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UP Fighting Maroons hand ADMU Blue Batters 1st loss in a classic



ADMU (7-1), 1st005000012857
UP (4-4), 3rd2002202019122


The Battle of Katipunan added another epic to its lore, this time in the diamond field last Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium. It was a clutch over clutch performance by both squads. In the end, it was a Mikael Herrera clutch RBI that propelled the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons to a 9-8 victory over the defending champions the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Batters to blemish ADMU’s previously unbeaten record and keep UP’s finals hopes alive.

Sophomore Miguel Herrera was designated as the starting pitcher for the Fighting Maroons. Herrera and the UP defense picked-off the first six batters for ADMU in the first two innings of the contest, including a strikeout of Renzo Ramos to close out the second inning.

The Fighting Maroons managed to put up runs on the scoreboard at the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Karl Peralta was able to hit a single to left field against ADMU starting pitcher Miguel Dumlao. Peralta was permitted to move to second base due to an error by ADMU left fielder Lorenzo Orbeta. League leader in hits SJ San Juan was then walked by Dumlao due to balls. San Juan and Peralta gained prime real estate after a James Legaspi grounder that resulted to the second out for the inning for UP. An error by shortstop Adriene Bernardo paved the way for runs by Peralta and San Juan and gave UP a 2-0 lead. Dumlao and the ADMU defense were able to shutout UP in the next inning highlighted by a double play that resulted to outs by Diego Gonzales and Edelton Espejo.

The Ateneo offense picked up at the top of the third inning. Lead-off batter in the inning for the Blue Batters, Radito Banzon hit a single right off the bat and was able to steal second afterwards. Pelos Remollo was then hit by a pitch while Lorenzo Orbeta was walked due to balls to load up the bases for the Blue side with no outs. A successful fielder’s choice was made that knocked off Banzon at home plate. Senior Inigo Untalan knocked a three RBI double to put ADMU up 3-2. However, as Untalan slid to second, he seemed to have sprained his ankle that resulted in a substitution for Luis Puno. Next at-bat Matt Laurel hit a home run to give ADMU a 5-2 lead. After the Laurel home run, Miguel Herrera was subbed out for rookie Kenneth Marinas, who was then replaced by JC Pantan at the top of the fourth as pitcher.

The UP Fighting Maroons were able to trim the Ateneo lead to just a solitary run in the fourth inning. A pivotal catching error by Dio Remollo led to runs by Mikael Herrera and Diego Gonzales. Then at the bottom of the fifth inning, after giving up singles against Peralta, San Juan, and Pantan- the last resulting to a Peralta run to tie the game- Dumlao was relieved of pitching duties for super rookie Paulo Macasaet. San Juan helped regain the lead for the Fighting Maroons after a throwing error by ADMU second baseman Banzon. The inning ended with UP on top, 6-5.

Pantan was able to shutout the ADMU offense in the sixth and seventh innings in giving up no hits and no bases. At the bottom of the seventh inning, UP continued to extend the lead to 8-5. The errors kept piling up for the Hail Mary squad as a costly error by shortstop Bernardo led to runs by the duo of Peralta and San Juan.

Just when everyone thought that the momentum has fully swung in favor of the Maroons, the Hail Mary squad displayed amazing poise and veteran experience in grinding the UP lead in the late innings. With an out and two bases loaded at the top of the eighth, Ramos hit a clutch single that paved the way for a Remollo run and cut the UP lead to just two runs going into the ninth.

At the top of the ninth, third year batter Rapho Balagtas provided the spark for the Blue side. Balagtas took advantage of an error to move to first and was able to steal second. Bernardo was then walked due to balls. With two bases loaded for the defending champions, UP head coach Anthony Dizer decided to replace Pantan for Gabriel Rodriguez to close the game. Balagtas and Bernardo were able to take the prime scoring positions after a defensive lapse by UP 3rd baseman San Juan. With just one out, last season’s best slugger Laurel was walked to a chorus of boos by the Ateneo faithful. Remollo afterwards then hit a clutch fly to give Balagtas the opportunity to slide in a run. A costly error by UP second baseman Martin Senador resulted to a Bernardo run to tie the game at 8-all. The inning ended with Laurel left on third base but with the game tied up.

With the game tied, UP needed just one run to take the game. Lead off batter San Juan hit a fly but it was caught at center field for the first out. Macasaet was then able to strikeout next batter James Legaspi. With two outs, Pantan hit a single to gain first base. Then, right off the bat Mikael Herrera immediately popped a clutch double deep into center field that opened the way for Pantan to score the game-winning run.

The UP win over ADMU dented the clean slate of the Blue Batters. More importantly, the win gave UP a glimmer of hope to reach the finals.

After the game, Coach Dizer shared with us his strategy, including the various pitching changes that confused the Ateneo batters in the middle innings.
“We all know Ateneo has good hitters especially with fast ball pitches. I started with Herrera’s fastball, then switched to my rookie’s (Marinas) slowball then went with JC (Pantan) who has a lot of variations with his pitches.”

Moreover, after being down 5-2, Coach Dizer did not lose faith in his team. “I told the boys to win every inning. Bilog ang bola, a loss can only happen after the final out in the last inning.”

The UP Fighting Maroons next face the DLSU Green Batters in a crucial matchup on Sunday, February 22 at 1:30pm while the ADMU Blue Batters look to bounce back against the UST Golden Sox at 7am on the same day. Both games will be played at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

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Fired-up Von Pessumal on Kiefer Ravena incident: ‘I’m not here to make any friends’



Will bridges be burned?

Von Pessumal was heavily-scrutinized Friday evening after an incident with fellow Ateneo lifer Kiefer Ravena.

It took place with 9:50 left in the final frame of the San Miguel Beermen’s highly-charged tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors. After Marcio Lassiter launched a trey, Pessumal looked like he was aiming for the rebound. Instead, he simply charged towards Ravena and pushed him down.

Lassiter’s three-pointer counted, while Pessumal, who was blocked by Ravena in a fastbreak and then received a staredown moments prior, was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul.

It was a surprising sight to see considering the amount of time he and Ravena have spent together — a bond that started ever since they were in high school. Even the second-generation star admitted that he did not expect that from his former running buddy.

“I did not expect that at all,” said the NLEX rookie.

But Pessumal downplayed such incident despite attempts by scribes to make him elaborate what had really transpired during that moment.

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game,” the league sophomore said after the match which they won 109-98. “I don’t wanna say anything, I’m sorry.

“It’s part of the game. Whatever move on. Not a big deal.”

Asked if he was motivated to face Ravena, whom he had shared three UAAP juniors titles, two UAAP seniors crowns, and a SEA Games gold medal with, the 24-year-old shared that he approached Friday’s bout the way he usually does.

“I wouldn’t say motivated [versus Kiefer], I mean, it’s just like any other game. When I play, I don’t see who’s guarding me, I just play,” said the 6-foot-2 swingman.

“I play to win all the time.”

The incident he and Ravena figured in shadowed his performance of 10 points on 50 percent shooting off the bench — the second time he had scored in double figures this season. After Friday, Pessumal is averaging 8.25 points.

“We have to sustain the level of excellence that they (starters) have. Our job is — I wouldn’t say support, but — when we get in, we should bring the level higher so when they come back, the game is easier for them,” he said.

Pessumal was then asked if he and Ravena met each other after the buzzer sounded as the two did not even shake hands after the contest. But, through a short yet strong response, the 24-year-old said that they did not.

“I wouldn’t say anything. I don’t know, after the game?,” he expressed.

“I’m a professional basketball player, I’m not here to make any friends.”

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross



During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao called Chris Ross the “N” word that caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nagflare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

Guiao though denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also against Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it really has become a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now went down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees the great need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’



Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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Downcast Chris Ross chooses to stay mum after heated altercation with Yeng Guiao



Through wins or losses, Chris Ross has always accommodated the members of the press asking for interviews and fans requesting for photo ops every after game. But Friday evening, the nine-year pro was despondent.

Visibly agitated with the events that had transpired during the San Miguel Beermen’s tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors, Ross, with his hoodie covering his head, left the Cuneta Astrodome without saying a word.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had figured in physical play after physical play and verbal exchange after verbal exchange with the frustrated Road Warriors.

Ross and Alex Mallari were both slapped with technicals after a confrontation with 9:06 left. This was just the start of many things to come for the Filipino-American defensive specialist

After knocking down a triple and receiving a taunt from Ross, Michael Miranda was assessed a disqualifying foul for an apparent kick to the groin against Ross with 4:35 left.

The tip of the iceberg came with 1:46 left to play and the game all but settled.

Yeng Guiao and Ross figured in a heated word war that resulted in Ross’ second technical foul for the game. Referees and players from both sides had to separate the two to prevent things from escalating.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria alleged that the fiery NLEX mentor said the “N” word, while some said Guiao called Ross a “bitch”.

Ross finished the game with four points, eight rebounds, and four steals in 37 minutes of action.

For sure, penalties and suspensions will come out of this game.

And it was better for Ross to stay silent.

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