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Tiger Softbelles return to the Finals

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Déjà vu

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NU (Eliminated)000000033
UST (Finals-bound)2000000241

The University of Santo Tomas Tiger Softbelles were seeded third in the post-season of the UAAP Season 79 Softball tournament. However, UST, a team loaded with a line-up composed of RP Blu Girls standouts and a steady anchor in ace pitcher Ann Antolihao, proved that seedings are only for namesake.

Monday afternoon, the Tiger Softbelles performed an encore of their Game One performance, eliminating a bruised National University Lady Bulldogs squad, 2-0, to advance to the Finals for the second straight year at the historic Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium in the city of Manila.UAAP-Season-79-Softball---UST-def-NU-Game-2---Tiger-Softbelles-celebration

And once again Antolihao, the league’s ace of aces, was spectacular on the mound. Pitching her second complete game in just three days, the fourth-year pitcher allowed just three clean hits after giving up just two in Game One. Moreover, she, along with the UST fielders, left seven Lady Bulldogs stranded.

“[Ang mga laro namin] naka-depende yan sa kundisyon ng mga bata pero pag na-hold ni Antolihao, it only takes one run to win,” said UST head coach Sandy Barredo.

When NU threatened to knot the game at the top of the seventh inning, Antolihao stopped them from their tracks. With two outs and Dyan Arago (reaching base due to a fielding error) and Carla Payapaya (walked) reaching base, the Cebuana calmly struck out lead-off batter Kristine Acuna to book UST’s ticket to the Finals.

On the other end, the Tiger Softbelles were able to pick up two runs in the very first inning that proved to be enough.

A single by lead-off batter Hannah dela Torre opened the inning while a sac fly courtesy of Lealyn Guevarra moved the runner to second base. An attempt to knockoff dela Torre in the next at bat only allowed Lealyn Guevarra to reach base. And when it mattered, clean-up hitter CJ Roa, a member of the RP Blu Girls, connected on a single to left field to bring home the two runners to put UST up for good.

After connecting just four time for the entire game — eight for the entire series, their offense is still a major cause of concern for Barredo.

“Roa naka-hit kanina tapos 2-for-3 pero yung consistency niya wala pa rin. Malaking bagay kasi pag nandiyan siya. Percentage lang yan in a seven inning game,” the champion mentor shared. “Nag-eexpect pa rin sa mga big hitters natin like Garde, [Celestine] Palma, and even [Shiela] Perales. Yan yung apat na inaasahan ko.”

The Lady Bulldogs though heavily relied on Acuna for their offense. However, their line-up, a team that has been battered by five injuries to key players at the latter end of the second round, could not support their top hitter.UAAP-Season-79-Softball---UST-def-NU-Game-2---NU-Lady-Bulldogs-seniors

Outfielder Mary Grace Blanco, shortstop Dyan Arago, second basewoman Carla Payapaya, Clarifer Singh, Razel Cuyos, Baby Gequillo, outfielder Charleslyn Tulalian, and catcher Colleen Alilin all played their final game for NU leaving them with a lot of holes to plug for next season.

With eight days to rest before the Game One of the Finals begins on Tuesday, March 21 at 8:00am, Barredo gave a stern warning to the six-time defending champions, Adamson Lady Falcons.

“Payback time,” he said. “Yun lang. So, same thing, pag nakundisyon si Antolihao, it’s a different story. Pero pag di siya nakundisyon, talo na.”

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Basketball

Late whistle costs San Beda against Sousse to fall to 0-2

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23 for 2023 cadet Robert Bolick is averaging 27.5 points per game in the tournament

After struggling to close out the UAE National Team in their opener last Friday, the San Beda College Red Lions figured in a late judgment call that did not fall into their favor, Saturday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai. Due to this, the defending NCAA Champions lost to Tuniasian club team Sousse, 78-79.

With the loss, the Red Lions fell to a 0-2 hole in the 29th Dubai Basketball Championship. But the record does not reflect how the Filipinos played.

Robert Bolick, who scored 28 points against the UAE National Team, led the charge for San Beda in their second outing had 27 points. Fellow 23 for 2023 cadet Javee Mocon added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Sousse, the second-best club team in Tunisia and boasts four national team players and an American import, led by as much as 10 points, 70-60 in the final frame.

Fired-up by the Filipinos who stormed the venue, the Red Lions answered right back with an 18-8 run capped by a booming Bolick triple with six ticks left to gain a 78-76 lead.

However, a foul was called on a Red Lion on a three-point attempt by a Sousse player. He calmly sank all three free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Donald Tankoua had eight points and 13 rebounds as he was saddled with foul trouble all throughout the game.

The Tunisian club team was paced by Radzhouane Slimane with 18 points while Ibrahim Nadarri and Joshua Cassady had 13 markers each.

San Beda will have a day break before taking on Moroccan club team Al Sale on Monday, January 22.

The Scores:

San Beda 78 – Bolick 27, Mocon 11, Tankoua 8, Noah 8, Toba 6, Soberano 6, Prebitero 4, Tongco 4, Bahio 2, Carino 2, Oftana 0, Adamos 0.

Sousse 79 – Slimane 18, Naddari 13, Cassady 13, Mouhli 11, Knioua 9, Toumi 8, Monastiri 4, Gaddour 3.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 36-39, 57-62, 78-79.

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Basketball

Marc Pingris wants Rafi Reavis to break Robert Jaworski’s record

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Marc Pingris was all praises for veteran Rafi Reavis Saturday night, as the 40-year-old center made his presence felt in the Magnolia Hotshots’ 97-91 victory — their third straight win — over Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The six-foot-nine Reavis finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks — a performance perfectly punctuated by a follow-up of a Paul Lee miss with 12.5 seconds left to play that knocked out the Fuel Masters for good.

“Papasalamat ako kay Rafi na talagang kababalik lang niya pero binigay niya talaga lahat,” said Pingris after the bout, as Saturday night was just Reavis’ second outing in the 2018 Philippine Cup after recovering from a hip injury.

“Nag-usap nga kami kanina e, hindi pa siya 100 percent. So bukas, ang sabi niya babalik daw siya sa gym dahil gusto niya ibalik yung lakas ng legs dahil wala pa daw,” added the 36-year-old, who also suffered a hip injury last season.

Reavis has been playing in the league for 16 years. Seeing the work he has put in, Pingris, who finished the game with 17 rebounds, four assists, four points and two blocks, believes that the 10-time PBA champion can play for 10 more years — at least.

“You know naman Rafi eh, katulad ko rin yan eh – rebound and depensa. At tsaka sobrang vocal siya sa team eh,” beamed Pingris, who himself is a 14-year veteran. “Walang siyang inaano, talagang sinasabihan niya kung sino yung mga nagmi-mistake, kung paano kami mag-adjust, so nakikinig naman lahat sa kanya.

“Talagang nandun yung respeto namin kay Rafi.”

And if Reavis stays healthy for the next decade, Pingris wants Reavis to exceed Jaworki’s 958 games played — third most all time.

“Nasa kanya yun, basta kaya mo ba eh. As a player, kung masipag ka naman at may disiplina sa sarili mo, kaya niya yun.”

Still, Reavis has a lot of catching up to do.

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JRU

Altas surge to fifth straight win, slam Heavy Bombers

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Pulling double-digit scoring outings from three spikers, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas remained unbeaten in NCAA Season 93 after a straight-set triumph over thr Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Middle blocker Ronniel Rosales topped the Altas with 13 points off 10 attacks and three blocks. Team captain Rey Taneo and Joebert Almodiel added 12 markers apiece.

The Altas dominated every scoring category, recording 44 attacks to JRU’s 26, five blocks to the Bombers’ zero, and three aces to JRU’s one.

Breezing through the first half of the season, Altas head coach Sammy Acaylar lauded his team’s consistency and hoped they continue getting better as they aim for a championship.

“So far, masasabi kong maganda ang nilalaro ng mga bata. Consistent naman ang mga galaw nila and focused sila sa mga laban,” said Acaylar.

“Pero alam nilang may ibubuga pa sila. We still need to get better and reach the championship level. Kailangan hindi mawala ‘yung ganito naming killer instinct,” the decorated mentor added.

The Altas take on a major test on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre when they face fellow undefeated squad Arellano Chiefs (4-0).

Wenjo Lahaylahay led the Bombers with 10 points while captain Patrick Rabaja managed seven.

JRU (0-5) limps into their Wednesday showdown against defending champs College of Saint Benilde (3-1).

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Rosales 13, Almodiel 12, Taneo R. 12, Muhali 7, Ramos 5, Atentar 1, Catipay 1, Salo 1, Bation 0, Solamilo 0, Taneo S. 0, Kalingking (L)

JRU (0) – Lahaylahay 10, Rabaja 7, Sulivas 6, Salazar 4, Cebrero 1, Soriano 1, Cruz 0, Ferwelo 0, Defensor (L), Flor (L)

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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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