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Ball movement steers Meralco, Purefoods to Game 1 blow-outs

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The law of averages seemed to have went off for Purefoods on Friday night as they torched the hoops en route to a 120-86 destruction of the Alaska Aces to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three quarterfinal battle in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

The Star Hotshots could do no wrong, as they started the game on a 14-1 tear. With shot after shot falling, the reigning conference champions wound up shooting a white-hot 61 percent overall from the field. The annihilation was so bad that Aces head coach, Alex Compton, did not even bother to have a lengthy post-game conversation with his wards.

“I don’t think 45 minutes of berating guys at this point will be helpful for Sunday’s game,” Compton said. “When a group of human beings start making their shots, the basket gets bigger. They just shot the lights out. It was a poor game plan from me to start, and it just led to their confidence.”

The Aces exited the arena a few minutes ahead of the Star Hotshots as if they were the winning team. Compton spared the squad from a tongue-lashing as a 34-point blow-out was just too much for him to utter much words. Purefoods simply had it in the bag and took the wind out of the Aces.pba16

What Tim Cone’s troops did impressively in Game 1 is they showed the importance of having (and sticking to) a championship-tested system. In the triangle, it is important to move the ball well, and move well without it. The Star Hotshots did both, and it resulted into a record-setting night.

Execution was spot-on. In one play, Denzel Bowles located James Yap for an excellent feed as the latter made a backdoor cut and finished with the reverse layup. In another, Bowles drove from the left baseline, dished out a pass to Joe Devance, who was on the right corner, and Devance immediately moved the ball to PJ Simon, on the left wing, to drill a three. Bowles’ initial penetration forced the Aces to collapse, and they were never able to recover defensively.

It was the theme of the entire night as Purefoods drained bucket after bucket to leave Alaska devastated.

“We were moving the ball extremely well and it was just one of those games where they made the tough shots, made great passes, and we were getting some steals. It’s just one of those nights. We’re not that good, they’re not that bad,” Cone said.

The Star Hotshots made 61 percent of their field goals, including 62 percent from three-point land (13-for-21). Of the 46 field goals made, 34 were assisted. Purefoods finished with a whopping offensive rating of 136 (the Golden State Warriors lead the NBA in offensive rating with an average of 109.6).pba17

Bowles had 20 points, eight rebounds, and five assists to lead Purefoods. Five others finished in double-digits. Devance, who plays the “point” during Cone’s huge starting unit, had 10 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.

“I’m just trying to get my teammates better. (Moving well) is what we’ve been doing,” Devance shared. “I’m the facilitator of the group. I just want to give them good shots.”

They had to keep pushing, wary of Alaska’s ability to get back using its against-all-odds comeback. With everyone shooting well, Compton had a difficult puzzle to solve.

“Maybe the next game we put eight guys on the floor. I don’t know. We can’t give that many easy shots. I didn’t feel that we made it hard for them at any point of the game, and some are really basic stuff,” Compton added.

The Aces were not particularly bad as they made 38 percent of their three-point attempts. However, they missed easy shots early in the match and fell to a 7-31 deficit. From there they tried to match Purefoods fire for fire but the defending champions were just too strong.

In the other best-of-three quarterfinals affair, the Meralco Bolts also left the hapless NLEX Road Warriors biting the dust, beating them with impressive ball movement for a final score of 97-82.Norman Black

The Bolts had 17 of its 36 field goals assisted, with six players also finishing in double-digits. They wouldn’t force the issue and instead look for the best shot possible.

Mike Cortez only had 10 points and four assists but left an imprint with his leadership. The Bolts outscored the NLEX Road Warriors by 32 points when he is on the floor.

It is a much better effort from us as far as teamwork is concerned,” Bolts head coach Norman Black told media. “We’ve not been playing well as a team offensively but tonight we did a good job of sharing the ball and that was the difference.”

Both Meralco and Purefoods were both able to orchestrate with impressive ball movement and it led to taking the series opener.

If they are to advance to the next round, it is mainly due to sticking to their well-oiled systems.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes to break PH Arena record come 3×3 World Cup

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals that pitted heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“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. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team that was composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best team to win the championship.”

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United formally announced its absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.
A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave its thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While its PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs it started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There aren’t a lot of corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short to cop Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different animal.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad had a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It however served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even having multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block while the 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the two and the rest of the Jawbreakers now have this experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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Basketball

Renzo Subido to bring Marinerong Pilipino experience to UST

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When Renzo Subido decided to skip out the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers’ UAAP Season 80 campaign, he had only one thing in mind: to improve on his craft. And he was able to do so under coach Koy Banal in the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers.

After the AMA Online Education Titans had a quick end to their campaign during the 2017 Foundation Cup, the 5-foot-9 floor general was immediately picked up by Marinerong Pilipino for the playoffs. Liking his style of play, he was again tapped for the 2018 Aspirants Cup.

And he showed a lot of growth from then, leading the Skippers to a 94-92 victory over fellow contenders Zark’s Jawbreakers. The 21-year-old tallied 20 points, three rebounds, and five assists while knocking down the crucial free throws to seal off the Lyceum-backed team.

“It was a good win for us. We’re happy that we won the game because it’s a good way to start the conference,” beamed Subido. “I’ve played against Lyceum in the past so I had familiarity with how they play.

“It was a good experience for us.”

Expectations are high for Marinerong Pilipino this conference as they are pegged as their blend of veterans and young guns are seen too overwhelming for the rest of the field. Still, Subido knows that it will be a tough climb as the other teams, especially the collegiate-based squads, have familiarity on their side.

“We’re taking it one game at a time but the goal is to win the championship,” he said. “But we know that it’s not going to be easy since we are going up against the top collegiate teams.

“So we’re just going to go all out every game.”

Besides winning the championship, Subido is on a personal mission. Being one of the seniors for the Growling Tigers next season, he hopes to learn to become a better leader for next season.

“I want to become a better leader. I know that everything I can learn this conference, I can bring to UST,” Subido expressed.

“For all I can see, coach Aldin [Ayo] is a guard-oriented coach. So I’m using all the experience I get here in Marinero, I’ll bring it to UST.”

For sure, Subido wants to make up for lost time.

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