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FULL TIME: THE TOP UAAP SEASON 77 FOOTBALL STORIES OF THE WEEK

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The UAAP Football Tournament’s Final Four is less than a month away. As the season progresses, teams battle it out for playoff seats in both men’s and women’s divisions. With most teams still in the hunt, the current UAAP season offers excitement to players and spectators alike.

There are plenty of stories gathered from the eight matches that took place in the previous week. From the narrow 1-0 Ateneo win against UE early Thursday afternoon to the highly compelling 1-1 draw between rivals La Salle and Ateneo last Sunday afternoon, we compiled five interesting stories from the movers and shakers in UAAP football.

Out but not down: UE, Adamson vow to fight until the end

The UE Red Warriors and the Adamson Soaring Falcons are officially out of title contention. The two teams have been struggling to find form throughout the season. Despite displaying admirable grit and determination in challenging their opponents, they both failed to bag the results needed to stake their claim for the crown.

UE, in seventh place, has played better in the second round. They inflicted damage to NU’s Final Four chase with a 1-1 draw while also impressively competing with Ateneo and UST even if they lost to both of them. UE head coach Ryan Marinay is hopeful that his boys will continue to play good football. “Ipapakita namin ang best namin kasi pride ‘yun eh–pride ng school. Kailangan maglaro ng maayos,” he added.

Adamson’s return to UAAP football may not look pleasing if people will only go about the team’s record. The Soaring Falcons, consisting of young players relatively new to the competition, stood firm in their first four games where they lost by only an average of 1.25 goals per game. For a squad filled with newcomers, that number is quite impressive. However, they seemed to have lost footing in their last five games. In that period, the losing margin swelled to five, lifting the season average to 3.77. The challenge coach Nolan Manito has for his team until the season ends is to reduce the number of goals conceded by his team. Maybe in doing so, they may even find a way of crafting a shock result in their favor, given that they scored a total of seven goals in six of their nine games.

Both teams will face three title contenders before squaring off against each other to cap off their respective UAAP campaigns.

Gold Rush: Anotado targets Top Scorer plum

Steven Anotado UST

After leading his team to victory by scoring another goal, Steven Anotado declared his plan of bagging the UAAP Men’s Football Tournament Golden Boot. Currently, the striker in black, gold, and white has nine goals to his name, level with Jinggoy Valmayor of UP and a goal behind league-leading scorer and FEU Captain Eric Ben Giganto.

“Iyan [Golden Boot] nga ‘yung hinahabol ko. Kaya pa naman habulin,” said Anotado who also admitted that he feels less fulfilled whenever he fails to net a goal for his team. His coach Marjo Allado also heaped praise on the forward. “Nag-iimprove siya. Mas maganda naka-goal siya kanina [game against UE] para masanay na siya every game,” he commented.

The UST Tigers are in sixth place at the moment and are looking to join the hunt for a spot in the Final Four. They are only five points adrift of fourth-placed FEU, but have played a game more. Still, it offers a chance to Anotado and company to re-enter the playoffs. For them to get there, Anotado believes he has to work hard and communicate well with teammates. “Siguro mahihirapan akong maka-goal sa kanila [UP, FEU Ateneo, and NU]. Gagawin ko ang lahat,” he stated. Scoring against those four teams is a challenge Anotado relishes. Out of his nine goals, six of them came against UE and Adamson. He hopes that he will be able to do his job properly as a striker in the coming games so that they will qualify for the Final Four.

Gonzales unhappy with ugly win against NU

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For the second time this season, a second half goal from Jinggoy Valmayor lifted UP to a narrow 1-0 win versus NU. It was an important victory that saw them regain their position as the league’s best team, at least on paper.

On the contrary, it was UP coach Anto Gonzales who expressed disappointment with how his players fared against the Bulldogs. It is a rare but logical reaction to a triumph, especially against fellow contenders. “I just think they wanted to get the result. They really didn’t want to play football,” he remarked. Although he was pleased with how the players took charge in the midfield, he strongly believes that they did not play good football. “That’s not how it’s supposed to be if they really want to be in the Finals,” he said.

Nevertheless, he thinks that the back-to-back men’s football titlists of Seasons 73 and 74 will rediscover their brilliance on the pitch in time when they clash with FEU this Thursday. “Alam naman nila kapag masama ang game nila. They’re always eager to recover, as long as alam naman nila ang mga kailangan nilang iimprove. Go back to training and put more effort,” the UP mentor ended.

Winnable draws not enough for Ateneo ladies

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The Ateneo Women’s Football Team remained undefeated in the second round of the UAAP Season 77 Women’s Football Tournament. However, they were not able to win even one of those two games. Thus, they now stare at the likelihood of missing the Finals, somewhere they came close to reaching in the two previous seasons.

Last week, the team battled La Salle to a highly competitive goalless draw. It was a fairly contested match but Ateneo asserted dominance in the closing stages of the game. Unfortunately for them, the La Salle defense defended resolutely under the leadership of Inna Palacios in the goal. A week later, they came to their home turf at Moro Lorenzo Football Field knowing that anything less than a win would spell a strong likelihood of missing out on the Finals yet again. They welcomed neighbors UP by going ahead 1-0 at halftime thanks to Nona Amoncio’s go-ahead strike. Sadly for them, they were not able to hold on to the lead. A late equalizer from Lady Maroon Kali Navea-Huff dashed their championship ambitions.

“Compared to the FEU game [where they lost], they’re more tactically prepared now. It’s just that, maybe, they got too excited about the situation and too tense,” Ateneo coach Bob Manlulo assessed. According to him, the Ateneans mostly spent time in the middle of the park which prevented more opportunities from arriving. He conceded that he has a young team at his disposal, meaning that the players are not totally immune from losing concentration.

The only chance for Ateneo to enter the Finals is by winning their last two games against FEU and UST alongside UP losing all their games and La Salle losing their match against UST by a certain number of goals. A win by UP next weekend, when Ateneo is on bye, or a draw between FEU and UP and a La Salle win versus UST already knocks Ateneo out of the running without their even kicking a ball. Regardless, Manlulo is confident that it won’t change his team’s approach. “We still aim high to finish strong, to get two wins before we end the season,” he confidently uttered.

Beat them if you can: La Salle’s unbeaten streak extends to 10

Zubiri celebration

The De La Salle Men’s Football Team kept their undefeated run alive, a streak now spanning 10 games, following an intense 1-1 stalemate with rivals Ateneo. It was rookie Yoshiharu Koizumi who leveled the score for the Lasallians after Julian Roxas of Ateneo drew first blood. It marked the fourth time La Salle equalized to spare themselves from dropping all three points. They recovered thrice before, twice versus FEU and once against UP.

Speaking after the game against Ateneo, DLSU captain Gio Diamante lauded his teammates in keeping composure despite falling behind Ateneo in the early stages of the second half. “I’m actually proud of my teammates. We really did well when we were down. We really fought for the ball and thank God we actually got the equalizer.” In addition, he honestly reckoned that they could have even won the match but were not fortunate enough to have done so.

The unbeaten streak now reaches double figures and Diamante said that it helps in boosting their morale as the season progresses. Echoing the sentiment of his teammates and the rest of the Lasallian community, he is hopeful that the team will be able to stay undefeated until the end. “We’re really confident that we’re going to get to the Finals this year,” the experienced midfielder said. They will face UE and Adamson before battling UP and NU to end the elimination round.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes to break PH Arena record come 3×3 World Cup

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals that pitted 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 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 that was 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 team to win the championship.”

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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 formally announced its 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 its 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 its PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs it 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 aren’t a lot of 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 to cop 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 animal.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad had 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 however served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even having 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 while the 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the two and the rest of the Jawbreakers now have this 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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Renzo Subido to bring Marinerong Pilipino experience to UST

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When Renzo Subido decided to skip out the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers’ UAAP Season 80 campaign, he had only one thing in mind: to improve on his craft. And he was able to do so under coach Koy Banal in the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers.

After the AMA Online Education Titans had a quick end to their campaign during the 2017 Foundation Cup, the 5-foot-9 floor general was immediately picked up by Marinerong Pilipino for the playoffs. Liking his style of play, he was again tapped for the 2018 Aspirants Cup.

And he showed a lot of growth from then, leading the Skippers to a 94-92 victory over fellow contenders Zark’s Jawbreakers. The 21-year-old tallied 20 points, three rebounds, and five assists while knocking down the crucial free throws to seal off the Lyceum-backed team.

“It was a good win for us. We’re happy that we won the game because it’s a good way to start the conference,” beamed Subido. “I’ve played against Lyceum in the past so I had familiarity with how they play.

“It was a good experience for us.”

Expectations are high for Marinerong Pilipino this conference as they are pegged as their blend of veterans and young guns are seen too overwhelming for the rest of the field. Still, Subido knows that it will be a tough climb as the other teams, especially the collegiate-based squads, have familiarity on their side.

“We’re taking it one game at a time but the goal is to win the championship,” he said. “But we know that it’s not going to be easy since we are going up against the top collegiate teams.

“So we’re just going to go all out every game.”

Besides winning the championship, Subido is on a personal mission. Being one of the seniors for the Growling Tigers next season, he hopes to learn to become a better leader for next season.

“I want to become a better leader. I know that everything I can learn this conference, I can bring to UST,” Subido expressed.

“For all I can see, coach Aldin [Ayo] is a guard-oriented coach. So I’m using all the experience I get here in Marinero, I’ll bring it to UST.”

For sure, Subido wants to make up for lost time.

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