With their backs against the wall, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons kept toe to toe with the league-leading Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, Wednesday afternoon. Leading by as much as 12 points in the third quarter, it seemed like they were en route to another upset of David and Goliath proportions.
But the end game breaks did not favor UP. The upset attempt turned into an expected Ateneo show.
With 4:01 left on the final frame and the game tied at 79-all, Jun Manzo — who was pressuring Ateneo’s Jolo Mendoza at backcourt — was called for a foul. This came as a big surprise to Manzo and the whole UP bench, because Manzo’s good defense had resulted in Mendoza failing to bring the ball across before the eight second deadline. However, the officials decided otherwise.
“Ang labo kasi siyempre nawala na yung bola sa kanya, so dinive ko pero feeling ko bad call talaga yun dahil shot clock na rin, eight seconds. Wala tayong magagawa kasi ganun yung tawag eh. Breaks of the game eh,” the 5-foot-9 floor general expressed.
“Ang labo talaga. Pero trabaho ng referee yun eh, bigay na natin sa kanila.”
Coach Bo Perasol also shared the same sentiment but expressed his desire for the officials to do a better job.
“Sobrang [crucial] yun [eight second violation], but it happens. Hindi naman puwede mag-delve to that. That’s something they decided on, and can’t reverse that, we have to find a way on how we can play through that,” the UP mentor said.
“But then again I’m hoping the officials will have a better job, because we exert a way to find a win.”
That debatable call proved to be crucial, because afterwards, Mendoza sunk the ensuing free throws and the momentum of the game shifted to the Blue Eagles. Shots kept falling for the men in blue, while UP struggled to make decent shots. Eventually, the Fighting Maroons bowed to the Blue Eagles.
“Kung sa amin yung bola siguro mag-iiba na yung laro. Nung nakuha nila yung bola, naka-shoot sila eh kaya tuloy-tuloy yung momentum nila,” the Agusan del Norte native shared, “Parang ibang iba yung aura namin kanina eh. Gusto talaga namin maglaro as a team. Yun yung na-feel ko kanina, gusto sana talaga namin talunin yung unbeaten team sa UAAP.”
Despite falling to a 5-8 record and failing to pull off an upset, UP’s bid to the last Final Four ticket is still alive.
The Fighting Maroons have one last eliminations game against the National University on Saturday. If they win that, and the Adamson Soaring Falcons beat the FEUTamaraws on the same day, UP will figure in a do-or-die against the Tamaraws for the last Final Four berth.
“What’s in our hands right now is to have a victory against NU. It’s not going to help us if we’re going to lose. And we have to find a way to keep the energy going and make sure na manalo muna kami,” Perasol shared.
“Yung sinasabi ni Coach Bo nga na pag do-or-die na, dun na nalalaman yung character ng players eh. Dun na titignan kung ano ba gagawin namin sa ganitong sitwasyon kapag high stakes na,” Manzo added.
But with the scenario, not everything is in UP’s control. With that, Perasol and Manzo simply want to focus on what they can do and hope for the best.
PBA slaps fines on Yeng Guiao, Chris Ross
Yeng Guiao and Chris Ross opt to move on
The much-talked about tilt that pitted the San Miguel Beermen and the NLEX Road Warriors last January 18 featured numerous confrontations and exchanges. But none was more heated than what happened between fiery head coach Yeng Guiao and emotional defensive cog Chris Ross.
With 1:46 remaining in that game, Guiao and Ross figured in a verbal altercation that resulted to the latter being slapped with his second technical foul of the contest.
The league though could not find any hard evidence that this occurred.
“Upon review of the incident, consulting possible witnesses to the event and discussing the matter with both parties, the alleged racist remark attributed to Coach Guiao could not be established,” the league said in a statement. “Coach Guiao has denied such allegation while Chris Ross has opted to move forward and said that he would not want to discuss the matter further. However, Coach Guiao and Chris Ross will be subject to appropriate fines for their respective misconduct.
“As a result, the Office of the Commissioner finds no sufficient basis to discuss the matter of an alleged racist remark uttered by Coach Guiao. It may be recalled that in a previous incident, a heavy penalty was imposed for a racist remark that was clearly proven.
“Rest assured that any act that is racially derogatory and pejorative in nature will be dealt with sternly by the league,” the statement ended.
As a result, Guiao is fined PHP 11,000 for obscene gesture, use of profane language and engaging in a verbal altercation while Ross is fined the amount of PHP 2,600 for incurring two technical fouls, both for verbal altercation.
MPBL aims to give local talent biggest exposure
After months of planning, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League will finally raise its curtains on Thursday, January 25 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Unlike the other leagues in the country, the MPBL wants to give Filipino aspirants from local communities a chance to shine on national TV.
“I would like to say, this is the noble project of our founder and chairman, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Talagang dream niya ito, matulungan ‘yung mga grassroots,” said MPBL head of marketing Arnold Vegafria during the league’s press conference. “And from the grassroots, to the collegiate players and also professionals na gusto niyang tulungan, mabigyan ng chances, makalaro at ma-expose ang skills nila para matulungan ang mga basketbolista not only sa Metro Manila but this is gonna be all over the Philippines.
“Simula muna sa Metro Manila and key cities in Luzon. Soon it will go to Visayas and Mindanao.”
The first conference for the league is the Anta Raja Cup. 10 teams from Luzon will compose the league, namely Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Caloocan, Imus, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Quezon City, and Valenzuela.
Though it may be ambitious, the league wants to continue the dream started by the Metropolitan Basketball Association which is to create a league that has a home and away format.
“For the longest time, after ng MBA, I think it’s 20 years ago na ‘yun, I think it’s due na rin for our basketball fans around the country, ‘yung mga sa provinces, ‘cause ‘yung advantage nito is ‘yung games mismo, dadalhin mo sa kanila. Unlike before sa mga liga natin, naka-stay lang sila sa isang venue,” said league commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.
“Maraming factors ngayon, traffic and time-consuming. Pero itong liga natin, tayo ang magdadala mismo sa mga tao, sa mga basketball fans. Sa tagal-tagal ng walang organized, or high-level na basketball tournament, ito na ‘yung time na makikita ng mga basketball fans natin na up close and personal ang mga ini-idolo nila, lalo na ang mga hometown hero nila,” the PBA legend furthered.
Armed with this vision, the league plans to be the country’s premier amateur league, helping build the dreams of the Filipino youth.
“It’s an amateur league. Kaya nga natin siya tinatawag na liga para sa lahat ng Pilipino, kasi lahat dito as long as Filipino ka, kasali ka,” shared Duremdes.
“Kagaya ng sinasabi ni Sen. Manny, matutulungan natin ang mga players ng grumaduate sa college na walang mapaglaruan, mga ex-pro na hindi masyado nabigyan ng exposure sa PBA, may exposure sila dito. Tapos yung mga grassroots player natin, malay mo springboard nila ang MPBL and who knows they will represent the country in the national team.
“Ito ang nakikita ni Sen Manny, mga players na out of school or the big leagues, ma-expose sila sa MPBL at mapansin sila ng national team or pro team,” he furthered.
The league’s first game will feature Caloocan taking on Paranaque at the Big Dome. Tickets are priced at P300, P200, P150, P100 while the Gen Ad will be open for all.
Vic Manuel says Alaska yet to return to contender status
Even if they have won their third straight game coming from a 0-2 start in the 2018 Philippine Cup, Vic Manuel thinks that it’s still not enough to tell that the Alaska Aces should be considered as one of the topflight teams in the league.
“Hindi pa rin masabi, kasi lahat ng team ngayon, talagang malalakas na eh, hindi na basta-basta easy yung mga game eh,” said “The Muscleman” Sunday night, after he and the Aces took down Barangay Ginebra, 97-83, at the Ynares Center.
The way the Aces have been playing this 2018 is remarkably different from the way they did last 2017, where they raked in more losses than wins. For Manuel, it’s partly because of the team regaining their competitive fire.
“Sa practice pa lang, talagang nakikipag-compete eh. Walang easy kahit sa practice, talagang bigay-todo lahat,” said the 30-year-old, who has been with Alaska since 2014.
“Sobrang aggressive, kaya yun, nadadala namin sa game.”
It also helps that the Milkmen have been healthy so far this season, unlike last year where they couldn’t even field a complete line-up in almost every outing. Manuel knows it too well, as he had been injury-plagued last season.
“Yung injury ko talaga, hindi madali eh, kasi sa tuhod talaga, sa left knee,” said the six-foot-four forward from Nueva Ecija. “So pinu-push nila ako kung ano ang kailangan ko gawin. Ayun, nagbubunga naman lahat.”
Now, eyes are on the Aces if they can keep this streak of theirs going. And for Manuel, who led the Aces with 18 points and five rebounds against the Gin Kings, all they need to do is to sustain what they have right now in their next games.
“Kailangan every game, focused pa rin kami, mas maging aggressive kami,” he said.
“Kung anong mga ginagawa namin nitong mga last three games namin, kailangan dalhin pa namin sa mga susunod naming games.”
Apologies to LA Tenorio
After the bout, Manuel had actually planned to approach Ginebra’s star point guard LA Tenorio regarding the spat they figured into late in the third quarter, after the former undercut the much bigger Manuel near the rim.
But Manuel made it clear that he wasn’t going after Tenorio to get back at him. All that he wanted to do was to apologize, as he found out that Tenorio was just trying to help him get back up and not trying to instigate something.
“Sabi niya, ‘bakit mo ako binigyan? Itatayo na nga kita eh.’ Nahiya din ako sa kanya. Magso-sorry sana ako, eh wala eh, lumayo na siya eh,” Manuel shared with a chuckle.
“Lalapitan ko sana eh, pero umalis agad.”
That incident was just one of the many things that frustrated Tenorio. Aside from absorbing their second straight loss, he couldn’t get things going, as he only scored five on a dismal 1-of-13 shooting from the floor.
“Magandang bonus din sa’min yun kasi medyo masama yung nilaro niya,” said Manuel.
“Swerte na lang siguro kami.”
Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’
For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.
The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.
“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.
As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.
And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.
“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.
“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”
Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.
“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.
“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”
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