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UP escapes injury-ridden NU to force playoff against La Salle

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After trying to find luck all throughout the season, the UP Lady Maroons were finally able to find it

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With almost everyone counting them out and tallying just two wins with four games remaining in their calendars, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons’ playoff hopes were bleak. But with their backs against the wall, they were able to dig deep, rallying back against the injury-plagued National University Lady Bulldogs in a 5-3 win, Monday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

“The biggest adjustment we made was to reiterate our goals. We were losing and we were fighting so we forgot our initial goal which was to work together,” reflected team captain Gelai Penales. “We talked it out and realize the bigger role. What we did [before] didn’t really help.”

The win gave the Lady Maroons the chance to compete for the last Final Four spot as they tied the DLSU Lady Batters in the standings with a 5-7 slate — losing their postponed game against the Lady Bulldogs, 7-0 abb. 5th, later in the afternoon. The game will be played on Thursday, March 9 at 9:00am.

The second-running Lady Bulldogs, a team that is plagued with five injured lady batters — including senior Ghene Nietes, who injured her right hamstring during the sixth inning, will hold a twice-to-beat advantage when they face the UST Tiger Softbelles on Saturday, March 11.

Though bruised and battered, the Lady Bulldogs were able to punch in the first run of the game after Charleslyn Tulalian brought home Nietes, who knocked off a double to reach base, during the third inning.

The Lady Maroons were able to answer back in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, Rina Vailoces walked Clarisse dela Cruz to bring home Maki Cabriana to knot the game. The lady batters though retook the lead at the bottom end of the inning after Nietes scored her second run of the game due to a fielders choice.

Chantal Bongat though and the rest of the Lady Maroons remained defiant as they were able to score three runs in the next inning to gain the lead for good. An error by NU gave Bongat base and was brought home by Cabriana. NU’s errors led to runs for Juliet Omul and Jhenn Alinsod to seal the win.

Ella Martinez pitched the entire game anew and allowed just one hit in the game. And pitching an entire game was something that the 19 year old never thought she would do to start the season.

“It’s funny kasi parang nung nagka-fight, we thought that Ella didn’t want to pitch. We told her na you should set your goal na ikaw ang magpi-pitch for the entire game. Hindi yung first inning pa lang, papalitan ka na. She accepted the challenge and the following game she pitched the whole game, the next game she pitched eight innings,” Penales shared.

“We’re all proud with how she was able to grow in a short amount of time.”

Even if they lost to the Lady Batters in both of their meetings this season, Penales remains confident that they can extend their streak to four and make the playoffs for the third straight season.

“We’re going to have practice. We do batting lang kasi since we don’t have a field. We’re going to keep hitting and try to replicate how La Salle’s pitchers throw,” the 20-year-old shared.

“Kayang kaya yan.”

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Ateneo pulls out of friendly against UST

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The Philippine Superliga regretfully announced Friday evening that the supposed tune-up match between the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles and the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses on Saturday has been cancelled.

“We regret to announce that the scheduled friendly game between Ateneo and University of Santo Tomas volleyball teams that was to serve as an appetizer to Saturday’s championship game between Petron and F2 Logistics will not push through,” PSL chairman Philip Juico released in a statement.

Though no specific reason was said regarding why the Lady Eagles decided to pull out of the tune-up that was announced Friday morning, the league stressed that the team agreed to play.

“A late announcement by the Ateneo de Manila University officials caused the cancellation of the match they have earlier agreed to play,” the statement furthered.

Even with this circumstance, the league is holding no grudges as it is still open to have a partnership with the Lady Eagles in the future.

“The Philippine Superliga still welcomes the Ateneo Volleyball Team to play in the league as we are open to all interested squads who want to be partners of the PSL.”

Still, Game Three of the Chooks-to-Go/PSL Grand Prix will still have a start time of 4:00pm.

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PBA tweaks format for 2017-18 Philippine Cup playoffs

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From 10 teams in the past, only eight teams will advance into the 2018 Philippine Cup playoffs as the PBA made a few changes in its’ format for the 43rd season’s Philippine Cup, making every single game important for all teams.

The way the playoffs will be played out though remains the same. The top two teams will have a twice-to-beat edge over teams ranked seventh and eight, while the ones in the middle (3 vs 6, 4 vs 5) will figure in best-of-three contests.

Both the semifinals and finals will still be best-of-seven affairs.

Meanwhile, the league has also released the full schedule of the Philippine Cup Friday, eight days after publicizing a partial sked that only showed games from December 17 to 29.

SMART-Araneta Coliseum, SM Mall of Asia Arena, and Ynares Center in Antipolo will serve the main venues of PBA games. The FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan and the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay will also hold a few matches.

This season’s Christmas Games, which features GlobalPort Batang Pier-NLEX Road Warriors and Barangay Ginebra-Magnolia Hotshots, will be staged at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

And just like in the past seasons, the league will also hold playdates in out-of-town venues such as Ilo-ilo City, Legazpi in Albay, Calasiao in Pangasinan, Dumaguete City, and Cagayan de Oro City. All of these are set on Saturdays.

The PBA will raise the curtains of its’ 43rd year this Sunday, December 17, at the Big Dome, with defending champions San Miguel Beermen starting their four-peat bid against a revamped Phoenix Fuel Masters at 6:45 PM.

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Lady Eagles versus Golden Tigresses to open PSL’s season finale

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Serving as the opening act for Game Three of the Chooks-to-Go/PSL Grand Prix Finals pitting the Petron Blaze Spikers and the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, UAAP rivals Ateneo Lady Eagles will face the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses to open the day’s festivities. The game is set at 1:00pm at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

This will be the final encounter of the two teams before the UAAP Season 80 Women’s Volleyball tournament begins on February 3.

The Growling Tigresses are expected to field a complete teams sans fourth-year spiker Cherry Rondina. Rondina will play for Petron later in the evening.

On the other hand, the Lady Eagles will be stepping on the PSL taraflex for the first-time ever. Ateneo won two championships in the collegiate division of PSL rival V-League. Bannering the new-look Ateneo will be Bea De Leon, Jho Maraguinot, and Kat Tolentino.

This will then be followed by the rubber match between Petron and F2 Logistics. The awarding ceremony for the tournament is set at 6:00pm.

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SBP, Robbie Puno still looking for ‘right player’ to naturalize for 2023 World Cup

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Though a lot of foreign cagers have presented themselves as willing to play for SMART Gilas Pilipinas and become naturalized Filipino, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has yet to pick on who will be the heir apparent to Andray Blatche come the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“At this point in time, we do not have any particular player yet. My understanding is we’re still looking for the best possible candidate,” shared SBP vice chairman Robbie Puno during the celebration of the 2023 World Cup hosting held at Crowne Plaza in Pasig City.

Blatche, who last played for Gilas during the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, will be 37 years old when the 2023 edition rolls around. Names that have been thrown out during the calendar year were former Blackwater Elite import Greg Smith, who will be 33 years old in 2023, and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas reinforcement Isaiah Austin, who will turn 30 by that time.

Still, Puno and his group are taking their time, carefully filtering the candidates as to not hamper the process of the legislative body of the Philippines.

“If our target is 2023, there will be probably enough time for us to make sure we have the right player in terms of his basketball skills, but also his age as well as his attitude,” said Puno, a former congressman representing the first district of Antipolo City.

Moreover, the 55-year-old politician has already planted the seeds for this long process by already talking to the members of the Lower House who will author the bill.

“Right now, we’re ready to spearhead that process. We’ve spoken with a couple of congressmen who will author the bill,” Puno disclosed.

“What we’re waiting for is the imprimatur as to who we will really make the effort to naturalize, because when you start that process, it becomes really difficult.”

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