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Wild finish marks Green Archers United’s third straight win

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In a battle of two in-form teams, it was Green Archers United (GAU) FC who pulled off a late winner over Manila Jeepney FC, 3-2, to roll on to their third consecutive victory at the 2015 United Football League (UFL), Saturday, June 27 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

The first half was evenly contested as both teams tried to weave past the opposing defense. A few minutes into the opening frame, however, the Green Archers started to assert their might and were able to dominate the possession. The white-shirts was in the back heel as they were content with clearing the balls that breach their backline. At the 19th minute two consecutive shots by Jhan-jhan Melliza and Robert Lopez Mendy almost opened the scoring for the green-shirts, had these shots gone into the back of the net. In the following goal kick by Jeepney goalkeeper RJ Joyel, the away squad was able to get the loose ball. Seeing the white side’s defense in disarray, Manuel Chaffort fired a shot from the center circle and took the go-ahead for his team at the 27th minute.

Five minutes later, Green Archers custodian Paolo Pascual blocked an attempt by Arthur Kouassi for an equalizer. It was the visitors that doubled their lead in the ensuing action. GAU’s leading scorer Lopez-Mendy drove into the box and flicked the ball past Joyel for the goal. The leading side continued to pounce on the defense as two more attempts by Kennedy Uzoka and Ronnie Aguisanda had to be dealt with by Joyel, four minutes before the end of the half. Manila Jeepney finally found a chance at the 44th minute, only Park Su Hyun shot the ball wide and out.

That last gasp at the end of the first half proved to be a start of the shift in the balance in the second half. Capitalizing on the personnel adjustments of the Green Archers, Manila Jeepney was finally able to win the 50-50 balls and build up their attack. The white-side’s first solid chance of the period happened at the 61st minute. Arnel Amita found himself within shooting range, but his shot was blocked by Gelo Diamante. Two minutes after, Kouassi was at the right place at the right time and headed the ball into the goal out of Pascual’s reach to take one back for Jeepney, 1-2. With momentum on their side, Kouassi’s team continued with their attacking and midfield control. The burly forward, and Eric Giganto set up chances for a tying goal, but their efforts were stifled by the defense. The more aggressive side was rewarded with the equalizer at the 74th minute. Green Archers keeper Pascual anchored his squad’s defense against the barrage of shots, only to crumble from an attempt by Amita, who broke the wall for his team’s second and level the match.

With time left, both teams tried to push for the winning goal. With a winning streak on the line, GAU striker Melliza found himself free on the flanks and took Joyel one-on-one. The young keeper committed to his former college teammate, and Melliza sent the ball to Lopez Mendy, who blasted it to the onion bag at the 78th minute, to reclaim the lead for his team, 3-2. Two minutes after that shot, goalscorer Lopez Mendy was sent off after an altercation with Joshua Mullero and Rodrigue Nembot. Melliza tried to put the game out of reach in the following play, but he was not able connect. Manila Jeepney had one last attempt as the fulltime whistle was about to be sounded. Giganto dislodged the defense and fired from way out only for him to be adjudged offside and his goal nullified. Green Archers pulled off a rousing win, their third in seven days.

In an interview, GAU coach Rodolfo Alicante expressed his happiness that his team was able to survive this hectic schedule. According to the veteran mentor, the key was to maximize their players. “You have to use your players,” he said. Alicante also shared that he felt they dominated the first half as evidenced by his teams’ early lead. Manila Jeepney was able to adjust and found creases in their defense to level the match in the following period. When asked about what he told his players after the equalizer, the tactician shared, “I told the midfield to defend first and organize; kasi sometimes ganun talaga, pag yung kalaban nakascore, yung morale ng team bumababa. So, I told them to organize, so yun nabalik yung team.” Alicante, however, has concerns on the suspension of Lopez Mendy for their match against league leaders Ceres FC. Raising this concern, he said that they need to work on their defense to counter the offensive prowess of the top-seeded squad whom they will face on July 15. On the other side, Manila Jeepney will try to bounce back from this loss, when they challenge Global FC on July 18.

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’

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Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence

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For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense

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Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs

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It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue as they are, it looks like another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be excuses.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” asserted Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort that the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco have a chance to end their slump against the Kia Picanto this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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