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Bulldogs survive second UST do-or-die showdown, set Finals rematch with Ateneo

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The NU Bulldogs booked their third straight Finals appearance, as the defending champs overwhelmed the UST Tigers for the second time in four days, with a straight-set beating 25-18, 25-23, 25-23 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With the exception of the first set, each frame was close with both teams refusing to give each other prolonged leg room, but UST’s 22 errors hung on them as NU had only nine unforced errors.

The Bulldogs jump out to an early lead 7-1 at the onset of the match as their precise blocking stifled UST’s attackers. Graduating open spiker, Edwin Tolentino, twisted the knife in the Tiger’s stomach as he dished out three consecutive attacks, balooning NU’s lead to 13-3. From there, UST Team captain, Romnick Rico, kept his team afloat by drilling in five points to keep the margin at a manageable 10-16. UST spikers seemed to have figured out NU’s blocking scheme, but shot themselves in the foot with three consecutive service errors midway through the set. NU Middle Blocker, Peter Torres, and Open Spiker, Berlin Paglinawan, did a magnificent job closing out the set, shutting down UST’s best offensive options. UST leading scorer, Mark Alfafara, managed six points in the set, but could not lift his team past NU’s stingy defense.

The Tiger offense continued to stall in the opening moments of the second frame as their weak attacks opened the door for NU to deliver five of their signature combination plays leading to an 8-4 NU advantage. Consecutive blocks from UST setter, Kerby Castillo, followed by two NU attack errors and a Rico ace tied the match at 9-9. From there, Mark Alfafara sparked a run of his own, nabbing three attacks and two blocks, pushing the Tigers ahead, 16-12. UST protected their lead up until the point where they led 20-16. UST’s offensive storm ceased from there, giving up multiple attack errors. Peter Torres soared like a fighter plane across the net, and dropped bombs on UST’s defense with three picture perfect running attacks. Torres’ flurry pulled NU to a 22-21 lead. NU won the set with their tremendous blocking that lead to multiple UST attack errors, bringing NU one set closer to their third consecutive Finals appearance.

The Bulldogs, once again, jumped out to an early 9-6 lead as the Tiger’s error problem continued to plague them. Former UAAP Beach Volleyball MVP, Edwin Tolentino led the Bulldog’s attack with timely open hits and impervious blocking, leading to a 16-12 advantage for NU. NU then gave up consecutive errors of their own, opening the door for UST to tie the match at 20. Tolentino quelled UST’s advances from there, while Tiger veterans, Romnick Rico and Mark Alfafara surrendered critical errors down the stretch, ending their team’s season.

NU’s graduating core powered them to their biggest win of the season as four players turned in double-digit performances. Peter Torres dished out 13 markers, team captain, Ben Inaudito, and Edwin Tolentino each pitched in 12 points, while Berlin Paglinawan was a steady presence in crucial momments, finishing with 11 markers.

UST’s leading scorers and only graduating players, Romnick Rico and Mark Alfafara, gave their all the entire match, but NU’s defense had their number. Alfafara put in a game-high 17 points, while Rico had 14 to pace the Tigers. UST had a problem the entire match with their setter, shuffling between veteran, Paul Castillo, and rookie, Timothy Tajanlangit, causing their offense to stall out for stretches of the match.

“Buti na lang lumabas na ‘yung tunay na laban namin. Noong second round medyo down ‘yung laro namin. Mataas na confidence level ng mga bata ngayon,” said NU Coach, Dante Alinsunurin.

NU will now face the Ateneo Blue Eagles on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum for Game 1 of the Finals. NU took care of the Eagles in two games during last season’s Finals.

The Scores

NU – Torres 13, Tolentino 12, Inaudito 12, Paglinawan 11, Baysac 5, Ismail 0, Tipay (L)

UST – Alfafara 17, Rico 14, Balse 8, Sarabia 7, Bautista 4, Castillo 2, Tajanlangit 1, Buro 1, Guzman 1, Pangan (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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ABL

Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa

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After going a horrid 5-for-17 from the stripe during their first loss of the season last January 9, Christian Standhardinger made sure to make good on his free throws to power the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a dominant 99-79 rout of the Formosa Dreamers, Thursday evening in Southorn Stadium.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who tallied 37 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime loss to Saigon, went a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The contest itself was not close, as the defending champions were able to impose their will on the bottom-ranked squad, leading by as much as 23 points, 93-70, after two free throws by Standhardinger with 2:58 remaining.

If Standhardinger was having a good day with his free throws, the entire Formosa squad could not say the same, going 13-of-27 from the line.

Tyler Lamb had 25 markers as well for Hong Kong, while Ryan Moss grabbed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Lenny Daniel paced Formosa with 25 points and 11 rebounds. World Import Ronnie Aguilar had 14 points and 16 rebounds but went just 5-for-14 from the field.

With the win, Hong Kong goes to 8-1, while the Dreamers fell to 1-8.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes 3×3 World Cup breaks Philippine Arena record

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short of copping Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different beast.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad suffered a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even fashioning multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino, as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. The 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the duo — and the rest of the Jawbreakers — now have the experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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