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Japan hands Philippines sobering loss

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Sitting in the third spot of the FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Rankings, Japan has long been a global volleyball power. Which is why, despite all the heart and optimism our local volleyball crowd has mustered, the Nationals just didn’t have enough to pull off an upset.

Today’s match turned the Philippines into the Tokyo to Japan’s Godzilla, as their monstrous volleyball squad had no problem plowing through the Nationals, 12-25, 18-25, 15-25.

The hosts did not record a single block, and managed just one ace. On the other hand, the visitors had three blocks and eight aces. Moreover, the biggest thorn on the Philippines’ side was their inability to control Japan’s serves, which resulted in 27 unforced errors compared to Japan’s 10.

Japan even managed to field all their players as they garnered an even scoring slate. Their head coach, Hideyoshi Abo, also had the luxury of letting Nao Muranaga rest. Furthermore, the Japan team captain only played part of the third set, and scored just a single point. Misaki Yamauchi was devastating with her quick leaps that notched nine points, while Kaori Mabashi dished out eight points.

As a result of their horrendous reception, the Philippines gravely struggled to setup their offense as Alyssa Valdez was the only National who could consistently score against Japan. The Team Captain scored 15 points, but needed 40 attack attempts to get it. In addition, Jaja Santiago had her moments in the latter sets rattling Japan with her quick attacks. She finished with seven points on nine attack attempts, her low number of attempts being a direct result of the Philippines trouble with reception. In the end, Japan showed how well they can adjust on the fly and take away a team’s best option.

Japan gave the Philippines a free volleyball clinic, a fact that Coach Roger Gorayeb and Alyssa Valdez acknowledged. “Kung pwede lang araw-araw namin sila makalaban, para lang matutunan namin kung paano sila maglaro,” Coach Gorayeb said.

“It was a blessing for us that we got to play with Japan. Really, we learned a lot of lessons that should make us better,” Valdez remarked.

Japanese Head Coach, Hideyoshi Abo, revealed that his team only came together in two weeks, a statement that made both Coach Gorayeb and Alyssa Valdez cringe. “I’ve seen our players improve a lot in the three games we played in this tournament. The win against the Philippines made us more confident moving forward,” Coach Abo quipped.

The Philippines will have their final classification match against Chinese Taipei tomorrow at 7 p.m. It’s worth mentioning that Taipei took Japan to four close sets and just ran out of steam late in the match, so this may pose as a challenge for the home team.

Japan has Iran, who lost their match against Taipei earlier today, up next.

The Scores

Japan (3) – Yamauchi 9, Mabashi 8, Imamura 6, Inoue 6, Kodama 6, Sakamoto 5, Miura 4, Shibata 2, Higane 1, Muranaga 1, Namba 0, Kojima (L)

Philippines (0) – Valdez 15, Santiago 7, Soltones 6, Morado 3, Pablo 2, Sato 2, De Jesus 0, Laure 0, De Leon 0, Agno (L)

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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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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence

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For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the said injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men then feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, on the other hand, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter though was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to talk about such. No one can blame him though, for the Barangay have drowned to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense

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Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs

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It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have always struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue to stay as they are, it looks like it will be another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be an excuse.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” expressed Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco though has a chance to end their slump against Kia this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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Troy Rosario’s birthday wish: ‘I hope ma-sustain ko yung game na ganito’

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Photo from PBA Images

Troy Rosario had just turned 26 years old on Saturday. So when he suited up for TNT Katropa’s match versus Meralco Bolts the next day, he made sure to churn out a performance that is a perfect birthday present for him and the team.

The six-foot-seven forward turned to a conference-best outing of 22 points on an excellent 8-of-13 shooting along with 10 rebounds to power the Texters to a masterful 99-81 victory over the Meralco Bolts at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

“Parang na-extend yung birthday ko,” the third-year pro quipped. “Para sa’kin good year ito eh. Simula pa lang ng taon marami na kong blessings na natatanggap.

“Continue ko lang yung hard work na ginagawa ko kasi alam ko it will pay off anytime.”

“It’s just a product of Troy’s hard work,” said TNT head coach Nash Racela. “He takes a lot of shots before practice, and then even after practice, naiiwan talaga siya to take more shots.

“Not really surprised with the way he shot today.”

Rosario was averaging 13.25 points on 41.5 percent shooting prior to Sunday. But twice in their last four games, he only scored in single digits, and that is why the former NU Bulldog aims to be consistent for TNT in their next games.

“I hope ma-sustain ko yung game na ganito,” said the second overall pick of the 2015 PBA Rookie Draft. “Yun din yung hinahanap sa’min ng coaches eh, yung consistency sa laro.

“‘Di yung akyat-baba, akyat-baba.”

“It’s nice that he shot well while celebrating his birthday, but he also needs to shoot well during other days. That’s how you become consistent,” seconded Racela. “We just have to look for consistency.”

It was a Sunday full of celebrations indeed for Rosario. Aside from his birthday, the Katropa had also earned their second straight win — their first winning streak in the 2018 Philippine Cup after a 1-2 start.

For the Gilas Pilipinas veteran, this mini streak of theirs is a result of him and the Katropa regaining their groove as a collective.

“Nakukuha na namin yung laro namin,” said the second overall pick in the 2015 Rookie Draft.

“Nagkakaamuyan na. Sa tingin ko malaki yung tsansa namin ngayong all-Filipino at iangat pa namin yung level ng laro namin.”

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