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UP blasts San Beda to stay in semis hunt

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The University of the Philippines Lady Maroons remained in the running for a Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference semifinals spot after whipping the San Beda College Lady Red Spikers 25-16, 25-19, 25-20, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

UP barely faced any resistance throughout the match until the third set. The Lady Red Spikers surged ahead, 8-5, in the third set and threatened to extend the match. The ladies from Katipunan, however, quickly halted their rally and jumped in front permanently, 16-14, to close the match.

“Compared doon sa previous games namin, mas lumabas kanina ‘yung mga inaayos namin sa training. Kita namin ‘yung improvement. Siyempre, meron pa ring mistakes. Then again, na-apply namin sa games ‘yung mga ginagawa namin sa training,” said UP assistant coach Kat De Lara.

Skipper Diana Carlos led the Lady Maroons with 14 points while Isa Molde added 12.

The Lady Maroons face a must-win situation on September 30. The winner between them and the AU Lady Chiefs (3-1) moves on to the semis from Group B.

Sattriani Espiritu, Cesca Racraquin, and Jiezela Viray each managed six points for the Lady Red Spikers.

With a 2-2 record, the Lady Red Spikers need teams on the top of Group B to lose matches.

The Scores

UP (3) – Carlos 14, Molde 12, Dorog 9, Layug 7, Buitre 5, Cailing 2, Ramos 2, Gannaban 1, Rosier 1, Escutin 0, Estrañero (L), Thai (L)

SBC (0) – Espiritu 6, Racraquin 6, Viray J. 6, Cuevas 5, Viray N. 5, Paras 3, Manuel 0, Buno (L)

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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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Finals MVP again, Cha Cruz thankful for team’s trust

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Photo by Noel Tonido

It has been nearly six years since Cha Cruz last won a Finals Most Valuable Player plum, and she showed the younger generation of fans exactly how she has developed her clutch reputation.

After languishing on the bench for much of the 2017 Chooks-to-Go Philippine Superliga Grand Prix, Cruz gamely hopped off the bench in Game Two of the Finals. With her squad down 0-9 in a pivotal fourth set, Cruz served, defended, and scored like it was UAAP Season 73.

The F2 Logistics Cargo Movers ended up winning that match in five frames and forced a Game Three for all the marbles. History was not on the Cargo Movers’ side, but, luckily for them, Cruz has been historically great on the biggest stages of local volleyball.

The 29-year-old pounded in a season-high 16 points to lead the Cargo Movers past the Petron Blaze Spikers in the deciding match.

For her inspiring outings, she won the Finals MVP, her third accolade.

“Mindset namin was kailangan lahat kami gagana, lahat kami magbibigay ng best,” said Cruz about her motivation.

“I was really happy na lahat talaga kami showed our best. Noong tinitignan ko yung mga teammates ko sa mata, there was fire na we really want this game. When you see that, you just wanna give best your best, too,” the 5-foot-8 spiker added. “Coming from Game Two na nakuha namin in a very hard way, it’s also a sign for me na God is giving us am opportunity na sa amin ‘yung Game Three. Hindi naman namin mao-overcome ‘yun ng wala lang.

“Worth it lahat, kukinin namin ‘to.”

If anything, Cruz is happy that her longtime coach Ramil De Jesus still trusts her after all these years.

“I’m so happy and nakaka-proud.

“I believe in God’s perfect timing kasi ngayon nakalaro ako and I was able to contribute para makuha namin ‘yung goal namin. I’m just very happy na all my coaches and my teammates really trust me,” the La Salle great expressed.

Ramil De Jesus summed up Cruz’s performance perfectly.

“Ganyan naman ‘yan si Cha,” quipped the multi-time champion coach. “Kahit anong ibigay mo sa kanyang role, gagawin niya without hesitation. Laging ready ‘yan.

“Wala na ‘rin sigurong nagulat sa mga ginawa niya ngayong Finals.”

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Grieving MJ Perez shows ultimate display of professionalism

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Photo by Noel Tonido

“Kung ibang tao ‘yun… I can’t even imagine. I don’t want to imagine. Magbe-breakdown ka talaga ‘nun,” confessed F2 Logistics’ Cha Cruz.

Cruz, the team captain of the F2 Logistics, was the only Cargo Mover to find out that Maria Jose Perez, their high-scoring import, had just lost her brother, Daniel, to cancer a day before Game Three of the Chooks-to-Go/PSL Grand Prix Finals.

The Venezuelan did not want any of her teammates to know. She definitely did not let grief way her down, still managing to lead F2 Logistics to the 2017 Chooks-to-Go PSL Grand Prix championship over the Petron Blaze Spikers. The 2008 Beijing Olympian powered in 24 points in the deciding Game Three.

Each and every point, every swing she dedicated to her brother.

“It was really hard for me, but I wanted to play for my team,” Perez, who was fighting off tears, told Tiebreaker Times.

“I wanted to play for my teammates and I also know that my brother would have wanted me to play, as well.”

F2 Logistics head coach Ramil De Jesus gushed about Perez’s fortitude.

“Sobrang hirap noon. Napaka-professional niya. Saludo ako sa kanya,” said the decorated mentor.

“Kakaibang lungkot ‘yun. Sobrang bigat noon, pero di mo makikita sa kung paano siya naglaro kanina.”

Instead of celebrating, the 2017 PSL Grand Prix Most Valuable Player’s mind eventually went to her family. She plans to fly back to Utah and meet her family before going to Venezuela.

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Ramil de Jesus finally notches elusive Grand Prix title

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Locally, few coaches can boast the same success as Ramil De Jesus

In 19 years as head coach of the De La Salle University Lady Spikers, De Jesus led the program to 10 titles and 17 Finals appearances. He’s coached the National Team and groomed several players who went on to become legends of the sport.

Admittedly, things did not come as easy for De Jesus in the club ranks, specifically in the Philippine Superliga.

De Jesus has been involved with the league since its inception in 2013, and started off juggling several sponsors. It wasn’t until he landed the backing of F2 Logistics in 2016 that he gained consistent success.

Last August 2016, De Jesus broke his PSL curse after claiming the 2016 All-Filipino Cup. A year and four months later, the decorated mentor has finally plucked the Chooks-to-Go Grand Prix championship in an epic three-game series with Petron.

In some ways, it was vindication for the Cargo Movers after they had lost the 2017 AFC title to the Blaze Spikers.

“Alam naman natin na malakas na team talaga ang Petron. Pareho kami na may mga locals na handa mag-contribute kaya sobrang saya namin na kahit papaano, naka-isa na kami sa kanila,” De Jesus reflected.

It has been a roller coaster Grand Prix for F2 Logistics. De Jesus remembered how he did not get his first picks for imports, and also how they started training late.

“Hindi talaga namin in-expect na ganito sila kagaling,” said De Jesus of Kennedy Bryan and Maria Jose Perez.

“Sobrang coachable nila and magaling makisama sa team kaya madali kaming naka-adapt aa kanila.”

After finally winning the Grand Prix, De Jesus has immediately set his eyes on the UAAP Season 81, which begins in February.

Indeed, there is no rest for wickedly talented.

“Sunod-sunod, pero ganoon talaga. Buti na lang sabay kong napapa-training ‘yung mga teams ko.”

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Iain Ramsay hattrick powers Ceres-Negros to inaugural PFL title

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Photo from Stephen Tan/Ceres Media

Ultimately, there was no other local team that deserved to be crowned the 2017 Philippines Football League champions more than Ceres Negros Football Club.

Months after being crowned as the best ASEAN team in the 2017 AFC Cup, Ceres seized the 2017 PFL title with a 4-1 victory over Visayas rivals Global Cebu at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.

Ceres’ championship was as good as sealed right from the get-go, as the Busmen commanded a 3-0 lead by halftime. Iain Ramsay was a force to be reckoned with as he had a hand in all three Negros goals.

Ramsay spotted an expectant Bienvenido Marañon in the Global box, and the latter calmly put the ball past opposing goalie Patrick Deyto to give Ceres a 1-0 lead after just four minutes.

Global tried to retaliate soon enough, and should have scored at least once when Rufo Sanchez was denied by the crossbar and Pika Minegishi’s free kick was saved by Ceres goalie Roland Muller.

Global’s failure to put the ball at the back of the net cost them dearly. A swift counterattack allowed Ramsay to get his first goal in the 20th minute, and the Filipino-Australian made good use of a Junior Muñoz pass to triple Ceres’ lead seven minutes later.

The title was already a formality for Ceres at halftime. Risto Vidakovic and his men were 45 minutes away from sweet redemption, as they had failed to win the 2016 United Football League and 2016 UFL Cup — both won by Global.

Ceres’ icing on the cake came in the 61st minute when Ramsay got his hattrick goal following another clever play by the Busmen. With the result done and dusted, Global got themselves a consolation goal two minutes from time thanks to Darryl Roberts.

Come the final whistle, Ceres proved to be worthy 4-1 victors over a defensively-suspect Global to be the first PFL winners.

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