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Aroga swats 8, NU stifles ADMU for 7th win



The unstoppable force versus the immovable object. The league’s best offensive and defensive squads faced off at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, and the defence won. The unrelenting National University Bulldogs throttled the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles’ high-flying offense, 76-66, and notched their 7th victory of UAAP Season 77. Alfred Aroga was a historically dominating presence inside for the Bulldogs, rejecting 8 shots during the contest. His block party represents the highest tally since the era of fabled defensive monster Arwind Santos of FEU. The muscular centre also punished Ateneo’s frontcourt rotation with 15 points on 70% shooting, along with 11 boards. King Eagle Kiefer Ravena, the league leader in FTs attempted, was starved of service from the charity stripe, and struggled towards a team-high 18 points, albeit on 21 shots. The Bulldogs’ season sweep of the Eagles leaves the two squads deadlocked at 7-3 and jostling for Final 4 seeding. ADMU Head Coach Bo Perasol remains winless against Eric Altamirano’s Bulldogs.

The Blue Eagles again suffered from a lethargic opening quarter, a mistake the hungry Bulldogs would not let go unpunished. NU, the statistical leader in virtually every defensive category, supplemented its defensive edge with a surprising amount of firepower in the first quarter. The Bulldogs seared Ateneo’s mediocre defence for 24 points on an eye-popping 11/15 mark. Crafty starting point guard Gelo Alolino was unstoppable in the period, notching 9 points on a perfect 4/4 shooting. Fellow starters Nico Javelona, Glenn Khobuntin, and Troy Rosario were similarly unblemished from the field in the first period. Meanwhile, the sputtering Ateneo offense could only manage 14 points, well short of the 20 they average. That output was symbolic of things to come, as the Eagles, handcuffed by the athletic Bulldogs defence, would fail to breach the 20-point mark in any quarter during the match. Ateneo’s potential comeback was further complicated by the iron wall erected by Alfred Aroga and Joel Betayene in the second quarter. The titanic twosome denied 8 shots in the second quarter alone, forcing the Blue Eagles into a variety of ill-advised midrange jumper. After three periods of quality basketball, the Bulldogs found themselves up 13 points, 47-60. ADMU starting centre Ponso Gotladera then livened up proceedings with 8 straight points to open the decisive quarter. Against the enveloping attention of Aroga, the wily Ateneo big man flashed his footwork and touch to put the Eagles within 5. With the predominantly Atenean crowd rocking the Big Dome, momentum appeared to be shifting to the Eagles. NU’s Troy Rosario promptly muted the stadium again, engineering a 9-0 run to effectively put the game beyond Ateneo’s reach. Eagles’ sniper Von Pessumal hit two meaningless triples to keep the final score-line respectable at 76-66.

The Bulldogs boasted a well-distributed attack in their triumph over Ateneo. Every NU starter except Joel Betayene registered double-digit points, generally on above average efficiency. Troy Rosario in particular scintillated with a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards, on 6/8 shooting. Nico Javelona scored 12 points on 6 shots, while dishing out 5 assists. Glenn Khobuntin added 11 points on a 50% clip as well. Gelo Alolino alone struggled from the field, but still had a strong all-around outing with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 5 dimes. The Blue Eagles, on the other hand, suffered from a team-wide shooting malaise, as starters Chris Newsome, Von Pessumal and Nico Elorde all failed to crack 40% shooting in the game. Prize rookie Alvin Tolentino continued his slump, and remained pegged to the bench for most of the match, failing to score in 6 ineffectual minutes of action.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win



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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Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots



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



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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Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win



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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