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PBA Commissioners Cup 2015 Finals: Survival Kit

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The 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup has boiled down to a battle of its top two seeds, Rain or Shine and Talk ‘N Text, and it was only fitting as both sides parade talented rosters from top to bottom. The Elasto Painters and Tropang Texters — two of the best offensive teams in the league — have eliminated the rest of the opposition, and set up a collision of their own that has the indications of becoming a classic series.

Both teams play in a similar way. Moreover, both sides banner superstars complemented by a solid supporting cast. The chance of winning a PBA crown does not get any closer for Rain or Shine, but Talk ‘N Text is also ready to reclaim its lost glory.

Talk ‘N Text swept Rain or Shine during the 2013 PBA Philippine Cup finals and the 2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals, but with Rain or Shine’s new tools boosting the team’s arsenal, the series at hand is bound to be a different one — It possesses excitement, quality, and drama all rolled into one, and will definitely be a classic treat for all the basketball fans.

RAIN OR SHINE(LEAGUE RANK)TALK ‘N TEXT
5ORTG2
2DRTG7
13 PTS/GAME2
23 PT FG%1
3eFG%1
1ASTS5
2PTS1

 

Five things we learned:

1. What makes the series different primarily for Rain or Shine is health. Everyone is playing at a high level. They have an abundance of wing guys who work extremely hard on both ends of the floor. The presence of youngsters, like Jericho Cruz (7.5 PPG in the playoffs) and Jeric Teng, adds more depth to that supporting cast, and they will need the effort of everyone on the roster.

2. Raymond Almazan will be the focal point of Rain or Shine’s defense. In his second year in the league, Almazan is steadily becoming the reliable rim protector that the Elasto Painters did not possess last season. With length and agility, Almazan is able to affect shots, cover huge space inside the paint, and collect rebounds.

Almazan is averaging 9.8 PPG and 5.3 RPG in the playoffs in only 18 minutes, and has rebounding splits (rebound rate – OREB%/DREB%/TREB% – an estimate of rebounding opportunities when on the floor) of 13.3/20/16.7. The ideal line for a big is 10/20/15. In the NBA, DeAndre Jordan is at 13/26/19 so far.

3. There is no other compelling side story than the virtual tussle between Paul Lee (16.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 41 percent 3 PT FGs, 90.6 percent free throws) and Jayson Castro (19.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 50 percent 3 PT FGs, 61 percent true shooting %), two of the best backcourt players today. Castro scores/creates more than a third of TNT’s total points, while Lee is one of the most efficient team players who can hurt opponents in a lot of ways.

4. After a three-game stretch where Ivan Johnson shot 19-for-31 from three-point distance, the Tropang Texters import struggled to make his outside shot against Purefoods, shooting only seven-for-32 (21.8 percent) from beyond the arc. It is interesting to know if Rain or Shine will play the percentages force him to be a jumpshooter while clogging the interior. Johnson spacing the floor will be integral as it will open the doors for Castro to penetrate and, in the process, create options from there.

5. Talk ‘N Text and Rain or Shine are the top two three-point shooting teams in the league, and this a duel which validates the thought that in this generation, teams which shoot the three are relatively the better squads.

More than 37 percent of Talk ‘N Text’s total field goal attempts are three-point shots, while 36 percent of Rain or Shine’s shots are from beyond the arc. What separates the two teams from the rest is their range. They do not settle for the mid-range jumpers or the long twos; instead, they extend all the way to the three-point land, aside from getting attempts around the rim.

Since they run similar systems, it would definitely a treat for the fans to witness an amazing offensive display.

X-Factors

Rain or Shine: Gabe Norwood

There will surely be points where Rain or Shine will apply ball pressure (they have to because you don’t want Castro to just attack time and again), and Norwood is one of the best one-on-one defenders in the country. He should be able to make it at least difficult for Castro to spot some cracks in the Painters defense.

Talk ‘N Text: Jay Washington, Ranidel de Ocampo

It’s all about space for the Tropang Texters. Washington and De Ocampo have had noteworthy performances in the semifinals because of how they complemented Castro. If they continue shooting well from the outside, it would be a massive catastrophe for the opposing side.

Pick

This series is something the Tropang Texters don’t want to lose. We know the Elasto Painters are darn hungry for a title as they fell short a couple of times last season, but for the Tropa, winning it all will be a proof that they are still one of the top forces in the league this decade.

Talk ‘N Text in 6 games.


MORE PBA FINALS COVERAGE

Round Table: PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals Rain or Shine vs. Talk ‘N Text

Alapag speaks on the importance of Castro and Lee in the Finals

In quotes: Chance to win PBA crown as close as it gets for RoS; TNT ready to reclaim its lost glory

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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 in rehabilitation 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 plenty 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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