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Mikee Bartolome: the catalyst of true Student-Athlete freedom

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Two years ago, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) passed a provision that all student-athletes from a member university’s high school must undergo two years of residency, should said student choose to enter another member university for their tertiary education. That is now a thing of the past, as President Benigno Aquino III signed RA 10676, or the Student-Athletes Protection Act, that ruled such residency provisions illegal.

One of the student-athletes who was delighted that the law was now in full effect is Anna Dominique Bartolome or Mikee, as she is also known, currently a Speech Communication major and a swimmer for the University of the Philippines (UP). Bartolome fought for her right to compete in the 76th Season of the UAAP, and was granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that allowed her to do so.

In an exclusive interview with Tiebreaker Times, Mikee shared that she did not know that the law was signed before we told her about it. Upon learning she exclaimed, “I’m very happy. Siyempre, kasi napakinggan na yung hiling nung mga student-athletes who went through what I went through. And, of course, [I am] happy because it would greatly benefit other student-athletes as well.”

Mikee Bartolome [From her Facebook page]

Mikee Bartolome [From her Facebook page]

Looking back, the young swimmer recalled that she had her sights set on studying and competing for UP. Her brother, Ron Anthony, and her sister, April, are both in UP, and her family resides in the area as well. In addition, her father, Vic, also works for the UP men’s basketball team, which helped solidify her motivation. In fact, her motivation was so great that Mikee was willing to take the risk to get her release papers from University of Santo Tomas (UST) after her high school graduation in order to play for UP. Her sister April experienced the same scenario when the one-year residency rule was in-effect. She expressed, “my family and my team were already willing to do everything that we can para ma-release ako, so that I could swim [for UP].”

Prior to Season 76, the league extended the residency for such student-athletes from one year to two years. The precedent? FEU-FERN standout, Jerie Pingoy, committed to attend to rival school Ateneo.

The youngest Bartolome was in shock after hearing about it. Mikee shared, “in the first place, I already disagreed with the one-year residency rule, because everyone would really have to adjust from high school to college, no matter what school you go to (mag-transfer ka man o hindi). So, wala na talagang sense yung one year eh ‘di what more yung two years. I was really disappointed and angry.”

Bartolome relayed that being out of formal competition for just a year is already detrimental to an athlete’s conditioning. The lifelong swimmer explained, “competitions like the UAAP are considered as a big league competition in the high school and collegiate level. So not being able to a compete in something like the UAAP lessens your chance to compete against top athletes in your sport, which we all know is a very big privilege.” She added that the athlete loses momentum and motivation to train, knowing that he or she would not have a tournament to prepare for.

With sheer determination, Bartolome sought the help of others, so she could compete in her maiden season. “We really just wanted our voices to be heard that time,” she said. The decorated swimmer was thankful to Senator Pia Cayetano, who helped her raise her concerns to the courts. Bartolome further added that, “siyempre, alam ko naman na tama yung pinaglalaban namin, plus we have people like Senator Pia to help us back up our fight; mas nagkakalakas ka ng loob to fight. And so, yun nga ginawa namin.”Mikee Bartolome Swimming

By winning her case and being granted a TRO, Bartolome was able to compete in the 2014 UAAP Swimming Championships, and helped UP get its fifth straight championship, its 14th overall. In the following year, she was finally given release papers by UST.

For Mikee, academic freedom is very much a right of every student. She explained, “well, it all boils down to having a choice. Having academic freedom gives you the choice to choose what school you want to study or to play for. Ang hirap naman kasi ng you go to a school you don’t like, it wouldn’t give you that drive to perform your best both in academics and in sports.”

With the Student-Athletes Protection Act passed, student-athletes like Bartolome and Hubert Cani are now truly “free” to go to whichever school they like.

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes to break PH Arena record come 3×3 World Cup

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals that pitted heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“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. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team that was composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best team to win the championship.”

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United formally announced its absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.
A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave its thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While its PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs it started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There aren’t a lot of corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short to cop Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different animal.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad had a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It however served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even having multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block while the 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the two and the rest of the Jawbreakers now have this experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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Basketball

Renzo Subido to bring Marinerong Pilipino experience to UST

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When Renzo Subido decided to skip out the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers’ UAAP Season 80 campaign, he had only one thing in mind: to improve on his craft. And he was able to do so under coach Koy Banal in the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers.

After the AMA Online Education Titans had a quick end to their campaign during the 2017 Foundation Cup, the 5-foot-9 floor general was immediately picked up by Marinerong Pilipino for the playoffs. Liking his style of play, he was again tapped for the 2018 Aspirants Cup.

And he showed a lot of growth from then, leading the Skippers to a 94-92 victory over fellow contenders Zark’s Jawbreakers. The 21-year-old tallied 20 points, three rebounds, and five assists while knocking down the crucial free throws to seal off the Lyceum-backed team.

“It was a good win for us. We’re happy that we won the game because it’s a good way to start the conference,” beamed Subido. “I’ve played against Lyceum in the past so I had familiarity with how they play.

“It was a good experience for us.”

Expectations are high for Marinerong Pilipino this conference as they are pegged as their blend of veterans and young guns are seen too overwhelming for the rest of the field. Still, Subido knows that it will be a tough climb as the other teams, especially the collegiate-based squads, have familiarity on their side.

“We’re taking it one game at a time but the goal is to win the championship,” he said. “But we know that it’s not going to be easy since we are going up against the top collegiate teams.

“So we’re just going to go all out every game.”

Besides winning the championship, Subido is on a personal mission. Being one of the seniors for the Growling Tigers next season, he hopes to learn to become a better leader for next season.

“I want to become a better leader. I know that everything I can learn this conference, I can bring to UST,” Subido expressed.

“For all I can see, coach Aldin [Ayo] is a guard-oriented coach. So I’m using all the experience I get here in Marinero, I’ll bring it to UST.”

For sure, Subido wants to make up for lost time.

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