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At The SEA Games Episode 14: Team PH ends campaign on the podium



It was a rousing final day for the 468-strong Philippine delegation as they closed their 28th SEA Games campaigns with four podium finishes including the 2013 haul-tying 29th and record 17th gold medal in men’s basketball.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the final episode of At The Games.

By: Aeron Valderrama, Levi Verora Jr, Aldo Tong, and Matthew Li

Basketball: 17th in 18; Gilas Cadets edge Indonesia to take home gold

Photo by SINGOC

Photo by SINGOC

The Gilas cadets emerged victorious in a hard-fought battle against and experienced Indonesian side, 72-64 to capture the 2015 Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball gold medal Monday night in front of a boisterous crowd at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.

It was the 17th overall gold medal for the Philippines, which failed to snatch the first-place finish only once in 18 appearances.

Mac Belo led the nationals with 22 points, scoring crucial baskets that stymied the Indonesian run in the second half. Troy Rosario added 12 points and 5 boards, while Kiefer Ravena chipped in 11 points.

The Philippines led by as much as 18 points in the first after a dominant display inside the paint, and carried a 39-26 advantage to the second half before the Indonesians leaned on Mario Wuysang’s heroics to claw back.

A triple by Wuysang capped a 9-1 run, which made it 40-35, before a triple by Almond Vosotros later on gave Gilas more cushion at 46-37.

Belo then scored 6 towards the end of the third quarter to push the lead to 58-47 entering the payoff period, but another 9-1 rally from Indonesia pulled them to within 3, 56-59.

The opposing side went on a dreaded zone, which slowed down Gilas, as the latter was unable to counter the defense without shooters.

A steal by Ravena however that led to a slam and a basket by Rosario later gave Gilas the 63-56 edge and from there held on defensively to capture the gold.

In women’s action, with chances for a podium finish already dead, Perlas Pilipinas entered the match against Singapore with hopes of salvaging pride.

And what was supposed to be a walk in the park for them turned out to be a stiff challenge, before the Philippines stepped up in the end to record an 82-72 win over the host squad Monday in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games women’s basketball tournament at the OCBC Arena.

Badminton: Escueta/Estanislao fall to INA; take home bronze

From Joper Escueta’s Facebook page

Joper Escueta and Ronel Estanislao were the last Filipinos standing in the SEA Games Badminton tournament held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last Monday. However, the Indonesians were more superior in court-control on this day as the Filipino tandem could not keep up with the pace of their opponents.

Escueta and Estanislao were outhustled by Indonesia’s Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo all throughout the match. Constant errors also plagued the highly-touted Filipino tandem as their drops fell short and their smashes fell outwards all throughout. The Filipinos lost in two sets 21-14, 21-12.

Joper Escueta and Ronel Estanislao will take home the bronze medal in the men’s doubles tournament.

Sepaktakraw: Philippines settles for silver

The team of Jason Huerte, Emmanuel Escote, and Rheyjey Ortouste from the Philippines clinched a silver medal in the men’s doubles event at the EXPO Hall 1.

In their semifinals match against Singapore, the Pinoys started off slow, as they were dealt a 12-21 first set defeat. They were able to compose themselves and rallied back, defeating Singapore in the 2nd and 3rd sets, 21-19 and 21-16.

It seemed like the Philippine team continued their groove at the start of the Finals match against Myanmar, as they took a close set 1, 22-20. Unfortunately the team from Myanmar fired back and easily took sets 2 and 3, 13-21 and 16-21.

Squash: Team PH collects another bronze

After placing second in their group, David Pelino and Ricky Espinola advanced to the semifinals with hopes of a chance at the gold in Monday’s final of the jumbo men’s doubles in squash.

In the end, the Indonesian pair of Ade Furkon and Sandi Perdana crushed the Filipino’s title hopes with an 11-8 11-3 victory, relegating the Nationals for the bronze medal. The Philippine squash team ended with three bronze medals in women’s singles, men’s team, and jumbo men’s doubles.

Water Polo: Rude SEA Games exit for the Sirens

In their final match of their debut in SEA Games Water Polo, the Sirens were dealt a huge blow to their morale as Indonesia mercilessly punished the inexperienced wards of Coach Dale Evangelista. By the end of the 32 minutes of action, the scoreboard tallied 20-6 in favor of the Indonesians. It was the Sirens’ fourth straight loss and third straight with a wide margin.

The Sirens kept it close in the first period by scoring two and limiting Indonesia to three, showing determination to end the tournament on a positive note. That only went so far though as the Indonesians prevailed of the Sirens in the second period by scoring seven goals while limiting the Sirens to none. By then it would be clear that the Sirens were out of reach.

Relaxing a bit on the second half, the Indonesians still got past Sirens goalkeeper Kunti Tibby and substitute Jobelyn Ocampo ten times while allowing the lowly Sirens to make four goals. These goals would be irrelevant though as the Indonesian squad secured a win that would grant them the bronze medal in the games.

The Philippine Water Polo program thus suffered its worst performance in SEA Games history with both the Men’s and Women’s teams not recording a win and losing in mostly double-digit margins.

Team Philippines ends 28th SEA Games in 6th, 29 Golds – 36 Silvers – 66 Bronzes = 131 Total

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence



For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense



Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs



It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have always struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue to stay as they are, it looks like it will be another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be an excuse.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” expressed Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco though has a chance to end their slump against Kia this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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Troy Rosario’s birthday wish: ‘I hope ma-sustain ko yung game na ganito’



Photo from PBA Images

Troy Rosario had just turned 26 years old on Saturday. So when he suited up for TNT Katropa’s match versus Meralco Bolts the next day, he made sure to churn out a performance that is a perfect birthday present for him and the team.

The six-foot-seven forward turned to a conference-best outing of 22 points on an excellent 8-of-13 shooting along with 10 rebounds to power the Texters to a masterful 99-81 victory over the Meralco Bolts at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

“Parang na-extend yung birthday ko,” the third-year pro quipped. “Para sa’kin good year ito eh. Simula pa lang ng taon marami na kong blessings na natatanggap.

“Continue ko lang yung hard work na ginagawa ko kasi alam ko it will pay off anytime.”

“It’s just a product of Troy’s hard work,” said TNT head coach Nash Racela. “He takes a lot of shots before practice, and then even after practice, naiiwan talaga siya to take more shots.

“Not really surprised with the way he shot today.”

Rosario was averaging 13.25 points on 41.5 percent shooting prior to Sunday. But twice in their last four games, he only scored in single digits, and that is why the former NU Bulldog aims to be consistent for TNT in their next games.

“I hope ma-sustain ko yung game na ganito,” said the second overall pick of the 2015 PBA Rookie Draft. “Yun din yung hinahanap sa’min ng coaches eh, yung consistency sa laro.

“‘Di yung akyat-baba, akyat-baba.”

“It’s nice that he shot well while celebrating his birthday, but he also needs to shoot well during other days. That’s how you become consistent,” seconded Racela. “We just have to look for consistency.”

It was a Sunday full of celebrations indeed for Rosario. Aside from his birthday, the Katropa had also earned their second straight win — their first winning streak in the 2018 Philippine Cup after a 1-2 start.

For the Gilas Pilipinas veteran, this mini streak of theirs is a result of him and the Katropa regaining their groove as a collective.

“Nakukuha na namin yung laro namin,” said the second overall pick in the 2015 Rookie Draft.

“Nagkakaamuyan na. Sa tingin ko malaki yung tsansa namin ngayong all-Filipino at iangat pa namin yung level ng laro namin.”

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