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Pinays claim seventh place after sweet win over IRI



Having no idea just how they stack up against Asia’s elite due to decades of apathy to international competition, Team Philippines went into the U23 blind. It turns out, the hosts were pretty good, but not good enough.

After sweeping a worn-out Iran team 25-15, 25-21, 26-24, the Philippines finished the tournament in seventh place – the perfect indication for our country’s status as a middling volleyball power.

We had other signature moments in the tournament; sweeping the internationally renowned Kazakhstan, and taking world volleyball powers, Chinese Taipei and China, to four sets. But, more than anything, the tournament exposed how far we still have to go to seriously contend for relevancy in the sport.

In the Iran rematch, Team Captain, Alyssa Valdez, and middle blocker, Jaja Santiago, keyed the team’s success just as they had all-tournament. Valdez topped all scorers with 21 points from a variety of attacks, while Santiago’s 17 points, off just 20 attack attempts, is indicative of how much her sheer length affects the flow of the game. Elite opposing defenses took notice of the PH’s dynamic duo and adjusted appropriately to minimize their effect. Moreover, the other Pinays responded well when their top scorers were being shackled. Starters, Myla Pablo and Risa Sato, and even Ella De Jesus and Ej Laure, had clutch moments when their numbers were called. But most of the time, the PH struggled to score when either Valdez or Santiago didn’t have their games going.

Unheralded in her role, Jia Morado may have been the PH’s biggest bright spot. Beyond her setting, the Ateneo junior showed poise beyond her years. Her tosses were spectacular – sometimes too spectacular for her teammates, her serves turned the tide of sets, and her signature dumped set became virtually unstoppable as she figured out how to navigate through her opponents’ long arms and patterns. She had 23 excellent sets against Iran and four points off two aces and two attacks. She also has the team record for least number of nervous looks at zero.

The Philippines simply came out today with the exuberant energy they had in their first match loss against Iran. Only this time, the Philippines knew they were better than Iran and calmly showed it throughout the match. They had better service reception, less errors, and more pop to their attacks. With Iran storming back in the third set, the Philippine team that came into the tournament might have lost total grip on the set and let Iran comeback. But the Philippine team that came out today, hardened with tough matches against Asia’s elite, held on and cooly regained control to put away the match.

Still, PHI Head Coach acknowledges that local volleyball still has a long way to go. “At least, sa tournament na ‘to, kinilala na tayo ng ibang team, nakuha natin ‘yung respeto ng ibang bansa. Pero malayo pa ‘yung kailangan natin I-improve para maabot sila. Kahit sana makapaglaro pa ‘yung team at ‘yung ibang players against international teams para lang magamay pa natin ‘yung high-level, maganda maidudulot noon sa players,” Gorayeb said. “Saka sana wag na palitan ‘yung mga players. Ito ‘yung nagpakitang comitted sila. Kahit coach na lang palitan, wag lang ‘yung players,” Gorayeb jokingly continued.

Their seventh place finish puts the hosts ahead of Maldives, Macau, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Iran in the final tournament tally. The Philippines will also compete in the upcoming AVC Seniors Tournament, as well as the SEA Games.

Nonetheless, this finish is a great first step for a country where volleyball is still on the rise. On the other hand, Thailand, another Asian country where volleyball exploded, spent millions of dollars to improve their program. They first won gold in the SEA Games in 1995, and have since dominated the regional meet. Despite their success and effort, Thailand is still yet to make an appearance in the Olympics.

Buckle up, Pinoys. This is going to be a long ride.

The Scores:

PHI (3) – Valdez 21, Santiago 17, Pablo 5, Soltones 5, Morado 4, Sato 3, De Jesus 0, De Leon 0, Agno (L)

IRI (0) – Chamlanian 10, Saberi 6, Roosta 6, Shirtari Foumani 4, Hassani 3, Khalili 3, Derishmahmoudi 2, Kahdkoda 1, Siavoshi 1, Motaghiyan (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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After getting first D-League experience, Zark’s-Lyceum ready to get loose



After a hesitant performance in their PBA D-League debut last Thursday that resulted in a loss to the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers seemingly caught up with the league’s style of play on Tuesday.

Zark’s-Lyceum displayed their true form and stamped their class all over the Batangas-EAC Generals with a 37-point destruction, 112-75 — so far the biggest winning margin the franchise has ever had in its D-League history.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams we’re playing against with,” said Zark’s-Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson after the match at Pasig Sports Center. “But the things we want to mind are those things we control.

“We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways.”

Robinson’s claim was strongly backed up by the numbers that the Jawbreakers produced.

CJ Perez had 21 points and 10 rebounds. MJ Ayaay produced 15 points and 10 boards, and Mike Nzeusseu delivered 14 markers and 11 boards.

Even the bench made their presence felt in the victory. With guard Jaycee Marcelino spearheading the supporting cast’s charge with 12 markers, the bench contributed a remarkable 56 points to their total output.

Photo by PBA Images

“Ano lang, cinontrol lang namin yung pace kasi yun naman talaga yung laro namin, yung mabilisan,” said the 24-year-old do-it-all forward, who also collected three steals.

“Kailangan talaga mabilisan para ma-execute namin yung mga ginagawa namin.”

This week will be a rough one for the Pirates, as they will play right away this Thursday against the AMA Online Education. And for Perez, he strongly believes that they will be able to carry over their momentum.

“Oo. Nandun pa. Energy talaga yung puhunan namin para makalaro ng maayos.”

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Bonbon Batiller shows what he can bring to Letran in D-League debut



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Tuesday proved to be a double debut for Bonbon Batiller. Aside from beginning his first foray in the PBA D-League, it also marked his debut for the Letran Knights, who are carrying the Wang’s Basketball Couriers franchise.

And the 5-foot-11 guard showed what he can bring to the table. Batiller collected 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists to help the Knights raise the curtains of their campaign with a 93-75 rout of the Batangas-EAC Generals.

“Nagworkout yung pinagpraktisan namin,” said Batiller. “Nagbunga rin yung tinuro samin ni Coach Jeff (Napa) lalo sa depensa. Tsaka siguro sa rebounds — laking lamang namin sa rebound. Nagsipag mga bigs namin.”

But what has him even more satisfied is the warm reception and trust he’s had from the Knights, even if he has spent barely a year with them after transferring from University of the East last 2017.

“Masaya po kasi tinanggap nila ako sa Letran ng buong-buo,” said Batiller, who normed 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals with UE in two years. “Tsaka yung tiwala nila na makakatulong ako sa team nandoon.

“Kaya masaya ako sa pinakita nila sa akin.”

That is why the General Santos native is hard-pressed to prove himself to Letran, saying that he’s all about giving back to the school that gave him another opportunity to resume his young, up-and-coming basketball career.

“Kailangan kong may mapatunayan na deserving ako sa binigay na second chance sa akin ni Letran,” said Batiller, who decided to switch schools partly due to academic reasons.

“Malaki ang utang ko sa Letran.”

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Bienvenido Maranon scores brace as Ceres-Negros eliminates Brisbane Roar



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Philippine club football just achieved its biggest continental result yet

The inaugural Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros Football Club eliminated three-time Australian champions Brisbane Roar in the 2018 AFC Champions League’s second preliminary round with a 3-2 stunner, away at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane.

With the win, the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions are set to face Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian next January 30, 2018 at the Haihe Educational Football Stadium in Tianjin, China, to book a seat in the group stages.

Brisbane were the favorites for this tie and it showed, as Ceres started the contest on the back foot. Italian striker Massimo Maccarone handed the home side the lead in the 35th minute when he turned in Brett Holman’s pass.

Maccarone’s goal could have lowered the Busmen’s moral, but Risto Vidakovic’s men took it as a motivation rather than a downer. In fact, Ceres replied in the best way possible when Bienvenido Maranon scored his first goal of the match two minutes from halftime, thanks to a scramble in the Brisbane box.

By all accounts, Ceres had already made Philippine football proud at halftime. By this stage last year, Brisbane had accrued a 4-0 halftime cushion against Global Cebu en route to a 6-0 rout.

Today, though, Brisbane faced tougher resistance at Ceres’ hands. That resistance turned into a full-fledged revolt in the 65th minute when Maranon directed the ball past a helpless Jamie Young to give the Busmen their first taste of the lead.

Maranon’s goal well and truly turned the tide in Ceres’ favor. Brisbane were stunned. The home side are the defending A-League champions, but are currently eighth in the table this season and would soon face elimination from Asia’s premier club competition.

Already up 2-1, the Busmen finally achieved some breathing room in the 75th minute when Omid Nazari scored from close range to give Ceres a two-goal cushion over Brisbane.

Nazari’s goal not only sealed the win for Ceres, it also propelled Philippine football into the big leagues. Not even a late goal from French midfielder Éric Bauthéac could prevent the Busmen’s victory.

After five minutes of stoppage time, Ceres emerged 3-2 winners against Brisbane Roar. Come what may against Tianjin seven days from now, the Busmen have already achieved Philippine football’s biggest result since their own achievement in last season’s AFC Cup.

Who knows? Maybe Ceres can pull off another upset?

Ceres-Negros XI: Doblas (GK), Super, Mike Ott, Ingreso, Maranon, Porteria, Schrock, De Murga (C), Munoz, Nazari, Christaens.

Brisbane Roar XI: Ingham, Bowles, Papadopoulos, Maccarone, Holman, Khalfallah, Oxborrow, McKay (C), Hingert, Young (GK), Franjic.

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CJ Perez, Zark’s-Lyceum vent ire on Batangas-EAC with 37-point romp



Photo by PBA Images

CJ Perez and the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers finally lived up to their hype, as they clobbered the Batangas-EAC Generals to score a 37-point beatdown, 112-75 for their first win, Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.

It was an all-out attack from the Jawbreakers, as they beat the Generals to the bite and took control of the game early, with Mike Nzeusseu and Jaycee Marcelino guiding their side to the 48-33 lead at halftime which they would never surrender.

Perez paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while MJ Ayaay tallied a double-double with his 15 markers, 10 boards, and three assists.

Cameroonian student-athlete Nzeusseu also delivered 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists. Marcelino had eight first half points and wound up with 12 off the bench, as the reserves chipped in 56 huge points in the tussle.

Coach Topex Robinson lauded the Jawbreakers for quickly adjusting to the style of the PBA D-League just days after falling to the Marinerong Pilipino, 92-94, back in opening day.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams were playing against with. But the things we want to mind are those things we control. We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways,” he said.

Earvin Mendoza and Cedric de Joya both had 16 points for the Generals in the losing effort.

Zark’s-Lyceum look to continue to roll when they face the AMA Online Education Titans on Thursday, January 25. EAC-Batangas, on the other hand, take on the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers on Monday, January 29.

The Scores:

Zark’s-Lyceum 112 — Perez 21, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Serrano 10, Baltazar 8, Santos 8, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 6, Marata 4, Liwag 4, Ibañez 2, Cinco 2, Pretta 0.

Batangas-EAC 75 — E. Mendoza 16, De Joya 16, Tampoc 12, Laude 9, Pate 8, Maguliano 6, Altamirano 5, Diego 3, Garcia 0, Dela Peña 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0.

Quarterscores: 19-14, 48-33, 84-47, 112-75.

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