The Pinays rode the crowd’s energy early in the match but couldn’t retain their hot start as they fell to Chinese Taipei in four sets, 25-21, 18-25, 12-25, 19-25 in the first AVC Under-23 tournament earlier today at the PhilSports Arena.
Host team captain, Alyssa Valdez, sparked a home crowd frenzy after scoring three of the Philippines’ first five points, pushing the Nationals to a 5-1 lead. Throughout the entire opening set, Taiwan struggled for form and kept giving up errors wherein at one point they handed the Philippines three consecutive miscues, buoying the hosts to a 14-8 advantage. Late in the set, the Philippines’ momentary lapses allowed Taipei to slice the Pinays’ lead down to one, 22-21, but the Nationals’ quickly responded with three straight points highlighted by the crowd willing Taipei into an attack error that gave the set to the Philippines.
However, the Republic of China quickly retaliated and cleaned up their act in the following sets. On the other hand, the Pinays’ ship began to sink with Taipei exposing several holes in their play. The second set saw the Philippines conceding seven consecutive points, five off errors to Taipei, which gave the visitors a 9-4 lead, ultimately winning the set. The Philippines’ service reception during the third set hit rock bottom when Taiwan zoomed past them, building a 14-4 lead and never looked back. The home team persevered to build an early 9-5 lead in the fourth and final set, only for the visitors to quickly dominate the scoreboards. The Philippines fought hard to keep pace with Taiwan, but the referee’s calls just didn’t go their way when two consecutive and hotly contested calls deflated their advance, opening the door for Taiwan to take the match handily.
“Kung napunta lang sana sa amin ‘yung mga tawag eh, sayang lang. Kasi nadoon na kami, humahabol na kami tas bigla kaming nawalan ng ere dahil sa mga tawag. Sayang,” said PH Coach, Roger Gorayeb.
Alyssa Valdez was her usual offensively explosive self dropping a total of 16 points. The 6’4 wunderkind Jaja Santiago paved the way for the team with eight points, while setter Jia Morado and open hitter Gretchel Soltones nabbed seven each. UST skippers Ej Laure and Ria Meneses scored their first points of the tournament with Laure scoring four, while Meneses got a point from a block late in the fourth set.
Taipei received impressive outings from their three representatives on the roster as Lee Tzu-Ying, Chen Tzu-Ya, and Tseng Wan-Ling combined for 39 of Taipei’s 62 earned points. They finished with a miniscule 25 errors, 10 less than the Nationals.
The Philippines now faces a tough challenge when they have to take down the U23 World Champion, China on Thursday to qualify for the Top 4 of the tournament. Should they lose, the Philippines will go through classification matches to round out the bottom half of the tournament’s Top 8.
“Ang maganda ngayon, nirerespeto na tayo ng mga team. Pinapanuod na nila tayo, kilala na nila ‘yung malalakas nating mga player. Kami, lalaban lang. Pagdating ng Thursday, palaban pa rin kami,” Gorayeb remarked.
Taipei (3) – Lee 15, Chen 13, Tseng 11, Hung 8, Huang 5, Wu C.T. 5, Wu W.H. 2, Lee 1, Chang 1, Wang 0, Lai (L)
Philippines (1) – Valdez 16, Santiago 8, Soltones 7, Morado 7, Laure 4, De Leon 3, Pablo 2, Sato 1, Meneses 1, De Jesus 0, Agno (L)
Rose Vargas all set for UAAP return after four-season absence
In an unprecedented move, hard-hitting Far Eastern University spiker Rose Vargas will return to finish her UAAP career when Season 80 kicks off on February 3 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Vargas last played for the Lady Tamaraws in Season 75. With a year of eligibility left, Vargas left the Morayta-based program to focus on her academics and pursue a career in the semi-pro ranks.
Five years since her last UAAP game, Vargas says that she did not hesitate when FEU officials asked if she wanted to return to play out her final year of eligibility.
During her time in the V-League, she played for the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors, the Bureau of Custom Transformers, and, most recently, the Creamline Cool Smashers.
“‘Yung pag-babalik naman dito (FEU) is hindi ko naman pinag-isipan matagal or nag-dalawang isip ako,” said the Season 74 Best Scorer. “Noong tinanong lang sa akin kung gusto ko daw bumalik, ang sagot ko lang, oo.
“Kasi gusto kong makatulong, and gusto kong makuha ‘yung championship namin na matagal ng hindi nakukuha ng FEU.”
Vargas adds to an already solid FEU core which includes graduating captain Bernadeth Pons, Toni Rose Basas, and Jerrili Malabanan.
The last time Vargas suited up for FEU, she was the main piece to a core that included Mari Toni Basas — Toni Rose’s older sister, a young Remy Palma, Gyzelle Sy, and Tin Agno.
Vargas now sees herself as more of a complimentary piece, the hardened veteran looking to guide FEU’s younger guns in a season where much if expected of them.
“Ngayon, nadagdagan siguro yung maturity and ko, pagiging veteran daw, sabi, na pwede ko mai-share din sa mga bata ‘yun, as a leader, as an ate,” added Vargas.
“Nako-contribute ko kung anong knowledge ang natutunan ko.”
League insiders are confident that Vargas, who turned 25-year-old on December 12 last year, will be declared eligible to play in Season 80. Although the UAAP is yet to have their eligibility meeting this week, a source closely monitoring the situation expressed confidence that Vargas will pass the league’s eligibility rules.
23 for 2023 cadet CJ Perez honored to help out Gilas
Having had the chance to represent the Philippines in FIBA-sanctioned cagefests such the Asia Challenge Cup and the 3X3 All-Stars back in 2016, Lyceum Pirates star CJ Perez is no stranger to the international stage.
But the 24-year-old do-it-all swingman admits that he still gets overwhelmed whenever he sees his seniors — the stars and pillars of the program — in the team. “Nasusurprise [pa rin] ako,” he said. “Mga professionals eh.
“Na-istarstruck pa rin ako sa kanila.”
Perez said so when he finally made his return within Gilas’ realms last Monday night. The last time he was with the National Team was in August 2016, when the SBP built an amateur-laden batch of Gilas cagers that served as the transition from the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers squad to the 2017 SEABA team.
“Sobrang grateful ako (sa invitation),” said the talented six-foot-two guard, after practice at the Meralco Gym.
The reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player is back in the fold for Gilas as his name, along with young, up-and-coming stars, was included in the 23 for 2023 pool — a list of cagers projected to be the contingent for the Manila-hosted World Cup.
“Iniisip ko yun (FIBA World Cup 2023) simula magtawag sila ng practice. Actually nandoon na yung utak ko eh,” the Lyceum Pirate ace bared. “Kailangan ko lang mag work hard pa para makapasok dun sa lineup na yun, kahit malayo pa.
“It’s an honor para ma-represent yung country.”
Unlike in 2016, Perez graced the court and took part in drills with the veterans such as Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, among others. With those type of players around him, he feels that the lessons he can get will be limitless.
“Oo sobra. Kahit kanino naman (matututo ka talaga),” Perez shared. “(At tsaka) Dito parang more on sa mental. ‘Di na iniisip yung conditioning kasi may ibang teams naman sila so about sa mental toughness [talaga].”
For now, the 23 for 2023 cadets are already working out not just for familiarity, but also to help the seniors in preparing for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this February.
“Sobrang happy and grateful na nakakatulong ako sa kanila kahit sa simpleng practice lang.”
Blistering Mikey Williams takes home Heritage Import of the Week honor
The resurgent Saigon Heat have been the thorn to topflight clubs teams Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club and Nanhai Kung Fu, handing both squads their first losses in the eighth season of the ASEAN Basketball League. The Heat would not have done it without Filipino-American import Mikey Williams.
Williams, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Cal State Fullerton, dropped 39 points on 14-for-25 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists in Saigon’s 121-115 overtime win over Hong Kong.
The former NBA G-Leaguer followed it up with a sensational 24-point, five-rebound, and seven-assist outing in their 96-93 win over Kung Fu.
Overall, the 26-year-old guard averaged 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.0 steals to edge out fellow Filipino AJ Mandani of the Singapore Slingers for the weekly award.
For the Local Player of the Week, two Alab Pilipinas stalwarts were the runners-up for the crown.
Reigning local Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. and his floor general Josh Urbiztondo had stellar weeks that earned them honorable mentions.
Urbiztondo, on the other hand, had norms of 14.5 points on a hot 9-for-17 clip from downtown.
Brazilian football legend Zico to visit Manila
One of the best to ever play the Beautiful Game is coming to the Philippines. Zico, who electrified the footballing world in the ’70s and ’80s, is slated to visit Manila on the weekend of January 27.
The Brazilian, whose real name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, is considered one of the best footballers in the world during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Zico starred for the Brazilian national team, scoring 48 goals in 71 appearances for the Selecao. In 1999, the attacking midfielder came 8th in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote, and in 2004 was named in FIFA’s list of the world’s greatest living players.
Zico played for legendary Brazilian club Flamengo and also for the Italian Serie A team Udinese. He finished his playing career suiting up for Kashima Antlers in the J-League, the top tier of Japanese football, leading them to an unlikely runner-up finish.
The 64-year-old also had a successful managerial career, leading Turkey’s Fenerbahce, Greek team Olympiacos, and CSKA Moscow to titles. Zico was also in charge of the Japanese national team when they won the AFC Asian Cup in 2004. Because of that accomplishment, Zico is one of the most beloved football figures in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Seven Seas Properties, a company that promotes Philippine real estate and Philippine stocks in the Japanese market, is bringing the football icon here.
“We are delighted to welcome Zico to the Philippines. I’m sure he will give a big boost to the growing football scene here,” says Seven Seas Properties President Yukihiro Nishimura.
Zico will attend a CSR event with young footballers from underprivileged communities on Saturday, January 27. The following day, Sunday January 28, he will lead a football clinic for elite young players and coaches in the McKinley Hill stadium in Taguig. Football fans and media are welcome to watch this event, which kicks off at 2:00 pm. Admission is free.
Zico in Manila is also made possible by Otsuka – Solar Philippines, Inter Sports Partners, AgriNurture, and Primex.