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Most improved: NU’s Singh and General on incredible V-League run

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As a school still undergoing a major face lift image-wise, the NU sports program doesn’t get much support outside of its students, alumni, and administration. On social media, netizens more often poke holes at NU’s accomplishments rather than laud them.

Which is why when the pivotal Game Three of the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference came last Sunday the Lady Bulldogs dedicated the game for each other: for every member of the team and shunning their naysayers.

“Sabi po namin before the game, manalo o matalo, gagawin namin lahat para sa isa’t isa. Hindi na para sa ibang tao, para sa amin na lang ‘tong larong ‘to: sa aming mag-titeammates. Marami na ‘rin kaming pinagdaanan para marating ‘yung point na ‘to,” said NU team captain, Jorelle Singh.

The Lady Bulldogs played truly inspired volleyball, vanquishing the Ateneo Lady Eagles and their gallery of manic fans. It was not even close. For the second straight game, NU finsihed off Ateneo in straight sets – a feat few teams can boast.

“Inisip na lang po namin na kunwari sa amin nagchicheer ‘yung fans nila (Ateneo). Every time na mag-ingay sila, ginawa namin inspiration para maitulak pa lalo ‘yung laro namin,” Singh explained.

SVL College NU vs. CSB - Singh spike

Jorelle is the poster girl of NU’s conundrum with her wide frame drawing more attention than her game. Coming out of NU’s vaunted girl’s volleyball program, Singh could always chug power into her hits no matter what set she was given. In UAAP 77, Singh consistently scored double-digits, perfectly complimenting the play of eventual National team standouts, Myla Pablo and Jaja Santiago and helping NU claim a third-seed.

When her floor defense came into question, Jorelle worked tirelessly with head coach Roger Gorayeb and his staff to shore up her weakness.

“Talaga pong naging focus ko na makatulong sa depensa namin. Tuwing practice lahat na po ng tipo na palo pinapasalo sa akin. Bago nga po kanina (Game Three) puro sa zone po na bantay ko pinapadala ‘yung bola noong practice,” Singh told. Flying around the court, Singh consistently provided NU with coverage while showing improvement in her service reception throughout the season. Against Ateneo, she kicked up her game up multiple notches, conspiring with her teammates to limit the Lady Eagles’ offense.

Along with her defensive focus, Singh also took on the role of team captain, a role she says came to her by surprise. “Nilapitan na lang po ako ni Coach Roger before ng liga tapos sinabihan ako na ako daw ‘yung captain… Siyempre po nagulat ako kasi maraming seniors sa team na mas matanda sa akin, medyo may ilang po sa part ko pag I-lilead ko sila,” she recalled. In one sequence in their Finals series opener, coach Roger urged Singh to challenge a questionable call with the referees, a privilege the rules afford only to team captains. An adamant Singh nearly forced the first referee to draw a yellow card. Coach Gorayeb, however, admired his team captain’s moxie.

“Gusto ko sana si Myla [Pablo] ‘yung mag-captain. Kaso parang ayaw niya pa. Kaya kay Jorelle ko binigay. Matapang siya kaso nga lang bata pa, marami pang ilalaro para sa NU yan si Jorelle. Ngayon pa nga lang, ang ganda na nang nilalaro,” Gorayeb remarked.

When speaking of improvement, NU’s libero Bia General also deserves heaps of praise.

Taking over for legendary floor general Jen Reyes, much was expected of General. The start of Season 77 didn’t bode well for General as she struggled to live up to the lofty standards Reyes left, often tormented on social media for her futility. With the hiring of Coach Roger midway through UAAP 77, however, General’s game slowly improved.

“Ang sinasabi lang po sa akin lagi ni coach, maging confident – kahit sino pa ‘yung kalaban namin, maging kampante ako dahil sa training namin na mabubuhay ko ‘yung bola saka makakatulong ako sa team,” General said.

After the UAAP, General played for a club team under another legendary coach. Bringing her improvement full-circle, General kept the NU backrow impenetrable in the SVL, garnering enough stats to bag her first Best Libero award. “Siyempre sobrang saya ko po. Pinaghirapan ko din po na mag-improve kaya masarap sa pakiramdam na nabigyan pa ako ng award,” General remarked.

Awarding-Bia-General

In the Finals, General’s omnipresent floor defense was at full display. In one sequence in Game Two, Ateneo was catching up from a huge deficit in the second set. Wanting to get a sure point, Gizelle Tan tossed a perfect set for Alyssa Valdez who was gliding from the back row and drew no attention from a single NU blocker. The Conference MVP unleashed a vicious angled hit that hurdled towards General’s left side. Usually a sure point for the phenom, Valdez let out an extended sigh of exasperation when Bia popped her attack up confindently, allowing her team to counter immediately.

Valdez, it turns out, would let out more looks of exasperation in the series. In Game Two, the multi-award best scorer had only nine points. In Game Three, she managed just 14. Although stopping great scorers involve a holistic team effort, Bia General probably prevented at least 15 Valdez points throughout those two games on her own by just keeping the ball alive at all costs. Target anyone on NU. But targeting General has now become an inept strategy.

“Mas nabibigyan po kami ng confidence ng championship na ‘to lalo na at Ateneo ‘yung natalo namin. Ngayon, nakita namin na kaya namin sila sabayan. Dadalhin na lang po namin siguro ‘yung confidence na ‘to sa UAAP,” General answered when asked about the win’s effect on their upcoming UAAP campaign.

Singh echoed General’s sentiments. “Siyempre po ang saya-saya lang na Ateneo ‘yung natalo namin. Nandoon si Valdez, ang dami nilang malakas, ang dami din nilang fans, pero nanalo pa rin kami. Maganda po para sa amin to sa UAAP kasi nakita namin na kaya naman pala namin.”

Perhaps now Singh and General’s play will draw more headlines for NU. Because, whether you like it or not, NU’s on the rise. Their claim to a UAAP championship – like Singh’s powerful hitting or General’s defensive instinct – is legit.

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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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Basketball

KIA signs Carlo Lastimosa

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After being released by the NLEX Road Warriors during the off-season, gunner Carlo Lastimosa has found a new home.

KIA Picanto team governor Bobby Rosales confirmed to Tiebreaker Times Thursday evening that they have tapped Carlo Lastimosa for the rest of the PBA Philippine Cup campaign.

“Yes,” Rosales confirmed in a text message.

Lastimosa, a two-time All-Star, averaged 8.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in his one-year stay with the Road Warriors. Coach Yeng Guiao cited that NLEX already had too many guards that resulted to Lastimosa’s release.

The product of College of Saint Benilde was drafted as the 20th overall pick in the 2013 Rookie Draft by Barako Bull. A year later, he was traded to the Blackwater Elite for Brian Heruala.

The 27-year-old is set to make his debut on Saturday when the Picanto take on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

The Kia Picanto are in the midst of a 16-game losing streak.

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Marinerong Pilipino withstands furious Zark’s rally to open season on high note

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The Marinerong Pilipino Skippers averted a collapse and held off the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers to come away with the 94-92 thriller to open the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Losing hold of a 17-point edge, 56-39 with 7:57 left in the third frame, the Skippers survived the furious rally from the Jawbreakers in the clutch as Mike Nzeusseu and CJ Perez missed their three-pointers in the final minute before Rian Ayonayon and Renzo Subido sealed off the win for their side at the charity stripe

Subido topscored for Marinerong Pilipino with 20 points, five assists, and three rebounds, while Ayonayon unleashed 15 markers, three boards, and two dimes in the early battle between the two contenders.

Gab Banal also registered a double-double of 14 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, and four steals against his 10 turnovers in the win, while Papot Paredes got 12 of his 14 markers in the first half to help the Skippers establish control at halftime.

Victorious as Marinerong Pilipino maybe in the marquee matchup, coach Koy Banal refused to brand his side as the undisputed team-to-beat, noting: “This win means nothing. We need to keep on working get better every day because everybody will now prepare for us.”

Banal also lauded top rookie picks Alvin Pasaol and Abu Tratter, who were both fielded in the second half and stepped up to help the Skippers’ cause.

“Those guys have been with us since January 2 lang, and pretty much, medyo nangangapa pa sila sa sistema. But good thing is that they were able to deliver especially when their number were called,” he said.

The Skippers used a huge 12-0 run to end the second quarter to grab a 47-35 halftime lead, which further ballooned to 17, 56-39 in the third quarter.

Jaycee Marcelino paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 20 points, four rebounds, and three assists in the loss, while Perez had 19 markers and five assists.

Earlier, PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial and PBA vice chairman Dickie Bachmann of Alaska graced the opening ceremonies, which was made special thanks to league newcomer Mila’s Lechon.

Marinerong Pilipino looks to sustain the momentum it gained in this game when it faces the Akari-Adamson Falcons on Thursday, January 25 at 5:00pm. Zark’s Burgers, on the other hand, takes on the Batangas-EAC Generals on Tuesday, January 23 at 4:00pm.

The Scores:

Marinerong Pilipino 94 – Subido 20, Ayonayon 15, Paredes 14, Banal 14, Robles 10, Tolentino 4, Tratter 4, Pasaol 4, Terso 3, Lopez 2, Inigo 2, Babilonia 2, Toth 0.

Zark’s 92 – Marcelino JC 20, Perez 19, Nzeusseu 18, Ayaay 11, Ibanez 6, Marcelino JV 6, Cinco 5, Tansingco 3, Santos 2, Pretta 2, Marata 0, Liwag 0

Quarterscores: 17-19, 47-34, 69-58, 94-92

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CSJL

Pirates notch first win at struggling Knights’ expense

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After floundering in their first three games, the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates broke into the win column after trouncing the Colegio San Juan de Letran Knights, 20-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-22, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Pirates, after a sluggish start, got the best of their Intramuros neighbors by limiting their miscues in the latter three sets. According to head coach Emil Lontoc, Lyceum needed every bit of momentum they gained in their rousing win in the second set.

“Nabuhayan sila (Pirates) ng loob noong makalusot kami noong second set,” Lontoc said. “Mababa ‘yung nilaro namin nung simula tapos medyo struggle pa din noong sumunod na set. Pero nakabangon din. Crucial ‘yun kasi baka hindi na kami naka-angat kung natalo pa kami noong second set.”

The Pirates delivered three of their four aces in the final set to close the match. They also shored up their reception, finishing at 38 percent, after an atrocious start.

Jhonel Badua topped the Pirates with 19 points while Joeward Presnede added 14.

Lyceum (1-3) takes on the undefeated Arellano University (4-0) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Paul John Alilio and Bobby Gatdula each provided Letran with 19 points. Christopher Cistina managed 11 markers.

Letran (0-4) aims for their first win against rivals San Beda College (3-1) on Monday.

The Scores

LPU (3) – Badua 19, Presnede 14, Lajara 9, Ilano 7, Samonte 5, Uy 5, Rubio (L)

CSJL (1) – Alilio 19, Gatdula 19, Cistina 11, Almoguerra 3, Ladeon 3, Dizon 2, Domingo 2, Brioso 0, Tumbali 0, Centeno (L), Timbreza (L)

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D-League to hold three-day showcase for players

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Seeking to further display the greatness of the Filipino basketball players, the PBA is giving more chances to the cagers as the league is set to hold the first-ever PBA D-League Showdown later this conference.

Opening the eighth season with this ground-breaking news, PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial is hopeful that this will serve as another motivation for the players to perform at their best this 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.

“Ginagawa naman natin ito para mas galingan ng mga players natin para rin maipakita nila yung tunay nilang talento,” he said Thursday during the opening ceremonies at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Marcial bared that the plan is to hold a two-day summit for the players suiting up in the ongoing conference to allow them to showcase their talents in front of coaches and scouts, not just from the PBA but also from countries in the Southeast Asian region.

“Lahat ng mga players ay maglalaro dito at mapapanood hindi lang ng mga PBA coaches,” he said.

“Iimbitahin din namin ang mga coaches ng ibang bansa tulad ng Malaysia, Thailand, at Vietnam na kumukuha ng imports sa atin.”

Marcial acknowledged that as much as players seek to make the jump to the pro league, securing spots in the PBA teams have been hard to crack over the past few years, forcing the players to look elsewhere for opportunities.

That has made playing in overseas leagues an option for these less fortunate ballers, keeping them earning while also hoping to impress scouts while keeping their PBA dreams alive.

Some of the players who suited up in the D-League and are currently playing outside of the country are Paul Zamar and Almond Vosotros in Thailand, AJ Mandani in Singapore, and Reil Cervantes in Indonesia.

With this project, Marcial is hopeful that this would keep the players in line while also delivering the best competition the D-League could dream of.

“Iwasan natin ang bisyo at galingan ninyo.”

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