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One Meralco Sports: United To Inspire

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At present, Meralco is not just known for providing electric power for most of the country, but also for its prominent teams in the world of local sport. The company boasts of teams in all of the three most popular sports in the land: the Meralco Power Spikers for volleyball (Shakey’s V-League), Loyola Meralco Sparks for football (United Football League), and Meralco Bolts (Philippine Basketball Association). To provide information to the general public regarding these teams Meralco set up a single website called OneMeralcoSports.com.

In a press launch last May 20, the company through its Sports and Advocacy chief Ryan Gregorio introduced the portal along with coaches and some members of the aforementioned sports teams. True to the thrust of One Meralco Sports, we sat down with a member of each of their sports teams: Aby Maraño of the Power Spikers, Curt Dizon of the Sparks, and Rey Guevarra of the Bolts, to shed light into the program through their own experiences.

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When did you start playing your sport?

Maraño shared, “Before ako mag-high school kasama ko ‘yung mga childhood friends ko, kasi we’re used to playing patintero, tagu-taguan, and all that. Come high school, nag-upgrade ‘yung nilalaro namin. Naging varsity ng volleyball ng respected schools yung mga childhood friends ko, so dinala nila ‘yung laro sa barkada.” The former UAAP MVP also shared that everyday after school, they would carry several hollow blocks just to have their posts of malunggay branches stand. She added that she once competed from court to court in Antipolo against men. “As in sir, walang ibang babae na naglalaro na katulad ko; kalaban puro lalaki. Talagang volleyball players din sila lahat, kaya dun ako nahasa,” Maraño stated.

The young lad from London (which is known to be a football-crazy nation), Dizon, started young in his sport. He said, “I started when I’m about six years old, just me and my dad. And from there I ended up playing 14-and-under. And at about 14 or so, [I was in] Crystal Palace.” When his contract expired with the academy, this U23 and senior men’s national team member went to Spain, before coming to the Philippines.

Guevarra, like Dizon, also started early with his father as his mentor. It also helped that his father was also a basketball player. The former NCAA standout said, “Daddy ko kasi basketball player din, so lumaki ako napapanuod ko s’ya. Lagi ako [ng] kasama ‘pag naglalaro siya and lagi din ako may hawak na bola kahit di pa ako nakakasali sa mga liga, tinuturuan na niya ako.” And from there, Guevarra went on to become one of the members of the Smart Gilas team – the former men’s national basketball team – before going to the big league.

How did they end up with Meralco?

With such talent, it is but natural for a team to be interested with these athletes. However, it was not easy, especially for Guevarra. The former Letran Knight suffered an ACL injury in his last year with his college team even before the season ended. After he recovered from ACL, he had a brief stint with Smart Gilas; and later he was drafted by Air21 Express in 2010. After that year, the athletic wingman joined Petron Blaze Boosters, where he won a Governor’s Cup title. Two years and two teams after, Guevarra has finally joined Meralco.

Dizon, on the other hand, was recruited by Azkals manager Dan Palami to come here. He shared, “I was in Spain at that time, a team from Division II – they contacted me then to play for Team Philippines. I played Division II for the next few months and then after that, I joined Global.” His former club was interested to get Matthew Hartmann, and Loyola wanted a player, so they traded these former U23 mainstays. That is how Dizon came into the Sparks.

Maraño started out as an employee of the company. The former De La Salle Lady Spiker admitted that a career in volleyball doesn’t last forever and that she needs to work with what she has learned during her four years in college. It was fortunate that Meralco has its own volleyball team. She also expressed her delight that some of her former teammates from La Salle are working for the firm.

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How do you describe your team’s culture?

Dizon shared that even though he just moved into Meralco, he already felt at home. “It is really just a family,” he started. The young star continued, “It makes football easier. Everyone comes into the training happy; have a story to tell.” That atmosphere made it easier for Dizon to adapt to his current squad. Having members of the national team on their squad such as Phil and James Younghusband, and Britain-raised players like Graham Caygill, made the transition a lot easier for him. “It just reminds me of home,” he concluded.

“We are very dedicated to our work. Andun talaga yung first priority.” Maraño started when asked about her team’s culture. Maraño explained that they still go to work before going to a game at the FilOil Flying V Arena. She also added that most of them juggle time at work and training. Maraño described her teammates as professional when it comes to both their day job and in volleyball. However, when they step into the court, she said, “Hindi mo na mapapansin ‘yung stress nila sa trabaho, talagang ‘pag sinabing volleyball, volleyball lang.”

Guevarra on his part included the whole company as part of the team. He stated that, “Napakaganda ng team. Iba ang suporta ng mga taga-Meralco from our boss hanggang sa mga nagwo-work for Meralco talagang nakasuporta silang lahat.”

We all know Meralco, especially your boss Mr. Manny Pangilinan, advocates sports, what can you say about it?

Guevarra can attest to this matter as he was once part of Smart Gilas, a team established up by MVP himself. The Bolts guard/forward said, “Napakalaking bagay ng suporta lalo na sa mga players, dahil siyempre ‘pag maganda [ang] suporta mas masarap maglaro dahil alam mo nandiyan sila sa likod nyo. Mas nakakainspire para sa mga players.”

Maraño shared, being an employee herself, that one of Meralco’s advocacy is really sports. She said, “Kasama sa value ng Meralco ‘yung malasakit eh. Hindi lang sa customers, but to its employees.” The Power Spikers middle blocker further stated that even to those players, who are not members of its workforce, felt that they are part of the company because of the support of the management.

“He’s really generous. Obviously, he has big interest in sports,” Dizon said about MVP. The Sparks striker added, “I personally appreciate [this]. He has given us the opportunity to do what we love, so everyone here just wants to thank him for all he’s done for us.”

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With the launch of their own sports site, Meralco aims to promote its company, specifically, its sports teams to its members and to the general public to aid in promoting its advocacy – to inspire younger generations of Filipinos get into sports. This could be a start that could spark more light and power to the country’s future.

Want to learn more about the Meralco sports teams and players? Want to know their next games and other events? Visit their site: www.onemeralcosports.com

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

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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 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 said 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 then 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, on the other hand, 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 though was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to talk about such. No one can blame him though, for the Barangay have drowned 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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Photo by PBA Images

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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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs

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It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have always struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue to stay as they are, it looks like it will be another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be an excuse.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” expressed Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco though has a chance to end their slump against Kia this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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Troy Rosario’s birthday wish: ‘I hope ma-sustain ko yung game na ganito’

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Photo from PBA Images

Troy Rosario had just turned 26 years old on Saturday. So when he suited up for TNT Katropa’s match versus Meralco Bolts the next day, he made sure to churn out a performance that is a perfect birthday present for him and the team.

The six-foot-seven forward turned to a conference-best outing of 22 points on an excellent 8-of-13 shooting along with 10 rebounds to power the Texters to a masterful 99-81 victory over the Meralco Bolts at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

“Parang na-extend yung birthday ko,” the third-year pro quipped. “Para sa’kin good year ito eh. Simula pa lang ng taon marami na kong blessings na natatanggap.

“Continue ko lang yung hard work na ginagawa ko kasi alam ko it will pay off anytime.”

“It’s just a product of Troy’s hard work,” said TNT head coach Nash Racela. “He takes a lot of shots before practice, and then even after practice, naiiwan talaga siya to take more shots.

“Not really surprised with the way he shot today.”

Rosario was averaging 13.25 points on 41.5 percent shooting prior to Sunday. But twice in their last four games, he only scored in single digits, and that is why the former NU Bulldog aims to be consistent for TNT in their next games.

“I hope ma-sustain ko yung game na ganito,” said the second overall pick of the 2015 PBA Rookie Draft. “Yun din yung hinahanap sa’min ng coaches eh, yung consistency sa laro.

“‘Di yung akyat-baba, akyat-baba.”

“It’s nice that he shot well while celebrating his birthday, but he also needs to shoot well during other days. That’s how you become consistent,” seconded Racela. “We just have to look for consistency.”

It was a Sunday full of celebrations indeed for Rosario. Aside from his birthday, the Katropa had also earned their second straight win — their first winning streak in the 2018 Philippine Cup after a 1-2 start.

For the Gilas Pilipinas veteran, this mini streak of theirs is a result of him and the Katropa regaining their groove as a collective.

“Nakukuha na namin yung laro namin,” said the second overall pick in the 2015 Rookie Draft.

“Nagkakaamuyan na. Sa tingin ko malaki yung tsansa namin ngayong all-Filipino at iangat pa namin yung level ng laro namin.”

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