compton said that the Aces were solid all throughout the game. “I though we were pretty solid all throughout. We had good shots but they were missing. Ang dami naming layup na hindi pumasok,” he said.

Moreover, committed 31 fouls all throughout the game that led to 31 free throw attempts for the Road Warriors. Compton assessed that they need to work on playing clean defense. “We have to stop fouling pero parang palagi kami nasa penalty. Even Anthony in the fourth quarter attempted a lot of free throws,” he said. “We just need to stop fouling and play clean defense.”

For Thoss, who tallied a double-double with 16 points and ten boards, he credited his excellent overall outing to team effort. “It was actually a team effort. I did my job in limiting him but my teammates had my back,” he said in limiting Asi Taulava to just ten points and seven boards. But he too emphasized that they should work on defense as well, “we have to work on that. We have to make our stand defensively.”

Besides Thoss, three other Aces scored in double-figures. Rome Dela Rosa was perfect from the field in 11 points on 4/4 shooting from the field. Calvin Abueva notched a double-double with ten points and ten boards while Manuel added 11.

Sean Anthony led the for NLEX once more with 21 points and nine boards. However, the Filipino-Canadian was just 7/13 from the foul stripe that helped contribute to the loss. Rico Villanueva added 12 markers and nine boards as well.

As a team, Alaska shot 43% from the field compared to 38% by NLEX. Even in converting and attempting more shots, the Road Warriors were able to keep close in the dying minutes of the game in attempting 31 free throws but missed 13 of them.

The Alaska Aces (6-1) looks to continue their winning run in facing the struggling Meralco Bolts on Thursday, December 3 at 7:00pm. On the other hand, the NLEX Road Warriors (4-3) will have the GlobalPort Batang Pier as their next assignment on Wednesday, December 2 at 4:15pm. The former will be played at the SM Mall of Asia Arena while the latter is set at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:
Alaska (89) – Thoss 16, Manuel 11, Dela Rosa 11, Abueva 10, Menk 9, Banchero 6, Casio 5, Hontiveros 5, Dela Cruz 4, Baguio 4, Exciminiano 3, Jazul 3, Racal 2, Baclao 0.
NLEX (81) – Anthony 21, Villanueva E. 12, Taulava 10, Villanueva J. 9, Alas 9, Enciso 5, Reyes 5, Camson 4, Khobuntin 4, Cardona 2, Lanete 0, Borboran 0, Apinan 0, Arboleda 0.
Quarterscores: 23-15, 42-31, 68-52, 89-81.

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Football

Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory

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Photo from the-AFC.com

2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Basketball

Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’

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Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup

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Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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NCAA

Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win

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Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

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