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National U continue mastery over Adamson

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After a close first half, the National University Bulldogs displayed their patented hard-nosed defense that was lacking in their first three games of the season in a blowout victory, 75-54, early Wednesday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

In the first quarter, the defending champions started the game on the right note as Alfred Aroga and Mohammad Salim pounded the Adamson frontline in the paint. However, after Salim was penalized with his second personal foul, the cagers from San Marcelino were able to find their confidence behind Pape Sarr. Sarr scored five points in the quarter while Alvin Margallo, Ivan Villanueva, and William Polican helped Adamson a 19-17 lead to end the first quarter.

The Bulldogs sprinted past their opponents in the second quarter in a blistering 14-0 rally. Sophomore Rev Diputado led the charge while Gelo Alolino sustained the rally to give National U a 31-19 lead. A lackadaisical Bulldogs squad came out after a timeout by Adamson, Senior Joseph Nalos and rookie Kristian Bernardo exploited this as Nalos connected on long range bombs while Bernardo drove hard to grab fouls. Sarr capped the 9-2 run to enter halftime down by just five, 33-28.

It was a different ball game in the second half as Rden Celda and Aroga punished the Adamson zone. On defense, the Bulldogs were stingy in giving up free shots as the defending champions only gave up a single field goal in the first 4:40 of the third canto. The lead went up to as high as 14 to enter the final quarter.

The Bulldogs continued to dine on the Falcons in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back triples by lanky guard Dave Yu and a putback by Raph Tansingco extended the lead to 64-42. The lead continued to balloon as only William Polican scored for the Falcons in the final minutes of the game with the Bulldogs winning 75-54.

“It looked easy but it was a hard fought win,” coach Eric Altamirano said after the game. The slow first half of the Bulldogs gave Adamson confidence he added. “Good thing, the defense was good in the second half.” Moreover, Altamirano also praised the team’s second and third unit. “Good thing the bench stepped up, because not everytime Alfred and Gelo will have good shooting nights.”

The Bulldogs were led once more by Alfred Aroga. Aroga had a statline of 16 points, 8 boards, 4 dimes, and two steals. Smart Elite ambassador Gelo Alolino added 10 points and had 6 boards.

Ivan Villanueva was the only one who scored in double-figures for Adamson with 11 points. Sarr added 9 points and 7 boards.Smart Elite ambassador Dawn Ochea just had 6 points on 2/8 shooting.

As a team, the Bulldogs forced Adamson to 19 turnovers that led to 16 points. They were also excellent on the field in shooting 46.67% from the field compared to 32% from Adamson.

The NU Bulldogs (2-3) will next have the UP Fighting Maroons as their next assignment on Saturday, September 26 at 2:00pm while the Adamson Falcons (0-5) will have a tough task in their next outing as they face the FEU Tamaraws on Sunday, September 27 at 4:00pm.

The Scores:

NU (75) – Aroga 16, Alolino 10, Tansingco 10, Celda 8, Diputado 7, Javelona 6, Yu 6, Salim 5, Abatayo 3, de Castro 2, Alejandro 0, Javillonar 0, Lastimosa 0, Neypes 0, Rangel 0

AdU (54) – Villanueva 11, Sarr 9, Nalos 7, Ochea 6, Polican 6,Garcia 4, Escalambre 3, Margallo 3, Camacho 2, Ng 2, Bernardo 1, Fernandez 0, Tungcab 0

Quarterscores: 17-19, 33-28, 54-40, 75-54

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Joshua Munzon, Westsports snap Saigon’s streak in highly emotional contest

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Photo by ASEAN Basketball League

Entering Wednesday night’s game, Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat were on a high, slaying the winning streaks of Hong Kong Eastern and Nanhai Kung Fu. However, Joshua Munzon and the Westsports Malaysia Dragons had other things in mind, keeping the Heat winless at the MABA Stadium, 91-87.

In his fourth game since returning to the Dragons, Munzon filled up the stat sheet, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Besides putting up the numbers, the athletic swingman from California helped limit reigning Heritage Player of the Week Williams to his worst game so far in the ABL. Averaging 27.33 points, 6.67 assists, and 6.0 rebounds prior to this game, Williams went field goal-less against the Dragons, missing all 11 of his attempts. The Filipino-American floor general was able to dish out eight assists and grab five caroms.

Westsports led by as much as 11 points in the final frame, 82-71, after Munzon found Marcus Marshall for a triple with 4:59 remaining. Behind World Imports Akeem Scott and Maxie Esho, the Heat stormed right back but was answered by a long bomb by Munzon to keep them at bay.

Marshall and Scott figured in a shootout to close out the game but in the end, the hosts were still able to etch out their second straight victory.

Marshall finished the game with 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Dragons while Scott’s 44-point game went for naught.

After the emotionally charged contest though, few unkind words were exchanged by the officials of both squads that almost resulted into a brawl. Fortunately, things did not escalate beyond that.

In the video, Munzon was also seen shoving a Saigon player to try and pacify the situation. The league is currently investigating the post-game incident.

With the win, Westsports Malaysia raised its record to 3-4 while dropping Saigon to 4-3.

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Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates

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Prior to Wednesday, all eyes were on the TNT Katropa-Blackwater Elite face-off, with many curious to see how last season’s Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy would fare against his former FEU teammates Mac Belo and Raymar Jose.

And as the final buzzer sounded, the 25-year-old Pogoy had reigned triumphant over his close pals, getting away with a conference-best performance as a bonus.

The six-foot-two Cebuano sniper fired a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, to lead the Texters to a skid-ending, 92-83 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Must-win talaga namin ‘to para makabawi kami, kasi 1-2 na yung standing namin (before the game) eh.

“Buti na lang maganda yung nilaro ko,” said Pogoy, who was just averaging 11.3 points in the past three games.

But Pogoy tipped his hat to the much taller Elite, who enjoyed plenty of time in the driver’s seat in the first half, until the Katropa found their groove in the third canto — highlighted by a 16-3 rally that put them ahead, 60-53.

“Malakas yung Blackwater eh, tapos ang lalaki nila kaya mahirap mag-drive, mahirap pumasa kasi naagaw nila,” said Pogoy. “Buti na lang naka-adjust kami nung second half. Hindi kami nagmadali, dinahan-dahan namin.”

Aside from his own outing, Pogoy is thankful that they were able to address their fourth quarter woes when facing the Elite — the issue that hounded them in their 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Iloilo.

TNT had actually been mere steps away from melting down — again — against Blackwater, no thanks to a 20-9 run that wiped out their 17-point lead to just six,

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With Nash Racela knowing his tendencies, Mac Belo limited to poor shooting

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Prior to Wednesday, Blackwater Elite’s young star Mac Belo was on a roll early in the 2018 Philippine Cup, averaging exactly 20 points on 42.6 percent shooting in their games against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Ginebra.

But, as they say, good things must come to an end.

Belo, despite having 13 rebounds, was held to just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as the Elite bowed to TNT Katropa, 92-83 — a sour loss knowing that they’re coming off huge 94-77 win against Ginebra last Friday.

“Bukol,” said Belo in jest of his poor outing after the match. “Big test para sa’min kasi yung TNT talagang isang de-kalibreng team dito sa PBA.

“Talagang pinaghandaan nila kami, at gustong-gusto nila manalo.”

It also did not help that the Katropa’s head coach, Nash Racela, was his coach in FEU Tamaraws for three years — a relationship brightly highlighted by a championship run in the UAAP Season 78 back in 2015.

“Siyempre alam niya yung mga tendencies ko. Matagal ko siyang coach sa FEU,” said the 6-foot-4 forward.

“Sa akin naman, kailangan ko pa matuto sa ganun, kung anong mga defense binabato niya sakin. Kailangan ko pang pag-aralan.”

But for Belo, the loss was more than his own showing. The 25-year-old lamented his and the Elite’s lapses on defense, which was encapsulated by the second half collapse they had that allowed TNT to come back and steal the win.

“Medyo marami lang kaming lapses especially sa defense namin,” said the sophomore forward, as they allowed TNT to shoot 41.6 percent from the floor. “Maraming mga miscommunication na kailangan pa namin i-work.”

Belo and the Elite are now set to move on from this bitter defeat, as they all shift their sights in their match this Friday versus GlobalPort Batang Pier. For the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, it is already a must-win for them.

“Kailangan namin ng rest ngayon kasi back-to-back games kami. We need to win sa Friday para okay sa’min,” said Belo. “Kailangan din namin paghandaan kasi galing sila sa win.

“Kailangan namin i-double yung effort namin.”

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Jake Vicen performs under pressure as Blazers end eight-year title drought

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For the second straight match, the championship showdown between the College of Saint Benilde Blazers and the Arellano University Chiefs reached kicks from the penalty spot. And once more, goalkeeper Jake Vicen came up big.

The third-year custodian denied one of Arellano’s prolific scorers Roberto Corsame in the shootout and sealed the title after eight long years, 3-2, penalties, Wednesday evening at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Blazers made its intentions clear from the get-go as they repeatedly pierced through the defense of the Chiefs.

Nonetheless, at the 38th minute, the white-shirts clinched the goal they much deserved. The Blazers pushed forward, and almost got a call in their favor. The referees, however, played advantage, and fortunately Benilde held on to the play.

Miguel Artillera found himself unmarked on the right flank and easily blasted the ball past opposing keeper Jericho Desalisa.

The Marlon Maro—mentored side continued to play aggressive in the following period and almost plucked a second one. This time, the Chiefs’ backline led by eventual Best Defender Patrick Bernarte held on.

Such stand was rewarded by their attacking force minutes later, and, as expected, the equalizer came from the counterattack.

Corsame received a pass from the middle and defeated two defenders, and seeing Vicen off his line, sent the ball into the onion bag at the 49th minute.

Both sides tried to break the deadlock, but fatigue slowly crept in the dying minutes of the second period and the whole of extra time, setting up another thrilling finish in the shootout.

Much like in Game 2, the two keepers came up big as Desalisa and Vicen denied their second kickers a clear shot. Arellano went to miss another shot, and it was then up to the Blazers to seal the deal.

Dean Ebarle stepped up and calmly and slotted the ball into the goal for the lead at 3-2. Afterwards, Corsame faced Vicen, but this time, the Cebuano keeper would not be denied. The latter went to his strong side, and, fortunately, guessed right for the huge save as pandemonium erupted from the Benilde crowd and squad.

The Finals series hero and season Best Goalkeeper Vicen was pleased that the new champions carved out the historic win despite early adversity. “Big loss ‘yun, si Val [Calvo], kasi may magagawa talaga siya kung nakalaro namin,” he said of losing their former captain.

Nonetheless, the squad stayed focused on getting it done this year.

“Binuhos lang namin every minute sa training. Luckily, hard work paid off,” closed Vicen.

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