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Taulava leads the charge, completes a comeback victory over Global Port

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Age is only a number, as veteran Asi Taulava and NLEX nip GlobalPort’s young guns, 101-96, for their first win of PBA season.

NLEX started off on fire from the three point line bagging a triple just seconds into the game, followed by another 3 from Jonas Villanueva. A wide open De Ocampo bucket, thanks to a brilliant assist from number 1 pick, Stanley Pringle gave Global Port their first points of the game, but a floater by former Lasallian Mac Cardona, and back-to-back threes from former FEU player Aldrich Ramos gave NLEX a comfortable 2-14 lead over their opponents.

Globalport answered back with 2 more baskets, cutting the lead to single digits, but a fade-away jumper from Cardona brought his team up by 10 once more.

This is when Romeo went on a one-man scoring tear. Romeo, Guarded by Cardona, sank back-to-back baskets to bring the lead down to 6 at 16-10, but Cardona’s hook gave NLEX some breathing room against their opponents, 18-10. Romeo answered back with a big three, followed by a Cabagnot jumper, to trim the deficit to 3, 18-15 Cardona was fouled during a shot attempt on the subsequent possession, bringing him to the line. He was able to bring the lead back to 5, 20-15. Romeo answered back with a fast-break lay-up, thanks to an assist by Pringle.

Cabagnot, having enough of the duel between Cardona and Romeo, went on his own run. He scored on a floater, bagged a wide open 3, a was fouled on two shots, making 3-4 of his free throw attempts. Another 3 capped off his scoring binge, giving him 12 points in the first quarter alone, and putting his team up 27-21 after being down by as many as 12 points.

With time running down at the end of the quarter, Pringle finally made his presence known on his first basket as a PBA player. A cross-over gave him a free lane to the basket, and as he was about to jump for the lay-up, he was cut-off by 2 NLEX defenders. With his opponents’ outstretched arms in the way, Pringle had to bring the ball back down and scoop it up for the lay-in, all while he was in mid-air, increasing his team’s lead 29-25, at the end of the first quarter.

Throughout the second quarter, GlobalPort repeatedly tried to gain a bigger lead over their opponents. A Cabagnot 3, his 22nd point of the game, gave Global Port their first double-digit lead over NLEX, 49-39. NLEX fought back, however, with the help of big man Asi Taulava. Taulava used his bulk advantage over his opponents to get to the free throw line three consecutive times. His 3-6 clip from the charity stripe, along with a Ramos jumper cutting the lead to just 5, 49-44. Pringle and Cardona eventually traded baskets, ending the quarter at 53-47 for Global Port.

NLEX came close to taking the lead in the 3rd quarter, momentarily tying the game at 66 due to back-to-back triples from Raymundo, before one of them was declared a two after further review. Pringle’s 3 brought the lead to 4, but was answered by Canaleta’s last second floater, bringing the score to 69-67.

The game came to a climax at the final quarter, with NLEX opting to play a 2-3 zone defense to stem the bleeding that CPR (Cabagnot, Pringle, Romeo) was inflicting. Down 9 halfway through the quarter at 89-80, NLEX used veteran Taulava to jump-start their offense. Taulava banged bodies in the inside repeatedly, he managed to convert a basket despite getting fouled, converted on two free throws on the next possession, passed to a wide open J. Villanueva for a big 3, and completing an and-one to complete a 10-2 NLEX run.

Romeo attempted to stop the charge of the Taulava-led NLEX with a 3-pointer, but he was answered by a Canaleta 3, an and-one from Taulava, and another huge 3 by Canaleta. With less than 2 minutes to go, NLEX was now up by 5, 92-97. An Isip basket was countered with a Taulava fade and, despite getting fouled and still managing to make his shot, Romeo was unable to convert on the free throw. With less than 24 seconds to go, Global Port was down 3, 96-99. Global Port had a chance to claw back into the ballgame when Romeo stole the ball from Cardona. He passed it off to Cabagnot, who thought of going for the 3 to tie the game, but ended up travelling when he realized he had a clear lane to the basket. Global Port’s fate was sealed with two free throws from NLEX, ending the game, 96-101.

Taulava earned MVP honors for this game, putting up 21 points on an efficient 13 / 17 shooting, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

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Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the bout returned to the feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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Photo by PBA Images

But that achievement of his won’t be that memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat they had absorbed into the hands of Paul Lee and Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix was there in contention all through out the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But then, the Hotshots’ comebacking skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” expressed the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face Barangay Ginebra next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Basketball

Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to its’ first win after a historic 16-game skid at the expense of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover the six-foot-four forward made.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made it. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all by himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he got frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

Alab’s bench however could not sustain the effort of the starters that led to them clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a sparkplug, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided the spark for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. were on-point with the former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards that resulted to the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan to slice the lead to as low as four points. Free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28 when they take on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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