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Soltones has no regrets after graduating with no titles

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Only good memories for Grethcel Soltones

The match was slipping out of the San Sebastian College Lady Stags’ hands. They had seen their hard-earned thrice-to-beat incentive dissipate in the Finals against the Arellano University Chiefs.

The Lady Stags’ season was in jeopardy. The Lady Chiefs held a 16-10 lead in the fourth set of Game Three. But, like years before, the Lady Stags were not out of the match just yet — not if Grethcel Soltones had anything to say about it.

It was her final shot at winning an NCAA title – the only thing she had not won in her young yet decorated career. Soltones plugged away, scoring three straight points before the Lady Chiefs scored three straight again.

Soltones rotated to the back row but she still asked for the ball. Facing a triple block from three Lady Chiefs 5-foot-10 and above, Soltones tried to go over the blockers but her shot careened to long.NCAA 92 AU vs. SSCR G2 - Soltones-0192

Championship point Arellano.

Lady Chiefs setter Rhea Ramirez then served a beautiful short ball which Alyssa Eroa barely passed. Lady Stags setter Vira Guillema then tossed a pipe set to Soltones. Facing a triple block again, Soltones chose to bang it off Arellano middle blocker Mary Anne’ Esguerra’s hands.

The ball rolled along the tape of the net, falling gracefully into the sidelines. The Lady Chiefs were champs again.

This meant that in her five-year stay at San Sebastian, Soltones was a three-time MVP but a zero-time champion.

Instead of bitter tears, Soltones bore a wide smile.

“Hindi pa kayo tapos. May next year pa kayo. Makakabalik kayo dito,” San Sebastian’s Iron Lady said in a huddle before she gracefully wore their silver medals.

Not winning a championship did not damped the spirits of the ever-sunny Soltones.

“Marami nangyare sa akin na mas masaklap. Ito, championship lang ‘to – volleyball lang ‘to. Okay lang ako kasi, hindi naman sa pagiging bitter, kung kumpleto lanh kami siguro matatalo namin sila. Pero deserve talaga ng Arellano ‘to. Lumabas ‘yung composure nila,” the native of Catmon, Cebu told Tiebreaker Times.

“Kasi bakit ako iiyak? Natalo na nga kami, iiyak pa ako? For me, I tried my best, we tried our best, but we didn’t make it. Wala naman siguro kaming dapat hingiin pa sa mga sarili namin other than our best.”

Soltones is a generational talent with cannons for arms and catlike reflexes. Her teammates, however, have never been at her level, talent-wise. Soltones acknowledges that volleyball is a team sport and it was on her to bring her team to the same level.

“Ayoko sabihin na hindi magaling teammates ko kasi hindi ko naman siguro magagawa ‘yung mga dapat kong gawin kundi dahil sa kanila.

“Siguro ‘yung teammates ko bata pa lang – hindi din naman ako matured na player – kulang lang talaga sila sa sinasabi ni coach na tapang at willingness magstep-up. ‘Yun ‘yung dapat nilang i-improve. Na-expose na ako ni coach sa mga ganyang dikdikan, ‘yun lang din siguro kulang sa kanila,” the 22-year old winger added.

Soltones is now looking to end her career with a title — an NCAA beach volley trophy which she can win for the third straight year.

NCAA Season 91 Women's Beach Volleyball champions Grethcel Soltones and Alyssa Eroa (San Sebastian Lady Stags)

NCAA Season 91 Women’s Beach Volleyball champions Grethcel Soltones and Alyssa Eroa (San Sebastian Lady Stags)

After that, she wants to keep playing for her on-court father Roger Gorayeb.

“Beach volleyball, and I’m going to get it,” Soltones insisted.

“Siyempre stick din ako kay coach Roger. Tignan natin kung may ibang opportunity pero hindi ko pa alam kung saan talaga. May ibang kumukuha pero wala hindi pa ako nagye-yes. Pero kung saan si coach Roger, doon ako. Hindi ko na papakawalan yan. Tatay ko na yan. Kung saan man siya pumunta, gusto ko sumama sa kanya.”

Although Soltones becomes one of the first Lady Stags to graduate without an indoor title, she’s happy to keep playing with Gorayeb.

“Mahal na mahal ko ‘yan si coach,” Soltones said as she waived out of the arena for the last time as a Lady Stag.

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball – from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado’s setting.

Basketball

SOURCES: Perpetual Help taps Frankie Lim as consultant

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Frankie Lim looks to bring a championship to a school that is hungry for it/PBA Images

Frankie Lim will steer a once-heated rival to the promised land

The multi-titled mentor has been appointed as a team consultant of the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas as the 57-year-old tactician will be tasked to reboot the team after a lackluster run in the NCAA Season 93 Seniors’ Basketball tournament.

Sources closely monitoring the situation bared that Lim is now running practice for the Altas as he works side-by-side with coach Jimwell Gican.

“Consultant na siya sa Perpetual, pero siya rin ang nagpapatakbo sa practice,” the source said.

Another source confirmed the development and also shared that Lim is looking to bring in two of his assistants in the coaching staff, further proving his seriousness for the job. The names of the assistants, however, were not disclosed.

The Altas went 4-14 last season with Gican at the helm as he relied on Prince Eze, Gab Dagangon, and AJ Coronel to lead the squad.

According to a third source, it was either Lim or NCAA Season 93 commissioner Bai Cristobal who was being picked by Perpetual Help to serve as the team’s consultant. However, Cristobal still wanted to assume his role as league commissioner for one more year, especially since Perpetual Help is hosting the 94th season of the Grand Old League.

Perpetual is looking for an early preparation for NCAA Season 94 as it joins the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup in January.

Lim was last seen in the sidelines in the PBA when he coached Ginebra in 2015. He won four titles with his alma mater San Beda from 2007 to 2011 Before briefly going to Indonesia to coach Stadium Jakarta.

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Basketball

Jeff Napa, Letran try to change Wangs Basketball’s fortunes

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For the first time since joining the PBA D-League, the Wangs Basketball Couriers will be bannered by a collegiate team as they have partnered up with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights.

Gone are the days that the team is stacked with PBA aspirants and cagers trying to make it back to the big league. Donning the Wangs jersey this time around are the likes of Bong Quinto, JP Calvo, Jerrick Balanza, Jeo Ambohot, Bonbon Batiller, Fran Yu, Christian Fajarito, and Larry Muyang.

With the chance of being able to compete once again in the second league, incoming third-year Letran head coach Jeff Napa wants to repay the trust of Wangs founder Alex Wang by being competitive this season.

“Si boss Alex (Wang) wala naman sinasabi sa akin na target pero gusto ko siyempre masuklian ang kabutihan niya sa amin. Gusto lang niya maging competitive yung team namin.

“Sa Letran naman, kailangan naman magka-experience in preparation for next season. Focus namin yung bonding namin para maging maganda yung season namin,” Napa said.

Joining the Letran core are their drafted players, headlined by his former players in National University — Michael Pate and Hubert Cani. Even with his familiarity with the two upstarts, Napa wants the two to earn their stripes with the team.

“Sana maging maganda yung response nila sa sistema namin,” the youthful mentor said. “Hindi naman porke’t naging player ko sila e magkaka-minutes na sila. Nakadepende pa rin sa system namin kung ano ang gusto namin mangyari.”

Besides the two, he also picked up UST Growling Tiger Henric Caunan, UP Fighting Maroon Javi Gomez de Liano, and Mapua Cardinal Christian Bunag.

Despite a deep team, the National University lifer is not guaranteeing anything, only saying that they will give a good fight.

“Okay naman. Satisfied naman ako sa dinraft namin. We’ll see kung anong mangyayari pero at least nakikita ko yung mga projection sa team namin,” Napa shared.

“This Aspirants’ Cup, magiging maganda ang labanan.”

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AMA Online Education gets first pick in D-League draft

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The AMA Online Education will once again have the luxury of picking the best talent in the 201-man rookie pool at the 2017 PBA D-League Rookie Draft Tuesday at PBA Cafe in Metrowalk, Pasig.

Flanked by hardworking big man Andre Paras, the Mark Herrera-mentored Titans will have the chance to further fortify their school-based core as they prepare for the upcoming 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup, which will see 13 teams vying for the title.

This will be the second time AMA will pick at first overall after tapping Jeron Teng in the 2016 draft proceedings.

UE’s Alvin Pasaol and FEU’s Arvin Tolentino are expected to go high up the draft board, as they are set to make their debut in first conference of the eighth season of the developmental league, set to open on January 18, 2018.

Wangs Basketball-Letran and Batangas-EAC are set to pick second and third, respectively.

Eleven of the 13 squads participating this year will be school-based teams, as they make early preparations for their respective collegiate leagues. These include Zark’s Burgers-Lyceum, Gamboa Coffee-St. Clare, JRU, and CEU, and debuting teams Akari-Adamson, Che’Lu Bar and Grill-San Sebastian, Perpetual, and Powerball-St. Benilde.

Only returning Marinerong Pilipino and newcomer Mila’s Lechon are the ones who will not feature varsity crews.

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Basketball

Red Lions to hold victory party, fund-raising event

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Exactly 24 days after winning San Beda College’s 21st seniors basketball crown, the Red Lions are giving back to the community.

On Sunday, December 10, the back-to-back champions are hosting a victory party and fund-raising event, “Champion Na, Pasko Pa!”, for the school’s basketball program at Flare Bar in Metrowalk.

“This is our way to not only celebrate but also give back,” said Red Lions team manager Jude Roque about the event that has Century Properties Inc., PAGCOR, and AMOSUP-Seaman’s Hospital as presenting sponsors.

The event, which starts at 6:30pm, will open with a replay of Game Two of the NCAA Season 93 Seniors Basketball Finals.

Two-time PBA Most Valuable Player and former Red Cub Benjie Paras will host the event together with Bianca Saldua and Berwin Meily. Tanya Markova, Dulcet, and Patricia Javier will serve as the night’s musical performers.

Tickets are priced at PHP 550 and entitles the holder with free drinks.

Supporting the event are NLEX, Chooks-to-Go, AFG Security Agency, Islander Sandals, Motolite, and San Miguel Brewery. Other sponsors are Mr. Freeze Ice Plant and Hell Energy Drink.

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