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Belo game-winner sends FEU back to the Finals

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With the momentum with the Ateneo side, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws had one last chance to eliminate the Blue Eagles.

With Mike Tolomia missing a fastbreak layup, it was a Mac Belo tip-in with half of a second to go that eliminated Ateneo, 76-74, and gave Far Eastern University another crack at the UAAP Men’s Basketball Championship for the second year in a row, Saturday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Blue Eagles made the stops at the start of the quarter with an early 4-0 lead. As the Tamaraws wet their feet, their disciplined defense held the Blue Eagles scoreless for the next three minutes as FEU surged to an 11-4 lead capped by a Mike Tolomia find to Orizu. Ateneo were able to cut the lead to just two, 14-12, as Kiefer Ravena and Adrian Wong scored in an 8-1 rally. However, back-to-back conversions by Tolomia gave the Morayta cagers a 19-12 lead to end the opening quarter.

With the Blue Eagles greatly out-rebounded in the opening salvo, coach Bo Perasol brought Nigerian student-athlete Chibueze Ikeh to start the second stanza. However, the Tamaraws were again able to extend their lead to nine, 26-17, midway through the quarter. Seniors Von Pessumal and Kiefer Ravena then brought Ateno back in, combining for the Blue Eagles’ next 12 points that included back-to-back triples by Pessumal. However, Belo was able to respond with a three-point play, and free throws by Russel Escoto again extended the FEU lead. A putback layup by Raymar Jose off of a Tolomia miss gave the favorites a 38-32 lead to enter the break.

FEU started the third quarter in uncharacteristic fashion, as unncessary fouls and turnovers plagued the Tamaraws. The Blue Eagles were able to take advantage of this, cutting the lead to just three after a spin to the hoop by senior Gotladera with 7:19 remaining in the third. Splits by Belo and Pogoy from the stripe, and a floater by the former halted the Ateneo momentum. Frustrated with the lack of calls, Pessumal and Ravena were the only Blue Eagles taking over the offense to close out the quarter. The balanced attack of FEU, though, through Achie Inigo, Russel Escoto, and Monbert Arong, extended the lead to 56-47 with 1:29 remaining. A corner three-pointer by Wong ended the quarter with Ateneo still down by six, 56-50.

In the final period, the Blue Eagles, with their backs against the wall, forced their pace on the stingy FEU system. Slowly, Wong and Ravena were able to make tough jumpers, capped by a booming triple by Ravena with 5:26 remaining that tied the game at 64-all to the roar of the Ateneo faithful. As the Yellow-and-Green community tried to power their squad back, Belo then responded with a drive to the corner for a bucket. Ravena quickly answered by finding Wong for a high-banking rainbow that gave the Katipunan cagers their first lead since the start of the game, 67-66. As the two teams exchanged baskets and leads, Pessumal was able to find Ravena for another rainbow with 3:02 remaining. The latter stepped back for a fadeaway J in the next play to give Ateneo a 74-71 lead with 2:20 remaining.

After a timeout by Nash Racela, the Tamaraws missed four point-blank shots, but Ravena missed a long-range jumper and gave FEU possession. After a Tolomia miss, and the rebound going out of bounds, the officials deemed that it was still Tamaraw ball. Mike Tolomia and Roger Pogoy then performed an excellent dribble-drive that led to a three by Pogoy to tie the game at 74-all with 1:07 remaining. Pogoy then made an excellent stop in stealing the ball from Ravena with 33 seconds remaining, but Escoto missed a jumper that led to an Adrian Wong rebound. Wong then ran past four Tamaraw defenders but Pogoy was able to make an excellent challenge that resulted to a miss. Tolomia then ran through the lanes for a fastbreak layup that missed. Fortunately for Tolomia and the Tamaraw faithful, Mac Belo served as insurance, putting back the miss with .5 ticks remaining for the game-winner as FEU advanced to the UAAP Finals for the second year in a row, 76-74.

“Tough shots lahat ng tinira nila, pasok kahit boarding,” a relieved coach Nash Racela said after the game. “Very tough game especially with Kiefer and Wong making their jumpers but our players are defending them hard.”

Mac Belo, who had 15 points on 56% shooting and grabbed nine boards, then added that this was more special than the buzzer-beating three-pointer he nailed that eliminated La Salle last season. “Yan yung gusto namin. Nagcocontribute lahat at gusto namin magfocus sa defense.”

For Pogoy, the high point-man for the Tamaraws with 16 markers that included two triples, it was his role to stretch the floor well for Tolomia and Belo. “Eto yung role ko. Lagi nila kasi tinatrap si Mike kaya nalilibre. Pero team effort talaga ito. Involved lahat ng players mas lalo na sa depensa.”

Racela then closed in saying that “siya [Pogoy] lang naka-shoot but it was a total team effort. Team effort kaya nakabalik kami sa finals.”

FEU senior Mike Tolomia added 13 points, 2/3 shooting from downtown, as well.

For the Blue Eagles, Kiefer Ravena, playing in his last collegiate game, led all scorers with 25 points on 53% shooting. He was 2/4 from the field but was only able to dish out two dimes, three assists shy of his average. Rookie Adrian Wong added 17 points on 60% shooting while Von Pesumal, who had also played his last UAAP game, had 15 points on 3/9 shooting. He was able to grab six boards as well.

As a team, Ateneo shot better from the field with 45% compared to just 36.92% by the Tamaraws. However, FEU attempted 16 more free throws, converting 21 of their 32 attempts. FEU also out-rebounded their opponents 45-33, that led to a 19-13 advantage in second chance points.

The FEU Tamaraws will wait for the victor of the UST-NU series tomorrow while the Ateneo Blue Eagles will finish in third place.

The Scores:
FEU (76) – Pogoy 16, Belo 15, Tolomia 13, Inigo 9, Dennison 6, Jose 5, Escoto 4, Orizu 4, Arong 4, Tamsi 0.
ADMU (74) – Ravena 25, Wong 17, Pessumal 15, Gotladera 8, Ikeh 4, Ma. Nieto 2, Go 2, Capacio 1, Babilonia 0, Black 0, Tolentino A. 0, Pingoy 0, Tolentino M. 0.
Quarterscores: 19-12; 38-32; 56-50; 76-74.

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ABL

Joshua Munzon, Westsports snap Saigon’s streak in highly emotional contest

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Photo by ASEAN Basketball League

Entering Wednesday night’s game, Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat were on a high, slaying the winning streaks of Hong Kong Eastern and Nanhai Kung Fu. However, Joshua Munzon and the Westsports Malaysia Dragons had other things in mind, keeping the Heat winless at the MABA Stadium, 91-87.

In his fourth game since returning to the Dragons, Munzon filled up the stat sheet, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Besides putting up the numbers, the athletic swingman from California helped limit reigning Heritage Player of the Week Williams to his worst game so far in the ABL. Averaging 27.33 points, 6.67 assists, and 6.0 rebounds prior to this game, Williams went field goal-less against the Dragons, missing all 11 of his attempts. The Filipino-American floor general was able to dish out eight assists and grab five caroms.

Westsports led by as much as 11 points in the final frame, 82-71, after Munzon found Marcus Marshall for a triple with 4:59 remaining. Behind World Imports Akeem Scott and Maxie Esho, the Heat stormed right back but was answered by a long bomb by Munzon to keep them at bay.

Marshall and Scott figured in a shootout to close out the game but in the end, the hosts were still able to etch out their second straight victory.

Marshall finished the game with 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Dragons while Scott’s 44-point game went for naught.

After the emotionally charged contest though, few unkind words were exchanged by the officials of both squads that almost resulted into a brawl. Fortunately, things did not escalate beyond that.

In the video, Munzon was also seen shoving a Saigon player to try and pacify the situation. The league is currently investigating the post-game incident.

With the win, Westsports Malaysia raised its record to 3-4 while dropping Saigon to 4-3.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Edward Kelly honored to fight alongside brother Eric

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Eric and Edward Kelly lived under the same roof for years in their hometown of Baguio City when they were young and shared the same burning passion in martial arts.

Growing up in the small town community of San Tomas Central, located within the city limits of Baguio, Eric and Edward did not always get along with one another as the two fought all the time, sometimes even resulting in injury.

“We were not that close before. We always fought. In short, Eric and I were headaches to our parents,” Edward recalled in jest.

“But of course, things change when you grow up and mature. We now appreciate each other’s company.”

Fortunately, when the brothers entered high school, Eric discovered martial arts, and everything would change for both of them.

Edward paid attention to the growing accolades of his older brother and was heavily motivated by it.

“I noticed after he started martial arts that it taught him the discipline not to fight me as a brother. Instead, he started giving me advice through what he had learned,” he bared. “I also joined martial arts because it teaches you discipline, and a lot of other positives, too.”

Years later, both men have made remarkable runs as outstanding martial artists in their respective professional careers.

Eric is widely regarded as one of the best homegrown martial arts athletes to come out of the Philippines.

A Wushu practitioner who combines solid striking techniques with high-level grappling skills, Eric owns nine scintillating submissions and one knockout out of 12 total career victories.

Eric’s most impressive showing to date came in a submission win over Rob Lisita in July 2014, a performance that earned him the USD 50,000 ONE Warrior Bonus.

Meanwhile, Edward is considered as one of the best and brightest featherweight prospects to emerge from the well-established martial arts scene in the Philippines.

With a complete striking and grappling skill set, Edward brings Team Lakay’s world-renowned Wushu to center stage as he showcases his impeccable skillset inside the ONE Championship cage.

In addition, the younger Kelly has won three of his last four bouts under the ONE Championship banner, all by spectacular finish.

The Kelly brothers get a rare chance on Friday, January 26 as the siblings will compete side-by-side when ONE Championship holds its first of the four scheduled events in the country for 2018.

Eric squares off with Brazilian standout Rafael Nunes on the undercard of ONE: Global Superheroes, while Edward crosses paths with Cambodia’s Meas Meul in a three-round featherweight clash.

It is the first time both of them will be featured at a ONE Championship event together, and Edward plans to make it a night they will never forget.

“I am so excited because finally, it’s going to happen. It marks the first time that I will compete alongside my older brother. Surely, it’s going to be a memorable night for the both of us,” he said.

“We have the same aim of winning. So making it two for two on this card will make this extra special.”

As Eric seeks to get back on the winning track at the expense of Nunes, Edward is likewise looking to move forward in his career after getting his three-bout winning streak snapped by American stalwart Emilio Urrutia in August 2017.

In his next cage outing, Edward goes up against Meul, a undefeated promotional newcomer with six wins to his credit.

“My coaches has prepared me well for this. I am not going to disappoint my team and my country when I enter that cage on 26th of January,” Edward assured. “I don’t want to let my countrymen down this time. I am here to give them a great bout.

“And of course, win the bout in impressive fashion for them.”

Edward has no qualms if he has to go full three rounds with Meul, but he admitted that his sights are always set on securing the finish.

“I am looking to dominate him for three rounds. But hopefully, I can get the finish,” he vowed.

“A finish will be the perfect way to tell the world that I am back.”

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Basketball

Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates

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Prior to Wednesday, all eyes were on the TNT Katropa-Blackwater Elite face-off, with many curious to see how last season’s Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy would fare against his former FEU teammates Mac Belo and Raymar Jose.

And as the final buzzer sounded, the 25-year-old Pogoy had reigned triumphant over his close pals, getting away with a conference-best performance as a bonus.

The six-foot-two Cebuano sniper fired a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, to lead the Texters to a skid-ending, 92-83 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Must-win talaga namin ‘to para makabawi kami, kasi 1-2 na yung standing namin (before the game) eh.

“Buti na lang maganda yung nilaro ko,” said Pogoy, who was just averaging 11.3 points in the past three games.

But Pogoy tipped his hat to the much taller Elite, who enjoyed plenty of time in the driver’s seat in the first half, until the Katropa found their groove in the third canto — highlighted by a 16-3 rally that put them ahead, 60-53.

“Malakas yung Blackwater eh, tapos ang lalaki nila kaya mahirap mag-drive, mahirap pumasa kasi naagaw nila,” said Pogoy. “Buti na lang naka-adjust kami nung second half. Hindi kami nagmadali, dinahan-dahan namin.”

Aside from his own outing, Pogoy is thankful that they were able to address their fourth quarter woes when facing the Elite — the issue that hounded them in their 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Iloilo.

TNT had actually been mere steps away from melting down — again — against Blackwater, no thanks to a 20-9 run that wiped out their 17-point lead to just six,

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Basketball

With Nash Racela knowing his tendencies, Mac Belo limited to poor shooting

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Prior to Wednesday, Blackwater Elite’s young star Mac Belo was on a roll early in the 2018 Philippine Cup, averaging exactly 20 points on 42.6 percent shooting in their games against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Ginebra.

But, as they say, good things must come to an end.

Belo, despite having 13 rebounds, was held to just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as the Elite bowed to TNT Katropa, 92-83 — a sour loss knowing that they’re coming off huge 94-77 win against Ginebra last Friday.

“Bukol,” said Belo in jest of his poor outing after the match. “Big test para sa’min kasi yung TNT talagang isang de-kalibreng team dito sa PBA.

“Talagang pinaghandaan nila kami, at gustong-gusto nila manalo.”

It also did not help that the Katropa’s head coach, Nash Racela, was his coach in FEU Tamaraws for three years — a relationship brightly highlighted by a championship run in the UAAP Season 78 back in 2015.

“Siyempre alam niya yung mga tendencies ko. Matagal ko siyang coach sa FEU,” said the 6-foot-4 forward.

“Sa akin naman, kailangan ko pa matuto sa ganun, kung anong mga defense binabato niya sakin. Kailangan ko pang pag-aralan.”

But for Belo, the loss was more than his own showing. The 25-year-old lamented his and the Elite’s lapses on defense, which was encapsulated by the second half collapse they had that allowed TNT to come back and steal the win.

“Medyo marami lang kaming lapses especially sa defense namin,” said the sophomore forward, as they allowed TNT to shoot 41.6 percent from the floor. “Maraming mga miscommunication na kailangan pa namin i-work.”

Belo and the Elite are now set to move on from this bitter defeat, as they all shift their sights in their match this Friday versus GlobalPort Batang Pier. For the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, it is already a must-win for them.

“Kailangan namin ng rest ngayon kasi back-to-back games kami. We need to win sa Friday para okay sa’min,” said Belo. “Kailangan din namin paghandaan kasi galing sila sa win.

“Kailangan namin i-double yung effort namin.”

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