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Philippine Pythons make successful debut in 2015 Touch World Cup



03 MAY 2015 (COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA) –The Philippine Pythons National Touch Football Team makes history after recently competing in the Touch World Cup 2015 held at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia on April 29 to May 3, 2015. After the 5-day tournament, the Philippine Mixed Open Team climbs to world no. 9 while the Philippine Women’s Open Team is now world no. 12, after both being unseeded at the start of the tournament.


 25member nations participated in this year’s event.
 Six nations made their debut: Chile, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates,
and the Philippines.
 84 teams played in a total of 9 divisions.
 The Philippine Pythonstook part in the Women’s Open and the Mixed Open Divisions.
 The Women’s Team finished with 2-8 win-loss record and advanced to world no. 12.
 The Mixed Team finished with 8-1-1 win-loss-draw record, securing the 9th spot in the
world ranking.
 Top scorers for Women’s Team: Ali Preysler (6 touchdowns), Andy Preysler (5
 Top scorers for Mixed Team: Christian Alonzo, Allan Shine, Jason Lynch, and Jackelyn
Ronquillo (7 touchdowns each)
 Australia was hailed overall champion, dominating in 8 of the 9 divisions.

TWC Open Division Standings




PH TWC Opening Ceremony 1

Despite the non-stop rain, the cold weather, and going against the most experienced female players in touch football, the Philippine Pythons Women’s Open Team stood relentless in their division and ended the tournament with eight losses and two wins (2-8). The team’s breakthrough performance gave them the 12th spot in the competition, finishing better than Samoa and Fiji, which were 13th and 14th, respectively.

Composed of 16 homegrown players from various local clubs and international schools in Manila, the women’s team capitalized on their 14-month training under national team coaches Steve Dodd and Craig Wislang. To be able to attend the training three times a week, some of the players had to take some time off from high school, college, and work.

What a team to be proud of. Homegrown, home-based Filipinos. Time away from work, time away from school and college, time away from families,” said coach Dodd who also trains the International School Manila with Wislang. The two coaches couldn’t be more proud of the Women’s Team who played with all their heart despite being physically smaller and leaner than all their opponents.

On Day 1, the women’s team first played against France (world no. 7) and lost 1-10. This was definitely an eye-opener as the team levelled up its performance against Samoa and improved its offense to end the game with a 5-11 score. The third game was with world no. 2 New Zealand. Despite the 0-23 finish, the Pythons received an accolade from the New Zealand coach.

We’ve played against many teams but only a few played with the same intensity until the end. The Philippines fought until the last minute, had a lot of good runs, and didn’t give us easy scores,” said the New Zealand head coach Kevin Toto.

The following day, the Women’s Team had notable performances against France and Wales, although they still fell short of registering a win. However, after 7 games, the team finally won against Fiji in a heart-stopper that gave them a ticket to a playoff match against Samoa for the 12th spot.

The Philippines and Samoa then met for the third time on the last day of the tourney and battled it out for 40 minutes. Looking more effective in both offense and defense, the Philippine Pythons team were ever determined to take over the pitch. The more experienced Samoans were caught off-guard with the intensity that the Philippines was playing and had to settle with a loss at the end of regulation time.

Screenshot 2015-05-15 10.23.52




Pythons MXO

The mixed open team completed their World Cup campaign with eight wins, one loss, and one draw (8-1-1) earning them the Plate Championship (winners of Division Two) and a ranking of ninth in the world. This was truly a remarkable finish for a team whose members are composed of Filipinos from different parts of the world. With members based around Queensland, New South Wales, Manila, and even as far as Norway, the Pythons were a wild card entry in the Mixed Open Division.

Quipped with the goal of simply making a mark in the international Touch community, expectations for Team Captain Christian Alonzo were surpassed after each and every game as the team progressed in the tournament. “We won with only one loss the whole tournament, won the Plate Division, and more importantly, we have learned so much as a team” said Alonzo, “the edge we had included the style and type of touch that no-one can predict. We had a culmination of flair football and structured football.”

Qualifying for Division 1 and playing with the likes of Australia and New Zealand seemed like a dream within reach to Coach Kim Solman given that there were well-experienced individuals on the team, but the Pythons would enter the competition as an unseeded underdog. “The team just clicked off the field and this made the connection so much better on the field” said Solman on the team’s on-field chemistry, “For me, this is one of the keys to a successful team. We had plenty of individual talent, but the support and drive across the team gave us that edge.

Not knowing how the entire team would play together after meeting just days before the tournament, Mixed Open Player Ron Peña believed that the team’s faith in one another carried them to the Plate Finals, winning 6-3 versus a tough Niue team to secure the #9 rank in the world. “My most memorable in-game experience was our second-last game versus USA” said Peña, “[this game] showed the result of us not giving up on each other and trusting our jobs.” The Philippines went on to win 6-0 against team USA.

The performance of the Pythons seemed to also catch the attention of New Zealand (TWC 1st runner-up) Mixed Open Team Captain Jeremy Locke, who said to Alonzo, “Christian, I’ve seen all these teams in the World Cup, and there is no team that gel as well as the Filipinos” Locke added, “it’s an element of touch that will be your biggest edge…”

There are only a few sports that can provide nail-biting entertainment in the mixed division like touch football. The dynamics of having both men and women playing with and against each other makes this division enjoyable for both the players and the audience. For the Pythons, it was the strong performance in the middle from Christian Alonzo, Mark Roberts, and Jason Lynch that allowed for numerous scoring opportunities in the inside as well as long passes out to the wing.

In mixed touch, the female players are generally positioned in the outside wing to receive long passes to make the touchdown (also known as a ‘try’). “Without solid girls, the team dynamics become very difficult” says Solman, “the catches and finishes from the girls proved to be some of the defining moment of key games.” Such was the case in the first matchup between the Philippines and Niue. In the winding minutes of the second half, a long pass from link Mark Roberts out to winger Jackelyn Ronquillo equalized the game at 6-6, preventing what could have been a second loss for the Pythons.

Pythons mixed



In the conclusion of the Touch World Cup, the future is looking bright for the sport of touch football in the Philippines. “After playing touch football at the highest level with my Australia-based teammates and seeing how well our team performed against the other nations, there are definitely many aspects of the game that we can bring home to our Philippine-based players” said Mixed Team Co-Captain Bianca Arco, “this year’s World Cup is just the beginning of many new and good things to come for the sport. My experience at the TWC is an inspiration to elevate the level of play back home.

I think moving forward, development is the key. We are lucky to have members living and playing touch in Australia [the overall TWC Champions]” adds Solman, “There are opportunities for development programs and attendance and international events.

With the stellar performance of the Pythons in their first world cup, the FTFP is committed to developing the sport leading up to the 2019 Touch World Cup which will be hosted by Malaysia. “The solid performance of both national teams indicates a promising and very bright future for touch football” says FTFP President Clair Barberis, “The combination of our naturally swift and agile homegrown talent pool, experience of our Filipino-Australian brothers, and dedicated and demanding coaches, the Philippines will be a much stronger contender in future international tournaments. It is indeed the beginning of a great touch journey.”

In the pipeline are touch camps, skills and referee workshops, and participation in international tournaments such as the Shanghai International Touch Tournament and the Asian Club Championships. The Pythons aim to improve their ranking at the next World Cup and also field a Men’s Open team by 2019.

*All photos courtesy of Touch Football Philippines

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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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Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics



FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover by the six-foot-four forward.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far, not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he had been frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win



Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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