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SVL Campfire: The Anatomy and Repercussions of an Upset

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You know a team’s good when their loss is treated as something of a national spectacle.

The other day, the Ateneo De Manila University Lady Eagles, the most dominant local volleyball team today, dropped their first game in over year to the University of Sto. Tomas Tigresses to force a do-or-die match on Wednesday to get into the Shakey’s V-League Finals.

SVL-UST-vs-ADMU-G2-Lastimosa-celebration

That was the first time the Lady Eagles lost to a collegiate team since last year’s Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference, where they lost to the UST Growling Tigresses, that time in straight sets.

For their part, Ateneo played marvelously in the opening set and looked to be on their way to a routine Lady Eagles sweep with all the happy, heartstrong goodness we’ve gotten used to over the years.

But then, UST pushed back and the Ladies from Loyola struggled to reply. A glimpse into the stats sheet wouldn’t do UST’s fight back justice. The Tigresses severely outplayed the Lady Eagles.

SVL-UST-vs-ADMU-G2-Lastimosa-attack

The Tomasinas’ floor defense, a usual thorn to the Tigresses’ attack, produced exemplary results. They controlled Ateneo’s serves and hustled to cover Ateneo’s slippery attacks. “Although nagco-commit kami ng error, ang importante, ‘yung first ball na gusto namin mangyari, nangyayari. Hindi man ganun kaganda, pero huwag naman sana diretso sa sahig or tapon sa labas,” said UST Head Coach Kungfu Reyes. “Ang aim lang namin – itaas namin ‘yung bola, ire-ready lang namin ‘yung spikers namin. Kahit na wala kaming backrow attack, gumana naman ‘yung wing namin. At ang laking tulong naman nung middle namin sa block.”

Most commendable, however, was how UST fought off the furious Ateneo comebacks throughout the match. Multiple teams had dragged them to the brink of a loss, but none had delivered the killing blow in end-game scenarios.

In the first round of this tournament, CSB had Ateneo in a 0-2 hole but couldn’t stop Alyssa Valdez from blowing them back in the final three sets. In UAAP 77, La Salle, Adamson, and UP drove the Lady Eagles to five sets only to run out of juice in the deciding frame.

UST could have easily lost composure after Ateneo kept nibbling at their advantage. In a pivotal third set, the Lady Eagles erased a 16-22 deficit and hijacked the lead, 23-22. Luckily, Mela Tunay stopped the bleeding after a timeout setting the stage for Jessey De Leon and Sarah Verutiao to end the set on a block then an ace. Ej Laure then placed her team at match point relatively early in the following frame, 24-18, off a solo 5-0 run. Valdez then gave the Lady Eagles a glimmer of hope, scoring the next four points. Tunay then ended the match, finishing a combination play.

This season has been a golden learning experience for the España side. That final point, for instance, could have very well been a product of an incident earlier in the season that cost Tunay a broken nose.SVL College UST vs. AU - Mela Tunay

UST was up 24-22 in the clinching set against a floundering TIP side. The Lady Engineers fought back and forced another set. In the deuce leading up to the fourth set, Tunay’s face collided with Pam Lastimosa as they were both going for a pancake on a loose ball. Tunay broke her nose, causing her to miss a few games. Had they ended the match, Tunay could’ve avoided a lot of pain.

Perhaps the fifth-year spiker had that in mind as she went up for the game-winning point. UST has had problems closing out matches the entire tournament. Repelling Ateneo should bolster their confidence not only for the next match but for their following UAAP campaign. For a program with multiple titles under its belt, UST has been out of the Final Four for far too long.

“Kapit pa kasi sa end game kami nadadali eh. Nag momentum lang kami kaya nakuha namin. At least nakabalik kami. Every time na timeout ‘yun ang advice ko. Tumahimik muna kayo, compose niyo muna sarili niyo, uminom kayo ng tubig then pag-uusapan natin. Consistency, serve, block, receive, attack. Swerte lang,” Reyes told.

Perhaps, Reyes is right. Maybe his Tigresses just caught a few breaks that Ateneo usually doesn’t surrender. After all, the often steady Ateneo back-line coughed up 12 aces which allowed UST to match them spike-for-spike with 49 apiece.

After all, the match was both team’s second in as many days and Alyssa Valdez admitted that her team has been having problems with fatigue lately. Yes, most of the Lady Eagles have international experience but that doesn’t go for the entire team and that doesn’t account for how well UST played despite the lack of rest days.

SVL-UST-vs-ADMU-G2-Valdez-attack

“They played inspired and they really worked as a team. Maganda lahat, service nila, blocking, lahat ng aspect actually, lahat ng aspect sobrang nag work sila together,” Ateneo team captain, Alyssa Valdez said when asked about how their foes played.

It’ll be interesting to see how Ateneo head coach, Tai Bundit chooses to deal with the loss. The former Thailand youth team coach has a reputation for holding brutal training sessions especially after losses or unconvincing wins. Will coach Tai put his team through the ringer or will he opt to give his players the time to recover and deal with their illnesses before Wednesday?

Regardless, we should expect a determined Ateneo side on Wednesday. The team’s veteran core has been through too many do-or-die games to just let UST slip by. And, although it goes unnoticed behind her smiles and jittery jumps, Alyssa Valdez hates to lose and she probably takes it harder than anyone. Expect the best player in the country to carry her team as she always has.

Game Two was a watershed moment for both teams. UST got the pivotal character-building win they’ve been searching for in the tournament and showed everybody else that the Lady Eagles aren’t invincible.

Although Ateneo played without a few veteran pieces, they have just as must of a chance to build off the loss and move forward. At least, the burden of being undefeated is off their back.

UST handed a seemingly invincible La Salle side a loss to start off their UAAP 75 campaign. The Lady Spikers then went on to demolish everyone in the league en route to another title.

Will UST avert another event such as this, or Ateneo will do the same?

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross

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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 called Chris Ross the “N” word that 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 nagflare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

Guiao though 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 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 against 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 really has become a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now went down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees the great 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’

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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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Downcast Chris Ross chooses to stay mum after heated altercation with Yeng Guiao

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Through wins or losses, Chris Ross has always accommodated the members of the press asking for interviews and fans requesting for photo ops every after game. But Friday evening, the nine-year pro was despondent.

Visibly agitated with the events that had transpired during the San Miguel Beermen’s tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors, Ross, with his hoodie covering his head, left the Cuneta Astrodome without saying a word.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had figured in physical play after physical play and verbal exchange after verbal exchange with the frustrated Road Warriors.

Ross and Alex Mallari were both slapped with technicals after a confrontation with 9:06 left. This was just the start of many things to come for the Filipino-American defensive specialist

After knocking down a triple and receiving a taunt from Ross, Michael Miranda was assessed a disqualifying foul for an apparent kick to the groin against Ross with 4:35 left.

The tip of the iceberg came with 1:46 left to play and the game all but settled.

Yeng Guiao and Ross figured in a heated word war that resulted in Ross’ second technical foul for the game. Referees and players from both sides had to separate the two to prevent things from escalating.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria alleged that the fiery NLEX mentor said the “N” word, while some said Guiao called Ross a “bitch”.

Ross finished the game with four points, eight rebounds, and four steals in 37 minutes of action.

For sure, penalties and suspensions will come out of this game.

And it was better for Ross to stay silent.

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ABL

Jason Brickman flirts with triple-double as Mono holds off Singapore

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After playing his worst game of the season last Sunday against Tanduay Alab Pilipinas, Jason Brickman bounced back, steering the Mono Vampire to a 91-88 road victory over the Singapore Slingers, Friday evening at the OCBC Arena.

The 26-year-old, who finished with just seven points and three assists in their 71-104 loss to Alab, tallied 10 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. The league-leader in assists did not take a break, playing all 40 minutes.

But it was not a walk in the park for the Thailand-based squad.

Mono led by as much as 22 points, 60-48, with 7:46 left, 16 points entering the final frame. A furious fourth quarter rally by Singapore sliced the lead, turning the game into a single-possession contest with a minute left. The steady hands of Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary from the stripe fended off Singapore.

Brickman’s compatriot Paul Zamar chipped in 13 markers for Mono.

Since torching Alab last January 3, Filipino-Canadian AJ Mandani has been on a slump, going just 3-for-11 from the field for nine points.

Mono’s World Imports Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary both finished with 26 points with the former hauling down 18 rebounds. For Singapore, Xavier Alexander paced the Slingers with 29 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.

With the win, the Vampire kept solo third with a 7-4 slate. On the other hand, the Slingers dropped its second straight game since winning against Alab, falling to 5-6.

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