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Cabagnot, SMB strike back; take 2-1 lead over ROS



With both teams shooting the lights out of the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the San Miguel Beermen survived the hot Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 114-108, and took a decisive 2-1 series lead in their Best-of-Five Semifinals series.

With guns ablaze, both teams battled each other to a virtual standstill in the opening moments of the game. None was more incendiary than SMB playmaker, Alex Cabagnot who drained 13 points in the first quarter which includes three trifectas. Cabagnot’s effort opened a seven point Beermen lead, 19-12, midway through the firat frame but RoS quickly countered by going to their import, Wendell Mckines. Mckines notched 12 points and, along with Paul Lee, led a Rain or Shine rally that had them steal the lead beforw the second quarter, 27-26.

The Beermen struck a huge blow to the Elasto Painters’ cause as their deliberate spoon-feeding of June Mar Fajardo led to Raymond Almazan getting his fourth foul with 8:25 left in the second quarter. Almazan’s foul trouble exasperated RoS’s frontcourt that was already without Beau Belga. SMB import, AZ Reid took full advantage of the mismatches afforded to him by the RoS defense and in one stretch drilled four consecutive triples leading to a 44-40 Beermen lead. However, SMB’s versatile forward, Arwind Santos caught his fourth foul late in the quarter as well, resulting in SMB having to go to seldom used veterans to finish off the half. Clutch baskets from the RoS backcourt tandem of Lee and Chris Tiu gave RoS enough of a kick to stay in pace with the Beermen, allowing only a 54-56 gap at the halftime buzzer.

The Beermen came off the halftime break guns ablaze, rattling off a 14-6 run powered by four triples and leaving them with their firat double-digit advantage, 70-60 with 8:00 on the third quarter clock. With the Painters threatening to close the quarter out strong, Cabagnot rekindled his fire, scoring seven points late in the quarter and found AZ Reid for an easy layup that kept RoS at bay, 89-79. Jeff Chan responded with a jab from beyond the arc, still his team was down heading into the final quarter, 89-82.

RoS swingman, Gabe Norwood matched the sudden offensive outpour from Ronald Tubid to start off the fourth period. Norwood’s effort proved to be more fruitful, as his corner triple trimmed the SMB advantage to just two, 96-98. But, RoS failed to make further progress while SMV remained relentless with its offensive pressure. AZ Reid did most of the damage down the stretch, putting up nine points in the last six minutes of the game. Reid’s hook shot over Mckines gave SMB a nine-point lead, 110-101 with two minutes remaining. RoS ran out of steam.down the stretch, failing to make plays in the clutch and even looking lost in the final minute when they chose not to foul to stop the clock but gave away an offensive rebound that ultimately sealed their fate.

Reid topped all scorers with 37 points while Alex Cabagnot was especially brilliant in gus control of the pick-and-roll action. Cabagnot finished with 24 points and nine assists.

“The reason why we won was we were able to adjust to what they did to us the last game. Our zone defense also clicked,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, whose team could close out the series Wednesday.

“I’m glad Alex found his game. AZ [Reid] also wants to win this game badly and it showed,” added Austria. “Today everyone wanted to win, even the players on the bench.”

In the PBA’s history, 3 out of 4 teams who took a 2-1 lead in a best-of-five series went on to win the series.

The Scores:

San Miguel Beer (114) – Reid 37, Cabagnot 26, Fajardo 17, Lassiter 17, Tubid 8, Lutz 7, Santos 2, Ross 0, Omolon 0, Espinas 0

Rain or Shine (108) – McKines 39, Lee 22, Chan 13, Norwood 12, Tiu 10, Quiñahan 5, Tang 2, Almazan 2, Ibañes 2, Jeri Cruz 1, Uyloan 0, Araña 0

Quarterscores: 26-27, 56-54, 89-82, 114-108


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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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win



Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu skills to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the fighters returned to their feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots



Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to the Mahindra Floodbuster.

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics



FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover by the six-foot-four forward.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far, not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he had been frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win



Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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