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Basketball

Kiefer Ravena embraces challenge of running the point

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Ten points, seven assists, and two rebounds

These are Kiefer Ravena numbers in Gilas Pilipinas’ win against Chinese Taipei-B Monday afternoon. They were far from his norms of 13.5 points, 6.5 boards, and 3.5 dimes in their last two games.

Check that — seven assists. Seven.

The Phenom, ever since his Ateneo de Manila University days, has always been known as a lethal scorer, taking over games when needed. But as time went by, his game has seen remarkable developments — such as the way he is now an effective floor general.

“As we go forward sa career mo, you have to find your niche in certain leagues,” said Ravena.

Now with Gilas, the 23-year-old combo guard seems to have found his niche in playing the one.

It may be a challenging to fulfill the task, but it is something that the highly-touted prospect is embracing.

“Ngayon dito sa team na ‘to, isa ako sa mga leaders. I have to be more comfortable in running the show, in running the point.

“It’s a matter of accepting your role, and gagawin mo lang lahat para manalo talaga,” said the two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player.

And if the second-generation star wants to make it big in the PBA, he has to stock his arsenal with every skill he can develop to keep up with the big boys.

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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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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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Kelly Williams rides Angkas to make it to TNT game

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The TNT Katropa almost played shorthanded when they took on the Blackwater Elite Wednesday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Early in the afternoon, a fire broke out in C5 that caused major traffic in the area. One of the people that was stuck was TNT’s 12-year veteran Kelly Williams.

“Coming from the South, I got to Taguig in about two and a half hours and I heard there was a fire on C5 and I was like, ‘Oh my god what am I going to do?’,” recalled Williams.

“I considered running, I considered jogging. Whatever you got to do, crawl, walk or run.”

Panicking, the 6-foot-6 Filipino-American was adviced by his driver to download Philippine-based mobile app Angkas — a motorcycle service provider. And it was one heck of a ride for the big man.

“My driver said check Angkas, an Uber for motorcycles. Okay. Quickly got out of the car in the middle of the C5, the middle of traffic, found this guy under the overpass, he was surprised to see me,” narrated animatedly by Williams.

“I got my helmet on, jumped on the bicycle and we got here for about 40 minutes,” he furthered. “Every stoplight, the other motorcycles pull up, double take, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’, ‘Hi guys!’ It was fun, it was actually pretty fun but never again, make sure you plan ahead guys if you possibly get stuck in traffic.

“But it was a good experience for me. You get to see Manila in a different light.”

Around midway through the first quarter of the game, Williams finally arrived. Though relieved to see him, coach Nash Racela and the rest of the Katropa made sure to let him know that he was late.

“Good experience, I apologized to the team, I owe them a team lunch or something and I told coach I won’t do it again,” the 35-year-old expressed.

“Let’s pray that it doesn’t happen again.”

Williams compensated for it by giving TNT quality minutes. During their 92-83 win against the Elite, he tallied six points, six rebounds, and four blocks in just 17 minutes of action.

“You got to come out there with extra effort after coming in late like that. But it’s always my intention to come out and do whatever I have to do,” he expressed.

“Luckily, I was in a good position to get some blocks and it worked out that way.”

And he owes a lot to his driver Richard, who got him to the venue just in time.

“It was a good experience though, thank you to the cyclist, I think his name is Richard or something like that, he’s a lifesaver.

“I tipped him very handsomely. It was about a hundred but I’m sure I paid with whatever was in my pocket because I was very grateful,” he quipped.

Still, he knows that he also owes a lot to his team. He plans on making it up by treating everyone to lunch during their next practice.

Lesson learned for Kelly.

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TNT limits Blackwater gunners to snap two game skid

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Needing to end the funk they are in, the TNT Katropa completed a second half turnaround and thwarted an inspired Blackwater Elite squad, 92-83, to finally lay their two-game slump to rest, Wednesday evening at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Both squads are now sporting identical 2-2 cards after the match, creating a six-way logjam with Phoenix, Rain or Shine, NLEX, and Alaska in the team standings.

“Our rotation messed up in the first half, good thing we recovered in the second half,” shared Katropa head coach Nash Racela of their slow start. “Going into this game, we knew that we gonna have a hard time against Blackwater.

“We knew that it’s not gonna be easy getting a victory over them. It would take our absolute best and they really able to challenge us, especially in the second half. [Good thing] our shots started to fall,” added the tactician.

Roger Pogoy top-billed for the Texters with 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Jayson Castro, had 17 markers on top of five boards, three dimes, two steals, and two blocks.

The Katropa trailed in the majority of the first 24 minutes, but it all changed come the third canto where they unloaded an overwhelming 16-3 run — ended by Rosario’s lay-up — to take a 60-53 lead with 2:56 left in the quarter.

TNT then never relinquished their position in the driver’s seat, even leading by as much as 17 points, 76-59, after RR Garcia’s open triple from the right wing with 8:51 in the final period.

The Elite still tried to come back through a 20-9 rally led by Mike Cortez and Poy Erram to knock within six, 79-85, but Castro’s three-point play conversion that sent TNT to an 88-79 lead with 1:04 left proved to be the game-sealing dagger.

Garcia finished with 12 points for TNT who shot 41.6 percent from the floor. Anthony Semerad had 11, while Troy Rosario flirted with a double-double of nine markers and 11 boards. Mo Tautuaa grabbed 15 caroms and scored six.

The Elite, after shooting 42.6 percent in the 94-77 win over Ginebra last Friday, shot just 38.3 percent. They were led by Erram with 20 points and eight rebounds, and Cortez with 14 markers on top of five boards and three assists.

Mac Belo, after averaging 20 markers in the last three games, finished with just nine markers on 4-of-18 shooting. He made up for it though with 13 rebounds. Main gunner Allein Maliksi also scored nine on 4-of-15 shooting.

TNT will look to post another win against sister team Meralco on Sunday, January 21, 4:30 PM at Ynares Center in Antipolo, while Blackwater will aim to bounce back versus GlobalPort on Friday January 19 4:30 PM at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The Scores:

TNT 92 – Pogoy 24, Castro 17, Garcia 12, Semerad 11, Rosario 9, Williams 6, Tautuaa 6, Reyes 2, Golla 0, Onwubere 0, Carey 0.

Blackwater 83 – Erram 20, Cortez 14, Digregorio 9, Belo 9, Maliksi 9, Jose 7, Sumang 5, Marcelo 4, Sena 4, Pinto 2, Cruz 0.

Quarterscores: 15-16, 36-43, 65-57, 92-83.

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