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Sollano’s commitment to Ayo’s vision

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“Our rookie veteran” is what Letran head coach Aldin Ayo fondly calls his starting center.

21-year-old Jomari Sollano is vastly experienced compared to his rookie batchmates in the current season of the NCAA. However, compared to the other big men of the other squads, the 6’4 Sollano is the smallest as all the other teams have centers that are 6’6 or taller.

Last Thursday, the Knights faced a tough task in facing the University of Perpetual Help DALTA (UPHSD) Altas. Besides triple-double machine Earl Scottie Thompson, the Aric del Rosario-mentored squad had two foreign students-athletes manning the paint: the 6’8 Bright Akhuetie and 6’9 Prince Eze. “Sa umpisa nakaka-pressure kasi dati nung nakalaro ko siya sa Filoil parang ang lakas ni Akhuetie. Talagang parang kumpleto,” he said about the first time he saw Akhuetie during the Filoil tournament,a game they lost 59-47. Akhuetie had a double-double in that game with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Moreover, Jomar had to make big adjustments as he moved to Manila. “First time ko nakalaro dito sa Manila nun. Talagang grabe ang adjustment na ginawa ko,” he said with a smile. Fortunately, the young center had adjusted well because of the culture set by rookie coach Aldin Ayo. “Buti naman mabilis lang at naka-adjust ako dahil kayla coach.”

Jomari Sollano said that prior to their marquee showdown against the Altas last Thursday, which they won 78-69, he said that the Knights had a day-off but the team’s frontline are called to review tapes of their opponents. “Bago ang laro, pahinga lang kami. Pero kaming mga big man, lagi pinapatawag. Ako, si Felix [Apreku], [Rey] Publico, si [Christian] Balagasay, halos lahat kami na big man,” he said. “Tapos tinuro sa amin kung paano depensahan ang mga tulad ni [Bright] Akhuetie. Tulad nung kay Akhuetie, pinakita sa amin na malakas siya sa kanan.”

Sollano led the frontline of the Knights in limiting Eze and Akhuetie to a combined 17 points and 15 rebounds. Far from their averages. Moreover, the two Nigerian student-athletes combined for four turnovers, all atributted can be attributed to the active hands of Sollano. “Sinadya namin na may tapik lagi pag rumi-rebound ang kalaban. Ang laro nga namin magulo nga. Kasi nung first half, nadadala kami sa laro ng Perpetual. Kelangan yung laro, dalhin namin sa laro namin,” he recalled. The move also helped disrupt any transition plays the Altas were trying to do.

CSJL vs. UPHSD- Sollano layupSollano is currently averaging 11.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. Moreover, he plays a team-high 28.4 minutes per game. When asked about what the team does for conditioning as the team plays constant full court pressure on defense and constant screens and motions on offense, he said that they just do normal training sessions. “Parehas lang ginagawa namin. Siguro kami kasi may extra takbo pa pagkatapos ng ensayo,” he told us about their training regimens.

What is surprising in his game is his knack for the ball. Even at just 6’4, Jomar utilizes his impecable timing in blocking shots as he is averaging 1.4 blocks per game, good for fifth in the league. In addition, majority of his blocks come from taller, bulkier opponents. He said that his experience playing for the University of Southern Philippines Foundation in the CESAFI, a league that also has a huge number of foreign student-athletes, helped in his development. “Oo naman. Kasi sa Cebu karamihan din ng mga binabantayan ko mga foreigner. Kaya pagdating ko dito, may alam na rin ako kung gaano sila kalakas at kung papaano ang laro nila.”

Sollano and the Knights will look to keep their streak alive as they face Dioncee Holts and the Arellano University Chiefs tomorrow, July 31 at 4:00pm at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

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Basketball

PBA slaps fines on Yeng Guiao, Chris Ross

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Yeng Guiao and Chris Ross opt to move on

The much-talked about tilt that pitted the San Miguel Beermen and the NLEX Road Warriors last January 18 featured numerous confrontations and exchanges. But none was more heated than what happened between fiery head coach Yeng Guiao and emotional defensive cog Chris Ross.

With 1:46 remaining in that game, Guiao and Ross figured in a verbal altercation that resulted to the latter being slapped with his second technical foul of the contest.

San Miguel head coach Leo Austria alledged that Guiao threw a racial slur at Ross that triggered the Filipino-American.

The league though could not find any hard evidence that this occurred.

“Upon review of the incident, consulting possible witnesses to the event and discussing the matter with both parties, the alleged racist remark attributed to Coach Guiao could not be established,” the league said in a statement. “Coach Guiao has denied such allegation while Chris Ross has opted to move forward and said that he would not want to discuss the matter further. However, Coach Guiao and Chris Ross will be subject to appropriate fines for their respective misconduct.

“As a result, the Office of the Commissioner finds no sufficient basis to discuss the matter of an alleged racist remark uttered by Coach Guiao. It may be recalled that in a previous incident, a heavy penalty was imposed for a racist remark that was clearly proven.

“Rest assured that any act that is racially derogatory and pejorative in nature will be dealt with sternly by the league,” the statement ended.

As a result, Guiao is fined PHP 11,000 for obscene gesture, use of profane language and engaging in a verbal altercation while Ross is fined the amount of PHP 2,600 for incurring two technical fouls, both for verbal altercation.

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MPBL aims to give local talent biggest exposure

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CONTRIBUTED Photo

After months of planning, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League will finally raise its curtains on Thursday, January 25 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Unlike the other leagues in the country, the MPBL wants to give Filipino aspirants from local communities a chance to shine on national TV.

“I would like to say, this is the noble project of our founder and chairman, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Talagang dream niya ito, matulungan ‘yung mga grassroots,” said MPBL head of marketing Arnold Vegafria during the league’s press conference. “And from the grassroots, to the collegiate players and also professionals na gusto niyang tulungan, mabigyan ng chances, makalaro at ma-expose ang skills nila para matulungan ang mga basketbolista not only sa Metro Manila but this is gonna be all over the Philippines.

“Simula muna sa Metro Manila and key cities in Luzon. Soon it will go to Visayas and Mindanao.”

The first conference for the league is the Anta Raja Cup. 10 teams from Luzon will compose the league, namely Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Caloocan, Imus, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Quezon City, and Valenzuela.

Though it may be ambitious, the league wants to continue the dream started by the Metropolitan Basketball Association which is to create a league that has a home and away format.

“For the longest time, after ng MBA, I think it’s 20 years ago na ‘yun, I think it’s due na rin for our basketball fans around the country, ‘yung mga sa provinces, ‘cause ‘yung advantage nito is ‘yung games mismo, dadalhin mo sa kanila. Unlike before sa mga liga natin, naka-stay lang sila sa isang venue,” said league commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.

“Maraming factors ngayon, traffic and time-consuming. Pero itong liga natin, tayo ang magdadala mismo sa mga tao, sa mga basketball fans. Sa tagal-tagal ng walang organized, or high-level na basketball tournament, ito na ‘yung time na makikita ng mga basketball fans natin na up close and personal ang mga ini-idolo nila, lalo na ang mga hometown hero nila,” the PBA legend furthered.

Armed with this vision, the league plans to be the country’s premier amateur league, helping build the dreams of the Filipino youth.

“It’s an amateur league. Kaya nga natin siya tinatawag na liga para sa lahat ng Pilipino, kasi lahat dito as long as Filipino ka, kasali ka,” shared Duremdes.

“Kagaya ng sinasabi ni Sen. Manny, matutulungan natin ang mga players ng grumaduate sa college na walang mapaglaruan, mga ex-pro na hindi masyado nabigyan ng exposure sa PBA, may exposure sila dito. Tapos yung mga grassroots player natin, malay mo springboard nila ang MPBL and who knows they will represent the country in the national team.

“Ito ang nakikita ni Sen Manny, mga players na out of school or the big leagues, ma-expose sila sa MPBL at mapansin sila ng national team or pro team,” he furthered.

The league’s first game will feature Caloocan taking on Paranaque at the Big Dome. Tickets are priced at P300, P200, P150, P100 while the Gen Ad will be open for all.

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CSB

Lady Blazers evade upset-hungry Lady Generals

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The College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers avoided a major upset, slipping past the winless Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals, 25-17, 18-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-7, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

After winning the opening set, the Lady Blazers collapsed in the following frames, surrendering errors and fumbling passes. The Lady Generals took full advantage and grabbed all the momentum, rued Saint Benilde head coach Arnold Laniog.

“Nabigyan nga namin ‘yung kalaban ng confidence, kaya tuloy-tuloy na sila kanina. Mataas pa rin ‘yung tendency ng team ko mag-relax,” Laniog said. “Kung tutuusin, may advantage talaga ‘yung team namin. Nahihirapan lang talaga kami makabangon kapag nauunahan kami. Mabuti na lang kanina nakabawi kami noong huling dalawang sets.”

The Lady Generals took their turn making errant plays, allowing the Lady Blazers to grab a 15-7 lead in the fourth set and force a decider. Anchored by the imposing presence of their middle blockers Ranya Musa and Rachel Austero, the Lady Blazers raced to a 10-2 in the final set and sealed the win.

Austero finished with 17 points while Musa added 15. The pair also combined for seven of CSB’s 13 blocksm Austero also provided five aces.

The Lady Blazers (3-2) take on fellow Final Four aspirant Jose Rizal University (2-3) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Generals had no player score in double-digits as they pulled 48 points from Benilde’s errors. Yvette Tongco and Arina Reyes, nonetheless, provided nine points apiece.

The Lady Generals (0-5) get their best chance at their first of the season when they face also-ran Mapua University (0-4) also on Wednesday.

The Scores

CSB (3) – Austero 17, Musa 15, Cui 8, Ventura 8, Abriam 5, Daguil 5, Enginco 5, Cardiente 1, Pablo 1, Dolorito 0, Lim (L), Torres (L)

EAC (2) – Reyes 9, Tongco 9, Binondo 8, Lumbo 8, Tasis 4, Pablo 3, Magbanua 2, Chan 0, Yongco 0, Medina (L)

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CSB

Blazers rally from 0-2 deficit, fend off Generals for fourth win

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Defending NCAA men’s volleyball champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers completed a huge comeback from an 0-2 hole and upended the gritty Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 19-25, 20-25, 25-7, 25-14, 15-11, Monday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Generals stormed through the first two sets, leaning on better transition and their service game. Joshua Mina and Chris Ilano poured in most of their combined 27 points in these frames.

Nonetheless, when the Blazers realized that they needed to turn up its aggressiveness, it was cruise control from there.

“Nung first two sets, nag-relaxed kami, ‘di kami aggressive sa atake, sa blocking,” Benilde senior middle blocker Jethro Orian lamented. “Eh yung kalaban, masipag sila.”

EAC imploded in the next two sets, coughing up most of its 41 miscues during the frame. The reigning champions capitalized on the situation with heightened aggression.

Halfway into the eliminations, Orian shared that the Blazers needed to continue their hard work.

“Kailangan pa naming mas maging aggressive. Mas tumrabaho sa dapat naming again,” he said.

Captain Isaah Arda registered a 19-point outing, 17 coming off attacks. Orian’s fellow center attacker Francis Basilan finished with 12 markers.

The Blazers (4-1) will battle the Jose Rizal University (0-5) on Wednesday.

Mina starred for the Generals with 16 points.

The Generals (2-3) will lock horns with Mapua University (2-2) on Thursday, in a tussle for survival.

The Scores:

CSB 3 – Arda 19, Basilan 12, Orian 9, Bacani 9, Bautista 9, Magsino 4, Rojas 1, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

EAC 2 – Mina 16, Ilano 11, Rasing 11, Castellano 8, Lim 6, Garcia 2, Guinto 1, Panoy 0, Lumbar 0, Magadan L, Bagdoc L.

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