Connect with us
[adinserter block="13"] [adinserter block="3"]

NU Bulldogs clinch three-peat, dispatch UST in Finals



One is a dream. Two is destiny. Three is a dynasty.

The National University (NU) Bulldogs claimed their third straight UAAP championship as they upended the resilient University of Santo Tomas (UST), 3-1. The UAAP 77 Men’s Tennis tournament ended on Saturday, February 21 at the Olivarez College Tennis Center.

UAAP 74 Rookie of the Year and UAAP 75 Most Valuable Player Leander Lazaro started the tie for the back-to-back champions against rookie Francis Lanzado. In the end, the veteran swept the newcomer in straight sets, 6-2 6-0. Lazaro started out well, breaking the very first service game of Lanzado as the Thomasian succumbed to errors early on. After NU consolidated the break of serve, Lanzado was able to hold his ensuing service game, which limited the former MVP to a few points. Lazaro then breezed through the next few games with a combination of excellent serving and winners, which caused more errors on the UST side. Lanzado fought hard in his last service game of the match and in the following game, but it was the championship experience of Lazaro that seized the win for NU.

Over at the other court, the strong tandem of Bulldogs Jigo Peña and Al Madrio dominated Francis Patiño and Joel Cabusas in the first set. The usual string net play and serving of the NU duo paved the way for the first set. After the Tiger Tennisters held the first service game, Peña and Madrio swept the next six games to win the set, 6-1. However, it was a struggle for the Bulldogs, as the two teams played down-the-wire in the fourth game of the match. It was an overhead winner by Madrio that won it for NU.

It was a different story in the next set with Patiño and Cabusas, who took early control by breaking NU’s serve in the first game. UST was able to consolidate this in the following game but not without resistance from their opponents. After a see-saw battle in the next games that pegged the count at two games all, the Tiger Tennisters gained momentum and went on to win the next games, 6-2. Frustration kicked in for the Bulldogs as UST had thwarted their strategy. The Thomasians also played well on service and manned the net diligently, barring any attack from NU.

Meanwhile, in the second singles match, reigning MVP Fritz Verdad made short work of UST team captain Bernanlou Bering. It was an all-around great game from the fourth-year veteran as he pounced on Bering in all aspects. The Tiger skipper only managed to obtain points on the scoreboard when the erstwhile solid Verdad committed errors on return and on service. After losing the first point of the seventh game, NU forced UST to commit errors that clinched the first set, 6-3.

Bering stood his ground in the following set after taking the first game and the early lead. That was his last move as Verdad swept through the next six games to win the match, 6-1. The patient play worked magic for the Bulldogs’ stalwart as he won most of the succeeding points on timely returns and winners.

Shifting back to the doubles event, Patiño and Cabusas built up their momentum in the previous set as they pulled one off Peña and Madrio. It was a tight battle all throughout for the Bulldogs tandem, who hoped to seal it for the defending champions, but UST had other plans. The Tiger Tennisters led the deciding set 3-1 as NU’s Peña committed a double fault. The Bulldog junior redeemed himself as he and Madrio forced UST into errors while scoring winners of their own. The shaky service game of NU, however, proved detrimental when Patiño and Cabusas bounced back from three match points down and drove NU to errors to take the lead 6-5 and move one game closer to pulling one back for the second seeds.

Two successive errors against UST almost sent the third set of first doubles match into a tiebreak. But three straight miscues by Madrio and Peña made it match point for UST. NU was able to force deuce but after two long rallies, Patiño and Cabusas completed the upset for UST and won the set and the match, 1-6 6-4 7-5.

With the tie still left to be decided, the third singles and the second doubles matches were played simultaneously. It was the young duo of Francis Alcantara and John Accion who unleashed the final blow on the chances of the Tiger Tennisters because after dropping the gruelling first set tiebreak, the Bulldogs swept the following sets, 6-1 6-3. NU was able to control the pace of the match having a good all-around game.

The final singles match of the tie was played with Dheo Talatayod manning the court for the Bulldogs. The veteran started strong taking UST’s Francisco Santos to school, 6-1. But as the final point of the second doubles match was won, the burly senior also ran into the festive celebration.

At the awarding ceremonies, season hosts University of the East (UE) took their third-place trophy. UE head coach Numero Lim exclaimed his pride for his wards, “sa history ng UE, ngayon lang ulit nag-third place sa tennis.” The Red Warriors last stepped on the UAAP podium in 2006 when they placed third, after UST and University of the Philippines. UST bounced back from their fourth-place finish last year to being this year’s runners-up. The win sparked hope for this UAAP powerhouse to obtain the General Champion award.

Along with the championship trophy, it was a sweet victory for ace player Verdad as he was awarded his second MVP plum in a row. The Bulldog junior said of his win, “Masaya kasi hindi ko ineexpect. Nakuha ko na yung gusto kong isa(ng trophy), pero nakuha ko tong back-to-back.” Coach Karl Santamaria was also proud of his team and said, “Kung makikita nila ang NU dominant, pero ang hindi nakikita is how the players worked hard for this.” Santamaria also said that this win was the sweetest because of the challenges they faced throughout the season.

Click image for the UAAP Season 77 Men’s Tennis Awarding Ceremony:



Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

Click to comment

Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win



Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu skills to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the fighters returned to their feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

Continue Reading


Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots



Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to the Mahindra Floodbuster.

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

Continue Reading


Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics



FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover by the six-foot-four forward.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far, not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he had been frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

Continue Reading


Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win



Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

Continue Reading