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UP edges FEU, closes out first round on top



Jinggoy Valmayor starred in the rematch of last season’s UAAP men’s football finals after he scored all of his team’s goals to award UP a massive 3-1 win against FEU on Thursday afternoon at the FEU-Diliman Football Field. The outcome allows the Maroons to regain pole position in the conclusion of the UAAP Season 77 Men’s Football Tournament first round.

Both teams created a total of 22 shots with nine of them on target. UP had the lesser number of opportunities but made the most out of them. The first clear chance to score came from Jhan Jhan Melliza at the seventh minute. The two-time Best Striker of the league raced ahead of the chasing pack of UP defenders but his shot had too much height. FEU dominated possession but struggled whenever the Maroons launched rapid counterattacks.

The first instance of such came 14 minutes into the game. Daniel Gadia lobbed a through pass into the FEU area. Despite being outnumbered, Valmayor won the ball before positioning himself. Gaining enough space to fire inside the box, the UP star striker clinically slid a shot past RJ Joyel to put his team in front.

Moments after conceding, FEU looked to restore parity. Almost immediately, a couple of chances from Audie Menzi and Val Jurao lacked direction and power to test UP goalkeeper Ace Villanueva. What prompted the Season 76 Best Goalkeeper to action was a cheeky attempt from Janjan Melliza, whose shot almost sneaked into the empty net only for Villanueva to recover in time and punch it away. The Tamaraws continued to control possession but remained jittery in dealing with UP’s well-oiled counterattacking game.

Three minutes after the hour mark, Valmayor had another chance to score off a counterattack. He received the nifty Gadia pass but fouled Menzi on the way to shooting anew. Two minutes later, FEU fell victim to UP’s offensive strategy. This time, it was more costly as it resulted in Reymart Cubon’s dismissal. The defender wrongfully impeded Valmayor who had a clear look on goal and was bound to shoot against Joyel, causing Cubon to receive a red card that reduced FEU to 10 men.

Valmayor wasted the ensuing free kick which looked to have been crucial by halftime. Five minutes before the interval, FEU captain Eric Giganto found Janjan Melliza with a lob pass of his own inside the UP half. The Tamaraw marksman overcame the pressure exerted by Patxi Santos, Feb Baya, and Ian Clarino before squeezing a half-volley inside the near post of the soundly beaten Villanueva. Approaching halftime, the two teams had near chances on goal but were not able to make it count. The first half ended with FEU able to compensate falling a man down with a goal.

An exciting second half unfolded with the hundreds watching in the venue and thousands, possibly millions, watching live from the comfort of their home thrilled with the spectacular exchange of play that took place in the opening minutes of the half. Nine minutes into the second half, FEU’s dynamic duo of Melliza and Giganto almost struck the breakthrough goal. The skipper passed the ball to Melliza whose shot was blocked, the loose ball was picked up by Jurao but the shot was blasted way over the goal. Same problems plagued UP’s finishing when Simms had the same shot at the hour mark following a poor goal kick by Joyel.

The miscue bug however dodged Valmayor who coolly regained the lead at the 65th minute. Another Gadia lobbed through ball bothered FEU’s defense, causing defenders Justin Calamba and Menzi to collide. The ball then landed in Valmayor’s path, who was unmarked and nonchalantly advanced enough to guide the ball into the net. The lead almost disappeared right away when Giganto’s attempt off a Paolo Bugas shot was deflected in the following minute. Another close chance from the captain came 12 minutes before time when he displayed magnificent control of the ball before pivoting to shoot with his left. The attempt was initially saved by Villanueva but almost fumbled it only to retrieve the ball just before it rolled into the goal.

With time running out, Kobe Ochoa and Joshua Mulero had opportunities to score for their respective squads but both failed in connecting from good passes. Soheil Bidar, a substitute in this game, had a go at the 87th minute. Unfortunately for the home squad, Mulero touched the ball with his left arm, prompting a penalty in favor of UP. Valmayor completed his hat-trick from the spot to expand the Maroons’ lead two minutes before the 90. The gap was too much for the Tamaraws, despite the lengthy added time allotted by the officials. They fell to fourth place as soon as the final whistle sounded, which also signalled UP’s return to the summit.

“I thought the boys played very well. They really fought hard,” UP coach Anto Gonzales said after the game. He highlighted his team’s ability in exerting pressure on the FEU defense as the key to notching an important win against their rivals. He also admitted that the early sending off provided confidence to his players in the game. “[After FEU equalized,] we knew we could get that [breakthrough] goal. We had a one-man advantage,” he expressed confidently.

Giganto spoke of the loss in a positive manner. He shared, “Ginawa naman namin ‘yung best namin. Happy ako sa team. 10-11 pero dominating.” Moving forward, he hopes that they will find enough time to address problems such as the inefficiency in converting shots to goal and the focus necessary to get the desirable result after 90 minutes of play.

The result now puts UP ahead of the competition with 16 points in seven games. Not far away are four teams, namely La Salle, Ateneo, FEU, and NU who are all within three points behind the Maroons. As of writing, the Maroons are set to kick off the second round against neighbors Ateneo while the Tamaraws look to get back to winning ways against the undefeated La Salle squad. Both games will be held on Sunday afternoon, with FEU and Ateneo hosting the games in their backyards.

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Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa



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



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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Ilocos United takes leave from PFL



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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CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level



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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