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Henry Walker comes through against Phoenix as Blackwater ends six-game slide

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Former Alaska Aces import Henry Walker brought immediate impact to the Blackwater Elite, nailing huge buckets down the stretch to help his side score their first win in the 2017 Governor’s Cup at Phoenix Fuel Masters’ expense, 92-86, Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“It’s good to be back here sa press room after so many games of being on the losing end,” said Elite head coach Leo Isaac, as his side improved to 1-3 and broke a six-game skid that traced back from the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup. “Finally we were able to get the win.”

The returning Walker, who had even cramped up early in the final frame after a lay-up attempt, perfectly capped off his PBA return with 32 points on 26 attempts alongside 15 rebounds and five assists. However, he committed seven turnovers.

“Special thanks to our import Henry Walker, who gave inspiration to everybody to come out as winners,” lauded Isaac of Walker, who replaced Trevis Simpson. “He was able to produce.”

After the Fuel Masters knocked within just a point, 84-83, after an RJ Jazul triple with 3:09 to go in the final frame, Walker’s magic started to work as he nailed a lay-up to widen the Elite’s lead, 86-83, with 2:19 left.

From there, an exchange of baskets between him and Eugene Phelps took place. But Walker had the last laugh, as Phelps’ lay-up off a power move with less than 10 ticks left to play clanged off the rim’s back iron.

Walker was there underneath, and grabbed the miss. Phoenix had no choice but to foul him, and Walker obliged as he calmly sank both of his charities, 90-86, to make it harder for the Fuel Masters to reach.

Point guard Mike DiGregorio was also Blackwater’s star in the victory, scoring a career-high 28 points, including the game’s final charities in the last six seconds, on 47 percent shooting alongside three rebounds.

Phoenix, who have dropped their third straight game after starting 2-0 in the conference, were led by Phelps with 13 points, 17 rebounds, and three blocks. Jazul also scored 13, while Mark Borboran had 12 points, all from triples.

Blackwater lost the rebounding battle, 42-53, but their defense forced Phoenix to commit 23 turnovers and converted it to 21 points.

Both teams’ next matches will be on August 18, Friday, still at the Big Dome. Phoenix will take on the Meralco Bolts at 4:15 PM, and Blackwater will face the NLEX Road Warriors at 7:00 PM.

The Scores:

Blackwater 92 – Walker 32, Digregorio 28, Gamalinda 9, Canaleta 5, Aguilar 5, Erram 4, Cruz 3, Miranda 3, Sumang 3, Belo 0, Banal 0, Cervantes 0, Sena 0, Pascual 0.

Phoenix 86 – Phelps 13, Jazul 13, Borboran 12, W. Wilson 11, Alolino 10, Baguio 8, Intal 8, Eriobu 7, Dehesa 2, Kramer 2, Lanete 0, J. Wilson 0.

Quarterscores: 23-32, 51-47, 66-66, 92-86.

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With Rain or Shine ailing, Ed Daquioag seizes opportunity

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For Ed Daquioag, his big outing Wednesday night was just a result of him grabbing opportunities, with some of his teammates still recovering from injuries.

The sophomore guard was instrumental in the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters’ 120-99 drubbing of the Phoenix Fuel Masters, top-billing with 21 points on top of five rebounds and five assists — his best outing for the franchise so far.

“Yung mga guards like Jericho [Cruz] ‘di pa siya nakakalaro, so yung sa puwesto niya kailangan ko mag-step up,” said Daquioag. “At dalawang sunod kaming talo. Ang sama ng game namin nung nakaraan.

“Kailangan namin manalo.”

The Elasto Painters still have Cruz, Jay Washington, and Jireh Ibañes on the injured list, and it is feared that Daquioag may add up to it as he left the game for good with 7:33 remaining in the third canto after hurting his hip.

But the former UST Growling Tiger quickly allayed fears regarding his injury.

“‘Di naman siya malala. Baka nabigla lang. ‘Di ko kasi mailakad ng maayos eh,” said Daquioag.

“Pinahinga ko na lang kasi sunud-sunod yung games. E kung pilitin ko baka may maanong ugat or ano, kaya ‘di ko na lang pinilit.”

“Tinanong ko, sabi niya mukhang okay naman,” said Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia of Daquioag’s condition. “Masakit lang daw talaga.”

It was still a huge night for the six-foot-one cager from Ilocos Norte despite being hurt and not being able to finish the match. But Daquiaog deflected credit to the Elasto Painters’ defense, which he said played a major factor in the win.

“Maganda lang yung defense namin,” said Daquioag, who averaged 5.8 points last season. “Nagkataon lang na yung points eh napupunta sakin. And yung mga opportunity sa transition, ginagrab ko kasi yun yung alam kong strength ko.

“Pero nanalo kami dahil sa team defense namin.”

But Daquioag hopes that he can sustain this kind of outing in their next games to help Rain or Shine rake more wins, as they aim for a strong push for the playoffs. “Hopefully madala kahit maglaro na si Jericho,” said the Gilas Pilipinas cager.

“Depende pa rin naman sa performance mo yan every game eh.”

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Jeff Chan still can’t get one over Rain or Shine

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It’s been 163 days since Jeff Chan was shockingly traded by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to the Phoenix Fuel Masters. Even if the 6-foot-2 sniper from Bacolod has already faced his former team twice, the sight of Chan wearing a jersey outside of the Elasto Painters’ blue and yellow is still a sight to behold.

Chan, on the other hand, has already moved on from it.

“Wala na. Medyo matagal na yun,” said the 33-year-old when asked about if he still feels odd whenever he faces Rain or Shine.

“Habol ko na lang is sana makaisa na ko sa kanila.”

After losing to his former team last September 13, 116-111, Chan, who won two championships with Rain or Shine, was eyeing payback. However, it was not meant to be as Phoenix wound up being on the wrong side of a blowout, 120-99, Wednesday evening.

It was a disappointing outing for the Fuel Masters especially coming off two straight impressive wins. Phoenix was already down by 26 points entering the second frame and fell behind by as much as 39 points in the third canto.

“Medyo masama yung gising namin today. Rain or Shine shot just better good today and we were not able to stop them,” rued Chan, who scored all 11 of his points during the third quarter.

“Yung first quarter pa lang, natambakan na kami at hindi na kami naka-recover.”

Though suffering their second setback in four games, the 10-year pro was sort of relieved that it happened early in the season instead of happening in the crucial stages of the tournament.

“Mas maganda na nagkakamali ka ng maaga para makita namin saan kami magkamali at hindi maulit ito,” added Chan, who averaged 18.0 points prior to this game.

And Chan hopes that they can get their bearings back by Saturday when they face the formidable Magnolia Hotshots.

“Siyempre lahat masama yung loob kasi talo. Again, we have a game on Saturday. We’ll go hard and hopefully we get the win.”

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Rain or Shine emphatically ends slump with 21-point rout of Phoenix

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Coming off two dismal losses, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters bounced back big time from their back-to-back defeats as they vented their ire on the Phoenix Fuel Masters through a 120-99 demolition, Wednesday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Elasto Painters improved to 2-2, while the Fuel Masters failed to extend their winning streak to three games and dropped also to 2-2.

“I think the players just wanted to win today,” said Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia. “We played two bad games and we got two losses. I told them after the loss against Global that that’s not the team I know.

“So I told them I want a running team and I just challenged in today’s game that from beginning to end, I just want a running team… I just hope that we continue doing the same thing like what we did today,” he added.

Sophomore forward Ed Daquioag, despite leaving the game for good with 7:33 left in the third quarter after apparently hurting his back after a bad fall, led Rain or Shine with 21 markers, five rebounds, and five assists.

“This was the best game that I’ve seen him play,” Garcia remarked about Daquioag.

James Yap, meanwhile, finally broke his personal slump with 20 points on 80 percent shooting along with six boards.

The Elasto Painters roared to a nearly perfect start in the match, leaving their counterparts in the dust with an eye-popping 27-7 run in the opening frame — a lead they never relinquished until the final buzzer sounded.

Phoenix was able to knock within 16, 43-59, in the third canto, but there was clearly no stopping Rain or Shine. Rain or Shine posted the game’s widest gap at 39, 86-47, after back-to-back Tiu treys with five minutes left in the same frame.

Dexter Maiquez supplied 18 points for RoS. Main point guard Chris Tiu shined bright in his return as he unloaded 17 points on four triples with seven dimes, and rookie Rey Nambatac had his best game so far with 11 markers.

Rain or Shine shot a superior 55 percent from the field compared to 41 percent for Phoenix. The Fuel Masters committed 19 turnovers that led to 30 points.

Raymond Almazan missed the game due to an undisclosed injury.

Matthew Wright and rookie Jason Perkins led the Fuel Masters with 17 points apiece and combined for 13 rebounds. Gelo Alolino had 12 points, while Jeffrei Chan and Karl Dehesa scored 11 each.

Both teams will return to action Saturday, January 20, at the Cuneta Astrodome. Rain or Shine will go first as they take on Kia Picanto at 4:30pm, while Phoenix will slug it out with Magnolia Hotshots at the 6:45pm main-eventer.

The Scores:

Rain or Shine 120 – Daquioag 21, Yap 20, Maiquez 18, Tiu 17, Nambatac 11, Ponferada 10, Borboran 4, Norwood 4, Trollano 3, Belga 2, Matias 0.

Phoenix 99 – Wright 17, Perkins 17, Alolino 12, Chan 11, Dehesa 11, Intal 10, Eriobu 7, Kramer 5, Jazul 5, Mendoza 2, Wilson 2, Chua 0, Revilla 0.

Quarterscores: 39-13, 57-40, 98-67, 120-99.

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Ateneo receives ECJ Gold Trophy

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The Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. Gold Trophy is finally home

In a simple ceremony held at Xavier Hall inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus Wednesday afternoon, the Ateneo Blue Eagles was formally awarded the Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. trophy they earned after an epic three-game series during the finale of the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The trophy itself is 14-karat gold, with the shield of each member school of the UAAP wrapped around it. The worth of it is said to be estimated at around PHP 2,700,000. It was made by topflight goldsmiths Suarez and Sons.

Receiving the trophy were Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ and members of the team.

“It’s a pleasant surprise actually.

“Sometimes we use this word sportsmanship, but sometimes we don’t know what it means, but we can see that this thing, this act of La Salle to give the trophy not just to us but to any champion, for me I consider that a wonderful act of graciousness, really,” said Villarin. “I’m happy that this rivalry has not been bitter. Sometimes when you see the game they’re really clawing at each other but then in the end this rivalry is deeper than the physical. There’s this fellowship, kumbaga. There’s a fellowship of schools.”

According to Green Archers official Quinito Henson, the trophy represents every core value of each UAAP member school and the values promoted by sports.

“Mr. Cojuangco has been involved with sports for decades. He’s now in his 80’s but I think his idea of providing a symbol of excellence is very inspiring,” said Henson, who is a columnist for the Philippine Star.

“I think it sorts of summarizes the journey that every school makes in a UAAP season because it’s a journey of sacrifice and hard work and the team that ends up on top ultimately is the team that all the other teams look up to.”

As a sign of Cojuangco’s commitment, he is willing to donate this trophy to the next six to eight UAAP Men’s Basketball champions. Moreover, a perpetual trophy worth PHP 5,800,000 is waiting for the team who will win three straight crowns.

“This is his commitment to the UAAP board, and this has been approved, is that he will be giving a trophy every year to the champion team whoever that champion school maybe for six years,” Henson added.

“In fact the UAAP board was saying, ‘why not eight years because there are eight uaap teams?’ He says, ‘well of course if im still alive I’ll continue to give.’”

Speaking for the rest of the league, Villarin wished that this gesture by La Salle translates to every member school of the league to promote brotherhood despite the competition.

“I hope that the spirit continues, that it’s not lost. A rival gave this to another rival. There will be nothing of that bitterness. I hope that the spirit lives on –- the spirit of camaraderie and of fellowship.”

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