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

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Two rounds of the thrilling UAAP Season 77 Men’s Football Tournament took place in the last seven days, bridging the conclusion of the first round and the commencement of the second round. A total of eight matches were staged within the week, all of which carried weight in the chase for the coveted Final Four slots.

Presenting the second of the two-part booster pack of FULL TIME- here are the stories that made it:

Golden boot not the priority for Giganto

Giganto

FEU’s leading scorer Eric Ben Giganto made it clear after last Thursday’s loss to UP that he cares less about the top individual goal scoring award.

The fourth year FEU striker has already found the back of the net eight times, the most a player has scored this season. Two other players have the same tally as him after UP’s Jinggoy Valmayor and UST’s Steven Anotado scored the goals to match Giganto’s haul.

Airing his side on the topic, Giganto does not want that to get into his head. “[Scoring more goals] does not matter to me as long as I play well,” he shared. What does matter to the FEU man is his performance and the outcome of each game. “As long as manalo ‘yung team, ginagawa ‘yung part ko as a striker, binibigay ko ‘yung best ko, wala sa akin ‘yun [record],” he stated.

NU point fingers at woeful officiating in draw

Coach Lem

Coach Wilhelm Laranas had plenty to say to the referees after being held to a 1-1 draw by UE last Saturday. The NU gaffer frowned upon the calls, especially those that made his team play with a one-man disadvantage.

“Referee!” was the first word Laranas uttered in his post game reaction. “‘Yung referee ‘yung nagpatalo sa amin. May mga calls na mali talaga,” he exclaimed. It appeared like a defeat for the Bulldogs who were leading but were held even at the end after going a man down. He acknowledged that red cards slapped on Elgen Antipolo and Marole Bungay may have been deserved but he strongly argued that UE deserved more dismissals than what they acquired in the game.

Meanwhile, he defended his decision to rest key players like Paolo Salenga and Francis Abalunan, who both began the game on the bench. “Kayang laruin ‘yung game kahit wala sila. We can win the game without them. Nakascore pa rin kahit wala sila,” he stressed. What put them off their game was playing the second half a man down. The NU attacking duo played a short part of the game after being introduced as a response to UE’s equalizer courtesy of Regil Galaura.

Ateneo continues to flourish with set pieces

Mary for you

Eleven out of the 15 goals netted by Ateneo so far this season came from set pieces, with two of the 11 enough to earn them a draw against an in-form UP team. Set pieces include free kicks- whether direct or indirect, corner kicks, and penalty shots. Ateneo midfielder and designated free kick taker Mikko Mabanag shed light on his team’s fluency in dead ball situations and how the team is working towards improving their goal tally from open play.

Mabanag revealed that Ateneo’s success in set pieces has been modeled after the fluency of top professional teams in it. “[Scoring from] set pieces has become a vital part of our team and it is a translation of what we train for.” They scored eight times from free kicks- one of them directly from the spot, twice in corner kick situations, and once from the penalty spot.

It is not all well and good for Mabanag and company for their ability to complete set pieces highlights their reliance on them. They found the net only 27% (4/15) of the time in open play, one of them being an own goal which came against UST. “It is definitely a concern,” Mabanag admitted. “We practice it almost every training session. In my opinion, we just have to be more creative than sticking to a set of plans,” he continued.

It is already clear that almost every Ateneo set piece has been a goalscoring opportunity. Teams have been working their way around it but have been struggling to deal with it save for two teams that blanked the Ateneans–La Salle and FEU. For third placed Ateneo to succeed this season, a balance in scoring from open play and set pieces may just be the key to a second UAAP trophy in three years.

Super sub strikers save La Salle from dropping points

Chuck Uy

Christian Zubiri and Chuck Uy both came off the bench to rescue their team from getting unfavorable results in games against UST and FEU this week. The first year striker headed La Salle into a thrilling 2-1 win versus UST just when it appeared that both teams were bound to share points. Three days later, it was the turn of the Davaoeño Uy whose chipped effort earned his team an important draw late in the game against FEU.

Zubiri felt immense happiness after his heroic effort to bag all points for La Salle. “It feels awesome. Finally, I got my goal,” he delightfully expressed. The rookie missed two late chances to win games, one each against FEU and Ateneo in the first round so he was relieved to have successfully converted this time against UST, which happens to be his first goal of the season too.

Uy, on the other hand, is no stranger to scoring goals off the bench in the league. Currently, the third year forward has scored thrice this season. Without Uy’s goals, La Salle may have been closer to sixth-placed UST than first-placed UP in the standings. According to him, a substitute is vital in swinging the game in favor of his team. His goal scored against the Tamaraws extended their unbeaten run to eight games.

However, Uy emphasized that staying unbeaten is not the main objective- entering the championship duel is. “The team wants to get into the finals. We’ve been one step close to the finals but managed to lose it far too many times already,” he uttered. In support, Zubiri commented, “it (unbeaten streak) should reflect on how we should do in the future.” Through their contributions, Zubiri and Uy have spared DLSU from targeting a second round turnaround just to make the playoffs, something the team has done repeatedly in recent seasons.

UST keen to roar back into the Final Four

Coach Marjo

“May chance pa naman humabol. Hindi pa tapos ang lahat.” These were the words of UST coach Marjo Allado after his players flexed their muscles by whipping Adamson, 4-1.

In the loss to La Salle earlier in the week, he pointed out the lack of experience, a problem which the teams above them in the standings don’t seem to have. This was supported by Gino Clariño. The player who has been captaining the Tigers for the majority of their campaign said, “Kulang talaga. Maraming kulang sa amin.” He cited that the team has shortages in experience, fitness, and willingness to win. A few days after, Allado noticed an increase in the players’ hunger for good results. “‘Yung desire ng mga bata manalo nandito pa rin.”

Time is not a friend for UST at the moment but Allado is hopeful that his players can weather the second round and vastly improve. “Forget about the first round. One [game] at a time lang,” he added. The Tigers face an acid test when they play La Salle just exactly a week after the same team dealt them their fifth loss of the season. It marks UST’s first game against the Top Five. Then they are set to go up against struggling but unwavering UE before going into a tough four-game schedule in the last three weeks of the elimination round against the other title contenders.

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross

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During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao called Chris Ross the “N” word that caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nagflare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

Guiao though denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also against Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it really has become a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now went down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees the great need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’

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Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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Downcast Chris Ross chooses to stay mum after heated altercation with Yeng Guiao

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Through wins or losses, Chris Ross has always accommodated the members of the press asking for interviews and fans requesting for photo ops every after game. But Friday evening, the nine-year pro was despondent.

Visibly agitated with the events that had transpired during the San Miguel Beermen’s tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors, Ross, with his hoodie covering his head, left the Cuneta Astrodome without saying a word.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had figured in physical play after physical play and verbal exchange after verbal exchange with the frustrated Road Warriors.

Ross and Alex Mallari were both slapped with technicals after a confrontation with 9:06 left. This was just the start of many things to come for the Filipino-American defensive specialist

After knocking down a triple and receiving a taunt from Ross, Michael Miranda was assessed a disqualifying foul for an apparent kick to the groin against Ross with 4:35 left.

The tip of the iceberg came with 1:46 left to play and the game all but settled.

Yeng Guiao and Ross figured in a heated word war that resulted in Ross’ second technical foul for the game. Referees and players from both sides had to separate the two to prevent things from escalating.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria alleged that the fiery NLEX mentor said the “N” word, while some said Guiao called Ross a “bitch”.

Ross finished the game with four points, eight rebounds, and four steals in 37 minutes of action.

For sure, penalties and suspensions will come out of this game.

And it was better for Ross to stay silent.

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Jason Brickman flirts with triple-double as Mono holds off Singapore

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After playing his worst game of the season last Sunday against Tanduay Alab Pilipinas, Jason Brickman bounced back, steering the Mono Vampire to a 91-88 road victory over the Singapore Slingers, Friday evening at the OCBC Arena.

The 26-year-old, who finished with just seven points and three assists in their 71-104 loss to Alab, tallied 10 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. The league-leader in assists did not take a break, playing all 40 minutes.

But it was not a walk in the park for the Thailand-based squad.

Mono led by as much as 22 points, 60-48, with 7:46 left, 16 points entering the final frame. A furious fourth quarter rally by Singapore sliced the lead, turning the game into a single-possession contest with a minute left. The steady hands of Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary from the stripe fended off Singapore.

Brickman’s compatriot Paul Zamar chipped in 13 markers for Mono.

Since torching Alab last January 3, Filipino-Canadian AJ Mandani has been on a slump, going just 3-for-11 from the field for nine points.

Mono’s World Imports Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary both finished with 26 points with the former hauling down 18 rebounds. For Singapore, Xavier Alexander paced the Slingers with 29 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.

With the win, the Vampire kept solo third with a 7-4 slate. On the other hand, the Slingers dropped its second straight game since winning against Alab, falling to 5-6.

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