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Roi Sumang, Henry Walker link up as Blackwater hangs on to stun NLEX

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Roi Sumang’s career night and Bill Walker’s defense in the end-game did enough for the Blackwater Elite to upset the NLEX Road Warriors, 107-106, in the 2017 PBA Governor’s Cup, Friday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The win improves Blackwater’s card to 2-3, while NLEX fell to 5-2. Furthermore, the Elite’s victory is now their third straight over the Road Warriors, meaning they have swept their season series.

Sumang had 32 points, with 16 coming from the first quarter alone, going 5-of-10 from outside. He has become the first player drafted in the third round or later to score that much since PJ Simon’s 42 points back in 2010.

“Sumang, when given the opportunity, ever since he’s in high school and in college, he can play,” lauded Elite head coach Leo Isaac of the gunslinging guard. “I’m happy to see him showcase the real talent that he has.”

With the Road Warriors up by a point, 97-96, with less than eight minutes to go in the final frame, Sumang powered the Elite on an 8-0 run ended by his triple from the right wing to put his side up, 104-97, with 4:58 on the clock.

JR Quiñahan’s jumper lifted NLEX closer once more, 104-101, a few possessions later, but Sumang stepped up to the plate again, nailing a pull-up triple from the same spot to widen Blackwater’s lead again, 107-101, with 2:29 to go.

But NLEX kept pestering the Elite, as they scored five straight ended by Aaron Fuller’s lay-up, 107-106. But that proved to be their final surge. Quiñahan tried to make another basket, but his shot was swatted away by Walker.

From there, things worsened for NLEX, allowing Blackwater to breathe a sigh of relief. Kevin Alas’ off-balance shot with 3.4 ticks to go rimmed out, and Larry Fonacier’s catch-and-shoot attempt with just a second to go missed.

“Everything is on the next level. Their attitude, their confidence, the togetherness are all on the next level. We hope we can sustain our mini-run,” added Isaac of the win.

Walker — whom Isaac called an “inspiration” to the Elite — added 29 points 15 rebounds, and six assists. Mike DiGregorio chipped in 18 markers on 4-of-7 triples.

Alas led NLEX with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Fuller and Quiñahan had 13 points apiece, with the former adding 11 rebounds. Juami Tiongson and Rabeh Al-Hussaine had 11 points each.

Blackwater will try sustain their run against the Alaska Aces on August 23, Wednesday, 4:15 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena. NLEX, meanwhile, will aim to get back versus the San Miguel Beermen on August 27, Sunday, 6:45 PM at the Big Dome

The Scores:

Blackwater 107 – Sumang 32, Walker 29, Digregorio 18, Erram 8, Cruz 7, Pinto 7, Gamalinda 4, Sena 2, Miranda 0, Canaleta 0, Pascual 0.

NLEX 106 – Alas 19, Quinahan 13, Fuller 13, Al-Hussaini 11, Tiongson 11, Fonacier 10, Baguio 7, Mallari 6, Soyud 6, Monfort 5, J. Villanueva 5, Lastimosa 0.

Quarterscores: 32-29, 59-56, 84-86, 107-106.

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Ateneo receives ECJ Gold Trophy

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The Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. Gold Trophy is finally home

In a simple ceremony held at Xavier Hall inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus Wednesday afternoon, the Ateneo Blue Eagles was formally awarded the Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. trophy they earned after an epic three-game series during the finale of the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The trophy itself is 14-karat gold, with the shield of each member school of the UAAP wrapped around it. The worth of it is said to be estimated at around PHP 2,700,000. It was made by topflight goldsmiths Suarez and Sons.

Receiving the trophy were Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ and members of the team.

“It’s a pleasant surprise actually.

“Sometimes we use this word sportsmanship, but sometimes we don’t know what it means, but we can see that this thing, this act of La Salle to give the trophy not just to us but to any champion, for me I consider that a wonderful act of graciousness, really,” said Villarin. “I’m happy that this rivalry has not been bitter. Sometimes when you see the game they’re really clawing at each other but then in the end this rivalry is deeper than the physical. There’s this fellowship, kumbaga. There’s a fellowship of schools.”

According to Green Archers official Quinito Henson, the trophy represents every core value of each UAAP member school and the values promoted by sports.

“Mr. Cojuangco has been involved with sports for decades. He’s now in his 80’s but I think his idea of providing a symbol of excellence is very inspiring,” said Henson, who is a columnist for the Philippine Star.

“I think it sorts of summarizes the journey that every school makes in a UAAP season because it’s a journey of sacrifice and hard work and the team that ends up on top ultimately is the team that all the other teams look up to.”

As a sign of Cojuangco’s commitment, he is willing to donate this trophy to the next six to eight UAAP Men’s Basketball champions. Moreover, a perpetual trophy worth PHP 5,800,000 is waiting for the team who will win three straight crowns.

“This is his commitment to the UAAP board, and this has been approved, is that he will be giving a trophy every year to the champion team whoever that champion school maybe for six years,” Henson added.

“In fact the UAAP board was saying, ‘why not eight years because there are eight uaap teams?’ He says, ‘well of course if im still alive I’ll continue to give.’”

Speaking for the rest of the league, Villarin wished that this gesture by La Salle translates to every member school of the league to promote brotherhood despite the competition.

“I hope that the spirit continues, that it’s not lost. A rival gave this to another rival. There will be nothing of that bitterness. I hope that the spirit lives on –- the spirit of camaraderie and of fellowship.”

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PBA moves Ginebra-NLEX showdown from Legaspi to Pasay

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Due to the troubling activity of the Mayon Volcano in Bicol, the PBA has decided to postpone their tour in the said province.

In a short statement released on Wednesday afternoon, the league said that they will be transferring the venue of the Ginebra-NLEX match on February 3 from Legaspi City in Albay to Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

In view of the worsening condition of Mayon Volcano, we are transferring the venue of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel-NLEX Road Warriors game on February 3, 2018 from Legaspi City to the Cuneta Astrodome.

Albay has been put under a state of calamity as declared by its governor Francis Bichara due to the hazardous activity of the Mayon. The volcano, which was seen slowly spewing lava just days ago, is now on Alert Level 3.

The game will be the first-time Kiefer Ravena takes on the crowd-favorites.

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Willie Marcial on next PBA Commissioner: ‘It should either be an attorney or a marketing expert’

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The PBA is still in the midst of finding the league’s 10th commissioner. And if current officer-in-charge Willie Marcial is to be asked, the league’s next top executive should either be a legal or a marketing expert.

“Sa akin yung attorney o kaya (marunong) sa marketing,” Marcial told scribes during the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association Forum, Wednesday afternoon at the Tapa King restaurant inside Araneta Center in Cubao.

Marcial’s own criteria for the next commissioner is solidly based from the characteristics of previous commissioners he had worked with, from Leo Prieto in the early 1980s up to Chito Narvasa from 2015 to 2017.

The last two PBA commissioners have been Chito Salud, a lawyer, and Chito Narvasa, a businessman.

“May commisioner na ‘pag ito nagsabi nirerespeto. May commissioner na magaling sa marketing. May commissioner na magaling sa mga rules. May commissioner naman na talagang disiplinado,” he said.

But for the former media bureau chief, it does not matter on whoever will assume the head office next, as he believes that the league has enough manpower to run the league regardless of the next commish.

“Tatakbo naman ang PBA ‘pag ito mga kasama mo,” said the league’s long-time external affairs and communications head, pointing at his technical committee in Eric Castro, Roscelle Teotico, and Jun Bengua. “Alam na nila eh. Alam nila mga sistema, lalo sa mga matatagal na sa PBA. Mahal nila ang PBA. Kaya kung sino magiging susunod na commissioner, ‘wag silang magalala sa mga empleyado ng PBA.

“Hindi nila pababayaan ang PBA.”

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OIC Willie Marcial insists ‘walang pagbabago’ in return of physical play in PBA

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The return of physicality in PBA games early this 43rd season has drawn raves from the coaches and the fans. At last, the matches are decided by the players themselves and not by the way the referees blow their whistles.

All the fans, the players, and ultimately the coaches have been longing for this, as physical play had been heavily controlled during the administration of former commissioner Chito Narvasa from 2015 to 2017.

“The games are being called a little differently now. They’re allowing a little bit more contact or a lot more contact,” said Meralco Bolts head coach Norman Black.

“I love it. I’m an old school guy so you can imagine. No harm, no foul.”

“The physicality’s good. It’s good for the game. It’s real men going at it,” opined Alaska Aces head coach Alex Compton on the other hand, seconding Black’s sentiments.

“I like the direction the league is going in with officiating.”

It is just one of the many positive changes that are currently taking place in the league under the management of officer-in-charge Willie Marcial. But he insisted that tweaks haven’t really been made in terms of calling games.

“Wala, pinapalaro lang namin. Walang pagbabago yun,” said the amiable league official on Monday evening, when he paid Gilas Pilipinas a surprise visit at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.

“Pinapalaro lang namin yung mga players.”

All that he’s doing, according to Marcial, is simply reminding the referees to be firm with their calls.

“Sinabihan ko lang yung mga referees na, ‘Manindigan kayo kung ano talaga.'”

With more consistent calls comes the shorter duration of games compared to the past two seasons, as time-consuming reviews by referees and officials has not occurred in matches too often this season.

“Mas mabilis na (mga laro ngayon),” said Marcial, also the league’s former external affairs and communications head.

“One hour (and) 56 (minutes), one hour 52… ‘Di umaabot ng dalawang oras eh.”

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