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PLDT saves undefeated record with late flurry over Meralco

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Recovering from an unusually slow start to the match, the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters got their act together in time to turn back the Meralco Power Spikers in five thrilling sets 25-23, 23-25, 19-25, 25-12, 15-11, in the elimination round of the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference at the San Juan Arena.

The first set started off well for PLDT until late errors allowed Meralco to creep back in and almost steal the set. UAAP MVP, Alyssa Valdez, scored three of PLDT’s first seven points, propelling the Ultra Fast Hitters to a 7-3 lead. However, two Maica Morada service aces capped a 3-0 Meralco scoring spurt that kept them within range, 6-7. PLDT’s attacking, then, started clicking as they easily blasted Meralco for six of the next nine points. Fortunately, Meralco was spared from a total dry spell as they went through a stretch, when all their points came from PLDT’s errors as PLDT took a 13-9 lead. The Ultra Fast Hitter’s four-point lead held through until they conceded four straight errors that knotted the set at 20. A hotly contested, missed call from the referee almost swung the momentum all the way to Meralco’s side. However, PLDT’s attackers came through in the end with Jaja Santiago and Gretchel Soltones who easily scored the last two points of the set to give PLDT a 1-0 set lead.

PLDT’s trouble with service reception persisted into the second set giving Meralco easier chances at attacks. Still, PLDT’s devastating contingent of attackers allowed them to stay close throughout the entire set. Meralco stormed past midway through the set, as Cha Cruz drove home two straight attacks that gave them the lead permanently for the rest of the second frame. Furthermore, Meralco earned set point at 24-20, as an Aby Maraño serve hit the sweet spot between two PLDT receivers. The Ultra Fast Hitters, however, threatened to fight their way back into the set as Valdez and Santiago conspired for a late 3-0 rally to cut Meralco’s lead down to 23-24. Unfortunately for PLDT, Meralco’s Paneng Mercado ended the set with a powerful attack that careened off two blockers, tying the match at one set apiece.

The Power Spikers, then, handed PLDT their worst set loss of the season, as the third had a gap too wide for it to be even considered as close. Opting to rest, Gretchel Soltones, PLDT Coach, Roger Gorayeb, fielded Elaine Kasilag, who scored just two points in her only full set of action. PLDT’s floor defense remained uncoordinated for the rest of the third set, as Meralco easily went on two separate 3-0 scoring runs that allowed them to forge a decisive 20-14 lead. Maraño, Mercado, and Morada closed the set out for Meralco as they combined to score the last five points of the team, putting PLDT in the uncharted territory of being down one set to two.

“Nawalan kami ng [service reception] ‘nung first three sets, napakasama. Ang bagal ng laro namin. Ok lang kasi nakabawi naman kami,” said Coach Gorayeb on his team’s play early in the match.

PLDT, then, followed their worst set loss of the season with probably their best output as a team. They regained their form defensively as their floor defense started to snuff out Meralco’s best attacks. Former NCAA MVP, Sasa Devanadera came into the fourth set and changed the complexity of the match entirely as her activity at the net bothered Meralco’s attackers. Meralco held the lead only once for the entire set at 2-1, and PLDT completely routed them from there, allowing Meralco only 10 points from that point.

The deciding set was heavily contested as the teams struggled to hold on to the lead for an extended period. With the set tied at 10, Meralco surrendered two attack errors in a 3-0 PLDT run that ultimately decided the match. Alyssa Valdez capped a combination play which was followed by Sue Roces’ drop ball that baffled Meralco’s back line which gave the win to PLDT.

“Hindi naman naginproblema na umabot ng fifth set. Pag naghahanda naman kami, pang-hanggang fifth set ‘yung ginagawa namin para walang magulat,” said Coach Gorayeb.

Alyssa Valdez led all scorers with 23 points, while Jaja Santiago paced her U23 teammate with 14. Paneng Mercado finished with 18 points to lead all Power Spikers, while her former La Salle teammate, Aby Maraño dished out a season-high 16 markers.

PLDT remains the only undefeated team in the league with a 6-0 slate while Meralco’s loss drops them to a 2-2 record.

The scores:

PLDT (3) – Valdez 23, Santiago 14, Roces 11, Soltones 10, De Leon 7, Devanadera 3, Kasilag 2, Soriano 1, Villanueva 0, Latigay 0, Ferrer 0, Pantone (L)

Meralco (2) – Paneng 18, Maraño 16, Morada 13, Cruz 12, Angustia 6, Legacion 2, Guevara 1, Tiu 0, Hingpit 0, Hernandez 0, Reyes (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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Basketball

After getting first D-League experience, Zark’s-Lyceum ready to get loose

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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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Basketball

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

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Photo by PBA Images

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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Football

Bienvenido Maranon scores brace as Ceres-Negros eliminates Brisbane Roar

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Photo from the-AFC.com

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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EAC

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

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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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