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Loyola Meralco Sparks pummel Pachanga-Diliman; stay in hunt for second spot



A hattrick from Phil Younghusband powered Loyola Meralco Sparks FC on dismantling Pachanga-Diliman FC, 5-2, to keep in pace with other league members on the hunt for a second-place finish, Wednesday evening, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Loyola started pouncing on the attack the moment they wrestled for possession right after kickoff, while Pachanga was ready for the counterattack. Furthermore, the visitors had the first chance to break the deadlock at the third minute. Nathan Octavio connected with Jinggoy Valmayor at the right flank, who was then fouled outside the penalty area. The resulting free kick was deflected, but only up to Pachanga-Diliman Captain Hamed Hajimehdi. The Iranian midfielder fired the ball into the net for the go-ahead goal.

The white-shirts pushed for the equalizer thereafter; nonetheless, the defense cleared them for corner kicks. At the 13th minute, Loyola finally levelled the match with a goal against the run of play. Brad Grayson found Phil Younghusband, who slid the ball passed the opposing keeper, Ace Villanueva. That was not the end of the barrage of opportunities for the Sparks, which would have been converted into goals, if not for the excellent defending of Pachanga-Diliman Fullback, Reuben Silitonga. After a series of near-goals, the home team was again rewarded with a goal. At the 26th minute, P. Younghusband doubled the lead when he collected a pass from Charlie Beaton at the edge of the box and effortlessly launched a shot into the onion bag.

Pachanga-Diliman did not roll up and surrender, as they pushed for a tying goal in the next few minutes. Seven minutes from the half-hour mark, Hossein Doustdarsefidmazgi immediately had an impact after coming in for Daniel Gadia. Doustdarsefidmazgi delivered a through ball to Valmayor, who shot the ball to Loyola’s custodian Saba Sadeghi Garmaroudi. Saba was able to gather the ball, but spilled it. Moreover, Stephen Permanes took advantage of the mishap and guided the ball to the back of the net to put the match, once again, into a stalemate at 2-apiece.

The deadlock would not last long, however. In the ensuing play, Loyola’s returning skipper, James Younghusband, saved the ball from going out, and instead delivered it into the box. Adam Mitter beat Villanueva for the header to reclaim the lead for the white-shirts. The scoreline, 3-2, would stay as Pachanga-Diliman muffed consequent attempts by the leading side.

It was a different second half, as Loyola Meralco flexed their muscles on their opponents. The white-shirts dominated the possession, which they turned into offensive chances. At the 54th minute, Pachanga-Diliman had their final decent attempt of the match. Jinggoy Valmayor almost made Loyola’s defense pay off a botched clearance, but the burly striker could not get to the ball.

At the following sequence, Loyola again doubled their lead. P. Younghusband found Grayson on the run, and the latter easily slotted the ball for his team’s fourth goal of the match.

What followed was an uneventful few minutes as neither team had clear attempts and both squads were called for offside infractions. It was not until six minutes from end of regulation that another goal was scored. Tahj Minniecon found P. Younghusband, who tapped the ball into the back of the net and completed his hattrick, and sealed the deal for the Loyola Meralco Sparks. The final whistle was sounded with the Sparks winning emphatically 5-2 over Pachanga-Diliman. The win pushed Loyola Meralco to a triple-tie for second place with Kaya and Global.

Loyola Head Coach Simon McMenemy was generally pleased with his wards performance. The only drawback, shared the long-time Sparks mentor, was that, “We conceded silly goals.” He, however, stated that what is important now is for them to get the win to increase their chances to lock the second spot. McMenemy concluded, “At this stage, what is important is three points [a win].”

The hunt for three points will continue for Loyola when they face Manila Jeepney FC on Sunday, July 26. Pachanga-Diliman, on the other hand, will battle the same team after a long rest, on the following Sunday, August 2.


Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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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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