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FULL TIME: Top 5 UAAP Season 77 Football Stories of the week

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Only two matches took place this week as the UAAP gave way for Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. Despite the shortage of games, UAAP football fans were treated to a spectacular double-header that pitted four out of the five teams strongly in title contention.

We know the results, so let’s get to know more about their impacts on the teams moving forward.

It’s all about performance for Bugas, FEU

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The Far Eastern University Tamaraws picked up their second straight win courtesy of a 2-0 win against Ateneo last Wednesday afternoon. This sets up a mouth-watering game between FEU and UP on Thursday. Heading into the marquee clash, both teams recovered from their lone defeat by recording two wins.

According to FEU’s Paolo Bugas, winning two games that amounted to an aggregate 11-1 scoreline after losing their last game of 2014 is a good sign, yet what matters more is how they play each game. Goal difference also is not the main incentive the Tamaraws are after as Bugas expounded, “Wala kaming pakialam diyan [goal difference] kasi importante sa amin ‘yung performance talaga.”

Only a superior goal difference keeps UP ahead of FEU, meaning the Tamaraws must win to overtake the Maroons and recapture first place at the end of the first round.

Mabanag thinks young Eagles need mental toughness

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Mikko Mabanag pinpoints mental preparation, or the lack of it, to have cost Ateneo the game against FEU last week.The Blue Booters Captain played through groin and ankle injuries in their last two matches where they disappointingly took just one of the six points up for grabs.

“You have to go to every game with high spirits. Kung pababayaan mong mabagsak lang kayo, it’s going to affect everyone,” quipped Mabanag. They slid to fourth after the loss but only two points adrift first place. Thankfully for Mabanag and company, time is far from running out just yet. He went further saying, “we’re a young team and being young means that you have a lot of time for growth. Our team is bonded properly… We’re going to be competing.”

Ateneo will return to action on Wednesday against another young team in Adamson. Winless since their back-to-back wins against UST and UP last year, the Blue Booters hope they can take home their first three points of 2015. “Atenista kami, hindi kami magpapatalo,” the skipper proudly uttered.

Finishing a major issue for both Smit and Laranas

Coach Lem

The first game of last Wednesday afternoon’s double-header featured NU and DLSU. The game finished 2-1 in favor of La Salle but both teams’ mentors believe their players could have made it a shootout. La Salle’s two goals came inside the opening half hour of the match whilst NU’s was courtesy of a late penalty awarded to the Bulldogs, which was virtually the last kick of the game.

Smit was pleased that the early goals allowed his team to play with momentum but still expressed dismay in converting attempts to goals. It would have made the Lasallians more comfortable in the game. As for NU Head Coach Wilhelm Laranas, he may have understood that some of the chances surprised even his strikers, but that doesn’t open room for error in scoring goals especially in a tightly contested game. “Doon lang sumasablay–sa finishing. ‘Yun lang ‘yung medyo off pa kami,” he declared.

The second round encounter between La Salle and NU offers intriguing perspectives from both sides. Their approach to that match would undoubtedly be influenced by their situation en route to the playoffs. Whether that results in a thrilling goalfest or a one-sided match, the protagonists only seek one thing: higher accuracy in front of goal.

La Salle stands as league’s only undefeated squad

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Following Ateneo’s 2-0 loss to FEU, La Salle is the only team in UAAP men’s football that has yet to drop three points after playing six games. It is an unusual but welcome start for a team that regularly struggles in the early stages of previous seasons.

The Taft XI avoided defeat to perennial suspects UP, FEU, and Ateneo whom have all drawn with the Lasallians this season. DLSU Coach Hans Smit credits his team’s effectiveness in neutralizing the opponents’ main threats. Against Ateneo, Smit’s lads impressed their coach with how they handled the midfield battle. The same can be said against NU, whose forwards had difficulty in creating openings and executing properly whenever a chance comes along.

On Thursday, a DLSU win against sixth-placed UST, another team which also won against them in last year’s first round, will assure them at least second place going into the second round.

Playoff race heats up as first half of season concludes

Right now, all teams remain in the hunt for four playoff berths and rounding up the first round would paint us half of what is in store this season. In contention for first place after round 1 are UP, FEU, La Salle and Ateneo. The top four teams are separated by just two points with half of them battling each other for league leadership. Fifth seeded NU Bulldogs are not far behind with just a point less than Ateneo in fourth whilst bottom three teams UST, UE, and Adamson are still mathematically in the running. However, the trailing trio of teams need to double their efforts to not only lose more points as they target to move towards the playoff places.

TeamWDLPointsGD
UP41113+14
FEU41113+12
DLSU33012+6
Ateneo32111+3
NU31210+3
UST2046-4
UE1053-15
Adamson0060-19

 

The winner between UP and FEU will definitely take first place while a draw presents a chance to either one of La Salle and Ateneo or both to claim first spot at the end of first round. NU’s best case scenario is to move up to third, which would require a win against UE, a win by UST against La Salle and a draw between Adamson and Ateneo. Wins by teams in sixth to eighth places would stir an exciting Final Four race as it will reduce the gap between second and sixth to just four points. Should the bottom three lose, meanwhile, it will only make their pursuit of booking a playoff spot more difficult for it would separate fifth to sixth by seven points. None of them would even have that much points in seven games should all of them lose this midweek.

There are still a lot of games left in the season but every game is as important as the other. Each win solidifies their Final Four aspirations while each loss deflates it. For the incumbent, to get favourable results will lessen the likelihood of depending on other results come the closing stages of the season. As for teams outside the Top Four, enough time remains to make a second round surge. Urgency is required because they cannot afford to lose more points or it would likely spell elimination to this season’s title race.

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Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa

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After going a horrid 5-for-17 from the stripe during their first loss of the season last January 9, Christian Standhardinger made sure to make good on his free throws to power the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a dominant 99-79 rout of the Formosa Dreamers, Thursday evening in Southorn Stadium.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who tallied 37 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime loss to Saigon, went a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The contest itself was not close, as the defending champions were able to impose their will on the bottom-ranked squad, leading by as much as 23 points, 93-70, after two free throws by Standhardinger with 2:58 remaining.

If Standhardinger was having a good day with his free throws, the entire Formosa squad could not say the same, going 13-of-27 from the line.

Tyler Lamb had 25 markers as well for Hong Kong, while Ryan Moss grabbed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Lenny Daniel paced Formosa with 25 points and 11 rebounds. World Import Ronnie Aguilar had 14 points and 16 rebounds but went just 5-for-14 from the field.

With the win, Hong Kong goes to 8-1, while the Dreamers fell to 1-8.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes 3×3 World Cup breaks Philippine Arena record

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short of copping Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different beast.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad suffered a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even fashioning multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino, as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. The 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the duo — and the rest of the Jawbreakers — now have the experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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