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Defending champs NU still ahead of the pack at end of first round with victory over UP

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The National University Bulldogs made a stronger case to retain last year’s crown, closing the first round of men’s tennis action by nailing four hard-fought matches and dropping only one to the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, Saturday morning at the Rizal Sports Complex.

NU’s Leander Lazaro took the first set against UP’s Vince Russel Salas, 6-4, but encountered a massive counterattack from his component in the second. Though he struggled to create holes in his opponent’s side of net in the first set, Santos returned to the lawn with renewed composure, forcing a 5-5 tie after a late start. But it was Lazaro who emerged victorious, keeping steady despite a more aggressive barrage from Salas to take two straight points and the 7-5 victory for the second set.

On the adjacent lawn, another heated matchup was brewing. The opening set between NU’s Fritz Verdad and UP’s Angelo Esguera saw the typically steady-handed Verdad resort to more erratic strikes to hold out for a 7-5 win. The second set was another back-and-forth affair, with the NU and State U netters trading points en route to another 5-all deadlock. This time around, it was Esguera who held out for the crucial seventh point, riding out a barrage from the visibly-rattled Verdad for the 7-6 win. The third, however, was all NU. A more composed Verdad took control early on, forcing his opponent into awkward strides on the other side of the net to complete a quick 6-1 win.

In the first doubles encounter, NU’s Juan Gabriel Pena and Al Madrid took a 6-4 win in the first set, before finding themselves engaged in a back-and-forth affair with UP’s Joshua Miranda and Romnee Joseph. While the UP struggled to keep pace with the quicker NU netters in the first set, they were able to readjust and turn back their opponent’s hard hits. Following the 5-5 deadlock, it was the Bulldogs, however, who got to the crucial seventh point, riding out a late flurry of strong swats to complete the 7-6 win.

The second doubles matchup was another tight contest. The NU duo of Allen Manlangit and Francis Alcantara took the first set 6-2 over UP’s Gab Gutierrez and Rey Mariano, but faced a resurgent Maroon squad in the second set. The Maroons’ renewed efforts won them the 5-5 deadlock and a 7-5 victory for the set. Nevertheless, they were unable to keep momentum, and buckling from the second set’s vigorous resurgence, failed to keep their composure against the steady-paced NU side. The Bulldogs were able to ride their way through a weaker display from the Maroons, taking another 6-2 set win in the tiebreaker.

The Maroons’ only win for the afternoon came courtesy of Andrew Cano, who took the first set 6-4 against NU youngster Dheo Talayatod. The Bulldog staged a resurgence in the second set, taking advantage of a tired Cano to hold on for a 6-1 win. But the third set went to Cano, who regained the steady pacing he displayed in the opening set to secure a 6-2 win.

The defending champions close the first round with a resounding 5-0 slate. The Maroons, on the other hand, sit at 3-2 at the end of the first round.

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AU

Unscathed Altas on another plane, hands Chiefs first loss

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Eighteen straight sets won

NCAA Men’s Volleyball powerhouse University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas showed no signs of letting up and crushed fellow erstwhile undefeated Arellano University Chiefs in just three sets, 25-14, 25-22, 25-17, to notch their sixth consecutive victory, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Skipper Jun Taneo scattered his quiet 13 points throughout the match to lead the Season 91 champions. Rookie Joebert Almodiel finished with 10 spikes.

The Altas edged out the opposition in all scoring skills and dominated them in the non-scoring ones to bag the win. Nonetheless, it was the uncharacteristic 34 errors from the Chiefs that ultimately caused their doom.

With expectations minimized at the start of the season, head coach Sammy Acaylar shared his pride on how his wards have been playing so far.

“Sabi ko nga, hindi ako satisfied sa team ko kasi maraming nawala. Pero dinaan ko sila sa force, sa discipline, sa training. And I always motivate them na everything will come into place,” the seasoned mentor shared.

Acaylar was pleased that what they trained on showed up in the game. “Nakita ko ‘yung galaw nila, almost perfect,” he ended beaming.

The now 6-0 Perpetual will try to seal another semifinals appearance as they battle fellow day winners Mapua University (3-2) on Tuesday, January 30.

John Cabillan rallied the tribe with 10 markers.

The Chiefs (5-1) and the San Beda College (4-1) will figure in an all-important battle on Friday.

The Scores:

UPHSD 3 – Taneo 13, Almodiel 10, Rosales 8, Ramos 6, Muhali 3, Solamilo 1, Catipay 0, Kalingking L.

AU 0 – Cabillan 10, Dela Paz 8, Segovia 5, Lapuz 4, Liberato J 3, Liberato K 1, Arellano T 0, Soriano 0, Domingo 0, Arellano K 0, Blanco L, Esguerra L.

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Basketball

Tireless J-Jay Alejandro heads from D-League game to Gilas training

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Former NU Bulldogs captain J-Jay Alejandro was at the Pasig Sports Center Monday afternoon, making his debut for the Go for Gold Scratchers. After their 75-68 win over Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers, he immediately packed his bags and headed for the exit.

Why was he in a rush? He did not want to be late for Gilas later on.

PHOTO by PBA Images

“Sayang, malapit na ako eh. Pasig lang. Walang showbiz-showbiz, malapit lang talaga,” shared Alejandro, who had five points, five rebounds, seven assists, and two steals for Go for Gold. “Wala rin akong gagawin kasi.

“Tsaka minsan lang magpa-tawag ng practice, every Monday lang, so sayang ‘yung chance makapag-practice.”

The 6-foot-2 combo guard was a much-needed body by the pool of Gilas as only eight players suited-up for Monday’s session. Besides helping out the seniors team, the 22-year-old is looking at the sessions as a way to not just improve but also get in touch with his former collegiate foes.

“Well, ganoon talaga eh. Player, mapapagod at mapapagod ka talaga,” said the All-UAAP team member.

“Pero nakakasama ko sila Arvin Tolentino, sila CJ Perez, tsaka ‘yung ibang mga PBA players, siyempre experience ‘yun eh, tsaka learning process din sa akin.”

Moreover, he knows that being under the tutelage of coach Chot Reyes will only do wonders for him, especially with the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft just months away.

“Mas pisikal talaga sa PBA. ‘Yun, kung paano mo gagamitin ang utak mo pati ‘yung katawan mo sa tamang posisyon sa laro, makukuha ko yun rito,” he said.

“Well sa akin kasi, ‘yung mapabilang ka sa Gilas, mapabilang lang ang pangalan mo sa Gilas, sobrang fortunate na ako, sobrang blessed na ako,” Alejandro added.

“And siguro sa akin, may opportunity na nag-open, so iga-grab ko na lang — either PBA or Gilas.”

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Basketball

Loaded Wangs-Letran wallops AMA in debut

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Armed with new recruits, the Wangs Basketball-Letran Knights embarked on its new chapter with a rousing 93-75 rout of the AMA Online Education Titans, Tuesday afternoon at the Pasig Sports Center.

Everyone clicked for the Couriers with Bong Quinto spearheading the blowout with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.

Newcomer Bonbon Batiller added 15 markers, five boards, and three dimes in his debut, while starting point guard JP Calvo chipped in 12 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.

Christian Fajarito also registered 11 markers and nine boards, while Alex Mandreza had 10 points for Wangs-Letran.

Despite the promising showing, coach Jeff Napa said that he still wants to see more from his Couriers moving forward.

“Masaya kami syempre dahil nanalo. Pero marami pa rin kaming kailangang gawin,” he said as he wanted more from the Knights after outrebounding the Titans, 57-44.

Quinto and Calvo triggered Wangs-Letran’s second quarter pullaway to establish the 38-26, lead which grew to as high as 22 points, 81-59 in the payoff period.

Michael Cañete topscored AMA with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Kris Porter had 13 in the defeat.

Wangs-Letran will have vengeance on their minds on Monday, January 29 when it takes on NCAA tormentors Che’lu- San Sebastian Revellers. AMA, on the other hand, will have a tough assignment when it takes on the Zark’s-Lyceum Jawbreakers on Thursday, January 25.

The Scores:

Wangs-Letran 93 — Quinto 19, Batiller 15, Calvo 12, Fajarito 11, Mandreza 10, Trinidad 8, Publico 6, Vacaro 4, Balagasay 3, Ambohot 3, Muyang 2.

AMA Online Education 75 — Cañete 20, Porter 13, Escalambre 11, Casiño 10, Antonares 6, Manalang 6, Garcia 4, Ng 3, Parcero 2, Bragais 0, Carpio 0, Paras 0, Raflores 0, Salonga 0.

Quarterscores: 16-13, 44-35, 67-52, 93-75.

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AU

Jovie Prado, Arellano make epic comeback against Perpetual to remain unscathed

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The defending NCAA Women’s Volleyball champions Arellano University Lady Chiefs would just not give up.

Down two sets, the Lady Chiefs turned back the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas in five thrilling sets, 22-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-5, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Outside hitter Jovielyn Prado and middle attacker Andrea Marzan showed up and produced their expected numbers in this crucial tussle at 20 and 16 points, respectively.

Head coach Obet Javier was still optimistic that his players could pull it off after the 0-2 hole. “Siyempre, kailangan mong magtiwala sa players mo,” he said.

The long-time coach added, “Nung first two sets, ang pangit ng laro namin. Siguro sa game, lumabas lang ‘yung maturity ng players ko at ‘yung pusong champion.”

It was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout the day, but the deciding set was all Arellano, as setter Sarah Verutiao fired off vicious serves after another and virtually bag the win with a 10-1 lead.

Bianca Tripoli registered 20 markers to pace the Lady Altas.

At 6-0, the reigning queens will try to extend their longest winning run in the league to 19 when they face fellow unscathed San Beda College (5-0) on Friday. Perpetual (4-2) will take on Mapua University (0-5) on Tuesday, January 30.

The Scores:

AU 3 – Prado 20, Marzan 16, Arocha 14, Ebuen 7, Esguerra 4, Ramirez 1, Bello 1, Balanoba 0, Donato 0, Flores L, Buema L.

UPHSD 2 – Tripoli 20, Imbo 19, Clements 12, Verzosa 6, Llorente 5, Gual 3, Sangalang 3, Estanislao 0, Rosal 0, Umandal 0, Medalla L.

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