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UP equalizes late to dent Ateneo’s title aspirations

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A Kali Navea-Huff goal moments before full time cancelled Nona Amoncio’s first half strike to end the UAAP Season 77 Women’s Football’s Battle of Katipunan all square at 1-1 at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field on Sunday afternoon. The draw comes as a huge blow for the Ateneans, who were minutes away from securing their second win of the season. Now, their hopes of barging into the finals were also critically endangered, if not totally washed out.

The first real chance of the game came from Kali. Set up by Mary Obra, she struck haphazardly wide from distance seven minutes into the game. Her teammate Cristina De los Reyes almost scored the following minute but Ateneo goalkeeper Katherine Montelibano was alert to foil UP’s leading goalscorer’s plans. Soon after, it was the home squad’s turn to turn up the heat. Mia Catedrilla drilled a clever ball into UP’s penalty area, but Marie Navea-Huff prevented Patricia Punsalan from gaining contact with the ball with 10 minutes gone by.

A couple of Kali’s free kicks on the other side of the pitch took place next, but neither of the two seriously tested Montelibano. The Ateneo goalkeeper was called into action again at the 20th minute when she successfully halted De los Reyes from moving into the Ateneo box. In response, the girls in blue had a chance to move forward again in the succeeding play. Punsalan directed the ball to Leah Cruz who failed to make contact before Catedrilla mistakenly sent it out for a UP goal kick. Cruz had another go on goal at the 28th minute but her shot was safely gathered by UP goalie Nicole Adlawan.

Approaching halftime, UP pressed for a breakthrough goal via set pieces. De los Reyes and Kali each had a try but both were unsuccessful. Instead, Ateneo gathered steam on the counterattack, and with six minutes remaining in the first half, Punsalan neatly teed up Amoncio whose touch went past the rushing Adlawan and rolled into the net, causing the Ateneo crowd to erupt out of glee. Despite UP’s advances, the hosts held on to keep a 1-0 lead after 45 minutes of exhilarating football.

“Lapses namin noong first half sa through balls. Alam namin na ‘yan ‘yung gagawin nila pero hindi namin na prevent,” pointed out UP coach Anto Gonzales who spoke with relief after preventing another loss that may jeopardize their bid for a Finals spot.

The fourth-placed side continued to be aggressive on the attack in the early moments of the second half. Captain Cecille Dayrit blasted her shot over the goal, Cruz was properly impeded by Aira Agustin from shooting inside the box and Aina Martin’s cross found Punsalan only for the Atenean winger to lose control in mid-air.

After the Ateneo aggression, the Lady Maroons promptly took their turns scoring. Off a counter at the 54th minute, Obra was alertly derailed by Montelibano, who also stopped Kali’s free kick two minutes later. The in-form goalkeeper, however, had to be subbed off after sustaining an injury in denying Kali a goal from a set piece. Marianne Caparros came on in her place at the hour mark. She was welcomed by an Obra shot which she was able to stop.

Another substitute almost made a difference at the 64th minute. Anika Ong’s shot from inside the box just sailed wide. Afterwards, both teams intensified the attack but both defenses were compact, forcing players to shoot from afar. Rodriguez had a couple of long range shots on target but needed more power and precision to worry Adlawan. Her best attempt came at the 66th minute when her rebound off a cleared cross from Martin glazed the bar. For the Maroons, it was Rodriguez’s once-national team colleague De los Reyes who spearheaded the attack. The UAAP Season 74 Rookie of the Year almost leveled the score at the 77th minute after her long-distance shot just trickled wide.

With time running out, UP went all out on the attack. They kept on finding gaps in the Ateneo defense en route to scoring a goal. At the 86th minute, UP won a free kick within Kali’s range. The sophomore winger made the most of the opportunity by looping the ball over everyone before it fell nicely into the Ateneo goal. It prompted both teams to go for the winner as time was expiring. Caparros and Adlawan held their ground nonetheless by producing a save each to end the game even at the end of the 90.

“I think coming from a goal down, ‘yung effort ng girls is very pleasing in really trying to get that equalizer,” hailed UP coach Gonzales. The Maroons are now in a favourable position to enter the finals. For them to make it, they should win at least two of their next three games.

The same cannot be said for the Ateneo Women’s Football Team, which only remains in contention mathematically. “It [the result] hampered our chances of making it to the finals,” said Ateneo coach Bob Manlulo. Asked about his thoughts on the girls’ unfortunate collapse that led to the equalizing goal, he believes that the desire to win could have been enough to guide Ateneo in scoring more goals. The only way the Ateneans can make the finals is by winning all their games while hoping that the other results go in their favour.

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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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Jason Brickman flirts with triple-double as Mono holds off Singapore

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After playing his worst game of the season last Sunday against Tanduay Alab Pilipinas, Jason Brickman bounced back, steering the Mono Vampire to a 91-88 road victory over the Singapore Slingers, Friday evening at the OCBC Arena.

The 26-year-old, who finished with just seven points and three assists in their 71-104 loss to Alab, tallied 10 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. The league-leader in assists did not take a break, playing all 40 minutes.

But it was not a walk in the park for the Thailand-based squad.

Mono led by as much as 22 points, 60-48, with 7:46 left, 16 points entering the final frame. A furious fourth quarter rally by Singapore sliced the lead, turning the game into a single-possession contest with a minute left. The steady hands of Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary from the stripe fended off Singapore.

Brickman’s compatriot Paul Zamar chipped in 13 markers for Mono.

Since torching Alab last January 3, Filipino-Canadian AJ Mandani has been on a slump, going just 3-for-11 from the field for nine points.

Mono’s World Imports Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary both finished with 26 points with the former hauling down 18 rebounds. For Singapore, Xavier Alexander paced the Slingers with 29 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.

With the win, the Vampire kept solo third with a 7-4 slate. On the other hand, the Slingers dropped its second straight game since winning against Alab, falling to 5-6.

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