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High expectations excite UP captain Bersola

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In just three years, the UP Lady Maroons have gone from being the league’s punchline to being a serious Final Four contender.

Having almost made the Final Four in UAAP Season 77, the UP community was abuzz with hope for Season 78. As the off-season went by and UP unveiled their new additions, the UP hype continued to inflate.

While others would fold under the pressure, UP’s team captain Kathy Bersola relishes the thought of playing with a purpose.

“Medyo nakakapanibago but at the same time nakaka-inspire din siya. Nakikita namin na marami nang tao na nagtitiwala at sumusuporta sa team. It gives us an extra boost. Ang goal rin naman talaga namin is to make the Final Four so why not get an extra push from other people?”, the former Makati Science High School scholar said.

Last Sunday, Bersola made her highly-anticipated return from an ACL tear that had sidelined her midway through last season. She scored seven points in limited time in a straight sets win over the UE Lady Warriors. Although she had already played in off-season tournaments, Bersola still couldn’t believe she had made it back from the gruelling rehabilitation.

“Kanina feeling ko lumilipad ako. Honesty, parang di ako nawala. At the same time marami akong adjustments na ginawa kahit ganoon ‘yung feeling ko. And masaya – ‘yung feeling na you’ve been through hell and back successfully. Parang na-resurrect ka,” a cheerful Bersola expressed after the match.

Bersola learned a lot from her time off – to be patient, to be resilient and, most importantly, to relax.

“Isa sa mga reasons kung bakit ako na-injure was masyado akong tense to the point na nagco-constrict na ‘yung mga muscles ko. So I learned to relax and really take care of my body.”

When she had first chosen to study in UP, Bersola hadn’t even wanted to play competitive volleyball. From a walk-in recruit to the captain of the best UP squad since Season 65 (the last time they made the Final Four), Bersola is still amazed at where she is now.

“Sobrang fulfilling lang. Kasi ngayong college hindi talaga ako dapat magtutuloy ng volleyball, recreational na lang talaga dapat. Kasi nga wala naman akong narating, perse, noong high school ako – hanggang sa school lang talaga,” Bersola reflected.

“So getting to this point in time, sobrang surreal siya. Hindi ako makapaniwala na naka-apat na taon na ako sa UP tapos nasa first six ako tapos team captain pa ako. Sobrang hirap paniwalaan kahit nangyayare na siya right now.”

Bersola credits most of her personal and her team’s success to head coach Jerry Yee. Bersola believes Season 78 is their best chance to pay back Yee’s efforts.

“Matagal na naming goal ‘yung mag-Final Four – kakapasok pa lang ni coach Jerry, ayoon na agad ‘yung goal namin. So sinasabi niya sa amin na ngayon wala nang excuses. Kung noong first year niya, pwedeng excuse was bagong coach, bagong system, noong second year maraming injuries, ngayon wala ng gaanong excuse. The time is now.”

The Lady Maroons get an early test against last year’s finalists DLSU Lady Spikers on Saturday, February 6, 2p.m. at the PhilSports Arena.

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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.

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1 Comment
  • Aeron Valderrama

    The buzz is real. haha Let’s go girls!

Basketball

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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PBA moves Ginebra-NLEX showdown from Legazpi to Pasay

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Due to the troubling activity of the Mayon Volcano in Bicol, the PBA has decided to postpone their tour in the said province.

In a short statement released on Wednesday afternoon, the league said that they will be transferring the venue of the Ginebra-NLEX match on February 3 from Legazpi City in Albay to Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

In view of the worsening condition of Mayon Volcano, we are transferring the venue of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel-NLEX Road Warriors game on February 3, 2018 from Legazpi City to the Cuneta Astrodome.

Albay has been put under a state of calamity as declared by its governor Francis Bichara due to the hazardous activity of the Mayon. The volcano, which was seen slowly spewing lava just days ago, is now on Alert Level 3.

The game will be the first-time Kiefer Ravena takes on the crowd-favorites.

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Willie Marcial on next PBA Commissioner: ‘It should either be an attorney or a marketing expert’

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The PBA is still in the midst of finding the league’s 10th commissioner. And if current officer-in-charge Willie Marcial is to be asked, the league’s next top executive should either be a legal or a marketing expert.

“Sa akin yung attorney o kaya (marunong) sa marketing,” Marcial told scribes during the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association Forum, Wednesday afternoon at the Tapa King restaurant inside Araneta Center in Cubao.

Marcial’s own criteria for the next commissioner is solidly based from the characteristics of previous commissioners he had worked with, from Leo Prieto in the early 1980s up to Chito Narvasa from 2015 to 2017.

The last two PBA commissioners have been Chito Salud, a lawyer, and Chito Narvasa, a businessman.

“May commisioner na ‘pag ito nagsabi nirerespeto. May commissioner na magaling sa marketing. May commissioner na magaling sa mga rules. May commissioner naman na talagang disiplinado,” he said.

But for the former media bureau chief, it does not matter on whoever will assume the head office next, as he believes that the league has enough manpower to run the league regardless of the next commish.

“Tatakbo naman ang PBA ‘pag ito mga kasama mo,” said the league’s long-time external affairs and communications head, pointing at his technical committee in Eric Castro, Roscelle Teotico, and Jun Bengua. “Alam na nila eh. Alam nila mga sistema, lalo sa mga matatagal na sa PBA. Mahal nila ang PBA. Kaya kung sino magiging susunod na commissioner, ‘wag silang magalala sa mga empleyado ng PBA.

“Hindi nila pababayaan ang PBA.”

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