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UST storms back, snaps FEU’s 9-game streak



Through veterans Karim Abdul and Kevin Ferrer, and the late-game heroics of rookie Embons Bonleon, the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers overcame a slow start to sweep their regular season series against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 85-76, early Saturday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The league-leading Tamaraws stormed to a huge 17-5 lead to open the game as the entire FEU starting five of Russell Escoto, Mike Tolomia, RR Pogoy, Prince Orizu, and Francis Tamsi were all running hot. The huge rally was capped by a booming triple from Tamsi. After a timeout, the veteran duo of Abdul and Ferrer led UST in a 7-2 rally that cut the lead to just seven, but this was cut short by strong drives from Mac Belo and Monbert Arong. Moreover, the hot-shooting of Tolomia continued as he scored eight in the quarter. A three-point play by Louis Vigil and a putback by Ferrer closed the period with FEU still on top 30-19.

Belo continued the FEU rampage to start the second quarter en route to the biggest lead of the game, 36-22. As the Tamaraws were about to breakaway, the Growling Tigers looked to Abdul to get them back in it. Abdul was in vintage form all throughout as he overpowered Escoto. Unforced turnovers also plagued the Tamaraws as UST were able to chip into the lead. A Jojo Trinidad turnover with 1:27 left before the break led to a Marvin Lee layup that cut the lead to just four, 45-41, while free throws by the rookie and Ferrer closed the quarter to tie the game at 45-all to enter the halftime break.

A three-pointer by Ferrer opened the third quarter to give UST its first lead of the game at 48-46. As the two teams exchanged baskets, another triple by the Smart Elite ambassador tied the game at 54-all, leading coach Nash Racela to call a timeout with 5:24 to go in the third. UST then continued their run to a 61-57 lead. With 2:28 to go in the quarter, Ferrer had to be subbed out as, according to him, he experienced palpitations and, as a precautionary measure, asked to go to the locker room for treatment. Embons Bonleon stepped up for their captain, scoring four of their last six points to extend the lead to 69-59 going into the final frame.

Vigil, though more of scorer, facilitated the teams’ offense to start the fourth quarter. The wingman was able to look for Abdul and Bonleon, the latter a three-pointer, that extended the UST lead to 13, 78-65, with 6:34 left. Tamsi responded with a three-pointer. After another three by Escoto that cut the lead to 10 with 4:20 remaining, the FEU defense held the Growling Tigers scoreless in the next three minutes even with Ferrer returning at the 4:59 mark. Orizu was able to score inside while a rainbow by Tolomia cut the lead to just five with 1:53 remaining. A Bonleon fader and free throws by Abdul extended the lead back to nine while misses by Tolomia, Tamsi, and Belo, all from long distance, sealed the game for UST, 85-76.

“Dumepensa lang kami.Tumatama lang talaga tres nila nung simula,” UST head coach Bong Dela Cruz said after the game. “Ang sabi ko lang sa kanila just enjoy playing defense.”

Karim Abdul, who produced a classic performance with 23 points on 7/13 shooting, added that it was all heart. “I did not want to be in a situation where there will still be a playoff for the twice-to-beat spot. I did not want to lose.”

Kevin Ferrer also spoke, assuring that he had recovered from the palpitation he experienced after eating chocolate before the game. “Okay na ako. Gusto ko bumalik sa game dahil kelangan nila ako.” The senior added 21 points on 5/15 shooting, was able to knockdown three threes and grabbed six boards.

In addition to the two veterans, Bonleon had 13 points on a 6/7 shooting clip. Vigil and lee added 13 and 11 markers respectively as well.

For the Tamaraws, Mike Tolomia led the team in scoring with 17 points but was just 5/14 from the field. Smart Elite ambassador Mac Belo had 12 points as well but had his worst shooting of the season in shooting just 4/12 from the field. He added nine boards in the loss.

The UST Growling Tigers shot a tad better than their opponents, 44% to 42%, but were able to force FEU into 22 turnovers that led to 17 turnover points. Moreover, the Espana cagers took better care of the ball in committing just nine turnovers.

The UST Growling Tigers (10-3) face the Adamson Soaring Falcons (3-10) in their final game of the regular season on Wednesday, November 11 at 2:00pm, while the FEU Tamaraws (10-2) play their penultimate game on Saturday, November 14 against the NU Bulldogs at 4:00pm.

The Scores:
UST (85) – Abdul 23, Ferrer 21, Bonleon 13, Vigil 13, Daquioag 11, Lee 4, Faundo 0, Lao 0, Sheriff 0, Suarez 0.
FEU (76) – Tolomia 17, Tamsi 15, Belo 12, Pogoy 8, Escoto Ru. 6, Arong 5, Jose 4, Orizu 4, Trinidad 3, Inigo 2, Dennison 0, Ebono 0, Escoto Ri. 0.
Quarterscores: 19-30, 45-45, 69-59, 85-76.

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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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