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Ateneo powers past Mojica’s 41, EAC in battle of collegiate champs



Sporting a taller and more balanced lineup, the defending UAAP champs, Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles escaped Howard Mojica and the reigning NCAA champs Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals in four sets 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 25-23 in the Spiker’s Turf Collegiate Conference presented by PLDT Home Ultera at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

NCAA MVP, Howard Mojica willed his Generals throughout the match. The former PLDT Ultra Fast Hitter amassed a tournament-high 41 points but was the only General in double-digjts. UAAP MVP, Marck Espejo fired-off a season high 25 points and pivoted his team to the advantage every time he went to the service area. Espejo, however, was not the only Eagle who performed valiantly for their team. Ateneo slowly wore down Mojica with triple blocks and varied their offense. Ateneo’s middle blockers, Josh Villanueva and Rex Intal turned-in double-digit performances with 11 and 10 points respectively while team captain Ysay Marasigan shrugged off a slow start and gathered 12 markers.

“We needed this game for this season because most of our previous games [mabilis natapos]. Now, the team knows that every team is preparing for us since we are the UAAP champions. That’s why I’m telling my players to be consistent and to always do good. Kahit nagkamali ang kalaban, kailangan gumawa pa rin kami ng tama. We have to always be prepared, that’s the key,” said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro whose team once again blew off a massive error tally – 36 after giving up 38 in their win against FEU. Almadro also mentioned that his libero, Manuel Sumanguid played through a groin injury which hampered his floor defense and coverage early in the match.

A late Marck Espejo run from the service area allowed the Blue Eagles to breakaway from a 19-all tie to a 22-19 lead in the opening set. The boys from Loyola closed the set out handily but failed to carry over their momentum into the second frame. Five early points from Mojica propelled EAC to a 6-1 lead that the Blue Eagles whittled down to two, 8-6, off Espejo and Marasigan attacks. Ateneo’s errors and kills from Melliza and Mojica, however, pushed the EAC advantage back to six, 15-9. Espejo, again, sparked a rally with his powerful jump serving later in the set as he managed to trim the EAC lead down to two, 20-18, with three consecutive aces. To end the set, Mojica retaliated with three thundering smashes from the back row sandwiched between Ateneo errors that gave EAC its only won set of the match.

The Eagles then claimed the following sets by the slimmest of margins. In the third set, it took another successful Espejo service line forray to swing momentum in Ateneo’s favor. Trailing 14-17, Espejo’s serves afforded the Blue Eagles multiple free balls that they easily converted, vaulting them into the lead, 18-17. Mojica valiantly kept his team in the match as his cut shot placed them ahead, 20-19. Frustrated by EAC’s blocking in the previous set, Ysay Marasigan led an Ateneo charge that gave them a cushy 22-20 advantage. The Blue Eagles traded points with EAC at every sideout chance and ended the set with a classic Marck Espejo service ace-service error-back row smash sequence.

Ateneo faced a rowdy push from the Generals in the fourth stanza but managed to quell the Generals’ spirit by keeping EAC’s already shorter blockers on their toes with scattered combination and quick plays. Ateneo finally pulled away with an Esepjo kill giving them match point at 24-22. They bearly blew it with a rotation error in the following play but Marasigan capped the match with an open hit over a single blocker.

Mojica’s 41 markers came after he fired off 35 points in a five-set loss against the CSB Blazers. The Generals fall to a 2-3 slate and will need to win their last two meetings in order to have a shot at qualify for the Final Four.

Ateneo is still undefeated in seven meetings and have carry-over record of 5-0 . They will face the NCBA Wildcats next on Monday, August 24.

The Scores

ADMU (3) – Espejo 25, Marasigan 12, Villanueva 11, Intal 10, Rivera 5, Medalla 2, Polvorosa 2, Baysa 1, Sumaguid (L), Posadas (L)

EAC (1) – Mojica 41, Melliza 7, Arias 3, Doguna 3, Encina 2, Cilocilo 0, Mangaring (L), Gorospe (L)


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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Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates



Prior to Wednesday, all eyes were on the TNT Katropa-Blackwater Elite face-off, with many curious to see how last season’s Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy would fare against his former FEU teammates Mac Belo and Raymar Jose.

And as the final buzzer sounded, the 25-year-old Pogoy had reigned triumphant over his close pals, getting away with a conference-best performance as a bonus.

The six-foot-two Cebuano sniper fired a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, to lead the Texters to a skid-ending, 92-83 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Must-win talaga namin ‘to para makabawi kami, kasi 1-2 na yung standing namin (before the game) eh.

“Buti na lang maganda yung nilaro ko,” said Pogoy, who was just averaging 11.3 points in the past three games.

But Pogoy tipped his hat to the much taller Elite, who enjoyed plenty of time in the driver’s seat in the first half, until the Katropa found their groove in the third canto — highlighted by a 16-3 rally that put them ahead, 60-53.

“Malakas yung Blackwater eh, tapos ang lalaki nila kaya mahirap mag-drive, mahirap pumasa kasi naagaw nila,” said Pogoy. “Buti na lang naka-adjust kami nung second half. Hindi kami nagmadali, dinahan-dahan namin.”

Aside from his own outing, Pogoy is thankful that they were able to address their fourth quarter woes when facing the Elite — the issue that hounded them in their 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Iloilo.

TNT had actually been mere steps away from melting down — again — against Blackwater, no thanks to a 20-9 run that wiped out their 17-point lead to just six,

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With Nash Racela knowing his tendencies, Mac Belo limited to poor shooting



Prior to Wednesday, Blackwater Elite’s young star Mac Belo was on a roll early in the 2018 Philippine Cup, averaging exactly 20 points on 42.6 percent shooting in their games against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Ginebra.

But, as they say, good things must come to an end.

Belo, despite having 13 rebounds, was held to just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as the Elite bowed to TNT Katropa, 92-83 — a sour loss knowing that they’re coming off huge 94-77 win against Ginebra last Friday.

“Bukol,” said Belo in jest of his poor outing after the match. “Big test para sa’min kasi yung TNT talagang isang de-kalibreng team dito sa PBA.

“Talagang pinaghandaan nila kami, at gustong-gusto nila manalo.”

It also did not help that the Katropa’s head coach, Nash Racela, was his coach in FEU Tamaraws for three years — a relationship brightly highlighted by a championship run in the UAAP Season 78 back in 2015.

“Siyempre alam niya yung mga tendencies ko. Matagal ko siyang coach sa FEU,” said the 6-foot-4 forward.

“Sa akin naman, kailangan ko pa matuto sa ganun, kung anong mga defense binabato niya sakin. Kailangan ko pang pag-aralan.”

But for Belo, the loss was more than his own showing. The 25-year-old lamented his and the Elite’s lapses on defense, which was encapsulated by the second half collapse they had that allowed TNT to come back and steal the win.

“Medyo marami lang kaming lapses especially sa defense namin,” said the sophomore forward, as they allowed TNT to shoot 41.6 percent from the floor. “Maraming mga miscommunication na kailangan pa namin i-work.”

Belo and the Elite are now set to move on from this bitter defeat, as they all shift their sights in their match this Friday versus GlobalPort Batang Pier. For the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, it is already a must-win for them.

“Kailangan namin ng rest ngayon kasi back-to-back games kami. We need to win sa Friday para okay sa’min,” said Belo. “Kailangan din namin paghandaan kasi galing sila sa win.

“Kailangan namin i-double yung effort namin.”

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Jake Vicen performs under pressure as Blazers end eight-year title drought



For the second straight match, the championship showdown between the College of Saint Benilde Blazers and the Arellano University Chiefs reached kicks from the penalty spot. And once more, goalkeeper Jake Vicen came up big.

The third-year custodian denied one of Arellano’s prolific scorers Roberto Corsame in the shootout and sealed the title after eight long years, 3-2, penalties, Wednesday evening at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Blazers made its intentions clear from the get-go as they repeatedly pierced through the defense of the Chiefs.

Nonetheless, at the 38th minute, the white-shirts clinched the goal they much deserved. The Blazers pushed forward, and almost got a call in their favor. The referees, however, played advantage, and fortunately Benilde held on to the play.

Miguel Artillera found himself unmarked on the right flank and easily blasted the ball past opposing keeper Jericho Desalisa.

The Marlon Maro—mentored side continued to play aggressive in the following period and almost plucked a second one. This time, the Chiefs’ backline led by eventual Best Defender Patrick Bernarte held on.

Such stand was rewarded by their attacking force minutes later, and, as expected, the equalizer came from the counterattack.

Corsame received a pass from the middle and defeated two defenders, and seeing Vicen off his line, sent the ball into the onion bag at the 49th minute.

Both sides tried to break the deadlock, but fatigue slowly crept in the dying minutes of the second period and the whole of extra time, setting up another thrilling finish in the shootout.

Much like in Game 2, the two keepers came up big as Desalisa and Vicen denied their second kickers a clear shot. Arellano went to miss another shot, and it was then up to the Blazers to seal the deal.

Dean Ebarle stepped up and calmly and slotted the ball into the goal for the lead at 3-2. Afterwards, Corsame faced Vicen, but this time, the Cebuano keeper would not be denied. The latter went to his strong side, and, fortunately, guessed right for the huge save as pandemonium erupted from the Benilde crowd and squad.

The Finals series hero and season Best Goalkeeper Vicen was pleased that the new champions carved out the historic win despite early adversity. “Big loss ‘yun, si Val [Calvo], kasi may magagawa talaga siya kung nakalaro namin,” he said of losing their former captain.

Nonetheless, the squad stayed focused on getting it done this year.

“Binuhos lang namin every minute sa training. Luckily, hard work paid off,” closed Vicen.

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Kelly Williams rides Angkas to make it to TNT game



The TNT Katropa almost played shorthanded when they took on the Blackwater Elite Wednesday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Early in the afternoon, a fire broke out in C5 that caused major traffic in the area. One of the people that was stuck was TNT’s 12-year veteran Kelly Williams.

“Coming from the South, I got to Taguig in about two and a half hours and I heard there was a fire on C5 and I was like, ‘Oh my god what am I going to do?’,” recalled Williams.

“I considered running, I considered jogging. Whatever you got to do, crawl, walk or run.”

Panicking, the 6-foot-6 Filipino-American was adviced by his driver to download Philippine-based mobile app Angkas — a motorcycle service provider. And it was one heck of a ride for the big man.

“My driver said check Angkas, an Uber for motorcycles. Okay. Quickly got out of the car in the middle of the C5, the middle of traffic, found this guy under the overpass, he was surprised to see me,” narrated animatedly by Williams.

“I got my helmet on, jumped on the bicycle and we got here for about 40 minutes,” he furthered. “Every stoplight, the other motorcycles pull up, double take, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’, ‘Hi guys!’ It was fun, it was actually pretty fun but never again, make sure you plan ahead guys if you possibly get stuck in traffic.

“But it was a good experience for me. You get to see Manila in a different light.”

Around midway through the first quarter of the game, Williams finally arrived. Though relieved to see him, coach Nash Racela and the rest of the Katropa made sure to let him know that he was late.

“Good experience, I apologized to the team, I owe them a team lunch or something and I told coach I won’t do it again,” the 35-year-old expressed.

“Let’s pray that it doesn’t happen again.”

Williams compensated for it by giving TNT quality minutes. During their 92-83 win against the Elite, he tallied six points, six rebounds, and four blocks in just 17 minutes of action.

“You got to come out there with extra effort after coming in late like that. But it’s always my intention to come out and do whatever I have to do,” he expressed.

“Luckily, I was in a good position to get some blocks and it worked out that way.”

And he owes a lot to his driver Richard, who got him to the venue just in time.

“It was a good experience though, thank you to the cyclist, I think his name is Richard or something like that, he’s a lifesaver.

“I tipped him very handsomely. It was about a hundred but I’m sure I paid with whatever was in my pocket because I was very grateful,” he quipped.

Still, he knows that he also owes a lot to his team. He plans on making it up by treating everyone to lunch during their next practice.

Lesson learned for Kelly.

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