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NLEX shrugs off slow start; whips Kia in fourth quarter turnaround



After trailing for most of the three first quarters of the ballgame, the NLEX Road Warriors embarked on a successful turnaround in the fourth, to upend the Kia Carnival and take home a 102-86 victory on Wednesday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The sweet-shooting Carnival took control early in the first quarter, holding on to the steady lead. Late in the quarter they were able to pull away for a 17-11 edge, but the Road Warriors responded with a 5-0 run kicked off by a trey from KG Canaleta. Kia however rallied to slow down the brewing NLEX flurry, scoring five straight points and held the Road Warriors scoreless for almost two minutes to take a 22-16 lead at the end of the quarter.

Kia only continued to outgun NLEX in the early minutes of the second to hold on to their lead despite big baskets from import Al Thornton and veteran Macmac Cardona. The Road Warriors came as close as three points more than once in the early second quarter, but were unable to stop the Carnival’s flow and were repeatedly denied the chance to take the lead. A seven-point flurry care of baskets from Karl Dehesa, Mark Yee, and import PJ Ramos, gave Kia the first double-digit lead of the game, 38-27, with five minutes left in the quarter. Veteran behemoth Asi Taulava and frontcourt partner Thornton exploded for six points that brought NLEX within five, 33-38. Their run was cut short when JR Cawaling responded on the other end with a pull-up triple to extend the lead back to eight. At the end of the first half, the Carnival led 45-36.

Free throws from LA Revilla gave Kia another double-digit lead, 49-38, in the opening minute of the second half. Later, a 7-0 flurry that featured five points from Jonas Villanueva gave the NLEX the spark they needed to come within four, 45-49, nine minutes left on the clock. A basket from Kia import PJ Ramos ended the run and extended the lead to six. Unsullied after another botched rally, NLEX import Thornton exploded for five unanswered points to put NLEX within striking distance, 51-53. His Kia counterpart however responded with baskets on the other end to protect the Kia lead. The Road Warriors later returned to striking distance with three minutes left in the quarter, care of a free throw from Thornton. Two free throws from Villanueva forced the first deadlock of the game since the first quarter, 68-68, with just a minute and a half left on the clock. Kia was able to pull together and withstand NLEX’s last minute surge to take a 72-69 lead at the end of the quarter.

NLEX finally found themselves in the position they had been working towards come the fourth quarter. A 9-0 run out together by Thornton and Cardona launched NLEX to a sudden 78-72 lead three minutes into the period. It was Kia’s turn to bite at the Road Warrior’s heels, who sank enough shots to hold on to momentum. The Carnival also suffered another blow when import PJ Ramos had to be taken out of the game after hurting his leg while going for a block around the halfway mark of the quarter. With three minutes left the play, baskets from import Thornton, whose presence now dominated the inside, gave NLEX their first ten-point lead of the game, 89-79.

After receiving some treatment, Ramos was able to return to the court approaching the final two minutes of the game. However, his return came too late as the Road Warriors then had the thirteen point lead, 95-82. With time on their side, the Road Warriors needed only to make a few more baskets and put up a couple of stops to ice the win.

Jonas Villanueva was named Best Player of the Game with 20 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Al Thornton had 33 points and 12 rebounds. Kia’s PJ Ramos had 41 points and 23 rebounds in the loss, and was the only Kia player to score in double digits. NLEX are now at 6-4 after winning their fifth straight game. Kia meanwhile is at a precarious 4-6.

The Scores

NLEX – Thornton 33, J. Villanueva 20, Cardona 16, Lingganay 12, Taulava 10, E. Villanueva 4, Borboran 4, Canaleta 3

Kia- Ramos 41, Cervantes 8, Buencuseso 7, Cawaling 6, Revilla 6, Avenido 6, Dehesa 5, Poligrates 3, Thiele 2, Yee 2

Quarters: 16-22, 36-45, 69-72, 102-86

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PBA slaps fines on Yeng Guiao, Chris Ross



Yeng Guiao and Chris Ross opt to move on

The much-talked about tilt that pitted the San Miguel Beermen and the NLEX Road Warriors last January 18 featured numerous confrontations and exchanges. But none was more heated than what happened between fiery head coach Yeng Guiao and emotional defensive cog Chris Ross.

With 1:46 remaining in that game, Guiao and Ross figured in a verbal altercation that resulted to the latter being slapped with his second technical foul of the contest.

San Miguel head coach Leo Austria alledged that Guiao threw a racial slur at Ross that triggered the Filipino-American.

The league though could not find any hard evidence that this occurred.

“Upon review of the incident, consulting possible witnesses to the event and discussing the matter with both parties, the alleged racist remark attributed to Coach Guiao could not be established,” the league said in a statement. “Coach Guiao has denied such allegation while Chris Ross has opted to move forward and said that he would not want to discuss the matter further. However, Coach Guiao and Chris Ross will be subject to appropriate fines for their respective misconduct.

“As a result, the Office of the Commissioner finds no sufficient basis to discuss the matter of an alleged racist remark uttered by Coach Guiao. It may be recalled that in a previous incident, a heavy penalty was imposed for a racist remark that was clearly proven.

“Rest assured that any act that is racially derogatory and pejorative in nature will be dealt with sternly by the league,” the statement ended.

As a result, Guiao is fined PHP 11,000 for obscene gesture, use of profane language and engaging in a verbal altercation while Ross is fined the amount of PHP 2,600 for incurring two technical fouls, both for verbal altercation.

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MPBL aims to give local talent biggest exposure




After months of planning, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League will finally raise its curtains on Thursday, January 25 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Unlike the other leagues in the country, the MPBL wants to give Filipino aspirants from local communities a chance to shine on national TV.

“I would like to say, this is the noble project of our founder and chairman, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Talagang dream niya ito, matulungan ‘yung mga grassroots,” said MPBL head of marketing Arnold Vegafria during the league’s press conference. “And from the grassroots, to the collegiate players and also professionals na gusto niyang tulungan, mabigyan ng chances, makalaro at ma-expose ang skills nila para matulungan ang mga basketbolista not only sa Metro Manila but this is gonna be all over the Philippines.

“Simula muna sa Metro Manila and key cities in Luzon. Soon it will go to Visayas and Mindanao.”

The first conference for the league is the Anta Raja Cup. 10 teams from Luzon will compose the league, namely Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Caloocan, Imus, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Quezon City, and Valenzuela.

Though it may be ambitious, the league wants to continue the dream started by the Metropolitan Basketball Association which is to create a league that has a home and away format.

“For the longest time, after ng MBA, I think it’s 20 years ago na ‘yun, I think it’s due na rin for our basketball fans around the country, ‘yung mga sa provinces, ‘cause ‘yung advantage nito is ‘yung games mismo, dadalhin mo sa kanila. Unlike before sa mga liga natin, naka-stay lang sila sa isang venue,” said league commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.

“Maraming factors ngayon, traffic and time-consuming. Pero itong liga natin, tayo ang magdadala mismo sa mga tao, sa mga basketball fans. Sa tagal-tagal ng walang organized, or high-level na basketball tournament, ito na ‘yung time na makikita ng mga basketball fans natin na up close and personal ang mga ini-idolo nila, lalo na ang mga hometown hero nila,” the PBA legend furthered.

Armed with this vision, the league plans to be the country’s premier amateur league, helping build the dreams of the Filipino youth.

“It’s an amateur league. Kaya nga natin siya tinatawag na liga para sa lahat ng Pilipino, kasi lahat dito as long as Filipino ka, kasali ka,” shared Duremdes.

“Kagaya ng sinasabi ni Sen. Manny, matutulungan natin ang mga players ng grumaduate sa college na walang mapaglaruan, mga ex-pro na hindi masyado nabigyan ng exposure sa PBA, may exposure sila dito. Tapos yung mga grassroots player natin, malay mo springboard nila ang MPBL and who knows they will represent the country in the national team.

“Ito ang nakikita ni Sen Manny, mga players na out of school or the big leagues, ma-expose sila sa MPBL at mapansin sila ng national team or pro team,” he furthered.

The league’s first game will feature Caloocan taking on Paranaque at the Big Dome. Tickets are priced at P300, P200, P150, P100 while the Gen Ad will be open for all.

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Lady Blazers evade upset-hungry Lady Generals



The College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers avoided a major upset, slipping past the winless Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals, 25-17, 18-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-7, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

After winning the opening set, the Lady Blazers collapsed in the following frames, surrendering errors and fumbling passes. The Lady Generals took full advantage and grabbed all the momentum, rued Saint Benilde head coach Arnold Laniog.

“Nabigyan nga namin ‘yung kalaban ng confidence, kaya tuloy-tuloy na sila kanina. Mataas pa rin ‘yung tendency ng team ko mag-relax,” Laniog said. “Kung tutuusin, may advantage talaga ‘yung team namin. Nahihirapan lang talaga kami makabangon kapag nauunahan kami. Mabuti na lang kanina nakabawi kami noong huling dalawang sets.”

The Lady Generals took their turn making errant plays, allowing the Lady Blazers to grab a 15-7 lead in the fourth set and force a decider. Anchored by the imposing presence of their middle blockers Ranya Musa and Rachel Austero, the Lady Blazers raced to a 10-2 in the final set and sealed the win.

Austero finished with 17 points while Musa added 15. The pair also combined for seven of CSB’s 13 blocksm Austero also provided five aces.

The Lady Blazers (3-2) take on fellow Final Four aspirant Jose Rizal University (2-3) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Generals had no player score in double-digits as they pulled 48 points from Benilde’s errors. Yvette Tongco and Arina Reyes, nonetheless, provided nine points apiece.

The Lady Generals (0-5) get their best chance at their first of the season when they face also-ran Mapua University (0-4) also on Wednesday.

The Scores

CSB (3) – Austero 17, Musa 15, Cui 8, Ventura 8, Abriam 5, Daguil 5, Enginco 5, Cardiente 1, Pablo 1, Dolorito 0, Lim (L), Torres (L)

EAC (2) – Reyes 9, Tongco 9, Binondo 8, Lumbo 8, Tasis 4, Pablo 3, Magbanua 2, Chan 0, Yongco 0, Medina (L)

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Blazers rally from 0-2 deficit, fend off Generals for fourth win



Defending NCAA men’s volleyball champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers completed a huge comeback from an 0-2 hole and upended the gritty Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 19-25, 20-25, 25-7, 25-14, 15-11, Monday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Generals stormed through the first two sets, leaning on better transition and their service game. Joshua Mina and Chris Ilano poured in most of their combined 27 points in these frames.

Nonetheless, when the Blazers realized that they needed to turn up its aggressiveness, it was cruise control from there.

“Nung first two sets, nag-relaxed kami, ‘di kami aggressive sa atake, sa blocking,” Benilde senior middle blocker Jethro Orian lamented. “Eh yung kalaban, masipag sila.”

EAC imploded in the next two sets, coughing up most of its 41 miscues during the frame. The reigning champions capitalized on the situation with heightened aggression.

Halfway into the eliminations, Orian shared that the Blazers needed to continue their hard work.

“Kailangan pa naming mas maging aggressive. Mas tumrabaho sa dapat naming again,” he said.

Captain Isaah Arda registered a 19-point outing, 17 coming off attacks. Orian’s fellow center attacker Francis Basilan finished with 12 markers.

The Blazers (4-1) will battle the Jose Rizal University (0-5) on Wednesday.

Mina starred for the Generals with 16 points.

The Generals (2-3) will lock horns with Mapua University (2-2) on Thursday, in a tussle for survival.

The Scores:

CSB 3 – Arda 19, Basilan 12, Orian 9, Bacani 9, Bautista 9, Magsino 4, Rojas 1, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

EAC 2 – Mina 16, Ilano 11, Rasing 11, Castellano 8, Lim 6, Garcia 2, Guinto 1, Panoy 0, Lumbar 0, Magadan L, Bagdoc L.

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