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Maturity, desire to win will decide UST-CSB tilt



Sports has not only given birth to some of the best, unscripted stories in human history, but has also provided us with some of the most worn out clichés. Perhaps no cliché is spewed out more than the old desire-to-win addage. The saying goes that more than the tactical adjustments of coaches or the intensive training athletes put themselves through, players have to tangibly show during games that they want to win more than their foes as if there are players who train and play to lose.

As non-sensical as that sounds, it can’t be denied that for both UST and CSB – teams in no shortage of talent – have to respectively establish mental stability in order to go deep into the Shakey’s V-league Collegiate Conference.

Expectations are high for the UST Tigresses. With a new coach and a slew of experienced veterans, the prevailing thought was the Thomasians would easily go through their opening matches of the tournament. Instead, the past two weeks revealed that the Tigresses still haven’t outgrown some of the growing pains of the past few rebuilding years. Fifth-year Wing Hitters, Mela Tunay and Pam Lastimosa showed incremental improvements in their respective PSL-AFC stints, sophomore Open Spiker Ej Laure and third-year Middle Blocker Ria Meneses showed promise in the AVC-U23 tournament, while fourth-year Setter Alex Cabanos has been stewing in the UST system, due for a breakout performance.

Despite their much more tenured team, UST floundered in their opening match against an Ateneo team that was missing four of their UAAP Season 77 championship winning starting rotation – Alyssa Valdez, Denden Lazaro, Michelle Morente, and Jia Morado. In their following match, UST looked well on their way to a convincing sweep of the DLSU-Dasma Lady Patriots, until they relaxed and let DLSU steal a set and almost drive the match into a fifth set.

SVL College ADMU vs. UST Kung Fu Reyes

A visibly disappointed Kung-Fu Reyes expressed in the post press-game conference after their DLSU match his dismay over his team’s lack of sense of urgency. “Straight set na talaga dapat yoon,” the decorated high school coach said. “Ang masakit pa doon, ang mga nagkakamali pa ‘yung mga seniors namin. Kapag natatalo kami, ang tanong ay ‘Ano ba dapat ang dapat namin aralin?’ Kapag nanalo naman ang sunod na tanong, ‘Paano ba kami nanalo?’ Nanalo nga kami (UST), pero bakit nga ba kailangang pa rin kami (UST coaching staff) magalit? May mga butas pa rin kami na dapat ayusin. Hindi lang skills-wise.”

When asked about his team’s overall maturity, Reyes reiterated his discontent with the results his team has produced. “‘Di pa rin kami kuntento sa mga nangyayari. Kaya nga kami sumali dito, eh para makita ‘yung sakit ng team. Ang kailangan lang naman, dapat lahat willing matuto. Hindi ‘yung kuntento ka na lang sa alam mo na.”

On the other hand, the CSB Lady Blazers have been on the cusp of true title contention in the past few NCAA Seasons.

Their two ace players, Middle Blocker Jeanette Panaga and Wing Hitter Janine Nanvarro, performed brilliantly in the AVC Seniors Tournament in China, but just two good players do not make volleyball team great. Their head coach, Michael Cariño, is well aware of this.

SVL College CSB vs. SSCR Navarro

Against a less heralded TIP squad last week, the Lady Blazers slumped midway through the match and needed four sets to finish off the Lady Engineers. When asked about the result, Cariño said that complacency is a recurring problem with his team that he is still looking to fix. “Last year pa problema ng team yan,” he expressed. “Matagal naming pinaghandaan ‘yung game tapos dahil sa pag-relax, parang mawawala ‘yung paghahanda na ‘yun. Kasi papasok na ‘yung pressure, mawawala na ‘yung focus.”

When asked about his matchup with the Tigresses, Cariño recognized the threat UST poses, but he knows his team isn’t far from their level. “As an NCAA team, medyo may chip sa shoulder talaga kami. Pero the more na we get that out of our heads and focus on preparation, mas magiging successful kami. It’s all about focus and discipline sa volleyball,” shared Cariño.

The match is pivotal for both teams who are both looking to stay as far away from the bottom two of their group to advance to the next round of eliminations of the SVL. Benilde is currently tied with Ateneo at first with matching 2-0 cards, while UST and TIP follow, both at 1-1. UST and CSB will meet on July 26, Sunday.


Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball – from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado’s setting.

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Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates



Prior to Wednesday, all eyes were on the TNT Katropa-Blackwater Elite face-off, with many curious to see how last season’s Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy would fare against his former FEU teammates Mac Belo and Raymar Jose.

And as the final buzzer sounded, the 25-year-old Pogoy had reigned triumphant over his close pals, getting away with a conference-best performance as a bonus.

The six-foot-two Cebuano sniper fired a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, to lead the Texters to a skid-ending, 92-83 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Must-win talaga namin ‘to para makabawi kami, kasi 1-2 na yung standing namin (before the game) eh.

“Buti na lang maganda yung nilaro ko,” said Pogoy, who was just averaging 11.3 points in the past three games.

But Pogoy tipped his hat to the much taller Elite, who enjoyed plenty of time in the driver’s seat in the first half, until the Katropa found their groove in the third canto — highlighted by a 16-3 rally that put them ahead, 60-53.

“Malakas yung Blackwater eh, tapos ang lalaki nila kaya mahirap mag-drive, mahirap pumasa kasi naagaw nila,” said Pogoy. “Buti na lang naka-adjust kami nung second half. Hindi kami nagmadali, dinahan-dahan namin.”

Aside from his own outing, Pogoy is thankful that they were able to address their fourth quarter woes when facing the Elite — the issue that hounded them in their 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Iloilo.

TNT had actually been mere steps away from melting down — again — against Blackwater, no thanks to a 20-9 run that wiped out their 17-point lead to just six,

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With Nash Racela knowing his tendencies, Mac Belo limited to poor shooting



Prior to Wednesday, Blackwater Elite’s young star Mac Belo was on a roll early in the 2018 Philippine Cup, averaging exactly 20 points on 42.6 percent shooting in their games against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Ginebra.

But, as they say, good things must come to an end.

Belo, despite having 13 rebounds, was held to just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as the Elite bowed to TNT Katropa, 92-83 — a sour loss knowing that they’re coming off huge 94-77 win against Ginebra last Friday.

“Bukol,” said Belo in jest of his poor outing after the match. “Big test para sa’min kasi yung TNT talagang isang de-kalibreng team dito sa PBA.

“Talagang pinaghandaan nila kami, at gustong-gusto nila manalo.”

It also did not help that the Katropa’s head coach, Nash Racela, was his coach in FEU Tamaraws for three years — a relationship brightly highlighted by a championship run in the UAAP Season 78 back in 2015.

“Siyempre alam niya yung mga tendencies ko. Matagal ko siyang coach sa FEU,” said the 6-foot-4 forward.

“Sa akin naman, kailangan ko pa matuto sa ganun, kung anong mga defense binabato niya sakin. Kailangan ko pang pag-aralan.”

But for Belo, the loss was more than his own showing. The 25-year-old lamented his and the Elite’s lapses on defense, which was encapsulated by the second half collapse they had that allowed TNT to come back and steal the win.

“Medyo marami lang kaming lapses especially sa defense namin,” said the sophomore forward, as they allowed TNT to shoot 41.6 percent from the floor. “Maraming mga miscommunication na kailangan pa namin i-work.”

Belo and the Elite are now set to move on from this bitter defeat, as they all shift their sights in their match this Friday versus GlobalPort Batang Pier. For the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, it is already a must-win for them.

“Kailangan namin ng rest ngayon kasi back-to-back games kami. We need to win sa Friday para okay sa’min,” said Belo. “Kailangan din namin paghandaan kasi galing sila sa win.

“Kailangan namin i-double yung effort namin.”

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Jake Vicen performs under pressure as Blazers end eight-year title drought



For the second straight match, the championship showdown between the College of Saint Benilde Blazers and the Arellano University Chiefs reached kicks from the penalty spot. And once more, goalkeeper Jake Vicen came up big.

The third-year custodian denied one of Arellano’s prolific scorers Roberto Corsame in the shootout and sealed the title after eight long years, 3-2, penalties, Wednesday evening at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Blazers made its intentions clear from the get-go as they repeatedly pierced through the defense of the Chiefs.

Nonetheless, at the 38th minute, the white-shirts clinched the goal they much deserved. The Blazers pushed forward, and almost got a call in their favor. The referees, however, played advantage, and fortunately Benilde held on to the play.

Miguel Artillera found himself unmarked on the right flank and easily blasted the ball past opposing keeper Jericho Desalisa.

The Marlon Maro—mentored side continued to play aggressive in the following period and almost plucked a second one. This time, the Chiefs’ backline led by eventual Best Defender Patrick Bernarte held on.

Such stand was rewarded by their attacking force minutes later, and, as expected, the equalizer came from the counterattack.

Corsame received a pass from the middle and defeated two defenders, and seeing Vicen off his line, sent the ball into the onion bag at the 49th minute.

Both sides tried to break the deadlock, but fatigue slowly crept in the dying minutes of the second period and the whole of extra time, setting up another thrilling finish in the shootout.

Much like in Game 2, the two keepers came up big as Desalisa and Vicen denied their second kickers a clear shot. Arellano went to miss another shot, and it was then up to the Blazers to seal the deal.

Dean Ebarle stepped up and calmly and slotted the ball into the goal for the lead at 3-2. Afterwards, Corsame faced Vicen, but this time, the Cebuano keeper would not be denied. The latter went to his strong side, and, fortunately, guessed right for the huge save as pandemonium erupted from the Benilde crowd and squad.

The Finals series hero and season Best Goalkeeper Vicen was pleased that the new champions carved out the historic win despite early adversity. “Big loss ‘yun, si Val [Calvo], kasi may magagawa talaga siya kung nakalaro namin,” he said of losing their former captain.

Nonetheless, the squad stayed focused on getting it done this year.

“Binuhos lang namin every minute sa training. Luckily, hard work paid off,” closed Vicen.

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Kelly Williams rides Angkas to make it to TNT game



The TNT Katropa almost played shorthanded when they took on the Blackwater Elite Wednesday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Early in the afternoon, a fire broke out in C5 that caused major traffic in the area. One of the people that was stuck was TNT’s 12-year veteran Kelly Williams.

“Coming from the South, I got to Taguig in about two and a half hours and I heard there was a fire on C5 and I was like, ‘Oh my god what am I going to do?’,” recalled Williams.

“I considered running, I considered jogging. Whatever you got to do, crawl, walk or run.”

Panicking, the 6-foot-6 Filipino-American was adviced by his driver to download Philippine-based mobile app Angkas — a motorcycle service provider. And it was one heck of a ride for the big man.

“My driver said check Angkas, an Uber for motorcycles. Okay. Quickly got out of the car in the middle of the C5, the middle of traffic, found this guy under the overpass, he was surprised to see me,” narrated animatedly by Williams.

“I got my helmet on, jumped on the bicycle and we got here for about 40 minutes,” he furthered. “Every stoplight, the other motorcycles pull up, double take, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’, ‘Hi guys!’ It was fun, it was actually pretty fun but never again, make sure you plan ahead guys if you possibly get stuck in traffic.

“But it was a good experience for me. You get to see Manila in a different light.”

Around midway through the first quarter of the game, Williams finally arrived. Though relieved to see him, coach Nash Racela and the rest of the Katropa made sure to let him know that he was late.

“Good experience, I apologized to the team, I owe them a team lunch or something and I told coach I won’t do it again,” the 35-year-old expressed.

“Let’s pray that it doesn’t happen again.”

Williams compensated for it by giving TNT quality minutes. During their 92-83 win against the Elite, he tallied six points, six rebounds, and four blocks in just 17 minutes of action.

“You got to come out there with extra effort after coming in late like that. But it’s always my intention to come out and do whatever I have to do,” he expressed.

“Luckily, I was in a good position to get some blocks and it worked out that way.”

And he owes a lot to his driver Richard, who got him to the venue just in time.

“It was a good experience though, thank you to the cyclist, I think his name is Richard or something like that, he’s a lifesaver.

“I tipped him very handsomely. It was about a hundred but I’m sure I paid with whatever was in my pocket because I was very grateful,” he quipped.

Still, he knows that he also owes a lot to his team. He plans on making it up by treating everyone to lunch during their next practice.

Lesson learned for Kelly.

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