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Philips Gold resoundingly avenges first round loss to Cignal

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Utilizing another balanced effort from their starting rotation, the Philips Gold Lady Slammers claimed the top spot in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, trouncing the Cignal HD Spikers in straight sets, 25-22, 25-14, 25-23, at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

Working off their terrific ball control, Philips Gold built an early four-point lead in the first set and led 16-14 after the second technical timeout. Cignal slowly caught up, tying the match at 19 before Philips again grabbed the lead, 21-19, off a Myla Pablo hit then an Amanda Anderson attack error. Cignal threatened to come back after a timeout, again tying the set at 21 after a lucky first touch return point and an Ariel Usher smash. Philips, however, put the set away, going to Pabo and Todorovic for back-to-back stabs then Micmic Laborte capped the set with a service error.

The second set went swimmingly for Philips Gold. Leading by only two, 8-6, Philips Gold expanded their advantage with Todorovic dropping bombs from the service area and great floor defense. Philips rattled off 12 consecutive points, burying Cignal in an insurmountable lead.

Cignal came out firing in the third set, netting better receptions making way for Ariel Usher and Amanda Anderson to take over offensively. Cignal built a 15-11 lead before Philips mounted their comeback. Stifling Cignal’s attacks at the net and on the floor, Philips chipped away at the deficit, forcing an 18-all tie then hijacking the lead, 21-19 off a Lindsay Dowd dumped set and a Myla Pablo block. Philips protected their lead until the end of the set, which Cignal threw away with late errors.

Philips Gold head coach, Francis Vicente, prior to the match told the media that he thought his team’s locals will be key in today’s match. His wards did not let him down as Myla Pablo scored 13 markers, team captain Michele Gumabao tallied nine points while libero Melissa Gohing and Desiree Dadang provided great defense.

“Talagang malaking bagay ‘yung ginawa nila Myla (Pablo), Michele (Gumabao), pati ni Melissa (Gohing). Sila ‘yung advantage namin against Cignal. Ayaw ko kasing masyadong mag-rely sa mga imports. Pinag-aralan namin ‘yung galaw nila (Cignal). Sa ensayo, sa depensa na lang kami nag-focus,” said Vicente.

UCLA product Bo Todorovic scored a game-high 19 points, USC stalwart Alexis Olgard provided 14 while UC-Davis setter Lindsay Dowd tossed 21 excellent sets and added seven markers to anchor the Philips Gold assault.

With a 7-2 slate, Philps moves to number one in the standings ahead of contenders, Petron, Foton and Cignal. Their final elimination will be on Monday, November 16 at the San Juan Arena against Petron.

Cignal’s imports Amanda Anderson and Ariel Usher towed their team with 14 and 13 markers respectively, but had minimal support from the locals with scoring and defense. They face the floundering Meralco for their final match of the elimination round, also on Monday.

The Scores

Philps Gold (3) – Todorovic 19, Olgard 14, Pablo 13, Gumabao 9, Dowd 7, Dadang 2, Nupomuceno 0, Gohing (L)

Cignal (0) – Anderson 14, Usher 13, Laborte 7, Gallenero 3, Vivas 3, Hingpit 2, Mandapat 1, Ancheta 0, Mullenberg 0, Tiu 0, Enclona (L), Dionela (L)

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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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Paul Lee, Hotshots outlast Fuel Masters to extend win streak to three

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Photo by PBA Images

A late-game rally by the Magnolia Hotshots was more than enough to repel a hungry Phoenix Fuel Masters side, 97-91, for their third consecutive victory, Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

The Hotshots have now improved to 4-1, while the Fuel Masters absorbed their second loss in a row and have dropped to 2-3, creating a four-way logjam with Rain or Shine, Blackwater, and NLEX in the team standings.

“It was all mental toughness in the end. It was about our perseverance, our desire to win, and chemistry sa dulo,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero. “Thankful ako sa players kasi they didn’t, give in sa pressure.”

Paul Lee led the charge with 20 points — despite shooting 33 percent — along with five rebounds. Rome Dela Rosa supplied 17 markers on 9-of-10 free throw shooting, while Ian Sangalang had 16 points and seven rebounds.

The Fuel Masters were actually ahead, 89-84, with 3:01 remaining in the fourth, but lost gas afterwards as the Hotshots pulled off a 9-0 rally — punctuated by Lee’s freebies — to build a 93-89 lead with just 42.1 seconds left to play.

Phoenix, even after Gelo Alolino sinking free throws to make it 91-93, never had any chance of yielding the upset ax. Rafi Reavis’ follow-up off a Lee miss with 12.5 ticks left proved to be the dagger that put Phoenix down once and for all.

Mark Barroca had 12 points for Magnolia. Reavis had himself 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Marc Pingris, despite scoring just four, hauled down 17 rebounds, dished out four assists, and blocked two shots.

Alolino led Phoenix with 19 points on 70 percent shooting. Jeff Chan provided 12 markers, four boards, and four dimes, and Matthew Wright gave 17 points on a horrid 7-of-19 shooting on top of four caroms, three feeds, and two steals.

Magnolia will aim to keep their streak alive against TNT next Saturday, January 27, at 6:45 PM, while Phoenix will try to end their skid versus Ginebra on January 26, Friday at 7:00 PM. Both games will be at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Magnolia 97 – Lee 20, Dela Rosa 17, Sangalang 16, Barroca 12, Reavis 11, Simon 6, Jalalon 5, Pingris 4, Ramos 3, Pascual 2, Herndon 1, Melton 0.

Phoenix 91 – Alolino 19, Wright 17, Chan 12, Jazul 9, Eriobu 8, Chua 7, Mendoza 6, Kramer 6, Intal 3, Revilla 2, Perkins 2, Wilson 0, Dehesa 0.

Quarterscores: 30-23, 47-45, 67-75, 97-91.

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Eric Camson apologetic after brawl with Raymond Almazan

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Eric Camson plans to take the high road

Kia forward Eric Camson was deeply apologetic for the brawl he got into with Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan during the Picanto-Elasto Painters match Saturday, saying that it was not an intention of his to hurt somebody.

The two got into it with 3:10 left in the second quarter as their jockeying for position underneath turned to a fistfight, after Camson apparently elbowed Almazan. The two were quickly separated to prevent any untoward incident.

“‘Di ko naman intensyon. Makikita naman sa replay na ang intensyon ko, hindi ko naman talaga habol yung mukha. Box lang ako,” the fifth-year pro explained. “Tinamaan ko, hindi ko naman maiiwasan, tapos ginantihan ako.

“Siyempre sa akin pride ko na yon kaya siguro umabot sa ganon.”

Both of them were slapped with a flagrant foul penalty two and got ejected from the match, which went in favor of Kia, 98-94. But tensions spilled outside the court as the two got into a verbal exchange at the dugout.

Luckily, the gates separating the teams’ locker rooms were closed and prevented another scuffle to take place as Almazan claimed that Camson owed him something.

But then again, Camson reiterated that he did not want such incident to take place, saying that he was just too caught up with emotions — emotions brought upon by their eagerness to win after a 16-game losing skid.

“Hindi ko rin naman ginusto yung nangyari na yon.

“Sobrang eager lang siguro ako, pagod na kasi kaming matalo eh,” said the six-foot-four stretch big man, who already had 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists prior to being ousted. “Ayaw namin na pumasok rally nila na eto na naman kami, kasi aminado naman kaming lahat na once na nag-rally na sila, nalalayuan na kami, yung morale namin bumababa na talaga.”

According to PBA officer-in-charge Willie Marcial, Camson and Almazan will be summoned at the Commissioner’s Office on Tuesday. And for Camson, he is ready to face the consequences and seek apology to Almazan.

“Respect ko yon. And hingi akong dispensa,” the 27-year-old disclosed. “Bilang ako yung mas bata kanya ako na lang yung mag-bow sa kanya. Wala namang problema. Pare-parehas naman kaming nasa isang liga, parehas naman kami ng trabaho.

“Hindi naman nakakabawas sa pagkalalaki ko yon. Basketball yan eh.”

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Returning Jericho Cruz believes complacency led to embarrassing loss to KIA

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After three months of being on the sidelines due to a medial collateral ligament injury in his left knee, Jericho Cruz finally sniffed the court for the first time this 2017-18 Philippine Cup, Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the return he had envisioned.

The Elasto Painters shockingly bowed to the often-ridiculed Kia Picanto, 94-98 — an unacceptable defeat knowing that the Picanto were winless in 16 games and last tasted a win on May 21, 2017 against Phoenix Fuel Masters, 122-121.

“Siyempre it’s sad. ‘Di namin in-expect. Pero siyempre the ball is round,” said Cruz, who scored just a point in 10 minutes, obviously disappointed with the result.

“Di ako masyadong makasalita masyado kasi sobrang sad.”

Heading into Saturday’s bout, the Elasto Painters were heavily favored to win, considering the way the Picanto lost their last three games. In their bouts against Phoenix, Magnolia, and Alaska, Kia lost an average of 35.7 points.

For the 27-year-old guard, he thinks that Rain or Shine’s overconfidence led to the embarrassing setback.

“Siguro sobrang kumpiyansa lang din namin kanina, kaya yun,” rued the four-year pro out of Adamson. “Sobrang sad namin ngayon, pero okay lang, bounce back na lang.

“Tomorrow’s gonna be another day to get better.”

Asked if Raymond Almazan’s ejection from the match due to a brawl with Eric Camson late in the first half affected the Elasto Painters, Cruz doesn’t believe so.

“‘Di naman, kasi lahat naman kami pwedeng mag-step up eh,” expressed the 6-foot-1 guard. “Pero having Raymond being able to play in the game na nandoon siya, yung presence of mind niya, malaking bagay siya eh.

“(Lalo na) With his defense, with his length, ‘di ba. Ayun,” he added.

But like what he said, the E-Painters will just look forward and try to grow from the loss. And the six-foot-one Cruz personally plans to do the same thing, as he aims to regain his game shape after recovering from his knee injury.

“It’s getting better na (left knee). [But] I’m not yet 100 percent at this stage,” he said.

“Siguro nasa 70 percent. Kulang pa ‘ko sa hangin.”

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KIA holds on late against Rain or Shine to end 16-game losing skid

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The Kia Picanto’s months-long, 16-game losing skid has finally come to an end at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94, in a fight-marred affair, Saturday evening at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

The Picanto, who lost an average of 35.7 points in their last three outings, are now 1-4 in the team standings. Meanwhile, the Elasto Painters, who were coming off a 120-99 victory over the Phoenix Fuel Masters last January 17, dropped to 2-3.

“Finally nasa press room ako hindi nasa corridor. I’m relieved more than tired. I’m more relieved than anything else,” said Kia head coach Ricky Dandan. “We finally broke that (skid) and this will go a long way in our rebuilding for our ball club.”

Rashawn McCarthy and Roider Cabrera scored 14 apiece to lead the Picanto, with the former adding four assists. Forward Mark Yee flirted with a double-double as he finished with 13 markers and eight rebounds.

Kia spent the majority of the final frame ahead, but RoS kept fighting and stayed within distance. However, the Picanto built enough separation, 96-89, with 1:52 to go thanks to McCarthy and three-year pro Glenn Khobuntin.

But just as the win was within their grasp, Rain or Shine imposed a serious threat. Behind an Ed Daquioag jumper and Chris Tiu’s visits to the foul line, the E-Painters managed to close within a field goal, 96-94, with 21.9 ticks left.

RoS had a chance to pull the rug from underneath Kia after forcing McCarthy into a turnover off the inbound with less than 20 seconds left, but shots taken by Tiu, Daquiaog, and Maverick Ahanmisi did not find the mark.

Mark Yee was able to secure the miss, but found himself in a jump ball situation afterwards after a fight for the ball with Beua Belga. Yee won the tip, and Khobuntin was there to get the ball and ran it down for the game-sealing lay-up.

The six-foot-three Khobuntin — probably the star of the night for Kia, as he steadied the Picanto’s ship in the end-game — contributed 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting, scoring eight in the final frame.

RoS’ loss put in vain the breakout game of rookie Rey Nambatac as he had 12 points and 11 rebounds. James Yap scored 11 markers on 4-of-8 shooting, while Tiu and Jewel Ponferrada scored 10 apiece, with Tiu having six boards.

Ahanmisi nearly had a double-double as he had nine points and eight rebounds along with four dimes.

Moreover, this defeat of theirs was a sour welcome for Jericho Cruz, who made his 2018 Philippine Cup debut after missing their first four games due to a knee injury. He only scored one point in the 10:32 minutes he played.

The crazy finish of the match somehow shadowed the brawl between Raymond Almazan and Eric Camson, which took place in the 3:01-mark of the second canto. Both were slapped with penalty two flagrant fouls and were ejected.

Almazan, who had just returned to RoS after being put under disciplinary actions after bumping heads with coach Caloy Garcia, finished with six markers and four rebounds. Camson had 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists.

Kia were not able to parade new acquisition Carlo Lastimosa. The scoring guard, whom they signed from the free agent market, was in street clothes on the sidelines after spraining his ankle during team practice.

Rain or Shine will look to book their third straight win against the NLEX Road Warriors on January 26, Friday, while Kia will aim to end their historic skid versus the Meralco Bolts on January 24, Wednesday. Both games are set at 4:30 PM at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

KIA 98 – McCarthy 14, Cabrera 14, Yee 13, Khobuntin 11, Camson 10, Celda 8, Galanza 8, Ababou 6, Sara 5, Tubid 5, Caperal 4.

Rain or Shine 94 – Nambatac 12, Yap 11, Tiu 10, Ponferada 10, Ahanmisi 9, Belga 8, Norwood 8, Borboran 7, Maiquez 6, Almazan 6, Daquioag 4, King 2, Cruz 1, Matias 0, Trollano 0.

Quarterscores: 13-18; 40-44: 72-68; 98-94.

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