Friday, March 27, 2015

Adamson claims five straight in softball

Adamson nabbed its fifth straight UAAP softball title at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

The softbelles of Ana Santiago secured the school's only UAAP title this season with a 10-0 smashing of the University of the Philippines in Game 2 of the Finals, extending their winning streak to a gaudy 62 matches.

Annalie Benjamen stood tall once again in the win, allowing just three hits in the shutout, on her way to being named as the MVP for the second straight year. Not only was she stellar on the mound, but also on the plate, snagging the Best Hitter award and sharing the Most RBIs award with teammate Gelyn Lamata. The Bacolod native says that this was the fruit of their hard work.

Other Adamson softbelles include Lorna Adorable (Most Stolen Bases), Florabelle Pabiana (Rookie of the Year), and Queeny Sabobo (co-Most Home Runs winner alongside Cristy Joy Roa of UST)

Santiago shares that this championship is the fruit of their training, showcasing the team's will to win. She also gave credit to the Maroon softbelles, who forced them to play all seven innings in both finals games.
"UP is a strong team. Hanga ako sa kanila, marami silang rookie, pero hindi sila bumitaw. Mga fighter ang mga yan. Ang sabi ko sa mga bata, if we want to win, kung anong lakas meron ang kalaban, higitan natin. If we want to be the winner, we have to play like a winner," said Santiago.
This had been UP's first finals since 2011.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Adamson seeking to clinch UAAP softball title today

Game today at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium: 9 a.m. – UP vs Adamson (Game 2 of softball finals)

Adamson University can claim its fifth straight championship in UAAP softball later this morning, if they win Game 2 of their finals matchup against the University of the Philippines at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

Fresh from their 6-0 victory on Tuesday, the softbelles from San Marcelino are now on a 61-match winning streak, although head coach Ana Santiago foresees some adjustments will have to be made in order to extend the streak to 62.

Santiago believes that the team needs to play at a higher level to claim the school's 14th crown in this sport, and at the same time, prevent UP from having any possible headway. Her Diliman counterpart, Kiko Diaz, believes that they "will bounce back," and to do so will need to take things one inning at a time.

The Maroons did manage to push the game into the final inning, something that has never been done this season against the defending champions, although they could not get anything going offensively due to the performance of Annalie Benjamen. The reigning MVP's pitches proved to be a dicey disposition, netting twelve strikeouts.

This game will be televised on Sports+Action this Friday, with time TBD.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Adamson wins Game 1, at cusp of UAAP softball title

Game Thursday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium: 9 a.m. – UP vs Adamson (Game 2)

The Adamson Lady Falcons are just one game away from clinching their fifth straight title, defeating the University of the Philippines, 6-0 in Game 1 of the UAAP softball finals.

The Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium played host to a sterling pitching performance from reigning MVP Annalie Benjamen, issuing twelve strikeouts to the Maroon softbelles.

Although the Diliman squad bowed in defeat, they managed to be the first team to take the Falcons to the full seven innings, doing so without their center fielder Sella Mendoza, who missed out the game due to academic reasons. They also managed to keep them scoreless in the first two innings.

Queeny Sabobo's RBI double kicked off the scoring in the bottom part of the third inning. She would eventually touch home on a fielder's choice to kick off three straight two-run innings.

Krisna Paguican would make it 4-0 on a 2-RBI triple in the fourth inning. Angelie Ursabia then scored pinch runner  Reizel Calumbres before eventually touching home on a wild pitch in the fifth inning.

With the win, the four-time champions extended their legendary run to 61 matches. They can make it 62 by clinching the game on Thursday morning, giving the school in San Marcelino their fourteenth softball title. Head coach Ana Santiago told the ladies to "work hard" for this match, reminding them to not to think about the thrice-to-beat incentive.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Adamson, UP, set to kick off UAAP softball finals

Game today at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium: 9 a.m. – Adamson vs UP (Game 1)

Adamson attempts to extend their winning streak to 61 straight games in Game 1 of the UAAP softball finals at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

Seeking their fifth straight title, the Lady Falcons of Ana Santiago will have to deal with the University of the Philippines in the finals, after the Lady Maroons knocked out the University of Santo Tomas on Sunday, 9-1. Thanks to their ongoing winning streak, they own a thrice-to-beat advantage.

UP head coach Kiko Diaz says that they "are prepared to beat Adamson," adding that they "will do our darndest best to win."

The second game of the finals will be slated to take place on Thursday at the same time and at the same venue.

Monday, March 23, 2015

UP secures finals berth in UAAP softball

Game Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium: 9 a.m. – Adamson vs UP

The University of the Philippines secured the other finals berth in UAAP softball on Sunday morning, easily dispatching the University of Santo Tomas, 9-1 in a mercy-rule shortened game at the Rizal Memorial Baseball stadium. The win in the stepladder semifinals sealed their first finals stint in four years.

A six-run fifth inning from the Maroon softbelles provided the necessary cushion in this game, highlighted by a three-run homer from Isabelle Mendoza. The scoring outburst came off the heels of a three-run fourth, anchored on an Mendoza sac fly that allowed Gelai Penales to score the tying run, followed by a Chanty Bongat two-RBI double to erect a 3-1 lead.

It was then left to the Cruz twins, who are manning the corner infield positions, to end the game in the bottom of the fifth. 1st basewoman Dennise caught the grounder from shortstop Lily Gonzales to force the first out on Arlyn Areglado. Third basewoman DC then catches the line drive from pinch hitter Kristel Angeles for the second out. The duo combined for what turned out to be the final out of the game, with DC throwing it to Dennise to snuff out the Kristel Lacupa at-bat and invoke the "mercy rule" to end the stepladder semifinals one inning early.  

The Tiger Softbelles scored their only run of the game in the second inning, as Sheila Perales knocked a two-out RBI single to send Christine Palma home, scoring the first run of the match.

Looming in the horizon for UP are defending champions Adamson. The Lady Falcons secured their finals berth on the shoulders of their sweep in the eliminations, extending their winning run to 60 straight games. The Lady Maroons will need to win three times to secure their first title in seven years.

With the win, head coach Kiko Diaz says that the team has already "met their objective" of making the finals this season. He adds that they "need to be at a higher level" to meet the challenge that is facing the defending champions.

In spite of the loss, UST finishes in third place in the tournament, capping off their Season 77 campaign with their 40th General Championship and ending La Salle's brief reign.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

UST forces winner-take-all in softball semifinal

Game Sunday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium: 9 a.m. – UP vs UST

There will be a winner-take-all between University of Santo Tomas and the University of the Philippines on Sunday.

The Tiger Softbelles defeated their Maroon counterparts, 7-2, on Friday to secure a rematch at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium, with the winner tasked to overcome the thrice-to-beat disadvantage against Adamson.

A four-run first inning set the tone for UST, then padded that with three more runs in the sixth inning. The ladies of head coach Sandy Barredo made sure to keep their errors to a minimum, as those miscues cost them the win in their playoff for the second-seed last Sunday. That defeat was the lone loss for the Tiger Softbelles in the last seven matches.

Anne Antolihao had a no-hitter going for four innings, while Kris Lacupa got on base with three hits, scoring twice. Mallows Garde and Christine Palma each had two RBIs.

Superliga Rosters

Cignal HD Spikers

1 - Cherry May Vivas
2 - Ma. Lourdes Clemente
3 - Jheck Dionela
4 - Charisse Vernon Ancheta
5 - Mervic Mangui
6 - Jeanette Panaga
7 - Coleen Bravo
8 - Cai Nepomuceno
9 - Jannine Navarro
10 - Jana Katrina Santos Sta. Maria
12 - Rica Jane Enclona
13 - Michelle Segodine
14 - Mary Jane Diane Ticar
17 - Mela Tunay

Foton Tornadoes

1 - Angeli Araneta
2 - Ella de Jesus
3 - Kimberly Mendez
4 - Patty Orendain
5 - Maria Camina Acevedo
6 - Dzi Gervacio
7 - Ivy Remulla
8 - May Macatuno
9 - Dona Mae Factor
10 - Nicole Tiamzon
12 - Pam Lastimosa
14 - Cindy Velasquez
15 - Bangladesh Pantaleon
16 - Royce Estampa

Mane N Tail Lady Stallions

2 - Norie Jane Diaz
4 - Arriane Argarin
5 - Therese Maureen Veronas
6 - Jill Raymundo Gustilo
7 - Cendymei Amad
8 - Danika Abella Genrauli
9 - Mariel Desengano
11 - Lilet Saquing Mabbayad
12 - Angelica Charisse Perez
14 - Khristine Basco
15 - Honey Royce Tubino
16 - Ma. Abigail Praca
18 - Len Cortel
19 - Samantha Dawson

Petron Blaze Spikers

1 - Mary Grace Masangkay
2 - Aby Marano
3 - Rachael Anne Daquis
4 - Mina Aganon
5 - Mayette Zapanta
6 - Jozza Cabalsa
7 - Frances Xinia Molina
8 - Alexa Micek
9 - Ivy Perez
11 - Ana Marie del Mundo
12 - Jen Reyes
13 - Maica Morada
14 - Fille Cainglet-Cayetano
16 - Dindin Santiago-Manabat

Philips Gold Lady Slammers

1 - Shaya Adorador
3 - Myla Pablo
4 - Rossan Fajardo
5 - Melissa Gohing
6 - Sarah Jane Espelita
7 - Michelle Gumabao
8 - Mae Denise Crisostomo
9 - Maria Ara Mallare
10 - Iris Tolenada
11 - Leuseht Dawis
12 - Maureen Loren
14 - Hazel Mea
16 - Lutgarda Malaluan
17 - Desiree Dadang Lady Clickers

2 - Djanel Cheng
4 - Paneng Mercado
5 - Fatima General
6 - Faye Janelle Guevara
7 - Rizza Mandapat
8 - April Rose Hingpit
9 - Wensh Tiu
10 - Arianna Angustia
11 - Cha Cruz
12 - Rochelle Sison
14 - Alexandra Tan
15 - Kim Dy
16 - Divine Eguia
17 - Michelle Laborte

Thursday, March 19, 2015

UST books semifinals seat in UAAP softball

Game on Friday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium:
9 a.m. – UP vs UST

The Tiger Softbelles of the University of Santo Tomas booked a seat in the stepladder semifinals of the UAAP Season 77 softball tournament in come-from-behind fashion, defeating National University, 4-3, at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium on Wednesday morning.

Kristine Lacupa delivered the game-winning RBI single at the bottom of the 7th inning, sending home Anne Antolihao to complete the comeback win.

Antolihao managed to get on first through a walk to kick off the half-inning, with Hannah Dela Torre knocking single to move Anne into second. A passed ball from NU allowed both Anne and Hannah to move up a base, setting up Kristine's heroics.

The Lady Bulldogs had managed to score the game's first three runs, with a RBI single from Lyn Tulalian in the third inning for the first run, followed by two more runs at the top of the fifth inning off of errors from Tiger Softbelles.

But it wouldn't be long before UST responded. In the bottom half of the fifth, they peppered relief pitcher Mia Macapagal with a failed fielder's choice and two RBI singles from Dela Torre and Lacupa to knot things up at 3-3.

With the win, UST sets up a rematch against the University of the Philippines on Friday morning for the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Maroons earned the twice-to-beat advantage after defeating the Tiger Softbelles, 7-4, in a playoff last Sunday.

Awaiting the winner of that one are the defending champions Adamson. The Lady Falcons are toting a 60-match winning streak, including a sweep of the eliminations that allows them to tote a thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

SBP statement re: FIBA shortlisting the Philippines in 2019 FIBA WorldCup hosting

We are honored that the FIBA Executive Committee has chosen Asia as the site of the 2019 FIBA WORLD CUP, shortlisting the Philippines together with our esteemed Asian brother, China. We shall endeavor to put our best foot forward as we work on the finalization of our bid offer. We thank everyone, including our friends from sports media, who helped SBP make a positive impression with the FIBA Evaluation Commission during their visit in January.

UST-NU softball stepladder playoff set

Game today at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium: 9 a.m. – UST vs NU (softball semis)

The last remaining sporting event in Season 77 kicks off its postseason later this morning at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium, with the stepladder playoff between UST and NU.

The Lady Bulldogs had to fight off La Salle for the 4th seed and final slot up for grabs, invoking the mercy rule in an 11-0 5-inning beating last weekend.

In contrast, the Tiger Softbelles lost to UP, 7-4, to determine who will be seeded second. By winning that playoff, the Lady Maroons own a twice-to-beat advantage over the UST-NU winner today for the stepladder semifinal matchup that will kick off on Friday.

Waiting in the wings are the defending champions, Adamson. The Lady Falcons are toting a 60-match unbeaten run on their way to booking a seat in the finals.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Details on Azkals camp finalized

The Philippine Football Federation on Monday officially called up 23 players to participate in a football camp to be held in Bahrain next week, as part of their preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers / AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers.

In a release, the federation also revealed that they will be facing the hosts in a FIFA friendly on March 30.

The 104th-ranked FA already has a scheduled friendly with Colombia on March 26, while this is the first football match for the 128th-ranked Azkals since the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The camp takes place on the lone international window left before the conclusion of the club season for most of the world.

Here are the 23 players called up for the camp:

Amani Manuel Aguinaldo (Global FC)
Kenshiro Michael Daniels (Kaya FC)
Ruben Doctora, Jr. (Stallion FC)
Patrick Phillip Deyto (Global FC)
Neil Leonard Etheridge (Charlton Athletic FC)
Robert James Gier (Ascot United FC)
Simon Clive Greatwich (Loyola Meralco Sparks FC)
Juan Luis Guirado (Ceres-La Salle FC)
Mark Andrew Hartmann (Global FC)
Jerry Ruben Lucena (Esbjerg)
Roland Richard Müller (Servette)
Satoshi Otomo (Global FC)
Manuel Ott (Ceres-La Salle FC)
Javier Patiño  (Henan Jianye)
Jose Elmer Porteria (Kaya FC)
Patrick Reichelt (Ceres-La Salle FC)
Simone Rota (Stallion FC)
Daisuke Sato (Global FC)
Alvaro Silva (Al-Qadisya SC)
Martin Markus Steuble (Ceres-La Salle FC)
Dennis Villanueva (Global FC)
James Joseph Younghusband (Loyola Meralco Sparks FC)
Philip James Younghusband (Loyola Meralco Sparks FC)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

2015 Big East Tournament streaming available for the Philippines

The Big East tournament. Now available via Live Streaming
March Madness is coming, and one of the most well known conferences will allow some of its games to be available online for Filipino fans.

Through eversport, Filipino fans will have the chance to be able to watch the Big East Tournament on their desktop or mobile device. Details can be checked here ->

For those who need to know how the bracket is for this year's tournament at Madison Square Garden:

Saturday, March 7, 2015

UAAP college football champions to be crowned Sunday

The Rizal Memorial Football Stadium will be the place to be this Sunday afternoon, as the UAAP is set to crown its champions in collegiate football in a special doubleheader to be televised LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports and Action.

The curtain-raiser at 2pm features Far Eastern University going up against the University of the Philippines for the championship in the women’s division, which will then be followed by the men’s division final between FEU and La Salle.

The Green Booters secured their first finals berth in ten years, beating arch-rivals Ateneo, 1-0, to remain undefeated and at the same time, keep their hopes of ending a seventeen-year drought     alive. Substitute Gelo Diamante stepped up to the plate in the second half, etching his name in La Salle lore with his 88th minute score that was the only goal of the match. It was a move that both he and head coach Hans Smit acknowledged to be “a risk,” with the striker from Davao still not fully recovered from a broken clavicle that sidelined him for most of the second round.

In spite of their unbeaten standing, Hans Smit played down the possibility of the team being tagged as the favorites in the final, noting that no one tipped them as favorites coming into the season.

The defending champions, on the other hand, had to survive a grueling and intense match against their postseason nemesis, the University of the Philippines. After going without a goal in regulation, UP defender Ian Clarino gets called for a handball inside the FEU penalty area in the 97th minute. Arnel Amita took the penalty, and although Maroon goal keeper Ace Villanueva managed to save the spot kick, the rebound went back to the Manila Jeepney midfielder, who slots it back to the net in the 99th minute for the lone goal of the game.

Arnel admitted that playing UP was very difficult, knowing that they have never beaten them in their last two meetings. The team really focused and prepared for this game. Looking ahead to the final, he said that they will work even harder in preparing

Head coach Kim Chul Su made a couple of adjustments for this semifinal, one of which was warranted due to injury. The Korean gave Michael Menzi his first start this season as a goal keeper, after playing in midfield the whole year. A groin injury ended Val Jurao’s day after twenty minutes, forcing the team to insert Paolo Bugas earlier than they hoped. The reigning MVP played just five minutes in his first game back from rehabbing his knee injury just a week earlier.

The previous two meetings between FEU and La Salle ended up as 1-1 draws. FEU assistant Dexter Chio acknowledged that they will need to prepare against La Salle’s strong defense, a unit that had allowed just nine goals in the eliminations. That defense is anchored by Nico Villacin, Noel Brago, Gerald Layumas, and Matthew Nierras, with goalkeeper Paeng de Guzman behind this foursome. The defending champions, however, boast of the league’s best offense, with the trio of Amita, skipper Eric Giganto, and Jesus Melliza ranked in the top five leading scorers with a combined 39 goals.

On the women’s side, both FEU and UP finished on top of the five-team standings with sixteen points each, with the Lady Maroons holding a better goal difference than the Lady Tamaraws. Both teams each carry a win against the other in the eliminations, so it promises to be an interesting encounter.
UP is attempting to claim its first-ever UAAP title, anchored on their depth, led by national team standout Cristina delos Reyes and last season’s Rookie of the Year Mary Rose Obra. Under the leadership of head coach Anto Gonzales, the Lady Maroons used the positive momentum from its second round surge last season and brought it into this season, winning their first three games. Although they struggled a bit in the next three matches, they did manage to finish strong with back-to-back wins to earn a finals berth.

FEU, meanwhile, is seeking a third straight championship and fourth in the last five seasons. The team is anchored on Season 75 MVP and Season 76 Best Midfielder and Striker Barbie Sobredo, with scoring threats coming from Ina Araneta, Sharmaine Siaotong, and Cha Fagaragan. Under head coach Let Dimzon, they ran off five wins in their next six matches after losing their season opener, becoming the first team to book their finals seat.

NU with another do-or-die volleyball Saturday

Games today at the Mall of Asia Arena:

2 p.m. – NU vs Ateneo (Game 2 of men's finals)
4 p.m. – La Salle vs NU (women's step-ladder)

One week later, National University once again has to face another do-or-die doubleheader in collegiate volleyball, this time coming with a bigger magnitude.

Ateneo can clinch their first-ever men's volleyball title with a victory over the defending champions in the opening game of the doubleheader this afternoon.

Led by MVP Marck Espejo and his season-high 31 points, the Blue Spikers secured a four-set victory over the Bulldogs last Wednesday. In spite of the win, head coach Oliver Almadro is seeking a continuation of their impressive play into Game 2, which means Ysay Marasigan, Rex Intal and the others need to make their presence felt once again.

The men of Dante Alinsunurin, on the other hand, will need a better effort from Edwin Tolentino Berlin Paglinawan, Peter Torres and Reuben Inaudito to force a winner-take-all this Wednesday.

On the main feature, the Lady Bulldogs will seek to replicate their impressive straight-set-winning performance against second-seed La Salle on Wednesday in the stepladder semifinals.

Head coach Roger Gorayeb says NU will be coming into today full of confidence, but also aware that the Lady Spikers won't just roll over and die for the right to face defending champions Ateneo in the finals. The Lady Bulldogs will need a repeat performance from Desiree Dadang, Rizza Mandapat, Myla Pablo, Jaja Santiago, and Jorelle Singh to book a seat in the finals.

Ara Galang and Cyd Demecillo scored in double figures for Ramil de Jesus, but they'll need better play from Mika Reyes, Kim Fajardo, and Desiree Cheng if they want to earn another crack against the Lady Eagles on Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Men's Finals and Women's semifinals in volleyball set to tip today

Games today at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum:

2 p.m. – NU vs Ateneo (Game 1 of best-of-three men's finals)4 p.m. – NU vs DLSU (Step-ladder women's semifinals)

National University seeks to replicate its Saturday form for its volleyball teams, with action set to resume for the final time at The Big Dome.

Kicking off the doubleheader is the men's final at 2PM, featuring a rematch with their opponents from last season, the Ateneo Blue Spikers.

Although the Blue Spikers defeated the Bulldogs in both their elimination round meetings this season, the defending champions of head coach Dante Alinsunurin are perceived to be the favorites to retain their crown, especially after how they overcame a twice-to-beat disadvantage to oust UST.

NU's reliable core of Peter Torres, Ben Inaudito, Berlin Paglinawan, and Edwin Tolentino led the charge in ousting the Tiger Spikers, to which Ateneo mentor Oliver Almadro highlighted the need to be "mentally and physically prepared" against them in order for them to hoist their first-ever title.

Alinsunurin believes that they need to "double time" with regards to their blocking and receiving, especially as they have to deal with the reigning MVP Marck Espejo, as well as Ysay Marasigan and Joshua Villanueva.

Following the men's matchup is the stepladder semifinal between the Lady Bulldogs and La Salle at 4PM.

The Lady Spikers seek to make the return trip to the finals after a two-week break, unable to force a Final Four with their four-set loss to defending champions Ateneo. In spite of the defeat, they do own a twice-to-beat advantage against NU, and has beaten them in both meetings this season. They only need one victory to ensure a rematch with the Lady Eagles.

Under Roger Gorayeb's mentorship, the Lady Bulldogs have gone 7-3, including last Saturday's four-set win over FEU to officially kick off the stepladder portion of the volleyball season. The trio of Jaja Santiago, Myla Pablo, and Jorelle Singh combined to score 61 points in the victory.

Roger acknowledges the daunting task that looms for the Bustillos-based unit, adding that "Paghahandaan natin yan, malakas na team yan. Yung spirit nila, sanay sila sa mga ganitong laban. Tignan na lang natin kung ano ang mangyayari. Sana mapunta sa amin yung mga break against La Salle."

Sunday, March 1, 2015

UAAP men's football Final Four preview

After a long wait, the Rizal Memorial Stadium will be the home of the postseason for men's football, as the Final Four is slated to take place on its artificial pitch this Sunday afternoon. Kicking it off is the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry at 2pm, which will then be followed by FEU-UP. Both games today will be telecast LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports and Action.

It took the league up until the final set of matches to determine who will face who in the semifinals. In fact, it took the 87th minute of the last match to even determine the final entrant.

Left fullback Kendall Colet booked Ateneo's passage into the Final Four with that late strike, giving the Blue Booters the much needed three points to overtake NU and finish in fourth place with 25 points after the eliminations.

The victory however came at a cost, as team skipper Mikko Mabanag was booked for a yellow card during the match, leading to a one-game suspension due to card accumulation and forcing him to miss the game versus La Salle.

Mabanag has been the offensive centerpiece for Ateneo, with his knack for scoring opportunities from set pieces, whether it be goals or assists. That kind of playmaking will sorely be missed on the field at Rizal Memorial.

Without the Manila Jeepney winger, head coach JP Merida will have to rely on the three other remaining players from the title-winning squad of Season 75: center back Kokoy Marcelino and midfielders Leo Carlo Liay, and Emmanuel Paredes, for leadership in guiding this young squad.

In contrast, La Salle completed its eliminations campaign without a loss, clinching the top spot with a 1-0 win over NU to finish with 32 points built on nine wins and five draws.

The Green Booters pride themselves on a solid defense and midfield, anchored by center back Nico Villacin, wingback Matthew Nierras, and the playmaking of Nathan Alquiros.

That strength in the back line will be tested though, with Noel Brago also incurring a card-related suspension that will force him to miss this match along with Mabanag.

In addition, Hans Smit has not yet fully figured out on attempting to fill the hole left by Gelo Diamante up front, with the striker from Davao suffering a clavicle injury that kept him out for most of the second round and probably for the rest of the season. It has been a collective effort between Christian Zubiri, Chuckie Uy, Yoshi Koizumi and even Villacin to be that guy.

Reflecting the magnitude of the rivalry, both teams battled to draws in their elimination meetings, with a goalless tie back in January 11, followed by a 1-1 deadlock on February 1.

In the other matchup, defending champions FEU goes against UP in a highly-anticipated rematch of last season's finals.

The Tamaraws seek to make a return trip to the finals with a slightly different look, changing from their tiki-taka play into a slightly more direct approach.

They also had to deal with a couple of injury issues, most notably to MVP Paolo Bugas. The midfielder suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss action in the second round. However, he recovered in time to be able to briefly play in their 5-0 thrashing of UE as a substitute.

In spite of the adjustments, Kim Chul Su's side remains strong thanks to the veteran attack unit of skipper Eric Giganto, Jesus Melliza, and Arnel Amita. The trio by themselves combined to score 39 goals in the eliminations.

UP, on the other hand, has had the luxury of continuity under the leadership of Anto Gonzales in the sidelines.

The Maroons did not lose anyone from last year's roster due to graduation, relying on their battle-tested core of Jinggoy Valmayor, Michael Simms, Vincent Aguilar, Daniel Gadia, Kobe Ochoa, Albert Yatco, and Ace Villanueva complemented by youngsters Patxi Santos, Ian Clariño, Lou Rafanan and Rogie Maglinas.

Both matches in the eliminations proved to be exciting meetings, with UP dealing FEU one of its two losses this season, a 3-1 victory last January 22, while their 3-3 draw last February 5 was said to be one of the best football games this season.

The winners of the matches will face off in the final on March 8, also at Rizal Memorial.