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UAAP 78 Volleyball: Final Four Prediction



[nextpage title = “Men’s”]

The previous season had not provided much excitement. After watching the first few games, a de facto Final Four had been decided, leaving only the order to be determined. However, this year will be different. UAAP Men’s Volleyball this year will be as exciting as the women’s.

It’s good that the collegiate teams finally had an off-season tournament, and providing a picture of the upcoming UAAP season. We were able to see new players from different teams and see them improve after every game. As exciting as the upcoming UAAP wars may sound, there are still four teams that I think will stand out this year: Ateneo, Adamson, NU and La Salle.

Ateneo de Manila University

Speaking of depth, this team has it. The team has a very good setter, a very good libero, and a good set of hitters. The team also has the national team coach, Oliver Almadro, and has able bench players. They also have no lack of experience, having won a handful of titles in 2015.

The advantage of this Ateneo team is that it not only has very good floor defense, it also has very good blocking. And it’s not just a Marck Espejo show anymore; everyone’s contributing. Marasigan has done well as an opposite; Intal and Villanueva have improved their hitting and blocking; and other wingers, Rivera, Baysa, and Medalla, have provided very good contributions.

The roadblock I can see for this team is their own selves. If they underestimate opponents, that could cause the team to falter, but if they play their usual game, they can have one of the best seasons in UAAP history.

ADUvsADMU Final Four Game 1-4274
Adamson University

Sure Adamson had a rough off-season, but the UAAP is still a different animal/league. Adamson also have a deep roster, boasting very good hitters, two very good liberos, and a decent setter. They do not lack experience, having featured in the Final Four several times, and the team should remain intact.

The team has very good floor defense, and they have key leaders like Sudaria, Sarmiento, Melgar, and Saraza. So in terms of offense and defense, they won’t have a problem. The true hurdle will be their mentality. That Ateneo versus Adamson game will be something to look forward to. It will be a test of the Falcons’ title credentials.

National University

With seven of their players having graduated, people expected the NU team to struggle. But no; they made the Finals of Spikers’ Turf and Intercollegiate competitions, and managed to challenge two strong teams. They lost both, but have learned from the tournaments.

Their fear factor is the fact that many of their players are still young, still in their first or second years. Aside from veteran setter Mangulabnan, new key players Bagunas, Malabunga, and Gampong will be the players to watch out for. Experience will not be one of their strengths, but based on the last off-season, these boys are ready to fight.

De La Salle University

They’re back. We witnessed last summer just how much this team has improved. Although they did not make it to the playoffs, they were able to show a lot of promise. And that is enough.

These past two seasons, the team have lacked character and a leader. This time, with the help of players like Woo and Onia, the team can perhaps go all the way.

Since the team is young, inexperience could hold them back. Fortunately for them, other teams are rebuilding too; they might just be able to squeeze through. They will be an exciting team to watch, that’s for sure.

[nextpage title = “Women’s”]

The upcoming UAAP Women’s Volleyball season has been predicted as one of the most anticipated and exciting seasons ever. I have to agree. A lot of teams this year are loaded and have very good recruits. Some teams went to other countries to train, and some teams beefed up by joining hardcore leagues. The quality of the games will definitely have levelled up, and players will learn even more from each other.

Amidst all the preparation and the anticipation, I still think that there are a couple of teams who will dominate this season: Ateneo, NU, La Salle and FEU. And since the competition is exciting, as a treat, I added two other teams who I think will be challenging the other four teams for Final Four spots.

Ateneo de Manila University

With recent developments and rotation changes, it looks like it will be another interesting season for Ateneo.

Expect better blocking this year because they have gone for a taller line-up, with all hitters except one having a height of 5’9 and above. Power hitting and serving will always be in Tai Bundit’s system, so expect them to capitalize on this.

Morado, Madayag, Maraguinot, and De Leon have shown commendable improvement in the Thailand training and off-season leagues. Of course, the team’s anchors Valdez and Ahomiro remain, not only great scorers but also great leaders.

Their bench this year is also deep, especially with a couple of blue-chip rookies and seasoned players.

Although the team might look perfect, floor defense will definitely be an issue for the team this year, especially as their top three floor defenders have already graduated. But Ateneo have converted Tan to a libero from a setter; although she had won best setter in the V-League, people had been impressed with her saves and digs.

National University

There’s just so much to like about NU’s line-up this year. With the improvements of Santiago, Pablo, General, and Singh; the comeback of a healthy Urdas; and the acquisition of a talented setter in Diolan, NU will be a team to watch out for in the UAAP.

One area in which NU have also developed is game maturity, something they showed when they defeated Ateneo in the V-League Collegiate Conference. They now know how to handle big crowds and high-pressure games.

With tall and powerful players, they won’t have a problem with hitting as well as blocking. Floor defense will still be an issue, but since Roger Gorayeb’s system is focused on floor defense, expect them to improve on this once the tournament starts.

DLSUvsADMU UAAP S77 Finals Game 2-5
De La Salle University

The ladies from Taft are hard-pressed to win it all this year, particularly with several of their players set to graduate afterwards.

If Galang is healthy and has the same form, La Salle will definitely be a big threat. Fortunately, Soyud and Baron are slowly becoming La Salle’s anchors. Likewise, other veterans like Reyes, Demecillo, and Fajardo will surely be out there to contribute for La Salle.

Blocking will always be in Ramil De Jesus’ system, so expect them utilize this skill to its fullest. One player they will miss is top server Cheng, who will sit out the season due to an ACL injury; her floor defense and serves had been crucial. But nevertheless, La Salle have a very competitive roster, so expect someone else to step up in her place.

SVL College NU vs. FEU Pons Celebration
Far Eastern University

They have a loaded line-up. They can easily challenge strong teams such as Ateneo, La Salle, and NU. The main challenge for this squad will be experience. But with a veteran setter like Sy, FEU can go all the way.

Fortunately for FEU, they have found a good libero in Duremdes. Likewise, they maintained a group of good wingers in Pons, Guino-o, and Basas. They also have competitive middles in Palma and Malabanan.

Leadership was an issue for the team last season, as the team seemed to shut down when faced with high pressure or difficult hurdles. Sy’s presence should improve and unify the team, changing the way they play this season.

Wild Cards

University of Santo Tomas

With the recent developments, like Lastimosa’s injury and Sy’s inclusion in the FEU roster, UST will again face a tough road to the Final Four.

The biggest blow to UST is Pam Lastimosa’s injury. Lastimosa, who not only provided consistent offence for the Tigresses, has also provided very good floor defense and blocking. Aside from these, her leadership and motivation are big factors.

Luckily, Laure, Rondina, Meneses, Tunay, and many other good players remain. At the same time, their new coach appears defensively-oriented, so expect some surprises from this UST squad.

SVL Reinforced UP vs. Navy-9506
University of the Philippines

UP, as a team, are loaded with talent, but the main problem for them is the lack of big game exposure and experience. Talent is always there but good players don’t get used to big crowds and grave pressure right away. It takes time. If UP can overcome these hurdles, they could potentially go all the way. But overall, during the off-season, their new players were really impressive. It will be exciting to see them improve even more in the coming years.


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Rain or Shine emphatically ends slump with 21-point rout of Phoenix



Coming off two dismal losses, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters bounced back big time from their back-to-back defeats as they vented their ire on the Phoenix Fuel Masters through a 120-99 demolition, Wednesday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Elasto Painters improved to 2-2, while the Fuel Masters failed to extend their winning streak to three games and dropped also to 2-2.

“I think the players just wanted to win today,” said Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia. “We played two bad games and we got two losses. I told them after the loss against Global that that’s not the team I know.

“So I told them I want a running team and I just challenged in today’s game that from beginning to end, I just want a running team… I just hope that we continue doing the same thing like what we did today,” he added.

Sophomore forward Ed Daquioag, despite leaving the game for good with 7:33 left in the third quarter after apparently hurting his back after a bad fall, led Rain or Shine with 21 markers, five rebounds, and five assists.

“This was the best game that I’ve seen him play,” Garcia remarked about Daquioag.

James Yap, meanwhile, finally broke his personal slump with 20 points on 80 percent shooting along with six boards.

The Elasto Painters roared to a nearly perfect start in the match, leaving their counterparts in the dust with an eye-popping 27-7 run in the opening frame — a lead they never relinquished until the final buzzer sounded.

Phoenix was able to knock within 16, 43-59, in the third canto, but there was clearly no stopping Rain or Shine. Rain or Shine posted the game’s widest gap at 39, 86-47, after back-to-back Tiu treys with five minutes left in the same frame.

Dexter Maiquez supplied 18 points for RoS. Main point guard Chris Tiu shined bright in his return as he unloaded 17 points on four triples with seven dimes, and rookie Rey Nambatac had his best game so far with 11 markers.

Rain or Shine shot a superior 55 percent from the field compared to 41 percent for Phoenix. The Fuel Masters committed 19 turnovers that led to 30 points.

Raymond Almazan missed the game due to an undisclosed injury.

Matthew Wright and rookie Jason Perkins led the Fuel Masters with 17 points apiece and combined for 13 rebounds. Gelo Alolino had 12 points, while Jeffrei Chan and Karl Dehesa scored 11 each.

Both teams will return to action Saturday, January 20, at the Cuneta Astrodome. Rain or Shine will go first as they take on Kia Picanto at 4:30pm, while Phoenix will slug it out with Magnolia Hotshots at the 6:45pm main-eventer.

The Scores:

Rain or Shine 120 – Daquioag 21, Yap 20, Maiquez 18, Tiu 17, Nambatac 11, Ponferada 10, Borboran 4, Norwood 4, Trollano 3, Belga 2, Matias 0.

Phoenix 99 – Wright 17, Perkins 17, Alolino 12, Chan 11, Dehesa 11, Intal 10, Eriobu 7, Kramer 5, Jazul 5, Mendoza 2, Wilson 2, Chua 0, Revilla 0.

Quarterscores: 39-13, 57-40, 98-67, 120-99.

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Ateneo receives ECJ Gold Trophy



The Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. Gold Trophy is finally home

In a simple ceremony held at Xavier Hall inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus Wednesday afternoon, the Ateneo Blue Eagles was formally awarded the Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. trophy they earned after an epic three-game series during the finale of the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The trophy itself is 14-karat gold, with the shield of each member school of the UAAP wrapped around it. The worth of it is said to be estimated at around PHP 2,700,000. It was made by topflight goldsmiths Suarez and Sons.

Receiving the trophy were Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ and members of the team.

“It’s a pleasant surprise actually.

“Sometimes we use this word sportsmanship, but sometimes we don’t know what it means, but we can see that this thing, this act of La Salle to give the trophy not just to us but to any champion, for me I consider that a wonderful act of graciousness, really,” said Villarin. “I’m happy that this rivalry has not been bitter. Sometimes when you see the game they’re really clawing at each other but then in the end this rivalry is deeper than the physical. There’s this fellowship, kumbaga. There’s a fellowship of schools.”

According to Green Archers official Quinito Henson, the trophy represents every core value of each UAAP member school and the values promoted by sports.

“Mr. Cojuangco has been involved with sports for decades. He’s now in his 80’s but I think his idea of providing a symbol of excellence is very inspiring,” said Henson, who is a columnist for the Philippine Star.

“I think it sorts of summarizes the journey that every school makes in a UAAP season because it’s a journey of sacrifice and hard work and the team that ends up on top ultimately is the team that all the other teams look up to.”

As a sign of Cojuangco’s commitment, he is willing to donate this trophy to the next six to eight UAAP Men’s Basketball champions. Moreover, a perpetual trophy worth PHP 5,800,000 is waiting for the team who will win three straight crowns.

“This is his commitment to the UAAP board, and this has been approved, is that he will be giving a trophy every year to the champion team whoever that champion school maybe for six years,” Henson added.

“In fact the UAAP board was saying, ‘why not eight years because there are eight uaap teams?’ He says, ‘well of course if im still alive I’ll continue to give.’”

Speaking for the rest of the league, Villarin wished that this gesture by La Salle translates to every member school of the league to promote brotherhood despite the competition.

“I hope that the spirit continues, that it’s not lost. A rival gave this to another rival. There will be nothing of that bitterness. I hope that the spirit lives on –- the spirit of camaraderie and of fellowship.”

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PBA moves Ginebra-NLEX showdown from Legazpi to Pasay



Due to the troubling activity of the Mayon Volcano in Bicol, the PBA has decided to postpone their tour in the said province.

In a short statement released on Wednesday afternoon, the league said that they will be transferring the venue of the Ginebra-NLEX match on February 3 from Legazpi City in Albay to Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

In view of the worsening condition of Mayon Volcano, we are transferring the venue of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel-NLEX Road Warriors game on February 3, 2018 from Legazpi City to the Cuneta Astrodome.

Albay has been put under a state of calamity as declared by its governor Francis Bichara due to the hazardous activity of the Mayon. The volcano, which was seen slowly spewing lava just days ago, is now on Alert Level 3.

The game will be the first-time Kiefer Ravena takes on the crowd-favorites.

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Willie Marcial on next PBA Commissioner: ‘It should either be an attorney or a marketing expert’



The PBA is still in the midst of finding the league’s 10th commissioner. And if current officer-in-charge Willie Marcial is to be asked, the league’s next top executive should either be a legal or a marketing expert.

“Sa akin yung attorney o kaya (marunong) sa marketing,” Marcial told scribes during the Philippine Sportswriters’ Association Forum, Wednesday afternoon at the Tapa King restaurant inside Araneta Center in Cubao.

Marcial’s own criteria for the next commissioner is solidly based from the characteristics of previous commissioners he had worked with, from Leo Prieto in the early 1980s up to Chito Narvasa from 2015 to 2017.

The last two PBA commissioners have been Chito Salud, a lawyer, and Chito Narvasa, a businessman.

“May commisioner na ‘pag ito nagsabi nirerespeto. May commissioner na magaling sa marketing. May commissioner na magaling sa mga rules. May commissioner naman na talagang disiplinado,” he said.

But for the former media bureau chief, it does not matter on whoever will assume the head office next, as he believes that the league has enough manpower to run the league regardless of the next commish.

“Tatakbo naman ang PBA ‘pag ito mga kasama mo,” said the league’s long-time external affairs and communications head, pointing at his technical committee in Eric Castro, Roscelle Teotico, and Jun Bengua. “Alam na nila eh. Alam nila mga sistema, lalo sa mga matatagal na sa PBA. Mahal nila ang PBA. Kaya kung sino magiging susunod na commissioner, ‘wag silang magalala sa mga empleyado ng PBA.

“Hindi nila pababayaan ang PBA.”

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