Thursday, September 30, 2021

Japan, China secure Asia Cup for Women semifinal spots

Wednesday bore witness to Japan and China clinching their respective semifinal spots at the FIBA Asia Cup for Women, assuring them spots in the FIBA Women's World Cup Qualifying tournament.

Japan earned their spot with a 67-62 victory over Korea in the first game of the four-game bill at the Prince Hamza Arena in Amman.

The duo of Himawari Akaho and Saori Miyazaki carried the defending champions against their East Asian rivals, combining for 36 points. The latter came close to notching a triple-double with seven rebounds and nine assists.

Korea clawed their way back from a slow start with steady play in the second quarter, reducing their deficit to a single point into halftime. They buckled down in the third quarter by limiting Japan to just six points in the period to erect a 48-43 lead.

The Olympic silver medalists responded with a strong start in the fourth quarter, taking the lead for good at 55-53.

Korea had a chance late to make up the deficit, but they were unable to score in the last two minutes after cutting the deficit to 63-62.

Isaem Choi led the team in scoring with sixteen points.

In contrast, China earned their semifinal spot with an impressive 82-64 victory over Australia.

After a relatively even first half, China took things to a higher notch in the third quarter, holding the Opals to just ten points in the period to establish a 58-49 lead. They doubled that lead in the final period to set the table for a dominant win.

Xu Han proved to be a handful with a double-double of sixteen points and eleven rebounds, whilst Sijing Huang nailed two triples in the fourth to finish with twelve points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

Captain Sami Whitcomb starred for the Opals with 24 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.

In the other two matchups, New Zealand secured their path into the crossover quarterfinals with a dominant 109-49 victory over India, as Mary Goulding and Penina Davidson each contributed eighteen points. The latter also added eleven boards for an impressive double-double performance. In the process, they renew their Oceania rivalry with Australia for a chance to make the final four.

Capping the events of the day was Chinese-Taipei's 93-52 victory over the Philippines, allowing the East Asian side to nab the final crossover quarterfinal berth and a matchup against Korea.

As for the Philippines and India, the two will tangle in the seventh-place game that will decide which team will remain in Division A or be relegated to Division B.

Philippines exits from FIBA Asia Cup for Women title picture

Ella Fajardo

Chinese-Taipei officially eliminated the Philippines from contention late Wednesday night, securing a 93-52 victory to close out Group Stage play at the FIBA Asia Cup for Women in Amman.

After a game effort in the first half from the Gilas Women keeping them in contention, they were unable to stop an offensive barrage in the 3rd quarter from the East Asian side. In peppering the basket with 31 points in the period, mostly from three pointers coming off effective ball movement, they turned a 45-30 halftime result into an insurmountable 76-41 lead.

Wen-Yu Lin led Chinese-Taipei with 19 points on 5/8 shooting from deep, with Hsi-Yeh Liu adding four more triples on her way to thirteen points. All in all, they managed to convert fifteen three-pointers compared to just two for the Philippines.

Afril Bernardino starred for the Philippines in the defeat with an all-around performance of 24 points, fourteen rebounds, three assists, a couple of steals, and a block. Clare Castro added fourteen points and six rebounds, but she was the only other Filipina in double figures.

The win secures a spot into the crossover quarterfinals for Chinese-Taipei, where they have a shot of earning a spot into the FIBA Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament.

The Philippines will need to win its last game of the tournament late Thursday in order to retain their spot in Division A. Otherwise, relegation to Division B is assured.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Title favorites continue assertion of FIBA Asia Cup for Women dominance

Korea is 2-0 with Heji An's playmaking.

The expected favorites to fight for the 2021 edition of the FIBA Women's Asia Cup won their respective matches on Tuesday, setting up an interesting final Matchday for Wednesday.

Japan faced a tough test against New Zealand, to kick off the quadruple-header at the Prince Hamza Arena.

The defending champions struggled early on against the Tall Ferns, trailing after the first quarter, 20-11. They eventually found an offensive rhythm that would allow them to take a 32-31 halftime advantage, one that Japan would never let go of and eventually establish a lead as large as fifteen points.

Stephanie Mawuli led all scorers with fifteen points, with Saki Hayashi adding twelve of her own.

The victory sets up an interesting matchup with Korea for the top spot in Group A, in the aftermath of the latter's 107-69 victory over India.

Korea used a strong third quarter to take control of the game, scoring 33 points and allowing just seven.

India tried to keep pace to prevent a second straight loss, but the East Asians proved to be much.

Leeseul Kang led all scorers with eighteen points, with Heji An dishing out fourteen assists in thirty minutes of action.

In Group B, China imposed its will on Chinese-Taipei, using its commanding size advantage to pummel their opponents, 124-50.

Centers Yueru Li and Xu Han combined to score 38 points on 15/18 shooting to lead the way.

The win sets up a high-stakes match with Australia to see who claims the top spot in Group B. The Opals easily dispatched the Philippines to cap off action for the day, 120-56.

Philippines stumble versus Australia in Asia Cup for Women

Lauren Richardson

The Philippines' struggles in the FIBA Asia Cup for Women continued on Tuesday night, as they bowed to Australia at the Prince Hamza Arena, 120-56.

The Opals made things difficult for Gilas Women from the get-go, scoring the first eleven points of the game and never looked back, eventually erecting a 64-point lead at the final buzzer.

Much like Pinays on Monday, they were totally dominated by their opposition in many categories, including a 68-25 disadvantage in rebounding that led to a 44-18 disparity in points in the paint. The 2022 FIBA Women's World Cup hosts also netted 34 free throws off 25 fouls.

With such dominance, the Aussies had the chance to get to field meaningful for the younger members in the side, which includes U19 Gems standouts Jade Melbourne and Abigail Wehrung, as well as Nebraska sophomore Jaz Shelley.

Lauren Nicholson led all scorers with 21 points, including 4/5 from beyond the arc. Keeley Froling added 19 to pair with her thirteen rebounds.

New York Liberty standout Sami Whitcomb netted a near-triple-double performance with eight points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in just under fifteen minutes. The Opals skipper added three steals and a block to cap an all-around performance.

Janine Pontejos led the Philippines with thirteen points, with youth standout Kristine Cayabyab the only other player in double figures with ten markers.

The Opals are set to tangle with China at 9pm tonight for the right to finish atop Group B, whilst Gilas Women will face Chinese-Taipei at midnight to determine which team will enter the crossover quarterfinals.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Korea, Japan, Australia secure Asia Cup for Women openers

Sami Whitcomb

Title favorites assert themselves in the first set of matches at the FIBA Asia Cup for Women in Amman, on Monday.

The tournament opened with Japan's 136-46 demolition of India, with the Tokyo 2020 silver medalists peppering the Prince Hamza Arena with 24 triples, fourteen of them coming from the trio of Saki Hayashi, Haruno Nemoto, and Monica Okoye.

Okoye would finish with 24 points, while Kiho Miyashita led the defending champions with 27 markers.

Not to be outdone in Group A, Korea also showed out from deep in their 85-69 victory over New Zealand.

Even without their WNBA standout Ji-Su Park, the twelve-time champions rode on Isaem Choi and her game-high 29 points. They also had an all-around performance from Hyejin Park, who racked up twenty points, eleven rebounds, and six assists. The two combined for eleven of the team's thirteen makes from beyond the arc.

Penina Davidson led the Tall Ferns with a double-double of 21 points and eleven rebounds.

Capping off the first set of matches in the Jordanian capital is Australia's 76-65 victory over Chinese-Taipei.

The continental newcomers trailed at the half, 33-34, before a strong third quarter allowed the Opals to take a 53-45 lead.

Fresh from her stint in the WNBA playoffs with the New York Liberty, Sami Whitcomb led the Aussies with thirteen points.

China flexes muscle in Asia Cup for Women opener

Ria Nabalan. (c/o FIBA-Asia)

China flexed its muscle on the opening day of the FIBA Asia Cup for Women, demolishing the Philippines on Monday night, 143-52.

Eight out of the eleven players Limin Xu fielded scored in double figures, led by Liwei Yang's 21 points.

The eleven-time champions used their massive height advantage against the Gilas Women, amassing a 55-23 rebounding advantage that included a 40-15 mismatch in offensive rebounds.

That dominance extended to other categories, including turnovers, where the Philippines doubled China, 24 to 12.

After a sluggish start, the Pinays managed to stay with the team early on,reducing an early 15-3 deficit to just 22-15, but the Chinese cranked it up once again to end the first quarter trailing 35-17.

It was all downhill from there, with China scoring at will, netting themselves at least 34 points in all quarters, whilst Gilas Women could only 35 points the rest of the game.

Head coach Pat Aquino acknowledged the limited preparations that the squad had in the run-up to the competition, noting that they had a month to get themselves ready for this tournament, compared to their opposition who is fresh from a stint in Tokyo 2020.

Ella Fajardo, who made her senior debut with the national team, added that even if Coach Aquino told them that "they played their hardest," the team knows that they still have "more to bring" in the tournament. The Fairleigh Dickinson true freshman netted six points in just under thirteen and a half minutes.

Afril Bernardino was the lone Filipina in double figures with seventeen points.

The Philippines will even have a tougher hill to climb, as they face off against FIBA Women's World Cup hosts Australia at midnight tonight.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Philippines kicks off FIBA Asia Cup for Women campaign

Gilas Pilipinas Women

The Philippines' hopes to play in the FIBA Women's World Cup in 2022 will commence starting tonight, as Gilas Women face off against China to kickstart their FIBA Asia Cup for Women campaign.

Tip-off for this matchup starts at 9pm, to be shown LIVE on One Sports, One Sports+, and

Slotted in Group B with Australia and Chinese-Taipei, the country has a steep hill to climb in its hopes to be among the twelve teams involved in the top tier global competition for women's basketball.

Four spots are allocated to Asia for the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournaments, including Australia as the FIBA Women's World Cup hosts. With the eight teams in the Asia Cup Division A split into two groups of four, only the top three teams of each group advance into the knockout rounds, with the top team getting an automatic semifinal bid. As for the two last-placed teams, they will then face off in a relegation battle with the loser moved into Division B.

The squad is led by stalwarts Afril Bernardino, Ria Nabalan, and Clare Castro, and includes newcomers Camille Clarin of National University, and Fairleigh Dickinson University true freshman Ella Fajardo.

Serving as the first obstacle for the Pat Aquino-coached side is China, who has won this competition eleven times, although their last title came in 2011.

PFF praises Malditas performance

The Philippine Senior Women's National Team

The Philippine Football Federation praised the achievements of its Senior Women's National Team, after the squad booked its spot in the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 on Friday.

Federation president Mariano Araneta shares, "We are truly delighted by this remarkable achievement by our Philippine Women’s National Team. Qualification to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup is a testament to the hard work and sacrifice made by the players and the coaching staff and the support of sponsors and stakeholders. It wasn't an easy journey owing to the fact that the team competed and represented the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot rest on this achievement. We will leave no stone unturned in preparing the team in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, where the Top 5 teams will qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023."
The Philippines earned a return trip to the top continental competition for women's football by topping Group F in qualifying, securing 2-1 victories over Nepal and Hong Kong in the past week.

As one of twelve finalists, they have a shot of securing five automatic berths allocated for the Asian Football Confederation to the FIFA World Cup. This allocation already excludes Australia, which locked in a berth as the World Cup co-hosts with New Zealand. An additional two more spots are allocated to an Intercontinental Tournament, for which the last three berths are at stake.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Philippines secures Asian Cup berth in women's football

Tahnai Annis

Signed. Sealed. Delivered.

The Philippines secured its spot in the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 berth with a 2-1 victory over Hong Kong on Friday at the JAR Stadium in Tashkent.

With Hong Kong coming off a goalless draw against Nepal on Wednesday, the East Asian side needed a victory in order to come out on top of Group F and secure a spot in next year's tournament proper.

Unfortunately, The Filipinas had other plans.

Tahnai Annis put the Philippines ahead after 17 minutes, receiving a cross from Rochelle Mendano and heading it past Ng Cheuk Wai.

Hong Kong would find an equalizer in the 61st minute off an excellently taken free kick by Chung Pui Ki, but Chandler McDaniel restores the Filipina advantage in the 87th minute.

With two wins out of two matches, the Philippines officially locked in a return trip to the top tier continental competition for women's football, which also serves as a qualifying tournament to the 2023 edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup.

The Malditas fell one victory short of qualifying for the last World Cup, but goal is potentially within reach thanks to the expanded field in both the Asian Cup and the World Cup.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Philippines escapes Nepal to open Asian Cup Qualifying

Sara Castaneda

The Philippines needed some late drama to kick off Group F action at the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 Qualifying, eking out a 2-1 victory over Nepal at the JAR stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Saturday.

Tahnai Annis and Camille Wilson scored the tying and game-winning goals for the Malditas, who trailed nine minutes in after allowing a Bimala Chaudhury header into the net.

The victory allows the Philippines to vault ahead of idle Hong Kong atop the group with three points, with the top finisher being rewarded a spot in the tournament proper next year.

The Malditas will be interested observers when Hong Kong and Nepal face off on Tuesday, before facing the former on Friday. Both matches will have a 6pm kickoff (Manila time).

The Philippines is seeking to enter the AFC Women's Asian Cup for the tenth time in its history. Their previous appearance in 2018 put them one win short of securing one of the coveted five Asian slots in the FIFA Women's World Cup in France.

Philippines set for Women's World Cup Quest

The Philippines charts its course for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup tonight, as its Senior Women's National Team faces Nepal at the JAR Stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan for the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 Qualifiers.

Kickoff is slated at 6pm, with streaming available here.

Together with Hong Kong, the three nations comprise Group F, with the top finisher securing a berth into the Asian Cup proper that takes place from January 20 to February 6. The outstanding participant would be joining six others in making the

A win here would allow the Malditas to have a leg up on their East Asian counterparts heading into their matchup six days later. The Philippines is hoping to make their tenth appearance.

The Women's Asian Cup serves as a qualifying tournament for the Women's World Cup, which Australia and New Zealand are co-hosting in 2023. With the field expanded to 32 teams, it enhances the possibility for the Philippines to make its debut in the biggest women's football competition on the planet.

FIFA allocated six automatic spots to Asian sides, with Australia earning one spot as a co-host. The remaining five slots will be earned through their respective finishes at the Women's Asian Cup. The next two best teams from the competition qualify into the Inter-Confederation Playoffs that will determine the last teams in the World Cup field.

In the 2019 Women's Asian Cup, the Malditas fell one game short of making the 2019 Women's World Cup, losing to Korea in the fifth-place game, 5-0. Having been at the cusp, the Philippines is focused on ensuring that they will make it this time.

Buoyed by that achievement, the Philippine Football Federation is optimistic they are able to hurdle the obstacles ahead.

"It’s no secret that our goal is to qualify for the Women’s World Cup," said Araneta. "But qualification to the 12-country Asian Cup is also a priority as it means that the team will be in contention for the five spots for Asia in the Women’s World Cup, and we have to control our destiny so we have to make the most of these chances given to us."

Gastanes adds, "We know how big the stakes are for the Women’s National Team to qualify for the Women’s Asian Cup. The team has already made history in recent years, and now we look forward to their journey to qualify for the Women’s World Cup."

Team Manager Jefferson Cheng shares, "Under the circumstances, we gave the team the best preparation that they can get. We are prepared, in high spirits, and we will do our best to achieve our objectives which is to win both matches in this qualifier and to qualify for the Women’s Asian Cup."

Marlon Maro takes charge of the Senior Women's National Team, with 22 players called up.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Opportunity arises for Roel Rosauro in ONE: Revolution

Roel Rosauro

With the stacked featherweight division at ONE Championship, one has to take advantage of every opportunity to be able to move up the ranks.

One such standout will try to seize that chance and run with it.

Roel Rosauro is looking forward for that exact opportunity when he faces James Yang in the lead card of ONE: Revolution, which will take place on September 24 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The Muay Thai specialist from Cebu says, "I expect it to be a bloody fight and may the best man win."

The man called "Akiyama" lost his first two fights in ONE Championship, suffering a first round submission defeat to Li Kai Wen in February 2018 and a unanimous decision to Sunoto three months later.

In spite of the back-to-back defeats, Roel continued to hone his craft, earning a gold medal at the 2018 Philippine International Jiujitsu Open, followed by a silver medal at the Philippine National Games. Those efforts eventually bore fruit with his first win in ONE Championship in January 2020, earning a unanimous decision victory over Yohan Mulia Legowo.

It was a match that fight fans were able to witness what Rosauro is capable of, using strikes, body shots, and low kicks to impress the judges.

Unfortunately for him, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the momentum the victory would have provided. The introduction of quarantine protocols limited movement and restricted activities, including training, since gyms were forced to be closed. It was something that Roel readily acknowledged. "My training has been on and off because of the pandemic. Some days, the gym would be open, but most of the time, it's closed. Sometimes, I'm forced to train at my home, which is also a difficult task on its own."

Amidst those struggles, Rosauro has done all what he can do to prepare against Yang, who is making his professional debut after going unbeaten in five amateur fights. Among the things the Cebuano fine-tuned is his striking, which came in handy in his last fight, as well as his grappling.

When asked about his upcoming opponent, who trains with Demetrious Johnson at AMC Pankration, he shares, "I know he's a good fighter, so I have to really be at my best. But I'm not worried at all because I know all I need is to give it my best."

Rosauro knows that a victory would allow him to move closer to the top contenders in the division, which includes the likes of former two-division champion Martin Nguyen, Christian Lee, and Garry Tonon, and led by its current champion Thanh Le.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Olsim rooting for Zamboanga in ONE: Empower

A tweak in the card forced Team Lakay fighter Jenelyn Olsim out of the historic all-female ONE Championship mixed martial arts event: ONE: Empower this week.

"The Graceful" had been slated to face off against Grace Cleveland as one of two alternate bouts planned for the event on Friday night, but the American fighter had to bow out due to injury.

Even if it was arranged as an alternate bout, Olsim saw that matchup against the "Thai Kitten" as a golden opportunity for the world to witness what she can do at the atomweight division, especially with the centerpiece of ONE: Empower being the Women's Atomweight World Grand Prix.

The 24-year old was understandably devastated upon learning the news of the cancellation of her fight. She says, "It's just so sad. I, together with my team, were really preparing hard for this match."

Olsim was fresh from securing an impressive victory over Bi Nguyen at ONE: Battleground III, which had been shown on August 27, a performance that earned her a spot on the card as an alternate. Unfortunately, her American opponent had to bow out due to a potential case of vertigo. Cleveland went on social media platform to share her perspective.

Amidst that disappointment, Olsim and her camp shared their concerns about their opponent's condition and wished for her speedy recovery.

Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao shares, "The whole team is praying for the fast and complete recovery of Grace Cleveland. Nobody wants to see these things happening, especially if it's a medical issue. So we can only pray that she can recover and that's really the most important thing for us at this time." He adds, "Yes, it's unfortunate because we were all looking forward to this fight and Jenelyn has really been training hard for this. But we fully understand the situation and all we're after is everyone's health and well being."

Even if her fight remains cancelled, Olsim remains fully prepared in case she gets the call to take someone's place in the Grand Prix. She says, "I'm staying positive despite what happened. I know that I am still an eligible alternate for the Grand Prix, and I know that there's still a lot of opportunities awaiting me, so I just have to be prepared every time."

Both Olsim and Sangiao also showed their support and wished the best of luck towards Denice Zamboanga, who is participating in the Grand Prix as one of the eight hopefuls. The so-called "Lycan Queen" will face the fifth-ranked atomweight contender Seo Hee Ham.

When asked about that particular matchup, Sangiao says, "Denice and Seo Hee Ham are both driven to win the Grand Prix, but I have to side with Denice. I believe that Denice has really prepared so much for this match and I can see that she will do everything just to win this match and the Grand Prix. So as fellow Filipinos, we're here to support her and looking forward to her next matches."

ONE: Empower is ONE Championship’s historic, all-female fight card featuring only women -- the first for a major global martial arts organization. In the main event, reigning ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan defends her World Title against #2-ranked strawweight contender, Michelle Nicolini. The card will be shown locally through One Sports starting at 730pm.

Manila Chooks TM off to Montreal for 3x3 World Tour


Manila Chooks TM cleared to depart

Manila Chooks TM cleared its latest hurdle on Tuesday, as the entire delegation secured negative results on their RT-PCR testing.

With that out of the way, they are set for a Wednesday afternoon departure from Manila to kickstart their journey to Montreal.

Arrving in Tokyo at 8pm, they will then head to Vancouver after an almost-two-hour layover. After touching down there on Thursday, they will hop on another plane to Montreal.

Upon arrival, they will need to go through another round of testing as they undergo isolation at their hotel. Clear that and they can proceed with in-person practices, something they have yet to do due to pandemic conditions in the Philippines.

Mark Yee expressed excitement about making his debut in the international 3x3 circuit. "Sobrang blessed. Hindi naman natin maitatago na may edad na tayo para maimbitahan tayo sa ganito kalaking tournament. Talagang, kumbaga, lagi ko lang iniisip na sobrang blessed talaga. Sa pagkakataon na ito, hindi ko naisip na mare-represent ko pa ‘yung bansa natin sa FIBA sa tanda ko na ito," shares the 39-year-old.

Yee will be joined in the event by Mac Tallo, Zachary Huang, and Dennis Santos, with Chico Lanete serving as an alternate.

Tough sledding looms for the side as they are placed in Pool D alongside Antwerp and Edmonton.

The former is ranked 8th in the world with three players ranked in the top 50 individually. The latter is led by Steve Sir and is hoping to win the leg hosted in their home country.

Manila Chooks' matchup against Antwerp is slated at 1245am Manila time on September 5, with their matchup against Edmonton takes place six hours later at 650am.

Finish in the top two of the pool will move them into the knockout rounds, where Pool B awaits. Either Ub, Lausanne, or Old Montreal beckons, which takes place on the early morning of September 6.

"Gustong-gusto naming bumawi kasi nabitin kami noong Doha Masters," said Lanete. "Every win and every point counts for us para makakuha tayo ng points para sa Olympics."

The Montreal Masters and the entire 3x3 World Tour is shown on the social media platforms of FIBA 3x3.