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Defense leads to strong second half for Letran; sits atop with unblemished record

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After playing a tight first half, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) Knights took off and blitzed in a 78-69 win due to their impeccable defense all-game long to maintain their immaculate record after five games against the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA (UPHSD) Altas at the Filoil Flying V Arena on Thursday afternoon.

As good as advertised, the battle of the top two teams went on a back-and-forth pace with no team gaining full momentum in the match. Letran jumped to a 5-0 start, but Perpetual was able to stay within the course of the Knights’ full court pressure defense. The start was the quarter’s biggest lead as the two squads went on a frantic exchange the rest of the period. Letran’s bench went to made baskets inside, but it was Perpetual who held a one-point edge after 10 minutes of play.

The first half was played on a slower atmosphere with the physicality of the defensive game starting to take place. After two quarters, Perpetual already shot 17 attempts from the free-throw stripe. Mark Cruz, however, shot a couple of baskets to give his team a 36-31 lead. Scottie Thompson replied when he drained three free throws before the half expired to maintain the closely-contested game. The defensive intensity held the two teams to combine for a whopping 25 turnovers in the first half.

Letran turned up their intense defense by a notch to start the second half as they blitzed to a 7-0 run within a minute to put distance against Perpetual. Cruz became the facilitator, while Rey Nambatac piled up the buckets, as the Knights were able to lead by as much as double-digits during the third frame. From that point, every basket made by Perpetual was countered by the Knights to keep their opponents at bay.

Thompson tried to ignite a rally for the Altas as he made the initial baskets in the fourth, mostly in transition. Unfortunately for Perpetual, Knights were able to respond until the final buzzer with John Calvo, Kier Quinto, and Kevin Racal providing the necessary baskets. By the last minutes of the game, the final score was the last thing to be determined as Letran were able to establish a good hold of the lead at that point.

“We are in the right spot and a good position,” CSJL head coach Aldin Ayo said after the game. “In terms of achievement, we haven’t done anything yet. We still have 13 more games before the playoffs,” he said about the teams current 5-0 standing. Moreover, the team did not practice a day before this game to relax the players. The only players that were called upon were Jomari Sollano and the team’s other big men. “Pinatawag ko sill and we watched video para makita kung paano i-stop si Bright.”

The Letran backcourt of Mark Cruz and Rey Nambatac combined for 30 points in the game. Cruz was 5/8 from the field including three three-pointers while Nambatac filled up the stat sheets in adding seven boards and five steals. Jomar Sollano added 14 points, six rebounds, three blocks, and three steals. Moreover, he helped limit league leading scorer Bright Akhuetie to just seven points and six boards. Scottie Thompson, meanwhile, had 22 points, nine rebounds, and six assists but committed seven turnovers.

As a team, the Letran Knights shot 45% from the field compared to 37% by UPHSD. The Altas committed 27 turnovers that led to 25 turnover points as well.

Perpetual’s (4-1) next game will be up against San Beda, 4pm on Tuesday while Letran (5-0) has Arellano for its next assignment to be played next Friday at 4pm.

The Scores:
CSJL (79) – Nambatac 15, Cruz 15, Sollano 14, Racal 11, Luib 8, Quinto 8, Calvo 4, Apreku 2, Publico 2, Buenaflor 0.
UPHSD (71) – Thompson 22, Dagangon 12, Eze 10, Akhuetie 7, Ylagan 6, Coronel 5, Dizon 3, Oliveria 2, Elopre 2, Gallardo 1, Sadiwa 1, Tamayo 0, Cabiltes 0, Pido 0.
Quarterscores: 16-17, 36-34, 58-51, 78-69

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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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