Connect with us
[adinserter block="13"] [adinserter block="3"]

Cignal’s Usher has been burning up the PSL so far

Published

on

It doesn’t take long for Filipinos to endear themselves to someone else, especially with incredibly talented volleyball players.

Cignal HD’s star import, Ariel Usher has endeared herself to the locals – fans and teammates alike -, leading her team to an undefeated run through the PSL Superliga Grand Prix’s first round. Standing staunchly at 6’1”, the University of Portland standout has devastated defenses with arm-crushing attacks from the open area, resulting to three 30-point outings which includes a tournament-high 36 points in their last win against the RC Cola Air Raiders. Her speed and length also help greatly in her all-around game.

Having coached a volleyball program herself, Usher has a high standard for herself. For example, after scoring 36 points in her last match, she told the media that there were a lot of things she thought she could’ve done better.

PSL GP Foton vs. Cignal - Usher-4568

“I honestly had no idea how many points I scored. I’m hard on myself; I don’t like to make a lot of mistakes… and I made a lot of mistakes. But hey, as long as it helped the team, I’m good with it and I have to forgot about it,” she said. It also seems that her outlook has rubbed-off on her teammates. “The vibe in the locker room was a little disappointed mostly because we were expecting to play a better game than we did. It just seemed that we weren’t all on the same page until the last set of the match. Obviously, everyone’s really happy that we swept through the first round, management’s been telling us that they’re really happy,” she continued when asked about the win against RC Cola.

Last season, Petron also swept through the Grand Prix first round and rode the momentum from the sweep all the way to a title. This season, the HD Spikers have amassed clutch wins against the league’s elite, defeating both fellow contenders Petron and Philips Gold in five pulsating sets. Though her 30-point games have attracted the headlines, Usher was quick to credit the team’s coaching staff led by the fiery Sammy Acaylar fo the team’s success. “I account most of our wins to our coaches, they do an awesome job scouting. We don’t take any team lightly, we definitely do our homework. In practice, we prepare for the way a specific team plays and they bring in people to emulate how a specific person plays for our opponent and it’s really amazing and really helpful.”

She also lauds the stellar effort of the team’s locals so far. “Our team’s amazing. We don’t have anyone on the bench who can’t come in an do their jobs. Everyone’s prepared and it really makes a huge impact on the team.” She says that she is no stranger to bearing the offensive load for a team as she was the tallest player in her high school team. But, she admits that for this team, she feels like she relies on her teammates more than they do on her. “My teammates definitely create a lot of seems for me to attack and our setter [April Hingpit] is amazing she’s super smat. So I definitely feel that I rely on my teammates more than they do on me.”

As for adjusting to playing in the Philippines, Usher seems to be fitting in really well. Her home city, Portland, is known for having a lot of rain throughout the year so the recent passing of Typhoon Lando didn’t bother her at all. For now, she’s looking forward to the mid-season break which she and the team will use to get some sight-seeing done.

“Actually, our management said that the we could go to some beaches over here, you guys have stunning beaches and we’re looking forward to getting out of the city and the pollution,” she gleefully told.

Before the HD Spikers go sight-seeing, they have one more match on their slate, their second-round opener against the Petron Blaze Spikers later today.

Advertisements

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.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

Published

on

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 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 bout returned to the 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

Advertisements
Continue Reading

Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

Published

on

Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for Phoenix Fuel Masters 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 Mahindra Floodbuster.

But that achievement of his won’t be that memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat they had absorbed into the hands of Paul Lee and 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 27-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 was there in contention all through out the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But then, the Hotshots’ comebacking skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” expressed 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 Barangay Ginebra 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.”

Advertisements
Continue Reading

Basketball

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

Published

on

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 Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to its’ first win after a historic 16-game skid at the expense of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover the six-foot-four forward made.

“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 it. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all by 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 got 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.”

Advertisements
Continue Reading

ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

Published

on

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.

Alab’s bench however could not sustain the effort of the starters that led to them clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a sparkplug, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided the spark 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 with 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 that resulted to the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan to slice the lead to as low as four points. 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 they take on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

Advertisements
Continue Reading

Trending