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Lady Eagles fly high after Season 78

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The Ateneo Lady Eagles embodied the famous One Big Fight chant of Loyola Heights during their incredible flight in the UAAP Season 78 Women’s Badminton Tournament.

After the Lady Eagles finished the elimination round with a 5-2 record, they were forced to participate in the step-ladder setup since the UP Lady Maroons finished undefeated. They first went up against FEU, whom they defeated in the playoff match to determine the third seed.

Next for the Lady Eagles were archrivals DLSU. La Salle had a twice-to-beat advantage as the second seed and they only needed to win once to reach the finals. However, the Lady Eagles were determined to beat their archrivals and eventually won two straight ties to make it to the finals against the UP Lady Maroons.

But a fairytale ending wasn’t meant to be, as the Lady Maroons swept the Lady Eagles in the Finals. Still, despite the loss, Season 78 was an unbelievable journey for the Lady Eagles.

Ateneo coach Kennie Asuncion-Robles could only be proud of her players after their loss to UP. Four key players were lost to injuries this season, making a runners-up finish an outstanding achievement. Asuncion-Robles declared, “I’m very happy with the fight our girls put up for the championship. We managed to put up a good fight so very, very proud of them.”

Trixie Malibiran was one of the Lady Eagles injured this season, and she believed that her teammates played like they weren’t underdogs come the finals against UP. “Sobrang proud lang talaga ako. Wala akong masabi. I’m just really proud of them. Sobrang thankful kami”, added Malibiran.

Trixie Malibiran Pray

Malibiran then joked that the Lady Eagles wanted to reach the Finals the hard way after their wins over FEU and DLSU. She later recognized the feat and couldn’t emphasize what a run they had this season. “Pero sobrang thankful. Sobrang blessed kami na kahit nag playoffs kami with FEU tapos La Salle twice-to-beat pa, sobrang happy lang talaga kami. Nagra-radiate lang yung joy namin to everyone. Sobrang thankful lang talaga naka-abot kami sa Finals against UP.”

If there was one player this Season 78 who deserved to end her season with a gold medal on her neck, it was Bianca Carlos. Now in her third playing year, the Season 76 Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player was one of the pillars of Ateneo this season. Despite her star player status, Carlos believed that it was a team effort from everyone involved. She proudly stated, “Lahat talaga gumawa. Each and every one nag-perform nang maganda. Sinasabi ko lang sa kanila na huwag silang malulungkot kasi kayang-kayang bumawi pag ganun lang ang puso.”

“One game at a time” was the mantra Coach Asuncion-Robles instilled in the Lady Eagles, and Carlos credited this instruction because of its effectiveness. Carlos said their concentration was pivotal in their campaign to reach the Finals. She explained, “Mas nakakapagfocus ka. Mas happy ako na nagawa namin kasi mahirap na mag-focus mas lalo na ikaw yung nasa ilalim na paakyat ka. Underdog ka. Mahirap talaga gawin yun so sobrang happy ako na nagawa namin instructions ni coach Kennie. Sobrang happy ako kasi first na hindi kami ineexpect na maka-abot sa Finals.”

When someone watches an Ateneo UAAP game, it’s common to see a t-shirt stating: “Ateneo Will Fight Today!” While the loss in the Finals against UP gave Carlos and her teammates a bittersweet finale to the season, there was only delight in how the Lady Eagles embodied the slogan and maintained their honor. Carlos proudly said “Sobrang proud ako sa team ngayon. Ngayon masakit siyempre. Sino bang may ayaw ng gold diba? Sino bang ayaw mag champion? Pero ok lang kasi day-by-day pinakita namin na lumalaban kami. Compared sa sinong team, mas solid yung team namin. Masakit kasi hindi nakuha yung championship pero I’m still proud and happy of getting the silver.”

Bianca Carlos 2

Even if Season 78 ended in silver and not gold for the Lady Eagles, they have accomplished much in their pursuit for what they felt was rightfully theirs. Their coaches, relatives, friends; the members of the Blue Babble Battalion; and other members of the Ateneo community could only feel happy after they witnessed the Lady Eagles gave everything from day one up to the Finals.

Competing with a veteran coach and a more or less intact lineup for Season 79, only a fool would bet against the Lady Eagles going one better and bringing the UAAP Women’s Badminton Championship back to the blue side of Katipunan.

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

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Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu skills to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the fighters returned to their feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to the Mahindra Floodbuster.

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Basketball

Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover by the six-foot-four forward.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far, not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he had been frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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