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Mabanag goal rescues wasteful Ateneo against gritty UE



Just like in their first round matchup, Ateneo scored early to dictate the pace of the game. However, it only took Mikko Mabanag’s first half goal to lift Ateneo over a determined UE squad en route to a 1-0 win on Wednesday afternoon at the FEU-Diliman Football Field.

The Red Warriors created two chances in the first three minutes but were starved of possession for most of the half. Emmanuel Paredes fired wide at the fifth minute to start the Ateneo attacking barrage. As usual, Blue Booters’ captain Mabanag drilled in a couple of balls off free kicks but lacked precision to find a man in blue. The Red Warriors were starved of chances to move forward and were forced to defend a patient Ateneo offense. Unfortunately for UE, their resistance lasted only for 19 minutes. Mabanag launched an excellently struck volley from outside the box to put Ateneo in front.

Alarmed after conceding, the UE defense tightened to prevent a costly second goal for Ateneo. Six minutes after the score change, UE goalkeeper Clores kept out Paredes’ attempt. It was followed by Stephane Dagaraga who headed away a dangerous Mabanag cross from the right wing just a minute before the half hour mark. Ateneo’s advantage was almost cushioned but Clores recovered just in time to prevent the ball from slipping into the goal.

More opportunities for both teams came approaching halftime. Mabanag and Emilio Acosta had their shots saved by Clores while Jo Mallen’s wide range effort was safely collected by Ateneo’s custodian JP Oracion. The best chance in the last 10 minutes of the first half fell to Julian Roxas. With only a minute before halftime, the rookie kept hold of the ball despite an immense UE pressure inside their box. When Roxas found space to shoot, Dagaraga urgently blocked to keep the score at 1-0 going into the interval.

Down by a solitary goal, UE knew the game was far from settled. Mallen, Jeffrey Lacsamana, and Alberto Echin Jr. had a chance each inside the second half’s opening 20 minutes, but the score remained the same after their attempts were not enough to breach Oracion’s goal.

Despite UE’s resurgence, Ateneo still managed to produce a few attempts care of Michael Castillo and Paredes. Clores easily gathered Castillo’s shot from distance while Paredes blasted a shot over the bar, failing to net a goal that may have sealed the game for Ateneo.

Entering the last 10 minutes, UE piled on the pressure with hopes of bagging an equalizer. Alert defending by Wilson Marcelino prevented two chances for Regil Galaura to shoot from inside the box. Ateneo’s solid defense paved way for a counter attack with only five minutes plus injury time left. Roxas’ through ball found Ken Colet who was robbed by Clores when the full back was about to fire from 12 yards out.

UE fell short in nabbing a goal to salvage a point after Mallen’s free kick was just a bit too high for Ramil Feliciano to head it towards the goal. The game ended with Ateneo hanging on to a 1-0 lead to put them on top of the standings for at least two hours or so.

“We have to work on our finishing because we had so many chances and there could have been more [goals],” assessed Mabanag whose goal separated the two sides at the end of the 90. He believes that the team has enough time to address this issue as they bid to book a place in the Final Four. On his part, UE skipper Clores was pleased with the way he and his teammates fought against Ateneo. “Kulang lang kami sa tao,” he cited, as the Red Warriors only had 16 men available for this game due to injuries and suspensions.

Momentarily, Ateneo leapfrogs UP and La Salle to take the top spot in the standings. Another loss for UE, on the other hand, grounds them in seventh.

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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 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 bout returned to the 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 Phoenix Fuel Masters 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 Mahindra Floodbuster.

But that achievement of his won’t be that memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat they had absorbed into the hands of Paul Lee and 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 was there in contention all through out the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But then, the Hotshots’ comebacking skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” expressed 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 Barangay Ginebra 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 Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to its’ first win after a historic 16-game skid at the expense of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover the six-foot-four forward made.

“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 it. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all by 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 got 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.

Alab’s bench however could not sustain the effort of the starters that led to them clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a sparkplug, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided the spark 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 with 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 that resulted to the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan to slice the lead to as low as four points. 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 they take on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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