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Valdez, Tan back for unfinished business

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Local volleyball superstar, Alyssa Valdez brought a lot of firsts for Ateneo but the UAAP Beach Volleyball title has eluded her and the Lady Eagles. Every year since her rookie year, Valdez bikinied-up and tried to bring Ateneo to its first beach volleyball title.

The closest she ever got was in Season 74. Valdez and the shifty Bea Tan reached the Finals only to fall in three games to UST’s Judy Caballejo and Maruja Banaticla. A disheartened Tan memorably sobbed in the arms of Valdez after that loss. The following season, Tan and Valdez again paired up but couldn’t get back to the Finals.

Last season, neither played beach volleyball for the Loyola-based squad with Tan sitting the year out and Valdez only suiting up, but never seeing action due to a sickness.

This year, the Tan-Valdez pair is back and looked as deadly as ever in their season opener against the Lady Maroons.

“I’m really lucky to play with Bea again, she came back to play for Ateneo so its an inspiration talaga,” Valdez said.

“I’m thinking lang na I have to play well for Bea and Coach Parley. I’m not really aiming for anything, I just want to play better every day,” Valdez answered when asked about her goals for her final season on the sand.

“There was a little bit of first game jitters. Although we’re already seniors and we should be more seasoned and we should be more stable, di naman natin maiiwasan na kabahan. I’m just really glad to be back and we got our first win,” Tan said when asked how it felt to play her first UAAP game in nearly two years.

Tan has been playing a lot of beach volleyball recreationally in the time she was away from Ateneo. Getting a chance to play in a big tournament is what drew her back to the UAAP she says. The fact that she and Alyssa haven’t trained together often in the weeks leading up to the tournament shouldn’t be too much of a problem for them she believes.

“Alyssa’s very seasoned naman. Her training in indoor volleyball keeps her really fit and she’s alreay really good. The more we play together and she gets used to the sand, we should be good,” Tan said.

Asked if they’re looking to rekindle the same magic they had when they made a Finals run, Tan reiterated the importance of hard work. “Siguro there’s not much magic or miracles involved. Everyone’s really good and it just comes down to who works the hardest and whose willing to push themselves.”

For the schedule nof Ateneo’s remaining games, click here.

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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EAC

Perpetual escapes upset-hungry EAC

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Fighting off a sluggish start, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas came alive late to slip past the Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals, 22-25, 25-19, 25-14, 23-25, 15-13, and remain on pace for a spot in the NCAA Season 93 Final Four at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Taking on a struggling EAC side, Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño knew that there was a possibility that his squad would relax. His team has had trouble starting and finishing off matches, as evidenced in their first set performance and lack of finishing push in the fourth frame.

“May tendency talaga ‘yung team ko na mag-relax. Sabihin na nating hindi kasi sobrang lakas ng kalaban. Pero alam naman natin sa volleyball na wala namang team na ibibigay sa’yo ‘yung panalo, kailangan kunin mo talaga,” Cariño lamented.

The fifth frame came down to late breaks. The Lady Altas broke a 13-all tie with back-to-back transition conversions from Cindy Imbo and Lourdes Clemente.

“Siyempre, nage-expect ako nang mas maganda pang performance sa team ko. Alam din naman nila na mas may ibubuga pa sila kaya kailangan mas maganda ang ipakita namin sa mga huli naming laro,” the NCAA champion mentor added.

Imbo tallied a game-high 17 points, while Clemente and Maria Aurora Tripoli added 15 points, apiece. The Lady Altas needed all of their 11 aces and 11 blocks to offset their season-high 42 errors.

Aira Binondo was the only Lady General in double-digits with 13 points.

The Lady Altas (3-1) next face the Jose Rizal University (2-2) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. EAC (0-4) will look for their first win on Monday against the College of Saint Benilde (2-1).

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Imbo 17, Clemente 15, Tripoli 15, Sangalang 11, Llorente 10, Versoza 4, Estanislao 1, Gual 1, Umandal 0, Medalla (L)

EAC (2) – Binondo 13, Tongco 9, Pablo 8, Lumbao 7, Magbanua 7, Reyes A. 3, Reyes K. 3, Tasis 2, Yongco 1, Medina (L)

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EAC

Altas steamroll Generals for fourth win

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The University of Perptual Help System DALTA Altas maintained top-billing in the NCAA Season 93 Men’s Volleyball tournament after cruising past the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 25-14, 25-19, 25-11, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Last season’s runners-up dominated right from the first point and never let the Generals sniff the lead. The Altas outclassed the San Marcelino-based program in every scoring category, tallying a season-high 13 blocks to EAC’s three.

The Altas also maintained their solid passing this season, a trend that delighted head coach Sammy Acaylar.

“Isa ‘yun sa mga bagay na tinututukan ko talaga sa kanila kasi we know na we can be good at attacking and blocking. We just need to be consistent on floor defense and reception,” said Acaylar, as the Altas were 58 percent on excellent receives.

“Kahit maganda ang nilalaro namin ngayon, alam naman ng mga bata ang end goal namin which is to win a championship. So kailangan isa-isa lang ang tingin namin sa mga laro kasi marami pang challenges na darating bago namin makamit ang championship,” the decorated mentor added.

Graduating team captain Rey Taneo towed the Las Piñas-based spikers with 12 points coming off seven attacks and five blocks. Joebert Almodiel added 11 points.

Open hitter Joshua Mina was the lone bright spot for the Generals, scoring 13 points.

Perpetual (4-0) look to keep streaking when they face the struggling Jose Rizal University (0-4) on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. EAC (2-2) take on the defending champions College of Saint Benilde (2-1) on Monday, also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores:

UPHSD (3) – Taneo 12, Almodiel 11, Rosales 10, Muhali 8, Ramos 8, Atentar 1, Solamilo 1, Bateon 0, Catipay 0, Salo 0, Taneo S. 0, Kalingking (L)

EAC (0) – Mina 13, Lim 5, Ilano 4, Rasing 2, Castelano 0, Garcia 0, Panoy 0, Magadan (L)

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ABL

Joshua Munzon, Westsports snap Saigon’s streak in highly emotional contest

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Photo by ASEAN Basketball League

Entering Wednesday night’s game, Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat were on a high, slaying the winning streaks of Hong Kong Eastern and Nanhai Kung Fu. However, Joshua Munzon and the Westsports Malaysia Dragons had other things in mind, keeping the Heat winless at the MABA Stadium, 91-87.

In his fourth game since returning to the Dragons, Munzon filled up the stat sheet, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Besides putting up the numbers, the athletic swingman from California helped limit reigning Heritage Player of the Week Williams to his worst game so far in the ABL. Averaging 27.33 points, 6.67 assists, and 6.0 rebounds prior to this game, Williams went field goal-less against the Dragons, missing all 11 of his attempts. The Filipino-American floor general was able to dish out eight assists and grab five caroms.

Westsports led by as much as 11 points in the final frame, 82-71, after Munzon found Marcus Marshall for a triple with 4:59 remaining. Behind World Imports Akeem Scott and Maxie Esho, the Heat stormed right back but was answered by a long bomb by Munzon to keep them at bay.

Marshall and Scott figured in a shootout to close out the game but in the end, the hosts were still able to etch out their second straight victory.

Marshall finished the game with 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Dragons while Scott’s 44-point game went for naught.

After the emotionally charged contest though, few unkind words were exchanged by the officials of both squads that almost resulted into a brawl. Fortunately, things did not escalate beyond that.

In the video, Munzon was also seen shoving a Saigon player to try and pacify the situation. The league is currently investigating the post-game incident.

With the win, Westsports Malaysia raised its record to 3-4 while dropping Saigon to 4-3.

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Mixed Martial Arts

Edward Kelly honored to fight alongside brother Eric

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Eric and Edward Kelly lived under the same roof for years in their hometown of Baguio City when they were young and shared the same burning passion in martial arts.

Growing up in the small town community of San Tomas Central, located within the city limits of Baguio, Eric and Edward did not always get along with one another as the two fought all the time, sometimes even resulting in injury.

“We were not that close before. We always fought. In short, Eric and I were headaches to our parents,” Edward recalled in jest.

“But of course, things change when you grow up and mature. We now appreciate each other’s company.”

Fortunately, when the brothers entered high school, Eric discovered martial arts, and everything would change for both of them.

Edward paid attention to the growing accolades of his older brother and was heavily motivated by it.

“I noticed after he started martial arts that it taught him the discipline not to fight me as a brother. Instead, he started giving me advice through what he had learned,” he bared. “I also joined martial arts because it teaches you discipline, and a lot of other positives, too.”

Years later, both men have made remarkable runs as outstanding martial artists in their respective professional careers.

Eric is widely regarded as one of the best homegrown martial arts athletes to come out of the Philippines.

A Wushu practitioner who combines solid striking techniques with high-level grappling skills, Eric owns nine scintillating submissions and one knockout out of 12 total career victories.

Eric’s most impressive showing to date came in a submission win over Rob Lisita in July 2014, a performance that earned him the USD 50,000 ONE Warrior Bonus.

Meanwhile, Edward is considered as one of the best and brightest featherweight prospects to emerge from the well-established martial arts scene in the Philippines.

With a complete striking and grappling skill set, Edward brings Team Lakay’s world-renowned Wushu to center stage as he showcases his impeccable skillset inside the ONE Championship cage.

In addition, the younger Kelly has won three of his last four bouts under the ONE Championship banner, all by spectacular finish.

The Kelly brothers get a rare chance on Friday, January 26 as the siblings will compete side-by-side when ONE Championship holds its first of the four scheduled events in the country for 2018.

Eric squares off with Brazilian standout Rafael Nunes on the undercard of ONE: Global Superheroes, while Edward crosses paths with Cambodia’s Meas Meul in a three-round featherweight clash.

It is the first time both of them will be featured at a ONE Championship event together, and Edward plans to make it a night they will never forget.

“I am so excited because finally, it’s going to happen. It marks the first time that I will compete alongside my older brother. Surely, it’s going to be a memorable night for the both of us,” he said.

“We have the same aim of winning. So making it two for two on this card will make this extra special.”

As Eric seeks to get back on the winning track at the expense of Nunes, Edward is likewise looking to move forward in his career after getting his three-bout winning streak snapped by American stalwart Emilio Urrutia in August 2017.

In his next cage outing, Edward goes up against Meul, a undefeated promotional newcomer with six wins to his credit.

“My coaches has prepared me well for this. I am not going to disappoint my team and my country when I enter that cage on 26th of January,” Edward assured. “I don’t want to let my countrymen down this time. I am here to give them a great bout.

“And of course, win the bout in impressive fashion for them.”

Edward has no qualms if he has to go full three rounds with Meul, but he admitted that his sights are always set on securing the finish.

“I am looking to dominate him for three rounds. But hopefully, I can get the finish,” he vowed.

“A finish will be the perfect way to tell the world that I am back.”

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