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UAAP Campfire Stepladder Last Stage: Wax On, Wax Off



If you’ve been keeping count at home, you probably know that this would be the site’s fourth La Salle-Ateneo primer we’ve done for the season, the third by yours truly. Don’t worry, I can promise you that there won’t be an ounce of redundancy in this article in relation to the past ones.

In the three articles, we’ve written about this historic rivalry, we’ve covered everything there is to be said about both teams, from how they stack up statistically, their differences from previous seasons, coaching matchups, and even rumored lineup shakeups. Although, in light of recent events, you can throw all of that analysis out the window.

We’re in the Finals. If there’s anything that sports has taught me, it’s that literally anything can happen, no matter how predictable volleyball can get sometimes. But I digress. It’s still so much fun turning rocks and finding things to write about both these teams. Jusmiyo, these two teams are anything but dull. Let’s get down to analyzing this Finals matchup, for one last time.

It’s Ateneo’s Championship to Lose

When you are without your team’s best player and team captain, and about to face a team that already beat you twice this season, common sense reminds us that we’re basically screwed.

La Salle already couldn’t beat Ateneo twice in last season’s Finals when they had an arguably stronger lineup. This season, Ateneo had EVERYONE from their title-winning team come back, while adding some much needed height and athleticism in rookie Bea De Leon. Even when Ateneo struggled this season, they still looked marvelous, smiling their way to their school’s first undefeated elimination round.

DLSUvsADMU Round 2-3725

Of course, Alyssa Valdez has been beastly all season. In my opinion, she has already cemented herself as the best women’s volleyball player in the country, and she’s still in college. Now that she’s about to graduate and finish her thesis, there really isn’t anything that can stop her and her team from winning the title. She’s just too classy to underestimate an opponent.

We now live in a world where really good pro teams find it efficient and “better for the long term” to rest their star players. Try to watch a Spurs game, expecting to see Tony Parker and Manu Ginóbili unleash the Basketball equivalent of a continental buffet upon their opponents. Only to find out that they’re unable to play due to rest.

That has become a slippery slope even local teams have recently began to slide on. But what takes Alyssa Valdez to the Pantheon of local sporting greats, is that she understands that she can’t take a game off. She apprehends that any good sportsman (or woman) never disrespects their opponent by taking it easy on the opponent no matter how weak they seem.

Plus, I can take anyone who hasn’t watched a lick of volleyball or my hypothetical child to any game Alyssa’s in, because I can rely on her to put on the best show she can. Whether the game be a regular scrimmage, or be it against the Lady Warriors, you’re never wasting your time in watching her play. As a fan who pays for tickets, what more can you ask for. She makes it hard for scribes like me to describe her greatness in each and every game she’s played this season, as she has been phenomenal. One day, I’m going to run out of superlatives to use for her. We may have to start inventing words.

In short, Ateneo’s the hands down, feet up, toes out, the favorite to win the title this season, but the Lady Eagles still have to watch out for that Crane Kick!

The Crane Kick

I think I speak for everyone when I say that injuries are the worst part of sports. Watching Ara Galang grimace in pain during that last game was deflating. It was the first time in my life when I heard an arena full of people gasp in unison. The worst part about injuries are the replays that loop over and over, so we can relive the pain.

Injuries ruin sports, simply put. Instead of us being treated to another chapter of Ateneo-La Salle volleyball, all we might be left with are a bunch of ‘what ifs’. What if Ara had never injured her knee? What if La Salle had just stepped up and won their first game against NU? We’ll never know.

DLSUvsNU Final Four Game 2-6432

You have to feel for Ara Galang. She was having the best season of her career, showing off her unmatched all-around brilliance, and now she has to deal with her injury and excruciatingly long rehab process. Having spoken to many athletes, the pain of injuries aren’t derived from the injury itself, it’s more on the dread one feels knowing there’s nothing they can do to help the team win. But Ara’s going to push through it. She’ll be back next season.

Needless to say, La Salle is the definitive underdog for this series, an unfamiliar role for the proud Lady Spiker Volleyball program. The situation is far from hopeless for the Lady Spikers. Like Daniel-san in the first Karate Kid movie, they can still win, they’re just going to need to find their Crane Kick to take down their Billy Zabka.

Just what or who is La Salle’s Crane Kick going to be? Well, thanks to the volleyball zealot, Coach Ramil De Jesus, La Salle has an incredibly deep pool of players to choose from. If only he could mush his replacement players together like Play-Doh, and form a player like Ara. Rookie, Christin Soyud, has the height and great wingspan, but lacks the polished volleyball skills of a veteran. Carol Cerveza has the skills and veteran composure developed after years of baking in Coach Ramil’s cryogenic volleyball chamber, but Cerveza lacks the terrifying power and leaping ability needed to plow through a defense. La Salle also has the often antagonized, Desiree Cheng. Though she plays a different position from Galang, Coach Ramil can very easily slot her in Galang’s place in the rotation. Cheng, however, has been playing through a sprained MCL in her left knee, which is also the reason for her extended stints on the bench for the past few games. There really isn’t enough time for La Salle’s young pieces to wax on and wax off to develop that killer Crane Kick.

DLSUvsNU Final Four Game 2-6423

For La Salle to have a chance in this series, all of their veterans need to simply do more. Fellow open spiker, Cyd Demecillo is not only going to need to score more, but she has to take over Ara’s leadership responsibilities and carry the load, while she’s in the back row as well. Middle Blockers, Mika Reyes and Mary Joy Baron have to wrestle control of the net away from Ateneo’s middle blockers. Liberos, Dawn Macandili and Cienne Cruz, each need to be a steadier defensive presence for their team.

All the stuff I mentioned are basically things that Galang did for her team – blocking, digging/receiving, and scoring. She has carried her team all season. Now it’s time for her team to carry her to another title.

Although that’s really easier said than done. Ateneo was in the exact position La Salle was in last season. They know the feeling of being underdogs and how being counted out can bring a team together, so don’t expect Ateneo to suddenly lie down and make mistakes when they face La Salle. La Salle needs to force Ateneo into committing errors.

The equivalent of La Salle winning the title this year is Daniel-san winning with his final move, only La Salle needs to Crane Kick Ateneo thrice to earn their title. La Salle’s chances are bleak.

My sports writing idol, Bill Simmons, is the ultimate sports fan. He wrote in his NY Times best-selling book, The Book Of Basketball that in sports, there’s really only one in 5000 of a chance for anything extraordinary to happen. This goes for game-winning shots, improbable comebacks, the underdog winning it all over a heavily favored foe, and things of this nature. In 4999 games and sporting events, chances are, nothing’s special is going to happen. But on that one time, finally, it’s glorious, we get addicted and we fans endure those 4999 insignificant occurrences to get a taste of that one time again. The Philippines winning silver in FIBA Asia and going to the FIBA World Cup of Basketball, last season’s UP Women’s Table Tennis varsity team, this season’s NU Men’s Basketball Title, and Pacquiao over Mayweather in May are all examples of that one time we yearn for. Maybe La Salle can join that group in our collective memories. Or maybe, they won’t.


Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

1 Comment
  • johnny

    A beautiful and well written article. We are just happy in the Ateneo that in last year’s season, the Lady Eagles also had their “1/5000 time”! These are the same ladies trying to make history with a full sweep, thank you for a grounding and well balanced outlook of this year’s final. Truly you are in the footsteps of Bill Simmons.


PBA slaps fines on Yeng Guiao, Chris Ross



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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MPBL aims to give local talent biggest exposure




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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Lady Blazers evade upset-hungry Lady Generals



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



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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