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Championship vindicates heavily criticized Ivy Perez

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For almost her entire career, Ivy Perez has had to absorb the ire of not only her coaches, but also sharp-tounged fans.

Starting her career with National University, then head coach, Francis Vicente saw potential in the 5’8” opposite hitter and converted her to a setter. Going from a hitting position to arguably the most important position in any volleyball team, Perez needed time to adjust.

Still, the National University Lady Bulldogs made tremendous leaps in UAAP Season 76 with Perez as the main setter, earning a second seed in a stepladder Final Four only to fall to the eventual champions, Ateneo Lady Eagles in the Finals.

However, fans and pundits alike picked apart NU’s need for a better setter, saying the Lady Bulldogs would not win a title if they couldn’t get a better setter.

“Magaling naman talaga si Ivy, ang problema lang talaga sa kanya ay yung confidence niya. Medyo mabilis mawala sa laro,” said former NU head coach, Dong Dela Cruz. “Pero matiyaga yan. Hindi naman magpapapigil nang ganun-ganun lang.”

The past two years had Ivy journey from one team to another. In UAAP 77, Perez was relegated to a backup setter role with newly appointed head coach, Roger Gorayeb opting to start Asi Soliven. She ended up making crucial contributions in NU’s Final Four run but never got her starting position back. Following talks of her possibly not coming back for her final year of eligibility in the UAAP, Perez entered the Philippine Superliga draft where Petron picked her in the second round. The Blaze Spikers used Perez sparingly in their dominant run in the All-Filipino Cup, eventually releasing her after the tournament.

“Expected ko na po talaga na papakawalan ako ng Petron. Kasi ang sunod na po ‘yung Grand Prix and alam ko na pong ibabalik nila si Erica Adachi (Petron’s Brazilian import and former Brazil youth team setter). Kaya naintindihan ko naman din po,” said Perez. “Buti na lang nandiyan po ‘yung Foton at kinuha nila ako.”

Showing Perez that they had trust in her ability, Foton’s coaching staff molded and worked on Perez, using her as their main setter. They had a troublesome start to the season, but Perez eventually picked up her game.

PSL GP Foton vs. Meralco - Perez, Araneta block-1137

Peak Ivy Perez was nothing short of spectacular. Her long arms gave opposing hitters trouble when she was in the front row – a luxury in volleyball where setters are usually blocking liabilities. Her left-handed float serves confounded opposing back rows, coming in clutch in Foton’s epic five set victory over heavily-favored Philips Gold in the semifinals.

Facing her old team, Petron, in the Finals, Perez keyed her team to a Game One victory but had a horrendous performance in their Game Two loss. Tossing just eight excellent sets when Adachi had 32, Ivy knew she was in for a few long days before Game Three.

“Alam ko naman po after pa lang noong Game Two na masama ‘yung nilaro ko tapos macri-criticize po ako. Dinaan na lang po namin ng teammates ko and coaches sa ensayo – lahat po ng rotation ng Petron pinag-aralan namin. Sobrang focused po talaga namin na makuha ‘yung championship na wala na po kaming masyadong ibang napansin,” Perez recalled.

It turns out, Foton had another gear that the defending champs could not reach. Game Three, a match people predicted to be a slobber-knocker, turned into a three-set Foton coronation. The Tornadoes came out aggressively and piled early leads on Petron and responded to every Blaze Spikers’ attempt at a comback. Ivy tossed 25 excellent sets and was crowned the conference’s First Best Setter after the match.

Beating the team that released her and redeeming herself resoundingly in Game Three, Perez deflected all praise to her teammates impeccable games and patience with her. “Hindi po talaga ako makakaset ng maganda kung hindi dahil sa mga magaganda nilang pasa. At saka, kahit naman po hindi maganda ‘yung set ko, papaluin pa rin nila,” Perez said.

Perhaps the proudest of Perez among Foton was long-time college teammate Jaja Santiago. “Ang sabi ko lang po talaga kay Ate Ivy, lagi siyang maging confident. Kasi para po sa akin, siya po talaga ang best setter, magaling po talaga siya. Matagal ko na po siyang teammate at kaibigan – confidence lang po talaga ‘yung nagkukulang sa kanya. Nakita niyo naman po ngayong nabigyan siya ng chance dito sa Foton kung gaano siya kagaling,” said the 6’5” middle blocker.

“Para sa akin po, sobrang saya ko lang kasi nasuklian ko ‘yung pagtiyaga sa akin ng mga coaches ko and teammates. Hindi naman po ito magiging posible kung wala sila at hindi nila ako hinubog,” Perez expressed. As for a return to the UAAP, Perez says she is still uncertain as the final decision is up to NU head coach Roger Gorayeb.

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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AU

Impervious Lady Chiefs stay perfect after sweep of Lady Pirates

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The Arellano University Lady Chiefs extended their winning streak to 17 dating back to last season, after clobbering the Lyceum of the Philippines Lady Pirates, 25-16, 25-17, 25-11, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The defending champions were unrelenting with four Lady Chiefs scoring in double-digits with rookie Necole Ebuen powering in 11 points. Third-year open hitter Regine Arocha and Arellano’s middle blockers Mary Anne Esguerra and Andrea Marzan each provided 10 markers.

Conversely, no Lady Pirate managed to score in double-figures.

“Maganda naman talaga ang nilalaro ng mga bata. Lahat kasi kami determinado na makakuha ulet ng championship. Alam nila (Lady Chiefs) na kailangan pataas nang pataas ang ginagalaw namin,” said Arellano head coach Obet Javier.

The Lady Chiefs also limited their errors to a season-best 16 while the Lady Pirates surrendered 24 miscues.

The Lady Chiefs look for their sixth win of the season when they face the red-hot University of Perpetual Help System DALTA (4-1) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Christine Miralles and Monica Sevilla each supplied the struggling Lyceum with eight point apiece.

The Lady Pirates (1-4) take on the undefeated San Beda College (4-0) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

AU (3) – Ebuen 11, Arocha 10, Esguerra 10, Marzan 10, Prado 3, Ramirez 3, Liu 2, Balanoba 1, Donato 1, Verutiao 0, Buemia (L), Flores (L)

LPU (0) – Miralles 8, Sevilla 8, Juanilla 7, Patio 4, Genova 1, Romanban 0, Bongabong 0, Marcella (L)

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Basketball

Late whistle costs San Beda against Sousse to fall to 0-2

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23 for 2023 cadet Robert Bolick is averaging 27.5 points per game in the tournament

After struggling to close out the UAE National Team in their opener last Friday, the San Beda College Red Lions figured in a late judgment call that did not fall into their favor, Saturday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai. Due to this, the defending NCAA Champions lost to Tuniasian club team Sousse, 78-79.

With the loss, the Red Lions fell to a 0-2 hole in the 29th Dubai Basketball Championship. But the record does not reflect how the Filipinos played.

Robert Bolick, who scored 28 points against the UAE National Team, led the charge for San Beda in their second outing had 27 points. Fellow 23 for 2023 cadet Javee Mocon added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Sousse, the second-best club team in Tunisia and boasts four national team players and an American import, led by as much as 10 points, 70-60 in the final frame.

Fired-up by the Filipinos who stormed the venue, the Red Lions answered right back with an 18-8 run capped by a booming Bolick triple with six ticks left to gain a 78-76 lead.

However, a foul was called on a Red Lion on a three-point attempt by a Sousse player. He calmly sank all three free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Donald Tankoua had eight points and 13 rebounds as he was saddled with foul trouble all throughout the game.

The Tunisian club team was paced by Radzhouane Slimane with 18 points while Ibrahim Nadarri and Joshua Cassady had 13 markers each.

San Beda will have a day break before taking on Moroccan club team Al Sale on Monday, January 22.

The Scores:

San Beda 78 – Bolick 27, Mocon 11, Tankoua 8, Noah 8, Toba 6, Soberano 6, Prebitero 4, Tongco 4, Bahio 2, Carino 2, Oftana 0, Adamos 0.

Sousse 79 – Slimane 18, Naddari 13, Cassady 13, Mouhli 11, Knioua 9, Toumi 8, Monastiri 4, Gaddour 3.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 36-39, 57-62, 78-79.

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JRU

Perpetual overpowers JRU to keep pace of Final Four

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Strutting their decisive height and power advantage, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas slammed the Jose Rizal University Lady Bombers, 25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 25-21, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Altas were still heavy-handed with their errors, surrendering 35 miscues, including 12 in the second set, the only frame they lost.

The Las Piñas-based program, however, kept a scorching offensive pace, bombarding the Lady Bombers with six blocks and 12 aces. JRU had just five points combined crom those categories.

“Mataas pa talaga ‘yung tendency ng mga bata mamigay ng mga puntos. Sabi ko nga hindi kami mananalo kung tutulungan pa namin ‘yung kalaban maka-score,” rued Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño.

“Pero, unti-unte namang gumaganda ‘yung galaw ng mga bata. Lahat naman ng pagkukulang nila, tinatrabaho namin para maayos sa ensayo,” the champion mentor added.

Perpetual’s six-foot-three middle blocker Lourdes Clemente towered over the Lady Bombers with a season-high 19 points which included 14 attacks, two blocks, and three aces. Winger Cindy Imbo added 15 points.

The Lady Altas (4-1) take on the undefeated defending champs Arellano University (5-0) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Rookie Dolly Versoza paced the Lady Bombers with a game-high 21 points while captain Shola Alvarez managed 15.

The Lady Bombers (2-3) face the College of Saint Benilde (3-1) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Clemente 19, Imbo 15, Sangalang 8, Llorente 7, Tripoli 7, Gual 6, Versoza 2, Umandal 1, Estanislao 0, Medalla (L)

JRU (1) – Versoza 21, Alvarez 15, Ebuenga 5, Montojo 2, Rivera 2, Sibangan 1, Bodiongan 0, Macaraya (L)

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Basketball

Marc Pingris wants Rafi Reavis to break Robert Jaworski’s record

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Marc Pingris was all praises for veteran Rafi Reavis Saturday night, as the 40-year-old center made his presence felt in the Magnolia Hotshots’ 97-91 victory — their third straight win — over Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The six-foot-nine Reavis finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks — a performance perfectly punctuated by a follow-up of a Paul Lee miss with 12.5 seconds left to play that knocked out the Fuel Masters for good.

“Papasalamat ako kay Rafi na talagang kababalik lang niya pero binigay niya talaga lahat,” said Pingris after the bout, as Saturday night was just Reavis’ second outing in the 2018 Philippine Cup after recovering from a hip injury.

“Nag-usap nga kami kanina e, hindi pa siya 100 percent. So bukas, ang sabi niya babalik daw siya sa gym dahil gusto niya ibalik yung lakas ng legs dahil wala pa daw,” added the 36-year-old, who also suffered a hip injury last season.

Reavis has been playing in the league for 16 years. Seeing the work he has put in, Pingris, who finished the game with 17 rebounds, four assists, four points and two blocks, believes that the 10-time PBA champion can play for 10 more years — at least.

“You know naman Rafi eh, katulad ko rin yan eh – rebound and depensa. At tsaka sobrang vocal siya sa team eh,” beamed Pingris, who himself is a 14-year veteran. “Walang siyang inaano, talagang sinasabihan niya kung sino yung mga nagmi-mistake, kung paano kami mag-adjust, so nakikinig naman lahat sa kanya.

“Talagang nandun yung respeto namin kay Rafi.”

And if Reavis stays healthy for the next decade, Pingris wants Reavis to exceed Jaworki’s 958 games played — third most all time.

“Nasa kanya yun, basta kaya mo ba eh. As a player, kung masipag ka naman at may disiplina sa sarili mo, kaya niya yun.”

Still, Reavis has a lot of catching up to do.

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