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Ceres-La Salle keep 100% record by scraping past defiant Army

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Ceres-La Salle had to work their way to defeat the defiant Philippine Army squad, 2-1, in order to win their second game in the UFL Cup 2015 earlier tonight at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. A goal in each half from Lee Jeong Woo and Martin Steuble appeared enough to hand Army their first loss of the tournament although they remained on course throughout the game.

As expected in a skirmish between the best and worst team of UFL Division I, Ceres dominated the game. In the first 10 minutes of the game, Adrian Gallardo Valdes, Yong Chan Son and Jeffrey Christiaens tested the Army defense anchored by goalkeeper Wilson Muñoz with multiple shots, all of which were dealt with quite easily by the Armed Forces. Rarely on the attack, Army had openings via quick counter attacks but none of those bothered Ceres custodian Louie Casas.

Nineteen minutes in, Oladipo Okunaiya went towards the box with the aim of breaking the deadlock. His shot was blocked but Lee was on the rebound, only for him to miscue the shot way off target. Nonetheless, the Korean made up for his miss by scoring the opening goal in the succeeding minute. Off a Christiaens’ cross from the left wing, Lee chipped the ball into the far post, giving Muñoz no chance of getting there in time. After leading, Ceres continued to bombard balls into the Army box, albeit haphazardly. Gallardo had a couple of good chances inside the box shortly after Ceres went ahead but Muñoz read his first shot well and the Spaniard sent the ball wide in the second occasion. Before the half hour mark, national team players Christiaens and the Angeles twins Marvin and Marwin, also pulled out decent shots but all of their efforts came to nothing as the score stayed level, much to the relief of the striped men of the Philippine Army.

The pride of Negros remained the better team before halftime but kept on squandering each chance they had. Gallardo came closest in putting the team ahead by two but his attempt with three minutes left in the half struck the woodwork. Just down by a goal, Army had a chance to even the score before the break with a free kick within attainable range but Boogie Margarse was only able to send the ball over the goal. At the half, commanding Ceres only lead by a solitary margin.

Along with the resumption of play, Ceres preserved their control in the match. They even thought they doubled their lead when Lee tucked in the ball after he charged down on Muñoz inside the six yard box but the referee disallowed the goal at the 47th minute. The inability to cushion their lead despite overpowering their foes slightly alarmed Ceres, who virtually made it a one-sided affair in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. Steuble was highly involved by taking shots and looking for teammates in that period and his perseverance was repaid with 25 minutes left in the match. The Swiss-born Filipino midfielder lashed a curling effort from outside the box into the goal, once again beyond the reach of the busy Muñoz.

Just as when the points looked safe with Army not able to threaten Ceres seriously, Benitez pulled a goal back to give Army the chance of salvaging at least a draw right after Steuble’s wonder strike. Army’s comeback bid was given a huge blow at the 72nd minute when Reynan Doromal got himself sent off for violently protesting a booking he earned moments before. Having a man down made moving forward difficult for Army, who were also defending in numbers in able to keep themselves in the game. Ceres though, had the chance to exploit Army easier as they hold a man advantage, but they never gave Muñoz something to worry about by hitting weak and wayward shots until the final whistle sounded.

“They think that they’re winners already. They haven’t won anything yet. I think they have to keep their feet on the ground. We’re playing really bad,” Ceres Coach Ali Go ashamedly commented. Believing that his players have underestimated their opponents, Go reminded that they are still far away from where they want to be and the way they played today is not the way he wants them to do so in their upcoming games. “We should respect everyone, whatever team is that. I am ashamed with how we play but we have to move on and stand up and train and try to motivate the players in any way I can,” he summed up.

Go expects Ceres to fare better in their next game, which will be on Sunday, May 10, against Bright Star FC at 8:30 PM. On the other hand, the Philippine Army will enjoy a considerably long break as they will only return to battle on the 17th of May, at 4:00 PM versus Green Archers United.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

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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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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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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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Basketball

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

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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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ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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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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