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Streaks snapped: Aroga’s big shot lifts NU, snaps UST’s record



A lot of pundits questioned whether Alfred Aroga can take on the responsibility left off by Troy Rosario and Glenn Khobuntin. Down 0-3, the 6’8 versatile big man did not allow to let “his brothers” down.

The defending champions, National University Bulldogs, finally barged into the win column after four games as they nip past the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers in a gut-wrenching 55-54 escape at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on early Saturday evening.

A slow start to the game turnover-wise ensued as the two schools exchanged wasted possessions that combined their point production to eight points in nearly the first four minutes of the match. Scoring only picked up in the last minutes of the opening frame with jumpers starting to fall for both teams. No sorts of momentum was distinct as NU’s early four point lead was erased and UST managed to tie things up at 17 after 10 minutes of action.

Despite being silent for the first three minutes of the period, the Tigers built a 7-0 counter after NU scored the first four points of the second canto. However, the Tigers would only manage to score 3 points in the last 5:45 of the quarter as NU’s defense started to have its bite against UST’s offense.

As the Tigers struggled in turnovers, Nico Abatayo and Gelo Alolino anchored the late run for the Bulldogs by scoring and dishing out the ball. In the dying seconds of the first half, Alolino fed Kyle Neypes just before the quarter expires to give NU the biggest lead of either teams after two periods, 33-26. This caps a dominating half in terms of paint points, as the Bulldogs outscored the Tigers by a dozen from inside.

Responding to a scoreless first half, Ed Daquioag started to find his stride in the third period as he scored the Tigers’ first seven points of the quarter. NU responded with good ball movement, however, shots started to go wide with good closeouts by the UST defenders from the perimeter. With momentum slowly shifting to the España-based crew, Kevin Ferrer knocked down two bigtime triples to give UST a 43-41 lead, late in the third.

As the champs went cold to open the fourth, UST inked five quick points including a three point bomb by Mario Bonleon to extend their lead to seven at the 7:15 mark. The Bulldogs snapped a 15-0 run by UST during the halfway point of the payoff period with a tough hook by Alfred Aroga. Afterwards, NU woke up from its scoring slump as they sliced UST’s lead to one with Diputado and Neypes doing necessary scoring damage.

A successful pick-and-roll play by Alolino and Aroga in the final minute helped the Bulldogs take back the lead, 53-52. After a series of frantic possessions,the reliables scored on big shots as Daquioag completed a fast break off a steal that was answered by a tough fallaway baseline jump shot by Aroga with 14.7 ticks left. Ferrer missed his attempt on the other end and NU survived the match despite Alolino’s missed free throws during the dying seconds.

“We had through go a lot the past three games,” Coach Eric Altamirano reflected after the game. “But our players, they vowed to comeback and today they played with heart. We started off strong and were able to hang one to get this victory.” Moreover, Coach E does not blame anyone as to why they are in the predicament. “It is hard when you don’t win but we put ourselves in this situation.”

“The play was for me,” Alfred Aroga said about the final play. “Coach E hates that shot but I’ve been practicing that in practice. I just took it.” After the shot, Aroga jokingly said, “sarap niyan!”

Alfred Aroga bounced back big time in this game as he scored 19 points and grabbed 12 boards. He was 7/14 from the field and 5/10 from the charity stripe. Jay Alejandro led the bench mob with 9 markers, all from three point country. Alolino, who only had two points, more than made up for the lack of points as he grabbed nine boards and nine assists.

For UST, Kevin Ferrer led the team with 14 points and 11 boards. However, the Smart Elite ambassador shot only 5/17 from the field. The NU wings also limited Ed Daquioag to just 9 points on 3/8 shooting. He only played a total of 24 minutes due to being in foul trouble during the start of the game.

NU’s next outing will be up against the Adamson Falcons, 4pm on Sept. 23 while UST takes on Ateneo 4pm on Sept. 26. Both games will be played at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:
NU (55) – Aroga 19, Alejandro 9, Abatayo 8, Diputado 7, Neypes 6, Alolino 2, Salim 2, Javelona 2, Lastimosa 0, Celda 0, Javillonar 0, Tansingco 0.
UST (54) – Ferrer 14, Abdul 11, Daquioag 9, Lao 8, Lee 6, Vigil 3, Bonleon 3, Sheriff 0, Faundo 0, Subido 0, Huang 0.
Quarterscores: 17-17, 33-26, 41-43, 55-54



Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’



Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence



For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense



Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs



It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue as they are, it looks like another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be excuses.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” asserted Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort that the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco have a chance to end their slump against the Kia Picanto this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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