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Clutch Lacupa takes UST to next stage of Stepladder

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NU (6-6, PS: 1-1), 4th0010200340
UST (7-5, PS: 1-1), 3rd0000301474


The University of Santo Tomas Softbelles march on to the next round of the UAAP Softball Stepladder with a huge comeback win against the National University Lady Bulldogs, on Wednesday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

Two rookie pitchers were pitted against one another to start the game as the Lady Bulldogs again began with Rina Vailoces, while the UST Softbelles went with Ricky Mae Latican.

Latican and the UST fielders, after giving up a base due to an accidental pitch hitting Lovely Arago, held the NU batting scoreless in the first inning with two flyouts and a groundout. On the other end, Vailoces, after flyouts of the first two UST batters, gave up a single to Charm Oria. A flyout of Celestine Palma to second base ended the inning and left Oria stranded.

The Lady Bulldogs almost picked up their first run at the top of the second inning. A catching error by UST right fielder Shiela Perales gave Baby Gequillo second base. After a groundout of the next two NU batters, Gequillo was able to steal third base, while Carla Payapaya was walked to give NU the corners. Mae Latican was able to strikeout Clarifer Singh for last out to strand both runners.

NU managed to punch in the first run of the game at the top of the third inning. After a huge double by Lovely Arago to left field, UST Coach Sandy Barredo subbed out Latican for May Ann Antolihao. Next batter Kristine Acuna grounded out at second base for first out. Lyn Tulalian connected with a single that paved the way for an Arago run. Tulalian was unable to advance to third after a tag out by shortstop Lyra Gustilo for second out and a flyout of Gequillo ended the third inning with NU on top 1-0.

After a scoreless fourth inning, the NU Lady Bulldogs were able to pick up two more runs at the top of the fifth from costly UST errors. The softbelles from España gave up a catching error by first basewoman Louise Garde to give Arago first base. Then with one out, a single by Lyn Tulalian. Two costly consecutive errors by the UST defense, at shortstop and at third base, gave Arago and Tulalian runs to end the top half of the fifth.

At the bottom of the fifth, Rina Vailoces walked Louise Garde due to balls while Jessie Belano was hit by a pitch to give UST two bases. After a ground out of the next batter, Vailoces was momentarily substituted for Mia Macapagal just to give the rookie a breather. A failed fielder’s choice with Antolihao at bat gave UST a run and two bases. Two consecutive singles by Hannah Dela Torre and Kristine Lacupa led to runs by Belano and Antolihao respectively, to tie the game at 3-all. Vailoces returned at the mound soon after.

The sixth inning ended with both squads still tied.

To open up the seventh inning, injured NU Lady Bulldog Ghene Nietes, who hurt her hamstring during their do-or-die game against DLSU, made an appearance to pinch hit for Singh. Latican would strikeout Nietes while a flyout of Arago and a groundout of Acuna ended the top half of the last regulation inning.

Needing just one run to end the game, Ann Antolihao was walked due to balls. A single by Hannah Dela Torre gave UST two bases with no outs. A passed ball then followed, which gave UST prime real estate to score. Kristine Lacupa then connected with a clutch single that paved the way for an Antolihao run to seal the game.

The UST offense was led by the two runs of Antolihao and an RBI. On the defensive end, Antolihao anchored the defense as well in giving up just two runs, four hits and striking out three batters.

But it was the clutch performance by Kristine Lacupa that help extend that UST season. We asked her after the game on how the team overcame the early 3-0 deficit they faced. “Sinabi sa amin ni coach na kaya pa namin makahabol, kasi habang tumatagal mas napapagod pitcher nila,” Lacupa told us. “Kayang kaya namin si Mia [Macapagal] kasi napapaluan namin siya nun [elimination round],” when asked about the pitching change that occurred during the UST rally. When asked if she felt the pressure to connect at the last inning, “Walang pressure dahil gagawin ko ito para sa team. Nacheck ko na rin yung mga palo ng mga pitcher.”

The UST Softbelles next play the UP Lady Maroons on Friday, March 20 at 9am. The Lady Maroons will hold a twice-to-beat advantage. Game will be played at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

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ABL

Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa

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After going a horrid 5-for-17 from the stripe during their first loss of the season last January 9, Christian Standhardinger made sure to make good on his free throws to power the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a dominant 99-79 rout of the Formosa Dreamers, Thursday evening in Southorn Stadium.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who tallied 37 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime loss to Saigon, went a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The contest itself was not close, as the defending champions were able to impose their will on the bottom-ranked squad, leading by as much as 23 points, 93-70, after two free throws by Standhardinger with 2:58 remaining.

If Standhardinger was having a good day with his free throws, the entire Formosa squad could not say the same, going 13-of-27 from the line.

Tyler Lamb had 25 markers as well for Hong Kong, while Marcus Elliott grabbed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Lenny Daniel paced Formosa with 25 points and 11 rebounds. World Import Ronnie Aguilar had 14 points and 16 rebounds but went just 5-for-14 from the field.

With the win, Hong Kong goes to 8-1, while the Dreamers fell to 1-8.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes 3×3 World Cup breaks Philippine Arena record

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short of copping Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different beast.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad suffered a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even fashioning multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino, as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. The 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the duo — and the rest of the Jawbreakers — now have the experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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