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The Hounds face the Hordes: UAAP S77 Men’s Basketball Finals Survival Kit

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[nextpage title=”Survival Kit”]
Under the radar and overlooked.

Not many believed that the National University Bulldogs and Far Eastern University Tamaraws were capable of seriously contending for the title this year. These are two teams that had to recalibrate their respective rosters after losing several core players from Season 76. Without the constant scrutiny and expectations hanging over them like a dark cloud, each thrived under solid foundations built by Bulldogs head coach Eric Altamirano and Tamaraws head coach Nash Racela. And for poetic justice, the Bulldogs and Tamaraws will now face each other in the UAAP Season 77 Finals thanks to these structured systems, summed up in each squad’s last play against their respective Final Four foes.

The Bulldogs stamped their defensive class with Alfred Aroga’s emphatic rejection on MVP Kiefer Ravena’s layup in the dying seconds. On the other side of the bracket, the Tamaraws executed their pristine offense to perfection, capped by Mac Belo’s right corner three coming from Mike Tolomia’s hand-off pass and screen combo that drove the stake into the repeat hopes of the defending champion De La Salle Green Archers.

For National U, returning to the Finals for the first time since 1970 carries greater value after a blown opportunity last season. The Bulldogs turned the tables and overcame a twice-to-beat disadvantage, a year removed from being the ones sent to the pound in the same manner by the UST Growling Tigers. But one has to look even further back in the history books to see when the Bulldogs reigned above everyone else. That last happened in 1954, 60 round years ago.

That drought is not as prominent in Morayta, but the Tamaraws and their faithful and very patient crowd have been left wanting as well. After hoisting the trophy in 2005, the Tamaraws have been plagued with meltdown after meltdown whether inside or outside the hardwood. After coming up short against the Ateneo Blue Eagles in their Finals appearances in 2010 and 2011, the Tamaraws hope that this unit is capable of putting them over the top at long last.

If the two regular season meetings is any indication of things to come, viewers will be in for a treat. FEU won the first meeting last August 9, 71-62, behind Carl Cruz’ 16 points. Eight days later, FEU would again emerge on top, 74-70, but not before National U forced an extra five minutes. This time, it was the one-two punch of Belo and Tolomia who led the way for the Tamaraws with 23 and 18 points, respectively.

This will be a thrilling series, a stylistic clash of principles that will not go to the dogs or be sent off to pasture, pun intended.

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Coach: Nash Racela vs Eric Altamirano
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These are two intelligent mentors who preach contrasting approaches to the game. Altamirano is very keen on dissecting defensive patterns since he stepped on the big stage in the PBA with the Purefoods Corned Beef Cowboys back in 1997. Coach E has integrated his knowledge to a unit that arguably boasts of the UAAP’s most intimidating presence in Aroga. More importantly, he brought out the best in his RP Youth standouts, most notably Gelo Alolino.

On the other hand, Racela is the steadying presence of FEU, clearly seen when the team struggled on both ends against inferior squads in his absence during his assistant coaching stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup.

Edge: Altamirano

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Point Guard: Achie Iñigo vs Gelo Alolino
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Alolino was the unsung hero of National U’s Finals berth. Aroga’s defensive stop would have been for naught had Alolino failed to convert his clutch free throws with 9.3 seconds remaining. The pacemaker of the Bulldogs’ attack, he thrives in transition and can create shots for teammates in a jiffy.

Iñigo has filled in admirably for the giant hole left in the backcourt. He is a sound backcourt mate who has enough foot speed to force defenders to keep in step with him and he has knocked enough outside shots to earn the respect of the defense. How he’ll manage to stay in front of Alolino will be a daunting challenge.

Edge: Alolino

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Shooting Guard: Mike Tolomia vs Paolo Javelona
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Javelona had the unenviable task of slowing down Ravena in the Final Four, and this time he’ll be matched or cross-matched against the league’s best combo guard. He is a pesky defender who can get under his opponent’s skin and it will be on him to throw Tolomia off his rhythm for majority of his minutes on the floor.

Tolomia has been a breath of fresh air for the Tamaraws. He is one of very few players in recent memory capable of toeing the line between dominating the scoring column and facilitating for his teammates. A hybrid between Marc Barroca and RR Garcia, Tolomia’s constant slash-and-dash puts him in position for a point-blank shot or a trip to the foul line.

Edge: Tolomia
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Small Forward: Glenn Khobuntin vs Roger Pogoy
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Khobuntin is the prototypical small forward. A capable wing defender and midrange shooter, he will be expected to spend more time under the basket fighting for loose balls against FEU’s imposing frontcourt.

Pogoy answered questions regarding his tweener status. Is he a three or a four? In this scenario, he slides to small forward as he stretches the floor with his shooting. And with his built than can pass for that of a power forward, he can set mean picks for Tolomia and Iñigo to wreak havoc driving to the basket. What Pogoy has going for him this time around is that there will be no Jeron Teng barreling to the basket on every other possession.

Edge: Pogoy
[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Power Forwards”]
Power Forward: Mac Belo vs Troy Rosario
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Rosario and Belo are mirror images of each other, lanky big men who have a deceptively quick first step when going face-to-face against their man. Honed with an assortment of skill sets, they can go up-and-under, slide backdoor, and take the defender off the dribble. One will be hard-pressed to find two other locals who have a knack for the ball and are as hardworking on the glass.

The slight nod goes to Belo if only because FEU relies on him more during the final minutes of the game, even way before the dagger three that propelled them into the Finals. The offensive prowess also favors Belo’s way since Rosario’s game only extends until midrange.

Edge: Belo
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Center: Anthony Hargrove vs Alfred Aroga
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Two behemoths that alter offensive schemes, Aroga and Hargrove serve as the defensive anchor. National U’s slotman always initiates a block party whenever an unsuspecting opponent thinks he has a free lane to the hoop. Aroga is expected to shoulder more of the offensive workload, serving up numerous second chance points and crashing the boards for tip-ins.

Hargrove is not strategically deployed in the same manner as Aroga. FEU does not need him to be as involved as the offense, letting him be the last resort when their schemes go awry. In order for Hargrove to be a factor in this series, he has to keep himself out of foul trouble, an issue that has plagued him throughout his UAAP career.

Edge: Aroga
[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”X-Factors”]
X-Factor: Carl Cruz vs Rev Diputado
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It is uncommon for a rookie to be considered an X-Factor, but that is exactly what Diputado brings to the table. He is a change of pace guard whose reckless abandon is his asset. He is Alolino’s foil in the sense that he likes finding shots for himself and does so with remarkable efficiency, comparable to that of other guards who have been around longer in the collegiate ranks.

Carl Cruz has stepped into the bruiser role that FEU has sorely missed from the moment Russel Escoto was sidelined for the remainder season with a separated shoulder. Cruz is also a dangerous asset from downtown and can force National U’s bigs to step out and challenge his shot, freeing the lane for the likes of Tolomia, Iñigo, Francis Tamsi, and Ron Dennison.

Edge: Cruz
[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Prediction”]

Prediction: These are two sound basketball programs that true basketball aficionados can embrace. It does not carry the history and subplots of an Ateneo-La Salle pupu platter, but those who believe that this series will be any less captivating are only fooling themselves.

A series that features an elite offense against an elite defense deserves a primetime slot on national television. There is no distinct matchup advantage for either squad, but after seeing Belo explode for 15, 32, and 23 points in his last three games, FEU clearly has the best player entering the series, which is usually what it boils down to when push comes to shove.

uaap15

Tamaraws in three.
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Mixed Martial Arts

ONE Championship pledges to help Global Citizen in fight against poverty

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Contributed photo

During the pre-fight showdown between the fighters main evening ONE Championship: Global Superheroes, the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in Asia also forged a partnership, Monday afternoon.

ONE, through chief executive officer and chariman, Chatri Sityodtong vowed to help Global Citizen in its fight to end poverty.

“It is with great excitement that I announce ONE Championship’s partnership with Global Citizen, an NGO with the goal of ending extreme poverty across the world by the year 2030,” said Sityodtong. “Just like Global Citizen, ONE Championship aims to inspire the people of the world to come together to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with ONE Championship to bring Global Citizen to Asia. ONE Championship reaches millions of young people around the region and together we will engage them on issues that impact the entire world,” expressed Global Citizen co-founder Wei Soo. “Since we launched Global Citizen in 2012, over 13 million actions have been taken, and we are excited to drive more actions and increase our impact for the world’s most marginalized people through this partnership.”

Headquartered in New York with offices in Canada, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, Global Citizen was founded in 2012 with the goal of building the largest platform where people can learn about issues, take action on what matters most, and join a global movement working to end extreme poverty by 2030. Since then, millions of Global Citizens around the world have taken over ten million actions, which includes millions of emails, tweets, petition signatures, and phone calls targeting world leaders to end extreme poverty by 2030.

To date, the actions by Global Citizen’s global community, along with its high-level advocacy efforts and various partners, have resulted in 130 commitments and policy announcements from leaders, including financial aid valued at over US $35-billion, that is set to affect the lives of over 1.3 billion people.

Also present in the launch were ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera, ONE Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, and former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang.

The partnership launching at ONE’s upcoming event in Manila, Philippines on Friday, January 26, will harness the power of ONE’s platform to engage millions of martial arts fans around the world to support initiatives and find solutions to the issues associated with extreme poverty.

Global Citizen and ONE will collaborate across 24 live ONE events scheduled in 2018, and various outreach activations throughout Asia. Fans will have the opportunity to take action and engage with specific policy areas including, education, food security, hunger and nutrition, global health, gender equality and empowerment.

“Our ONE Championship athletes embody the spirit of perseverance and many have risen through poverty through martial arts, inspiring millions of people around the world with their journey,” Sityodtong added. “Through our collaboration across all 24 of our live events scheduled in 2018, ONE Championship and Global Citizen aim to affect positive movement in our society.”

The first action ONE fans can take will be centred on global education. Fans will be able to call on donor countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and India, to attend the Global Partnership for Education’s replenishment conference in Dakar, Senegal on February 2, 2018, and make a commitment to GPE to support better education for all. Currently, 264 million children around the world are missing out on an education.

Over half are girls, and over 75 million have had their schooling disrupted by conflict or natural disasters. At the replenishment conference, the GPE will raise much needed funds that will allow it to continue to support quality, inclusive education to hundreds of millions of children around the world.

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AU

Unscathed Altas on another plane, hands Chiefs first loss

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Eighteen straight sets won

NCAA Men’s Volleyball powerhouse University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas showed no signs of letting up and crushed fellow erstwhile undefeated Arellano University Chiefs in just three sets, 25-14, 25-22, 25-17, to notch their sixth consecutive victory, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Skipper Jun Taneo scattered his quiet 13 points throughout the match to lead the Season 91 champions. Rookie Joebert Almodiel finished with 10 spikes.

The Altas edged out the opposition in all scoring skills and dominated them in the non-scoring ones to bag the win. Nonetheless, it was the uncharacteristic 34 errors from the Chiefs that ultimately caused their doom.

With expectations minimized at the start of the season, head coach Sammy Acaylar shared his pride on how his wards have been playing so far.

“Sabi ko nga, hindi ako satisfied sa team ko kasi maraming nawala. Pero dinaan ko sila sa force, sa discipline, sa training. And I always motivate them na everything will come into place,” the seasoned mentor shared.

Acaylar was pleased that what they trained on showed up in the game. “Nakita ko ‘yung galaw nila, almost perfect,” he ended beaming.

The now 6-0 Perpetual will try to seal another semifinals appearance as they battle fellow day winners Mapua University (3-2) on Tuesday, January 30.

John Cabillan rallied the tribe with 10 markers.

The Chiefs (5-1) and the San Beda College (4-1) will figure in an all-important battle on Friday.

The Scores:

UPHSD 3 – Taneo 13, Almodiel 10, Rosales 8, Ramos 6, Muhali 3, Solamilo 1, Catipay 0, Kalingking L.

AU 0 – Cabillan 10, Dela Paz 8, Segovia 5, Lapuz 4, Liberato J 3, Liberato K 1, Arellano T 0, Soriano 0, Domingo 0, Arellano K 0, Blanco L, Esguerra L.

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Basketball

Tireless J-Jay Alejandro heads from D-League game to Gilas training

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Former NU Bulldogs captain J-Jay Alejandro was at the Pasig Sports Center Monday afternoon, making his debut for the Go for Gold Scratchers. After their 75-68 win over Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers, he immediately packed his bags and headed for the exit.

Why was he in a rush? He did not want to be late for Gilas later on.

PHOTO by PBA Images

“Sayang, malapit na ako eh. Pasig lang. Walang showbiz-showbiz, malapit lang talaga,” shared Alejandro, who had five points, five rebounds, seven assists, and two steals for Go for Gold. “Wala rin akong gagawin kasi.

“Tsaka minsan lang magpa-tawag ng practice, every Monday lang, so sayang ‘yung chance makapag-practice.”

The 6-foot-2 combo guard was a much-needed body by the pool of Gilas as only eight players suited-up for Monday’s session. Besides helping out the seniors team, the 22-year-old is looking at the sessions as a way to not just improve but also get in touch with his former collegiate foes.

“Well, ganoon talaga eh. Player, mapapagod at mapapagod ka talaga,” said the All-UAAP team member.

“Pero nakakasama ko sila Arvin Tolentino, sila CJ Perez, tsaka ‘yung ibang mga PBA players, siyempre experience ‘yun eh, tsaka learning process din sa akin.”

Moreover, he knows that being under the tutelage of coach Chot Reyes will only do wonders for him, especially with the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft just months away.

“Mas pisikal talaga sa PBA. ‘Yun, kung paano mo gagamitin ang utak mo pati ‘yung katawan mo sa tamang posisyon sa laro, makukuha ko yun rito,” he said.

“Well sa akin kasi, ‘yung mapabilang ka sa Gilas, mapabilang lang ang pangalan mo sa Gilas, sobrang fortunate na ako, sobrang blessed na ako,” Alejandro added.

“And siguro sa akin, may opportunity na nag-open, so iga-grab ko na lang — either PBA or Gilas.”

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Basketball

Loaded Wangs-Letran wallops AMA in debut

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Armed with new recruits, the Wangs Basketball-Letran Knights embarked on its new chapter with a rousing 93-75 rout of the AMA Online Education Titans, Tuesday afternoon at the Pasig Sports Center.

Everyone clicked for the Couriers with Bong Quinto spearheading the blowout with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.

Newcomer Bonbon Batiller added 15 markers, five boards, and three dimes in his debut, while starting point guard JP Calvo chipped in 12 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.

Christian Fajarito also registered 11 markers and nine boards, while Alex Mandreza had 10 points for Wangs-Letran.

Despite the promising showing, coach Jeff Napa said that he still wants to see more from his Couriers moving forward.

“Masaya kami syempre dahil nanalo. Pero marami pa rin kaming kailangang gawin,” he said as he wanted more from the Knights after outrebounding the Titans, 57-44.

Quinto and Calvo triggered Wangs-Letran’s second quarter pullaway to establish the 38-26, lead which grew to as high as 22 points, 81-59 in the payoff period.

Michael Cañete topscored AMA with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Kris Porter had 13 in the defeat.

Wangs-Letran will have vengeance on their minds on Monday, January 29 when it takes on NCAA tormentors Che’lu- San Sebastian Revellers. AMA, on the other hand, will have a tough assignment when it takes on the Zark’s-Lyceum Jawbreakers on Thursday, January 25.

The Scores:

Wangs-Letran 93 — Quinto 19, Batiller 15, Calvo 12, Fajarito 11, Mandreza 10, Trinidad 8, Publico 6, Vacaro 4, Balagasay 3, Ambohot 3, Muyang 2.

AMA Online Education 75 — Cañete 20, Porter 13, Escalambre 11, Casiño 10, Antonares 6, Manalang 6, Garcia 4, Ng 3, Parcero 2, Bragais 0, Carpio 0, Paras 0, Raflores 0, Salonga 0.

Quarterscores: 16-13, 44-35, 67-52, 93-75.

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