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Barako Bull outguns Alaska in overtime thriller



The Barako Bull Energy halted a two-game skid, escaping the struggling Alaska Aces in a classic 91-89 overtime victory, last Tuesday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Barako Bull opened the first quarter with a 9-2 edge, but the Aces were sparked to an 8-2 run capped by a Cyrus Baguio basket, stealing the lead with seven minutes left to play, 10-9. The following minutes of play saw an intense exchange of baskets, leading to numerous deadlocks and lead changes. Carlo Lastimosa gave the Barako Bull a five-point lead, 22-17, with two minutes left to play, after exploding for five straight points. The Aces, however, scored four straight of their own, with new import Damion James beating the buzzer with a slam. At the end of the first twelve minutes, the Energy led by a thread, 22-21.

Early in the second, the Energy were able to lead by five points once more, 26-21, after a couple of big baskets from Jake Pascual. But the Aces were able to come within a single digit difference in time, thanks to back-to-back buckets from RJ Jazul. Momentum, however, would stay with Barako Bull, who held on to the lead amid another brewing shootout in the quarter. At the half, they led 45-43.

Alaska got a taste of the lead two minutes into the third, 49-47, care of Vic Manuel. An additional back-to-back baskets from Chris Exciminiano later gave the Aces their biggest lead of the game thus far, 57-49. With momentum now on their side, the Aces outgunned the Energy to hold on to their lead, but Sol Mercado and Dave Marcelo found a way to slow the Aces down late in the quarter, collaborating to achieve a 62-all deadlock with more than two minutes left on the clock. Another jumper from Mercado gave the Energy back the lead, but RJ Jazul responded for Alaska on the other end, and in a flash, the lead was back with the Aces, 65-64. Carlo Lastimosa, however, managed to put up another basket just before the buzzer, and at the end of the period, that put the Barako Bull in the lead, 66-65.

Still hot from the previous quarter’s late rally, the Energy were able to pull away for a six point lead, 73-67, three minutes into the fourth. The following minutes of play saw Barako Bull extend their lead to as much as nine points, 83-74, with four minutes left on the clock.

Approaching the final two minutes, three free throws from Alaska’s Vic Manuel had cut the lead to a single basket, 81-83, with two and a half minutes left. Barako Bull’s Marcelo was able to extend the lead, 85-81, just they entered the last two minutes of the game. Big free throws, however,  gave Alaska the chance to tie, and with 1:14 left, import Damion James nailed two more crucial free throw baskets that knotted the score at 85-all.

What was supposed to be the final minute of the game saw misses from both teams. With ten seconds left to play, Damion James had the chance to win the game for Alaska, but bricked the corner jumper. Barako Bull import Solomon Alabi managed to grab the rebound and call timeout just as the clock expired. Officials, however, had ruled that the clock had expired before Alabi signaled, ushering in an overtime period instead.

Both teams could only put up two baskets each in the first four minutes of overtime, and with just more than a minute left to play, the score was tied at 89-all. Barako Bull’s Dave Marcelo was the first to break the deadlock, sinking a basket with just more than a minute left to put the Energy up, 91-89. With 1:01 left on the clock, Alaska’s Cyrus Baguio turned the ball over, giving Barako Bull an extra possession in the tensest part of the game. In the next possession, however, it was Barako Bull RR Garcia’s turn to throw the ball away, after he was caught out of bounds. With 40 ticks left on the clock, the score was unchanged.

Two free throws from import James pushed Alaska back to the deadlock, 91-all with 25.5 ticks left to play. The next 24 seconds saw the Barako Bull import nail a gritty putback of his own missed attempt, giving the Energy the 93-91 lead with 2.5 seconds left on the clock. A dramatic 2.5 seconds followed. Barako Bull was slapped a technical for delaying the game, and Damion James bricked the following the free throw charity awarded to them. The ball found its way to Dondon Hontiveros, the Aces’ veteran sharpshooter, but Hontiveros shot ended with the ball bouncing off the rim just as the buzzer had expired.

Dave Marcelo was named Player of the Game with 18 points and 8 rebounds. He shot a remarkable five-out of six from the field. Moreover, Solomon Alabi had 23 points and 13 rebounds for Barako Bull, while Damion James led Alaska with 39 points and 11 boards.With the win, Barako Bull improves to 4-2, snapping a two-game skid. Alaska, on the other hand, slides to a 2-4 standing.

The scorers

Barako Bull: Alabi 23, Marcelo 18, Mercado 15, Lastimosa 12, Intal 12, Pascual 6, Garcia 4, Lanete 3

Alaska: James 39, Manuel 13, Exciminiano 8, Jazul 8, Menk 6, Baguio 6, Hontiveros 3, Dela Rosa 2, Espinas 2, Dela Cruz 2, Casio, 2

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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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