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FEU survives UST’s surge, arranges Finals date with La Salle



After three matches in the stepladder semifinals, the Far Eastern University emerged victorious to book a finals showdown against undefeated De La Salle University, Wednesday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.


UST displaces UP, moves to semifinals


Earlier in the day, the University of Santo Tomas had eliminated the University of the Philippines, 3–2, in the knockout first round tie and advanced to the semifinals, Wednesday afternoon.

Danica Alburo started the day for UST with a win against Rowena Morales in three games in the first singles match. The first-year Lady Golden Paddler, who earlier defeated Morales in the eliminations, showed dominance throughout the match. Alburo took the victory 11–3, 11–1, 11–6.

In the second singles match, UAAP Season 76 MVP and UP veteran, Joma Sibal, showed composure to beat Kate Encarnacion in three games. Sibal took advantage of the rookie’s inexperience to clinch an 11–6, 11-6, 11-8 victory to level the tie.

The Lady Maroons wrestled the lead after the doubles match as the Ching sisters, Richanda and CJ, swept Juvylyn Robles and Katrina Tempiatura. UP displayed a variety of attacks to go ahead in the match. Their errors, however, kept it close for UST. In the end, the Maroons got the tie lead with the scores 11-9 11-6 14-12.
UST graduating senior, Celin Montes sent the tie to a deciding singles match by upending Jade Garcia in four games. Garcia took the hard-fought second game, 14-12, but Montes would not be denied of the win. UST won the first game, 11-5, then swept the final two, 11-6 and 11-9.

In the final singles match, another graduating veteran from the España-based squad, Karmela Rocero, went up against UAAP Season 76 Rookie of the Year, Noriko Nishino. Nishino took the first set comfortably, 11-6, but survived Rocero’s scare to get the second, 14-12. With her UAAP career and her team’s medal hopes on the line, the Thomasian then pounced on Nishino in the next two games to level the match, 11–8 11-2. In the deciding game, UP got two match points, but it was Rocero and UST who finished off the tie, 13-11.

With the win, UST moved on to the semifinals against FEU. The Lady Tamaraws have the twice-to-beat advantage.


Lady Golden Paddlers force do-or-die tie

Robles Celebration

Taking their momentum from the previous tie, UST fashioned a comeback in the semifinals against FEU to force a winner-take-all tie later in the day.

Montes started for UST this time against FEU rookie, Reigean Gabutin, for the first singles match. The Lady Tams’ newcomer got the first two games, 11-7 12-10, but UST took the next two, 11-7 11-1. In the end it was the tenacity of Gabutin that prevailed to get the win for FEU.

FEU junior Rose Fadol made it two in a row for the Lady Tamaraws with a win over Encarnacion in the second singles match. The veteran showed overall brilliance on the table as she dispatched the Thomasian rookie in three games. Fadol took the match, 11-4 11-6 11-4.

It was the turn of the tandem of Tempiatura and Robles to save UST’s season and did just that. The UST pair came from behind to upend Jasmine Jaro and Lyndel Sellado in five exciting games. Sellado and Jaro took the first two games, 11-8 12-10, only Tempiatura and Robles swept the remaining ones, 11-7 11-6 11-8.

From there, UST never looked back as Alburo and Rocero finished off the ordeal. In the third singles match, FEU’s Shamiela Pineda took the first two games, 11-8 11-6, to push her team to within one more game of the Finals. UST had other plans and Alburo took the last three games, 11-5 11-8 11-4. Rocero then sealed the deal for the Lady Golden Paddlers after dominating Shobie Siachua, 11-8 11-5 11-4.


FEU dispatches UST, enters Finals after five years

Pineda Service

When the smoke cleared later in the day, FEU had ended a five-year Finals drought when they shook off challenge of UST in four matches.

FEU’s Fadol easily disposed off UST’s Montes in the first singles match in three games, 11-4 11-6 11-5. This blanking was followed up by Pineda in the second singles match. The other Lady Tams veteran overpowered Encarnacion after a tight first game. Pineda doubled the lead for FEU, 14-12 11-4 11-8.

Playing on her final UAAP match, UST’s Robles closed her career with a win in the doubles with Tempiatura. The Thomasians and their opponents, Jaro and Sellado, traded games won before setting up an all-important fifth game. FEU took the first game, 14-12, and UST replied in the second and third, 11-7 12-10. Sellado and Jaro then forced the deciding game after getting the fourth, 11-7. In the fifth game, UST convincingly won it, 11-4, to get into the scoreboard.

In the fourth singles match, FEU rookie Gabutin faced UST’s Energy Bunny Alburo. Alburo took the first game, 11-7, to the delight of the team and the UST audience in attendance. Gabutin then took one back for FEU in the second game, 11-8, to level the match. In the third game, Alburo pounced on Gabutin to get back the lead, 11-5. The Lady Tams’ newcomer then played like a veteran and retaliated in the fourth game, 11-8, after closing it off with a forehand to the right top corner of the opponent’s end of the table. In the final game of the match, Gabutin continued to show her court command that zapped the energy of Alburo and mounted a huge 10-1 lead. The whole FEU squad and their friends on the bleachers were just waiting for the right moment to explode with Gabutin having such advantage. After two straight points from UST, Gabutin then sent another smash to Alburo’s body that secured her the 11-3 win and the Finals ticket for FEU.


Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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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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