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The Night Pacquiao and Ginebra Intertwined



On paper, it was an ordinary elimination round meeting. But with bizarre and one-in-a-blue-moon circumstances turning the tides, it became a special night that will resonate among the minds of Filipino sports fans.

It was only fitting that the night cap of the PBA on a humid Wednesday featuring the Kia Carnival and Barangay Ginebra was played inside the Cuneta Astrodome, the league’s home during the 1990s and an arena that served as the venue for many colorful moments not only in the PBA but also in culture, as it hosted religious gatherings, beauty pageants, and talent shows through the years.

The Cuneta was no MGM Grand; there were no luxurious suites, thousand-dollar tickets, pay-per-view subscriptions, fountains, state-of-the-art lobbies, or concierge. There was no beer nor expensive cocktails nor elegant buffets. Instead, there were hotdog sandwiches and buckets of popcorn that barely costed a dollar inside, and a handful of street vendors outside selling variety of street food on an oven-hot afternoon.

On Wednesday, May 13, 2015, the venue graced, in a way, a momentous occasion that will be remembered especially by those who took time to witness what happened on that day.

To borrow from MMA fighter Ronda Rousey:

Barangay Ginebra makes any arena its homecourt. Ditto with eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who seems to have people follow him wherever he goes.

On that night, it was an arena that belonged to Filipino sports enthusiasts.

In the second quarter, with fans attached to the highly-physical and toe-to-toe exchange between Kia and Ginebra and oohs and ahhs surrounding the hardcourt with every move, a simple appearance by one of the most relevant personalities in the archipelago caused a collective standstill.

Pacquiao suddenly emerged from one of the hallways of the Astrodome, and the entire place erupted with chants of Manny! Manny!

“It’s a good day for us. We won the game so that’s a plus but also, it is a great honor to shake Manny’s hand at the end of the game. Just to see how the fans reacted when he came in gave me goosebumps. It shows our support for him and the things he accomplished. It was awesome. No didn’t even know he was here. It was great he took time out of his busy schedule to show support for the PBA. This is a memorable day.”Jayjay Helterbrand, Barangay Ginebra guard

It was only the first day back home for the national treasure who was in Las Vegas last week for a mega-fight. His itinerary itself was also packed with motorcades around the metro and national television guestings, but found a way to squeeze the basketball match into his list.

Before the third quarter fired off, Sports 5’s Erika Padilla asked a few questions to Pacquiao, as the thousands observed from their respective seats. Pacquiao was ever gracious, and the people reciprocated the gesture with rounds of applause.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the showdown between the two squads provided enough electricity for the rest of the night. Orlando Johnson was his usual explosive self, finishing with thunderous slams. The Carnival’s pint-sized LA Revilla tried to wile his team back in action, scoring punch after punch to keep it close. Bodies slammed onto the hardwood in a battle reminiscent of the 90s, with Ginebra trying to out-#PusongPacquiao Kia while the Carnival trying to out-#NSD the Gin Kings.

Ginebra made a patented run, complemented by raucus chants of Hee-ne-brah! Hee-ne-brah! that enveloped the stadium. Kia would make a comeback of its own, and the fans would turn their attention to Pacquiao’s wards.

The game back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.


Until one side had to give until the final whistle.

Ginebra won, 105-98.

Teams shook hands centercourt in a rare occasion which feted two of the most relevant icons in Philippine sports: a transcendent fighter who overcame poverty and triumphed in and out of the ring, and a hoops team genuinely loved for the same spirit of never giving up — qualities which mirror those of the Filipino.

“It was a great experience. It got even better once he [Pacquiao] got there. He makes the enviroment a better place. When he came, he jumped right in and they worked it out. He wanted it to happen and he inspires people. All in all, it was a great game for basketball and the PBA, and you know, the history of the situation.”Rob Wainwright, Kia assistant coach

At a nearby convenience store after the match, people were still talking about a missed chance at having a photo with the Pambansang Kamao.

A few moments later, inside a passenger bus bound for the southern part of Metro Manila, a man quipped


The game was officially over, but its picture of Hee-ne-brah and Manny, Manny intertwined still resonates among those who have seen it.

The night may have finally come to an end, but its relevance to Filipino sports fans will never die.

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After getting first D-League experience, Zark’s-Lyceum ready to get loose



After a hesitant performance in their PBA D-League debut last Thursday that resulted in a loss to the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers seemingly caught up with the league’s style of play on Tuesday.

Zark’s-Lyceum displayed their true form and stamped their class all over the Batangas-EAC Generals with a 37-point destruction, 112-75 — so far the biggest winning margin the franchise has ever had in its D-League history.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams we’re playing against with,” said Zark’s-Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson after the match at Pasig Sports Center. “But the things we want to mind are those things we control.

“We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways.”

Robinson’s claim was strongly backed up by the numbers that the Jawbreakers produced.

CJ Perez had 21 points and 10 rebounds. MJ Ayaay produced 15 points and 10 boards, and Mike Nzeusseu delivered 14 markers and 11 boards.

Even the bench made their presence felt in the victory. With guard Jaycee Marcelino spearheading the supporting cast’s charge with 12 markers, the bench contributed a remarkable 56 points to their total output.

Photo by PBA Images

“Ano lang, cinontrol lang namin yung pace kasi yun naman talaga yung laro namin, yung mabilisan,” said the 24-year-old do-it-all forward, who also collected three steals.

“Kailangan talaga mabilisan para ma-execute namin yung mga ginagawa namin.”

This week will be a rough one for the Pirates, as they will play right away this Thursday against the AMA Online Education. And for Perez, he strongly believes that they will be able to carry over their momentum.

“Oo. Nandun pa. Energy talaga yung puhunan namin para makalaro ng maayos.”

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Bonbon Batiller shows what he can bring to Letran in D-League debut



Photo by PBA Images

Tuesday proved to be a double debut for Bonbon Batiller. Aside from beginning his first foray in the PBA D-League, it also marked his debut for the Letran Knights, who are carrying the Wang’s Basketball Couriers franchise.

And the 5-foot-11 guard showed what he can bring to the table. Batiller collected 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists to help the Knights raise the curtains of their campaign with a 93-75 rout of the Batangas-EAC Generals.

“Nagworkout yung pinagpraktisan namin,” said Batiller. “Nagbunga rin yung tinuro samin ni Coach Jeff (Napa) lalo sa depensa. Tsaka siguro sa rebounds — laking lamang namin sa rebound. Nagsipag mga bigs namin.”

But what has him even more satisfied is the warm reception and trust he’s had from the Knights, even if he has spent barely a year with them after transferring from University of the East last 2017.

“Masaya po kasi tinanggap nila ako sa Letran ng buong-buo,” said Batiller, who normed 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals with UE in two years. “Tsaka yung tiwala nila na makakatulong ako sa team nandoon.

“Kaya masaya ako sa pinakita nila sa akin.”

That is why the General Santos native is hard-pressed to prove himself to Letran, saying that he’s all about giving back to the school that gave him another opportunity to resume his young, up-and-coming basketball career.

“Kailangan kong may mapatunayan na deserving ako sa binigay na second chance sa akin ni Letran,” said Batiller, who decided to switch schools partly due to academic reasons.

“Malaki ang utang ko sa Letran.”

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Bienvenido Maranon scores brace as Ceres-Negros eliminates Brisbane Roar



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Philippine club football just achieved its biggest continental result yet

The inaugural Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros Football Club eliminated three-time Australian champions Brisbane Roar in the 2018 AFC Champions League’s second preliminary round with a 3-2 stunner away at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane.

With the win, the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions are set to face Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian next January 30, 2018 at the Haihe Educational Football Stadium in Tianjin, China to book a seat in the group stages.

Brisbane were the favorites for this tie and it showed as Ceres started the contest at the backfoot. Italian striker Massimo Maccarone handed the home side the lead at the 35th minute when he turned in Brett Holman’s pass.

Maccarone’s goal could have lowered the Busmen’s moral, but Risto Vidakovic’s men took it as a motivation rather than a downer. In fact, Ceres replied in the best way possible when Bienvenido Maranon scored his first goal of the match two minutes from halftime thanks to a scramble in the Brisbane box.

By all accounts, Ceres already made Philippine football proud at halftime. By this stage last year, Brisbane accrued a 4-0 halftime cushion against Global Cebu en route to a 6-0 rout.

Today, though, Brisbane faced tougher resistance at the hands of Ceres. This resistance turned into a full-fledged revolt at the 65th minute when Maranon directed the ball past a helpless Jamie Young to give the Busmen their first taste of the lead.

Maranon’s goal well and truly turned the tide in Ceres’ favor. Brisbane were stunned. The home side are the defending A-League champions, but are currently eighth in the table this season and would soon face elimination from Asia’s premier club competition.

Already up 2-1, the Busmen finally achieved some breathing space at the 75th minute when Omid Nazari scored from close range to give Ceres a two-goal cushion from Brisbane.

Nazari’s goal not only sealed the win for Ceres as it also propelled Philippine football into the big leagues. Not even a late goal from French midfielder Éric Bauthéac can prevent the Busmen’s victory.

After five minutes of stoppage time, Ceres emerged 3-2 winners against Brisbane Roar. Come what may against Tianjin seven days from now, the Busmen have already achieved Philippine football’s biggest result ever since their own achievement in last season’s AFC Cup.

Who knows? Maybe Ceres can pull off another upset?

Ceres-Negros XI: Doblas (GK), Super, Mike Ott, Ingreso, Maranon, Porteria, Schrock, De Murga (C), Munoz, Nazari, Christaens.

Brisbane Roar XI: Ingham, Bowles, Papadopoulos, Maccarone, Holman, Khalfallah, Oxborrow, McKay (C), Hingert, Young (GK), Franjic.

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CJ Perez, Zark’s-Lyceum vent ire on Batangas-EAC with 37-point romp



Photo by PBA Images

CJ Perez and the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers finally lived up to its hype as it clobbered the Batangas-EAC Generals to score a 37-point beatdown, 112-75 for its first win, Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.

It was an all-out attack from the Jawbreakers as they beat the Generals to the bite and took control of the game early with Mike Nzeusseu and Jaycee Marcelino guiding their side to the 48-33 lead at halftime which they will never surrender.

Perez paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while MJ Ayaay tallied a double-double with his 15 markers, 10 boards, and three assists.

Cameroonian student-athlete Nzeusseu also delivered 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists, while Marcelino had eight first half points and wound up with 12 off the bench as the reserves chipped in 56 huge points in the tussle.

Coach Topex Robinson lauded the Jawbreakers for quickly adjusting to the style of the PBA D-League just days after falling to Marinerong Pilipino, 92-94 back in opening day.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams were playing against with. But the things we want to mind are those things we control. We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways,” he said.

Earvin Mendoza and Cedric de Joya both had 16 points for the Generals in the losing effort.

Zark’s-Lyceum looks to continue to roll when it faces the AMA Online Education Titans on Thursday, January 25. EAC-Batangas, on the other hand, takes on the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers on Monday, January 29.

The Scores:

Zark’s-Lyceum 112 — Perez 21, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Serrano 10, Baltazar 8, Santos 8, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 6, Marata 4, Liwag 4, Ibañez 2, Cinco 2, Pretta 0.

Batangas-EAC 75 — E. Mendoza 16, De Joya 16, Tampoc 12, Laude 9, Pate 8, Maguliano 6, Altamirano 5, Diego 3, Garcia 0, Dela Peña 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0.

Quarterscores: 19-14, 48-33, 84-47, 112-75.

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