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Brana, Mapua send Jose Rizal to two-game funk

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In a back-and-forth duel, Mapua avenged their first round loss with their close escape against the JRU Heavy Bombers, 68-67 held at the Filoil Arena on Tuesday.

The two teams combined for eight points in the first four minutes of action as they found themselves deadlocked at 4. Despite the slow start, Exe Biteng knocked down the game’s first triple as Mapua held the lead from that point until the end of the first quarter. Good defense also enabled the Cardinals to limit JRU from barging into double-digit scoring not until the dying seconds of opening frame. Paolo Pontejos and Marc Cruz scored the last four of JRU but they trailed, 17-13 after 10 minutes.

Despite Allwell Oraeme providing a good rim resistance for Mapua, the Heavy Bombers second unit fought for position and had a good share of rebounds to crawl back in the game as Pontejos gave JRU the lead. The Biñan-native scored 12 points in the period including a hot streak of baskets from the perimeter. The reinsertion of Josan Nimes helped Mapua build a 6-0 run at the end of the quarter but a steal by Teytey Teodoro led to the last basket of the first half by Jordan Dela Paz as the Bombers held a two point lead at the break.

Pontejos continued his hot streak with a pullup jumper to start the second half but that was before Mapua built its run to take the lead once again against the Bombers. Mapua used good passing in the inside to score high percentage from the field. Halfway through the period, Mark Brana scored two baskets to extend Mapua’s lead at 43-36. Leading MVP candidate Oraeme grabbed rebound after rebound as it helped dictate momentum for the Cardinals. At the end of the third, it was Mapua who held a 49-42 lead.

Mapua lost its lead as JRU built an 11-2 run to take the lead momentarily at 52-51. Suddenly. the game became a tightly-contested one in its frantic pace as the number of deadlocks piled up. Despite his slow start, Teodoro started to find his stride and make multiple baskets for JRU. With under four minutes left, TeyTey shattered the 59-all deadlock with a confident three-ball but was answered with an and-one play by Oraeme.

Fast forward to the 1:28 mark, Pontejos’ free throws ties the game anew at 65 as the teams went back and forth in the intense-filled period. After successive stops by the two teams, Ervin Grospe made a big basket plus a foul but missed the bonus. Afterwards, Mapua muffed two attemps from downtown but Brana’s and-one putback gave The Cardinals a 68-67 lead with 5.9 ticks left. On the other hand, Grospe missed the potential game-winner as Oraeme cleared the rebound.

“Lucky, lucky, lucky! We were lucky that Brana was under the goal for that putback and convert on the free throw. Lady luck is on our side,” an ecstatic Atoy Co said after the game. Moreover, he praised Brana’s commitment to make a mark in his last year in collegiate athletics. “Nawala siya [Brana] sa condition the other time. Minomotivate ko siya that this is your last year. You need to leave some legacy. Ano naman maiiwan mo if he is not going to contribute? He’s listening naman.”

Allwell Oraeme towered over the frontline of Jose Rizal in grabbing 27 huge rebounds in the game, 11 coming from the offensive end. He further added 19 points in the win. Exe Biteng and Mark Brana also contributed 12 points each with Brana also grabbing eight rebounds.

On the other hand, spitfire guard Paolo Pontejos led the Heavy Bombers with 21 points and added three steals and two blocks. Fellow backcourt mate and Smart Elite ambassador Tey Teodoro added 18 points on 7/13 shooting. He added seven rebounds and three assists.

The Mapua Cardinals (7-5) will look to extend their “luck” as they face the Lyceum Pirates on Friday, September 11 at 12nn while the JRU Heavy Bombers (6-6) are looking to break their losing streak against the EAC Generals on the same day at 2:00pm.

The Scores:
MIT (68) – Oraeme 19, Biteng 12, Brana 12, Isit 6, Nimes 6, Nieles 5, Menina 4, Serrano 2, Layug 2, Que 0, Aguirre 0.
JRU (67) – Pontejos 21, Teodoro 18, Grospe 8, Sanchez 6, Abdul Wahab 4, Dela Paz 4, Cruz 3, Poutouochi 2, Astilla 1, Lasquety 0, Aurin 0, Dela Virgen 0.
Quarterscores: 17-13, 29-31, 49-42, 68-67.

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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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