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Bianca Carlos, Lady Eagles put teamwork over individuality

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Eliminating a school that holds a twice-to-beat advantage and reaching the finals is a feat only few teams can lay claim to. Doing so against archrivals makes it all the sweeter. After winning the first tie 3-1, Ateneo had all the motivation to win again the day after they pulled off a stunner against La Salle.

However, the first match didn’t end the way Ateneo wanted, as La Salle’s Arianne Rivera got the better of Cassie Lim. But in the end, it signalled the rallying point from which the Lady Eagles rose.

The second match is arguably the most crucial in the tie, as a team can either take a step to sweeping their opponents or starting a comeback of their own. For the latter, it is good to have an insurance policy who can virtually guarantee you a match when it is needed most.

Enter Bianca Carlos.

Carlos is a UAAP athlete whose talent exceeds her mainstream popularity. She supposedly hasn’t conceded a singles match in her UAAP career. Well-known only in the badminton community, Carlos has done so much it is almost criminal how little she is covered in popular media.

When it comes to Ateneo sports, the first athletes people will think of today are the likes of Kiefer Ravena and Alyssa Valdez. But based on what she has achieved in the Blue and White, Carlos’ name should be just as prevalent. Carlos led Ateneo to a UAAP Women’s Badminton Championship in Season 76, claiming both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in the process. Ateneo then finished second the following UAAP Season 77, succumbing to UP in the finals.

Bianca Carlos Scream

Her stellar UAAP career has not given her an ego, however. “We learned na to always stay strong. Heartstrong lagi. We learned na talagang teamwork. Hindi pwede isa-isa lang. Hindi pwede sira yung team. Kailangan buo kayo. As in one kayo. Yun ang susi pag nananalo ka. Hindi siya talagang tig-isang tao lang. Kailangan kung anong puso ng isang tao, puso ng isang team.”

Carlos won the second singles match in dominant fashion, winning straight games 21-12 and 21-15 and handing Ateneo the initiative. She later returned with Lim in the second doubles match to bring Ateneo back to the finals after a three game thriller. La Salle duo Alyssa Leonardo and Nicole Albo won the first game 21-13 only for Carlos and Lim to recover and eventually win the next two games 24-22 and 21-19.

Losing the first game of the second doubles match, in the most important tie of the season, can make most people crumble from pressure. Fortunately for Ateneo, Carlos isn’t one of those people. The first thing she did after the first game was to remind herself and Lim that they have every opportunity left to beat their counterparts from La Salle.

“Sabi ko lang sa kanya (Cassie Lim) since first set kami talo, hindi ako natakot kasi alam mo yung warm up pa lang namin yun? And then pagdating ng second set, nauna sila eh pero alam ko pa rin eh. Pag buo yung loob mo, sinasabi ko lang buo yung loob sa yo, buo ang loob ko, huwag kang magda-doubt kahit anong point. Nakuha namin isa-isa lang. Tiwala lang, one point at a time. Aggressive. Yun lang sinasabi ko sa kanya”, Carlos says.

Just as in last year’s finals, Ateneo has to beat UP thrice to reclaim that UAAP Women’s Badminton Championship. The Season 78 finals will be held at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Center at 1:00PM on Wednesday (October 14, 2015).

Bianca Carlos celebration 2

Learning from her mentor and Ateneo coach Kennie Asuncion-Robles, Carlos emphasized a “one game at a time” mantra. This was instilled in them by their veteran coach in their campaign to bring back the championship in the blue side of Quezon City. Without discounting the odds against UP, Carlos backs herself and her team to commit maximum effort to win against the odds starting on Wednesday.

“One day at a time. Yun lang ang focus namin. We’ll focus first on Wednesday. All out na ulit. Yun lang talaga ang kailangan, all out. Every point counts talaga”, concluded Carlos.

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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

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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

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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

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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

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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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