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Red-hot Cardinals barrel Letran, extend streak to five



The Knight’s stretch of facing a murderer’s row of opponents started-off in a bad note as it crashed into a wall named Allwell Oraeme

The rampaging Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals extended its win streak to five games in running past the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 82-77, to keeps its Final Four hopes alive late Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Arena.

The Cardinals, who were without floor general CJ Isit and head coach Atoy Co, started the game by running past the Knights. Pull-up jumpers by Exeqiel Biteng, Darrell Menina, and Allwell Oraeme led the surge to open the game with a 7-2 lead. The Knights came storming back with their pressing defense while leaning on Rey Nambatac and Jomari Sollano on offense. The two combined for 17 of the 24 first quarter points Knights that gave the league leaders a 24-16 lead.

After Letran gained a 33-26 lead with 4:14 remaining in the second quarter, the Cardinals blitzed their Intramuros neighbors with a 16-3 blast. Rookie JP Nieles sparked the rally while Justin Serrano carried the run in scoring seven points, including a three-pointer. A pushing foul by McJour Luib ended up with free throws for Nieles to cap the run. The Cardinals held a 42-36 lead to enter the second half.

Josan Nimes spaced the floor for well for the Cardinals to open the second half. Nimes was on point in his passes in finding Nieles for a three-pointer and throwing two hail-mary passes to a running Oraeme. Oraeme, later on, returned the favor to the Rain or Shine-bound Nimes to extend the lead to 53-38. After a timeout, Luib found Mark Cruz for a three-pointer but Cruz was called for an unsportsmanlike foul for kicking Serrano. This sparked another 5-0 Mapua rally that gave the Ed Cordero-mentored squad the biggest lead of the game 58-44. Oraeme stabilized the team on offense to close-out the quarter as Nambatac and Cruz converted on three-pointers to give the Cardinals a 62-49 lead entering the final quarter.

The Letran Knights struggled to cut the lead to open the fourth as Racal and Nambatac missed on open three-pointers and pointblank layups. The House of Chaos was fortunate to be only down 72-58 with 5:45 remaining. After a timeout, the Knights pressed hard on defense resulting to turnovers. With the Cardinals holding a 79-67 lead with 2:42 to go, Cruz sparked a 9-4 rally as he found his touch from downtown. Missed free throws by Menina was quickly responded by a Cruz find to an open Kevin Racal who sinked in a three-pointer to cut the lead to just four, 81-77. In the ensuing possession, an Mapua inbound was tapped by Luib that resulted to a turnover. However, the outlet pass to Racal resulted to a steal by Nieles, who was then fouled. A split on the charity stripe by Nieles sealed the game 82-77 for the Cardinals.

“Every game, we are improving. This is the longest streak as far as coach Atoy and I are concerned,” deputy head coach Ed Cordero told us after the win. Moreover, Cordero shared with us what he told the boys prior to the game. “I will share with you what I told the boys before we left the room,” he said “’If we are truly winners, the more we work hard for every game.’”

Cordero was also grateful that Josan Nimes, even though he was nursing an injury, still played in this crucial tilt and helped his squad extend its winning streak to five games. Nimes just had five markers but dished out four assists. The backcourt of Menina and Nieles also combined for 28 points.

The Cardinals relied upon 19 year old foreign student-athlete Allwell Oraeme all throughout the game as he played 37 minutes and had 19 markers and grabbed a whopping 30 rebounds. Cordero also warned that Oraeme is still raw and the league better watch out when he matures.

For the now 11-3 Knights, they were led by Mark Cruz with 17 points, that included 5 three-pointers. He added six rebounds, four assists, and three steals to his totals. Smart Elite ambassador Rey Nambatac again struggled from the field in shooting just 5/15 from the field, good for 15 points. He added three boards, four assists, and three steals.

As a team, the Knights were a dismal 33% from the field, including a horrible 11/41 from downtown. Moreover, they were outrebounded 53-38 by the towering Cardinals.

The Mapua Cardinals (8-5) will look to continue its fantasy run as they face the Arellano University Chiefs on Friday, September 18 at 2:00pm while the Letran Knights (11-2) look to bounce back against the JRU Heavy Bombers on the same day at 4:00pm.

The Scores:
MIT (82) – Oraeme 18, Nieles 16, Serrano 14, Menina 12, Que 6, Nimes 5, Aguirre 4, Brana 4, Biteng 3, Raflores 0.
CSJL (77) – Cruz 17, Racal 16, Nambatac 15, Sollano 12, Apreku 6, Balanza 5, Quinto 4, Luib 2, Bernabe 0, Gedaria 0.
Quarterscores: 16-25, 36-42, 62-49, 82-77.

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Joshua Munzon, Westsports snap Saigon’s streak in highly emotional contest



Photo by ASEAN Basketball League

Entering Wednesday night’s game, Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat were on a high, slaying the winning streaks of Hong Kong Eastern and Nanhai Kung Fu. However, Joshua Munzon and the Westsports Malaysia Dragons had other things in mind, keeping the Heat winless at the MABA Stadium, 91-87.

In his fourth game since returning to the Dragons, Munzon filled up the stat sheet, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Besides putting up the numbers, the athletic swingman from California helped limit reigning Heritage Player of the Week Williams to his worst game so far in the ABL. Averaging 27.33 points, 6.67 assists, and 6.0 rebounds prior to this game, Williams went field goal-less against the Dragons, missing all 11 of his attempts. The Filipino-American floor general was able to dish out eight assists and grab five caroms.

Westsports led by as much as 11 points in the final frame, 82-71, after Munzon found Marcus Marshall for a triple with 4:59 remaining. Behind World Imports Akeem Scott and Maxie Esho, the Heat stormed right back but was answered by a long bomb by Munzon to keep them at bay.

Marshall and Scott figured in a shootout to close out the game but in the end, the hosts were still able to etch out their second straight victory.

Marshall finished the game with 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Dragons while Scott’s 44-point game went for naught.

After the emotionally charged contest though, few unkind words were exchanged by the officials of both squads that almost resulted into a brawl. Fortunately, things did not escalate beyond that.

In the video, Munzon was also seen shoving a Saigon player to try and pacify the situation. The league is currently investigating the post-game incident.

With the win, Westsports Malaysia raised its record to 3-4 while dropping Saigon to 4-3.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Edward Kelly honored to fight alongside brother Eric



Eric and Edward Kelly lived under the same roof for years in their hometown of Baguio City when they were young and shared the same burning passion in martial arts.

Growing up in the small town community of San Tomas Central, located within the city limits of Baguio, Eric and Edward did not always get along with one another as the two fought all the time, sometimes even resulting in injury.

“We were not that close before. We always fought. In short, Eric and I were headaches to our parents,” Edward recalled in jest.

“But of course, things change when you grow up and mature. We now appreciate each other’s company.”

Fortunately, when the brothers entered high school, Eric discovered martial arts, and everything would change for both of them.

Edward paid attention to the growing accolades of his older brother and was heavily motivated by it.

“I noticed after he started martial arts that it taught him the discipline not to fight me as a brother. Instead, he started giving me advice through what he had learned,” he bared. “I also joined martial arts because it teaches you discipline, and a lot of other positives, too.”

Years later, both men have made remarkable runs as outstanding martial artists in their respective professional careers.

Eric is widely regarded as one of the best homegrown martial arts athletes to come out of the Philippines.

A Wushu practitioner who combines solid striking techniques with high-level grappling skills, Eric owns nine scintillating submissions and one knockout out of 12 total career victories.

Eric’s most impressive showing to date came in a submission win over Rob Lisita in July 2014, a performance that earned him the USD 50,000 ONE Warrior Bonus.

Meanwhile, Edward is considered as one of the best and brightest featherweight prospects to emerge from the well-established martial arts scene in the Philippines.

With a complete striking and grappling skill set, Edward brings Team Lakay’s world-renowned Wushu to center stage as he showcases his impeccable skillset inside the ONE Championship cage.

In addition, the younger Kelly has won three of his last four bouts under the ONE Championship banner, all by spectacular finish.

The Kelly brothers get a rare chance on Friday, January 26 as the siblings will compete side-by-side when ONE Championship holds its first of the four scheduled events in the country for 2018.

Eric squares off with Brazilian standout Rafael Nunes on the undercard of ONE: Global Superheroes, while Edward crosses paths with Cambodia’s Meas Meul in a three-round featherweight clash.

It is the first time both of them will be featured at a ONE Championship event together, and Edward plans to make it a night they will never forget.

“I am so excited because finally, it’s going to happen. It marks the first time that I will compete alongside my older brother. Surely, it’s going to be a memorable night for the both of us,” he said.

“We have the same aim of winning. So making it two for two on this card will make this extra special.”

As Eric seeks to get back on the winning track at the expense of Nunes, Edward is likewise looking to move forward in his career after getting his three-bout winning streak snapped by American stalwart Emilio Urrutia in August 2017.

In his next cage outing, Edward goes up against Meul, a undefeated promotional newcomer with six wins to his credit.

“My coaches has prepared me well for this. I am not going to disappoint my team and my country when I enter that cage on 26th of January,” Edward assured. “I don’t want to let my countrymen down this time. I am here to give them a great bout.

“And of course, win the bout in impressive fashion for them.”

Edward has no qualms if he has to go full three rounds with Meul, but he admitted that his sights are always set on securing the finish.

“I am looking to dominate him for three rounds. But hopefully, I can get the finish,” he vowed.

“A finish will be the perfect way to tell the world that I am back.”

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Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates



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



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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