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Abueva, Alaska escape Star in OT thriller

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With both teams coming off respective losses, Alaska Aces returned to the win column first after evading Star Hotshots in extra time, 97-90, in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.

With the victory, Alaska’s record improves to 4-3, tying them with Globalport and TNT in the third spot of the standings, while Star went down to 3-4 and crashed to the ninth spot.

Vic Manuel led the Aces’ scoring with 25 points on 10 of 16 from the field to go along with eight rebounds. Forward Calvin Abueva, who starred in OT, collected 23 markers off 8 of 16 shooting and nine boards.

“Calvin and Vic sila talaga mga bida sa game na ito,” remarked Alaska head coach Alex Compton. “They carried us.”

Guard RJ Jazul supplied 13 by shooting 3 of 5 from beyond-the-arc. Fellow floor general Jvee Casio contributed 10 markers to round up all Aces’ scoring leaders.

“What a game,” said an exasperated Compton.

The Hotshots were trailing 76-69 in the 10:16 mark of the final frame until Allain Maliksi lit up on offense, scoring eight markers in Star’s 14-7 run to send the game at an 83-all knot with 2:43 to go.

17 seconds later, Abueva then provided a much-needed three-pointer from the left wing to send the Aces up, 86-83, with 2:26. Star tried to equalize, but attempts by Mark Barroca and Maliksi missed their mark.

However, Maliksi kept on gunning from afar, until he sank one from the left wing to tie it once more, 86-all, with 1:21 left. From there, both squads tried to score one more, but all their shots missed.

The Aces had a clear chance to seal the deal with a game-clinching basket, but an 18-footer by Abueva over Marc Pingris hit nothing but air, sending the match to an extra five minutes.

Making up for his missed game-winner, Abueva stepped up in OT, scoring five of Alaska’s 11 markers to keep Star at bay. A pair of charities by Chris Banchero with 12.5 sealed it for the Aces.

The game was momentarily halted with 4:40 left in overtime due to the game clock shutting off.

Maliksi starred for the Hotshots with 15 points of his highlighted by three triples, which all came in the final frame. Center Rafi Reavis posted a near double-double of 13 points and eight rebounds to back him up.

Barroca and Paul Lee each had 10 markers in a losing effort.

“Credit them that you can’t take away all their threats because they’re so good,” Compton said about Star.

In terms of team stats, Alaska won in shooting, making 34 out of their 73 attempts. They also dished the ball better six times, 21-15. However, the rebounding battle displayed a huge disparit,y with Alaska at the losing end, 57-46.

Both squads will play this Sunday, January 15, still at the Big Dome. The Aces will take on Blackwater at 4:15 PM, while the Hotshots will face TNT at the 7:00 PM slot.

The Scores:

Alaska (97) -Manuel 25, Abueva 23, Jazul 13, Casio 10, Exciminiano 7, Banchero 6, Dela Cruz 6, Racal 3, Pascual 3, Mendoza 1, Thoss 0, Magat 0, Cruz 0, Galliguez 0, Hontiveros 0.

Star (90) – Maliksi 15, Reavis 13, Simon 12, Lee 10, Barroca 10, Brondial 7, Pingris 6, Ramos 6, Sangalang 4, Jalalon 4, Melton 3, Abundo 0, Dela Rosa 0.

Quarterscores: 18-16, 46-40, 72-65, 86-86, 97-90 (OT).

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Koy Banal downplays Marinerong Pilipino’s tag as D-League Draft winners

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The AMA Online Education Titans may have acquired the first overall pick, but the clear winner of the 2017 PBA D-League Draft Tuesday was the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, with all the talent they were able to acquire in the hour-long proceedings.

The sophomore club team was able to nab the likes of UE Red Warriors’ Alvin Pasaol, ex-Letran Knight Chester Saldua, two-time UAAP champion Abu Tratter of De La Salle Green Archers, and newly-minted UAAP gold medalist Vince Tolentino of the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

“Ang kinonsider ko is mostly makakalaban ko are collegiate teams eh, so we needed young legs who would be able to keep up with our opponents na young legs din,” said head coach Koy Banal of the logic behind his picks.

They may have harvested the best crop of talents available, but the multi-titled mentor was quick to play down such idea, saying that their rookies, despite being heralded cagers in college, have yet to prove that they can mesh well.

“Diyan maraming nagkakamali eh. Akala nila maganda yung mga picks (okay na),” said Banal, who are looking for players who can gel with holdovers Achie Iñigo, Renzo Subido, and Mark Isip.

“So tinitignan namin kung sino magja-jive.

“All of them are good picks and can contribute anytime in any given game dito sa team namin. Kilala naman namin sila. Siyempre meron kaming existing na, and we’re hoping na magkaroon ng magandang chemistry,” he added.

Marinero finished fourth in their maiden campaign in the 2017 Foundation Cup, all thanks to a miraculous ru . And now, with all the pieces they have acquired, Banal and his deputies aim to emulate such feat in the upcoming season.

“That’s the plan. That’s the goal actually,” said the veteran strategist.

“Natutunan namin na after our campaign last conference, more or less we know how to [play consistent] from day one up to the end. Kasi we started so slow eh.”

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Fighting Maroons beg off from D-League commitments

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Studies first

With the University of the Philippines in the midst of its second semester of their academic calendar when the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup begins, Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol asked his players if they could forego of their basketball commitments for the mean time to focus on their studies.

“They will have a really hard time passing, and even attending, their subjects if they’re going to miss classes because of the practices and games,” the incoming third-year UP Men’s Basketball team mentor shared.

Tuesday afternoon, sophomore Javi Gomez de Liano was drafted by the Wangs-Letran Couriers and junior Jerson Prado was selected by Gamboa Coffee-St. Clare Lovers while skipper Paul Desiderio and junior Diego Dario are currently free agents in the league. Desiderio last played for the Cafe France-CEU Bakers during the 2016 Aspirants’ Cup while Dario joined the AMA Online Education Titans as well.

Being a former student-athlete himself, Perasol knows how important the second semester is, especially for eligibility for the 81st season of the UAAP.

“The second semester is very important in their eligibility for the next season,” Perasol added.

With a loaded line-up for the upcoming UAAP season, the Fighting Maroons can’t afford any mishaps.

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Jeff Napa, Letran try to change Wangs Basketball’s fortunes

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For the first time since joining the PBA D-League, the Wangs Basketball Couriers will be bannered by a collegiate team as they have partnered up with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights.

Gone are the days that the team is stacked with PBA aspirants and cagers trying to make it back to the big league. Donning the Wangs jersey this time around are the likes of Bong Quinto, JP Calvo, Jerrick Balanza, Jeo Ambohot, Bonbon Batiller, Fran Yu, Christian Fajarito, and Larry Muyang.

With the chance of being able to compete once again in the second league, incoming third-year Letran head coach Jeff Napa wants to repay the trust of Wangs founder Alex Wang by being competitive this season.

“Si boss Alex (Wang) wala naman sinasabi sa akin na target pero gusto ko siyempre masuklian ang kabutihan niya sa amin. Gusto lang niya maging competitive yung team namin.

“Sa Letran naman, kailangan naman magka-experience in preparation for next season. Focus namin yung bonding namin para maging maganda yung season namin,” Napa said.

Joining the Letran core are their drafted players, headlined by his former players in National University — Michael Pate and Hubert Cani. Even with his familiarity with the two upstarts, Napa wants the two to earn their stripes with the team.

“Sana maging maganda yung response nila sa sistema namin,” the youthful mentor said. “Hindi naman porke’t naging player ko sila e magkaka-minutes na sila. Nakadepende pa rin sa system namin kung ano ang gusto namin mangyari.”

Besides the two, he also picked up UST Growling Tiger Henric Caunan, UP Fighting Maroon Javi Gomez de Liano, and Mapua Cardinal Christian Bunag.

Despite a deep team, the National University lifer is not guaranteeing anything, only saying that they will give a good fight.

“Okay naman. Satisfied naman ako sa dinraft namin. We’ll see kung anong mangyayari pero at least nakikita ko yung mga projection sa team namin,” Napa shared.

“This Aspirants’ Cup, magiging maganda ang labanan.”

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AMA head coach likens top pick Owen Graham to Arwind Santos

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The AMA Online Education Titans got the luxury of picking first in the PBA D-League Draft for the second straight year. But this time though, they picked a no-namer in Owen Graham — a move deemed unusual considering the amount of proven talents in the pool.

“Si Owen Graham kasi, he played for me for almost one year na,” justified AMA head coach Mark Herrera of his decision. “He’s a school-based player, he stands at six-foot-fpir, Fil-Canadian siya. He can play the 2, 3, 4, and 5 spots.

“Mabilis siya at all-around player siya. Para siyang si Arwind Santos.”

What inclined Herrera to pick Graham was his familiarity with his system as he has utilized the swingman in the collegiate level”

“Ang advantage lang niya, kabisado ko na ‘yung bata, tsaka alam natin ‘yung kakayahan niya going to the D-League,” he added. “Rookie siya sa D-League pero he played for me sa NAASCU na, sa Fr. Martin and NCRAA.

“So medyo marunong na ‘yung bata.”

AMA’s choice for the first pick maybe far from what they did last year, when they nabbed proven talent Jeron Teng. But for Herrera, he likes what the team did in the 2017 proceedings as they have addressed their needs.

Aside from Graham, the Titans floor generals Philip Manalang and Levi dela Cruz, and bigs such as Michael Canete, Barkley Eboña and Richard Escoto.

“Yung mga draftees namin kung makikita niyo, more on mga 5 and 4 ang kinukuha namin, kasi nga ‘yung mga players namin before, magka-comeback din naman eh, tulad nila [Mario] Bonleon, sila [Andre] Paras,” Herrera explained.

“So ang kulang ko lang talaga ang kinuha ko, tsaka isang point guard (Philip Manalang).”

With their draft moves, Herrera is now full of optimism that the Titans can now compete with the other 12 teams in the league. Not just to compete though, as he now aims for the school-based squad to make it into the semifinals.

“Every conference naman talaga, pumapasok si AMA sa quarters, last conference lang hindi,” Herrera said.

“So this time around, ang target namin, sana umabot kami ng semis going to the championship.”

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