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Round-up: The best players of the 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup



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The elimination round of the 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup is over, with Alaska and San Miguel nabbing the top two spots for outright semi-finals berths. Rain or Shine came in at no. 3, while seven other teams shall slug it out in the playoffs which start on Christmas Day.

Behind the success of most squads are the amazing individual performances of players which stood out throughout the elimination round.

Here are the 12 best players of the league through 11 games.

12. Aldrech Ramos, Mahindra Enforcers – 15.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG


PBA41 PH CUP - ME BW - Ramos
Aldrech Ramos’ entry to Mahindra made him the team’s premier scoring option among big men, as he can score from almost anywhere on the floor. He led the league in true shooting percentage (65.2) and effective field goal percentage (63.3) while being in the top 5 of both win shares and win shares per 48. He shot a whopping 57.6 percent from three-point area this conference.

11. Calvin Abueva, Alaska Aces – 13.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.4 SPG


PBA41 PH CUP - ALA BB - Abueva drive
One of the league’s all-around players, Abueva maintained the same level of energy whenever he hit the floor. On offense he creates havoc using his ability to explode to the rim. In transition, he is virtually unguardable. On defense, he can take anyone from one all the way to even the center spot. He plucks away rebounds from players 5 inches (or more) taller than him. And he’s created invaluable impact while only playing 21.4 minutes a game.

10. Raymond Almazan, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters – 10.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.2 BPG


PBA PH CUP - ROS SH - Almazan
The lanky big man was brought to the Elasto Painters side as the team attempted to solve its lack of bigs. In his third year in the league, Almazan is becoming the two-way big man Rain or Shine has hoped he would be. Almazan has provided the Elasto Painters with the presence to protect the interior. He has his best rebounding splits of 16.7/21.5/19.2 (OREB%/DREB%/TREB%), averaging 9.3 total rebounds/game while playing only 24.6 minutes/game. On offense, Almazan is slowly giving Rain or Shine an additional option in the post, and is also the one who cleans the glass and gives his team second chance opportunities.

9. Vic Manuel, Alaska Aces – 16.4 PPG, 8 RPG, 1.2 APG


Manuel has given Alaska a solid post option, and he has been one of the most consistent Aces this conference. Manuel has shot over 50 percent from the field, mostly from shots around the rim. He is the Aces’ leading scorer with 16.4 points/game. That ability to finish and bully his opponents with the low block has provided more damage for the league-leading Aces. He also leads the Aces in win shares and win shares per 48.

8. Asi Taulava, NLEX Road Warriors – 19.7 PPG, 12.1 RPG


PBA41 PH Cup - GP NLEX - Asi Taulava
There’s nothing better than a 42-year-old big man averaging nearly identical stats to those he had put up during his best seasons in the league. Taulava has shot over 50 percent from the floor, and most of his baskets are a result of him working hard for the rebounds and getting good position underneath. It’s amazing to see the evergreen big man still relevant in the league, and he sure would be for the next few conferences.

7. Arwind Santos, San Miguel Beermen – 15.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.6 BPG


PBA41 PH Cup - MAH SMB - Arwind Santos
It seems Santos had just picked up from where he left off during the last Philippine Cup where he was crowned Finals MVP. The defending champion’s premier power forward has delivered just the way the San Miguel system needs him to. Aside from the usual 15+ points and 7+ rebounds he gives his team, Santos has been a better decision-maker and floor-spacer, complementing his team well and helping them succeed. Santos has also shot 29.3 percent from three-point area, the second-best clip in any season of his career.

NEXT PAGE: The Sinister Six >>
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6. Jayson Castro, Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters – 20.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.2 SPG


Jimmy Alapag’s departure eventually paved the way for the full transition of Jayson Castro as the leader of the team. Castro increased his field goal attempts from 12 during the last Philippine Cup to 16.4 a game. He has also taken 2.3 more three-point attempts per game. Castro also increased his assist rate from 28.2 to 30.5 this conference. He leads the league in assists and is the Tropang Texters’ leading scorer.

5. Terrence Romeo, Globalport Batang Pier – 23.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.8 APG


PBAS41 Ph Cup - GP SH - Romeo
In his last four games, Romeo averaged 28.8 points, 3.5 assists, 43 percent shooting, and 11.3 free throws, as a more aggressive version of himself. Right now, he is Globalport’s top scorer and if he continues to play with more maturity and better decision-making, there’s no limit to how good Globalport can get. People know what he is capable of, and it is a matter of doing all the right things to help his team get to another level.

4. Sean Anthony, NLEX Road Warriors – 20.6 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 3.8 APG


PBA41 PH Cup - GP NLEX - Anthony drive
The NLEX Road Warriors traded for Anthony to solve the woes at the four spot, and it turned out Sean Anthony was giving the team a lot more. The bull-strong, do-it-all forward had notched eight double-doubles in the elimination round and is one of the few players with a double-double in the league. His conference included setting a career-high 37 points, which broke his 32-point output he set weeks ago.

3. Stanley Pringle, Globalport Batang Pier – 21.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 5.6 APG


PBA41 PH Cup - GP NLEX - Pringle
In only his second year in the league, reigning Rookie of the Year Stanley Pringle has emerged as Globalport’s leader. With his incredible shot-making ability and vision, Pringle has put up huge number every night, en route to leading his team in win shares, true shooting percentage, and Player Efficiency Rating (PER). He is also shooting 49.1 percent from three-point area, one of the best clips in the league.

1b. June Mar Fajardo, San Miguel Beermen – 23.1 PPG, 14.4 RPG, 1.8 BPG


PBA41 PH Cup - MAH SMB - Fajardo
This conference, the league has seen how far Fajardo has come, and what’s scary is that he has not yet reached the ceiling of that potential. Fajardo is now casually draining jumpers from time to time; he has better footwork; and he uses all of his skills effectively to evade the defense. He has become a better reader when he has the ball in the low post as well. Fajardo put up monster numbers as expected, shooting over 57 percent from the field. It is clear he is still the main difference-maker for the Beermen.

1a. Greg Slaughter, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel – 23.5 PPG, 15.1 RPG, 1.4 BPG


PBA41 PH CUP - GIN TNT - Mercado Slaughter Aguilar
With Ginebra finally utilizing Slaughter’s strengths and helping him live up to his potential, the big man has become one of the most promising bigs in the league today. Slaughter leads the league in both scoring and rebounding, enjoying big minutes as the main inside option of the crowd darlings. Slaughter’s PER increased from 23.3 last season to 29.2; his usage rate is also higher from 24.1 to 28.5; and he is logging 38.4 minutes/game from only 28.8 last year. The big man also leads the league in win shares (2.4) and win shares per 48 (0.271), and is the fourth best in defensive rating. He has been vital for Ginebra’s best elimination round record in over a year, and people can expect the team to keep going to their premier big as he is the squad’s biggest — literally and figuratively — strength.

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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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