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UAAP Volleyball Campfire Post-Holiday Edition

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It’s that magical time of year right after the holidays when we’re still just a bit high on holiday ham and long awaited gifts so I thought I’d give out some gifts to the people who’ve made covering volleyball this season some gifts. But since I’ve already spent my money on Pokemon and gifts for my loved ones, I thought I’d just write about what I would give these people if I had an infinite amount of resources. If you guys don’t think this is enough, remember, it’s the thought that counts.

Cherry Rondina
mvp-women

This miniature firecracker from Cebu has been one of the few bright spots for the surprisingly struggling UST Tigresses. You’d think that with a lineup laden with veterans and a game-changing recruit that UST would be on the fast track back to the Final Four. Instead, they get basically nothing from their two most popular vets in Pamela Lastimosa (who turned in a scoreless performance against the Lady Falcons) and Carmela Tunay, thus the Tigresses are spiraling towards another forgettable season.

You’d think that with a Beach Volleyball MVP sitting on the bench that this would be less of a puzzling lineup upheaval for Coach Odjie Mamon to make, but the thing with Rondina is, she is really short. While you barely notice it with her otherworldly leaping ability and cat-like reflexes, the Tigresses do take quite a hit with their blocking as she doesn’t really get off the floor as high without a running start.

So as a late Christmas gift, I’d love to give her:

A magic formula, a concoction of Star Margarine, Cherifer and Growee

A magic formula, a concoction of Star Margarine, Cherifer and Growee

That would make her grow just a few more inches (ideally up to 5’8) so she can immediately supplant her floundering teammates on the starting lineup. If she was any taller you know that it would be less of a conversation with who starts for the Tigresses.

But even if Rondina never grows another inch, she is nowhere near a lost cause as she has Shiela Pineda’s career to pattern on. Pineda was never the tallest girl on the team but she was always the hardest worker who just also happened to be gifted with the bounce of a jumping jellybean. The impressive thing with Rondina is she leaps a lot more effortlessly than Pineda ever did and has more bang in her hits. And Rondina is already more fun to watch than half of the UAAP, celebrating each won point like she just got a call from bossing. So while UST has a long line of imposing tall figures in Maizo, Balse, Ortiz, etc., UST’s coaching staff needs to get their eyes checked if they have Cherry anchored on the bench.

UST MVT, WVT, and RP National MVT Team Head Coach Odjie Mamon

Photo c/o Brosi Gonzales

Photo c/o Brosi Gonzales

Speaking of UST, Coach Mamon has arguably been the hardest working man in the league, mentoring both the UST Women’s Volleyball Program but the Men’s Program as well. While his ladies have been struggling, the Men’s team has been flourishing under his guidance. The Tigers have whipped teams en route to a 4-1 record, just slightly ahead of Adamson, who holds an identical record but are behind on won sets. The Tigers are in the Top 4 in all major skills categories (Spiking, Blocking, Serving, Recieving, Digging, and Setting) and have two of the league’s top 5 scorers in league leader Mark Alfafara and fourth ranked Romnick Rico not to mention that they have been the only team to push the defending champions, National U, to a loss in their five set thriller. Last season, this same Tigers struggled against fellow contenders as teams knew that they relied heavily on Mark Alfafara to carry the grunt of the offensive load. This season Coach Odjie decided to use more of his players as fellow veteran and team captain, Romnick Rico and Middle Blocker, Jason Sarabia, have taken most of the scoring responsibility from Alfafara, allowing for a looser and more dynamic Thomasian offense while also tapping some of their newer recruits to produce when the starters begin to look lackadaisical.

Between the UST teams and the Men’s National Squad, Coach Mamon really needs a spa day or maybe even a vacation on a beach somewhere. So as a late Christmas gift, I’d love to give him:

A one-day spa gift check

A one-day spa gift check

AdU MVT Coach Domingo Custodio

To the Men’s Volleyball faithful, Coach Domeng is most well known for his boisterous displays of agony and jubilation on the sidelines. This season, he has toned his antics down by just a notch, and instead of wilting the floor whenever his team plays faulty, he stomps down to the team’s water cooler and swigs down a glass full of water. And given the number of rookies and juniors he plays, his team is still very prone to the occasional lapses of focus. That’s why as a gift, I would like to give him:

A beverage tumbler

A beverage tumbler

But, his team has always been able to pull through when things mattered most. After an opening day loss to the defending champs, Adamson has reeled off four straight wins including an upset over last season’s runner-up Ateneo Blue Eagles. Though his team is generally young and undersized, Coach Custodio has had his team playing elite level defense, leading the league in blocks and is second in digging and receiving, while still boasting a top 4 spiking output.

But while his team has looked dominant in their wins, there will still be some growing pains as they thread through the season and more teams get to scout their offense. Their final two matches are against the no. 2 ranked UST Tigers and the always-dangerous FEU Tamaraws so it’s a really good idea to get Coach his own water jug or maybe even his own water dispenser so his players don’t run out.

Jessica Galanza and the Adamson Lady FalconsUSTvsAdU-9402Speaking of Adamson, the Lady Falcons themselves have looked dominant after dropping their first two games against both of last year’s finalists. Powered by strong performances from former bench players, the Lady Falcons have earned their 3-2 ranking by blowing past UE, FEU, and UST. Leading the charge for Adamson are their second year players, Jessica Galanza and Mylene Paat, ranked 7th and 6th in total points scored, respectively. Paat has slipped in to her new role as an outside hitter rather seamlessly as her height and unorthodox style has proved to be a tough puzzle to solve for teams who aren’t equipped for a specimen like her.

Galanza, on the other hand, might be the biggest surprise in a team full of surprising performers. After riding the bench all of last season, to now being relied on to provide the bulk of the offense for her team is quite a turnaround. Many thought that the loss of Adamson’s top two scorers in Pineda and Zapanta would hamper this team from making any sort of noise but Galanza’s breakout season has allowed them a clear shot at a Final four slot as no one really saw this sort of production out of Gemma. Which brings me to my gift for her:

A threadmill

A threadmill

In an interview with Adamson Coach Sherwn Meneses, he confessed that he was most worried about Gemma’s weight heading into the holiday vacation. As I’d hate for my alma mater to lose any steam en route to a Final Four appearance, all I can do is hope Galanza doesn’t go all-in on her holiday meals and lose any of her explosiveness on the court.

UE Coach Francis Vicente’s Coaching Style

c/o pinoyspikers.com

c/o pinoyspikers.com

Now, I want to change pace and thank UE Coach Francis Vicente for bringing any semblance of volleyball competence into his new volleyball program. In my season primers, I mentioned that UE sorely lacked any sort of volleyball winning culture that would ease talent acquisition and development for them. By all measures, Coach Vicente’s addition is godsend for the Lady Warriors, as they may not look like it now, but they’ve made sneaky good lineup choices, including the addition of Roselle Baliton, they’re rookie middle blocker and currently eight in blocking in the league. She’s incredibly tall and just in need of a bit more polishing with her footwork and court awareness.

UE still also has a core of young players in Shaya Adorador and Angela Dacaymat and with the disciplinary hand of Coach Vicente, it might not be too long of a wait for UE’s first win.

Speaking of coaching, a lot of people are irked by Coach Vicente’s style on the sideline where he gets on his players case really hard. But that’s how he’s always been and that’s how some of the best coaches have been with their players. And there really is no direct evidence to prove what really works as far as coaching the best out of players go. Coach Bundit might seem like a jolly type of gut on sideline interviews, but ask around, and no one pushes his players harder in practice than Coach Tai does to his. UP Coach, Jerry Yee once just had his girls run laps during a timeout to get them to focus and FEU Coach, Shaq Delos Santos, refused to talk to his players in more than a few timeouts this season. So there really hasn’t been a definitive style to coaching, nor will there ever be one.


Aside from these, this season has spread a lot of cheer around the UAAP volleyball scene, as I really can’t remember a season that has been followed so closely by so many fans as much as this season has been. But I think I’m on the same boat with most fans who wish they had a time machine to travel to March for the impending Ateneo-La Salle Women’s Final and the NU Bulldog’s three-peat.

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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.

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Basketball

After getting first D-League experience, Zark’s-Lyceum ready to get loose

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After a hesitant performance in their PBA D-League debut last Thursday that resulted in a loss to the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers seemingly caught up with the league’s style of play on Tuesday.

Zark’s-Lyceum displayed their true form and stamped their class all over the Batangas-EAC Generals with a 37-point destruction, 112-75 — so far the biggest winning margin the franchise has ever had in its D-League history.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams we’re playing against with,” said Zark’s-Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson after the match at Pasig Sports Center. “But the things we want to mind are those things we control.

“We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways.”

Robinson’s claim was strongly backed up by the numbers that the Jawbreakers produced.

CJ Perez had 21 points and 10 rebounds. MJ Ayaay produced 15 points and 10 boards, and Mike Nzeusseu delivered 14 markers and 11 boards.

Even the bench made their presence felt in the victory. With guard Jaycee Marcelino spearheading the supporting cast’s charge with 12 markers, the bench contributed a remarkable 56 points to their total output.

Photo by PBA Images

“Ano lang, cinontrol lang namin yung pace kasi yun naman talaga yung laro namin, yung mabilisan,” said the 24-year-old do-it-all forward, who also collected three steals.

“Kailangan talaga mabilisan para ma-execute namin yung mga ginagawa namin.”

This week will be a rough one for the Pirates, as they will play right away this Thursday against the AMA Online Education. And for Perez, he strongly believes that they will be able to carry over their momentum.

“Oo. Nandun pa. Energy talaga yung puhunan namin para makalaro ng maayos.”

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Basketball

Bonbon Batiller shows what he can bring to Letran in D-League debut

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Photo by PBA Images

Tuesday proved to be a double debut for Bonbon Batiller. Aside from beginning his first foray in the PBA D-League, it also marked his debut for the Letran Knights, who are carrying the Wang’s Basketball Couriers franchise.

And the 5-foot-11 guard showed what he can bring to the table. Batiller collected 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists to help the Knights raise the curtains of their campaign with a 93-75 rout of the Batangas-EAC Generals.

“Nagworkout yung pinagpraktisan namin,” said Batiller. “Nagbunga rin yung tinuro samin ni Coach Jeff (Napa) lalo sa depensa. Tsaka siguro sa rebounds — laking lamang namin sa rebound. Nagsipag mga bigs namin.”

But what has him even more satisfied is the warm reception and trust he’s had from the Knights, even if he has spent barely a year with them after transferring from University of the East last 2017.

“Masaya po kasi tinanggap nila ako sa Letran ng buong-buo,” said Batiller, who normed 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals with UE in two years. “Tsaka yung tiwala nila na makakatulong ako sa team nandoon.

“Kaya masaya ako sa pinakita nila sa akin.”

That is why the General Santos native is hard-pressed to prove himself to Letran, saying that he’s all about giving back to the school that gave him another opportunity to resume his young, up-and-coming basketball career.

“Kailangan kong may mapatunayan na deserving ako sa binigay na second chance sa akin ni Letran,” said Batiller, who decided to switch schools partly due to academic reasons.

“Malaki ang utang ko sa Letran.”

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Football

Bienvenido Maranon scores brace as Ceres-Negros eliminates Brisbane Roar

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Photo from the-AFC.com

Philippine club football just achieved its biggest continental result yet

The inaugural Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros Football Club eliminated three-time Australian champions Brisbane Roar in the 2018 AFC Champions League’s second preliminary round with a 3-2 stunner, away at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane.

With the win, the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions are set to face Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian next January 30, 2018 at the Haihe Educational Football Stadium in Tianjin, China, to book a seat in the group stages.

Brisbane were the favorites for this tie and it showed, as Ceres started the contest on the back foot. Italian striker Massimo Maccarone handed the home side the lead in the 35th minute when he turned in Brett Holman’s pass.

Maccarone’s goal could have lowered the Busmen’s moral, but Risto Vidakovic’s men took it as a motivation rather than a downer. In fact, Ceres replied in the best way possible when Bienvenido Maranon scored his first goal of the match two minutes from halftime, thanks to a scramble in the Brisbane box.

By all accounts, Ceres had already made Philippine football proud at halftime. By this stage last year, Brisbane had accrued a 4-0 halftime cushion against Global Cebu en route to a 6-0 rout.

Today, though, Brisbane faced tougher resistance at Ceres’ hands. That resistance turned into a full-fledged revolt in the 65th minute when Maranon directed the ball past a helpless Jamie Young to give the Busmen their first taste of the lead.

Maranon’s goal well and truly turned the tide in Ceres’ favor. Brisbane were stunned. The home side are the defending A-League champions, but are currently eighth in the table this season and would soon face elimination from Asia’s premier club competition.

Already up 2-1, the Busmen finally achieved some breathing room in the 75th minute when Omid Nazari scored from close range to give Ceres a two-goal cushion over Brisbane.

Nazari’s goal not only sealed the win for Ceres, it also propelled Philippine football into the big leagues. Not even a late goal from French midfielder Éric Bauthéac could prevent the Busmen’s victory.

After five minutes of stoppage time, Ceres emerged 3-2 winners against Brisbane Roar. Come what may against Tianjin seven days from now, the Busmen have already achieved Philippine football’s biggest result since their own achievement in last season’s AFC Cup.

Who knows? Maybe Ceres can pull off another upset?

Ceres-Negros XI: Doblas (GK), Super, Mike Ott, Ingreso, Maranon, Porteria, Schrock, De Murga (C), Munoz, Nazari, Christaens.

Brisbane Roar XI: Ingham, Bowles, Papadopoulos, Maccarone, Holman, Khalfallah, Oxborrow, McKay (C), Hingert, Young (GK), Franjic.

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EAC

CJ Perez, Zark’s-Lyceum vent ire on Batangas-EAC with 37-point romp

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Photo by PBA Images

CJ Perez and the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers finally lived up to their hype, as they clobbered the Batangas-EAC Generals to score a 37-point beatdown, 112-75 for their first win, Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.

It was an all-out attack from the Jawbreakers, as they beat the Generals to the bite and took control of the game early, with Mike Nzeusseu and Jaycee Marcelino guiding their side to the 48-33 lead at halftime which they would never surrender.

Perez paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while MJ Ayaay tallied a double-double with his 15 markers, 10 boards, and three assists.

Cameroonian student-athlete Nzeusseu also delivered 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists. Marcelino had eight first half points and wound up with 12 off the bench, as the reserves chipped in 56 huge points in the tussle.

Coach Topex Robinson lauded the Jawbreakers for quickly adjusting to the style of the PBA D-League just days after falling to the Marinerong Pilipino, 92-94, back in opening day.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams were playing against with. But the things we want to mind are those things we control. We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways,” he said.

Earvin Mendoza and Cedric de Joya both had 16 points for the Generals in the losing effort.

Zark’s-Lyceum look to continue to roll when they face the AMA Online Education Titans on Thursday, January 25. EAC-Batangas, on the other hand, take on the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers on Monday, January 29.

The Scores:

Zark’s-Lyceum 112 — Perez 21, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Serrano 10, Baltazar 8, Santos 8, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 6, Marata 4, Liwag 4, Ibañez 2, Cinco 2, Pretta 0.

Batangas-EAC 75 — E. Mendoza 16, De Joya 16, Tampoc 12, Laude 9, Pate 8, Maguliano 6, Altamirano 5, Diego 3, Garcia 0, Dela Peña 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0.

Quarterscores: 19-14, 48-33, 84-47, 112-75.

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