Thursday, November 30, 2017

“Stop looking for excuses” – Ben Mbala on MVP nod

Ben Mbala on Wednesday, was officially named as the UAAP Most Valuable Player for the second straight season, and it was by a landslide, based on the statistical points that serve as the criteria.

He averaged 26.0 points, 13.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.5 blocks for La Salle in the eliminations, amassing 96/5833 statistical points.

However, backlash to the announcement came immediately, with fans and certain players voicing out their desire to split the MVP award for locals as well as for "imports."

In the aftermath of being bestown the award and securing the Game 2 win, he found these criticisms aimed towards him as "funny."

The big man says, "It's pretty funny, you know, 'cause since I've been here, I've seen a local guy win MVP, even with, like they call us, imports." He adds, "Like, there's (Kiefer) Ravena had back-to-back, Bobby (Parks, Jr.) had back-to-back, so if you're good, you'll get it. Right now, I just feel like they're looking for excuses."

The transfer from Southwestern University also cited CJ Perez, who was named as the NCAA MVP for its 93rd season, beating out foreign student-athletes like Donald Tankoua of San Beda and his teammate in Lyceum, Mike Nzeusseu.

Ben also shared, "It doesn't matter if you're Filipino or foreign student-athlete. If you work for the MVP, then you will (get it.) If not, don't look for excuses like divide it in local and foreign. It's pretty unfair. That is not how it was supposed to be." (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

La Salle comeback forces Game 3 sudden-death

Kib Montalbo in Game 2
The defending champions won’t just go down without a fight.

La Salle overcomes a 21-point deficit to snatch Game 2 of the UAAP Finals against archrivals Ateneo, securing a 92-83 victory this past Wednesday afternoon at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Fresh from being crowned as the Most Valuable Player for the second straight season, Ben Mbala bounced back from a subpar Game 1 performance with twenty points and sixteen rebounds, while Ricci Rivero overcame first half foul trouble to score eighteen points. Andrei Caracut also bounced back with thirteen points to be named as the Player of the Game.

The Blue Eagles forced the Green Archers to start on the back foot, riding on their hot outside shooting to score 32 points in the first quarter. They would eventually establish their largest lead at twenty-one points twice in the second quarter, as they took advantage of foul trouble issues on both Ben Mbala and Ricci Rivero, with the latter forced to sit with four fouls with three minutes remaining in the period and having a emotional breakdown in the process.

La Salle would eventually get their game going late in the first half, establishing a 14-2 run to close the gap to just a 51-42 deficit into the break.

Assistant coach Miguel Solitaria admitted to the media after the game, "That first quarter, medyo gigil ang mga players. We realized in the second quarter that we really needed to contain them, because almost all of their points were coming from transition."

A different La Salle side showed up in the second half, as Mbala would make his presence felt inside. The Green Archers were now able to push the tempo as they feasted in transition scoring opportunities off Ateneo turnovers. Head coach Aldin Ayo risk of bringing back Ricci in the third quarter paid off, as he would match the Blue Eagles' scoring output in the third quarter by himself.

Santi Santillan tied things up at 56 before Isaac Go's layup retook the lead for Ateneo at 58-56, with just over three minutes remaining. That turned out to be the last time the Blue Eagles led in the game, as the champions ended the third quarter on a 12-1 run to erect a 68-59 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Ateneo valiantly tried to make their own comeback in the final period, anchoring their efforts around Aaron Black and Thirdy Ravena, but La Salle would match such efforts, holding on to the nine-point victory.

When asked about how he managed to survive playing with four fouls in the second half, Ricci said, "Sa second half, it wasn't me who played. Siguro, that was God."

About dealing with adversity during that first half, Mbala shared, "We stick together. We didn't give up. We kept playing D. We kept believing. We stuck to the game plan."

La Salle's defence cooled Ateneo hot shooting to just 38.36% while committing 21 turnovers. The Blue Eagles also made just two triples in the final three quarters after converting five in the first half.

Ravena topscored for the Blue Eagles with twenty points, while Black finished with fifteen markers on 6/8 shooting.

Game 3 is scheduled to take place on Sunday afternoon at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

Philippines Football League Finals Series cast now official

The first Finals Series
After Global Cebu FC's 2-0 victory over Ceres-Negros FC earlier this week, the regular season portion of the Philippines Football League has concluded, with all eight participating clubs playing fourteen matches each at home and away, totaling 112 overall for this portion of the inaugural season.

Out of this, the top four teams have qualified for the inaugural edition of the Finals Series. FC Meralco Manila finished with the best regular season record at 58 points. As a result of their loss to conclude the season, the Busmen ended up one point behind at 57 points for second place. Kaya FC-Makati and Global each finished with 47 points, but Kaya ended up in third place due to a superior goal difference.

The PFL has officially announced its schedule for the first phase of the Finals Series, with the first legs taking place this weekend, with the second legs taking place simultaneously at 7pm on December 9.

For the 1 vs 4 matchup, Global hosts the Sparks on December 2 at 7pm for the first leg. Both legs for this matchup have been designated to take place at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. The club released a statement last night about having to play two "road matches:"
Global Cebu FC regrets to inform everybody that due to the unavailability of the CCSC pitch on the assigned match date for the semi-finals, the PFL has instructed the club to secure an alternative venue for the game.

We had requested for the rescheduling of the 1st leg on a weekday date so that we can play our game in Cebu, but such was not approved. Hence, the club has no other recourse but to play at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

We apologize to our home fans for this unfortunate development.
As for the 2 vs 3 matchup, Kaya FC-Makati hosts the Busmen on December 3 at the University of Makati Stadium, with a 4pm kickoff. The second leg will take place at Ceres' home ground, the Pana-ad Park and Stadium.

Whoever wins the first phase of the Finals Series will face off for the opportunity for the PFL title on December 16. The losers also will face other on the same date. Venue will be dependent on the results.

Philippine Football Federation President Mariano V. Araneta Jr. sent his regards to the four teams in the Finals Series, says "I would like to congratulate the four teams that have qualified to the Philippines Football League Finals Series and at the same time wish them good luck. What started out as a collective dream then has become a reality; we are near the day where the first professional club of the Philippines Football League will be crowned champions.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ateneo looking for a title sweep in Game 2

Ateneo seeks to complete a title sweep in the UAAP Season 80 men's basketball tournament later today at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Blue Eagles are toting a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three finals matchup, and is at the cusp of clinching their first title since 2012 with their 76-70 victory in Game 1 last Saturday.

Head coach Tab Baldwin expects both teams to be physical, as reflected by Matt Nieto's cut due to being a recipient of an inadvertent Ben Mbala elbow. He says, "La Salle won't be any different on Wednesday. It would be silly to think otherwise because that's their "ammo" and they are good at it." The former national team head coach also expects the defending champions to make the necessary adjustments in order to extend the series to the weekend.

Such physicality is getting more spotlight as a result of game footage spreading online showing extra-curricular activities not being caught by the officials.

On the other hand, La Salle hopes their stellar record at The Big Dome will be to their advantage, having never lost at the hallowed arena this season. They are also hoping to be buoyed in part with the Individual Awarding Ceremonies that will take place before the game, with Mbala set to be officially awarded the MVP trophy. The Cameroon international looks to bounce back from his worst offensive performance as a Green Archer, limited to just eight points on seven attempts from the field. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Alab vs Singapore tomorrow night

Alab Pilipinas
Alab Pilipinas will attempt to bounce back from their opening disappointment tomorrow night, as they host last season's finalists Singapore Slingers at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Fresh from their 92-89 loss to defending champions Hong Kong Eastern, the squad coached by Jimmy Alapag seeks to bounce back against the visiting Slingers, who are fresh from a 77-66 win over the CLS Knights.

Alab rode on their reinforcements Reggie Okosa and Ivan Johnson in their opener, scoring 28 and 17 points, respectively. Last season's MVP Ray Parks also contributed 17 points.

The Slingers relied on their reinforcements to defeat the Indonesian newcomers. Xavier Alexander contributed 26 points, eleven rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and a block, while Ryan Wright added 21 points, thirteen rebounds, three assists, a steal, and three blocks.

The match also features Josh Urbiztondo going up against the team he played for last year. The Slingers replaced him with AJ Mandani for this season, although the guard struggled against CLS with just a couple of points on 1/10 shooting.

The game will be shown LIVE on S+A, starting at 8pm.

Philippines names squad for CTFA tourney

Phil Younghusband

The Philippines Football Federation called up 23 players for senior national team duty for the upcoming Chinese-Taipei Football Association International Tournament.

The CTFA tournament is scheduled to take place this coming December 1-5 at the Municipal Stadium in Taipei. Aside from the hosts, Laos and Timor Leste have been invited to participate.

With the Finals Series about to commence, the PFF has opted to call-up mostly players not participating in the inaugural postseason of the Philippines Football League. As the matches are not within the FIFA international window, clubs are also not obligated to release their players. In addition, they also plucked from the U22 team that recently participated in subcontinental competition. The federation sees the participation in this tournament as an opportunity for the younger and less experienced players to show their potential.

Speaking of the U22, the Azkals in this tourney will be coached by Marlon Maro, assisted by Popoy Clarino, Marlon Pinero, Ronoel Garfin, and Ramoncito Carreon. Davao Aguilas owner Jefferson Cheng serves as Team Manager.

The players called up are as follows:

Nathan Alquiros - Stallion Laguna FC
Fitch Arboleda - Stallion Laguna FC
Junell Bautista - Davao Aguilas FC
Jaime Cheng - Davao Aguilas FC
Justin Cheng - Davao Aguilas FC
Ian Clarino - FC Meralco Manila / University of the Philippines
Reymart Cubon - Davao Aguilas FC
Dylan De Bruycker - Davao Aguilas FC
Ruben Doctora, Jr. - Stallion Laguna FC
Jarvey Gayoso - Ateneo de Manila University
Angel Guirado - Davao Aguilas FC
James Hall - Davao Aguilas FC
RJ Joyel - Far Eastern University
Christian Lapas - University of the Philippines
Kintaro Miyagi - University of the Philippines
Nick O'Donnell - Davao Aguilas FC
Mike Ott - Angthong FC
Simone Rota - Davao Aguilas FC
Yannick Tuason - Stallion Laguna FC
Adam Reed Tull - Kaya FC-Makati
Reynald Villareal - Stallion Laguna FC
James Younghusband - Davao Aguilas FC
Phil Younghusband - Davao Aguilas FC

The schedule of the Azkals' games is as follows:

December 1 vs Laos at 4pm
December 3 vs Chinese-Taipei at 7pm
December 5 vs Timor-Leste at 4pm

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Magsayo set for Pinoy Pride: 43

Pinoy Pride 43: Battle for Bohol poster
Mark Magsayo wishes to have a successful homecoming tonight, as he defends his WBO International Featherweight title tonight in the main event of Pinoy Pride 43: Battle for Bohol.

Toting a 17-0 win-loss record, thirteen of which came via knockout, the man called "Magnifico" will be facing Shota Hayashi and his 30-6-1 record. A win for the Japanese challenger would definitely raise his profile and move him up the rankings, while a win for the champion could potentially find him getting a title shot against Oscar Valdez, considered as among the most complete fighters in the division.

Both Anton Roxas and Atty. Ed Tolentino believe that Magsayo has what it takes to put Hayashi down and successfully defend this title, while also adding that this is going to be a very explosive fight and a straight-up brawl that Filipino fight fans would appreciate.

According to Tolentino, "Magsayo reminds me of a young Pacquiao, as he brings two things to the ring: charm and harm. He has a nice story, but when he's in the ring, the kid throws punches with bad intentions. He brings in brutal raw power." He adds that Hayashi's style is a tailor-fit for Magsayo, as he prefers his opponents to come within his punching range.

Roxas believes that even with Hayashi having logged more fights, the fighter has yet to fight outside his native country, which could potentially make it hard for him to nullify Magsayo's homefield advantage. He also affirms his belief that he should eventually face Valdez, acknowledging that Magsayo's punching power would give him a chance against the Mexican champion. Tolentino also shares that Magsayo could also help avenge Genesis Servania's loss against him in the process.

Even Magsayo knows what looms ahead, shares "I really want Valdez. If I beat Hayashi, I'm going to get that title fight. I'm coming for it." He also is looking forward to fighting in front of his home crowd. "This has been a long-time dream for me, to be able to fight in front of them and make them proud that I am from Tagbilaran."

Set at the Bohol Wisdom Gymnasium in Tagbilaran City, fans can watch Pinoy Pride 43 LIVE starting at 6pm on SKY Sports Pay-Per-View. One can call their local SKY office or dial 418-0000 for further details, or visit SKYCable subscribers can also text BoxingPPV to 23662. SKYDirect postpaid subscribers can also text SKY to 23668, while prepaid subscribers can text PPV[space]BOXING[space][BOX ID] to 23667. SKYBroadband subscribers can watch it through SKY on Demand.

Those who prefer to watch it on free tv can do so tomorrow on ABS-CBN Channel 2 at 330pm or on S+A and S+A HD starting at 630pm.

FC Meralco Manila, Ceres-Negros FC share goalless draw

Jinggoy Valmayor attempting to move past a Ceres-Negros defender. Photo c/o FC Meralco Manila
The Philippines Football League made history on Friday afternoon, having its first match inside what will be the PFF National Training Facility at the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite, with FC Meralco Manila and Ceres-Negros FC battling to a goalless draw.

The first half was a tight affair, with minimal scoring opportunities due to Ceres having difficulty trying to generate offense, while also relying on Roland Mueller to snuff chances from the likes of Tahj Minniecon and Ashley Flores.

The second half reflected that much as well, as chances from Alvin Sarmiento and Jinggoy Valmayor went begging.

The best scoring opportunity came late. An 84th minute free kick from Curt Dizon was palmed over the bar by Mueller, with the subsequent corner kick eventually seeing Dizon firing another shot that hit the right post. The ensuing rebound scramble yielded an attempt from Flores that was saved.

With the draw, FC Meralco Manila remains atop the PFL table with 58 points heading into the Finals Series. All eyes now head to Cebu on November 28, as the Busmen fly to the Queen City of the South and face a Global Cebu FC side that would be fresh from playing Albirex Niigata (S) in the RHB Singapore Cup final tonight. With 57 points heading into that match, for as long as Ceres does not lose, they would move into first place owing to their superior goal difference.


FC Meralco Manila had been designated as the home team, and chose this venue with its nominal home, the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium unavailable due to the start of the NCAA Season 93 football season.

Although the match was goalless, Valmayor was named as the Man of the Match for creating those scoring opportunities.

Risto Vidakovic after the match: "It was very important to keep the players free from injury. No injuries means a successful day for us." He adds, "We will go to Cebu to compete."

Aris Caslib after the match: "Hats off to our players who played with so many starters unavailable."

David Pusing was sent off with a straight red card for a studs up challenge, which will force him to miss at least the first leg of their Finals Series matchup.

Ateneo and La Salle alums talk it out on S+A: Unfiltered

The cast of S+A: Unfiltered. Renren, Rico, Don, Laura, Anton, Wesley, Larry, Nico

With the iconic rivalry between Ateneo and La Salle being revisited again for the sixth time in UAAP history, let ABS-CBN Sports get you ready for the actual game with S+A Unfiltered: The UAAP Finals Special.

To be shown at 2pm on both S+A and S+A HD, it brings together three collegiate basketball legends from both Ateneo and La Salle together as they talk about the upcoming finals matchup and other things. Fans get to chime in with their thoughts by using #UAAPUnfiltered.

Representing the defending champion Green Archers are Renren Ritualo, Don Allado, and Rico Maierhofer, while representing the Blue Eagles are Wesley Gonzales, Larry Fonacier, and Nico Salva. Serving as hosts/moderators are Anton Roxas and Laura Lehmann.

Among the talking points for S+A: Unfiltered:
  • The Ateneo-La Salle rivaly
  • The UAAP style of play then and now
  • Players right now who have what it takes to be great
  • Foreign Student-Athletes
  • Officiating
  • Student-Athletes getting product endorsements
  • mainstream and social media attention by the league and its players
  • UAAP Finals Preview
Make sure to be tuned in for S+A: Unfiltered later today at 2pm on S+A and S+A HD, with coverage for Game 1 of the UAAP Finals set to start at 330pm. UPFront at the UAAP will be shown at 3pm.

Don Bosco, Malayan Colleges-Laguna conclude Ang Liga Div II eliminations

Although most of Ang Liga is on a break due to the commencement of the UAAP Season 93 HS football tournament and the NCAA Season 93 football tournament, the only non-UAAP and non-NCAA schools participating in this tournament get to finally conclude the Div II portion of the eliminations later this morning.

Don Bosco Technical College and Malayan Colleges-Laguna will face off at the football field inside the Don Bosco campus in Mandaluyong at 8am.

The Greywolves have already booked themselves a seat in the postseason with six points to their tally, while the Wizards have a hold on the fourth spot with three points and currently toting a goal difference advantage against Perpetual. The Div II semifinal matchups hinge on the result of this game.

To assure themselves of a postseason bid, MC-L just needs to not lose by four or more goals today. But, if the Wizards want to finish in third place and avoid the prospects of going up against an undefeated Nazareth-NU, they need to defeat DBTC by at least two goals.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Malditas continue AFC Asian Cup preparations

The participants in the Malditas Scouting Combine / ID / training camp in Corona, California, alongside team officials, including Philippine Football Federation president Mariano "Nonong" Araneta. Photo from Ernie Nierras.
With the Senior Men's National Team currently trying to get themselves into the AFC Asian Cup, the Senior Women's National Team has already made it to said competition, which will take place in Jordan next year.

The Malditas survived the AFC Asian Cup for Women qualifiers in Tajikistan by finishing second in Group A, and with group winners Jordan already secured a spot as the tournament hosts, the Philippines gets the bid. The other six nations taking part in the top women's continental tournament are fellow ASEAN sides Thailand and Vietnam, Korea Republic, former champions Australia and China, and defending champions Japan.

In order to prepare for Asian Cup, the Philippine Football Federation under the leadership of Mariano "Nonong" Araneta has taken the cudgels with getting the team ready for the tournament. Araneta himself is personally overseeing the operation, called Project: Jordan, with the assistance of a team that includes Vincent Santos of the MVP Sports Foundation as the Project Director, Jefferson Cheng as Team Manager, Ernie Nierras as Technical Manager, Carlo Rodriguez for Marketing and Media, Filbert Alquiros for Finance, and Mark Mangune for Liason and Player Pool

The team has enlisted Rich Boon as the head coach. He is the Director for Girls Development at Corinthians SC in California, and has twenty-five years of coaching experience. Comprising his coaching staff are Assistant Coach Clint McDaniel, GK Coach Eric Miselroy, and Staff Coaches Joey Hoffman and Carey Rosenberry. Agreement was officially sealed earlier this week with the contract signing.

The camp in Corona drew forty participants, fourteen of which has had previous national team experience. Two of the participants are based in the Philippines: Natasha Alquiros and Camille Rodriguez.

The list of participants are as follows:

Participants with national team experience based in the Philippines

Natasha Alquiros
Camille Rodriguez

Participants with national team experience based overseas who have graduated from college:

Chalise Baysa
Morgan Brown
Alexa Diaz
Hali Long
Shelby Salvacion
Pat Tomanon

Participants with national team experience based overseas who are still in college:

Sidra Bugsch (Cal Poly)
Caitlyn Kreutz (UNLV)
Claire Lim (UC-Santa Cruz)
Eva Madarang (Rogers State)
Hanna Parado (University of Colorado-Colorado Springs)
Camille Wilson (University of San Francisco)

Participants without national team experience based overseas who are still in college:

Carissa Christensen (Texas Tech)
Olivia Davies (Milwaukee)
Crystal Sanchez (College of the Canyons)
Keagan Bolibol (Point Loma)
Dylan Patterson (Winthrop)
Kara Montilla (New Mexico State)
Sofia Harrison (Slippery Rock)
Jessica Miclat (UC-Irvine)
Megan Abutin (Cal Poly)
Nerisse Bugho (UC-Riverside)
Michelle Feinberg (University of San Francisco)
Ryley Bugay (Marquette)
Quinley Quezada (UC-Riverside)
Kaya Hawkinson (Palos Verdes HS, committed to Cal State-Fullerton)
Chandler McDaniel (Virginia Tech)
Amy Aquino (Cal State-Northridge)
Mackenzie Magaoay (Long Beach State)
Nicole Tentativa (Centennial College (Canada))
Sarina Bolden (Loyola Marymount)

Participants without national team experience based overseas not currently playing in college:

Lauren Bellone (Long Island University alumna)
Tahnai Annis (Florida alumna, current assistant coach at Averett University)
Tiffany Dimaculangan (Westmont College alumna)
Calah Simarago (UC-Santa Barbara alumna, currently playing with Fram Ajax Soccer Club in WPSL)
Leah Larot (Sacramento State alumna, elder sister of former Philippine international Raylene Larot)
Cathrine Buccat Graversen (who is of Danish descent and is playing with KoldingQ in Denmark)
Kaela Reisfelt (Whittier College alumna)

Project Jordan Staff:

Project Head: Mariano V. Araneta
Project Director: Vincent Santos
Liaison Officer: Samantha Nierras
Technical Manager: Ernest Nierras
Head Coach: Rich Boon
Assistant Coach: Clint McDaniel
Goalkeeping Coach: Eric Miselroy
Staff Coach: Joey Hoffman and Carey Rosenberry
PT Staff: Winners Circle Athletics
Head Performance Trainer: Eliseo Cabildo
Assistant Performance Trainer: Wes Brule
PT/AT: Roger Magsino and Ryan Reyes
Team Manager: Jeff Cheng
Finance Manager: Filbert Alquiros
Marketing and Media: Carlo M. Rodriguez
Media: Mia Montayre
Liaison and Player Pooling Officer: Mark Mangune

Magic vs Celtics kick off #NBASabaDOS coverage

#NBASabaDOS beckons

#NBASabaDOS resumes its LIVE NBA coverage on ABS-CBN Ch. 2 starting this Saturday, November 25, with the matchup of the Orlando Magic against the Boston Celtics. at 830am

The Celtics are coming off a 104-98 loss to the Miami Heat, snapping their 16-game winning streak in the process. Kyrie Irving has adjusted nicely to having a leading role after being traded from Cleveland, while the young duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have admirably filled in the role left by Gordon Hayward's injury.

The Orlando Magic are also coming off a loss, a 124-118 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The six-game losing streak has diluted the good start to the season by the team centered on a much-improved Aaron Gordon and recent Philippine visitor Elfrid Payton.

In addition, there will be a localized feel to the broadcast, one that Filipino basketball fans have been accustomed to during #NBASabaDOS.

Here are the upcoming #NBASabaDOS matchups for December and January:

December 2: Detroit Pistons vs Washington Wizards

December 9: Golden State Warriors vs Detroit Pistons

December 16: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Philadelphia 76ers

December 23: New Orleans Pelicans vs Orlando Magic

December 30: Houston Rockets vs Washington Wizards

January 6: New York Knicks vs Miami Heat

January 13: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers

January 20: Miami Heat vs Brooklyn Nets

January 27: Indiana Pacers vs Cleveland Cavaliers

Fans would be able to chime in by using the hashtags #NBAonABSCBN and #NBASabaDOS.

FC Meralco Manila hosts Ceres-Negros at Carmona

Ceres-Negros FC's Jo-oc Treyes, and FC Meralco Manila's Ric Padilla and Aris Caslib

One Philippines Football League matchup takes place this afternoon at the PFF Football facility inside the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite, and it is the top of the table clash between FC Meralco Manila and Ceres-Negros FC.

The Sparks currently have 57 points, one point ahead of the Busmen, who have a game in hand. A win by either team ensures they finish atop the PFL table heading into the Finals Series. A draw means that Ceres-Negros' final game of the season against Global Cebu FC on November 28 still has significance.

Both teams will be heading into the matchup undermanned, as a result of injuries and suspensions.

Ceres are waiting on the medical report on Fernando Rodriguez, who incurred a knee injury in their last match, the latest addition to a group already including Filipino internationals Luke Woodland and Manny Ott, and former international Martin Steuble. Kota Kawase is currently suspended for this match. Ceres assistant Jo-oc Treyes admitted the team has had to deal with playing four matches in the last couple of weeks.

As for FC Meralco Manila, they will not have the services of both Milan Nikolic and Joaco Canas at the back, as well as the hero from their last match, Daniel Gadia. Head coach Aris Caslib acknowledges their absence, but highlights that we will see the fighting nature of the club. He also sees this as an opportunity for certain players to step up and potentially be a factor for the upcoming Finals Series. Backup keeper Ric Padilla says that the coaches have been prepping them to be ready alongside the usual starters, just for this purpose.

Both teams acknowledge the importance of finishing atop the eliminations, and will approach their matchup as such appropriately.

The match has been deemed as closed-door, but the game will be shown on both Gametime TV CH 109 and SLBN Sportsnet Channel 107, which are both exclusively available for Cignal subscribers. Streaming is available below

The match is one of two matches set to take place this weekend. The other features JPV Marikina FC against Davao Aguilas, with the both teams set to conclude their respective seasons. Their last meeting ended up with a 6-3 goalfest for JPV, although the league recently awarded a 3-0 victory to Davao pertaining to the match abandonment that took place last October.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

CM Blacklight Run set at Clark

Light up your night at  ColorManila’s CM Blacklight Run to be held on December 2, 2017, at Clark, Pampanga.
ColorManila returns to Clark, Pampanga for third time this year, with the CM Blacklight Run, co-presented by Sutherland, slated on December 2. It will take place at the Clark Parade Grounds, with a 7pm assembly time.

Clark is no stranger to having large turnouts, as it has hosted over fifteen thousand participants in the last eighteen months. Last year's edition of the CM Blacklight Run brought around six thousand participants, including some foreigners who wanted to partake of this unique experience.

Runners have the option to go either 3K, 5K, or 10K, as well as pick their preferred Kit, of which there are three kinds available.

The Deluxe Kit (PhP 750) comes with a costume singlet, race bib, costume drawstring bag, color packet, and a finisher's medal.

The Rockstar Kit (PhP 1050) comes with a dri-fit shirt, race bib, headlamp, color packet, and a finisher's medal.

The Superstar Kit (PhP 1200) comes with a dri-fit shirt, race bib, headlamp, three drawstring bags, headwear, color packet, and a finisher's medal.

Registration is still ongoing. For more information, for more details.

Ateneo survives OT thriller, books place in UAAP Finals

The rematch is set.

Ateneo needed an extra five minutes to overcome a brave and gutsy Far Eastern University, 88-84, in the Final Four sudden-death semifinal playoff, joining arch-rivals La Salle in forging their fifth such meeting in the Final Four era.

The combination of Isaac Go and Matt Nieto came up clutch down the stretch for the Blue Eagles this past Wednesday afternoon inside the Mall of Asia Arena, snatching the win after the Tamaraws forced a sudden death playoff this past weekend.

Matt would find Isaac for a game-tying triple with 8.5 seconds remaining in regulation. Go would be tasked to defend Arvin Tolentino in the ensuing FEU possession, but the former Blue Eagle lost control of the ball and never got off an attempt, thus sending the game to the extras.

Matt then took over in overtime, giving Ateneo the lead it would never relinquish through a floater with 89 seconds remaining. He then nailed a top-of-the-key triple with 46.9 seconds remaining to give Ateneo some cushion at 85-80.

Russell Escoto would make it a one-possession game again with a quick basket with 44.6 ticks left, 85-82. But Isaac would come to the rescue again, plucking an offensive rebound, and while on his way down, managing to get off and convert his shot, sending the Ateneo side of the MOA Arena to a frenzy with 22.4 seconds to go.

Escoto would have a chance to answer back immediately, but he missed a triple that could have made it into a one-possession game again. Thirdy Ravena would grab the rebound and the ball would eventually go to Matt's hands. He would ice the game with a free throw with under seven seconds remaining before Ino Comboy scored a final basket just before the buzzer sounded.

Assistant head coach Sandy Arespacochaga gave credit to FEU when he faced the media post-match, adding that "they played really well, their coaching staff had a great game plan, and their players really stepped up." Such a sentiment was shared by the Nieto twins and Isaac, who accompanied Sandy in the press room.

Ravena finished with seventeen points and seven rebounds, while Matt and Chibueze Ikeh each added sixteen points. Go would finish with thirteen markers.

Jasper Parker led all scorers with nineteen points, while Tolentino added thirteen.

Game 1 of the UAAP Finals is scheduled to take place on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena, with tipoff scheduled at 4pm. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ateneo, FEU to decide UAAP Finals spot

The Mall of Asia Arena this afternoon will be host to the do-or-die Final Four matchup between Ateneo de Manila and Far Eastern University. Tip-off is slated to take place at around 4pm.

With their season on the line last Sunday, the Tamaraws did not want to end their season yet, stunning the top-seeded Blue Eagles, 80-67 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum, setting up the sudden-death matchup later.

FEU relied on a total team effort, especially on the defensive end, holding Ateneo to their season-low scoring output, and preventing any comeback late, sending them to back-to-back losses after winning their first thirteen games.

Still, head coach Olsen Racela continues to stress the points that FEU still has a lot of work to do, noting that "we haven't done anything yet." The first-year head coach also expects his counterpart, Tab Baldwin, to make key adjustments ahead of their match. "Alam ko with coach Tab, ang daming plano yan to counter what we did today."

The former Ateneo point guard thinks that the Tamaraws are peaking at the right time, looking to return to the finals where they won the championship back in 2015. As a first-time head coach, he also relishes the opportunity to learn against the the top coaches of the league.

As for Baldwin, he credits FEU's preparations and how the Tamaraws implemented their gameplan last weekend as to how they were successful against the Blue Eagles. He also pointed out that the team's confidence went down as a result of their inability to convert the shots they would normally make.

The former national team head coach does expect Ateneo to respond and re-discover their morale. "It's there. There is no question that it's still there," he says, believing that a couple of days would be enough to find their groove back.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Daniel Gadia ensures FC Meralco Manila victory over Global Cebu FC

FC Meralco Manila secured some much-needed breathing room atop the Philippines Football League with a narrow 2-1 victory over Global Cebu FC this past Sunday night at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Daniel Gadia scored the game-winner for the Sparks four minutes from time, as the substitute scored his first goal of the season. Replacing recent acquisition Franco de la Torre in midfield, he eased in his shot past the line, then celebrated afterwards, netting a yellow card in the process.'

Tahj Minniecon opened scoring for FC Meralco Manila in the 32nd minute, receiving a pass from Jim Ashley Flores and then producing a clinical finish against Patrick Deyto. Global Cebu would equalized just minutes before the halftime whistle, scoring through a magnificent volley from Hikaru Minegeshi.

Global had a chance to secure an equalizer in injury time, but Ace Villanueva deflected Rufo Sanchez's shot over the bar.

Head coach Aris Caslib praised the UP alum after the match, "All week, we had been reminding Gadia to just the place the ball on his finishing. In the last fifteen minutes of the game he did his job well."

His counterpart, Akbar Nawas, could only bemoan his squad's missed scoring opportunities, saying "We were unlucky with our chances in goal, so many from so near."

Lee Jeong Min humbly deflected the praise that had been bestown his way, noting that "Everyone worked hard," and adding, "I don't want to be a star. I just want to help my teammates. It's my job." He felt that Gadia should have been the one addressing the media post-match after his heroics.

The win allows FC Meralco Manila to extend its reign atop the PFL table a little bit longer, owning a four-point gap against Ceres-Negros FC, with the latter having two games in hand. The two teams are set to face off later this week.

As for Global, they are all but locked in as the fourth seed heading into the Finals Series, which will commence starting December 2. They close out the eliminations next week against Ceres-Negros.


Flores and de la Torre were given spot starts for this matchup by Caslib... Tyler Matas finally gets a break from football action, as he will be suspended for the upcoming Ceres match due to card accumulation... Global Cebu is the home side for this matchup, even though the game is at the Sparks' home ground, as the CCSC is being used as the venue for the Visayan leg of the Batang Pinoy competition. The Sparks' win over Global ensures that they have a win against all the other PFL teams.

Undermanned Kaya FC-Makati succumbs to Davao Aguilas

Davao Aguilas FC’s Angel Guirado got two goals for the team and was named Man of The Match.
The Davao Aguilas took advantage of an undermanned Kaya FC-Makati side to take a 3-1 victory at the University of Makati on Saturday night.

The hosts were limited to fielding a 14-man squad due to suspensions and injuries, a lineup that included debut starts for the likes of Jayson Panhay and Chy Villasenor. They managed to hold things firm early on with the Angeles twins and Woody Ugarte manning the midfield, mitigating whatever they missed from those forced to sit this game out.

The visitors managed to break through in the 26th minute against the run of play, with Enzo Cheng finding Angel Guirado, who heads it past the line to score the opening goal of the match.

Kaya did manage to restore control after allowing the goal, and even had chances to equalize, including an attempt from Panhay that was saved by Nick O'Donnell. However, the half ended with Davao holding a 1-0 advantage.

The second half saw Kaya find their equalizer, as Alfrei Osei took advantage of a free kick situation by scoring the tying goal on a volley in the 58th minute. Unfortunately, it did not take long for Davao to re-establish the lead, as Harry Sawyer took advantage of Janrick Soriano misjudging a diagonal ball headed to the left flank in the 65th minute.

Guirado would net his second goal in the 74th minute off a similar left flank counter to cap off the scoring for the evening.

The victory is Davao's third for the season, and the first one that did not come against fellow newcomer Ilocos United. They still have three more matches remaining on their schedule, all of them against JPV Marikina FC.

Kaya concludes its season with 47 points, its seeding in the Finals Series hangs on Global Cebu FC's remaining schedule.

In the other match scheduled on Saturday at the Elpidio Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, hosts Ilocos United managed to hold aspiring top notchers Ceres-Negros FC to a 1-1 draw. Arnie Pasinabo's 77th minute goal neutralizes Adam Mitter's 35th minute strike. They face other once again on Tuesday night.

The Angeles Twins walking off the University of Makati Football Field
Post-game thoughts:

Davao Aguilas head coach Marlon Maro: “I’m happy and satisfied because we lost to Kaya on our home turf, and now we’ve beaten them as well on their home turf, and it’s because the players really wanted to win tonight. For me, the delivery of crosses was the main reason why we scored lots of goals. We were able to take advantage of our height. What’s positive tonight is that the players responded well to the plan.”

Davao Aguilas forward Angel Guirado: “For me it’s the team that’s most important. When the team works good, the team wins. I’m very happy because I scored, but most important is that the team has three points more and looking forward to also preparing for next season. This is good for the confidence of the team.”

Kaya FC-Makati head coach Noel Marcaida: “It’s a tough loss. If you’re looking at the 90 minutes, I couldn’t see that the Aguilas were really on top. When you go back to the first half, we were really playing well. We were combining, but we just couldn’t find that continuity of attack in the final third. In the second half, we played well in the first 15 minutes and were able to score a goal. But after that, there were moments where we allowed the Aguilas to play their game, which led to the two goals.”

Marcaida: “But for me, I give credit to the players who got their chance today, especially Chy (VillaseƱor), who really played well.”

Marcaida: “We just need to move on. Anyway, the first objective at the start of the season was to be part of the final four, and we’ve been successful in getting that objective. The regular season is over and the Finals Series is a different story. We have two weeks to prepare for that. We go back to the pitch, work hard, and prepare for the first leg.”

Monday, November 20, 2017

FEU forces Final Four sudden-death

Far Eastern University did not want to end their season just yet, as they effectively executed their game plan against top seeds Ateneo de Manila with an 80-67 victory this past Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Tamaraws rode on a strong third quarter against the Blue Eagles, outscoring them 21-13 in the period with Ron Dennison scoring eight of his team-high seventeen points in the period. They would follow that up with a solid fourth quarter, ensuring enough separation against Ateneo to preserve the victory. Hubert Cani would deliver the dagger 30-foot three-pointer with under three minutes remaining to give the fourth seeds a 75-58 lead, the biggest lead of the game.

Addressing the media after the game, head coach Olsen Racela says, "Will go through video and take a look kung saan pa kami pwede mag-improve, but right now, we haven't done anything yet. Ang nakuha lang namin was to take away that twice-to-beat advantage ng Ateneo. The former Ateneo standout also adds that the team is "looking forward to Wednesday's game and see where what we can do to really try to stop a very strong team like Ateneo."

Last season's losing finalists struggled with their shooting, making just 36 percent of their attempts as a result of attempting 57 jumpers. Thirdy Ravena led the team with seventeen points and six rebounds, while Matt Nieto chipped in with thirteen points from three triples.

Meanwhile, former Ateneans Arvin Tolentino and Cani combined for 24 points.

The sudden death matchup between Ateneo and FEU will take place on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena at 4pm. The winner goes on to the finals to face La Salle this coming Saturday at the same venue. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

La Salle returns to the UAAP Finals

La Salle gets to continue their title defense for a bit longer, as they returned to the UAAP Finals in men's basketball with an 82-75 victory over Adamson in their Final Four matchup this past Saturday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Trailing for most of the game, the Green Archers showed maturity, poise, and composure in crawling back in, capping things off with a strong fourth quarter to escape with the win. With a 63-54 deficit staring them in the face, the defending champions opened the period on a 14-0 run over the first five minutes. When Kristian Bernardo finally broke through with his fastbreak layup, the Soaring Falcons were now trailing 68-63.

Adamson tried to regain their bearings, managing to bring the deficit back down to a solitary point twice, with the latest being 71-70 after Rob Manalang triple with 3:23 remaining. However, La Salle responded with an 8-0 run to put the game out of reach, kickstarted by Leonard Santillan's corner triple and highlighted by a breakaway dunk from Ricci Rivero.

Aldin Ayo credited Adamson's scheme, stressing, "All game long, we found it very hard to break their camouflage. They're denying the paint." He also deflected a question regarding his preference of an opponent in the finals, as he says "Be careful on what you wish for, kasi if you picked someone, it adds to the pressure."

For Ben Mbala, he and the team just want to stay focused and practice hard for the finals.

Mbala would finish with 27 points, fourteen rebounds, and a couple of steals, while Santillan added fifteen points and eight rebounds.

Playing in his final collegiate game, Manalang finished with sixteen points. Jerrick Ahanmisi topscored for the Soaring Falcons with seventeen markers.

La Salle now waits for their upcoming opponent, whether it will be either Ateneo or FEU. The Finals is set to take place starting November 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Potential PFL Finals Series Preview looms for Global Cebu and FC Meralco Manila

Meralco's Milan Nikolic duels with Global's Wesley Dos Santos.

In what could turn out to be a potential Finals Series preview, Global Cebu FC hosts FC Meralco Manila tonight at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled at 7pm.

Global has had the Sparks' number this season, defeating them once and drawing them twice so far, hoping that this would be an advantage heading into their fourth and final meeting before the Finals Series. They are fresh from securing a 3-3 draw against Ilocos United at the Elpidio P. Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur. A win could put them on track to potentially move past Kaya FC-Makati into third place, especially in the aftermath of Kaya losing 3-1 in their final eliminations matchup against also-rans Davao Aguilas last night. With Kaya already wrapping up their eliminations campaign with 47 points and a +19 goal difference, a victory against the Sparks would put them level on points heading into their final league match-up against Ceres-Negros FC on November 28.

With the Cebu City Sports Complex unavailable due to the Visayan leg of the Batang Pinoy competition, the match will be played at Rizal Memorial, which is the home venue of FC Meralco Manila.

As for the Sparks, a win provides a little bit of breathing space atop the standings, although Ceres-Negros is currently primed to move past them considering their remaining schedule, their 1-1 draw against Ilocos United last night notwithstanding. The draw reduced the gap between the two teams to just a single point, 53 to 52.

With the match at Rizal Memorial, it means FC Meralco Manila will be playing its remaining two matches in the eliminations at its home venue.

If one is unable to attend the match in person, one can check out the available streaming option below.

Here are some notes from the pre-match press conference held yesterday:

FC Meralco Manila head coach Aris Caslib: Everyone has realized during the last three days of training that we have to step up and give our individual contributions.

We are pushing everyone to be physically and mentally ready for the demands of the semis.

In our previous games against Global, we controlled the match for long periods of time, but we need to improve our finishing. In the game we lost to them, it was due to a lack of concentration.

Global is a quality team. It is a good challenge for us to step up against them.

FC Meralco Manila goalkeeper Ace Villanueva: We as a team agreed that our mindset was to bounce back and be as a unit and finish our remaining games on a high note.

We are very motivated. The remaining games are the important ones because they are leading to the playoffs.

Global Cebu FC head coach Akbar Nawas: We will know come kickoff how important the coaches will be treating this game. Yes, third place is our target, but the most important thing is that your team is set up to win a game.

The draw against Ilocos last Wednesday will not affect our confidence. Every game is different. That result will have no bearing on the spirit and confidence of the side for tomorrow.

UE, Perpetual secure Ang Liga upsets

Two matches highlighted Ang Liga action this week, with both the University of the East and the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta securing victories in their respective divisions.

On November 14, the Moro Lorenzo Field inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus was witness to the Junior Altas completing a 2-1 victory over Ateneo in Div II play, wrapping up their match after conditions at the field inside the San Beda campus on September 9 forced their match to be called off after one half of play.

Michael Dave Bedia had given Perpetual a 1-0 lead before the postponement, and Perpetual would double that when play resumed. Arnulfo Villanueva's 66th minute provided a good cushion for the NCAA side. Although Kendryx Soriano would pull one back for the Blue Eaglets in the 85th minute, the 2-1 result is enough for Perpetual to claim the victory.

The Junior Altas keep their hopes alive in making the Div II postseason, but they will need a smashing victory by Don Bosco Technical College over Malayan Colleges-Laguna to have a chance of making the semifinals as the fourth seed.

Ateneo ends their Ang Liga campaign at the bottom of the Div II standings with just three points.

The next day at the McKinley-Hill Stadium, the University of the East ended their Ang Liga Div I campaign on a positive note with a 3-2 victory over the University of the Philippines.

The Red Warriors controlled the first half, scoring all of their goals within a span of 25 minutes. They got off to an early lead with John Abilong after six minutes, followed by back-to-back goals from Krysler Opena and Mar Diano in the 30th and 31st minutes.

The Maroon booters did manage to bounce back, scoring twice in the second half with a 68th minute goal from Kintaro Miyagi and an injury time goal from Christian Lapas, but their comeback falls short.

With twenty-one points, UP is currently atop the Div I standings, with only CSB having the chance to dislodge them from the top of the standings.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ateneo and FEU renew Final Four rivalry

Ateneo de Manila and Far Eastern University meet in the Final Four for the third straight season, as they face off tomorrow afternoon at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Blue Eagles won both meetings so far this season, a 94-82 Thirdy Ravena-led victory in September 17, and a 70-59 win anchored by Matt Nieto and Raffy Verano just over a month later, but one can expect the Tamaraws to not hand things over on a silver platter. After all, they have made the postseason for the last five seasons.

Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin acknowledged how difficult the matchup against the Olsen Racela-coached side, "Really tough. We played them last year. They took the first game."

He adds, "I don't have any doubts about our player's mentality. We understand the importance of being ready for the next game. That's not going to change," this after their loss to La Salle last week that cost them direct entry into the finals.

The Blue Eagles tout their vaunted depth, led by Ravena, who finished second in the statistical points standings at the end of the season. Tasked to minimize Thirdy's contributions is Ron Dennison, with Jasper Parker's seeking to continue his impressive stretch of action in the second round into the postseason. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

Kaya FC-Makati seeks Finals Series momentum

Kaya FC-Makati vs Davao Aguilas FC

Philippines Football League action resumes tonight with a couple of simultaneous matches with Kaya FC-Makati hosting Davao Aguilas FC and Ilocos United FC hosting Ceres-Negros FC. Kickoff time for both matches is slated at 7pm.

Coming off a prolonged break, Kaya FC-Makati will finally conclude its PFL eliminations campaign against the Davao Aguilas at home in the University of Makati. They would have a chance to solidify its hold on third place with a victory against the visitors, with proverbial chasers Global Cebu FC just three points behind and a game in hand.

However, they will have to do it with a massively depleted roster. The PFL recently handed out suspensions, with Kaya bearing the brunt of the damage, as it involves three players: Jordan Mintah, Jalsor Soriano, and Adam Reed, who received the most punitive sentence. In addition, because of what happened in their narrow 1-0 loss to FC Meralco Manila, Jovin Bedic and Miguel Tanton are also suspended for this match.

Aside from them, Kenshiro Daniels is also sitting out today's match due to injury.

Noel Marcaida shared during the pre-match press conference that they will be fielding a 14-man squad against Davao, as a result of all these players being unavailable. He did say that this provides an opportunity for players who have yet to make their mark this season, including Chy Villasenor, who will be making his debut later tonight. The former FEU defender will stepping into Jalsor's role at the back, and he himself is looking forward to the challenge of having to deal with a Davao attack that includes those who have represented the country in international competition.

As for the Davao Aguilas, the theme for their remaining matches is all about next season. Matthew Hartmann shares that the team has been training and preparing well for their matchup, hoping that a strong finish to this season would eventually yield a strong start to the next one.

Tickets are available either through SM Tickets or at the gate. Field Side passes cost PhP 20, while Grandstand tickets cost PhP 350. One can also check the game out through this stream below.

In addition to this one, Ceres heads up north for the first of two matches against Ilocos. The Busmen are just two points behind FC Meralco Manila atop the standings, with two games in hand.

The streaming link for that matchup can be seen below.

La Salle vs Adamson kicks off Final Four

The Final Four for the UAAP Season 80 men's basketball tournament will start this weekend, with the same four teams from last season.

Kicking things off are second seeds La Salle against the third seeds Adamson at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum, with the Green Archers own a twice-to-beat advantage.

Both meetings saw the defending champions come out on top. The first meeting happened to be Ben Mbala's season debut after fulfilling his Afrobasket commitments with Cameroon, with La Salle coming out victorious, 85-73 on September 20. The second meeting came just over a month later, with an 80-74 victory for La Salle, as well, showing poise in the endgame with the Soaring Falcons controlling things for most of it.

Aldin Ayo expects something similar in the Final Four, says "Same expectations. It will be a dogfight for sure. They are going to prepare against us."

The Soaring Falcons will need another huge afternoon from Papi Sarr, especially if both Jerrick Ahanmisi and Jerie Pingoy are not fully recovered from their respective injuries that they incurred during their matchup against Far Eastern University last week. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mbala named as Player of the Week

Ben Mbala proved to be the main hurdle that helped deny Ateneo de Manila an eliminations sweep in the UAAP.

Mbala scored 28 points on 10/20 shooting, while also contributing nineteen rebounds, six steals, and six blocks, as the expected to be two-time Most Valuable Player helped La Salle escape with a 79-76 victory.

With the defending champions struggling on offense, the Cameroon international buckled down to work, scoring thirteen of La Salle's twenty points in the second quarter, ensuring that the Green Archers remain within striking distance against the Blue Eagles.

He would then join forces with Prince Rivero to anchor the comeback in the final period, doing work on both ends on the floor as they completed a comeback, highlighted by his defensive stop against Isaac Go with ten seconds remaining.

When he was asked about that defensive sequence, Ben shares, "Coach told me to never quit on defense, to just always be there and try your best to give him the hardest shot he can have, and that's what I tried my best to do. He told me to stay composed and not overdo everything. I was trying to jump straight up and that's the only thing I was able to do, because if I foul him, that would have been two easy free throws.”

Ben adds, "We just wanted to win. We didn't quit. Coach told us, never give up,"

Thanks to his feat, he was bestown the final Player of the Week nod, presented by Chooks-to-Go and the UAAP Press Corps. Ben beat out Paul Desiderio, Steve Akomo, and Arvin Tolentino for the weekly individual award.

La Salle secured a sweep of the second round to finish with a 12-2 record in the eliminations, securing the second seed and booked themselves a matchup against Adamson in the Final Four this Saturday.

With the road ahead to their title defense, Ben plans "to play hard and leave the rest to God."

Alab Pilipinas kicks off its ASEAN Basketball League campaign on S+A

ABL kicks off this week
Alab Pilipinas is seeking to improve on its initial foray in the ASEAN Basketball League by kicking off its campaign at home this Sunday, LIVE on S+A at 8pm, against Hong Kong Eastern at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The lone Filipino representative to the league decided to soup up the squad that almost made it to the finals last season, enlisting Jimmy Alapag as its new head coach, while also tapping the likes of Rico Maierhofer and Dondon Hontiveros to backstop alongside team stalwarts Ray Parks and Lawrence Domingo. Meanwhile, serving as the team's reinforcement is Ivan Johnson.

Competition will be stiffer in this go-around, with the recent improvements of holdovers Singapore Slingers, Saigon Heat, Westsports Malaysia Dragons, and the aforementioned Hong Kong Eastern, the team that touts recent PBA top overall draft pick Christian Standhardinger. Alab will also have to contend with a returning Mono Vampires club, and three newcomers in the Formosa Dreamers, CLS Knights, and the Nanhai Long Lions.

Make sure to check out the telecast of this matchup, and the other ABL games that will be shown on S+A all season long.

Iniong tapped to face Yamaguchi at ONE: Immortal Pursuit

ONE: Immortal Pursuit
ONE Championship announced on Tuesday that it has a found a replacement for Angela Lee against Mei Yamaguchi at ONE: Immortal Pursuit, and it is Filipina contender Gina "Conviction" Iniong.

Lee suffered a car accident in the run-up to the event, which forced her out of her rematch against Yamaguchi, whom she beat to claim the ONE Women's Atomweight title last year in a thrilling matchup.

Iniong is fresh from defeating Priscilla Hertati Lumbangaol in front of a Filipino crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena during ONE: Legends of the World this past Friday, doing so with a second round finish. Defeating Yamaguchi in a rematch could potentially put her in range for a title shot against Lee

Upon learning of this development, Yamaguchi stated, "I commend Gina Iniong for taking this match on a short notice. She is a good martial arts artist with promising potential in the division. Gina is in good hands, training with no less than the best at Team Lakay. I have faced her before, and she always in good condition, As always, I am in tiptop shape for every bout. Brace yourselves for fireworks."

As for Iniong, she says, "Facing Mei Yamaguchi three years ago was like going through the eye of a needle. That bout opened doors of great opportunity for me in this sport. I am expecting a tough duel with her again on 24 November in Singapore. I have lofty goals in ONE Championship, and I must win this match to achieve them."

The Yamaguchi-Iniong matchup is the latest addition to the card that features Ben Askren against Shinya Aoki in the main event, with Amir Khan against Adrian Pang as its co-main event.

ONE: Immortal Pursuit will take place on November 24 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. For further details about this mixed martial arts event, one can check out

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Philippines seeks to finalize its AFC Asian Cup berth

The Philippines might just book a ticket to the United Arab Emirates for 2019, provided they secure a victory over Nepal in its AFC Asian Cup Qualifier this afternoon at the ANFA Complex in Kathmandu.

A win guarantees the Azkals will finish on top of Group F, as they currently have eight points from four matches. The hosts only have one point to their name in four matches.

Head coach Thomas Dooley shared to the Philippine Football Federation that "Preparations are going very well," adding that he "was a little bit surprised with how the players handled the difference in the altitude well, but we will see in the game."

In addition, Dooley shares the urgency to win the matchup. "We have to win the game and that’s the bottom line," he says. "The confidence I have in the players is that individually they are unique and if they put together their 100% on the field, then we have a big chance to win the game."

Injuries have affected player selection, with the likes of Luke Woodland, Manny Ott, Javier Patino, and Amani Aguinaldo all out for this fixture. To address this, Dooley has dusted off Marwin Angeles, and called up fresh legs in the form of Paolo Salenga and Joshua Dutosme.

The game will be shown LIVE on S+A, but it is also available via streaming, thanks to ANFA.

If the link above is not working, ABS-CBN Sports has a working livestream at this link.

Rescheduled matches highlight Ang Liga this week

Preseason football resumes this week with two matches originally scheduled last September, but were rescheduled due to an unplayable field

This afternoon at 3pm, Div II action takes place with the resumption of Ateneo against Perpetual at the Moro Lorenzo Field inside Ateneo de Manila. The match had been suspended as a result of the weather conditions that forced the field inside the San Beda campus to be unplayable. The Altalettes had been leading 1-0 as of the stoppage, and both they and the Blue Eaglets need to win this match to put pressure on Malayan Colleges-Laguna and even Don Bosco Technical Colleges as these two latter schools are set to face other at an undetermined date.

The other postponed matchup from that date sees the University of the Philippines go up against the the University of the East, is now slated to take place this Wednesday at the McKinley-Hill Football Field in Taguig.

The Maroon Booters are looking to secure the top seed in the Div I postseason, as a win will officially clinch that spot. Otherwise, it leaves the door open for idle College of Saint Benilde to take advantage, provided the Blazers win out their remaining three games.

Meanwhile, the Red Warriors are looking to complete their preseason on a winning note, already eliminated from contention with just seven points in eight matches. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

La Salle denies Ateneo sweep

La Salle denies Ateneo a chance to secure an automatic finals bid with a 79-76 victory this past Sunday afternoon at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The defending champions clamped down on defense in the final two minutes and twenty-one seconds of the game, with the Blue Eagles owning a 76-69 lead after a Vince Tolentino transition incursion that caused Aldin Ayo to throw a fit in the sidelines, taking off his jacket and throwing it to the bench area.

That fit must have inspired the Green Archers, as they would end the game on a 10-0 run, aided by free throws as Ateneo was in the penalty. Kib Montalbo scored the go-ahead basket, which also was the final field goal of the game with forty seconds remaining, making it 77-76 La Salle.

Ateneo would have an immediate chance to retake the lead after using a timeout, but Isaac Go missed a lay-up from point-blank range, with Ben Mbala doing what he can to bother the Xavier alum and force the miss.

Ayo would say at the post-match presser, "It was uncontested. Luckily, it did not go in."

Ricci Rivero would score the final points of the game at 8.9 seconds remaining with a couple of free throws to make it a three-point lead. Anton Asistio was denied in his game-tying three-point attempt to ensure the victory for La Salle. The younger Rivero scored twelve of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, almost matching Ateneo's output in the game.

Mbala maximized his impact on the floor with 28 points, nineteen rebounds, six steals, and six blocks.

With the sweep denied, the Final Four format will be used, in which Ayo shares that "It will be a dogfight" as they face Adamson this Saturday.

The Blue Eagles had been guaranteed to finish with the top seed regardless of the result, and are facing FEU on Sunday. Thirdy Ravena led the team with fifteen points and eight rebounds.

Both Ateneo and La Salle own a twice-to-beat advantage. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

UST finally claims first win

The University of Santo Tomas finally notched a victory in Season 80 of the UAAP, doing so in their final game of the season on Sunday afternoon, an 88-85 squeaker over the University of the East at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Addressing the media after the game, Boy Sablan said, "Siyempre, masaya kasi hindi kami na-zero," with the prospect of a winless season staring them at the face and seven straight losses dating back to last season.

The Growling Tigers rode on the heroics of Regie Basibas, who scored twelve of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, to go with nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals, while also making crucial plays late. They also relied on a monstrous double-double performance from Steve Akomo, who matched a season-high twenty rebounds and six blocks with eighteen points, as well as from EJ Caunan's fourteen points and eleven rebounds.

It was a nip-and-tuck game all throughout, especially in the final stretch, with UST establishing a 77-72 lead with under three minutes left. Jason Varilla would convert a four-point play in the next possession to reduce it back down to one point, 77-76. The Growling Tigers would re-erect a five-point advantage with Marvin Lee and Basibas at 84-79 with under a minute remaining, but the Red Warriors kept themselves within one possession. Unfortunately, after Oliver de Guzman's free throws made it a three-point lead, Alvin Pasaol was unable to get a final attempt out to preserve the narrow victory.

Pasaol finished with eighteen points and five rebounds, putting a bow to a season in which he gained national prominence. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

FEU clinches postseason berth

The cast is complete.

Far Eastern University officially completed the four teams advancing to the postseason, defeating Adamson, 71-54 this past Saturday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Tamaraws clinched their berth for the fifth straight season and their ninth of the last ten years by clamping down on defense, forcing the Soaring Falcons to shoot 33% from the field. Arvin Tolentino led the team offensively with fourteen points and five rebounds.

Adamson also had to deal with injuries affecting a couple of their key cogs in Jerrick Ahanmisi and Jerie Pingoy during the game. Both players had to be taken to the hospital afterwards.

Ahanmisi suffered an ankle sprain in the second quarter, while Pingoy suffered the same injury in the fourth quarter, when they managed to cut the deficit to 52-46. Without the point guard's steady play, Adamson allowed FEU to take control and end the game on a 19-8 run.

Head coach Olsen Racela was proud of what his boys showed in the game, as they really wanted to make it in the Final Four.

Rob Manalang led the way for Adamson with fifteen points. Regardless of the result, they are locked in to the third seed.

The win eliminates the University of the Philippines, who had just eliminated National University in the first game of the doubleheader, as they finished with a 7-7 record. A loss would have forced a playoff between the two teams.

Both teams had to wait to determine their fate in the next round, as Ateneo attempted to book their direct seat into the finals against La Salle the following day. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

UP claims must-win over NU

The University of the Philippines did not want to end their UAAP Season 80 campaign on a losing note, riding on the heroics of Paul Desiderio once again to help tow them to a 106-81 must-win victory over National University at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum this past Saturday.

Desiderio tied his career-high with thirty points, while also contributing seven rebounds and three assists. He shared afterwards to the media that he dedicates this victory to his four graduating teammates in Paolo Romero, Rob Ricafort, Ibrahim Ouattara, and Andrew Harris.

Coming into the match, both teams were toting a 5-8 record, with the loser getting eliminated automatically, and the winner having to wait for the result of the FEU vs Adamson game later that afternoon.

UP kickstarted things offensively with Desiderio joining forces with the Gomez de Liano brothers to score 45 of the Maroon's 58 points in the first half. They would extend the lead to as much as 25 points in the second half, before the Bulldogs managed to reduce that to as low as fourteen points.

Regardless of the result of the FEU-Adamson game, head coach Bo Perasol lauded the performance of his team, adding "I'm really proud with how they responded to the challenge, this is a game we can reckon with for the years to come."

Issa Gaye led NU with 25 points and ten rebounds, while J-Jay Alejandro ended his collegiate career with sixteen points, four rebounds, and eight assists.(c/o Kim Karlo Castro)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Martin Nguyen makes ONE Championship history, claims Lightweight title

The Main Event of ONE: Legends of the World
Fans were left at the edge of their seats at the latest ONE Championship mixed martial arts offering, ONE: Legends of the World on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena, highlighted by the dramatic ending to the main event, as Martin Nguyen became the first simultaneous two-division champion in ONE FC history.

The Situ-Asian pulled off that feat with a second round knockout of the incumbent champion Eduard Folayang, with Nguyen uncorking his explosive signature right hand while "The Landslide" was launching his patented spinning backfist. This was both fighters were plastering each other with hard strikes all fight long.

As a result, Nguyen adds the ONE Lightweight title to the ONE Featherweight title he claimed back in August. He then said that his main objective was to get either a TKO or a submission. He adds, "Eduard, I still love you like a brother, I hope you're fine and I hope you come back stronger. I'm still your number one fan."

In the co-main event, reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes successfully defended his title against Danny Kingad, doing so with a first round rear naked choke submission. "Mikinho" neutralized the striking advantage of "The King" early on, using his high-level ground game, eventually putting in the rear-naked choke that forced the Filipino to submit with seconds remaining in the round.

Moraes praised Kingad's performance in what he viewed as a tough fight, noting that "He has a big future ahead of him." However, he adds that this is still his time, his house, his belt, and his class.

Other than the two losses to end ONE: Legends of the World, the rest of the Filipino contingent was relatively successful in the card.

Kevin Belingon solidified his claim as a top contender in the bantamweight division with a unanimous decision victory over Korean-American dynamo Kevin Chung, as used his stand-up skill set to produce right crosses and lashing kicks, while fending off whatever grappling skills the "Oldboy" tried to use.

Fil-Australian Reece McLaren claimed a submission victory over Anatpong Bunrad in his flyweight debut. "Lightning" managed to catch his opponent in an anaconda choke that he would then turn into a D'Arce choke, forcing the Thai to tap with seconds remaining in the first round.

Gina Iniong extended her winning streak in ONE Championship with a second round finish of Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol, as she delivered a flurry of ground punches to the Indonesian whilst in a crucifix to force a referee stoppage

In an all-Filipino matchup, Joshua Pacio bounced back from his submission loss to Hayato Suzuki in Macao last August with a smashing second round knockout of Roy Doliguez, doing so with a well-timed spinning back-fist to "The Dominator."

Speaking of Suzuki, the Japanese prospect lost his first match in his professional mixed martial arts career, losing to Alex Silva. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion black belt used his grappling skills to his advantage to force a first round submission via armbar.

Completing the cast of winners in ONE: Legends of the World are Zhao Zhi Kang, as "The Ghost" forced Thai Rithy to tap via rear-naked choke in the first round, Xie Chao, who dispatched Kelvin Ong in the second round with crisp elbows, and Peng Xue Wen, who defeated Phat Soda in the first round via knockout.

Official ONE: Legends of the World results:

ONE Lightweight World Championship bout: Martin Nguyen defeats Eduard Folayang by Knockout (KO) at 2:20 minutes of round 2

ONE Flyweight World Championship bout: Adriano Moraes defeats Danny Kingad by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:45 minutes of round 1

Bantamweight bout: Kevin Belingon defeats Kevin Chung by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds

Strawweight bout: Alex Silva defeats Hayato Suzuki by Submission (Armbar) at 1:22 minutes of round 1

Flyweight bout: Reece McLaren defeats Anatpong Bunrad by Submission (D’arce Choke) at 4:52 minutes of round 1

Featherweight bout: Zhao Zhi Kang defeats Thai Rithy by Submission (Rear Naked Choke)  at 2:31 minutes of round 1

Women’s atomweight bout: Gina Iniong defeats Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol by TKO (Strikes) at 2:12 minutes of round 2

Strawweight bout: Joshua Pacio defeats Roy Doliguez by Knockout (KO) at 0:38 minutes of round 2

Featherweight bout: Xie Chao defeats Kelvin Ong by TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage) at 1:48 minutes of round 1

Strawweight bout: Peng Xue Wen defeats Phat Soda by Knockout (KO) at 2:15 minutes of round 1

Contrasting results for Ateneo in Ang Liga play

A couple of Ang Liga matches were held earlier this week at the Moro Lorenzo Field inside the Ateneo de Manila campus, with contrasting results for the Blue Booters.

This past Monday, the lone Div I matchup saw the defending UAAP champions take a 3-1 victory over the University of the East, anchored by a brace from Jarvey Gayoso.

The reigning UAAP MVP scored the opening goal of the match in the seventeenth minute, but Hans Arboleda equalized for the Red Warriors at the half-hour mark. Ateneo would then retake the lead with Jarvey's second goal just eight minutes later. Mark Nacional would then cap off the scoring in the 42nd minute.

The win allows Ateneo to move into the top four with fifteen points in eight matches, leapfrogging idle San Beda and College of Saint Benilde, which each have thirteen points. The loss officially snuffs out UE's slim hopes of progressing into the postseason, as well as that of UST's, as the reigning Ang Liga champions only have one more match remaining on their schedule and are five points adrift.

The next day, the lone Div II matchup scheduled saw Nazareth-National University defeat the Blue Eaglets, 2-0, to end their eliminations campaign unscathed.

The Bullpups had difficulty trying to penetrate Ateneo's defensive set-up, but eventually managed to break through late in each half to secure all three points.

Karim Taala put Nazareth-NU ahead in the 44th minute, while Lemark Unabia completed the scoring with a rebound into second half stoppage time.

Even with the defeat, Ateneo still has a chance to enter the postseason in Div II with three points in four matches, as they are currently level on points with Malayan Colleges-Laguna for the fourth and final postseason slot.

Playoff feel set for UAAP today

UAAP is about to get more intense as stakes get higher at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

With both their seasons on the line, National University and the University of the Philippines will battle it out on Saturday to keep their respective postseason hopes alive in the first game of the doubleheader at 2pm.

The Bulldogs hope to once again rewrite the script for UAAP Season 80, after their dramatic 87-84 victory over Far Eastern University last Wednesday. Head coach Jamike Jarin told the media after the game, "I'm hoping for a miracle. We are hoping for that." He adds that he is hoping that the team's development with regards to their maturity is just in time and not yet too late for the season.

NU will have to overcome the Fighting Maroons, who are fresh from bowing to current league pacesetters Ateneo, 96-82. Although UP gallantly battled them for most of the game, Bo Perasol knows that this was not enough to topple the Blue Eagles from their undefeated perch. Paul Desiderio and the rest of the team knows that they need a full 40-minute effort to pull out a victory.

In spite of this, whatever result of the game above will be moot if the result of the Adamson vs FEU game that immediately follows ends up in the Tamaraws' favor.

The Tamaraws would be locked in as the fourth seed and complete the postseason cast if they manage to defeat the Soaring Falcons, something they failed to do in the first round in a 95-79 loss. The squad of Franz Pumaren already has the third seed locked up, regardless of the result, but the multi-titled head coach is already getting their team into a Final Four mode and mentality and securing the best finish possible for a team that last won a title 40 years ago. (c/o Kim Karlo Castro)