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Lopez Mendy inspires Team Rest of the World in defeating Team Philippines

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After an enjoyable 90 minutes of football, Team Rest of the World came out on top with a 5-4 win over Team Philippines in the main event of the UFL All-Star match, held at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Senegalese Robert Lopez Mendy, who plays his club football for Green Archers United, made the most difference in the star-studded affair by sneaking in three wonderful second-half goals, which were enough to give the foreigner-filled selection the victory.

The game started brightly with both teams looking to open the scoring as soon as possible. Louis Clark of Kaya had a go on goal four minutes after kick off, but he drove his shot wide of the far post. It was the Filipinos’ turn three minutes later, and they did not waste their first clear chance of the match. OJ Porteria located Misagh Bahadoran inside the box before the Global FC talisman took time to smash the ball past his club teammate, Roland Sadia, to make it 1-0 for Team Philippines. At the 10th minute mark, Porteria tried his luck from a distance, but could not force a save from Sadia. A few moments after, Phil Younghusband tested the Global goalkeeper twice, but was unable to get the better of Sadia, who stood alert after conceding the match’s first goal. The locals dominated the match with Martin Steuble launching a shot only for Sadia to get a hand on it.

Midway through the first half, Oladipo Okunaiya had chances to score from set pieces, but neither were successful in beating Louie Casas. Thirty-four minutes into the match, Team Philippines Coach, Ali Roxas Go, had to withdraw Misagh Bahadoran and Daisuke Sato due to club commitments. In their place came two brilliant local players, Chris Greatwich and Anton del Rosario, two of the 2010 Azkals who played under Rest of the World mentor, Simon McMenemy. Just before the halftime whistle sounded, David Icardo smacked his shot over Casas and into the top corner to equalize for Team Rest of the World. At the half, it was 1-1.

Several changes took place in the second half, as both coaches looked to give playing time to the players selected to feature in this stellar encounter. Amongst all of them, it was Lopez Mendy who made the biggest difference. His first goal came from a free kick, which was a result of a foul committed by Guirado. The advantage did not last long though as Simone Rota drilled in a thunderous volley to tie the game again at 2-all. What soon transpired was an exhibition of goalkeeping with Patrick Deyto and Henri Bandeken Fong making enormous stops to deny the Younghusbands and Clark to score the game’s fifth goal.

As a penalty shootout began to loom large in the minds of everyone in the venue, Clark got to squeeze in the ball past Deyto to make it 3-2 for the men in orange. It was just the first of three quick goals that came as a shock to the Filipinos. Lopez Mendy converted twice off nifty assists from Clark and Lee Jeong Woo to suddenly build a huge 5-2 lead for Team Rest of the World. Nonetheless, Team Philippines did not give up with Nate Burkey leading a late charge. He was involved in both of the late goals scored by the blue-clad players. The first was a penalty he slotted after winning it due to a foul committed by Bandeken Fong just inside the box, with only four minutes left in regulation. Just before stoppage time, he broke free from the Team Rest of the World defense before setting up del Rosario to make it 5-4. The three minutes of added time seemed to have everyone on the edge of their seats, but it was not enough for Team Philippines to draw level. Game ended 5-4 in favor of McMenemy’s lads.

It’s an exhibition game, I can’t take any credit. I’m just a passenger really. They play up against these guys every week. It’s just interesting seeing foreign players play against local players. It’s a pleasure,” stated McMenemy. Go offered the same sentiments as he said, “We played good, but we have to take out some of our players due to club commitments. All in all, I’m happy with how we performed. Nine goals. It’s good for the crowd.

Man of the Match, Lopez Mendy, felt honored to be a part of such a match that included players who regularly start for their respective clubs in the UFL. “We need to show them that we can be more to than what they think about. Show them we are good. That’s why we left the our country and came here to play,” he uttered.

Overall, the UFL All-Star event was a resounding success. UFL Technical Director expressed delight with the way things turned out today. “We’re very happy with the turnout. We hope that every match day we have this kind of crowd. With the kids and the families coming to the matches, it’s a good thing that families are already starting to recognize the value of football and what it teaches the kids, and we hope to see more of these kids and the fans watching the UFL,” he said.

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NOTE: Before the UFL-All Star game between Team Philippines and Team Rest of the World started, there was a game played by the UFL XI and the UFL Youth 100, where the latter emerged winners in the fun-filled affair, 4-1. Binibining Pilipinas winners led by Pia Wurtzbach also graced the event to show support for Operation Smile Philippines, the beneficiary foundation of the event. Proceeds of ticket and merchandise sales went to the said foundation which attends to the needs of people with facial deformities.

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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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