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Ceres-La Salle maintains winning form against valiant Stallion

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Ceres-La Salle notched win number 14 in the nearly-concluded United Football League 2015 season after beating Stallion FC, 2-1, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Azkal standouts Patrick Reichelt and Juani Guirado delivered the goals for the league winners while Thomert Nana of Stallion denied them a clean sheet by finding the net in the last minute of the encounter.

The match began quite casually with both teams not able to deal damage to each other’s defense. After a while, Emmanuel Mbata and Jordan Mintah nearly produced a score change inside the affair’s first six minutes. The former fed Mintah the ball nicely but the striker was not able to get a meaningful touch on the ball. Moments later, the 2015 league champions took their turn up front. Marwin Angeles and Reichelt sniffed three chances to test the Stallion defense. Unfortunately, they were not able to hit the target.

Entering the 15th minute mark, Stallion was denied by Ceres-La Salle goalkeeper Ed Sacapaño. The Negrense goalkeeper judged Simone Rota’s free kick well by tipping the ball over to safety. At that moment, Stallion looked fluid in the attack, often forcing their opponents to play behind the ball. Afterwards, momentum shifted gradually in favor of Ceres-La Salle. Lee Jeong Woo teed up Bienvenido Marañon with the striker only having Johann Noetzel between him and the goal. Unfortunately for the Spanish target man, his ball drifted away from the goal instead of going in. Shortly, Jeffrey Christiaens tested the Stallion goalkeeper in between the sticks with a superb effort kept out for a corner.

Chances kept coming for both sides as time went on. A Jeffrey Christiaens corner at the 19th minute nearly produced a game-changing moment when Reichelt latched on to it, but saw his effort blocked. Four minutes later, Stallion’s Nathan Alquiros drilled in a cross towards Mintah whose header from inside the box went wide to the left. A more serious effort came three minutes before the 30th minute mark. Mbata had a clean look on goal but Sacapaño kept his nerve with a routine save.

With the match still level going into the latter third of the first period, a goal coming either way will surely make a huge impact to both coaches’ changing room talks. For much of the contest, Reichelt was involved in Ceres-La Salle’s exploits. The Filipino-German winger came close once more to breaking the deadlock 15 minutes before the break. He got room to work with the ball Noetzel, however, urgently interrupted him. There was nothing the Stallion keeper can do about four minutes afterwards when Christiaens located Reichelt via a cross to finally seize the initiative for Ceres-La Salle.

Eager to draw level right away, Stallion was presented a chance at the 38th minute. Mintah displayed his creativity by shrugging three Ceres-La Salle defenders. The forward was unlucky nonetheless as his attempt went straight to Ruben Doctora rather than the onion bag. In a strategic position, Doctora could have easily finished the chance himself but the sudden arrival of the ball to him caught him unprepared. Instead, he opted to send it into the middle where Rota was. The utility man slightly made contact with the ball before it was safely cleared by Ceres-La Salle. Halftime came with the champions ahead by a goal to nil.

Eight minutes after the restart, Stallion earned a penalty that gave them a chance to level matters again. Mintah was impeded by Sacapaño, prompting referee Ariel Montaña to point to the spot. Rota stepped up to the occasion and hit his strike from 12 yards on target. It did not alter the score, however, as Sacapaño held on to the ball. A minute over the hour mark, Doctora again had an opportunity to tie the game but his shot was off target. The wards of Coach Ernie Nierras may have well rued their miscues in front of goal after witnessing their foes come up again with a goal. Off a free kick, Guirado towered above everyone else to cushion his team’s lead.

Ali Go appraised his team’s opponents well and even suggested that Stallion looked more motivated than his players but that seemed insufficient to put his team down. “Stallion played well. They played their hearts out. I think they’re motivated than us supposedly but I think the boys want to win all our remaining games,” he commented after the match. The Ceres gaffer also shared that the team came off a rewarding trip to Boracay just days before to celebrate their league triumph. The trip resulted in sitting out some of his best players while also making room for some of his players to see action on the field.

On the other hand, Nierras was pleased with his team’s performance despite the loss. He thought that luck was simply not on their side. His team had a few good chances not put to bed, including that early second-half spot kick that could have gotten them back level. “The guys played well. We had the opportunities but we just couldn’t finish. What can I say, that’s why they’re [Ceres-La Salle] champions. I have to now wait with what happens with our game on Wednesday and our protest,” he uttered. The protest he talked about refers to Global fielding an ineligible player in some of their matches in the season. The Stallion boss believes that second place is still undecided and his squad still has what it takes to finish there should things fell their way.

At that point on, Stallion had a mountain to climb. A shortage in clear cut chances even made the challenge far more difficult. Most of the time, they only had to do with free kicks which did not seem to bother the tight Negrense defense. Rota and Mintah got through into the box but timely intervention by the Ceres-La Salle defenders stopped them from scoring.

Fortunately for them, they managed to contain Ceres-La Salle’s aggressiveness. Their defensive performance after going two-nil down was noteworthy. Only a harmless free kick from Steuble came past the men in black and fuchsia. A goal from Stallion substitute Nana right at the end did little to change the mood of the night when once again, Ceres-La Salle added one to their impressive collection of victories in the league.

Whatever the decision of the UFL will be regarding his protest, he knows that the team still needs to beat Pachanga-Diliman on Wednesday. The champions, Ceres-La Salle, will also conclude their season on the same day when they face a pesky team in Manila Jeepney FC. –LGT

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Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa

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After going a horrid 5-for-17 from the stripe during their first loss of the season last January 9, Christian Standhardinger made sure to make good on his free throws to power the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a dominant 99-79 rout of the Formosa Dreamers, Thursday evening in Southorn Stadium.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who tallied 37 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime loss to Saigon, went a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The contest itself was not close, as the defending champions were able to impose their will on the bottom-ranked squad, leading by as much as 23 points, 93-70, after two free throws by Standhardinger with 2:58 remaining.

If Standhardinger was having a good day with his free throws, the entire Formosa squad could not say the same, going 13-of-27 from the line.

Tyler Lamb had 25 markers as well for Hong Kong, while Ryan Moss grabbed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Lenny Daniel paced Formosa with 25 points and 11 rebounds. World Import Ronnie Aguilar had 14 points and 16 rebounds but went just 5-for-14 from the field.

With the win, Hong Kong goes to 8-1, while the Dreamers fell to 1-8.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes 3×3 World Cup breaks Philippine Arena record

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short of copping Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different beast.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad suffered a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even fashioning multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino, as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. The 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the duo — and the rest of the Jawbreakers — now have the experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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