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One-on-One: ‘The Rocket’ JC Intal continues to hit the heights

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By: Levi Verora Jr. and Frankie Galledo

Over the course of the 40th season of the PBA, we have documented the vast improvements of “The Rocket” JC Intal’s game. Gil Lopez even broke down Intal’s game in March 24’s Stats Don’t Lie: The Rocket Refueled.

In this edition of One on One, our PBA beat writer Levi Verora talks with Gil Lopez’s friend, Frankie Galledo, about the resurgence of JC Intal and how special of a player he is.

Levi Verora Jr.
Those seeing this resurgence by JC Intal… They should cherish the moment, because he might just be the last good traditional small forward in this era of positionless basketball.

Frankie Galledo
He’s the last prototypical SF you mean Levs. Slashing game (shot chart registers a green in the paint area), rebounding (8.3 in the conf and 4.3 for the season).
He has suddenly recaptured his mojo, quite surprising me.
Like we’re dealing with the 17-7-5 Intal here. Not that shell of a rocket in B-Meg where they didn’t even bother to make use of his slashing game.

Levi Verora Jr.
And I think he still manages to thrive in this era because of the many little things he does. Not a lot of this, a lot of that, but just a balanced combination of both — three-point game, inside game, rebounding, you name it.
I mean all, not both.

Frankie Galledo
Exactly. Even if he’s not that great of a shooter (29% so far), he has made it a point to keep attacking the rim for his team, which is where Intal is really good at.
It creates opportunities for the likes of Ababou, Lanete and Lastimosa (maybe even Forrester!) when the set just breaks down into an Intal dive down the middle.

Levi Verora Jr.
And it is amazing how he does stuff like this. It seems JC Intal is a basketball position. He’s no shooting guard. He’s no stretch four. No matter how you look at it, it’s just JC Intal. Prototypical SF.

Frankie Galledo
True that, true that. He’s the last remaining old-school SF who just plugs the lane, fills in the spaces, and lets everyone play off of him.
Just look at the guy’s statline. 18-8-3. Throw in a combined 2.0 steals-blocks and that insane FG shooting of 45.8% For the PBA standard, that’s pretty high already.
By the way, here’s the most important number of all so far in the Gov’s Cup resurgence of Intal: Barako goes way up terms of ORtg and the DRtg is an an absurd 90.8 with him on the floor.

Levi Verora Jr.
Insane by PBA standards you bet. And I wanted to make sure, so I took a handful of comparisons just to prove he is the last of his kind. Calvin Abueva plays 4, is very aggressive, and does not really possess reliable shooting from downtown. Marcio Lassiter is a wing guy. He is a volume shooter from deep. Sometimes he is a scoring guard. Ditto with Ababou, who is a 2-3. Jeff Chan and Larry Fonacier are more of three-point threats and are definitely better shooters than Intal. Gabe Norwood and Matt Rosser are your lengthy wing guys who are perimeter stoppers.

Frankie Galledo
You know what? JC Intal combined all of those people in one body.

Levi Verora Jr.
While Intal… where does he stack up among these players? He is just Intal. And it is amazing how he has made name for himself.

Frankie Galledo
He’s just…absurd. I mean, the guy impacts both the offense AND defense of Barako.

Levi Verora Jr.
Which also takes us back to the mid-2000s Ateneo roster with him. You can argue that all those teams are HIS teams.
Those are the last prototypical playmaker-shooting guard-small forward-POWER forward-big Ateneo units before Black took over.

Frankie Galledo
His last year with Ateneo was definitely his. Coz he did play with Larry and LA two years prior. but yes, the success of the Eagles then relied heavily on Intal’s play on both ends of the floor.

Levi Verora Jr.
Speaking of the last two years, say the unit of Macky Escalona-Chris Tiu-JC Intal-Doug Kramer-Japeth Aguilar/Rabeh Al-Hussaini.

Frankie Galledo

Photo from GetBlued

They were one insane Rabeh away from the ‘ship. Coz UST really had no chance of stopping the Rocket. Were you able to watch how he just gets into the paint whenever he wanted during that year? It’s happening again. in the PBA.

Levi Verora Jr.
That isn’t four-out. That isn’t “suitable” for today’s game. Try matching them up with let’s say the NU champion team with a point center in Alfred Aroga plus a couple of versatile forwards like Glenn Khobuntin and Troy Rosario. Or against FEU with a combo guard like Mike Tolomia and another floor-spacing big in Mac Belo.

Frankie Galledo
I think that’s throwing shade at Memphis for having a Gasol-ZBo frontcourt haha!
You forgot the Eagles had Zion Latterre. And Doug ain’t no lawnmower in the paint.

Levi Verora Jr.
But during that time, it was an ultra-competitive team. They lost to UST in the finale Intal was a beast during that season, because during that time he was a unique prototypical 3. Heck I even patterned my game after him in high school.

Frankie Galledo
I mean, dude, Ken Bono was the heaviest player I’ve seen play in the UAAP and Biceps just went at him.
Slash, drive, finish, dish, rebound…

Levi Verora Jr.
Well speaking of the Grizzlies, again there are exceptions like Kenneth Faried, or Mark Pingris, or HARVEY CAREY. The hustle guys. But unless you are multi-faceted these days, it’s hard to succeed.
Which makes Intal a special player.

Frankie Galledo
Zion Laterre was a hustle guy. But yeah, if Intal did not play well, Ateneo wasn’t running the same. Same goes for Barako in case he does suffer a regression.

Levi Verora Jr.
So obviously this has something to do with Bianca Gonzalez right? Throwing away all the advanced stats?

Frankie Galledo
It also makes sense that Barako has players that truly compliment Intal’s style like Lanete, Ababou and Lastimosa.
Says who Levi? I don’t do that. Haha!

Levi Verora Jr.
Hahaha! Well, it’s just amazing to see him succeeding until now. What a sight. Again, make sure to take advantage of the moment.
There might not be another JC Intal in the league.
Among the youngsters out there do you still see a traditional SF?

Frankie Galledo
Matt Ganuelas-Rosser maybe.
But that is until he develops some kind of jumpshot.

Levi Verora Jr.
But that is unless he develops that range.

Frankie Galledo
Or any kind of offense besides putbacks for that matter.

Levi Verora Jr.
Yeah, because when Intal entered the league he already possessed a mid-range game.

Frankie Galledo
I mean, right now, he can’t put the ball on the floor with confidence, he just knows when to cut, where to cut and jump higher than his man.

Levi Verora Jr.
Which is staple for 3 guys of the previous generation. We old Frankie. We old.

Frankie Galledo
I know! Haha. Well, Intal had that nifty go-to dribble pull-up (which sadly cost us the ‘ship) by the elbow area that he turned into an art in the regular season of the UAAP.

Levi Verora Jr.f
It was his best weapon outside of the slashing in my opinion and it carried over in the earlier part of his PBA career.
At least he was still able to extend his range until beyond the arc.

Frankie Galledo
Right now, I see that again in Barako and Koy Banal is utilizing Intal to get touches by his favorite elbow areas.

Levi Verora Jr.
And create opportunities from there should the defense react.
Final thoughts?

Frankie Galledo
Exactly. I don’t know with you man, but Koy Banal makes sure he gets the first move everytime and turns the defense of the opponent to a reactionary one rather than a proactive one.

Levi Verora Jr.
Savor the moment. Intal is Intal.

Frankie Galledo
I mean that in the sense that it seems the other team is content to let Intal get his touch then BAM, they’re dead.

Levi Verora Jr.
Ahhhh–mazing.

Frankie Galledo
Maybe against a better coach, Banal would actually have to improvise his offense to still get Intal his touches at his sweet spots (but that’s for another time).

Levi Verora Jr.
How do you see Intal in the last… 2-5 years of his career?
Given this era.

Frankie Galledo
He’ll eventually have to revert back to his defensive stopper self.
Well, scrap that.

Levi Verora Jr.
And become the best 35+ year old two-way player!

Frankie Galledo
Hahaha in our dreams Levi.
Maybe just develop into a slashing Paul Pierce or uhm, smaller Anthony Mason.
Just be the vet that would take a contender over the top.

Levi Verora Jr.
Or just be JC Intal, as usual. it’s just amazing to see him play at a high level in whatever competition.

Frankie Galledo
Yes, just be the Rocket for a game or two once his gas is near empty. I’m cool with that.

Levi Verora Jr.
Ayos!!!

Frankie Galledonblack
Maybe if he gets coached by CNB one last time…

Levi Verora Jr.
Nice. Who do you give up if you’re Meralco? Either one of Cliff Hodge or Sean Anthony? Give Barako a defender and let Ababou be their go to guy.
Anyway, I just want to see him succeed before he calls it a career.

Frankie Galledo
Uhm… Gary David? I mean, washed up gary David hahaha
I mean, do we really believe Barako would go for an equal trade? :))
If Frankie Lim can get his guys from SBC, why the heck can Norman Black not get his guys from Ateneo?

Levi Verora Jr.
Haha. But it’s not an SMC team so who knows. I’m just kidding, they might fine me.
Yes. Hopefully, that would be an awesome storybook finale

Frankie Galledo
Indeed. And it might get Macky Escalona out of retirement hahaha!

Levi Verora Jr.
Hahaha! Give Nico Salva the playing time he *deserves*

Frankie Galledo
Let me get my vomit bag for mentioning a wannabe…

Levi Verora Jr.
That’s it. There’s only one JC Intal.

Frankie Galledo
Never again.

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Football

Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory

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Photo from the-AFC.com

2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Basketball

Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’

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Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup

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Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been rehabilitating his injury and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has a lot of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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NCAA

Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win

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Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

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