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Tamaraws on the throne: FEU prevails over La Salle in extra time; holds on to football crown

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The Far Eastern University Tamaraws are still the kings of the football field. A 94th minute extra time goal from last year’s MVP, Paolo Bugas, lifted the Tams to a thrilling 3-2 victory over the De La Salle University Green Archers and a second straight UAAP Men’s Football Championship, Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

As expected of the league’s top scoring team, the Tamaraws opened the first half with aggressive midfield play and a bombardment of shots from long range. Noli Chavez fired the first shot, launching a powerful strike just at the edge of the box a minute into the half. His shot, however, sailed past the post. Four minutes later, Audie Menzi had another good look from beyond the box, but his shot was knocked away by La Salle goalie, Raphael de Guzman. The next 20 minutes saw the Tamaraws fire at will from both inside and around the box, but were unable to send anything into the net.

It was captain Gio Diamante who put an end to the Archers’ offensive drought, powering his way through the midfield in the 20th minute before launching from the edge of the box. The Tamaraws unable to disrupt his pace. The shot, however, was easily collected by FEU goalie, Michael Menzi. The next sequence saw Menzi caught holding the ball while stepping outside of the penalty area, handing La Salle an indirect free kick from the edge of the box. The shot was taken by Nathan Alquiros, whose powerful shot sent the ball over the FEU wall and into the side of the post. Furthermore, the ball bounced back into play, and was eventually collected by Menzi.

The Archers’ offense got some much needed help from the speedy Sabin Bustamante, whose skillful and lightning-quick drive for the top of the field led to a barrage of La Salle shots in the remainder of the half. The Tamaraws, meanwhile, looked to the fiery duo of Jhan Jhan Melliza and Eric Giganto, who collaborated for a couple of near goals around the 30 minute mark. Melliza kept the Archers’ on their toes with shots from the edge of the box and long volleys that were easily received by Giganto, who lurked at the left post. Much to his frustration, Giganto’s headers and point-blank taps on the ball ended either getting collected by the keeper, or sailing past the post. At the end of a heated 45 minutes, the score was still at 0-0.

La Salle’s Sabin Bustamante and Chuck Uy collaborated for the first great shot of the second half at the 49th minute. Bustamante sent a marvelous through pass to Uy, who launched the ball amid the clutter in front of the goal. FEU keeper Menzi, however, dove in time to scoop up the shot. The Archers took advantage of the visibly fatigued FEU to turn the tide of the midfield battle in their favor.  In addition, a couple of free kicks from FEU’s Arnel Amita came close to breaking the deadlock, but none of his powerful shots could get into the net.

The silence was finally broken at the 59th minute, when a corner from La Salle’s Nathan Alquiros was collected by graduating Captain, Gio Diamante, who ease-fully flung in the ball from the top right corner of the box before anyone from the Tamaraws could force him into an awkward position. Diamante followed up his goal with an emphatic celebration for which he was given a yellow card.

However, the Tamaraws showed no signs of faltering, sending in Justin Calamba to replace Noli Chavez in an attempt to add some pressure on the attack. At the 71st minute, the Tamaraws’ aggressive push finally bore fruit. Goal-savvy Amita found himself with a golden opportunity to strike, going one-on-one with La Salle keeper, de Guzman. De Guzman dove in time to stop Amita’s shot, but lost his grip on the ball. The league’s leading scorer Eric Giganto plowed his way through the Archers’ defense, winning the ball and smashing it into the net. All of a sudden the game was tied at 1-1.

La Salle kept their composure, and just as the 81st minute clocked in, Bustamante, who had led the charge, gave the La Salle faithful something to celebrate. After forcing everyone in the FEU back to a compromising position, Bustamante simply chipped the ball into the open goal, leaving the Tamaraws stunned in place. With ten minutes left to play, the Archers led 2-1.

The La Sallians’ euphoria, unfortunately, proved to be short-lived.  After two minutes, three-time Best Striker, Jhan Jhan Melliza, powered his way into the penalty box, and with no one from La Salle to contest, executed a powerful strike that sent the ball flying to the back of the net. The score was tied again at 2-2.

Scrambling to break the deadlock, both teams were relentless in every following attack. At the 89th minute, Melliza came close to doubling his tally, and handing the Tamaraws championship gold. After finishing another one of his feared runs, he managed to get La Salle goalie, de Guzman, out of position, opening the La Salle goal. Melliza needed only to tap the ball into the direction of the net, but hardy La Salle defender, Matthew Nierras, rushed in time to knock Melliza’s shot off-course and out of play.

Despite another thrilling exchange of nail-biting drives for the goal, neither team could score against the other. With 90 minutes of regular time and three minutes of injury time gone, the score was still 2-2. For the second straight week, the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium was booked for another one hundred twenty minute game.

The Tamaraws entered the 30 minutes of extra time with two players down after injuries: Justin Calamba and RJ Joyel. Unable to put up the same level of offensive aggression, the Tamaraws settled for smooth and steady midfield drives. At the 94th minute, the Tamaraws’ were rewarded with glory once more. Last year’s MVP, Paolo Bugas, who had missed almost the entirety of the second round due to an injury, found himself with enough space in the corner of the box to launch a shot that sent the ball flying past the La Salle goalie and into the net. Just four minutes into extra time, and the lead was once again with the defending champions, 3-2.

La Salle’s Chuck Uy came close to forcing another deadlock just two minutes later, powering his way into the box and going one-on-one with Menzi. Uy’s shot, however, was effortlessly scooped up by the Tamaraw.

The Tamaraws applied enough defensive pressure to dominate the midfield, and force the Archers into awkward tries from around the box. At the 111th minute, midfielder Nicolas Ferrer Jr. was sent out with a red card, leaving the Tamaraws with ten men. Five minutes later, Arnel Amita was sent off after being slapped his second yellow card of the game. But with the Archers still unable to find an easy way to attack the box, the nine-man Tamaraw squad needed only to apply more defensive pressure. As the final whistle was blown, it was the boys in green and gold celebrating.

“Ang goal lang namin ngayon ang manalo at nagawa namin ‘yun. Madaming red card pero panalo pa rin,” said FEU Assistant Coach, Dexter Chio, after the game. “Nung nauna mag-goal ang La Salle, bumaba ang morale nila [FEU players]. Kaya inangat din naming at i-encourage na tapusin ang game na panalo.”

“Mag-focus sa defending, lalo na nung nakuha iyong lamang,” said Coach Chio when asked about head coach Kim Chul Su’s instructions in the extra period. Coach Chio admitted that they had indeed resorted to delaying the game to protect their lead.

On the other side of the field, La Salle head coach, Hans Smit, commended his boys for their great focus and tenacity.

“Discipline-wise, the boys [La Salle] did well, and I know we’ll do better next year,” said La Salle Head Coach Hans Smit when asked about his team’s performance. “I never really say anything too much about rookies, sophomores, or seniors. It doesn’t matter; it’s a team.

“Sad to say, they didn’t get it in their final year,” said Coach Smit in reference to his graduating players. “But at least we got closer to what we’ve been trying to get the past four or five years. We reached the finals. It’s useless to sulk and cry over spilled milk. We just need to work for next year and do better next year.” Smit related that some of his players had been invited to try out for First Division UFL clubs, something he looks forward to seeing.

After the match the league announced the brilliant players of the season. La Salle’s Raphael de Guzman and Nathan Alquiros were named Best Goalkeeper and Best Midfielder respectively. The University of the Philippines’ Ian Clarino and Jinggoy Valmayor also took home awards, with Clarino named Best Defender and Valmayor Best Striker. Ateneo’s Julian Roxas was named Rookie of the Year. League newcomers Adamson University Soaring Falcons were handed the Fair Play Award. Jhan Jhan Melliza, who scored FEU’s second goal, was named Most Valuable Player.

The Tamaraws will be celebrating their second straight ‘treble.’ The Lady Tamaraws of the Women’s Division and the Baby Tamaraws of the Junior’s Division also successfully defended their titles.

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Basketball

PBA slaps fines on Yeng Guiao, Chris Ross

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Yeng Guiao and Chris Ross opt to move on

The much-talked about tilt that pitted the San Miguel Beermen and the NLEX Road Warriors last January 18 featured numerous confrontations and exchanges. But none was more heated than what happened between fiery head coach Yeng Guiao and emotional defensive cog Chris Ross.

With 1:46 remaining in that game, Guiao and Ross figured in a verbal altercation that resulted to the latter being slapped with his second technical foul of the contest.

San Miguel head coach Leo Austria alledged that Guiao threw a racial slur at Ross that triggered the Filipino-American.

The league though could not find any hard evidence that this occurred.

“Upon review of the incident, consulting possible witnesses to the event and discussing the matter with both parties, the alleged racist remark attributed to Coach Guiao could not be established,” the league said in a statement. “Coach Guiao has denied such allegation while Chris Ross has opted to move forward and said that he would not want to discuss the matter further. However, Coach Guiao and Chris Ross will be subject to appropriate fines for their respective misconduct.

“As a result, the Office of the Commissioner finds no sufficient basis to discuss the matter of an alleged racist remark uttered by Coach Guiao. It may be recalled that in a previous incident, a heavy penalty was imposed for a racist remark that was clearly proven.

“Rest assured that any act that is racially derogatory and pejorative in nature will be dealt with sternly by the league,” the statement ended.

As a result, Guiao is fined PHP 11,000 for obscene gesture, use of profane language and engaging in a verbal altercation while Ross is fined the amount of PHP 2,600 for incurring two technical fouls, both for verbal altercation.

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Basketball

MPBL aims to give local talent biggest exposure

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After months of planning, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League will finally raise its curtains on Thursday, January 25 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Unlike the other leagues in the country, the MPBL wants to give Filipino aspirants from local communities a chance to shine on national TV.

“I would like to say, this is the noble project of our founder and chairman, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Talagang dream niya ito, matulungan ‘yung mga grassroots,” said MPBL head of marketing Arnold Vegafria during the league’s press conference. “And from the grassroots, to the collegiate players and also professionals na gusto niyang tulungan, mabigyan ng chances, makalaro at ma-expose ang skills nila para matulungan ang mga basketbolista not only sa Metro Manila but this is gonna be all over the Philippines.

“Simula muna sa Metro Manila and key cities in Luzon. Soon it will go to Visayas and Mindanao.”

The first conference for the league is the Anta Raja Cup. 10 teams from Luzon will compose the league, namely Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Caloocan, Imus, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Quezon City, and Valenzuela.

Though it may be ambitious, the league wants to continue the dream started by the Metropolitan Basketball Association which is to create a league that has a home and away format.

“For the longest time, after ng MBA, I think it’s 20 years ago na ‘yun, I think it’s due na rin for our basketball fans around the country, ‘yung mga sa provinces, ‘cause ‘yung advantage nito is ‘yung games mismo, dadalhin mo sa kanila. Unlike before sa mga liga natin, naka-stay lang sila sa isang venue,” said league commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.

“Maraming factors ngayon, traffic and time-consuming. Pero itong liga natin, tayo ang magdadala mismo sa mga tao, sa mga basketball fans. Sa tagal-tagal ng walang organized, or high-level na basketball tournament, ito na ‘yung time na makikita ng mga basketball fans natin na up close and personal ang mga ini-idolo nila, lalo na ang mga hometown hero nila,” the PBA legend furthered.

Armed with this vision, the league plans to be the country’s premier amateur league, helping build the dreams of the Filipino youth.

“It’s an amateur league. Kaya nga natin siya tinatawag na liga para sa lahat ng Pilipino, kasi lahat dito as long as Filipino ka, kasali ka,” shared Duremdes.

“Kagaya ng sinasabi ni Sen. Manny, matutulungan natin ang mga players ng grumaduate sa college na walang mapaglaruan, mga ex-pro na hindi masyado nabigyan ng exposure sa PBA, may exposure sila dito. Tapos yung mga grassroots player natin, malay mo springboard nila ang MPBL and who knows they will represent the country in the national team.

“Ito ang nakikita ni Sen Manny, mga players na out of school or the big leagues, ma-expose sila sa MPBL at mapansin sila ng national team or pro team,” he furthered.

The league’s first game will feature Caloocan taking on Paranaque at the Big Dome. Tickets are priced at P300, P200, P150, P100 while the Gen Ad will be open for all.

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CSB

Lady Blazers evade upset-hungry Lady Generals

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The College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers avoided a major upset, slipping past the winless Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals, 25-17, 18-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-7, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

After winning the opening set, the Lady Blazers collapsed in the following frames, surrendering errors and fumbling passes. The Lady Generals took full advantage and grabbed all the momentum, rued Saint Benilde head coach Arnold Laniog.

“Nabigyan nga namin ‘yung kalaban ng confidence, kaya tuloy-tuloy na sila kanina. Mataas pa rin ‘yung tendency ng team ko mag-relax,” Laniog said. “Kung tutuusin, may advantage talaga ‘yung team namin. Nahihirapan lang talaga kami makabangon kapag nauunahan kami. Mabuti na lang kanina nakabawi kami noong huling dalawang sets.”

The Lady Generals took their turn making errant plays, allowing the Lady Blazers to grab a 15-7 lead in the fourth set and force a decider. Anchored by the imposing presence of their middle blockers Ranya Musa and Rachel Austero, the Lady Blazers raced to a 10-2 in the final set and sealed the win.

Austero finished with 17 points while Musa added 15. The pair also combined for seven of CSB’s 13 blocksm Austero also provided five aces.

The Lady Blazers (3-2) take on fellow Final Four aspirant Jose Rizal University (2-3) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Generals had no player score in double-digits as they pulled 48 points from Benilde’s errors. Yvette Tongco and Arina Reyes, nonetheless, provided nine points apiece.

The Lady Generals (0-5) get their best chance at their first of the season when they face also-ran Mapua University (0-4) also on Wednesday.

The Scores

CSB (3) – Austero 17, Musa 15, Cui 8, Ventura 8, Abriam 5, Daguil 5, Enginco 5, Cardiente 1, Pablo 1, Dolorito 0, Lim (L), Torres (L)

EAC (2) – Reyes 9, Tongco 9, Binondo 8, Lumbo 8, Tasis 4, Pablo 3, Magbanua 2, Chan 0, Yongco 0, Medina (L)

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CSB

Blazers rally from 0-2 deficit, fend off Generals for fourth win

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Defending NCAA men’s volleyball champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers completed a huge comeback from an 0-2 hole and upended the gritty Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 19-25, 20-25, 25-7, 25-14, 15-11, Monday morning at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Generals stormed through the first two sets, leaning on better transition and their service game. Joshua Mina and Chris Ilano poured in most of their combined 27 points in these frames.

Nonetheless, when the Blazers realized that they needed to turn up its aggressiveness, it was cruise control from there.

“Nung first two sets, nag-relaxed kami, ‘di kami aggressive sa atake, sa blocking,” Benilde senior middle blocker Jethro Orian lamented. “Eh yung kalaban, masipag sila.”

EAC imploded in the next two sets, coughing up most of its 41 miscues during the frame. The reigning champions capitalized on the situation with heightened aggression.

Halfway into the eliminations, Orian shared that the Blazers needed to continue their hard work.

“Kailangan pa naming mas maging aggressive. Mas tumrabaho sa dapat naming again,” he said.

Captain Isaah Arda registered a 19-point outing, 17 coming off attacks. Orian’s fellow center attacker Francis Basilan finished with 12 markers.

The Blazers (4-1) will battle the Jose Rizal University (0-5) on Wednesday.

Mina starred for the Generals with 16 points.

The Generals (2-3) will lock horns with Mapua University (2-2) on Thursday, in a tussle for survival.

The Scores:

CSB 3 – Arda 19, Basilan 12, Orian 9, Bacani 9, Bautista 9, Magsino 4, Rojas 1, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

EAC 2 – Mina 16, Ilano 11, Rasing 11, Castellano 8, Lim 6, Garcia 2, Guinto 1, Panoy 0, Lumbar 0, Magadan L, Bagdoc L.

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