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Racela, Tamaraws: Sacrifice above all

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It was a historic night for the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, as they finally ended a 10-year title drought after out-gunning the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers in a 67-62 win earlier at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Finals MVP Mac Belo led the charge with 23 points and 8 rebounds, while Roger Pogoy followed up with 14 markers, 6 rebounds, and an assist. In addition, Mike Tolomia had 13 points, two boards, and three assists.

“Masaya siyempre. Even we were down, the players kept on fighting and believed that we could pull through,” FEU head coach Nash Racela told reporters when asked about winning his first-ever title with FEU. “Again, as a coach, you’ll be proud of your players. Noong natapos natuwa ako and I had to share some emotions pa.”

All season long, one of the key ingredients for this well-oiled FEU team had been their great display of teamwork and selflessness.

Gone are the days where they would rely too much on the individual talents of their players, which often led to attempts to make more difficult shots. In their championship season, the Tamaraws’ dribble-drive motion offense was thing of beauty when executed to perfection, since it promoted five players working as one unit.

“I think my players, my team, OUR team has been really good a basketball team. I’m really proud of them because they represented the school well,” Racela said. “They sacrificed [kasi] sometimes nangigil sila but they kept their composure and I think people are noticing. It says a lot of the character of the players.”

Depth has been one of FEU’s greatest assets this season, and it was greatly utilized as their star players bought into a more team-first approach, beginning with the Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament.

UAAP 78 Finals G3 FEU vs. UST - Tolomia-5400Normally, the likes of Mike Tolomia and Mac Belo would often find themselves on the bench instead of starting games. That ploy paid dividends for FEU, since it gave their fringe players the confidence they sorely needed, and also gave the team’s seniors a bigger shot at climbing up high in the pro ranks.

“Again, it says a lot about the players. Putting their team ahead of themselves is really hard especially that they have a goal of making it to the PBA,” Racela remarked about FEU’s commitment to a team-first approach. “We talked about this since last year and if they really want to make it to the PBA, kailangan magchampion kayo.”

A further testament to FEU’s mantra of teamwork is the absence of any individual award this season. For them, all that mattered was raising the championship trophy with their head up high.

“They sacrificed [their individual performances for the season] and then [come the time] sa [individual] awarding, it says a lot about this team – we didn’t get any individual award because our players sacrificed [for the betterment of the team],” Racela commented. “This is the common goal that we have and now we get rewarded.”

UAAP 78 Final Game 2 UST vs. FEU - Belo-4725Racela indicated that this title is more a breakthrough moment than a redemption story for FEU. It has been a decade since they last won a title, but it also proved that Racela’s approach can lead a team to a championship. They had their fair share of smiles and heartbreaks, but this title just made things sweeter for the FEU faithful.

“Somebody said it’s redemption but for me, it’s a breakthrough sa basketball program ng FEU. Again, a lot of people are doubting FEU and a lot of people are saying negative things about FEU. Every year they say that sa mga players namin,” Racela remarked. “I think it just showed na today it’s not true. So kung ano man ang iniisip nila sa FEU it’s not true. I think my players, my team, OUR team has been really good a basketball team.”

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ABL

Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa

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After going a horrid 5-for-17 from the stripe during their first loss of the season last January 9, Christian Standhardinger made sure to make good on his free throws to power the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a dominant 99-79 rout of the Formosa Dreamers, Thursday evening in Southorn Stadium.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who tallied 37 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime loss to Saigon, went a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The contest itself was not close, as the defending champions were able to impose their will on the bottom-ranked squad, leading by as much as 23 points, 93-70, after two free throws by Standhardinger with 2:58 remaining.

If Standhardinger was having a good day with his free throws, the entire Formosa squad could not say the same, going 13-of-27 from the line.

Tyler Lamb had 25 markers as well for Hong Kong, while Marcus Elliott grabbed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Lenny Daniel paced Formosa with 25 points and 11 rebounds. World Import Ronnie Aguilar had 14 points and 16 rebounds but went just 5-for-14 from the field.

With the win, Hong Kong goes to 8-1, while the Dreamers fell to 1-8.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes 3×3 World Cup breaks Philippine Arena record

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short of copping Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different beast.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad suffered a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even fashioning multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino, as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. The 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the duo — and the rest of the Jawbreakers — now have the experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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