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UST shut down Alolino, National U, set Finals date with FEU



The Growling Tigers and their seniors wanted this very, very badly.

The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers did not allow defending UAAP Champions, the National University Bulldogs, any chance of gaining a semblance of momentum all game long as the España cagers eliminated the Bulldogs, 64-55, in a wire-to-wire win Sunday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Growling Tigers quickly surged to an early 15-2 lead to start the game. Kevin Ferrer started the onslaught with a putback off his own miss. Baskets by Ed Daquioag, Louis Vigil, and Jan Sheriff compounded the woeful shooting and unforced turnovers of the defending champions. As the Bulldogs settled in, and with Alfred Aroga off the bench, the Jhocson Street cagers went on a 10-0 rally. Aroge started it off with a three-point play with 3:57 to go, and it was capped by a Rev Diputado putback that cut the UST lead to three, 15-12, to enter the second frame.

Daquioag was able to find a cutting Sheriff to open the quarter, while Abdul was able to extend the lead to nine, 21-12, once more at the 8:01 mark following a hook shot. The Growling Tigers then cooled down but the Bulldogs could not take advantage of it, scoring just two field goals. Louis Vigil halted the momentary NU rally with a find to a cutting Marvin Lee that just beat the buzzer. With Karim Abdul hampered by foul trouble, Bong dela Cruz brought in a lineup of Marvin Lee, Ferrer, Vigil, Mario Bonleon, and Kent Lao for a five-out team. The stretch line-up were able to go to a 7-2 rally to close out the quarter to enter the break with a 30-20 lead.

The top-seeded team completely shut down the Bulldogs in the third quarter. They were able to limit the Bulldogs to just two field goals as the Blue-and-Gold squad could not find their bearings in the quarter. Moreover, unforced turnovers plagued the defending champions for the entire ten minute stretch. On the other end, Vigil led the team with eight third quarter points and was able to dish out two dimes to help maintain the UST lead to enter the final frame, 44-32.

The Bulldogs shooting woes could not have come at a worse time, as the entire team were missing wide-open three-pointers. With 4:08 remaining, the Bulldogs were able to connect on their first three-pointer in the quarter, as Alolino found Jeff Javillonar for a top-of-the-arc triple. But just as NU was about to go in transition, Vigil successfully intercepted a Javelona pass for a fastbreak layup to extend the UST lead to 11 once more.

At the 2:12 mark and with National U committing just a single foul, the Bulldogs fouled four straight times to send themselves into the penalty to be able to do the “hack-a-Sheriff.” During the next stretch, Sheriff went just 4/12 in the foul stripe while free throw conversions and a layup by Javelona cut the UST lead to just six, 56-50, with 1:07 remaining. Abdul, though, was able to convert on two free throws while Vigil was 3/4 from his to extend the lead to nine with 45.8 remaining. A final, desperate three by Javelona went in before Lee converted on his final two free throws to close out the game with a 64-55 win to move on to the finals.

“First of all nilabas na nila yung puso nila ngayon,” UST head coach Bong Dela Cruz said after the game. “Dumepensa lang kami ng maigi. One-on-one defense lang talaga ang ginawa namin.”

For Louis Vigil — who scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed 11 boards, dished out seven assists, and successfully stole the ball twice — defense and ball movement were key to their victory “Sa defense maganda yung rotation namin and sa offense maganda ball movement namin.” He then added that, “hinanap lang namin yung mismatch tulad ng sa kin kay Javelona.”

Ferrer then added that it feels good to finally be back in the finals. “Sobrang saya kami kasi last year na namin. Gagawin namin lahat ng magagawa namin para mabigyan kayo ng magandang laban.” UST’s Smart Elite ambassador had 11 points and seven boards but was just 5/18 from the field.

Jan Sheriff addded 10 points. He was 3/5 from the field but was just 4/12 from the foul stripe.

For the Bulldogs, senior Pao Javelona had 17 points in his final game of his collegiate career. Smart Elite ambassador and fellow senior Gelo Alolino was just 1/17 from the field in his final UAAP game. He had six points and five boards.

As a team, NU shot a horrible 26.87% from the field and committed 15 turnovers. On the other hand, UST shot 37.7% from the field.

The UST Growling Tigers will face the FEU Tamaraws in the first game of the UAAP Season 78 Men’s Basketball Finals on Wednesday, November 25 at 3:30pm. On the other hand, the NU Bulldogs will finish the tournament in fourth place.

The Scores:
UST (64) – Vigil 19, Ferrer 11, Sheriff 10, Daquioag 8, Abdul 6, Bonleon 5, Lee 5, Faundo 0, Lao 0.
NU (55) – Javelona 17, Alejandro 8, Diputado 7, Aroga 7, Alolino 6, Javillonar 5, Neypes 3, Celda 2, Abatayo 0, Morido 0, Salim 0.
Quarterscores: 15-12, 30-12, 44-32, 64-55.



Rose Vargas all set for UAAP return after four-season absence



In an unprecedented move, hard-hitting Far Eastern University spiker Rose Vargas will return to finish her UAAP career when Season 80 kicks off on February 3 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Vargas last played for the Lady Tamaraws in Season 75. With a year of eligibility left, Vargas left the Morayta-based program to focus on her academics and pursue a career in the semi-pro ranks.

Five years since her last UAAP game, Vargas says that she did not hesitate when FEU officials asked if she wanted to return to play out her final year of eligibility.

During her time in the V-League, she played for the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors, the Bureau of Custom Transformers, and, most recently, the Creamline Cool Smashers.

“‘Yung pag-babalik naman dito (FEU) is hindi ko naman pinag-isipan matagal or nag-dalawang isip ako,” said the Season 74 Best Scorer. “Noong tinanong lang sa akin kung gusto ko daw bumalik, ang sagot ko lang, oo.

“Kasi gusto kong makatulong, and gusto kong makuha ‘yung championship namin na matagal ng hindi nakukuha ng FEU.”

Vargas adds to an already solid FEU core which includes graduating captain Bernadeth Pons, Toni Rose Basas, and Jerrili Malabanan.

The last time Vargas suited up for FEU, she was the main piece to a core that included Mari Toni Basas — Toni Rose’s older sister, a young Remy Palma, Gyzelle Sy, and Tin Agno.

Vargas now sees herself as more of a complimentary piece, the hardened veteran looking to guide FEU’s younger guns in a season where much if expected of them.

“Ngayon, nadagdagan siguro yung maturity and ko, pagiging veteran daw, sabi, na pwede ko mai-share din sa mga bata ‘yun, as a leader, as an ate,” added Vargas.

“Nako-contribute ko kung anong knowledge ang natutunan ko.”

League insiders are confident that Vargas, who turned 25-year-old on December 12 last year, will be declared eligible to play in Season 80. Although the UAAP is yet to have their eligibility meeting this week, a source closely monitoring the situation expressed confidence that Vargas will pass the league’s eligibility rules.

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23 for 2023 cadet CJ Perez honored to help out Gilas



Having had the chance to represent the Philippines in FIBA-sanctioned cagefests such the Asia Challenge Cup and the 3X3 All-Stars back in 2016, Lyceum Pirates star CJ Perez is no stranger to the international stage.

But the 24-year-old do-it-all swingman admits that he still gets overwhelmed whenever he sees his seniors — the stars and pillars of the program — in the team. “Nasusurprise [pa rin] ako,” he said. “Mga professionals eh.

“Na-istarstruck pa rin ako sa kanila.”

Perez said so when he finally made his return within Gilas’ realms last Monday night. The last time he was with the National Team was in August 2016, when the SBP built an amateur-laden batch of Gilas cagers that served as the transition from the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers squad to the 2017 SEABA team.

“Sobrang grateful ako (sa invitation),” said the talented six-foot-two guard, after practice at the Meralco Gym.

The reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player is back in the fold for Gilas as his name, along with young, up-and-coming stars, was included in the 23 for 2023 pool — a list of cagers projected to be the contingent for the Manila-hosted World Cup.

“Iniisip ko yun (FIBA World Cup 2023) simula magtawag sila ng practice. Actually nandoon na yung utak ko eh,” the Lyceum Pirate ace bared. “Kailangan ko lang mag work hard pa para makapasok dun sa lineup na yun, kahit malayo pa.

“It’s an honor para ma-represent yung country.”

Unlike in 2016, Perez graced the court and took part in drills with the veterans such as Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, among others. With those type of players around him, he feels that the lessons he can get will be limitless.

“Oo sobra. Kahit kanino naman (matututo ka talaga),” Perez shared. “(At tsaka) Dito parang more on sa mental. ‘Di na iniisip yung conditioning kasi may ibang teams naman sila so about sa mental toughness [talaga].”

For now, the 23 for 2023 cadets are already working out not just for familiarity, but also to help the seniors in preparing for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this February.

“Sobrang happy and grateful na nakakatulong ako sa kanila kahit sa simpleng practice lang.”

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Blistering Mikey Williams takes home Heritage Import of the Week honor



Photo from ASEAN Basketball League

The resurgent Saigon Heat have been the thorn to topflight clubs teams Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club and Nanhai Kung Fu, handing both squads their first losses in the eighth season of the ASEAN Basketball League. The Heat would not have done it without Filipino-American import Mikey Williams.

Williams, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Cal State Fullerton, dropped 39 points on 14-for-25 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists in Saigon’s 121-115 overtime win over Hong Kong.

The former NBA G-Leaguer followed it up with a sensational 24-point, five-rebound, and seven-assist outing in their 96-93 win over Kung Fu.

Overall, the 26-year-old guard averaged 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.0 steals to edge out fellow Filipino AJ Mandani of the Singapore Slingers for the weekly award.

For the Local Player of the Week, two Alab Pilipinas stalwarts were the runners-up for the crown.

Reigning local Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. and his floor general Josh Urbiztondo had stellar weeks that earned them honorable mentions.

Parks averaged 17.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists for the week that saw Alab lose to the Slingers at home last Wednesday before bouncing back on the road against the Mono Vampire last Sunday.

Urbiztondo, on the other hand, had norms of 14.5 points on a hot 9-for-17 clip from downtown.

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Brazilian football legend Zico to visit Manila



Contributed photos

One of the best to ever play the Beautiful Game is coming to the Philippines. Zico, who electrified the footballing world in the ’70s and ’80s, is slated to visit Manila on the weekend of January 27.

The Brazilian, whose real name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, is considered one of the best footballers in the world during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Zico starred for the Brazilian national team, scoring 48 goals in 71 appearances for the Selecao. In 1999, the attacking midfielder came 8th in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote, and in 2004 was named in FIFA’s list of the world’s greatest living players.

Zico played for legendary Brazilian club Flamengo and also for the Italian Serie A team Udinese. He finished his playing career suiting up for Kashima Antlers in the J-League, the top tier of Japanese football, leading them to an unlikely runner-up finish.

The 64-year-old also had a successful managerial career, leading Turkey’s Fenerbahce, Greek team Olympiacos, and CSKA Moscow to titles. Zico was also in charge of the Japanese national team when they won the AFC Asian Cup in 2004. Because of that accomplishment, Zico is one of the most beloved football figures in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Seven Seas Properties, a company that promotes Philippine real estate and Philippine stocks in the Japanese market, is bringing the football icon here.

“We are delighted to welcome Zico to the Philippines. I’m sure he will give a big boost to the growing football scene here,” says Seven Seas Properties President Yukihiro Nishimura.

Zico will attend a CSR event with young footballers from underprivileged communities on Saturday, January 27. The following day, Sunday January 28, he will lead a football clinic for elite young players and coaches in the McKinley Hill stadium in Taguig. Football fans and media are welcome to watch this event, which kicks off at 2:00 pm. Admission is free.

Zico in Manila is also made possible by Otsuka – Solar Philippines, Inter Sports Partners, AgriNurture, and Primex.

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