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UFL Cup 2015: Stallion FC force debuting Loyola Meralco Sparks FC to stalemate

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One goal apiece in each half for Loyola Meralco Sparks FC and Stallion FC punctuated an intense matchup that ended in a draw, 1-1, as Group C action of the 2015 United Football League (UFL) Cup continued, Saturday, May 9 at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

The Sparks started well on the offense at the start of the match. At the 3rd minute mark, this aggression forced Stallion’s David Basa to foul, but the resulting free kick from the debutants would not be a threat. Two minutes after, it was Stallion’s turn to get a crack at goal. Midfielder Simone Rota found Christian Nana for an attempt, only to be denied by Loyola Meralco Sparks’ goalkeeper Tomas Trigo. Eight minutes into the half, Loyola’s Simon Greatwich connected with fellow Azkals mainstay Phil Younghusband, who broke through the defense and slotted the ball for the go-ahead goal. It was Greatwich’s final moment of brilliance in this game as he suffered an injury at the 10th minute mark, bringing his team to a man down for that moment.

It was a see-saw match from there as both Division I teams tried to build up on attack. In the 13th minute, Loyola’s keeper Trigo denied a bicycle kick attempt at goal of Jordan Mintah. That try by Mintah triggered the Sparks to pressure the opposing defense. On the ensuing play, Tahj Minniecon took a corner, which the leading team failed to convert. On the one hand, Stallion missed on two chances to equalize coming from free kicks at the 29th and 30th minute. The home side, on their part, also could not capitalize on their opportunities. The first half ended with the Sparks holding a precarious 1-0 lead.

Riding on a sense of urgency, Stallion FC entered the second half on a mission. After a botched attempt by Sparks’ Minniecon at the left wing in the 50th minute, the trailing squad picked up the pace and resumed on pressuring Loyola. Nana broke free from the defense and fired a shot to the bottom corner that Trigo promptly collected. After that play, Ruben Doctora also tried to score. The speedy striker attempted a booming shot, only to be blocked by Loyola defender Joaquin Cañas. Stallion kept on shooting but their shots were either wide or over the bar.

Loyola could have doubled their lead at the 63rd minute; however, Curt Dizon failed to connect off a pass from James Younghusband. Two minutes after, Stallion’s Mintah collected a pass from the middle and forced Sparks’ custodian Trigo to commit. The winger passed the ball to Doctora, who tapped it into the net for the equalizer. The physicality or the game continued and fouls piled up. With several opportunities on both sides, neither team could get a winning goal. The match ended with one goal apiece for both Division I mainstays.

Loyola Meralco Sparks Coach Simon McMenemy expressed his disappointed on his team’s performance. The former men’s national team mentor said, “We were dominant in the first half, but in the second half, we made silly, ridiculous mistakes.” McMenemy cited that the team needs to work on their organization on the floor to prevent those mistakes in their next matches.

Stallion FC Team Manager Ernie Nierras echoed his opposite number’s observations. The most recent women’s national team coach, however, felt that they played toe-to-toe with their fellow Division I team in the first half. Nierras explained they made adjustments for the second half and his wards executed and got the goal.

Loyola Meralco Sparks FC will try to bounce back against Mendiola FC 1991 on Saturday, May 16, while Stallion FC will attempt to get their second win of the group when they take on UST FC in the following game.

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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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 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 bout returned to the 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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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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Photo by PBA Images

Gelo Alolino had his best game for Phoenix Fuel Masters Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome with 19 points, eclipsing his previous career-high of 16 markers which he made last May 21, 2017 in a loss to Mahindra Floodbuster.

But that achievement of his won’t be that memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat they had absorbed into the hands of Paul Lee and Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix was there in contention all through out the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But then, the Hotshots’ comebacking skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” expressed the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face Barangay Ginebra next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Basketball

Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to its’ first win after a historic 16-game skid at the expense of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover the six-foot-four forward made.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made it. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all by himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he got frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

Alab’s bench however could not sustain the effort of the starters that led to them clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a sparkplug, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided the spark for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. were on-point with the former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards that resulted to the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan to slice the lead to as low as four points. Free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28 when they take on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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