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Volleyball superstars venture to new but familiar territory



[nextpage title = “Denden Lazaro”]

Last Tuesday, two of the country’s most accomplished volleyball players returned to the collegiate ranks to try a different field.

Two-time UAAP champion Denden Lazaro and former UAAP MVP Michele Gumabao took to the NCAA broadcasting booths to serve as analysts for the Final Four matches.

One of the best liberos in the country, Lazaro admitted that calling matches on live television had really shaken her nerves, adding that being with veteran commentator Andrei Felix allowed her to adjust the more they got into the San Beda – Arellano match they were calling.

“Sobrang nakakakaba pero thanks to Kuya Andrei nakaraos ako. He made me feel more comfortable doing the commentating and the analysis of the game,” she said. “It’s my first time to watch NCAA games live and I’m really thankful that I was able to cover it as an analyst. Iba pala talaga ‘yung feeling when you’re watching and analyzing rather than when you’re playing. For me, mas nakakakaba talaga.”

Lazaro had made her broadcasting debut in the Philippine Superliga, but admitted that just being around the collegiate game made her miss playing for Ateneo.

“Gusto ko na nga sana lumapit kanina sa court tapos maglaro. Among anything, I just miss the feeling for your school and playing for school pride. I’m looking forward to calling more games in the semifinals and then the Finals.”

Among the broadcast team, Lazaro was the earliest to arrive at the FilOil Flying V Centre to do research and interview players.

“I really had to do research kasi di ko pa kilala lahat ng players. Also, di rin talaga ako sanay sa Men’s style ng volleyball kasi it’s a lot faster and they’re more creative when it comes to plays kasi nga they’re more agile and they jump a lot higher. It’s very different from the women’s game.”

NEXT PAGE: Philips Golds’ Michele Gumabao >>

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Gumabao, on the other hand, commentated on the stepladder knockout match between the CSB Lady Blazers and the Perpetual Lady Altas alongside play-by-play savant Anton Roxas.

Although she had broacasted matches before for the Shakey’s V-League, Gumabao still had nerves over going on live television. Just minutes into the broadcast, Gumabo had already gotten her moment, getting clocked by a ball while doing the pregame talk.

“You’re always on edge when you’re on live TV so you’re always going to have to be one step ahead of whatever you say. But as the game goes on and just having Anton there with me made it so much easier… That (getting hit by a ball) is definitely memorable. During the broadcast nga me and Anton were joking about it already. It just goes to show anything really can happen when you’re live.”

For Gumabao, analyzing matches came naturally, as she has always analyzed herself, whether while watching on tape or during the game. She had also started coaching last year in her own volleyball program, the Michele Gumabao Volleyball Camp, and she currently heads the Alaska volleyball department, all of which has helped with being tactful while on air.

“Being a volleyball player, your experience just goes hand in hand with what you’re saying. I’m trying to comment but not be too judgemental. I’ve been there, I’ve heard what the sports analysts said with our games,” Gumabao explained. “There are good and bad things that were said so I’m just trying to remember those things that I wanted to and didn’t want to hear.”

“As a player din, you tend to analyze yourself a lot. So now, it’s just a matter of changing the perspective. And I also started coaching recently, so that helps me gauge and comment on a person’s performance.”

Working with Roxas, Gumabao said, was a fruitful learning experience. “Anton and Andrei have been doing this for the longest time and I was just really trying to learn from them with how they talk. They’re just really fluid. It’s amazing how they can do it without a script. Especially with Anton I just really learned to know what you’re talking about. Grabe siya magresearch before the games. I’m really looking forward to learning a lot more from them,” the former La Salle Lady Spiker closed.

The notoriously harsh volleyball crowd seemed pleased with how both volleyball superstars called the matches, eliciting positive reviews across the board and helping the NCAA trend on Twitter.

NEXT PAGE: Petron Blaze Spikers’ Aby Marano >>

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Former DLSU team captain, Abigail Maraño made her debut last, calling the Perpetual-Benilde Men’s Final Four tiff with Anton Roxas.

Graduating from DLSU with a Filpino Mass Communication Major in Philippine Studies degree, Maraño already had an idea of what to do on air despite being the only former volleybelle without previous broadcasting experience.

Still, the usually confident and fiery former MVP couldn’t prevent her nerves from taking over especially early in the game.

“This is a new experience for me so nakakakaba talaga kasi I really wanted to do well and not let the team around me down. Buti pa kung ako ‘yung maglalaro, kahit nakapikit ako magagawa ko siya. Kailangan ko pa talaga mag practice,” Maraño remarked after the game.

Among the new panelists, Maraño had the toughest debut with the match dragging into five heated sets.

“Parang I was thrown straight into the fire talaga. But it was really fun, pagdating noong mga later sets, I felt more comfortable.”

Known for her fiery on-court demeanor, Tyang wanted to show off a different side.

“Gusto ko ipakita na hindi naman ako laging BMDC. May side din ako na witty and approachable. I really appreciated how Anton Roxas eased me into this. Sobrang laking tulong niya with helping me get things that I want to say out. Sobrang professional niya rin,” said Maraño.

Moreover, the athlete/restaurateur closed in saying that their experience adds a new dimension to the booth. “I think naman na being a player it is our advantage since we know very well the in-depth understanding of the sport that we are going to analyze. Kasi nilalaro namin siya.”


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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Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory



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2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’



Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup



Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win



Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

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