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PLDT clips resilient Army, takes Reinforced Conference crown



As in the finals of the Open Conference last summer, the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters still have the Philippine Army Lady Troopers’ number, ousting them in the Finals with a 25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21 victory to bag the Shakeys V-League Reinforced Conference crown at the FilOil Flying V Arena, Sunday afternoon.

Starting with high intensity, especially given what was at stake, both teams played a tough first set. Still, PLDT held a 22-20 lead in the latter part of the first set, as the Ultra Fast Hitters’ towering imports Sareena Freeman and Victoria Hurtt put the finishing touches to take the first set.

Both teams continued to hammer out attacks in the following set, leading to a 20-all deadlock. Gretchel Soltones (who was playing her fifth game in seven days as she is also seeing action in the NCAA volleyball tournament with the San Sebastian Lady Stags) unloaded a quick hit to give PLDT a 21-20 lead. Alyssa Valdez followed it with an ace and a back row attack to further increase the lead at 23-20. Remy Palma trimmed the deficit by scoring two straight points for Army, 23-22, but Valdez once again unloaded a back row attack to restore the two-point edge, 24-22. An error from Army gave PLDT a two sets to none advantage.

Desperate to extend the match and the series, the Lady Troopers managed to take the lead midway through the set, with Abi Marano unloading a quick hit for a slim 16-14 lead. An exchange of attacks from both sides led to a 20-all tie. Reinforced Conference MVP Jovelyn Gonzaga, alongside Palma, give Army a glimmer of hope by taking the set and extending the match.

Valdez went down in the fourth set as she collide with Roces when they both attempted to dig a ball, and she was immediately subbed out for Janine Marciano. PLDT were able to remain in the driver’s seat, as Soltones and Freeman delivered to prevent Army from creating any momentum. Shrugging off the knock she picked up earlier, Valdez took over in the latter part of the set, giving PLDT a 22-20 lead. Joanna Bunag saved another point for Army, scoring on a drop shot for 22-21 disadvantage. Afterwards, Sasa Devanadera scored through the block for a 23-21 lead for to the Ultra Fast Hitters. Unfortunately for Army, Gonzaga and Marano committed two attacks errors that sealed PLDT’s second Shakeys V-League crown this year and gave their coach, Roger Gorayeb, his third title in the league.

In his post-game interview, Gorayeb shrugged off his Triple Crown achievement, claiming he hadn’t really thought about it until it was brought up to him by the media.

“Di ko inisip yung (Triple Crown). Inisip ko manalo, para masaya sponsor namin, yung PLDT. Para sumali ulit next year. Basta magchampion lang naman. Bonus lang yun, hindi ko nga alam eh. Ay salamat, naka tatlong championship na pala ako ngayong taon na ito sa Shakey’s.”

Valdez, who was awarded the Finals MVP of the series, once again led PLDT with 22 points along with five digs, while Freeman bounced back from her dismal first game performance with 17 markers. Roces and Soltones combined for 20 points to support the offensive firepower of the Ultra Fast Hitters.

Marano topscored the Lady Troopers with 14 points together with 11 digs, while Gonzaga had 13 points. In the battle of the veteran setters, PLDT’s Rubie De Leon outplayed Army’s Tina Salak with 28 excellent sets against the latter’s 24.

The Scores:

PLDT (3) – Valdez 22, Freeman 17, Soltones 10, Roces 10, Devanadera 6, Hurtt 5, De Leon 4, Pontillas 0, Marciano 0, Latigay 0, Pantone(L)

PHI Army (1) – Marano 14, Gonzaga 13, Bunag 9, Palma 8, Tubino 7, Salak 4, Balse 1, Bautista 1, Nunag 0, Torres (L) , Agno (L)



Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory



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2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’



Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup



Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win



Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

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