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Basketball

Ben Mbala looks to take Afrobasket experience to La Salle

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While the De La Salle University Green Archers were grinding out wins against the FEU Tamaraws and the NU Bulldogs, Ben Mbala was busy helping his native country of Cameroon in the 2017 FIBA Afrobasket.

And the 22-year-old was tearing it up in the continental tourney, posting norms of 21.8 points and 9.3 rebounds — both second in the tournament. However, his team was eliminated during the quarterfinals.
2017-FIBA-Afrobasket---Tunisia-def-Cameroon---Ben-Mbala
Still, the reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player is looking forward to come back to his school and show the UAAP what he developed during the Afrobasket.

“It was a great learning experience especially getting to play against bigger and mature players,” reflected the 6-foot-7 Cameroonian student-athlete.

Moreover, he admitted that just like his teammates who watched his games on livestream, Mbala was keeping tabs on the Green Archers while he was in Tunisia.

“We are looking for a back-to-back now and we know it won’t be easy,” Mbala furthered. “But of course we are prepared for everything.

“I am just looking forward to play and help the team.”

No one is looking forward to having Mbala back than Aldin Ayo. Though they are currently on a roll with a 2-0 slate, the second year La Salle head coach believes that his team will enter full throttle with Mbala back in the fold come Wednesday.

“Maybe we’re on this level but when Ben arrives, okay, aangat na lang kami na kaasama siya.

“Talking about adjustments, wala na kaming gagawin masyadong adjustments because hindi kami nag-adjust talaga dun sa pagkawala niya,” Ayo expressed.

“Gusto namin na pagbalik niya, diretso kaagad. Andar kaagad.”

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Troy Rosario, TNT can’t miss, keep Meralco struggling

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

After a sluggish start in the 20-1718 Philippine Cup, TNT Katropa have seemingly found their groove as they cruised to their second straight win at the expense of Meralco Bolts, 99-81, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

This is now TNT’s first win streak in the tourney as they improve to 3-2. The Bolts, on the other hand, had suffered their third straight loss and are now 1-3.

“We knew that Meralco was undermanned. We knew that they lacked the people going to this game today so ang mentality namin was to take advantage of that, ‘yung pagkukulang ng Meralco,” said TNT coach Nash Racela.

“Today from start to end, we were able to do that. The intensity level was consistent. Siguro medyo bumababa ng kaunti but kaunting-kaunti lang. That’s our goal as a team, maging consistent on both ends,” he added.

Troy Rosario, who had just turned 26 years old yesterday, led TNT with 22 points — 12 coming from the opening frame where he powered a 16-3 run — on 8-of-13 shooting from the field on top of a game high 10 rebounds.

“It won’t be his birthday every day. It’s nice that he shot well while celebrating his birthday, but we also need him to shoot well during other days,” said Racela of Rosario. “That’s how you become consistent.”

Shades of a comeback flashed come the game’s third chapter, when the Orangemen chopped down a 16-point lead to just five, 52-47, thanks to back-to-back triples by KG Cañaleta and Jared Dillinger with 8:32 remaining.

But it proved to be the last time that Meralco will knock that close. After Roger Pogoy’s triple went in to help TNT regain the double-digit lead, 57-47, with 6:07 in the third, the Katropa then never looked back and ran roughshod.

The Texters even led by as much as 22 points, 92-70, after RR Garcia’s three-pointer with 4:27 left to play.

Garcia supplied 18 points and eight assists for the Katropa, who shot a conference-high 18 treys in the win. Pogoy made 15 points despite shooting 6-of-16, while Jayson Castro had 12 points, four boards, and three dimes.

Ryan Reyes and Anthony Semerad each chipped in 10 markers.

The Bolts, who shot just 39 percent in the loss, were led by Baser Amer’s 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Dillinger scored 14 and grabbed five caroms, while Cañalata had 11 markers, five boards, and three assists.

TNT will try to sustain momentum versus Magnolia on January 27, Saturday at 6:45 PM, while Meralco will aim to end their skid versus Kia on Wednesday, January 24, at 4:30 PM. Both games are at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

TNT 99 — Rosario 22, Garcia 18, Pogoy 15, Castro 12, Reyes 10, Semerad 10, Carey 3, Hernandez 3, Tautuaa 2, Torres 2, Williams 2, Golla 0, Onwubere 0.

Meralco 81 — Amer 20, Dillinger 14, Canaleta 11, Tolomia 8, Newsome 6, Lanete 5, Bono 4, Hugnatan 4, Ballesteros 3, Faundo 3, Baracael 2, , Sedurifa 1, Caram 0, Salva 0.

Quarterscores: 27-18, 46-36, 73-62, 99-81.

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AJ Mandani sparks Singapore in win over Joshua Munzon-led Westsports

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Back to his role as the sixth man of the Slingers after two games, AJ Mandani provided the firepower needed by Singapore in a fourth quarter surge to stop the Westsports Malaysia Dragons, 93-85, Sunday afternoon at the MABA Stadium in Malaysia.

The win arrested the Slingers’ two-game losing streak, raising their slate to 6-6. Westsports, a team coming off a two-game winning streak that included a 91-87 win over Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat last January 18, fell to 3-5.

Struggling in the first three quarters, Mandani six of his eight points in the final frame. And those points were povital in fending off Westsports.

With Singapore clinging to a solitary point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Filipino-Canadian scored four straight points 8-0 run to gain a 74-67 lead with under seven minutes left. Another basket by Mandani followed it up with a breakaway layup with with 5:18 remaining to give Singapore an 81-72 cushion.

Filipino exports Joshua Munzon and Patrick Cabahug tried to rally the home team back as a triple by the latter cut the lead down to just three with 1:40 on the clock. Big buckets by Delvin Goh and Chris Charles sealed off the Malaysia-based club team.

Munzon went just 5-for-18 from the field to finish with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Cabahug chipped in eight points on 3-for-4 shooting off the bench.

Xavier Alexander led Singapore with 33 points while Charles tallied a double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds to go along with three swats. Singaporean Goh had 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Marcus Marshall paced Westsports with 22 points, playing all 40 minutes as fellow World Import AJ West had a tough outing.

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Late whistle costs San Beda against Sousse, drops Red Lions to 0-2

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23 for 2023 cadet Robert Bolick is averaging 27.5 points per game in the tournament

After struggling to close out the UAE National Team in their opener last Friday, the San Beda College Red Lions figured in a late judgment call that did not fall into their favor, Saturday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai. Due to this, the defending NCAA Champions lost to Tuniasian club team Sousse, 78-79.

“Never been prouder as Team Manager of the Red Lions than tonight when we almost beat the second best club team in Tunisia,” team manager Jude Roque said in a Facebook post.

With the loss, the Red Lions fell to a 0-2 hole in the 29th Dubai Basketball Championship. But the record does not reflect how the Filipinos played.

Robert Bolick, who scored 28 points against the UAE National Team, led the charge for San Beda in their second outing with 27 points. Fellow 23 for 2023 cadet Javee Mocon added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Sousse — the second-best club team in Tunisia, who boasts four national team players and an American import — led by as much as 10 points, 70-60 in the final frame.

Fired up by the Filipinos who stormed the venue, the Red Lions answered right back with an 18-8 run capped by a booming Bolick triple with six ticks left to gain a 78-76 lead.

However, a foul was called on a Red Lion on a three-point attempt by a Sousse player. He calmly sank all three free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to seal the win.

“If not for a last second bum call from the refs that gave them two free throws, we would have won the game,” rued Roque.

Donald Tankoua had eight points and 13 rebounds as he was saddled with foul trouble all throughout the game.

The Tunisian club team was paced by Radzhouane Slimane with 18 points, while Ibrahim Nadarri and Joshua Cassady had 13 markers each.

San Beda will have a one-day break before taking on Moroccan club team Al Sale on Monday, January 22.

The Scores:

San Beda 78 – Bolick 27, Mocon 11, Tankoua 8, Noah 8, Toba 6, Soberano 6, Prebitero 4, Tongco 4, Bahio 2, Carino 2, Oftana 0, Adamos 0.

Sousse 79 – Slimane 18, Naddari 13, Cassady 13, Mouhli 11, Knioua 9, Toumi 8, Monastiri 4, Gaddour 3.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 36-39, 57-62, 78-79.

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Marc Pingris wants Rafi Reavis to break Robert Jaworski’s record

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Marc Pingris was all praises for veteran Rafi Reavis on Saturday night, as the 40-year-old center made his presence felt in the Magnolia Hotshots’ 97-91 victory — their third straight — over their Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The six-foot-nine Reavis finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks — a performance perfectly punctuated by a follow-up off a Paul Lee miss with 12.5 seconds left to play, that knocked out the Fuel Masters for good.

“Papasalamat ako kay Rafi na talagang kababalik lang niya pero binigay niya talaga lahat,” said Pingris after the bout, as Saturday night was just Reavis’ second outing in the 2018 Philippine Cup after recovering from a hip injury.

“Nag-usap nga kami kanina e, hindi pa siya 100 percent. So bukas, ang sabi niya babalik daw siya sa gym dahil gusto niya ibalik yung lakas ng legs dahil wala pa daw,” added the 36-year-old, who also suffered a hip injury last season.

Reavis has been playing in the league for 16 years. Seeing the work he has put in, Pingris — who finished the game with 17 rebounds, four assists, four points and two blocks — believes that the 10-time PBA champion can play for 10 more years — at least.

“You know naman Rafi eh, katulad ko rin yan eh – rebound and depensa. At tsaka sobrang vocal siya sa team eh,” beamed Pingris, who himself is a 14-year veteran. “Walang siyang inaano, talagang sinasabihan niya kung sino yung mga nagmi-mistake, kung paano kami mag-adjust, so nakikinig naman lahat sa kanya.

“Talagang nandun yung respeto namin kay Rafi.”

And if Reavis stays healthy for the next decade, Pingris wants Reavis to exceed Jaworki’s 958 games played — the third most of all time.

“Nasa kanya yun, basta kaya mo ba eh. As a player, kung masipag ka naman at may disiplina sa sarili mo, kaya niya yun.”

Still, Reavis has a lot of catching up to do.

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