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Ateneo dismantles La Salle’s advantage, arranges Finals rematch with UP



Last year’s finalists, Ateneo de Manila University Lady Blue Shuttlers, erased a twice-to-win disadvantage after registering a similar 3–1 victory against second-seeds De La Salle University Lady Green Shuttlers and booked their place in the title round against University of the Philippines Lady Maroons, Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

Second-year player Arianne Rivera set the tone for her squad in a straight-games win against Ateneo’s Cassie Lim. Matching her opponent’s length, Rivera turned to her aggressiveness to get ahead in the first game. After a tight start at the frame, the sophomore pulled ahead at the break with a precarious one-point lead, 11–10. Lim tried to keep the game close after the ceasefire, but errors spelled the Atenean’s doom, as Rivera walked away with the first game, 21–18. Rivera continued her momentum in the following game and mounted a comfortable 11–7 into the interval. Lim slowly crawled back into the game and cut the deficit to two, 11–13. From there, Rivera did not look back and closed out the match, 21–11.

In the second singles match, Ateneo’s Bianca Carlos continued her own dominant run in singles play as she disposed off rookie Iya Sevilla in two games. The third-year veteran used a variety of attacks to waylay the young upstart. If not for Carlos’ miscues, the Atenean could be leading by a huge margin into the break. Sevilla attempted to make a good account of herself, but Carlos finished off the game, 21–12. The rookie was able to keep the opening part of the second game close until four straight points from Carlos gave the latter a comfortable margin heading into the interval, 11–8. A 3–0 run after the break for Carlos made it difficult for Sevilla to salvage the match. Ateneo took the game and the match, 21–15, to level the tie at 1 game apiece.

The very experienced tandem of Aires Montilla and Kristelle Salatan returned to the court for La Salle against the in-form duo of Geva De Vera and Janel Dihiansan. Montilla and Salatan imposed their imprint on the match early on, despite the strong resistance from the Ateneo pair. After allowing De Vera and Dihiansan to get within two, La Sallle continuously forced their opponents to make errors and scored on a variety of attacks of their own to get the game, 21–13. In the following game, La Salle targeted De Vera, and noticing this, Dihiansan stepped up to bring her team back in the game. It bore fruit as Ateneo led at the break, 11–8. At the resumption of the game, Montilla and Salatan threatened to clinch the match leading 17–16, but Ateneo had other plans as they moved on to game point and eventually leveled the match, 21–18. In the deciding game, both pairs exchanged points, only La Salle moved ahead to 15–9. Ateneo then changed gears and forced their opponents to errors and cut the deficit to 14–17. De Vera and Dihiansan dug deep and pulled off a wild comeback to end the match and get the tie advantage for Ateneo with a 7 –0 run, 21–17.

It was up to the combo of Lim and Carlos to close the tie for Ateneo in the second doubles. Once more, the veteran duo delivered and sent La Salle’s Alyssa Leonardo and Nicole Albo packing after three gruelling games. Aching to get back Ateneo, Leonardo and Albo waxed to a hot start, even though the Lady Blue Shuttlers kept it close at the break, 11–9. Four straight points for the La Sallians after the interval was enough for the pair to take the first game comfortably, 21–13. In the following game, Lim and Carlos changed their strategy to a more aggressive one, and it worked. La Salle was able to get the advantage at the break once more, but the Ateneans slowly gained their composure in the course of the canto. Trailing 10–15 after the ceasefire, Carlos and Lim tied the game at 15, and kept it close. A smash from Albo sent La Salle to match point, but an error from the rookie forced a deuce. After another kill from Albo, and Ateneo took it from there to close the game, 24–22. Carlos and Lim pulled all stops in the deciding game and led by as much as five, 11–6, at the court change. La Salle, however, tried to mount their own comeback and strung up four straight points to keep themselves in the match. However, an error on the drive from Leonardo sealed the deal for the Blue and White, 21–19.

With the win, the Lady Blue Shuttlers secured their fifth straight Finals appearance and their third consecutive with ace player and former Rookie of the Year – Most Valuable Player Bianca Carlos. The Ateneans will face the UP Lady Maroons, who owns the thrice-to-beat advantage via an elimination sweep. The titanic Battle of Katipunan and rematch of last year’s Finals will begin on Wednesday, October 14, at the same venue.


Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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Fired-up Von Pessumal on Kiefer Ravena incident: ‘I’m not here to make any friends’



Will bridges be burned?

Von Pessumal was heavily-scrutinized Friday evening after an incident with fellow Ateneo lifer Kiefer Ravena.

It took place with 9:50 left in the final frame of the San Miguel Beermen’s highly-charged tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors. After Marcio Lassiter launched a trey, Pessumal looked like he was aiming for the rebound. Instead, he simply charged towards Ravena and pushed him down.

Lassiter’s three-pointer counted, while Pessumal, who was blocked by Ravena in a fastbreak and then received a staredown moments prior, was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul.

It was a surprising sight to see considering the amount of time he and Ravena have spent together — a bond that started ever since they were in high school. Even the second-generation star admitted that he did not expect that from his former running body.

“I did not expect that at all,” said the NLEX rookie.

But Pessumal downplayed such incident despite attempts by scribes to make him elaborate what had really transpired during that moment.

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game,” the league sophomore said after the match which they won 109-98. “I don’t wanna say anything, I’m sorry.

“It’s part of the game. Whatever move on. Not a big deal.”

Asked if he was motivated to face Ravena, whom he had shared three UAAP juniors titles, two UAAP seniors crowns, and a SEA Games gold medal with, the 24-year-old shared that he approached Friday’s bout the way he usually does.

“I wouldn’t say motivated [versus Kiefer], I mean, it’s just like any other game. When I play, I don’t see who’s guarding me, I just play,” said the 6-foot-2 swingman.

“I play to win all the time.”

The incident he and Ravena figured in shadowed his performance of 10 points on 50 percent shooting off the bench — the second time he had scored in double figures this season. After Friday, Pessumal is averaging 8.25 points.

“We have to sustain the level of excellence that they (starters) have. Our job is — I wouldn’t say support, but — when we get in, we should bring the level higher so when they come back, the game is easier for them,” he said.

Pessumal was then asked if he and Ravena met each other after the buzzer sounded as the two did not even shake hands after the contest. But, through a short yet strong response, the 24-year-old said that they did not.

“I wouldn’t say anything. I don’t know, after the game?,” he expressed.

“I’m a professional basketball player, I’m not here to make any friends.”

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross



During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao called Chris Ross the “N” word that caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nagflare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

Guiao though denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also against Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it really has become a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now went down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees the great need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’



Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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Downcast Chris Ross chooses to stay mum after heated altercation with Yeng Guiao



Through wins or losses, Chris Ross has always accommodated the members of the press asking for interviews and fans requesting for photo ops every after game. But Friday evening, the nine-year pro was despondent.

Visibly agitated with the events that had transpired during the San Miguel Beermen’s tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors, Ross, with his hoodie covering his head, left the Cuneta Astrodome without saying a word.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had figured in physical play after physical play and verbal exchange after verbal exchange with the frustrated Road Warriors.

Ross and Alex Mallari were both slapped with technicals after a confrontation with 9:06 left. This was just the start of many things to come for the Filipino-American defensive specialist

After knocking down a triple and receiving a taunt from Ross, Michael Miranda was assessed a disqualifying foul for an apparent kick to the groin against Ross with 4:35 left.

The tip of the iceberg came with 1:46 left to play and the game all but settled.

Yeng Guiao and Ross figured in a heated word war that resulted in Ross’ second technical foul for the game. Referees and players from both sides had to separate the two to prevent things from escalating.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria alleged that the fiery NLEX mentor said the “N” word, while some said Guiao called Ross a “bitch”.

Ross finished the game with four points, eight rebounds, and four steals in 37 minutes of action.

For sure, penalties and suspensions will come out of this game.

And it was better for Ross to stay silent.

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