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Farewell Captain! Arvin Plaza ends UAAP career with win and home run

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“Enjoy the game. Huwag ma-pressure”

Those were the words UST Golden Sox team captain and graduating senior, Arvin Plaza, told his team prior to their last game of the season.

Enjoy they did! In spite of the game extending into the early evening, the UST Golden Sox and the Adamson Soaring had fun in the field with UST winning their last game of the UAAP season 9-3 last Thursday, February 26 at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

The Golden Sox started with, third-year player, Kirk Daquis to start the game. Daquis anchored the UST defense in a shutout in the first four innings of the game. The Adamson Soaring Falcons almost picked up a run at the second inning. With the bases loaded but two outs, it was AdU’s James Segismundo was put out at first base for first out. Daquis also managed to strike out two batters during the first four innings.

On the offensive side, Jayrome Kimilat opened up the scoring at the bottom of the first inning after a fielder’s choice. During the second inning with two outs, Arvin Plaza popped a solo home run, his only run of the day, to give UST a 2-0 lead. Jayrome Kimilat further extended the Golden Sox lead to 4-0 at the bottom of the fourth with a 2 RBI double into left field that led to runs by Arniel Lallana and Max Mercado.

The Adamson Soaring Falcons cut the UST lead to half, after Nelson Salazar popped a 2 RBI single to left field that paved the way for runs by James Segismundo and Erwin Bosito at the top of the fifth. At the bottom half of the fifth, Max Mercado connected on a single that gave sibling Christian Mercado a run. The fifth ended with UST still up 5-2.

The two teams exchanged runs at the sixth with both teams scoring a run each. With the game out of hand, Adamson starting pitcher, Lexter Carandang was replaced by rookie Marvin Camposanto to close the game. The UST Golden Sox then scored three more runs at the end of the eighth. UST closer, Kimferlee Lopez and the UST fielders then finished the game with two put outs at first base and a tag of, the Adamson batter, Lourence Ruiz at second base to close out the game.

Third year Golden Sox player, Jayrome Kimilat led the team with three runs, a 2B and 2 RBIs. But it was Arvin Plaza’s inspirational last game that brought faith to the team.

Arvin Plaza reflected on the season with us after the game. “In-aim namin nung first round ay sweep pero nung natalo sa Ateneo na down ang morale ng team. Malaki expectation sa amin ni coach at ng community. Sobrang pressure namin. Pinaka matagal namin na walang championship is four years at eto na yun.”

With just one graduating senior, Arvin Plaza displayed amazing heart for the entire season even in the team’s rollercoaster season. “Siyempre gusto pakita sa kanila ang laro ng isang senior. Kelangan ko maging anchor para sa team,” Plaza added.

The team also had six straight losses before ending the season with two straight wins. “Game by game lang. Nung last two kelangan na natin manalo para sa pride na lang natin para sa community kasi one of the biggest sports ang baseball sa UST.”

“Malaki ang expectation sa team noong preseason dahil tinalo namin ang Ateneo nung Chairman’s Cup. Siguro nakadagdag yun sa pressure.” The humble captain then ended the interview with a message for the team next year: “Mag enjoy lang sa laro. Huwag ma-pressure para malabas ang tunay na laro.”

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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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