Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Timeline for 2021 NBA Draft set

The path for the 2021 edition of the NBA Draft presented by State Farm is now set.

The league announced that the draft will take place on July 29, starting a 8pm ET (July 30 in Manila). For those based in the United States, the first round will be broadcast nationally on ABC, with ESPN airing both rounds.

Aside from this, the league also provided additional details on a couple of major events on the road to the NBA Draft:

The 2021 edition of the Microsoft Surface NBA Draft Combine is tentatively scheduled for June 21-27, health protocols permitting (June 22-28 in Manila). There are plans of televising the Draft Combine through the ESPN family of networks in the United States, which likely includes the five-on-five scrimmages and the strength and agility testing.

The much-anticipated 2021 edition of the NBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm is on June 22 at 830pm (June 23 in Manila) on ESPN in the US.

The NBA also revealed its deadlines for early entry applications and withdrawals, with interested early entrants having until 1159pm on May 30 to apply (May 31 in Manila). For those early entry applicants opting out of the 2021 NBA Draft, they can do so until July 19 at 5pm (July 20 in Manila).

The league will reveal additional details for the Combine, Lottery, and Draft on a future date. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

NCFP-PSC Chess Selection tournament set this week

The National Chess Federation of the Philippines, the country's governing body in the sport, is set to launch several online competitions that would bypass restrictions the government has reimposed in light of the recent spike of cases.

Set for Tuesday until Thursday is the Luzon leg of the Philippine Sports Commission-NCFP selection tournament. Bankrolled by federation president Butch Pichay, it would be the first of a series of events that would help determine members of the national team, which would include the right to receive a monthly stipend as one of its benefits.

Tournament director GM Jayson Gonzales says, "This is an opportunity for a Filipino chess player to become member of the national team."

The tourney then will have its Visayan leg on April 13-15, while the Mindanao edition is slated the week after. Winners advance to the quarterfinals at the end of the month, with the semifinals on May 11-13 and the grand finals taking place on July 2-4. The latter will be conducted with a hybrid format of online and face-to-face matches.

Interested participants can register for free, and inquiries can be coursed through Michelle Yaon (0910-3726152) or Susan Neri (0933-5505019).

Aside from the selection tournament, the NCFP is currently conducting its National Age Group Championships, with the Marinduque Southern Luzon leg taking place this past weekend. It also has slated qualifying competitions to determine its field for its major competitions: the SEA Games, World Chess Olympiad, National Seniors and National Championships. It also is set to have its Battle of Grandmasters late in the year.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Drex Zamboanga confident in Denice’s Grand Prix chances against Seo Hee Ham

Denice Zamboanga

Count Drex Zamboanga as one of the more interested observers in the upcoming ONE Women's Atomweight World Grand Prix, whose eight-woman field was revealed a couple of weeks ago and is set to kick off on May 28 during a historic all-female fight card called ONE: EMPOWER.

Drex's younger sister is Denice, the top-ranked women's atomweight contender in ONE Championship. She is set to face off against veteran mixed martial arts campaigner Seo Hee Ham in the quarterfinals.

About that particular matchup, Zamboanga says, "I think it's a great matchup. Obviously, having trained martial arts with Denice basically since we were young, I know her capabilities. She's not just talented, she also has work ethic and I know she's working hard towards achieving her dreams."

He adds, "Seo Hee Ham is without a doubt the most dangerous opponent for Denice in this tournament. But I have complete confidence in my sister. She can beat the odds and take out the biggest threat in the Grand Prix. Denice is preparing well right now."

The ONE Flyweight contender believes that Denice's training camp for this fight will dictate how things will go against Ham, who is considered by some as the "darkhorse" of the tournament.

Drex says, "Denice is younger than Seo Hee Ham, so she has youth on her side. Yes Ham has the experience, but there are other factors important in this game. Physical conditioning is going to be super important. Denice needs to come into this fight in the best shape of her career. It's going to take a tremendous effort to defeat Ham, but Denice is up for the challenge. We're working on a strong game plan for this fight."

The ONE Women's Atomweight World Grand Prix champion will likely have the right to face current ONE Women's Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee later in the year.

Zamboanga believes that his sister is ready to seize on that opportunity, and eventually be able to wrest the title away and bring it back to the Philippines.

"I'm very proud of my sister. There's nothing she can't achieve and I see how hard she has worked in her career. Now we're here. We're in a great position to shock the world again. I believe Denice will beat Ham, win the Grand Prix, and take out the atomweight champion later this year," he says.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Mayhem set for 3x3 test in Doha

Chico Lanete to lead Manila Chooks TM on the 3x3 court for the Doha Masters

3x3 basketball is about to be injected with "Mayhem."

Aldin Ayo's philosophy is about make it debut in the FIBA 3X3 World Tour when the new-look Manila Chooks TM makes its trip to Qatar for the Doha Masters this weekend.

The quartet of Chico Lanete, Mac Tallo, Zachy Huang, and Dennis Santos will take part in qualifying, facing off against Graz at 730pm and Doha at 805pm.

They all believe that Aldin's system can work in 3x3.

"Sa practice pa lang, talagang banggaan na talaga. Napakalakas na rin nila yung katawan namin," said Santos, the tallest in the team at 6-foot-5.

"Going back sa UST days ko, ganun pa rin yung schemes ni Coach Aldin. Same approach pa rin tulad ng ginawa namin kaya naka-Finals kami nung UAAP Season 82 ang ginawa niya dito para sa amin," added Huang, a 6-foot-2 post creator.

The Filipinos will have to deal with some major height disadvantage, with 6-foot-9 Fabricio Vay and 6-foot-7 Filip Krämer comprising half of Graz and 6-foot-7 Abdelrahman Yehia Abdelhaleem and 6-foot-10 Souley Ndour being half of the hosts. Survive that, and they will have to deal with the two major American teams in the tour: NY Harlem and Princeton.

Even with the odds stacked against them, Lanete believes they can overcome it. He says, "Sa darating na laban, siyempre maliliit kami pero ang ibibigay namin sa kanila eh yung bilis namin saka outside shooting. Yun ang power namin."

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

NCFP kicks off Age Group tourney

Even with the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Chess Federation of the Philippines is ready for competitive chess in 2021 with the upcoming National Age Group Chess Championships, starting off with the Marinduque Southern Luzon leg this weekend.

NCFP president Butch Pichay shares, "The Youth Championships are among the NCFP’s main programs and I am so elated because we are able to still hold these events amid the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope these tournament will galvanize the zeal of our young chess players."

Hosted by the province of Marinduque through provincial board members John Pelaez and Verlie Quindoza, the online competition will utilize the Tornelo chess platform and the ten-minute, five-second increment time control. To ensure its readiness, a trial event is scheduled on Thursday at 8pm.

On Saturday, the Under-16, Under-18, and Under-20 divisions will be on display, with the Under-8, Under-10, Under-12, and Under-14 taking their turn on Sunday. Registration is free, and is still open for NCFP members.

Outstanding finishers will earn a berth into the National Age Group semifinals in May. Do well there and a chance at the Grand Finals looms in June, which could potentially be done face-to-face depending on the pandemic situation.

Interested participants can check out this post on the NCFP's Facebook page:

2021 National Age Group takes off The National Chess Federation of the Philippines thru it's Chairman/ President,...

Posted by National Chess Federation of the Philippines - NCFP on Monday, March 15, 2021

They can also contact the following for further inquiries: 

Boys: Michelle Yaon (0910-372615)

Girls: Susan Neri (0933-5505019) 

NCFP assistant executive director (Southern Luzon) Dr. Fred Paez (0921-2728172)

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Sam_H, Shanks join SMART Omega

Meet the new members of the SMART Omega eSports family.

In line with their upcoming debut in the second season of the Dota Pro Circuit - Southeast Asia upper division, SMART Omega eSports on Wednesday tapped a couple of individuals, Sam "Sam_H" Hidalgo and Mark "Shanks" Redira.

Hidalgo, a former TNC offlaner and is a veteran of The International, was last with T1. Redira, a 10K MMR support who was last with Indian side Reckoning eSports alongside fellow former Omega teammates Linuel "Teehee" Abanto and Benhur "Benhur" Lawis, was part of the previous Omega roster that had been replaced by the Adroit eSports core prior to the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit season.

In making the announcement, Omega eSports Chief Operating Officer Patrick Cruz says, "First I'd like to say that we're very sad that we have to change the roster again. It's very quick and very sudden, we don't even have any idea how are we going to fill that slots but we're also blessed that we still have talents around the country just like Sam_H and Shanks that are willing to trust Omega to give them another future career in eSports."

Cruz adds, "We are very positive that these boys will definitely do everything they can to reach the DPC Majors for next season."

The two will replace Jun "Bok" Kanehara and Marvin "Boomy" Rushton, who both left for TNC.

They will join midlaner Mc Nicholson "Mac" Villanueva, support Bryle "cml" Alvizo, and carrry Justin "Tino" Grimaldo in a bid to secure a Major slot in the upper division against the likes of Fnatic, Neon eSports, T1, TNC Predator, Boom eSports, Execration, and LilGun.

Season Two is scheduled to open on April 13, with 1150 DPC points up for grabs.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

LeBron, Lakers lead NBA merchandise sales in Philippines, worldwide

The NBA released its data pertaining to its merchandise, with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers topping the charts.

For the Philippines, James is the leading the list for the most popular jersey sales, with the Lakers for team merchandise. This is based from sales made within the First Half of the season from the NBA's online store for the country, NBAStore.com.ph. Titan, the Philippines' leading basketball specialty concept store, operates the site.

Joining James in the top five are Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Stephen Curry.

The rest of the top ten comprises Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Luka Dončić, and Kawhi Leonard.

Meanwhile, the rest of the top five teams leading in merchandise are the Brooklyn Nets, the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors, and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Compared to the global data, there is not much variance in both aspects. All but Paul George ended up on the top fifteen player jerseys sold worldwide, while the Rockets are the only team that is not on the top ten sales worldwide.

The global list can be seen below:  

Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys:                         

1. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

2. Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks

3. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

6. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets

7. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

8. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

9. James Harden, Brooklyn Nets

10. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

11. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

12. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

13. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers

14. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

15. Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards

Top 10 Most Popular Team Merchandise:

1. Los Angeles Lakers

2. Brooklyn Nets

3. Golden State Warriors

4. Boston Celtics

5. Philadelphia 76ers

6. Miami Heat

7. Chicago Bulls

8. Dallas Mavericks

9. Toronto Raptors

10. Milwaukee Bucks

Wilson reveals game ball for 25th WNBA season

new game ball, c/o Wilson

In line with the upcoming 25th season of the Women's National Basketball Association, the league and Wilson Sporting Goods Co. unveiled the official game ball to be used for the campaign.

 Wilson Global Marketing Director for Team Sports Amanda Lamb shares, "We are thrilled to be tipping off our partnership with the WNBA in advance of a historic 25th milestone season. Introducing the Evo NXT to the pinnacle of the women’s game, and announcing our first WNBA Advisory Staff member, all in the midst of Women’s History Month, is truly a momentous occasion for Wilson."

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert shares, "As we head into our 25th season with more momentum and energy than ever, we are excited to be partnering with Wilson on our new official game ball. We’re grateful for Wilson’s partnership and commitment to women’s basketball, and the updated white and fire orange look signifies a new chapter for the WNBA brand and our game."

The new ball integrates Wilson's Evo NXT construction, featuring an enhanced grip and a soft moisture-minimalizing feel, alongside its 100% composite leather construction.

Aside from the new ball, Wilson is also introducing its first member to their WNBA Advisory Staff, three-time WNBA All-Star Liz Cambage. The Aussie center for the Las Vegas Aces will provide feedback on testing and collaborate on Wilson basketball products.

Cambage says, "I’m so excited to be the first WNBA player on Wilson’s Advisory Staff. It’s beyond important for women like me to have a seat at the table to influence creative ideas and provide performance insights."

Cambage is the latest member of Wilson's Basketball Advisory Staff, which includes skills coach Chris Brickley and 3x3 legend Dušan Bulut. Established almost ninety years ago, the program is over ten thousand strong, representing differing sports worldwide.

Wilson and the WNBA will also reveal their collaborations when the 2021 WNBA season starts, including three launches that include collaborative designs.

The WNBA game ball will be made available starting May 3 on wilson.com, with select retailers by May 17.

This is the latest partnership Wilson has with the NBA, which will have accompanying activations with the WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League, Basketball Africa League, and the upcoming 75th NBA Season in 2021-22.

WNBA set for 25th season

WNBA logo
An updated logo and a new campaign is set to mark the 25th season of the WNBA.

To celebrate Women's History Month, the league revealed new plans for the upcoming season, highlighted by a tweaked logo and a new campaign called Count It.

Also, the WNBA will also have season-long celebrations to mark its milestones and breakthroughs, as well as how its players shattered expectations and stepped to the forefront of advancement, inclusion and social change within its history. All twelve teams will have their own specially-theme events and fan promotions to help commemorate the anniversary.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert says, "As we look to celebrate the first 25 years of the league, we are also setting the stage for the next 25 years.  The WNBA’s new distinctive 25th season logo and Count It campaign signify what makes the league unique. We are celebrating a quarter of a century of the impact the WNBA has made on sports and society, and on generations of young and diverse athletes."

WNBA Chief Marketing Officer Phil Cook adds, "We are thrilled to launch a new narrative around the upcoming WNBA season that is rooted in defying expectations and excelling in the face of adversity. The WNBA’s 25th Season logo signifies that the league isn’t done ‘Counting’ achievements because there are countless more to come.  The WNBA is on the rise and we’re excited to bring fans along the journey through a monumental season for the league and for the seasons ahead."

The commemorative logo will be showcased on courts, jerseys, and the ball.

As for the Count It campaign, it already released a video on its platforms.

Other activations are as follows:

The W25

The WNBA is set to select and honor the league's greatest players since it was launched in 1997. To determine who comprises this exclusive group, selectors will base it on their overall contribution to the league and community, including on-court performance and ability, leadership, sportsmanship and community service, as well as contributions to team success and role in the growth of women's basketball. Fans will also have a role in picking who they believe ought to be in this illustrious group.

WNBA 25 Greatest Moments

During the second half of the season and the playoffs, the WNBA will reveal in reverse the top 25 greatest moments in the history of the league. Additional details on the process and timeline will be announced later.

New WNBA Outfitting and Game Ball for 25th Season

The WNBA has designated Nike as its inaugural Changemaker, providing its athletes with new uniform designs. Nike will also provide deeper storytelling in making these reveals. The league is also going to use a new game ball from Wilson, one that would usher in a new chapter for the league and reaffirm Wilson's commitment to both the WNBA, its players, coaches, and fans, as well as its part to help grow the sport.

WNBA 25th Season Advisory Council

Comprised of women's basketball pioneers and WNBA legends, this advisory council will aid the league by providing historical prospective, listening to both legacy advisors and successful sports business people, and help propel its business objectives. With their periodic meetings, the council aims to help generate innovative ideas in growing the game as well as its fanbase.

The members of the council include:

Cynthia Cooper

Fran Harris

Lauren Jackson

Lisa Leslie

Rebecca Lobo

Sheryl Swoopes

Lindsay Whalen

Teresa Weatherspoon

Val Ackerman

Carol Stiff

Rick Welts

WNBA Social Justice

With the WNBA's active role in fostering social justice through its WNBA Justice Movement, the league will continue pushing the momentum on fighting racial and gender inequality, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and systematic reform in situations where injustice remains prevalent. This is in tandem with the Social Justice Council that both the WNBA and its players through the WNBPA. The movement, which was launched before the start of last season, will also celebrate the league's advocacy within its 25 years.  

WNBA Commissioner’s Cup:

A new innovative effort to be launched this coming season is the WNBA Commissioner's Cup, a multi-faceted competition platform. To be conducted within the regular season, the league has designated ten regular season games for each team, with the two toting the best record facing off in a championship game that is scheduled to take place after the Olympic break.

The tourney is also a platform for the league, its players, partners, and fans to have conversations centered on social justice and equality, in line with the aforementioned Justice Movement.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Denice Zamboanga faces tough opening matchup in ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix

The road for Denice Zamboanga to get a crack at the ONE Women's Atomweight championship is already set, with the recent reveal of the matchups for the World Grand Prix.

The lady called "The Menace" is slated to face Seo Hee Ham in the quarterfinals. The Korean was the Atomweight Champion at Rizin before joining ONE Championship. Ham can also count on her experience in Deep, Jewels, Road FC, and even the UFC.

Upon learning of the matchup, Denice shares, "Ham is a very experienced fighter, the most experienced out of all of us. I'm not taking her lightly by any means. She's held multiple world titles in different organizations, and she's a legit, well-rounded striker."

Zamboanga and her camp is taking their upcoming matchup seriously, and is very much aware of Ham's capabilities, one that qualifies as her toughest test so far in her stint with ONE Championship.

Denice adds, "My team and I are studying her previous fights for sure, looking for anything we can exploit. But I don't see any weaknesses in her. She's a complete fighter. We know she's incredible with her hands, and she's a southpaw. I don't have much experience facing southpaws. Her straight punch is her most dangerous weapon."

She also says, "It's going to be a tough challenge, no doubt. I think this is the biggest challenge I could face in this tournament, especially for a first-round matchup. But this is what I live for, to test myself against the best. I didn't get to where I am by facing easy opponents. I'm heading into this fight with the best Denice Zamboanga you've ever seen."

Aside from Zamboanga-Ham, the remaining quarterfinal matchups will see Meng Bo against Ritu Phogat, Stamp Fairtex against Alyona Rassohyna II, and Itsuki Hirata against Alyse Anderson. These matchups will comprise the undercard of ONE: EMPOWER, ONE's all-female fight card set for May 28.

The main event of ONE: EMPOWER involves ONE Women's Strawweight World Champion Xiong Jing Nan, as she defends her title against Michelle Nicolini.

The ONE Women's Atomweight World Grand Prix champion secures a title opportunity against current World Champion Angela Lee later this year.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Jenel Lause to face new opponent for BRAVE CF 47

Brave CF 47

Jenel Lausa will have a new opponent for BRAVE CF 47: ASIAN DOMINATION.

Brave Combat Federation changed up its card this coming Thursday in Bahrain, with Afghan fighter Rahmatullah Yousufzai withdrawing from his flyweight match against "The Demolition Man."

Replacing Yousufzai as Lausa's opponent is Ryskulbek Ibraimov. With eighteen wins in 26 matches and half of those coming via stoppage, he is considered one of the top Kyrgyz fighters. Ibraimov had been slated to face Asu Almabaev on the same card before the switch.

Lausa is toting a 7-5 record in mixed martial arts, as well as a 10-0-1 record in boxing with six knockouts.

The Ibraimov-Lausa matchup is part of the undercard for BRAVE CF 47, which is headlined by a Lightweight World Title eliminator between Rolando Dy and Abdisalam Kubanychbek.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

PLDT rejoins Premier Volleyball League

PLDT made it official on Wednesday, rejoining the Premier Volleyball League, the lone professional league for the sport in the country.

In making the move, Chief Revenue Officer Al Panlilio shares, "We are very deeply engaged in Philippine sports, supporting various sports-- including volleyball -- for a long time through the MVP Sports Foundation. We have always believed in the power of sports to make the lives of Filipinos better. The values that we learn in volleyball – such as teamwork, mindfulness, patience, grace under pressure, and discipline, among others – are important elements to the formula of success."

PLDT and SMART Head of Sports Jude Turcuato adds, "It definitely feels like a revival for our team since it feels good to be back home. With our campaign in PLDT which is 'the strongest connections are at home', it was about time that we go back to our roots which is the PVL. It's just refreshing to have a new beginning."

Team Manager Badjie Del Rosario also adds. "This is special because this is where it all started for the PLDT team. PLDT won multiple championships here and we’re hoping to add more. We’re excited to be part of the growing PVL family."

PLDT was a powerhouse in the PVL's previous iteration, the V-League. Then known as the Ultra Fast Hitters, they claimed the Season 12 Open and Reinforced Conference titles in 2015.

Roger Gorayeb was at the helm then, and still is holding that capacity now, this time in its current composition as the PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters.

The coaching legend and eight-time champion is looking forward to their homecoming. He says, "Labing-apat na taon ako sa V-League. Umpisa pa lang niyan, kasama ko na sina Sir Ricky [Palou] kaya sobrang nakakatuwa na makakabalik na kami. Sana matuloy namin yung magandang legacy ng PLDT sa PVL."

From the PVL's end, league president Ricky Palou welcomed the club back with open arms, acknowledging the increased competition the Power Hitters will bring in the seventeen-year-old league. The Philippine National Volleyball Federation, Inc. board member says, "We at the PVL are really glad to have PLDT back. This move of PLDT to the PVL will definitely provide more competition to the other teams and make the league more exciting."

PLDT is fielding these players for their upcoming campaign: Rhea Dimaculangan, Isa Molde, Eli Soyud, Marist Layug, Chin Basas, Iza Viray, Yeye Gabarda, Shola Alvarez, Aiko Urdas, Joyce Sta. Rita, Alyssa Eroa, Vira Guillema, Jorelle Singh, and Kat Villegas

The move is the latest in the Philippine volleyball scene, with sister team Cignal HD Spikers also formalizing their move to the PVL earlier Wednesday.

Aside from the joining the PVL, PLDT is also set to commit in aiding the assembly of the national team. League commissioner Tony Boy Liao also serves in the PNVFI as the chairman of the National Team Committee.

On that aspect, Turcuato shares, "The main thrust of the new volleyball federation is to look for the talent, get proper coaching, and compete on the world stage. Because of our PLDT Power Hitters being able to join the PVL, which is tied to the PNVF, we will be able to contribute to building the national team program."