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Meralco out of the race, but now part of the conversation

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Feeling helpless but still trying to help his team in whatever way possible, Jared Dillinger – who has been out of the semifinals after a knee injury – gathered the Meralco Bolts before Game 3 and told them to keep it simple before they walked along the corridor and on to the Smart Araneta Coliseum floor.

With Josh Davis suddenly sidelined due to a shoulder injury, the Bolts – down 0-2 in the best-of-five series – entered Game 3 with only a few personal expectations to meet.

“When you’re down 0-2, you just have to keep things simple and come out with a lot of effort and energy. When Coach (Norman Black) told us that Josh is out, we know everyone will get to contribute and we need to elevate our games for Josh being absent,” Dillinger said.

Rain or Shine eventually brushed off the Bolts, 107-98, completing a sweep and advancing to the finals but the shutout was not enough to overshadow the accomplishments the Bolts have put together as a team this conference.

Playing import-less, the Bolts drew big games from Cliff Hodge (20 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists), Mark Macapagal (20 points, 4/8 three-pointers), and Reynel Hugnatan (19 points, 7 rebounds).

The individual performances may not have been enough to salvage a victory, but they were more than enough to validate the kind of team Meralco is: a team that is ready to breakout.

When the Bolts rallied back from an 11-29 deficit and even took the lead to give the Elasto Painters a huge scare, it was a microcosm of how the squad fought valiantly this conference while lacking the tools of an elite team.

“Being positive, it is a great stepping stone. When you do well this conference, the other teams will look at you and say we can’t take this team lightly anymore,” Dillinger added.

When Norman Black took over the coaching chores this season and saw the composition of the team he is going to lead, the multi-titled mentor and ex-PBA pro realized he had to work with what he has.

It is hard to compete with your primary point guard being about a decade older than the league’s best backcourt generals. It is difficult to outscore foes with limited options on offense. It is hard to think about winning when your frontline is composed merely of bigs who are over the hill and undersized with respect to today’s competition. It is hard to think of making it big when your bench guys are free agents and the other teams’ benches have all-stars. Running up and down the floor with a unit that’s aging is simply fantasy.pba9

On paper, Meralco is only the no. 8 offensive team and no. 7 defensive team in the league, although Black – through his seemingly magical ways – made everything work and the Bolts have overachieved.

“From what we’ve achieved, we did pretty well. We made The Final Four which is important for our progress and our growth but when it comes to the talent, I think we have ways to go. It’s a young man’s game,” Black said.

“Basketball is all about talent. If you can recruit the best talent, you can have a better chance of winning. When I coached in Ateneo and San Miguel, we were talent-laden. We had skilled players and that’s where it all comes down.”

A 5-0 start, a semifinals appearance, and even dethroning the defending Philippine Cup champion the past conference when they were the second-worst All-Filipino team a season ago.

From an uninspiring 2014 season, the Bolts are slowly becoming a part of the conversation. Being in the top four this conference means relevance for the team. The only thing left to do is to take it to the next level. It is surely easier said than done, but they have made the critical first step.

“It’s a good start for us. We went 5-0, a couple of guys got hurt, and (Rain or Shine) is experienced so we got rattled but we are coming together as a team, that’s the main thing I see from it. We have two draft picks in this upcoming draft so we will continue working on what we have. To be able to take it to the next level, we have to build on the (players we get) from the draft and evelate our game,” Cliff Hodge concluded.

What more could this team achieve with fresher legs, more talent, and better tools? The Bolts are out of the race for a title, but are definitely part of the conversation for the conferences to come.

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1 Comment
  • Vicente Alcuaz

    theyl be back. thank you josh davis

Basketball

D-League to hold three-day showcase for players

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Seeking to further display the greatness of the Filipino basketball players, the PBA is giving more chances to the cagers as the league is set to hold the first-ever PBA D-League Showdown later this conference.

Opening the eighth season with this ground-breaking news, PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial is hopeful that this will serve as another motivation for the players to perform at their best this 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.

“Ginagawa naman natin ito para mas galingan ng mga players natin para rin maipakita nila yung tunay nilang talento,” he said Thursday during the opening ceremonies at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Marcial bared that the plan is to hold a two-day summit for the players suiting up in the ongoing conference to allow them to showcase their talents in front of coaches and scouts, not just from the PBA but also from countries in the Southeast Asian region.

“Lahat ng mga players ay maglalaro dito at mapapanood hindi lang ng mga PBA coaches,” he said.

“Iimbitahin din namin ang mga coaches ng ibang bansa tulad ng Malaysia, Thailand, at Vietnam na kumukuha ng imports sa atin.”

Marcial acknowledged that as much as players seek to make the jump to the pro league, securing spots in the PBA teams have been hard to crack over the past few years, forcing the players to look elsewhere for opportunities.

That has made playing in overseas leagues an option for these less fortunate ballers, keeping them earning while also hoping to impress scouts while keeping their PBA dreams alive.

Some of the players who suited up in the D-League and are currently playing outside of the country are Paul Zamar and Almond Vosotros in Thailand, AJ Mandani in Singapore, and Reil Cervantes in Indonesia.

With this project, Marcial is hopeful that this would keep the players in line while also delivering the best competition the D-League could dream of.

“Iwasan natin ang bisyo at galingan ninyo.”

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CSJL

Letran overpowers Lyceum for second win

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After a string of losses, the Colegio San Juan de Letran Lady Knights returned to the NCAA Season 93 win column with a gritty win over the short-handed Lyceum of the Philippines University Lady Pirates, 28-26, 20-25, 26-24, 25-20, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Knights won out in a sloppy match which had both teams combine for 25 aces, 15 coming from Letran. According to assistant coach Ron Dulay, Letran needed to solve their reception problems on the fly.

“Weakness nga siguro namin ‘yung receive, pero inaayos namin siya ensayo. Kanina medyo shaky lang ‘yung mga bata. Mabuti noong dulo naka-adjust kami sa ginagawa ng kalaban,” said Dulay.

Both sides also had a whooping 34 errors apiece. Letran’s miscues, however, came early in the match and were lessened by the deciding fourth set which they won convincingly.

“Unti-unte tumataas ‘yung level ng team. Kailangan talaga namin mag-double time pa sa mga susunod na laban kung gusto namin umabot doon sa Top Four,” Dulay added.

Second-year Lady Knight Charm Simborio led the way with 17 points while Glayssa Torres added 15 which includes two blocks and three aces.

The Lady Knights (2-2) take on perennial rival San Beda College (4-0) on Monday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Christine Miralles topped the Lady Pirates with a career-high 21 points. Team captain Bien Juanillo added 17 markers.

The Lady Pirates (1-3) face the undefeated defending champs Arellano University (4-0) on Sunday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

CSJL (3) – Simborio 17, Torres 15, Abitan 11, Barrinuevo 8, Parin 8, Mendoza 3, Bangcola 2, Uriza 1, Perez 0, Larioque (L)

LPU (1) – Miralles 21, Juanillo 17, Sevilla 11, Bongabong 5, Patio 5, Genova 2, Marcella (L), Romanban (L)

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

FIBA 3×3 World Cup to be a huge boost for country’s Olympic bid

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All roads will lead to Bocaue, Bulacan as the 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will head to the Philippine Arena. The biggest tournament in 3×3 basketball will be played from June 8-12, 2018.

The announcement was made Thursday afternoon by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executives. The event was graced by Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas, SMART Sports’ Christopher Quimpo, and FIBA’s 3×3 Managing Director Alex Sanchez.

With 3×3 basketball being declared an Olympic event last 2017, the SBP is looking at this tournament as a way to prove to the world that we are capable of hosting and that we can compete with the world’s finest.

“As mentioned earlier, I think we’ve been very successful holding it in the malls, 3,000 to 4,000 people watching the games. We chose to move it to a bigger venue, I think we want to give an opportunity for more people to see the games,” said SBP president Al Panlilio.

“From a Philippine basketball point of view, that gives an opportunity for the youth to watch the game. From an SBP, FIBA perspective, we want bigger crowds in 3×3 and that’s something we want to deliver to FIBA,” he added.

There will be 40 teams split into two divisions that will compete in this annual tourney.

For the men’s side, the Philippines will take on teams from Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Ecuador, Estonia, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Uruguaz.

In the women’s division, the hosts will face Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkmenistan, United States, and Venezuela.

With this task of hosting a world class tournament, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help in the organization of it.

“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,” said Mascariñas.

“Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance. I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times.”

FIBA, on the other hand, is looking forward to helping groom a possible Philippine team that will compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I’m sure the event this year, we’re starting the countdown, is going to be amazing,” Sanchez said. “I think this is going to be helpful for us in developing.

“I’m coming from Tokyo where we’re discussing the venue and layout of the Olympics. We should make an effort with Al and SBP to see if we have a Filipino team in Olympics. In my opinion Filipinos have a real chance to make it. Hopefully this can give us a nice push to get a PH team to the Olympics,” the Spanish executive added.

“See you in June.”

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EAC

Perpetual escapes upset-hungry EAC

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Fighting off a sluggish start, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas came alive late to slip past the Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals, 22-25, 25-19, 25-14, 23-25, 15-13, and remain on pace for a spot in the NCAA Season 93 Final Four at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Taking on a struggling EAC side, Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño knew that there was a possibility that his squad would relax. His team has had trouble starting and finishing off matches, as evidenced in their first set performance and lack of finishing push in the fourth frame.

“May tendency talaga ‘yung team ko na mag-relax. Sabihin na nating hindi kasi sobrang lakas ng kalaban. Pero alam naman natin sa volleyball na wala namang team na ibibigay sa’yo ‘yung panalo, kailangan kunin mo talaga,” Cariño lamented.

The fifth frame came down to late breaks. The Lady Altas broke a 13-all tie with back-to-back transition conversions from Cindy Imbo and Lourdes Clemente.

“Siyempre, nage-expect ako nang mas maganda pang performance sa team ko. Alam din naman nila na mas may ibubuga pa sila kaya kailangan mas maganda ang ipakita namin sa mga huli naming laro,” the NCAA champion mentor added.

Imbo tallied a game-high 17 points, while Clemente and Maria Aurora Tripoli added 15 points, apiece. The Lady Altas needed all of their 11 aces and 11 blocks to offset their season-high 42 errors.

Aira Binondo was the only Lady General in double-digits with 13 points.

The Lady Altas (3-1) next face the Jose Rizal University (2-2) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. EAC (0-4) will look for their first win on Monday against the College of Saint Benilde (2-1).

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Imbo 17, Clemente 15, Tripoli 15, Sangalang 11, Llorente 10, Versoza 4, Estanislao 1, Gual 1, Umandal 0, Medalla (L)

EAC (2) – Binondo 13, Tongco 9, Pablo 8, Lumbao 7, Magbanua 7, Reyes A. 3, Reyes K. 3, Tasis 2, Yongco 1, Medina (L)

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