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Derige powers UE in UST upset

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With their Final Four hopes on the line, the University of the East Red Warriors found an unlikely hero to save their season.

Transferee Clark Derige, who played two years with the Team B of Far Eastern University, notched a career-high 26 points in just 27 minutes of action to lead the UE Red Warriors in an upset against the second-seeded University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, 91-77, Wednesday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

There was an early blunder to open the game during the tip-off. After Karim Abdul won the jumpball, the ball tipped to Paul Varilla, who made an error in shooting the ball to UST’s court. The basket was first credited to UE but, after a discussion by the officials, it was credited to Kevin Ferrer. Afterwards, there was little defense from both teams as they exchanged baskets. With the game tied at 13-all with 3:33 remaining, Varilla scored a three-pointer and Emil Palma scored on a fastbreak layup to give UE an early edge. A pull-up jumper by Jason Varilla closed the quarter with UE up 20-15.

The Growling Tigers got their first taste of a lead as forward Kent Lao converted two triples in a 10-2 run to open the second quarter. The Red Warriors, however, stayed hot from the field, as the backcourt tandem of Philip Manalang and Edson Batiller continued to pace the Red Warriors. Throughout the quarter, Ferrer struggled to find his shot with the UE defenders crowding the UST senior. Cameroonian student-athlete Karim Abdul scored UST’s last seven points, but this was answered by a Batiller triple and a breakaway layup to give UE a solitary point lead to enter the break, 39-38.

Chris Javier started off hot to open the third quarter as he scored UE’s first nine points to give his team a 47-43 lead midway through the quarter. The frustration continued for Ferrer as he was called for an unsportsmanlike foul at the 5:54 mark of the third. With rookie Jordan Sta. Ana driving past Ferrer, Ferrer was grabbed by a falling Sta. Ana but fell on the Red Warrior resulting to the unsportsmanlike call. After a three-point play by Abdul, the Growling Tigers could not score on a field goal in the final 5:19 of the quarter as the UE lead grew to a ten-point margin, 62-52.

The offense of UST struggled to start the fourth quarter. With Derrick Pumaren’s squad still holding a 70-62 lead with 5:39 left, the Growling Tigers pushed the pace in a huge 9-3 blast. Abdul opened the rally with two free throws; it was capped by a three by Ferrer that cut the lead to just two, 73-71, with 2:43 remaining. Derige hit back with a corner three. In the ensuing play, an inbound by Daquioag was quickly intercepted by Philip Manalang, who then found an open Derige for a layup. After a timeout, Abdul was able to find his way inside for a layup but the Red Warrior lead was back up to seven, 80-73, with 1:39 left. UST was not able to convert on any field goal while free throws by Derige, Abanto, and Manalang sealed the game for the now 4-7 UE Red Warriors, 91-77.

“We have to play with a sense of urgency because we still have a slim shot at the Final Four,” UE head coach Derrick Pumaren said after the game. “We practiced for two weeks for this game so we came out prepared.”

Derige, who had a career high of 26 points on 10/18 shooting, was a big factor for UE. “Clark was making his shots but he needs to play consistent basketball,” Pumaren remarked about the Quirino-province native. “He gave us the lift we needed.”

Looking forward, Pumaren stated that the team cannot be content with just four wins. “We’ll try to stay alive. We can’t be just happy with this team and we can’t be complacent.”

Besides Derige, three other Red Warriors scored in double-digits: Chris Javier added 13 points while Paul Varilla notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. Nick Abanto added ten markers as well.

For the Growling Tigers, Karim Abdul was unstoppable with 25 points, on 9/12 shooting, and grabbed 15 boards. Ed Daquioag was just 4/17 from the field for 11 poinst while Kevin Ferrer only attempted nine shots, making three, in scoring ten points.

As a team, the Red Warriors shot an excellent 46.67% from the field compared to just 39% for UST. Moreover, UE forced UST to 24 turnovers that led to 22 turnover points.

The UE Red Warriors (4-7) look to build momentum from this game as they face the Adamson University Soaring Falcons on Saturday, November 7 at 2:00pm while the UST Growling Tigers (9-3) look to bounce back against the FEU Tamaraws on the same day at 4:00pm.

The Scores:
UE (91) – Derige 26, Javier 13, Abanto 10, Varilla P 10, Batiller 9, Charcos 8, Manalang 6, Palma 4, Gagate 2, Varilla J 2, Sta. Ana 1.
UST (77) – Abdul 25, Daquioag 11, Ferrer 10, Vigil 9, Lee 9, Lao 6, Sheriff 4, Bonleon 2, Subido 1, Garrido 0.
Quarterscores: 20-15, 39-38, 62-52, 91-77.

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Fired-up Von Pessumal on Kiefer Ravena incident: ‘I’m not here to make any friends’

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Will bridges be burned?

Von Pessumal was heavily-scrutinized Friday evening after an incident with fellow Ateneo lifer Kiefer Ravena.

It took place with 9:50 left in the final frame of the San Miguel Beermen’s highly-charged tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors. After Marcio Lassiter launched a trey, Pessumal looked like he was aiming for the rebound. Instead, he simply charged towards Ravena and pushed him down.

Lassiter’s three-pointer counted, while Pessumal, who was blocked by Ravena in a fastbreak and then received a staredown moments prior, was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul.

It was a surprising sight to see considering the amount of time he and Ravena have spent together — a bond that started ever since they were in high school. Even the second-generation star admitted that he did not expect that from his former running body.

“I did not expect that at all,” said the NLEX rookie.

But Pessumal downplayed such incident despite attempts by scribes to make him elaborate what had really transpired during that moment.

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game,” the league sophomore said after the match which they won 109-98. “I don’t wanna say anything, I’m sorry.

“It’s part of the game. Whatever move on. Not a big deal.”

Asked if he was motivated to face Ravena, whom he had shared three UAAP juniors titles, two UAAP seniors crowns, and a SEA Games gold medal with, the 24-year-old shared that he approached Friday’s bout the way he usually does.

“I wouldn’t say motivated [versus Kiefer], I mean, it’s just like any other game. When I play, I don’t see who’s guarding me, I just play,” said the 6-foot-2 swingman.

“I play to win all the time.”

The incident he and Ravena figured in shadowed his performance of 10 points on 50 percent shooting off the bench — the second time he had scored in double figures this season. After Friday, Pessumal is averaging 8.25 points.

“We have to sustain the level of excellence that they (starters) have. Our job is — I wouldn’t say support, but — when we get in, we should bring the level higher so when they come back, the game is easier for them,” he said.

Pessumal was then asked if he and Ravena met each other after the buzzer sounded as the two did not even shake hands after the contest. But, through a short yet strong response, the 24-year-old said that they did not.

“I wouldn’t say anything. I don’t know, after the game?,” he expressed.

“I’m a professional basketball player, I’m not here to make any friends.”

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross

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During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao called Chris Ross the “N” word that caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nagflare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

Guiao though denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also against Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it really has become a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now went down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees the great need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’

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Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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Downcast Chris Ross chooses to stay mum after heated altercation with Yeng Guiao

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Through wins or losses, Chris Ross has always accommodated the members of the press asking for interviews and fans requesting for photo ops every after game. But Friday evening, the nine-year pro was despondent.

Visibly agitated with the events that had transpired during the San Miguel Beermen’s tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors, Ross, with his hoodie covering his head, left the Cuneta Astrodome without saying a word.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had figured in physical play after physical play and verbal exchange after verbal exchange with the frustrated Road Warriors.

Ross and Alex Mallari were both slapped with technicals after a confrontation with 9:06 left. This was just the start of many things to come for the Filipino-American defensive specialist

After knocking down a triple and receiving a taunt from Ross, Michael Miranda was assessed a disqualifying foul for an apparent kick to the groin against Ross with 4:35 left.

The tip of the iceberg came with 1:46 left to play and the game all but settled.

Yeng Guiao and Ross figured in a heated word war that resulted in Ross’ second technical foul for the game. Referees and players from both sides had to separate the two to prevent things from escalating.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria alleged that the fiery NLEX mentor said the “N” word, while some said Guiao called Ross a “bitch”.

Ross finished the game with four points, eight rebounds, and four steals in 37 minutes of action.

For sure, penalties and suspensions will come out of this game.

And it was better for Ross to stay silent.

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