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Ravena, Pessumal forever grateful for the ‘One Big Fight’

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Ateneo’s Smart Elite ambassadors Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal may not have achieved their goal to win a title this season, after Mac Belo’s stunning game-winner yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, but they are forever grateful to their beloved alma mater for making them the individuals that they are today. 

“Siguro I’m just blessed to be part of such journey and siguro ito rin ang pinaka-special sa akin kasi nga senior and with all the adversities we faced inside the court and off the court,” Ravena, who spent 11 years of his life in Katipunan, shared when asked about his thoughts about his final UAAP game. “‘Yung mga ganoong type ng issues, it just made everything feel special for every one of us kasi it made the team very strong and made us unite as one. We fell short of the goal that we wanted to beat FEU today and play on Wednesday supposedly. Ganoon talaga pero, you know, I wouldn’t take any other team mates with what I have now to spend my senior year.”

In their last UAAP game, Ravena led all scorers with 25 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a steal while Pessumal had 15 points, six rebounds and an assist.

UAAP 78 Final Four FEU vs. ADMU - Ravena-2849Moreover, Ravena posted norms of 19.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He shot 59.8 percent from the charity stripe and 28 percent from three-point territory.

Pessumal, on the other hand, averaged 13.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. He was also the fourth best three-point shooter in the league with a 32.7 percent clip.

“I think being it as our last year, it’s enough said. Me and Kiefer, we’ve been playing together for 11 years in an Ateneo jersey. This last season is definitely memorable for us, definitely special,” Pessumal, who had donned the Blue and White ever since he was in pre-school, followed. “It could have not got our way and you see I’m not over the loss as you can see I’m still wearing the Ateneo jersey. That’s life, you’re going have to deal with it and got to move on.”

Having last won a title in 2012, this was inevitably going to be an adjustment phase for Ateneo, with the likes of former head coach Norman Black assuming PBA duties and several veteran players climbing up the pro ranks. Ravena and Pessumal were expected to lead the team into its new stage.

These have been challenging times for the Blue Eagles. Over the past two seasons, they have gone through a lot. In Season 76, the team failed to make the Final Four after a transition season. That also marked their first season under new head coach Bo Perasol.

Come Season 77, the team got better and even managed to top the standings. Ravena and Pessumal matured into reliable veterans, becoming the constant source of everything for the team. However, their season was cut short after the fourth-seeded NU Bulldogs beat them twice in the semis.

Season 78 was yet another roller coaster ride for the team. In Ravena and Pessumal’s final season together, the team faced plenty of controversy, such as John Apacible’s drunk-driving incident, complaints about Bo Perasol’s coaching, and Ikeh’s arrest over a personal issue. The Blue Eagles also started slow in the earlier parts of the season.

Many thought that it would shake the team down to its very core. Nonetheless, all the trials they faced eventually made them a tighter bunch. They quickly turned things around during the second round and saw many of their seldom-used players thrive in increasingly prominent roles.

UAAP 78 Final Four FEU vs. ADMU-PessumalBut at the end of it all, Ravena and Pessumal are thankful for the value learned in their stay at Ateneo: working together as a team and looking out for each other.

“The best thing I’ve learned? Siguro, ‘yung kailangan lang talaga ng tulungan.  Probably, we had one of the best games as a team with Adrian and other guys stepping up,” Ravena wholehearted shared. “Siguro, basketball is a simple sport. You need each other to win it all. So tulungan din palagi and I think team work is probably one of the reasons why I played the sport.”

“I think it’s just staying the course because there were many personal problems in the team, media-related and team-related,” Pessumal followed. “But as a player and as a team mate, all you can really do is focus and I guess all the issues we experience in the past, we learned just to brace it, stay together and keep fighting.”

Their collegiate careers may be over, but Ravena and Pessumal’s commitment to bringing together a team through thick and thin will surely be passed on to the next set of Blue Eagles.

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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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