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Bernardo, Ateneo sneak past UP, move on to semifinals



Rookie Hanz Bernardo played like a veteran and steered the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Shuttlers over University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 3–2, to advance to the semifinal against archrivals De La Salle University, Wednesday morning at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

Singles 1: Leonardo (UP) d Remo (ADMU) 21–10, 17–21, 21–10

Feeling confident this time around, UP veteran Miggy Leonardo shook off the challenge of second-year Carlo Remo, who had beaten him the previous year, in three games to take the opener for his team.

Leonardo imposed his court control and forced Remo to save the shuttle from hitting the floor on several instances. At the eighth rally, the Ateneo sophomore lost his footing and could not return the shuttle, conceding the point to UP. Sensing the tentativeness of his opponents’ actions, Leonardo slowly inched to a huge lead before the break, 11–5. After the ceasefire, Remo fired two consecutive smashes to cut the lead to three, 8–11, but he squandered a pair of points off errors to give the comfortable advantage back to his counterpart. From there, Leornardo never looked back and a well-placed drop clinched him the game, 21–10.

In the following game, Remo was the one who took charge at the start as errors piled up for the fourth-year Maroon. However, miscues of his own kept the game close at the interval, 8–11. The woes continued for Ateneo and UP snatched the lead 12–11. Knowing the importance of this match, Remo made adjustments on his play to close out the game. The Blue Shuttler was able to limit Leonardo to single points and consequently levelled the match at one game, 21–17.
Just as how he started the opening frame, Leonardo pounced on Remo’s game and forced the latter to commit errors with his aggressiveness. The UP veteran also used a combination of drop shots and smashes to build a huge 11–2 advantage. Remo tried to keep the game close with his own overhead shots and timely lobs, but errors hounded him up to the deciding game. A kill and another drop secured the victory and the lead for UP, 21–10.

Singles 2: Filart (ADMU) d Lopez (UP) 16–21, 21–11, 21–18

Taking unfamiliar territory as second singles players, both Clarence Filart of Ateneo and Joseph Lopez of UP were unfazed with the challenge. After three gruelling games, it was the Blue Shuttlers’ Captain who took the match over the second-year Lopez.

Knowing of his opponent’s length advantage, Lopez romped ahead in the first game with well-placed shots to disrupt the rhythm of Filart and forced the latter to errors. The national junior mainstay thus slowly pulled ahead into the break, 11–5. Getting back his confidence at the resumption of the match, the Ateneo skipper turned it around and cut the deficit to just two, 11–13. Nonetheless, this two-point lead was enough for Lopez to keep Filart at bay and took the game, 21–16.

The momentum near the tailend of the first game fuelled Filart to be more aggressive in the second. As a result, two powerful smashes pushed Ateneo to the interval, 11–5. Lopez struggled in this game as he only scored on miscues by Filart. The Ateneo veteran took the second game with relative ease, 21–11, to force another deciding game.

In the final frame, Lopez jumped to an early lead after Filart’s attacks sailed out. Making chances on his approach, the Ateneo junior then snared six straight points to get to within two of court change. UP had other plans, however, as the sophomore replied with his own 5–0 run to get to the break. It was a see-saw battle after the interval before Lopez went ahead 15–13. Two consecutive wayward shots from UP were enough for Filart to wrestle the lead, 18 –16. A beautiful drop shot gave Ateneo the match point, and Filart finished the match with another kill, 21–18.

Doubles 1: Bernardo/Remo (ADMU) d Malelang/Leonardo 21–14, 21–14

In the pivotal first doubles match, the tandem of Remo and rookie Hanz Bernardo quashed the veteran duo of Leonardo and Jojo Malelang in two consecutive games to gain the upper hand for the day.

Remo and Bernardo rose to a fiery start at 6–1 using a variety of power and placement before UP leveled the game countering with the same brand of play. The two pairs exchanged points, but two service faults from Leonardo and Malelang gave Ateneo the narrow lead at the interval, 11–10. From there, Bernardo, with ample support from his partner Remo, took over the game and peppered the UP duo with quick returns. The Maroons could not get their own game going and settled for points off their opponent’s errors. Another faulty service from Leonardo sealed his team’s doom and conceded the first game to the Blue and White, 21–14.

In the second game, Ateneo continued their dominance in all fronts and mounted a huge 7–1 lead that they were able to extend to 11–4 at the interval. Remo and Bernardo threatened to blow the game wide open as they strung five consecutive points as the advantage ballooned to 10, 5–15. Being the veterans, Leonardo and Malelang tried to take the one point at a time and went to within four, 11–15. An exchange of points ensued before two smashes from Bernardo clinched the game and the tie lead for Ateneo at a similar 21–14 score line.

Doubles 2: Pineda/Manuel (UP) d Mangubat/Bagasbas (ADMU) 21–17, 21–18

Once again, the season for the Fighting Maroons was in the hands of Betong Pineda and Vinci Manuel in the second doubles. And for the umpteenth time, they pulled through after fending off a pair of Ateneo rookies in Jan Mangubat and Fides Bagasbas in two games.

Despite the strong challenge of Bagasbas and Mangubat at the start of the opening frame, UP managed to force their opponents to commit errors with quick movements and shots. Manuel and Pineda took the lead at the interval, 11–6. However, a couple of errors from the Maroons gave Ateneo a chance on the game. With the door slightly opened, the upstarts from Loyola Heights took advantage and trimmed the deficit to four, 11–15. From there, UP resumed with their swift offense and moved ahead of Ateneo. A well-timed smash from Manuel clinched the first game for the Maroons, 21–17.

The second game was no different as the final portion of the first as both teams exchanged rallies and points before Ateneo took the lead this time, 11–9, at the interval. Two straight points from Bagasbas and Mangubat after the ceasefire woke up the Maroons as they levelled the game at 14. After coming out from the deadlock first, Manuel and Pineda did not relinquish the lead further and emphatically sent the tie into the final singles with three straight points, 21 –18.

Singles 3: Bernardo (ADMU) d Clemente (UP) 21–11 21–17.

With this playoff tie taking a similar route as their qualifying round meeting, it was up to either Bernardo or CK Clemente to extend their respective team’s season in the finals singles.

It was a tough task for Clemente, however, who has not played a singles match in his UAAP career. Bernardo, on the other hand, was also fielded in one-on-one play for the entire season. That proved to be crucial as the Ateneo rookie zoomed past his more senior counterpart in the first game. Bernardo forced Clemente into several errors and sent the latter back all high balls he was given. Ateneo cruised into the lead at the break, 5–11. Miscues after miscues piled up for the Maroon junior as Bernardo’s advantage went up to as high as 11, 7–18. Three smash kills from Clemente was not enough to push him back into the game and Ateneo won it 21–11.

This regained confidence, however, was not wasted as the three-year veteran got a 4–3 lead to start off the second game. Bernardo then wrestled the lead into the interval, 11–8, but now knowing Clemente was just hot off his trails. The Atenean then put the pedal to the metal in order to keep the game out of reach with three straight points to gain a comfortable 18–13 lead. The Fighting Maroon then used what is left on his tank and mounted rally to cut the deficit to four, 16–20. The lead was further trimmed after Bernardo was given a red card on misconduct and the score went to just 20–17. The rookie hero would not be denied on the next rally, however, as he forced his national team colleague to an error and took the match for Ateneo, 21–17.

With the win, the Blue Shuttlers advance to the semifinals on Saturday, October 10, against De La Salle University at 8am. The Green Shuttlers have the twice-to-beat advantage in that round. If Ateneo wins the Saturday tie, the knockout tie is scheduled the following day at the same time.


Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’



Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence



For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense



Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs



It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue as they are, it looks like another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be excuses.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” asserted Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort that the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco have a chance to end their slump against the Kia Picanto this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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