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Rivero targets versatility in second year with DLSU

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Primarily a bruiser and a backup big during his UAAP debut last year, a new set of bigger responsibilities now awaits De La Salle University’s Prince Rivero in his sophomore year.

Last season, the Green Archers had the luxury of having Arnold van Opstal and Norbert Torres, two of the league’s natural back-to-basket bigs, to command the defense of opposing teams which would lead to a lot of open perimeter shots. Having those kinds of players also made La Salle’s other frontcourt options like Rivero and Jason Perkins to play in their natural power forward slot which fortified their team’s strength in crashing the boards and scoring down low game-in and game-out.

But now, this year’s version of the Green Archers doesn’t possess the size advantage they had last season. With their younger agile bigs like rookie Larry Muyang and sophomore Abu Tratter still adjusting on their increased roles, Rivero must now capitalize on the experiences he gained and expand his game further to keep up with opposing team’s bigger frontcourt tandems.

UAAP 78 NU vs DLSU - Aroga Rivero“So far, marami pa kaming dapat to improve on our game individually and as a team. Marami pa kaming kailangan matutunan sa games pagdating sa practices and future games namin. We just have to absorb them,” Rivero told Tiebreaker Times when asked about his thoughts on facing La Salle’s challenges in their ongoing UAAP campaign. “We have to absorb ang mga sinasabi ng coaches at kung ano ang gagawin ng kalaban. Kailangan namin maka-adapt sa situations para maka-adjust kami throughout our next set of games.”

Despite being only a sophomore in the league, Rivero is heavily stacked when it comes to his collection of basketball experiences. He was part of the 2015 Gilas Cadets that won gold in the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games held at Singapore and was also part of the Philippine Men’s National Basketball team that competed in the 2013 FIBA Asia U18 3X3 Tournament. In addition, Rivero was also the NCAA Season 89 Juniors Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the Mythical team. He was also part of the National University Bullpups team that won the championship in 2011.

“Para sa akin, una, to be part of it [SEA Games], I’m super thankful and blessed. Sobrang konti lang ng puwede makuha doon. My experience doon helped me a lot because the level of competition is higher than this one [UAAP] and then I’m playing against the best doon sa age bracket na iyon,” Rivero shared. “I think the biggest help na maibibigay noon sa akin is the experience I got there and the confidence that it gave sa game ko especially in getting rebounds, playing defense and having communication inside the court.”

With all of those accumulated experiences, Rivero’s basketball IQ surely benefitted from it. In his stint with the Green Archers, Rivero had flashed his advanced footwork, knack for rebounding, and also shown the ability to play multiple positions as he alternates playing at center and power forward and he sees some action at small forward in short bursts.

UAAP 78 DLSU vs. AdU-Rivero shooting“Actually, I just have to be more versatile about it and I have to work on my legs para whatever Coach Juno [Sauler] wants me to play, [whether it is the] three, four or five,” he added. “If I play at the five, I can push the big guys out. If I play at the 3, I can play defense with the [small forward] guys. So now, I’m working on my legs and my speed.”

Now, with DLSU having a 2-2 start to their season. Rivero’s hopes that he can make a major impact in his team’s bid for the title. He is ready on whatever his coach tells him to do and he will not give up that easily on whatever challenges await him.

“My personal goal is I want to help the team win the championship and whatever Coach Juno wants me to do, I’ll do it. I know that whatever he’s going to make me do, it’s going to help [the team].”

For their next game, Rivero and the Green Archers shall face the University of the East Red Warriors this coming Sunday, 2:00 pm, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Hopefully sa mga next games namin maka-adjust pa kami a little bit more. Ang space namin for errors is very small [so that] we could avoid committing errors that might cause another loss.”

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

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Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu skills to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the fighters returned to their feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to the Mahindra Floodbuster.

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Basketball

Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover by the six-foot-four forward.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far, not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he had been frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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