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Chua repaying Black’s trust with hard work, smart decisions

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It took some time, but finally, Justin Chua is starting to carve his niche with Meralco

After the Meralco Bolts picked up their second win of the conference against the NLEX Road Warriors, a group of reporters surrounded Justin Chua — much to the surprise of both Chua and second-year forward Chris Newsome.

“It’s your first interview ever!” an elated Newsome told Chua, patting him on his back.

Newsome’s reaction was genuine, knowing that Chua’s emergence this conference has helped the Bolts to a 2-0 record this conference.

Prior to this conference, the 27-year-old Filipino-Chinese big man had started a total of just five games in his career — all during his first year with Globalport. After two teams and an ACL injury, he has finally found a home with Meralco Bolts and coach Norman Black — the same mentor that had recruited him to the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles back in 2008.

“Justin is out there for two reasons. He’s a very smart player, he doesn’t back down, and he doesn’t hurt you,” Black said about Chua, who has started both games for Meralco this conference.

“What I mean by that is he doesn’t make very many mental mistakes, offensively or defensively, as far as execution is concerned, he’s very sound, and that helps us a great deal.

“The second reason he’s out there is because he can hit open shots. He missed a couple down the stretch, but for the most part, he can make an open jump shot, he can score and finish around the basket. And that’s what we really need this conference,” added Black, who won five championships in the UAAP with Chua.

On Sunday evening, the 6-foot-6 forward scored six points in the game-breaking 19-4 run in their 91-84 win. And for Chua, it’s all about repaying the trust his mentor gave him.

“Siyempre, nagpapasalamat ako kay coach Norman [Black] dahil binigyan niya ako ng chance with his team,” said the admittedly-shy Chua, who is playing in his fourth conference with Meralco.

“Nung last time, galing kasi ako sa ACL injury. Wala pa ako sa rhythm. I just worked my ass out, kept training, at nabigiyan lang ng chance ni coach Norman. Sana maibalik ko yung kabaitan niya sa akin.”

With hulking import Alex Stepheson solving their big man woes, Chua hopes he can help relieve the pressure on their import all throughout the conference, as they look to bounce back from their horrid Philippine Cup campaign.

“Since college, si coach malaki tiwala niya sa akin. Sobrang grateful ako.

“Basta every game, kailangan kong ayusin. Gagawin ko lang yung best ko always and try to help our big men out,” the four-year league veteran vowed.

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San Miguel hands NLEX third straight loss in highly-charged affair

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San Miguel Beermen maintained their position at the top as they bagged their fourth straight victory at the expense of NLEX Road Warriors in a highly-physical encounter, 109-98, Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

The Beermen remain as the only unbeaten team in the 2018 Philippine Cup with a clean 4-0 card, while the Road Warriors lost their third straight outing and have dropped to 2-3.

“I know from the start that this will be an exciting game,” said San Miguel head coach Leo Austria. “With NLEX losing their last two games, we knew they will come out hard and it happened. They refused to lose because of their pride and experience.”

Arwind Santos led the Beermen with 26 points on five treys along with 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks. June Mar Fajardo backed him up with 25 markers on 10-of-16 shooting and 16 caroms.

It was a see-saw affair between San Miguel and NLEX, until the former unloaded an 8-0 run — ended by Marcio Lassiter’s bucket — as it widened their slim two-point lead to 10, 95-85, with 4:24 remaining in the payoff period.

The Road Warriors seemingly lost steam afterwards, and the Beermen took advantage as they expanded their lead to as much as 14, 103-89, after Santos’ three-pointer from the top of the key went in with just 2:21 left to play.

“I know na its not easy for us to beat NLEX. Before the game I know na last time we lost in this coliseum, we lost to NLEX,” said Austria, referring to their loss to the Road Warriors last 2015. “(Buti) Namarkahan na ng team namin.”

Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot scored 14 each for the Beermen, with the latter adding nine assists to his total. Von Pessumal, who was slapped with a flagrant foul for pushing Kiefer Ravena to the ground, chipped in 10 markers.

Even after receiving a groin kick from NLEX’s Michael Miranda and a tussle with Yeng Guiao after reportedly hearing a racist remark from the coach late in the game, Chris Ross still made eight boards, four points and four dimes for SMB.

Ravena led NLEX with 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting along with six assists. Alex Mallari, Raul Soyud, and JR Quiñahan all scored 12 points apiece, while Miranda finished with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

San Miguel will look to go 5-0 against GlobalPort on January 24, Wednesday at 7:00 PM, while NLEX will aim to bounce back versus Rain or Shine on January 26, Friday, at 4:30 PM. Both games are at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

San Miguel 109 — Santos 26, Fajardo 25, Cabagnot 14, Lassiter 14, Pessumal 10, Ganuelas-Rosser 6, De Ocampo 4, Ross 4, Heruela 2, Mamaril 2, Semerad 2.

NLEX 98 — Ravena 15, Mallari 12, Quiñahan 12, Soyud 12, Miranda 10, Tiongson 8, Fonacier 6, Uyloan 6, Al-Hussaini 5, Alas 5, Taulava 3, Baguio 2, Gotladera 2.

Quarterscores: 31-24, 49-58, 74-74, 109-98.

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Defense has been key for Globalport to even slate, beams Sean Anthony

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GlobalPort’s horrid start is now a thing of the past

Sean Anthony was all praises for the way GlobalPort Batang Pier has been executing their defensive schemes, following he and his team’s 101-76 demolition of the Blackwater Elite for their second straight victory.

“[It was] Defense again. We held them under 80 points. Our offense just flowed and we stayed aggressive on defense,” said the 31-year-old forward.

“Coach [Pido Jarencio] wants us to keep teams under 80, so another great defensive win for us.”

“We again met our target of limiting our points to below 80 points,” beamed Jarencio.

After a 0-2 start into the 2018 Philippine Cup and allowing their opponents to score at an average of 109.5 points per game, the Batang Pier have gone on a roll and have improved to 2-2. In this mini streak of theirs, with Rain or Shine and Blackwater as casualties, they have limited their opponents to just 73 points.

For the eight-year pro, it’s mostly because of the team’s growing chemistry, considering that they are running a new system under Jarencio, who took the coaching reins from Franz Pumaren in the offseason.

“A lot of it is the chemistry – we have a lot of new guys, so many young guys, a new coach, too, so our chemistry’s building,” said Anthony, who paced the Batang Pier with 22 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.

“It’s getting better every day.”

GlobalPort though has a tall order infront of them on January 24 as they are set to face reigning three-time all-Filipino champs San Miguel Beermen. But Anthony believes that they have ample time to prepare against the giants.

“San Miguel is three-time defending champs, so they’re going to be the team to beat, and definitely a barometer,” said the Filipino-American, who is currently averaging 18.25 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 5.75 assists.

“We’ve got some time to get better, so we’ve got to keep working on our weaknesses and continue to get better every day.”

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After second straight loss, Poy Erram laments: ‘Nagkanya-kanya kami’

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For Blackwater Elite’s top big man Poy Erram, their 76-101 defeat into the hands of GlobalPort Batang Pier Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome was a result of the players resorting to play as individuals rather than as a single unit.

Erram himself nearly finished with a triple double of eight points, seven rebounds, and seven blocks, but his efforts were put in vain as the Elite never had a chance to show their brand of basketball right from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

“‘Di namin sinunod si coach. Nagkanya-kanya kami. Simula pa lang, nakita naman talaga na nagkanya-kanya kami,” lamented the 28-year-old moments after the lopsided affair.

“Di namin ginawa yung sistema ni coach.”

And it also didn’t help that Erram failed to display his best form no thanks to an ankle sprain, which he incurred late in the opening frame.

“Nilalaro ko lang buong game. Actually masakit talaga, namamaga talaga siya,” added the 6-foot-7 big man.

“Kasi kung di ako maglalaro, walang ibang maglalaro (center spot), so pinilit ko na lang talaga.”

The Elite have now fallen to their second straight loss after their huge 94-77 triumph over Ginebra last week. And this skid is something they regret, for they feel like they failed to prove that their win against the Gin Kings was no fluke.

“May chance na kami eh, pinakawalan pa namin. Sobrang sayang,” said the four-year pro out of Ateneo de Manila. “Yung mga players sobrang down (tonight) kasi inexpect namin lalaban kami, tapos tinambakan kami ng sobra.”

Blackwater played their second game in three days after asking for a schedule revision to give way to their Hope for Lupus Run this Sunday. But Erram does not want to make the exhausting string of games as an excuse.

“Medyo naging factor din na in one week tatlong games kami. Tapos puro malalakas pa kalaban namin. Pero di yun excuse for us,” said Erram, who is averaging 13.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks this conference.

“Dapat ready kami kahit sino kalaban namin.”

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GlobalPort thrashes tired Blackwater for second straight win

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With their opponents playing their second game in three days, GlobalPort Batang Pier easily handled a tired Blackwater Elite side, 101-76, en route to their second straight victory, Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

The Batang Pier, who had posted their second most lopsided win in franchise history, improved their card to 2-2, while the Elite lost their second straight match and had dropped to 2-3.

“We hit our target of 80 points below. They scored 76 points. We just played good defense all the way, and that’s the result,” said Batang Pier head coach Pido Jarencio. “Everybody contributed, even the rookies, that’s why we pulled away.”

Sean Anthony top-billed for GlobalPort with 22 points on six triples, on top of seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Stanley Pringle finished with 17 points and 11 boards with five dimes, while Kelly Nabong scored 16.

The one-sided affair in favor of the Batang Pier started as early as the opening frame, when Anthony’s three-pointer met the bottom of the net and gave them a 24-13 cushion with 3:21 left in the said quarter.

With almost everything going their way and Blackwater failing to find ways to respond, GlobalPort was able to lead by as much as 31 points, 87-56, after Pringle swished in a jumper with exactly 9:20 remaining in the final frame.

“Actually simple lang naman ang instruction ko sa team eh. Blackwater naglaro ng back-to-back, siyempre mapapagod din yan. So takbuhan,” added Jarencio on the win, where they scored 23 off fastbreaks.

Sophomore Mac Belo and Michael Di Gregorio were the only bright spots for Blackwater in the loss, as they scored 17 and 15 points, respectively, with the former adding seven rebounds and two assists to his name.

Poy Erram, who was remarkable in their last four games, was silent with eight points and seven rebounds. Raymar Jose added 12 boards and eight points for the Elite, who played without Allein Maliksi as he is currently in Australia.

Globalport will next face San Miguel Beermen on January 24, Wednesday at 7:00 PM, while Blackwater will take on Alaska on January 27, Saturday at 4:30 PM. Both games will be at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Globalport 101 – Anthony 22, Pringle 17, Nabong 16, Grey 8, Taha 7, Gabayni 6, Juico 6, Araña 4, Elorde 4, Flores 4, Guinto 4, Sargent 3.

Blackwater 76 – Belo 17, DiGregorio 15, Sena 9, Erram 8, Jose 8, Pinto 8, Palma 6, Javier 3, Cruz 2, Banal 0, Cortez 0, Marcelo 0, Neypes 0, Sumang 0.

Quarterscores: 28-23, 61-37, 79-54, 101-76.

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