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Belo ends FEU’s long wait



“Kelangan ko maibalik ang lahat ng naibigay sa akin ng FEU.”

Those were the words that FEU senior Mac Belo said to Tiebreaker Times after Game One.

UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball Most Valuable Player Mac Belo has been consistent all throughout the series, even fighting through cramps to give the Far Eastern University Tamaraws their 20th UAAP Men’s Basketball crown, 67-62, against their neighbors the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers Wednesday afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Unlike the first two games of the series, the Growling Tigers quickly blasted the Tamaraws for an early 9-5 lead through the midrange shooting of senior foreign student-athlete Karim Abdul. With the offensive struggles of the Tamaraws, coach Nash Racela had no other option but to bring in Mac Belo at the 6:49 mark. Belo quickly made his presence felt with a quick conversion off the break. Abdul and Ed Daquioag, though, continued to push the pace to extend the UST lead to 13-7. Free throws kept the FEU Tamaraws close by converting on seven of their eight attempts, while a stepback jumper by Mike Tolomia with 1:04 remaining cut the UST lead to 19-18 to enter the second frame.

The Tamaraws were able to gain a two-point lead, 24-22, after a long corner jumper by Russel Escoto and a picture perfect fastbreak layup by Tolomia midway through the quarter. Just as FEU were about to take the momentum, Vigil and Abdul quickly churned in a 6-0 run to regain the lead. However, Belo would push his team to close out the half with a 6-2 run, capped by a three point play to enter the break at a deadlock, 30-30.

Kevin Ferrer opened the half by converting only his second field goal of the game after a floater. FEU senior Francis Tamsi converted two rainbows, while two midrange jumpers by Belo extended the FEU lead to 40-34 at the 6:23 mark of the third quarter. The FEU charge continued as Belo and Pogoy teamed up to give the Morayta cagers the biggest lead of the game, 51-41, with 1:28 left. The Growling Tigers, though, finished strong after free throws by Kent Lao and a buzzer-beating corner three by Marvin Lee to cut the FEU lead to five, 51-46, to enter the final frame of the tournament.

Belo then succumbed to cramps just 31 seconds into the final quarter. With Ferrer struggling to even get the ball, the other UST Growling Tigers needed to step-up to end their campaign with a championship. Daquioag heeded the call, scoring six points in a 16-0 rally heading into the end of the third quarter. This gave UST a 57-51 lead with 6:03 left, as Racela immediately called for a timeout to regroup his startled troops and bring Belo back in.

After the timeout, Belo muscled his way to the paint for a lay-in but was quickly answered by a banker by Daquioag. Pogoy then torched his defenders for a fastbreak layup and a jumper to cut the UST lead to just a solitary point, 59-58. After a timeout, rookie Marvin Lee missed two three-pointers while sophomore Lao split his free throws with 1:46 left. Excellent play by Escoto and Pogoy led to a top-of-the-arc three-pointer by the latter to give FEU the lead. Another miss by Lee from downtown led to a quick fastbreak layup by Tolomia to give the Green-and-Gold a 63-60 lead with 1:01 left. UST head coach Bong dela Cruz called for the team’s last timeout to stem the defensive leaks.

After the timeout, Daquioag was able to convert two free throws off a foul by Belo, while a split by Tolomia on the stripe gave UST a chance to at least tie the ball game. However, after a looseball that went in favor of the Tigers, Abdul stepped out of bounds with 21.7 ticks left. Another split on the stripe by Belo gave FEU a three-point lead. Coming from the miss, Daquioag ran past all five FEU defenders but overcooked the finish. Free throws by Escoto extended the FEU lead to 67-62. Desperate three-point attempts by Ferrer missed, as the Far Eastern University bagged their 20th UAAP Men’s Basketball seniors crown in front of a jam-packed crowd of 23,124 fans from both schools.

“My initial reaction was just to be thankful to the Lord,” third year FEU coach Nash Racela said after the game. “It was a hard fought game.”

“Mindset ko lang ay ibigay ko ang lahat dahil wala ng bukas,” Belo said. “Andun talaga yung pressure pero kelangan namin stumep-up para manalo.”

Mac Belo led all scorers with 23 points on 7/13 shooting from the field and 9/11 shooting from the foul stripe. He also grabbed eight rebounds in the final collegiate game of his career. Fellow senior RR Pogoy had 14 points while Tolomia, who had another horrid shooting performance of 4/17, scored 13 markers.

Ed Daquioag was the high point for the runners-up, scoring 21 points on 7/16 shooting; however, he committed a game-high six turnovers. Abdul fought off foul trouble, scoring 12 points and grabbing five boards. Smart Elite ambassador Kevin Ferrer, who was defended all game long by Belo and Pogoy, was limited to just seven shot attempts, scoring just six points in his final UAAP game.

As a team, UST shot better shooting 37.5% from the field compared to 33% by the champions. However, the Tamaraws out-rebounded the Growling Tigers 45-37 and shot better from the charity stripe, 21/26 in contrast to 16/25 by UST.

With the win, the Far Eastern University continue their streak of winning at least one basketball championship in each decade, since the UAAP was conceived. Moreover, they now have a two championship gap over the UST Growling Tigers in the Men’s Basketball championship over tally.

The Scores:
FEU (67) – Belo 23, Pogoy 14, Tolomia 13, Tamsi 6, Escoto Ru. 5, Inigo 3, Jose 2, Orizu 1, Arong 0, Dennison 0, Escoto Ri. 0, Trinidad 0.
UST (62) – Daquioag 21, Abdul 12, Lee 9, Ferrer 6, Lao 6, Vigil 6, Bonleon 2, Faundo 0, Huang 0, Sheriff 0.
Quarterscores: 18-19, 30-30, 51-46, 67-62.

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Jovie Prado, Arellano make epic comeback against Perpetual to remain unscathed



The defending NCAA Women’s Volleyball champions Arellano University Lady Chiefs would just not give up.

Down two sets, the Lady Chiefs turned back the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas in five thrilling sets, 22-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-5, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Outside hitter Jovielyn Prado and middle attacker Andrea Marzan showed up and produced their expected numbers in this crucial tussle at 20 and 16 points, respectively.

Head coach Obet Javier was still optimistic that his players can pull it off after the 0-2 hole. “Siyempre, kailangan mong magtiwala sa players mo,” he said.

The long-time coach added, “Nung first two sets, ang pangit ng laro namin. Siguro sa game, lumabas lang ‘yung maturity ng players ko at ‘yung pusong champion.”

It was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout the day, but the deciding set was all Arellano as setter Sarah Verutiao fired off vicious serves after another and virtually bag the win with a 10-1 lead.

The reigning queens at 6-0 will try to extend their longest winning run in the league to 19 when they face fellow unscathed San Beda College (5-0) on Friday.

Bianca Tripoli registered 20 markers to pace the Lady Altas.

Perpetual (4-2) will take on Mapua University (0-5) on Tuesday, January 30.

The Scores:

AU 3 – Prado 20, Marzan 16, Arocha 14, Ebuen 7, Esguerra 4, Ramirez 1, Bello 1, Balanoba 0, Donato 0, Flores L, Buema L.

UPHSD 2 – Tripoli 20, Imbo 19, Clements 12, Verzosa 6, Llorente 5, Gual 3, Sangalang 3, Estanislao 0, Rosal 0, Umandal 0, Medalla L.

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Matt Nieto looks forward to learning from Jio Jalalon, Jayson Castro



When Matt Nieto made his way into the Meralco Gym on Monday evening, the 20-year-old quickly changed his clothes after receiving his Gilas jersey. And once he got dressed, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles’ floor general quickly went to work, as he wanted to absorb everything he can from the night’s session.

“Actually na-star struck ako. ‘Di ako makapaniwala na nandito ako eh,” expressed the six-foot point guard.

Playing and practicing with the players they idolized growing up has been a theme for almost all of the 23 for 2023 cadets. The same could be said about the wide-eyed Nieto, as he could not believe he was side-by-side with the present and the future of the game in Jayson Castro and Jiovani Jalalon.

“Nakita ko pa lang si idol Jiovani Jalalon, nakikita ko parang… di ako makapaniwala na sa isang practice magkasama kami.

“Sila Kiefer [Ravena], lalo na si Jalalon talaga at si Jayson Castro kasi talagang idol ko talaga sila eh. Napapasma nga ako nung una eh kasi parang baka akalain nila ‘sino ba to?’,” the one-time UAAP champion shared.

Nervous, Nieto tried to talk to Castro and Jalalon numerous times during the practice. The two did not turn, welcoming the young buck with open arms.

“Nung nakausap ko na sila medyo na ano na kasi hindi lang sila magaling, sobrang bait pa nila. Madali akong naka-adjust kaagad dito,” he beamed.

Coach Chot Reyes has high expectations with Nieto, as he is being groomed as one of the leaders for the 2023 team. Still, he knows that there is still a long way to go for him.

To become a better leader, the second-generation Blue Eagle knows who to reach out to.

“Gusto ko matuto kay Jayson pati kay Jiovani kasi same position kami. And of course yung leadership ni Kiefer, yung mentality na talagang laban kung laban.

“Gusto ko marami matutunan sa kanila kasi wala pa eh, wala pa ako sa peak ko. Sila andun na. So marami talaga akong matututunan sa kanila kasi sobrang galing nila at sobrang dami na nilang na-achieve sa kanilang basketball career,” Nieto gushed.

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SJ Belangel makes leap to top 3 of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24




Ateneo Blue Eaglets towering teen Kai Sotto and La Salle Greenhills Junior Blazers court general Joel Cagulangan remained the top two high school players in the Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Center 24, but there was a lot of movement this week, including the rise of SJ Belangel.

Belangel, Ateneo’s graduating floor leader, had a sensational week, helping steer the Blue Eaglets to an unblemished 10-0 record. With his exploits, he was the consensus third-ranked player of the week, leapfrogging Mapua High School’s and NCAA MVP Will Gozum.

FEU-Diliman do-it-all guard L-Jay Gonzales and Katipunan swingman Dave Ildefonso also moved up the ladder, while UST Tiger Cub ace CJ Cansino dropped to eighth after finishing fourth last week.

Besides movement at the top, there were also a lot of debutatants in this week’s list.

Blue Eaglets double-double machine Joaqui Manuel’s workhorse type of game paid off, as he was ranked 21st this week.

After firing 51 markers last weekend, Bacolod Tay Tung High School’s Harold Alarcon was named as the 22nd top prospect.

Joshua Yerro of University of Visayas then rounded out the list.

Here is the complete Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 Week 2:

1. Kai Sotto, center, Ateneo (1)
2. Joel Cagulangan, guard, La Salle (2)
3. SJ Belangel, guard, Ateneo (5)
4. Will Gozum, center, Mapua (3)
5. L-Jay Gonzales, guard, FEU-Diliman (6)
6. Dave Ildefonso, forward, Ateneo (8)
7. Rhayyan Amsali, forward, NU (7)
8. CJ Cansino, forward, UST (4)
9. Clint Escamis, guard, Mapua (10)
10. Aaron Fermin, center, Arellano (9)
11. Terrence Fortea, guard, NU (16)
12. RJ Abarrientos, guard, FEU-Diliman (15)
13. Inand Fornilos, forward, La Salle (11)
14. Evan Nelle, guard, San Beda (12)
15. Warren Bonifacio, center, Mapua (13)
16. John Galinato, guard, Chiang Kai Shek (14)
17. Mac Guadaña, guard, Lyceum (18)
18. Raven Cortez, center, La Salle Zobel (19)
19. Harvey Pagsanjan, guard, Hope Christian (20)
20. Maui Cruz, guard, EAC (23)
21. Joaqui Manuel, forward, Ateneo (N/A)
22. Harold Alarcon, guard, Tay Tung-Bacolod (N/A)
23. Jancork Cabahug, forward, UV (17)
24. Joshua Yerro, guard, UV (N/A)

On Tuesday, January 23, the second episode of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 will air live at 7:00pm. Tonight’s special guest will be former Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas player and NBTC alumnus Jeron Teng.

The Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Centre 24 is the first-ever attempt to rank the top high school prospects in the country today.

The weekly ranking used the following criteria: league stats, impact in team, team record, leadership, defense, offense, and level of competition.

These rankings will be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

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Joyce Sta. Rita slams 28 as Lady Stags avert Cardinal upset



Erasing a disappointing third set, the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Lady Stags upended the upset-conscious Mapua University Lady Cardinals, 25-20, 25-7, 29-31, 25-14, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The win revived the Lady Stags’ campaign after back-to-back losses to the Jose Rizal University and University of Perpetual Help System DALTA. San Sebastian are now at 3-2.

“Andun pa rin naman, apat pa naman laro,” said Stags’ head coach Roger Gorayeb on their chances for the Final Four. “Sana umabot.”

Team captain Joyce Sta. Rita produced a career-high 28 points off 22 attacks, four blocks, and two serves. The senior middle hitter paced her squad’s 58 spikes, who outscored Mapua’s 33.

The Lady Cards capitalized on the rotation wherein Sta. Rita was in the backline in that third set turnaround. Nonetheless, Vira Guillema and the rest of the Lady Stags just turned to their experience to ultimately finish the match.

Gorayeb, nonetheless, hopes his team will toughen up mentally for the home stretch of the eliminations. “Kasi ‘yung laro, nawawala na ‘yan sa physical side, napupunta na sa psychological part ng game.”

Angelie Magundayao lead the Cardinals with 10 markers.

San Sebastian will take on the Colegio de San Juan de Letran (2-3) on Thursday. Mapua (0-5) will take on the Emilio Aguinaldo College (0-5) in a battle of the winless earlier that day.

The Scores:

SSC-R 3 – Sta. Rita 28, Dalisay 17, Santos 11, Encarnacion 10, Guillema 4, Tiangco 2, Eroa L.

MU 1 – Mangundayao 10, Racelis 9, Pena 9, Latayan 5, Morano 4, Frando 2, Mercado 1, Barias 0, Hermano 0, Ramilo L.

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