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Back on track: Philippine Mavericks pull off close victory in Dubai

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The Philippine Mavericks broke their two-game slump to open the Dubai Leg of the second season of the International Premier Tennis League after winning over hosts Obi UAE Royals, 26-24, at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

With Milos Raonic and Richard Gasquet out after suffering injuries, two elite players donned the Mavericks colors for the first time this year. Former world number four American James Blake and Croatian Ivo Karlovic showed that they are more than capable as replacements in their first assignments as Mavs.

The day started well for the Mavs, with Blake pulling off a 6-5 win over Goran Ivanisevic in the men’s legend’s singles. Both players served fairly throughout the match, 53% first serve percentage for Ivanisevic and 56% for Blake. These problems on their respective service games led to break point opportunities, which they both converted. Blake had the edge on winners, 11-8, and committed less unforced errors, 11-15, to clinch the first set.

Kristina Mladenovic turned it around for the Royals in the women’s singles set after drubbing Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-2. Mladenovic had problems on her first serves, but was able to control the match. The French broke Tomljanovic’s service thrice to wrest the match lead, 11 games to 8. Tomljanovic only scored a solitary winner and committed 15 unforced errors, while Mladenovic had nine winners, including two aces.

The Mavericks slowly crept back into the match starting with the mixed doubles set. Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Jarmila Gajdosova showed their improved on-court chemistry as doubles partners to upend Marin Cilic and Mladenovic with a 6-5 decision. It was a tight outing for both sides as both were only broken once in their service games. Roger-Vasselin and Gajdosova pulled out all the stops in the tiebreak to clinch the set and cut the match deficit to two, 14-16.

Roger-Vasselin and Filipino ace player Treat Huey levelled the match at 20 games in the men’s doubles set against the strong pair of Cilic and former world number one Roger Federer. The Mavericks pair turned to their impeccable service, 71% of first serves, to edge their opponents. Roger-Vasselin and Huey had a solitary break on the Royal’s serve, which made the difference in the score line. Cilic and Federer also committed an uncharacteristic 14 unforced errors in the set.

Karlovic wrapped up the comeback win for the Mavericks after defeating Federer in the men’s singles set, 6-4. The 6’11” Croatian and former world top player had a power serving battle as they combined for nine aces. Karlovic also had 75% first serve percentage, with Federer right behind with 64%. With a totally even match of ten winners and seven unforced errors each, the solitary break of serve of Karlovic on the Federer serve was the difference in the score line and the match.

The Philippine Mavericks improved to 5-3, while the UAE Royals slipped to 3-4. The win by the Mavericks against the Royals (Manila, December 6) is not counted towards the latter’s record due to the current format of the IPTL. The Mavs will face the defending champions Micromax Indian Aces on Tuesday, 8:00 pm Philippine time.

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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Basketball

D-League to hold three-day showcase for players

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Seeking to further display the greatness of the Filipino basketball players, the PBA is giving more chances to the cagers as the league is set to hold the first-ever PBA D-League Showdown later this conference.

Opening the eighth season with this ground-breaking news, PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial is hopeful that this will serve as another motivation for the players to perform at their best this 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.

“Ginagawa naman natin ito para mas galingan ng mga players natin para rin maipakita nila yung tunay nilang talento,” he said Thursday during the opening ceremonies at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Marcial bared that the plan is to hold a two-day summit for the players suiting up in the ongoing conference to allow them to showcase their talents in front of coaches and scouts, not just from the PBA but also from countries in the Southeast Asian region.

“Lahat ng mga players ay maglalaro dito at mapapanood hindi lang ng mga PBA coaches,” he said.

“Iimbitahin din namin ang mga coaches ng ibang bansa tulad ng Malaysia, Thailand, at Vietnam na kumukuha ng imports sa atin.”

Marcial acknowledged that as much as players seek to make the jump to the pro league, securing spots in the PBA teams have been hard to crack over the past few years, forcing the players to look elsewhere for opportunities.

That has made playing in overseas leagues an option for these less fortunate ballers, keeping them earning while also hoping to impress scouts while keeping their PBA dreams alive.

Some of the players who suited up in the D-League and are currently playing outside of the country are Paul Zamar and Almond Vosotros in Thailand, AJ Mandani in Singapore, and Reil Cervantes in Indonesia.

With this project, Marcial is hopeful that this would keep the players in line while also delivering the best competition the D-League could dream of.

“Iwasan natin ang bisyo at galingan ninyo.”

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CSJL

Letran overpowers Lyceum for second win

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After a string of losses, the Colegio San Juan de Letran Lady Knights returned to the NCAA Season 93 win column with a gritty win over the short-handed Lyceum of the Philippines University Lady Pirates, 28-26, 20-25, 26-24, 25-20, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Knights won out in a sloppy match which had both teams combine for 25 aces, 15 coming from Letran. According to assistant coach Ron Dulay, Letran needed to solve their reception problems on the fly.

“Weakness nga siguro namin ‘yung receive, pero inaayos namin siya ensayo. Kanina medyo shaky lang ‘yung mga bata. Mabuti noong dulo naka-adjust kami sa ginagawa ng kalaban,” said Dulay.

Both sides also had a whooping 34 errors apiece. Letran’s miscues, however, came early in the match and were lessened by the deciding fourth set which they won convincingly.

“Unti-unte tumataas ‘yung level ng team. Kailangan talaga namin mag-double time pa sa mga susunod na laban kung gusto namin umabot doon sa Top Four,” Dulay added.

Second-year Lady Knight Charm Simborio led the way with 17 points while Glayssa Torres added 15 which includes two blocks and three aces.

The Lady Knights (2-2) take on perennial rival San Beda College (4-0) on Monday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Christine Miralles topped the Lady Pirates with a career-high 21 points. Team captain Bien Juanillo added 17 markers.

The Lady Pirates (1-3) face the undefeated defending champs Arellano University (4-0) on Sunday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

CSJL (3) – Simborio 17, Torres 15, Abitan 11, Barrinuevo 8, Parin 8, Mendoza 3, Bangcola 2, Uriza 1, Perez 0, Larioque (L)

LPU (1) – Miralles 21, Juanillo 17, Sevilla 11, Bongabong 5, Patio 5, Genova 2, Marcella (L), Romanban (L)

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

FIBA 3×3 World Cup to be a huge boost for country’s Olympic bid

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All roads will lead to Bocaue, Bulacan as the 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will head to the Philippine Arena. The biggest tournament in 3×3 basketball will be played from June 8-12, 2018.

The announcement was made Thursday afternoon by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executives. The event was graced by Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas, SMART Sports’ Christopher Quimpo, and FIBA’s 3×3 Managing Director Alex Sanchez.

With 3×3 basketball being declared an Olympic event last 2017, the SBP is looking at this tournament as a way to prove to the world that we are capable of hosting and that we can compete with the world’s finest.

“As mentioned earlier, I think we’ve been very successful holding it in the malls, 3,000 to 4,000 people watching the games. We chose to move it to a bigger venue, I think we want to give an opportunity for more people to see the games,” said SBP president Al Panlilio.

“From a Philippine basketball point of view, that gives an opportunity for the youth to watch the game. From an SBP, FIBA perspective, we want bigger crowds in 3×3 and that’s something we want to deliver to FIBA,” he added.

There will be 40 teams split into two divisions that will compete in this annual tourney.

For the men’s side, the Philippines will take on teams from Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Ecuador, Estonia, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Uruguaz.

In the women’s division, the hosts will face Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkmenistan, United States, and Venezuela.

With this task of hosting a world class tournament, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help in the organization of it.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream,” said Mascariñas.

“Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance. I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times.”

FIBA, on the other hand, is looking forward to helping groom a possible Philippine team that will compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I’m sure the event this year, we’re starting the countdown, is going to be amazing,” Sanchez said. “I think this is going to be helpful for us in developing.

“I’m coming from Tokyo where we’re discussing the venue and layout of the Olympics. We should make an effort with Al and SBP to see if we have a Filipino team in Olympics. In my opinion Filipinos have a real chance to make it. Hopefully this can give us a nice push to get a PH team to the Olympics,” the Spanish executive added.

“See you in June.”

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EAC

Perpetual escapes upset-hungry EAC

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Fighting off a sluggish start, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas came alive late to slip past the Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals, 22-25, 25-19, 25-14, 23-25, 15-13, and remain on pace for a spot in the NCAA Season 93 Final Four at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Taking on a struggling EAC side, Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño knew that there was a possibility that his squad would relax. His team has had trouble starting and finishing off matches, as evidenced in their first set performance and lack of finishing push in the fourth frame.

“May tendency talaga ‘yung team ko na mag-relax. Sabihin na nating hindi kasi sobrang lakas ng kalaban. Pero alam naman natin sa volleyball na wala namang team na ibibigay sa’yo ‘yung panalo, kailangan kunin mo talaga,” Cariño lamented.

The fifth frame came down to late breaks. The Lady Altas broke a 13-all tie with back-to-back transition conversions from Cindy Imbo and Lourdes Clemente.

“Siyempre, nage-expect ako nang mas maganda pang performance sa team ko. Alam din naman nila na mas may ibubuga pa sila kaya kailangan mas maganda ang ipakita namin sa mga huli naming laro,” the NCAA champion mentor added.

Imbo tallied a game-high 17 points, while Clemente and Maria Aurora Tripoli added 15 points, apiece. The Lady Altas needed all of their 11 aces and 11 blocks to offset their season-high 42 errors.

Aira Binondo was the only Lady General in double-digits with 13 points.

The Lady Altas (3-1) next face the Jose Rizal University (2-2) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. EAC (0-4) will look for their first win on Monday against the College of Saint Benilde (2-1).

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Imbo 17, Clemente 15, Tripoli 15, Sangalang 11, Llorente 10, Versoza 4, Estanislao 1, Gual 1, Umandal 0, Medalla (L)

EAC (2) – Binondo 13, Tongco 9, Pablo 8, Lumbao 7, Magbanua 7, Reyes A. 3, Reyes K. 3, Tasis 2, Yongco 1, Medina (L)

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