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New-look Red Lions end TIP’s ‘Cinderella’ run



With the core of their team graduating, the San Beda College Red Lions roster for the 2015 National Collegiate Championship featured new faces.

In the quarterfinals of the NCC tournament, the Red Lions played selfless basketball for the first three quarters. However, the reigning Inter-Scholastic Athletic Association (ISAA) champions, the Technology Institute of the Philippines Engineers, fought back and almost hijacked the match behind the late-game surge of Joshua Alcober and Jemuel Namocatcat. The Engineers, though, failed in their late-game clock management as the Red Lions eliminated the Engineers, 79-77, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

The Red Lions jumped to an early 7-4 lead early in the game behind team captain Dan Sara. The Engineers, through long-range jumpers by foreign student-athlete Ikechukwu Akrupu and Leo Benavides, were able to tie the game at 9-all. After a TIP timeout midway through the first quarter, the Red Lions pounced on the hapless defense of the Engineers. NCAA Season 91 holdovers Donald Tankoua and Ranbill Tongco led the charge to give San Beda a 25-15 lead to end the first quarter.

The San Beda defense stifled the P. Casal-based squad, limiting them to just three field goals in the second stanza. Three-pointers by former La Salle Green Archers Robert Bolick, Filipino-American Davon Potts, and AC Soberano helped extend the San Beda lead. Moreover, Tankoua was unstoppable in the paint in scoring four second quarter points. The San Beda blast was capped by a buzzer-beating jumper by Tongco to extend their lead to 20, 49-29, to enter the break.

The Red-and-White continued their excellent play in the third canto. The troika of Potts, Bolick, and Tankoua helped extend the San Beda lead further in the quarter while a basket by foreign student-athlete Arnand Noah gave San Beda the biggest lead of the game, 63-41, with 3:12 remaining. After a San Beda timeout, the Potit De Vera-mentored squad went on a 13-3 blast. During the rally, Benavides gained the hot hand in knocking down to triples. A conversion by Alcober ended the quarter with TIP just down by 12 points, 66-54.

In the final frame, the Red Lion lead again went to as high as 16 points with 7:51 remaining. JVee Mocon, though, was hampered by fouls that led to a split by Akrupu on the foul stripe. A basket by Potts would be the last field goal of San Beda in the next 2:50 of the game as TIP went on an 8-0 rally, half of the production coming from Terrence Tumalip, to cut the Beda lead to single digits, 76-67. A pull-up jumper by Sara momentarily halted the momentum of TIP. The wave of momentum for TIP continued with Namocatcat scoring on two finds by Tumalip. A find by Namocatcat to a wide-open Alcober underneath cut the Beda lead to just four, 78-74, with 1:33 remaining. A split on the stripe by Tankoua and a bevy of turnovers gave TIP a chance, but failure to execute in the end game led to the demise of the Engineers. A late-triple by Nino Ibanes proved to be too late as the San Beda Red Lions narrowly escaped with the win, 79-77.

“We played selfless basketball in the first three quarter,” San Beda head coach Jamike Jarin said after the game. “Pero we forgot to play basketball in the final quarter.” Moreover, Jarin gave credit to the “never say die” attitude of the Engineers in saying, “Coach Potit (De Vera) has built a good program over there.”

With the win, the San Beda Red Lions set up a rematch of the NCAA Season 91 Finals, as they face the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights tomorrow, December 16. “We have no idea who’s coaching and who’s playing for Letran,” Jarin confessed. “But we are still excited to play them even if this is a different tournament.”

The Red Lions were led by the 13 markers of transferee Robert Bolick and FSA Donald Tankoua. Tankoua managed to claim a double-double with 11 boards, while Bolick was an efficient 5/8 from the field. Dan Sara was able to fight off foul trouble in scoring 12 points as well.

For the Engineers, Jemuel Namocatcat led all scorers with 17 points. He almost notched a triple-double, grabbing seven boards and dishing out seven dimes as well. TIP revelation Joey Napoles added 15 points but was just 6/16 from the field.

As a team, San Beda shot at a high clip, 47%, compared to just 38% by their opponents. However, the Red Lions were out-rebounded, 47-45, and committed 26 turnovers that led to the close encounter.

The Scores:
SBC (79) – Bolick 13, Tankoua 13, Sara 12, Potts 11, Noah 11, Tongco 7, Mocon 4, Soberano 3, Oftana 3, Bonsubre 2, Presbitero 0, Carlos 0, Cabanag 0, Sedillo 0, Adamos 0.
TIP (77) – Namocatcat 17, Napoles 15, Tumaliip 10, Benavides 10, Alcober 8, Ibanes 6, Akrupu 5, Roldan 4, Gadon 2, Okoronkwo 0, Lara 0.
Quarterscores: 25-15, 49-29, 66-54, 79-77.

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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’



Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence



For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense



Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs



It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue as they are, it looks like another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be excuses.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” asserted Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort that the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco have a chance to end their slump against the Kia Picanto this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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