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Ateneo heads to semis after fending off feisty UST

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The Blue Eagles are back in the Final Four. A shocking 87th minute goal from fullback Kendall Colet paved the way for the Ateneo de Manila University men’s football team to escape the University of the Santo Tomas Growling Tigers with a narrow 2-1 win, Sunday afternoon at the FEU-Diliman Football Field.

The first half opened to a heated defensive struggle between the two squads. The Tigers tried to establish their presence on the wing, but the Ateneo wide defenders reacted quickly, rushing to the flanks as soon as the yellow shirts got to the top. The Eagles too struggled to find an easy path into the box, with the Tigers’ own hardworking defense refusing to give the Ateneans any easy looks. As expected, the Eagles readjusted by striking from long range and trying to make the best out of every set piece.

At the tenth minute, Mikko Mabanag, the Eagles’ go-to guy for set pieces came close to drawing first blood, beating out the UST defense to strike from the right post, but his shot sailed past the opposite post before any of his teammates could redirect the ball back into the path of the goal. Seven minutes later, Mabanag gave the Ateneo faithfuls something to cheer about, after a free kick taken from beyond the penalty box ended with the ball whizzing over UST goalie John Rey Catalino and into the top corner of the net. Three minutes later, he came close to repeating the feat, when another free kick taken from the left wing floated into the direction of the goal. Catalino, however, was able to react fast enough to parry the shot away.

The last 15 minutes of the half saw both squads find more ways to cut into the box. At the 30th minute, Jean Mari Clarino came close to scoring against his high school alma mater, going one-on-one with the keeper before striking from the center of the box. His shot however sailed wide above the bar. Two minutes later, Jogi Celiz found himself with an opportunity on the goal from just inside of the box, but his shot went wide past the post.

The last great shot of the half came from Ateneo’s Christian Michael Castillo at the 44th minute, who took advantage of a lull in the UST defense to free himself up for a stealthy inside pass from Carlo Liay. Though able to launch before anyone from UST could trouble him, his shot ended with the ball drifting past the opposite post. At halftime, the score was still 1-0 for Ateneo.

The second half paved way to an aggressive push for the top of the field by the Eagles. At the 49th minute, forward Emilio Acosta came close to extending the lead, after managing to get the UST goalie out of position with a stealthy drive to the goal. He however lost control of the ball, which was immediately cleared off the field by the UST defense as soon as it drifted away from Acosta’s heels.

Though possession stayed with Ateneo for most of the second half, the Tigers made the necessary adjustments, controlling their physicality and preventing the Eagles from winning too many set pieces. Though they struggled to re-establish their hold on the wing earlier in the half, the Tigers’ drive to reclaim the wing bore fruit at the 67th minute, when the team’s leading scorer Steven Anotado easefully received a cross from the right wing after freeing himself up to score for the men in yellow. The score was suddenly tied at 1-1.

The last twenty minutes of the half saw Ateneo scramble to break the deadlock. =Liay took charge for the Ateneans, plunging into the chaos in the box to redirect every free ball into the direction of the goal. The Eagles also found much needed help from Emmanuel Paredes and Julian Roxas, who had a couple of good chances around the 80th minute, but were unable to send anything to the net.

With flaring tempers on the pitch and the Eagles showing signs of frustration, the game looked like it was headed to a draw. But then, with three minutes of regular time left, Colet came to his squad’s rescue. The fullback charged his way into the chaos in the box to collect a ball that came from a botched attempt by his teammates, letting out a powerful kick on the ball and smashing it into the net.

During those dying minutes, the Tigers showed no sign of letting the Eagles take off easily, defending their end of the pitch and keeping their counterattack alive. Despite this, Ateneo’s defenders easily erased any last minute push by the Tigers, and at the whistle, the Eagles were celebrating their return flight to the postseason.

“Isa lang ang goal natin dito, it is to beat UST,” said Ateneo head coach JP Merida in an interview after the game. “Huwag niyo na isipin ang game sa kabilang field (La Salle-NU game). Let’s just focus sa 90 minutes natin against UST para mag-qualify.”

“Towards the end, we were able to regroup. Therefore, we were able to score a goal,” said Ateneo captain Mabanag after the game. “Heart ‘yun.”

UST head coach Marjo Allado meanwhile praised his team’s performance despite the loss and related his young squad’s steady maturity throughout the season. “I think the winning mentality is already there. ‘Yung marking lang nawala.” Coach Allado remains optimistic about his squad’s chances next year, and promises to return stronger.

With the win, Ateneo exits the elimination round with 25 points at fourth place, and will be facing archrivals and no.1 seed De La Salle University in the semifinals on March 1. Meanwhile, UST will settle for a sixth place finish, their worst finish in the history of the program.

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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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