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Tamaraws squeaks past Blue Eagles, extend win streak to six

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The underrated defense of the Tamaraws was greatly on display once more.

In the first instalment of Sunday’s heavyweight UAAP doubleheader, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws opened their second round on a good note by defeating the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles in a close 66-61 on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

A tightly-contested match was showcased for the entire 40 minutes that was started with back-and-forth exchange by the two squads from the opening tip. An 18-11 lead by the Eagles was quickly erased by a 9-1 run by FEU courtesy of the entrance of Mike Tolomia and Mac Belo, who both came off the bench.

In the second quarter, it was the Tamaraws turn to make its run to install a 28-22 lead with Iñigo, Belo and Cruz making the baskets during the stretch. Ateneo responded with its rampage initiated by first year guard Adrian Wong, who put up 6 straight points. As FEU scored only two points in the final minutes of the half, Ateneo took a slim two point edge at the break, 32-30.

The Eagles executed plays to locate their snipers from the perimeter to open the second half as Von Pessumal and Adrian Wong knocking down two treys. On the other hand, FEU kept the game close by feeding the ball in the paint while Pogoy’s triple capped a quick 7-2 spurt midway in the third to tie the game again at 40.

The Tamaraws extended their run to recapture the lead as Mike Tolomia started to get involved in the offense as they silenced the Blue-and-white in the latter stretch of the third.

Fortunately for the Blue Eagles, their defense also stood tall in the tail-end of the quarter as scoring slowed down for both teams. Aaron Black scored on a big putback but Mike Tolomia responded with a tough three to tie the game at 47 after three quarters. Afterwards, FEU opened the fourth period with two booming jumpers from Al Francis Tamsi and Achi Iñigo.

Ateneo struggled finding their groove in the opening part of the last period as momentum slowly shifted towards the Tamaraws. However, Kiefer Ravena started to make his presence felt despite struggling in the first three quarters to make the match close scoring-wise. With 4:01 left in the game, Fonso Gotladera was assessed of a technical foul which also served to be his fifth foul that led to a free throw by Iñigo to make it a 57-54 game.

Ravena then made a fast break layup that was answered by five straight points by FEU capped by three huge free throws by Russell Escoto with 1:55 left. Ateneo was able to pull through within two points and with the Blue Eagles having possession, Belo, showing improved tenacity on defense, swatted away a Ravena attempt. Free throws by the Tamaraws helped seal the sixth straight win for the Tamaraws, 66-61.

“There’s still a lot to improve on especially on defense,” coach Nash Racela remarked about his team. “Today we did not achieve our goals.” The goal Racela was saying was to force their opponents in to turnovers. In this game, they were only able to force 13.

The third-year coach added that the team’s early struggle because of the fouls. “We struggled defensively. Lots of fouls in the first half. That’s why we struggled with our rotations.” These struggles though are part of the process according to him. “Struggles will help us improve. We welcome them.”

Smart Elite ambassador Mac Belo led the FEU Tamaraws with 12 points and five boards. But more importantly, he played big in the late stages in defending Kiefer Ravena, including a blocked shot. “I leardned this from Coach Juno,” Racela quipped. “He put Jeron on Kiefer kaya gagayahin ko na lang.”

Senior Russel Escoto added 10 points while RR Pogoy also had ten markers.

For the Blue Eagles, Smart Elite ambassador Kiefer Ravena topscored with 15 markers. However, he continues to struggle from the field in shooting just 33%. Moreover, he was a dismal 5/10 from the foul line. Filipino-American Adrian Wong complemented the effort in scoring a UAAP career-high 14 points

As a team, both team’s struggled heavily from the field with FEU shooting 35/48% from the field while Ateneo shot 33.87%. The Tamaraws though greatly outrebounded the Blue Eagles 51-38 that led to a 15-9 advantage in second chance points.

The FEU Tamaraws (7-1) will look to extend their winning streak as they face the UP Fighting Maroons (3-5) on Wednesday, October 14 at 2:00pm while the Ateneo Blue Eagles (4-4) look to snap their two-game funk against the Adamson Soaring Falcson (1-7) on Saturday, October 17 at 2:00pm.

The Scores:
FEU (66) – Belo 12, Ru. Escoto 10, Pogoy 10, Tolomia 8, Inigo 7, Tamsi 6, Dennison 4, Arong 3, Jose 2, Orizu 2, Trinidad 2, Escoto 0, Holmqvist K. 0.
ADMU (61) – Ravena 15, Wong 14, Pessumal 8, Gotladera 7, Ikeh 6, Black 6, Babilonia 3, A. Tolentino A. 2, Apacible 0, Cani 0, Capacio 0, Nieto Ma. 0, Tolentino V. 0.
Quarterscores: 19-19, 30-32, 47-47, 66-61.

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FEU

Rose Vargas all set for UAAP return after four-season absence

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In an unprecedented move, hard-hitting Far Eastern University spiker Rose Vargas will return to finish her UAAP career when Season 80 kicks off on February 3 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Vargas last played for the Lady Tamaraws in Season 75. With a year of eligibility left, Vargas left the Morayta-based program to focus on her academics and pursue a career in the semi-pro ranks.

Five years since her last UAAP game, Vargas says that she did not hesitate when FEU officials asked if she wanted to return to play out her final year of eligibility.

During her time in the V-League, she played for the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors, the Bureau of Custom Transformers, and, most recently, the Creamline Cool Smashers.

“‘Yung pag-babalik naman dito (FEU) is hindi ko naman pinag-isipan matagal or nag-dalawang isip ako,” said the Season 74 Best Scorer. “Noong tinanong lang sa akin kung gusto ko daw bumalik, ang sagot ko lang, oo.

“Kasi gusto kong makatulong, and gusto kong makuha ‘yung championship namin na matagal ng hindi nakukuha ng FEU.”

Vargas adds to an already solid FEU core which includes graduating captain Bernadeth Pons, Toni Rose Basas, and Jerrili Malabanan.

The last time Vargas suited up for FEU, she was the main piece to a core that included Mari Toni Basas — Toni Rose’s older sister, a young Remy Palma, Gyzelle Sy, and Tin Agno.

Vargas now sees herself as more of a complimentary piece, the hardened veteran looking to guide FEU’s younger guns in a season where much if expected of them.

“Ngayon, nadagdagan siguro yung maturity and ko, pagiging veteran daw, sabi, na pwede ko mai-share din sa mga bata ‘yun, as a leader, as an ate,” added Vargas.

“Nako-contribute ko kung anong knowledge ang natutunan ko.”

League insiders are confident that Vargas, who turned 25-year-old on December 12 last year, will be declared eligible to play in Season 80. Although the UAAP is yet to have their eligibility meeting this week, a source closely monitoring the situation expressed confidence that Vargas will pass the league’s eligibility rules.

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Basketball

23 for 2023 cadet CJ Perez honored to help out Gilas

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Having had the chance to represent the Philippines in FIBA-sanctioned cagefests such the Asia Challenge Cup and the 3X3 All-Stars back in 2016, Lyceum Pirates star CJ Perez is no stranger to the international stage.

But the 24-year-old do-it-all swingman admits that he still gets overwhelmed whenever he sees his seniors — the stars and pillars of the program — in the team. “Nasusurprise [pa rin] ako,” he said. “Mga professionals eh.

“Na-istarstruck pa rin ako sa kanila.”

Perez said so when he finally made his return within Gilas’ realms last Monday night. The last time he was with the National Team was in August 2016, when the SBP built an amateur-laden batch of Gilas cagers that served as the transition from the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers squad to the 2017 SEABA team.

“Sobrang grateful ako (sa invitation),” said the talented six-foot-two guard, after practice at the Meralco Gym.

The reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player is back in the fold for Gilas as his name, along with young, up-and-coming stars, was included in the 23 for 2023 pool — a list of cagers projected to be the contingent for the Manila-hosted World Cup.

“Iniisip ko yun (FIBA World Cup 2023) simula magtawag sila ng practice. Actually nandoon na yung utak ko eh,” the Lyceum Pirate ace bared. “Kailangan ko lang mag work hard pa para makapasok dun sa lineup na yun, kahit malayo pa.

“It’s an honor para ma-represent yung country.”

Unlike in 2016, Perez graced the court and took part in drills with the veterans such as Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, among others. With those type of players around him, he feels that the lessons he can get will be limitless.

“Oo sobra. Kahit kanino naman (matututo ka talaga),” Perez shared. “(At tsaka) Dito parang more on sa mental. ‘Di na iniisip yung conditioning kasi may ibang teams naman sila so about sa mental toughness [talaga].”

For now, the 23 for 2023 cadets are already working out not just for familiarity, but also to help the seniors in preparing for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this February.

“Sobrang happy and grateful na nakakatulong ako sa kanila kahit sa simpleng practice lang.”

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ABL

Blistering Mikey Williams takes home Heritage Import of the Week honor

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Photo from ASEAN Basketball League

The resurgent Saigon Heat have been the thorn to topflight clubs teams Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club and Nanhai Kung Fu, handing both squads their first losses in the eighth season of the ASEAN Basketball League. The Heat would not have done it without Filipino-American import Mikey Williams.

Williams, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Cal State Fullerton, dropped 39 points on 14-for-25 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists in Saigon’s 121-115 overtime win over Hong Kong.

The former NBA G-Leaguer followed it up with a sensational 24-point, five-rebound, and seven-assist outing in their 96-93 win over Kung Fu.

Overall, the 26-year-old guard averaged 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.0 steals to edge out fellow Filipino AJ Mandani of the Singapore Slingers for the weekly award.

For the Local Player of the Week, two Alab Pilipinas stalwarts were the runners-up for the crown.

Reigning local Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. and his floor general Josh Urbiztondo had stellar weeks that earned them honorable mentions.

Parks averaged 17.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists for the week that saw Alab lose to the Slingers at home last Wednesday before bouncing back on the road against the Mono Vampire last Sunday.

Urbiztondo, on the other hand, had norms of 14.5 points on a hot 9-for-17 clip from downtown.

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Football

Brazilian football legend Zico to visit Manila

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Contributed photos

One of the best to ever play the Beautiful Game is coming to the Philippines. Zico, who electrified the footballing world in the ’70s and ’80s, is slated to visit Manila on the weekend of January 27.

The Brazilian, whose real name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, is considered one of the best footballers in the world during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Zico starred for the Brazilian national team, scoring 48 goals in 71 appearances for the Selecao. In 1999, the attacking midfielder came 8th in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote, and in 2004 was named in FIFA’s list of the world’s greatest living players.

Zico played for legendary Brazilian club Flamengo and also for the Italian Serie A team Udinese. He finished his playing career suiting up for Kashima Antlers in the J-League, the top tier of Japanese football, leading them to an unlikely runner-up finish.

The 64-year-old also had a successful managerial career, leading Turkey’s Fenerbahce, Greek team Olympiacos, and CSKA Moscow to titles. Zico was also in charge of the Japanese national team when they won the AFC Asian Cup in 2004. Because of that accomplishment, Zico is one of the most beloved football figures in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Seven Seas Properties, a company that promotes Philippine real estate and Philippine stocks in the Japanese market, is bringing the football icon here.

“We are delighted to welcome Zico to the Philippines. I’m sure he will give a big boost to the growing football scene here,” says Seven Seas Properties President Yukihiro Nishimura.

Zico will attend a CSR event with young footballers from underprivileged communities on Saturday, January 27. The following day, Sunday January 28, he will lead a football clinic for elite young players and coaches in the McKinley Hill stadium in Taguig. Football fans and media are welcome to watch this event, which kicks off at 2:00 pm. Admission is free.

Zico in Manila is also made possible by Otsuka – Solar Philippines, Inter Sports Partners, AgriNurture, and Primex.

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