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Barely into his third year, Marck Espejo already has career’s worth of trophies



Before Marck Espejo, Men’s Volleyball barely drew any attention in Loyola. Ateneo had their moments, but those times weren’t as plentiful as today. They had Final Four appearances failed to deliver championships, MVPs, and phenoms. Ateneo Men’s Volleyball now intimidates opponents – that it started when Marck Jesus Espejo dawned blue and white is no coincidence.

Barely into his third year, Marck Espejo has already earned individual awards that takes other volleyball stars an entire career to get. He made history in his rookie year in the UAAP, being the first volleyball player to earn both Rookie of the Year and MVP trophies. He again earned MVP honors in his sophomore year along with a Best Attacker nod. In the inagural Spikers’ Turf season, Espejo won the league’s first MVP award and a spot in the all-tournament team, while playing for Cagayan, and received similar honors in the following Collegiate Conference. At just 18 years old, he’s already the country’s top player.

“Naka-display lang po sa kwarto. Dumadami na nga po e,” Espejo answered when asked what he does with all the hardware. No matter how many individual awards he gets, Espejo never forgets that in volleyball, individual success is only achieved when his team shines with him.

“Sobrang blessed ko po sa lahat ng award sa lahat ng naibigay sa akin ng volleyball. Pero hindi ko naman po iniisip ‘yung awards, kapag naglalaro ako gusto ko lang po matulungan ‘yung team para manalo. Wala din naman pong magagawa ‘yung awards kung hindi kami nananalo.”

ST ADMU vs NCBA huddle espejo-2The soft-spoken, Marikina native sparked a renaissance in Ateneo Volleyball. In the same season he won both the RoY and MVP plums, Ateneo made its first trip to the UAAP Finals in decades only to fall to the NU Bulldogs. With better overall play from the rest of the roster, the Blue Eagles returned to the Finals in Season 77 and faced their tormentors from the previous season. With MVP Espejo unloading back-to-back 30 point performances in the Finals, ended the NU dynasty and started their own with their first ever UAAP championship. A few months later, Marck led a star-studded Cagayan cast to the first ever Spikers’ Turf Finals but fell to an equally loaded PLDT cast. A few months later, Espejo had his “resbak” as his Ateneo Blue Eagles capped perfect run through the competetion with the Collegiate Conference title. Espejo was named the Finals MVP.

When asked if he thought volleyball would come easy to him in college, Espejo says he didn’t come to Ateneo just to play volleyball. “Ang priority ko po talaga kaya pumunta ako ng Ateneo ay ‘yung pag-aaral ko. ‘Yun naman po siguro ‘yung dahilan kung bakit pumupunta ‘yung karamihan ng atleta dito [Ateneo]. Blessing na lang po talaga ‘yung nakakapaglaro pa ako ng volleyball.”

Espejo now looks to dominate on a different, making his debut on the sand courts in the UAAP Beach Volleyball tournament next week – a venture, he admits is giving him an unusually hard time.

“Iba po talaga sa beach. Dalawa lang kayo, iba pa talaga ‘yung game. Hindi pa ako ganoong kasanay,” he conceded.

“It’s about time na mahirapan naman siya,” Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro said of his ward playing beach volleyball. “We’re still working on a few things but chances are, kakayanin din ni Marck yan. He’s a very fast learner. Siguro si Ysay (Marasigan) naman ang bubuhat sa kanya dun.”

Chances are, Espejo’s power and athleticism will translate well into beach volleyball. It’s only a matter of time until he’s MVP of that as well.


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.



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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