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Pablo-less Philips Gold lean on Bo to gain top seed



The Philips Gold Lady Slammers, with a depleted lineup, relished the splendid efforts of import Bojana Todorovic and bench hitter Kai Nepomuceno. The Lady Slammers thwarted the defending champs Petron Blaze Spikers in four sets, 28-30, 29-27, 25-17, 25-23, in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

Opening the match with vigor, the Lady Slammers built an early four-point lead, 16-12, before Petron mounted their comeback. Trailing 20-22, Petron got a lift from consecutive Philips Gold hitting errors and tied the match. Trading errors and untimely miscues, both teams dragged the set into a prolonged deuce, which Petron claimed through another duo of errors from Philips Gold.

Petron import Rupia Inck burst through at the start of the second frame, scoring three straight points for an 8-5 Petron lead. Todorovic then came alive, scoring nine straight points and pushing Philips ahead, 13-11. Philips kept Petron at bay with smart attacking and gained multiple cracks to reach set point at 24-21. The Blaze Spikers, however, refused to go down, getting clutch points from Rachel Daquis and Frances Molina to force another deuce. Petron nearly stole the set again after Aby Maraño fired a down-the-line attack that gave the Blaze Spikers a 27-26. Todorovic the replied with an emphatic off-the-block hit to tie the set. Petron’s Brazilian imports Rupia Inck and Erica Adachi ended the set, dumping two errors.

A salvo of emphatic kills from both sides opened the third set. Philips Gold broke away Alexis Olgard and Todorovic put away two straight kills for a 13-9 advantage. Petron trimmed the deficit down to as few as two, 14-16, but a stretch of five straight errors buoyed Philips Gold to a 22-15 lead and Petron never recovered.

To retaliate, Petron started the fourth set strong and took an 8-5 lead. But the Lady Slammers seemed to have their number, amping up their defensive intensity and overpowering the Blaze Spikers. Philips quickly tied the set and, behind the attacking of trio Todorovic, Nepomuceno, and Olgard, gained a sizable 23-19 lead. Petron, like a Walker that refused to die, grabbed the Lady Slammers by the heel and dragged them down, eventually trimming the lead down to one, 23-24, after a Iumi Yongco service error. Michele Gumabao, however, dug her team out, putting away an off-speed hit that sealed their victory.

Todorovic notched a season-best 38 points, the second-most points ever scored in the PSL, and added nine excellent digs to boot. Her fellow Philips import, Alexis Olgard, paced the offense with 21 markers off 16 attacks, four blocks, and an ace. Nepomuceno, who came in for her fellow NU Lady Bulldog Myla Pablo, scored 10 points.

Pablo missed the match to attend to academic concerns. Despite not having practiced with the starting six at all, Philips Gold head coach Francis Vicente says he was fully confident that Nepomuceno would deliver. “Noong Sunday ko na nalaman na hindi makakalaro si Myla. Hindi pa nga nakapagpractice si Kai kasi may dysmenorrhea kahapon. Pero confident talaga ako sa kanya, kahit dati pa, before siya sumali ng Philips Gold, alam ko na ang kakayanan niyan ni Kai,” said Vicente who coached Nepomuceno in the UAAP with the NU Lady Bulldogs.

The win planted the Lady Slammers firmly on top of the standings to end the elimination round with an 8-2 slate. Petron dropped to second at 7-3. Petron and Philips could face either Cignal or Foton depending on how the final match of the elimination round goes.

Rupia Inck garnered a team-high 26 points. Former PSL MVPs Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Rachel Daquies went for 13 and 11 points respectively.

The Scores

Philips Gold (3) – Todorovic 38, Olgard 21, Nepomuceno 10, Gumabao 6, Dadang 2, Dowd 2, Espelita 0, Sy 0, Yongco 0, Crisostomo (L), Gohing (L)

Petron (1) – Rupia 26, Manabat 13, Daquis 11, Maraño 8, Molina 3, Adachi 2, Aganon 2, Masangkay 0, Morada 0, Cayetano 0, Reyes (L)


Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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Marc Pingris wants Rafi Reavis to break Robert Jaworski’s record



Marc Pingris was all praises for veteran Rafi Reavis Saturday night, as the 40-year-old center made his presence felt in the Magnolia Hotshots’ 97-91 victory — their third straight win — over Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The six-foot-nine Reavis finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks — a performance perfectly punctuated by a follow-up of a Paul Lee miss with 12.5 seconds left to play that knocked out the Fuel Masters for good.

“Papasalamat ako kay Rafi na talagang kababalik lang niya pero binigay niya talaga lahat,” said Pingris after the bout, as Saturday night was just Reavis’ second outing in the 2018 Philippine Cup after recovering from a hip injury.

“Nag-usap nga kami kanina e, hindi pa siya 100 percent. So bukas, ang sabi niya babalik daw siya sa gym dahil gusto niya ibalik yung lakas ng legs dahil wala pa daw,” added the 36-year-old, who also suffered a hip injury last season.

Reavis has been playing in the league for 16 years. Seeing the work he has put in, Pingris, who finished the game with 17 rebounds, four assists, four points and two blocks, believes that the 10-time PBA champion can play for 10 more years — at least.

“You know naman Rafi eh, katulad ko rin yan eh – rebound and depensa. At tsaka sobrang vocal siya sa team eh,” beamed Pingris, who himself is a 14-year veteran. “Walang siyang inaano, talagang sinasabihan niya kung sino yung mga nagmi-mistake, kung paano kami mag-adjust, so nakikinig naman lahat sa kanya.

“Talagang nandun yung respeto namin kay Rafi.”

And if Reavis stays healthy for the next decade, Pingris wants Reavis to exceed Jaworki’s 958 games played — third most all time.

“Nasa kanya yun, basta kaya mo ba eh. As a player, kung masipag ka naman at may disiplina sa sarili mo, kaya niya yun.”

Still, Reavis has a lot of catching up to do.

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Altas surge to fifth straight win, slam Heavy Bombers



Pulling double-digit scoring outings from three spikers, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas remained unbeaten in NCAA Season 93 after a straight-set triumph over thr Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Middle blocker Ronniel Rosales topped the Altas with 13 points off 10 attacks and three blocks. Team captain Rey Taneo and Joebert Almodiel added 12 markers apiece.

The Altas dominated every scoring category, recording 44 attacks to JRU’s 26, five blocks to the Bombers’ zero, and three aces to JRU’s one.

Breezing through the first half of the season, Altas head coach Sammy Acaylar lauded his team’s consistency and hoped they continue getting better as they aim for a championship.

“So far, masasabi kong maganda ang nilalaro ng mga bata. Consistent naman ang mga galaw nila and focused sila sa mga laban,” said Acaylar.

“Pero alam nilang may ibubuga pa sila. We still need to get better and reach the championship level. Kailangan hindi mawala ‘yung ganito naming killer instinct,” the decorated mentor added.

The Altas take on a major test on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre when they face fellow undefeated squad Arellano Chiefs (4-0).

Wenjo Lahaylahay led the Bombers with 10 points while captain Patrick Rabaja managed seven.

JRU (0-5) limps into their Wednesday showdown against defending champs College of Saint Benilde (3-1).

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Rosales 13, Almodiel 12, Taneo R. 12, Muhali 7, Ramos 5, Atentar 1, Catipay 1, Salo 1, Bation 0, Solamilo 0, Taneo S. 0, Kalingking (L)

JRU (0) – Lahaylahay 10, Rabaja 7, Sulivas 6, Salazar 4, Cebrero 1, Soriano 1, Cruz 0, Ferwelo 0, Defensor (L), Flor (L)

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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

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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.”

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