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Team West weathers Team Asia comeback, takes inaugural Kings Cup

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After three exciting days of 10-ball billiards, Team West held tight and overcame Team Asia’s late rally to clinch the first-ever Kings Cup, 10-8, Saturday at the Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila.

The Westerners kept a two-match lead going into the third and final day of the tournament. Team Asia again started the day with a win from the Ko brothers of Taiwan, Pin Yi and Ping Chung, before the opponents romped on a three-match run. Just as the visitors were on the brink of the winning the whole thing 5-0 in the quadruples match, Team Asia took five straight to start a comeback attempt. After Ko Pin Yi cut the deficit to one, 9-8, Team West ended the tournament with a rousing victory.

 

Ko brothers upend Immonen-Ouschan

Ko PY/Ko PC (Team Asia)

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Immonen/Ouschan (Team West)

   

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Team Asia once more opened the day with a victory as Ko Pin Yi and Ko Ping Chun won the first doubles match, 5-2, against Team West Captain Mika Immonen and Albin Ouschan.

It was not the ideal start for Immonen and Ouschan, as Team West could not capitalize on getting the first break. Immonen went dry on his break, allowing the Taiwanese to get a chance at the table. Ko Ping Chung, however, missed on his attempted jump shot at the 1-ball. Nevertheless, Ouschan had no luck as well on his own take on the jump shot, as Ko Pin Yi sank the 10-ball for the lead.

The Kos bucked a dry break in the second frame to double the lead after Immonen failed on his safety shot at 1-ball. In the following rack, Ouschan also had nothing on his break, and Team Asia went to clean up the table. Presented with an opportunity to get to the hill in the fourth, Ko Pin Yi initially missed the 2-ball on his intended pocket, but the ball bounced into the rail and into the opposite pocket. A miss by his younger brother, Ping Chung, on the 5-ball, however, conceded the rack to the visitors.

An exchange of run outs ensued in the next two frames to peg the tally at 4-2 in favor of the Taiwanese. Team Asia successfully clinched the win after Ko Ping Chung made amends with his previous errors with a great shot at the 1-ball to start the run out.

 

Appleton pulls through against Ko

 

Ko PC (Team Asia)

  

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Appleton (Team West)

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Darren Appleton restored the two-point cushion in a down-the-wire battle against the younger Ko, Ping Chung, in the first singles match of the day, 5-4.

The Englishman took the first two frames, albeit in contrasting fashion. In the opening frame, Appleton sank the 1-ball on his break and successfully separated the 5-6-8 cluster to run out the table. The next frame was not as easy as, though Ko had a dry break, there was no clear shot at the one. Ultimately, the Taiwanese missed on the 4-ball, and Appleton went on to clean up and double the lead.

Ko cut the deficit in the next rack even after missing completely on the 1-ball. Appleton was forced to go for a safety at the 10-ball, but Ko found a way around the table and sank the money ball to the side pocket. It was Appleton’s turn to get the fourth rack, as Ko missed on his shot at the 2-ball.

The younger of the two protagonists then went on to grab the lead after winning the following three frames. In the fifth frame, Ko got to finish the tussle after a shot at the 10-ball presented itself via the 1-ball. He then broke and ran out the succeeding rack to tie the match. The Taiwanese wrestled the lead after cleaning up the table on an Appleton dry break.

However, Appleton would have enough of the miseries and took the next two racks and the match. The Englishman tied the match once more after punishing a Ko miss on the 2-ball in the eighth frame. Appleton then sealed the match in the final rack with a powerful break, sinking both 9- and 4-balls, and run out. The West pushed the lead to 8-6.

 

 

 

 

 

Team West vets move to cusp of Cup

 

Reyes/Ko PY/Ko PC 

(Team Asia)

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Immonen/Appleton/Van Boening 

(Team West)

  

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Just like in the previous match, Team West successfully came back after being down the hill, 5-4, to move to a win away from taking the Cup.

Team Asia had a strong opening salvo as they ran out the first rack on Ko Pin Yi’s break. In the following frame, Van Boening stunningly had a dry break. Fortunately for them, there was no clear shot at the 1-ball. Ko Pin Yi missed on his jump attempt on the yellow ball, and the cue ball even went off the table. With ball in hand, however, Appleton missed the 2-ball on a soft shot in preparation for the 3. From there, the Asian cleaned up to double the lead.

The Westeners pounced on the opponent’s mistakes in the following two racks as they levelled the match. Ko Ping Chung missed on the 2-ball in the third frame, allowing Immonen to get the point for Team West. It was a back-and-forth action in the next frame. After several safety shots and errors from both teams, another miss from the younger Ko, eventually conceded the rack to Appleton, Van Boening, and Immonen.

In the following frame, Ko Ping Chung bounced back from his errors and made a wonderful shot at the 4-ball. His older brother Pin Yi made a cut shot on the 9-ball using the 6-ball, which set up the 10-ball nicely for Ping Chung to finish. However, Team West would claw back and tie the match again in the eighth frame. Efren Reyes missed on an attempt at the 9-ball via the 6. Appleton pushed the match into a decider after he sank the money ball.

Team Asia started the final frame on a good note after Ko Ping Chung sank the 1-ball on his break. Unfortunately, Ko Ping Yi missed on the 3. Team West gladly cleaned up the table to get to the 9-6 lead in the Cup.

 

Team Asia wins first quadruples match in style

 

Reyes/Bustamante/Ko PY/Ko PC

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Immonen/Appleton/VanBoening/Ouschan (Team West)

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Team Asia has not won an all-team match in the tournament’s first two days. However, just as Team West is about to celebrate and walk away with the trophy, the Asians came back and won five straight racks and marked the Cup’s biggest comeback, 5-4.

The Westeners took the first frame after Francisco Bustamante missed on his shot at the 2-ball. In the following rack, the visitors doubled their lead after running out the Shane Van Boening brake. Errors after errors doomed Team Asia in the third as missed shots from Kong Ping Chung and Efren Reyes eventually conceded the point to their opponents.

In the fourth frame, Mika Immonen scratched on his break after getting the 4-ball to drop. However, Team Asia failed to capitalize on the situation with cue ball in hand. After an exchange of errors, Immonen finally got the stubborn 5-ball to drop. Van Boening calmly sank the 10-ball and his squad moved to a rack away of taking the Cup.

Team Asia had other plans and the romp started in the fifth frame. Ko Ping Chung got the party started with a successful break, getting the 6-ball to drop. A strong hit by Van Boening on the shot at the 1-ball brought the 4 with the cue ball, which hid the 2-ball behind. Appleton missed on the 2, as Team Asia cleaned up the table.

The hosts were successful in the following racks on their safety shots, which forced Team West to make bad shots. On the other hand, Team Asia was able to get their shots despite the opponent’s attempts at safety. However, Team West had a chance to wrap the tournament up with two balls left to play at the eighth frame. Immonen, unfortunately, missed on the shot at the 9-ball. Bustamante sank the 10-ball to force another decider.

Just as what they have been doing in the four previous racks, Team Asia used their intelligent game to take the advantage in the final frame. Ouschan made a crucial miss on the 5-ball after Reyes made a good safety. From there, the Asians gradually cleaned up the table to complete the comeback.

 

Ko outlasts Ouschan, keeps Team Asia alive

 

Ko PY (Team Asia)

  

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Ouschan (Team West)

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The world’s top player Ko Pin Yi kept Team Asia’s momentum going after winning second singles match of the day, 5-3. Ko upended Albin Ouschan in the Captain’s Pick singles to retain Team Asia’s hope for the Cup.

Ouschan started like a well-oiled machine after he took the first two racks. In the opening frame, the young Austrian bucked a dry break and won it. Ko attempted a safety at the 6-ball, but Ouschan was able to get the ball off a 6-10 cluster. The latter then cleaned up the table for the 1-0 lead. The 25-year old then took advantage of Ko’s dry break in the following rack to double the lead.

Ko then romped to a four-point swing, starting with the third frame.  It was not an easy win in the third rack, however, as Ko just emerged from an exchange of missed opportunities to clinch his first point of the match. The same scenario happened in the fourth and fifth racks, and the Taiwanese grabbed the lead.

In the sixth frame, Ouschan almost tied the match after Ko missed the 2-ball entirely on a previous attempt. With ball on hand, the Austrian unfortunately missed on the 2-10 combination. Ko used the combination, successfully sank the money ball, and went on to the hill. In the next rack, Ko missed on a banked shot on the 7-ball off an Ouschan safety. The latter ran out to cut the deficit to one, 3-4.

Nevertheless, the Taiwanese world number 1Ko sealed the victory in the eighth canto. Ko found an opening on the 2-ball after an Ouschan missed. In an ensuing play, the 4-ball toyed with the corner pocket before getting to drop. With the table open, Ko cleaned it up and cut the tournament deficit to one, 9-8.

 

Team West completes comeback, wins inaugural Cup

Bustamante/Ko PY/Ko PC

(Team Asia)

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Immonen/Appleton/Ouschan 

(Team West)

 

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After trailing twice in the match, Team West took the last three racks to secure the win and the title as Kings Cup champions after defeating Team Asia, 5-3.

Team Asia threatened to force the tournament to a deciding quadruples game after winning the first rack. The hosts bucked a Francisco Bustamante dry break and scratch to get the opening frame. Albin Ouschan had a terrible miss on the 2-ball, which the Asians capitalized. In the following racks, Team West got their bearings to grab the lead. Immonen had a wonderful break in the second after he sank both 2- and 6-balls, and his team ran out. Darren Appleton then found a way to get the 4-ball after an attempted safety by Bustamante in the third frame. The Westeners led, 2-1.

The following two racks went Team Asia’s way and they reclaimed the advantage. In the fourth, the Asians cleaned up the table with ball on hand after Appleton scratched on his break. Team Asia then used their defensive safety shots to get the point in the next frame. Bustamante broke the 9-10 cluster on his shot at the 5-ball to eventually open the table up for a run out.

From there, Team West took the match to their control. Ouschan started the romp for the visitors with a successful break in the sixth, which they ran out. In the following frame, Bustamante had a powerful break to sink two balls. In the ensuing play, Ko Ping Chung almost paid on a failed safety at the 2-ball. Ouschan had a chance to finish the rack off with a 2-10 combination shot, but he missed it. Immonen got the 10-ball to drop on a following play, but did not call it. Eventually, Ouschan was the one who closed the frame with a shot at the money ball to the corner pocket.

It was a smooth ride to the Cup for Team West in the final frame. Fittingly, Captain and multiple World Champion Immonen was the one who guided Team West to the victory. Immonen broke successfully, getting the 1-ball to drop. He then took out the 9-ball using the 4, before sinking the 10-ball to the corner pocket. The Finnish and the whole squad celebrated afterwards with the Kings Cup.

 

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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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 skills 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 fighters returned to their 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

Gelo Alolino had his best game for the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to the Mahindra Floodbuster.

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the 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 were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted 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 the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel 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 the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

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

“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 them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto 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 had been 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.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided 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. 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, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then 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 it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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