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Coach Roger thankful for the win, but believes NU has a lot of room for improvement

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A few days before NU’s crucial game against UST, the Lady Bulldogs found themselves with a new coach. Former coach of the Ateneo Lady Spikers, Roger Gorayeb was put in charge of the NU women’s volleyball team in the hopes of making a playoff push.

After their victory, the new NU coach had quite a lot to say about his new team, but first and foremost, he was thankful for the win.

“Salamat na nanalo kami, kaya lang sabi ko nga ako pa ata yung malas eh. Dumating ako, natalo pa. Buti nalang nanalo pa rin yung mga bata.”

NU was able to survive the first two sets without their new coach, who was late to the game. They dropped the 3rd and 4th set, but were able to hang on during the 5th set to take the win.

Coach Roger believes that the team has the talent to win, but the problem is they do not have enough confidence in their game.

“This is my first time to see them playing and this is my third day with them. Ang sinabi ko sa kanila kahapon, you have the skills, but you do not know that you have that skill. Tignan mo mga movement nila, tentative at nagtitinginan. Pag naglalaro sila napakatahimik nila.”

The team has yet to make the most out of their tallest player, Jaja Santiago. Jaja also happens to be the team’s most consistent player, averaging 15 points per game prior to the match against UST.

“Hindi pa nila namamaximize si Jaja eh. Sabi ko ‘Jaja you are supposed to be five points per set. Yan yung kakayahan mo, five points minimum. Kasi ang laki mo, you are the tallest player…’ Hindi pa nga lang nila ma-maximize. Lagi ko sinasabi sa kanila, you have to maximize Jaja. Otherwise parang siyang 6’4 na naglalaro lang na parang 5’7. 6’4 ka Jaja, i-assert mo height mo. She has to play as a 6’4, not a 5’7, 5’6, or 5’8. Not as a regular player, kasi ang laki niya. Bata pa siya pero ang height niya pang diinan.”

This was also his first time to see how the team played, spending most of the 3rd and 4th sets just observing his team.

“Ngayon ko lang sila nakita maglaro, so ngayon ko lang nakikita yung errors nila. Babaguhin ko nalang pero it is very difficult on my part… Sana makuha nila pati yung sistema ko. Meron kasi ako pina-adjust kanina kung magagawa nila kanina. Kasi hinayaan ko lang muna sila. Pero meron akong sistema na inexplain kahapon, pero di ko ma-iimpose kasi magugulo. We have to get two wins pa, and they are facing top opponents pa, eh nandiyan pa yung Adamson. Nakuha nila nung 5th set, kelangan ko iimpose sarili ko.”

“Inoobserve ko pa sila para makita ko lang, then I’ll make adjustments kasi may isa pang round naman eh.”

One thing he has had difficulty with is his unfamiliarity with the players, claiming to have little knowledge on their play styles, and even forgetting their names.

“This is just my 3rd day, ni hindi ko nga kumpletong pangalan nila, di ko alam kung paano maglaro si ganito, o si ganito. Kaya tinatanong ko, ‘ano pangalan nito? Ipasok na si ganito, yung isa, yung isa!”

One of the bigger weaknesses he found during the game was the team’s setters committing multiple mistakes.

“Yung setter isa yun sa nakita kong weakness nila. Natalo kami nung 4th set mula nung i-over ng setter yung bola, and there’s always a chance to set the ball. ‘Bakit mo inover?’ sabi ko sa kaniya. Kaya ko siya inilabas, pinasok ko yung isa, si Perez. Eh inoover din yung bola! Worse, yung huling service, outside. Sabi ko sa kaniya ‘Hindi ka 1st year, di ka 2nd year, di ka 3rd year…’ 4th year yata yun ngayon, sabi ko sa kaniya ‘Experience mo yan magseservice ka 24-22 tapos outside.’ Nerbyos yan, walang confidence eh. The more you think of the error, the more you commit the error. Hindi pwede sa volleyball yan. There should never be an excuse.”

Another thing he would like to change within the team’s culture is saying sorry.

“Walang sorry-sorry sa akin. Ang sorry kasi para sa akin is ina-acknowledge mo ang pagkakamali mo. Wala kang mali, sabi ko sa kanila, lalo na sa mga bata. Wala kang mali, tama yung ginagawa mo, nagkataon lang na hindi mo nagawa ng tama. Pero hindi yun mali, kaya wag ka mag sorry. Kasi pag nag sorry ka ng isa, nag sorry ka ng dalawa, nag sorry ka ng pangatlo, pang apat di ka na kikilos, nag-iingat ka na sa bola, kasi nahihiya ka.”

Unlike when he started his coaching stint with Ateneo, Coach Roger believes that he has the talent to compete right away.

‘How I started with Ateneo [was] very different. When I started with Ateneo wala talaga akong player. Wala namang Alyssa Valdez, walang Denden Lazaro, everything wala, and I started to build it.”

Coach Roger is known for being extremely strict during practice, but Valdez and Lazaro are two players who have benefited from his coaching style.

“Yung impression kasi sa akin mahigpit and everything. Pero wala pa akong pinatay na player. Wala pang namamatay na player sa ensayo sa akin. Si Denden almost, si Alyssa almost.”

Valdez and Lazaro were also two of the pivotal pieces to Ateneo’s championship run last year. It will be interesting to see how the Lady Bulldogs perform once they have had enough time to meld with their new coach.

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Basketball

Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates

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Prior to Wednesday, all eyes were on the TNT Katropa-Blackwater Elite face-off, with many curious to see how last season’s Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy would fare against his former FEU teammates Mac Belo and Raymar Jose.

And as the final buzzer sounded, the 25-year-old Pogoy had reigned triumphant over his close pals, getting away with a conference-best performance as a bonus.

The six-foot-two Cebuano sniper fired a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, to lead the Texters to a skid-ending, 92-83 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Must-win talaga namin ‘to para makabawi kami, kasi 1-2 na yung standing namin (before the game) eh.

“Buti na lang maganda yung nilaro ko,” said Pogoy, who was just averaging 11.3 points in the past three games.

But Pogoy tipped his hat to the much taller Elite, who enjoyed plenty of time in the driver’s seat in the first half, until the Katropa found their groove in the third canto — highlighted by a 16-3 rally that put them ahead, 60-53.

“Malakas yung Blackwater eh, tapos ang lalaki nila kaya mahirap mag-drive, mahirap pumasa kasi naagaw nila,” said Pogoy. “Buti na lang naka-adjust kami nung second half. Hindi kami nagmadali, dinahan-dahan namin.”

Aside from his own outing, Pogoy is thankful that they were able to address their fourth quarter woes when facing the Elite — the issue that hounded them in their 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Iloilo.

TNT had actually been mere steps away from melting down — again — against Blackwater, no thanks to a 20-9 run that wiped out their 17-point lead to just six,

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With Nash Racela knowing his tendencies, Mac Belo limited to poor shooting

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Prior to Wednesday, Blackwater Elite’s young star Mac Belo was on a roll early in the 2018 Philippine Cup, averaging exactly 20 points on 42.6 percent shooting in their games against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Ginebra.

But, as they say, good things must come to an end.

Belo, despite having 13 rebounds, was held to just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as the Elite bowed to TNT Katropa, 92-83 — a sour loss knowing that they’re coming off huge 94-77 win against Ginebra last Friday.

“Bukol,” said Belo in jest of his poor outing after the match. “Big test para sa’min kasi yung TNT talagang isang de-kalibreng team dito sa PBA.

“Talagang pinaghandaan nila kami, at gustong-gusto nila manalo.”

It also did not help that the Katropa’s head coach, Nash Racela, was his coach in FEU Tamaraws for three years — a relationship brightly highlighted by a championship run in the UAAP Season 78 back in 2015.

“Siyempre alam niya yung mga tendencies ko. Matagal ko siyang coach sa FEU,” said the 6-foot-4 forward.

“Sa akin naman, kailangan ko pa matuto sa ganun, kung anong mga defense binabato niya sakin. Kailangan ko pang pag-aralan.”

But for Belo, the loss was more than his own showing. The 25-year-old lamented his and the Elite’s lapses on defense, which was encapsulated by the second half collapse they had that allowed TNT to come back and steal the win.

“Medyo marami lang kaming lapses especially sa defense namin,” said the sophomore forward, as they allowed TNT to shoot 41.6 percent from the floor. “Maraming mga miscommunication na kailangan pa namin i-work.”

Belo and the Elite are now set to move on from this bitter defeat, as they all shift their sights in their match this Friday versus GlobalPort Batang Pier. For the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, it is already a must-win for them.

“Kailangan namin ng rest ngayon kasi back-to-back games kami. We need to win sa Friday para okay sa’min,” said Belo. “Kailangan din namin paghandaan kasi galing sila sa win.

“Kailangan namin i-double yung effort namin.”

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Jake Vicen performs under pressure as Blazers end eight-year title drought

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For the second straight match, the championship showdown between the College of Saint Benilde Blazers and the Arellano University Chiefs reached kicks from the penalty spot. And once more, goalkeeper Jake Vicen came up big.

The third-year custodian denied one of Arellano’s prolific scorers Roberto Corsame in the shootout and sealed the title after eight long years, 3-2, penalties, Wednesday evening at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Blazers made its intentions clear from the get-go as they repeatedly pierced through the defense of the Chiefs.

Nonetheless, at the 38th minute, the white-shirts clinched the goal they much deserved. The Blazers pushed forward, and almost got a call in their favor. The referees, however, played advantage, and fortunately Benilde held on to the play.

Miguel Artillera found himself unmarked on the right flank and easily blasted the ball past opposing keeper Jericho Desalisa.

The Marlon Maro—mentored side continued to play aggressive in the following period and almost plucked a second one. This time, the Chiefs’ backline led by eventual Best Defender Patrick Bernarte held on.

Such stand was rewarded by their attacking force minutes later, and, as expected, the equalizer came from the counterattack.

Corsame received a pass from the middle and defeated two defenders, and seeing Vicen off his line, sent the ball into the onion bag at the 49th minute.

Both sides tried to break the deadlock, but fatigue slowly crept in the dying minutes of the second period and the whole of extra time, setting up another thrilling finish in the shootout.

Much like in Game 2, the two keepers came up big as Desalisa and Vicen denied their second kickers a clear shot. Arellano went to miss another shot, and it was then up to the Blazers to seal the deal.

Dean Ebarle stepped up and calmly and slotted the ball into the goal for the lead at 3-2. Afterwards, Corsame faced Vicen, but this time, the Cebuano keeper would not be denied. The latter went to his strong side, and, fortunately, guessed right for the huge save as pandemonium erupted from the Benilde crowd and squad.

The Finals series hero and season Best Goalkeeper Vicen was pleased that the new champions carved out the historic win despite early adversity. “Big loss ‘yun, si Val [Calvo], kasi may magagawa talaga siya kung nakalaro namin,” he said of losing their former captain.

Nonetheless, the squad stayed focused on getting it done this year.

“Binuhos lang namin every minute sa training. Luckily, hard work paid off,” closed Vicen.

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Kelly Williams rides Angkas to make it to TNT game

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The TNT Katropa almost played shorthanded when they took on the Blackwater Elite Wednesday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Early in the afternoon, a fire broke out in C5 that caused major traffic in the area. One of the people that was stuck was TNT’s 12-year veteran Kelly Williams.

“Coming from the South, I got to Taguig in about two and a half hours and I heard there was a fire on C5 and I was like, ‘Oh my god what am I going to do?’,” recalled Williams.

“I considered running, I considered jogging. Whatever you got to do, crawl, walk or run.”

Panicking, the 6-foot-6 Filipino-American was adviced by his driver to download Philippine-based mobile app Angkas — a motorcycle service provider. And it was one heck of a ride for the big man.

“My driver said check Angkas, an Uber for motorcycles. Okay. Quickly got out of the car in the middle of the C5, the middle of traffic, found this guy under the overpass, he was surprised to see me,” narrated animatedly by Williams.

“I got my helmet on, jumped on the bicycle and we got here for about 40 minutes,” he furthered. “Every stoplight, the other motorcycles pull up, double take, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’, ‘Hi guys!’ It was fun, it was actually pretty fun but never again, make sure you plan ahead guys if you possibly get stuck in traffic.

“But it was a good experience for me. You get to see Manila in a different light.”

Around midway through the first quarter of the game, Williams finally arrived. Though relieved to see him, coach Nash Racela and the rest of the Katropa made sure to let him know that he was late.

“Good experience, I apologized to the team, I owe them a team lunch or something and I told coach I won’t do it again,” the 35-year-old expressed.

“Let’s pray that it doesn’t happen again.”

Williams compensated for it by giving TNT quality minutes. During their 92-83 win against the Elite, he tallied six points, six rebounds, and four blocks in just 17 minutes of action.

“You got to come out there with extra effort after coming in late like that. But it’s always my intention to come out and do whatever I have to do,” he expressed.

“Luckily, I was in a good position to get some blocks and it worked out that way.”

And he owes a lot to his driver Richard, who got him to the venue just in time.

“It was a good experience though, thank you to the cyclist, I think his name is Richard or something like that, he’s a lifesaver.

“I tipped him very handsomely. It was about a hundred but I’m sure I paid with whatever was in my pocket because I was very grateful,” he quipped.

Still, he knows that he also owes a lot to his team. He plans on making it up by treating everyone to lunch during their next practice.

Lesson learned for Kelly.

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