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Clutch Cruz saves Letran from Arellano

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Sitting out much of the game due to an injury, fifth year point guard, Mark Cruz returned just in time to buoy his Colegio San Juan de Letran Letran Knights over the Arellano University Chiefs, 87-81, capping the NCAA Season 91’s most frantic Friday at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

With both teams trading triples to start match, action slowed down gradually with each team settling in on defense. Second-year Arellano big man, Dioncee Holts controlled the paint in the first quarter, scoring six points mainly off putbacks. Letran forced a tie at 13-all with less than four minutes in the first quarter clock but suddenly let Arellano burst ahead with four consecutive transition buckets, placing the Chiefs ahead, 21-13 heading into the second quarter.

Arellano University swelled early in the second quarter with Chiefs’ third string point guard, Kenneth Zamora drilling back-to-back trifectas that pulled his team ahead 29-15. Aggressively attacking the paint, the Knights slowly whittled the deficit down at the charity stripe, going 11/15 in the quarter alone. The boys in blue, however, kept the Chiefs at bay with transition baskets and putbacks which their point guard Jio Jalalon produced through hia constant poking and prodding of Letran’s defense. Although Jalalon had only four points at the half, he already tallied aix assists and a bunch of unrecorded hockey assists, leading Arellano to 48-38 lead.

Arellano threatened to expand their advantage with Jalalon draining shots early in the second half. With Cruz nursing his injury, backup Letran point guard, JP Calvo kept the Intramuros-based squad in the match, contributing six points in the third period. His fastbreak layup cut the Letran advantage down to two, 60-62, baskets from Brylle Meca and charities from Jalalon kept AU up, 69-63 heading into the payoff period.

Technical delays momentarily halted action early in the fourth period, but Arellano shrugged it off and went on a 7-2 run that seemingly put the game out of reach as they led 76-65 with less than six minutes to go. Cruz made his return to the jubilation of a restless Knights’ crowd and immediately made an impact. After Nambatac hit a transition layup, Cruz drained a triple that brought Letran to within five, 76-71. After a stop, Nambatac hurdled down the other end and earned a bang and a bucket. The third year forward missed a bonus free throw but Felix Aprecu soared in to grab the offensive board opening the door for a Cruz to punish the Chiefs with another triple that tied the match at 76. The Ant Man tried his luck in the following possession, firing off a quick three but missed. Luckily a fired up Aprecu careened into the play, tipping the miss in and drawing a foul all in one motion. The Laguna native hit the ensuing charity for his only three points and gave Letran the lead for the first time in the game, 79-76 with less than two minutes to go. Arellano swingman, Zach Nicholls countered with a triple off a timeout but the Canadian surrendered ill-advised fouls in the following possessions that kept Letran ahead. Letran guard, Mcjour Luib and Cruz drained two free throws each for an 83-79 Letran lead. Arellano called for time with 38 ticks left on the game clock but the Chiefs coughed the ball up in the following play, sealing Letran’s win as Mark Cruz drained his charities off the intentional fouls.

Smart Elite ambassador Rey Nambatac finally returned to old form in scoring 21 points. He was 8/18 from the field and was 3/4 from the foul line. He also grabbed 11 huge boards. Mark Cruz complemented the effort with 20 points, eight coming from the charity stripe.

“Yun nga e, naisip namin na bumababa yung laro namin. Di naman nawala kumpiyansa namin kasi yung goal is to make the Final Four,” said Letran junior Rey Nambatac after the game. “Kahit nung lumamang sila di kami bumigay. Teamwork talaga. Di kami bumigay, puso lang talaga.

For the falling Chiefs, American student-athlete Dioncee Holts led the team with 16 markers and 7 boards. Smart Elite ambassador Jio Jalalon played 36 minutes and recorded a statling of 14 points, 7 boards, 7 dimes, and two steals.

As a team, the Chiefs shot better from the field at 42% compared to 36% by the victors. However, the Knights were able to outrebounds their opponents 56-40 that led to 22 second chance points.

The Knights, who have clinched a playoff spot, will next face the Perpetual Altas on Friday, October 2 at 4:00pm while the Arellano Chiefs need to bounce back but will have a tough obstacle facing them as they face the San Beda Red Lions on Thursday, October 1 at 4:00pm.

The Scores:

CSJL (87) – Nambatac 21, Cruz 20, Racal 17, Sollano 10, Calvo 9, Publico 4, Apreku 3, Luib 2, Balagasay 1, Balanza 0, Quinto 0, Gedaria 0.

AU (81) – Holts 16, Enriquez 14, Jalalon 14, Zamora 12, Meca 8, Nicholls 6, Gumaru 5, Salado 2, Cadavis 2, Bangga 2, Ortega 0, Capara 0.

Quarters: 13-21, 38-46, 63-69, 87-81.

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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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Basketball

SJ Belangel makes leap to top 3 of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24

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Ateneo Blue Eaglets towering teen Kai Sotto and La Salle Greenhills Junior Blazers court general Joel Cagulangan remained as the top two high school players in the Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Center 24, but there was a lot of movement this week, including the rise of SJ Belangel.

Belangel, Ateneo’s graduating floor leader had a sensational week, helping steer the Blue Eaglets to an unblemished 10-0 record. With his exploits, he was the consensus third-ranked player of the week, leapfrogging Mapua High School’s and NCAA MVP Will Gozum.

FEU-Diliman do-it-all guard L-Jay Gonzales and Katipunan swingman Dave Ildefonso also moved up the ladder while UST Tiger Cub ace CJ Cansino dropped to eighth after finishing fourth last week.

Besides movement at the top, there were also a lot of debutatants in this week’s list.

Blue Eaglets double-double machine Joaqui Manuel’s workhorse type of game paid off as he was ranked 21st this week.

After firing 51 markers last weekend, Bacolod Tay Tung High School’s Harold Alarcon was named as the 22nd top prospect.

Joshua Yerro of University of Visayas then rounded out the list.

Here is the complete Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 Week 2:

1. Kai Sotto, center, Ateneo (1)
2. Joel Cagulangan, guard, La Salle (2)
3. SJ Belangel, guard, Ateneo (5)
4. Will Gozum, center, Mapua (3)
5. L-Jay Gonzales, guard, FEU-Diliman (6)
6. Dave Ildefonso, forward, Ateneo (8)
7. Rhayyan Amsali, forward, NU (7)
8. CJ Cansino, forward, UST (4)
9. Clint Escamis, guard, Mapua (10)
10. Aaron Fermin, center, Arellano (9)
11. Terrence Fortea, guard, NU (16)
12. RJ Abarrientos, guard, FEU-Diliman (15)
13. Inand Fornilos, forward, La Salle (11)
14. Evan Nelle, guard, San Beda (12)
15. Warren Bonifacio, center, Mapua (13)
16. John Galinato, guard, Chiang Kai Shek (14)
17. Mac Guadaña, guard, Lyceum (18)
18. Raven Cortez, center, La Salle Zobel (19)
19. Harvey Pagsanjan, guard, Hope Christian (20)
20. Maui Cruz, guard, EAC (23)
21. Joaqui Manuel, forward, Ateneo (N/A)
22. Harold Alarcon, guard, Tay Tung-Bacolod (N/A)
23. Jancork Cabahug, forward, UV (17)
24. Joshua Yerro, guard, UV (N/A)

On Tuesday, January 23, the second episode of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 will air live at 7:00pm. Tonight’s special guest will be former Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas player and NBTC alumnus Jeron Teng.

The Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Centre 24 is the first-ever attempt to rank the top high school prospects in the country today.

The weekly ranking used the following criteria: league stats, impact in team, team record, leadership, defense, offense, and level of competition.

These rankings will be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

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MIT

Joyce Sta. Rita slams 28 as Lady Stags avert Cardinal upset

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Erasing a disappointing third set, the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Lady Stags upended the upset-conscious Mapua University Lady Cardinals, 25-20, 25-7, 29-31, 25-14, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The win revived the Lady Stags’ campaign after back-to-back losses to Jose Rizal University and University of Perpetual Help System DALTA. San Sebastian is now at 3-2.

“Andun pa rin naman, apat pa naman laro,” said Stags’ head coach Roger Gorayeb on their chances for the Final Four. “Sana umabot.”

Team captain Joyce Sta. Rita produced a career-high 28 points off 22 attacks, four blocks, and two serves. The senior middle hitter paced her squad’s 58 spikes, which outscored that of Mapua’s 33.

The Lady Cards capitalized on the rotation wherein Sta. Rita was in the backline in that third set turnaround. Nonetheless, Vira Guillema and the rest of the Lady Stags just turned to their experience to ultimately finish the match.

Gorayeb, nonetheless, hopes his team will toughen up mentally for the home stretch of the eliminations. “Kasi ‘yung laro, nawawala na ‘yan sa physical side, napupunta na sa psychological part ng game.”

San Sebastian will take on Colegio de San Juan de Letran (2-3) on Thursday.

Angelie Magundayao lead the Cardinals with 10 markers.

Mapua (0-5) will take on Emilio Aguinaldo College (0-5) in a battle of winless earlier that day.

The Scores:

SSC-R 3 – Sta. Rita 28, Dalisay 17, Santos 11, Encarnacion 10, Guillema 4, Tiangco 2, Eroa L.

MU 1 – Mangundayao 10, Racelis 9, Pena 9, Latayan 5, Morano 4, Frando 2, Mercado 1, Barias 0, Hermano 0, Ramilo L.

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MIT

Cardinals blast Golden Stags for third win

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After absorbing a sorry defeat from the San Beda College Red Spikers in their last outing, the Mapua University Cardinals subdued the San Sebastian College-Recolletos Golden Stags, 26-24, 25-16, 26-24, to take their third victory of the season, Tuesday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Mark Jason Egan paced the Intramuros-based squad with 14 points on eight attacks and three each of blocks and serves. Team captain Anjo Pertierra finished with 13 markers, while Alfred Pagulong had 10.

Despite a miserable reception output, Cardinals setter Raven Evangelista still had a field day as he produced 32 excellent sets on the 41 attack points of his squad.

Such would not go unnoticed as Pertierra lauded his playmaker’s production that led to the win. He said, “Sobrang ganda kung performance ni Raven. Nakapag-adjust siya sa bad reception. Kino-commend ko siya today.”

Losing that second set big, the Stags threatened to steal the third as they led 21-18 off back-to-back hits from James Eugenio and even forced a deuce. Nonetheless, a quick attack from Pertierra and an ace off Pagulong sealed the win for the Cards.

Pertierra admitted their lack of intensity almost cost them the first and third sets, and hopes the team address it as soon as the next game against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals.

“Kilala naman EAC na maganda floor defense, sobrang makapit. Sasabayan namin sila, we’ll give our best,” he shared.

That important tussle between the Cards (3-2) and the Generals (2-3) will happen on Thursday.

Former skipper Jahir Ebrahim led the Stags with 16 markers.

San Sebastian (1-4) will try to get back on winning track when they face winless Letran (0-5) later that day.

The Scores:

MU 3 – Egan 14, Pertierra 13, Pagulong 10, Damian 8, Navera 8, Evangelista 1, Bondoc L.

SSC-R 0 – Ebrahim 16, Lana 9, Eugenio 8, Ronato 6, Ongque A 3, Campuspos 1, Eusebio 1, Lazaro 0, Toledo 0, Ongque AC L, Enano L.

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AU

Kent Salado re-injures MCL, out for Go for Gold campaign

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Photo by PBA Images

Kent Salado suffers a setback

The worst fear of the Go for Gold Scratchers came true Monday evening as all-around combo guard Kent Salado re-injured the medial cruciate ligament in his right knee.

The injury was confirmed by Kent Salado and the officials of Go for Gold and he will miss the entire 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.

With under three minutes left in the third quarter of Go for Gold’s opening game against the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers Monday afternoon, the 5-foot-9 guard went for a drive but could not get the proper lift. He tried to walk it off but limped towards the audience section of the Pasig Sports Center.

“Parang may narinig nga siya na may tumunog daw,” shared Scratchers head coach Charles Tiu after their 75-68 win.

“We’re very worried.

“I think our PT said baka MCL ‘yun, so that might be a month or two, so that’s a big problem for us,” the youthful mentor added.

Salado finished the game with nine points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. He was immediately rushed to the Makati Medical Center afterwards. At around nine in the evening, the MRI showed that he tore his ACL as was initially reported by Tiebreaker Times. A second opinion, however, contradicted the initial diagnosis, showing only an MCL tear.

Prior to this, the native of Cagayan de Oro suffered a partial tear on medial collateral damage on the same knee last October 10, 2017 during Arellano’s 85-79 win over the San Sebastian Golden Stags.

With this setback, Salado was also advised to not play in the summer leagues to fully recover in time for the NCAA Season 94 Seniors Basketball tournament.

“Okay lang para NCAA na ko makapaglaro,” he said.

“Mas importante naman yun.”

The 23-year-old averaged 19.1 points, 5.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals last season. He is eligible to enter the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft.

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