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UAAP S77 Men’s Volleyball Finals: Survival Kit

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After 53 elimination games and three Final Four matches, the Men’s Volleyball tournament has finally boiled down to two contenders. It’s the final battle for the Ateneo de Manila University and the National University squads. These teams also met last year in the Season 76 finale, in which the Bulldogs ended the match as champions.

On Wednesday, the two universities will square off once more in a best-of-three affair to crown this year’s Season 77 Volleyball kings.

First, we take a flashback at last year’s championship games, and how the Bulldogs capped off their two-peat against Ateneo;

The former top-seeded NU squad finished Season 76 elimination games on top of the standings with a 12-2 record, while Ateneo held an 11-3 slate. The teams split their two elimination games, and found themselves paired up on the finals as they won their respective semifinal matches.

In Game 1, NU finished off Ateneo in straight sets to grab the upper hand in the series. However, as dominating as the 3-0 finish looked, the set scores were close until the Bulldogs won the last two sets only by three points, while taking the first with a score of 29-27.

Days later came Game 2 of the finals, where NU sealed their championship on a 27-25 fourth set win. Ateneo managed to grab the second frame, but the momentum of the later sets shifted towards the Bulldogs. Although another round of tight-knit score sets ensued, NU conquered the match with a thrilling victory.

NUvsADMU MVB-9996
Rueben Inaudito was lauded with the Finals MVP trophy, but the promising Ateneo squad featured Marck Espejo, who was named the season’s Most Valuable Player and the Rookie of the Year award.

Season 77 Elimination Round Highlights:

NUvsADMU Round 2-0948
Ateneo had a ten-game winning streak, including two wins from their last season’s finals opponent, the NU Bulldogs. The Blue Spikers 6-1 record during their second round had four wins coming off sweeps, but their streak was snapped on the last elimination game against UST. Nevertheless, Ateneo maintained their first seed spot in the standings, due to the quotient system and the total accumulated points of the Blue Spikers.

The defending champs, National University, did not look like the defending champs in the middle of the 14-round elimination games as they had a stretch, losing four out of five outings. They looked sharp at the start of the season with six straight wins, but lost hold of the top spot and found themselves sliding down the standings. Afterwards, they pulled together and showed signs of their championship form in the wins against La Salle and Adamson, wherein their blocking was outstanding.

The two met in the elimination games twice, and Ateneo came home victorious in both matches. In the first round, Ateneo snapped the unblemished start of NU, 6-0, with a 5-set victory as the Blue Spikers’ duo of Espejo and Marasigan did the late finishing damages. The second round also went to the Katipunan-based squad, who dominated all the set wins by at least seven points compared to the third set escape by NU, 27-25.

Who’s Hungrier?

Ateneo has yet to bag the Men’s Volleyball crown in the UAAP, as their chances last year were swept by the same school they are about to face this year. But as the cliché goes for sports in general goes, a shot for redemption is always around the corner. This Season 77, they topped the 14-round elimination games, including two wins against NU. The wins could serve as their psychological edge somehow, as they are to prove their worth for last year’s title.

Coming off a quick dismantling against Adamson in their Final Four game, the Blue Eagles are entering the finals bursting with confidence. Losing by a small margin in the entire finals last year might have stung the Blue Spikers, but come Wednesday, they can prove that they can win it this time.

USTvsNU Final Four 1-4200
On the other hand, National University played a stellar series against UST. They erased the twice-to-beat disadvantage, and finished UST off in an intensely played match last Saturday to book a date with Ateneo in the finals. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs looked like more like defending champion during the semis compared to their obvious slump in the middle of the season. As they eye their third-straight championship, the only squad standing in their way is the revenge-seeking Ateneo team.

Forecast:

Momentum-wise, no team showed a clear edge over the other as they have romped big wins in their last games. However, in terms of confidence and composure, National University did an outstanding job winning against UST twice, despite the Tigers second spot incentive in the Final Four. Based from their wins, Ateneo needs a strong foundation against the Bulldogs. The Blue Spikers cannot afford a slow start, as NU has proved to show their championship experience and edge late in games.

For the Bulldogs, their experience will be a huge factor in the finals series. They masterfully overcame their midseason slump, erased their disadvantage of being the fourth-seed, and have returned to the volleyball finale. To fulfill their grand slam aspirations, their veterans must be on their best form, and help carry the load for NU.

Throw the stats and standings away, we are about to witness a heavyweight competition between the two schools. One seeks their first title, while the other one hopes to build their dynasty. Ateneo versus NU: Buckle up, we’re in for a wild ride!

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ABL

Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa

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After going a horrid 5-for-17 from the stripe during their first loss of the season last January 9, Christian Standhardinger made sure to make good on his free throws to power the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a dominant 99-79 rout of the Formosa Dreamers, Thursday evening in Southorn Stadium.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who tallied 37 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime loss to Saigon, went a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The contest itself was not close, as the defending champions were able to impose their will on the bottom-ranked squad, leading by as much as 23 points, 93-70, after two free throws by Standhardinger with 2:58 remaining.

If Standhardinger was having a good day with his free throws, the entire Formosa squad could not say the same, going 13-of-27 from the line.

Tyler Lamb had 25 markers as well for Hong Kong, while Marcus Elliott grabbed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Lenny Daniel paced Formosa with 25 points and 11 rebounds. World Import Ronnie Aguilar had 14 points and 16 rebounds but went just 5-for-14 from the field.

With the win, Hong Kong goes to 8-1, while the Dreamers fell to 1-8.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes 3×3 World Cup breaks Philippine Arena record

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short of copping Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different beast.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad suffered a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even fashioning multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino, as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. The 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the duo — and the rest of the Jawbreakers — now have the experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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