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History Made: San Beda cops 22nd title in style



Another San Beda squad has completed a redemption season, rewriting the history books in the process.

The San Beda College Red Booters have cemented their legacy as the best seniors’ football team in the NCAA after upending the College of Saint Benilde Blazers in extra time, 1-0, to claim a record-breaking 22nd championship, Tuesday afternoon at the historic Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Fittingly, the Mendiola squad pulled off the win against the sister school of erstwhile fellow record-holders De La Salle University Green Booters.

“Ang objective lang namin ay hindi naman to win every game. Kung may mga lapses, just improve sa [following] game,” San Beda head coach Nieboy Pedimonte shared. “Hindi namin inisip yung resulta ng first round, nung second round. Ang importante is yung may matutunan tayo.”

The Red Booters had to go through the ringer, despite starting the match on the right foot.

Benilde’s defense, particularly on the right wing, did well enough to deny the white-shirts’ run on that flank. Defender Andre Roa stood defiant for the next-door Blazers in that first half.

The green-shirts were not devoid of chances, but Bedan goalkeeper Ralph Datoy denied Val Calvo’s attempts.

In the second half, the Taft squad dominated the Red Booters with several incursions into the box. Carmelo Genco had the best chance for the Blazers to break the deadlock near the 80th minute, but his header went wide.

San Beda had the final say in the second half added time; nonetheless, the whistle to end the regulation was sounded, signalling the need for extra time.

Confident that his players would deliver when it mattered, the young mentor challenged the Red Booters to continue fighting despite the goalless regulation time and first period of extra time.

“Wala lang bibigay. Alam natin ang magiging resulta,” he shared. “Tinrabaho natin yan, nagtrabaho rin sila. Hindi tayo puwedeng bumigay.”

The Red Booters responded to the challenge, and with Connor Tacagni finding the back of the net, they eventually snared their 22nd title.

In the extension, the Red Booters showed their intentions of finishing the season. Several chances from just went begging, but the pressure was there.

Finally, in the 114th minute, Filipino-British booter Tacagni received a pass from the back, controlled the ball past the defense, and dribbled it towards the goal. The burly striker then lobbed the ball from outside the box and over Benilde’s keeper John Vicente for the winning goal.

“I was just trying to get into the box but it went in. I guess I was a little bit lucky,” Tacagni shared.

Earlier in the day, last year’s champions Arellano University dispatched Lyceum of the Philippines University, 4-0, to claim third place.

Charles Gamutan completed a hat trick in the 79th minute to lift the Chiefs to the win. The forward earlier had scored at the 28th and 60th minutes. Spencer Galasa plucked the other goal in the 53rd minute.



Jeo Ambohot lifts Letran up the stepladder



Jeo Ambohot did not want to see Rey Nambatac end his NCAA career today, cleaning up his captain’s miss to lift the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights past the Arellano University Chiefs, 70-68, Friday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

“Gaya ng sinabi ko, kailangan talaga maglaro ng A-game against Arellano kahit wala si [Kent] Salado. Team sila maglaro kaya hanggang dulo mahirap talaga,” said second-year Knights head coach Jeff Napa.

The win paved the way for Letran to move to the next stage of the stepladder. The Knights will take on the San Sebastian Golden Stags on Tuesday, October 24 at 3:30pm.

Ambohot, who broke his right wrist last August 15, proved to be the difference maker in the contest. Down 67-68 with 7.6 ticks left, Nambatac went for a drive but overcooked his layup. Fortunately for Nambatac and the rest of the Knights, Ambohot was there for the putback to seal the win.

“Sabi ko sa kanya, good job,” expressed Nambatac.

Nambatac, who is playing in his final year, finished with a game-high 25 points to go along with nine rebounds, three assists, and a steal.

“Yung performance ko, it means talaga na gusto ko pa maglaro sa NCAA. Talagang may unfinished business pa ko sa Letran,” added the native of Cagayan de Oro.

It was a tough outing for Letran though as the Chiefs did not back down.

Down by as much as 13 points, the backcourt tandem of Levi Dela Cruz and Rence Alcoriza singlehandedly willed the Chiefs back. The two went on a 14-8 run with Alcoriza scoring 11 during the rally that gave Arellano a 66-64 edge with 2:27 left. JP Calvo though answered right back with a triple but free throws by Alcoriza with 7.6 seconds remaining gave Arellano a one-point cushion.

“Kailangan lang namin maging disciplined. Madami pa kaming ayusin sa practice dahil may lapses pa kami,” said Napa.

Calvo added 11 points for Letran.

Dela Cruz finished with 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting while Alcoriza added 16 markers, spiked by three triples.

Lervin Flores, Zach Nicholls, and Allen Enriquez played their final NCAA game. Arellano finished in sixth place for the season.

The Scores:

CSJL 70 – Nambatac 25, Calvo 11, Quinto 9, Balanza 8, Vacaro 6, Balagasay 5, Ambohot 4, Gedaria 2, Taladua 0

AU 68 – Dela Cruz 18, Alcoriza 16, Canete 12, Flores 7, Enriquez 5, Taywan 4, Nicholls 3, Abanes 3, Concepcion 0, Villoria 0, Ongolo Ongolo 0, Meca 0

Quarterscores: 24-16, 38-36, 54-49, 70-68

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Jerry Codinera anoints Levi Dela Cruz as ‘The Coaster Driver’



Fifth-year Arellano University head coach Jerry Codinera could not hide his glee after the Chiefs were given a chance to fight another day on Tuesday afternoon, as his team blasted the Mapua Cardinals, 81-64.

Usually soft-spoken, the PBA legend was filled with humor after the game, throwing out nicknames to one of the heroes of the game, Levi dela Cruz.

“He’s a mini version of [Jiovani] Jalalon,” quipped Codinera about his 5-foot-7 guard.

“The Mini Bus Driver! Mini Bus! Coaster!”

Jalalon is one of the most beloved student-athletes Arellano has produced. Dubbed the Bus Driver during his collegiate days that saw him steer the Chief to two Finals appearances, the moniker has spun off to Kent Salado, who is called “The Conductor” of Arellano. And the “Bus” family welcomed its third member in Dela Cruz.

“For a rookie, outstanding siya. I think he’s the third best player in our team,” remarked Codinera, with Salado and Lervin Flores as his top two student-athletes, “Napakalaki ng future niya.”

Dela Cruz, a former NU Bulldog, finished the game with 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go along with five assists. And for him, his outing was a result of him listening to the advice of his seniors Jalalon and Salado.NCAA 93 AU-MU Dela Cruz-5094

“Yung mga advice nila Kent sa akin, nila Kuya Jio, talagang pinapakinggan ko lang talaga sila,” shared the native of Davao City, “Ang sa akin lang, talagang mage-extra work lang ng mag-extra work, para ready po ako lagi every time na may darating na pagsubok sa team namin, maging successful kami.”

Though he drew high praise from his mentor, Dela Cruz is taking it in stride as he simply looks to help Arellano reach the Final Four once more.

“Ang layo pa eh,” he remarked regarding Codinera’s comparison between him and Jalalon, “Nacha-challenge naman ako pag ginaganoon ako ni Coach Jerry, lalong-lalo na pag nagkakamali ako, lagi niya pong kino-correct.

“Nakikinig lang ako sa kanya at ginagawa ko yung best ko para maitama ko sa mga next game namin. Learning process nga diba?”

Safe to say, Dela Cruz has taken the wheel for the Chiefs since The Conductor was sidelined.

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Arellano cruises past Mapua to enter playoffs



Midway through the season, the Arellano University were down. Making things worse, Kent Salado had been diagnosed with a partial tear on his right MCL a week ago.

But the Chiefs were still not out, hammering the Mapua University Cardinals, 81-64, to at least force a playoff, Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

“Medyo blessing in disguise yung na postpone na game, nilagay sa last game. So malaking bagay yun. I think this is the first time na nag-four games in a row na nanalo,” said Chiefs head coach Jerry Codinera as this game was supposed to take place last September 12.

With the win, Arellano assured themselves of a playoff spot with a 9-9 record. Letran need to beat Saint Benilde on Tuesday afternoon, while San Sebastian have to avoid a Perpetual upset on Thursday to tie the Chiefs.

Levi dela Cruz powered the Chiefs offense with 20 points, firing off four triples.

“Masayang masaya ako dahil nanalo kami. Ginawa ko lang lahat ng ginawa ko para sa team,” said Dela Cruz, “Extra effort lang sa training, nakikinig lang ako sa advice nila kuya Kent at kuya Jio [Jalalon] sa akin. Talagang ready lang ako.”

“I think he is our third best player. Napakalaki ng future niya and his shot selection is still improving. He is like a mini version of Jalalon,” added Codinera.

The game was practically over by the second frame, as Arellano led by as much as 12 points during the second frame. And the lead would go to as high as 21 points in the final frame.

Super senior Lervin Flores anchored the Arellano defense with seven rebounds and two blocks, to go along with 14 points. Moreover, he gave a highlight for the game, throwing down a thunderous jam in the opening frame.

The Chiefs shot at an excellent 45 percent clip for the game, compared to just 37 percent for the Cardinals.

Mapua revelation Christian Bunag ended his eye-opening campaign with 22 points and 16 rebounds.

Andrew Estrella and Leo Gabo played their final NCAA game.

The Scores:

AU 81 – Dela Cruz 20, Flores 14, Nicholls 11, Alcoriza 8, Cañete 6, Enriquez 6, Viloria 5, Meca 4, Taywan 4, Abanes 3, Concepcion 0, Ongolo Ongolo 0, Padilla 0, Filart 0.

MU 64 – Buñag 22, Pelayo 9, Victoria 8, Gabo 7, Estrella 6, Orquina 5, Raflores 4, Jimenez 3, Aguirre 0.

Quarterscores: 17-13, 39-28, 58-48, 81-64.

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Jaja Santiago wins second PVL MVP tiara



Incoming National University super senior Jaja Santiago continued her spectacular year with another plum to take home.

For leading the National University Lady Bulldogs to an unbeaten record in the elimination round, the 6-foot-5 spiker was crowned the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 PVL Women’s Collegiate Conference, Sunday evening at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

This is the 21-year-old’s second MVP after winning the same plum a year ago.

Santiago posted an average of 14.4 points on a 40.82 attack efficiency for the conference.

Joining the Queen Bulldog in the all-PVL team are her teammates Risa Sato and Gayle Valdez. Sato was adjudged the second best middle blocker for the tournament, while Valdez received the best libero honor.

Adamson transferee Eli Soyud was named the first best open spiker for the tournament.

Arellano Lady Chiefs’ Regine Arocha and Rhea Ramirez won the second best open spiker and best setter award respectively.

Completing the best of the best this season are Jeannette Villareal and Toni Rose Basas of FEU; the former was named the first best middle blocker, while the latter as the best opposite spiker.

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