Friday, June 30, 2017

Curry, Warriors atop NBA jersey, merchandise sales

It's great to be the champion.

The latest edition of the Most Popular Jersey and Team Merchandise list sees links to the Golden State Warriors among the leaders, which is based from overall sales on between April to June.

There are four Warriors on the Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys list, with Stephen Curry topping the list. Teammates Kevin Durant (3rd), Klay Thompson (10th) and Draymond Green (11th) completing the contingent.

Completing the top five are LeBron James (2nd), Russell Westbrook (4th), and Kyrie Irving (5th).

Isaiah Thomas moved up seven spots to seventh overall from the last release, while Giannis Antetokounmpo earned his best-ever ranking at 8th.

Making a re-entry into the list is John Wall, with the Washington Wizards guard ranked 12th. The last time he was on was back in the 2014-15 season.

Following the Warriors on the Team Merchandise list are the Cleveland Cavaliers (2nd), Chicago Bulls (3rd), Boston Celtics (4th) and San Antonio Spurs (5th). The Celtics make their entry into the top five for the first time since the start of the 2012-13 season.

The Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys:

1. Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
2. LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
3. Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
4. Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
5. Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
6. Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
7. Isaiah Thomas (Boston Celtics)
8. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
9. James Harden (Houston Rockets)
10. Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
11. Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
12. John Wall (Washington Wizards)
13. Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls) - has since changed teams
14. Damian Lillard (Portland Trailblazers)
15. Dwyane Wade (Chicago Bulls)

The Top 10 Most Popular Team Merchandise:

1. Golden State Warriors
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Chicago Bulls
4. Boston Celtics
5. San Antonio Spurs
6. Los Angeles Lakers
7. Oklahoma City Thunder
8. Milwaukee Bucks
9. Philadelphia 76ers
10. Houston Rockets

Thursday, June 29, 2017

ONE Championship renews partnership with ABS-CBN

ONE Championship officially announced its renewal of partnership with the leading media and entertainment organization in the Philippines, ABS-CBN.

Said partnership enables the latter to have access to the former's content, which includes coverage of ONE Championship live events in the country.

Since 2016, the ABS-CBN and ONE Championship partnership has produced many a memorable mixed martial art event, capped off by one of the most watched sporting events in Asian history, ONE: Kings of Destiny, this past April. Per Nielsen Sports, Kings of Destiny netted the highest rating of any martial arts program and even edged out live NBA Playoff coverage of this past postseason.

According to ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, "ONE Championship is proud to announce its renewed partnership with Philippine television network giant ABS-CBN. ABS-CBN is by far the largest TV broadcaster in the Philippines with reach that spans the entire country, as well as internationally to millions of homes across the globe. The sport of mixed martial arts has seen an amazing year in the Philippines so far, and we are excited to continue this awesome trend of delivering a unique and authentic martial arts experience to fans all across the country."

From ABS-CBN's Head of Integrated Sports Dino Laurena, "Our continued partnership with ONE Championship is a huge boost to our advocacy of promoting sports, including mixed martial arts, to the Filipino audience. We believe that more than to just entertain and to inspire, sports can change people's lives for the better. We are proud to be partnering with the largest sports media property in Asia, ONE Championship, in bringing a world-class MMA experience to our viewers. Who knows, one of them could be a future ONE champion, following the lead of Eduard Folayang and Brandon Vera."

One can check out for the latest updates on the ONE Championship.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

FC Meralco Manila hosts Stallion Laguna on 446th Manila Day

Meralco's Alvin Sarmiento against Stallion last May 6.

League-leading FC Meralco Manila hosts Stallion Laguna in their third PFL match in eight days this afternoon, June 24.

The Sparks failed to win a match for the first time in six games last Wednesday when the Davao Aguilas held them to a 2-2 draw in Tagum. The point they earned keeps them atop the standings on 16 points, with second-place JPV Marikina a point adrift after they defeated Ilocos United in Bantay, Ilocos Sur on Wednesday via a 2-1 scoreline. It must be noted that Manila has played one less game than the Mariqueños.

The contest will be a rematch of the encounter in Biñan, Laguna on May 6, when Manila prevailed 5-1. However, Stallion looks to have addressed that leaky defense, only allowing one goal in the last couple of games, including a goalless draw at home against Davao this past Sunday.

Meralco will need to recover well from this game physically. Before playing Davao midweek the Sparks were also in action on Saturday, edging Kaya 2-0 in the University of Makati on goals by Joaco Cañas and Phil Younghusband. The Philippines' all-time leading scorer also played two international games for the Azkals in the days before the Kaya game, scoring against Tajikistan.

Striker Connor Tacagni will be unavailable for selection for Sparks coach Aris Caslib. The former San Beda player dislocated his left shoulder early in the second half against Davao and will be out several weeks. The team is also still without James Younghusband, who is recovering from an ankle injury.

The game will have extra significance since it takes place on the 446th anniversary of the founding of the capital. No doubt Manila's players would love to give their fans a victory on such an auspicious occasion.

Tickets for the game will be priced at P20 for bleacher seats and P50 for the grandstand. The match will be aired live on PTV 4.

Kaya FC–Makati Relishes Prospect of Packed Panaad Stadium against Ceres Negros

From the Kaya-Ceres pre-match presser
With a sizable and boisterous crowd expected to turn out later tonight, Kaya FC-Makati is welcoming the prospect of playing at the Panaad Stadium in front of passionate opposition supporters.
"Ceres might have the advantage playing in front of their home support,” according to head coach Noel Marcaida, "But it's always great to play with a big crowd. It's a great chance to showcase your talent away from home."

Motivation will certainly not be lacking for either team, as both sides are coming from defeats in their last PFL outings — Kaya to FC Meralco Manila, and Ceres-Negros to JPV Marikina FC. The hosts are also fresh from a loss in the RHB Singapore Cup a couple of days ago, ensuring the Visayan powerhouse will be looking forward to utilizing home support to get back to winning ways.

“We didn’t have a lot time to prepare for the game, but I’m one hundred percent sure my team will give one hundred percent tomorrow,” said Ceres head coach Risto Vidakovic. “After the JPV result, this is the most important game of the last month.”

The match marks the first visit back to Bacolod for former Ceres-Negros players Jayson Panhay, Jalsor Soriano, Marwin Angeles, and Marvin Angeles.

“I’m happy to be playing my former team, but we want to win. We want to show them they made a mistake [releasing us].” said Panhay, a San Carlos native who spent his college days in Bacolod's University of St. La Salle, before going on to play for Ceres for five years.

Since the season opener that ended in a 1-1 draw, both squads have been in mixed form, with Kaya FC-Makati securing three wins and two losses, and Ceres-Negros tacking on a win and a loss, aside from their AFC Cup and RHB Singapore Cup schedule.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Additional NBA Draft 2017 Presented by State Farm® Tidbits

With the NBA Draft just hours away, here are some more important tidbits:

The 2017 edition of the NBA Draft, presented by State Farm, will be shown in over 200 countries and territories. It also will be on International NBA League Pass.

International Media, which includes a small section of Filipino scribes, will have the chance to have live interviews with some of the 2017 top draftees at the Barclays Center, thanks to the NBA and Cisco through Cisco video conference later this morning.

Last year's edition netted a record 27 international selections, with a NBA Draft-record fifteen of them coming in the first round. That led to 113 international players from 41 different countries and territories on opening night rosters this just concluded season, which comprises a record 25 percent of the league. It is the third straight season that there are at least a hundred international players in the NBA, with all thirty teams having at least one on their roster.

The NBA (and FIBA) touts its Basketball Without Borders program, which unites young basketball players to promote the sport and encourage positive social change. These usually involve the best youth players that are 19-and-under at the time. Since being established in 2001, there have been 43 alums selected in the NBA Draft, and opening night this past season saw 23 alums dotting the different rosters.

The highest drafted BWB alumni are as follows:

Andrea Bargnani (Italy, 1st in 2006 by Toronto)
Enes Kanter (Turkey via Kentucky,  3rd in 2011 by Utah)
Joel Embiid (Cameroon via Kansas, 3rd in 2014 by Philadelphia)
Dragan Bender (Croatia, 4th in 2016 by Phoenix)
Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania, 5th in 2011 by Toronto)
Danilo Gallinari (Italy, 6th overall in 2008 by New York)

The NBA Draft's most notable top tier international selections are these guys:

OG Anunoby (United Kingdom)

He played one season in the NCAA with Indiana, averaging 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 16 games with the Hoosiers, before his season was cut short by a knee injury.

Potentially could be the highest-drafted British player in the league's history, Ndubi Edi is currently the highest drafted player from the UK. Minnesota drafted the Westbury Christian HS School alumnus 26th overall in 2003. If he gets picked in the first round in the upcoming draft, OG could be the first British player picked there since Joel Freeland by Portland in 2006.

Jonah Bolden (Australia)

Played this past season at Radnicki Basket in Serbia, averaging 12.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, a steal, and a block in 25 games. This was after a short stint at UCLA.

Could become the sixth Aussie drafted in the lottery portion of the NBA Draft, following Luc Longley (7th in 1991 by Minnesota), Andrew Bogut (1st in 2005 by Milwaukee), Kyrie Irving (1st in 2011 by Cleveland), Dante Exum (5th in 2014 by Utah), and Ben Simmons (1st in 2016 by Philadelphia).

Chris Boucher and Dillon Brooks (Canada)

Both guys played this past season in the NCAA with Oregon, with Boucher averaging 11.7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in 30 games and Brooks averaging 16 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.1 steals in 34 games.

The continued growth of Canadian basketball is being reflected with the league-high eleven players on opening night rosters.

Lauri Markkanen (Finland)

Played at Arizona last season, averaging 15.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and almost one assist in 37 games.

Would most likely be the highest drafted Finn ever. Portland drafted Petteri Koponen 30th overall in 2007, the only other time a Finn was drafted in the first round.

Markkanen is a Basketball Without Borders alum, having participated at BWB Europe 2014 in Rome and at the 2015 BWB Global Camp in New York.

Frank Ntilikina and Mathias Lessort (France)

Frank played at Strasbourg this past season, averaging 5.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 44 games at the French league. Meanwhile, Mathias played at Nanterre, averaging 10.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and a block after 36 games.

Frank would most likely be the highest drafted French player ever. That currently belongs to Mickael Pietrus, when Golden State picked the man called "Air France" 11th overall in 2003.

Frank is a Basketball Without Borders alum, having participated at BWB Europe 2015 in Gran Canaria and at the 2016 BWB Global Camp in Toronto.

Anžejs Pasečņiks (Latvia)

Anžejs played at Gran Canaria last season, averaging 7.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in 35 games last season. He would be the highest drafted Lativian since Kristaps Porzingis by New York in 2015.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Things to know in the 2017 NBA Draft

With the NBA Draft taking place tomorrow, here are some nuggets about the festivities taking place at the Barclays Center:

There are 73 early entry candidates in this year's edition, 63 from the NCAA and 10 based overseas who did not take the American college route.

The Philadelphia 76ers pulled off a trade earlier this week with the Boston Celtics for the top overall pick in the upcoming draft, sending the third overall pick and a future first round pick to move up a couple of spots. This would be the second year in a row (and fourth time ever for the franchise) that they are picking first. Expected to be Markelle Fultz, he would follow Ben Simmons of LSU (2016), Allen Iverson of Georgetown (1996), and Doug Collins of Illinois State (1973) as Sixers top overall selections.

By agreeing to the deal, the Celtics are the first team to trade the top overall pick before or during the NBA Draft since the Orlando Magic sending the draft rights to Chris Webber to the Golden State Warriors for the draft rights to Penny Hardaway and three future first round picks in 1993. Like the current deal, the Orlando-Golden State trade involved the first and third overall selections. Had they kept the pick, Boston would have made their first overall draft pick selection for the first time in the common era of the NBA Draft, which started in 1966. They also would have been the first team to pick first and own the conference's best record since 1982, when the Lakers drafted James Worthy of North Carolina first overall after toting the Western Conference's best record. The Celtics will now be drafting third overall in back-to-back seasons, following Jaylen Brown of California, who had been the team's first top-three selection since 1997. 

The Los Angeles Lakers were rewarded with the second overall pick for the third straight season, with the last selections being D'Angelo Russell of Ohio State (2015) and Brandon Ingram of Duke (2016). Before this stretch, the last time the team picked this high was the Worthy selection. Expected to be Lonzo Ball, the UCLA freshman would be the sixth Laker lottery selection, following Russell, Ingram, Eddie Jones of Temple (1994), Andrew Bynum of St. Joseph High School (2005), and Julius Randle of Kentucky (2014).

The Phoenix Suns are once again drafting fourth overall for the second straight season, with Dragan Bender of Croatia being last year's selection. Before last year, the Suns last picked this high back in 1975 when they selected Alvan Adams fourth overall. Adams would be named as the Rookie of the Year by the end of the season.

The Sacramento Kings are the only team with two lottery selections in the 2017 NBA Draft, picking fifth and tenth overall. Both draft slots are as a result of trades, with the fifth overall pick coming out of a deal with Philadelphia involving Nik Stauskas, while the tenth overall overall pick coming out of the deal with New Orleans involving DeMarcus Cousins.

The Dallas Mavericks are drafting ninth overall, their first top-ten selection since 1998. That season, the picked Robert Traylor of Michigan sixth overall, but engineered a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks for the ninth overall pick, a German sweet-shooting forward named Dirk Nowitzki.

The Era of the One-And-Done continues, with a record 14 draft picks in last year's draft playing just one year of college ball. This year looks to be no different, with the bumper crop including Fultz, Kentucky's Bam Adebayo, De'Aaron Fox, and Malik Monk, UCLA's Ball, Ike Anigbogu, and TJ Leaf, Duke's Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, Texas' Jarrett Allen, Gonzaga's Zach Collins, Florida State's Jonathan Isaac, Kansas' Josh Jackson, Arizona's Lauri Markkanen, Creighton's Justin Patton, and NC State's Dennis Smith, Jr., among others.

Notable international prospects include Isaiah Hartenstein (Zalgiris), Jonathan Jeanne (Nancy), Frank Ntilikina (Strasbourg), Anzejs Pasecniks (Gran Canaria). There were a record 27 international players selected last year, surpassing the original record of 21 back in 2003.

Looking for the next Manu Ginobili or Draymond Green? The second round could be a source of some gems for a team willing to conduct due diligence. 36th overall selection Malcolm Brogdon of Virginia is a Rookie of the Year finalist in the upcoming NBA Awards for averaging 10.2 points and 4.2 assists. One pick later, Patrick McCaw started three games for the newly-minted champions. Last year's second round haul also included Los Angeles Lakers backup big man Ivica Zubac (32nd), Phoenix Suns jitterbug Tyler Ulis (34th), and Chicago Bulls forward Paul Zipser (49th).

The top overall selection does not really guarantee that much success. Since the establishment of the NBA Draft Lottery in 1985, only four top overall selections have won a NBA title with the team that drafted them. The San Antonio Spurs' dynamic duo of David Robinson (1987) and Tim Duncan (1997), and the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (2003) and Kyrie Irving (2011).

The last fifteen NBA Drafts has featured a second-generation NBA player being selected. The 2016 edition saw Lithuanian legend Arvydas Sabonis' son Domantas being selected by the Orlando Magic 11th overall before being packaged as part of the trade involving the Oklahoma City Thunder and Serge Ibaka.

With the advent of the NBA Development League, now called the NBA Gatorade League (G-League), there is a growing inclination from teams to assign their younger players to their respective affiliates to help with the development. 39 draftees were given a D-League assignment, including 17 first round picks. The last eight draft classes have produced at least 200 draft picks who went through the D-League.

The current two-round draft started in 1989. It used to be that the draft would only end if all teams passed, much like what the current PBA Draft is being conducted. The 1974 NBA Draft instituted a 10-round NBA Draft, which was reduced to seven in 1985, and then three in 1988.

FC Meralco Manila held to draw by dogged Davao

Dylan de Bruycker
The streak finally ended on a damp Wednesday afternoon at the Davao del Norte Sports Complex in Tagum City, as FC Meralco Manila was held to a 2-2 draw by a game Davao Aguilas FC squad, the first time the team gave up points this season in the Philippines Football League.

The Manila-based side scored quick and early, securing goals from Tahj Minniecon and Phil Younghusband to erect a 2-0 lead, but the hosts managed to pull one back midway into the first half through a Milos Krstic free kick.

The second half saw Davao equalize in the 73rd minute, with U22 standout Dylan De Bruycker netting the tying goal after receiving an assist from Levi Gilmar Fernandez.

Both sides had the chance to secure the win, with Tahj and Phil having their opportunities for FC Meralco Manila, and Alexis Cabistante and Nate Burkey unable to convert on theirs. Each side relied on a defensive effort that saved a potential game-winner.

Sparks head coach Aris Caslib praised his opposition, highlighting their second half performance and noting that they "were able to sustain their momentum until the end." He also noted the absence of skipper James Younghusband due to injury as a factor, as well as the travel to Tagum.

As for his counterpart, Gary Phillips says that they "will take this as a win," allowing them to have a boost in confidence. He also highlighted the team's commitment to being competitive since Day 1 of the season, proving this today with the current result. He also says that "It is great to have so many supporters here, it is great to be back home."

Meralco will regroup for a match against Stallion Laguna on Saturday, which will be their third game in eight days. On the other hand, Davao will continue with their homestand also this weekend, this time against fellow newcomer Ilocos United FC.

Notes: Connor Tacagni injured his left shoulder early in the second half and will be sidelined a bit for the Sparks. Over four thousand spectators were at Tagum to watch the match, with some of those waiting outside the team locker room awaiting a celebration of sorts.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

FC Meralco Manila set to face Davao Aguilas

Spark Simon Greatwich with coach Aris Caslib alongside Davao coach Gary Phillips and captain Jason Cordova
FC Meralco Manila is seeking to extend its winning run in the Philippines Football League to six matches, facing off against a tricky Davao Aguilas FC squad this afternoon at the Davao del Norte Sports Complex in Tagum City.

The Sparks are in the middle portion of a run of three matches spanning eight days. Fresh off a 2-0 victory over Kaya FC-Makati at the University of Makati, they face an Aguilas side that is kicking off a huge three-match homestand, also within a span of a week. Afterwards, FC Meralco Manila will make the long flight back to Manila to host Stallion Laguna FC at Rizal Memorial Stadium on Araw ng Maynila.

The team has a special attachment to Mindanao, with most of its football outreach activities having taken place in the region, specifically Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi with the Football For Peace initiatives alongside the Philippine Marines, something both head coach Aris Caslib and midfielder Simon Greatwich addressed at the pre-match press conference.

As for Davao, the Gary Phillips-coached side are looking to capitalize on their draw against Stallion Laguna FC at the Binan Football Stadium, although they almost could have snatched a victory. A good result against the current league leaders could net some positive momentum into their remaining two matches in their homestand, against fellow newcomers Ilocos United FC this weekend and next week against Global Cebu FC. The Aguilas still having some injury issues involving skipper Jason Cordova, Nico Macapal, and Brad McDonald. Meanwhile, James Younghusband is out for a couple of weeks with the knee injury he sustained during national team duty in Guangzhou against China.

This is the second meeting between the two teams, with FC Meralco Manila snatching a 2-0 victory at Rizal Memorial.

Kickoff for the Sparks vs Aguilas matchup is slated at 4pm, with tickets for the match available at the venue.

Streaming is already available below.

Earlier in the week, the team had a courtesy call at the Tagum City Hall, with Vice Mayor Geterito Gementiza and Mrs. Yhora Mae Rellon, the wife of Mayor Allan Rellon greeting the team.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Davao Aguilas set for huge Philippines Football League homestand

Davao Aguilas FC arrives at the Francisco Bangoy Int'l Airport in Davao City, welcomed by Ms. Diva Ng Davao 2017

Fresh from a goalless draw against Stallion Laguna FC at Binan, the Davao Aguilas FC will have a huge homestand in the next week for the Philippines Football League.

Said draw keeps the two teams level on points with two apiece, although Davao owns the superior goal difference at -5, compared to Stallion's -9, to peg them at sixth place.

The squad led by Gary Philips would be counting on a supportive home crowd at the Davao del Norte Sports Complex in Tagum City, which drew over 4,300 supporters.

Kicking things off is a midweek matchup with the red-hot FC Meralco Manila on June 21 at 4pm. Undefeated after five matches, the Sparks are fresh from a 2-0 shutout victory over Kaya FC - Makati that was dubbed as the "Capital Clasico."

Then on Sunday, June 25, Davao will face off against fellow newcomer Ilocos United at 4pm. The team from the north is currently at the cellar with a solitary point to their name, with that point coming against this same team at the Elpidio P. Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur.

Capping off the homestand is another midweek matchup on June 28, this time against Global Cebu FC. It will be their first meeting against the former UFL champions.

Davao also had a friendly against the Philippines U-22 Men's National Team, which the PFL side won, 1-0. That scrimmage is part of the continuing preparations by the latter for the upcoming SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur and the AFC U-23 Qualifiers in Phnom Penh.

Tickets for the upcoming matches are available at the stadium.  For more information, please visit

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Kaya FC - Makati, FC Meralco Manila set for the "Capital Clasico"

From L-R: Kaya FC-Makati Head Coach Noel Marcaida, Marwin Angeles, Tyler Matas, FC Meralco Manila Head Coach Aris Caslib

The rivalry between Kaya FC-Makati and FC Meralco Manila takes on a whole dimension, as they meet for the first time in the Philippines Football League later this afternoon at the University of Makati. Kickoff is at 4:00 PM, LIVE on PTV 4.

With both teams atop the league standings at the early part of the season, expect the match to be a physical one, something Tyler Matas acknowledged during the pre-match press conference.

As the home squad, Kaya's head coach Noel Marcaida promised a fierce battle, noting that "we want to defend our home turf against any team." his Sparks counterpart, Aris Caslib praised their opponent's quick counterattack, which has helped the team to second place in the standings at 10 points in five matches.

Midfielder Marwin Angeles acknowledged that this would be a difficult match, but did say it was going to be an exciting game for sure. He adds, "Meralco has been a team who physically, has always been strong. Their defense has always been difficult to break down. But I think we can get the win if we play the way we’ve been playing,"

Kaya FC - Makati will miss the services of Miguel Tanton due to suspension, and Woody Ugarte due to injury. As for FC Meralco Manila, Daniel Gadia is down with the flu, while James Hall remains to be seen if he is ready to play after a bout with measles.

As for the four players called up for national team duty, both teams are non-committal regarding their availability for the match later, especially for James Younghusband, who suffered an injured ankle during their friendly against China.

Tickets for this clash are available at the stadium or via SM Tickets. Bleachers cost PhP 20, while Grandstand costs PhP 350.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Azkals secure hold atop Group F of Asian Cup Qualification

c/o the Tajikistan Football Federation.
The Philippines accomplished what it needed to do at Dushanbe early Wednesday morning, as they escaped with a 4-3 victory over Tajikistan in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers at the Republican Central Stadium.

Fresh from suffering a 8-1 shellacking against China in Guangzhou, the Philippines was seeking to bounce back strong, scoring the opening goal after 28 minutes. Phil Younghusband's free kick sailed over the head of Abduaziz Mahkamov and into the net to give the visitors the early advantage.

The Azkals would double the lead after 41 minutes, as Mike Ott found Javier Patino for the easy finish. The duo then collaborate on another goal to give the Philippines what was thought to be an unassailable 3-0 lead three minutes into the second half, with Patino securing his brace.

The hosts do manage to finally break through in the 57th minute. A foul called on Amani Aguinaldo inside the box meant a penalty, with Parvizjon Umarboev converting the spot kick against Patrick Deyto. Dilshov Vasiev cut the Tajik deficit to 3-2 four minutes later, thanks to Manuschehr Dzhalilov intercepting a Junior Munoz back pass and finding Vasiev for the finish.

The Philippines restored some breathing room in the 79th minute, as Daisuke Sato took a volley from Phil and then firing a rocket past Mahkamov and into the net for the Azkals' fourth goal of the match. But Dzhalilov tried to make things interesting with a 90th minute strike to make it 4-3. Unfortunately for the Central Asians, the four minutes added by the Syrian officials could not yield them a potential tying goal.

The victory and its corresponding three points puts the Azkals on top of Group F with six points off the strength of back-to-back qualifying wins. They are two points ahead of Yemen, who were held to a scoreless draw by Nepal at Kathmandu on Tuesday afternoon. The Arabs will be traveling to Bacolod to face the Azkals in a 1 vs 2 matchup on September 5, with the Pana-ad Stadium hosting the qualifier.

PHI: Munoz (Daniels 64'), Mi. Ott (Doctora 60'), Ramsay, Ma. Ott, P. Younghusband, Sato, Aguinaldo, Villanueva, Ingreso (Woodland 77'), Deyto, Patino

Goals: P. Younghusband 28', Patino 41' 48', Sato 79'

TJK: Mahkamov, Asrorov, I. Dhzalilov, Ergashev, Sharipov (Juraboev 46'), Huber (Vasiev 46'), Umarboev, Babadjanov (Aliev 52'), Fathuloev, Nazarov, M. Dzhalilov

Goals: Umarboev 57' pen, Vasiev 61', M. Dzhalilov 90'

Update: Current Philippine Football Federation Atty. Ed Gastanes released a statement in light of this win:

"We congratulate our national team for their second win in the Asian Cup Qualifiers. This was a perfect response after last week's loss in a friendly with China PR. The win increased our chances for a place in the 2019 Asian Cup."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Philippines vs Tajikistan AFC Asian Cup Qualifier

The Philippines seeks to remain on top of Group F in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers at midnight tonight, as they face off against Tajikistan at the Central Republican Stadium. Streaming link is posted below.

In the pre-match press conference, Tajik head coach Khakim Fuzaylov highlighted the urgency of this particular matchup, noting that they "have no right to make a mistake in front of our fans." He added that "the Philippines is a good and strong opponent." Although they did not schedule a friendly, they had ten days of preparation that included a intra-squad scrimmage. One major factor that could possibly hinder the team's performance is the absence of Nuriddin Davronov. The Dunav Ruse midfielder was injured while on loan with Istiklol and missed out on the Tajik side's 1-0 win against Turkmenistan side Altyn Asyr that booked them a seat in the AFC Cup Inter-Zonal Semifinal.

Although the Azkals are level on points atop Group F alongside Yemen, they are fresh off a 8-1 thrashing from China a week earlier. The team hopes to learn from the embarrassing defeat and move on from it with a victory.

The Philippine Football Federation has called-up the following players for national team duty tonight:

Amani Aguinaldo (Global Cebu FC)
Fitch Arboleda (Stallion Laguna FC)
Misagh Bahadoran (Global Cebu FC)
Kenshiro Daniels (Kaya FC)
Dominic Liam Del Rosario (Ilocos United FC)
Patrick Deyto (Global Cebu FC)
Ruben Doctora, Jr. (Stallion Laguna FC)
Kevin Ingreso (Ceres-Negros FC)
Junior Munoz (Ceres-Negros FC)
Nick O'Donnell (Global Cebu FC)
Manny Ott (Ceres-Negros FC)
Mike Ott (Angthong United)
Javier Patino (Henan Jianye)
Iain Ramsay (Ceres-Negros FC)
Daisuke Sato (CSM Politechnica Iasi)
Camelo Tacusalme (JPV Marikina FC)
Dennis Villanueva (Global Cebu FC)
Nathanael Ace Villanueva (FC Meralco Manila)
Luke Woodland (Ceres-Negros FC)
James Younghusband (FC Meralco Manila)
Phil Younghusband (FC Meralco Manila)

Important to note that Thomas Dooley, in Bob Guerrero's preview, has ruled out Hikaru Minegeshi (shin infection) and Jeffrey Christiaens (knee) for the match versus Tajikistan and has since dropped them from the original call-up list from the China friendly. Also confirmed to be out for the match, but remained called-up, is James Younghusband (ankle). In encouraging news, both Misagh Bahadoran and Daisuke Sato have been deemed as "should be fine" and "good to go" after being unable to finish the friendly. Javier Patino missed the friendly but is expected to play.

To compensate for the injuries, Balot Doctora has since been called up to make the trip to Dushanbe. Ace Villanueva joined the Stallion Laguna FC captain in the trip to the Tajik capital. He had been originally called up for the China friendly, but did not make the trip to Guangzhou.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

NBA on 3x3 basketball being accepted into the Olympics

The NBA, through its Deputy Commissioner and COO Mark Tatum, gave their comments on the announcement by the International Olympic Committee late last night that they are including 3x3 basketball as one of the new events in the Olympic program, starting in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 
Today’s announcement by the IOC to include 3-on-3 basketball in the 2020 Olympics is great news and continues to signify the growing popularity of basketball around the world.  The last few years, we have made a major push in 3-on-3 basketball with our nationwide Dew NBA 3X tour and several international 3-on-3 competitions, and the Olympic stage will provide these elite athletes with the opportunity to further demonstrate their talents.

The NBA has been involved in getting the 3x3 movement off the ground in their own way, organizing a variety of #NBA3X events worldwide.

In the United States, they are currently in the midst of the second iteration of the Dew NBA 3X Tour that will last until October. Dew NBA 3X brings the action to six NBA locations (Chicago, Miami, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles).

In the Philippines, the #NBA3XPH will be marking its seventh straight edition later this year, with AXA coming on board as a presenter. Stay tuned for more details with regards to how teams can participate.

Monday, June 5, 2017

NBA launches official Filipino online store

The NBA and the International Athletic Trading Company, Inc. (IATC) recently announced the launch of the first official online NBA store in the Philippines, The site will provide fans in the Philippines with access to securing official and authentic NBA merchandise from all thirty teams directly from their computer, mobile, and tablet devices. Fans can also access items from brands like Adidas, Mitchell & Ness, New Era, Nike, Spalding, Stance, Under Armour, and Upper Deck.

According to IATC President and CEO Melvin Lloyd Lim, "The launch of strengthens our efforts to extend our reach further across the Philippine archipelago. We are committed to bringing the NBA closer to the fans by outfitting them with the latest authentic NBA merchandise."

NBA Philippines Managing Director Carlo Singson says "With the combined presence of our four brick and mortar NBA Stores in the country and, we now can provide authentic NBA merchandise to our fans in the Philippines wherever they are. gives us an exciting new platform to engage our fans and provides them with another touchpoint to our players and teams." is the 14th branded international online store, with the league generating a third of its merchandise sales from outside the United States. It will offer a variety of payment options, including credit card, cash-on-delivery, online banking, among others.

Para Sports Summit set this week

The Philippine Paralympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Association for the Differently Abled (PHILSPADA) is slated to have its first Philippine Para Sports Summit later this week.

Set to take place at the Technohub branch of Microtel in Quezon City on June 9, the summit, which has a theme of "Transcending Barriers Through Sports," brings together around a hundred delegates, composed of sports officials, athletes, coaches and trainers, sports doctors, marketing experts, and policy makers to look into the state of Paralympic Sports in the Philippines and at the same time, identify local and international goals that would enable Filipino para-athletes to achieve sporting excellence. The summit is also seeking to find ways to develop para-sports as a tool to help change the lives of Filipinos with disabilities while also contributing to the development of an inclusive society.

The last decade saw the rise of Filipino para-athletes in the global arena, like Josephine Medina, the para-table tennis player who gave the Philippines its second-ever Paralympic bronze medal last year in Rio, sixteen years after powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta's feat in Sydney. Swimmer Ernie Gawilan also participated at Rio, has been a consistent gold medalist at the ASEAN Para Games. The rise runs parallel with the growth in the participation of para-athletes in various local, regional, and international competitions, as well as that of the support and recognition from both the government and the private sector.

PPC and PHILSPADA are both looking at the summit as a way to further strengthen itself in order to enact its Mid-Term National Para Sports Development Program, which will open up more opportunities for para-athletes not just in grassroots-level competitions, but even in the elite ones as well. In addition, it also serves as an opportunity to establish key partnerships that would further inspire and equip para-athletes with the necessities to compete and represent the countries in tournaments like the 9th and 10th ASEAN Para Games in Malaysia this coming September and the Philippines in 2019, the 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia, and the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Among the keynote speakers at the Para Sports Summit include Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William I. Ramirez, Philippine Olympic Committee President Peping Cojuangco, PPC-PHILSPADA President Michael Barredo, medical experts Dr. Raul Canlas and Dr. Raul Cembrano, Secretary-General Geraldo Rosario, para-coaches Joel Deriada (Athletics) and Vernon Perea (Wheelchair Basketball).

The Summit will also have a Wheelchair Dance Sport exhibition, as well as the launch of the "Alay Para Atleta" program, which is a nationwide campaign enabling the public to support the Paralympic movement with a PhP 50 annual contribution via mobile phone access.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Kaya FC–Makati Looks to Stay Unbeaten at Home

Fitch Arboleda and Jovin Bedic shaking hands for their upcoming match in the Philippines Football League.

Kaya FC–Makati returns to play on home soil on Sunday, riding high after taking maximum points in Ilocos last Wednesday. The Makati club drew their opening game against Ceres Negros at the University of Makati Stadium, before defeating the Davao Aguilas two weeks after in the same venue. With the visit of Stallion Laguna, Kaya looks to stay unbeaten in front of their home fans.

“Our advantage is the home crowd. It gives a boost to the team, especially the Ultras Kaya — they’re always cheering. You can expect a physical game, as Stallion is very aggressive. But we’re prepared for this,” said Kaya midfielder Jovin Bedic.

Although Stallion Laguna enter the game on the back of a heavy defeat against JPV Marikina, they are not being taken lightly by Kaya head coach Noel Marcaida.

“We’re expecting a fast transition game against Stallion,” he said. “They have players like Fitch Arboleda, Balot (Ruben) Doctora, and Jan Jan Melliza, who have the pace that can really exploit space if you give it to them.”

Kaya currently have seven points after four matches, with a 2-1-1 record. Sunday’s match wraps up a grueling run of four games in the span of two weeks.

“Four games in 15 days is quite difficult. But being professionals, there are no excuses. You have to be able to deliver your responsibilities,” said Marcaida.

Meanwhile, Stallion Laguna are at the bottom of the standings with only a solitary point so far. Their last match was a 4-0 defeat to JPV Marikina at their home ground at the Biñan Football Stadium.

“We’re practicing more on defending because that’s where we have been encountering problems,” said Stallion standout Fitch Arboleda. “It will be physical tomorrow, because like us, Kaya is very aggressive.”

Saturday, June 3, 2017

FC Meralco Manila hosts dangerous Davao Aguilas FC

From L-R: Milan Nikolic, Aris Caslib, Gary Phillips, Gerald Layumas, Dylan De Bruycker
FC Meralco Manila seeks to extend their reign atop the Philippines Football League later today, with their matchup against the Davao Aguilas FC at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Even with Davao still seeking their first victory of the season, head coach Aris Caslib still views them as a potential threat. He believes, "This will be a tough match. Our players must improve their organization in attack." He adds that key players will be shuffled into different positions for this matchup.

Caslib also cited the presence of Davao's Serbian striker Nikola Grubješić, whom he described as "quiet but a veteran of the Swedish league."

The Sparks are coming in generally healthy, save for Eddie Mallari. Central defender Jeong Min Lee is highly likely to dress, given the state of his injured toe. They have been relying on a balanced scoring attack that has seen seven different players score goals this early in the conference.

As for Davao, head coach Gary Phillips acknowledged some depth concerns due to injuries and suspensions. Injuries will keep Van Rey Diaz and Kim Versales at the sidelines, while dengue fever has downed Andreas Esswein for the next few weeks. Meanwhile, team captain and former Philippine international Jason Cordova will be serving his one-match suspension after being sent off against Kaya FC-Makati a couple of weeks ago.

In spite of this, Dylan de Bruycker expressed confidence that the squad is strong enough to win tonight. The Filipino of Belgian descent has scored thrice this season for the lone Mindanao squad in the league.

Kickoff tonight is 7pm. Tickets are available at the venue and cost just PhP 20 both for grandstand and bleachers. Those seeking a streaming link can check out the video below.

Kaya FC-Makati ropes in Ilocos United FC

Two first half goals set the tone for Kaya FC–Makati as they dispatched of Ilocos United, 4-2, at the Quirino Stadium. Jordan Mintah, who had a hand in all four of Kaya's goals, was named Man of the Match in the club’s second win in the Philippines Football League.

“First of all, I gave thanks to almighty God for giving me the strength to finish the game. I give thanks to my teammates, because without them I could not get this Man of the Match, and the coaches as well. We work so hard in training. We wanted to win this game. We didn’t want our long journey to be wasted. We put in all our effort. It’s not just me who should be Man of the Match, the whole team should be Man of the Match,” Mintah said after the contest.

“They are a very good side, but we prepared well. I felt so excited playing against them. They have a lot of experienced players as well. They are very good. I was so happy to play with them,” he added.

The Makati club took control of possession right from the get-go, disallowing Ilocos from imposing control in front of their home support. After a few threatening runs, against the United’s backline, it was Mintah who was pulled back in the box, leading to the first of three penalties in the game. Adam Reed confidently stepped up and fired into the bottom left corner to open the scoring in the 23rd minute. Shortly after, Jordan sent in the cross that set up his strike partner, Robert Lopez Mendy, for the outside-foot finish.

After the break, Chima Uzoka pulled one back for the home side. But the two-goal cushion was reestablished quickly by Jovin Bedic’s short stab, which was put on a plate by Mintah. Jordan went on to get on the scoresheet himself before the match was through. Given room to operate inside the box, the striker toyed with Ilocos’ defense before being bundled over by goalkeeper Baba Sampana. The resulting penalty was fired into the top left corner, prompting Mintah’s signature salute celebration.

Jordan’s night had one blemish, however, as he was adjudged to have fouled an Ilocos player inside the box in the game’s final minute. He received a yellow card for the challenge, which means he will be suspended for Kaya’s next match against Stallion Laguna. Uzoka doubled his total with the resulting penalty.

“You have to expect that the home team will fight until the last whistle of the game. They will do their best to protect their home ground,” said Makati head coach Noel Marcaida. “It was a tough game. But for us, we took advantage of the two goals in the first 20 minutes of the first half.”

The result keeps Kaya in third spot in the standings, with seven points from four matches (2-1-1). Meanwhile, Ilocos suffered their second defeat of the campaign, as they remain with a solitary point after three outings (0-1-2).

Kaya FC–Makati now immediately switches their focus to Sunday, when they face Stallion Laguna in the University of Makati. The match will be the club’s third home game of the season, and concludes a run of four games in the span of 15 days.

The NBA Finals, in numbers

With the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors facing off for the third straight year, here are the pertinent numbers involving all aspects of the 2017 NBA Finals.

3. The trilogy storyline makes sense, since this is the first time in the league's history that two teams face each other for three consecutive seasons. The first meeting saw the Warriors won their first NBA title in forty years, while the second meeting saw the Cavs become the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a NBA title, clinching their first championship in dramatic fashion.

61. There hasn't been a trilogy like this in the four major professional sports in the United States.

4. In line with the last sentence, this is the fourth such occurrence, following the Cleveland Browns vs Detroit Lions (1952-54), New York Yankees vs New York Giants (1921-23), and the Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens (1954-56)

11. There are eleven players on both rosters that have been named into an All-Star team, the most since 1983. (Kevin Love, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, and Kyle Korver for Cleveland; Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and David West for Golden State)

12. Golden State is the first team to win their first twelve games in a single postseason.

7. LeBron James will become the seventh player in NBA history to play in the Finals for seven straight seasons, following these six Celtics: Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey, and Bob Cousy.

30. That is the number of the two-time Kia NBA MVP Stephen Curry, which leads the NBA in jersey sales in the last two regular seasons.

1,000. Both the Cavaliers (1,067 this season) and the Warriors (1,077 last season) have made a thousand three-pointers in a regular season. The only other team to pull off that feat is the Houston Rockets, which set a league record by converting 1,181 this season.

2. Tyronn Lue is seeking to become the second head coach in NBA history to claim a championship in his first two seasons. John Kundla with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1949-50 remains the only coach so far to accomplish this feat.

9. Mark Jackson will be serving as the analyst for ABC's coverage of the NBA Finals for the ninth time, which is the most among African-Americans.

8. The quartet of Mike Breen (play-by-play), Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy (analysts), and Doris Burke (sideline) will be taking care of the NBA Finals coverage for the eighth time as a broadcast team.

21. NBA TV collection of studio analysts have a combined 21 NBA Finals appearances. Shaquille O'Neal leads the way with six, followed by Kevin McHale's five, and Isiah Thomas' three. Kenny Smith and Brent Barry have two appearances, while Charles Barkley, Steve Smith, and Dennis Scott each made one appearance.

90. NBA TV will have a 90-minute pregame show called Live At The Finals.

1.3 Billion. The NBA has arguably one of the biggest social media footprints and communities in the world, with 1.3 billion likes and followers all across the different platforms worldwide.

90 Million. LeBron James is the most-followed NBA player on social media, with the 90 million broken down into 23.1 million on Facebook, 36.4 million on Twitter, and 30.5 million on Instagram. Of course, LeBron is noted to go off-grid to focus for the postseason, referring it as "Zero Dark  Twenty-Three."

265. At least 265 international media members from over 35 countries and territories will provide onsite NBA Finals coverage for fans in over 215 countries and territories in 49 languages.

16. There are 16 international television and radio networks providing LIVE onsite NBA Finals commentary, including our very own TJ Manotoc and Boom Gonzalez for ABS-CBN Sports. Aside from the Philippines, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Middle East, Poland, Spain, and Chinese-Taipei are the other networks.

14. Fourteen television networks will be making their NBA Finals debut with regards to remote broadcast of the series: GreatSports Channel (China), DAZN (Germany), LeSports (Hong Kong), DAZN (Japan), Kwesé Sports (Pan-Africa), NBA TV – MEO (Portugal), (Russia), Eleven Sports Network (Singapore), (Sweden), (Taiwan), AIS Play (Thailand), NBA TV – Turkcell TV (Turkey), S Spor (Turkey) and VTVcab (Vietnam)

1,089 and 1,090. NBA Cares is creating a program at Westlake Middle School in Oakland (1,089th) and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland at East Tech High School (1,090th) where kids and families can live, learn, or play.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kobe Paras introduced at Cal State - Northridge

Kobe joins CSU-Northridge

Kobe Paras was officially introduced earlier today at Cal State - Northridge as part of its cadre of newcomers. Accompanying him in the introductory press conference was head coach Reggie Theus, Kobe's dad Benjie, and CSUN Athletic Director Dr. Brandon Martin.

In a release that was posted before the press conference, Theus says, "I'm thrilled to be able to coach Kobe Paras and have him be a part of the Matador family. He's a super athlete with a great motor and high character that has the ability to score in several different ways. I think he has the potential to be one of the best student-athletes in the Big West Conference and I'm expecting big things out of him on the floor. I'm excited to coach Kobe and mentor him both on and off the court."

The same release also provided a quote from Paras, where he says, ""I am so excited to be a part of the CSUN family," said Paras. "This is going to be a great move for me and I am really happy to be a part of a great basketball program. Thank you CSUN for making me feel like family from the very beginning. Go Matadors!"

The school made the press conference available via streaming here.

Paras will be sitting out the upcoming season to observe NCAA transfer rules, and will have three years of eligibility remaining in the 2018-19 season for the Matadors. In the meantime, he will be representing the Philippines in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup in Nantes later this year, alongside JR Quinahan and fellow second-generation ballers Jeron Teng and Kiefer Ravena.