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Kaya survives Ceres-La Salle in shootout; reigns as UFL Cup champions

Kaya FC survives Ceres-La Salle FC to finally be named UFL Cup champions.

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Kaya FC pulled through after 120 minutes and a penalty shootout to dispatch League Champions Ceres-La Salle, 2-2 after extra time (4-2 on penalties), and clinched the coveted 2015 United Football League (UFL) Cup title, Friday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Kaya started the match like a team on a mission and producing early chances to score while Ceres-La Salle fortified their defense and denied Kaya’s opportunities. At the sixth minute, Chris Greatwich found Golden Boot frontrunner Tishan Hanley on the right wing. The Kittian national shot from long range, but Ceres keeper Louie Casas was able to save the ball. Six minutes after, a foul was called on the visitors and Greatwich took the ensuing free kick. The former Azkal sent a dangerous cross to the right of Casas, only Joven Bedic pushed the opposing keeper to get to the ball before launching a shot that went into the net.

Ceres wrestled control of the match in the next few minutes after finally getting passes into their attacking third. At the 32nd minute, Patrick Reichelt found some space past the defense, but his shot was over the bar. Kaya stood their ground as they denied several attempts from the League Champions on set pieces to keep the match scoreless until the additional time.

In stoppage time, the top-seeded Kaya broke the deadlock with a goal against the run of play. OJ Porteria connected to Diego Barrera on the right flank, who then sent the ball inside the box to Hanley. The striker volleyed the ball into the back of the net and past Casas. The yellow-shirts went into the halftime break with the precarious 1-0 lead.

At the second half, Ceres-La Salle picked up from where they left off in the first as they dominated the chances at the start. Three minutes from the restart, Reichelt sent a pass to Bienvenido Marañon. The Spaniard attempted from way outside the box, but his shot was too strong. In a succeeding play, Lee Jeong Woo attempted from the top of the box, only Kaya custodian Nick O’Donnell easily collected.

Kaya turned this defensive intensity into attack, and was again rewarded with a goal at the 56th minute. Bedic found Barrera near the penalty area, and the latter fired to the crossbar and into the goal for his team’s second. Sensing momentum, the home side had two more opportunities from set pieces but failed to execute.

The visitors finally took one back in the 63rd minute to cut the deficit. After a Kaya denial on a Paul Mulders attempt, Ceres’ Lee collected a pass from the midfield and weaved through the defense. The Korean forward curved the ball into the onion bag and past O’Donnell.
In the following play, Kaya’s Greatwich and Lee had an altercation and were both booked. Greatwich was consequently sent off for his second yellow, which brought his team down to ten men.

After a Kaya foul was called at the 73rd minute, Martin Steuble sent his free kick into the box and connected to Juani Guirado, who headed the ball into the net for the equalizer. Ceres then continued to pepper the home squad in search of that possible winning goal, but these attempts went straight to the mitts of O’Donnell. The fulltime whistle was blown with both teams knotted at 2.

At extra time, the League Champions Ceres kept on attacking Kaya’s defense with several passes into their first third. At the 96th minute, Lee found substitute Marwin Angeles, who was stifled by O’Donnell. In an ensuing play, Steuble connected to Reichelt inside the box, but the shot went over. Kaya managed to stifle the Ceres onslaught and forced a penalty shootout.

In the shootout, Kaya scored first with Porteria and veteran Aly Borromeo got the second, while Marañon and Lee scored the first two goals for Ceres. In the third shot, Kaya’s Kenshiro Daniels was denied by opposing keeper Casas twice after a second take was ordered. The home side’s custodian O’Donnell made sure the score will remain at 2-all when he collected Mulders’ attempt. Christian Ayew sent the yellow-shirts back on the driver’s seat on the following take. Another save from O’Donnell over Steuble and a successful spot kick from Louis Clark sealed the victory and title for Kaya FC.

With the win, Kaya FC joined their victims Ceres-La Salle FC in the 2016 AFC Cup competitions. Ceres-La Salle will play at the group stages, while Kaya will be battling it out in the playoff for a spot in the same phase.

In an interview, Kaya Team Manager Paul Tolentino was thrilled that his wards won the Cup against the League Champions Ceres. “It still hasn’t sunk in. I’m speechless,” he uttered. The manager gave credit to the boys for the heart they have shown throughout the competition and singled out veteran Greatwich, who took over the tactical decisions and coaching after the departure of Adam Reekie. “It started with Chris [Greatwich] handling the team and it’s fitting that we ended it with him taking control,” he exclaimed.

Greatwich, however, gave the credit to his teammates and cited specifically this game on how they manage to pull through in the competition. He explained, “I didn’t play for the last 30 minutes of the game. I didn’t play extra time. The boys who played for the last half-hour of the game and 30 minutes of extra time deserve the credit.” The former Azkal believed that in-game execution of his planned tactics was what won them matches and the Cup. When asked about the AFC Cup for next year, Greatwich said that he is not thinking about it for now, instead will try to take enjoy the moment. The long-time playmaker, however, ended that what was important is that, “We did the job.”

In the earlier match Loyola Meralco Sparks won the contention for third place against Stallion FC. It was a true fight to the finish as both teams defended their goals up until injury time. The first half witnessed Stallion grab hold of possession, and often threatened Loyola’s goal. However, their attacking streak would only be marred by the Sparks’ stalwart interception and defensive play. It wasn’t long until the match was out of the scoring drought when the penalty shootout commenced. The shootout resulted with the Sparks who won all their goals, while Stallion missed two. The winning team was then awarded with a trophy during the final ceremony.

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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ABL

Joshua Munzon, Westsports snap Saigon’s streak in highly emotional contest

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Photo by ASEAN Basketball League

Entering Wednesday night’s game, Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat were on a high, slaying the winning streaks of Hong Kong Eastern and Nanhai Kung Fu. However, Joshua Munzon and the Westsports Malaysia Dragons had other things in mind, keeping the Heat winless at the MABA Stadium, 91-87.

In his fourth game since returning to the Dragons, Munzon filled up the stat sheet, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Besides putting up the numbers, the athletic swingman from California helped limit reigning Heritage Player of the Week Williams to his worst game so far in the ABL. Averaging 27.33 points, 6.67 assists, and 6.0 rebounds prior to this game, Williams went field goal-less against the Dragons, missing all 11 of his attempts. The Filipino-American floor general was able to dish out eight assists and grab five caroms.

Westsports led by as much as 11 points in the final frame, 82-71, after Munzon found Marcus Marshall for a triple with 4:59 remaining. Behind World Imports Akeem Scott and Maxie Esho, the Heat stormed right back but was answered by a long bomb by Munzon to keep them at bay.

Marshall and Scott figured in a shootout to close out the game but in the end, the hosts were still able to etch out their second straight victory.

Marshall finished the game with 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Dragons while Scott’s 44-point game went for naught.

After the emotionally charged contest though, few unkind words were exchanged by the officials of both squads that almost resulted into a brawl. Fortunately, things did not escalate beyond that.

In the video, Munzon was also seen shoving a Saigon player to try and pacify the situation. The league is currently investigating the post-game incident.

With the win, Westsports Malaysia raised its record to 3-4 while dropping Saigon to 4-3.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Edward Kelly honored to fight alongside brother Eric

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Eric and Edward Kelly lived under the same roof for years in their hometown of Baguio City when they were young and shared the same burning passion in martial arts.

Growing up in the small town community of San Tomas Central, located within the city limits of Baguio, Eric and Edward did not always get along with one another as the two fought all the time, sometimes even resulting in injury.

“We were not that close before. We always fought. In short, Eric and I were headaches to our parents,” Edward recalled in jest.

“But of course, things change when you grow up and mature. We now appreciate each other’s company.”

Fortunately, when the brothers entered high school, Eric discovered martial arts, and everything would change for both of them.

Edward paid attention to the growing accolades of his older brother and was heavily motivated by it.

“I noticed after he started martial arts that it taught him the discipline not to fight me as a brother. Instead, he started giving me advice through what he had learned,” he bared. “I also joined martial arts because it teaches you discipline, and a lot of other positives, too.”

Years later, both men have made remarkable runs as outstanding martial artists in their respective professional careers.

Eric is widely regarded as one of the best homegrown martial arts athletes to come out of the Philippines.

A Wushu practitioner who combines solid striking techniques with high-level grappling skills, Eric owns nine scintillating submissions and one knockout out of 12 total career victories.

Eric’s most impressive showing to date came in a submission win over Rob Lisita in July 2014, a performance that earned him the USD 50,000 ONE Warrior Bonus.

Meanwhile, Edward is considered as one of the best and brightest featherweight prospects to emerge from the well-established martial arts scene in the Philippines.

With a complete striking and grappling skill set, Edward brings Team Lakay’s world-renowned Wushu to center stage as he showcases his impeccable skillset inside the ONE Championship cage.

In addition, the younger Kelly has won three of his last four bouts under the ONE Championship banner, all by spectacular finish.

The Kelly brothers get a rare chance on Friday, January 26 as the siblings will compete side-by-side when ONE Championship holds its first of the four scheduled events in the country for 2018.

Eric squares off with Brazilian standout Rafael Nunes on the undercard of ONE: Global Superheroes, while Edward crosses paths with Cambodia’s Meas Meul in a three-round featherweight clash.

It is the first time both of them will be featured at a ONE Championship event together, and Edward plans to make it a night they will never forget.

“I am so excited because finally, it’s going to happen. It marks the first time that I will compete alongside my older brother. Surely, it’s going to be a memorable night for the both of us,” he said.

“We have the same aim of winning. So making it two for two on this card will make this extra special.”

As Eric seeks to get back on the winning track at the expense of Nunes, Edward is likewise looking to move forward in his career after getting his three-bout winning streak snapped by American stalwart Emilio Urrutia in August 2017.

In his next cage outing, Edward goes up against Meul, a undefeated promotional newcomer with six wins to his credit.

“My coaches has prepared me well for this. I am not going to disappoint my team and my country when I enter that cage on 26th of January,” Edward assured. “I don’t want to let my countrymen down this time. I am here to give them a great bout.

“And of course, win the bout in impressive fashion for them.”

Edward has no qualms if he has to go full three rounds with Meul, but he admitted that his sights are always set on securing the finish.

“I am looking to dominate him for three rounds. But hopefully, I can get the finish,” he vowed.

“A finish will be the perfect way to tell the world that I am back.”

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Basketball

Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates

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Prior to Wednesday, all eyes were on the TNT Katropa-Blackwater Elite face-off, with many curious to see how last season’s Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy would fare against his former FEU teammates Mac Belo and Raymar Jose.

And as the final buzzer sounded, the 25-year-old Pogoy had reigned triumphant over his close pals, getting away with a conference-best performance as a bonus.

The six-foot-two Cebuano sniper fired a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, to lead the Texters to a skid-ending, 92-83 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Must-win talaga namin ‘to para makabawi kami, kasi 1-2 na yung standing namin (before the game) eh.

“Buti na lang maganda yung nilaro ko,” said Pogoy, who was just averaging 11.3 points in the past three games.

But Pogoy tipped his hat to the much taller Elite, who enjoyed plenty of time in the driver’s seat in the first half, until the Katropa found their groove in the third canto — highlighted by a 16-3 rally that put them ahead, 60-53.

“Malakas yung Blackwater eh, tapos ang lalaki nila kaya mahirap mag-drive, mahirap pumasa kasi naagaw nila,” said Pogoy. “Buti na lang naka-adjust kami nung second half. Hindi kami nagmadali, dinahan-dahan namin.”

Aside from his own outing, Pogoy is thankful that they were able to address their fourth quarter woes when facing the Elite — the issue that hounded them in their 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Iloilo.

TNT had actually been mere steps away from melting down — again — against Blackwater, no thanks to a 20-9 run that wiped out their 17-point lead to just six,

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Basketball

With Nash Racela knowing his tendencies, Mac Belo limited to poor shooting

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Prior to Wednesday, Blackwater Elite’s young star Mac Belo was on a roll early in the 2018 Philippine Cup, averaging exactly 20 points on 42.6 percent shooting in their games against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Ginebra.

But, as they say, good things must come to an end.

Belo, despite having 13 rebounds, was held to just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as the Elite bowed to TNT Katropa, 92-83 — a sour loss knowing that they’re coming off huge 94-77 win against Ginebra last Friday.

“Bukol,” said Belo in jest of his poor outing after the match. “Big test para sa’min kasi yung TNT talagang isang de-kalibreng team dito sa PBA.

“Talagang pinaghandaan nila kami, at gustong-gusto nila manalo.”

It also did not help that the Katropa’s head coach, Nash Racela, was his coach in FEU Tamaraws for three years — a relationship brightly highlighted by a championship run in the UAAP Season 78 back in 2015.

“Siyempre alam niya yung mga tendencies ko. Matagal ko siyang coach sa FEU,” said the 6-foot-4 forward.

“Sa akin naman, kailangan ko pa matuto sa ganun, kung anong mga defense binabato niya sakin. Kailangan ko pang pag-aralan.”

But for Belo, the loss was more than his own showing. The 25-year-old lamented his and the Elite’s lapses on defense, which was encapsulated by the second half collapse they had that allowed TNT to come back and steal the win.

“Medyo marami lang kaming lapses especially sa defense namin,” said the sophomore forward, as they allowed TNT to shoot 41.6 percent from the floor. “Maraming mga miscommunication na kailangan pa namin i-work.”

Belo and the Elite are now set to move on from this bitter defeat, as they all shift their sights in their match this Friday versus GlobalPort Batang Pier. For the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, it is already a must-win for them.

“Kailangan namin ng rest ngayon kasi back-to-back games kami. We need to win sa Friday para okay sa’min,” said Belo. “Kailangan din namin paghandaan kasi galing sila sa win.

“Kailangan namin i-double yung effort namin.”

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