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Star escapes feisty rivals Ginebra in heated Clasico encounter



A meeting between struggling Manila Clasico teams ended in a victory for the Star Hotshots, who managed to escape a late turnaround by their rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and take home the 89-82 win, Sunday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings opened the contest with a 5-0 lead, but all went south from there. A sparked Marquis Blakely initiated what would be a 19-2 run that saw Star take control halfway through the quarter. At the buzzer, the Hotshots led by a staggering 25-9 lead. The struggling Ginebra squad managed to only sink three of their 20 field goal attempts in the period.

It was the Hotshots who continued to dominate the scoring come the second period. A commotion, however, broke out on the court when Ginebra’s LA Tenorio and Head Coach Frankie Lim were dealt successive technical fouls for excessively complaining to the refs. The Hotshots led by as many as nineteen earlier in the quarter, but a late push helmed by Orlando Johnson trimmed the lead to single digits with less than 30 seconds to go in the half, 34-42. At the break, the score was unchanged. The Gin Kings shot a miserable 27.9% from the field, while Star shot a much better 46.9%.

An 8-0 rally capped off by a triple from their import, Johnson, early in the third paved the way for Ginebra to finally knot the game, 42-all, with just three minutes gone by in the second half. Star’s Joe Devance put an end to the bleeding by knocking down a trey on the other end and pull away with the lead once more. A slam from Japeth Aguilar and a layup from Johnson followed on the other end, gave Ginebra their first taste of the lead since the early stages of the ball game, 46-45. With their offense finally alive, the Barangay paced the contest for the next few minutes of play, leading by as much as six. The Star, however, were able to gather their bearings and steal the lead around the 1:17 mark of the quarter, thanks to a slam from Rafi Reavis. Korean import, Jiwan Kim responded to the brewing run with a triple to retake the lead for Ginebra. A late three-point play by Mark Barroca gave Star the lead just in time for the buzzer, 64-63.

A rested Blakely led the Hotshots in extending their lead in the fourth, who sank nine unanswered points to extend the lead to double digits, 73-63. At the halfway point, the lead had ballooned to fourteen, 78-64. Ginebra made their first successful field goal at the 5:07 mark, when their import Johnson successfully dropped in a layup while at the same time drawing a foul.

With two minutes left, the lead was still with Star, 83-74. Two free throws from Ginebra’s Kim cut the Gin King’s deficit to seven, 83-76. He followed it up later with a breakaway three that trimmed the margin to a manageable four points, all with just little over a minute left. Alex Mallari put an end to the Star coldspell by sinking a layup to extend the lead to six, 85-79, with 56 ticks left on the clock.

A turnover by Kim, the Ginebra hero from just a few plays back, at the 52 second mark, threw away what was supposed to be a crucial possession for the Gin Kings. A split charity from Blakely widened the gap by a point, but his Ginebra counterpart, Johnson, replied by sinking another triple to bring his squad within four, 82-86, with 16 seconds left.

It was the free throws who came their way in the final seconds of play that gave Star the means to pile on the lead and ice the win.

Joe Devance led the Hotshots with 26 points and 8 rebounds. Orland Johnson, meanwhile, led all Ginebra scorers with 35 markers of his own. With the win, Star improves to 3-4, while Ginebra slides to 3-5.

The Scores:

STAR (89) – Devance 26, Blakely 19, Barroca 12, Mallari 9, Yap 7, Simon 7, Taha 5, Reavis 2, Pingris 2, Alvarez

BGSM (82) – Johnson 35, Aguilar 18, Mercado 9, Kim 8, Caguoia 4, Slaughter 4

Quarters: 25-9, 42-34, 64-63, 89-82

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Raymond Almazan ejected in return



Photo by PBA Images

It was supposed to be a redemption game for Raymond Almazan after he was benched last Wednesday for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters against the Phoenix Fuel Masters, for disciplinary reasons. But unfortunately, it went the the other way around.

The six-foot-eight center was ejected in the Elasto Painters’ match versus Kia Picanto on Friday evening at the Cuneta Astrodome, following a near-brawl that took place between him and opposing big man Eric Camson.

The incident took place with 3:01 remaining in the second quarter, with the Picanto ahead 34-31. Almazan and Camson were both inside the paint looking for position to grab the missed three-pointer of Jeremy King.

Things then went chippy afterwards, as Camson elbowed Almazan. It did not sit well with the latter and he retaliated, leading to the near-brawl that saw both players swing their arms at each other.

Almazan and Camson had to be separated by their teammates and officials. Moments later, both of them were whistled for a flagrant foul penalty two and were ordered to leave the playing court for good.

Almazan finished with six points and three rebounds in six minutes and 10 seconds of action, while Camson exited the bout with 10 markers, five rebounds, and four assists in over 16 minutes of playing time.

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Fired-up Von Pessumal on Kiefer Ravena incident: ‘I’m not here to make any friends’



Will bridges be burned?

Von Pessumal was heavily-scrutinized Friday evening after an incident with fellow Ateneo lifer Kiefer Ravena.

It took place with 9:50 left in the final frame of the San Miguel Beermen’s highly-charged tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors. After Marcio Lassiter launched a trey, Pessumal looked like he was aiming for the rebound. Instead, he simply charged towards Ravena and pushed him down.

Lassiter’s three-pointer counted, while Pessumal, who was blocked by Ravena in a fastbreak and then received a staredown moments prior, was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul.

It was a surprising sight to see considering the amount of time he and Ravena have spent together — a bond that started ever since they were in high school. Even the second-generation star admitted that he did not expect that from his former running buddy.

“I did not expect that at all,” said the NLEX rookie.

But Pessumal downplayed such incident despite attempts by scribes to make him elaborate what had really transpired during that moment.

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game,” the league sophomore said after the match which they won 109-98. “I don’t wanna say anything, I’m sorry.

“It’s part of the game. Whatever move on. Not a big deal.”

Asked if he was motivated to face Ravena, whom he had shared three UAAP juniors titles, two UAAP seniors crowns, and a SEA Games gold medal with, the 24-year-old shared that he approached Friday’s bout the way he usually does.

“I wouldn’t say motivated [versus Kiefer], I mean, it’s just like any other game. When I play, I don’t see who’s guarding me, I just play,” said the 6-foot-2 swingman.

“I play to win all the time.”

The incident he and Ravena figured in shadowed his performance of 10 points on 50 percent shooting off the bench — the second time he had scored in double figures this season. After Friday, Pessumal is averaging 8.25 points.

“We have to sustain the level of excellence that they (starters) have. Our job is — I wouldn’t say support, but — when we get in, we should bring the level higher so when they come back, the game is easier for them,” he said.

Pessumal was then asked if he and Ravena met each other after the buzzer sounded as the two did not even shake hands after the contest. But, through a short yet strong response, the 24-year-old said that they did not.

“I wouldn’t say anything. I don’t know, after the game?,” he expressed.

“I’m a professional basketball player, I’m not here to make any friends.”

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross



During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao had called Chris Ross the “N” word, which had caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nag-flare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

However, Guiao denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he had felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also directed at Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it has been a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now gone down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees an urgent need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’



Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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