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Lady Tamaraws scoop third straight title with 2-1 win over UP

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Alesa Dolino and Ina Araneta’s goals were enough to extend FEU’s reign in UAAP women’s football after dispatching the UP Lady Maroons, 2-1, earlier this afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

The champions took control right at the get-go. Siaotong almost completed a quick, well-orchestrated attacking sequence, but her attempt sailed over the goal just inside the first minute. FEU, then, had three set piece opportunities, but were not able to find any players in green, allowing UP to deal with it easily. At the ninth minute, Barbie Sobredo aimed to set up teammates inside the box, but her long ball was gathered by UP goalkeeper, Nicole Adlawan.

Barely gaining possession in the opening ten minutes, UP started to threaten 13 minutes after kick off. Mary Obra moved around the FEU defense in order to position herself well for a shot that was saved by FEU goalkeeper, Sheramae Ramos. A minute later, the sophomore striker almost took advantage of the Lady Tams’ poor reception of Kali Navea-Huff’s cross. Unfortunately for the Maroons, Dolino got there in time to steer the ball away from danger.

FEU, then, moved swiftly to cause problems in UP’s defending third. Thankfully for UP, Molly Manalansan denied Araneta and Charmaine Fagaragan entry into the box, while also recovering the ball. Her second tackle led to a UP attack in the 17th minute when K. Huff unsuccessfully connected with Obra, whose touch to the ball was not what she was hoping for. A minute after, Delos Reyes and K. Huff had attempts to break the deadlock. The Season 77 Rookie of the Year’s shot was halted, and the rebound fell to the second year winger, whose shot went wide.

The crowd was left awed and stunned 22 minutes into the game with Dolino launching a rocket of a goal. From long way out, she was able to whip a shot on target that caught almost everyone off guard. Adlawan managed to palm it away, but her reaction was not enough to keep the ball from going in, putting FEU ahead, 1-0, midway into the first half. Araneta acted to cushion the slender lead, but a couple of her attempts were not enough to change the score.

On the other side of the pitch, Obra was nicely set up thrice to work her way past FEU’s defenders, but the young forward failed to unlock the formidable Lady Tams’ defense on three occasions. The Lady Maroons had the fair share in the last ten minutes, but the defending champions created better chances in the said period. Araneta blasted her attempt off a counter attack over, while Fagaragan saw her shot corralled. At halftime, the Lady Tamaraws held a narrow one-goal lead.

Just like in the opening stages of the first half, FEU aggressively looked for options up front. Bridgette Kadil’s attempt was off-target a minute after the restart. The pressure got to UP, and at the 52nd minute mark, they gave away a penalty. Miscommunication between Manalansan and Adlawan invited the Lady Tams’ to swarm inside the UP box. In the midst of clearing the ball from danger, Manalansan was adjudged to have handled the ball leading to a penalty to FEU. Sobredo stepped up to take it, but struck the woodwork, keeping the Lady Maroons’ deficit at one. UP gained momentum afterwards, but could not find ways in dismantling FEU’s defense as their corners fizzled out.

At the 66th minute, Dolino lifted the ball over a sea of people into a spot just near Adlawan’s six-yard box. Mistakenly thinking that Araneta was offside, the UP defense did not react to meet the ball. Pouncing on the ball, the FEU forward used her head to chip the ball over Adlawan and into the net to double her team’s lead. The women in green, then, defended well to keep the Lady Maroons from pulling one back with a good amount of time still on the clock. Manalansan, Obra, and Delos Reyes all had their chances, but not one shot gained UP a much needed goal.

With time against them, UP seemed to stare at the possibility of losing the battle. Their perseverance, however, bore fruit in the end when the referee awarded UP a penalty in stoppage time. M. Huff sent Ramos the wrong way to earn a consolation goal for the Lady Maroons, who ended the game as second best to the much-experienced FEU Lady Tamaraws.

“Iyong attacking namin talang pinagpraktisan namin,” stated FEU Coach Let Dimzon, who cited that part of game as unsatisfactory early in the season. Facing UP, the champions studied carefully UP’s strengths and weaknesses, which they eventually limited and exposed accordingly. The mentor also lauded the seniors who gave nothing but their best since day one. “Nagpapasalamat ako sa kanila, sa contributions nila para sa team. All heart sila kapag naglalaro.”

Despite the unfavorable outcome, UP Coach Anto Gonzales is proud of what the players have shown in the game. “I thought this was our best game against FEU this season,” he assessed, but lacked the ability to punish FEU in scoring and giving too much room for the opponents to score.

As the season ended, the players who stood out throughout the season were given due recognition. DLSU’s Inna Palacios and Chelo Hodges took home the Best Goalkeeper and Rookie of the Year awards, while also given the Fair Play Award as a team. UP’s Cristina Delos Reyes was acknowledged as the league’s top midfielder, and Alesa Dolino claimed the Best Forward award, which she shared with Ateneo’s Camille Rodriguez, UP’s Mary Obra and Delos Reyes. That was not the only award that belonged to Dolino, who was also rated as the best defender and crowned the Most Valuable Player of the Season.

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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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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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