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Stallion stroll past UST to move on top of Group C

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Stallion FC snatched group leadership from JP Voltes by defeating University of Santo Tomas, 5-0, in Group C action of the UFL Cup 2015 group stage held Saturday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

The first 14 minutes of play between the two teams produced little openings on the attack, but it was Stallion that held the majority of possession and looked more threatening on the attacking third. At the 15th minute, Simone Rota almost gave Stallion the lead had he drifted his header in. Instead, the defender’s attempt sailed wide, much to the relief of the Tomasinos. A couple of minutes later, Rota was in the thick of things anew. He aimed to locate Ameachi Emmanuel Mbata inside the box but UST goalkeeper Jose Zaldy Abraham got in between the pass to prevent his team from falling behind.

Seizing momentum, Stallion pressed forward in order to break the tie. With 22 minutes gone by, Matthew Nierras linked up with Ruben Doctora Jr inside the box. Doctora then saw Mbata whose shot was gathered by Abraham. A minute later, Stallion’s persistence finally paid off. Samuel Bonney’s long ball found its way to Doctora. Determined by the linesman to be well onside, Doctora guided the ball well with his first touch before clinically finishing against the helpless Abraham. Shortly after going down by a goal, UST had three chances to level the score but none of those truly bothered Stallion custodian Ref Cuaresma. Busmion brothers Darwin and Dionisio were off target while teammate Renz Gumban was not swift enough to test Cuaresma. At the 37th minute, the leading team found the net once again to cushion their lead before the break. On-loan striker Ian Araneta’s shot was palmed away by Abraham but the loose ball went to Mbata who made no mistake from close range. Araneta, Doctora and Mbata even attempted to put more goals into the scoresheet but UST’s defense coped well with the attacking trio, keeping the score at 2-0 at halftime.

A 2-0 lead after 45 minutes was considered sub-par for a team who was expected to follow the path of their fellow Division I squads in trouncing far inferior opposition. Entering the second half, Stallion only looked to add to their lead but the resolute defending employed by UST made it difficult for Ernie Nierras’ men to produce up front. Picking up from where they left off, Doctora and Mbata led Stallion’s pursuit for more goals. Jose Lozano, Christian Nana, and Milan Arends also joined the hunt but none of them were able to increase Stallion’s goal haul in the fist 25 minutes of the second period. It is safe to say that Stallion dominated the match but UST created opportunities whenever they made it into the final third. However, the inexperienced bunch in UST’s signature black and gold were easily rattled when pressure was applied on them.

For 73 minutes, it looked like UST will finish the match down by just two. They were giving Stallion a difficult time in breaking them down but the Division I side bursted with three late goals to mask their inefficiency that was evident for most of the match. The team in green were rewarded with a third goal that came from the spot at the 74th minute. Darryl Regala was adjudged to have fouled Doctora just inside the box, which led to a Simone Rota conversion. Eight minutes later, Levi Fernandez-Lynch sent his cross to Rota whose header was blocked by Abraham. Unfortunately for the busy goalkeeper, Jojo Borromeo was at the right place at the right time for Stallion to make it 4-0. In added time, another substitute netted for Stallion. Rota’s sublime cross from the right flank was headed in by Elmar Boblo to close the match in style.

Despite winning and going on top of Group C, Nierras felt that his team played complacently versus non-league UST. “We always do this every time we play with the team that we can dominate. We always play down to their skill level. We shouldn’t be doing that,” he boldly said. “I like it better when we play the top teams because everybody’s mind is focused on doing what we do in practice. Today, I was so upset because some are doings that we didn’t even train for,” the Stallion Manager added. Nonetheless, Nierras was pleased with the way his substitutes showed up in the match, especially Borromeo. On the other side of the fence, UST’s coach Marjo Allado was proud with the way his wards battled a top UFL squad. “Stallion have a lot of good players. Regarding this game today, I think we played better. The only way that Stallion beat us is with the experience and the strength. It’s a good experience for UST,” he positively concluded.

After losing twice, UST remain hopeful of acquiring points alongside experience when they clash with Mendiola FC 1991 on Tuesday at 6:15 PM. Meanwhile, Stallion can secure a quarterfinal spot should they get a result against second-placed JP Voltes FC next Sunday, May 24.

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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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