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NLEX tows Alaska with huge fourth quarter rally



Down big during the third quarter, the NLEX Road Warriors outscored the Alaska Aces by 11 fourth quarter points en route to a 113-102 win and notch their second win held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday.

The Road Warriors started strong as they cruised to a 14-5 advantage early as they made five of their first seven attempts from the floor. NLEX used good ball movement to pour in the points while Alaska struggled making their baskets from the interior. Aside from their good opening quarter defense, the bigs of the Road Warriors also piled up the early rebounds to dictate the tempo early on. Cyrus Baguio made back-to-back treys to trim the lead but was quickly answered by Michael Madanly.

Halfway through the quarter, NLEX was still in front at 22-14. Baguio was the lone bright spot in the opening minutes for the Aces in the opening frame with his hot shooting from downtown but the NLEX starters responded to maintain the lead. In the last four minutes however, Alaska used an 11-2 scoring spree to slice end the quarter only down by two. Calvin Abueva and Eric Menk came off the bench and did the necessary damage to chip into the deficit.

In the second quarter, the ageless Asi Taulava scored six out of the Road Warriors’ first eight points to once again distance themselves from the Aces. Abueva and Romeo Travis committed back-to-back turnovers that haunted the Aces to grab the lead at that point. With NLEX playing zone, wide open shots by the Aces did not drop that led to transition plays on the other end. A triple by KG Canaleta gave his team a 47-40 edge. With 3 ½ minutes left in the first half, a flurry of baskets were made by both teams as they combined for 27 points with NLEX still up at the half.

Alaska went cooking in the start of the second half as they romped up a 16-2 scoring juggernaut and take a huge lead in less than six minutes. The Aces piled up the steals and played solid defense while also knocking down their free throws in that span. Down by as much as 13 points, the Road Warriors refuse to give up and built their run of their own. Taulava and Alexander anchored the late rally by their squad to chop the lead down to two.

Cardona and Taulava combined for five quick points for the Road Warriors to open up the last quarter and take an 88-85 lead. Aces would respond with Romeo Travis scoring four points of his own to swing the lead back to their favor. This signalled a back-and-forth exchange between the two teams for next five minutes. The Road Warriors extended their scoring by a bit with Jonas Villanueva finding Enrico Villanueva to reinstall a five-point lead.

With a little over two minutes to go in the game, Alaska came up with a steal but Travis layup went in and out, thus making Mark Cardona went coast-to-coast on the other end. The four-point swing gave NLEX a 103-96 lead that triggered the Aces to call for a timeout. Alaska failed to convert after the ceasefire as they gave away four more points that practically sealed the deal for NLEX. The Road Warriors further increased their lead to 109-99 and the dying seconds served to be garbage time for both teams.

The two imports of the Road Warriors combined for 56 points and 20 boards. Asi Taulava added 20 more markers and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. They had more paint points, 56-36 and more second chance points, 16-11.

NLEX snaps their two-game losing skid with this win and improve to a 2-4 record. Alaska meanwhile, drops to 4-2.

NLEX will next face the San Miguel Beermen on Friday, June 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum while Alaska’s next assignment will be up against Kia Carnival on the same date.

The Scores:

NLEX(113) – Alexander 28, Madanly 28, Taulava 20, Cardona 15, Canaleta 6, Villanueva E. 5, Villanueva J. 4, Arboleda W. 3, Borboran 0, Lingganay 0, Ramos 0
Alaska(102) – Travis 31, Baguio 23, Banchero 14, Casio 12, Jazul 8, Abueva 6, Thoss 2, Manuel 2, Menk 2, Dela Cruz 2, Dela Rosa 0, Hontiveros 0, Exciminiano 0

Quarters: 31-29, 60-54, 83-85, 113-102

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Tireless J-Jay Alejandro heads from D-League game to Gilas training



Former NU Bulldogs captain J-Jay Alejandro was at the Pasig Sports Center Monday afternoon, making his debut for the Go for Gold Scratchers. After their 75-68 win over Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers, he immediately packed his bags and headed for the exit.

Why was he in a rush? He did not want to be late for Gilas later on.

PHOTO by PBA Images

“Sayang, malapit na ako eh. Pasig lang. Walang showbiz-showbiz, malapit lang talaga,” shared Alejandro, who had five points, five rebounds, seven assists, and two steals for Go for Gold. “Wala rin akong gagawin kasi.

“Tsaka minsan lang magpa-tawag ng practice, every Monday lang, so sayang ‘yung chance makapag-practice.”

The 6-foot-2 combo guard was a much-needed body by the pool of Gilas as only eight players suited-up for Monday’s session. Besides helping out the seniors team, the 22-year-old is looking at the sessions as a way to not just improve but also get in touch with his former collegiate foes.

“Well, ganoon talaga eh. Player, mapapagod at mapapagod ka talaga,” said the All-UAAP team member.

“Pero nakakasama ko sila Arvin Tolentino, sila CJ Perez, tsaka ‘yung ibang mga PBA players, siyempre experience ‘yun eh, tsaka learning process din sa akin.”

Moreover, he knows that being under the tutelage of coach Chot Reyes will only do wonders for him, especially with the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft just months away.

“Mas pisikal talaga sa PBA. ‘Yun, kung paano mo gagamitin ang utak mo pati ‘yung katawan mo sa tamang posisyon sa laro, makukuha ko yun rito,” he said.

“Well sa akin kasi, ‘yung mapabilang ka sa Gilas, mapabilang lang ang pangalan mo sa Gilas, sobrang fortunate na ako, sobrang blessed na ako,” Alejandro added.

“And siguro sa akin, may opportunity na nag-open, so iga-grab ko na lang — either PBA or Gilas.”

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Loaded Wangs-Letran wallops AMA in debut



Armed with new recruits, the Wangs Basketball-Letran Knights embarked on its new chapter with a rousing 93-75 rout of the AMA Online Education Titans, Tuesday afternoon at the Pasig Sports Center.

Everyone clicked for the Couriers with Bong Quinto spearheading the blowout with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.

Newcomer Bonbon Batiller added 15 markers, five boards, and three dimes in his debut, while starting point guard JP Calvo chipped in 12 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.

Christian Fajarito also registered 11 markers and nine boards, while Alex Mandreza had 10 points for Wangs-Letran.

Despite the promising showing, coach Jeff Napa said that he still wants to see more from his Couriers moving forward.

“Masaya kami syempre dahil nanalo. Pero marami pa rin kaming kailangang gawin,” he said as he wanted more from the Knights after outrebounding the Titans, 57-44.

Quinto and Calvo triggered Wangs-Letran’s second quarter pullaway to establish the 38-26, lead which grew to as high as 22 points, 81-59 in the payoff period.

Michael Cañete topscored AMA with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Kris Porter had 13 in the defeat.

Wangs-Letran will have vengeance on their minds on Monday, January 29 when it takes on NCAA tormentors Che’lu- San Sebastian Revellers. AMA, on the other hand, will have a tough assignment when it takes on the Zark’s-Lyceum Jawbreakers on Thursday, January 25.

The Scores:

Wangs-Letran 93 — Quinto 19, Batiller 15, Calvo 12, Fajarito 11, Mandreza 10, Trinidad 8, Publico 6, Vacaro 4, Balagasay 3, Ambohot 3, Muyang 2.

AMA Online Education 75 — Cañete 20, Porter 13, Escalambre 11, Casiño 10, Antonares 6, Manalang 6, Garcia 4, Ng 3, Parcero 2, Bragais 0, Carpio 0, Paras 0, Raflores 0, Salonga 0.

Quarterscores: 16-13, 44-35, 67-52, 93-75.

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Jovie Prado, Arellano make epic comeback against Perpetual to remain unscathed



The defending NCAA Women’s Volleyball champions Arellano University Lady Chiefs would just not give up.

Down two sets, the Lady Chiefs turned back the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas in five thrilling sets, 22-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-5, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Outside hitter Jovielyn Prado and middle attacker Andrea Marzan showed up and produced their expected numbers in this crucial tussle at 20 and 16 points, respectively.

Head coach Obet Javier was still optimistic that his players could pull it off after the 0-2 hole. “Siyempre, kailangan mong magtiwala sa players mo,” he said.

The long-time coach added, “Nung first two sets, ang pangit ng laro namin. Siguro sa game, lumabas lang ‘yung maturity ng players ko at ‘yung pusong champion.”

It was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout the day, but the deciding set was all Arellano, as setter Sarah Verutiao fired off vicious serves after another and virtually bag the win with a 10-1 lead.

Bianca Tripoli registered 20 markers to pace the Lady Altas.

At 6-0, the reigning queens will try to extend their longest winning run in the league to 19 when they face fellow unscathed San Beda College (5-0) on Friday. Perpetual (4-2) will take on Mapua University (0-5) on Tuesday, January 30.

The Scores:

AU 3 – Prado 20, Marzan 16, Arocha 14, Ebuen 7, Esguerra 4, Ramirez 1, Bello 1, Balanoba 0, Donato 0, Flores L, Buema L.

UPHSD 2 – Tripoli 20, Imbo 19, Clements 12, Verzosa 6, Llorente 5, Gual 3, Sangalang 3, Estanislao 0, Rosal 0, Umandal 0, Medalla L.

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Matt Nieto looks forward to learning from Jio Jalalon, Jayson Castro



When Matt Nieto made his way into the Meralco Gym on Monday evening, the 20-year-old quickly changed his clothes after receiving his Gilas jersey. And once he got dressed, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles’ floor general quickly went to work, as he wanted to absorb everything he can from the night’s session.

“Actually na-star struck ako. ‘Di ako makapaniwala na nandito ako eh,” expressed the six-foot point guard.

Playing and practicing with the players they idolized growing up has been a theme for almost all of the 23 for 2023 cadets. The same could be said about the wide-eyed Nieto, as he could not believe he was side-by-side with the present and the future of the game in Jayson Castro and Jiovani Jalalon.

“Nakita ko pa lang si idol Jiovani Jalalon, nakikita ko parang… di ako makapaniwala na sa isang practice magkasama kami.

“Sila Kiefer [Ravena], lalo na si Jalalon talaga at si Jayson Castro kasi talagang idol ko talaga sila eh. Napapasma nga ako nung una eh kasi parang baka akalain nila ‘sino ba to?’,” the one-time UAAP champion shared.

Nervous, Nieto tried to talk to Castro and Jalalon numerous times during the practice. The two did not turn, welcoming the young buck with open arms.

“Nung nakausap ko na sila medyo na ano na kasi hindi lang sila magaling, sobrang bait pa nila. Madali akong naka-adjust kaagad dito,” he beamed.

Coach Chot Reyes has high expectations with Nieto, as he is being groomed as one of the leaders for the 2023 team. Still, he knows that there is still a long way to go for him.

To become a better leader, the second-generation Blue Eagle knows who to reach out to.

“Gusto ko matuto kay Jayson pati kay Jiovani kasi same position kami. And of course yung leadership ni Kiefer, yung mentality na talagang laban kung laban.

“Gusto ko marami matutunan sa kanila kasi wala pa eh, wala pa ako sa peak ko. Sila andun na. So marami talaga akong matututunan sa kanila kasi sobrang galing nila at sobrang dami na nilang na-achieve sa kanilang basketball career,” Nieto gushed.

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