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Talk ‘N Text escapes late Alaska surge; clinches twice-to-beat advantage



The Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters escaped a resurgent Alaska Aces in crunch time to finish the elimination round with a share of the much-coveted 8-3 slate and a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs, after a 101-93 victory Sunday evening at the Araneta Coliseum.

Alaska opened the first quarter with a 4-0 start but lost their foothold in the following minutes of play. Import Ivan Johnson powered the Tropang Texters as they opened their campaign, sinking the first few baskets to get things going. Back-to-back treys by Johnson and Ranidel de Ocampo helped Talk ‘N Text pull away for a 17-10 and plant themselves in the driver’s seat. The Tropang Texters forced the Aces to misfire, and with Johnson dominating the painted area and firing at will, the lead would blow to double digits, 25-15, late in the quarter. At the end of the first 12 minutes, TNT led 27-15. 16 of Talk ‘N Text’s 27 points came from Johnson alone.

The sweet-shooting Tropang Texters opened the second quarter with another salvo amid clunky shooting from the opposing side. Triples from Johnson and Jay Washington put Talk ‘N Text up by fifteen, 37-21, halfway through the quarter. A couple of baskets from a reinvigorated Damion James sparked the Aces to cut the lead to double digits, 37-28. The Aces stayed in the nine-point range for the next few possession, but their run was dismantled by three triples from TNT import Johnson in the last minute of the quarter to make it 48-31 just in time for the halftime break. By the break, Johnson had already clocked in 30 markers to his name.

Johnson opened the second half with a triple that gave Talk ‘N Text the first 20-point lead of the ballgame, 51-31. Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel tried to spark Alaska by sinking a couple of big baskets and helping bring down the deficit to 16, but were answered by a trey from Ranidel de Ocampo on the other end to extend the lead to 59-40. Unable to find their much needed spark and counter the Tropang Texters’ salvo, the Aces could only watch as the lead grew to as many as 25 in the quarter. It was only late in the quarter that the Aces showed signs of life, after a trey from Dondon Hontiveros cut the lead to 19 with just a minute to play, 71-52. At the end of the quarter, the Tropang Texters led 74-56.

Big buckets from Calvin Abueva and back-to-back treys helped Alaska gain foothold and come within 12 points, 64-76, four minutes into the final period. The Aces continued their push to wrestle control of the game, and after finally finding their touch on the arc, a triple from Cyrus Baguio with seven minutes left brought them within single digits, 70-79. A Calvin Abueva cut it to seven with a floater, but Ranidel de Ocampo responded on the other end with a triple to make a ten-point game.

Amid flaring tempers on the court, particularly between Alaska’s Abueva and Talk ‘N Text’s Johnson, who figured in a series of verbal arguments, the Aces fought to keep momentum on their side with Talk ‘N Text doing just enough to keep the opposing side from getting into striking distance. Just before the last two minutes clocked in, Alaska’s Hontiveros made it a seven-point game, 79-87, but was answered by TNT’s de Ocampo on the opposite end to make it a ten-point game. The Aces were able to come within eight, 82-90, in the next minute, but were unable to come any further. With a minute left to play, Jason Castro split free throws to extend the TNT lead to nine. Following free throws from Castro and another trey from Alaska’s Baguio, the score was at 93-85 entering the last 40 seconds of the game.

With three more seconds just gone by, Dondon Hontiveros sank a breakaway triple that cut the lead to five. Talk ‘N Text’s Castro sank two free throws in the next possession, but a layup from Alaska import Damion James made it a five-point game at 95-90. Two more free throws with less than 20 ticks left care of TNT import Johnson made extended the lead to seven. The Tropang Texters needed only to sink a couple more shots to ice the win. The dying seconds of the ballgame were marred by another spat between Abueva and Johnson. With time on their side, Talk ‘N Text walked away with the win. Commotion broke out at the buzzer anew after Johnson figured in a confrontation with Alaska head coach Alex Compton. The two parties had to be separated on their way to the dugout

Ivan Johnson was named Player of the Game with a resounding 47 points, 10 rebounds, and nine 3-point field goals to his name.

With the win, Talk ‘N Text finishes at 8-3 and along with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters will enter the postseason with a twice-to-beat advantage. Alaska slides to 4-6 after the loss.

Quarter scores: 27-15, 48-31, 74-56, 101-93

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After getting first D-League experience, Zark’s-Lyceum ready to get loose



After a hesitant performance in their PBA D-League debut last Thursday that resulted in a loss to the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers seemingly caught up with the league’s style of play on Tuesday.

Zark’s-Lyceum displayed their true form and stamped their class all over the Batangas-EAC Generals with a 37-point destruction, 112-75 — so far the biggest winning margin the franchise has ever had in its D-League history.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams we’re playing against with,” said Zark’s-Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson after the match at Pasig Sports Center. “But the things we want to mind are those things we control.

“We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways.”

Robinson’s claim was strongly backed up by the numbers that the Jawbreakers produced.

CJ Perez had 21 points and 10 rebounds. MJ Ayaay produced 15 points and 10 boards, and Mike Nzeusseu delivered 14 markers and 11 boards.

Even the bench made their presence felt in the victory. With guard Jaycee Marcelino spearheading the supporting cast’s charge with 12 markers, the bench contributed a remarkable 56 points to their total output.

Photo by PBA Images

“Ano lang, cinontrol lang namin yung pace kasi yun naman talaga yung laro namin, yung mabilisan,” said the 24-year-old do-it-all forward, who also collected three steals.

“Kailangan talaga mabilisan para ma-execute namin yung mga ginagawa namin.”

This week will be a rough one for the Pirates, as they will play right away this Thursday against the AMA Online Education. And for Perez, he strongly believes that they will be able to carry over their momentum.

“Oo. Nandun pa. Energy talaga yung puhunan namin para makalaro ng maayos.”

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Bonbon Batiller shows what he can bring to Letran in D-League debut



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Tuesday proved to be a double debut for Bonbon Batiller. Aside from beginning his first foray in the PBA D-League, it also marked his debut for the Letran Knights, who are carrying the Wang’s Basketball Couriers franchise.

And the 5-foot-11 guard showed what he can bring to the table. Batiller collected 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists to help the Knights raise the curtains of their campaign with a 93-75 rout of the Batangas-EAC Generals.

“Nagworkout yung pinagpraktisan namin,” said Batiller. “Nagbunga rin yung tinuro samin ni Coach Jeff (Napa) lalo sa depensa. Tsaka siguro sa rebounds — laking lamang namin sa rebound. Nagsipag mga bigs namin.”

But what has him even more satisfied is the warm reception and trust he’s had from the Knights, even if he has spent barely a year with them after transferring from University of the East last 2017.

“Masaya po kasi tinanggap nila ako sa Letran ng buong-buo,” said Batiller, who normed 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals with UE in two years. “Tsaka yung tiwala nila na makakatulong ako sa team nandoon.

“Kaya masaya ako sa pinakita nila sa akin.”

That is why the General Santos native is hard-pressed to prove himself to Letran, saying that he’s all about giving back to the school that gave him another opportunity to resume his young, up-and-coming basketball career.

“Kailangan kong may mapatunayan na deserving ako sa binigay na second chance sa akin ni Letran,” said Batiller, who decided to switch schools partly due to academic reasons.

“Malaki ang utang ko sa Letran.”

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Bienvenido Maranon scores brace as Ceres-Negros eliminates Brisbane Roar



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Philippine club football just achieved its biggest continental result yet

The inaugural Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros Football Club eliminated three-time Australian champions Brisbane Roar in the 2018 AFC Champions League’s second preliminary round with a 3-2 stunner away at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane.

With the win, the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions are set to face Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian next January 30, 2018 at the Haihe Educational Football Stadium in Tianjin, China to book a seat in the group stages.

Brisbane were the favorites for this tie and it showed as Ceres started the contest at the backfoot. Italian striker Massimo Maccarone handed the home side the lead at the 35th minute when he turned in Brett Holman’s pass.

Maccarone’s goal could have lowered the Busmen’s moral, but Risto Vidakovic’s men took it as a motivation rather than a downer. In fact, Ceres replied in the best way possible when Bienvenido Maranon scored his first goal of the match two minutes from halftime thanks to a scramble in the Brisbane box.

By all accounts, Ceres already made Philippine football proud at halftime. By this stage last year, Brisbane accrued a 4-0 halftime cushion against Global Cebu en route to a 6-0 rout.

Today, though, Brisbane faced tougher resistance at the hands of Ceres. This resistance turned into a full-fledged revolt at the 65th minute when Maranon directed the ball past a helpless Jamie Young to give the Busmen their first taste of the lead.

Maranon’s goal well and truly turned the tide in Ceres’ favor. Brisbane were stunned. The home side are the defending A-League champions, but are currently eighth in the table this season and would soon face elimination from Asia’s premier club competition.

Already up 2-1, the Busmen finally achieved some breathing space at the 75th minute when Omid Nazari scored from close range to give Ceres a two-goal cushion from Brisbane.

Nazari’s goal not only sealed the win for Ceres as it also propelled Philippine football into the big leagues. Not even a late goal from French midfielder Éric Bauthéac can prevent the Busmen’s victory.

After five minutes of stoppage time, Ceres emerged 3-2 winners against Brisbane Roar. Come what may against Tianjin seven days from now, the Busmen have already achieved Philippine football’s biggest result ever since their own achievement in last season’s AFC Cup.

Who knows? Maybe Ceres can pull off another upset?

Ceres-Negros XI: Doblas (GK), Super, Mike Ott, Ingreso, Maranon, Porteria, Schrock, De Murga (C), Munoz, Nazari, Christaens.

Brisbane Roar XI: Ingham, Bowles, Papadopoulos, Maccarone, Holman, Khalfallah, Oxborrow, McKay (C), Hingert, Young (GK), Franjic.

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CJ Perez, Zark’s-Lyceum vent ire on Batangas-EAC with 37-point romp



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CJ Perez and the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers finally lived up to its hype as it clobbered the Batangas-EAC Generals to score a 37-point beatdown, 112-75 for its first win, Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.

It was an all-out attack from the Jawbreakers as they beat the Generals to the bite and took control of the game early with Mike Nzeusseu and Jaycee Marcelino guiding their side to the 48-33 lead at halftime which they will never surrender.

Perez paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while MJ Ayaay tallied a double-double with his 15 markers, 10 boards, and three assists.

Cameroonian student-athlete Nzeusseu also delivered 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists, while Marcelino had eight first half points and wound up with 12 off the bench as the reserves chipped in 56 huge points in the tussle.

Coach Topex Robinson lauded the Jawbreakers for quickly adjusting to the style of the PBA D-League just days after falling to Marinerong Pilipino, 92-94 back in opening day.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams were playing against with. But the things we want to mind are those things we control. We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways,” he said.

Earvin Mendoza and Cedric de Joya both had 16 points for the Generals in the losing effort.

Zark’s-Lyceum looks to continue to roll when it faces the AMA Online Education Titans on Thursday, January 25. EAC-Batangas, on the other hand, takes on the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers on Monday, January 29.

The Scores:

Zark’s-Lyceum 112 — Perez 21, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Serrano 10, Baltazar 8, Santos 8, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 6, Marata 4, Liwag 4, Ibañez 2, Cinco 2, Pretta 0.

Batangas-EAC 75 — E. Mendoza 16, De Joya 16, Tampoc 12, Laude 9, Pate 8, Maguliano 6, Altamirano 5, Diego 3, Garcia 0, Dela Peña 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0.

Quarterscores: 19-14, 48-33, 84-47, 112-75.

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