Friday, January 29, 2021

Brandon Vera ready for future title contenders

Brandon Vera

With the upcoming ONE: UNBREAKABLE II coming tonight with its two heavyweight matchups serving as its main features, the current ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera is most definitely an interested observer.

Serving as the main event of this previously recorded event is a former title challenger to Vera in Mauro Cerilli, who will face Abdulbasir Vagabov, while the co-main event involves four-time Muay Thai and Kickboxing Heavyweight World Champion Alain Ngalani against Oumar Kane.

All four men are angling for a shot at the current champ, who has yet to yield the belt since becoming its first champion in 2015. A win would potentially cement a title opportunity.

About the prospects of facing one of these four individuals soon, Vera says, "All of them are future opponents. Everyone is when you’re the champ."

He adds, "These guys are amazing heavyweights, each with their own attributes to solve and figure out. I’m excited to see this event, and even more excited to watch and learn. I’m beyond hyped for all the recent signings of world-class heavyweight talent. It makes me nervous, which in turn, makes me train even harder."

The man called "The Truth" is expected to face Arjan Bhullar for his third title defense, and his first fight since his TKO loss to Aung La N Sang back in October 2019. Vera has stayed in Guam during the pandemic, although he is currently in the Philippines to attend to his non-fight commitments.

Although there is no date yet scheduled, ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong has indicated that Brandon's upcoming title defense is looming in the horizon.

Brandon did affirm, though, that fans should expect it to take place during the first half of the year.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

NBA reveals All-Star Vote plans

About time to cast votes

The NBA officially revealed that voting for the league's midseason classic is about to commence.

Called the NBA All-Star Voting 2021 presented by AT&T, it will tip off starting at noon ET on January 28 (1am on January 29 for the Philippines) and end at 1159pm on February 16 (1259pm on February 17 for the Philippines).

As it has been tradition, fans will have some say as to which players will start for the NBA All-Star Game, although it has since been tweaked (50 percent) to allow the media and players (25 percent for each) to have their opinion. All three groups will name three frontcourt and two backcourt players on their respective ballots for each conference.

Fans have three options to make their choice: fans can go to, and fill out the ballot available there with up to three frontcourt and two backcourt players from each conference. One can submit a full ballot daily.

NBA App: available either on Android or iOS, they can go there and fill their ballot with up to three frontcourt and two backcourt players from each conference. One can submit a full ballot daily.

Twitter: fans can tweet, retweet, and reply that includes either the hashtag of a NBA player's first and last name (#FirstNameLastName) or said NBA player's twitter handle. Make sure to then add #NBAAllStar to that tweet/retweet/reply before sending. Only one current NBA player allowed, with a limit of ten unique players daily. 

As has been customary in recent years, the NBA has designated days wherein fan vote count as double. For the 2021 edition, the "2-for-1 Days" will take place on January 30, February 2, February 4, February 13, and February 16. (US time zone will be observed on all these dates).

Once the deadline is passed, players will be ranked in each conference by position based on each voting group, which will then be weighted by the value of each, then aggregated. In case of ties resulting from the aggregation within the position group, the fan vote will serve as tiebreaker. The three frontcourt and two backcourt players from each conference will be named as All-Star Starters.

The NBA has designated February 4 and 11 as days where the league can share the voting results. The All-Star Starters will be revealed on February 18 (19 in the Philippines) during the TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by CarMax. As for the NBA All-Star reserves, which are selected by the league's head coaches, they will be made public on February 23 (24 in Manila).

The NBA All-Star Game had been pegged to take place in Indianapolis pre-pandemic, with recent discussions ongoing to determine if one will actually take place during the break between the First and Second Half of the truncated current season.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

NBA, Decathlon form partnership

Earlier this week, the NBA and one of the world's largest sporting goods retailers, DECATHLON, formalized a multi-year merchandising partnership. The partnership sees DECATHLON becoming a licensee of the league across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.

Through its basketball brand TARMAK, DECATHLON will sell a dedicated and exclusive range of NBA team and league-branded base layers, accessories, and (in select markets,) footwear in its over 1,200 stores worldwide and at by April 2021. However, one can already start their pre-orders a month before that.

It's a historic moment in particular for DECATHLON, securing its first partnership with a North American sports league.

TARMAK Leader Damien Dezitter shares, "Since the creation of TARMAK four years ago, it has been our dream to collaborate with the NBA, the greatest basketball league in the world. We have a common objective to develop basketball all over the world, so it’s natural to work together to make this possible."

NBA EME Director, Global Partnerships Steve Griffiths adds, "We are excited to partner with DECATHLON, a leader in sporting goods retail with a global footprint. Through this partnership, NBA fans and basketball players around the world will have access to an exciting and innovative range of merchandise to help them get in the game."

In the Philippines, there are three DECATHLON locations: in Alabang, Pasig, and Masinag.

ONE Championship set for US prime time return with Flyweight title scrap

ONE Championship headed to US television

The quest for ONE Championship to gain relevancy across the Pacific Ocean takes a new step, as it will return to United States primetime viewing on April 7 (morning of April 8 in Manila) at TNT.

The tease for this upcoming mixed martial arts event goes like this:

Serving as the main event is the much-anticipated ONE Flyweight World Championship showdown between current champion Adriano Moraes against the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix champion Demetrious Johnson. Johnson also happens to be the number one contender for the belt.

Acting as the co-main is Eddie Alvarez against the 2nd-ranked lightweight contender Iuri Lapicus, while current ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon faces Jacob Smith in a non-title muay thai matchup.

ONE Championship's chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong might share some more details on this particular card and others later in the week on an upcoming video conference call.

For more updates on ONE Championship, please visit, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @ONEChampionship, and like us on Facebook at

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Rolando Dy secures fight deal with BRAVE CF

The status of one of the best Filipino fighters has been finally resolved.

Mixed martial arts fighter Rolando Dy is staying with BRAVE Combat Federation, after the Bahrain-based outfit revealed that they and the second-generation fighter have agreed on a three-year exclusive deal on Wednesday.

Included on the deal is a five-fight guarantee for the 2020 BRAVE CF Fighter of the Year.

The son of boxing legend Rolando Navarrete, Dy made his BRAVE CF debut back in 2017, and is fresh from two victories in the past year.

Making his debut in the lightweight division in BRAVE CF 42 back in September, he eked out a split decision victory over Polish knockout artist Maciek Gierszewski. Rolando followed that up a few weeks later by accepting a short-notice match against John Brewin, and then escaping with the unanimous decision upset over the promotion's 2019 Breakout Fighter of the Year at BRAVE CF 44.

He shared his thoughts about the deal, noting that "This organization took care of me when I was at the lowest point of my career as a professional fighter. Without hesitations, they gave me the opportunity to write a new chapter in my story as a combat sports competitor. Here I am today, one of the best fighters on their roster and in the world."

Dy adds, "It’s an honor to represent this organization on the global stage of this sport. I will surely do my best to give the fans and my supporters a performance to remember every time I step inside the cage."

With those two wins under his belt, "The Incredible" has a case for a potential matchup with the current division champion Amin Ayoub, but he does not mind if he has to get additional fights to make his point.

He says, "I want that title shot in 2021. But if BRAVE CF thinks I have to prove it again, then so be it. I really don’t mind. Line them up and I will keep knocking them down."

Sunday, January 17, 2021

UPMBT supporters TopBreed provide holiday treats on UP Doggo Day

The nineteen dogs of the University of the Philippines' Emotional Support Animals (ESA) Program in Diliman received a much-deserved holiday treat late last year from one of the supporters of the UP Fighting Maroons' Men's Basketball Team: TopBreed.

Founded in 2019 by then UP Chancellor Michael Tan, the ESA Program provides psychosocial support for students and university staff that may experience stress, depression or anxiety. The program manages, trains and utilizes campus animals to render emotional and therapeutic support to those who need them.

Considered as the leading Philippine-made dog food brand in the country, TopBreed provided these canines with nine hundred kilograms of high-quality dog food, as well as additional essentials like TopB+ vitamins and ShamPooch dog shampoo.

Aside from the treats, the dogs also underwent general check-up and deworming. They were also inoculated with anti-rabies vaccines from TopBreed veterinarians. TopBreed also provided pet supplies to ESA handlers from the different colleges and units in the Diliman campus that are under their supervision.

Helping in these efforts are members of the Friends of Campus Animals (FOCA UP), the first campus-based animal welfare volunteer group that helps with the ESA Program. Serving as the home of these emotional support animals is Balay Kaibigan.

TopBreed's decision to provide assistance to the ESA Program was an offshoot of their efforts to reach out to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs back in early December, one that the Men's Basketball Team also shared.

UP-Diliman Vice-Chancellor for Community Affairs Dr. Aleli Bawagan shares, "The University recognizes the ability of animals to help people destress. Therapy dogs are already being tapped in universities abroad to help students deal with academic stress. But even the ESA’s were not spared from the hardships of the pandemic. We appreciate the efforts of Top Breed to vaccinate and deworm UPD's emotional support dogs and donate dog food. We look forward to more collaborations with them in the future."

For their part, Universal Robina Corporation's Agro-Industrial Group (URC-AIG) managing director Vincent Henry Go says, "TopBreed is thrilled to take part in the UP Doggo Day. We are very happy to be given a chance to express our brand’s mission of providing top care to pets specially to these dogs who have provided comfort and emotional support to those in need. We would like to commend UP for coming up with this brilliant program that benefits both animals and humans alike. We salute the University for this endeavor and for taking good care of our fur friends, the emotional support dogs."

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Cycling patron Moe Chulani passes away

A key figure in the sports scene has departed.

Ronda Pilipinas co-founder Moe Chulani passed away yesterday due to cardiac arrest.

He was 45.

Along with Dino Araneta, they founded the LBC Ronda Pilipinas, one of the premier cycling competitions in the country.

Ronda Pilipinas managed to complete its tenth edition in March last year, just before the country shut down due to the pandemic. Notable participants of this tour are national team stalwarts Ronald Oranza, George Oconer, and Jan Paul Morales.

Chulani is also a board member of PhilCycling, the National Sports Association for the sport. Before that, he had been the team manager of the Pasig Pirates of the defunct Metropolitan Basketball League.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, who also serves as the head of PhilCycling, shares, "He’s a loss in the cycling community. He’s very dedicated in cycling."

Philippines ranked high in early 2020-21 NBA fan consumption metrics

The time and format may have changed for the ongoing 2020-21 season of the NBA, but some things never change, namely the Filipino appetite for the sport.

The NBA revealed some metrics involving NBA Tip-Off Week and Christmas Day earlier this week, with NBA Tip-Off being the most viewed week in the fifteen-year history of the league's official channel on YouTube.

Fans consumed over five million watch hours from the videos, a five-fold increase compared to last season's NBA Tip-Off. Most of that boost involved the Philippine audience, whose data shows they spent ten times more watching NBA YouTube content in the same time frame than last season, particularly with the licensed game recaps. Similar increase was noted from the US audience.

The league also reported that the Los Angeles Lakers' win over the Dallas Mavericks drew the league's largest average audience of all measured international markets for its five Christmas Day games. That game, which the Lakers won, 138-115, was the lone one shown on free tv via TV5 for the Filipino audience.

Notable amongst such markets is a 345% increase in viewing from the Philippines comparing the last two seasons. A portion of the 2019-20 NBA Season had been shown on CNN Philippines, including the Christmas Day matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and the aforementioned Lakers, before the league secured a multi-year local broadcast rights deal with Cignal TV. Otherwise, fans could watch games only through NBA League Pass, which remains an option for this season and beyond.

Other markets that had a significant increase in viewing for the 2020 NBA Christmas Day games compared to last year are: Portugal (72%), Spain (63%), Denmark (51%), Taiwan (38%), and Mexico (23%)

In addition, Filipino NBA fans generated triple the amount of views and watch time on the league's YouTube channel for Christmas Day 2020 compared to its 2019 counterpart.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Ignite confirm participation in upcoming G-League season

With the NBA officially announcing the upcoming 2020-21 NBA G-League season, the G-League Ignite confirm their participation.

Head coach Brian Shaw had this to say, "We’re excited to be a part of the G League schedule at Disney. This is a unique opportunity for our players to showcase their development while gaining a high volume of experience quickly against the caliber of talent they’ll face every day in the NBA."

Mainly comprised by prospects who opted to take advantage of this alternative pathway program to the NBA, the Ignite will also have NBA and G-League veterans sprinkled in to help in their development.

Top NBA prospects Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Daishen Nix, and Isaiah Todd, as well as Kai Sotto and Princepal Singh have been training with the Ignite at Walnut Creek, California since August, having four scrimmages under their belt. Rounding out the roster are the likesof Amir Johnson, Reggie Hearn, Brandon Ashley, Cody Demps, and Bobby Brown.

Under normal circumstances, the Ignite would not play a full G-League season and thus will be ineligible for the postseason, the current situation and shortened season will allow the squad to earn their way into the playoffs and potentially win a championship.

The NBA will announce the schedule of the Ignite and the seventeen other NBA G-League teams participating this season at a later date. All matches will take place inside the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where the league held fort as its campus for the remainder of the 2019-20 regular season and the entirety of the postseason.

NBA G-League reveals 2020-21 season plans

Clarity for the NBA G-League, as they will get to play their 2020-21 season after all.

The league announced earlier today that the upcoming season will take place inside the former NBA bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex inside the Walt Disney World Resort next month, with seventeen teams and the G-League Ignite as participants.

NBA G-League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim shares, "We worked closely with our teams, the Basketball Players Union, and public health experts to develop a structure that allows our teams to gather at a single site and safely play." He adds, "We are thrilled to get back to basketball and to fulfill our mission as a critical resource for the NBA in developing players, coaches, referees, athletic trainers and front-office staff."

Disney Sports vice president Faron Kelley says of the NBA's return to the Disney campus, "Our Cast Members are eager to work with the NBA family again and welcome in the next round of talented basketball players to compete at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Most importantly, Disney and the NBA G League will continue our shared focus on the necessary safety protocols for the well-being of the players, coaches, staff and everyone supporting this event."

NBA teams who do not have an G-League affiliate among the bubble participants are still allowed to assign players from their main roster through the league's flexible assignment rules. The same can be said as well for those under two-way contracts through Two-Way rules.

This will be the first official competition for the G-League Ignite, the team representing elite prospects who chose NBA's pathway program instead of taking the collegiate or overseas route. Among the members of the Ignite is top NBA Draft prospect Jalen Green and former Ateneo de Manila High School standout Kai Sotto.

Under traditional rules, the Ignite are not eligible to advance to the postseason, but with the current circumstances as a result of the pandemic, the Brian Shaw-coached squad will have the opportunity in the bubble to make the playoffs.

As it was during the NBA version of the bubble, players, coaches, team, and league staff inside the campus will be subject to the comprehensive league-wide health and safety protocols, which remains centered on the core principles of social distancing, mask wearing, hand hygiene, and COVID-19 testing.

Aside from the Ignite, the seventeen other participating teams are as follows:

  • Agua Caliente Clippers (Los Angeles Clippers)
  • Austin Spurs (San Antonio Spurs)
  • Delaware Blue Coats (Philadelphia 76ers)
  • Erie BayHawks (New Orleans Pelicans)
  • Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Indiana Pacers)
  • Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte Hornets)
  • Iowa Wolves (Minnesota Timberwolves)
  • Lakeland Magic (Orlando Magic)
  • Long Island Nets (Brooklyn Nets)
  • Memphis Hustle (Memphis Grizzlies)
  • Oklahoma City Blue (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • Raptors 905 (Toronto Raptors)
  • Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets)
  • Salt Lake City Stars (Utah Jazz)
  • Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State Warriors)
  • Westchester Knicks (New York Knicks)

The NBA will announce the schedule for the G-League bubble at a later date.