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Ceres-La Salle topple Bright Star in ruthless fashion

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Eight goals in the first half plus six more in the second totalled an astounding 14-0 win for Ceres-La Salle FC against non-league Bright Star FC, to cap off the Sunday night action in the second weekend of the UFL Cup 2015 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. In effect, Ceres virtually booked their place in the quarterfinal round, while their opponents have been officially knocked out of the competition.

Ceres took no time to get themselves going in the match. The current UFL Division I leaders had a chance to net as soon as the third minute with Adrian Gallardo’s shots saved and Martin Steuble’s rebound striking the bar. In the ensuing play, Valentine Kama drilled in a wonderful shot off a Gallardo attempt that hit the woodwork to breach past Arian Azarcon. It signalled the start of what turned out to be a scoring barrage for Ceres. At the sixth minute, Oladipo Okunaiya sent the ball to Jason Panhay who nonchalantly sneaked the ball into the far side of the goal, making it 2-0. Right after that, there were a couple of missed shots from Gallardo, but the Spaniard made amends by slotting home Marwin Angeles’ cross for their team’s third goal with only 13 minutes played in the match.

Not long afterwards, Ceres added their lead courtesy of Kama. The Ghanaian received a fine pass from Manny Ott before tucking the ball straight into the net. Panhay joined Kama in the brace party after he found himself with enough space to comfortably put the ball in for Ceres’ fifth of the night. Gallardo soon became the third Ceres player who scored twice by converting Panhay’s cross into a goal. Before halftime, two other players made it to the scoresheet. With 16 minutes still to be played in the second half, Martin Steuble smashed the ball from around 35 yards, prompting Pierre Collins to send Valentino Tolentino in the place of Azarcon. The keeper change paused the bleeding for some time, but Nate Burkey’s effort, at the 42nd minute, made it eight inside the opening 45 minutes of the match.

More of the same can be said in the second half, as Ceres kept on bludgeoning the hapless Bright Star XI. Coming off the bench, Lee Jeong Woo collected the ball from teammate Cho Kyum Son before sliding the ball excellently past Tolentino. It took some time afterwards for the Negros team to find the net after the restart, as Burkey and Lee squandered the opportunities to make it 10-0 inside the first 10 minutes of the second period. Adakole Adams nearly pulled one back for Bright Star but his attempt was safely caught by Ceres keeper Eduard Sacapaño at the 59th minute. Two minutes later, Cho tested Tolentino, who held to the ball in order to prevent his side from conceding another goal. Yet in the following minutes, Lee scored twice in quick succession to complete his hattrick and make it 11-0 for Ceres.

The leading team, then, relaxed for a bit, allowing Bright Star to move deeper inside Ceres’ half. The team in white managed to win a free kick. Moustapha Diarra took it, but it lacked power to beat Sacapaño. That was to be the last bright moment for Bright Star as Ceres kept control. Not content with an 11-goal advantage, they even found ways to score thrice in the space of the game’s last 15 minutes. At the 76th minute, Lee notched his fourth goal in just 31 minutes of action. With two minutes left in normal time, Marvin Angeles located twin brother Marwin who knew what to do in order to beat Tolentino and tally the team’s 13th goal. Lastly, Burkey scored his second at the first minute of added time to close out a record-matching win by Ceres. The biggest recorded margin in UFL Cup history was 15-1, then registered by the Loyola Meralco Sparks against Team Socceroo FC.

We won our two games, but I think that the 100% of their game was no there. I don’t blame the boys for that but I said we have to do something quick to fix this because [it is a] mentality that we had,” Ceres Manager Ali Go thought prior to this match. They pulled out a 4-0 win over Division II team Pasargad and a slender 2-1 win against the Philippine Army, both appearing unconvincing both on paper and on the pitch. “I‘m happy with the result. At the end of the day, it’s a good game for us,” he added, noting only the unnecessary bookings as the sole blemish of a remarkable night in Ceres-La Salle FC history.

After playing and winning the first three UFL Cup games, Ceres will take a 13-day long break before going for pole position in Group A against Green Archers United, who also remain undefeated themselves. As for Bright Star FC, they are due to play their last UFL Cup game versus Pasargad, where they will hope to finish their tournament on a good note.

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Vic Manuel says Alaska yet to return to contender status

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Photo by PBA Images

Even if they have won their third straight game coming from a 0-2 start in the 2018 Philippine Cup, Vic Manuel thinks that it’s still not enough to tell that the Alaska Aces should be considered as one of the topflight teams in the league.

“Hindi pa rin masabi, kasi lahat ng team ngayon, talagang malalakas na eh, hindi na basta-basta easy yung mga game eh,” said “The Muscleman” Sunday night, after he and the Aces took down Barangay Ginebra, 97-83, at the Ynares Center.

The way the Aces have been playing this 2018 is remarkably different from the way they did last 2017, where they raked in more losses than wins. For Manuel, it’s partly because of the team regaining their competitive fire.

“Sa practice pa lang, talagang nakikipag-compete eh. Walang easy kahit sa practice, talagang bigay-todo lahat,” said the 30-year-old, who has been with Alaska since 2014.

“Sobrang aggressive, kaya yun, nadadala namin sa game.”

It also helps that the Milkmen have been healthy so far this season, unlike last year where they couldn’t even field a complete line-up in almost every outing. Manuel knows it too well, as he had been injury-plagued last season.

“Yung injury ko talaga, hindi madali eh, kasi sa tuhod talaga, sa left knee,” said the six-foot-four forward from Nueva Ecija. “So pinu-push nila ako kung ano ang kailangan ko gawin. Ayun, nagbubunga naman lahat.”

Now, eyes are on the Aces if they can keep this streak of theirs going. And for Manuel, who led the Aces with 18 points and five rebounds against the Gin Kings, all they need to do is to sustain what they have right now in their next games.

“Kailangan every game, focused pa rin kami, mas maging aggressive kami,” he said.

“Kung anong mga ginagawa namin nitong mga last three games namin, kailangan dalhin pa namin sa mga susunod naming games.”

Apologies to LA Tenorio

After the bout, Manuel had actually planned to approach Ginebra’s star point guard LA Tenorio regarding the spat they figured into late in the third quarter, after the former undercut the much bigger Manuel near the rim.

But Manuel made it clear that he wasn’t going after Tenorio to get back at him. All that he wanted to do was to apologize, as he found out that Tenorio was just trying to help him get back up and not trying to instigate something.

“Sabi niya, ‘bakit mo ako binigyan? Itatayo na nga kita eh.’ Nahiya din ako sa kanya. Magso-sorry sana ako, eh wala eh, lumayo na siya eh,” Manuel shared with a chuckle.

“Lalapitan ko sana eh, pero umalis agad.”

That incident was just one of the many things that frustrated Tenorio. Aside from absorbing their second straight loss, he couldn’t get things going, as he only scored five on a dismal 1-of-13 shooting from the floor.

“Magandang bonus din sa’min yun kasi medyo masama yung nilaro niya,” said Manuel.

“Swerte na lang siguro kami.”

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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’

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For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence

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For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense

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Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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