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Watch Them While You Still Can

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[nextpage title = “EAC’s Mojica”]
These NCAA Superstars are making their last run at a title.

It’s no secret. The UAAP has a huge leg up on the NCAA with media exposure.

Just because the UAAP has had more live broadcasts, and is talked about more often online, fans default to thinking the UAAP has better athletes than the NCAA.

The NCAA’s Men’s Volleyball players are aware of this notion, and it’s a chip on their shoulders. Reigning NCAA MVP, EAC’s Howard Mojica, has talked about this before and his fellow stars echo him.

For the first time in a long while, the NCAA Men’s tournament will have games broadcast live on ABS CBN Sports + Action. Tune in because this may be the last chance to watch the players who have built the NCAA’s reputation of mythic 40-point performances and heated rivalries.

Mojica has had his usual amazing season. With just a few games left in the amateurs division, the league’s top scorer looks to end his illustrious five-year stay in EAC with a championship.

“Siyempre gusto ko magchampion. Kahit sino pa makalaban namin, basta ang gusto namin mapatunayan na deserving kami.”

Mojica makes slamming volleyballs seem easy. In a league filled with high jumpers, Mojica boasts an unrivaled hang time, allowing him to adjust, make decisions, and maybe even stare down his opponents while in mid-air. Although opposing teams regularly send triple blocks his way, he finds ways over, around, or through the thicket of arms. Add to that his vicious jump serve, and Mojica often single-handedly destroys his opponents’ spirits.

The Generals earned the first seed in the Final Four for the second consecutive year, taking down the Perpetual Help Altas in a heated match.

“Puro kamay lang talaga nakikita ko kapag nasa ere na ako. Masasanay ka na rin lang. Bihira naman ako makapalo ng isa o walang nasa tapat ko kaya dinadaan ko na lang talaga sa ensayo. Puro drills ng kung anuman ‘yung ibibigay sa akin ng depensa,” Mojica shared when asked about what he sees when he jumps for an attack.

When it comes to the attention the NCAA has been gaining, Mojica just hopes the league sustains its momentum.

“Kung para sa akin lang, hindi naman nakakadagdag sa kaba ko sa paglalaro ‘yung TV. Laro lang talaga. Mas masaya ako kasi sa wakas, mabibigyan yung team ko saka ‘yung buong liga na din ng chance na mapanuod ng marami. Marami naman kasi talagang magagaling sa NCAA. Sana mga susuon na taon, mas marami pang laro ‘yung maipalabas.”

NEXT PAGE: Blazer Opposite Hitter Johnvic De Guzman >>

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[nextpage title = “CSB’s De Guzman”]ST-FEU-vs-CSB-De-Guzman-solo

Benilde’s John Vic De Guzman is probably the most recognizable NCAA Men’s Volleyball player, having played for the National Team in the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore just last year.

Like Mojica, De Guzman has a penchant for virtuoso scoring performances, even setting the record for most points in a game last season.

This season, however, saw a different side of the usually fiery open hitter. Named the team captain, De Guzman toned down his former antics and focused on setting an example for his teammates to follow.

Still, he has maintained his offensive brilliance, only just trailing Howard Mojica in the top scorers list. If the league ever got around to measuring players’ vertical leaps, odds are De Guzman would measure off the charts.

Even with a stellar 7-2 record, De Guzman and CSB head into the Final Four at a distinct disadvantage, seeded third and having to beat the UPSHD Altas twice to reach the Finals. After coming just one match away from claiming the title last year, CSB have nothing more to aim for than their first championship.

“Kapag nakarating ka na sa Finals, wala ka naman ng iba pang pwedeng gawing goal kundi magchampion. May mga opportunity kami this season na hindi na-grab agad pero ibang usapan na ngayong Final Four,” De Guzman expressed, adding that if he wins the championship this year, he will most likely sit out his fifth playing year to focus on his studies. “Pero as long as hindi kami nagchachampion, hindi ako titigil.”

De Guzman is also happy with the increased media attention the NCAA has been getting. “Alam naman natin na kung sa media, sa fans, at sa coverage lang, mas pinaprioritize ‘yung UAAP. Kapag Finals lang talaga madalas nabrobroadcast ‘yung NCAA. Pero mabuti ngayon kasama na ‘yung semis. Hindi naman mabibigo ‘yung mga tao sa panunuod sa NCAA.”

NEXT PAGE: Altas Middle Blocker Bonjomar Castel >>

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[nextpage title = “Perpetual’s Castel”]UPHSD-Castel

For Perpetual’s graduating Middle Blocker, Bonjomar Castel, leaving the school that gave him so many opportunities with a championship could not mean more to him.

The burly blocking machine had been a part of the Altas’ golden years when they tore through the NCAA, winning four straight titles, with Castel playing a major role in the latter three.

Having been named team captain this season, Castel could have crumbled under the pressure of the position, given the accomplishments of previous captains. Instead, the Palawan native provided the heart and intensity his team had lacked last season and led them to an 8-1 record for the second seed.

“Sobrang proud ako na ginawa ako ni Coach Sammy (Acaylar) na team captain. Sobrang pressured din kasi ang gagaling nga noong mga past na team captains. Kinailangan ko talaga mag lead. Gusto ko rin naman ‘yung pressure. Malaking bagay sa akin na may ganoong tiwala sa akin si coach,” Castel remarked.

Castel perhaps showed his true desire to lead in their placing match against the EAC Generals. Fighting for the number one seed, Castel injured his left ankle after landing awkwardly from a block attempt. After sitting out a few minutes, Castel was raring to get back into the match. But the coaches persuaded him to rest his injury for their next match, considering they were assured of a twice-to-beat bonus.

“Gusto talaga namin manalo. Kahit sabihin pa sa akin ng mga coach na ipahinga ko na lang, sayang ‘yung laban. Kasi pride namin ‘to. Four-time champions kami sa NCAA kaya gusto namin mag number one. Wala ‘yun sa kung sina makakalaban namin sa Final Four. Pride lang talaga.”

Just one game away from the Finals, Castel acknowledges that there is no room for complacency. “Kailangan animal instinct kami sa Friday. Go for the kill.”

Tommorrow, Mojica and EAC face the fourth-seeded San Beda Red Spikers before CSB and Perpetual square off.

The public has missed the first years of their playing stints. They should not miss the chance to witness these legends in the most dramatic phase of their collegiate careers.
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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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1 Comment
  • Darth2D2

    Hi, Migs! I think John Vic de Guzman is an opposite hitter, not an open hitter.

ABL

Christian Standhardinger goes perfect from stripe in Hong Kong’s rout of Formosa

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After going a horrid 5-for-17 from the stripe during their first loss of the season last January 9, Christian Standhardinger made sure to make good on his free throws to power the Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club to a dominant 99-79 rout of the Formosa Dreamers, Thursday evening in Southorn Stadium.

The 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who tallied 37 points and 19 rebounds in the overtime loss to Saigon, went a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The contest itself was not close, as the defending champions were able to impose their will on the bottom-ranked squad, leading by as much as 23 points, 93-70, after two free throws by Standhardinger with 2:58 remaining.

If Standhardinger was having a good day with his free throws, the entire Formosa squad could not say the same, going 13-of-27 from the line.

Tyler Lamb had 25 markers as well for Hong Kong, while Ryan Moss grabbed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Lenny Daniel paced Formosa with 25 points and 11 rebounds. World Import Ronnie Aguilar had 14 points and 16 rebounds but went just 5-for-14 from the field.

With the win, Hong Kong goes to 8-1, while the Dreamers fell to 1-8.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes 3×3 World Cup breaks Philippine Arena record

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals between heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas on Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best t

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short of copping Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different beast.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad suffered a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even fashioning multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino, as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block. The 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the duo — and the rest of the Jawbreakers — now have the experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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