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The Long Road Home for Phillipe Nover

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The journey of Phillipe Nover into the big leagues started when he decided to make a living out of mixed martial arts back in 2003. The first promotion that gave him a break was Ring of Combat, a promotion based in New Jersey, USA. In a span of two years with the promotion, Nover strung a five-fight winning streak, with three of those wins coming by way of submission.

The brasses of the UFC then took notice of the then-21 year old Nover. Nover was invited to audition for a spot at the Ultimate Fighter house, coached by MMA Legends and former World Heavyweight Champions Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir. That season, however, was only for lightweights (155 lbs) and light heavyweights (205 lbs). Back then, Nover competed at welterweight (170 lbs). But with grit and determination to be able to compete in the UFC, the Filipino Assassin had to cut off the carbs in order to enter the house at lightweight. Nover breezed through the audition process and was invited to take part in the show thereafter.

In the first episode for the show, right in the first minute of the tapings, Phillipe Nover immediately fainted due to heat exhaustion, and probably due to the dehydration resulting from his weight cut. After the final elimination round, Nover was able to defeat Joe Duarte by submission to book a ticket to the show.

With majority of his wins coming by way of submission, it was only fitting that Phillipe Nover was drafted as the first pick of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu legend Antonio Noguiera. Nover did not disappoint. He finished off all three of his opponents by submission, two by rear naked choke and one by kimura, to advance to the tournament’s finale. “On the Ultimate Fighter, I pretty much dismantled all my opponents,” Nover recalled. “When I hit the scene, I got away with having strong hands and a little intimidation. That was what got me by but the technique wasn’t there. I pretty much did not have any wrestling experience back then.”

UFC President Dana White even called Phillipe “The Filipino Assassin” Nover as the Mini-GSP (Georges St. Pierre) back when he was still a contestant for the 8th Season of the Ultimate Fighter. He even proclaimed himself to be the toughest registered nurse on the planet. However, the hype train for the Filipino Assassin was derailed as soon as he stepped on the octagon.

Escudero vs. Nover, Ultimate Figher 8 Finale

Phillipe Nover tasted his first defeat ever, in the biggest fight of his career, at the Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale. He lost a close unanimous decision victory to Efrain Escudero. Moreover, a string of unfortunate events occurred for him as he lost a highly controversial match against Kyle Bradley during UFC 98. The referee stopped the fight due to a “TKO” even though Nover was defending himself. “Fainting” Nover again made an appearance, this time during the Ultimate Fight Night 19. During the event itself, Nover fainted and as a result, his scheduled match against Sam Stout was cancelled. Finally, in his fight against Rob Emerson at UFC 109, even with Nover being the more aggressive fighter, he lost the match by way of a unanimous decision. The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 runner-up was then released from the UFC a few weeks later.

Instead of being down or completely retiring from the sport, The Filipino Assassin continued to train hard in hopes of getting a second chance at the UFC. “For seven years, I’ve been working religiously on my wrestling and putting it all together.” Nover even competed in the amateur wrestling circuit together with his Renzo Gracie camp member Frankie Edgar.

His high efforts in training can clearly be seen as he compiled a a 5-2 record, with one of his losses coming from yet another controversial judging call. In his last three fights, Phillipe Nover went back to his roots and fought at Ring of Combat; eventually winning the promotion’s lightweight crown back in June 2013.

Now, the Filipino Assassin is back in the UFC and competing at home turf. “You’re gonna see a well-rounded Phillipe Nover, who’s gonna kick some ass. I’m gonna have a good win streak in the UFC. I’m confident and ready to go. Come fight night, I’m gonna conquer the Korean Bulldozer [Yui Chul Nam]. I’m gonna stop him!” the proud Filipino exclaimed.

Finally, this will be the first time Phillipe Nover will be competing in front of his countrymen. “I thought back in ’08 the UFC was coming here. I’m blessed and excited to be part of this event and it’s a dream come true to fight in front of the Filipino people.”When asked if this was an advantage to fight here in the Philippines, Nover told us: “Absolutely! I will be staying with my family in Quezon City even during the weeks leading to fight night. It will be an advantage for me physically and psychologically [against his opponent] to fight in the Philippines.”

Phillipe Nover is truly home. Now it’s time for the Filipino Assassin to stay in his real home, the UFC.

Phillipe “the Filipino Assassin” Nover (10-5-1) will face “the Korean Bulldozer” Yui Chul Nam (18-4-1) on UFC Fight Night 66: Manila at the Mall of Asia Arena, May 26, 2015.


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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’

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Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players ever since entering in 2012, was all praises with the way the officiating has become this 43rd season, which is just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over Barangay Ginebra, Sunday night.

Like what had been told many times, physicality was something that was controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty of such as he had paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it can already be called a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he could display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence

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For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense

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Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs

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It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have always struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue to stay as they are, it looks like it will be another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be an excuse.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” expressed Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco though has a chance to end their slump against Kia this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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