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Clutch Jalalon lifts Arellano past Benilde

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The Arellano University Chiefs need every win they can get as one loss could easily knock them off a top four spot in the 91st season of the NCAA. Smart Elite Ambassador Jiovanni Jalalon did not allow his team to fall against the College of Saint Benilde Blazers in making the clutch shots in an 86-82 victory Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

The Chiefs started flat in the game in missing point blank shots and committing unforced turnovers. The squad from Taft Avenue took advantage of this in blasting their opponents with a 10-0 run. The returning Jonathan Grey, who was suspended by the team for a game, scored six of the team’s first ten points. Season 90’s runners-up only put up their first field goal at the 4:07 mark after a fastbreak layup by Jalalon. Slowly, the Legarda-based squad chipped in to the lead and, eventually, took the lead,14-13, behind seven straigh points by Donald Gumaru. However, three straight three-pointers capped by back-to-back bombs by Raph Nayve closed the opening chapter of the game with CSB leading 29-16.

“The Canadian Gunslinger” Zachary Nicholls then made his presence felt at the opening minutes of the second stanza in knocking down long-range shots to extend the Arellano lead to four, 28-24. The Blazers, though, continued their hot sniping as JJ Domingo and Travis Jonson converted on triples to gain a solitary point lead. Jalalon then closed the quarter with a great find to fellow Cagayan de Oro-native Kent Salado, who converted on a nifty double pump layup to give the Chiefs a 38-37 lead to enter halftime.

Perimeter defense became a problem for the Chiefs as the Blazers’ constant passing on the perimeter bewildered Arellano. The troika of Domingo, Jonson, and Fons Saavedra knocked a total of five threes in the quarter that eventually gave the Blazers its biggest lead of the game 56-47 with 2:52 remaining. Salado and Jalalon’s became aggressive in slashing through the lanes to close the quarter to cut the lead to five, 60-55.

Great interior passing by the Chiefs powered them to a huge game-altering 15-5 spurt. Holts gained the hot hand in knocking down long range jumpers highlight by a huge three pointer coming from a Nicholls-assist to give AU a 73-58 lead with 5:07 remaining. The Blazers tried to power back with three-pointers by Saavedra and Grey to cut the lead to three but a huge pull-up jumper by Jalalon gave the Chiefs a five-point cushion with 1:15 to go. A JR Ongteco hook shot cut the lead to just two but free throws by Jalalon iced the game at 86-82 in favor of the Arellano Chiefs.

“Every win is a must-win game from now on,” said Arellano head coach Jerry Condinera. He further added that the team cannot dwell with the result from the past game. Moreover, he emphasized that the team cannot be complacent at any point of any game as seen in the Chiefs’ slow first quarter start.

Smart Elite ambassador Jio Jalalon led his team with 20 points, six rebounds, and nine assists. In addition, five other Chiefs scored in double-figures, including a double-double production by Allen Enriquez with 14 points and 11 boards.

For the green side, Smart Elite ambassador Jonathan Grey scored 22 points, grabbed six rebounds, and dished out five assists. Blazer hotshot JJ Domingo also scored in double-figures with 16 points, including three triples.

As a team, the Chiefs were excellent from the field in shooting 49%. However, the Blazers were able to keep it close in converting on 15 three-pointers during the game.

The Arellano Chiefs will have a week-off as they face the Lyceum Pirates next on Tuesday, September 8 at 4:00pm while the Blazers look to break their losing streak against the EAC Generals on Friday, September 4 at 2:00pm.

The Scores:
AU (86) – Jalalon 20, Holts 15, Enriquez 14, Salado 12, Nicholls 11, Gumaru 11, Bangga 2, Cadavis 1, Capara 0, Meca 0, De Guzman 0, Zamora 0, Tano 0.
CSB (82) – Grey 22, Domingo JJ 16, Saavedra 14, Jonson 13, Nayve 9, Ongteco 5, Fajarito 2, Sta. Maria 1, Deles 0, Castor 0, San Juan 0.
Quarterscores: 16-22, 38-37, 55-60, 86-82.

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With Rain or Shine ailing, Ed Daquioag seizes opportunity

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For Ed Daquioag, his big outing Wednesday night was just a result of him grabbing opportunities, with some of his teammates still recovering from injuries.

The sophomore guard was instrumental in the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters’ 120-99 drubbing of the Phoenix Fuel Masters, top-billing with 21 points on top of five rebounds and five assists — his best outing for the franchise so far.

“Yung mga guards like Jericho [Cruz] ‘di pa siya nakakalaro, so yung sa puwesto niya kailangan ko mag-step up,” said Daquioag. “At dalawang sunod kaming talo. Ang sama ng game namin nung nakaraan.

“Kailangan namin manalo.”

The Elasto Painters still have Cruz, Jay Washington, and Jireh Ibañes on the injured list, and it is feared that Daquioag may add up to it as he left the game for good with 7:33 remaining in the third canto after hurting his hip.

But the former UST Growling Tiger quickly allayed fears regarding his injury.

“‘Di naman siya malala. Baka nabigla lang. ‘Di ko kasi mailakad ng maayos eh,” said Daquioag.

“Pinahinga ko na lang kasi sunud-sunod yung games. E kung pilitin ko baka may maanong ugat or ano, kaya ‘di ko na lang pinilit.”

“Tinanong ko, sabi niya mukhang okay naman,” said Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia of Daquioag’s condition. “Masakit lang daw talaga.”

It was still a huge night for the six-foot-one cager from Ilocos Norte despite being hurt and not being able to finish the match. But Daquiaog deflected credit to the Elasto Painters’ defense, which he said played a major factor in the win.

“Maganda lang yung defense namin,” said Daquioag, who averaged 5.8 points last season. “Nagkataon lang na yung points eh napupunta sakin. And yung mga opportunity sa transition, ginagrab ko kasi yun yung alam kong strength ko.

“Pero nanalo kami dahil sa team defense namin.”

But Daquioag hopes that he can sustain this kind of outing in their next games to help Rain or Shine rake more wins, as they aim for a strong push for the playoffs. “Hopefully madala kahit maglaro na si Jericho,” said the Gilas Pilipinas cager.

“Depende pa rin naman sa performance mo yan every game eh.”

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Jeff Chan still can’t get one over Rain or Shine

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It’s been 163 days since Jeff Chan was shockingly traded by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to the Phoenix Fuel Masters. Even if the 6-foot-2 sniper from Bacolod has already faced his former team twice, the sight of Chan wearing a jersey outside of the Elasto Painters’ blue and yellow is still a sight to behold.

Chan, on the other hand, has already moved on from it.

“Wala na. Medyo matagal na yun,” said the 33-year-old when asked about if he still feels odd whenever he faces Rain or Shine.

“Habol ko na lang is sana makaisa na ko sa kanila.”

After losing to his former team last September 13, 116-111, Chan, who won two championships with Rain or Shine, was eyeing payback. However, it was not meant to be as Phoenix wound up being on the wrong side of a blowout, 120-99, Wednesday evening.

It was a disappointing outing for the Fuel Masters especially coming off two straight impressive wins. Phoenix was already down by 26 points entering the second frame and fell behind by as much as 39 points in the third canto.

“Medyo masama yung gising namin today. Rain or Shine shot just better good today and we were not able to stop them,” rued Chan, who scored all 11 of his points during the third quarter.

“Yung first quarter pa lang, natambakan na kami at hindi na kami naka-recover.”

Though suffering their second setback in four games, the 10-year pro was sort of relieved that it happened early in the season instead of happening in the crucial stages of the tournament.

“Mas maganda na nagkakamali ka ng maaga para makita namin saan kami magkamali at hindi maulit ito,” added Chan, who averaged 18.0 points prior to this game.

And Chan hopes that they can get their bearings back by Saturday when they face the formidable Magnolia Hotshots.

“Siyempre lahat masama yung loob kasi talo. Again, we have a game on Saturday. We’ll go hard and hopefully we get the win.”

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Rain or Shine emphatically ends slump with 21-point rout of Phoenix

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Coming off two dismal losses, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters bounced back big time from their back-to-back defeats as they vented their ire on the Phoenix Fuel Masters through a 120-99 demolition, Wednesday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Elasto Painters improved to 2-2, while the Fuel Masters failed to extend their winning streak to three games and dropped also to 2-2.

“I think the players just wanted to win today,” said Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia. “We played two bad games and we got two losses. I told them after the loss against Global that that’s not the team I know.

“So I told them I want a running team and I just challenged in today’s game that from beginning to end, I just want a running team… I just hope that we continue doing the same thing like what we did today,” he added.

Sophomore forward Ed Daquioag, despite leaving the game for good with 7:33 left in the third quarter after apparently hurting his back after a bad fall, led Rain or Shine with 21 markers, five rebounds, and five assists.

“This was the best game that I’ve seen him play,” Garcia remarked about Daquioag.

James Yap, meanwhile, finally broke his personal slump with 20 points on 80 percent shooting along with six boards.

The Elasto Painters roared to a nearly perfect start in the match, leaving their counterparts in the dust with an eye-popping 27-7 run in the opening frame — a lead they never relinquished until the final buzzer sounded.

Phoenix was able to knock within 16, 43-59, in the third canto, but there was clearly no stopping Rain or Shine. Rain or Shine posted the game’s widest gap at 39, 86-47, after back-to-back Tiu treys with five minutes left in the same frame.

Dexter Maiquez supplied 18 points for RoS. Main point guard Chris Tiu shined bright in his return as he unloaded 17 points on four triples with seven dimes, and rookie Rey Nambatac had his best game so far with 11 markers.

Rain or Shine shot a superior 55 percent from the field compared to 41 percent for Phoenix. The Fuel Masters committed 19 turnovers that led to 30 points.

Raymond Almazan missed the game due to an undisclosed injury.

Matthew Wright and rookie Jason Perkins led the Fuel Masters with 17 points apiece and combined for 13 rebounds. Gelo Alolino had 12 points, while Jeffrei Chan and Karl Dehesa scored 11 each.

Both teams will return to action Saturday, January 20, at the Cuneta Astrodome. Rain or Shine will go first as they take on Kia Picanto at 4:30pm, while Phoenix will slug it out with Magnolia Hotshots at the 6:45pm main-eventer.

The Scores:

Rain or Shine 120 – Daquioag 21, Yap 20, Maiquez 18, Tiu 17, Nambatac 11, Ponferada 10, Borboran 4, Norwood 4, Trollano 3, Belga 2, Matias 0.

Phoenix 99 – Wright 17, Perkins 17, Alolino 12, Chan 11, Dehesa 11, Intal 10, Eriobu 7, Kramer 5, Jazul 5, Mendoza 2, Wilson 2, Chua 0, Revilla 0.

Quarterscores: 39-13, 57-40, 98-67, 120-99.

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Ateneo receives ECJ Gold Trophy

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The Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. Gold Trophy is finally home

In a simple ceremony held at Xavier Hall inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus Wednesday afternoon, the Ateneo Blue Eagles was formally awarded the Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. trophy they earned after an epic three-game series during the finale of the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The trophy itself is 14-karat gold, with the shield of each member school of the UAAP wrapped around it. The worth of it is said to be estimated at around PHP 2,700,000. It was made by topflight goldsmiths Suarez and Sons.

Receiving the trophy were Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ and members of the team.

“It’s a pleasant surprise actually.

“Sometimes we use this word sportsmanship, but sometimes we don’t know what it means, but we can see that this thing, this act of La Salle to give the trophy not just to us but to any champion, for me I consider that a wonderful act of graciousness, really,” said Villarin. “I’m happy that this rivalry has not been bitter. Sometimes when you see the game they’re really clawing at each other but then in the end this rivalry is deeper than the physical. There’s this fellowship, kumbaga. There’s a fellowship of schools.”

According to Green Archers official Quinito Henson, the trophy represents every core value of each UAAP member school and the values promoted by sports.

“Mr. Cojuangco has been involved with sports for decades. He’s now in his 80’s but I think his idea of providing a symbol of excellence is very inspiring,” said Henson, who is a columnist for the Philippine Star.

“I think it sorts of summarizes the journey that every school makes in a UAAP season because it’s a journey of sacrifice and hard work and the team that ends up on top ultimately is the team that all the other teams look up to.”

As a sign of Cojuangco’s commitment, he is willing to donate this trophy to the next six to eight UAAP Men’s Basketball champions. Moreover, a perpetual trophy worth PHP 5,800,000 is waiting for the team who will win three straight crowns.

“This is his commitment to the UAAP board, and this has been approved, is that he will be giving a trophy every year to the champion team whoever that champion school maybe for six years,” Henson added.

“In fact the UAAP board was saying, ‘why not eight years because there are eight uaap teams?’ He says, ‘well of course if im still alive I’ll continue to give.’”

Speaking for the rest of the league, Villarin wished that this gesture by La Salle translates to every member school of the league to promote brotherhood despite the competition.

“I hope that the spirit continues, that it’s not lost. A rival gave this to another rival. There will be nothing of that bitterness. I hope that the spirit lives on –- the spirit of camaraderie and of fellowship.”

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