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No Denden Lazaro for Foton; Ella De Jesus to suit up next conference

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The Foton Tornadoes opened their PSL All-Filipino cup with a straight set victory over the Cignal HD Spikers. Foton rookies, Nicole Tiamzon, Pam Lastimosa, and Angeli Araneta were exceptional playing in their first PSL match, with Tiamzon even managing to nab the Player Of The Game award. However, there is one rookie who was missing in action for the Foton Tornadoes, Ella De Jesus.

We were able to talk to Foton coach, Vilet Ponce De Leon, about Ella’s situation with the team, and what has happened with Denden Lazaro. Denden Lazaro and Ella De Jesus were integral in Ateneo’s back-to-back championships in the UAAP women’s volleyball division. Since her collegiate career had ended, Denden applied for the PSL and was drafted by Foton. After the draft, she was unable to commit to her team, citing prior commitments. She was then replaced by Ella, who did not play in her team’s first game. As it so happens, Coach Vilet is very familiar with Denden. “Si Denden kasi talagang noon pa gusto niyang maging doktor. Kasi I’ve known her from the start, nung bata pa siya,” shared Vilet. Coach Vilet mentioned that Denden really wants to play for the team, but after her grueling UAAP schedule, Denden’s parents planned on celebrating by going on a trip out of the country. Unfortunately for Denden and the team, her family’s trip abroad happens while the All Filipino-Cup conference is ongoing. “Gusto niyang maglaro, but ang sabi ng parents niya, mayroon silang plans kasi after graduation. May mga plans silang trip abroad and stuff. The tournament is from March, April, and May. Matatapos school niya March, so she’ll only have two months [with her family].” Apart from that, Denden will be going to Med school this year, which starts on June. It’s to be expected that the workload for Med school will take up most of Denden’s time, so her family  asked that the team give them this opportunity to spend time with her.

The team did not hold anything against Denden or her parents, fully understanding where they are coming from. “Eh may Med school siyang magsisimula ng June. Sa April kasi ang trip nila and committments nila na guesting. So maiiwan sa kaniya one month nalang with the family. So sabi sa akin ng parents, bigyan naman sila ng time with Denden, and we understand naman,” added Vilet. Ella De Jesus, meanwhile, was scheduled to be Denden’s replacement in the Foton lineup. But, like her Ateneo teammate, her schedule has interfered with her joining the team.

“Actually she really likes to, kaya lang yung schedule. Kakatapos lang ng UAAP diba? Alam naman na rigid ‘yung training nila, they’ve been training everyday, even Sundays. Although she still wants to suit up with us, but unfortunately after the championship ang dami pang ginagawa nilang nakaschedule. She wants kasi to be committed to the team eh, kung magjojoin siya, training, games, she wants to be there.

There’s nothing to worrry about, though, because Ella will be joining the team come next conference, when she no longer has any other responsibilities. And while it has not been easy for the team, they are fully supportive of what Ella is going through. “Although our team owner is really understanding naman talaga about her situation. We will not give her a difficult time nalang na mag-ganon. Mag-concentrate muna siya sa studies niya, then after that graduate and finish her committments. Next conference she will be back with us,” ended Coach Vilet.

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Basketball

PBA moves Ginebra-NLEX showdown from Legaspi to Pasay

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Due to the troubling activity of the Mayon Volcano in Bicol, the PBA has decided to postpone their tour in the said province.

In a short statement released on Wednesday afternoon, the league said that they will be transferring the venue of the Ginebra-NLEX match on February 3 from Legaspi City in Albay to Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

In view of the worsening condition of Mayon Volcano, we are transferring the venue of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel-NLEX Road Warriors game on February 3, 2018 from Legaspi City to the Cuneta Astrodome.

Albay has been put under a state of calamity as declared by its governor Francis Bichara due to the hazardous activity of the Mayon. The volcano, which was seen slowly spewing lava just days ago, is now on Alert Level 3.

The game will be the first-time Kiefer Ravena takes on the crowd-favorites.

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Willie Marcial on next PBA Commissioner: ‘It should either be an attorney or a marketing expert’

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The PBA is still in the midst of finding the league’s 10th commissioner. And if current officer-in-charge Willie Marcial is to be asked, the league’s next top executive should either be a legal or a marketing expert.

“Sa akin yung attorney o kaya (marunong) sa marketing,” Marcial told scribes during the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association Forum, Wednesday afternoon at the Tapa King restaurant inside Araneta Center in Cubao.

Marcial’s own criteria for the next commissioner is solidly based from the characteristics of previous commissioners he had worked with, from Leo Prieto in the early 1980s up to Chito Narvasa from 2015 to 2017.

The last two PBA commissioners have been Chito Salud, a lawyer, and Chito Narvasa, a businessman.

“May commisioner na ‘pag ito nagsabi nirerespeto. May commissioner na magaling sa marketing. May commissioner na magaling sa mga rules. May commissioner naman na talagang disiplinado,” he said.

But for the former media bureau chief, it does not matter on whoever will assume the head office next, as he believes that the league has enough manpower to run the league regardless of the next commish.

“Tatakbo naman ang PBA ‘pag ito mga kasama mo,” said the league’s long-time external affairs and communications head, pointing at his technical committee in Eric Castro, Roscelle Teotico, and Jun Bengua. “Alam na nila eh. Alam nila mga sistema, lalo sa mga matatagal na sa PBA. Mahal nila ang PBA. Kaya kung sino magiging susunod na commissioner, ‘wag silang magalala sa mga empleyado ng PBA.

“Hindi nila pababayaan ang PBA.”

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OIC Willie Marcial insists ‘walang pagbabago’ in return of physical play in PBA

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The return of physicality in PBA games early this 43rd season has drawn raves from the coaches and the fans. At last, the matches are decided by the players themselves and not by the way the referees blow their whistles.

All the fans, the players, and ultimately the coaches have been longing for this, as physical play had been heavily controlled during the administration of former commissioner Chito Narvasa from 2015 to 2017.

“The games are being called a little differently now. They’re allowing a little bit more contact or a lot more contact,” said Meralco Bolts head coach Norman Black.

“I love it. I’m an old school guy so you can imagine. No harm, no foul.”

“The physicality’s good. It’s good for the game. It’s real men going at it,” opined Alaska Aces head coach Alex Compton on the other hand, seconding Black’s sentiments.

“I like the direction the league is going in with officiating.”

It is just one of the many positive changes that are currently taking place in the league under the management of officer-in-charge Willie Marcial. But he insisted that tweaks haven’t really been made in terms of calling games.

“Wala, pinapalaro lang namin. Walang pagbabago yun,” said the amiable league official on Monday evening, when he paid Gilas Pilipinas a surprise visit at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.

“Pinapalaro lang namin yung mga players.”

All that he’s doing, according to Marcial, is simply reminding the referees to be firm with their calls.

“Sinabihan ko lang yung mga referees na, ‘Manindigan kayo kung ano talaga.'”

With more consistent calls comes the shorter duration of games compared to the past two seasons, as time-consuming reviews by referees and officials has not occurred in matches too often this season.

“Mas mabilis na (mga laro ngayon),” said Marcial, also the league’s former external affairs and communications head.

“One hour (and) 56 (minutes), one hour 52… ‘Di umaabot ng dalawang oras eh.”

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Boxing

Manny Pacquiao eyes bout against Vasyl Lomachenko

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Even if he has hinted at retirement numerous times, Senator Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38KO) continues to stress that the time is not yet now.

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Wednesday morning, the 39-year-old sure hall of famer reiterated his stance that he and his camp are still looking for the best fights possible.

“I am not retired yet. Alam mo na-mimiss ko yun boxing e,” Pacquiao told Karen Davilla.

“I’m still okay.”

Pacquiao, who lost his last bout against Jeff Horn last July 2, is not afraid that another loss might affect his legacy.

Pressed about who he wants to fight next, boxing’s only eight-division world champion disclosed that he is currently under negotiations with the camp of WBO Super Featherweight Champion Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8KO).

“Wala akong problema kung Amir Khan. May discussion din ngayon kay Lomachenko, he is the number one pound-for-pound fighter,” Pacquiao shared.

“Hindi pa na-finalize pero this year.”

Pacquiao is eyeing an April date for the bout, as it will be the time the senate goes on a break.

“This year, by April. Pangako ko sa mga tao na hindi maapektuhan ang trabaho ko. April, magandang idea dahil off kami from March 23 to May 13. April wala kaming trabaho,” a confident Pacquiao added.

“Three months is more than enough time to prepare.”

However, there is still one hindrance to the bout, according to Pacquiao. The two camps have yet to agree on which weight class the bout will be held.

According to reports, Lomachenko wants the bout to be at lightweight — a division Pacquiao has not been in for the last 10 years.

“Hindi pa sure. Nag-uusap pa about sa timbang.”

One thing is for sure — Pacquiao is hungrier than ever.

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