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With heart and Tiger Power, Guzman and Arbasto climbs the ladder

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UST’s Kris Roy Guzman and Anthony Arbasto played the game of their lives against NU’s Bryan Bagunas and and Madzlan Gampong at the sand courts by Manila Bay at the MoA grounds.

It was 10:30 Saturday evening and Typhoon Lando had just begun blowing worrisome winds and rain unto the court. The crowds that flocked the Ateneo-La Salle match-up had all done the rational thing and fled home. Gampong floated a serve onto Guzman’s waiting arms, Arbasto set the ball high for his uncle to deliver a smash. Point UST. Guzman pounded his chest hard and screamed into a high-five with his nephew, as if they had just won the title – it was the first point of the match.

UST’s pair have a penchant for over-the-top celebrations. They had a lot to cheer about when the UAAP Beach Volleyball tournament started, knocking down their first five foes before succumbing in consecutive matches to two fellow contenders, Ateneo and NU; the loss to the latter wound up costing them a twice-to-beat advantage and relegated them to the bottom of the stepladder Final Four after the Eagles swept the tournament.

On the same Saturday they faced NU in the evening, but first had to go through FEU’s Greg Dolor abd Jude Garcia, who held a substantial size advantage over them.

Nearly everyone in the tournament were either taller or larger than the Tomasinos. Standing at around 5’7”, Guzman was UST’s team captain, taking the mantle from former teammate, the burly Mark Alfafara. What Guzman lacked in height, he made up for in quickness and sheer will to keep points alive. Anthony, brother of UST volleyball great, Kring Arbasto and Guzman’s nephew, was just about an inch or two taller than his uncle but had the hops to guard the net and attack ferociously when targeted by the opposition. Arbasto admitted that he hadn’t played a minute of beach volleyball before coming to Manila; it was only until Guzman urged him to try the sport that he gave it a shot.

“Malaking pasalamat ko po talaga kay Kris kasi siya talaga ‘yung nag-aya sa aking maglaro ng beach volley saka nagtiyaga na rin na turuan ako,” Arbasto told Tiebreaker Times.

Guzman and Arbasto determinedly fought past FEU in a tense, three-set match and set up a date with the defending champs, NU in the evening.

The Tigers had made the Finals the past two seasons only to be thwarted by their rivals from Sampaloc. Last year, Guzman had a well-documented spat with NU libero and eventual tournament MVP, Henry Tipay. With a net separating both teams, physical altercations are a rarity in volleyball. But Tipay and Guzman nearly broke the barrier.

Even if NU fielded a different pair this season, Guzman was just as fired up to face the Bulldogs. Touting a twice-to-beat advantage and the endless wingspan of Bryan Bagunas and Madz Gampong, NU was favored to move on.

Mens-Beach-Volleyball-Finals-ADMU-vs-UST-UST-Hugging

But the Tigers fed off Lando’s terrifying wins and outlasted the Bulldogs in two classic three-set matches. As Bagunas and Gampong were going down to cramps and dehydration, Guzman and Arbasto were screaming their lungs out after every point, eventually crashing after the match when cramps finally set in.

“Iba talaga pag NU ‘yung kalaban masakit kasi talaga ‘yung pagkatalo namin last year sa kanila, ‘yun pa ‘yung huling laro ni kuya Mark (Alfafara) kaya ginusto ko lang talaga makabawi sa kanila, kahit ngayon lang,” Guzman said after ending NU’s three-year reign an beach volleyball champs. That Saturday, UST had played 12 sets across four matches in a 15-hour period.

———–

Typhoon Lando probably came as a blessing to UST, delaying the competition for three days and saving them from playing a well-rested Ateneo team with barely any sleep.

Wednesday came and the Tigers were clear underdogs against Ateneo’s Ysay Marasigan and Marck Espejo, who had a thrice-to-beat advantage and were on a mission to deliver their university’s first beach volleyball trophy.

Coming out with tons of unrequited energy, UST bombed the Eagles in their first match and erased their thrice-to-beat advantage. As if they had just ingested copious amounts of energy drinks, Guzman and Arbasto sustained their effort throughout the day, nearly taking Game Two then taking the Eagles to the limit with a convincing Game Three win.

Mens-Beach-Volleyball-Finals-ADMU-vs-UST-Guzman-joust

By the time Game Four rolled around, Ateneo’s powerful pair came to their senses and pulled energy and emotion to give Ateneo their first indoor volleyball championship. Espejo and Marasigan blocked and smashed their way to a convincing first win and held a 16-11 lead in the second set. The Tigers managed one more run, knotting the match at 18 before Ateneo caught a few breaks that quelled UST’s advance.

Settling for another bridesmaid finish, Guzman and Arbasto found respite in the fact that they’ll be gunning for a UAAP championship for the next twoyears.

“Ginawa na namin ‘yung lahat namin. Kung anuman ‘yung kalabasan, kahit talo, tatanggapin na lang namin. Kahit hindi pumabor sa amin ‘yung mga tawag noong dulo, masaya na ako na nanalo kami nang dalwang laro noong akala ng karamihan na dudurugin lang kami ng Ateneo,” the Cebuano, Guzman lamented.

“Siguro po babawi na lang kami sa mga susunod na taon. Masakit po kasi ‘yung pagkatalo namin. Aalalahanin namin ‘yung pakiramdam na ‘to next year kapag naglaro na ulet kami,” the sophomore Arbasto said.

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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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FEU

Rose Vargas all set for UAAP return after four-season absence

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In an unprecedented move, hard-hitting Far Eastern University spiker Rose Vargas will return to finish her UAAP career when Season 80 kicks off on February 3 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Vargas last played for the Lady Tamaraws in Season 75. With a year of eligibility left, Vargas left the Morayta-based program to focus on her academics and pursue a career in the semi-pro ranks.

Five years since her last UAAP game, Vargas says that she did not hesitate when FEU officials asked if she wanted to return to play out her final year of eligibility.

During her time in the V-League, she played for the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors, the Bureau of Custom Transformers, and, most recently, the Creamline Cool Smashers.

“‘Yung pag-babalik naman dito (FEU) is hindi ko naman pinag-isipan matagal or nag-dalawang isip ako,” said the Season 74 Best Scorer. “Noong tinanong lang sa akin kung gusto ko daw bumalik, ang sagot ko lang, oo.

“Kasi gusto kong makatulong, and gusto kong makuha ‘yung championship namin na matagal ng hindi nakukuha ng FEU.”

Vargas adds to an already solid FEU core which includes graduating captain Bernadeth Pons, Toni Rose Basas, and Jerrili Malabanan.

The last time Vargas suited up for FEU, she was the main piece to a core that included Mari Toni Basas — Toni Rose’s older sister, a young Remy Palma, Gyzelle Sy, and Tin Agno.

Vargas now sees herself as more of a complimentary piece, the hardened veteran looking to guide FEU’s younger guns in a season where much if expected of them.

“Ngayon, nadagdagan siguro yung maturity and ko, pagiging veteran daw, sabi, na pwede ko mai-share din sa mga bata ‘yun, as a leader, as an ate,” added Vargas.

“Nako-contribute ko kung anong knowledge ang natutunan ko.”

League insiders are confident that Vargas, who turned 25-year-old on December 12 last year, will be declared eligible to play in Season 80. Although the UAAP is yet to have their eligibility meeting this week, a source closely monitoring the situation expressed confidence that Vargas will pass the league’s eligibility rules.

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Basketball

23 for 2023 cadet CJ Perez honored to help out Gilas

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Having had the chance to represent the Philippines in FIBA-sanctioned cagefests such the Asia Challenge Cup and the 3X3 All-Stars back in 2016, Lyceum Pirates star CJ Perez is no stranger to the international stage.

But the 24-year-old do-it-all swingman admits that he still gets overwhelmed whenever he sees his seniors — the stars and pillars of the program — in the team. “Nasusurprise [pa rin] ako,” he said. “Mga professionals eh.

“Na-istarstruck pa rin ako sa kanila.”

Perez said so when he finally made his return within Gilas’ realms last Monday night. The last time he was with the National Team was in August 2016, when the SBP built an amateur-laden batch of Gilas cagers that served as the transition from the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers squad to the 2017 SEABA team.

“Sobrang grateful ako (sa invitation),” said the talented six-foot-two guard, after practice at the Meralco Gym.

The reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player is back in the fold for Gilas as his name, along with young, up-and-coming stars, was included in the 23 for 2023 pool — a list of cagers projected to be the contingent for the Manila-hosted World Cup.

“Iniisip ko yun (FIBA World Cup 2023) simula magtawag sila ng practice. Actually nandoon na yung utak ko eh,” the Lyceum Pirate ace bared. “Kailangan ko lang mag work hard pa para makapasok dun sa lineup na yun, kahit malayo pa.

“It’s an honor para ma-represent yung country.”

Unlike in 2016, Perez graced the court and took part in drills with the veterans such as Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, among others. With those type of players around him, he feels that the lessons he can get will be limitless.

“Oo sobra. Kahit kanino naman (matututo ka talaga),” Perez shared. “(At tsaka) Dito parang more on sa mental. ‘Di na iniisip yung conditioning kasi may ibang teams naman sila so about sa mental toughness [talaga].”

For now, the 23 for 2023 cadets are already working out not just for familiarity, but also to help the seniors in preparing for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this February.

“Sobrang happy and grateful na nakakatulong ako sa kanila kahit sa simpleng practice lang.”

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ABL

Blistering Mikey Williams takes home Heritage Import of the Week honor

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Photo from ASEAN Basketball League

The resurgent Saigon Heat have been the thorn to topflight clubs teams Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club and Nanhai Kung Fu, handing both squads their first losses in the eighth season of the ASEAN Basketball League. The Heat would not have done it without Filipino-American import Mikey Williams.

Williams, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Cal State Fullerton, dropped 39 points on 14-for-25 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists in Saigon’s 121-115 overtime win over Hong Kong.

The former NBA G-Leaguer followed it up with a sensational 24-point, five-rebound, and seven-assist outing in their 96-93 win over Kung Fu.

Overall, the 26-year-old guard averaged 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.0 steals to edge out fellow Filipino AJ Mandani of the Singapore Slingers for the weekly award.

For the Local Player of the Week, two Alab Pilipinas stalwarts were the runners-up for the crown.

Reigning local Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. and his floor general Josh Urbiztondo had stellar weeks that earned them honorable mentions.

Parks averaged 17.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists for the week that saw Alab lose to the Slingers at home last Wednesday before bouncing back on the road against the Mono Vampire last Sunday.

Urbiztondo, on the other hand, had norms of 14.5 points on a hot 9-for-17 clip from downtown.

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Football

Brazilian football legend Zico to visit Manila

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Contributed photos

One of the best to ever play the Beautiful Game is coming to the Philippines. Zico, who electrified the footballing world in the ’70s and ’80s, is slated to visit Manila on the weekend of January 27.

The Brazilian, whose real name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, is considered one of the best footballers in the world during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Zico starred for the Brazilian national team, scoring 48 goals in 71 appearances for the Selecao. In 1999, the attacking midfielder came 8th in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote, and in 2004 was named in FIFA’s list of the world’s greatest living players.

Zico played for legendary Brazilian club Flamengo and also for the Italian Serie A team Udinese. He finished his playing career suiting up for Kashima Antlers in the J-League, the top tier of Japanese football, leading them to an unlikely runner-up finish.

The 64-year-old also had a successful managerial career, leading Turkey’s Fenerbahce, Greek team Olympiacos, and CSKA Moscow to titles. Zico was also in charge of the Japanese national team when they won the AFC Asian Cup in 2004. Because of that accomplishment, Zico is one of the most beloved football figures in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Seven Seas Properties, a company that promotes Philippine real estate and Philippine stocks in the Japanese market, is bringing the football icon here.

“We are delighted to welcome Zico to the Philippines. I’m sure he will give a big boost to the growing football scene here,” says Seven Seas Properties President Yukihiro Nishimura.

Zico will attend a CSR event with young footballers from underprivileged communities on Saturday, January 27. The following day, Sunday January 28, he will lead a football clinic for elite young players and coaches in the McKinley Hill stadium in Taguig. Football fans and media are welcome to watch this event, which kicks off at 2:00 pm. Admission is free.

Zico in Manila is also made possible by Otsuka – Solar Philippines, Inter Sports Partners, AgriNurture, and Primex.

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