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Philippines suffer heavy defeat against Thailand in AFF Women’s Championship curtain-raiser

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The Philippines’ women’s national football team took a 4-0 beating at the hands of Thailand earlier today in the first game of the 2016 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship held at the Mandalarthiri Stadium in the northern Myanmar city of Mandalay.

Thailand, twice the winners of the regional competition including last year’s edition, took the lead in the 21st minute, just after a promising opening few minutes played by the daring Filipinas. Getting the ball rolling was Heather Cooke, who fired a shot routinely collected by the Thailand goalkeeper. Defender Alesa Dolino hoped to sustain the momentum with an audacious attempt. Renowned for her ability to shoot from astonishingly long distances, Dolino came a whisker away from shocking the champions. The FEU standout whipped a long shot from near the halfway line only for it to hit the crossbar.

The Filipinas’ eyes the unfortunate break as the next attempt on goal led to a goal, albeit on the other side of the pitch. A free kick in the 21st minute changed the tone of the game as Thailand’s Pitsamai Sornsai bundled the ball into the goal that ricocheted off the crossbar, leaving Philippines’ goalkeeper and captain Inna Palacios helpless in denying the Thai forward.

Facing a deficit, the Philippines tried to even the score almost instantly through Cristina delos Reyes’ effort. The UP talisman was in the end of a blazing move but was ultimately denied. The thirst to draw level, perhaps before the break, got the better of them as a moment of brilliance from Sornsai cushioned Thailand’s lead in the 32nd minute. The forward broke the offside trap before smoothly finishing past Palacios for the second time in the match. Halftime soon came with the score not entirely reflecting the complexion of the contest.

In the second half, however, it was all Thailand as the Filipinas were outclassed by a team that made it to last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. Five minutes after the break, Kanjana Sung-Ngoen made it three for the cruising Thais, slotting the ball off the rebound. The rout was completed in the 70th minute by Rattikan Thongsombut, capping off a sour start to the competition.

The Philippines will look to bounce back from the loss when they take on another powerhouse team Vietnam on Thursday. To be held at the same place, at the same kick off time of 3PM Myanmar time (4:30PM Philippine time), the match against the Vietnamese is a must win game for the Filipinas in order to keep their hopes of advancing to the semifinals alive.

Photo courtesy of Myanmar Football Federation

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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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