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La Salle shuts down NU to return to top half of the standings



The De La Salle University Green Archers are back in the top four of the standings, after surviving a crucial and heated matchup with the National University Bulldogs that resulted in a 2-1 victory for the booters from Taft Avenue, Wednesday afternoon at the FEU Diliman football field.

Following a couple of botched attacks from both sides in the opening minutes, La Salle’s first near-hit came at the fourth minute care of Jose Montelibano, who had a good look on the goal after getting enough space from just inside the penalty box. The ball however landed in the hands of NU goalie Hayeson Pepito. NU’s first shot on goal came three minutes later at the seventh minute, when Marole Bungay took advantage of a lapse in the Bulldogs’ defense to free himself up to strike from just inside the penalty box, but the ball was stopped in its tracks by La Salle goalie Raphael de Guzman.

Top playmaker Nathan Alquiros had the chance to draw first blood for his squad two minutes later, escaping the Bulldogs’ defense just around the flank to strike from long range, but the ball went wide.

It was Gerald Layumas who broke the cold spell at the 16th minute, connecting with a corner kick helmed by Alquiros to head the ball into the net.

Paolo Salenga got the chance to equalize at the 19th minute, taking a free kick from just a little beyond the penalty box. Though he managed to send the ball flying past the La Salle wall, it landed safely in the hands of goalie De Guzman. Salenga once again came close to scoring one for the Bulldogs at the 23rd minute, freeing himself up from the clutter in the penalty box to receive a pass from the left flank with a bicycle kick that sent the ball flying past the La Salle keeper and into the net. The Archers’ celebrations however were cut short, after the linesman ruled the shot as having been taken while Salenga was offside.

Charleston Uy doubled the La Salle tally at the 30th minute, sneaking past the NU defense to corral the low cross from Gerald Layumas from the left wing, nudging the ball into the net before Pepito could react.

The remaining minutes of the first half saw the Bulldogs continue to attack the goal on every opportunity, but found themselves unable get anything past La Salle goalie De Guzman. Bungay had the best attempt of the first half for NU at the 36th minute, escaping the NU defenders to take an easy strike from the top right corner, but the ball was blocked by De Guzman. At halftime, the score stood at 2-0.

The start of the second half saw both go all out on the offensive. Charleston Uy came close to scoring his second goal of the game at the 50th minute, guiding a cross sent by Gelo Diamante toward the goal with a header, but the ball was quickly blocked by the NU goalie.

Two minutes later, the Bulldogs came close to digging their own grave, when defender Eddie Alivio and goalie Pepito miscommunicated. Alivio passed the ball to an unaware Pepito. The back pass that was intended for Pepito led to the ball coming within inches of the goal line, before sailing past the post just as the NU goalie realized their mistake.

The next ten minutes saw the Bulldogs come close to finally getting their campaign going, but ultimately failing to bag their much sought after first goal. Lawrence Colina at the 53rd minute had a good look from long range that led to an easy strike from beyond the penalty box, but the ball was stopped by the La Salle keeper. Three minutes later, Bungay found himself with possession of the ball at point-blank range, and though he managed to fling the ball in the direction of the goal, it instead ended up bouncing off the top bar.

Uy had the chance to extend the La Salle tally at the 56th minute, taking advantage of a lull in the NU defense, stealing the ball right under the NU backs’ noses and cutting into the penalty box and one-on-one with the goalie, but the ball was stopped in its tracks by NU keeper Pepito.

The NU attackers only continued to find themselves bothered by the La Salle defenders, and later finding each one of their shots either stopped by the La Salle keeper or  going wide. The 76th minute saw a turn for the worse for the Bulldogs, after Elgen Antipolo, one of their most effective offensive personnel was slapped with his second yellow card of the game for contesting a previous yellow card slapped on teammate Darwin Regala for delaying the game. Antipolo was immediately sent off the field.

The last ten minutes saw the Bulldogs continue to meet futility on every attack. Around the 84th minute, Paolo Salenga had the open look on the goal, after corralling previous botched shot with the La Salle goalie out of position. Salenga however was unable to control the strength of his shot, sending the ball wide over the bar instead of nodding in towards the net.

At the 90th minute, it appeared Archers were due to walk away with the clean sheet. However, just as injury time was announced, Salenga, the leading scorer for the Bulldogs was tripped by La Salle’s Ramon Antonio Bonoan inside the penalty area, giving him the opportunity to at least add a goal to the Bulldogs’ name.

It was the La Salle goalie however who continued his display of heroics, blocking the kick by Salenga. The La Sallians’ celebration however, was cut short, when the referee called for a replay of the shot. Though Salenga this time managed to send the ball into the net, it was the Bulldogs’ celebrations this time that were cut short, as another retake of the shot was announced. Salenga once again bagged the goal, and this time the referee held his peace. Seconds later however, it was the Archers who walked off the field celebrating.

“Good thing we got two goals in the first half,” said La Salle head coach Hans Smit. According to Smit, their two goals in the first half helped establish momentum for them and helped them play more comfortably in the second half. He however emphasized that the Archers had too many missed opportunities in the second half.

“Lapses in decision-making. Pangit ang passes, laging intercepted,” said NU coach Wilhelm Laranas when asked about the Bulldogs’ mistakes in the game.



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



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



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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Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates



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



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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