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Valbuena, UP strive to overcome inconsistency



These past few years the UP Maroons have been consistently inconsistent. Since their last Final Four appearance in Season 73, the team has struggled to maintain their relevance despite their seemingly competitive lineup. There were high hopes for UP in the last UAAP Season, as they finished the first round with a 3-4 slate, but they stumbled to just a single win in the second round.

What resonates most about the last UAAP Season was the Maroons’ final match against La Salle. The match decided wether UP would improve on their second to the last finish the year before, or remain at the bottom of the standings for another year. In the match UP started slow,  fighting back from a 0-2 deficit, eventually tying the match at 2-2 before falling in the fifth set.

Current Team Captain, Alfred Valbuena grudgingly remembers that game. He shared with Tiebreaker Times just how painful the loss was for the team.

“Na-sad kaming lahat. Kasi last game namin, tapos nandun nakabase yung ranking sa UAAP nun. Kung nanalo kami against La Salle 6th kami, pag natalo 7th. Eh malaking bagay yun for (morale) next season, na 6th place kami.  Hindi kami kulelat na 7th place pa rin.”

Things seem to be shaping up for the team this year. They had an excellent outing in the recently concluded Philippine National Games (PNG) tournament, defeating Champion Infinity in the Finals to take home the crown.

Now, they have their sights set on the inaugural season of the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference. They were impressive in their first two matches, defeating Arellano in the opening day of the tournament, then overcoming last year’s NCAA Finalist, CSB in four sets. Alfred shared that the desire to get back into the Final Four has been fuelling this UP team to succeed.

“Gusto talaga namin mag Final Four,” shared Alfred. “Yun yung motivation namin. Yung mga leagues namin sa nakaraan, doon kami nag focus. Doon namin binase kung gaano kami nag improve, kung nag gel kami as a team. Nakita naman namin nung PNG na effective yung training program ni coach. Yung mga bata tumutulong din sa amin.”

So what improvements has the team made since the UAAP season? The age old adage of “defense wins championships” appears to be on coach Melchor Santos’ mind as that has been the team’s focus in training.

“Skill-wise, nagka-depensa kami, kasi doon kami nag focus sa training. Offense naman kaya namin mag-sabayan. Yung laro ng volleyball kailangan ng depensahan, hindi ka mananalo kapag walang depensa. Doon muna kami nag-focus, lalo na sa blocking at floor defense.”

Of course, there are still many things that the team has to improve on, and Alfred understands that you don’t improve overnight, you have to constantly work on your game.

“Yung determination namin manalo pati yung enjoyment sa court. Yun talaga yung kulang namin dati, so ngayon binabago namin,” added Alfred. “Through time nagpro-progress naman, hindi kaagad-agad na isang snap mangyayari kaagad. Kailangan palaging makinig and stick sa plan ni coach. Kasi meron kaming pinag-usapan ni coach na plans sa defense and offense patterns. Dapat kami mag stick doon, kasi napansin namin kapag hindi nag-stick or nakinig kay coach, nawawala kami sa loob ng court. Yung hard work and communication din, pati confidence sa sarili.”

“We’re getting to where coach wants us to be. Every training namin ginagawa namin, six man defense, 3 man defense, 1 man defense. So nagagamay namin yung isa’t-isa sa loob ng court, yung positioning, pagpapalo, coverage, depensa naman pag papalo yung kalaban. Dapat lahat gumagalaw para walang mabutasan.”

Alfred hopes all the effort the team has put into training bears fruit. He’s tired of disappointing losses, and believes that it will all be worth it in the end.

“Papakita namin na worth it na matawag kami na University ng Pilipinas Mens Volleyball Team. Papakita namin na kaya namin mag Final Four ngayon through hard work and determination, di namin sila bibiguin.”


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Calvin Abueva, Raymond Almazan cut from pool



SMART Gilas Pilipinas’ third session for the second leg of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers ended early on Monday evening.

Prior to the end of the practice, head coach Chot Reyes talked to team veterans Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, and June Mar Fajardo. The outspoken mentor told the seniors of the team that he is cutting Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan from the pool.

“The reason why we’re dropping Abueva and Almazan for the second window is because they haven’t showed up,” lamented Reyes.

“It’s already our third practice at hindi pa sila nagpapakita. It’s simply a matter of disinterest.

“I guess they’re not interested so we have to move on we can’t wait for those guys,” he pointed out.

Both Abueva and Almazan were part of the teams that competed in the 2017 SEABA Championship, the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, and the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Only 10 players from the pool showed up for the team’s third session. And with the second leg exactly one month away, Gilas cannot let a slip up happen especially against Australia.

“Aside from those two we don’t know where Matt Wright is, while Allein [Maliksi] is attending a wedding in Australia. Other than that it’s really just an issue of Calvin and Raymond if they don’t want to be a part of the pool.” expressed Reyes.

“That’s the reason we’re dropping them for the second window.”

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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

23 for 2023 cadets fill up Gilas practice



With just 31 days until the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, only 10 players from the pool attended the team’s third session, Monday evening at the Meralco Gym.

Suiting up in the session presided over by Coach Chot Reyes were June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Jio Jalalon, Mac Belo, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, and Roger Pogoy. Carl Cruz and Jayson Castro were in attendance but were in street clothes.

Not present were Matthew Wright, Japeth Aguilar, and Allein Maliksi. Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan have yet to attend practice.

Joining the seniors team to prep them up for the World Cup Qualifiers were 10 players from the 23 for 2023 pool.

Ateneo Blue Eagle Matt Nieto attended his first Gilas practice. Joining him were teammates Isaac Go and Thirdy Ravena.

Completing the night’s cast were CJ Perez, Abu Tratter, Will Gozum, J-jay Alejandro, Arvin Tolentino, and Juan Gomez de Liano. Joshua Sinclair watched from the sidelines as he is still recovering from an ACL injury.

Gilas will take on Australia in Melbourne on February 22. The Philippine will then host Japan three days later at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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San Beda fends off Letran for back-to-back wins



With seasoned setter John Carlo Desuyo steering the wheel to near perfection, the San Beda College romped to their second straight win.

The Red Spikers pulled double-digit outings from four players to upend archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 19-25, 25-13, 25-21, 25-22, and register their fourth win of the season, Monday early evening at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

It was the Knights, however, who started on the right foot, overhauling a 4-10 deficit to snag the first set. Better passing from liberos Aljune Centeno and Johnsen Timbreza resulted in kills from captain Bobby Gatdula.

Nonetheless, San Beda picked up the service game in the next three sets to ultimately finish off the blue-shirts.

Despite the win-loss record they currently sport, the Red Spiker playmaker admitted that t

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Michael Calisaan tows Che’lu-San Sebastian past Perpetual



Photo by PBA Images

Michael Calisaan poured 20 points as he captained newcomer Che’Lu-San Sebastian Revellers to a decisive 83-70 win over the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas to start their voyage, Monday evening at the Pasig City Sports Center.

Doing it all for the Revellers, the veteran forward provided the stability for his side as he shot 8-of-15 from the field while also hauling down nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the conference-opening win.

But it wasn’t all Calisaan as Che’Lu got contributions from all over its roster.

Samboy de Leon chimed in 16 markers and nine boards. RK Ilagan went 2-of-5 from threes to collect 13 points, eight dimes, and three rebounds, while big men Alfred Batino and Jeepy Faundo combined for 20 in the victory.

Despite the triumph, coach Stevenson Tiu gave all the praise to his players, noting the team’s lack of time preparing for the tourney.

“Nanalo kami dahil sa talent ng players. Medyo mali ko rin kasi nahirapan pa ako mag-adjust sa players. Hopefully, we play much better in the coming games,” he said.

The Revellers used a 16-4 run to finally break away from the Altas, taking a 77-60 lead with 4:03 to play as they punished their foes for their turnovers, turning Perpetual’s 30 miscues to 28 points in their favor.

Prince Eze anchored the Altas with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocks in their first game under new head coach Frankie Lim.

Che’lu-San Sebastian look to make it two in a row when they take on the Wangs-Letran Couriers on Monday, January 29 at 5:00pm. Perpetual, on the other hand, hope they can notch their first win when they take on Mila’s Lechon Mighty Roasters.

The Scores:

Che’lu-SSCR 83 — Calisaan 20, De Leon 16, Ilagan 13, Batino 10, Faundo 10, Bulanadi 6, Costelo 6, Calma 2, David 0, Lao 0, Santos 0, Valdez 0.

UPHSD 70 — Eze 15, Coronel 13, Villanueva 13, Jimenez 9, Charcos 7, Peralta 7, Gallardo 5, Pido 1, Antonio 0, Aurin 0, Tamayo 0, Tongco 0.

Quarterscores: 17-22, 34-38, 59-53, 83-70.

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