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Lady Bulldogs close ‘miracle season’ with demolition of UE

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After going winless in the previous year, the National University Lady Bulldogs ended UAAP Season 78 the way they started it as they quashed University of the East Lady Warriors, Sunday, at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

The Sampaloc-based squad started their sweep with a straight games victory of Marinel Diansay in the first singles over UE’s Lyra Rosal. The NU rookie emerged from a tight battle in the early part of the first game and never looked back. It was actually Rosal who took the lead at the break, 11–8, before Diansay took control of the frame. After the interval, NU kept UE at bay by limiting the latter to single points while stringing up a couple or more. The Lady Bulldog took the first game, 21–17. Diansay continued her momentum in the following game playing more inspired. Rosal attempted to keep up with Diansay after cutting the deficit at two, 13–15. However, NU would have enough of the chase and finished off the match with six unanswered points, 21–13.

Lyra’s sister, Heide would make a better account of herself in the second singles match. However, the usual opener for the Lady Warriors dropped a three-game decision to NU’s Joselle Capillo. The NU upstart took care of business from the get-go of the first game and never looked back. Capillo also managed to limit the production of Heide Rosal to romp off with the first game, 21–14. It was a different story in the following game as UE emerged victorious at the end of this gruelling canto. Rosal and Capillo never gave their opponents a chance almost throughout the match as they answered each other’s runs. Capillo pulled away near the tail end of the game to get to within two of wrapping up the match, 19–16. However, Heide Rosal had other plans as she strung up a 4–0 run to get to game point. After Capillo saved the first game point, UE took back-to-back points to force a deciding game. The Lady Bulldog made sure she will get the victory after the final frame went the same route as the first, which she also won. Indeed, Capillo took the lead at the back, held off Rosal, and clinched the match at an identical 21–14 score line.

With just one match separating them from the victory, the Lady Bulldogs closed it out in the first doubles. Veteran Loverly Magallano paired up with Jhayuin Dizon to secure the win for NU in straight games against Eryca Labay and Pamela Fernandez. Magallano and Dizon gained control of the first game after a huge 7–0 blitz before and after the interval to lead 14–10. The UE duo slowly crept into the lead and cut the deficit to two, 17–19. That two-point cushion, however, was enough for the Blue and Gold to get the first game, 21–19. The second game was an entirely different story as the Lady Bulldogs smelled blood after leading at an even bigger 14–4 gap extending after the ceasefire. That huge lead proved to be overwhelming for the Recto-based paired as Magallano and Dizon took the game, the match, and the second win for NU, 21–9.

Playing for pride and with no pressure, the Rosal sisters played against their tormentors with a lot of energy in the second doubles match. Nonetheless, Diansay and Capillo made sure they swept the day’s matches, at least, in their own individual records. The NU tandem proved something in the opening game of the match after quashing the siblings, 21–13. After a tight battle at the start of the frame, the Lady Bulldogs stopped UE in their run and ended the frame with a 4–0 run. In the second game, it was the turn of Heide and Lyra to mount a huge run. Another close outing ensued until the tail end of the game, where the Rosals blitzed to six unanswered points to force the decider, 21–13. If the first two games were indications that the one who mounts a strong run will win the game, Diansay and Capillo proved that and walked away with the win. The NU pair mounted a 7–0 binge that was enough to propel them to win the match, 21–14.

The veteran Magallano completed the rout for NU after dismantling UE rookie Riella Dilla in just 15 minutes on court. In the first game, the Lady Bulldog standout pulled away in the middle portion with a huge 9–0 run to put it out of reach. Magallano then romped to a 6–0 blitz to end the game, 21–5. NU continued to roll in the following game and did not let up against Dilla. Another nine-point binge in the same part of the second frame was enough to put on the finishing touches to this win for her team, 21–6.

With the win, the Lady Bulldogs ended their season at 2–5 in 6th place, which is their best-ever finish in their young participation record in UAAP women’s badminton. Meanwhile, UE absorbed a winless season.

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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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Basketball

Vic Manuel says Alaska yet to return to contender status

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Photo by PBA Images

Even if they have won their third straight game coming from a 0-2 start in the 2018 Philippine Cup, Vic Manuel thinks that it’s still not enough to tell that the Alaska Aces should be considered as one of the topflight teams in the league.

“Hindi pa rin masabi, kasi lahat ng team ngayon, talagang malalakas na eh, hindi na basta-basta easy yung mga game eh,” said “The Muscleman” Sunday night, after he and the Aces took down Barangay Ginebra, 97-83, at the Ynares Center.

The way the Aces have been playing this 2018 is remarkably different from the way they did last 2017, where they raked in more losses than wins. For Manuel, it’s partly because of the team regaining their competitive fire.

“Sa practice pa lang, talagang nakikipag-compete eh. Walang easy kahit sa practice, talagang bigay-todo lahat,” said the 30-year-old, who has been with Alaska since 2014.

“Sobrang aggressive, kaya yun, nadadala namin sa game.”

It also helps that the Milkmen have been healthy so far this season, unlike last year where they couldn’t even field a complete line-up in almost every outing. Manuel knows it too well, as he had been injury-plagued last season.

“Yung injury ko talaga, hindi madali eh, kasi sa tuhod talaga, sa left knee,” said the six-foot-four forward from Nueva Ecija. “So pinu-push nila ako kung ano ang kailangan ko gawin. Ayun, nagbubunga naman lahat.”

Now, eyes are on the Aces if they can keep this streak of theirs going. And for Manuel, who led the Aces with 18 points and five rebounds against the Gin Kings, all they need to do is to sustain what they have right now in their next games.

“Kailangan every game, focused pa rin kami, mas maging aggressive kami,” he said.

“Kung anong mga ginagawa namin nitong mga last three games namin, kailangan dalhin pa namin sa mga susunod naming games.”

Apologies to LA Tenorio

After the bout, Manuel had actually planned to approach Ginebra’s star point guard LA Tenorio regarding the spat they figured into late in the third quarter, after the former undercut the much bigger Manuel near the rim.

But Manuel made it clear that he wasn’t going after Tenorio to get back at him. All that he wanted to do was to apologize, as he found out that Tenorio was just trying to help him get back up and not trying to instigate something.

“Sabi niya, ‘bakit mo ako binigyan? Itatayo na nga kita eh.’ Nahiya din ako sa kanya. Magso-sorry sana ako, eh wala eh, lumayo na siya eh,” Manuel shared with a chuckle.

“Lalapitan ko sana eh, pero umalis agad.”

That incident was just one of the many things that frustrated Tenorio. Aside from absorbing their second straight loss, he couldn’t get things going, as he only scored five on a dismal 1-of-13 shooting from the floor.

“Magandang bonus din sa’min yun kasi medyo masama yung nilaro niya,” said Manuel.

“Swerte na lang siguro kami.”

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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’

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Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence

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For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense

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Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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