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Mavericks lose to UAE Royals; SG Slammers fall to IND Aces



The Philippines is a basketball and boxing country, but last night it transformed itself to a veritable tennis mecca. The sport’s biggest names came out to entertain the packed crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena as the league started its 1st day of competition.

The Indian Aces were first up against the Singapore Slammers. Later in the night, home team Manila Mavericks went head-to-head with the UAE Royals.

Day 1 / Match 1
Indian Aces vs. Singapore Slammers

In the opening set of the first match, Indian stars Sanja Mirza and Rohan Bopanna defeated duo Daniela Hantuchova and Bruno Soares in mixed doubles. The Aces were the first to break serve and were up by 4-2 in the sixth game. Singapore later retaliated and broke back two games later before conceding the first set at 40-0.

Match 1 / Set 1 / Mixed Doubles
6-4 in favor of Mirza/Bopana over Hantuchova/Soares

Past Champions Singles was the second match-up for the night with Fabrice Santoro and Pat Rafter keeping it close and exciting. The pair exchanged breaks throughout the set and were tied 5-5 after exchanging breaks of serve. At the tenth game and tied at 5-5, the two were the first to experience the 5-minute shoot-out rule introduced by the IPTL. Ace Santoro gave chase to a number of well-placed Rafter returns as he overcame the Slammer 8-4 in the tiebreak.

The Indian Aces were now up by 2 sets.

Match 1 / Set 2 / Past Champions Singles
6-4 (8-4) in favor of Fabrice Santoro over Pat Rafter

Croatian Tomas Berdych was paired with rising Australian star Nick Kyrgios to go up against Frenchman Gael Monfils and doubles specialist Rohan Bopanna. The big names of the men’s singles game delighted the crowd with their pace with Monfils in particular becoming the crowd favorite. He featured some of his between-the-leg shots, and his showmanship endeared him to the audience.

Showmanship was not enough however as the Berdych/Kyrgios pairing offered too much firepower for Bopanna/Monfils. The two succumbed to the Singapore Slammers with a Kyrgios drop shot at 40-15 in the eighth game.

Match 1 / Set 3 / Men’s Doubles
6-2 in favor of Berdych/Kyrgios over Bopanna/ Monfils

World No. 5 Ana Ivanovic went head-to-head with World No. 57 Daniela Hantuchova in the fourth set. The Serbian showed glimpses of the form that rocketed her back to the top 10 after a 6-year slump in the rankings. She resoundingly “bageled” the Russian; the exhibition game status not withstanding her masterful form.

Match 1 / Set 4 / Women’s Singles
6-0 in favor Ana Ivanovic over Daniela Hantuchova

The Indian Aces were now up 3-1 against the Slammers, and the last set for the first match was reserved for Frenchman Monfils and Australian great Lleyton Hewitt.

The Hewitt serve was broken early on and Monfils was quickly up by 2 sets. Hewitt broke back in the third game with a drop-shot to make it 2-1 still in favor of Monfils.

At the third game, Monfils was penalized for a shot clock violation, and true to his showman reputation he pretended to be upset with the umpire only to make a face to the crowd later in the game.

The set had its share of long rallies and the match-up was much more competitive than the final scoreline suggests, but it was mostly Monfils as he continued to hold serve and score the break points.

Match 1 / Set 5 / Men’s Singles
6-1 in favor of Gael Monfils over Lleyton Hewitt

The final scoring system spreads the games won over the sets played in the match. The Aces were up 4 sets to the Slammers’ 1. The Indian Aces defeated the Singapore Slammers with a total score of 26 to 16.

Match 1 Result
Indian Aces def. Singapore Slammers

Day 1 / Match 2
Manila Mavericks vs. UAE Royals

The home team Manila Mavericks had a full-man line-up with the likes of Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Carlos Moya, Daniel Nestor, Kirsten Flipkens, and player-coach Fil-American Treat Huey. The UAE Royals had a trimmer line-up by comparison but were equally formidable with Marin Cilic, Goran Ivanisevic, Kristina Mladenovic, Nenad Zimonjic, and Malek Jaziri.

The Mavericks had the court and crowd advantage and were the ones who determined order of play. First up were legends Ivanisevic and Moya.

In the first game, the Croatian and Spaniard kept it competitive with each player holding serve until the tenth game. The forced shoot-out went back and forth between them and the self-confessed “old guys” showed they still had what it takes to compete at a high level, at least for a set with each other.

Match 2 / Set 1 / Past Champions Singles
6-5 (7-6) in favor of Goran Ivanisevic over Carlos Moya

Later on in the second set, top-ranked men’s singles players were each paired with a doubles specialist: it was US Open Champ Cilic with Zimonjic, and French no. 1 Tsonga with Huey.

It was a close set with each pair holding serve down to the eight game. Cilic/Zimonjic pulled away subsequently after, however, breaking and then holding serve to finish the set.

Match 2 / Set 2 / Men’s Doubles
6-4 in favor of Marin Cilic/ Nenad Zimonjic over Treat Huey/Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga

The third match-up of the main event was the big names against the doubles masters. Two-time Grand Slam Champion Murray was paired with 5-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova, while on the other side of the net was 3-time Grand Slams doubles champ Nenad Zimonjic with 2-time Grand Slam winner Kristina Mladenovic.

The doubles players showed exactly why they’ve each won his fair share of doubles trophies. Murray/Sharapova suffered early on with their lack of chemistry on court but they improved as the game progressed. Buoyed by the fans’ cheerful support, the Scot and the Russian were down by as much as 5-1 but caught up to Zimonjic/Mladenovic by winning three consecutive games.

Up by 5-4, however, Zimonjic and Mladenovic only needed one more game to close the set out and they held serve to win the set for the Royals. UAE was up two sets to love.

Match 2 / Set 3 / Mixed Doubles
6-4 Nenad Zimonjic/Kristina Mladenovic over Andy Murray/Maria Sharapova

The Women’s Singles players only needed a couple of minutes between the second set to get started on the third. Sharapova was up against Mladenovic and it was the Frenchwoman who raced to make it 3-1 in her favor. Still down 4-2, Sharapova staged a comeback featuring one of the most famous catchphrases in tennis: “Come on!” She caught up to Mladenovic by winning three games in a row to force a shoot-out.

It was all Sharapova from there as she built a comfortable lead with time left on the clock. She won the set with 7-3 on the tiebreak.

Match 2 / Set 4 / Women’s Singles
6-5 (7-3) Maria Sharapova over Kristina Mladenovic 

In the last game of the night, Murray went against familiar foe Cilic. The two have met 12 times in the past with Murray leading the head-to-head with 10 wins to Cilic’s two.

It was a tight game throughout the set with both players either holding serve or breaking the other only to be broken in return. At 5-5, the third and final tiebreak of the night was won by Cilic. With time winding down, he purposefully double-faulted on the eleventh point to make it 7-4, still in his favor.

Match 2 / Set 5 / Men’s Singles
6-5 Marin Cilic over Andy Murray

The Manila Mavericks lost their first home game to the UAE Royals 1 set to 4. The final score was 24 to 27 in favor of the Royals. Daniel Nestor and Kristen Flipkens of the Mavericks did not play in the match but are expected to participate in the next few days of the tournament.

Match 2 Result
UAE Royals def. Manila Mavericks

Team Standings after the Day 1 of the IPTL

TEAM Games WonGames LostPoints Tally
1Micromax Indian Aces26164 UAE Royals29244
3Manila Mavericks24292
4DBS Singapore Slammers16261



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After getting first D-League experience, Zark’s-Lyceum ready to get loose



After a hesitant performance in their PBA D-League debut last Thursday that resulted in a loss to the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers seemingly caught up with the league’s style of play on Tuesday.

Zark’s-Lyceum displayed their true form and stamped their class all over the Batangas-EAC Generals with a 37-point destruction, 112-75 — so far the biggest winning margin the franchise has ever had in its D-League history.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams we’re playing against with,” said Zark’s-Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson after the match at Pasig Sports Center. “But the things we want to mind are those things we control.

“We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways.”

Robinson’s claim was strongly backed up by the numbers that the Jawbreakers produced.

CJ Perez had 21 points and 10 rebounds. MJ Ayaay produced 15 points and 10 boards, and Mike Nzeusseu delivered 14 markers and 11 boards.

Even the bench made their presence felt in the victory. With guard Jaycee Marcelino spearheading the supporting cast’s charge with 12 markers, the bench contributed a remarkable 56 points to their total output.

Photo by PBA Images

“Ano lang, cinontrol lang namin yung pace kasi yun naman talaga yung laro namin, yung mabilisan,” said the 24-year-old do-it-all forward, who also collected three steals.

“Kailangan talaga mabilisan para ma-execute namin yung mga ginagawa namin.”

This week will be a rough one for the Pirates, as they will play right away this Thursday against the AMA Online Education. And for Perez, he strongly believes that they will be able to carry over their momentum.

“Oo. Nandun pa. Energy talaga yung puhunan namin para makalaro ng maayos.”

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Bonbon Batiller shows what he can bring to Letran in D-League debut



Photo by PBA Images

Tuesday proved to be a double debut for Bonbon Batiller. Aside from beginning his first foray in the PBA D-League, it also marked his debut for the Letran Knights, who are carrying the Wang’s Basketball Couriers franchise.

And the 5-foot-11 guard showed what he can bring to the table. Batiller collected 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists to help the Knights raise the curtains of their campaign with a 93-75 rout of the Batangas-EAC Generals.

“Nagworkout yung pinagpraktisan namin,” said Batiller. “Nagbunga rin yung tinuro samin ni Coach Jeff (Napa) lalo sa depensa. Tsaka siguro sa rebounds — laking lamang namin sa rebound. Nagsipag mga bigs namin.”

But what has him even more satisfied is the warm reception and trust he’s had from the Knights, even if he has spent barely a year with them after transferring from University of the East last 2017.

“Masaya po kasi tinanggap nila ako sa Letran ng buong-buo,” said Batiller, who normed 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals with UE in two years. “Tsaka yung tiwala nila na makakatulong ako sa team nandoon.

“Kaya masaya ako sa pinakita nila sa akin.”

That is why the General Santos native is hard-pressed to prove himself to Letran, saying that he’s all about giving back to the school that gave him another opportunity to resume his young, up-and-coming basketball career.

“Kailangan kong may mapatunayan na deserving ako sa binigay na second chance sa akin ni Letran,” said Batiller, who decided to switch schools partly due to academic reasons.

“Malaki ang utang ko sa Letran.”

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Bienvenido Maranon scores brace as Ceres-Negros eliminates Brisbane Roar



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Philippine club football just achieved its biggest continental result yet

The inaugural Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros Football Club eliminated three-time Australian champions Brisbane Roar in the 2018 AFC Champions League’s second preliminary round with a 3-2 stunner, away at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane.

With the win, the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions are set to face Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian next January 30, 2018 at the Haihe Educational Football Stadium in Tianjin, China, to book a seat in the group stages.

Brisbane were the favorites for this tie and it showed, as Ceres started the contest on the back foot. Italian striker Massimo Maccarone handed the home side the lead in the 35th minute when he turned in Brett Holman’s pass.

Maccarone’s goal could have lowered the Busmen’s moral, but Risto Vidakovic’s men took it as a motivation rather than a downer. In fact, Ceres replied in the best way possible when Bienvenido Maranon scored his first goal of the match two minutes from halftime, thanks to a scramble in the Brisbane box.

By all accounts, Ceres had already made Philippine football proud at halftime. By this stage last year, Brisbane had accrued a 4-0 halftime cushion against Global Cebu en route to a 6-0 rout.

Today, though, Brisbane faced tougher resistance at Ceres’ hands. That resistance turned into a full-fledged revolt in the 65th minute when Maranon directed the ball past a helpless Jamie Young to give the Busmen their first taste of the lead.

Maranon’s goal well and truly turned the tide in Ceres’ favor. Brisbane were stunned. The home side are the defending A-League champions, but are currently eighth in the table this season and would soon face elimination from Asia’s premier club competition.

Already up 2-1, the Busmen finally achieved some breathing room in the 75th minute when Omid Nazari scored from close range to give Ceres a two-goal cushion over Brisbane.

Nazari’s goal not only sealed the win for Ceres, it also propelled Philippine football into the big leagues. Not even a late goal from French midfielder Éric Bauthéac could prevent the Busmen’s victory.

After five minutes of stoppage time, Ceres emerged 3-2 winners against Brisbane Roar. Come what may against Tianjin seven days from now, the Busmen have already achieved Philippine football’s biggest result since their own achievement in last season’s AFC Cup.

Who knows? Maybe Ceres can pull off another upset?

Ceres-Negros XI: Doblas (GK), Super, Mike Ott, Ingreso, Maranon, Porteria, Schrock, De Murga (C), Munoz, Nazari, Christaens.

Brisbane Roar XI: Ingham, Bowles, Papadopoulos, Maccarone, Holman, Khalfallah, Oxborrow, McKay (C), Hingert, Young (GK), Franjic.

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CJ Perez, Zark’s-Lyceum vent ire on Batangas-EAC with 37-point romp



Photo by PBA Images

CJ Perez and the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers finally lived up to their hype, as they clobbered the Batangas-EAC Generals to score a 37-point beatdown, 112-75 for their first win, Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.

It was an all-out attack from the Jawbreakers, as they beat the Generals to the bite and took control of the game early, with Mike Nzeusseu and Jaycee Marcelino guiding their side to the 48-33 lead at halftime which they would never surrender.

Perez paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while MJ Ayaay tallied a double-double with his 15 markers, 10 boards, and three assists.

Cameroonian student-athlete Nzeusseu also delivered 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists. Marcelino had eight first half points and wound up with 12 off the bench, as the reserves chipped in 56 huge points in the tussle.

Coach Topex Robinson lauded the Jawbreakers for quickly adjusting to the style of the PBA D-League just days after falling to the Marinerong Pilipino, 92-94, back in opening day.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams were playing against with. But the things we want to mind are those things we control. We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways,” he said.

Earvin Mendoza and Cedric de Joya both had 16 points for the Generals in the losing effort.

Zark’s-Lyceum look to continue to roll when they face the AMA Online Education Titans on Thursday, January 25. EAC-Batangas, on the other hand, take on the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers on Monday, January 29.

The Scores:

Zark’s-Lyceum 112 — Perez 21, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Serrano 10, Baltazar 8, Santos 8, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 6, Marata 4, Liwag 4, Ibañez 2, Cinco 2, Pretta 0.

Batangas-EAC 75 — E. Mendoza 16, De Joya 16, Tampoc 12, Laude 9, Pate 8, Maguliano 6, Altamirano 5, Diego 3, Garcia 0, Dela Peña 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0.

Quarterscores: 19-14, 48-33, 84-47, 112-75.

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