Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Ignite statement re: Kai Sotto

The NBA G League released this statement about international prospect Kai Sotto.

NBA G League Ignite and international prospect Kai Sotto of the Philippines today announced the mutual decision that Sotto will not re-join Ignite.  With the team’s permission, Sotto left Ignite in January to train with the Philippines National Team at the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifying Tournament in Qatar before that event was cancelled. 

“Kai and the team both understood the challenges for him to rejoin Ignite given the current international travel constraints, quarantine times and health and safety protocols,” said NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim.  “Kai will always be part of the extended Ignite family and we wish him continued success as he pursues his NBA dreams.”

Sotto played in a couple of scrimmages for the Ignite, averaging 5.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks against a group of G League veterans late last year.

Adiwang excited for ONE: FISTS OF FURY

Count Lito Adiwang as among those who have expressed excitement in the upcoming ONE Championship mixed martial arts event: ONE: FISTS OF FURY.

Slated to take place on February 26 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the card will feature some of the best strikers in the world, including current ONE Kickboxing flyweight champion Ilias Ennahachi, who will defend the belt against 2nd-ranked Superlek Kiatmoo9 in the main event. 

The Team Lakay fighter believes it is a "must-watch event," noting the presence of the biggest names in kickboxing on the card.

Adiwang expressed particular interest for the Ilias-Superlek matchup, which he says will "give fans a good show," noting the high level of striking expected to take place. When asked for a winner, he believes Ennahachi will be successful in defending his title, noting that "I  can see him controlling the fight and not letting Superlek dictate the pace. I think he can finish Superlek as well with his punches."

The co-main event features kickboxing legend Giorgio Petrosyan in a rematch against Davit Kiria. Adiwang had this to say about "The Doctor:" "... he’s a living legend in the kickboxing world. He’s earned the people’s respect by proving himself, fighting and beating the best of the best. For me, what’s so good about him is his composure, because no matter what style or game plan you prepare for him, you can’t take his composure away. He’s just out there imposing his will, and that for me is just special. It’s hard to beat a well-focused and composed fighter. I see him applying this in his upcoming fight again and getting the win."

Aside from the aforementioned matchups, ONE: FISTS OF FURY will feature a couple of interesting debuts.

Reigning ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon will make his ONE kickboxing debut, as "The Iron Man" faces off against Tagir Khalilov.

About this particular matchup, Adiwang had this to say, "Rodtang jumping to kickboxing is no surprise to me, because we all saw how he absolutely decimated his opponents in Muay Thai until there was no one left. Knowing his fighter mentality, he wants to further cement his legacy in the striking world. He doesn’t just want to be the Muay Thai champion, he wants that kickboxing belt as well. I believe he will succeed, but he will definitely go through some tough challenges in ONE Super Series. It all depends on how he can quickly adapt to and adjust to the rules of kickboxing. Perhaps we can also see a rematch between Rodtang and Tenshin Nasukawa in the future too."

The other major debut involves the newest member of the Lee family, as Victoria will go up against Sunisa Srisen in an atomweight matchup.

"The Prodigy" made headlines by turning pro late last year at the age of sixteen. She is the younger sister of current ONE World Champions Angela (Atomweight) and Christian (Lightweight).

Adiwang believes that she has what it takes to make it. "For me, Victoria Lee is a next generation superstar. She has some incredible people behind her, with her parents supporting her, and her older siblings already proven world champions. I have no doubt that she will also become a world champion one day, and maybe even surpass Christian and Angela."

With regards to her age in making her debut, he adds, "In my opinion, 16 is an okay age for cage fighting. It’s just the right time to get experience as long as you prepare well, and put in double the effort to work on al areas. Naturally, your body will reach athletic maturity even if you are just a teenager. We’ve seen this before in elite athletes who started young, like Manny Pacquiao, for example, or Lebron James. It’s not about the age. It’s about the skill and the physical capacity. As they say, age is nothing but a number."

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Ronda Pilipinas honors Moe Chulani with tribute ride

Past LBC Ronda Pilipinas champions George Oconer (right), Ronald Oranza (middle) and Jan Paul Morales lead the Ronda MeMOErial ride in San Jose, Tarlac Sunday.

To honor its late chairman Moe Chulani, Ronda Pilipinas held a tribute ride on Sunday.

Called a "A MeMOErial Ride, A Ride for Moe," it started and ended at the Tarlac Recreational Park in San Jose.

Leading this special ride are former Ronda Pilipinas champions Jan Paul Morales, Ronald Oranza, and George Oconer. Alongside them are race co-founder Dino Araneta, and Moe's brother, Ravinder.

Notable Ronda teams like Navy-Standard Insurance, 7-Eleven, Go for Gold, Army-Bicycology, and Tarlac took part, as well as the developmental team of cycling legend Placido Valdez. Executive friends of Moe also were present, among them Jeremy Go, Quin Baterna, Wilson Cheng, and Roland Cunanan.

Given the nature of the event, consent was secured from both the IATF and the Tarlac LGU in order to proceed.

Ronda Pilipinas project director Bernadette Guerrero says, "This is for Moe."

Under Chulani’s leadership, Ronda Pilipinas has staged a total of 10 multi-stage races, starting in 2011. The competition has produced some of the best cyclists in the country today, including last year’s champion Oconer.

The pandemic has forced organizers to defer the race for 2021, although they are planning to have qualifiers later this year for the 2022 edition, which is tentatively slated for February.

NBA, SMART relaunch NBA.com/Philippines

The NBA and SMART further solidified its partnership earlier this week, with the relaunch of NBA.com/Philippines.

The site is the league's official digital destination in the country, and complements what the league already has with SMART: from NBA League Pass being made available to its subscribers, to the over-the-top service NBA.Smart, which streams NBA TV Philippines, the localized version of the 24/7 dedicated channel.

Under the editorial leadership of Mico Halili, NBA.com/Philippines will provide Filipino fans specialized content, including recaps and analysis from notable members of the Filipino basketball community. It also includes a weekly podcast called "NBA Hype Squad," which will feature discussions from local influencers.

NBA Asia Head of Global Content and Media Distribution Ramez Sheikh shares, "We’re excited to partner with Smart and relaunch NBA.com/Philippines as we continue to expand our digital footprint in the country. Through our redesigned destination, fans will be able to connect with their favorite teams and players through instant access to NBA news and original content."

SMART President and CEO Alfredo Panlilio adds, "This is a huge milestone not only for Smart, but also for Filipino fans who now have a dedicated new platform to follow their idols, stay up-to-date on games, and engage with fans who share the same passion for hardcourt action. NBA.com/Philippines bolsters our line-up of NBA offerings for Smart subscribers, which embodies our “It’s all here” campaign tagline and reflects our commitment to bringing the world’s premier basketball league closer to fans nationwide."

For SMART subscribers, no data charges will be incurred in accessing the site. They already have an ongoing promotion for NBA League Pass, thanks to a PhP 485 monthly package and a PhP 85 3-Game Choice package. NBA LP provides the most comprehensive live and on-demand access to NBA games this season, all of which coming in high definition and live stats and additional camera angles, including NBA Mobile View, which is tailored for fans who use it on their mobile devices.

In addition, SMART prepaid subscribers can watch the livestream of NBA TV Philippines by taking advantage of certain data packages. Dial *123# and choose GIGA VIDEO 99 and register their mobile and ticket number on nba.smart. Said promotion provides 1GB to watch videos on NBA League Pass, YouTube, and Cignal Play, as well as an additional 2GB data weekly.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

NBA All-Star formalized for 2021

The NBA formally revealed that it will have its 2021 edition of NBA All-Star on March 8 (Manila time) at State Farm Arena, with a few tweaks.

The biggest tweak sees the league holding activities on All-Star Saturday integrated onto the same date as the All-Star Game, ensuring that the league's annual celebration of the game takes place only on one day. The Skills Challenge and 3pt Shootout will take place before the game, while the Slam Dunk competition is slated during halftime.

Aside from those, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) have banded together to commit over $2.5 million in funds and resources towards Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as well as support and awareness around equity and access to COVID-19 care, relief, and vaccines.

The game retain the tweaks put in place last season, integrating a modified version of the "Elam Ending." Teams will play an untimed final quarter aiming to reach the Final Target Score to secure the win. The mark is determined by the leading team's output after three quarters and adding 24 to it, as a homage to Kobe Bryant.

The All-Star Draft will determine roster composition, scheduled on March 5. The NBA already revealed the pool of starters on Friday morning (Manila time), with LeBron James and Kevin Durant named as captains.

This year's edition of the All-Star Game will also highlight the importance of HBCUs and raise awareness around the disparate impact of COVID-19 towards communities of color, in partnership with the league, its players, and its partners, as well as with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the United Negro College Fund, the National Association for Equal Opportunity, and the Direct Relief's Fund for Health Equity. Integrating the festivities are special performances by HBCU musical groups, as well as unique storytelling and content by distinguished HBCU alumni and students.

The pandemic has also helped shape this year's edition of the All-Star Game, as additional measures have been established to complement the current Health and Safety Protocols. Such elements include enhanced PCR testing, the creation of a "mini bubble" environment within a single hotel for players and coaches, and private travel in and out of Atlanta. The league also has opted to not have fan activities, ticketed events, and hospitality functions that normally accompany All-Star Weekend.

Here are quotes from executives about the coming All-Star Game:

NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver: “NBA All-Star in Atlanta will continue our annual tradition of celebrating the game and the greatest players in the world before a global audience. In addition to the festivities on the court, the All-Star Game will honor the vital role HBCUs play in our communities and focus attention and resources on COVID-19 relief, particularly for the most vulnerable.

NBPA Executive Director, Michele Roberts: “HBCUs provided premium education to our communities at a time when access to higher learning was denied to us. They were there – and have remained there – for us. We now stand with them.

Thurgood Marshall College Fund President and CEO, Dr. Harry L. Williams: “As a founding partner of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the NBA has been a consistent supporter for more than 33 years. By dedicating its All-Star platform to supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the NBA is making a profound statement about the league’s commitment to a better future, recognizing the crucial role Black Colleges have always played in facilitating racial equity and serving the African American community.

UNCF CEO, Dr. Michael Lomax: “We welcome this exciting opportunity to partner with the NBA and the players. Together, the NBA and players can shine a bright light on the vital work of our nation’s HBCUs and help ensure that we can support our Black college students on their education journeys.

Clark Atlanta University President, Dr. George T. French, Jr.: “The Clark Atlanta University community is incredibly excited to be a part of NBA All-Star 2021. The night will provide a unique opportunity not only to celebrate the accomplishments of our students, faculty and alumni, but also to share the rich history and essential contributions of our institution and other HBCUs with a global audience.

The Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) President, Rev. Matthew Wesley Williams: “As NBA All-Star Weekend visits the City of Atlanta to showcase the talents and contributions of some of the world’s best and most well-known athletes, the ITC community is pleased to join the NBA and its players in celebrating the achievements and contributions of some of our country’s most important institutions – our Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Morehouse College President, David A. Thomas, Ph.D.: “NBA All-Star 2021 presents an extraordinary moment to highlight the legacy of scholarship, leadership and service HBCUs have represented since their founding. Morehouse College is excited to be a part of this celebration and momentous occasion.

Morris Brown College President, Dr. Kevin James: “Morris Brown College would like to thank the NBA, NBPA and the entire extended NBA family for including us in this year’s All-Star Game. We welcome and appreciate the attention the night will bring to the unique and vital role played by historically Black institutions here in Atlanta and across the country.

Spelman College President, Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell: “As NBA All-Star returns to Atlanta, Spelman College looks forward to being a part of the celebration that highlights HBCUs across the city and beyond. Our mission at Spelman is to educate Black women to become global leaders and to inspire a commitment to positive change. We are honored to be part of the NBA 2021 All-Star celebration of our nation’s HBCUs.

James, Durant named as NBA All-Star Game captains

The NBA has released its pool of starters for the 2021 edition of its All-Star Game on Friday morning (Manila time), with LeBron James and Kevin Durant leading the way.

Joining them as starters from the Western Conference are Nikola Jokić, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, and Luka Dončić, while completing the cast from the Eastern Conference are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, and Bradley Beal.

Both James and Durant led their respective conferences in fan voting to earn the nod as captains, and they will be making their selections for their respective squads on the morning of March 5 (Manila time) through the 2021 NBA All-Star Draft. They will pick the starters first, followed by the reserves, whose pool will be revealed on the morning of February 24 (Manila time). The latter is selected by the league's coaches.

The starters' pool has made history already with half of its composition coming from overseas: Antetokounmpo (Greece via Nigeria), Dončić (Slovenia), Embiid (Cameroon), Irving (United States, but born in Australia) and Jokić (Serbia).

The 70th edition of the NBA All-Star Game will take place on March 8 (Manila time) at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. As a result of the pandemic, activities have been compressed into one night, with the Skills Challenge and 3pt Contest slated pre-game, and the Slam Dunk competition at halftime.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Far Eastern University resumes online chess seminars

Some of the best pawnpushers in the Philippines are set to pay it forward, with the resumption of the monthly online seminars by Far Eastern University.

Backed by the school's chairman Aurelio Montinola III as well as by athletic director Mark Molina, the seminar is open to interested participants 11-17 years old, it will feature lectures from the likes of GM Jayson Gonzales, WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, and IM Paulo Bersamina.

The seminars on February 20 and 27 includes is a talk from chess icon Eugene Torre, as well as Woman FIDE Master Michelle Yaon.

Gonzales, who heads the Philippine Academy for Chess Excellence, shares, "As what Martin Luther King said, the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education."

Capping off the seminars is a exclusive mini-tournament for the attendees on February 28.

Interested participants can register through https://forms.gle/o3nczEe2FiqGFT8s7 or through the Facebook page of the FEU Chess Team.