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NU wins Back-to-Back Men’s Badminton Championships, beats DLSU

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Winning a championship is hard for any given team. Successfully defending it the following year can only be done by a special team. Clinching two straight championships while going undefeated across two seasons is a special achievement in the UAAP.

The NU Bulldogs clinched its second straight UAAP Men’s Badminton championship at the expense of DLSU, extending their undefeated streak to eighteen ties which started in Season 77.

It’s been an incredible year for NU as they also grabbed individual honors. Keeyann Gabuelo was named Rookie of the Year and Ariel Magnaye was declared as Most Valuable Player this Season 78.

Ros Pedrosa started the tone for NU when he came up against Anton Cayanan of DLSU in the first singles match. Pedrosa breezed through the first game with Cayanan, showing little resistance to the former’s dominance. Pedrosa won the first game 21-11.

The second game was a different story but it had a same ending as Pedrosa won again against a much improved Cayanan. Cayanan improved in the second game but still wasn’t able to impose himself with Pedrosa leading the whole way. There was no turning back for Pedrosa once he led 19-16 to eventually win 21-18.

Rookie of the Year awardee Gabuelo was called up by NU to compete against his long time opponent Kenneth Monterubio of DLSU for the second singles match. It was a thrilling three game contest with both competitors maintaining their intensity from the start till finish.

Monterubio earned first blood with a comeback win over Gabuelo. Gabuelo led 12-15 after the interval only for Monterubio to equalize at 16-16. From then on, the two players scored points out of each others’ faults which led to Monterubio winning the first game 21-18 via a fault from Gabuelo.

Not to let the loss of the first game bring him down, Gabuelo stormed back to win the second game 22-20. Gabuelo and Monterubio were neck and neck with each other starting from the get go. The situation became more tense when Gabuelo leveled the scores at 17-17 with a powerful smash. Two successive points by Monterubio gave him a 17-19 lead but Gabuelo wasn’t fazed and forced a deuce. After earning a 21-20 lead over Monterubio, Keeyan then forced his opponent to make a fault to secure the second game 22-20.

Determined to not be beaten by Gabuelo for a third time in singles competition this season, Monterubio obtained a narrow third game win over the Bulldog with a score of 21-19. It was a close bout all the way with the scores being level numerous times in the third game. Things took a turn for Monterubio when he led 19-18 due to a Gabuelo fault. Monterubio commited a fault of his own afterwards but he scored two consecutive points to give DLSU its first match of the finals series.

Cayanan returned with Gerald Sibayan for DLSU while Ariel Magnaye accompanied Alvin Morada for the first doubles match of the tie. The DLSU pair of Cayanan and Sibayan attained a close 22-20 first game win over their NU counterparts. NU had a 15-11 lead coming from the interval but DLSU brought the game to life after scoring four straight points to make it 15-15. It was a matter of scores being leveled afterwards with NU committing a fault to hand DLSU a deuce situation. DLSU took advantage of NU’s mistake to win the first game 22-20.

Magnaye and Morada played better in the second game, completely outplaying Cayanan and Sibayan to win 21-9. The NU duo led all the way from the start with DLSU struggling to find an answer to the former’s superiority.

Cayanan and Sibayan wanted to make up for the debacle in the second game, giving Magnaye and Morada a harder run for their money with both teams leveling each others scores. NU then forced the interval after a service fault to lead 11-10. It was the same tale after the interval until NU managed to lead 19-15. DLSU tried to make a comeback at 19-20 but it was to no avail as NU finally won the third game 21-19.

By this point of the tie, NU was leading 2-1 versus DLSU. Pedrosa and Paul Gonzales had the opportunity to claim the championship for NU in the second doubles match. Standing in their way were the Monterubio brothers Kenneth and Joshua of DLSU.

Determined to prolong the finals series for DLSU, the Monterubio brothers were clearly the more determined pair in the first game compared to Pedrosa and Gonzales. Pedrosa and Gonzales had a commanding 6-14 lead, only for DLSU to make a resurgence and lead 20-15. NU scored three uninterrupted points to cut the deficit to 18-20 but DLSU remained composed to win 21-18.

Pedrosa and Gonzales made no mistake in the second game, conquering the Monterubio brothers 21-15 to even out the match. NU dictated the tempo, not surrendering the lead at least once in the second game. A resounding lead of 19-13 gave NU the initiative to finish the game and they did so at the expense of a stunned DLSU.

In what was ultimately the last game of Season 78, both NU and DLSU went all out to either conclude or stretch the finals series. It was a hard fought game to the end but Pedrosa and Gonzales squeaked it for NU over DLSU’s Monterubio brothers with a score of 22-20. It was a pulsating third game with scores being equalized at each turn. NU then led 20-19 only to shoot themselves on the foot, forcing a deuce due to a service fault. At 20-20, NU maintained their composure in the endgame to win 22-20 and clinch a back-to-back UAAP Men’s Badminton Championships.

While his players were celebrating, NU coach Jojo Mance was at a loss of words with what his team achieved this season. “Masayang, masaya lang”, is all that he can muster.

In the end, it has been a dramatic UAAP Season 78 Men’s Badminton Tournament. NU are worthy champions with DLSU enjoying a successful season themselves. NU very much look like favorites for a third straight championship come Season 79 and it would take a brave person to bet against them.

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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Vic Manuel says Alaska yet to return to contender status

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Photo by PBA Images

Even if they have won their third straight game coming from a 0-2 start in the 2018 Philippine Cup, Vic Manuel thinks that it’s still not enough to tell that the Alaska Aces should be considered as one of the topflight teams in the league.

“Hindi pa rin masabi, kasi lahat ng team ngayon, talagang malalakas na eh, hindi na basta-basta easy yung mga game eh,” said “The Muscleman” Sunday night, after he and the Aces took down Barangay Ginebra, 97-83, at the Ynares Center.

The way the Aces have been playing this 2018 is remarkably different from the way they did last 2017, where they raked in more losses than wins. For Manuel, it’s partly because of the team regaining their competitive fire.

“Sa practice pa lang, talagang nakikipag-compete eh. Walang easy kahit sa practice, talagang bigay-todo lahat,” said the 30-year-old, who has been with Alaska since 2014.

“Sobrang aggressive, kaya yun, nadadala namin sa game.”

It also helps that the Milkmen have been healthy so far this season, unlike last year where they couldn’t even field a complete line-up in almost every outing. Manuel knows it too well, as he had been injury-plagued last season.

“Yung injury ko talaga, hindi madali eh, kasi sa tuhod talaga, sa left knee,” said the six-foot-four forward from Nueva Ecija. “So pinu-push nila ako kung ano ang kailangan ko gawin. Ayun, nagbubunga naman lahat.”

Now, eyes are on the Aces if they can keep this streak of theirs going. And for Manuel, who led the Aces with 18 points and five rebounds against the Gin Kings, all they need to do is to sustain what they have right now in their next games.

“Kailangan every game, focused pa rin kami, mas maging aggressive kami,” he said.

“Kung anong mga ginagawa namin nitong mga last three games namin, kailangan dalhin pa namin sa mga susunod naming games.”

Apologies to LA Tenorio

After the bout, Manuel had actually planned to approach Ginebra’s star point guard LA Tenorio regarding the spat they figured into late in the third quarter, after the former undercut the much bigger Manuel near the rim.

But Manuel made it clear that he wasn’t going after Tenorio to get back at him. All that he wanted to do was to apologize, as he found out that Tenorio was just trying to help him get back up and not trying to instigate something.

“Sabi niya, ‘bakit mo ako binigyan? Itatayo na nga kita eh.’ Nahiya din ako sa kanya. Magso-sorry sana ako, eh wala eh, lumayo na siya eh,” Manuel shared with a chuckle.

“Lalapitan ko sana eh, pero umalis agad.”

That incident was just one of the many things that frustrated Tenorio. Aside from absorbing their second straight loss, he couldn’t get things going, as he only scored five on a dismal 1-of-13 shooting from the floor.

“Magandang bonus din sa’min yun kasi medyo masama yung nilaro niya,” said Manuel.

“Swerte na lang siguro kami.”

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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’

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For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence

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For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense

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A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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