Connect with us
[adinserter block="13"] [adinserter block="3"]

De Guzman embracing leadership role

Published

on

Although not as famous as its UAAP counterpart, the NCAA Men’s Volleyball tournament has gained a reputation for legendary performances. In a league built on myth makers, College of Saint Benilde’s John Vic De Guzman stands out.

The few who witnessed De Guzman’s record-breaking 45-point performance last season still revel at the high-flying opposite hitter’s all-around skills. De Guzman’s individual brilliance translated into his team’s success, powering the Blazers to the Finals last year where he threw down with fellow NCAA legend Howard Mojica and his EAC Generals. The two exchanged highlight reel spikes and fiery stare downs.

But the Generals wound up taking the crown with the Blazers surrendering crucial endgame mistakes in a winner-take-all Game Three.

“Mahirap pa rin isipin para sa marami sa amin kasi sobrang lapit na talga naman. Sayang lang. Ang maiisip mo na lang agad ay makabawi,” De Guzman recalled.

The Blazers took the long offseason to regroup. With key players exhausting their eligibility, Benilde’s main priority was to ease their bench players’ transition into pivotal roles.

In the inaugural Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference, opposing teams exploited Benilde’s weaknesses but the Blazers sudden growth during a pivotal match seemed to have brought the team together. Facing their NCAA tormentors, the EAC Generals in a elimination round match, the Blazers were shoved to a similar spot they were in during the Finals just months before – down big in the fourth set with EAC threatening to end the match. But CSB refused to give way, finding a particular combination of players and riding their momentum all the way to a surprising five-set victory. Benilde Head Coach Arnold Laniog rejoiced after the said match.

“Pumunta kami dito (Spikers’ Turf) para magka-experience. Pero, sa likod ng mga isip naming, ito talaga ‘yung ginusto naming mangyari – makaharap at matalo ‘yung EAC. Kung mag-chachampion kasi kami sa NCAA, isa sila malamang sa mga kakailanganin naming talunin.”

Open hitters Racky Etrone and Isaah Arda found their groove in the said tournament and continue to be key contributors into NCAA 91. Converted setter, Mark Deximo performed valiantly in the aforementioned EAC match and has done marvelously in orchestrating the CSB offense up to now.

But arguably the biggest adjustment was De Guzman taking on team captain duties. In a sport where intangibles like mental toughness and team chemistry are often more emphasized than athleticism or skill,, De Guzman’s leadership could be the deciding factor for his team’s success more than the points he scores.

ST-FEU-vs-CSB-De-Guzman-attack-2

“Makikita mo talga ‘yung effort ng bata – sa loob ng court, sa labas, mula practice hanggang klase – sinasapuso niya talaga ‘yung pagiging team captain. Kung may kailangan man siyang i-adjust, siguro huwag lang niya hayaan na makaapekto sa sarili niyang laro ‘yung pagiging captain niya,” Laniog said of his ward.

“As a team captain, lahat ng responsibility na sayo – hindi lang ine-expect sayo na magpe-perform ka, pati ‘yung pagdadala mo sa team kakailanganin din hanggang sa pag-establish ng relationship with team kailangan para maging mas buo kayo sa court. Kinailangan ko talaga maging mas patient kasi before mapusok ako pagdating sa mga nangyayari sa court, kinalangan ko matutong umintindi,” De Guzman reflected.

The Blazers are entrenched in a tight race for a top-two seed with EAC and the only team to beat them so far, the UPHSD Altas. With the tournament shifting to a Final Four format and rewarding the two best teams out of the elimination round with a twice-to-beat advantage, CSB can ill afford to drop another match at their current 5-1 standing.

“Maturity na lang namin as a team ang nakikita kong kulang. Kung itatapat mo kasi kami sa ibang team, alam kong may lamang kami pagdating sa individual skills – maraming nagagawa ‘yung mga teammates ko na hindi naman kaya ng iba. Nasa sa amin na lang ‘yun kung paano naming pagsasamasamahin para manalo ng championship,” De Guzman closed.

Advertisements

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.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Basketball

Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates

Published

on

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,

Advertisements
Continue Reading

Basketball

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

Published

on

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.”

Advertisements
Continue Reading

AU

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

Published

on

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.

Advertisements
Continue Reading

Basketball

Kelly Williams rides Angkas to make it to TNT game

Published

on

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.

Advertisements
Continue Reading

Trending