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Captain Bernardo steers Lady Maroons to Finals return

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Third-year Team Captain Bea Bernardo swept her matches to power the defending champions University of the Philippines Lady Maroons past last year’s opponent Ateneo de Manila University Lady Blue Shuttlers, 3–2, to clinch their second straight Finals appearance, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

Going into the battle, Bernardo and her team was wary of their neighbors from Katipunan, despite the latter losing key players from graduation and injury. For her part, the UP skipper had trouble against the taller Cassie Lim before pulling off the pivotal win in the first singles match in three games. The designated opener for Ateneo romped off to a hot start in the first game using her length and smart play to outwit Bernardo. Lim rolled to a strong 8–1 opening, fending off Bernardo, and closed off the first game, 21–12. In the following game, the Lady Maroon changed the pace of the game and used her own smart tactics to force her opponent to errors en route to leading 11–8 at the break. UP went to within two of levelling the match, but Ateneo took back-to-back points to force a stalemate. Bernardo then finished the game and took it, 21–19. In the deciding game, Lim had a dream start scoring eight unanswered points, before Bernardo made her case. The third-year UP veteran romped a 5–0 run to wrestle the lead. The Atenean then forced a tie at 17, but Bernardo closed it with a 4–0 run and took the match, 21–17.

In a battle of unbeaten women, Bianca Carlos continued her dominating run in the tournament after dismantling Ann Marañon. Carlos got to a wild start with an 11–3 lead going into the break. The diminutive Marañon tried to keep the opening frame close, but the former MVP’s power was too overwhelming for the second-year standout. Shots after shots poured on for Ateneo to take the first game, 21–14. In the second game, the two adversaries tried to keep the game close. However, last year’s top rookie, Marañon, started to feel severe muscle pain and decided to retire with the score at 7–3, in favor of Carlos. With that, the tie was level at one match apiece.

UP then brought out their best doubles team to date in reigning Most Valuable Player Jessie Francisco and rookie Lea Inlayo, to get ahead in the tie again. However, it was the Ateneo tandem of rookie Geva De Vera and Janel Dihiansan who pulled through a thrilling three-game match to stun the erstwhile undefeated duo. De Vera, with ample support from Dihiansan punished the tentative actions of the Lady Maroons in the first game to take the frame, 21–14. The Ateneans led by as much as 9, 19 –10, and never looked back. In the following game, the UP tandem changed their plans and went on to the offensive. With several aggressive plays throughout the game, Inlayo and Francisco pulled through a tight opening to dismantle their opponents, 21–8. Knowing that this is a crucial match-up, the two pairs fought hard in the deciding game. De Vera and Dihiansan resumed their excellent play at the start of the final frame and waylaid their counterparts until the court change. Using their experience and chemistry, Inlayo and Francisco slowly crept into the deficit and got to within one, 16–17. Ateneo regained a cushion and moved to within two of getting the tie lead, 19–16. However, the Lady Blue Shuttlers failed to close it out at that point, and the Lady Maroons took charge of the game themselves and took the match point after a 4–0 run. Getting their confidence back, Dihiansan and De Vera then finished the match with three consecutive points, 21–19, to take the victory to the delight of the Ateneo faithful in attendance.

It was now up to the captain duo of Bernardo and Elisha Ongcuangco to salvage the undefeated record and the outright finals stint for the Lady Maroons. It was no easy task, however, as they faced Lim and Carlos in the second doubles match. However, the UP veterans pulled through in two straight tight games. In the first game, Ongcuangco and Bernardo started well to outwit the Ateneo duo and led 11–8 at the break. Carlos and Lim kept it close and put the pedal to the gas with a 6–0 run to lead 18–12. That cushion was not comfortable as several miscues from Ateneo and well-placed shots from UP powered the Bernardo and Ongcuangco to an even more impressive nine-point binge to end the first game, 21–18. That wild finish in the first game fuelled the Maroons veterans to mount a huge 14–7 lead. Nevertheless, similar to the opening frame, a big lead is not enough if you’re going against a quality side on the other end of the court. Lim and Carlos slowly crept into the lead and threatened their opponents to within 3, 15–18. In the end, the UP skippers pulled off against their equally experienced counterparts and levelled the tie, 21–18.

With the tie at two matches apiece, Inlayo and Dihiansan took the court again to settle their own score in the day’s most important match. Fuelled by her own disappointment, Inlayo overpowered Dihiansan in the first game. The two players fought hard at the start of the match before Inlayo took the lead at the break, 11–6. The Atenean cut the deficit to 4, 8–12, after the break, but that would be her last hurrah. Inlayo registered her own 9–0 romp to take the first game, 21–8. Dihiansan got her bearings in the following game and forced the otherwise solid Inlayo into errors to snatch the lead at the interval. The lone Lady Maroons rookie tried to keep step with the Atenean, but the latter went to two points away from forcing a deciding game. Inlayo regained the firepower in her play and punished Dihiansan to mount a huge 7–0 blitz to gain the match point. An error in the following play levelled the game for Dihiansan, before Inlayo put on the finishing touches in the next two rallies, 22–20, to take the game, the match, and the Finals ticket for the Lady Maroons.

With the victory, the Lady Maroons sweep the qualifying round ties and gained their second straight Finals appearance with the thrice-to-beat advantage. Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles finished at 3rd after the eliminations and will face Far Eastern University on October 7, Wednesday, 1pm at the same venue.

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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Basketball

Renzo Subido to bring Marinerong Pilipino experience to UST

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When Renzo Subido decided to skip out the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers’ UAAP Season 80 campaign, he had only one thing in mind: to improve on his craft. And he was able to do so under coach Koy Banal in the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers.

After the AMA Online Education Titans had a quick end to their campaign during the 2017 Foundation Cup, the 5-foot-9 floor general was immediately picked up by Marinerong Pilipino for the playoffs. Liking his style of play, he was again tapped for the 2018 Aspirants Cup.

And he showed a lot of growth from then, leading the Skippers to a 94-92 victory over fellow contenders Zark’s Jawbreakers. The 21-year-old tallied 20 points, three rebounds, and five assists while knocking down the crucial free throws to seal off the Lyceum-backed team.

“It was a good win for us. We’re happy that we won the game because it’s a good way to start the conference,” beamed Subido. “I’ve played against Lyceum in the past so I had familiarity with how they play.

“It was a good experience for us.”

Expectations are high for Marinerong Pilipino this conference as they are pegged as their blend of veterans and young guns are seen too overwhelming for the rest of the field. Still, Subido knows that it will be a tough climb as the other teams, especially the collegiate-based squads, have familiarity on their side.

“We’re taking it one game at a time but the goal is to win the championship,” he said. “But we know that it’s not going to be easy since we are going up against the top collegiate teams.

“So we’re just going to go all out every game.”

Besides winning the championship, Subido is on a personal mission. Being one of the seniors for the Growling Tigers next season, he hopes to learn to become a better leader for next season.

“I want to become a better leader. I know that everything I can learn this conference, I can bring to UST,” Subido expressed.

“For all I can see, coach Aldin [Ayo] is a guard-oriented coach. So I’m using all the experience I get here in Marinero, I’ll bring it to UST.”

For sure, Subido wants to make up for lost time.

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Basketball

KIA signs Carlo Lastimosa

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After being released by the NLEX Road Warriors during the off-season, gunner Carlo Lastimosa has found a new home.

KIA Picanto team governor Bobby Rosales confirmed to Tiebreaker Times Thursday evening that they have tapped Carlo Lastimosa for the rest of the PBA Philippine Cup campaign.

“Yes,” Rosales confirmed in a text message.

Lastimosa, a two-time All-Star, averaged 8.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in his one-year stay with the Road Warriors. Coach Yeng Guiao cited that NLEX already had too many guards that resulted to Lastimosa’s release.

The product of College of Saint Benilde was drafted as the 20th overall pick in the 2013 Rookie Draft by Barako Bull. A year later, he was traded to the Blackwater Elite for Brian Heruala.

The 27-year-old is set to make his debut on Saturday when the Picanto take on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

The Kia Picanto are in the midst of a 16-game losing streak.

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Marinerong Pilipino withstands furious Zark’s rally to open season on high note

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The Marinerong Pilipino Skippers averted a collapse and held off the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers to come away with the 94-92 thriller to open the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Losing hold of a 17-point edge, 56-39 with 7:57 left in the third frame, the Skippers survived the furious rally from the Jawbreakers in the clutch as Mike Nzeusseu and CJ Perez missed their three-pointers in the final minute before Rian Ayonayon and Renzo Subido sealed off the win for their side at the charity stripe

Subido topscored for Marinerong Pilipino with 20 points, five assists, and three rebounds, while Ayonayon unleashed 15 markers, three boards, and two dimes in the early battle between the two contenders.

Gab Banal also registered a double-double of 14 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, and four steals against his 10 turnovers in the win, while Papot Paredes got 12 of his 14 markers in the first half to help the Skippers establish control at halftime.

Victorious as Marinerong Pilipino maybe in the marquee matchup, coach Koy Banal refused to brand his side as the undisputed team-to-beat, noting: “This win means nothing. We need to keep on working get better every day because everybody will now prepare for us.”

Banal also lauded top rookie picks Alvin Pasaol and Abu Tratter, who were both fielded in the second half and stepped up to help the Skippers’ cause.

“Those guys have been with us since January 2 lang, and pretty much, medyo nangangapa pa sila sa sistema. But good thing is that they were able to deliver especially when their number were called,” he said.

The Skippers used a huge 12-0 run to end the second quarter to grab a 47-35 halftime lead, which further ballooned to 17, 56-39 in the third quarter.

Jaycee Marcelino paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 20 points, four rebounds, and three assists in the loss, while Perez had 19 markers and five assists.

Earlier, PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial and PBA vice chairman Dickie Bachmann of Alaska graced the opening ceremonies, which was made special thanks to league newcomer Mila’s Lechon.

Marinerong Pilipino looks to sustain the momentum it gained in this game when it faces the Akari-Adamson Falcons on Thursday, January 25 at 5:00pm. Zark’s Burgers, on the other hand, takes on the Batangas-EAC Generals on Tuesday, January 23 at 4:00pm.

The Scores:

Marinerong Pilipino 94 – Subido 20, Ayonayon 15, Paredes 14, Banal 14, Robles 10, Tolentino 4, Tratter 4, Pasaol 4, Terso 3, Lopez 2, Inigo 2, Babilonia 2, Toth 0.

Zark’s 92 – Marcelino JC 20, Perez 19, Nzeusseu 18, Ayaay 11, Ibanez 6, Marcelino JV 6, Cinco 5, Tansingco 3, Santos 2, Pretta 2, Marata 0, Liwag 0

Quarterscores: 17-19, 47-34, 69-58, 94-92

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CSJL

Pirates notch first win at struggling Knights’ expense

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After floundering in their first three games, the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates broke into the win column after trouncing the Colegio San Juan de Letran Knights, 20-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-22, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Pirates, after a sluggish start, got the best of their Intramuros neighbors by limiting their miscues in the latter three sets. According to head coach Emil Lontoc, Lyceum needed every bit of momentum they gained in their rousing win in the second set.

“Nabuhayan sila (Pirates) ng loob noong makalusot kami noong second set,” Lontoc said. “Mababa ‘yung nilaro namin nung simula tapos medyo struggle pa din noong sumunod na set. Pero nakabangon din. Crucial ‘yun kasi baka hindi na kami naka-angat kung natalo pa kami noong second set.”

The Pirates delivered three of their four aces in the final set to close the match. They also shored up their reception, finishing at 38 percent, after an atrocious start.

Jhonel Badua topped the Pirates with 19 points while Joeward Presnede added 14.

Lyceum (1-3) takes on the undefeated Arellano University (4-0) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Paul John Alilio and Bobby Gatdula each provided Letran with 19 points. Christopher Cistina managed 11 markers.

Letran (0-4) aims for their first win against rivals San Beda College (3-1) on Monday.

The Scores

LPU (3) – Badua 19, Presnede 14, Lajara 9, Ilano 7, Samonte 5, Uy 5, Rubio (L)

CSJL (1) – Alilio 19, Gatdula 19, Cistina 11, Almoguerra 3, Ladeon 3, Dizon 2, Domingo 2, Brioso 0, Tumbali 0, Centeno (L), Timbreza (L)

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