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Cayabyab, Espinas blazing the trail for PH women’s hoops



The reality is that women’s basketball in the Philippines isn’t receiving massive attention today, and it will still not likely get anything big in the immediate future.

Not everyone who dreams of being a successful women’s basketball player in the archipelago ends up becoming that.

Yet in spite of this, Kristine Cayabyab, 12, already etched an achievement across her basketball resumé, which may never be replicated by others in their respective lifetimes.

Paul-GeorgeIndiana Pacer, Paul George was at the inaguration of Nike’s House of Rise, where the shoe company also unveiled the names of its 24 aspiring athletes.

Cayabyab was one of them, and during the 5-on-5 scrimmages, the Dagupan native picked George’s pocket from behind, and blazed for a fastbreak layup, which sent the House of Rise crowd roaring.

Cayabyab’s hoops career started when she was in fourth grade, as father told her she had the talent in for the sport. Inspired, the young lady pursued a career and is now one of the best ballers of her region, even representing the area in the Palarong Pambansa — the highest level of competition in the country for elementary and high school athletes.

That moment captivated Cayabyab, who never in her wildest dream thought it would materialize.

07-Kristine-Cayabyab_Perfomance_Fn“Masayang masaya po dahil nakalaro ko ang idol ko sa NBA at marami akong na-experience,” she said. “Idol ko yun, na-stealan ko pa, hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan sa buong buhay ko yun.”

In fact, she plays the center spot back in Pangasinan, although had to adjust when selected as part of the Rise 24 since she was surrounded by taller athletes.

“Gusto ko pang gumaling sa basketball, gusto ko pang matutunan lahat ng drills sa basketball. Gusto kong tumaas ang laro ko. Sa Pangasinan, sentro ako at hindi point guard. Kailangan ko lang maging guwardiya dahil malalaki ang kasama ko.”

The moment — perhaps one of the night’s highlights aside from George’s slam dunks — was only a huge bonus for Cayabyab, who braved the path carrying a single purpose.

“Sana maging sikat ang (women’s) basketball at maging influence ako sa kababaihang basketball players,” she shared, hoping to inspire others they have what it takes to open doors.

“Kahit na hindi sikat ang basketball sa babae, sana pagpatuloy nila ang galing nila sa basketball. Malaking stepping stone ito dahil gusto ko rin mangyari ito sa mga taga probinsya. Minsan lang mangyari sa amin ito. Dahil nakarating ako (sa Rise) ipapakita ko na kaya namin makipagsabayan. Hindi ako magpapatalo kahit na mga lalaki sila.”

Before George left the venue, he joined the Rise 24’s huddle at centercourt along with Nike Rise’s coaches, and exchanged high-fives with the participants. George spent a few seconds to speak to Cayabyab, perhaps reminding her she did well on that occasion.

It was not only Cayabyab who brought her wares to the court. Before her big moment happened, another girl impressed.

Rossini Espinas, 16, received a drop pass, backed down from her two defenders and threw up a hook shot over them; the shot bounced off the glass and found its way in, drawing applause from the audience as she ran the length of the court to get to the other side.

12-Rossini-Briana-Espinas_Performance_FnEspinas’ basketball journey started when she played on outdoor courts in Davao. After seeing other women playing the sport, Espinas realized she may have a shot, and it did not take her long before becoming competitive.

“Noong nakita ko ang mga babae na naglalaro rin sa amin, naisip ko na hindi lang pala siya panglalaking laro. May mga babae na hindi pa nae-expose pero marami silang potensyal,” she said.

Now in fourth year high school, Espinas is eyeing an athletic scholarship in Manila to help her family back in her hometown.

She does not mind leaving school for 6 weeks to undergo the Rise process, with hopes of becoming a professional Women’s Basketball Player someday.

“Masaya” was the only word she could utter when asked about the experience to play alongside George and select athletes from all over the nation.

“Sobrang mahirap. Hindi basta-basta ang makapasok rito. Iniisip ko na lang na kakayanin ko maski lalaki ang mga kalaban ko,” Espinas shared. “Hanggang ngayon hindi ako makapaniwala na nakasama ko siya.”

Like Cayabyab, Espinas wants to empower aspiring ladies and remind them keep pursuing their basketball dreams.

“Gusto ko maging tulay para sa mga babae at mapakita sa kanila na kaya rin nila maglaro ng basketball. Gusto ko silang i-encourage na marami pa diyan ang hindi nakikita sa iba’t ibang lugar na magagaling,” she added.

“Sana may chance ang (mga) babae na makapaglaro ng basketball.”

Given a unique platform to showcase what they are capable of, Cayabyab and Espinas didn’t only do well on the court, but also sent across a message to the sports world.

Both young women understand they are fortunate to be given the opportunity, and they are blazing the trail — hoping more doors will open in the future for aspirants like them.

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Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory



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2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’



Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup



Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win



Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

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