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Kaya survives hard-fought battle against archrivals Loyola

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A “lucky” goal late in the match completed Kaya FC’s comeback effort against archrivals Loyola Meralco Sparks FC in their second round meeting of the United Football League (UFL), Saturday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Kaya FC, down 1-0 in the first half, found strength to aggressively attack their adversary in the payoff period to come out on top, 3-2.

It was a highly offensive first half between title chasers Kaya FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks. This began four minutes into the game with Loyola making two great shot attempts care of team captain Phil Younghusband, and Anton del Rosario. On the other side of the pitch, Kaya matched Loyola’s offensive barrage and had decent attacks of their own. In the fifth minute, Kaya forward OJ Porteria launched a shot to try and end the deadlock. A few minutes later, the Kaya forward had another clear shot at goal. The ball, however, ended up being cleared by Loyola goalkeeper Tomas Trigo.

Both teams continued to have great looks at the net only to be denied by the opposing team’s defense. It was at the 23rd minute that the momentum swung to the side of Meralco. Max Wright having possession of the ball in the middle of the pitch, gracefully lobbed the ball up front to a rushing Brad Grayson. The Brit got into their team’s attacking third, and found himself with enough space. The striker skillfully chipped the ball over Kaya custodian Nick O’Donnell, and into the net. Despite the lead, Meralco was relentless in pressuring Kaya’s defense. The team in yellow, remained strong to hold the line and prevent further damage. The half ended in favor of Meralco, 1-0.

The second half was a complete opposite of the first. This time, it was Kaya FC who were able to grab the momentum from the resumption of play. With their side constantly bombarding Loyola’s defense, Kaya managed to equalize 10 minutes after the restart. Miguel Tanton found Chris Greatwich nearby inside the box. The former Azkal easily sneaked in the ball with Trigo out of his line. With the score tied, both teams tried to get ahead of each other. It was Loyola who got the go-ahead goal at the 70th minute. Grayson, despite the traffic inside the penalty box, headed in a cross from his teammate del Rosario and gave his team a 2-1 lead. Being ahead by a point, Loyola found new life as they once again controlled the pace of the game. Kaya, on the other hand did not settle to just prohibiting the Sparks from scoring, and tried to find an opening to level the match.

An opportunity to equalize presented itself to Kaya at the 81st minute; the Englishman Louis Clark stripped the ball from the Loyola backline. He then found himself in a one-on-one situation with Loyola goalie Trigo. Seeing the Loyola’s last man closing in, Clark hurriedly fired the ball near the top of the box. To the striker’s delight, the ball connected with the onion bag to tie the score line at 2.

Having left with little time, both teams tried to push for the game-clinching goal. With just a minute left in the game, Kaya was lucky enough to snatch a point. Once again, the American-born OJ Porteria found himself with acres of space and desperately slammed the ball towards the net. It however landed in the hands of Trigo. Luckily for Kaya, the Azkal reserve keeper, fumbled the ball off of his hands. Fortunately for the men in yellow, the ball went past the goal line to give the game-clinching score to the Fabien Lewis-mentored team. The final whistle sounded with a 3-2 scoreline for Kaya.

The recently appointed Kaya Head Coach Fabien Lewis admitted that luck played a part in his team’s victory. “What can I say, in football you win some with luck, but luck doesn’t come to any team, you have to deserve and you have to work for it.” he explained. He was also very happy that his team was able to bounce back from their recent loss and had the strength to get the positive result against their bitter rivals. They will now prepare for their next challenge, league leaders Ceres-La Salle FC whom they will face on July 19. Loyola, on the other hand, will battle the eighth-placed Pachanga-Diliman FC on July 22.

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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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