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Army dispatches perennial rival Cagayan, sets up Finals date with PLDT

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Coming off a heart-breaking five-set loss, the Army Lady Troopers ended the Cagayan Valley Lady Rising Suns’ season in straight sets 25-23, 26-24, 25-17, in their final elimination match, barging into the Shakey’s V-League Finals at the FilOil Flying-V Arena, earlier Tuesday afternoon.

Army’s Jovelyn Gonzaga was especially disruptive in their triumph, topping the scoring list with 16 points, including a season-high six blocks. The Lady Troopers out-performed their rivals in every offensive category especially on the attacking end, where Army had a 48-25 advantage. Army also out-blocked Cagayan, 10-8, but their true defensive brilliance was shown in their overwhelming number of block attempts, 71-50.

The Lady Troopers had substantial early leads in each of the first two sets of the match that Cagayan was able to slowly trim down. In the first frame, the Lady Troopers built a hefty 23-16 lead before their service reception went down the drain, allowing Cagayan to get consecutive break points. Cagayan ran off six straight points that includes three Army attack errors and two Chie Saet aces. But Army woke up in time to regain control of the set, as Jovelyn Gonzaga followed a Dindin Manabat kill with an off-the-block score that sealed the first set.

The following frame saw Army ahead comfortably once more before Cagayan came storming back. Army broke away from a dizzying exchange of points and took a 23-20 lead. The Lady Rising Suns responded after a timeout and notched the following four points, 24-23, highlighted by tremendous effort at the net by middle blocker, Ria Meneses. Still, Army managed to nab the second set as their revitalized floor defense allowed them to setup two Dindin Manabat running attacks and a Rachel Anne Daquis open hit that Cagayan could not counter.

The loss of two heart-breaking sets tooks it toll on the Lady Rising Suns in the final set. Cagayan head coach, Nes Pamilar tried to inject some life into his offense by shuffling his pieces, opting to put Aiza Maizo-Pontillas in Janine Marciano’s open hitter slot and sliding their starting middle blocker, Pau Soriano to the opposite hitter position. He also subbed in middle blocker, Wyneth Eulalio for Janine Marciano completing the Soriano-Saet-Eulalio-Meneses-Pontillas-Vargas third set lineup that Cagayan only used this match. However, the lineup shuffling still didn’t remedy their offensive futility as Army ran them over midway through the set. With Cagayan flailing away attack errors, Army built its largest lead of the match, 21-13 and the Lady Rising Suns could not produce another late push, ending their season in a straight set loss.

FEU product, Rosemarie Vargas topped all Lady Rising Suns with 11 markers while Aiza Maizo-Pontillas managed only eight points.

With the win Army will now face the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters in a best-of-three series. Army head coach Rico De Guzman emphasized the importance his team’s improved service reception in facing the only team they weren’t able to beat throughout the season, PLDT. “Basta maganda ‘yung service reception namin, makakagawa kami ng play. ‘Yun naman ‘yung naging problema naming sa mga unang larong namin against PLDT, kaya nagdo-double time kami sa ensayo sa reception ngayon,” De Guzman said.

Kaya naman maganda ‘yung blocking naming kanina against Cagayan, mas madaling basahin ‘yung mga palo ng kalaban. Ang kailangan talaga namin lahat kami maganda lang ‘yung blocking, di lang sila Gonzaga,” De Guzman responded when asked about Jovelyn’s tremendous effort.

Army will face the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters in the Finals with Game One of the best-of-three on Thursday at 4 p.m. Meanwhile, Cagayan battles Meralco for third place in another best-of-three also on Thursday at 2 p.m.

The Scores

Army (3) – Gonzaga 16, Tubino 14, Balse 11, Manabat 10, Daquis 8, Salak 4, Bautista 0, Gonzales 0, Torres (L), Agno (L)

Cagayan (0) – Vargas 11, Pontillas 8, Meneses 7, Saet 5, Vargas 4, Marciano 3, Sy 1, Eulalio 1, Benito 0, Pineda (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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AU

Impervious Lady Chiefs stay perfect after sweep of Lady Pirates

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The Arellano University Lady Chiefs extended their winning streak to 17 dating back to last season, after clobbering the Lyceum of the Philippines Lady Pirates, 25-16, 25-17, 25-11, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The defending champions were unrelenting with four Lady Chiefs scoring in double-digits with rookie Necole Ebuen powering in 11 points. Third-year open hitter Regine Arocha and Arellano’s middle blockers Mary Anne Esguerra and Andrea Marzan each provided 10 markers.

Conversely, no Lady Pirate managed to score in double-figures.

“Maganda naman talaga ang nilalaro ng mga bata. Lahat kasi kami determinado na makakuha ulet ng championship. Alam nila (Lady Chiefs) na kailangan pataas nang pataas ang ginagalaw namin,” said Arellano head coach Obet Javier.

The Lady Chiefs also limited their errors to a season-best 16 while the Lady Pirates surrendered 24 miscues.

The Lady Chiefs look for their sixth win of the season when they face the red-hot University of Perpetual Help System DALTA (4-1) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Christine Miralles and Monica Sevilla each supplied the struggling Lyceum with eight point apiece.

The Lady Pirates (1-4) take on the undefeated San Beda College (4-0) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

AU (3) – Ebuen 11, Arocha 10, Esguerra 10, Marzan 10, Prado 3, Ramirez 3, Liu 2, Balanoba 1, Donato 1, Verutiao 0, Buemia (L), Flores (L)

LPU (0) – Miralles 8, Sevilla 8, Juanilla 7, Patio 4, Genova 1, Romanban 0, Bongabong 0, Marcella (L)

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Basketball

Late whistle costs San Beda against Sousse to fall to 0-2

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23 for 2023 cadet Robert Bolick is averaging 27.5 points per game in the tournament

After struggling to close out the UAE National Team in their opener last Friday, the San Beda College Red Lions figured in a late judgment call that did not fall into their favor, Saturday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai. Due to this, the defending NCAA Champions lost to Tuniasian club team Sousse, 78-79.

With the loss, the Red Lions fell to a 0-2 hole in the 29th Dubai Basketball Championship. But the record does not reflect how the Filipinos played.

Robert Bolick, who scored 28 points against the UAE National Team, led the charge for San Beda in their second outing had 27 points. Fellow 23 for 2023 cadet Javee Mocon added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Sousse, the second-best club team in Tunisia and boasts four national team players and an American import, led by as much as 10 points, 70-60 in the final frame.

Fired-up by the Filipinos who stormed the venue, the Red Lions answered right back with an 18-8 run capped by a booming Bolick triple with six ticks left to gain a 78-76 lead.

However, a foul was called on a Red Lion on a three-point attempt by a Sousse player. He calmly sank all three free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Donald Tankoua had eight points and 13 rebounds as he was saddled with foul trouble all throughout the game.

The Tunisian club team was paced by Radzhouane Slimane with 18 points while Ibrahim Nadarri and Joshua Cassady had 13 markers each.

San Beda will have a day break before taking on Moroccan club team Al Sale on Monday, January 22.

The Scores:

San Beda 78 – Bolick 27, Mocon 11, Tankoua 8, Noah 8, Toba 6, Soberano 6, Prebitero 4, Tongco 4, Bahio 2, Carino 2, Oftana 0, Adamos 0.

Sousse 79 – Slimane 18, Naddari 13, Cassady 13, Mouhli 11, Knioua 9, Toumi 8, Monastiri 4, Gaddour 3.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 36-39, 57-62, 78-79.

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JRU

Perpetual overpowers JRU to keep pace of Final Four

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Strutting their decisive height and power advantage, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas slammed the Jose Rizal University Lady Bombers, 25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 25-21, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Altas were still heavy-handed with their errors, surrendering 35 miscues, including 12 in the second set, the only frame they lost.

The Las Piñas-based program, however, kept a scorching offensive pace, bombarding the Lady Bombers with six blocks and 12 aces. JRU had just five points combined crom those categories.

“Mataas pa talaga ‘yung tendency ng mga bata mamigay ng mga puntos. Sabi ko nga hindi kami mananalo kung tutulungan pa namin ‘yung kalaban maka-score,” rued Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño.

“Pero, unti-unte namang gumaganda ‘yung galaw ng mga bata. Lahat naman ng pagkukulang nila, tinatrabaho namin para maayos sa ensayo,” the champion mentor added.

Perpetual’s six-foot-three middle blocker Lourdes Clemente towered over the Lady Bombers with a season-high 19 points which included 14 attacks, two blocks, and three aces. Winger Cindy Imbo added 15 points.

The Lady Altas (4-1) take on the undefeated defending champs Arellano University (5-0) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Rookie Dolly Versoza paced the Lady Bombers with a game-high 21 points while captain Shola Alvarez managed 15.

The Lady Bombers (2-3) face the College of Saint Benilde (3-1) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Clemente 19, Imbo 15, Sangalang 8, Llorente 7, Tripoli 7, Gual 6, Versoza 2, Umandal 1, Estanislao 0, Medalla (L)

JRU (1) – Versoza 21, Alvarez 15, Ebuenga 5, Montojo 2, Rivera 2, Sibangan 1, Bodiongan 0, Macaraya (L)

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Basketball

Marc Pingris wants Rafi Reavis to break Robert Jaworski’s record

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Marc Pingris was all praises for veteran Rafi Reavis Saturday night, as the 40-year-old center made his presence felt in the Magnolia Hotshots’ 97-91 victory — their third straight win — over Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The six-foot-nine Reavis finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks — a performance perfectly punctuated by a follow-up of a Paul Lee miss with 12.5 seconds left to play that knocked out the Fuel Masters for good.

“Papasalamat ako kay Rafi na talagang kababalik lang niya pero binigay niya talaga lahat,” said Pingris after the bout, as Saturday night was just Reavis’ second outing in the 2018 Philippine Cup after recovering from a hip injury.

“Nag-usap nga kami kanina e, hindi pa siya 100 percent. So bukas, ang sabi niya babalik daw siya sa gym dahil gusto niya ibalik yung lakas ng legs dahil wala pa daw,” added the 36-year-old, who also suffered a hip injury last season.

Reavis has been playing in the league for 16 years. Seeing the work he has put in, Pingris, who finished the game with 17 rebounds, four assists, four points and two blocks, believes that the 10-time PBA champion can play for 10 more years — at least.

“You know naman Rafi eh, katulad ko rin yan eh – rebound and depensa. At tsaka sobrang vocal siya sa team eh,” beamed Pingris, who himself is a 14-year veteran. “Walang siyang inaano, talagang sinasabihan niya kung sino yung mga nagmi-mistake, kung paano kami mag-adjust, so nakikinig naman lahat sa kanya.

“Talagang nandun yung respeto namin kay Rafi.”

And if Reavis stays healthy for the next decade, Pingris wants Reavis to exceed Jaworki’s 958 games played — third most all time.

“Nasa kanya yun, basta kaya mo ba eh. As a player, kung masipag ka naman at may disiplina sa sarili mo, kaya niya yun.”

Still, Reavis has a lot of catching up to do.

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