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Gilas’ Class of ’07 and the Olympic basketball dream

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More than eight years ago, the Chot Reyes-mentored Philippine National Basketball Team told his players to focus on one date: 8-8-8.

It was the start (August 8, 2008) of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and Reyes kept telling his boys to keep their eyes on that ultimate goal.

The team trained for over a year, getting exposure in Las Vegas, Carson City, Thailand, West Asia, and Belgrade, although the team fell short in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship after bowing out of the first round.

With three members of that squad, Dondon Hontiveros, Gabe Norwood, and Asi Taulava, all becoming part of the Gilas final 12, more than 8 years later, all get another shot at doing the same; vying for a slot in the Olympic basketball tournaments.

Taulava alone has been part of many national teams in the past, and he considers this stint the biggest and most important of all those chances.

Gilas Day 1 Prac - Dondon Hontiveros“Yes, especially with the pool we have and the system that we have. Hopefully we can keep it that way. If we can get to FIBA Asia as a complete team, it is a whole different ball game,” he said.

The evergreen center never envisioned himself to be in this situation, given his age and how his career has been winding down, yet here he is today, having another shot to play in the grandest stage of sports.

His motivation is quite simple; He wants to make a statement.

“Who in their craziest dreams would have thought at 42, me at 42 will still be competing and not just in the PBA, but the final 12 of the national team. I think I was more motivated and fired up now than my first year in 2002. Because now I want to make a statement and erase all those ghosts. We have a very good chance,” Taulava said.

Now he gets more help, with the entry of Andray Blatche and a handful of athletic and versatile players.

Norwood’s 2007 appearance was special. It was the first time he donned the colors of the Philippine national team and was fresh from a US NCAA stint with George Mason University.

Gabe Norwood GilasThat 2007 FIBA Asia Championship appearance basically opened the gates for his career opportunities here.

Now a PBA champion and a many-time member of the national team, Norwood says being part of Gilas 3 is an opportunity he cannot just let slip away.

“It is overwhelming to be able to represent the country one time, but we have this opportunity again to get us to the Olympics is an awesome experience and hopefully I can take my experiences from 2007 and I apply it here,” Norwood shared.

“That is the approach we have to take. Who knows if we will have this chance again as individual players or as a unit. We have to embrace it and enjoy the whole experience,” he added.

Hontiveros thinks he shouldn’t even be here at the moment. In this era where he isn’t getting any younger, he’s just happy to be still be able to play.

But an opportunity he cannot let pass came across, and he quickly took advantage.

Hontiveros knows the sacrifice that comes along, but he does not mind, as he knows time isn’t on his side.

“Malaking sacrifice. Itong time na to I should be with my family but this opportunity na binigay sa akin, I will make the most out of it. Kung makapunta ng Olympics then it will be all worth it,” Hontiveros shared.

“Before you retire, you have a chance of making it special with this kind of group and the system na ini-implement ni Coach Tab. You have guys who are versatile and can play multiple positions. Malaking bagay sa akin ‘to, so I will just give my best and make you guys proud.”

Through the course of their respective basketball careers, Hontiveros, Norwood, and Taulava have all achieved milestones.

Asi-TaulavaTaulava was hailed MVP of the ABL in 2013, leading the San Miguel Beermen to the title while staging a successful return in the PBA.

Hontiveros kept winning titles with PBA clubs, showing that his firepower from long range is invaluable to any team.

Norwood was part of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship team, which made it to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

The roads of the three stalwarts intersect again, and they now have another chance to fulfill the Olympic dream that has been in their minds since 2007.

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1 Comment
  • reggie

    I believe in dondon’s shooting skill and basketball intelligence. I believe he’s gonna be the difference in our Philippine team. I believe in these three gentlemen and brothers. God bless you and your endeavours. God bless the Philippines! We’ll support you win or lost! Laban!puso!

Basketball

After getting first D-League experience, Zark’s-Lyceum ready to get loose

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After a hesitant performance in their PBA D-League debut last Thursday that resulted in a loss to the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers seemingly caught up with the league’s style of play on Tuesday.

Zark’s-Lyceum displayed their true form and stamped their class all over the Batangas-EAC Generals with a 37-point destruction, 112-75 — so far the biggest winning margin the franchise has ever had in its D-League history.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams we’re playing against with,” said Zark’s-Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson after the match at Pasig Sports Center. “But the things we want to mind are those things we control.

“We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways.”

Robinson’s claim was strongly backed up by the numbers that the Jawbreakers produced.

CJ Perez had 21 points and 10 rebounds. MJ Ayaay produced 15 points and 10 boards, and Mike Nzeusseu delivered 14 markers and 11 boards.

Even the bench made their presence felt in the victory. With guard Jaycee Marcelino spearheading the supporting cast’s charge with 12 markers, the bench contributed a remarkable 56 points to their total output.

Photo by PBA Images

“Ano lang, cinontrol lang namin yung pace kasi yun naman talaga yung laro namin, yung mabilisan,” said the 24-year-old do-it-all forward, who also collected three steals.

“Kailangan talaga mabilisan para ma-execute namin yung mga ginagawa namin.”

This week will be a rough one for the Pirates, as they will play right away this Thursday against the AMA Online Education. And for Perez, he strongly believes that they will be able to carry over their momentum.

“Oo. Nandun pa. Energy talaga yung puhunan namin para makalaro ng maayos.”

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Basketball

Bonbon Batiller shows what he can bring to Letran in D-League debut

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Photo by PBA Images

Tuesday proved to be a double debut for Bonbon Batiller. Aside from beginning his first foray in the PBA D-League, it also marked his debut for the Letran Knights, who are carrying the Wang’s Basketball Couriers franchise.

And the 5-foot-11 guard showed what he can bring to the table. Batiller collected 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists to help the Knights raise the curtains of their campaign with a 93-75 rout of the Batangas-EAC Generals.

“Nagworkout yung pinagpraktisan namin,” said Batiller. “Nagbunga rin yung tinuro samin ni Coach Jeff (Napa) lalo sa depensa. Tsaka siguro sa rebounds — laking lamang namin sa rebound. Nagsipag mga bigs namin.”

But what has him even more satisfied is the warm reception and trust he’s had from the Knights, even if he has spent barely a year with them after transferring from University of the East last 2017.

“Masaya po kasi tinanggap nila ako sa Letran ng buong-buo,” said Batiller, who normed 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals with UE in two years. “Tsaka yung tiwala nila na makakatulong ako sa team nandoon.

“Kaya masaya ako sa pinakita nila sa akin.”

That is why the General Santos native is hard-pressed to prove himself to Letran, saying that he’s all about giving back to the school that gave him another opportunity to resume his young, up-and-coming basketball career.

“Kailangan kong may mapatunayan na deserving ako sa binigay na second chance sa akin ni Letran,” said Batiller, who decided to switch schools partly due to academic reasons.

“Malaki ang utang ko sa Letran.”

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Football

Bienvenido Maranon scores brace as Ceres-Negros eliminates Brisbane Roar

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Photo from the-AFC.com

Philippine club football just achieved its biggest continental result yet

The inaugural Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros Football Club eliminated three-time Australian champions Brisbane Roar in the 2018 AFC Champions League’s second preliminary round with a 3-2 stunner, away at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane.

With the win, the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions are set to face Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian next January 30, 2018 at the Haihe Educational Football Stadium in Tianjin, China, to book a seat in the group stages.

Brisbane were the favorites for this tie and it showed, as Ceres started the contest on the back foot. Italian striker Massimo Maccarone handed the home side the lead in the 35th minute when he turned in Brett Holman’s pass.

Maccarone’s goal could have lowered the Busmen’s moral, but Risto Vidakovic’s men took it as a motivation rather than a downer. In fact, Ceres replied in the best way possible when Bienvenido Maranon scored his first goal of the match two minutes from halftime, thanks to a scramble in the Brisbane box.

By all accounts, Ceres had already made Philippine football proud at halftime. By this stage last year, Brisbane had accrued a 4-0 halftime cushion against Global Cebu en route to a 6-0 rout.

Today, though, Brisbane faced tougher resistance at Ceres’ hands. That resistance turned into a full-fledged revolt in the 65th minute when Maranon directed the ball past a helpless Jamie Young to give the Busmen their first taste of the lead.

Maranon’s goal well and truly turned the tide in Ceres’ favor. Brisbane were stunned. The home side are the defending A-League champions, but are currently eighth in the table this season and would soon face elimination from Asia’s premier club competition.

Already up 2-1, the Busmen finally achieved some breathing room in the 75th minute when Omid Nazari scored from close range to give Ceres a two-goal cushion over Brisbane.

Nazari’s goal not only sealed the win for Ceres, it also propelled Philippine football into the big leagues. Not even a late goal from French midfielder Éric Bauthéac could prevent the Busmen’s victory.

After five minutes of stoppage time, Ceres emerged 3-2 winners against Brisbane Roar. Come what may against Tianjin seven days from now, the Busmen have already achieved Philippine football’s biggest result since their own achievement in last season’s AFC Cup.

Who knows? Maybe Ceres can pull off another upset?

Ceres-Negros XI: Doblas (GK), Super, Mike Ott, Ingreso, Maranon, Porteria, Schrock, De Murga (C), Munoz, Nazari, Christaens.

Brisbane Roar XI: Ingham, Bowles, Papadopoulos, Maccarone, Holman, Khalfallah, Oxborrow, McKay (C), Hingert, Young (GK), Franjic.

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EAC

CJ Perez, Zark’s-Lyceum vent ire on Batangas-EAC with 37-point romp

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Photo by PBA Images

CJ Perez and the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers finally lived up to their hype, as they clobbered the Batangas-EAC Generals to score a 37-point beatdown, 112-75 for their first win, Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.

It was an all-out attack from the Jawbreakers, as they beat the Generals to the bite and took control of the game early, with Mike Nzeusseu and Jaycee Marcelino guiding their side to the 48-33 lead at halftime which they would never surrender.

Perez paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while MJ Ayaay tallied a double-double with his 15 markers, 10 boards, and three assists.

Cameroonian student-athlete Nzeusseu also delivered 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists. Marcelino had eight first half points and wound up with 12 off the bench, as the reserves chipped in 56 huge points in the tussle.

Coach Topex Robinson lauded the Jawbreakers for quickly adjusting to the style of the PBA D-League just days after falling to the Marinerong Pilipino, 92-94, back in opening day.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams were playing against with. But the things we want to mind are those things we control. We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways,” he said.

Earvin Mendoza and Cedric de Joya both had 16 points for the Generals in the losing effort.

Zark’s-Lyceum look to continue to roll when they face the AMA Online Education Titans on Thursday, January 25. EAC-Batangas, on the other hand, take on the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers on Monday, January 29.

The Scores:

Zark’s-Lyceum 112 — Perez 21, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Serrano 10, Baltazar 8, Santos 8, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 6, Marata 4, Liwag 4, Ibañez 2, Cinco 2, Pretta 0.

Batangas-EAC 75 — E. Mendoza 16, De Joya 16, Tampoc 12, Laude 9, Pate 8, Maguliano 6, Altamirano 5, Diego 3, Garcia 0, Dela Peña 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0.

Quarterscores: 19-14, 48-33, 84-47, 112-75.

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