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Basketball

Danny Ildefonso thankful to Bulldogs for making him look good in debut

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As he entered the press room of the Filoil Flying V Centre, National University Bulldogs coach Danny Ildefonso could not help but breathe a sigh of relief. Not even a storied 17-year PBA career would have prepared him for what he had experienced a few minutes earlier.

“Thank you sa mga players ko dahil may instruction kami pero sila parin ang maglalaro sa amin kaya laking pasalamat ko sa players at sa coaching staff namin,” said a raspy voiced Danny Ildefonso, “Thank you kay God kasi sabi ko nga sa kanya, totoo lang wala pa naman akong experience sa coaching. Prayer ko lang kay God, ikaw na bahala sa game. Nabigyan naman ako ng kaunting wisdom na kahit papaano nakatulong sa mga bata.

“Thank you kay coach Jamike kasi ako napili niya e.”

Ildefonso, who had been named to Jarin’s coaching staff back in January, did not expect that he would be manning the sidelines for the Bulldogs this season. However, Jarin was slapped with two technical fouls last Wednesday, resulting a one game suspension.

And the two-time former PBA Most Valuable Player was asked to step up the plate to be NU’s chief tactician against the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.

“Wala akong ambition sa coaching, wala pa to be honest,” admitted the 40-year-old, who retired from the pro ranks two years ago.

“Alam naman ni coach Jamike. Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘hindi ko pinapangarap maging head coach,’ and ang sabi niya, ‘hindi ka kasi dun napupunta.’”

Having little experience as head coach, Ildefonso admitted that he had had jitters during the opening half of the contest. And making things more tense was that the UST were able to go up by as much as seven points against them.UAAP 80 men's Basketball NU-UST Ildefonso-9864

“Kanina nung first half, medyo natataranta ako e. Ibang iba talaga ang player sa coach. As a player, pag binigay sa akin yung bola alam ko na gagawin ko. Pero dito, madaming players na kailangan tignan at yung kalaban pa,” the eight-time PBA champion confessed.

But fortunately for him, his collegues Dennis Llames, Ricky Reyes, John Ferriols, and Cederick Labing-isa — together with team consultants Jeff Napa and Chico Manabat — were there to calm him down. In addition, Jarin gave him free reign to orchestrate whatever he wanted.

“Alam niyo mga brother, magaling ang mga assistant coach namin. Nag-usap usap lang kami,” he added, “Talagang very busy sila na nagbibigay ng input at kung anong kailangan gawin sa loob kaya naging madali sa akin yung sa second half.

“Sabi ni coach Jamike ‘Coach D, huwag mo ko isipin. Bahala ka mag-coach diyan. Kung ano yung tingin mo, kung saan ka nababagay, kung ano yung tingin mong maipapanalo yung team, ‘wag mo ko isipin.'”

From there, the Bulldogs got going, eventually picking up a much-needed 91-83 win against the Growling Tigers. More importantly for him, UST did not pick up their first win under his watch.

“Ang sinabi ko sa kanila, hinihiling ko lang na ibigay nila yung best nila para kay coach Jamike at pinaalala ko lang na kailangan talaga manalo ngayon dahil malaki ang chance namin para sa number four,” Ildefonso said.

“Sabi ko nga sa kanila na, ‘wag naman sana sa atin manalo ang UST.”

And arguably the greatest student-cager the NU program produced shared that this was a tribute to his former head coach Sonny Paguia.

“Kung nandito lang si coach Sonny, siguro nagtatalon e. Hindi lang si coach Sonny siguro, pati yung mga teachers namin noon at mga alumni.”

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Basketball

Marc Pingris wants Rafi Reavis to break Robert Jaworski’s record

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Marc Pingris was all praises for veteran Rafi Reavis Saturday night, as the 40-year-old center made his presence felt in the Magnolia Hotshots’ 97-91 victory — their third straight win — over Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The six-foot-nine Reavis finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks — a performance perfectly punctuated by a follow-up of a Paul Lee miss with 12.5 seconds left to play that knocked out the Fuel Masters for good.

“Papasalamat ako kay Rafi na talagang kababalik lang niya pero binigay niya talaga lahat,” said Pingris after the bout, as Saturday night was just Reavis’ second outing in the 2018 Philippine Cup after recovering from a hip injury.

“Nag-usap nga kami kanina e, hindi pa siya 100 percent. So bukas, ang sabi niya babalik daw siya sa gym dahil gusto niya ibalik yung lakas ng legs dahil wala pa daw,” added the 36-year-old, who also suffered a hip injury last season.

Reavis has been playing in the league for 16 years. Seeing the work he has put in, Pingris, who finished the game with 17 rebounds, four assists, four points and two blocks, believes that the 10-time PBA champion can play for 10 more years — at least.

“You know naman Rafi eh, katulad ko rin yan eh – rebound and depensa. At tsaka sobrang vocal siya sa team eh,” beamed Pingris, who himself is a 14-year veteran. “Walang siyang inaano, talagang sinasabihan niya kung sino yung mga nagmi-mistake, kung paano kami mag-adjust, so nakikinig naman lahat sa kanya.

“Talagang nandun yung respeto namin kay Rafi.”

And if Reavis stays healthy for the next decade, Pingris wants Reavis to exceed Jaworki’s 958 games played — third most all time.

“Nasa kanya yun, basta kaya mo ba eh. As a player, kung masipag ka naman at may disiplina sa sarili mo, kaya niya yun.”

Still, Reavis has a lot of catching up to do.

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Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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Photo by PBA Images

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

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the 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 24-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 were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted 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 the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel 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.”

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

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

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

“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 them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto 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 had been 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.”

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Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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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.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

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

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