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Andy Tan anchors ADMU defense to move one step closer to three-peat

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“He likes playing under pressure.” – Carlos Laurel on Andy Tan

UAAP Season 76 Most Valuable Player Andy Tan (4-1) anchored the Ateneo defense in a 7-3 win over top seed De La Salle University Green Batters in the opener of the UAAP Baseball Championships last Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

Soon-to-be-awarded UAAP Season 77 Rookie of the Year and Best Pitcher, Boo Barandiaran (3-1) started the game for the DLSU defense. Lead-off batter for the Blue Batters, Adrienne Bernardo was walked after a full count. The Blue Batters loaded the bases soon after with an Iñigo Untalan single and a Matt Laurel walk. Furthermore, Dio Remollo reached first base after a fielder’s choice that led to a Bernardo run. Untalan was tagged for first out at third base. A fly out by Ryon Tionloc and a strikeout of Renzo Ramos ended the top half of the opening inning with ADMU up one run.

At the bottom half of the inning, DLSU lead-off batter, Paolo Salud was walked. With one out, a double by Gabriel Pineda gave Salud prime scoring position at third base. The bases were then loaded after co-captain, Carlos Munoz, was walked. A highlight double play by the Ateneo defense resulted to an unassisted out of Pineda at third base, and a throw to first base resulted to a Dino Imperial out to end the inning.

With two outs to open the second inning, rookie Radito Banzon popped a single. Furthermore, Adrienne Bernardo connected with another single that gave Banzon third base. A fielder’s choice that resulted to an unassisted out by Carlos Laurel of Bernardo that stranded Banzon at third base.

A two-out rally by the top seeded Green Batters gave DLSU a two run lead. With two outs, DLSU gained two bases when Joaquin Bilbao was walked by Tan and a Franco Hashimoto. A double by Paolo Salud and an error by ADMU center fielder Pelos Remollo gave Bilbao a run. A 2 RBI single by Carly Laurel gave DLSU a three run lead to end the inning.

After a scoreless third inning highlighted by two strikeouts by Tan at the bottom of the third, the Blue Batters scored three runs at the top of the fourth to regain the lead. With one out, Chip Esguerra was hit by a Barandiaran pitch. After a base hit by Pelos Remollo, Radito Banzon was hit by another pitch. Then with two outs, Boo Barandiaran’s pitches went wild once more in hitting Iñigo Untalan to load the bases, and gave Esguerra a run. Barandiaran had to be subbed out for one inning and was replaced by Kiko Gesmundo on the mound. Second ranked in RBIs for the regular season, Matt Laurel connected with a 2 RBI single to give ADMU a 4-3 lead.

A scary moment occurred in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Dino Imperial appeared to have dislocated his shoulder. Imperial got to first base after a fielder’s choice. Furthermore, the DLSU senior appeared to have strained the back of his leg on his way to first base. A pick-off attempt by Andy Tan to first base Ryon Tionloc resulted to Imperial diving for a safe. However, Imperial dove in awkwardly and hurt his shoulder. Imperial, unfortunately, had to be subbed out for pinch runner Quito Castro.

The defending champions extended their lead at the top of the sixth. With two outs to start the inning, two consecutive singles by Adriane Bernardo and Iñigo Untalan, plus a walk by Matt Laurel loaded the bases for ADMU. Dio Remollo connected with a 2 RBI double to extend the Blue Batter lead to 6-3. Laurel and Remollo were left stranded at scoring positions after a fly out of Ryon Tionloc.

At the top of the eighth inning and after giving up a double to Iñigo Untalan at center field, Boo Barandiaran was subbed out for Carlos Muñoz after 114 pitches. Two consecutive passed balls by Muñoz gave Untalan a run. The top of the eighth inning ended with two consecutive strikeouts by Munoz , and ADMU extending their lead to 7-3.

Andy Tan gave up two consecutive singles at the bottom of the eighth. Luigi Nolasco, from second base, attempted to steal home, but was caught by catcher Dio Remollo of a throw by Bernardo. Tan was then subbed out for former UAAP Junior’s MVP, Paulo Macasaet. After walking Cholo Dominguez, Macasaet struck out Joaquin Bilbao, and a ground out of Franco Hashimoto ended the inning.

Carlos Muñoz and the DLSU fielders shutout the ADMU offense at the top of the last regulation inning. It was apparent that DLSU was fortunate to have the top of the batting order batting at the bottom of the ninth. Paolo Salud grounded out to shortstop Bernardo for first out. After a single by Carly Laurel, Macasaet managed to strikeout Andrei Palacio and a fly out of Carlos Muñoz to second base ended the game.

In the seven full innings that Tan pitched, he only allowed an average of one hit per inning. His leadership on defense was clearly followed by the defending champions as they were able to limit the DLSU offense and stranding eight DLSU runners on base.

The former MVP knew he was starting this game as soon as the second round matchup against DLSU finished, and coach Randy Dizer had told him to prepare himself. “[The preparation] stopped because we’re on Finals week, but we still have our trainings like toss a little, long throws, condition yourselves, and a lot of running just to get the body going during exam week.” He added that despite his many struggles this season in comparison to his previous ones, the whole team motivated themselves knowing they have been in this situation. “We’ve been here before, we know how to handle this, and just play our game.” Ateneo has dropped their previous games, so the team members told themselves, “if you play your game, you’ll do well. And that’s we did today.” In those past games, the loss was due to subpar hitting, which is their best asset, so that was what they worked on. Nevertheless, he was also all praises for their defense, and lauded his team’s efforts to take the win. Going into the next game Tan said, “We want to play the same way. We go back to training tomorrow – light training. If something’s working, you don’t have to change it so we just have to maintain where we are.

The Ateneo offense was led by Adrienne Bernardo’s three runs, while RBI prince Matt Laurel had two RBIs for the game. Dio Remollo had three RBIs to compliment the offense.

Game Two of the UAAP Baseball Championships will be played on Thursday, March 12 at 11am. Game will still be played at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

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Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu skills to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the fighters returned to their feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to the Mahindra Floodbuster.

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Basketball

Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover by the six-foot-four forward.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far, not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he had been frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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