Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Choice matchups highlight NBA's Opening Night

The 71st 2016-17 NBA season tips off on Wednesday, October 26, with three games, all of which will be shown locally either through Basketball TV, NBA Premium, or Sports and Action.

The opening game of the season will feature the Cleveland Cavaliers going up against the New York Knicks at 730am, which will be LIVE on BTV.

The defending champions are set to receive their rings on arguably the biggest night in Cleveland sports history. The game was originally scheduled at 8am, but with the Cleveland Indians hosting Game 1 of the World Series at nearby Progressive Field, tip-off was moved up by 30 minutes.

The Cavs will have almost everyone back from the team that came back from 3-1 down to dethrone the Golden State Warriors. Head coach Tyronn Lue will getting his first regular season opener after starting last season as the chief assistant to David Blatt, whom he replaced in January.

Serving as the opening opponent for the champs are the New York Knicks, who remade themselves this past offseason by taking in both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, as well as hiring Jeff Hornacek as their new coach.

The other LIVE game scheduled tomorrow is the Golden State Warriors hosting the San Antonio Spurs at 1030am on ABS-CBN Sports and Action and NBA Premium.

The former champions seek to return to glory after coming oh-so-close last season, one where they broke the regular season record in wins with a 73-9 record. This time, they reloaded by making the biggest free agent acquisition this past offseason in signing Kevin Durant away from Oklahoma City. The former MVP joins Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, as what was the most potent offense in the NBA gets a major boost.

Meanwhile, the Spurs kick off life after Tim Duncan by traveling to the Oracle Arena, as six-time NBA All-Star Pau Gasol leads the cast of characters attempting to fill the shoes left by the Wake Forest alum after 19 seasons on the riverwalk.

The third game of the season features a couple of sleeper teams looking to take the leap into being contenders in the West, as the Portland Trailblazers host the Utah Jazz.

To be shown at 1030am on BTV, the Blazers are putting their NBA record winning streak of 15 straight regular season home openers on the line against a hungry Jazz side that was tantalizingly close to making the playoffs last season.

Under Terry Stotts, Portland will be once again relying on their backcourt combination of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum that brought them to the second round last postseason. Meanwhile, Utah added some experience with the acquisition of Boris Diaw, George Hill, and Joe Johnson to a young core that includes Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, and Gordon Hayward.

Raymar Jose named as the UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week

When Far Eastern University sputtered to a 20-point deficit against the University of the Philippines after the first quarter, Raymar Jose took the cudgels in leading the defending champions' comeback last Saturday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The big man poured 20 points in the final three quarters, including two crucial baskets late to give the Tamaraws a 63-60 victory after trailing 28-8 to the Maroons at the end of the first ten minutes of play. He also contributed 12 rebounds.

With the Maroons trying to battle back and pull off one final run, Jose scored six of FEU's final eight points, the final basket giving the Tamaraws a 63-57 lead with under two minutes remaining.

Raymar's performance netted him the ACCEL Quantum/3XVI-UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week nod, beating out Papi Sarr of Adamson, Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng of La Salle, and Raffy Verano of Ateneo.

He is the second FEU player this season after Monbert Arong to be given this citation, which is selected by the scribes from the different media outlets.

The win strengthens FEU's hold on second place with their eighth win in ten games, assuring them of at worst, a playoff for a postseason berth. It also extended their winning streak to seven games.

Even with the win, head coach Nash Racela still demands consistent basketball from his wards if they are to far this season.

“It’s good that the players responded in the second quarter defensively. But we need to play good basketball for 40 minutes for us to really have a good chance every game,” said Racela, who will be moving up to the pros at the end of season.

Jose adds, "We were passive from the start. Coach told us that if we want to win the game, we need to work hard for it."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Jon Tuck part of ROCKHOLD vs JACARE 2 card

UFC Fight Night Melbourne is just over a month away.
Another UFC fighter familiar to Filipino MMA fans locally gets a match close to home.

Guamanian fighter Jon Tuck (9-3) is set to face Damien Brown (16-9) in a three-round lightweight matchup, UFC officials announced earlier this week.

The Tuck-Brown match is part of the upcoming UFC Fight Night Melbourne: Rockhold vs Jacare 2 card that is to take place at the Rod Laver Arena on November 27, the same card that Pinoy MMA fighter Jenel Lausa is set to participate.

The Super Saiyan has demonstrated a virtually well-rounded mixed martial arts pedigree since making his Octagon debut in 2012, going 3-3 so far and proving that he can hang with the best that the UFC can offer.

To stake his claim in the 155-pound division, Jon will have to defeat a hometown bet. Damien is a former infantryman who has won a majority of his win via submission. However, the man dubbed as "Beatdown" has shown improvement in striking, especially after a first-round KO performance in UFC 201. The Brisbane native wants to make a memorable performance in front of a home crowd.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT® Melbourne: ROCKHOLD vs JACARE 2 will be headlined by an epic middleweight rematch between Luke Rockhold (15-3) and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (23-4). Luke is searching for his first win since losing the UFC title, while Jacare will look to make another statement in this five-round fight with heavy title implications

Do continue to check UFC.com for the latest updates on the UFC. Follow them on Facebook (UFC Asia), Twitter and Instagram (@ufc).

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Jenel Lausa to make UFC debut at UFC Fight Night Melbourne

With the surprising cancellation of #UFCManila originally slated for October 15, it set off the rebooking of all the fights that were set to take place at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Among the matches that were rescheduled involved Filipino fighter Jenel Lausa (6-2). The Iloilo-based "Demolition Man" will now make his UFC debut against Yao Zhikui at the UFC Fight Night Melbourne: Rockhold vs Jacare 2 card on November 27 at the Rod Laver Arena.

Lausa is the latest Pinoy fighting prospect recruited to participate in the world's premier MMA organziation, after becoming a flyweight titleholder in his last regional stop. With his strong striking background, he will put his four-match winning streak against The Conqueror, who is a nationally-ranked wrestler that is noted for pushing an aggressive fighting style.

When he steps inside the famed Octagon® for the first time, Lausa will be realizing a life-long dream. He is determined to make a lasting impression among UFC fans as the first Filipino MMA champion to join the ranks of the greatest fighters in the world. Now competing with the very best flyweights in the sport of mixed martial arts, Lausa is ready to showcase his talents in front of the thousands of fans in attendance and the millions watching around the globe.

UFC Fight Night Melbourne will feature the five-round middleweight rematch between Luke Rockhold (15-3) and Ronalda "Jacare" Souza (23-4). Rockhold is seeking his first win since losing the title, while Souza is looking to impress to possibly net himself a possible title shot against Michael Bisping, who just successfully defended the title at UFC 204.

Do continue to check out UFC.com for more details and other fight news. Follow them on Facebook (UFC Asia), Twitter and Instagram (@ufc).

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monbert Arong heroics seal latest UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week award

Monbert Arong was at the right place at the right time.

Receiving an inbounds pass from the baseline from Joe Trinidad, the Cebuano guard pump-faked at the right corner, caught Alfred Aroga in the air, and went closer as he fired a jumper in Far Eastern University’s hotly-contested game against National University.

The ball found the bottom of the net with 3.7 seconds to spare, as that game-winner allowed the Tamaraws to stun the Bulldogs, 57-56 on Sunday.

“Sabi kasi ni coach Nash, i-shoot mo. Eh di shinoot ko naman,” he said.

That shot was just the rightful exclamation point for an amazing week for Arong, as he took home the ACCEL Quantum/3XVI-UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week citation, becoming the first non-La Salle player to claim the plum this season.

He bested La Salle’s Ricci Rivero and University of the Philippines’ Jett Manuel for the weekly honor given by scribes covering the country’s premier collegiate league from top broadsheets, national dailies, and online portals.

Arong provided the lift for FEU this week as it completed an elimination round sweep of NU, first pouring 20 points, three assists, and a rebound in the tight 78-75 victory on Wednesday, before following it up with 13 markers, seven coming in the fourth period, to go with two boards and two assists in the rematch.

Little did everyone know that he did all of that despite nursing a sprained ankle, with coach Nash Racela saying, “Buti na lang nagkaroon pa siya ng lakas for the last play.

“Today, he was the go to guy. We hope that every game naman, kung sino man ang puntahan namin, maka-deliver whoever that is. We’re just happy that Monbert was able to deliver for us today,” the coach said.

For Arong, though, it's just a matter of trusting himself and his teammates as the Tamaraws seek to sustain their five-game winning run.

“Binubulong ko lang sa sarili ko yung bible verse na, ‘I can do all things through Christ.’ Kaya talagang confident lang ako na ma-shoot ko yung ball,” he said. “Credit to the coaches at sa mga teammates ko rin dahil nag-teamwork kami at di kami bumitaw until the end.”

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ben Mbala snags second UAAP Player of the Week nod

As La Salle swept the first round of the UAAP men's basketball tournament, the Green Archers have also swept the awards for the ACCEL Quantum / 3XVI-UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week honors.

Foreign student-athlete Ben Mbala secured his second nod of the season with a dominant performance this past week. The Cameroonian sensation padded the stat sheet with 19 points, 17 rebounds, an assist, three steals, and three blocks in fighting off the University of the East, 84-78 last Wednesday. He then followed that up with a 28-point, 13-rebound, 5-steal, and 4-block performance against arch-rivals Ateneo de Manila on Sunday, peppering the game with rim-rattling slams.

The wins completed the first round sweep for La Salle, something they have not yet done since 2002.

The transfer from Southwestern University had to sit an additional year due to a violation of the UAAP's residency rules, and having to be sidelined for that has been Ben's biggest motivation.

"I just want to make the most out of it. I wanna make sure, they remember the guy who was out for three years," he says.

On playing against their arch-rivals without their head coach Aldin Ayo and fifth-year star Jeron Teng, he adds, "Without coach and Jeron there, it's a test for us to show what we can do. I'm really proud of how the guys played as we stuck together."

Mbala beat out Matt Salem of National University and Alvin Pasaol of the University of the East for the weekly citation, which is given out by the scribes covering the league.