Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Ateneo set for preseason debut

Francis Lopez

Games Wednesday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre
10 a.m. - Lyceum vs. Arellano
12 p.m. - UE vs. NU
2 p.m. - Faith Colleges vs. La Salle
4 p.m. - Ateneo vs. UP

After a long wait, Ateneo kicks off its preseason on Wednesday afternoon at the 2023 edition of the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup.

The Season 85 champions of the UAAP will be facing off against the team they snatched the title from in the University of the Philippines at 4pm, the final game of the scheduled quadruple-header.

The Blue Eagles are expected to field Mason Amos, who is fresh from a stint with the senior national team in Cambodia for the SEA Games. With veterans BJ Andrade, Ange Kouame, and Dave Ildefonso having graduated, it is now up to the holdovers to take on the leadership role, led by Sean Quitevis, and Paul Garcia, alongside the likes of Forthsky Padrigao, Kai Ballungay, and Geo Chiu, under Tab Baldwin's stewardship.

They will be up against a UP side that has lost back-to-back games, including a 90-83 defeat to La Salle this past Saturday.

Veterans Malick Diouf and CJ Cansino, alongside Francis Lopez seek to address their skid, whilst also dealing with injuries that have kept the Fighting Maroons short-handed so far.

In the other scheduled matchups, the Green Archers are seeking to lock in a postseason spot against winless Faith Colleges of Batangas at 2pm. DLSU is seeking to win their seventh straight game in the process.

Opening things up at 10am is Lyceum facing Arellano. The Chiefs are still seeking their first win so far, while the Pirates are hopeful to secure their third win in five matches.

Completing the slate is a noontime duel between the University of the East and National University. The Red Warriors are hoping to return to .500 after six games, while the Bulldogs are going for their second win in the tournament, which is sponsored by Filoil, EcoOil, Hanes, Akari, BDO, Reyes BBQ, Kalos Sportswear, and Molten.

Friday, May 19, 2023

SLAM Rising Stars Classic set for 2023 edition

One of the most anticipated basketball events of the summer is set to take place this weekend, with the upcoming SLAM Rising Stars Classic of SLAM Philippines and Titan at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong.

On the books since 2014, the SLAM Rising Stars Classic is the annual showcase involving some of the best high school standouts in the country. Alums of this event have gone on to make waves locally and even internationally.

This coming May 20, 24 have once been selected to be split into either Team Punks and Team Hype, which includes recent senior national team call-ups Francis Lopez and Mason Amos, as well as Gilas Youth standouts Jared Bahay, Seven Gagate, Luis Pablo, Kobe Demisana, Kris Porter, and Lebron Nieto.

Meanwhile, on May 21, the SLAM Rising Stars Classic will hold its inaugural batch for girls, with Gilas Women Youth standouts Camille Nolasco, Candice Udal, and Princess Villarin leading the way. 24 standouts will be split into Team Stars and Team Buckets.

Also highlighting this special event is SLAM Philippines relaunching its print version with a special issue to be unveiled before the game.

Both games will be streamed live on Facebook, thanks to SMART Sports.

The SLAM Rising Stars Classic is presented by Anta, in partnership with Gatorade, Krispy Kreme, and SMART.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Vermosa Green Run set to a return with a twist

The Green Run

With an impressive debut last year, organizers are bringing back The Green Run next month, aligned with the idea of promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

The second edition of the event will take place at the Ayala Vermosa Estate on June 25, with the theme "We're Back And Greener Than Ever."

Runners will have a variety of distances to test their limits, accommodating a variety of fitness levels, from 3K, 5K, 10K, or 21K. Whether you are a serious competitor, a fitness enthusiast, or a weekend warrior and fun runner, there is a length you can choose from.

What makes this edition different from the previous iteration is the inclusion of a specific category for pets. A special kilometer run with their furry friends alongside their owners will make it a special bonding experience.

Helping oversee the event is Pinoy Fitness, with proceeds from registration directed towards the Haribon Foundation's Adopt-a-Seedling Program. Apropos for the theme, there will be recycling machines c/o Sun Life ReCycle PH for runners and guests to place their used plastic bottles in exchange for points, which can then be exchanged for prizes.

Serving as the event's non-life insurance partner is FPG Insurance, who will also provide free group personal accident insurance for The Green Run participants.

Ayala Vermosa Sports Hub General Manager Lani Tan says, "Our Ayala Vermosa Sports Hub, a state-of-the-art professionally–managed sports facility that has a FINA-standard Olympic size pool, a warm-up pool, an IAAF-standard 400m track oval, a football pitch, athletes’ lounge and a Sante Fitness Lab, all speak about our commitment to fitness, health and overall wellness as well as the development of Philippine sports." A sports and fitness enthusiast herself, she adds that having an event like The Green Run fits with the long-term plan of the facility.

Vermosa Project Development Manager Moses John Aragones shares, "Last year, we encouraged people to re-enjoy the outdoors after years of being cooped up at home due to the pandemic. This year, we want to build on that newfound appreciation by inviting people to develop a habit for fitness and wellness. Physical activities like running really boost our immune system by providing more refreshing experiences that reduce stress. The abundance of wide-open spaces and state-of-the-art sports facilities at the Sports Hub, make The Green Run a once-a-year activity to look forward to as a mental and physical health booster."

Echoing these statements are a couple of influencers.

"One of the major enticements to run The Green Run is the breathtaking scenery and the abundant foliage throughout the 750-hectare property. Running in a green, wide open environment is extra motivating and beneficial to physical and mental health," says Monch Henares, an award-winning journalist and motoring/travel blogger.

"Open spaces, wide pedestrian walkways, bicycle and jogging lanes that wind through Vernosa make the running both memorable and inspiring," says Arabelle Jimenez, a lifestyle blogger, travel writer and swimming coach who regularly runs at Vermosa for fitness and fun.

Also lending their support to The Green Run are Pocari Sweat, Milo, Fitbar, and Merrell Shoes.

Interesting runners can register at Toby's or Runnr stores, or go online at ayalaland.myruntime.com.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Far East United to use TST as showcase for Asian Football

Far East United

When the page turns towards June, some of the best football players will battle it out on The Soccer Tournament, a $1M winner-take-all competition taking place at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC.

One of those teams is Far East United, composed of some of the best to have represented the region.

Leading the cast is Safee Sali, who helped Malaysia win the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup. He and Greg Nwokolo of Indonesia will serve as the main guys up front. Supporting them are Thai international Charryl Chappuis, Indonesia-based Croat Marko Simic, Guam skipper Jason Cunliffe, and Japanese defender Masaki Watanabe.

Providing some local flavor are Anton del Rosario, and former Ceres Negros defender Joshua Dutosme, with the availability of Bienvenido Maranon still unclear as of the moment.

Mentoring the side is Matt Holland, who has been based in the region for the last decade. He's ready for this new endeavor, says, "I have worked on a first team, youth and grassroots, and academy level including as an analyst.  My coaching is wide and in different disciplines. It is one of the reasons why I have gotten multiple jobs in the region."

The 34-year-old adds, "The make-up of the team is different and it changes because of the availability of players, but it is exciting. These are key players in their countries and national teams; players who I have seen and coached against while working in Southeast Asia. It is great to meet them and to help give them that opportunity to showcase their talent on a different global stage."

Far East United was drawn into Group D alongside West Ham, Dallas United, and Culture by Mo Ali FC. In order to advance to the knockout rounds, teams will have to finish in their top half of the group.

Other notable teams participating in the tournament include top-flight sides Borussia Dortmund and Wolverhanpton, as well as National League champions Wrexham.

With all the players based all across the globe, there could be potential chemistry issues, but team manager Ethan Lee has a means to address that before heading to Cary. The Palaro boss shares, "... We look forward to consolidating our team during our Las Vegas training camp. For sure the players will come out with a lot of pride to showcase what we can do. We are aiming for that top prize of US $1 Million."

Lee adds, "The challenge is simple – the boys have to be familiar with one another. It is very much going to be about togetherness and the pride of representing Asia on US soil. There are tactical elements that we are discussing internally. But we have to blend together in a short time."

At the same time, Holland dismisses fitness being a potential issue. "I am not worried about fitness because they are all playing in their current seasons," the Welshman declares.

The full Far East United lineup is made up of:

John Alexander Caceres (USA) midfielder
Charyl Chappuis (Thailand) midfielder
Jason Cunliffe (Guam) midfielder/defender
Anton del Rosario (Philippines) defender
Joshua Dutosme (Philippines) defender
Brandon Gomez (USA) goalkeeper
Nestor Hernandez (USA) midfielder
Tyler John (USA) midfielder/defender
Shane Andre Malcolm (Guam) midfielder
Bienvenido Marañon (Philippines) striker
Greg Nwokolo (Indonesia) striker
Felipe Oliviera (USA) midfielder
Jesus Pacheco (USA) midfielder
Mohd Safee Sali (Malaysia) striker
Tengku Fahad Shah (Malaysia) midfielder
Marko Simic (Croatia/Indonesia) striker
Felipe Souza (Brazil) midfielder
Masaki Watanabe (Japan) defender

Matthew Holland (Wales) coach

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Bienvenido Marañon joins Far East United for TST

Far East United

Far East United shuffled the deck for the upcoming The Soccer Tournament.

With both Stephan Schroeck and Roland Mueller now unavailable for the competition slated for June 1-4 at Cary, NC, the team is enlisting Bienvenido Marañon to provide offensive spark, joining fellow Pinoy Anton del Rosario.

The former Philippines international shares about their new addition, "We are happy to have Bienve Marañon with us in Far East United. We all know his quality and impact. Fans saw that recently when he joined Bonifacio Global City in the Asia 7s where he scored four goals in one match. We all know what he has done here in Philippine football on a club level as well as for the national side. With Bienve in uniform, we are excited to show what we can do in this international seven-a-side tournament with quality competition."

Slotted in Group D alongside West Ham, Dallas United, and Culture by Mo Ali FC, Far East United will be relying on their ASEAN core of Safee Sali, Charyl Chappuis, and Greg Nwokolo, alongside Japanese defender Masaki Watanabe, among others.

They also revealed that the side will be coached by Thailand-based Englishman Matt Holland.

Notable teams also participating in this $1M winner-take-all competition include Borussia Dortmund, Wolverhampton, Wrexham, and Necaxa.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Far East United drawn into Group D of TST

Far East United

The pathway for Anton del Rosario's foray into The Soccer Tournament (TST) is set.

Far East United has been drawn into Group D of this inaugural competition, alongside West Ham, Dallas United, and Culture by Mo Ali FC.

The Hammers are set to be backstopped by a trio of club legends in Carlton Cole, Marlon Harewood, and Matt Jarvis. They have a total of 249 goals between themselves, including 106 for the London-based side.

Dallas United is composed mainly of players from the Dallas Soccer Alliance, sprinkled by ballers connected to Castro1021.

Culture by Mo Ali FC is a group assembled by Mo Ali Heydarpour, a Canadian social media content producer who also is a former soccer player and current trainer. He is collaborating on this endeavor with former MLS center back Leonardo.

Even with these formidable opposition, Far East United is coming into this competition ready. The squad is filled with ASEAN football legends, led by Philippines internationals Stephan Schroeck and Anton del Rosario.

The duo will join forces with their Suzuki Cup rivals Safee Sali of Malaysia, Greg Nwokolo and Marc Klok of Indonesia, and Charyl Chappuis of Thailand.

TST is the seven-a-side soccer version of The Basketball Tournament, which features a $1M winner-take-all prize money. It styles itself as potentially becoming the Champions League version of the sport.

Scheduled this coming June 1-4 at Cary, NC, TST teams will be playing matches with two twenty-minute halves sandwiched between a two-minute break, with the clock only stopping for official timeouts or injuries. As the norm in seven-a-side football, flying substitutions are allowed. Replacing throw-ins are indirect free kicks. In case of a match ending in a tie, ten minutes of added time will be imposed, with Golden Goal rules in effect. If it still remains deadlocked, a player from each side will be taken off every five minutes until a winner is declared.

Only the top two teams in each group advance into the knockout rounds, where the prize money beckons.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Two Pinoys set to participate in NBA Academy Asia Development Camp

NBA Academy

The National Basketball Association officially announced that an NBA Academy Asia Development Camp is slated later this month, bringing together 32 of the top young Asian ballers.

Hosted by Sport Singapore (SportSG), the camp will take place at the OCBC Arena inside the Singapore Sports Hub on May 8-11.

Overseeing the camp is NBA Global Academy Technical Director Marty Clarke and NBA Academy India Technical Director Scott Flemming. Alongside the two are staff from both NBA Academies in Australia and India.

Participants will go through skills development, anthropometric and athletic testing, and exhibition games, as well as off-court activities that promote cultural exchange. Outstanding individuals could potentially be invited for future NBA basketball development camps, showcases, and programs.

Aside from the camp participants, a team of prospects from NBA Academy India will also be in Singapore for a short-term basketball development program, with will include games against them and the Singapore U18 Men's National Team.

NBA Associate Vice President and Head of Elite Basketball Chris Ebersole shares, "The first NBA Academy Asia Development Camp in Singapore will provide top prospects from across Asia with the opportunity to learn from coaches with professional, collegiate and international coaching experience and put their skills to the test against their peers from across the region. This camp is part of our broader basketball development efforts in Asia, where basketball talent is emerging at all levels."

The camp is an extension of the efforts currently in place by the league for grassroots development across the continent. The NBA already has programs like the Jr. NBA, NBA Basketball School, Basketball Without Borders (BWB) and NBA Academy, with the Jr. NBA already reaching more than forty million boys, girls, and coaches since its establishment in 2007.

BWB, the fruit of a collaboration between the NBA and FIBA for global basketball development and community outreach, has already been in Asia twelve times. As for the NBA Academy, it already has campuses in Australia where the Global Academy is based, India, Mexico (Latim America), and Senegal (Africa). 26 Asian prospects have already gone to either secure a NCAA Div I scholarship or has committed to one, including Derrick Michael Xzavierro of Indonesia (signed with Grand Canyon University), Amaan Sandhu of India (signed with Monmouth), and Hyunjung Lee of Korea (Davidson alum now with Santa Cruz of the NBA G-League).

For the upcoming camp, the league invited a couple of Filipinos to participate: Kieffer Alas, who played at La Salle-Zobel in this just concluded 85th season of the UAAP, and Irus Navarro Chua, who is best known for scoring 121 points in a MILCU Got Skills game.