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Philippines wins a historic first set over China, but gets eliminated in four sets



The running narrative in the build-up to the Philippines’ match against China was that the Nationals didn’t stand a chance; that we were going to get taken to school in the worst possible way.

But the Nationals proved their own expectations, and the forecast of all-knowing local volleyball pundits wrong when they gave China all it could take. For the first time in international competition, the Philippines took a set against the vaunted Chinese National Team and went down swinging in four sets, 25-23, 14-25, 18-25, 17-25 in the AVC U23 tournament Thursday at the PhilSports Arena, Pasig City.

The Chinese were taller, faster, and way more experienced than the hosts. However, the Nationals found a way through and, receiving a huge boost from the crowd, made history in the first set of the match. Taking advantage of a Chinese starting lineup that didn’t feature its stars, the Nationals rode the talent of their top players to keep within range of the Chinese. When China led by 16-15, the Philippines rifled off three straight points via Myla Pablo attacks and a Jaja Santiago ace, 16-18. China quickly responded, scoring three straight points via terrific blocking later in the set to snatch the lead back 21-20. From there, team captain, Alyssa Valdez, sparked a 4-2 Pinay scoring run to setup set point for the Philippines. Myla Pablo soared from the sideline and crushed an attack down the line to give the Philippines the first set to the jubilation of the home crowd.

China then began to take the match more seriously in fielding their most dangerous attacker, Liu Yanhan, in the second set to expose the Philippines’ defense. Yanhan played with her heart on her sleeve, turning the volleyball into a lethal weapon every time she got a touch, and reacting violently after each point or call that didn’t go her team’s way. She topped the match in scoring in just three sets of action with 21 points off an efficient 18 for 39 attacking clip. China’s elite height and blocking played a major role in their triumph as they out-blocked the Pinays, 13-6. Also a result of China’s dominance at the net was the Philippines’ 30 errors; a lot, considering China only had 15.

On the bright side, the Philippines matched China point for point in the attacking department and their much criticized reception was rock solid for much of the match, giving up only seven aces. The Pinays pulled spectacular performances from everyone they fielded as Valdez led her team in scoring with 17 points while Jaja Santiago piled up 16 markers. Playing the opposite hitter position for the first time in her volleyball career in this tournament, Myla Pablo recorded her tournament-high 11 points. Risa Sato was pivotal in the first set win, scoring all of her five points in the historic frame.

“Mas matangkad sila, mas experienced sila, sino ba nga naman ‘yung magaakala na mananalo kami ng kahit isang set sa kanila?,” Philippines Head Coach Roger Gorayeb said during the post-match press conference. “Kung makakapaglaro lang ‘yung mga bata sa mga ibang bansa, para lang magka-experience against matangkad na competition, malaking tulong ‘yun sa development ng volleyball sa bansa.”

“We didn’t expect the match the Philippines to be this energetic. We didn’t play to our potential, this was good for the Philippines but bad for our team,” said China Head Coach, Xu Jiande.

The loss eliminates the Philippines from contention for a Top 4 spot. They will face Chinese Taipei tommorow in their first of two classification matches for ranks five through eight.

“Sa tingin ko gigil ‘yung Taipei na patunayan na hindi kami dapat nanalo ng isang set sa kanila. Sana maging advantage namin ‘yun para matalo sila,” Gorayeb remarked on their rematch with Chinese Taipei.

The Score:

China (3) – Liu 21, Zheng 13, Duan 11, Xu 8, Chen 5, Gong 5, Wang 3, Cheng 1, Song 1, Huang (L), Wang (L)

Philippines (1) – Valdez 17, Santiago 16, Pablo 11, Morado 5, Sato 5, Soltones 4, Laure 1, De Jesus 0, Meneses 0, Agno (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 Ryan Moss 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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