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Perfect no more: Army ends PLDT’s undefeated reign to take Game One



Finally piecing together the previously unsolvable puzzle of the PLDT offense, the Army Lady Troopers shot down the Ultra Fast Hitters and its perfect record to take Game One of the Best-of-Three Shakey’s V-League Open Conference Finals in four sets, 13-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-22 at the FilOil Flying-V Arena, Thursday afternoon.

With previous opponents struggling to quell the explosive PLDT offense, the Army Lady Troopers used their own balanced attack to outspike PLDT 52-44 – the first team to tally more attacks against PLDT this season. Army opposite hitter, Jovelyn Gonzaga and middle blocker, Dindin Santiago-Manabat snuffed out PLDT’s best attackers and tallied a combined six block kills on 25 attempts. The pair also topped their team in scoring, each finishing with 16 points. Army veteran Nene Bautista contributed heavily to the Army cause after sitting out the past few games. Bautista subbed in for Rachel Anne Daquis and pitched nine points while her fellow open hitter, Royse Tubino paced her team with eight markers.

Suffering her first loss in local competition since last year’s V-League second conference, PLDT’s Alyssa Valdez still managed a game-high 25 markers off 22 attacks and three aces. Her U23 running mate, Jaja Santiago pitched in 11 points, and tied a season-high six aces.

PLDT got off to a fast start in the first set. Army struggled to manage their errors on serves and attacks which led to a steep 16-7 PLDT lead. Army then struggled to receive Jaja Santiago’s serves – a constant trend in the match – as one of her aces vaulted PLDT ahead comfortably, 23-12. PLDT finished the set off by winning two consecutive forays at the net highlighted by a Sue Roces block.

The following frame had both teams exchange the lead early with Army breaking through midway. Splendid serving from Tina Salak made way for a short Army 3-0 run that extended their lead, 18-14. The Lady Troopers matched PLDT point-for-point from there and arrived at set point early, 24-21. PLDT had one last gasp for breath as they rattled consecutive clutch points off a Sue Roces attack followed by a Valdez service ace. But Jovelyn Gonzaga pulled Army out of the set, granting them the win with a beautiful running drop ball off a scrambled play that ended a long rally.

The third set saw one of the best sets of volleyball this year, with both teams refusing to give way. Amid a tied set at 17, PLDT claimed four of the next five points to notch a 21-18 lead. Army then slowly whittled away at the lead as their starters conspired to eventually force a deuce after being down 22-24. PLDT got first crack at set point after a Nene Bautista attack hit the tape of the net. However, PLDT failed to dig what was supposed to be free ball from Army Libero Patricia Torres, tying the set again at 25. Army then rattled off back-to-back emphatic plays – first with a Ging Balse ace then with a Dindin Manabat block on a Jaja Santiago quick hit – to seal the third set and a 2-1 set advantage.

Army led the fourth set wire-to-wire as PLDT struggled to find consistent scoring options, forcing them to shuffle setters. After leading by three for much of the set, Army received a late scare when Gretchel Soltones fired up and scored off three straight attacks for PLDT to tie the set at 19. Nene Bautista countered Soltones’ sudden combustion with a solo two-point scoring spurt off an ace, and an attack that put Army ahead for good, 21-19. Alyssa Valdez tried valiantly to resuscitate her team’s cause but failed to put her team over the edge with her attack error putting Army at match point, 24-22. The Lady Troopers ended the match with a picture-perfect combination play for Jovelyn Gonzaga.

“Lumabas ‘yung experience ng team [Army] sa mga ganitong championship na laban. Sobrang hirap pigilan ng opensa ng PLDT. Mabuti na lang nahanapan ng mga players ng paraan na manalo,” said Army head coach, Rico De Guzman.

Game Two takes place on Sunday at 12:45 p.m preceded by the Awarding Ceremonies. Also at the FilOIl Flying-V Arena. After Game Two, Spikers’ Turf action resumes in the afternoon.

The Scores:

Army (3) – Manabat 16, Gonzaga 16, Bautista 9, Tubino 8, Balse 7, Salak 6, Daquis 1, Sabas 0, Gonzales 0, Torres (L), Agno (L)

PLDT (1) – Valdez 25, Santiago 11, Roces 9, Soltones 8, Devanadera 4, De Leon 2, Mendiola 1, Ferrer 0, Latigay 0, Villanueva 0, Pantone (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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Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa



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



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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Ilocos United takes leave from PFL



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



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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