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La Salle, UP begin UAAP campaigns with a stiffly-contested stalemate

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An exciting UAAP Season 77 opening match ended the way it started as La Salle and UP fought tooth-and-nail for a 1-1 draw Saturday night at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field in Quezon City.

UP took charge of the game’s opening 15 minutes. The La Salle defense was tested by the Maroons who were led by their superstar striker Gerardo Valmayor. The forward came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 14th minute with his shot just smacking the woodwork of DLSU. Jose Montelibano and Iñigo Gonzales created a couple of opportunities, but both were well dealt with by Ace Villanueva. On the other end, UP’s Vincent Aguilar joined forces with Valmayor in stirring trouble inside the La Salle box.

After a series of back-and-forth play, the Maroons netted the breakthrough. In the 35th minute, Valmayor took advantage of the confusion amongst players who perceived the ball to have gone out of play. The forward then found a decent amount of space to score home a magnificently struck shot that left Paeng de Guzman helpless in front of goal.

Just moments later, Sabin Bustamante entered the match for Montelibano. The fourth year winger almost provided the Lasallians a possible equalizer. Unfortunately for La Salle, his shot struck the crossbar. UP held on to a single-goal lead at halftime.

La Salle played the pressure game aggressively but the first dangerous chance fell to Aguilar. The UP captain’s attempt however sailed wide.

With the score still narrowly in favor of last year’s runner-up, DLSU capitalized on the chances presented to them. Gio Diamante’s shot was wildly hit in the 53rd minute. They were rewarded soon after though, as Gelo Diamante picked up the ball inside UP’s half before dribbling around the left flank and finding Chuck Uy. The Davaoeño striker nodded the ball without contest to level the match at one goal apiece.

Both teams eagerly attempted to produce goals. Nathan Alquiros had a vital touch to prevent Valmayor from scoring anew. Koizumi’s free kick as a result of a foul just outside the 18-yard box went straight to the UP wall. Daniel Gadia also had a couple of good looks at goal inside the last 20 minutes of action but neither made it to the back of the net. La Salle fended off UP’s attacks from dead ball situations in the last five minutes to carve out a draw in the first game of the season.

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Basketball

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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Troy Rosario, TNT can’t miss, keep Meralco struggling

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

After a sluggish start in the 20-1718 Philippine Cup, TNT Katropa have seemingly found their groove as they cruised to their second straight win at the expense of Meralco Bolts, 99-81, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

This is now TNT’s first win streak in the tourney as they improve to 3-2. The Bolts, on the other hand, had suffered their third straight loss and are now 1-3.

“We knew that Meralco was undermanned. We knew that they lacked the people going to this game today so ang mentality namin was to take advantage of that, ‘yung pagkukulang ng Meralco,” said TNT coach Nash Racela.

“Today from start to end, we were able to do that. The intensity level was consistent. Siguro medyo bumababa ng kaunti but kaunting-kaunti lang. That’s our goal as a team, maging consistent on both ends,” he added.

Troy Rosario, who had just turned 26 years old yesterday, led TNT with 22 points — 12 coming from the opening frame where he powered a 16-3 run — on 8-of-13 shooting from the field on top of a game high 10 rebounds.

“It won’t be his birthday every day. It’s nice that he shot well while celebrating his birthday, but we also need him to shoot well during other days,” said Racela of Rosario. “That’s how you become consistent.”

Shades of a comeback flashed come the game’s third chapter, when the Orangemen chopped down a 16-point lead to just five, 52-47, thanks to back-to-back triples by KG Cañaleta and Jared Dillinger with 8:32 remaining.

But it proved to be the last time that Meralco will knock that close. After Roger Pogoy’s triple went in to help TNT regain the double-digit lead, 57-47, with 6:07 in the third, the Katropa then never looked back and ran roughshod.

The Texters even led by as much as 22 points, 92-70, after RR Garcia’s three-pointer with 4:27 left to play.

Garcia supplied 18 points and eight assists for the Katropa, who shot a conference-high 18 treys in the win. Pogoy made 15 points despite shooting 6-of-16, while Jayson Castro had 12 points, four boards, and three dimes.

Ryan Reyes and Anthony Semerad each chipped in 10 markers.

The Bolts, who shot just 39 percent in the loss, were led by Baser Amer’s 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Dillinger scored 14 and grabbed five caroms, while Cañalata had 11 markers, five boards, and three assists.

TNT will try to sustain momentum versus Magnolia on January 27, Saturday at 6:45 PM, while Meralco will aim to end their skid versus Kia on Wednesday, January 24, at 4:30 PM. Both games are at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

TNT 99 — Rosario 22, Garcia 18, Pogoy 15, Castro 12, Reyes 10, Semerad 10, Carey 3, Hernandez 3, Tautuaa 2, Torres 2, Williams 2, Golla 0, Onwubere 0.

Meralco 81 — Amer 20, Dillinger 14, Canaleta 11, Tolomia 8, Newsome 6, Lanete 5, Bono 4, Hugnatan 4, Ballesteros 3, Faundo 3, Baracael 2, , Sedurifa 1, Caram 0, Salva 0.

Quarterscores: 27-18, 46-36, 73-62, 99-81.

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AJ Mandani sparks Singapore in win over Joshua Munzon-led Westsports

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Back to his role as the sixth man of the Slingers after two games, AJ Mandani provided the firepower needed by Singapore in a fourth quarter surge to stop the Westsports Malaysia Dragons, 93-85, Sunday afternoon at the MABA Stadium in Malaysia.

The win arrested the Slingers’ two-game losing streak, raising their slate to 6-6. Westsports, a team coming off a two-game winning streak that included a 91-87 win over Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat last January 18, fell to 3-5.

Struggling in the first three quarters, Mandani six of his eight points in the final frame. And those points were povital in fending off Westsports.

With Singapore clinging to a solitary point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Filipino-Canadian scored four straight points 8-0 run to gain a 74-67 lead with under seven minutes left. Another basket by Mandani followed it up with a breakaway layup with with 5:18 remaining to give Singapore an 81-72 cushion.

Filipino exports Joshua Munzon and Patrick Cabahug tried to rally the home team back as a triple by the latter cut the lead down to just three with 1:40 on the clock. Big buckets by Delvin Goh and Chris Charles sealed off the Malaysia-based club team.

Munzon went just 5-for-18 from the field to finish with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Cabahug chipped in eight points on 3-for-4 shooting off the bench.

Xavier Alexander led Singapore with 33 points while Charles tallied a double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds to go along with three swats. Singaporean Goh had 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Marcus Marshall paced Westsports with 22 points, playing all 40 minutes as fellow World Import AJ West had a tough outing.

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