Aby Maraño has probably been inspiring the same image in the volleyball fans who have watched her over the years – mouth agape, roaring with the combined glee and ferocity of 300 Spartans after crushing a ball past a determined defense, or after one of her comrades makes a game-saving play.
Maraño plays volleyball with unrivaled passion and dedication, having gone “Beast Mode” way before Lola Nidora started screaming at her Rogelios. So, unsurprisingly, “Tyang” knew she had to respond when her Petron Blaze Spikers dropped Game One of the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix against the Foton Tornadoes.
With her team’s heart and desire questioned, the former UAAP MVP set the tone early in Game Two last Monday, providing the Blaze Spikers with the offense, defense, and Beast-Mode-Don’t-Care spunk that only she could. Petron effectively dissected Foton early in the match for a quick 2-0 sets lead. When the Tornadoes got their act going and seemed on the verge of hijacking the latter half of the match, Maraño was a key steadying force as Petron rose from a late deficit in the fourth set and forced Foton into a deciding Game Three, winner-take-all showdown on Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Maraño finished the match with 16 points off 12 kills, three blocks, and an ace, while adding eight digs to solidify an impeccable all-around effort. “Feeling ko kasi noong last game (Game One) hindi ganoong katindi ‘yung nabigay ko for the team. I was thirsty to contribute for the team. Kaya sabi ko, first set pa lang, kailangan mag-all out na ako so that maging infectious na ako sa team – na madala ko sila pagiging energetic ko and Beast Mode,” Maraño told reporters after the match.
Having gone so Beast Mode that her hair once went Super Saiyan blonde, Maraño then explained the unwieldy nature of BMDC.
“Kailangan ‘yun (Beast Mode) – you need to intimidate your opponents, kailangan mag-Beast Mode ka sa kalaban hindi sa kakampi. Hinahalo namin ‘yun – I think we were able to balance that,” said Maraño who then recalled an instance during the match when she and libero, Jen Reyes, joked around after a point. “Alam niyo ‘yun? Nagbabaklaan lang kami – nadoon pa din ‘yung pagiging light ng atmosphere sa loob ng court. Kami mismo ‘yung nag-aangasan pero enjoy pa rin. ‘Enjoy Volleyball!’ ‘yung nagiging reminder ng team kapag nagiging tight na kami.”
As one of the country’s best middle blockers, Maraño added that she took inspiration from one of her idols, Thai volleyball star Pleumjit Thinkaow, to get into her defensive mindset. “Sobrang motivated ko sa panonood sa idol kong si Pleumjit kasi dapat parang meron kang iniidolo para may sinusundan kang yapak. Nanonood talaga ako ng mga plays niya, para madala ko rin sa sarili ko kung papaano niya ginagawa ‘yun. Kaya siguro lumabas din sa game – sobrang focused ko sa pag-block ko. And binabalik ko din ‘yung confidence ko kasi that’s what I’m good at.”
Stats and sports jargons aside, Maraño felt the Blaze Spikers simply had the the optimal mindset heading into the match – comparing her team to a platoon of pinned down soldiers. “Siguro hindi lang talaga kami naubusan ng hope and pagod. Labanan na lang kasi ng puso yan – kung sinong gustong kumapit, sinong gustong humabol. Makikita mo talaga sa teammates mo kung sino pa ‘yung gustong lumaban. Whenever you see them fighting, you tell yourself, ‘Ay ‘di ako pwedeng sumuko kasi ‘yung kasama ko buhay pa. Parang ganoon din sa gera, pag nakita mo ‘yung kasama mong palaban, imposibleng hindi ka madadala. Dinala namin ang isa’t isa,” said the decorated college athlete who is known for literally lifting her teammates in sheer jubilation.
When asked about the pressure of playing in a do-or-die Game Three, the former DLSU Lady Spikers team captain expressed her comfort at the bone-crushing atmosphere of such matches. “Siyempre, ang dami ko ng experience sa ganoon, sa mga do-or-die. Sa La Salle pa lang sobrang dami ng pressure, ano pa ‘yung pressure na hindi ko kakayanin? ‘Yun lang ‘yung iniisip ka palagi. Wala na akong pressure na hindi kakayanin hangga’t naniniwala ako sa sarili ko at sa mga kasama ko.”
Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory
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.
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.”
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.
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).
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.