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Ateneo, La Salle duel each other to 1-1 draw

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After another thrilling encounter between the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles and the De La Salle University Green Archers, the two archrivals’ second round matchup ended in a 1-1 draw, Sunday afternoon at the FEU Diliman Football Field.

The first half opened to an early Ateneo flurry, with the Eagles keeping the La Salle defenders on their toes for the entirety of the first 10 minutes. Emmanuel Paredes came close to drawing first blood at the 5th minute, getting the through pass from Julian Roxas, but the shot from just inside the box sailed past the right post. A minute later, Carlo Liay found himself an opening and just enough space to strike from a little beyond the penalty box, but the ball ended up flying straight over the bar.

The Green Archers’ attack finally picked up care of Nate Alquiros, who proved to be a threat around the penalty box. After maneuvering his way past the Ateneo back at around the 23rd minute, Alquiros found himself with a good look on goal just inside the box. However, his shot was denied by a speeding Wilson Marcelino just as Alquiros positioned himself to kick the ball into the direction of the goal. The next twenty minutes saw the Archers continue to keep their counterattack going, with Yoshiharu Koizumi and Gerald Layumas also getting a couple of good tries. Ateneo responded by producing a few opportunities, getting a boost from Paredes who was relentless in both attacking and creating from the wing.

At the 38th minute, Iñigo Gonzales, after beating the offside trap, got close enough to lure Ateneo goalie JP Oracion out of position, leaving the net unprotected. But just as he launched from the center of the box, Ateneo defender Kendall Colet raced back in front of the net to stop Gonzales’ shot before proceeding to send the high ball back to the midfield. Gonzales had another chance to finally score three minutes later, catching the Ateneo back out of position to collect the through pass from teammate Jojo Borromeo from the right flank, but the ball sailed inches past the opposite post. The Ateneans spent the last five minutes of the half defending a brief flurry from a goal-hungry La Salle side, with keeper Oracion stopping a 45th minute point-blank header from Jose Montelibano. At the half, neither team had goals to their name.

The early second half was greeted with more action on the opposing ends of the field. At the 50th minute, La Salle’s Montelibano had another chance to score from point-blank range, striking from the center of the box without anyone to trouble him. His shot however was easily stopped by the fast hands of Oracion. Five minutes later, Ateneo drew first blood, once again through a set piece. Collecting the corner kick from the left, Roxas kept his composure in front of the goal and sent the ball flying into the net before La Salle goalie Rafael de Guzman could get a hand in.

It was Alquiros who once again took charge for La Salle, reaffirming himself as the most threatening presence around the perimeter of the box and establishing his comfort zone at the right wing. After a series of narrow strikes from the right side of the pitch, a high cross he sent at the 68th minute connected with Montelibano, who was lurking just in front of the goal. Montelibano’s header diverted the ball into the direction of the net, but Oracion reacted in time to parry the ball away before it could enter the goal.

With both teams hungry for another goal, Ateneo to pull away and La Salle to equalize, both squads’ goalies found themselves going the extra mile every time the ball entered the box. At the 74th minute, a free kick was awarded to DLSU. Greggy Yang’s free kick caused a scramble in the penalty box. The ball landed by the able legs of Koizumi who managed to squeeze the ball into the net before the Ateneo goalie could dive back and defend. With fifteen minutes of regular time left, the score was tied at 1-1.

What followed was a physical, nail-biting fifteen minutes for both sides. The Ateneo defenders pushed themselves to make up for the earlier mistake, making sure every La Sallian to enter the top of the field was guarded. The Archers meanwhile found themselves taking the battle to the wing, but struggling to establish a way to cut into the front of the goal.

Entering injury time the score was unchanged, but Emilio Acosta had the chance to finally break the deadlock, after striking from the left side of the box. Though the La Salle goalie was able to dive in time to slow the ball down, he was unable to keep his hold on the ball. Not one Atenean however was able to react in time to gather the ball, as La Salle’s defenders got to it first, sending it back to the midfield. Waiting on the other end was Alquiros, who had one final try from just beyond the box, but his shot was easily knocked off course by an Ateneo defender. Shortly after, the final whistle was blown.

“I’m proud of my teammates. We did good and showed a lot of heart. When we were down, we fought for the ball,” said La Salle captain Gio Diamante after the game. “We’ve kept the undefeated streak and we hope we keep it until the end of the second round.”

“Sayang. We lost points again. We dropped points again. It’s really important for us to get three points because the table’s really tight,” said Ateneo captain Mikko Mabanag after the game.

With the draw, La Salle remains in second due to inferior goal difference while Ateneo stays in third in the standings.

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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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