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Cafe France-CEU cruises past BDO-NU for second win

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The Cafe France-CEU Bakers (2-0) displayed great ball movement and hard-nosed defense to blow past an Alfred Aroga-less BDO-National University Bulldogs (0-2) to notch their second win in the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup tournament Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

The score was knotted at 21-all by the end of the first quarter, with BDO’s Matthew Salem pacing the Bulldogs with six points, all from downtown, in the early-goings of the game. Not to be outmatched, former UE Red Warrior Paul Zamar led the way for the Bakers, scoring nine markers to lead the way for his team.

Aroga’s absence in the game proved to be crucial in the second quarter, as Cafe France import Rodrigue Ebondo was able to will his way into the paint that helped break the game wide open. Ebondo scored 11 points in the quarter, majority coming from the inside, and later on a go-ahead triple. Moreover, the Bakers’ defense limited the BDO offense to just 12 points in the quarter. Cafe France went up 48-33 by the break.

The Bakers continued to make it rain in the second half, as BDO could not find the answer to the in-and-out offense of their opponents. Zamar and JK Casino continued to drain long jumpers while Carl Cruz was able to sneak in eight points in the final 20 minutes of the game to push the Cafe France lead to a game-high 32 points, 86-54, with 9:16 left in the game.

BDO tried to stage a late game comeback through Salem and Jjay Alejandro, but it proved to be too late as the deficit and time did not allow it. The game mercifully ended with a final score of 110-86.

“Malaking problema for them na wala si Alfred (Aroga),” Cafe France head coach Edgar Macaraya said after the game regarding BDO-NU’s woes.

Moreover, Macaraya added that his team had practiced on their three-point shooting during the break after a horrid 2/21 shooting in their first game against the Mindanao Aguilas. “That was one of the concerns during our first game. Everybody was shooting threes during the practice and that was the result,” Macaraya shared.

Paul Zamar led all scorers with 22 markers on an excellent 7/10 shooting from the field. Zamar was able to knock down 4 triples and was 4/4 from the charity stripe. Former FEU Tamaraw Carl Cruz added a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards, while Rodrigue Ebondo had 19 points.

Matt Salem paced the BDO-NU Bulldogs with 17 markers and 10 rebounds. He was 6/9 from the field and was able to drain four threes. Alejandro had 15 points on 60% shooting as well.

As a team, both teams shot 53% from the field. However, the Bakers were able to knock down 14 triples in the game compared to just 7 for the Bulldogs. Moreover, Edgar Macaraya’s squad displayed great ball movement, assisting all but 7 of the field goals they made, 33 assists in 40 field goals made.

The Cafe France-CEU Bakers (2-0) will face a formidable UP-QRS/Jam Liner (2-0) squad on Thursday, February 4, at 4:00pm, while the BDO-NU Bulldogs (0-2) will look for their first win in the tournament against the AMA University Titans (0-1) on Tuesday, February 9. Both games are set to be played at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

The Scores:
Cafe France-CEU (110) – Zamar 22, Ebondo 19, Cruz 15, Casino 12, Jeruta 11, De Leon 7, Manlangit 6, Villahermosa 6, Arim 5, Guinitaran 3, Abundo 2, Opiso 2, Celso 0.

BDO-NU (86) – Salem 17, Alejandro 15, Javelona 9, Labingisa 9, Tansingco 8, Perez 7, Salim 7, Diputado 6, Rono 6, Yu 2.

Quarterscores: 21-21, 48-33, 82-54, 110-86.

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Raymond Almazan ejected in return

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Photo by PBA Images

It was supposed to be a redemption game for Raymond Almazan after he was benched last Wednesday for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters against the Phoenix Fuel Masters, for disciplinary reasons. But unfortunately, it went the the other way around.

The six-foot-eight center was ejected in the Elasto Painters’ match versus Kia Picanto on Friday evening at the Cuneta Astrodome, following a near-brawl that took place between him and opposing big man Eric Camson.

The incident took place with 3:01 remaining in the second quarter, with the Picanto ahead 34-31. Almazan and Camson were both inside the paint looking for position to grab the missed three-pointer of Jeremy King.

Things then went chippy afterwards, as Camson elbowed Almazan. It did not sit well with the latter and he retaliated, leading to the near-brawl that saw both players swing their arms at each other.

Almazan and Camson had to be separated by their teammates and officials. Moments later, both of them were whistled for a flagrant foul penalty two and were ordered to leave the playing court for good.

Almazan finished with six points and three rebounds in six minutes and 10 seconds of action, while Camson exited the bout with 10 markers, five rebounds, and four assists in over 16 minutes of playing time.

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Fired-up Von Pessumal on Kiefer Ravena incident: ‘I’m not here to make any friends’

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Will bridges be burned?

Von Pessumal was heavily-scrutinized Friday evening after an incident with fellow Ateneo lifer Kiefer Ravena.

It took place with 9:50 left in the final frame of the San Miguel Beermen’s highly-charged tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors. After Marcio Lassiter launched a trey, Pessumal looked like he was aiming for the rebound. Instead, he simply charged towards Ravena and pushed him down.

Lassiter’s three-pointer counted, while Pessumal, who was blocked by Ravena in a fastbreak and then received a staredown moments prior, was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul.

It was a surprising sight to see considering the amount of time he and Ravena have spent together — a bond that started ever since they were in high school. Even the second-generation star admitted that he did not expect that from his former running buddy.

“I did not expect that at all,” said the NLEX rookie.

But Pessumal downplayed such incident despite attempts by scribes to make him elaborate what had really transpired during that moment.

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game,” the league sophomore said after the match which they won 109-98. “I don’t wanna say anything, I’m sorry.

“It’s part of the game. Whatever move on. Not a big deal.”

Asked if he was motivated to face Ravena, whom he had shared three UAAP juniors titles, two UAAP seniors crowns, and a SEA Games gold medal with, the 24-year-old shared that he approached Friday’s bout the way he usually does.

“I wouldn’t say motivated [versus Kiefer], I mean, it’s just like any other game. When I play, I don’t see who’s guarding me, I just play,” said the 6-foot-2 swingman.

“I play to win all the time.”

The incident he and Ravena figured in shadowed his performance of 10 points on 50 percent shooting off the bench — the second time he had scored in double figures this season. After Friday, Pessumal is averaging 8.25 points.

“We have to sustain the level of excellence that they (starters) have. Our job is — I wouldn’t say support, but — when we get in, we should bring the level higher so when they come back, the game is easier for them,” he said.

Pessumal was then asked if he and Ravena met each other after the buzzer sounded as the two did not even shake hands after the contest. But, through a short yet strong response, the 24-year-old said that they did not.

“I wouldn’t say anything. I don’t know, after the game?,” he expressed.

“I’m a professional basketball player, I’m not here to make any friends.”

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross

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During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao had called Chris Ross the “N” word, which had caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nag-flare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

However, Guiao denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he had felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also directed at Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it has been a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now gone down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees an urgent need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’

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Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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