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Pablo solidifies case among country’s elite after gutsy season

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Myla Pablo was leaning on the wall of the Filoil Flying V Centre at around nine in the evening, Thursday night, and she couldn’t help but smile.

“Biruin mo? Nag-champion pa kami,” Pablo quipped as she happily began the post-game scrum, like she always does.

This Myla Pablo doesn’t look like she’s suffering back pain from chronic back spasms, something she shouldn’t have played through at all after aggravating it late in the second round.

The Tarlac-native looked more injured in her last year with the National University, when she slumped out of the Final Four in the UAAP. Pablo, admittedly, felt like she had been carrying a huge weight on her back during those days.UAAP 78 Volleyball NU vs. AdU - Perez, Pablo-8732

Two years removed from her stint with the Lady Bulldogs, Pablo is in cloud nine, massive back brace and all.

There were questions about Myla Pablo’s desire and mental stability coming out of NU. But now, she’s a three-time PVL champion with two Finals MVPs. She’s the undoubted ace of Pocari Sweat and she could not be happier.

“Sobrang saya ko kasi grabe ‘yung pinagadaanan namin this season,” the 23-year-old told Tiebreaker Times.

Out of her three championships, this one against the Bali Pure Purest Water Defenders is her favorite.PVL Women Pocari vs. Bali Pure G3-7874

“Hindi kasi talaga namin inakala na aabot pa kami dito.

“Nagtiwala na lang kami sa isa’t isa. Ang daming injuries sa amin. Ako sa likod, si Elaine [Kasilag] sa braso, nawala pa si Edina [Selimovic]. Late naglaro si Krystal [Rivers] kaya grabe talaga ang hirap na pinagdaanan namin,” the 5-foot-9 open spiker reflected.

On her renewed reputation, Pablo really doesn’t care. She’s too busy being happy playing with her newfound family.

“Hindi ko na pinapansin ‘yung mga sinasabi tungkol sa akin. Masaya ako na nakarating ako sa point na ‘to sa career ko. Very blessed ako to be with this team,” the three-time V-League champion declared.

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball – from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado’s setting.

ABL

Hong Kong Eastern deals Tanduay Alab third straight loss

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Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team continued Tanduay Alab Pilipinas’ misery early in the 9th ASEAN Basketball League, sending the Philippine side to its third straight loss, 99-96, Wednesday night at the Southorn Stadium.

The Filipino club team has now dropped to a 0-3 hole, while the defending ABL champions cruised to their fifth straight win for a clean 5-0 slate. Moreover, HK Eastern is now 2-0 in their season series with Tanduay Alab.

Tyler Lamb powered Hong Kong Eastern with 32 big points, 11 coming in the fourth quarter. World Import Marcus Elliott had a solid all-around outing with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists.

Christian Standhardinger, who is coming off a 40-point outing against Mono Vampire BC, added 25 markers — spiked by 3-of-3 treys in the fourth — in the win.

The sophomore ABL franchise was actually on pace to put an end to the league leaders’ winning streak, all thanks to several double-digit cushions they were able to establish in the first three quarters.

But it all changed come crunch time. And what transpired in the end-game on Wednesday night was similar — perhaps eerily so — to what had taken place in their first meeting last November 19 in Manila.

From an 85-88 deficit with 3:38 to go in the final quarter, Hong Kong Eastern went on an 11-0 rampage behind the exploits of reinforcements Elliott, Lamb, and Moss to establish a favorable 96-88 lead with 1:24 on the clock.

The Philippine contingent then responded with an 8-2 surge — capped by Reggie Okosa’s three — to give the home team a legit threat by trimming the deficit to just two points, 96-98, with just 15 ticks remaining.

Tanduay Alab had chances to either tie the match or even steal the W, but their shots failed to meet the bottom of the net. Lee Ki’s split freebies on the other end helped Hong Kong widen their lead, 99-96, with 11 seconds left.

And just like in their season opener, Alab looked to send the game into an extra period. Josh Urbiztondo had chances to redeem himself from that missed end-game triple back in that opener, but unfortunately, he missed again.

Ivan Johnson paced Tanduay Alab with 32 points and nine rebounds. Okosa had 25 and 13, while Ray Parks Jr. supplied 14 markers.

The Scores:

Hong Kong Eastern 99 — Lamb 32, Standhardinger 25, Elliott 20, Lee 12, Moss 6, Tang 2, Xu 2, Lau 0.

Tanduay Alab 96 — Johnson 32, Okosa 25, Urbiztondo 14, Parks 11, Celiz 6, Hontiveros 3, Sumalinog 3, Domingo 2, Javelona 0, Maierhofer 0.

Quarterscores: 20-23, 43-46, 64-66, 99-96.

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PBA considering creating schedule in line with FIBA WCQ windows

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With the full schedule of the 43rd season yet to be finalized, the PBA board of governors is strongly looking to create a league calendar that will mesh accordingly with the windows of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think the board has already [discussed things] regarding the schedule,” said commissioner Chito Narvasa during the PBA’s presser Wednesday at Okada Manila. “It was taken into consideration, the schedule of the FIBA tournaments. 

“That’s what the board has agreed on already.”

The Asian Qualifiers fall into various windows spread across 2017 all the way to early 2019. The qualifying windows for 2018 will be held in the months of February, June, July, September, and November.

Four of the mentioned months — February, June, July, and September — will intersect with the upcoming PBA season. And the league and its board will have to cater to the needs of the Gilas Pilipinas.

The second window for Gilas begins on February 22, 2018, when it faces Australia in Adelaide. This will then be followed with a home game against Japan on February 25. This will coincide with the Philippine Cup.

Things may have yet to be smoothed out between the PBA and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, but vice chairman Mon Fernandez lauded the Philippines’ recent victory that is the hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“We should be very happy and proud that the Philippines won together with Indonesia and Japan,” said the former NLEX governor. “We look forward to the hosting and we have a couple of years to prepare for it.

“It’s a significant event for Philippine basketball.”

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How all imports in the PSL Finals are connected

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The volleyball world is incredibly small and close-knit. And nothing better encapsulates that point than the on-going Chooks-to-Go/PSL Grand Prix Finals between the Petron Blaze Spikers and the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers.

Petron have the well-traveled Lindsay Stalzer on their side. Aside from this being her fourth stint in the PSL, Stalzer has campaigned everywhere from Europe to Asia. Earlier this year, the former PSL Most Valuable Player led Indonesian club Jakarta Elektrik to a championship.

Her partner there? F2 Logistics’ Venezuelan scoring machine Maria Jose Perez.

“She’s such a great player,” Stalzer said of her former teammate after Petron took Game One of the Finals.

“We’re really good friends off the court. But she knows too that when we’re on opposing sides of the net, that it’s all business and we have to try to get our team the win.”

“Lindsay’s a great player,” conceded Perez, who topped the Cargo Movers with 15 points in Game One.

“She’s also a really good teammate and you can see it with how well she bonds with her teammates in Petron.”

The squads’ other two foreign reinforcements also share a connection. Just last year, F2 Logistics’ Kennedy Bryan had a rather controversial falling out in the Korean Volleyball Association with club Expressway Hi-Pass.

Her replacement? Petron’s Hillary Hurley.

The hard-hitting Souther Californinan remembers her stint in Korea fondly, where she had a memorable scoring duel with former Petron import Alaina Bergsma. She even got a tattoo to remind her of Korea.

Still, Hurley admits that she is yet to win a championship in the international scene. A win away from winning the Grand Prix trophy, Hurley is incredibly excited to leave the Philippines with gold.

“I’ve always been very close. We’ve won a few tournaments, a few rounds, but never a whole season like this,” said Hurley, who is a known scorer around Europe.

“Honestly, being in the Philippines has been such a blessing. I would want nothing more than to get the championship for my teammates and for all the incredible who have supported us along the way.”

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San Miguel still seen as team to beat for Philippine Cup

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Although the team will be missing top overall pick Christian Standhardinger for the entirety of the 2017-18 Philippine Cup, the PBA board of governors still see the San Miguel Beermen as the consensus favorites to bag the All-Filipino crown for the fourth straight year.

Besides San Miguel, the teams are also wary of what the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the TNT Katropa will bring.

“TNT, Ginebra, and San Miguel,” said Magnolia Hotshots governor Robert Non.

“TNT, intact ‘yung line-up. They also have bigs who can match-up with June Mar [Fajardo], same is true with Ginebra, Greg [Slaughter] is back in the line-up, so are their rookies.”

“TNT,” quipped Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua.

“SMB hindi pa malakas yan wala pa si Standhardinger. Second conference pa.”

“Of course, San Miguel. And then Ginebra, and TNT,” added Rain or Shine governor Mert Mondragon. “They have good players, they have extremely good coaches. Basta mahusay sila lahat.”

“Kami sa Rain or Shine, for the information of the rest of you, we have five players who are out. [Raymond] Almazan, Jericho Cruz, Jireh [Ibanes],” disclosed Mondragon.

Same as Rain or Shine, the Meralco Bolts are also saddled with injuries to start the season.

“I think we’re coming this season with a lot of injuries, Ranidel de Ocampo and Reynel Hugnatan are sidelined, Cliff Hodge as well. We have four new players, KG Canaleta, Jason Ballesteros, Mac Baracael and Nico Salva,” shared Meralco alternate governor Ryan Gregorio.

Kia governor Bobby Rosales and TNT assistant team manager Magnum Membrere  gave an interesting take on who they think are the dark horses for the conference.

“I think a darkhorse in the all-Filipino is NLEX,” Rosales said.

“For me number one yung San Miguel, Ginebra, sa tingin ko ‘yung NLEX,” commented Membrere.

But the representatives of Alaska, Blackwater, Phoenix, and NLEX are confident that they can shock the league.

“For Alaska, hopefully, we’ll be performing better this season. Reason being, intact line-up,” expessed Alaska’s Dickie Bachmann.

“Just like Dickie, we’re hoping we could improve. There’s no way to go but up, we were losing last conference. We got the coaches of Alaska and we’ve got a good rookie so it’s nowhere to go but up,” said Phoenix’s Raymond Zorilla.

“Personally For Blackwater, we have Raymar Jose and I think he will be a big help to Poy Erram. We depend on Poy Erram and when he gets injured, the whole team collapses. Now we have a second option and hopefully he will give the team a good chance,” said Silliman Sy.

“You’ve seen NLEX in the first two conferences, we were in the bottom, but in the last conference, NLEX performed reasonably well and we will continue to improve,” vowed incoming chairman Mon Fernandez.

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