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Elaine Kasilag’s big break

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Elaine Kasilag could hardly utter words when asked about the experience of being alongside this generation’s favorite volleyball stars. After all, it was the first time she will be able to showcase her skills on the Shakey’s V-League stage.

Surprised and a bit nervous during the interview, it was as if her tears would fall even before she could open her mouth and speak. Understandably, being on the same page as today’s biggest stars she’d only get a glimpse on television was a surreal moment for the Biñan-based spiker.

Excited. Kinakabahan rin kasi first time,” Kasilag said a few moments before PLDT Home Ultera took Team Baguio for the squad’s Season 12 Open Conference debut.

Growing up in Lipa City, Batangas where volleyball could rival basketball in terms of followership and influence, Kasilag inevitably plunged into volleyball action when she was in fourth grade.

It didn’t take observers too long to notice her potential, thus Kasilag landed a spot in the University of Perpetual Help – Laguna volleyball roster.

While the V-League is her first taste of semi-pro competition, the outside hitter already has an illustrious amateur volleyball career in the bag. Kasilag has won both indoor and beach volleyball championships in the NCAA South tournament, and in 2014 represented the country along with Cherry Rondina, Gretchen Ho, and Michelle Datuin in the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Zonal Qualifiers — a part of the long process toward the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 20-year-old lass bared that a few other teams also wanted to get the 5-foot-10 spiker, but instead she chose PLDT, which bannered a star-studded lineup with a combination of tested veterans and top collegiate stars like Lizlee Ann Pantone, Denden Lazaro, Jem Ferrer, Rubie De Leon, Sue Roces, Louann Latigay, Sasa Devanadera, and Jaja Santiago.

With the absence of Alyssa Valdez, Amanda Villanueva, and Gretchel Soltones for Sunday’s affair, Kasilag was named a starter in the game against Baguio; she immediately took advantage of the opportunity to let the Philippine volleyball world know more about what she can do.

“Ito na,” Kasilag said, still nervous. “Andito na tayo, ito ang isa sa mga dreams ko, kaya gawin na ang dapat gawin.”

Kasilag’s big break finally came, and she did not hesitate to make it her own show. She finished with seven points to help the Ultrafast Hitters book an opening day win, 25-10, 25-16, 25-21. It took the team only 64 minutes to dispatch its foe.

“So far, oo naman, kasi hindi pa nga ako graduating e,” she shared on why this stint is one of the biggest breaks she will ever receive. “Okay naman ung PLDT in practice, may bonding na. Pati mga coaches, okay. Siguro napansin na rin sa mga try-out or sa iba ko pang nilalaruan.”

Striving hard to be where she is at the moment, Kasilag feels she is already home.


MORE FROM THE SHAKEY’S V-LEAGUE/THE SPIKER’S TURF

Denden Lazaro flattered to be compared to Lizlee Ann Gata-Pantone

Tabaquero on Cagayan’s mindset and anticipated matchups this season

Marck Espejo enjoys playing alongside former rivals

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Basketball

GlobalPort thrashes tired Blackwater for second straight win

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With their opponents playing their second game in three days, GlobalPort Batang Pier easily handled a tired Blackwater Elite side, 101-76, en route to their second straight victory, Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

The Batang Pier, who had posted their second most lopsided win in franchise history, improved their card to 2-2, while the Elite lost their second straight match and had dropped to 2-3.

“We hit our target of 80 points below. They scored 76 points. We just played good defense all the way, and that’s the result,” said Batang Pier head coach Pido Jarencio. “Everybody contributed, even the rookies, that’s why we pulled away.”

Sean Anthony top-billed for GlobalPort with 22 points on six triples, on top of seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Stanley Pringle finished with 17 points and 11 boards with five dimes, while Kelly Nabong scored 16.

The one-sided affair in favor of the Batang Pier started as early as the opening frame, when Anthony’s three-pointer met the bottom of the net and gave them a 24-13 cushion with 3:21 left in the said quarter.

With almost everything going their way and Blackwater failing to find ways to respond, GlobalPort was able to lead by as much as 31 points, 87-56, after Pringle swished in a jumper with exactly 9:20 remaining in the final frame.

“Actually simple lang naman ang instruction ko sa team eh. Blackwater naglaro ng back-to-back, siyempre mapapagod din yan. So takbuhan,” added Jarencio on the win, where they scored 23 off fastbreaks.

Sophomore Mac Belo and Michael Di Gregorio were the only bright spots for Blackwater in the loss, as they scored 17 and 15 points, respectively, with the former adding seven rebounds and two assists to his name.

Poy Erram, who was remarkable in their last four games, was silent with eight points and seven rebounds. Raymar Jose added 12 boards and eight points for the Elite, who played without Allein Maliksi as he is currently in Australia.

Globalport will next face San Miguel Beermen on January 24, Wednesday at 7:00 PM, while Blackwater will take on Alaska on January 27, Saturday at 4:30 PM. Both games will be at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Globalport 101 – Anthony 22, Pringle 17, Nabong 16, Grey 8, Taha 7, Gabayni 6, Juico 6, Araña 4, Elorde 4, Flores 4, Guinto 4, Sargent 3.

Blackwater 76 – Belo 17, DiGregorio 15, Sena 9, Erram 8, Jose 8, Pinto 8, Palma 6, Javier 3, Cruz 2, Banal 0, Cortez 0, Marcelo 0, Neypes 0, Sumang 0.

Quarterscores: 28-23, 61-37, 79-54, 101-76.

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CSB

Saint Benilde regains winning form, sweeps San Sebastian

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Following a shocking defeat to San Beda College, the defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers rolled back into the NCAA Season 93 win column with a quick triumph over the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Stags, 25-20, 25-19, 25-21, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Blazers outclassed the Stags in every scoring category, recording twice as many spikes (40-20), and blocks (10-5).

Saint Benilde head coach Arnold Laniog wanted to see high-level play from his team after, what he deemed, a lackadaisical effort in their last outing.

“Marami kaming naging struggles last game na alam namin na kaya naman sana namin iwasan. Sabi ko sa kanila na one game at a time tayo, kailangan bawat game kami nagi-improve,” said Laniog

“Kung may maganda mang naidulot ‘yung talo, nakita namin doon ‘yung weakness namin. Nasa sa amin na talaga kung paano kami magre-respond. Maganda naman ‘yung pinakita nila kanina,” the champion tactician added.

Team captain Isaah Arda topped the Blazers with 14 points while his fellow winger Owen Bacani added 12 markers off 10 attacks, one block, and one ace.

The Blazers (3-1) take on Emilio Aguinaldo College (2-2) on Monday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Jahir Ebrahim continued to tow the Stags’ offense, notching 12 points but was again the only Stag in double-digits.

The Golden Stags (1-3) try to snap their losing streak on Tuesday when they face Mapua University (2-2).

The Scores

CSB (3) – Arda 14, Bacani 12, Orian 8, Basilan 7, Magsino 4, Rojas 3, De Sequena 2, Martinez 2, Garcia 0, Saldavia 0, Dy (L)

SSC-R (0) – Ebrahim 12, Ronato 6, Eugenio 5, Lana 5, Eusebio 2, Lazaro 2, Onque 0, Enano (L), Toledo (L)

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Mixed Martial Arts

Seeing Eduard Folayang push inspires Joshua Pacio

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Photo from ONE Championship

Every time Joshua “The Passion” Pacio (13-2) steps into the ONE Championship cage, it is in pursuit of a lifelong dream, one that he has had since a young boy growing up in Baguio City in the Philippines.

Having already conquered the Philippine and regional martial arts scenes, winning several titles along the way, only one target remains –- the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

The 22-year-old Team Lakay standout may be one of the younger competitors in the organization, but he has already emerged as a seasoned leader in one of the most well-respected gyms in Asia and could be the next martial arts superstar of the Philippines.

Ever since falling short in his bid to capture the ONE Strawweight World Championship title against then-titleholder Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito in October 2016, Pacio was a man on a mission to catapult himself back into title contention.

However, it was not a smooth path going back to the world title stage for Pacio as he has had a mixed run of results.

After a career-defining split decision win over former world champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke in March, Pacio was then submitted by top Japanese prospect Hayato Suzuki in the first round of their recent August clash.

Although he managed to redeem himself by scoring a highlight-reel knockout of former boxing champion and compatriot Roy Doliguez this past November, Pacio still looks for consistency with regards to his performance inside the ONE Championship cage.

“It’s more about consistency.

“To be consistent inside the cage is what I am for at present. I have to win it all if I want to be back in the title contender’s position. A single loss could bring me back to square one. However, I am willing to work for it,” he said.

Despite the rough road back to vying for the ONE Strawweight World Championship, Pacio is inspired to embrace the grind as he witnessed Team Lakay’s elder statesman Eduard Folayang endured a tumultuous period of uncertainty in his martial arts career before becoming one of the brightest superstars and most beloved titleholders in ONE Championship history.

“Before he (Folayang) got the belt, he went through a lot of ups and downs in his career. He was beaten and was knocked out twice, but I saw the fight still burning in him,” he stated. “Now, he still goes to the gym and tries to get better and better every day.

“He taught me a lot about life and its spiritual side, and he taught me positive attitudes that will bring me up in my career.”

According to Pacio, it has been his mantra to turn his heartbreaking losses into lessons that would give him the fresh perspective to persevere and push forward until he achieves his goal.

“My two losses in my career made me realize just how much more I had to improve so that I can become a better martial artist,” he disclosed.

“I realized that there are a lot of holes in my game, and that the only way to get better is to recognize my weaknesses.”

His hunger to take things into another level showed in his most recent outing as he knocked out Doliguez in the second round with a spinning backfist last November.

Pacio has the chance to make it two in a row as he is set to duke it out with China’s Lan Ming Qiang on the undercard of ONE: Global Superheroes, which takes place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines on Friday, January 26.

Pacio was originally scheduled to square off with Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit in the co-main event, but the undefeated Thai was forced to withdraw from the contest just a week out from the bout due to injury.

Lan accepted the offer to step in for Mitsatit and face a former world title contender like Pacio in his promotional debut.

“I was excited about my bout with Pongsiri because it would have been a clash of the young guns. I am not disappointed because it is safety first. If I was the one sick or injured, I would not compete either, so I hope he recovers fast and gets back on track,” he shared.

“Lan Ming Qiang is my new opponent now, and I need to adopt quickly to his style. But our game plan is still the same, and I will execute that on 26 January.”

From Guangxi, China, Lan is a national sanda champion who trains alongside flyweight world title contender “The Southern Eagle” Ma Hao Bin at the Jincan Defense Club.

After a 16-2 Wushu Sanda record and several championship titles, the 24-year-old Chinese prodigy recently made his transition to the cage and already has a pair of stunning victories to his credit.

The opponent change has not affected Pacio or his training at Team Lakay, revealing that he will continue his normal preparation alongside head coach Mark Sangiao and his world-class teammates.

“The toughest thing about Lan’s skill set is his striking game, but I think I have competed against some of the best strikers in my division,” he stressed.

“I expect that Lan will be explosive and hungry, so I will stick to our game plan and get the win.”

For Pacio, his three-round cage encounter with Lan is an opportunity to build some momentum.

“I see this match as a very exciting one because I know we are both warriors, and I know we will put everything on the line on the 26th.”

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CSB

Nikka Dalisay helps Lady Stags break slump at Lady Blazers’ expense

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The eight-woman San Sebastian College-Recoletos Lady Stags finally broke out of their slump, receiving a boost from Nikka Dalisay to slip past the College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-23, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The veteran winger, Dalisay compiled a season-high 19 points to lead the Stags in breaking a two-game losing streak.

According to Lady Stags head coach Roger Gorayeb, beating a fellow Final Four aspirant in College of Saint Benilde could be the boost his under-manned team needs to rescue their season.

“‘Yung mga huling laban namin may halong malas, may halong masyadong mataas na kumpiyansa namin kaya nahirapan talaga kami,” lamented Gorayeb.

“Ngayon kamuntikan nanaman kaming madisgrasya pero nahanapan naman ng paraan ng mga bata. Medyo nabawasan na ‘yung mga error namin kumpara sa mga nakaraan na laro. Sana magtuloy-tuloy lang kami,” added Gorayeb as his squad surrendered just 26 errors, much less than the 41.5 his team averaged in their last two matches.

In contrast, the Lady Blazers coughed up 43 errors, negating their decisive height and power advantage.

Lady Stags team captain Joyce Sta. Rita fought through a right ankle sprain and scored 12 points while Daurene Santos added 11.

The Lady Stags (2-2) take on the winless Mapua University (0-4) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Middle blocker Ranya Musa led the Lady Blazers with 15 points, all off attacks. Diane Ventura chipped in 14 markers.

The Lady Blazers (2-2) face the struggling Emilio Aguinaldo College (0-4) on Monday.

The Scores

SSC-R (3) – Dalisay 19, Sta. Rita 12, Santos 11, Encarnacion 6, Amponin 5, Guillema 0, Eroa (L)

CSB (1) – Musa 15, Ventura 14, Austero 13, Abriam 9, Daguil 7, Cardiente 3, Enginco 1, Pablo 1, Cui 0, Dolorito 0, Lim (L), Torres (L)

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