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Dooley: ‘Three points at home against Uzbekistan would be amazing’

‘we’ll need to collect as much points as we can’

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Asian Football Confederation (AFC) qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia resumes on September 8, 2015 as the Philippine Men’s National Football team, popularly known as the Azkals, take on Uzbekistan in the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

World Cup qualification games for countries in Asia has taken another purpose as they have been merged to serve as qualifiers for the upcoming 2019 AFC Asian Cup which shall be held in the United Arab Emirates. Currently in the second qualification round, forty countries are divided into eight groups of five except for Group F due to Indonesia’s disqualification. The top team of each group along with the four best second placers advance to the third qualification round for the 2018 World Cup and books a ticket for the 2019 Asian Cup. The other second placers would have to go through another qualifying round to enter the 2019 Asian Cup.

As of this writing, the Azkals are placed second in Group H with six points. The Azkals are behind group toppers North Korea by three points while above their upcoming opponents Uzbekistan by the same amount.

For Azkals coach Thomas Dooley, there are two options: the first is two win the game and gain three massive points and the second is to push on to be one of the four best second placers in case of a defeat. “So the one thing is, like I said our goal is to finish in the best four second places to qualify for the Asian Cup. For the next round this is something we can get to closer if we beat Uzbekistan. Like I said, we have the most difficult group” said Dooley.

Dooley has no problem with his men playing as the underdogs. He said that being and knowing you are the favorites to win can go against you unlike being the underdog. “You are the underdog then you will always be more motivated or let’s say not falling into a situation where you underestimate another team.” Furthermore, he said that hard work and Uzbekistan having an off day may turn the tide for the Azkals. “That’s kind of the motivation we have.”

Uzbekistan (76) is currently ranked 49 places above the Philippines (125) in the latest FIFA World Rankings. Dooley admits that Uzbekistan have the better players. “This team does everything better. Their players move the ball faster. They are physically stronger. They make lesser mistakes. Passing is more accurate than the other team. Stamina is better and they prepare better.” However, what impressed Dooley the most was the logistics of how Uzbekistan arrived on Philippine soil. Dooley stated that the higher level a team plays, the more attention to detail is afforded to. According to him, everything at this level is scientific which can be personified of how the team was flown in. Dooley said, “They didn’t fly 28 hours like everybody else has to do. They chartered a flight and came direct over here because they know how difficult it is to be in the plane for so many hours and waiting in airports then coming over here being stressed out and tired. They don’t want to do that. They know how important this game is. They don’t wanna waste energy, any time, anything that could cost the game so that’s why they hired the plane.”

”Everything they do is a little bit more professional that the other teams we play against and every single player is more experienced, better, faster player, has more knowledge of the game. All that stuff. It’s just better”, concluded Dooley.

Coming into the game, Dooley feels that goal difference will be a big factor in determining the best four second placers. Noting the lopsided scorelines which have occurred in some of the qualifying games the past week, he believes that a good goal difference can count as an extra point. Nevertheless, the man who had 81 caps for the USA is still aiming for three points. “That’s why we’ll need to collect as much points as we can and three points at home against Uzbekistan would be amazing.”

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Lorenzo’s a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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Jeff Chan still can’t get one over Rain or Shine

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It’s been 163 days since Jeff Chan was shockingly traded by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to the Phoenix Fuel Masters. Even if the 6-foot-2 sniper from Bacolod has already faced his former team twice, the sight of Chan wearing a jersey outside of the Elasto Painters’ blue and yellow is still a sight to behold.

Chan, on the other hand, has already moved on from it.

“Wala na. Medyo matagal na yun,” said the 33-year-old when asked about if he still feels odd whenever he faces Rain or Shine.

“Habol ko na lang is sana makaisa na ko sa kanila.”

After losing to his former team last September 13, 116-111, Chan, who won two championships with Rain or Shine, was eyeing payback. However, it was not meant to be as Phoenix wound up being on the wrong side of a blowout, 120-99, Wednesday evening.

It was a disappointing outing for the Fuel Masters especially coming off two straight impressive wins. Phoenix was already down by 26 points entering the second frame and fell behind by as much as 39 points in the third canto.

“Medyo masama yung gising namin today. Rain or Shine shot just better good today and we were not able to stop them,” rued Chan, who scored all 11 of his points during the third quarter.

“Yung first quarter pa lang, natambakan na kami at hindi na kami naka-recover.”

Though suffering their second setback in four games, the 10-year pro was sort of relieved that it happened early in the season instead of happening in the crucial stages of the tournament.

“Mas maganda na nagkakamali ka ng maaga para makita namin saan kami magkamali at hindi maulit ito,” added Chan, who averaged 18.0 points prior to this game.

And Chan hopes that they can get their bearings back by Saturday when they face the formidable Magnolia Hotshots.

“Siyempre lahat masama yung loob kasi talo. Again, we have a game on Saturday. We’ll go hard and hopefully we get the win.”

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Rain or Shine emphatically ends slump with 21-point rout of Phoenix

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Coming off two dismal losses, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters bounced back big time from their back-to-back defeats as they vented their ire on the Phoenix Fuel Masters through a 120-99 demolition, Wednesday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Elasto Painters improved to 2-2, while the Fuel Masters failed to extend their winning streak to three games and dropped also to 2-2.

“I think the players just wanted to win today,” said Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia. “We played two bad games and we got two losses. I told them after the loss against Global that that’s not the team I know.

“So I told them I want a running team and I just challenged in today’s game that from beginning to end, I just want a running team… I just hope that we continue doing the same thing like what we did today,” he added.

Sophomore forward Ed Daquioag, despite leaving the game for good with 7:33 left in the third quarter after apparently hurting his back after a bad fall, led Rain or Shine with 21 markers, five rebounds, and five assists.

“This was the best game that I’ve seen him play,” Garcia remarked about Daquioag.

James Yap, meanwhile, finally broke his personal slump with 20 points on 80 percent shooting along with six boards.

The Elasto Painters roared to a nearly perfect start in the match, leaving their counterparts in the dust with an eye-popping 27-7 run in the opening frame — a lead they never relinquished until the final buzzer sounded.

Phoenix was able to knock within 16, 43-59, in the third canto, but there was clearly no stopping Rain or Shine. Rain or Shine posted the game’s widest gap at 39, 86-47, after back-to-back Tiu treys with five minutes left in the same frame.

Dexter Maiquez supplied 18 points for RoS. Main point guard Chris Tiu shined bright in his return as he unloaded 17 points on four triples with seven dimes, and rookie Rey Nambatac had his best game so far with 11 markers.

Rain or Shine shot a superior 55 percent from the field compared to 41 percent for Phoenix. The Fuel Masters committed 19 turnovers that led to 30 points.

Raymond Almazan missed the game due to an undisclosed injury.

Matthew Wright and rookie Jason Perkins led the Fuel Masters with 17 points apiece and combined for 13 rebounds. Gelo Alolino had 12 points, while Jeffrei Chan and Karl Dehesa scored 11 each.

Both teams will return to action Saturday, January 20, at the Cuneta Astrodome. Rain or Shine will go first as they take on Kia Picanto at 4:30pm, while Phoenix will slug it out with Magnolia Hotshots at the 6:45pm main-eventer.

The Scores:

Rain or Shine 120 – Daquioag 21, Yap 20, Maiquez 18, Tiu 17, Nambatac 11, Ponferada 10, Borboran 4, Norwood 4, Trollano 3, Belga 2, Matias 0.

Phoenix 99 – Wright 17, Perkins 17, Alolino 12, Chan 11, Dehesa 11, Intal 10, Eriobu 7, Kramer 5, Jazul 5, Mendoza 2, Wilson 2, Chua 0, Revilla 0.

Quarterscores: 39-13, 57-40, 98-67, 120-99.

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Ateneo receives ECJ Gold Trophy

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The Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. Gold Trophy is finally home

In a simple ceremony held at Xavier Hall inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus Wednesday afternoon, the Ateneo Blue Eagles was formally awarded the Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. trophy they earned after an epic three-game series during the finale of the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The trophy itself is 14-karat gold, with the shield of each member school of the UAAP wrapped around it. The worth of it is said to be estimated at around PHP 2,700,000. It was made by topflight goldsmiths Suarez and Sons.

Receiving the trophy were Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ and members of the team.

“It’s a pleasant surprise actually.

“Sometimes we use this word sportsmanship, but sometimes we don’t know what it means, but we can see that this thing, this act of La Salle to give the trophy not just to us but to any champion, for me I consider that a wonderful act of graciousness, really,” said Villarin. “I’m happy that this rivalry has not been bitter. Sometimes when you see the game they’re really clawing at each other but then in the end this rivalry is deeper than the physical. There’s this fellowship, kumbaga. There’s a fellowship of schools.”

According to Green Archers official Quinito Henson, the trophy represents every core value of each UAAP member school and the values promoted by sports.

“Mr. Cojuangco has been involved with sports for decades. He’s now in his 80’s but I think his idea of providing a symbol of excellence is very inspiring,” said Henson, who is a columnist for the Philippine Star.

“I think it sorts of summarizes the journey that every school makes in a UAAP season because it’s a journey of sacrifice and hard work and the team that ends up on top ultimately is the team that all the other teams look up to.”

As a sign of Cojuangco’s commitment, he is willing to donate this trophy to the next six to eight UAAP Men’s Basketball champions. Moreover, a perpetual trophy worth PHP 5,800,000 is waiting for the team who will win three straight crowns.

“This is his commitment to the UAAP board, and this has been approved, is that he will be giving a trophy every year to the champion team whoever that champion school maybe for six years,” Henson added.

“In fact the UAAP board was saying, ‘why not eight years because there are eight uaap teams?’ He says, ‘well of course if im still alive I’ll continue to give.’”

Speaking for the rest of the league, Villarin wished that this gesture by La Salle translates to every member school of the league to promote brotherhood despite the competition.

“I hope that the spirit continues, that it’s not lost. A rival gave this to another rival. There will be nothing of that bitterness. I hope that the spirit lives on –- the spirit of camaraderie and of fellowship.”

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PBA moves Ginebra-NLEX showdown from Legazpi to Pasay

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Due to the troubling activity of the Mayon Volcano in Bicol, the PBA has decided to postpone their tour in the said province.

In a short statement released on Wednesday afternoon, the league said that they will be transferring the venue of the Ginebra-NLEX match on February 3 from Legazpi City in Albay to Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

In view of the worsening condition of Mayon Volcano, we are transferring the venue of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel-NLEX Road Warriors game on February 3, 2018 from Legazpi City to the Cuneta Astrodome.

Albay has been put under a state of calamity as declared by its governor Francis Bichara due to the hazardous activity of the Mayon. The volcano, which was seen slowly spewing lava just days ago, is now on Alert Level 3.

The game will be the first-time Kiefer Ravena takes on the crowd-favorites.

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