It took multiple painful years of hard work and rebuilding, but the Ateneo Blue Eagles finally clinched the elusive UAAP Men’s Volleyball title in UAAP 77. For multiple members of the Ateneo Men’s Volleyball program who had toiled and stuck to the program for years, winning a UAAP title seemed out of the question. But for then rookie Janjan Rivera, winning was a way of life.
The Cavite native had won multiple titles at the Immaculate Conception Academy while also strutting his stuff in other local tournaments with his now teammate and fellow Cavite native, Ish Polvorosa. Rivera played in the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Palarong Pamabansa, bagging the MVP award in 2013.
After Polvorosa told Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro about his spunky friend, Ateneo recruited Rivera. “It’s been great,” said Rivera about his frosh year in Loyola. “I could have gone anywhere and still played volleyball, I really love the sport. But to get a chance to study in Ateneo and get a great education, mahirap palagpasin.”
It didn’t take long for Janjan to make his presence felt with the Blue Eagles. Before Janjan came, Ateneo had troubles when star open hitter Marck Espejo rotated to the back row. With Rivera, the Ateneo offense always had a reliable option on the open hitter spot. Although Rivera was shorter than opposing wingers, he earned the opponent’s respect with his athleticism, defensive capabilities, and radiant confidence. Some even say that he is the Men’s Volleyball teams version of Ella De Jesus.
Eventually, the Blue Eagles stormed their way into the Finals where they faced the back-to-back titlists, NU Bulldogs. Undaunted, Rivera helped pull Ateneo to a sweep and the proud University’s first UAAP Men’s Volleyball title in history.
“I was so happy. It was first year in the UAAP and ‘yun agad ‘yung narating ng team. It was hard to believe at first, but I was just really happy for everyone especially those na matagal nang nasa team,” Rivera shared.
This season, the Blue Eagles added several key pieces, including for UAAP Junior’s MVP, Ron Medalla who plays the same position as Rivera. In the on-going Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference, Coach Oliver has opted to rotate his players and give everyone, especially his rookies, as much exposure as he can. This, however meant less playing time for Rivera but the sophomore isn’t at all irked by it.
“Diskarte ‘yun ni Coach. It’s not about competition between me and Ron. I just take it as a challenge. Kung anuman ‘yung maging desisyon ni Coach, it’s our responsibility to execute,” Rivera expressed saying that he and Ron have formed a tight relationship. “We’re very close friends. Pareho kasi kaming dormers [they both stay at Ateneo’s athlete’s dorm]. Kapag may problema ako, I talk to him and he does the same with me. Madali naman kami magkaintidhan since pareho kami ng posisyon,” the open hitter added.
With Marck Espejo playing at such a high-level and racking up awards left and right, people have a tendency to think that Ateneo relies too heavily on Espejo – that without the Marikina native, Ateneo would have less success. Rivera doesn’t mind this kind of thinking.
“In Ateneo we’re a team. We really value teamwork and we practice really hard to develop ‘yung chemistry namin. It’s fine if people think that way. Sobrang galling talaga ni Marck, siya ‘yung ace namin. Pero we take on every challenge as a team,” Rivera remarked.
Ateneo now faces a tough challenge as they face-off with the new-look NU Bulldogs in the inaugural Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Title with Game One of the best-of-three kicking off at the San Juan Arena on Sunday September 20.
“We’re really gonna train and prepare for them. For sure, they’re gonna do the same and hindi nila gagawing madali para sa amin. We’re just going to train well and go from there,” Janjan closed.
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.