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Hoop Nut One-on-One: the aftermath of Manila Clasico 2014 round 1



We overreact to the slow start of the Purefoods Star Hotshots!

This chat between the Hoop Nut tag team occurred last Novermber 10, 2014, the day after the Manila Clasico game.

Enzo Flojo
I thought I was supposed to be watching Manila Clasico last night. As it turned out, it was more of a Manila massacre. Instead of the Purefoods Star Hotshots, we were treated to the Purefoods Stars’ No Shots

Rolly Mendoza
Ah, I see what you’re doing there! HAHA Well, we were still treated to a Clasico, a classic beat down by Purefoods at the hands of Barangay Ginebra. This happened on a night where Purefoods wore their retro jersey of yesteryear, and the current players performed as if they were as old as Jerry Codinera and Rey Evangelista.

Enzo Flojo

I guess Purefoods was playing into the whole theme by playing like old men.

I guess Purefoods was playing into the whole theme by playing like old men.

Clasico beat down? Yeah, that’s one way of putting it. Okay, I blame the retro theme of the whole night. Retiring jersey numbers? Throwback jerseys? I guess Purefoods was playing into the whole theme by playing like old men. Oh, but even old men wouldn’t shoot as badly as they did — 30% from the field and 56% from the line.

Rolly Mendoza
Agreed, their shooting numbers were abysmal. Purefoods was simply out of sync for the whole night. A quick glance at the box scores would show you that they took care of the ball somewhat decently with only 12 turnovers but the 9 assists were alarming. You would expect the triangle offense to produce double digit assists or at least more dimes than turnovers. Also, a team with this core and chemistry should not have more mistakes than assists. Sad to say this but that performance was unbecoming of a Grand Slam team while Ginebra looked like a world beater.

Enzo Flojo
Haha! Ginebra always looks like a world beater until they get, like, ten games into the season and decide it’s time for some drama and they blow themselves out of contention.

Funny you picked up on those 12 turnovers. How can a team have that many turnovers and yet have its main point guard, Mark Barroca, commit ZERO TOs? Who’s to blame?

Rolly Mendoza

The Ginebra crowd was hot the entire night

Don’t disappoint these fans Enzo!

Whoa! No need to disappoint the millions of Ginebra fans with that statement HAHA Back to topic… The blame should be divided among the players and coaching staff… However, if Purefoods made more shots, then more assists might have been recorded, thus, the turnovers would look trivial. Look at Ginebra. They had 11 turnovers BUT that was surpassed by their 22 assists.

Since I’m trying to look for more things to blame, how about these? Maybe Purefoods (SMC) was still fatigued from a long season last year OR maybe there was some rust because Purefoods last played 10 days ago OR the injuries are hurting them. Blah Blah.

In any case, they have started poorly over the last 2 conferences yet they still managed to reach the finals and win. With the additions of Kia and Blackwater plus the awful start of Barako Bull, Purefoods can still make the next round if the season ended today… Can they recover from their 1-3 start or is this the sign of the end of their dynasty?

Enzo Flojo
Oh, right, I forgot. Purefoods is to the PBA as the San Antonio Spurs are to the NBA. Both teams are old, both teams don’t start seasons very strongly, but both teams win when it counts the most.

Yuck. I hate the drama.

And, no, even if I want a new champion, Tim Cone is too good, too locked in, to let his team slip far down too much.

And, besides, they let Yancy De Ocampo go, which can only be a good thing, right?

Rolly Mendoza
Are you bashing Yancy De Ocampo? Haha Yancy has been solid for Global Port. Anyway, I agree about Tim Cone being the best coach in the league and he won’t allow Purefoods to stay near the bottom of the standings. But what if the rest of the league has caught up with them or simply figured out the triangle offense?

Purefoods has not added anyone new with significant value and no new infusion of talent is currently on their roster. Is it possible that these guys are so used to winning that the drive, passion and desire to be the best is somewhat lacking?

Staying on top is harder compared to getting to the top.

Enzo Flojo
I’m not saying Yancy was bad for Purefoods. All I’m saying is it was a good thing they shipped his 34-year-old-ness out. I mean, look at Yousef Taha right now!

I don’t think any team can say they’ve 100% figured out the triangle. This is because I don’t think the Purefoods players themselves have figured it out. Heck, I don’t think Dennis Rodman had it down pat in the late 90s, and yet the Bulls still won three titles.

The Zen guru

The Zen guru

For me, it’s not really about the passion thing, but more of the pacing. I think Tim Cone is just a great student of so many of the all-time awesome coaches. He’s kind of a Zen guru in his own right, and he’s taking a page off Pop’s playbook by pacing his players. The Hotshots are gonna have some bump, and they’ll have to lick their wounds. In the end, though, they’ll still be in the running.

Oh, and staying on top isn’t as hard as some make it out to be… wait, are we still talking about basketball?

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Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates



Prior to Wednesday, all eyes were on the TNT Katropa-Blackwater Elite face-off, with many curious to see how last season’s Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy would fare against his former FEU teammates Mac Belo and Raymar Jose.

And as the final buzzer sounded, the 25-year-old Pogoy had reigned triumphant over his close pals, getting away with a conference-best performance as a bonus.

The six-foot-two Cebuano sniper fired a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, to lead the Texters to a skid-ending, 92-83 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Must-win talaga namin ‘to para makabawi kami, kasi 1-2 na yung standing namin (before the game) eh.

“Buti na lang maganda yung nilaro ko,” said Pogoy, who was just averaging 11.3 points in the past three games.

But Pogoy tipped his hat to the much taller Elite, who enjoyed plenty of time in the driver’s seat in the first half, until the Katropa found their groove in the third canto — highlighted by a 16-3 rally that put them ahead, 60-53.

“Malakas yung Blackwater eh, tapos ang lalaki nila kaya mahirap mag-drive, mahirap pumasa kasi naagaw nila,” said Pogoy. “Buti na lang naka-adjust kami nung second half. Hindi kami nagmadali, dinahan-dahan namin.”

Aside from his own outing, Pogoy is thankful that they were able to address their fourth quarter woes when facing the Elite — the issue that hounded them in their 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Iloilo.

TNT had actually been mere steps away from melting down — again — against Blackwater, no thanks to a 20-9 run that wiped out their 17-point lead to just six,

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With Nash Racela knowing his tendencies, Mac Belo limited to poor shooting



Prior to Wednesday, Blackwater Elite’s young star Mac Belo was on a roll early in the 2018 Philippine Cup, averaging exactly 20 points on 42.6 percent shooting in their games against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Ginebra.

But, as they say, good things must come to an end.

Belo, despite having 13 rebounds, was held to just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as the Elite bowed to TNT Katropa, 92-83 — a sour loss knowing that they’re coming off huge 94-77 win against Ginebra last Friday.

“Bukol,” said Belo in jest of his poor outing after the match. “Big test para sa’min kasi yung TNT talagang isang de-kalibreng team dito sa PBA.

“Talagang pinaghandaan nila kami, at gustong-gusto nila manalo.”

It also did not help that the Katropa’s head coach, Nash Racela, was his coach in FEU Tamaraws for three years — a relationship brightly highlighted by a championship run in the UAAP Season 78 back in 2015.

“Siyempre alam niya yung mga tendencies ko. Matagal ko siyang coach sa FEU,” said the 6-foot-4 forward.

“Sa akin naman, kailangan ko pa matuto sa ganun, kung anong mga defense binabato niya sakin. Kailangan ko pang pag-aralan.”

But for Belo, the loss was more than his own showing. The 25-year-old lamented his and the Elite’s lapses on defense, which was encapsulated by the second half collapse they had that allowed TNT to come back and steal the win.

“Medyo marami lang kaming lapses especially sa defense namin,” said the sophomore forward, as they allowed TNT to shoot 41.6 percent from the floor. “Maraming mga miscommunication na kailangan pa namin i-work.”

Belo and the Elite are now set to move on from this bitter defeat, as they all shift their sights in their match this Friday versus GlobalPort Batang Pier. For the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, it is already a must-win for them.

“Kailangan namin ng rest ngayon kasi back-to-back games kami. We need to win sa Friday para okay sa’min,” said Belo. “Kailangan din namin paghandaan kasi galing sila sa win.

“Kailangan namin i-double yung effort namin.”

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Jake Vicen performs under pressure as Blazers end eight-year title drought



For the second straight match, the championship showdown between the College of Saint Benilde Blazers and the Arellano University Chiefs reached kicks from the penalty spot. And once more, goalkeeper Jake Vicen came up big.

The third-year custodian denied one of Arellano’s prolific scorers Roberto Corsame in the shootout and sealed the title after eight long years, 3-2, penalties, Wednesday evening at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Blazers made its intentions clear from the get-go as they repeatedly pierced through the defense of the Chiefs.

Nonetheless, at the 38th minute, the white-shirts clinched the goal they much deserved. The Blazers pushed forward, and almost got a call in their favor. The referees, however, played advantage, and fortunately Benilde held on to the play.

Miguel Artillera found himself unmarked on the right flank and easily blasted the ball past opposing keeper Jericho Desalisa.

The Marlon Maro—mentored side continued to play aggressive in the following period and almost plucked a second one. This time, the Chiefs’ backline led by eventual Best Defender Patrick Bernarte held on.

Such stand was rewarded by their attacking force minutes later, and, as expected, the equalizer came from the counterattack.

Corsame received a pass from the middle and defeated two defenders, and seeing Vicen off his line, sent the ball into the onion bag at the 49th minute.

Both sides tried to break the deadlock, but fatigue slowly crept in the dying minutes of the second period and the whole of extra time, setting up another thrilling finish in the shootout.

Much like in Game 2, the two keepers came up big as Desalisa and Vicen denied their second kickers a clear shot. Arellano went to miss another shot, and it was then up to the Blazers to seal the deal.

Dean Ebarle stepped up and calmly and slotted the ball into the goal for the lead at 3-2. Afterwards, Corsame faced Vicen, but this time, the Cebuano keeper would not be denied. The latter went to his strong side, and, fortunately, guessed right for the huge save as pandemonium erupted from the Benilde crowd and squad.

The Finals series hero and season Best Goalkeeper Vicen was pleased that the new champions carved out the historic win despite early adversity. “Big loss ‘yun, si Val [Calvo], kasi may magagawa talaga siya kung nakalaro namin,” he said of losing their former captain.

Nonetheless, the squad stayed focused on getting it done this year.

“Binuhos lang namin every minute sa training. Luckily, hard work paid off,” closed Vicen.

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Kelly Williams rides Angkas to make it to TNT game



The TNT Katropa almost played shorthanded when they took on the Blackwater Elite Wednesday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Early in the afternoon, a fire broke out in C5 that caused major traffic in the area. One of the people that was stuck was TNT’s 12-year veteran Kelly Williams.

“Coming from the South, I got to Taguig in about two and a half hours and I heard there was a fire on C5 and I was like, ‘Oh my god what am I going to do?’,” recalled Williams.

“I considered running, I considered jogging. Whatever you got to do, crawl, walk or run.”

Panicking, the 6-foot-6 Filipino-American was adviced by his driver to download Philippine-based mobile app Angkas — a motorcycle service provider. And it was one heck of a ride for the big man.

“My driver said check Angkas, an Uber for motorcycles. Okay. Quickly got out of the car in the middle of the C5, the middle of traffic, found this guy under the overpass, he was surprised to see me,” narrated animatedly by Williams.

“I got my helmet on, jumped on the bicycle and we got here for about 40 minutes,” he furthered. “Every stoplight, the other motorcycles pull up, double take, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’, ‘Hi guys!’ It was fun, it was actually pretty fun but never again, make sure you plan ahead guys if you possibly get stuck in traffic.

“But it was a good experience for me. You get to see Manila in a different light.”

Around midway through the first quarter of the game, Williams finally arrived. Though relieved to see him, coach Nash Racela and the rest of the Katropa made sure to let him know that he was late.

“Good experience, I apologized to the team, I owe them a team lunch or something and I told coach I won’t do it again,” the 35-year-old expressed.

“Let’s pray that it doesn’t happen again.”

Williams compensated for it by giving TNT quality minutes. During their 92-83 win against the Elite, he tallied six points, six rebounds, and four blocks in just 17 minutes of action.

“You got to come out there with extra effort after coming in late like that. But it’s always my intention to come out and do whatever I have to do,” he expressed.

“Luckily, I was in a good position to get some blocks and it worked out that way.”

And he owes a lot to his driver Richard, who got him to the venue just in time.

“It was a good experience though, thank you to the cyclist, I think his name is Richard or something like that, he’s a lifesaver.

“I tipped him very handsomely. It was about a hundred but I’m sure I paid with whatever was in my pocket because I was very grateful,” he quipped.

Still, he knows that he also owes a lot to his team. He plans on making it up by treating everyone to lunch during their next practice.

Lesson learned for Kelly.

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