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Uncertainties cloud Lady Warriors

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The 79th Season of the UAAP was supposed to be different for the Lady Warriors.

After years of ineptitude, the University of the East Lady Warriors had finally ended a 58-game losing streak in their last match of Season 78 against the Adamson University Lady Falcons.

Perhaps it is also fitting that the same Lady Falcons squad ended their Season 79 campaign with disappointment and more questions than when they had started.UAAP 79 AdU vs. UE - Joaquin-8650

For much of the season, the Lady Warriors had surprised even the strongest of teams. Coach Francis Vicente risked using unproven players with height in his starting six. The Lady Warriors turned into a monstrous blocking squad, even leading the league in the category for much of the first round.

Still, UE managed just one win in their first 13 games, beating the rebuilding Lady Falcons in their final first-round outing.

“Nakikita mo na ‘yung potential sa kanila. Nandoon na. Mananalo kami nang isang set tapos didikit kami on some of the sets. But we could never find that finishing touch. I’m hoping to get that from them,” Vicente said right before their season-ender against Adamson. He was looking for wins in the standings, and not just for their morale.

“More than [morale victory] na ang hinahanap namin. They can show more than that.”

Instead of getting their second win, UE lost their 13th match in disappointing fashion to a then-winless Lady Falcons.

Unlike past matches, there was no silver lining or aura of optimism with UE. They had missed an opportunity.

The Lady Warriors now face an uncertain future. Vicente, the head coach of the Women’s National Team, has yet to confirm his return for Season 80. There is even talk of skipper Shaya Adorador not returning for her fifth and final year of eligibility.UAAP 79 FEU vs. UE - Adorador-6062

“We hope to have everything resolved where we could have everyone back for next season. Despite the ending to Season 79, alam namin na mas maganda ang potential nila for Season 80,” a source within UE told Tiebreaker Times.

UE have always been looking towards their future; they have never had a choice. With everything that has happened, it’s a wonder when the future will finally become the present for the Lady Warriors.

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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.

Basketball

Fighting Maroons beg off from D-League commitments

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Studies first

With the University of the Philippines in the midst of its second semester of their academic calendar when the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup begins, Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol asked his players if they could forego of their basketball commitments for the mean time to focus on their studies.

“They will have a really hard time passing, and even attending, their subjects if they’re going to miss classes because of the practices and games,” the incoming third-year UP Men’s Basketball team mentor shared.

Tuesday afternoon, sophomore Javi Gomez de Liano was drafted by the Wangs-Letran Couriers and junior Jerson Prado was selected by Gamboa Coffee-St. Clare Lovers while skipper Paul Desiderio and junior Diego Dario are currently free agents in the league. Desiderio last played for the Cafe France-CEU Bakers during the 2016 Aspirants’ Cup while Dario joined the AMA Online Education Titans as well.

Being a former student-athlete himself, Perasol knows how important the second semester is, especially for eligibility for the 81st season of the UAAP.

“The second semester is very important in their eligibility for the next season,” Perasol added.

With a loaded line-up for the upcoming UAAP season, the Fighting Maroons can’t afford any mishaps.

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Jeff Napa, Letran try to change Wangs Basketball’s fortunes

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For the first time since joining the PBA D-League, the Wangs Basketball Couriers will be bannered by a collegiate team as they have partnered up with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights.

Gone are the days that the team is stacked with PBA aspirants and cagers trying to make it back to the big league. Donning the Wangs jersey this time around are the likes of Bong Quinto, JP Calvo, Jerrick Balanza, Jeo Ambohot, Bonbon Batiller, Fran Yu, Christian Fajarito, and Larry Muyang.

With the chance of being able to compete once again in the second league, incoming third-year Letran head coach Jeff Napa wants to repay the trust of Wangs founder Alex Wang by being competitive this season.

“Si boss Alex (Wang) wala naman sinasabi sa akin na target pero gusto ko siyempre masuklian ang kabutihan niya sa amin. Gusto lang niya maging competitive yung team namin.

“Sa Letran naman, kailangan naman magka-experience in preparation for next season. Focus namin yung bonding namin para maging maganda yung season namin,” Napa said.

Joining the Letran core are their drafted players, headlined by his former players in National University — Michael Pate and Hubert Cani. Even with his familiarity with the two upstarts, Napa wants the two to earn their stripes with the team.

“Sana maging maganda yung response nila sa sistema namin,” the youthful mentor said. “Hindi naman porke’t naging player ko sila e magkaka-minutes na sila. Nakadepende pa rin sa system namin kung ano ang gusto namin mangyari.”

Besides the two, he also picked up UST Growling Tiger Henric Caunan, UP Fighting Maroon Javi Gomez de Liano, and Mapua Cardinal Christian Bunag.

Despite a deep team, the National University lifer is not guaranteeing anything, only saying that they will give a good fight.

“Okay naman. Satisfied naman ako sa dinraft namin. We’ll see kung anong mangyayari pero at least nakikita ko yung mga projection sa team namin,” Napa shared.

“This Aspirants’ Cup, magiging maganda ang labanan.”

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AMA head coach likens top pick Owen Graham to Arwind Santos

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The AMA Online Education Titans got the luxury of picking first in the PBA D-League Draft for the second straight year. But this time though, they picked a no-namer in Owen Graham — a move deemed unusual considering the amount of proven talents in the pool.

“Si Owen Graham kasi, he played for me for almost one year na,” justified AMA head coach Mark Herrera of his decision. “He’s a school-based player, he stands at six-foot-fpir, Fil-Canadian siya. He can play the 2, 3, 4, and 5 spots.

“Mabilis siya at all-around player siya. Para siyang si Arwind Santos.”

What inclined Herrera to pick Graham was his familiarity with his system as he has utilized the swingman in the collegiate level”

“Ang advantage lang niya, kabisado ko na ‘yung bata, tsaka alam natin ‘yung kakayahan niya going to the D-League,” he added. “Rookie siya sa D-League pero he played for me sa NAASCU na, sa Fr. Martin and NCRAA.

“So medyo marunong na ‘yung bata.”

AMA’s choice for the first pick maybe far from what they did last year, when they nabbed proven talent Jeron Teng. But for Herrera, he likes what the team did in the 2017 proceedings as they have addressed their needs.

Aside from Graham, the Titans floor generals Philip Manalang and Levi dela Cruz, and bigs such as Michael Canete, Barkley Eboña and Richard Escoto.

“Yung mga draftees namin kung makikita niyo, more on mga 5 and 4 ang kinukuha namin, kasi nga ‘yung mga players namin before, magka-comeback din naman eh, tulad nila [Mario] Bonleon, sila [Andre] Paras,” Herrera explained.

“So ang kulang ko lang talaga ang kinuha ko, tsaka isang point guard (Philip Manalang).”

With their draft moves, Herrera is now full of optimism that the Titans can now compete with the other 12 teams in the league. Not just to compete though, as he now aims for the school-based squad to make it into the semifinals.

“Every conference naman talaga, pumapasok si AMA sa quarters, last conference lang hindi,” Herrera said.

“So this time around, ang target namin, sana umabot kami ng semis going to the championship.”

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Basketball

Fil-Canadian Owen Graham selected as top overall pick in D-League draft

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Little-known Filipino-Canadian forward Owen Graham was picked as the first overall pick in the 2017 PBA D-League Draft by the AMA Online Education Titans, Tuesday afternoon at the PBA Cafe in Pasig City.

Graham is 25 years old and stands at 6-foot-4.

School-based squads Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas, and Akari-Adamson University Soaring Falcons opted to pass on all their picks, electing to field players from their own schools.

Wangs Basketball-Letran selected Jerrick Balanza as the second overall pick followed by Allen Marquez (EAC-Batangas), Keanu Caballero (CEU Scorpions), CJ Perez (Zark’s-Lyceum), Mohammed Pare (Gamboa Coffee-St. Clare), Kyle Toth (Marinerong Pilipino), RK Ilagan (Che’Lu-San Sebastian), Jose Romeo Bellosillo (Mila’s Lechon), and Kendrix Belgica (Go for Gold-CSB Blazers).

Other notable picks are Arellano Chief Michael Canete (Round 2, 1st) and Levi dela Cruz (R15, 1st), FEU Tamaraw Richard Escoto (R3, 1st) and Barkley Ebona (R4, 1st), and UE Red Warrior Philip Manalang (R12, 1st) to AMA; Alvin Pasaol (R2, 8th), Chester Saldua (R3, 8th), Abu Tratter (R4, 8th), and Vince Tolentino (R5, 8th) to Marinerong Pilipino; FEU Tamaraw Arvin Tolentino (R7, 9th) and former UP Fighting Maroon Rob Ricafort (R6, 9th) to Che’Lu-San Sebastian; and UP Fighting Maroon Javi Gomez de Liano (R10, 2nd), former NU Bulldog Michael Pate (R11, 2nd), FEU Tamaraw Hubert Cani (R13, 2nd), and Mapua Cardinal Christian Bunag (R14, 2nd) to Wang’s-Letran.

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