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Philippines moves on to second round of Davis Cup

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The Philippine team swept Sri Lanka in three matches after Day 2, 3-0, to advance them into the next round of the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group II action, last Saturday, at the Valle Verde Country Club in Pasig City.

Alcantara and Huey buck slow start, wins it for RP

Player12345Sets
F. Alcantara/T. Huey (PHI)36663
S. Dissanayake/ D. Thangarajah (SRI)63241

 

Davis Cup veteran, Treat Huey and young gun, Francis Casey Alcantara, took the court for the doubles match to represent the Nationals against Sharmal Dissanayake and Dineshkhantan Thangarajah, who was nominated to play in lieu of the injured Harshana Godamanna.

Huey and Alcantara had a promising start, taking the first points of the opening set, but it was Dissanayake and Thangarajah who won the first game. The Filipinos came back to level the set after they broke the Sri Lankan service. The visitors would go on to show their mettle as they raced to a 3-1 lead. The Sri Lankans did not look back and took the opening set, 6-3.

In the second set, Thangarah started to have difficulties placing his serves. After a 30-all deadlock, the Philippines scored on a winner to move to an early break of serve. The guests ended their struggle and held on to their serve by winning the next three points. Former Australian Open juniors doubles champion, Alcantara had similar problems on his service game. The Sri Lankans threatened to break with a winner of Dissanayake, but the Filipino ace took care of the game with his well-placed serves. The Nationals went on to get the first break of the game and consolidated it when Huey served to love, 3-1. The RP tandem carried on with that solitary break of serve to win the set, 6-3, and tied the match at 1 set-apiece.

The momentum had slowly shifted to the Philippine side early in the third set. After Sri Lanka held on their first service game of the set, the Philippines tied it once more by holding their own serve. The 18-year-old Dissanayake had problems on his serve in the third set. After 30-15 count on his serve, the Sri Lankan committed a double fault, and lost the following point. Three more double faults from Sri Lanka gave away the game to the Philippines, and Huey and Alcanatara now led, 2-1 in the third. The Philippines swept the next three games to pull away, 5-1, giving only four points to the visitors mostly on double faults as the Nationals went on to aggressive service play. It turned productive on the eighth game when they caused problems to the Sri Lankans and ended the set, 6-2, to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

Riding on the wave, the hosts went on to a 2-0 lead in the fourth, when they swept the first two games to love. Huey and Alcantara continued with their great all-around game as they both served well and patrolled the net with much anticipation. Dissanayake and Thangarajah continued to have problems on their serve. With the Philippines leading 4-1, Dissnayake had three more double faults to put  the game on deuce. A winner by Huey and another double fault gave the 5-2 lead to the Philippines.

Needing just a game to get the Philippines into the semis, Alcantara went to his serve to finish the match. A forced error off Thangarajah gave the Philippines a match point. The Philippines failed to close the Sri Lankans, as the visitor retaliated with timely winners to keep themselves in the tie. The substitute Thangarajah made it count in the next game to cut the deficit to 1, 4-5. The Nationals would not be denied, however, with Huey on serve and Alcantara manning the net, they finished the last game to love to win the set and the match, 6-4.

When asked about the team last year, Huey shared that it was a great experience but they are a better team now. The team played well because of their good rapport as a unit. He exclaimed, “All of us are good friends, we enjoy playing together.” In regards to the match, the veteran shared that there was indeed anxiety going up against Sri Lanka with the most recent tie against Pakistan in mind. The Nationals were at a similar situation leading 2-0, but it was the South Asians who went on to the promotional playoff after sweeping the last three rubbers. “Every year it’s tough no matter who you play. They obviously want to win too.” The most senior of the team, however, lauded each of the members of the squad who won all their respective matches to clinch the tie.

Recalling what happened in the match, both Huey and Alcantara shared that they were having problems during the first set. The tandem also gave the credit to the Sri Lankans. “Those guys [from Sri Lanka] played well,” said Alcantara. The former juniors standout said that in the second set they were able to do the adjustments. “Nag-loosen up kami, and we started playing our game also.” Alcantara shared his frustration on not being able to close out the match. “I was trying to, pero they were hitting winners eh. They were lucky, too. We couldn’t really do anything about it.” But when they had another chance to close it out, “we just played to our strengths.”

With the win, the Philippines moves on to the second round of the group and will be facing Chinese Taipei on July 17-19 in Taiwan.

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

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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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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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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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Basketball

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

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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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ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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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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