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Amidst eligibity issue, Hubert Cani hoping for the best

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Since transferring to Ateneo de Manila University, Hubert Cani has been bent on helping his team succeed.

The former UAAP Juniors Most Valuable Player has already waited for a year, with hopes of one day suiting up for the Blue Eagles.

It turns out, after the UAAP Board denied him of playing for UAAP Season 78, Cani has to wait even more.

“Naghintay na ako ng one year, alam ko na sa sarili ko na okay na, tapos biglang magiging ganyan ung case ko. Nakaka-disappoint,” Cani, who transferred to Ateneo last year after a high school stint with National University, shared.

Cani said he was training when news broke out he is deemed ineligible for the upcoming season which fires off on September 5. He was surprised to learn a lot of people was trying to communicate him, only to find out he will not be able to don blue and white just yet.

“Nung nabalitaan ko ung ganung issue na-disappoint ako syempre. Nagte-training kami noon so wala kaming alam, tsaka nagkaroon ng maraming nagtetext sa akin pagkatapos,” he said.

At a crucial stage where the Blue Eagles are already polishing their training for the upcoming wars, Cani said the decision is affecting him emotionally.

“Mahirap magfocus, halos two weeks na lang, UAAP na. Syempre mahirap magfocus ng maraming iniisip,” Cani said.

Cani added he is reminded to remain ready, and is thankful for the support the community is giving him.

Sa tingin ko ina-appeal nila,” Cani spoke of the Ateneo camp. “Yung Ateneo community grabe ung support samin. Sinusuportahan nila kung ano ang tama.”

The backcourt player remains hopeful he will be able to suit up one day and finally make the most out of a long waig.

“Kailangan pa rin mag-focus. Sinasabi ko pa rin sa sarili ko na feel ko lalaro ako sa September, yun pa rin ang tinitingnan ko sa future.”

A brief history of how the UAAP residency rule has been affecting athletes

Cani is not the only athlete affected by the UAAP’s new residency rule which was implemented back in Season 76.

In the past, Jerie Pingoy, who transferred from Far Eastern University to Ateneo, was affected by the rule. After news broke out, the rule was popularly called the “Jerie Pingoy rule.”

Because of the new two-year residency rule, it was either Pingoy should get a release from his former school or abide by the rule, which prevented him from playing until Season 78. Pingoy never got a release from FEU.

Mikee Bartolome spent her high school in University of Santo Tomas, transferred to University of the Philippines and joined UP swimming team when she entered college.

She was prevented from competing in Season 76 although her side sought a TRO from the Supreme Court, letting her play during the season.

Her appearance in the swimming tournaments was marred by boycotts from a handful of UAAP schools which pulled out from the competition when they learned Bartolome was participating.

Most events of the swimming tournaments during that season became a virtual duel between only UP and Ateneo.

In April 10, 2014, Senator Pia Cayetano’s Senate Bill 2166 or “An Act Providing for the Magna Carta of Student-Athletes” was heard for the first time.

In the public hearing, Cayetano went after malpractices such as “scholarship with benefits” and wanted to provide new rules for student athletes.

Section 5.3b of the bill was tackled the most. Cayetano wanted to remove any existing residency rules or requirements for high school students wanting to transfer to another school.

Cayetano also wanted to implement just a one-year residency for college students wanting to transfer to another school.

Part of the bill states: “It is the right of a student-athlete to be free from any act of restriction or punishment from his old and/or new school due to his transfer from the former to the latter, Provided, that a one-year residency shall be respected by the school and athletic association in case of a transfer from one college or university to another. In no case shall this residency rule apply to a high school student who transferring to another school or to a college or university.”

Just this week the bill has passed the final reading, and shall only require the signature of President Benigno Aquino III. Even if Aquino fails to sign it, the Magna Carta of Student Athletes shall lapse into a law.

The UAAP Board’s main argument for not allowing Cani to play is that Cani was affected by the two-year residency rule before Cayetano and Senator Cynthia Villar co-authored Senate Bill 2166.

Cayetano has lambasted the UAAP for all the instances of preventing student-athletes from playing. On Tuesday, she released another statement following a UAAP Board meeting.

“The UAAP board has once again displayed its arrogance and immaturity by invoking its unjust two-year residency rule against a high school student who has transferred to a different school in college,” the statement reads.

The statement adds: “The UAAP must respect a student-athlete’s right to study and play for the school of his choice. The UAAP is not a commercial league but an amateur league. The UAAP Board should stop treating student-athletes like commodities.”

Amidst the chaos, Cani is hoping for the best — not just for himself, but for his fellow student-athletes and the advancement of student-athlete rights in the country.

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Basketball

OIC Willie Marcial insists ‘walang pagbabago’ in return of physical play in PBA

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The return of physicality in PBA games early this 43rd season has drawn raves from the coaches and the fans. At last, the matches are decided by the players themselves and not by the way the referees blow their whistles.

All the fans, the players, and ultimately the coaches have been longing for this, as physical play had been heavily controlled during the administration of former commissioner Chito Narvasa from 2015 to 2017.

“The games are being called a little differently now. They’re allowing a little bit more contact or a lot more contact,” said Meralco Bolts head coach Norman Black.

“I love it. I’m an old school guy so you can imagine. No harm, no foul.”

“The physicality’s good. It’s good for the game. It’s real men going at it,” opined Alaska Aces head coach Alex Compton on the other hand, seconding Black’s sentiments.

“I like the direction the league is going in with officiating.”

It is just one of the many positive changes that are currently taking place in the league under the management of officer-in-charge Willie Marcial. But he insisted that tweaks haven’t really been made in terms of calling games.

“Wala, pinapalaro lang namin. Walang pagbabago yun,” said the amiable league official on Monday evening, when he paid Gilas Pilipinas a surprise visit at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.

“Pinapalaro lang namin yung mga players.”

All that he’s doing, according to Marcial, is simply reminding the referees to be firm with their calls.

“Sinabihan ko lang yung mga referees na, ‘Manindigan kayo kung ano talaga.'”

With more consistent calls comes the shorter duration of games compared to the past two seasons, as time-consuming reviews by referees and officials has not occurred in matches too often this season.

“Mas mabilis na (mga laro ngayon),” said Marcial, also the league’s former external affairs and communications head.

“One hour (and) 56 (minutes), one hour 52… ‘Di umaabot ng dalawang oras eh.”

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Boxing

Manny Pacquiao eyes bout against Vasyl Lomachenko

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Even if he has hinted at retirement numerous times, Senator Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38KO) continues to stress that the time is not yet now.

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Wednesday morning, the 39-year-old sure hall of famer reiterated his stance that he and his camp are still looking for the best fights possible.

“I am not retired yet. Alam mo na-mimiss ko yun boxing e,” Pacquiao told Karen Davilla.

“I’m still okay.”

Pacquiao, who lost his last bout against Jeff Horn last July 2, is not afraid that another loss might affect his legacy.

Pressed about who he wants to fight next, boxing’s only eight-division world champion disclosed that he is currently under negotiations with the camp of WBO Super Featherweight Champion Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8KO).

“Wala akong problema kung Amir Khan. May discussion din ngayon kay Lomachenko, he is the number one pound-for-pound fighter,” Pacquiao shared.

“Hindi pa na-finalize pero this year.”

Pacquiao is eyeing an April date for the bout, as it will be the time the senate goes on a break.

“This year, by April. Pangako ko sa mga tao na hindi maapektuhan ang trabaho ko. April, magandang idea dahil off kami from March 23 to May 13. April wala kaming trabaho,” a confident Pacquiao added.

“Three months is more than enough time to prepare.”

However, there is still one hindrance to the bout, according to Pacquiao. The two camps have yet to agree on which weight class the bout will be held.

According to reports, Lomachenko wants the bout to be at lightweight — a division Pacquiao has not been in for the last 10 years.

“Hindi pa sure. Nag-uusap pa about sa timbang.”

One thing is for sure — Pacquiao is hungrier than ever.

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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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