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The Final Whistle: Chermaine “Cha” Guancia

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A Lasallian throughout her life, Chermaine Guancia etched her name in DLSU football as one of the most dependable players Coach Hans-Peter Smit has had in the past half-decade. Guancia, an alumna of University of St. La Salle Bacolod, possessed the fatal combination of pace and tenacity needed up front to dismantle opposing defences. The Negrense forward was a vital cog in La Salle’s Season 77 campaign, having been deployed to defensive areas for the first time in her collegiate career. After what appears to be a tumultuous UAAP football career, Guancia relives the exhilarating journey she has had with the beautiful game.

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Football is undeniably big in Guancia’s hometown. Basketball may be king in the country, but in the Western Visayas region, football is a sport that binds communities together; particularly in Iloilo and Negros towns. Despite the popularity of the sport in her place, football was not even the second discipline she took up. “At first I was a track player, then I was into volleyball, and then I decided to try football. Iniwan ko na volleyball, then I’ve taken up football. I had no idea that it would take me here,” she shared. It was her elder sister who introduced the game played by eleven players per team to her. Fascinated, the then 14-year-old Guancia got hooked on the sport, and the rest is history. Her idols in the sport include Alex Morgan and Kelly O’Hara of the US Women’s National Team, and former DLSU teammate, Natasha Alquiros, who also represents the country in women’s football. As for club football, the striker admires Real Madrid and Manchester United, which does not come as a surprise given both teams’ reputations offensively.

Not known by many, Guancia actually came close to featuring in blue and white in the UAAP. Cha, as she is fondly called, was not certain if DLSU wanted her to play for them. Unwilling to let any opportunity drift away, she gave Ateneo a go, and impressed the coaches during the try-outs. Back then, Ateneo was a floundering team, and having a striker as good as her may have sparked the much-needed boost to their ailing football program. It looked like a sure thing that Guancia will be donning the blue of Ateneo by Season 73, but one phone call altered the course of things. “Biglang tumawag ‘yung assistant coach namin before,” she recalled. The conversation led to her being talked into considering a late move to DLSU. Having virtually committed to Ateneo, Guancia faced a confounding dilemma. “Medyo under pressure ako noon. Tinawagan ko parents ko and ate ko. Napag-usapan namin na La Salle na lang,” she furthered.

The decision to stay green was finalized and Guancia soon left home for Manila to continue her studies and play football as well. The new environment posed a set of trials she needed to overcome. “Noong rookie year ko I think isa yun sa mga pinaka-challenging years in my life… in a way I had to start from scratch. When I got here, I didn’t know a lot about football. It was difficult, but it sure made me stronger, made me a stronger player and person,” she confessed, while also crediting Smit in forming her to the player that she turned out to be five years after. Off the field adjustment was also trying, but Guancia coped well with living independently in the capital. It was made easier and more fun when she came across teammate Lois Hain, her lone batchmate in Season 77’s roster. “Siguro nag-develop friendship namin because of our schedule. We hang out a lot. We like reading books. We share the same interests.” It is also with the help of another individual that shaped Guancia to what she is now: former DLSU goalkeeper Haya Ibarra. “Ever since rookie ako, I‘ve always looked up to her. Kahit ngayon minsan lang kami nag-uusap, when I get to talk to her I get reminded to always challenge myself. If I come across problems siguro I’ll always remember what she said: challenge yourself lang.”

Cha with teammate Lois Hain

Chermaine with teammate Lois Hain

Throughout her stint with La Salle, she remembers the Season 75 second round game against Ateneo to be her happiest moment. At that point, La Salle and Ateneo were heading to a 1-1 draw. A stalemate would not be enough for La Salle to make an appearance in the final as they needed maximum points in their remaining games. “Isu-sub-out na ako, and then nag play on. I got the ball from Adri [Yniguez], and then I took a shot, but then the keeper got to it. I went for the ball again so it went in,” she reminisced with a huge grin in her face as it was sufficient to earn DLSU the win. Amusingly, she did it against the players whom she may have been teammates with. In that year, they eventually made the championship game only to lose harshly against a rampant Lady Tamaraws team, which for her is the most challenging group she has ever faced, in two games. “FEU kasi sobrang physical nila and mahirap talaga i-break. Sobrang organized yung system nila and it’s hard to break their defense,” Guancia elaborated.

Sadly, Guancia was unable to win a gold medal with DLSU in the UAAP despite having been to the Final twice, but holds no regrets, as she went saying, “[It was] fulfilling because I gained a family. DLSU football will always be a family.” Looking back, she identifies the narrow defeat to UST in the deciding match of the Season 74 championship round as the one that hurts the most. This year, she also felt remarkable misery when they were beaten by UP, 2-0, in what was her last 90 minutes of action in the league. However, her spell with DLSU has helped her realize a lot of useful lessons, both on and off the pitch. “Every second counts. You can’t really predict who’s going to win; what matters is how we play as a team. Communication is crucial, especially among teammates, and follow the instructions from the coaches,” she cited. Speaking of coaches, the Bacolod native also keeps in her mind one of the most valuable teachings he acquired from Coach Hans. “Siguro yung hindi ko makakalimutan: don’t give any excuses. Unless you can’t do something, why not do it? Si Coach kasi parang ayaw talaga niya ng excuses,“ the striker revealed.

Cha 2

Definitely, Cha will miss playing in the UAAP. She has played in many tournaments before, but nothing compares to what the league offers. “I think iba kasi sa UAAP eh. I think you see everyone working hard for it. Everyone gives their all. You see everyone try to make the trainings count, all the efforts count. You really try to give it all one game at a time. [At saka] adrenaline siguro with all the drums and the cheering squads, and of course representing La Salle, it’s very different,” she expressed. Moving on, the woman who once wanted to become an astronaut or a pilot, is now eager to become a doctor of medicine. Currently, Guancia is taking up a master’s degree in Human Development, and may well be targeting an entry to a medicine school soon. It remains to be seen whether she will pursue a career related or closely affiliated to football, but its impact on her is indelible. “Kapag may problema ako I’ll always look back kung ano ba yung natutunan ko being a football player, doon ko na i-apply. ‘Yung attributes, you can apply it outside football naman,” she declared. Right now, the possibilities are limitless. Guancia may become a doctor, a football player-turned-coach, or even a passionate soccer mom, but one thing is for sure—football and the people she met along the way because of it will have a special place in her heart and mind.

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EAC

Perpetual escapes upset-hungry EAC

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Fighting off a sluggish start, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas came alive late to slip past the Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals, 22-25, 25-19, 25-14, 23-25, 15-13, and remain on pace for a spot in the NCAA Season 93 Final Four at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Taking on a struggling EAC side, Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño knew that there was a possibility that his squad would relax. His team has had trouble starting and finishing off matches, as evidenced in their first set performance and lack of finishing push in the fourth frame.

“May tendency talaga ‘yung team ko na mag-relax. Sabihin na nating hindi kasi sobrang lakas ng kalaban. Pero alam naman natin sa volleyball na wala namang team na ibibigay sa’yo ‘yung panalo, kailangan kunin mo talaga,” Cariño lamented.

The fifth frame came down to late breaks. The Lady Altas broke a 13-all tie with back-to-back transition conversions from Cindy Imbo and Lourdes Clemente.

“Siyempre, nage-expect ako nang mas maganda pang performance sa team ko. Alam din naman nila na mas may ibubuga pa sila kaya kailangan mas maganda ang ipakita namin sa mga huli naming laro,” the NCAA champion mentor added.

Imbo tallied a game-high 17 points, while Clemente and Maria Aurora Tripoli added 15 points, apiece. The Lady Altas needed all of their 11 aces and 11 blocks to offset their season-high 42 errors.

Aira Binondo was the only Lady General in double-digits with 13 points.

The Lady Altas (3-1) next face the Jose Rizal University (2-2) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. EAC (0-4) will look for their first win on Monday against the College of Saint Benilde (2-1).

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Imbo 17, Clemente 15, Tripoli 15, Sangalang 11, Llorente 10, Versoza 4, Estanislao 1, Gual 1, Umandal 0, Medalla (L)

EAC (2) – Binondo 13, Tongco 9, Pablo 8, Lumbao 7, Magbanua 7, Reyes A. 3, Reyes K. 3, Tasis 2, Yongco 1, Medina (L)

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EAC

Altas steamroll Generals for fourth win

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The University of Perptual Help System DALTA Altas maintained top-billing in the NCAA Season 93 Men’s Volleyball tournament after cruising past the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 25-14, 25-19, 25-11, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Last season’s runners-up dominated right from the first point and never let the Generals sniff the lead. The Altas outclassed the San Marcelino-based program in every scoring category, tallying a season-high 13 blocks to EAC’s three.

The Altas also maintained their solid passing this season, a trend that delighted head coach Sammy Acaylar.

“Isa ‘yun sa mga bagay na tinututukan ko talaga sa kanila kasi we know na we can be good at attacking and blocking. We just need to be consistent on floor defense and reception,” said Acaylar, as the Altas were 58 percent on excellent receives.

“Kahit maganda ang nilalaro namin ngayon, alam naman ng mga bata ang end goal namin which is to win a championship. So kailangan isa-isa lang ang tingin namin sa mga laro kasi marami pang challenges na darating bago namin makamit ang championship,” the decorated mentor added.

Graduating team captain Rey Taneo towed the Las Piñas-based spikers with 12 points coming off seven attacks and five blocks. Joebert Almodiel added 11 points.

Open hitter Joshua Mina was the lone bright spot for the Generals, scoring 13 points.

Perpetual (4-0) look to keep streaking when they face the struggling Jose Rizal University (0-4) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. EAC (2-2) take on the defending champions College of Saint Benilde (2-1) on Monday, also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores:

UPHSD (3) – Taneo 12, Almodiel 11, Rosales 10, Muhali 8, Ramos 8, Atentar 1, Solamilo 1, Bateon 0, Catipay 0, Salo 0, Taneo S. 0, Kalingking (L)

EAC (0) – Mina 13, Lim 5, Ilano 4, Rasing 2, Castelano 0, Garcia 0, Panoy 0, Magadan (L)

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ABL

Joshua Munzon, Westsports snap Saigon’s streak in highly emotional contest

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Photo by ASEAN Basketball League

Entering Wednesday night’s game, Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat were on a high, slaying the winning streaks of Hong Kong Eastern and Nanhai Kung Fu. However, Joshua Munzon and the Westsports Malaysia Dragons had other things in mind, keeping the Heat winless at the MABA Stadium, 91-87.

In his fourth game since returning to the Dragons, Munzon filled up the stat sheet, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Besides putting up the numbers, the athletic swingman from California helped limit reigning Heritage Player of the Week Williams to his worst game so far in the ABL. Averaging 27.33 points, 6.67 assists, and 6.0 rebounds prior to this game, Williams went field goal-less against the Dragons, missing all 11 of his attempts. The Filipino-American floor general was able to dish out eight assists and grab five caroms.

Westsports led by as much as 11 points in the final frame, 82-71, after Munzon found Marcus Marshall for a triple with 4:59 remaining. Behind World Imports Akeem Scott and Maxie Esho, the Heat stormed right back but was answered by a long bomb by Munzon to keep them at bay.

Marshall and Scott figured in a shootout to close out the game but in the end, the hosts were still able to etch out their second straight victory.

Marshall finished the game with 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Dragons while Scott’s 44-point game went for naught.

After the emotionally charged contest though, few unkind words were exchanged by the officials of both squads that almost resulted into a brawl. Fortunately, things did not escalate beyond that.

In the video, Munzon was also seen shoving a Saigon player to try and pacify the situation. The league is currently investigating the post-game incident.

With the win, Westsports Malaysia raised its record to 3-4 while dropping Saigon to 4-3.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Edward Kelly honored to fight alongside brother Eric

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Eric and Edward Kelly lived under the same roof for years in their hometown of Baguio City when they were young and shared the same burning passion in martial arts.

Growing up in the small town community of San Tomas Central, located within the city limits of Baguio, Eric and Edward did not always get along with one another as the two fought all the time, sometimes even resulting in injury.

“We were not that close before. We always fought. In short, Eric and I were headaches to our parents,” Edward recalled in jest.

“But of course, things change when you grow up and mature. We now appreciate each other’s company.”

Fortunately, when the brothers entered high school, Eric discovered martial arts, and everything would change for both of them.

Edward paid attention to the growing accolades of his older brother and was heavily motivated by it.

“I noticed after he started martial arts that it taught him the discipline not to fight me as a brother. Instead, he started giving me advice through what he had learned,” he bared. “I also joined martial arts because it teaches you discipline, and a lot of other positives, too.”

Years later, both men have made remarkable runs as outstanding martial artists in their respective professional careers.

Eric is widely regarded as one of the best homegrown martial arts athletes to come out of the Philippines.

A Wushu practitioner who combines solid striking techniques with high-level grappling skills, Eric owns nine scintillating submissions and one knockout out of 12 total career victories.

Eric’s most impressive showing to date came in a submission win over Rob Lisita in July 2014, a performance that earned him the USD 50,000 ONE Warrior Bonus.

Meanwhile, Edward is considered as one of the best and brightest featherweight prospects to emerge from the well-established martial arts scene in the Philippines.

With a complete striking and grappling skill set, Edward brings Team Lakay’s world-renowned Wushu to center stage as he showcases his impeccable skillset inside the ONE Championship cage.

In addition, the younger Kelly has won three of his last four bouts under the ONE Championship banner, all by spectacular finish.

The Kelly brothers get a rare chance on Friday, January 26 as the siblings will compete side-by-side when ONE Championship holds its first of the four scheduled events in the country for 2018.

Eric squares off with Brazilian standout Rafael Nunes on the undercard of ONE: Global Superheroes, while Edward crosses paths with Cambodia’s Meas Meul in a three-round featherweight clash.

It is the first time both of them will be featured at a ONE Championship event together, and Edward plans to make it a night they will never forget.

“I am so excited because finally, it’s going to happen. It marks the first time that I will compete alongside my older brother. Surely, it’s going to be a memorable night for the both of us,” he said.

“We have the same aim of winning. So making it two for two on this card will make this extra special.”

As Eric seeks to get back on the winning track at the expense of Nunes, Edward is likewise looking to move forward in his career after getting his three-bout winning streak snapped by American stalwart Emilio Urrutia in August 2017.

In his next cage outing, Edward goes up against Meul, a undefeated promotional newcomer with six wins to his credit.

“My coaches has prepared me well for this. I am not going to disappoint my team and my country when I enter that cage on 26th of January,” Edward assured. “I don’t want to let my countrymen down this time. I am here to give them a great bout.

“And of course, win the bout in impressive fashion for them.”

Edward has no qualms if he has to go full three rounds with Meul, but he admitted that his sights are always set on securing the finish.

“I am looking to dominate him for three rounds. But hopefully, I can get the finish,” he vowed.

“A finish will be the perfect way to tell the world that I am back.”

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