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PBA Commissioner’s Cup Semis Survival Kit: Rain or Shine vs Meralco

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It is no surprise that the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters finished with the top seed in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup elimination round as they possess one of the best systems in the league.

Rain or Shine is the PBA’s no. 5 offensive team and it is largely due to ball movement. The team leads the league in assists per game (20.8) and is no. 2 in three-point field goal percentage.

With a dribble-drive offense, the Elasto Painters also hoist the most number of three-point attempts per game and also lead the league in three-point makes per contest. But it is in defense that makes Yeng Guiao’s troops an elite team in the PBA. Rain or Shine is the no. 2 defensive team behind Purefoods, allowing only 95.6 points per 100 possessions.

Opponents shoot only 40 percent against the Elasto Painters, and the squad allows the third-least three-point attempts, thanks to a bunch of quick perimeter defenders.

Three wins away from another finals stint, Rain or Shine will engage in a semi-finals showdown against a team that has been trying to enter the “elite teams” conversation: Meralco.

Under the tutelage of Norman Black, the Meralco Bolts went on a tear early in the Commissioner’s Cup, going on top of the team standings with a 5-0 slate (franchise-best start), but their campaign dwindled down the road, finishing only with a 6-5 record for fifth seed. Nonetheless, the team bounced back in the quarterfinals with a masterful showing in the series against NLEX where it outscored its opponent by an average margin of nine points.

Meralco showed it can also be an effective team when moving the ball well as the team assisted 38 of its 70 field goal conversions in two games.

But they are about to face one of the best teams in recent memory. Last season, Rain or Shine made the finals of two of the three conferences, and was a semi-finalist in the Commissioner’s Cup.

Key match-up

Gary David (18.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 41.3 percent 3 PT FGs, 2.2 triples per game)gary d

Gary David is Meralco’s best local. He leads the team in player efficiency rating (PER) and win shares. What does that mean? When he plays (and shoots) well, the Bolts win. David shot 48 percent from the field in Meralco’s six wins, and was only 39 percent in the five losses. However, this is Rain or Shine which features a ton of good defenders. David is effective without the ball so for him to dominate, Meralco must do a solid job of giving him opening.

Paul Lee (15.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.2 APG, 39 percent 3 PT FGs, 2.5 triples per game)

Paul Lee meanwhile is Rain or Shine’s best local scorer and (surprisingly) rebounder. He is one of the best guards at getting to the foul line. Against Meralco, Lee should be aggressive to give the Bolts defense a big problem.

X-Factors

Rain or Shine: Raymond Almazanpba18

Almazan is averaging 16.5 PPG, 7 RPG on 63 percent field goal shooting in the Elasto Painters’ last two outings, both against teams with huge frontlines (Kia, Ginebra). Both games resulted into wins with the lanky big getting it done on both ends of the floor.

Meralco: Mike Cortez

The veteran playmaker’s numbers aren’t mind-boggling, but he is a plus-44 in the quarterfinals because of his effective quarterbacking on the floor. Cortez is one of the best readers in the league and in the semis, he must make great decisions while on the court.

Pick

Rain or Shine in 4. The Elasto Painters have an abundance of tools on offense to make it extremely hard for the Bolts’ defense. On defense, they have the size and versatility to counter Meralco.

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ABL

Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa

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After going a horrid 5-for-17 from the stripe during their first loss of the season last January 9, Christian Standhardinger made sure to make good on his free throws to power the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a dominant 99-79 rout of the Formosa Dreamers, Thursday evening in Southorn Stadium.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who tallied 37 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime loss to Saigon, went a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The contest itself was not close, as the defending champions were able to impose their will on the bottom-ranked squad, leading by as much as 23 points, 93-70, after two free throws by Standhardinger with 2:58 remaining.

If Standhardinger was having a good day with his free throws, the entire Formosa squad could not say the same, going 13-of-27 from the line.

Tyler Lamb had 25 markers as well for Hong Kong, while Marcus Elliott grabbed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Lenny Daniel paced Formosa with 25 points and 11 rebounds. World Import Ronnie Aguilar had 14 points and 16 rebounds but went just 5-for-14 from the field.

With the win, Hong Kong goes to 8-1, while the Dreamers fell to 1-8.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes 3×3 World Cup breaks Philippine Arena record

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short of copping Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different beast.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad suffered a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even fashioning multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino, as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. The 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the duo — and the rest of the Jawbreakers — now have the experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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