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Rookies lead Ateneo once more, stave off NU comeback

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For the second game, Ateneo’s young guns shone once again.

The defending UAAP Baseball champions, the Ateneo de Manila University, staged a huge ninth inning rally to stop a National University Bulldogs hijack, 8-4, to stay atop the standings Sunday morning at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

Opening day hero Junmar Diarao started again at the mound for the Jhocson Street batters. However, the Ateneo batters got off to a blistering start. Lead-off batter Radito Banzon immediately connected with a single and was brought home by a single from Filipino-Japanese rookie Kai Furusawa for a 1-0 lead. King Eagle Dio Romollo added another run for the Blue side coming from a single by Gino Tantuico.

In the third inning, the Blue Eagles were able to pick up another run courtesy of Remollo. With two outs, the Ateneo senior was able to steal second base to gain prime real estate. Gino Tantuico was able to bring home his captain with a single to center field to extend the Ateneo lead to 2-0.

Another rookie, former Blue Eaglet Marco Mallari, also made his mark in the game. Ateneo’s first batter at the top of the 5th inning was able knock out a home run that was at least 320 feet to give the defending champions another run. Two more runs were punched in by the Blue Eagles during the 6th inning, coming from Ryon Tionloc and Javi Macasaet. The 5-0 Ateneo lead also forced the National University bullpen to retire Diarao for John Rey Presores at the mound.

During that span, Ateneo junior Miguel Dumlao only gave up two hits, both singles. Moreover, only one runner was able to reach second base during that span.

However, just like in their game against the De La Salle University Green Batters, the Bulldogs dug deep in the late innings, more specifically the 7th while Dumlao caved in to fatigue as well. First Kenneth Ybanez batter connected with a single while slugger Robin Libid was walked and a single by Aprix Santos loaded the bases.

With the bases loaded, a single by Alfredo de Guzman brought home NU’s first two runners. A wild pitch by Dumlao then gave the Bulldogs another run to cut the deficit. With the ouster of the next batter due to a flyout, a sarifice fly to center field by Clarence Caasalan brought home De Guzman to stay just one run shy off Ateneo, 5-4.

“Ang tingin ko my team was tested, yung composure nila. How will they be able to hold without Paulo in the lineup? Ginamit namin si Dumlao. He was telling me, ‘coach kaya pa, kaya pa,'” Ateneo baseball program director Randy Dizer said. “Siya din mismo nagsabi na he’s done during the 7th inning.” Rookie Nacho Lozano, from La Salle Greenhills, closed the game for the Blue Eagles.

With a hungry NU squad trying to stage a huge comeback, the high-octane Ateneo offense delivered once again. Back-to-back doubles by Marquis Alindogan and Rapho Balagtas paved the way for an Alindogan run to start-off the inning. To try to stop the Ateneo rally, Diarao returned to the game to close out for the Bulldogs. However a costly error at left field plagued the Jhocson Street batters that gave Ateneo the corners.

With the defense knocking off the next two batters, rookie Gino Tantuico knocked off a double to center-right to bring home the two runners on base to cap a three-run inning. Lozano and the Ateneo fielders closed out the game by only giving up a single in the bottom half of the ninth inning.

“As I told you last time, the offense will carry us,” Dizer said after the game. “The most important thing talaga is I know my team could hit. Look at how the rookies delivered again.”

Moreover, the multi-time UAAP champion coach praised the pitchers that stepped up in the absence of Paulo Macasaet. “Nacho Lozano was there but he had heart. He closed the game well. Then, Nacho Cojuangco was ready on the pen and he knows he’s going to start the next game.”

Rookie Marquis Alindogan again had a solid outing going 2/3, a single and a double with a run. In addition, former Zobel standout was just 2/5 but was able to bring home three runners.

The Blue Eagles (2-0) will next face the UST Golden Sox (1-1) on Thursday, February 11 in the last game of the day while the National University Bulldogs (1-1) look to bounce back against the UP Fighting Maroons (0-2) in the second game.

TEAMS1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9thRHE
ADMU (2-0)1010120038113
NU (1-1)000000400444
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Basketball

Loaded Wangs-Letran wallops AMA in debut

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Armed with new recruits, the Wangs Basketball-Letran Knights embarked on its new chapter with a rousing 93-75 rout of the AMA Online Education Titans, Tuesday afternoon at the Pasig Sports Center.

Everyone clicked for the Couriers with Bong Quinto spearheading the blowout with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.

Newcomer Bonbon Batiller added 15 markers, five boards, and three dimes in his debut, while starting point guard JP Calvo chipped in 12 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.

Christian Fajarito also registered 11 markers and nine boards, while Alex Mandreza had 10 points for Wangs-Letran.

Despite the promising showing, coach Jeff Napa said that he still wants to see more from his Couriers moving forward.

“Masaya kami syempre dahil nanalo. Pero marami pa rin kaming kailangang gawin,” he said as he wanted more from the Knights after outrebounding the Titans, 57-44.

Quinto and Calvo triggered Wangs-Letran’s second quarter pullaway to establish the 38-26, lead which grew to as high as 22 points, 81-59 in the payoff period.

Michael Cañete topscored AMA with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Kris Porter had 13 in the defeat.

Wangs-Letran will have vengeance on their minds on Monday, January 29 when it takes on NCAA tormentors Che’lu- San Sebastian Revellers. AMA, on the other hand, will have a tough assignment when it takes on the Zark’s-Lyceum Jawbreakers on Thursday, January 25.

The Scores:

Wangs-Letran 93 — Quinto 19, Batiller 15, Calvo 12, Fajarito 11, Mandreza 10, Trinidad 8, Publico 6, Vacaro 4, Balagasay 3, Ambohot 3, Muyang 2.

AMA Online Education 75 — Cañete 20, Porter 13, Escalambre 11, Casiño 10, Antonares 6, Manalang 6, Garcia 4, Ng 3, Parcero 2, Bragais 0, Carpio 0, Paras 0, Raflores 0, Salonga 0.

Quarterscores: 16-13, 44-35, 67-52, 93-75.

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AU

Jovie Prado, Arellano make epic comeback against Perpetual to remain unscathed

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The defending NCAA Women’s Volleyball champions Arellano University Lady Chiefs would just not give up.

Down two sets, the Lady Chiefs turned back the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas in five thrilling sets, 22-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-5, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Outside hitter Jovielyn Prado and middle attacker Andrea Marzan showed up and produced their expected numbers in this crucial tussle at 20 and 16 points, respectively.

Head coach Obet Javier was still optimistic that his players can pull it off after the 0-2 hole. “Siyempre, kailangan mong magtiwala sa players mo,” he said.

The long-time coach added, “Nung first two sets, ang pangit ng laro namin. Siguro sa game, lumabas lang ‘yung maturity ng players ko at ‘yung pusong champion.”

It was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout the day, but the deciding set was all Arellano as setter Sarah Verutiao fired off vicious serves after another and virtually bag the win with a 10-1 lead.

The reigning queens at 6-0 will try to extend their longest winning run in the league to 19 when they face fellow unscathed San Beda College (5-0) on Friday.

Bianca Tripoli registered 20 markers to pace the Lady Altas.

Perpetual (4-2) will take on Mapua University (0-5) on Tuesday, January 30.

The Scores:

AU 3 – Prado 20, Marzan 16, Arocha 14, Ebuen 7, Esguerra 4, Ramirez 1, Bello 1, Balanoba 0, Donato 0, Flores L, Buema L.

UPHSD 2 – Tripoli 20, Imbo 19, Clements 12, Verzosa 6, Llorente 5, Gual 3, Sangalang 3, Estanislao 0, Rosal 0, Umandal 0, Medalla L.

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Basketball

Matt Nieto looks forward to learning from Jio Jalalon, Jayson Castro

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When Matt Nieto made his way into the Meralco Gym on Monday evening, the 20-year-old quickly changed his clothes after receiving his Gilas jersey. And once he got dressed, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles’ floor general quickly went to work, as he wanted to absorb everything he can from the night’s session.

“Actually na-star struck ako. ‘Di ako makapaniwala na nandito ako eh,” expressed the six-foot point guard.

Playing and practicing with the players they idolized growing up has been a theme for almost all of the 23 for 2023 cadets. The same could be said about the wide-eyed Nieto, as he could not believe he was side-by-side with the present and the future of the game in Jayson Castro and Jiovani Jalalon.

“Nakita ko pa lang si idol Jiovani Jalalon, nakikita ko parang… di ako makapaniwala na sa isang practice magkasama kami.

“Sila Kiefer [Ravena], lalo na si Jalalon talaga at si Jayson Castro kasi talagang idol ko talaga sila eh. Napapasma nga ako nung una eh kasi parang baka akalain nila ‘sino ba to?’,” the one-time UAAP champion shared.

Nervous, Nieto tried to talk to Castro and Jalalon numerous times during the practice. The two did not turn, welcoming the young buck with open arms.

“Nung nakausap ko na sila medyo na ano na kasi hindi lang sila magaling, sobrang bait pa nila. Madali akong naka-adjust kaagad dito,” he beamed.

Coach Chot Reyes has high expectations with Nieto, as he is being groomed as one of the leaders for the 2023 team. Still, he knows that there is still a long way to go for him.

To become a better leader, the second-generation Blue Eagle knows who to reach out to.

“Gusto ko matuto kay Jayson pati kay Jiovani kasi same position kami. And of course yung leadership ni Kiefer, yung mentality na talagang laban kung laban.

“Gusto ko marami matutunan sa kanila kasi wala pa eh, wala pa ako sa peak ko. Sila andun na. So marami talaga akong matututunan sa kanila kasi sobrang galing nila at sobrang dami na nilang na-achieve sa kanilang basketball career,” Nieto gushed.

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Basketball

SJ Belangel makes leap to top 3 of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Ateneo Blue Eaglets towering teen Kai Sotto and La Salle Greenhills Junior Blazers court general Joel Cagulangan remained the top two high school players in the Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Center 24, but there was a lot of movement this week, including the rise of SJ Belangel.

Belangel, Ateneo’s graduating floor leader, had a sensational week, helping steer the Blue Eaglets to an unblemished 10-0 record. With his exploits, he was the consensus third-ranked player of the week, leapfrogging Mapua High School’s and NCAA MVP Will Gozum.

FEU-Diliman do-it-all guard L-Jay Gonzales and Katipunan swingman Dave Ildefonso also moved up the ladder, while UST Tiger Cub ace CJ Cansino dropped to eighth after finishing fourth last week.

Besides movement at the top, there were also a lot of debutatants in this week’s list.

Blue Eaglets double-double machine Joaqui Manuel’s workhorse type of game paid off, as he was ranked 21st this week.

After firing 51 markers last weekend, Bacolod Tay Tung High School’s Harold Alarcon was named as the 22nd top prospect.

Joshua Yerro of University of Visayas then rounded out the list.

Here is the complete Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 Week 2:

1. Kai Sotto, center, Ateneo (1)
2. Joel Cagulangan, guard, La Salle (2)
3. SJ Belangel, guard, Ateneo (5)
4. Will Gozum, center, Mapua (3)
5. L-Jay Gonzales, guard, FEU-Diliman (6)
6. Dave Ildefonso, forward, Ateneo (8)
7. Rhayyan Amsali, forward, NU (7)
8. CJ Cansino, forward, UST (4)
9. Clint Escamis, guard, Mapua (10)
10. Aaron Fermin, center, Arellano (9)
11. Terrence Fortea, guard, NU (16)
12. RJ Abarrientos, guard, FEU-Diliman (15)
13. Inand Fornilos, forward, La Salle (11)
14. Evan Nelle, guard, San Beda (12)
15. Warren Bonifacio, center, Mapua (13)
16. John Galinato, guard, Chiang Kai Shek (14)
17. Mac Guadaña, guard, Lyceum (18)
18. Raven Cortez, center, La Salle Zobel (19)
19. Harvey Pagsanjan, guard, Hope Christian (20)
20. Maui Cruz, guard, EAC (23)
21. Joaqui Manuel, forward, Ateneo (N/A)
22. Harold Alarcon, guard, Tay Tung-Bacolod (N/A)
23. Jancork Cabahug, forward, UV (17)
24. Joshua Yerro, guard, UV (N/A)

On Tuesday, January 23, the second episode of Chooks-to-Go/NBTC 24 will air live at 7:00pm. Tonight’s special guest will be former Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas player and NBTC alumnus Jeron Teng.

The Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Centre 24 is the first-ever attempt to rank the top high school prospects in the country today.

The weekly ranking used the following criteria: league stats, impact in team, team record, leadership, defense, offense, and level of competition.

These rankings will be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

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