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San Beda avenges first round loss against Letran, takes twice-to-beat advantage

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In a game witnessed by a jam-packed Filoil Flying V Arena crowd, the San Beda College Red Lions finished their elimination phase with a big win over the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 77-73 and punch the first of two twice-to-beat teams entering the post-elimination games held on Tuesday night.

Despite a frantic pace due to the electric atmosphere, scoring was slow due to both teams’ defense at full display. San Beda built an early 10-5 lead with 3:20 left in the first period, but was struggling to contain their turnovers against the defensive-oriented Knights. On the other hand, Letran located their snipers but couldn’t find the mark from distance.

San Beda’s Ola Adeogun was also assessed with his second early foul with 5:54 in the first frame via an unsportsmanlike foul but was still fielded in to assert himself in the rebounding department. On the already heated first quarter between the rivals, San Beda finished it with a 19-15 edge capped by an Acee Soberano triple.

As the second unit players were fielded in the start of the second quarter, San Beda romped up a 10-3 blast within three minutes including two more triples from Soberano. On the other hand, Letran had a difficult time executing plays and settled for contested jumpers that were not finding the bottom of the rim.

The Red Lions’ defense limited the Knights to only 10 points in the second quarter as they ballooned their distance against the Intramuros-based crew. Mark Cruz made his presence felt with a couple of layups for Letran but too much scoring by the defending champs helped them enter the break up by 18, sealed by a powerful inside basket by Ola Adeogun. Despite committing 15 turnovers at the half, they shot already a whopping 61% clip while also dominating the glass early that corresponds to their early big margin.

Turning up a notch, Letran turned it around to begin the second half as they woke up from their shooting slump anchored by back-to-back triples by Rey Nambatac. By the 6-minute mark of the second period, Letran was in a middle of a 10-2 counter while the Red Lions were starting to get affected to Letran’s intensity and crowd. With turnovers still being the problems by San Beda, they would get their second basket of the quarter courtesy of Donald Tankoua after a 5-minute silence during the third to stop the bleeding.

In a blink of an eye however, San Beda once again pulled away with Baser Amer leading the charge to install a 57-40 lead with 2 minutes left in the third. Letran won the scoring in the third frame but Donald Tankoua had two big layups to end the quarter to help his squad retain a baker’s dozen advantage.

In the fourth period, Letran once again fought back with their transition game in full swing as Jerrick Balanza completed a 9-4 start with a fast break layup to slice the lead down to single-digits. Fortunately for San Beda, their core veterans were able to withstand the rallies put up by Letran with Ola Adeogun completing a three point play to make it a 74-59 game with a little over four minutes to play. Adeogun and the rest of his crew were able to maintain the edge but the Knights had one last push in them as a Balanza triple and a Feliz Apreku putback was able to slice it down to five, 77-72 with 1:04 left. Mcjour Luib added a free throw to the run but San Beda’s defense stood tall in the last plays to hang on to the win.

“We can’t put our guards down and this game proved it,” San Beda rookie coach Jamike Jarin said after the game. “We were up in the first three quarter and even in the last few minutes but we did not take care of the ball.” He added that he gave credit to the heart and hustle of the Letran Knights for making that end game run.

Now that the defending champions gained a twice-to-beat advantage, Jarin is more than proud that they have accomplished to of their goals: making the final four and the said advantage. Moreover, the attendance of the crowd in the Filoil Flying V Arena is what makes college basketball special according to the San Beda mentor, “That’s what college basketball is all about. You don’t cheer for the individual, you cheer for the school.”

For senior Ola Adeogun, he said that this was a crucial game and everybody played their hearts out. “The season was on the line for us,” he said. “Everyone came out to play and that gave me confidence.”

The defending champions had four players reach double-figures in this game. Ola Adeogun led the way with a double-double with 13 points and 15 boards. Rookie AC Soberano also played the game of his life in scoring 11 markers, including three triples. Smart Elite ambassador Baser Amer had ten points on 4/13 shooting.

For the struggling Knights,Smart Elite ambassador Rey Nambatac led the way with 16 points, nine coming from downtown. He added four boards, four dimes, and a steal. Mark Cruz added 12 points but was just 5/23 from the field.

As a team, San Beda shot an outstanding 56% from the field. They also outrebounded their rivals 46-34 that led to a 17-11 second chance point advantage. However, the Red Lions committed 33 team turnovers that paved the way for 29 Letran turnover points.

The San Beda Red Lions have clinched the twice-to-beat advantage wiith the win and will finish the elimination round with a 12-5 slate. On the other end, the Letran Knights (12-5) will face the Perpetual Altas (11-6) on Friday, October 9 at 4:00pm. A Letran win will tie them up with the Red Lions while a loss will result to a playoff with the tied teams.

The Scores:
SBC (77) – Adeogun 13, Soberano 11, Amer 10, Tankoua 10, Koga 9, Mocon 9, Dela Cruz 8, Tongco 3, Cabanag 2, Solera 2, Sara 0, Presbitero 0, Sedillo 0.
CSJL (73) – Nambatac 16, Cruz 12, Balanza 11, Luib 9, Quinto 8, Apreku 7, Racal 6, Sollano 2, Calvo 2, Publico 0.
Quarterscores: 19-15, 43-25, 61-48, 77-73.

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Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates

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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

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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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Jake Vicen performs under pressure as Blazers end eight-year title drought

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For the second straight match, the championship showdown between the College of Saint Benilde Blazers and the Arellano University Chiefs reached kicks from the penalty spot. And once more, goalkeeper Jake Vicen came up big.

The third-year custodian denied one of Arellano’s prolific scorers Roberto Corsame in the shootout and sealed the title after eight long years, 3-2, penalties, Wednesday evening at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Blazers made its intentions clear from the get-go as they repeatedly pierced through the defense of the Chiefs.

Nonetheless, at the 38th minute, the white-shirts clinched the goal they much deserved. The Blazers pushed forward, and almost got a call in their favor. The referees, however, played advantage, and fortunately Benilde held on to the play.

Miguel Artillera found himself unmarked on the right flank and easily blasted the ball past opposing keeper Jericho Desalisa.

The Marlon Maro—mentored side continued to play aggressive in the following period and almost plucked a second one. This time, the Chiefs’ backline led by eventual Best Defender Patrick Bernarte held on.

Such stand was rewarded by their attacking force minutes later, and, as expected, the equalizer came from the counterattack.

Corsame received a pass from the middle and defeated two defenders, and seeing Vicen off his line, sent the ball into the onion bag at the 49th minute.

Both sides tried to break the deadlock, but fatigue slowly crept in the dying minutes of the second period and the whole of extra time, setting up another thrilling finish in the shootout.

Much like in Game 2, the two keepers came up big as Desalisa and Vicen denied their second kickers a clear shot. Arellano went to miss another shot, and it was then up to the Blazers to seal the deal.

Dean Ebarle stepped up and calmly and slotted the ball into the goal for the lead at 3-2. Afterwards, Corsame faced Vicen, but this time, the Cebuano keeper would not be denied. The latter went to his strong side, and, fortunately, guessed right for the huge save as pandemonium erupted from the Benilde crowd and squad.

The Finals series hero and season Best Goalkeeper Vicen was pleased that the new champions carved out the historic win despite early adversity. “Big loss ‘yun, si Val [Calvo], kasi may magagawa talaga siya kung nakalaro namin,” he said of losing their former captain.

Nonetheless, the squad stayed focused on getting it done this year.

“Binuhos lang namin every minute sa training. Luckily, hard work paid off,” closed Vicen.

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Kelly Williams rides Angkas to make it to TNT game

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The TNT Katropa almost played shorthanded when they took on the Blackwater Elite Wednesday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Early in the afternoon, a fire broke out in C5 that caused major traffic in the area. One of the people that was stuck was TNT’s 12-year veteran Kelly Williams.

“Coming from the South, I got to Taguig in about two and a half hours and I heard there was a fire on C5 and I was like, ‘Oh my god what am I going to do?’,” recalled Williams.

“I considered running, I considered jogging. Whatever you got to do, crawl, walk or run.”

Panicking, the 6-foot-6 Filipino-American was adviced by his driver to download Philippine-based mobile app Angkas — a motorcycle service provider. And it was one heck of a ride for the big man.

“My driver said check Angkas, an Uber for motorcycles. Okay. Quickly got out of the car in the middle of the C5, the middle of traffic, found this guy under the overpass, he was surprised to see me,” narrated animatedly by Williams.

“I got my helmet on, jumped on the bicycle and we got here for about 40 minutes,” he furthered. “Every stoplight, the other motorcycles pull up, double take, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’, ‘Hi guys!’ It was fun, it was actually pretty fun but never again, make sure you plan ahead guys if you possibly get stuck in traffic.

“But it was a good experience for me. You get to see Manila in a different light.”

Around midway through the first quarter of the game, Williams finally arrived. Though relieved to see him, coach Nash Racela and the rest of the Katropa made sure to let him know that he was late.

“Good experience, I apologized to the team, I owe them a team lunch or something and I told coach I won’t do it again,” the 35-year-old expressed.

“Let’s pray that it doesn’t happen again.”

Williams compensated for it by giving TNT quality minutes. During their 92-83 win against the Elite, he tallied six points, six rebounds, and four blocks in just 17 minutes of action.

“You got to come out there with extra effort after coming in late like that. But it’s always my intention to come out and do whatever I have to do,” he expressed.

“Luckily, I was in a good position to get some blocks and it worked out that way.”

And he owes a lot to his driver Richard, who got him to the venue just in time.

“It was a good experience though, thank you to the cyclist, I think his name is Richard or something like that, he’s a lifesaver.

“I tipped him very handsomely. It was about a hundred but I’m sure I paid with whatever was in my pocket because I was very grateful,” he quipped.

Still, he knows that he also owes a lot to his team. He plans on making it up by treating everyone to lunch during their next practice.

Lesson learned for Kelly.

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