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Soaring high: Adamson thrashes NU, sweeps way to Finals

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NU (6-6), T-4th/5th1001242
ADMU (12-0), 1st101213100

 

Back into familiar territory

The Adamson University (AdU) Lady Falcons smothers National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs, 13-2 to remain unscathed, and booked their return ticket to the championship round, Wednesday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

The Lady Bulldogs started the game on a mission. After Lovely Arago grounded to Adamson shortstop Queeny Sabobo, Kristine Acuña hit a single to the right field to start it off for NU. Last year’s MVP, Annalie Benjamen gave up a walk Guelle Nietes. With runners on first and second, Charlyn Tulalian flyed out to left field, but no one tried to advance for the Lady Bulldogs in the ensuing play. Shyra Damasing hit the ball to deep right field for a double to score Acuña. That woke the Lady Falcons up, when Nietes was about to reach third base, she was tagged out by AdU’s Angelie Surabia off a throw by catcher Clariz Palma for the last out. NU leads at middle of the first inning, 1-0.

The defending four-time champions, Adamson showed their offensive mettle on their side of the first inning. Although at first, it was not mostly due to the Lady Falcons’ power, but off miscues by NU. Two straight throwing errors of the Lady Bulldogs advanced the AdU lead-off batters Sabobo and Lorna Adorable. On the consequent play with Florabele Pabiana at bat, Adorable was caught stealing third, and was forced out Nietes off a throw by the catcher Coleen Alilin. NU starting pitcher Mia Macapagal, however, gave up a walk to Pabiana.

With runners on the corners, Benjamen hit a grounder to the left-centerfield to score Sabobo and Adamson tied the game 1-all. Macapagal gave up another walk for Ursabia and the bases were loaded for the Lady Falcons. Right fielder, Gelyn Lamata stepped up to the plate, and delivered another hit to right field to score Pabiana and Benjamen to take the lead for Adamson, 3-1.

In the ensuing plays, too many scuffles on the NU defense gave up two more runs to Adamson as Ursabia and Lamata scored, 5-1. A wild pitch off Macapagal hit Palma to advanced the Lady Falcon to first base. In a play afterwards, Palma was forced out at home by Macapagal off a throw to Alilin for the second out.

Adamson, however, opened the flood gates as Riflyca Basa and Krisha Paguican also scored to make it 7-1. Basa earlier advanced off a hit, and Paguican reached first after four balls off Macapagal. The onslaught was not yet over as the top of the order pulled off three more runs with Sabobo, Adorable, and Pabiana crossing the plate. Suddenly, it was 10-1 for the defending queens.

Reigning MVP, Benjamen, then, took matters into her own hands as she fanned the three NU batters that she faced at the top of the second. Only Alilin was able to get one hit off the burly veteran as she hit a double to the leftfield. At the bottom of this inning, the Lady Falcons stretched their lead to double digits. After Palma flyed out to NU left field Tulalian, Basa tested the Lady Bulldog defense and succeeded as she hit a double to Tulalian’s side of the park. Macapagal took one for herself as she fanned Paguican for the second out. With two outs, Sabobo connect to deep rightfield to register a triple, and scored Basa, 11-1. Adorable, however, did not hit the ball and left Sabobo stranded on third.

It was another solid side of the second for Adamson as NU had no offensive answer to make a comeback. Arago, and substitutes, Mary Tungol and Razel Cuyos, were all dismissed due to handiwork of Benjamen as the first two grounded to the pitcher, and the last one struck out.

The impending winners, Lady Falcons pushed more runs on their side of the third inning. Pabiana started the AdU side of the third hitting a single to the rightfield. Benjamen followed it up with another hit to the same area. With runners on second and third, Ursabia hit a sacrifice fly to the center to score Pabiana. A passed ball off Alilin scored Benjamen to take the score to 13-1. The Lady Bulldogs ended their misery as they dismissed pinch hitters, Dety Cavarrubias and Palma.

Needing to score, NU put all their effort into the top of fourth against Adamson rookie pitcher, Baby Jane Raro. After Clarifer Singh, who was hitting for Tulalian, flyed out to shortstop Sabobo, Damasing took the first pitch and hit the ball solidly to right centerfield for a solo homer to get NU back on board. It was the Lady Bulldogs’ last stand as Raro fanned Mary Grace Blanco and the defense retired Alilin.

The win marked Adamson’s 60th straight victory since Season 72. Coach Ana Santiago was happy that her wards were able to reach their first goal. “It’s nice to be back in the Finals. Isa naman talaga to sa medyo talagang pinaghahandaan naman.” The grizzled coach shared that they will still continue their training. She also told her team to stay focused. “Tandaan niyo girls: every game is a different story. So, it doesn’t mean na tinalo natin sila, tatalunin ulit natin. Kailangan work harder para talunin ulit natin sila.”

Santiago also shared that she was happy the defending titlists responded after she talked to them when NU score in the first and with runner on third. “Ano naman sila, nagstep-up.”

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

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Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage, held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu skills to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the fighters returned to their feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to the Mahindra Floodbuster.

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Basketball

Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover by the six-foot-four forward.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far, not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he had been frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. were on point. The former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28, when it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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