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Women’s Beach Volley Day Five: Lady Tams march to Finals; Ateneo-La Salle rivalry rekindled



Day Five of the UAAP Women’s Beach Volleyball Tournament was hectic, to say the least, with the end of the elimination round and the start of the Final Four happening simultaneously. The first match of the day determined that new champs will be crowned, there was a triple-tie in the standings, and Typhoon Lando’s heavy rain and winds gave the matches an extra layer of drama.

The DLSU Lady Spikers Kim Fajardo and Cyd Demecillo kicked off the affairs with a rousing win over their tormentors last season, defending champions UST Tigresses’ Cherry Rondina and Rica Rivera, in three tight sets 19-21, 22-20, 16-14. Both teams took the same path to the match, losing earlier contests to foes they defated last year, then coming back with a win against Ateneo. Both sides came out aggressively, with the Tigresses getting ahead early through timely attacks. UST had control of the second set up until the end, when a few controversial calls went DLSU’s way, extending the match to a deciding frame. The squads traded points up until Cyd Demecillo served a clutch ace to end a duece and UST’s season.

FEU’s Bernadette Pons and Kyla Atienza easily handled AdU’s Mylene Paat and Gemma Galanza, 21-9, 21-14 in the following match; Ateneo’s Bea Tan and Alyssa Valdez ended the elimination round with a 21-6, 21-15 thrashing of UE’s Glaiza Bending and Judith Abil. The Final Four was decided: FEU topped the table with a 6-1 slate while Adamson, La Salle, and Ateneo occupied the middle at 5-2. Through the same quotient system used to break ties in the indoor tournament,  Adamson, who had the lowest quotient of the three, was relegated to the fourth seed, leaving Ateneo and DLSU to compete for the second seed and the twice-to-beat advantage in their Final Four series: a virtual best-of-three.

Not needing that advantage, first-seeded FEU’s Pons and Atienza barged into the Finals first, turning back the fourth-seeded AdU’s Mylene Paat and Gemma Galanza for the second time in the day, 21-13, 21-19. The Lady Tams did everything right against the Lady Falcons, loading up on their serves, defending diligently, and finding creative ways to attack. As she has all-tournament, Atienza proved to be the craftiest player on the court, utilizing a plethora of underhand returns and two-handed push shots off the first touch to frustrate the Lady Falcons. Pons also punished the Lady Falcons, guarding the net and finishing 1-2 plays

The day ended with FEU still without opposition in the Finals, as neither DLSU nor Ateneo budged in their clashes.

In their first match, the Lady Spikers’ Fajardo and Demecillo pounced on Ateneo’s Tan and Valdez, 21-16, 21-19 and claimed the twice-to-beat advantage. Working off their chemistry, Fajardo and Demecillo shared the scoring load, hitting their targets and varying their attacks to easily take the first set. The Lady Eagles seemed off their usual upbeat play, something that persisted into the second set. They mounted a comeback but their late errors gave the La Sallians an early advantage.

After nearly an hour and a half of delay due to a broken pulley on one of the net poles, the Lady Eagles pulled much-needed vitality in their do-or-die match. In what could have been their final game in UAAP beach volley, Bea Tan and Alyssa Valdez powered through the Lady Spikers, 21-16, 24-22. Looking much more energetic, Tan and Valdez hit as hard as they could, veering away from floaters and placements shots, and burying spikes left and right. The Lady Eagles nearly dropped the second set but errors from Cyd Demecillo gave them enough room to force another do-or-die battle.

On Wednesday, the Lady Eagles and Lady Spikers put an epic end to their rivalry, kicking the day off at 8 a.m. for a Finals spot.

In the day’s only match with no Final Four implications, UP’s Vina Alinas and Arielle Estranero ended their season positively, taking down NU’s Jaja Santiago and Jasmine Nabor 25-23, 21-18. Inconsistent throughout the entire tournament, the Lady Maroons used their speed and skills advantage over NU’s height advantage. Down by as much as five in the opening set, the Lady Maroons rallied back, pulling energy from their enthusiastic fans and the pounding drums of the UP Pep squad. Losing all their momentum, the Lady Bulldogs crashed in the second set.


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.



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



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



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



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



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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