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Preseason tourney helped Rain or Shine bench gain experience

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Though they failed to finish the PBA Preseason Games with a three-game sweep, preseason champions Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia is still satisfied with what he has seen from the Elasto Painters.

“We didn’t want to finish the tournament with a loss,” said the youthful mentor after their 97-110 loss to the Alaska Aces on Wednesday at the Upper Deck Sports Center in Pasig. “But I told them after the game that I’m happy with what I saw.

“2-1 is not bad.”

For the second-year head coach, joining the tourney was his way of helping Rain or Shine improve. And judging from their first two games against the Phoenix Fuel Masters and NLEX Road Warriors, the team showed signs of returning to their old identity of being dangerously deep.

What made Garcia beam about the Elasto Painters’ preseason even more was the notable outings of some players — from sophomore Ed Daquioag stepping up (12.5 PPG) to the resurgence of Chris Tiu (15.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.5 APG).

Even Don Trollano and Dexter Maiquez made their presence felt in the three-day long preseason showpiece, as the two-way forwards delivered 12.0 points and 13.0 points respectively for Rain or Shine.

Those kinds of performances could make any tactician gush. And for the Elasto Painters in particular, it was a truly fitting — if not perfect — response to what the soft-spoken Garcia has been preaching to them.

“I just kept reminding the players that not one guy can win us games, it should be a total team effort,” he said. “Yun ang palagi kong pinapasok sa utak nila, it’s all about the team.

“It’s not about somebody, it’s all about the team.”

And that lesson is something that the players, especially the younger ones, have to keep in mind, since guys such as James Yap, Jay Washington, Raymond Almazan, and Jericho Cruz have all yet to reach 100 percent.

“That’s one other thing, we joined here to get more experience for the players who rarely play,” said the youthful tactician.

“So at least mabigyan sila ng kaunting experience before we go to the opening.

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Hong Kong Eastern deals Tanduay Alab third straight loss

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Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Team continued Tanduay Alab Pilipinas’ misery early in the 9th ASEAN Basketball League, sending the Philippine side to its third straight loss, 99-96, Wednesday night at the Southorn Stadium.

The Filipino club team has now dropped to a 0-3 hole, while the defending ABL champions cruised to their fifth straight win for a clean 5-0 slate. Moreover, HK Eastern is now 2-0 in their season series with Tanduay Alab.

Tyler Lamb powered Hong Kong Eastern with 32 big points, 11 coming in the fourth quarter. World Import Marcus Elliott had a solid all-around outing with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists.

Christian Standhardinger, who is coming off a 40-point outing against Mono Vampire BC, added 25 markers — spiked by 3-of-3 treys in the fourth — in the win.

The sophomore ABL franchise was actually on pace to put an end to the league leaders’ winning streak, all thanks to several double-digit cushions they were able to establish in the first three quarters.

But it all changed come crunch time. And what transpired in the end-game on Wednesday night was similar — perhaps eerily so — to what had taken place in their first meeting last November 19 in Manila.

From an 85-88 deficit with 3:38 to go in the final quarter, Hong Kong Eastern went on an 11-0 rampage behind the exploits of reinforcements Elliott, Lamb, and Moss to establish a favorable 96-88 lead with 1:24 on the clock.

The Philippine contingent then responded with an 8-2 surge — capped by Reggie Okosa’s three — to give the home team a legit threat by trimming the deficit to just two points, 96-98, with just 15 ticks remaining.

Tanduay Alab had chances to either tie the match or even steal the W, but their shots failed to meet the bottom of the net. Lee Ki’s split freebies on the other end helped Hong Kong widen their lead, 99-96, with 11 seconds left.

And just like in their season opener, Alab looked to send the game into an extra period. Josh Urbiztondo had chances to redeem himself from that missed end-game triple back in that opener, but unfortunately, he missed again.

Ivan Johnson paced Tanduay Alab with 32 points and nine rebounds. Okosa had 25 and 13, while Ray Parks Jr. supplied 14 markers.

The Scores:

Hong Kong Eastern 99 — Lamb 32, Standhardinger 25, Elliott 20, Lee 12, Moss 6, Tang 2, Xu 2, Lau 0.

Tanduay Alab 96 — Johnson 32, Okosa 25, Urbiztondo 14, Parks 11, Celiz 6, Hontiveros 3, Sumalinog 3, Domingo 2, Javelona 0, Maierhofer 0.

Quarterscores: 20-23, 43-46, 64-66, 99-96.

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PBA considering creating schedule in line with FIBA WCQ windows

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With the full schedule of the 43rd season yet to be finalized, the PBA board of governors is strongly looking to create a league calendar that will mesh accordingly with the windows of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think the board has already [discussed things] regarding the schedule,” said commissioner Chito Narvasa during the PBA’s presser Wednesday at Okada Manila. “It was taken into consideration, the schedule of the FIBA tournaments. 

“That’s what the board has agreed on already.”

The Asian Qualifiers fall into various windows spread across 2017 all the way to early 2019. The qualifying windows for 2018 will be held in the months of February, June, July, September, and November.

Four of the mentioned months — February, June, July, and September — will intersect with the upcoming PBA season. And the league and its board will have to cater to the needs of the Gilas Pilipinas.

The second window for Gilas begins on February 22, 2018, when it faces Australia in Adelaide. This will then be followed with a home game against Japan on February 25. This will coincide with the Philippine Cup.

Things may have yet to be smoothed out between the PBA and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, but vice chairman Mon Fernandez lauded the Philippines’ recent victory that is the hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“We should be very happy and proud that the Philippines won together with Indonesia and Japan,” said the former NLEX governor. “We look forward to the hosting and we have a couple of years to prepare for it.

“It’s a significant event for Philippine basketball.”

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San Miguel still seen as team to beat for Philippine Cup

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Although the team will be missing top overall pick Christian Standhardinger for the entirety of the 2017-18 Philippine Cup, the PBA board of governors still see the San Miguel Beermen as the consensus favorites to bag the All-Filipino crown for the fourth straight year.

Besides San Miguel, the teams are also wary of what the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the TNT Katropa will bring.

“TNT, Ginebra, and San Miguel,” said Magnolia Hotshots governor Robert Non.

“TNT, intact ‘yung line-up. They also have bigs who can match-up with June Mar [Fajardo], same is true with Ginebra, Greg [Slaughter] is back in the line-up, so are their rookies.”

“TNT,” quipped Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua.

“SMB hindi pa malakas yan wala pa si Standhardinger. Second conference pa.”

“Of course, San Miguel. And then Ginebra, and TNT,” added Rain or Shine governor Mert Mondragon. “They have good players, they have extremely good coaches. Basta mahusay sila lahat.”

“Kami sa Rain or Shine, for the information of the rest of you, we have five players who are out. [Raymond] Almazan, Jericho Cruz, Jireh [Ibanes],” disclosed Mondragon.

Same as Rain or Shine, the Meralco Bolts are also saddled with injuries to start the season.

“I think we’re coming this season with a lot of injuries, Ranidel de Ocampo and Reynel Hugnatan are sidelined, Cliff Hodge as well. We have four new players, KG Canaleta, Jason Ballesteros, Mac Baracael and Nico Salva,” shared Meralco alternate governor Ryan Gregorio.

Kia governor Bobby Rosales and TNT assistant team manager Magnum Membrere  gave an interesting take on who they think are the dark horses for the conference.

“I think a darkhorse in the all-Filipino is NLEX,” Rosales said.

“For me number one yung San Miguel, Ginebra, sa tingin ko ‘yung NLEX,” commented Membrere.

But the representatives of Alaska, Blackwater, Phoenix, and NLEX are confident that they can shock the league.

“For Alaska, hopefully, we’ll be performing better this season. Reason being, intact line-up,” expessed Alaska’s Dickie Bachmann.

“Just like Dickie, we’re hoping we could improve. There’s no way to go but up, we were losing last conference. We got the coaches of Alaska and we’ve got a good rookie so it’s nowhere to go but up,” said Phoenix’s Raymond Zorilla.

“Personally For Blackwater, we have Raymar Jose and I think he will be a big help to Poy Erram. We depend on Poy Erram and when he gets injured, the whole team collapses. Now we have a second option and hopefully he will give the team a good chance,” said Silliman Sy.

“You’ve seen NLEX in the first two conferences, we were in the bottom, but in the last conference, NLEX performed reasonably well and we will continue to improve,” vowed incoming chairman Mon Fernandez.

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PBA governors stand united to open Season 43

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Despite the on-going leadership struggle in the league, there’s no stopping the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) from resuming operations, as Asia’s first pro league will open its 43rd season this Sunday, December 17.

“As what I said in the PBA Press Corps Awards Night, December 17 is still the date for the season opening of Season 43,” said league chairman Mikee Romero during the PBA’s presser, Wednesday afternoon at Okada Manila.

“Ang sabi ko nga ho eh hindi pwede mawala ang PBA sa Pilipino, or ang Pilipino mawala sa PBA.”

Gracing the event were the vast majority of the governors — Mon Fernandez of NLEX, Robert Non of San Miguel, Alfrancis Chua of Ginebra, Rene Pardo of Magnolia, Dickie Bachmann of Alaska, Mert Mondragon of Rain or Shine, Raymond Zorrilla of Phoenix, Silliman Sy of Blackwater, Bobby Rosales of Kia. Joining them were TNT assistant team manager Magnum Membrere and Meralco alternate governor Ryan Gregorio.

And for those who attended the press conference, it was definitely a sight to behold, as it spoke volumes that even just for now, differences were set aside all for the betterment of the beloved league.

“I think we’re a very solid group at this point in time,” Romero opined. “As what we promised — that promise did not come from me, the promise came from all 12 teams… Ito pong December 17 suportahan natin. Business as usual.

“This Sunday, what we should be watching are the players, the superstars of Philippine basketball. 43 years, ang masasabi ko lang, let the games begin.”

The impasse wasn’t discussed during the presser, as the league requested moments prior to the event that the members of the press refrain from asking questions regarding the issue. Commissioner Chito Narvasa  was in attendance, but did not grant any interviews.

With the league still in some turmoil, it is still a mystery on how the 43rd season will roll out. Vice Chairman Mon Fernandez did not go into detail about their plans, but he promised to “make the PBA very relevant to the Filipinos.”

“There are a lot of plans but we cannot reveal yet,” said the former NLEX governor. “Definitely, what the board promises you is we will have a more exciting year and we’ll continue to delight the millions of fans of the PBA.

“We promise that with your support, we will continue to make the PBA very relevant to the Filipinos.”

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