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AVC U23 Day 1 Roundup: Japan, Thailand looking dominant



If there’s anything that the first day of the AVC U23 Tournament proved, it’s that investing in any grassroots sports program really pays off. Two top-ranked Asian countries, Japan and Thailand, looked impeccable in their first matches while many Pinoys fans wished that the Philippines were bracketed with India and Macau instead. In this article, we run through all the first day matches with the exception of the Philippines-Iran game, click here for the recap.

First match: India overwhelms Macau 25-10, 25-14, 25-19.

AVCU23 INDvsMAC Day 1-8432

India was just too tall and too powerful for an undersized Macau squad. India’s outside attackers were on full display as Macau’s blocking was virtually non-existent. Macau also let India’s Nirmala and Shyamala Poornima pour 17 and 13 easy points respectively.

However, India showed exploitable weaknesses in their relatively dominant play. Their service reception was spotty and they were often caught flat-footed when trying to move around the court. On the other hand, Macau’s services were sharp but it didn’t seem too loaded to make a decent pass to their setter. Given that they’re facing a relatively weaker team, India didn’t show intentions on going full throttle for the duration of the match.

Watching both teams play, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to think that the Philippines might have a chance to win either with one of them or even both of them. It goes to show that the teams really need luck with drawing their opponents in these type of tournament. Nevertheless, India will likely move on to the Top 8 after the win.

Second match: Razor Sharp Thailand dominates Uzbekistan 25-14, 25-10, 25-13

AVCU23 THAvsUZB Day 1-8522

This is the type of match our local players should watch to get a feel for the pace needed to succeed internationally. Uzbekistan was the taller team but Thailand erased that advantage by keeping Uzbekistan’s lumbering giants on their heels.

With the Thais on-point passing allowing their setters to go for lower and quicker sets, their attackers easily converted with ease. Thailand also showed that high-ball sets are slowly becoming out-of-fashion and that volleyball isn’t just about having tall players anymore. On the other hand, Uzbekistan blockers just weren’t fast enough laterally to properly execute their attacks. It even leaving made their Libero-less back row helpless.
Thailand’s serving was relentless as well as all their players showcased sharp serves that feasted on the opposition’s vulnerable receivers. Likewise, Thailand’s breakneck pace caught Uzbekistan off-guard.

In addition, Thailand’s powerful open hitter and National Team staple Ajcharaporn Kongyot played splendidly within her team’s controlled chaos as she finished with 18 points. 20 year-old Thai setter, Pornpun Guedpard also showed a glimpse of why she has campaigned with their world-class senior team for a few years now as she let out an arsenal of beautiful sets even with her teammates’ bad passes.

The crazy thing is, the Philippines isn’t too far behind when it comes to average height with the Thais, they’ve just been training and participating in international tournaments together for a considerably longer time. They’ve been exposed to high-level volleyball since they were kids and the Philippines is just getting its feet wet when it comes to international competition.

Watching the Thais play volleyball was a revelation for everyone who watched them. Now that, was volleyball.

Fourth Match: Japan thrashes Maldives 25-4, 25-11, 25-3

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Japan has been a world-class volleyball country for much of the past decade and given at how their Under-23 team looked, they’ll most likely stay perched on the upper echelon of the world rankings for years to come.

Japan’s match against Maldives, though, wasn’t a good barometer for Japan’s volleyball brilliance mostly because Maldives is maybe one or ten leagues below Japan’s level. The Japanese never broke a sweat against a smaller team that was also galaxies away in terms of skill level.

To illustrate how excruciatingly lopsided this match was, here are a few tidbits:

– Midway through the second set, Japan suddenly decided to stop spiking and to just go for drop balls to probably work on their off-speed hitting for later matches.

– At one point in the final set, Japan was up 20-0 before Maldives scored a point off a Japanese net error. Japan’s Namba Miku got six of her nine aces from that extended stint at the service area.

– Maldives ended the match with 18 total points, 11 coming off Japan’s errors.

– Miku led all scorers with 13 points while Maldives’ Team Captain, Aishath Majidah topped her team with three markers.

– There weren’t many takeaways from this match aside from Japan, like Thailand, just keeps producing world-class players annually. It would be premature to tab them as surefire medalists as there are still solid teams like China and Korea that haven’t seen action yet but we should get a better feel at just how good Japan is as they face tougher competition in the latter stages of the tournament.


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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Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory



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2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’



Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup



Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win



Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

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