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FULL TIME: Stories of the UFL Cup 2015

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Tuesday, May 26, marked the end of the United Football League (UFL) Cup group stages. Twenty clubs were narrowed down to 16 as the bottom club of each group, namely Philippine Army, Fleet Marine, University of Santo Tomas, and Nomads, bid farewell to the competition. In the final set of games, group positions and the brackets were finalized for teams to trace their path towards lifting the UFL Cup. In this edition of FULL TIME presented by Mini Cooper watches, we make sense of the most interesting stories derived from the last week of the Cup’s group stage games.

Gannaban says knockout rounds begin with Round of 16, not quarterfinals

As the UFL Cup drew nearer in straining the teams into the knockout stages, people in the Philippine football community wondered whether the knockout stages involved eight or 16 teams. After having all the group stage matches played, UFL Technical Director and Head of Football Operations Richard Gannaban announced via Twitter that there are still 16 teams left to battle for one of the country’s major silverware.

When the initial schedule was announced, it was laid out in the list that the competition’s succeeding round will only have eight teams. Rely San Agustin, UFL’s General Manager, even looked to have confirmed this six days before the last match day of the group stage.

Four days later, however, Gannaban used social media to issue what appeared to be a contradicting statement. He clarified that the competition will instead be contested by 16 teams which will be sorted by a certain criteria.

The league posted on its official Facebook page yesterday the bracket for everyone to see, confirming that the tournament will have a round of 16.

To determine the brackets, the records of each group’s top four teams were jointly tabulated. In the process, squads with the most points led the table, while goal difference was used to break the tie on points. In the end, the seemingly sudden change in format put into place benefits eight more teams given a chance to take the coveted prize home.

Manson sets ambitious yet attainable objective for rejuvenated Global

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I don’t think we should lose another domestic game,” declared coach of the UFL reigning champions Global FC Leigh Manson after their 5-1 conquest of Laos FC last Saturday. The club appears to have recovered from their uncharacteristically poor start that saw them drop eight valuable points. At the end of the season’s first half, Global find themselves in fourth place, five points behind league leaders Ceres-La Salle.

After a disastrous opening stretch of games that included costly defeats to Yadanarbon away and domestic rivals, Kaya and Loyola, Global looked crashing down towards uncharted territory. During that period, The People’s Club missed several key players notably Captain Misagh Bahadoran. After that barren run of games, Global steadily improved to stay in the hunt for the domestic league title. They halted Ceres-La Salle’s eight-game unbeaten run and nearly took a spot in the AFC Cup’s knockout stages.

Now with a bolstered lineup that features new signings, Matthew Hartmann, Norio Suzuki, and OJ Clarino, Global are geared up to mount a serious challenge in the two domestic trophies left to be disputed. As far as Manson is concerned, winning all the remaining matches in both the league and the cup means that his club will not end the season without something to celebrate about. Clearly, he trusts his team to meet his bold target.

“Perfect” Kaya nab number one seed in knockout stages

Lois Clark

With 26 unanswered goals inside 360 minutes of UFL Cup football, Kaya FC has claimed the highest ranking in the round of 16. As a result, they will clash with winless Bright Star FC, who replaced the supposed Group A’s fourth placed team Philippine Army.

After their 3-0 victory over fellow Division I side Pachanga-Diliman, Kaya manager Paul Tolentino commended his players for staying committed in the team’s mission of bringing a major honour to their shelves. In addition, Tolentino did not stress a lot on the fact that his team’s impenetrable defense in the tournament, regarding such feat as a result of mere compliance to their aims as a club. What he is concerned about is getting Kaya into a favourable environment leading to the finals. “Kaya has a history of making life hard in the knockout rounds. Hopefully it’s a more stable bracket now,” Tolentino remarked. It seems that he got what he wished for.

A downside to Kaya’s breathtaking football, however, is the fact that there will be no UFL action for three weeks. He is wary of the long break causing his team to slow down. “Any momentum you built here is not really going to carry over into the three weeks,” he elaborated. In conclusion, Tolentino sees his team determined to give their all in pursuit of lifting a trophy in August.

Loyola summon top guns to extinguish UST’s valiant resistance

Before the game between UST and Loyola Meralco Sparks, many people perhaps thought that the Division I outfit would score more than 10 goals past the UAAP team. After the final whistle, the Sparks slotted in an unsurprising seven. It looked like a heavy defeat, but what caught everyone surprised was the goalless score at halftime.

Phil vs UST

“They put up a real hard fight. At halftime it’s 0-0. I told them ‘it’s these guys’ cup final.’ They’re fighting for their pride. They’re playing against one of the bigger teams. They’re going to give everything so long as the score stays close,”  the Loyola Coach, Simon McMenemy, spoke of their after their Sunday evening match. Actually, it nearly even became 1-0 for UST had Steven Anotado’s shot been a couple of inches lower than when it hit the crossbar. The Sparks dominated in the first half but Jose Zaldy Abraham stood well in goal to frustrate Loyola, who played without some of their star players such as national team players James Younghusband and Simon Greatwich.

In the end, it was Phil Younghusband’s entry into the game that altered the course of the match. Simply, Loyola battered UST by scoring six times in the last 20 minutes to complete a flattering 7-0 rout. “We wanted to make sure that we take our chances,” McMenemy uttered. He also acknowledged that their opponents did not look to score apart from Anotado’s strike against the run of play, but they surely made things difficult for Loyola, who relied on their stars to more than guarantee the points. “They made it really difficult defending like heroes ’till the end,” the Scottish mentor remarked. Winning by more than a goal was also important for the Sparks, who as a result moved a placr above fifth ranked Stallion in the aggregated 16-team classification table.

That is for this week’s version of FULL TIME presented by Mini Cooper watches, which are available at Washington Watches.

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Gilas still sticking with Andray Blatche, says team manager Butch Antonio

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It will still be Andray Blatche

Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio made it clear that naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche will be back for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in February.

Blatche has yet to attend Gilas practices due to his commitment with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, but Antonio said that they have already reached out to the said league for his temporary release.

“We have already made communication. We sent a letter already,” said the executive after Gilas’ practice Monday. “Kasi that’s the protocol now eh… You have to write a letter to the team through the CBA and you will just have to wait for their reply.”

It is still uncertain if and when the Flying Tigers will lend the naturalized center to Gilas, who will face Australia and Japan on February 22 and 25, respectively. But Antonio is confident that the ball club will let the former NBA cager go.

“More ofte

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Jong Uichico calls for pool players to be complete as Gilas brace for Aussies

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Cause for concern?

In their second session for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, only nine of the 15 Gilas pool players actively participated.

June Mar Fajardo, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Troy Rosario, Jiovani Jalalon, Carl Cruz, Gabe Norwood, Allein Maliksi, and Japeth Aguilar were in uniform while Roger Pogoy watched on the sidelines. Jayson Castro and Mac Belo were not present while Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan have yet to attend a session. 23 for 2023 cadets CJ Perez and Abu Tratter were called to duty to give the team added bodies.

The session ended earlier than usual, only practicing for around 45 minutes.

“Light lang naman. Some players had games last night,” said assistant coach Uichico, who together with Josh Reyes handled the night’s session. “Light lang pero we emphasized on some things in today’s practice, it’s more mental and a little bit of execution. “

With Gilas’ game against the 10th ranked Australia just 34 days away, Uichico expressed his concern that the Nationals won’t be as cohesive as they want it to be.

“It’s always a concern naman. We prefer once a week na lang naman, di pa tayo makumpleto,” expressed Uichico,

“We prefer really na makumpleto whether they practice or not, at least nandyan sila nanonood kung anong nangyayari.

“So mas mabilis yung pagtuto, especially if we put something new, at least nakikita nila kahit hindi nila naeexecute. We prefer and it’s really mandatory na nandito sila every Monday,” the mentor of the 2017 SEA Games team furthered.

Due to this, the staff of the team has yet to formulate a gameplan for the Aussies. A win against either the Boomers or Japan will automatically qualify Gilas to the next stage of the qualifiers.

“I don’t know. Our first plan is to practice everyday and then see if we can get the team complete as soon as possible.”

But as Gilas has proven time and time again, the multi-time PBA champion coach believes that they will overcome once more.

“There’s always challenges naman, especially the situation that we’re in. The PBA’s ongoing and we try to practice,” the soft-spoken tactician shared.

“There will always be challenges but every problem or challenge can be solved naman.”

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Willie Marcial hints at possibility of PBA lending unlimited players to Gilas

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Current PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial was a surprise spectator Monday night at the Meralco Gym, as Gilas Pilipinas resumed its’ preparations for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Sabi ko sa kanila, hindi ako bisita.

“Magkakasama tayo nung araw pa,” quipped the amiable official.

Marcial’s visit speaks volumes of the PBA’s commitment to the Gilas program even if the pro league is in the midst of recovering from a lengthy impasse late in 2017, where a power struggle in the PBA’s board room took place.

“Ang PBA 100 percent susuportahan yung Gilas. Maniwala kayo. Talagang all out ang PBA diyan,” said the league’s former media bureau chief.

And coming along with that all-out support he had affirmed is the possibility of abolishing the one-player-per-team rule in loaning players to the National Team. That ruling has seemingly limited Gilas in building the best team possible.

“Baka magulat kayo biglang mag-propose sila wala nang limit ang players ‘pag kumuha. Puwedeng mangyari yun.”

When asked if he will be a regular fixture in Gilas practices in the coming weeks, Marcial said that it would be strongly possible, barring any meetings in the league’s office that require his full attention.

“Nako, sinabi ko sa kanila pipilitin ko every Monday nandito ako,” said Marcial, a favorite to become the next PBA commissioner. “Pupunta ako rito every Monday, basta wala lang mga meeting talagang pupuntahan ko sila.

“Tingnan niyo, masaya kami, parang magkakabarkada diba? Sabi ko sa kanila walang problema.”

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June Mar Fajardo returns to Gilas practice

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With just 37 days left before the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, four-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo suited up during the second session of SMART Gilas Pilipinas.

Fajardo was absent during the team’s first practice as he battled the classic case of a flu.

Joining Fajardo were Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Troy Rosario, Jiovani Jalalon, Carl Cruz, Gabe Norwood, Allein Maliksi, and Japeth Aguilar. Roger Pogoy was also in attendance, but was in street clothes.

Not present were Mac Belo and Jayson Castro. Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan were also absent for the second straight week.

For the 23 for 2023 cadets, only two were invited for the night’s session.

Reigning NCAA Seniors Basketball MVP CJ Perez was present together with Marinerong Pilipino big man Abu Tratter.

The practice was supervised by assistant coaches Jong Uichico and Josh Reyes. Coach Chot Reyes is currently in Japan.

The PBA’s officer-in-charge Willie Marcial watched on the sidelines.

The Philippines will face Australia at the Margaret Court Arena on February 22. Three days later, the country will host Japan at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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