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FEU avoid collapse, outmuscle UST to take Game 1 of the Finals



In front of 18,640 fans, the stars came out to play in another classic encounter between the Morayta neighbors.

The University of Santo Tomas crept in and eventually took the lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the Far Eastern University Tamaraws limited the Growling Tigers to just a single field goal in the final five minutes of the game. FEU took Game One of the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Basketball Finals, 75-64, late Wednesday afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The Growling Tigers started off strong through their Big Three. consisting of seniors Kevin Ferrer, Karim Abdul, and Ed Daquioag, for an early 8-3 lead capped by a scoop shot by Daquioag. As the Tamaraws settled down, the Green and Gold squad were able to take the lead, sparked by a long jumper by Russel Escoto and capped by five straight points by Roger Pogoy. The two teams then exchanged baskets. FEU maintained a solitary point lead, 19-18, with 2:18 remaining, after a no-look pass by Raymar Jose to a cutting Pogoy, for his 12th point in the quarter. The Tamaraws ended the quarter with a 28-24 lead after a booming triple by Mike Tolomia with seven seconds remaining.

After a high-scoring first quarter, the Tamaraws limited the Growling Tigers to just ten second-quarter points. Constant switching on defense and excellent rebounding contributed to Coach Nash Racela’s squad being able to slowly extend their lead. Prince Orizu delighted the FEU faithful with a thunderous putback dunk at the 7:40 mark to start a 5-0 run on his own. After a Louis Vigil layup that momentarily halted the lead, Pogoy, Jose, and Arong found their mark to give FEU a 45-31 lead. With 33 seconds remaining, as Achie Inigo missed a jumper, Escoto was able to put it back with a one-handed jam. An off-balance floater by Tolomia with three seconds remaining gave FEU a 47-34 lead to enter the break.

Another dunk by Orizu coming from Escoto gave FEU their biggest lead of the ball game, 51-37, at the 7:52 mark of the third quarter. As Coach Bong Dela Cruz mixed and matched his lineups to try and match FEU, the Growling Tigers delved away from their three-point shooting as they slashed through the lanes to grab fouls. It proved effective, as they were able to attempt eight free throws, making all with Abdul hitting four. A floater by Jon Sheriff and a stop-and-pop jumper by Embons Bonleon also helped in UST’s 12-6 rally to enter the final frame with FEU just up by six, 57-51.

In a flash, UST’s pressing defense churned out six quick points in just the first 38 seconds of the fourth quarter. A scoop layup by Ferrer opened the quarter, while a steal by Marvin Lee on Achie Iñigo from the backcourt led to an easy layup by Bonleon. Another Iñigo turnover led to a wide-open layup by Ferrer to tie the game at 57-all. FEU senior Tamsi was able to knock down a jumper to quell the UST run. After both teams struggled to put up points and avoid turnovers, Abdul and Vigil exchanged baskets with Iñigo and Escoto to swap leads. After a Racela timeout, the Tamaraws intensified their defense, contesting all of UST’s attempts. The España cagers could not put up shots and were plagued with turnovers. FEU’s seniors Tolomia, Belo, and Escoto, and rookie Orizu compounded the problem with a 14-2 rally to close out the game. The only field goal the Growling Tigers were able to score was a Sheriff jumper with 23.9 seconds remaining. The FEU Tamaraws took Game One in convincing fashion, 75-64.

Racela credited the team’s defense, as they had kept UST scoreless at the crucial point of the game. “I think it was because of our defense. I think during the start of the fourth we had a few lapses,” he disclosed. “When we did things correctly, we started to find our groove.”

Moreover, FEU’s bench had out-scored their counterparts 38-18, a luxury Racela said they did not have a year ago. “We learned from last year. Last year our players were very tired, we won’t do that again this year,” he said. “It is a luxury that has been afforded to us this year.”

For Mike Tolomia, who had 14 points on 5/16 shooting and seven boards, the team should not celebrate just yet. “Sabi ko lang wag sila mag celebrate kasi last year ganito rin. Nanalo kami ng Game One.”

The FEU Tamaraws had five players score in double-digits. Mac Belo led the victors with a huge double-double of 13 points and 13 boards. Pogoy led the team in scoring with 15 markers, including three triples. Russel Escoto was able to add ten points, while Orizu had his best game of the season with ten points on 4/4 field goal shooting and nine boards.

For the Growling Tigers, Karim Abdul had 19 points and nine boards. He was 7/17 from the field and 5/5 from the charity stripe. Kevin Ferrer had 15 points but was just 1/7 from downtown. Fellow MVP candidate Ed Daquioag had a horrible day, as he fouled out with 1:07 remaining in the game and was limited to just four points.

As a team, FEU greatly out-rebounded UST 56-32 that led to a 17-11 second chance points advantage. The Tamaraws also shot better from the field, 40% from the field compared to just 36%, going just 2/19 from three-point country.

Game Two of the series will be played on Saturday, November 28 at 3:30pm. It is set to be played at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Scores:
FEU (75) – Pogoy 15, Tolomia 14, Belo 13, Escoto Ru 12, Orizu 10, Tamsi 5, Jose 4, Arong 2, Dennison 0, Escoto Ri. 0, Inigo 0.
UST (64) – Abdul 19, Ferrer 15, Vigil 8, Bonleon 6, Sheriff 6, Lee 6, Daquioag 4, Faundo 0, Lao 0.
Quarterscores: 28-24, 47-34, 57-51, 75-64.



Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’



Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence



For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense



Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs



It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue as they are, it looks like another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be excuses.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” asserted Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort that the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco have a chance to end their slump against the Kia Picanto this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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