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Lopez still proud of La Salle despite post-season defeats



Making it past the elimination round of a UAAP tournament is already a sign of success for any university who competes in it. Every season brings new difficulties, whether needing to rebuild a line-up, facing tougher opponents, or having plenty of off days. Just landing into the Final Four gets harder every year.

Nevertheless, the Final Four stage is almost mandatory for UAAP schools with big athletics programs, such as say, De La Salle University. Finishing in the Final Four is seen as the foundation for championships. From then on, the Finals is the target.

What holds much hope can also mean heartbreak for a season. Getting knocked out in the Final Four is painful for any school but losing in the Finals is worse. The UAAP has become such a high pressure league for many students, alumni and athletes, that losing at those points in the season sometimes makes everything feel and look like a failure.

It isn’t, though: it should be more than that. While championships may define what success is these days in the UAAP, just playing your hearts out for your school, even with academic obligations, and reaching the post-season should be something to be proud of.

Take the DLSU Badminton Team for example. For all the heartaches they felt after the elimination round in Season 78, they’ve got a lot to be proud of just by putting themselves in a position where glory was possible.

Lady Archers fall at the hands of Ateneo


Losing to another school in the Final Four despite having a twice-to-beat advantage is a painful experience. It’s worse if you’ve been beaten twice by your rival school. Such is the unpredictability in the UAAP that any so-called advantage can be ruined in such dramatic fashion.

This season, Ateneo Beat La Salle two straight times to earn a place in the UAAP Season 78 Women’s Badminton Tournament finals against UP. The Lady Archers lost both ties 1-3 to the Lady Eagles.

DLSU coach Owen Lopez can only rue the fact that his team got knocked out by Ateneo. “Syempre alam mo naman tayong Lasalista, yung ka-rival rin natin ang tumalo sa atin at twice-to-beat pa tayo. Yun yung sinasabi ko sa kanila nung umpisa pa lang na tipong mas masakit kung twice beaten”

Lopez tinkered with the lineup the night before the tie and admits that it was just simply Ateneo’s day. He adds that he and his team were expecting the contest to reach five games but they just weren’t able to force it to that point.

Aires Montilla

One of the adjustments of Lopez was to pair up Kristelle Salatan and Aires Montilla in the first doubles match. “Actually ako na yung mag decide ng ganun kasi siyempre kahit anomang isipin natin, yung Aires-Kristelle matagal na nagpapartner yan since grade school pa lang.” Lopez adds that while he allows his players to give him recommendations, the final decisions are made by him. He wants to see his players prove that they want to win on the court.

Regardless of the result, Lopez only had good things to say about his Lady Archers. “Sobrang proud naman ako sa team ko kasi hanggang sa huli lumaban sila eh. Nagkataon lang na sa third match naiwanan sila. So yun lang. I hope na natuto sila. Sure ako paghahandaan namin yung susunod na season dahil wala naman mawawala sa team.”

Green Archers bow down to NU in the Finals


Although the Green Archers made short work of the Blue Eagles during their UAAP Season 78 Men’s Badminton Tournament Final Four clash, the former was swept in the Finals 3-0 and 3-1 by the NU Bulldogs.

It was a sad end to the Green Archers’ season with the Bulldogs virtually outplaying them in their Finals series. With the tough task to beat the NU Bulldogs, who themselves had a thrice-to-beat advantage, Lopez was still happy with how his players performed in the Finals. “Siyempre proud ako sa kanila dahil alam naman namin na malakas ang NU. Basta ako lang ang advise ko lang sa kanila: hanggang huli lumaban tayo kasi deserving kayo mag finals eh tapos one game at a time.”

“Magfocus lang. No pressure. Enjoy. Kung manalo man kami, bonus na yun eh”, Lopez reiterated.

Kenneth Monterubio was the sole Archer to win a tie in the Finals series. He was up against long-time rival and eventual UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year awardee Keeyann Gabuelo. It took Monterubio three games to beat Gabuelo in a thrilling contest.

Kenneth Monterubio celebration

Lopez only had praise for Monterubio following his win. He disclosed that he told Monterubio that he should feel no pressure and just enjoy the game. Lopez added, “Ang inaadvise ko sa kanya is laruin kung ano ang dapat tapos sinasabi ko lang sa kanya marami tayong shots napapatay dito so adjust na lang. So yun naman at least nakinig at sabi ko sa kanya, kung experience wise lamang siya talaga.”

Overall, Lopez was happy with how the season panned out for his Green Archers. “Siyempre pinaghandaan naman kasi nila talaga yun pati yung oras, pagsabayin ang aral at laro so sobrang ok for the overall performance for the whole year”. He then noted that, aside from Gerald Sibayan who had played out his eligibility this season, the Green Archers are mostly intact for next season.

Looking forward to Season 79


After a successful Season 78, for most coaches the planning for a better Season 79 starts the day after their last fixture. Lopez notes, “Yung Womens mas maghahanda kami para sa susunod na season. Yun yung paghahandaan namin lalo kasi wala naman mawawala sa Womens ko. Sa Mens ko si Gerald lang naman so mag-aadjust kami lahat.”

Still, Lopez will take his time in determining who gets into the line-up for next season, and is holding his cards close to his chest. “Grades muna. Magfocus muna kami sa aral. Kung bubuuin namin yung team tapos may biglang hindi makakalaro, basta sabi ko lang sa kanila focus muna kami lahat sa aral, balik kami sa aral tapos saka na namin hahandaan ulit yung sino malalagay sa line-up next season.”


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



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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Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots



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



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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Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win



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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