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Meet the NCAA student-athletes of Smart Elite

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In a bid to encourage the Filipino youth to cultivate a passion for sports, undisputed mobile leader Smart Communications named 10 outstanding players of the National College Athletics Association into its roster of sports ambassadors known as the “Smart Elite.”

Inducted into the prestigious group was NCAA 88 Finals MVP Baser Amer of SanBeda College, who is determined to help the Red Lions get its sixth straight Basketball championship this year, the league’s 91st season. Also named into the Smart Elite were Season 90 MVP Earl Scottie Thompson of University of Perpetual Help and Jiovani Jalalon of Arellano University. Amer, Thompson, and Jalalon were part of the Sinag Pilipinas team that won the gold medal for men’s basketball at the recent South East Asian Games in Singapore. Completing the group are Rey Nambatac of Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Jonathan Grey of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Francis Munsayac of Emilio Aguinaldo College, Tey Teodoro of Jose Rizal University, Joseph Gabayni of Lyceum of the Philippines University, Andretti Stevens of Mapua Institute of Technology, and Bradwyn Guinto of San Sebastian College.

In an event hosted by Smart Sports, together with Melmac Sports Management, Wednesday afternoon at Outback Steakhouse in Pasig City, the ten student-athletes were formally introduced to the public. Smart Sports senior manager Epok Quimpo told the members of the press present that for Smart Sports the goal is “to be able to share with you and to reach out to everyone, especially those who play in the NCAA and study in the NCAA schools, we have identified a group of elite athletes from the various schools to represent that Smart Life.”

Quimpo further added the criteria Smart looked into for selecting these distinct student-athletes. “Number one, we really look at the players who are outstanding and overachievers both in the court representing the school, and of course some of the players here represented the country already. Number two, we looked at them on their personalities and how they interact with the students and with their classmates in school,” the former Ateneo Blue Eagle added. “Hopefully at the end of the day not only in basketball, we’ll be able to identify Smart Elite ambassadors who can inspire other students and athletes, as well as serve as role models not only in athletics, but outside.”

For Amer, Jalalon, and Thompson, the opportunity to be able to represent the country and Smart is an indescribable feeling that they are fortunate to experience. “Okay naman, sobrang proud lang kami kasi kahit nasa Singapore kami, ang daming Pilipinong nagsusupport sa amin. Every game nandun sila. So feeling namin parang nasa Pilipinas pa rin kami,” Amer said. Moreover, the experience of being in a group of elite collegiate and professional players was a learning experience according to Jalalon. “Unang una sobrang saya namin sa Singapore kasi ang dami naming natutunan from Kiefer Ravena and kuya Marcus. Ang dami naming natutunang experience na magagamit sa NCAA.” Finally, it helped build a sense of brotherhood, not only to the team, but for the entire NCAA community as well according to NCAA Season 90 MVP Scottie Thompson. “Sa una siyempre kalaban namin sila sa court lang, pero off the court okay naman kami, magkaibigan. Lalo na nung nakasama ko sila sa Gilas, sobrang nakilala namin yung isa’t-isa.”

The pressure of being a role model to the Filipino youth is also something that these athletes take into responsibility. For Guinto, he feels the pressure but is ready to face the challenge of it. “A bit of pressure I guess. It’s manageable. Coach Rodney is helping us with the flexibility of our times and stuff. He’s understanding kasi player din siya,” the Stags big man said. Andretti Stevens, on the other hand, makes sure to control his emotions in the court because millions of Filipinos are watching him. “Sa basketball hindi maiiwasan yung physical game. Siguro more on control mo lang. Kung hindi naman kailagan, wag nalang.”

Finally, it takes great effort and skill for these student-athletes to balance academics and athletics. For Letran’s Rey Nambatac, he knows that basketball is not forever but what he learns in school will be with him for the rest of his life. “Yung studies namin siyempre focus din kami, lalo na sa school namin. We know na hindi pangmatagalan yung paglalaro ng basketball. Kailangan namin magstudy, para at least ‘pag nag pro kami at nag retire, pwede kami mag business or kung ano man na work after ng playing years namin.”

Epok Quimpo also emphasized that being an ambassador for Smart Sports would not hinder with the tight schedules of these student-athletes. “The first priority is their teams. Smart will support in terms of the other things that they can. We’ll probably invite them to some events, but we’ll make sure it won’t be in conflict with the teams. Smart will be here to support them but hindi namin sila gagalawin while the tournament is ongoing. Just so everyone knows, we just want to identify this group of young men for people to actually look at them. Ito talaga yung next generation of national, and hopefully international, athletes.”


You can catch the NCAA games wherever you are by using your mobile devices to view the official livestream at the ABS-CBN Sports site (sports.abs-cbn.com) smart, along with PLDT Home, partnered with ABS-CBN for online live streaming of NCAA events to enable more Filipinos to live the “Smart Life” by using digital innovations to enjoy their passions more.

Smart is a staunch supporter of sports development in the Philippines. It is a major sponsor in this year’s NCAA, and has backed national teams like Gilas Pilipinas, Sinag Pilipinas, and the Azkals, as well as the activities of various sports organizations. Its chairman Manny V. Pangilinan is known as one of the country’s foremost sports patrons.

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Basketball

Marc Pingris wants Rafi Reavis to break Robert Jaworski’s record

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Marc Pingris was all praises for veteran Rafi Reavis Saturday night, as the 40-year-old center made his presence felt in the Magnolia Hotshots’ 97-91 victory — their third straight win — over Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The six-foot-nine Reavis finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks — a performance perfectly punctuated by a follow-up of a Paul Lee miss with 12.5 seconds left to play that knocked out the Fuel Masters for good.

“Papasalamat ako kay Rafi na talagang kababalik lang niya pero binigay niya talaga lahat,” said Pingris after the bout, as Saturday night was just Reavis’ second outing in the 2018 Philippine Cup after recovering from a hip injury.

“Nag-usap nga kami kanina e, hindi pa siya 100 percent. So bukas, ang sabi niya babalik daw siya sa gym dahil gusto niya ibalik yung lakas ng legs dahil wala pa daw,” added the 36-year-old, who also suffered a hip injury last season.

Reavis has been playing in the league for 16 years. Seeing the work he has put in, Pingris, who finished the game with 17 rebounds, four assists, four points and two blocks, believes that the 10-time PBA champion can play for 10 more years — at least.

“You know naman Rafi eh, katulad ko rin yan eh – rebound and depensa. At tsaka sobrang vocal siya sa team eh,” beamed Pingris, who himself is a 14-year veteran. “Walang siyang inaano, talagang sinasabihan niya kung sino yung mga nagmi-mistake, kung paano kami mag-adjust, so nakikinig naman lahat sa kanya.

“Talagang nandun yung respeto namin kay Rafi.”

And if Reavis stays healthy for the next decade, Pingris wants Reavis to exceed Jaworki’s 958 games played — third most all time.

“Nasa kanya yun, basta kaya mo ba eh. As a player, kung masipag ka naman at may disiplina sa sarili mo, kaya niya yun.”

Still, Reavis has a lot of catching up to do.

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JRU

Altas surge to fifth straight win, slam Heavy Bombers

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Pulling double-digit scoring outings from three spikers, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas remained unbeaten in NCAA Season 93 after a straight-set triumph over thr Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Middle blocker Ronniel Rosales topped the Altas with 13 points off 10 attacks and three blocks. Team captain Rey Taneo and Joebert Almodiel added 12 markers apiece.

The Altas dominated every scoring category, recording 44 attacks to JRU’s 26, five blocks to the Bombers’ zero, and three aces to JRU’s one.

Breezing through the first half of the season, Altas head coach Sammy Acaylar lauded his team’s consistency and hoped they continue getting better as they aim for a championship.

“So far, masasabi kong maganda ang nilalaro ng mga bata. Consistent naman ang mga galaw nila and focused sila sa mga laban,” said Acaylar.

“Pero alam nilang may ibubuga pa sila. We still need to get better and reach the championship level. Kailangan hindi mawala ‘yung ganito naming killer instinct,” the decorated mentor added.

The Altas take on a major test on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre when they face fellow undefeated squad Arellano Chiefs (4-0).

Wenjo Lahaylahay led the Bombers with 10 points while captain Patrick Rabaja managed seven.

JRU (0-5) limps into their Wednesday showdown against defending champs College of Saint Benilde (3-1).

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Rosales 13, Almodiel 12, Taneo R. 12, Muhali 7, Ramos 5, Atentar 1, Catipay 1, Salo 1, Bation 0, Solamilo 0, Taneo S. 0, Kalingking (L)

JRU (0) – Lahaylahay 10, Rabaja 7, Sulivas 6, Salazar 4, Cebrero 1, Soriano 1, Cruz 0, Ferwelo 0, Defensor (L), Flor (L)

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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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