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Loyola Meralco Sparks vanquish JP Voltes to seize Group C leadership

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Loyola Meralco Sparks FC conquered JP Voltes FC with the score of 5-2 thanks to a Tahj Minniecon brace and a Phil Younghusband hattrick that overpowered a brace netted by Yugo Kobayashi, in Group C play of the UFL Cup 2015 held Tuesday night at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. The result now puts Loyola ahead on goal difference over Stallion FC, as both teams have seven points each.

The game started defensively with no teams willing to lose ground early in such a pivotal match. That approach almost cost both sides who committed errors nearly allowing the other side to concede. As early as the second minute, miscommunication between defender Joaco Cañas and goalkeeper Tomas Trigo resulted in a corner for JP Voltes. Fortunately for them, the Division II leaders were not able to test Trigo in goal. Five minutes later, JP Voltes lousily conceded a corner which was easily cleared. Not long after, Bradley Grayson managed to register a shot on goal but Mark Sorongon gathered the ball safely.

At the 25th minute, JP Voltes took advantage of a set piece near the byline. Chihiro Noda placed his delivery near the first post where three teammates were stationed. Among those three, it was leading scorer Kobayashi who got the vital touch by sliding the ball past the vulnerable Trigo.

Determined to avoid going down by halftime, Loyola powered their back in the game. At the half hour mark, Minniecon’s free kick located the heads of Cañas and Grayson but neither was able to guide the ball into the net. At the 34th minute, Grayson had the opportunity of making it 1-1 but his shot was handled by Sorongon. With nine minutes left in the half, A fine attacking sequence concluded with Curt Dizon’s pass finding Minniecon. Given enough space in the middle of the box, Minniecon did not waste the chance of levelling the score at one each.

After knotting the match, Loyola produced more opportunities to effectively mount a comeback before the break. Their persistence was rewarded at the 41st minute. JP Voltes’ Takashi Odawara was wrong-footed in his challenge on Dizon, meriting the Sparks a go-ahead penalty. Minniecon thought he had given his team the lead at the 40th minute but referee Steve Supresencia deeming an encroachment inside the box a reason for a retake. His second try was saved by Sorongon, but once again, Supresencia ruled a retake for the same reason as the first one. On his third attempt, Minniecon altered his shot to breach past the JP Voltes’ goalie and make it 2-1 for Loyola. It stayed that way until the halftime whistle sounded.

After the restart, Loyola continued to dictate the tempo of the match but it was JP Voltes who recorded the first chance. Against the run of play, John Celiz’s cross almost tricked anyone as it appeared to have spun towards the goal. Unfortunately for the Filipino winger, his attempt went wide. Thirteen minutes into the half, Loyola was awarded a free kick within range of Phil Younghusband, who came on for two-goal man Minniecon moments earlier. The ex-Chelsea man made the most out of the opportunity, looping the dead ball over everyone and into the bottom corner. A couple of minutes later, the Philippine international tapped home Anton del Rosario’s low cross from the right wing to instantly make it 4-1 at the hour mark.

Three minutes after going down 4-1, JP Voltes attempted to respond but Celiz’s strike from the edge of the box was headed away by Alvin Sarmiento. The Filipino-Japanese club labored to get the second goal, which they obtained 16 minutes before time. Trigo’s pass was intercepted by Odawara inside the box and then he found his teammate Kobayashi wide open to cut the deficit to two goals. Alarmed with the unexpected second of JP Voltes, Loyola used offense as their best defense to prevent any chances for their opponents to come back. Their aggression up front led to a penalty conceded by Tatsuya Nakamura who fouled Grayson in the penalty area. In wonderful fashion, Phil cheekily scored his third from the spot to seal a three-goal win for the Sparks.

Loyola coach Simon McMenemy expressed delight with the way his players performed on the night. “Comfortable for us. [It was] another professional performance. All in all, I’m quite happy with the performance,” he proclaimed. Admitting that he was surprised his squad had fallen behind against JP Voltes, McMenemy kept the trust he had in his players. “We knew we’d be able to come from that. We knew we have the quality over the space of time but a goal like that is a setback,” McMenemy expounded. Even though they lost, JP Voltes coach Kyo Nagami still praised his team for putting up a fight against one of Division I’s powerhouse squads. “Of course, individually the opponents play much better than us, but we did our best. They [JP Voltes’ players] did well. Good enough,” the Japanese mentor uttered.

Loyola Meralco Sparks have all but guaranteed their spot in the quarterfinals. They will face UST, who earned a draw against Division II side Mendiola FC 1991, on Sunday, May 24, at 8:15 in the evening. Before that match will be JP Voltes’ game against Stallion FC, a decider on who will progress into the knockout rounds.

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ABL

Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa

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After going a horrid 5-for-17 from the stripe during their first loss of the season last January 9, Christian Standhardinger made sure to make good on his free throws to power the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a dominant 99-79 rout of the Formosa Dreamers, Thursday evening in Southorn Stadium.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who tallied 37 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime loss to Saigon, went a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The contest itself was not close, as the defending champions were able to impose their will on the bottom-ranked squad, leading by as much as 23 points, 93-70, after two free throws by Standhardinger with 2:58 remaining.

If Standhardinger was having a good day with his free throws, the entire Formosa squad could not say the same, going 13-of-27 from the line.

Tyler Lamb had 25 markers as well for Hong Kong, while Marcus Elliott grabbed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Lenny Daniel paced Formosa with 25 points and 11 rebounds. World Import Ronnie Aguilar had 14 points and 16 rebounds but went just 5-for-14 from the field.

With the win, Hong Kong goes to 8-1, while the Dreamers fell to 1-8.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes 3×3 World Cup breaks Philippine Arena record

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short of copping Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different beast.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad suffered a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even fashioning multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino, as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. The 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the duo — and the rest of the Jawbreakers — now have the experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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