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UP staves off UE in character-building win

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In a game that saw both teams looking rusty due to the long layoff, the UP Fighting Maroons almost squandered a late-game lead but was able to make the clutch stops in a 62-55 lead over the UE Red Warriors to open their UAAP Season 78 campaign.

The first quarter was as rusty a game as one can get as both UE and UP could not apply their set plays that resulted to questionable decisions on offense. Moreover, both teams struggled to play defense against each other as all but six of both team’s combined 19 first quarter points came from a field goal. The Fighting Maroons were able to gain the lead with charity stripe conversions by Dario that gave them a 9-5 lead with 14.5 to go. Cheick Kone also made his UAAP debut and was solid in anchoring the defense for the Maroons during the quarter. A floater by rookie Fran Yu was answered right back by free throws by Gelo Vito to give UP an 11-7 lead to end the first.

The Fighting Maroons quickly blitzed their opponents in the second quarter in a 10-2 rally. Paul Desiderio was aggressive during that run in slashing through the lane while Jerson Prado capped the run with UP leading 22-9. Slowly, the Derrick Pumaren-mentored squad slowly found their bearings on offense as rookie guard Philip Manalang steadied his troops. Manalang was aggressive in slashing through the lane as he tallied five points in the quarter. However, UE could not make cap their rally as missed free throws Edison Batiller hindered the momentum they gained. Batiller more than made up for it in stealing the ball from Dario and converting on a fast break layup to close the quarter with his team just down four, 29-25.

The season 78 hosts were able to gain a comfortable cushion in the third quarter. Excellent ball movement by the Diliman-based squad led to wide-open jumpers while their zone stymied the UE offense. The UP lead extended to eight, 45-37 to end the third canto.

UE inched closer to open the fourth quarter as Chris Javier finally came alive for his squad. A midrange jumper by Javier was followed by a long two pointer to cut the lead to just four , 45-41. Moreover, the tides seemed to turn for the Red Warriors as Kone fouled out of the game with seven minutes still to go. Just as it seemed that the Red Warriors had gained the momentum, Vito, who had been extending his shooting range all summer long, connected on three big three pointers, all from top of the arc, to the cheers of the UP faithful. Moreover, it gave UP the biggest lead of the game 56-43 with 4:37 to go.

Bad habits don’t die so easily though as the Fighting Maroons, who had squandered late game leads during their season 77 run, was rattled by the press of UE. Javier and Batiller teamed up in a 7-0 run that cut the lead to just four, 59-55 with 20.8 seconds to go. Unfortunately for the Red Warriors, free throws by Moralde and Prado and a missed three by Charcos sealed the game for UP, 62-55.

“Yung excitement di talaga mawawala pati yung pagkakaba,” UP’s rookie head coach Rensy Bajar said about his team’s slow start. However, the team’s coaching staff continued to give their players trust when UE was making their run. “I told them I believe that they can win, and today they showed that they are winners.” Finally, he believes that this was a testament to the team’s hard work coming from last season.

Gelo Vito led the UP Maroons with 11 markers on 4/5 shooting, including 3/3 from downtown. The other members of UP’s bench mob scored a total of 46 points as well. However, Smart Elite ambassador Jett Manuel, in his UAAP return, scored 7 points but was just 3/15 from the field.

For the Red Warriors, rookie guard Edson Batiller topscored with 17 points but was a horrendous 1/9 from the charity stripe. Chris Javier had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Smart Elite ambassador Paul Varilla struggled all game long in scoring just a point and was just 0/5 from the field.

The UP Fighting Maroons (1-0) will look for win #2 against the DLSU Green Archers on Wednesday, September 9 at 2:00 pm at the Araneta Coliseum while the UE Red Warriors (0-1) will face the NU Bulldogs on Sunday, September 12 at 4:00pm in the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:
UP (62) – Vito 11, Moralde 8, Desiderio 7, Manuel 7, Dario 6, Prado 6, Amar 4, Longa 4, Asilum 3, Kone 3, Juruena 2, Gallarza 1, Harris 0, Jaboneta 0, Lim 0, Webb 0.
UE (55) – Batiller 17, Javier 10, Palma 6, Manalang 5, Abanto 4, De Leon 4, Charcos 2, Gagate 2, Sta. Ana 2, Yu 2, Varilla 1, Derige 0, Gonzales 0.
Quarterscores: 11-7, 29-25, 45-37, 62-55.

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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 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 bout returned to the 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

But that achievement of his won’t be that memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat they had absorbed into the hands of Paul Lee and 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 was there in contention all through out the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But then, the Hotshots’ comebacking skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” expressed 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 Barangay Ginebra 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 Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to its’ first win after a historic 16-game skid at the expense of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

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

“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 it. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all by 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 got 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.

Alab’s bench however could not sustain the effort of the starters that led to them clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a sparkplug, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided the spark 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 with 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 that resulted to the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan to slice the lead to as low as four points. 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 they take on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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