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Breakdown: San Miguel uses solid defense to beat Star



The San Miguel Beermen cruised to their third straight victory after edging the Star Hotshots Sunday night, 100-89. June Mar Fajardo had 21 points and 20 rebounds while Arizona Reid fired 29, but what was impressive was how the Beermen put up a solid effort on the defensive end to disrupt what the Hotshots wanted to run on offense.

Tim Cone’s wards assisted in only 12 of its 32 made field goals in the loss. Prior to the match, the Hotshots were assisting 17.3 of 31.3 makes, and the Beermen did enough to bother the Hotshots from running the triangle to perfection.

What stood out the most was how the Beermen defended all the cutting, denying backdoor options or hand-offs from the elbow/pinch post. It takes a great amount of thinking to defend it properly, and here, June Mar Fajardo is not too concerned about Marc Pingris because he knows the latter does not really shoot well from the perimeter, so he stays underneath.

If Fajardo stuck too close to Pingris, this would have been an easy hand-off or a backdoor step, but instead, the lane has been shut while Pingris received the ball later on and had to put up a wild shot against Fajardo.

Here is another play involving Pingris on the elbow. Alex Cabagnot was wary enough that Justin Melton may just do a quick backdoor cut and Pingris may hit the guard, but instead Cabagnot was wise enough to follow Melton and prevent that option.

Pingris later on admitted San Miguel’s defense changed the way they ran their sets as they were visibly bothered by the energy the team showed on the defensive end.

“Kung sino ang first open, yun ang binibigyan ng bola. May paraan kami doon na kapag na-deny may lalabas agad. Tuloy-tuloy naman yung triangle pero minsan nga lang kapag nadedeny nila, nag-struggle ka rin at naiinis minsan. Magaling talaga dumepensa yung San Miguel,” he said.

Fajardo’s presence also helped with the pick and rolls as he did a great job of not staying out of the paint when it is Pingris as the roll man.

Here he stays in between the rim and his man, and as Chris Ross went over the screen — the proper way to defend one — Mallari tries a layup but was simply bothered by Fajardo’s size.

Pingris and Joe Devance, usually the forwards assigned to operate from the pinch post, both finished with no assists in the match.

The Beermen’s wing guys also did a tremendous job of fighting screens and keeping themselves close to their respective assignments on defense, making it hard for the Hotshots to execute. Marcio Lassiter only had 6 points and was 2-for-10 from the field, but was a plus-15 as he impacted the game by being active on defense. Chris Ross finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.

“We just wanted to be aggressive and we knew if we brought out the energy, we will bring problems to their offense. We made sure we were there when they are making their attacks. I tried to beat them to their spots. I forced them out of their comfort zone and forced a couple of steals from those hand-offs,” Lassiter said.

In addition, the troika of Cabagnot, Ross, and Lassiter wounded up with 18 rebounds combined, 11 more than the total of Pingris, Devance, and Mick Pennisi. Star allowed San Miguel to haul down 57 rebounds after only limiting opponents 43.3 rebounds during their first three games.

“We wanted to make it difficult to whoever had the ball. We wanted to make sure there is pressure. We wanted to fight the screens.”

San Miguel mentor Leo Austria bared after the game his squad focused on that particular part of the Star offense, and succeeded in doing so.

“The past few days ‘yun ang pinagaralan namin dahil ‘yun talaga ang main aspect ng kanilang game. Mga backdoor cut especially on a 2-pass, 3-pass or hitting the big man sa elbow then ka-cut or over the top. So that is what we practiced. Sa triangle, laging kasama yun e. I am happy to see them na talagang ginagawa ang game plan namin,” Austria shared.

The Hotshots previously lost to GlobalPort and Meralco, and both teams were also active in denying those options. Cone’s troops are 1-3 and while this is not necessarily troublesome since the Hotshots are still lacking consistency from their top guns, it is a weakness they need to solve in order to move forward and defend the only remaining crown they have.

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PBA slaps fines on Yeng Guiao, Chris Ross



Yeng Guiao and Chris Ross opt to move on

The much-talked about tilt that pitted the San Miguel Beermen and the NLEX Road Warriors last January 18 featured numerous confrontations and exchanges. But none was more heated than what happened between fiery head coach Yeng Guiao and emotional defensive cog Chris Ross.

With 1:46 remaining in that game, Guiao and Ross figured in a verbal altercation that resulted to the latter being slapped with his second technical foul of the contest.

San Miguel head coach Leo Austria alledged that Guiao threw a racial slur at Ross that triggered the Filipino-American.

The league though could not find any hard evidence that this occurred.

“Upon review of the incident, consulting possible witnesses to the event and discussing the matter with both parties, the alleged racist remark attributed to Coach Guiao could not be established,” the league said in a statement. “Coach Guiao has denied such allegation while Chris Ross has opted to move forward and said that he would not want to discuss the matter further. However, Coach Guiao and Chris Ross will be subject to appropriate fines for their respective misconduct.

“As a result, the Office of the Commissioner finds no sufficient basis to discuss the matter of an alleged racist remark uttered by Coach Guiao. It may be recalled that in a previous incident, a heavy penalty was imposed for a racist remark that was clearly proven.

“Rest assured that any act that is racially derogatory and pejorative in nature will be dealt with sternly by the league,” the statement ended.

As a result, Guiao is fined PHP 11,000 for obscene gesture, use of profane language and engaging in a verbal altercation while Ross is fined the amount of PHP 2,600 for incurring two technical fouls, both for verbal altercation.

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MPBL aims to give local talent biggest exposure




After months of planning, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League will finally raise its curtains on Thursday, January 25 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Unlike the other leagues in the country, the MPBL wants to give Filipino aspirants from local communities a chance to shine on national TV.

“I would like to say, this is the noble project of our founder and chairman, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Talagang dream niya ito, matulungan ‘yung mga grassroots,” said MPBL head of marketing Arnold Vegafria during the league’s press conference. “And from the grassroots, to the collegiate players and also professionals na gusto niyang tulungan, mabigyan ng chances, makalaro at ma-expose ang skills nila para matulungan ang mga basketbolista not only sa Metro Manila but this is gonna be all over the Philippines.

“Simula muna sa Metro Manila and key cities in Luzon. Soon it will go to Visayas and Mindanao.”

The first conference for the league is the Anta Raja Cup. 10 teams from Luzon will compose the league, namely Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Caloocan, Imus, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Quezon City, and Valenzuela.

Though it may be ambitious, the league wants to continue the dream started by the Metropolitan Basketball Association which is to create a league that has a home and away format.

“For the longest time, after ng MBA, I think it’s 20 years ago na ‘yun, I think it’s due na rin for our basketball fans around the country, ‘yung mga sa provinces, ‘cause ‘yung advantage nito is ‘yung games mismo, dadalhin mo sa kanila. Unlike before sa mga liga natin, naka-stay lang sila sa isang venue,” said league commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.

“Maraming factors ngayon, traffic and time-consuming. Pero itong liga natin, tayo ang magdadala mismo sa mga tao, sa mga basketball fans. Sa tagal-tagal ng walang organized, or high-level na basketball tournament, ito na ‘yung time na makikita ng mga basketball fans natin na up close and personal ang mga ini-idolo nila, lalo na ang mga hometown hero nila,” the PBA legend furthered.

Armed with this vision, the league plans to be the country’s premier amateur league, helping build the dreams of the Filipino youth.

“It’s an amateur league. Kaya nga natin siya tinatawag na liga para sa lahat ng Pilipino, kasi lahat dito as long as Filipino ka, kasali ka,” shared Duremdes.

“Kagaya ng sinasabi ni Sen. Manny, matutulungan natin ang mga players ng grumaduate sa college na walang mapaglaruan, mga ex-pro na hindi masyado nabigyan ng exposure sa PBA, may exposure sila dito. Tapos yung mga grassroots player natin, malay mo springboard nila ang MPBL and who knows they will represent the country in the national team.

“Ito ang nakikita ni Sen Manny, mga players na out of school or the big leagues, ma-expose sila sa MPBL at mapansin sila ng national team or pro team,” he furthered.

The league’s first game will feature Caloocan taking on Paranaque at the Big Dome. Tickets are priced at P300, P200, P150, P100 while the Gen Ad will be open for all.

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Lady Blazers evade upset-hungry Lady Generals



The College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers avoided a major upset, slipping past the winless Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals, 25-17, 18-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-7, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

After winning the opening set, the Lady Blazers collapsed in the following frames, surrendering errors and fumbling passes. The Lady Generals took full advantage and grabbed all the momentum, rued Saint Benilde head coach Arnold Laniog.

“Nabigyan nga namin ‘yung kalaban ng confidence, kaya tuloy-tuloy na sila kanina. Mataas pa rin ‘yung tendency ng team ko mag-relax,” Laniog said. “Kung tutuusin, may advantage talaga ‘yung team namin. Nahihirapan lang talaga kami makabangon kapag nauunahan kami. Mabuti na lang kanina nakabawi kami noong huling dalawang sets.”

The Lady Generals took their turn making errant plays, allowing the Lady Blazers to grab a 15-7 lead in the fourth set and force a decider. Anchored by the imposing presence of their middle blockers Ranya Musa and Rachel Austero, the Lady Blazers raced to a 10-2 in the final set and sealed the win.

Austero finished with 17 points while Musa added 15. The pair also combined for seven of CSB’s 13 blocksm Austero also provided five aces.

The Lady Blazers (3-2) take on fellow Final Four aspirant Jose Rizal University (2-3) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Generals had no player score in double-digits as they pulled 48 points from Benilde’s errors. Yvette Tongco and Arina Reyes, nonetheless, provided nine points apiece.

The Lady Generals (0-5) get their best chance at their first of the season when they face also-ran Mapua University (0-4) also on Wednesday.

The Scores

CSB (3) – Austero 17, Musa 15, Cui 8, Ventura 8, Abriam 5, Daguil 5, Enginco 5, Cardiente 1, Pablo 1, Dolorito 0, Lim (L), Torres (L)

EAC (2) – Reyes 9, Tongco 9, Binondo 8, Lumbo 8, Tasis 4, Pablo 3, Magbanua 2, Chan 0, Yongco 0, Medina (L)

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Blazers rally from 0-2 deficit, fend off Generals for fourth win



Defending NCAA men’s volleyball champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers completed a huge comeback from an 0-2 hole and upended the gritty Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 19-25, 20-25, 25-7, 25-14, 15-11, Monday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Generals stormed through the first two sets, leaning on better transition and their service game. Joshua Mina and Chris Ilano poured in most of their combined 27 points in these frames.

Nonetheless, when the Blazers realized that they needed to turn up its aggressiveness, it was cruise control from there.

“Nung first two sets, nag-relaxed kami, ‘di kami aggressive sa atake, sa blocking,” Benilde senior middle blocker Jethro Orian lamented. “Eh yung kalaban, masipag sila.”

EAC imploded in the next two sets, coughing up most of its 41 miscues during the frame. The reigning champions capitalized on the situation with heightened aggression.

Halfway into the eliminations, Orian shared that the Blazers needed to continue their hard work.

“Kailangan pa naming mas maging aggressive. Mas tumrabaho sa dapat naming again,” he said.

Captain Isaah Arda registered a 19-point outing, 17 coming off attacks. Orian’s fellow center attacker Francis Basilan finished with 12 markers.

The Blazers (4-1) will battle the Jose Rizal University (0-5) on Wednesday.

Mina starred for the Generals with 16 points.

The Generals (2-3) will lock horns with Mapua University (2-2) on Thursday, in a tussle for survival.

The Scores:

CSB 3 – Arda 19, Basilan 12, Orian 9, Bacani 9, Bautista 9, Magsino 4, Rojas 1, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

EAC 2 – Mina 16, Ilano 11, Rasing 11, Castellano 8, Lim 6, Garcia 2, Guinto 1, Panoy 0, Lumbar 0, Magadan L, Bagdoc L.

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