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Azkals start qualifiers with important win over Bahrain



Goals from substitute Misagh Bahadoran and renowned goalscorer Javi Patiño were enough for the Philippines to begin their 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifying campaign on a high by beating Bahrain 2-1 earlier this evening at the Philippine Sports Stadium. The Azkals coped well with Bahrain’s early attacks before seizing the lead for good in the opening five minutes of the second half.

The home side was eager to stretch the Bahraini defense in the opening five minutes. The visitors, however, were successful in preventing the ball to enter their penalty box during the early sequence. Against the run of play, they swiftly moved forward in order to exploit a vast area left unsupervised by the Philippine defense. Sayed Ali Hashem ended up with possession and was charging down into the goal but pressure from Rob Gier forced him to shoot harmlessly wide nine minutes into the game. A couple of minutes later, the Bahrain forward misfired another shot. This time around, it was off a free kick earned by Faouzi Aaish after being fouled by Daisuke Sato. Shortly after Bahrain’s second chance in the match, the Philippines nearly went ahead courtesy of Patiño. The 27-year-old striker was on the end of a delicate lobbed through pass by Jerry Lucena. Upon receiving the ball, Patiño rushed towards the box before his shot from just outside the six-yard box was denied by Bahrain goalie Sayed Mohamed Abbas.

At the 23rd minute, Stephan Schröck’s participation came to an abrupt end. He had to be taken off the game for Misagh Bahadoran as he appeared to have suffered an injury. After the Philippines’ first personnel change, Bahrain regained attacking rhythm which led to three good scoring chances in the half. Mohamed Tayeb Alalawi forced Neil Etheridge to action for the first time in the match 24 minutes into the game. Shortly afterwards, Abdulla Shallal headed a cross from the left flank high and wide. Just after the half hour mark elapsed, Abdulwahab Ali Alsafi’s strike from distance was held routinely by Etheridge.

Not willing to simply defend throughout the match, the Philippines were in the mood to claim the breakthrough goal in the last 10 minutes of the half. Martin Steuble had a clean look at goal at the 36th minute but the Ceres-La Salle midfielder squandered his long range effort way off target. Seven minutes before halftime, skipper Phil Younghusband linked up with Iain Ramsay. With enough room to shoot from outside the box, Younghusband managed to shoot on goal but Abbas held onto it. A string of botched plays then took place before the referee blew the halftime whistle. At the break, the score remained at 0-0.

After the restart, the hosts established momentum. Bahadoran and Manny Ott may have failed in locating Ramsay and Patiño respectively with their through balls but it built up the rhythm that resulted in a game-changing moment. Off a throw-in by the debuting Stephan Palla, Younghusband controlled the ball en route to floating a well-struck cross into the box. The captain’s delivery was then clinically tapped by Bahadoran into the net to merit a resounding roar from the 6,000-strong crowd. Nine minutes later, the Azkals doubled their lead courtesy of the man known as Patigol. In a free kick earned by Ramsay, Ott drilled the ball into the six-yard box. Abbas was unable to catch the ball which then loosely bounced inside the area. First to the ball, Patiño instinctively sent the ball into the back of the net to pad the Filipinos’ lead.

Bahrain sought to reply instantly but substitute Abdulla Yaser blew a couple of his chances off target in the space of his first five minutes in action. With time slowly winding down, the Philippines nearly sealed the match with two chances created by the tandem of Ramsay and Bahadoran. The Fil-Australian winger sent two fine crosses towards the Global captain but none of them resulted in a third for the Azkals. Instead, it was the Bahrainis who claimed the game’s third goal. Deep into added time, Abdulwahab Al Malood expertly weaved past the Filipino defense prior to sneaking it past Etheridge. His goal did little, however, in dampening the mood of the Azkals who marched on to a victorious opening game in the joint World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers.

Speaking after the win, Azkals’ coach Thomas Dooley was visibly pleased with the display of his players. “I’m very happy with the performance of the team today. We knew that Bahrain is a very tough team to play against,” he stated, adding that an absolute team effort towed them towards the victory. The Philippines will attempt to win their second straight win in the qualifiers in their clash against Yemen. The fixture is scheduled to be played on Tuesday evening (Wednesday 12mn Manila time), in Doha, which is a neutral ground, in light of the ensuing political unrest in the country.

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Calvin Abueva, Raymond Almazan cut from pool



SMART Gilas Pilipinas’ third session for the second leg of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers ended early on Monday evening.

Prior to the end of the practice, head coach Chot Reyes talked to team veterans Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, and June Mar Fajardo. The outspoken mentor told the seniors of the team that he is cutting Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan from the pool.

“The reason why we’re dropping Abueva and Almazan for the second window is because they haven’t showed up,” lamented Reyes.

“It’s already our third practice at hindi pa sila nagpapakita. It’s simply a matter of disinterest.

“I guess they’re not interested so we have to move on we can’t wait for those guys,” he pointed out.

Both Abueva and Almazan were part of the teams that competed in the 2017 SEABA Championship, the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, and the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Only 10 players from the pool showed up for the team’s third session. And with the second leg exactly one month away, Gilas cannot let a slip up happen especially against Australia.

“Aside from those two we don’t know where Matt Wright is, while Allein [Maliksi] is attending a wedding in Australia. Other than that it’s really just an issue of Calvin and Raymond if they don’t want to be a part of the pool.” expressed Reyes.

“That’s the reason we’re dropping them for the second window.”

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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

23 for 2023 cadets fill up Gilas practice



With just 31 days until the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, only 10 players from the pool attended the team’s third session, Monday evening at the Meralco Gym.

Suiting up in the session presided over by Coach Chot Reyes were June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Jio Jalalon, Mac Belo, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, and Roger Pogoy. Carl Cruz and Jayson Castro were in attendance but were in street clothes.

Not present were Matthew Wright, Japeth Aguilar, and Allein Maliksi. Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan have yet to attend practice.

Joining the seniors team to prep them up for the World Cup Qualifiers were 10 players from the 23 for 2023 pool.

Ateneo Blue Eagle Matt Nieto attended his first Gilas practice. Joining him were teammates Isaac Go and Thirdy Ravena.

Completing the night’s cast were CJ Perez, Abu Tratter, Will Gozum, J-jay Alejandro, Arvin Tolentino, and Juan Gomez de Liano. Joshua Sinclair watched from the sidelines as he is still recovering from an ACL injury.

Gilas will take on Australia in Melbourne on February 22. The Philippine will then host Japan three days later at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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San Beda fends off Letran for back-to-back wins



With seasoned setter John Carlo Desuyo steering the wheel to near perfection, the San Beda College romped to their second straight win.

The Red Spikers pulled double-digit outings from four players to upend archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 19-25, 25-13, 25-21, 25-22, and register their fourth win of the season, Monday early evening at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

It was the Knights, however, who started on the right foot, overhauling a 4-10 deficit to snag the first set. Better passing from liberos Aljune Centeno and Johnsen Timbreza resulted in kills from captain Bobby Gatdula.

Nonetheless, San Beda picked up the service game in the next three sets to ultimately finish off the blue-shirts.

Despite the win-loss record they currently sport, the Red Spiker playmaker admitted that t

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Michael Calisaan tows Che’lu-San Sebastian past Perpetual



Photo by PBA Images

Michael Calisaan poured 20 points as he captained newcomer Che’Lu-San Sebastian Revellers to a decisive 83-70 win over the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas to start their voyage, Monday evening at the Pasig City Sports Center.

Doing it all for the Revellers, the veteran forward provided the stability for his side as he shot 8-of-15 from the field while also hauling down nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the conference-opening win.

But it wasn’t all Calisaan as Che’Lu got contributions from all over its roster.

Samboy de Leon chimed in 16 markers and nine boards. RK Ilagan went 2-of-5 from threes to collect 13 points, eight dimes, and three rebounds, while big men Alfred Batino and Jeepy Faundo combined for 20 in the victory.

Despite the triumph, coach Stevenson Tiu gave all the praise to his players, noting the team’s lack of time preparing for the tourney.

“Nanalo kami dahil sa talent ng players. Medyo mali ko rin kasi nahirapan pa ako mag-adjust sa players. Hopefully, we play much better in the coming games,” he said.

The Revellers used a 16-4 run to finally break away from the Altas, taking a 77-60 lead with 4:03 to play as they punished their foes for their turnovers, turning Perpetual’s 30 miscues to 28 points in their favor.

Prince Eze anchored the Altas with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocks in their first game under new head coach Frankie Lim.

Che’lu-San Sebastian look to make it two in a row when they take on the Wangs-Letran Couriers on Monday, January 29 at 5:00pm. Perpetual, on the other hand, hope they can notch their first win when they take on Mila’s Lechon Mighty Roasters.

The Scores:

Che’lu-SSCR 83 — Calisaan 20, De Leon 16, Ilagan 13, Batino 10, Faundo 10, Bulanadi 6, Costelo 6, Calma 2, David 0, Lao 0, Santos 0, Valdez 0.

UPHSD 70 — Eze 15, Coronel 13, Villanueva 13, Jimenez 9, Charcos 7, Peralta 7, Gallardo 5, Pido 1, Antonio 0, Aurin 0, Tamayo 0, Tongco 0.

Quarterscores: 17-22, 34-38, 59-53, 83-70.

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