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La Salle trio leaves UAAP with heads held high



DLSU Captain Gio Diamante, Matthew Nierras, and Nathan Alquiros have already played their final UAAP game in the 3-2 extra time loss to FEU last Sunday. It was a bitter way to end of what looked to be a fine season, underlined by a 15-game unbeaten run. Unfortunate not to win in what was the biggest game of their UAAP careers, La Salle’s departing players remain proud of what the team has accomplished.


“We took it to FEU. Normally, teams back off against FEU. We showed them that there’s another team in this tournament that will match up to them,” said Nierras, who skippered DLSU at the latter stages of the final. “We might have lost, but I know each one of us gave everything we’ve got. None of us wanted to lose that game, but the better team won, and we accept the defeat,” added Nathan Alquiros, who was also crowned the league’s top midfielder in his last season playing for La Salle.

It took a Paolo Bugas’ deflected strike in extra time to outdo the Green Archers, who even led twice only for the champions to level before normal time ended. Gio Diamante scored his second goal of the season to open the scoring in the 59th minute, and gave the gang green a reason to celebrate. “It was an incredible feeling. I promised myself that I would give everything that I’ve got and after I scored, I felt like I succeeded in my promise. However, losing the game made me feel like I let everyone down,” said the captain, who dedicated his last game for the entire team and the Lasallian community. Just like in the semis, he was replaced by his brother Gelo in the second half. Nevertheless, Gio is honored to have served as the team’s captain in his last season. “I am very proud of my teammates, and the team as a whole to become such a very strong team, who never gives up in any situation.”

Gio Diamante

It was a magnificent season indeed for the Green Archers who silently worked their way to the top. Not losing one game prior to last Sunday, La Salle gradually grabbed attention towards the closing stages and their chances of winning the championship was boosted by a huge 3-0 win over UP in the penultimate game of the elimination round. “We just fought ‘till the end. We took it day per day, game per game. We made things happen,” said Alquiros.

Moving forward, the seniors are hoping to see a hungrier, better-equipped La Salle team to emerge winners in Season 78. “I just hope that they continue what we’ve been trying to. We always try to motivate them, inspire them, to push them better because we know they think they’re good. I’ll assure you that La Salle, from today through the next years, they will be contenders every single year. You cannot rule them out,” Nierras reckons.

Alquiros PK

Time may have run out for them in the UAAP, but we have not seen the last of them on the pitch. Cousins Nierras and Alquiros are poised to join Stallion FC in the bid of winning back the United Football League title they previously won in 2013. As for Gio, he will suit up for Green Archers United together with collegiate teammates Gelo Diamante, Gregory Yang, and Gerald Layumas.

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Gilas still sticking with Andray Blatche, says team manager Butch Antonio



It will still be Andray Blatche

Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio made it clear that naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche will be back for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in February.

Blatche has yet to attend Gilas practices due to his commitment with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, but Antonio said that they have already reached out to the said league for his temporary release.

“We have already made communication. We sent a letter already,” said the executive after Gilas’ practice Monday. “Kasi that’s the protocol now eh… You have to write a letter to the team through the CBA and you will just have to wait for their reply.”

It is still uncertain if and when the Flying Tigers will lend the naturalized center to Gilas, who will face Australia and Japan on February 22 and 25, respectively. But Antonio is confident that the ball club will let the former NBA cager go.

“More ofte

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Jong Uichico calls for pool players to be complete as Gilas brace for Aussies



Cause for concern?

In their second session for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, only nine of the 15 Gilas pool players actively participated.

June Mar Fajardo, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Troy Rosario, Jiovani Jalalon, Carl Cruz, Gabe Norwood, Allein Maliksi, and Japeth Aguilar were in uniform while Roger Pogoy watched on the sidelines. Jayson Castro and Mac Belo were not present while Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan have yet to attend a session. 23 for 2023 cadets CJ Perez and Abu Tratter were called to duty to give the team added bodies.

The session ended earlier than usual, only practicing for around 45 minutes.

“Light lang naman. Some players had games last night,” said assistant coach Uichico, who together with Josh Reyes handled the night’s session. “Light lang pero we emphasized on some things in today’s practice, it’s more mental and a little bit of execution. “

With Gilas’ game against the 10th ranked Australia just 34 days away, Uichico expressed his concern that the Nationals won’t be as cohesive as they want it to be.

“It’s always a concern naman. We prefer once a week na lang naman, di pa tayo makumpleto,” expressed Uichico,

“We prefer really na makumpleto whether they practice or not, at least nandyan sila nanonood kung anong nangyayari.

“So mas mabilis yung pagtuto, especially if we put something new, at least nakikita nila kahit hindi nila naeexecute. We prefer and it’s really mandatory na nandito sila every Monday,” the mentor of the 2017 SEA Games team furthered.

Due to this, the staff of the team has yet to formulate a gameplan for the Aussies. A win against either the Boomers or Japan will automatically qualify Gilas to the next stage of the qualifiers.

“I don’t know. Our first plan is to practice everyday and then see if we can get the team complete as soon as possible.”

But as Gilas has proven time and time again, the multi-time PBA champion coach believes that they will overcome once more.

“There’s always challenges naman, especially the situation that we’re in. The PBA’s ongoing and we try to practice,” the soft-spoken tactician shared.

“There will always be challenges but every problem or challenge can be solved naman.”

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Willie Marcial hints at possibility of PBA lending unlimited players to Gilas



Current PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial was a surprise spectator Monday night at the Meralco Gym, as Gilas Pilipinas resumed its’ preparations for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Sabi ko sa kanila, hindi ako bisita.

“Magkakasama tayo nung araw pa,” quipped the amiable official.

Marcial’s visit speaks volumes of the PBA’s commitment to the Gilas program even if the pro league is in the midst of recovering from a lengthy impasse late in 2017, where a power struggle in the PBA’s board room took place.

“Ang PBA 100 percent susuportahan yung Gilas. Maniwala kayo. Talagang all out ang PBA diyan,” said the league’s former media bureau chief.

And coming along with that all-out support he had affirmed is the possibility of abolishing the one-player-per-team rule in loaning players to the National Team. That ruling has seemingly limited Gilas in building the best team possible.

“Baka magulat kayo biglang mag-propose sila wala nang limit ang players ‘pag kumuha. Puwedeng mangyari yun.”

When asked if he will be a regular fixture in Gilas practices in the coming weeks, Marcial said that it would be strongly possible, barring any meetings in the league’s office that require his full attention.

“Nako, sinabi ko sa kanila pipilitin ko every Monday nandito ako,” said Marcial, a favorite to become the next PBA commissioner. “Pupunta ako rito every Monday, basta wala lang mga meeting talagang pupuntahan ko sila.

“Tingnan niyo, masaya kami, parang magkakabarkada diba? Sabi ko sa kanila walang problema.”

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June Mar Fajardo returns to Gilas practice



With just 37 days left before the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, four-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo suited up during the second session of SMART Gilas Pilipinas.

Fajardo was absent during the team’s first practice as he battled the classic case of a flu.

Joining Fajardo were Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Troy Rosario, Jiovani Jalalon, Carl Cruz, Gabe Norwood, Allein Maliksi, and Japeth Aguilar. Roger Pogoy was also in attendance, but was in street clothes.

Not present were Mac Belo and Jayson Castro. Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan were also absent for the second straight week.

For the 23 for 2023 cadets, only two were invited for the night’s session.

Reigning NCAA Seniors Basketball MVP CJ Perez was present together with Marinerong Pilipino big man Abu Tratter.

The practice was supervised by assistant coaches Jong Uichico and Josh Reyes. Coach Chot Reyes is currently in Japan.

The PBA’s officer-in-charge Willie Marcial watched on the sidelines.

The Philippines will face Australia at the Margaret Court Arena on February 22. Three days later, the country will host Japan at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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