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Rain or Shine runs past Talk ‘N Text, heads to semifinals

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In their last game, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters players and their head coach Yeng Guiao admitted that they are still not ready for the playoffs.

After just two days, the Elasto Painters looked prime and ready for the semifinals in routing the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters 104-89 to advance to the semifinals of the 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup Monday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

In contrast to their elimination round match-up that saw TNT gain an early 17-0 lead, rookie guard Maverick Ahanmisi quickly got the pace running for the Elasto Painters in scoring five points in a 9-2 spurt. Almazan then powered his way through the paint in scoring nine points to extend the lead to 14-5. However, the backcourt tandem of Jayson Castro and Aaron Aban converted on back-to-back three-pointers to keep the Blue and Black close. The first quarter ended with Rain or Shine holding a six point lead 26-20.

Former Adamsonian Don Trollano unleashed five points off the bench to open the second stanza to extend the lead to double-digits 33-20. Ryan Reyes and top pick Moala Tautuaa helped keep their team afloat in an in-and-out combination to cut the lead to five, 41-36, midway through the quarter. As the two teams exchanged baskets, it was Chris Tiu who helped keep his team’s lead in scoring five points to close out the half with ROS leading 52-44.

Back-to-back conversions by Gabe Norwood opened the second half to once again extend the Rain or Shine lead to double-figures but Tautuaa’s brute force in the paint kept the game close. A three by Ryan Reyes again cut the lead to five but a catch-and-shoot triple by Jericho Cruz and another one by Jeff Chan extended the lead to 11 once more, 80-69. It was 84-75 in favor of the Elasto Painters before the final frame begun.

In the final quarter, the Elasto Painters tempo visibly fatigued the veteran-laden Tropang Texters. Moreover, the defense of the Guiao-mentored squad limited their opponents to forced and contested shots. Trollano, Quinahanan, and Ponferrada continued to pour it on as the lead ballooned to 19, 104-85, with two minutes left in the game. The shots continued to miss for the Tropang Texters as Yeng Guiao, who had been pushing his team all game long, celebrated on the sidelines. For the first time in 13 years, Guiao has defeated Talk ‘N Text in a playoff game, 104-89.

“This was a blessing in disguise,” Guiao admitted about the longer route the team has taken to the semifinals. “If we were in the semifinals directly, I feel that we are not yet that ready. The past few games toughened us up and now we are really ready for the semifinals.”

Guiao also praised the Talk ‘N Text franchise for developing a “smart and tough” team. “Talk ‘N Text is a smart team. A very tough team. They are well-coached and they have the talent.”

“In our first game, we were down 17-0 and we were not able to recover. Today we needed to set the pace,” he shared. “That’s why I was screaming my lungs out because you can’t let a smart team get the lead. If they go up by eight, it’s going to be hard for us to catch-up.”

Player of the Game Raymond Almazan credited his teammates for his spectacular outing in saying, “Nagpapasalamat ako sa teammates ko kasi lahat kami nagtutulungan. Maganda ang pasahan namin at lagi nahahanap yung open.”

When asked about the longer road his team has taken to the semifinals, just like his head coach, Almazan said that this journey was better for their team. “Matagal kami kinausap ni coach simula nung natalo kami sa NLEX. Siguro nga ayaw ni God na madali ang dadaanan namin.”

Almazan had a double-double in the game with 15 points and ten boards in just 24 minutes of action. He was an excellent 5/7 from both the field and the foul line and was able to swat away three shots. Six other Elasto Painters scored in double-digits. Don Trollano arguably had his best outing as a pro in scoring 14 markers, knocking down two triples, while Jeff Chan added 13 markers.

For the fallen Texters, Castro led the way with 25 points but was just 7/19 from the field. He was also able to grab 11 boards in the loss. Tautuaa also added 14 points and eight boards.

As a team, Rain or Shine shot an excellent 50% from the field compared to the 43% of TNT. Moreover, the Painters continued to punish the paint in scoring 50 points in the paint while also converting on ten three-pointers that completely confused the TNT defense.

The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters will have a week off before they face the defending Philippine Cup champions, the San Miguel Beermen. Their best-of-seven series will begin on Monday, January 4 at t SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:
Rain or Shine (104) – Almazan 15, Trollano 14, Chan 13, Cruz 11, Norwood 11, Quinahan 11, Ahanmisi 10, Ponferrada 8, Belga 6, Tiu 5, Ibanes 0.
Talk ‘N Text (89) – Castro 25, Tautuaa 14, Aban 11, Reyes R. 10, Rosario 10, Seigle 10, Williams 5, Reyes J. 2, Fonacier 1, Ganuelas 1, Carey 0, Miranda 0, Ababou 0.
Quarterscores: 26-20, 52-44, 75-84, 104-89

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Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates

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Prior to Wednesday, all eyes were on the TNT Katropa-Blackwater Elite face-off, with many curious to see how last season’s Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy would fare against his former FEU teammates Mac Belo and Raymar Jose.

And as the final buzzer sounded, the 25-year-old Pogoy had reigned triumphant over his close pals, getting away with a conference-best performance as a bonus.

The six-foot-two Cebuano sniper fired a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, to lead the Texters to a skid-ending, 92-83 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Must-win talaga namin ‘to para makabawi kami, kasi 1-2 na yung standing namin (before the game) eh.

“Buti na lang maganda yung nilaro ko,” said Pogoy, who was just averaging 11.3 points in the past three games.

But Pogoy tipped his hat to the much taller Elite, who enjoyed plenty of time in the driver’s seat in the first half, until the Katropa found their groove in the third canto — highlighted by a 16-3 rally that put them ahead, 60-53.

“Malakas yung Blackwater eh, tapos ang lalaki nila kaya mahirap mag-drive, mahirap pumasa kasi naagaw nila,” said Pogoy. “Buti na lang naka-adjust kami nung second half. Hindi kami nagmadali, dinahan-dahan namin.”

Aside from his own outing, Pogoy is thankful that they were able to address their fourth quarter woes when facing the Elite — the issue that hounded them in their 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Iloilo.

TNT had actually been mere steps away from melting down — again — against Blackwater, no thanks to a 20-9 run that wiped out their 17-point lead to just six,

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With Nash Racela knowing his tendencies, Mac Belo limited to poor shooting

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Prior to Wednesday, Blackwater Elite’s young star Mac Belo was on a roll early in the 2018 Philippine Cup, averaging exactly 20 points on 42.6 percent shooting in their games against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Ginebra.

But, as they say, good things must come to an end.

Belo, despite having 13 rebounds, was held to just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as the Elite bowed to TNT Katropa, 92-83 — a sour loss knowing that they’re coming off huge 94-77 win against Ginebra last Friday.

“Bukol,” said Belo in jest of his poor outing after the match. “Big test para sa’min kasi yung TNT talagang isang de-kalibreng team dito sa PBA.

“Talagang pinaghandaan nila kami, at gustong-gusto nila manalo.”

It also did not help that the Katropa’s head coach, Nash Racela, was his coach in FEU Tamaraws for three years — a relationship brightly highlighted by a championship run in the UAAP Season 78 back in 2015.

“Siyempre alam niya yung mga tendencies ko. Matagal ko siyang coach sa FEU,” said the 6-foot-4 forward.

“Sa akin naman, kailangan ko pa matuto sa ganun, kung anong mga defense binabato niya sakin. Kailangan ko pang pag-aralan.”

But for Belo, the loss was more than his own showing. The 25-year-old lamented his and the Elite’s lapses on defense, which was encapsulated by the second half collapse they had that allowed TNT to come back and steal the win.

“Medyo marami lang kaming lapses especially sa defense namin,” said the sophomore forward, as they allowed TNT to shoot 41.6 percent from the floor. “Maraming mga miscommunication na kailangan pa namin i-work.”

Belo and the Elite are now set to move on from this bitter defeat, as they all shift their sights in their match this Friday versus GlobalPort Batang Pier. For the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, it is already a must-win for them.

“Kailangan namin ng rest ngayon kasi back-to-back games kami. We need to win sa Friday para okay sa’min,” said Belo. “Kailangan din namin paghandaan kasi galing sila sa win.

“Kailangan namin i-double yung effort namin.”

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Jake Vicen performs under pressure as Blazers end eight-year title drought

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For the second straight match, the championship showdown between the College of Saint Benilde Blazers and the Arellano University Chiefs reached kicks from the penalty spot. And once more, goalkeeper Jake Vicen came up big.

The third-year custodian denied one of Arellano’s prolific scorers Roberto Corsame in the shootout and sealed the title after eight long years, 3-2, penalties, Wednesday evening at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Blazers made its intentions clear from the get-go as they repeatedly pierced through the defense of the Chiefs.

Nonetheless, at the 38th minute, the white-shirts clinched the goal they much deserved. The Blazers pushed forward, and almost got a call in their favor. The referees, however, played advantage, and fortunately Benilde held on to the play.

Miguel Artillera found himself unmarked on the right flank and easily blasted the ball past opposing keeper Jericho Desalisa.

The Marlon Maro—mentored side continued to play aggressive in the following period and almost plucked a second one. This time, the Chiefs’ backline led by eventual Best Defender Patrick Bernarte held on.

Such stand was rewarded by their attacking force minutes later, and, as expected, the equalizer came from the counterattack.

Corsame received a pass from the middle and defeated two defenders, and seeing Vicen off his line, sent the ball into the onion bag at the 49th minute.

Both sides tried to break the deadlock, but fatigue slowly crept in the dying minutes of the second period and the whole of extra time, setting up another thrilling finish in the shootout.

Much like in Game 2, the two keepers came up big as Desalisa and Vicen denied their second kickers a clear shot. Arellano went to miss another shot, and it was then up to the Blazers to seal the deal.

Dean Ebarle stepped up and calmly and slotted the ball into the goal for the lead at 3-2. Afterwards, Corsame faced Vicen, but this time, the Cebuano keeper would not be denied. The latter went to his strong side, and, fortunately, guessed right for the huge save as pandemonium erupted from the Benilde crowd and squad.

The Finals series hero and season Best Goalkeeper Vicen was pleased that the new champions carved out the historic win despite early adversity. “Big loss ‘yun, si Val [Calvo], kasi may magagawa talaga siya kung nakalaro namin,” he said of losing their former captain.

Nonetheless, the squad stayed focused on getting it done this year.

“Binuhos lang namin every minute sa training. Luckily, hard work paid off,” closed Vicen.

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Kelly Williams rides Angkas to make it to TNT game

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The TNT Katropa almost played shorthanded when they took on the Blackwater Elite Wednesday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Early in the afternoon, a fire broke out in C5 that caused major traffic in the area. One of the people that was stuck was TNT’s 12-year veteran Kelly Williams.

“Coming from the South, I got to Taguig in about two and a half hours and I heard there was a fire on C5 and I was like, ‘Oh my god what am I going to do?’,” recalled Williams.

“I considered running, I considered jogging. Whatever you got to do, crawl, walk or run.”

Panicking, the 6-foot-6 Filipino-American was adviced by his driver to download Philippine-based mobile app Angkas — a motorcycle service provider. And it was one heck of a ride for the big man.

“My driver said check Angkas, an Uber for motorcycles. Okay. Quickly got out of the car in the middle of the C5, the middle of traffic, found this guy under the overpass, he was surprised to see me,” narrated animatedly by Williams.

“I got my helmet on, jumped on the bicycle and we got here for about 40 minutes,” he furthered. “Every stoplight, the other motorcycles pull up, double take, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’, ‘Hi guys!’ It was fun, it was actually pretty fun but never again, make sure you plan ahead guys if you possibly get stuck in traffic.

“But it was a good experience for me. You get to see Manila in a different light.”

Around midway through the first quarter of the game, Williams finally arrived. Though relieved to see him, coach Nash Racela and the rest of the Katropa made sure to let him know that he was late.

“Good experience, I apologized to the team, I owe them a team lunch or something and I told coach I won’t do it again,” the 35-year-old expressed.

“Let’s pray that it doesn’t happen again.”

Williams compensated for it by giving TNT quality minutes. During their 92-83 win against the Elite, he tallied six points, six rebounds, and four blocks in just 17 minutes of action.

“You got to come out there with extra effort after coming in late like that. But it’s always my intention to come out and do whatever I have to do,” he expressed.

“Luckily, I was in a good position to get some blocks and it worked out that way.”

And he owes a lot to his driver Richard, who got him to the venue just in time.

“It was a good experience though, thank you to the cyclist, I think his name is Richard or something like that, he’s a lifesaver.

“I tipped him very handsomely. It was about a hundred but I’m sure I paid with whatever was in my pocket because I was very grateful,” he quipped.

Still, he knows that he also owes a lot to his team. He plans on making it up by treating everyone to lunch during their next practice.

Lesson learned for Kelly.

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