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Monster performance from Thornton powers NLEX in comeback win against Ginebra



NLEX import, Al Thornton sank 50 points and 18 boards in a tremendous performance that helped the Road Warriors complete a fourth quarter surge that culminated in a 96-90 come-from-behind victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Wednesday night at the Ynares Center.

Powered by import Michael Dunigan and local behemoth Greg Slaughter, the Gin Kings opened the first half with a 7-0 lead that firmly planted them in the driver’s seat. The two giants continued to lead the charge for Ginebra, and later it was a jumper from LA Tenorio, who pushed Ginebra to the first double-digit lead of the ballgame, 15-5 just past the halfway mark of the period. At the end of the first 12 minutes, they led the misfiring Road Warriors 19-9.

The veteran duo of Macmac Cardona and Asi Taulava took on the scoring reins early in the second quarter. A reinvigorated Al Thornton also provided their much needed spark around halfway through the quarter, exploding for four points that cut the lead to six, 22-28. A trey from Jonas Villanueva cut the lead to three, 25-28. Dunigan and Tenorio responded to the NLEX run by collaborating for seven straight points, extending the lead to eight, 37-31, with three minutes left in the quarter. At the half, Ginebra led 42-35.

The Road Warriors resurrected the previous quarter’s botched run, coming within four, 40-44, just three minutes into the second half. Unfortunately, NLEX could go no further, with Greg Slaughter and Jay-jay Helterbrand sinking a couple of baskets to bring the lead back to seven, 51-44. NLEX, however, showed no sign of buckling, and later came within three, 54-57, after a trey from their import Thornton. The next few minutes of play saw NLEX weather a heated and physical back-and-forth affair to force a 68-all deadlock, care of two free throws from Thornton, with a half a minute left to play. A late putback from Dunigan gave the Gin kings a narrow 70-68 at the end of the quarter.

Back-to-back treys from LA Tenorio and Mac Baracael extended the Ginebra lead to eight just within a minute of the start of the final period, 76-68. The Road Warriors, however, put up the same grit they showed in the previous quarter, and with their import exploding once more, NLEX was soon back within striking distance, 81-82, with less than six minutes left on the clock. Thornton, then, exploded again for six straight points that put the NLEX up by four in a flash, 87-83, with three minutes left to play. Thornton and Jonas Villanueva each put a bucket in the next minute, and entering the final two minutes the Road Warriors led 91-83.

A sneaky layup from Tenorio cut the lead to five in the final minute, but Villanueva answered on the other end for NLEX, extending the lead to 93-86. Ginebra import, Dunigan hit another basket to give the Gin Kings a final lease on life, but Thornton nailed the coffin on the other end with a trey that gave NLEX an eight-point lead and the icing on the cake. At the buzzer, NLEX walked away with the 96-90 win in tow.

Al Thornton, who was a member of the 2008 NBA All-Rookie First Team took home Player of the Game honors for his performance. Both NLEX and Ginebra are at 4-4 in the standings after tonight’s encounter.

Quarters: 9-19, 35-42, 68-70, 96-90

Photo by Nuki Sabio

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Calvin Abueva, Raymond Almazan cut from pool



SMART Gilas Pilipinas’ third session for the second leg of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers ended early on Monday evening.

Prior to the end of the practice, head coach Chot Reyes talked to team veterans Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, and June Mar Fajardo. The outspoken mentor told the seniors of the team that he is cutting Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan from the pool.

“The reason why we’re dropping Abueva and Almazan for the second window is because they haven’t showed up,” lamented Reyes.

“It’s already our third practice at hindi pa sila nagpapakita. It’s simply a matter of disinterest.

“I guess they’re not interested so we have to move on we can’t wait for those guys,” he pointed out.

Both Abueva and Almazan were part of the teams that competed in the 2017 SEABA Championship, the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, and the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Only 10 players from the pool showed up for the team’s third session. And with the second leg exactly one month away, Gilas cannot let a slip up happen especially against Australia.

“Aside from those two we don’t know where Matt Wright is, while Allein [Maliksi] is attending a wedding in Australia. Other than that it’s really just an issue of Calvin and Raymond if they don’t want to be a part of the pool.” expressed Reyes.

“That’s the reason we’re dropping them for the second window.”

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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

23 for 2023 cadets fill up Gilas practice



With just 31 days until the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, only 10 players from the pool attended the team’s third session, Monday evening at the Meralco Gym.

Suiting up in the session presided over by Coach Chot Reyes were June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Jio Jalalon, Mac Belo, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, and Roger Pogoy. Carl Cruz and Jayson Castro were in attendance but were in street clothes.

Not present were Matthew Wright, Japeth Aguilar, and Allein Maliksi. Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan have yet to attend practice.

Joining the seniors team to prep them up for the World Cup Qualifiers were 10 players from the 23 for 2023 pool.

Ateneo Blue Eagle Matt Nieto attended his first Gilas practice. Joining him were teammates Isaac Go and Thirdy Ravena.

Completing the night’s cast were CJ Perez, Abu Tratter, Will Gozum, J-jay Alejandro, Arvin Tolentino, and Juan Gomez de Liano. Joshua Sinclair watched from the sidelines as he is still recovering from an ACL injury.

Gilas will take on Australia in Melbourne on February 22. The Philippine will then host Japan three days later at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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San Beda fends off Letran for back-to-back wins



With seasoned setter John Carlo Desuyo steering the wheel to near perfection, the San Beda College romped to their second straight win.

The Red Spikers pulled double-digit outings from four players to upend archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 19-25, 25-13, 25-21, 25-22, and register their fourth win of the season, Monday early evening at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

It was the Knights, however, who started on the right foot, overhauling a 4-10 deficit to snag the first set. Better passing from liberos Aljune Centeno and Johnsen Timbreza resulted in kills from captain Bobby Gatdula.

Nonetheless, San Beda picked up the service game in the next three sets to ultimately finish off the blue-shirts.

Despite the win-loss record they currently sport, the Red Spiker playmaker admitted that t

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Michael Calisaan tows Che’lu-San Sebastian past Perpetual



Photo by PBA Images

Michael Calisaan poured 20 points as he captained newcomer Che’Lu-San Sebastian Revellers to a decisive 83-70 win over the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas to start their voyage, Monday evening at the Pasig City Sports Center.

Doing it all for the Revellers, the veteran forward provided the stability for his side as he shot 8-of-15 from the field while also hauling down nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the conference-opening win.

But it wasn’t all Calisaan as Che’Lu got contributions from all over its roster.

Samboy de Leon chimed in 16 markers and nine boards. RK Ilagan went 2-of-5 from threes to collect 13 points, eight dimes, and three rebounds, while big men Alfred Batino and Jeepy Faundo combined for 20 in the victory.

Despite the triumph, coach Stevenson Tiu gave all the praise to his players, noting the team’s lack of time preparing for the tourney.

“Nanalo kami dahil sa talent ng players. Medyo mali ko rin kasi nahirapan pa ako mag-adjust sa players. Hopefully, we play much better in the coming games,” he said.

The Revellers used a 16-4 run to finally break away from the Altas, taking a 77-60 lead with 4:03 to play as they punished their foes for their turnovers, turning Perpetual’s 30 miscues to 28 points in their favor.

Prince Eze anchored the Altas with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocks in their first game under new head coach Frankie Lim.

Che’lu-San Sebastian look to make it two in a row when they take on the Wangs-Letran Couriers on Monday, January 29 at 5:00pm. Perpetual, on the other hand, hope they can notch their first win when they take on Mila’s Lechon Mighty Roasters.

The Scores:

Che’lu-SSCR 83 — Calisaan 20, De Leon 16, Ilagan 13, Batino 10, Faundo 10, Bulanadi 6, Costelo 6, Calma 2, David 0, Lao 0, Santos 0, Valdez 0.

UPHSD 70 — Eze 15, Coronel 13, Villanueva 13, Jimenez 9, Charcos 7, Peralta 7, Gallardo 5, Pido 1, Antonio 0, Aurin 0, Tamayo 0, Tongco 0.

Quarterscores: 17-22, 34-38, 59-53, 83-70.

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