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Playing with twice-to-beat disadvantage nothing new to Leo Austria, San Miguel

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For the first time this season, the San Miguel Beermen will head into the playoffs as the underdogs.

After losing out on a playoff incentive, the reigning Philippine and Commissioner’s Cup champions are about to face defending Governors’ Cup champions Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals, set to begin on Wednesday, September 27.

But San Miguel head coach Leo Austria remains unfazed, even if they will face a Ginebra side armed with a win-once incentive.

“Twice-to-beat sila, but we’ll try our best,” said Austria, moments after the Beermen collapsed and lost to Meralco Bolts, 101-104, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum — a loss that dragged them down to the sixth spot.

The 59-year-old tactician remains undaunted, as being on the side of danger is nothing new for his team –– just remember their comeback from 0-3 against the Alaska Aces in the 2016 Philippine Cup Finals.

“Nandito naman kami noon eh,” Austria reflected. “Maraming beses na nangyari sa’min yan — 0-3 kami, nanalo pa rin kami. We’re down against Meralco before, tinalo pa rin namin sila.

“This time we’ll try again.”

And despite the tall order in front of them, Austria is not yet shunning their hopes of winning this conference’s title to get the Grand Slam. But he knows what he and Beermen have gotten themselves into as they gear up to confront the crowd darlings.

“Yung inaasam namin na mag-champion this conference, nandoon pa rin naman eh,” said the five-time champion coach. “But we need to step up dahil this is a different situation right now, especially if you’re up against Ginebra.

“Alam naman natin yung crowd eh nandiyan always for them to support. We will see what happens.”

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Tanduay Alab spoils Formosa’s home debut to enter win column

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Photo by ASEAN Basketball League

After three unfruitful outings, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas had finally tasted the sweet flavor of triumph through a convincing 78-61 win over Formosa Dreamers, Saturday at the Changhua County Stadium in Taiwan.

With this, both club teams now carry an identical 1-3 win-loss card.

Everyone from Alab scored in the win, with World Import Reggie Okosa anchoring the offense with 19 points along with 19 rebounds. Ray Parks, Jr. had his best outing so far with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Lead point guard Josh Urbiztondo — who was slapped with an unsportsmanlike foul after a commotion with Formosa’s Chen Yu Han in the second frame — also chipped in 12 markers on top of seven assists and six rebounds.

Tanduay Alab spent the majority of the bout ahead, but the home team still managed to give their opponents a run for their money, not just with their ability to wipe out leads, but through their physical style of play as well.

But the complexity changed come the second half. Through their hustle and fluid ball movement, Tanduay Alab outclassed the Taiwanese club team and led by as much as 17, 68-51, after Okosa’s dunk with 7:43 in the final frame.

The Filipino dribblers then never relinquished the huge advantage, and zoomed all the way to their first-ever win.

Alab’s win has raised some issues, as Ivan Johnson — for unknown reasons — was benched in the game. He was last seen having a heated moment with somebody after their 99-96 loss to Hong Kong Eastern last Wednesday.

Former Saigon Heat reinforcement Lenny Daniel powered the Dreamers with 19 points and eight rebounds. Local Cheng Chi Kuan provided 11 points, while another World Import Jaleel Cousins chipped in 10 and nine boards.

Tanduay Alab will look to rake in back-to-back wins as they take on Westports Malaysia Dragons after the holiday break on January 3 at 8:00 PM.

The Scores:

Tanduay Alab (78) – Okosa 19, Parks 12, Urbiztondo 12, Maierhofer 7, Hontiveros 7, Domingo 6, Raymundo 5, Celiz 4, Alabanza 2, Javelona 2, Sumalinog 2.

Formosa (61) – Daniel 19, Cheng 11, Cousins 10, Chou 9, Chen 5, Yang 4, Li C. 0, Li P. 0, Wu 0, Tsai 0.

Quarterscores: 21-13, 39-32, 62-48, 78-61

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PBA tweaks format for 2017-18 Philippine Cup playoffs

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From 10 teams in the past, only eight teams will advance into the 2018 Philippine Cup playoffs as the PBA made a few changes in its’ format for the 43rd season’s Philippine Cup, making every single game important for all teams.

The way the playoffs will be played out though remains the same. The top two teams will have a twice-to-beat edge over teams ranked seventh and eight, while the ones in the middle (3 vs 6, 4 vs 5) will figure in best-of-three contests.

Both the semifinals and finals will still be best-of-seven affairs.

Meanwhile, the league has also released the full schedule of the Philippine Cup Friday, eight days after publicizing a partial sked that only showed games from December 17 to 29.

SMART-Araneta Coliseum, SM Mall of Asia Arena, and Ynares Center in Antipolo will serve the main venues of PBA games. The FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan and the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay will also hold a few matches.

This season’s Christmas Games, which features GlobalPort Batang Pier-NLEX Road Warriors and Barangay Ginebra-Magnolia Hotshots, will be staged at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

And just like in the past seasons, the league will also hold playdates in out-of-town venues such as Ilo-ilo City, Legazpi in Albay, Calasiao in Pangasinan, Dumaguete City, and Cagayan de Oro City. All of these are set on Saturdays.

The PBA will raise the curtains of its’ 43rd year this Sunday, December 17, at the Big Dome, with defending champions San Miguel Beermen starting their four-peat bid against a revamped Phoenix Fuel Masters at 6:45 PM.

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SBP, Robbie Puno still looking for ‘right player’ to naturalize for 2023 World Cup

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Though a lot of foreign cagers have presented themselves as willing to play for SMART Gilas Pilipinas and become naturalized Filipino, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has yet to pick on who will be the heir apparent to Andray Blatche come the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“At this point in time, we do not have any particular player yet. My understanding is we’re still looking for the best possible candidate,” shared SBP vice chairman Robbie Puno during the celebration of the 2023 World Cup hosting held at Crowne Plaza in Pasig City.

Blatche, who last played for Gilas during the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, will be 37 years old when the 2023 edition rolls around. Names that have been thrown out during the calendar year were former Blackwater Elite import Greg Smith, who will be 33 years old in 2023, and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas reinforcement Isaiah Austin, who will turn 30 by that time.

Still, Puno and his group are taking their time, carefully filtering the candidates as to not hamper the process of the legislative body of the Philippines.

“If our target is 2023, there will be probably enough time for us to make sure we have the right player in terms of his basketball skills, but also his age as well as his attitude,” said Puno, a former congressman representing the first district of Antipolo City.

Moreover, the 55-year-old politician has already planted the seeds for this long process by already talking to the members of the Lower House who will author the bill.

“Right now, we’re ready to spearhead that process. We’ve spoken with a couple of congressmen who will author the bill,” Puno disclosed.

“What we’re waiting for is the imprimatur as to who we will really make the effort to naturalize, because when you start that process, it becomes really difficult.”

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SOURCES: Perpetual Help taps Frankie Lim as consultant

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Frankie Lim looks to bring a championship to a school that is hungry for it/PBA Images

Frankie Lim will steer a once-heated rival to the promised land

The multi-titled mentor has been appointed as a team consultant of the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas as the 57-year-old tactician will be tasked to reboot the team after a lackluster run in the NCAA Season 93 Seniors’ Basketball tournament.

Sources closely monitoring the situation bared that Lim is now running practice for the Altas as he works side-by-side with coach Jimwell Gican.

“Consultant na siya sa Perpetual, pero siya rin ang nagpapatakbo sa practice,” the source said.

Another source confirmed the development and also shared that Lim is looking to bring in two of his assistants in the coaching staff, further proving his seriousness for the job. The names of the assistants, however, were not disclosed.

The Altas went 4-14 last season with Gican at the helm as he relied on Prince Eze, Gab Dagangon, and AJ Coronel to lead the squad.

According to a third source, it was either Lim or NCAA Season 93 commissioner Bai Cristobal who was being picked by Perpetual Help to serve as the team’s consultant. However, Cristobal still wanted to assume his role as league commissioner for one more year, especially since Perpetual Help is hosting the 94th season of the Grand Old League.

Perpetual is looking for an early preparation for NCAA Season 94 as it joins the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup in January.

Lim was last seen in the sidelines in the PBA when he coached Ginebra in 2015. He won four titles with his alma mater San Beda from 2007 to 2011 Before briefly going to Indonesia to coach Stadium Jakarta.

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