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Versatile Tiamzon willing to do anything to win

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From lovable underdogs to legitimate Final Four contenders, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons, under head coach Jerry Yee, have made quite a turnaround.

Last season, UP absorbed injuries, academic hindrances, and a litany of drama and still came just a few wins away from the Final Four. Whereas in previous years the Lady Maroons would have been happy just to have made it that close, UP were legitimately upset at falling short.

Bolstered by a promising batch of rookies, UP had quite a build-up heading into UAAP Season 78. Their two best recruits, Isa Molde and Justine Dorog, inspired championship talks in UP’s near future with how they tore through veteran competition in the off-season.

But the two play in a position which Nicole Tiamzon, last year’s breakout star, had filled – open hitter. While the rookies were carrying UP through two Shakey’s V-League conferences, Tiamzon took time to rest her banged-up knee.

Through their first two matches in Season 78, Yee has consistently shuffled through his three hitters to fill the two open spots. Against DLSU, Yee used Tiamzon as a trump card if initial plans went into disarray.

Sure enough, the young Lady Maroons looked frazzled against the veteran Lady Spikers. Down by two sets and with morale looking low, Yee pulled his ace, subbing Tiamzon in as a setter in the third set. Aside from savvy playmaking, Tiamzon provided length at the net that stalled the La Salle attack. UP wound up thoroughly outplaying the Lady Spikers in the third set before bowing out in the fourth.

UAAP 78 Volleyball DLSU vs. UP - Tiamzon-4340

“Kagabi lang (sinabi sa akin ni coach na magsesetter ako). Para lang may Plan B kami if ever atakihin ‘yung block ni Jewel (Lai, the team’s starting setter), may magagawa pa kaming adjustment,” Tiamzon recalled.

The fourth-year hitter used to start at setter during Yee’s first year at the helm, Season 76. Apparently, Tiamzon had not played or practised as a setter since then. Regardless, Tiamzon had no problem with wherever coach Yee plays her.

“It’s okay with me as long as the team wins,” Tiamzon would say every time she was asked about her role during the interview.

Tiamzon also understood that her teammates might have had deer-in-the-headlights feelings since it was their first time to meet that Lady Spikers. She remembered feeling the same when she had first played the UAAP powerhouse during her rookie season.

“Meron kaunti (intimidation with her teammates) kasi first time nila makalaban. Pero nawala naman. Ang tagal lang ng adjustment namin kanina,” Tiamzon said. “Noong rookie din ako, may intimidation din nung nakalaban ko sila (La Salle). Pero nawala din naman as time went on. Wala naman din kasing mangyayari sayo kapag nagpapa-intimidate ka.”

As for her constantly shifting role, the competitor in Tiamzon still pushes her to fight for her starting open hitter position. But, as she maintains, she just wants to contribute to the team’s success.

“Siyempre gusto ko pa rin mag-open spiker kasi doon naman talaga ako galing. Pero, at the end of the day, laging pinapaliwanag sa amin na kahit sino pwede maging first six sa amin kasi kahit sino pwedeng mag-perform,” she told.

Tiamzon, however, recognizes the value of Molde and Dorog, admiring the fearlessness of both.

“Parang hindi sila rookie maglaro. Ang laking tulong na nae-expose sila noong high school pa lang. It’s a great thing na nakakapag-adjust sila agad sa college game. Ang lakas ng loob nila,” she gushed.

Above anything, Tiamzon is thankful for the UP Volleyball program’s stability – a stark contrast to the frantic coaching changes and disappointing finishes she had experienced early in her career.

“Thankful (ako) sa lahat ng supporters namin – sa mga alumni, sponsors, sa fans. Especially kay coach Jerry kasi sa kanya talaga nagsimula magbago ‘yung culture.”

Tiamzon and the Lady Maroons will try to bounce back from their first loss of the season on Sunday, February 14, 2 p.m. at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

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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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ABL

AJ Mandani sparks Singapore in win over Joshua Munzon-led Westsports

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Back to his role as the sixth man of the Slingers after two games, AJ Mandani provided the firepower needed by Singapore in a fourth quarter surge to stop the Westsports Malaysia Dragons, 93-85, Sunday afternoon at the MABA Stadium in Malaysia.

The win arrested the Slingers’ two-game losing streak, raising their slate to 6-6. Westsports, a team coming off a two-game winning streak that included a 91-87 win over Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat last January 18, fell to 3-5.

Struggling in the first three quarters, Mandani six of his eight points in the final frame. And those points were povital in fending off Westsports.

With Singapore clinging to a solitary point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Filipino-Canadian scored four straight points 8-0 run to gain a 74-67 lead with under seven minutes left. Another basket by Mandani followed it up with a breakaway layup with with 5:18 remaining to give Singapore an 81-72 cushion.

Filipino exports Joshua Munzon and Patrick Cabahug tried to rally the home team back as a triple by the latter cut the lead down to just three with 1:40 on the clock. Big buckets by Delvin Goh and Chris Charles sealed off the Malaysia-based club team.

Munzon went just 5-for-18 from the field to finish with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Cabahug chipped in eight points on 3-for-4 shooting off the bench.

Xavier Alexander led Singapore with 33 points while Charles tallied a double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds to go along with three swats. Singaporean Goh had 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Marcus Marshall paced Westsports with 22 points, playing all 40 minutes as fellow World Import AJ West had a tough outing.

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AU

Impervious Lady Chiefs stay perfect after sweep of Lady Pirates

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The Arellano University Lady Chiefs extended their winning streak to 17, dating back to last season, after clobbering the Lyceum of the Philippines Lady Pirates, 25-16, 25-17, 25-11, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The defending champions were unrelenting, with four Lady Chiefs scoring in double-digits. Rookie Necole Ebuen powered in 11 points. Third-year open hitter Regine Arocha and Arellano’s middle blockers Mary Anne Esguerra and Andrea Marzan each provided 10 markers.

Conversely, no Lady Pirate managed to score in double-figures.

“Maganda naman talaga ang nilalaro ng mga bata. Lahat kasi kami determinado na makakuha ulet ng championship. Alam nila (Lady Chiefs) na kailangan pataas nang pataas ang ginagalaw namin,” said Arellano head coach Obet Javier.

The Lady Chiefs also limited their errors to a season-best 16, while the Lady Pirates surrendered 24 miscues.

Christine Miralles and Monica Sevilla each supplied the struggling Lyceum with eight point apiece.

The Lady Chiefs will look for their sixth win of the season when they face the red-hot University of Perpetual Help System DALTA (4-1) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. The Lady Pirates (1-4) take on the undefeated San Beda College (4-0) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

AU (3) – Ebuen 11, Arocha 10, Esguerra 10, Marzan 10, Prado 3, Ramirez 3, Liu 2, Balanoba 1, Donato 1, Verutiao 0, Buemia (L), Flores (L)

LPU (0) – Miralles 8, Sevilla 8, Juanilla 7, Patio 4, Genova 1, Romanban 0, Bongabong 0, Marcella (L)

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Basketball

Late whistle costs San Beda against Sousse, drops Red Lions to 0-2

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23 for 2023 cadet Robert Bolick is averaging 27.5 points per game in the tournament

After struggling to close out the UAE National Team in their opener last Friday, the San Beda College Red Lions figured in a late judgment call that did not fall into their favor, Saturday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai. Due to this, the defending NCAA Champions lost to Tuniasian club team Sousse, 78-79.

With the loss, the Red Lions fell to a 0-2 hole in the 29th Dubai Basketball Championship. But the record does not reflect how the Filipinos played.

Robert Bolick, who scored 28 points against the UAE National Team, led the charge for San Beda in their second outing with 27 points. Fellow 23 for 2023 cadet Javee Mocon added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Sousse — the second-best club team in Tunisia, who boasts four national team players and an American import — led by as much as 10 points, 70-60 in the final frame.

Fired up by the Filipinos who stormed the venue, the Red Lions answered right back with an 18-8 run capped by a booming Bolick triple with six ticks left to gain a 78-76 lead.

However, a foul was called on a Red Lion on a three-point attempt by a Sousse player. He calmly sank all three free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Donald Tankoua had eight points and 13 rebounds as he was saddled with foul trouble all throughout the game.

The Tunisian club team was paced by Radzhouane Slimane with 18 points, while Ibrahim Nadarri and Joshua Cassady had 13 markers each.

San Beda will have a one-day break before taking on Moroccan club team Al Sale on Monday, January 22.

The Scores:

San Beda 78 – Bolick 27, Mocon 11, Tankoua 8, Noah 8, Toba 6, Soberano 6, Prebitero 4, Tongco 4, Bahio 2, Carino 2, Oftana 0, Adamos 0.

Sousse 79 – Slimane 18, Naddari 13, Cassady 13, Mouhli 11, Knioua 9, Toumi 8, Monastiri 4, Gaddour 3.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 36-39, 57-62, 78-79.

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JRU

Perpetual overpowers JRU to keep pace for Final Four

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Strutting their decisive height and power advantage, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas slammed the Jose Rizal University Lady Bombers, 25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 25-21, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Altas were still heavy-handed with their errors, surrendering 35 miscues, including 12 in the second set — the only frame they lost.

The Las Piñas-based program, however, kept a scorching offensive pace, bombarding the Lady Bombers with six blocks and 12 aces. JRU had just five points combined from those categories.

“Mataas pa talaga ‘yung tendency ng mga bata mamigay ng mga puntos. Sabi ko nga hindi kami mananalo kung tutulungan pa namin ‘yung kalaban maka-score,” rued Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño.

“Pero, unti-unte namang gumaganda ‘yung galaw ng mga bata. Lahat naman ng pagkukulang nila, tinatrabaho namin para maayos sa ensayo,” the champion mentor added.

Perpetual’s six-foot-three middle blocker Lourdes Clemente towered over the Lady Bombers with a season-high 19 points which included 14 attacks, two blocks, and three aces. Winger Cindy Imbo added 15 points.

Rookie Dolly Versoza paced the Lady Bombers with a game-high 21 points, while captain Shola Alvarez managed 15.

The Lady Altas (4-1) take on the undefeated defending champs Arellano University (5-0) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. The Lady Bombers (2-3) face the College of Saint Benilde (3-1) on Wednesday, also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Clemente 19, Imbo 15, Sangalang 8, Llorente 7, Tripoli 7, Gual 6, Versoza 2, Umandal 1, Estanislao 0, Medalla (L)

JRU (1) – Versoza 21, Alvarez 15, Ebuenga 5, Montojo 2, Rivera 2, Sibangan 1, Bodiongan 0, Macaraya (L)

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