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Amita hat-trick leads FEU in dismantling Ateneo



Arnel Amita scored three goals to engineer FEU’s 4-0 demolition of Ateneo at the FEU-Diliman Football Field earlier this afternoon. The Tamaraws deservedly grabbed the three points that now allows them to take league leadership with just two games remaining.

The home side called most of the shots in the first half, forcing Ateneo to defend resolutely in order to keep the Tamaraws scoreless. Blue Booters goalkeeper JP Oracion took on the challenge to stubbornly deny FEU to go in front. Eleven minutes in, Jhan Jhan Melliza hurriedly ran towards the Ateneo box to meet a loose ball. He got to it and managed to shoot, but Oracion stuck his leg to keep it out. At the 23rd minute, Val Jurao linked up with Melliza, as the former retrieved the ball and headed it straight to Eric Giganto whose shot was blocked by the sturdy Ateneo goalkeeper. A minute after the half-hour mark, Jurao had his turn to fire from just outside the box but Oracion brilliantly leapt to keep the score level. There were also numerous chances for the Tamaraws to pull ahead but whenever Oracion was not able to deal with it, they missed the target.

Eight minutes before the first half ended, Ateneo right back Jin Montemayor committed a costly mistake when he was culpable of pushing Amita inside the Ateneo penalty area. As a result, the Tamaraws were awarded with a penalty kick. Amita slotted home the penalty by sending Oracion the wrong way to give FEU a 1-0 lead. It prompted the Ateneans to move forward, immediately seeking an equalizer before the break. Paolo Alilam crossed the ball to Emilio Acosta but the forward did not retain possession. Instead, Reymart Cubon cleared the ball before the Ateneo striker got to it. Five minutes before the 45, Emman Paredes had a good look from outside the box but it was blocked by Michael Menzi. Halftime soon came with FEU holding a narrow 1-0 lead.

Entering the second half, Ateneo sustained the attacking rhythm as they eagerly sought ways to break down FEU’s defense. RJ Joyel mistimed his jump, leaving Acosta with space to shoot near the six-yard box. The Ateneo striker got his head to the ball but his attempt was blocked approaching the goal line. On the other side, a critical error due to FEU’s high pressure play led Wilson Marcelino to head the ball past Oracion. It would have been a wise play had Oracion stayed put in goal. Miscommunication between the center back and the goalkeeper gifted Giganto, who was dangerously lurking near the Ateneo goal to control the ball before sliding it uncontested into the net 12 minutes into the second half.

Just a minute inside the last 30 minutes of play, Paredes drilled a neat cross into the box only for Acosta’s acrobatic attempt to be cleared by M. Menzi. From that moment on, it was all FEU. Oracion was called into action again at the 65th minute when he stopped Audie Menzi’s shot on target. However, he was not able to handle FEU’s next chance. Amita scored his second of the day in breathtaking fashion as he launched the ball into the top left corner, leaving Oracion and the rest of the Ateneans stunned and everyone else perhaps captivated. Despite saving attempts by Melliza, M. Menzi, and Balanueco late in the game, Oracion looked helpless when Amita and Melliza connected on a 1-2 pass to slice the Ateneo defense. As soon as Amita got the ball, he lobbed it wisely over the goalkeeper to complete his hat-trick and his team’s rout of the silenced Blue Eagles of Loyola Heights.

“Iniisip namin na kailangan naming manalo para makapasok sa Final Four,” stated Man of the Match Amita, whose three goals allowed FEU to execute their brand of football quite comfortably. He added that the team looks forward to every game as a championship match in order to gain traction entering the playoffs. Despite the lopsided win, Amita thinks there is still a lot for the Tamaraws to work on en route to successfully defending their crown.

Ateneo captain Mikko Mabanag cannot hide his frustration with the result. “Sobrang disappointing kasi pinaglaruan kami sa loob. It shouldn’t be that way,” he uttered. He believes that the team had what it takes to compete but have not made the most of their opportunities. “Against a top-caliber team like FEU, we should be taking our chances. [Today], I think we didn’t.”

The win places FEU above the rest of the pack, tied with UP as both teams have 24 points but are ahead due to superior goal difference. Consequently, Ateneo falls down to fourth with 22 points, just two more than fifth-placed NU. The Bulldogs and the Blue Booters will meet in what looks like a season-defining match on Sunday.

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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



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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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