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Lessons from volleyball

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Growing up a kid in the Philippines can mean a lot of things. Between the lofty hopes of parents and a child’s far-off dreams are legions of classes, camps, after-school programs, and summer programs that are designed to develop talent in whichever area parents suspect they may be lurking. As a little girl my own talent search began with brothers who taught me how to dribble and shoot and a mother who later enrolled me in a summer program for basketball (because I didn’t agree to ballet). While a football detour in my freshman year of high school somehow turned the beautiful game into one of my life’s passions, I look back now and realize how crucial the early years really are in developing talent in individuals.

Viewed from a larger scale, it’s more than just a coincidence that we have a professional basketball league that recently turned forty years old, and not one but two semi-professional leagues for volleyball. The PBA is still purely a men’s affair, and despite the presence of men’s and women’s division in the Shakey’s V-League and the recently launched club-based SuperLiga, women’s volleyball is the more popular front. How many parents more than enthusiastically pushed their sons into basketball? And conversely, how many little girls chose to take up volleyball instead of the country’s most popular sport?

There’s more than an obvious gender component here, but we should revel in success when we see it. There’s a lot to be learned from volleyball’s exponential growth in recent years, and while basketball is still king in the Philippines, volleyball is arguably the queen.

Lesson # 1: TV coverage raises a sport’s status

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The TV coverage or the record-setting attendance for the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Final

In pushing for the development of any sport you have to take into account the people who play the sport and the people who watch the sport. This relationship is crucial for a variety of reasons: (a) future stars of the game will come from the wider public, (b) the current crop of players will benefit from the patronage and support of those who watch their games, and (c) corporate sponsors will see the interested public and in turn provide more support to the programs that develop the athletes. There’s a mutual benefit that ideally goes around but less popular sports always seem to struggle with funding and visibility. There are players playing but not enough people who pay attention—do people only start to pay attention once there’s coverage or has there always been an untapped interest?

Like the chicken and the egg we may never be sure where marketability really starts, but if the experience of volleyball is to be learned from, there’s no doubt that TV coverage raises a sport’s status. Social media engagement may be the buzzword of late but much of the work in bridging the gap between athletes, fans, and sponsors is still largely on the shoulders of traditional media outlets. TV specifically has the largest ability to influence the public’s tastes as it provides the most compelling way to tell a story that will appeal to the most number of people. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but what are moving pictures worth?

Where TV coverage has gone, fans have followed.

Lesson #2: People respond to good competition
DLSU-vs-ADMU-Finals-Logo
Game 4 of the UAAP Season 76 Women’s Volleyball Final (Photo courtesy of Richard Esguerra)

If the veritable stars of the local volleyball scene—Alyssa Valdez and Abbie Marano to name a few—have taught us anything it’s that people respond to talent when they see it. At the heart of a sport is the story and with the story comes the myriad of characters, heart-stopping moments, heartbreak, and excitement of good competition.

Lesson #3: You can still go homegrown

NAMEPOSITIONSCHOOL
Balse, Mary JeanMiddle BlockerUniversity of Santo Tomas
Bautista, NerissaOutside HitterAdamson University
Daquis, RachelOutside HitterFar Eastern University
Dimaculangan, RheaSetterUniversity of Santo Tomas
Fajardo, KimSetterDe La Salle University
Galang, VictonaraOutside HitterDe La Salle University
Gonzaga, JovelynOpposite HitterCentral Philippine University
Lazaro, DenniseLibero/Defensive SpecialistAteneo de Manila University
Ortiz, MaikaMiddle BlockerUniversity of Sto. Tomas
Pantone, LizleeLibero/Defensive SpecialistAdamson University
Pontillas, AizaOpposite HitterUniversity of Santo Tomas
Reyes, JennylnLibero/Defensive SpecialistNational University
Reyes, MikaMiddle BlockerDe La Salle University
Salak, TinaSetterFar Eastern University
Santiago, AleonaMiddle Blocker/Outside and Opposite HitterNational University
Santiago, AlyjaMiddle BlockerNational University
Tubino, RoyseOutside Hitter/Middle BlockerUniversity of Perpetual Help
Valdez, AlyssaMiddle Blocker/Outside and Opposite HitterAteneo de Manila University

Source: Yahoo PH Sports

We’ve seen Andray Blatche play his ass off in the FIBA World Cup for Gilas Pilipinas, and it’s hard to say where Philippine football would be now if the Younghusbands didn’t help reinvigorate the Azkals squad in the mid-2000s. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with naturalized players and Filipino-foreigners coming in to help bolster our national teams, but at the same time it’s refreshing to see a line-up composed of players who have played in the local circuit. From grassroots to college to semi-professionals and to national team players, the recently released Philippine Men’s and Women’s National Volleyball Teams showcase the best and brightest of homegrown talents, and I have no doubt they will only be made better with their international exposure.

Lesson #4: There’s hope for “other” sports

There are currently two leagues for volleyball in the Philippines. The Shakey’s V-League began over ten years ago and has maintained a school-based format for the past 11 seasons. Meanwhile, the Philippine SuperLiga Grand Prix was started earlier in the year and bills itself as “the country’s first volleyball club league.”

Much can probably be said about the difference between the V-League and the SuperLiga—the format is different, for one—but taking things into consideration, having more than one league only means more competition to go around. What other sport in the country can boast of having two semi-pro leagues with both a men’s and women’s division? Volleyball is a most interesting case in the country because it has probably had the most equitable growth for both its male and female athletes, and over-all the most exponential growth for women’s sports.

In contrast to basketball, the PBA has been around for 40 years but somehow it’s never been a realistic dream to have a women’s division. On the side of football too, there’s been talk in the Philippine Football Federation for a women’s league but organizational efforts have so far led to nothing.

The prospect for a pay-to-play league may not be as bright for other sports, but the most important thing to takeaway here is that there’s hope perhaps in the future. As volleyball has shown, it will take time, investment, and good people willing to take the time and to make the investment. As former Ateneo volleyball star Kara Acevedo put it, “Hindi lang basketball ang sport ng Pilipinas.”

The success of volleyball proves that there’s space for more than one sport in the hearts of Filipinos.

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Basketball

Renzo Subido to bring Marinerong Pilipino experience to UST

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When Renzo Subido decided to skip out the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers’ UAAP Season 80 campaign, he had only one thing in mind: to improve on his craft. And he was able to do so under coach Koy Banal in the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers.

After the AMA Online Education Titans had a quick end to their campaign during the 2017 Foundation Cup, the 5-foot-9 floor general was immediately picked up by Marinerong Pilipino for the playoffs. Liking his style of play, he was again tapped for the 2018 Aspirants Cup.

And he showed a lot of growth from then, leading the Skippers to a 94-92 victory over fellow contenders Zark’s Jawbreakers. The 21-year-old tallied 20 points, three rebounds, and five assists while knocking down the crucial free throws to seal off the Lyceum-backed team.

“It was a good win for us. We’re happy that we won the game because it’s a good way to start the conference,” beamed Subido. “I’ve played against Lyceum in the past so I had familiarity with how they play.

“It was a good experience for us.”

Expectations are high for Marinerong Pilipino this conference as they are pegged as their blend of veterans and young guns are seen too overwhelming for the rest of the field. Still, Subido knows that it will be a tough climb as the other teams, especially the collegiate-based squads, have familiarity on their side.

“We’re taking it one game at a time but the goal is to win the championship,” he said. “But we know that it’s not going to be easy since we are going up against the top collegiate teams.

“So we’re just going to go all out every game.”

Besides winning the championship, Subido is on a personal mission. Being one of the seniors for the Growling Tigers next season, he hopes to learn to become a better leader for next season.

“I want to become a better leader. I know that everything I can learn this conference, I can bring to UST,” Subido expressed.

“For all I can see, coach Aldin [Ayo] is a guard-oriented coach. So I’m using all the experience I get here in Marinero, I’ll bring it to UST.”

For sure, Subido wants to make up for lost time.

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Basketball

KIA signs Carlo Lastimosa

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After being released by the NLEX Road Warriors during the off-season, gunner Carlo Lastimosa has found a new home.

KIA Picanto team governor Bobby Rosales confirmed to Tiebreaker Times Thursday evening that they have tapped Carlo Lastimosa for the rest of the PBA Philippine Cup campaign.

“Yes,” Rosales confirmed in a text message.

Lastimosa, a two-time All-Star, averaged 8.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in his one-year stay with the Road Warriors. Coach Yeng Guiao cited that NLEX already had too many guards that resulted to Lastimosa’s release.

The product of College of Saint Benilde was drafted as the 20th overall pick in the 2013 Rookie Draft by Barako Bull. A year later, he was traded to the Blackwater Elite for Brian Heruala.

The 27-year-old is set to make his debut on Saturday when the Picanto take on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

The Kia Picanto are in the midst of a 16-game losing streak.

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Marinerong Pilipino withstands furious Zark’s rally to open season on high note

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The Marinerong Pilipino Skippers averted a collapse and held off the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers to come away with the 94-92 thriller to open the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Losing hold of a 17-point edge, 56-39 with 7:57 left in the third frame, the Skippers survived the furious rally from the Jawbreakers in the clutch as Mike Nzeusseu and CJ Perez missed their three-pointers in the final minute before Rian Ayonayon and Renzo Subido sealed off the win for their side at the charity stripe

Subido topscored for Marinerong Pilipino with 20 points, five assists, and three rebounds, while Ayonayon unleashed 15 markers, three boards, and two dimes in the early battle between the two contenders.

Gab Banal also registered a double-double of 14 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, and four steals against his 10 turnovers in the win, while Papot Paredes got 12 of his 14 markers in the first half to help the Skippers establish control at halftime.

Victorious as Marinerong Pilipino maybe in the marquee matchup, coach Koy Banal refused to brand his side as the undisputed team-to-beat, noting: “This win means nothing. We need to keep on working get better every day because everybody will now prepare for us.”

Banal also lauded top rookie picks Alvin Pasaol and Abu Tratter, who were both fielded in the second half and stepped up to help the Skippers’ cause.

“Those guys have been with us since January 2 lang, and pretty much, medyo nangangapa pa sila sa sistema. But good thing is that they were able to deliver especially when their number were called,” he said.

The Skippers used a huge 12-0 run to end the second quarter to grab a 47-35 halftime lead, which further ballooned to 17, 56-39 in the third quarter.

Jaycee Marcelino paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 20 points, four rebounds, and three assists in the loss, while Perez had 19 markers and five assists.

Earlier, PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial and PBA vice chairman Dickie Bachmann of Alaska graced the opening ceremonies, which was made special thanks to league newcomer Mila’s Lechon.

Marinerong Pilipino looks to sustain the momentum it gained in this game when it faces the Akari-Adamson Falcons on Thursday, January 25 at 5:00pm. Zark’s Burgers, on the other hand, takes on the Batangas-EAC Generals on Tuesday, January 23 at 4:00pm.

The Scores:

Marinerong Pilipino 94 – Subido 20, Ayonayon 15, Paredes 14, Banal 14, Robles 10, Tolentino 4, Tratter 4, Pasaol 4, Terso 3, Lopez 2, Inigo 2, Babilonia 2, Toth 0.

Zark’s 92 – Marcelino JC 20, Perez 19, Nzeusseu 18, Ayaay 11, Ibanez 6, Marcelino JV 6, Cinco 5, Tansingco 3, Santos 2, Pretta 2, Marata 0, Liwag 0

Quarterscores: 17-19, 47-34, 69-58, 94-92

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CSJL

Pirates notch first win at struggling Knights’ expense

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After floundering in their first three games, the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates broke into the win column after trouncing the Colegio San Juan de Letran Knights, 20-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-22, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Pirates, after a sluggish start, got the best of their Intramuros neighbors by limiting their miscues in the latter three sets. According to head coach Emil Lontoc, Lyceum needed every bit of momentum they gained in their rousing win in the second set.

“Nabuhayan sila (Pirates) ng loob noong makalusot kami noong second set,” Lontoc said. “Mababa ‘yung nilaro namin nung simula tapos medyo struggle pa din noong sumunod na set. Pero nakabangon din. Crucial ‘yun kasi baka hindi na kami naka-angat kung natalo pa kami noong second set.”

The Pirates delivered three of their four aces in the final set to close the match. They also shored up their reception, finishing at 38 percent, after an atrocious start.

Jhonel Badua topped the Pirates with 19 points while Joeward Presnede added 14.

Lyceum (1-3) takes on the undefeated Arellano University (4-0) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Paul John Alilio and Bobby Gatdula each provided Letran with 19 points. Christopher Cistina managed 11 markers.

Letran (0-4) aims for their first win against rivals San Beda College (3-1) on Monday.

The Scores

LPU (3) – Badua 19, Presnede 14, Lajara 9, Ilano 7, Samonte 5, Uy 5, Rubio (L)

CSJL (1) – Alilio 19, Gatdula 19, Cistina 11, Almoguerra 3, Ladeon 3, Dizon 2, Domingo 2, Brioso 0, Tumbali 0, Centeno (L), Timbreza (L)

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