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USC ousts UST in NCC quarterfinals

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The University of San Carlos Warriors knocked off another UAAP team in the 2015 National Collegiate Championship tournament.

After a thrilling win against the National University Bulldogs, the USC Warriors ended the 2015 collegiate basketball campaign of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, 82-72, early Tuesday evening at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

UST started like a house on fire to open the game. Playing in his last game for the Espana cagers, Kevin Ferrer knocked down three triples in the first quarter to give UST the early lead. After a USC timeout, the Warriors went on to a 7-0 tear to end the quarter tied at 18-all.

The Warriors carried their momentum into the second quarter and led by as much as six, 27-21, with a split from the free-throw line from William McAloney. UST then picked up the scoring and eventually wrested the lead with a Louie Vigil layup off a pass from Ferrer, 31-30. The Growling Tigers held on to the advantage at halftime, 34-33.

The complexion of the game changed in the third quarter as the Warriors turned to their transition offense to grab the lead once more. Just a minute after the start of the half, McAloney scored on an and-one opportunity to put USC in the lead, 38-34. Kent Lao then unleashed five straight points to tie the game at 42. Lao again clinched the lead for UST for the last time with a trey, 45-43.

USC slowly built their lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Cameroonian Shooster Olago scored off a second-chance oppontunity to push the lead, 62-53, at the 7:57 mark of the canto. The Tigers then brought the deficit down to five, 57-62, as Louie Vigil converted on his two charities less than four minutes left in the game.

Olago then scored seven unanswered points to give Sanciangko Street-based squad the biggest lead of the game, 78-63, with 2:10 left in the game clock. Lao and Ferrer bounced back from their previous misses from the arc to mount a late UST comeback and cut the deficit at 68-78. Nonetheless, clutch free throws from Olago and Chris Maconocido sealed the win for the Warriors.

“Malaking bagay ito sa team at sa akin,” interim USC head coach Bong Abad said after the game. “Sabi ko nga sa mga players, ito yung opportunity na para maipakita ang talent niyo dito sa Maynila.”

Moreover, Abad disclosed that this was their only opportunity to test their team against Manila’s top teams. “Dito lang namin makakalaban ang mga team sa UAAP. At the same time, malaking bagay ito para sa amin,” he added. “Sabi nga ng team manager namin, sulit na sulit na ang biyahe namin dito.”

The UST Growling Tigers were a horrid 33% from the field and 44% from the charity stripe. According to UST head coach Bong dela Cruz, this was due to the lack of practice sessions the team had the past few weeks. “Yung mga bata kasi nagfifinals ngayon,” he disclosed. “Hindi pa kami nakaka-practice since natapos ang UAAP.” He also added that his seniors Ed Daquioag, Kevin Ferrer, and Jon Sheriff jsut arrived from a three-day seniors’ retreat.

Cameroonian student-athlete Shooster Olaga was the high point man in the game with 19 points and 15 boards. He was 6/13 from the field and 7/9 from the charity stripe. William McAloney added 11 points. Tongan student-athlete Espoir Toyambi also had a double-double with ten points and 11 boards.

Playing in their last game for the Growling Tigers, Ed Daquioag had 17 markers on 50% shooting. Ferrer added 16 points but was just 6/18 from the field and a dismal 0/7 from the foul line.

With the win, the USC Warriors will face the FEU Tamaraws in the NCC semifinals tomorrow, December 16 at 4:00pm. This will be a match-up between the CESAFI and UAAP Champions.

The Scores:
USC (82) – Olago 19, McAloney 11, Pepito 10, Toyambi 10, Magat 7, Maconocido 7, Tagapan 6, Ortega 6, Laguyo 4, Rabat 2, Lim 0, Ecarma 0.
UST (72) – Daquioag 17, Ferrer 16, Lao 16, Lee 9, Vigil 6, Garrido 6, Arana 2, Bonleon 0, Sheriff 0, Faundo 0, Huang 0, Kakonda 0, Caunan 0, Abrasad 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18, 33-34, 57-51, 82-72

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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 skills 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 fighters returned to their 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 the Phoenix Fuel Masters on 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 the Mahindra Floodbuster.

But his achievement won’t be too memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat at the hands of Paul Lee and the 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 were in contention all throughout the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But the Hotshots’ comeback skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” admitted 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 the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel 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 the Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to their first win after a historic 16-game skid, at the expense of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

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

“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 them. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all onto 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 had been 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.

But Alab’s bench could not sustain the effort of the starters, which meant the team was clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a spark, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided 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. 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, but they let the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan slice the lead to as low as four points. Then 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 it takes on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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