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Gorayeb dissects NU’s opening day loss to ADMU



The highly-anticipated opening day clash between the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles and the National University Lady Bulldogs turned out to be a lopsided one, as the back-to-back defending champions easily swiped last season’s second-runners up in straight sets, 25-21, 25-19, 25-14, yesterday at the Filoil Flying V Arena.

NU main guns Jaja Santiago and Myla Pablo led the Lady Bulldogs with 11 points each, while Jorelle Singh followed up with 6 markers.

On the other hand, Ateneo were once again led by superstar Alyssa Valdez’s 18 points, while Maddie Madayag and Bea De Leon chalked up 13 and 10 points respectively.

After the game, Tiebreaker Times had the chance to catch up with NU head coach Roger Gorayeb and ask him about his assessment on his team’s first game of the season.

Gaining the mental edge

On paper, NU’s roster is capable of holding its own against Ateneo. They have a strong middle blocker in Santiago; a series of capable hitters in Myla Pablo, Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas; and a reliable libero in Bia General.

UAAP 78 ADMU vs. NU-2726

With that said capability, NU amassed a couple of strong starts despite not having won a single set against the Lady Eagles. They had a series of scoring runs and error-free possessions, before Ateneo found a way to conjure an effective counter attack.

“Ang pumatay sa amin mga error namin. We were leading by five nung first set at 14-8 nung second set,” Gorayeb said when asked about his assessment on NU’s first game of the season. “Hindi pa siguro, at this point, hindi pa sila siguro ganoon katatag psychologically kasi na-rattle sila doon sa paghabol ng Ateneo.”

Gorayeb also stressed that his team had lost its mental composure when Ateneo took extra efforts to regain the lead. If NU had been a mentally tougher team, that would have made a big difference in battling a highly confident Ateneo team.

“Sabi ko nga sa timeout sa kanila, ‘bakit kayo natataranta? Eh sila ‘yung naghahabol?’ Kapag ganoon, nakakalimutan nila ang ibang responsibilidad nila. Kapag hinahabol kami, doon kami [nagkakaroon ng] masyadong madaming error,” Gorayeb added. “Ang ayaw ko doong makita ‘yung pag hinahabol sila, natataranta. Biniro ko nga sila, parang hindi kayo sanay lumamang sa kalaban.”

Setter dilemma

Hoping to find the right setter for the job, Gorayeb managed to give his three setters, Asi Soliven, Ivy Perez and Rica Diolan, significant amounts of playing time last Sunday. However, Ateneo setter Jia Morado proved to be a tough one to match, as NU only managed to come up with 6 excellent sets compared to the opposition’s 33.

“Naghahanap ako ng setter na mag-coconect kasi ‘yung isa, si Asi, maayos magset pero pagdating sa likod wala namang depensa. Si Ivy naman, nagdodoble at nagseset ng mataas at ‘yung [si Diolan] naman, ang set naman puro open,” Gorayeb remarked.

“Pero naghahanap talaga ako ng setter na madadala ‘yung mga spike,” he further elaborated. “Parang naging trial and error pero magconnect din iyan, wag naman sanang matagal kasi hindi rin tama.”

The season is still very young

Some of NU’s veteran players saw action in a lot of off-season volleyball tournaments over the past months. Santiago had stints in the Shakey’s V-League, Philippine Superliga, and even took part in the country’s national volleyball team that competed during the AVC U23 and SEA Games tourneys. In addition, Pablo, Perez, and General also played for different teams in the PSL.

PSL GP Finals G3 Foton vs. Petron-5969

With that luxury, many had expected NU to play more fluidly compared to what they displayed in their opening match against Ateneo. However, many people tend to forget that semi-professional inter-club leagues play very differently from the way college ball is played.

“Ang sinasabi ko lang sa kanila, ‘yung experience niyo doon na dinala niyo dito dapat matibay [na] kayo. Ang problema kasi doon, sa mga club [leagues] na ganoon, ‘yung teammates mo matibay. Alam mo na selection mga iyan, hindi kagaya dito, mga teammates mo hindi ganoon katibay,” Gorayeb quipped.

Also, Gorayeb pinpointed that it is only the beginning of the season and there is no reason yet to hit the panic button. The necessary adjustments will surely be made as the season progresses.

“Kung natalo kami hindi naman ibig sabihin na hindi kami [papasok ng] Finals. Pag nanalo kami, hindi naman ibig sabihin [na papasok kami] sa Finals. So, masyado pang mahaba ‘yung labanan at buti na lang sa first game namin nakita ang mga ganyan. Eh kung doon sa dulo o kalagitnaan kami magkakaroon ng ganyan na problema, hindi naman ganoon.”

“Ngayon pa lang, maiitnindihan na nila. Masyado silang [nagmamadali] sa mga kilos nila tapos pag hindi nila nagawa, nadidismaya sila.”

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross



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’



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



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



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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