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Almost Perfect: Unbeaten NU crushes UP, one win away from automatic Finals berth

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Bring out the brooms. The league-leading, undefeated National University Lady Bulldogs swept aside cellar-dwellers University of the Philippines Lady Maroons, 64-44, to put themselves one win away from sweeping the eliminations round. If the masterful Bulldogs overcome their final hurdle in vengeful No. 2 seed DLSU, they will earn an automatic slot in the Finals, along with a daunting thrice-to-beat advantage. NU’s MVP candidate Afril Bernardino was unstoppable on both ends for the Lady Bulldogs, as she posted a game-high 27 points, on an eye-popping 13/16 mark, along with 9 boards, and 6 steals, in only 23 minutes of play. UP’s star gunner Bea Daez scored 15 points for the winless Maroons, but was the only player in her squad to hit double-digits. NU’s season-long excellence gives them a spotless 13-0 record, while UP only has one more chance, against fellow stragglers UE, to attach a win to their 0-13 slate.

UP started the game strong, bullying the surprised Bulldogs on the boards – possibly the only weakness of the slightly undersized NU squad. Maroons starting forward Tin Aliermo hauled in 9 caroms, 5 on the offensive end, in the quarter alone. UP’s 20-5 edge in rebounding, along with Isabela Aurellado’s 9 points, powered the underdogs to an early 17-8 advantage. Compounding the Lady Bulldogs’ woes were the 2 quick fouls on Afril Bernardino, which consigned the superstar forward to the bench for more than half of the first period. The Lady Maroons’ ascendancy was short-lived though, as the Bulldogs roared back in the most dominant of fashions. Bernardino returned to the hardwood with a vengeance, eating up the court with her peerless athleticism and defensive instincts. She stripped the ball from the Maroons 3 times in the period alone, and forced a handful more turnovers, as momentum shifted irrevocably to the Bulldogs. Bernardino’s exemplary ball-hawking also allowed her to abuse UP in transition, and she poured in 12 points on 5/6 shooting in that game-breaking second quarter. UP’s early lead was a distant memory by the end of the half, as NU held onto a comfortable 15-point cushion, 34-21. The halftime break was the only respite the Lady Maroons would receive. The merciless Bulldogs continued their march to perfection in the third, and with only 10 minutes to play in the match, NU was up an insurmountable 53-27, almost doubling UP’s total production. In the end, despite a little UP struggling at the end, the 64-44 final tally was inevitable.

Bernardino’s monstrous production actually allowed NU to shrug off poor performances from the other usually reliable members of their rotation. The Lady Bulldogs’ ordinarily excellent tandem of Shelley Gupilan and Krisrine Abriam misfired the whole game, and, more damningly, failed to compete on the boards with UP’s unfancied frontcourt. The pair combined for only 14 points, on 29% shooting, and 7 rebounds. In fact, outside of Bernardino’s 81% clip, the entire NU team struggled, as only reserve Ria Nabalan (2/5), shot better than 30% from the field. NU’s tenacious D allowed the team to overcome their pedestrian shooting from the field. Bernardino, Abriam, Gupilan, and backup guard Janeth Sison each registered at least 3 steals in a dominant 20-steal outing for the Lady Bulldogs. Despite the loss, the Maroons will take Tin Aliermo’s performance as a positive. UP’s unheralded forward bested her more highly regarded opponents in terms of rebounding, as she led all players with a mighty 19 rebounds, 8 off the offensive glass. Reserve Antonia Wong was also effective in spite of limited playing time, notching 6 points and an impressive 9 rebounds in only 21 minutes. Bea Daez customarily led UP in scoring, but again laboured against the focused defensive attention of the opposing squad. Her 15 points came on 18 shots, and, with Bernardino draped over her all game long, she turned the ball over 8 times.

 

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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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Basketball

KIA signs Carlo Lastimosa

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After being released by the NLEX Road Warriors during the off-season, gunner Carlo Lastimosa has found a new home.

KIA Picanto team governor Bobby Rosales confirmed to Tiebreaker Times Thursday evening that they have tapped Carlo Lastimosa for the rest of the PBA Philippine Cup campaign.

“Yes,” Rosales confirmed in a text message.

Lastimosa, a two-time All-Star, averaged 8.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in his one-year stay with the Road Warriors. Coach Yeng Guiao cited that NLEX already had too many guards that resulted to Lastimosa’s release.

The product of College of Saint Benilde was drafted as the 20th overall pick in the 2013 Rookie Draft by Barako Bull. A year later, he was traded to the Blackwater Elite for Brian Heruala.

The 27-year-old is set to make his debut on Saturday when the Picanto take on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

The Kia Picanto are in the midst of a 16-game losing streak.

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Marinerong Pilipino withstands furious Zark’s rally to open season on high note

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The Marinerong Pilipino Skippers averted a collapse and held off the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers to come away with the 94-92 thriller to open the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Losing hold of a 17-point edge, 56-39 with 7:57 left in the third frame, the Skippers survived the furious rally from the Jawbreakers in the clutch as Mike Nzeusseu and CJ Perez missed their three-pointers in the final minute before Rian Ayonayon and Renzo Subido sealed off the win for their side at the charity stripe

Subido topscored for Marinerong Pilipino with 20 points, five assists, and three rebounds, while Ayonayon unleashed 15 markers, three boards, and two dimes in the early battle between the two contenders.

Gab Banal also registered a double-double of 14 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, and four steals against his 10 turnovers in the win, while Papot Paredes got 12 of his 14 markers in the first half to help the Skippers establish control at halftime.

Victorious as Marinerong Pilipino maybe in the marquee matchup, coach Koy Banal refused to brand his side as the undisputed team-to-beat, noting: “This win means nothing. We need to keep on working get better every day because everybody will now prepare for us.”

Banal also lauded top rookie picks Alvin Pasaol and Abu Tratter, who were both fielded in the second half and stepped up to help the Skippers’ cause.

“Those guys have been with us since January 2 lang, and pretty much, medyo nangangapa pa sila sa sistema. But good thing is that they were able to deliver especially when their number were called,” he said.

The Skippers used a huge 12-0 run to end the second quarter to grab a 47-35 halftime lead, which further ballooned to 17, 56-39 in the third quarter.

Jaycee Marcelino paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 20 points, four rebounds, and three assists in the loss, while Perez had 19 markers and five assists.

Earlier, PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial and PBA vice chairman Dickie Bachmann of Alaska graced the opening ceremonies, which was made special thanks to league newcomer Mila’s Lechon.

Marinerong Pilipino looks to sustain the momentum it gained in this game when it faces the Akari-Adamson Falcons on Thursday, January 25 at 5:00pm. Zark’s Burgers, on the other hand, takes on the Batangas-EAC Generals on Tuesday, January 23 at 4:00pm.

The Scores:

Marinerong Pilipino 94 – Subido 20, Ayonayon 15, Paredes 14, Banal 14, Robles 10, Tolentino 4, Tratter 4, Pasaol 4, Terso 3, Lopez 2, Inigo 2, Babilonia 2, Toth 0.

Zark’s 92 – Marcelino JC 20, Perez 19, Nzeusseu 18, Ayaay 11, Ibanez 6, Marcelino JV 6, Cinco 5, Tansingco 3, Santos 2, Pretta 2, Marata 0, Liwag 0

Quarterscores: 17-19, 47-34, 69-58, 94-92

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CSJL

Pirates notch first win at struggling Knights’ expense

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After floundering in their first three games, the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates broke into the win column after trouncing the Colegio San Juan de Letran Knights, 20-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-22, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Pirates, after a sluggish start, got the best of their Intramuros neighbors by limiting their miscues in the latter three sets. According to head coach Emil Lontoc, Lyceum needed every bit of momentum they gained in their rousing win in the second set.

“Nabuhayan sila (Pirates) ng loob noong makalusot kami noong second set,” Lontoc said. “Mababa ‘yung nilaro namin nung simula tapos medyo struggle pa din noong sumunod na set. Pero nakabangon din. Crucial ‘yun kasi baka hindi na kami naka-angat kung natalo pa kami noong second set.”

The Pirates delivered three of their four aces in the final set to close the match. They also shored up their reception, finishing at 38 percent, after an atrocious start.

Jhonel Badua topped the Pirates with 19 points while Joeward Presnede added 14.

Lyceum (1-3) takes on the undefeated Arellano University (4-0) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Paul John Alilio and Bobby Gatdula each provided Letran with 19 points. Christopher Cistina managed 11 markers.

Letran (0-4) aims for their first win against rivals San Beda College (3-1) on Monday.

The Scores

LPU (3) – Badua 19, Presnede 14, Lajara 9, Ilano 7, Samonte 5, Uy 5, Rubio (L)

CSJL (1) – Alilio 19, Gatdula 19, Cistina 11, Almoguerra 3, Ladeon 3, Dizon 2, Domingo 2, Brioso 0, Tumbali 0, Centeno (L), Timbreza (L)

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