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Undermanned Gilas faces Australia today

Undermanned Gilas faces Australia today

22/02/2018, Philippines, Multi Sports, The Manila Times, Article # 25862005

Gilas Pilipinas battles Australia today at the start of the second window of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asian Qualifiers without playmaker Jayson Castro and Jio Jalalon at the Margaret Arena in Melbourne, Australia.

Game time is set 4:30 p.m. (Philippine time).

Gilas coach Chot Reyes announced on Wednesday that the 12-man team that will play against Australia will be composed of Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Matthew Wright, Roger Pogoy, Allein Maliksi, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, Carl Bryan Cruz, Abu Tratter, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo and Andray Blatche.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

“Well as you know, Jayson (Castro) twisted his ankle against Phoenix and Ginebra. And as of yesterday, he tried to go hard in last night’s practice but it is still not there at all,” said Reyes via ESPN 5.

“So we decided it wasn’t worth the risk so Jayson will sit out together with Jio (Jalalon) who is feeling a slight pain on his leg. We just decided to play guys without any nagging injury at this point.”

Without his top point guard Castro, Reyes is expected to lean on Ravena and Alas against the taller Australians.

“They (Ravena and Alas) are both playing really well in the PBA,” he added. “Kiefer accounted himself very well in the first window. It is hard not having our top point guard in the second window but it is an opportunity for Kiefer to step in and also for Kevin to get a lot more minutes than he usually gets.”

Reyes added they would use the same fast-paced game against Australia.

“Who knows? Maybe we catch them in their off night that will allow us to be more competitive. Australia got size and speed. We just have to find little ways hopefully to throw them off their rhythm a little bit,” he concluded.

Australia’s 12-man line-up is composed of Daniel Kicker, Kevin Lisch, Angus Brandt, Chris Goulding, Matt Hodgson, Jason Cadee, Mitch McCarron, Mitch Creek, Nick Kay, Nathan Sobey, Cameron Gliddon and Jesse Wagstaff.

Australia and the Philippines both hold 2-0 win-loss records.

Gilas beat Japan 77-71, and Taiwan 90-83, in the first window.

After the game against Australia, Gilas will return to Manila to prepare for a rematch against Japan on February 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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Beyond Alvarado vs Pacquiao

Beyond Alvarado vs Pacquiao

22/02/2018, Philippines, Multi Sports, The Manila Times, Article # 25862006


It looks like Manny Pacquiao won’t quit the ring soon enough, and news of him angling for a fight against former World Boxing Organization (WBO) light welterweight (140 pounds) champion Mike Alvarado and current World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight (147 pounds) champion Lucas Matthysse shows that the Filipino is still regarded as an attractive draw, despite not registering impressive pay-per-views (PPVs) in his last fights.

There are boxing news portals even saying Pacquiao-Alvarado has been set for April 14. And Matthysse, still a feared knockout artist, might be next for Pacquiao if the Filipino wins against Alvarado.

If the Pacquiao-Alvarado fight pushes through, it will be first time the Filipino will fighting in an undercard of a championship bout, which is Jeff Horn squaring off against Terence Crawford for the WBO world welterweight championship.

Horn, who beat Pacquiao in July last year to win the WBO title, will have his hands full against the undefeated Crawford, who holds the world junior welterweight titles from the WBO, WBA, World Boxing Council, and International Boxing Federation.

Crawford is currently ranked at No. 2 in The Ring’s pound-for-pound list behind world middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.

Meanwhile, The Ring ranks Horn, Pacquiao, and Matthysse at No. 6, 7, and 9 in its welterweight listing.

By the looks of it, the April 14 fights (in case Pacquiao-Alvarado pushes through) looks more like an elimination tournament, or the winner of the main event and undercard will square off soon. And who would not want to watch a bout between Crawford and Pacquiao?

And this is where things can get dangerous for Pacquiao—fighting Matthysse in case the Filipino wins against Alvarado can be the Filipino’s last or farewell fight. And I believe Pacquiao can win over Matthysse even if the Argentinian has quite a scary record of 39-4 with 36 KOs.

Matthysse and Pacquiao are almost of the same physical stature, but the Argentinian enjoys a three-inch reach advantage.

But what if Pacquiao gets into the ring against Crawford, who stands 5’8”and has a four-inch reach advantage over the Filipino?

Even if Crawford is jumping from junior welterweight to welterweight or by seven pounds, his large frame can easily adjust to the 147-pound limit. I even believe he has outgrown the 140-pound division.

Now, I might be concluding too early who would win on April 14, but I do not see Horn winning against Crawford. Only a miracle will allow Horn to win against Crawford.

Also, I see Pacquiao winning over Alvarado who is already 37 years old.

But should Pacquiao fight Crawford?

Maybe, Pacquiao should just fight Matthysse next if the Filipino wins over Alvarado.

Between Crawford and Matthysse, however, the American can generate more bucks for Pacquiao. A fight between Pacquiao and Crawford would be fight featuring an established champion who could be retiring soon, and a hungry titleholder who wants to equal or exceed the accomplishments of his opponent.

I just hope though that Crawford won’t make Pacquiao his stepping stone for bigger fights.

How about Pacquiao stopping or knocking out Crawford? We can pray that would happen.

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UP takes on formidable Lady Falcons

UP takes on formidable Lady Falcons

22/02/2018, Philippines, Multi Sports, The Manila Times, Article # 25862007

It’s University of the Philippines’ turn to try to test the defending champion Adamson University’s perceived invincibility when the Lady Maroons play the Lady Falcons today in the UAAP Women’s Softball Championship at the Rizal Memorial ballpark.

The Lady Maroons should have learned a lesson or two on how the University of East succeeded in beating the Lady Falcons, 3-2, only last Monday in Day 2 of the second round of the two-round seven-team tournament in their 11 a.m. date.

In that matchup, Maroon pitchers Lorraine Collado and Lovely Redaja lured the Falcons’ defense into errors and turned them into the needed runs despite being outhit, 6 to10.

They, too, should forget the 0-5 thrashing the Lady Warriors dealt them in the first meeting in the opening round of eliminations.

This, besides the fact that the San Marcelino-based batters have the reputation of having lost back-to-back in establishing a long 73-game winning run since 2010.

Adamson coach Ana Santiago. In ruing the Lady Falcons’ defeat, their first in 19 games, said her girls should’ve learned their lessons and get back to avenge such loss.

“That loss should serve as a wake up call for us na hindi dapat maging complacent because like us, other teams also trained hard for this tournament. Besides, being the defending champion siyempre lahat ng team and target talunin kami. Iyan ang lagi kong itinatanim sa isipan ng mga bata,” Santiago said.

University of Santo Tomas, which tots a second best 5-2 win-loss card behind Adamson’s 6-1, takes on dangerous and National University, which is, tied with idle UE in third and fourth places in the 9 o’clock first of another three-game schedule.

The Lady Bulldogs, incidentally, are the only team outside of Adamson to upend the Tigresses, 3-2, in the first round. A well-rested Tigress hurler Mary Ann Antolihao, who pitched a near perfect game in her last time up should be a matter of concern.

Capping the day’s triple bill pits La sale, sixth place with 3-4 slate, against Ateneo, which occupies the cellar following a seven-game exercise in futility.

The Lady Archers own a lopsided 8-1 triumph over their arch rivals, also in the opening phase of elimination.

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La Salle, Ateneo notch wins in UAAP volley

La Salle, Ateneo notch wins in UAAP volley

22/02/2018, Philippines, Multi Sports, The Manila Times, Article # 25862008

DEFENDING champion De La Salle swept University of the East, 25-18, 25-17, 25-20, to emerge as solo second in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre on Wednesday.

Reigning MVP Majoy Baron and Desiree Cheng each scored 13 hits while Aduke Ogunsanya chipped in 12 markers, including two service aces, for the Lady Spikers.

It was one big bounce back win for De La Salle, which immediately plunged into training moments after its disappointing five-set loss to National University last Sunday in a duel of unbeaten teams.

Juls Samonte of Ateneo whacks the ball through Adamson blockers Risha Emnas and Mylene Paat during the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre on Wednesday. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

Despite the straight sets romp of the Lady Warriors that improved their record at 4-1, coach Ramil de Jesus was still not satisfied on the way his Lady Spikers performed.

Earlier, Ateneo finally survived a five-setter match, as it extended its winning run to three with a 25-18, 14-25, 25-18, 15-25, 15-10 victory over Adamson University.

Despite having dragged by the Lady Falcons to a decider, the Lady Eagles looked composed with their reception, blocking and most of all, playing happy, as the Katipunan-based spikers continued their rise to a 0-2 start – all being five setters.

Jho Maragunot had 15 hits and eight digs, skipper Maddie Madayag had four blocks and three service aces to finish with 14 points, while last season’s top rookie Jules Samonte also scored 14 points, including three blocks.

The Lady Falcons, who were led by Eli Soyud’s 19 markers and Jema Galanza’s 12-point, 12-excellent reception and 11-dig outing, lost two in a row and fell at 2-3 overall.

Meanwhile, four-time MVP Marck Espejo exploded for 31 points and tallied 23 excellent reception, while Gian Glorioso had five blocks for a 14-point effort as defending men’s champion Ateneo subdued Adamson University, 25-14, 25-27, 25-23, 28-26, for its fourth win in five starts.

Raymark Woo produced 24 hits and 11 excellent receptions as De La Salle downed UE, 25-14, 25-20, 19-25, 25-21, for a 2-3 card.

Games Saturday:
(Filoil Flying V Centre)
8 a.m. – UE vs FEU (Men)
10 a.m. – AdU vs DLSU (Men)
2 p.m. – UE vs FEU (Women)
4 p.m. – AdU vs DLSU (Women)

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Fajardo to receive Mr. Basketball plum

Fajardo to receive Mr. Basketball plum

22/02/2018, Philippines, Multi Sports, The Manila Times, Article # 25862009

JUNE Mar Fajardo is expected to steal the spotlight in next week’s staging of the SMC-PSA (Philippine Sportswriters Association) Awards Night at the Maynila Hall of the Manila Hotel.

The San Miguel big man will be bestowed the Mighty Sports Mr. Basketball award during the February 27 rites presented by MILO and Cignal TV for another dominant PBA season last year, which saw the 6-foot-10 Cebuano pride romp off with an unprecedented fourth straight MVP trophy.

Fajardo became the first-ever player to win the league’s highest individual award four consecutive seasons—and only the third in history to emerge a four-time MVP after legends Ramon Fernandez and Alvin Patrimonio.

June Mar Fajardo (center) passes the ball past Mohammed Saleem Abdulla of Qatar during their men’s quarterfinal basketball match of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, at Hwaesong Sports Complex some 50km from Incheon on September 26, 2014. AFP FILE PHOTO

This will also be the fourth straight time the oldest media organization in the country is honoring the 28-year-old center for excellence in basketball.

Last year, Fajardo further established his claim as the biggest name in Philippine basketball today after steering the Beermen to a record-tying three straight Philippine Cup championships that allowed the fable franchise to become only the second team in PBA annals to bring home the June Bernardino Perpetual trophy after TnT Katropa.

The former no. 1 pick out of University of Cebu also proved his worth by leading Gilas Pilipinas to a sweep of the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship, and then suited up for the national team in its FIBA Asia Cup campaign despite suffering a strained calf muscle prior to the ballclub’s departure for Beirut, Lebanon.

Previous players hailed as Mr. Basketball include Calvin Abueva and Terrence Romeo.

Volleyball players Dawn Macandili and Marck Espejo as well as well as golfer Clyde Mondilla are also recipients of special awards during the affair that has the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as major sponsor and backers in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Mighty Sports, Globalport, Rain or Shine, and Smart.

Macandili, adjudged second Best Libero during the 2017 Asian Women’s Volleyball Championships here, will be handed the Ms. Volleyball title, while Espejo is Mr. Volleyball on account of him winning a fourth UAAP MVP trophy after steering Ateneo to a third straight championship.

For topping the Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit, Mondilla is Mr. Golf of the year.

The four special awardees are part of the total 105 personalities and entities, which make up the season’s honor roll list, topped by PSA-Tapa King Athlete of the Year Jerwin Ancajas, Carlo Biado, and Krizziah Lyn Tabora.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, a former sportswriter, columnist, and boxing analyst, will be the special guest of honor of this year’s event.

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CEU stakes unblemished slate vs Scratchers

CEU stakes unblemished slate vs Scratchers

22/02/2018, Philippines, Multi Sports, The Manila Times, Article # 25862010

Head coach Yong Garcia wants his wards to be up on their toes when Centro Escolar University (CEU) stakes its unbeaten record against Go For Gold-College of St. Benilde in the Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League (PBA D-League) Aspirants’ Cup 2018 at 4 p.m. today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

“I’m always pushing them to the maximum for them to improve. I always tell them not to think of who our opponent is,” said Garcia. The Scorpions are currently leading the 12-team competition with a pristine 3-0 win-loss record.

“What’s important is we’re always giving our best effort,” added Garcia.

CEU is riding the momentum of a 91-85 victory over Zark’s Burger-Lyceum of the Philippines University, another title contender, just two days ago.

Rod Ebondo posted another monstrous double-double performance as the Congolese big man finished with 33 points and 20 rebounds in the Mendiola-based cagers’ latest win.

Art Patrick Aquino, who helped Ebondo with 18 points and six boards, and guards Orlan Wamar and Keanu Caballero, who delivered in the crucial endgame, are expected to step up anew for their team.

Go for Gold-St. Benilde, meanwhile, looks to lick its wounds from a 65-87 defeat to Che’Lu Bar & Grill-San Sebastian College also last Tuesday.

Justin Gutang and Matthew Salem were the only bright spots for the Charles Tiu-mentored team as the two scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, on top of a combined 12 rebounds.

The Scratchers are currently No. 8 with a 2-3 slate.

In the game day opener, Batangas-Emilio Aguinaldo College guns for its maiden winning streak when it tangles with University of Perpetual Help System DALTA at 2 p.m.

The Generals notched their breakthrough win at the expense of the skidding Jose Rizal University, 81-71. The victory halted their four-game losing skid.

The Altas, on the other hand, seek to bounce back from a 69-81 loss to Go For Gold last week.

Batangas (1-4) is at the cellar with AMA Online Education and Jose Rizal U while Perpetual (1-2) is just one spot ahead.

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Raonic has unfinished business in Delray

Raonic has unfinished business in Delray

22/02/2018, Philippines, Multi Sports, The Manila Times, Article # 25862011

DELRAY BEACH, United States: Former world No.3 Milos Raonic got his 2018 off to a roaring start with a 6-1, 7-5 rout of Taro Daniel in the first round of the Delray Beach Open on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).

Raonic is ranked 32nd in the world which is vastly different than last year when he came into Delray Beach ranked fourth on the men’s ATP Tour.

Injuries limited Raonic’s time on the court in 2017 and this was just his second tour-level win in six months.

So his straight set victory on Tuesday against Japan’s Daniel is a sign of better days ahead as he seeks his ninth career Tour title.

Milos Raonic AFP PHOTO

“It’s a good thing I was able to win today and it gives me a lot of things that I believe I can do better tomorrow,” said ninth seeded Raonic.

“I just got to keep building day-by-day and working my way into it and just try to get in as many wins as possible. That’s the most important thing.”

Raonic has some unfinished business in Delray Beach. He advanced to the title match last year but hand to pull out against American Jack Sock because of a leg injury. He could meet Sock in the semi-finals of this event if they both win their next two matches.

He blasted nine aces, broke Daniel’s serve four times and won 85 percent of his first serve points in the 84-minute match.

“Obviously having not played a lot of matches I was going in and out a little bit with my focus and my intensity,” Raonic said. “I’ve got to be a bit more consistent and disciplined with that.”

Raonic will next face American Steve Johnson, who had lost eight of his past nine matches before ousting Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-4 in 71 minutes.

That shouldn’t be a problem for the hard-serving Canuck as he has won all three of his previous matches against journeyman Johnson.

In was a triumphant day for the Canadians as Denis Shapovalov defeated eight-time ATP tournament winner Ivo Karlovic 7-5, 7-6 (6/4).

The 18-year old Shapovalov was just one-year old when Karlovic, 38, won his first Davis Cup match (2000) for Croatia.

Sixth seed John Isner also got back on track in Delray Beach, avenging his loss against Moldovan Radu Albot at last week’s inaugural New York Open with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win.

The American will next face Peter Gojowczyk, who won in three sets against Lukas Lacko.

Wild card Reilly Opelka stunned fellow American Ryan Harrison 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6).


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Williams says terrifying health scare almost killed her

Williams says terrifying health scare almost killed her

22/02/2018, Philippines, Multi Sports, The Manila Times, Article # 25862012

LOS ANGELES: Serena Williams says she lives in fear of blood clots, a condition that surfaced during a harrowing postnatal ordeal in September when she almost died giving birth to her first child.

In an op-ed piece she wrote for CNN on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), the tennis legend lifted the lid on her near-death experience while giving birth to daughter, Olympia, after getting blood clots in her lungs.

“I almost died after giving birth to my daughter,” Williams said.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams said she had to have an emergency Cesarean section surgery after her heart rate plummeted dramatically during contractions. The surgery was successful and before she knew it she was holding the newborn.

Serena Williams AFP PHOTO

“But what followed just 24 hours after giving birth were six days of uncertainty,” she said.

In a Vogue magazine interview in January, Williams said that during her postnatal ordeal she suffered a pulmonary embolism—when blood clots block one or more arteries in the lungs.

But this was not the first time the 36-year-old Williams has had a scrape with death from blood clots. In 2011, she spent nearly 12 months incapacitated after a cut on her foot from a piece of broken glass at a Munich restaurant led to a pulmonary embolism.

“Because of my medical history with this problem I live in fear of this situation,” the American said Tuesday.

Williams said that while recovering in the hospital, one day after the emergency Cesarean, she felt short of breath and after some convincing on Williams’ part, the hospital staff finally sent for a CT scan and then put her on a life-saving drip.

Wound popped open
But her ordeal wasn’t over. She started coughing so much from the blood clots that her Cesarean wound popped open.

“I returned to surgery where the doctors found a large hematoma in my abdomen. Then I returned to the operating room for a procedure that prevents clots from traveling to my lungs.

“When I finally made it home to my family I had to spend six weeks of motherhood in bed.”

Williams praised the hospital Tuesday staff saying “if it weren’t for their professional care, I wouldn’t be here today”. She did not reveal the name of the hospital in the CNN piece.

Her kind words though were in contrast to some sharp statements she made in the earlier Vogue article where she says she had to coax the hospital staff to send her for a CT scan and hook her up to an IV.

“I was like a Doppler? I told you, I need a CT scan and a heparin drip (blood thinner),” Williams told the magazine.

Williams said it was a complicated experience and despite the agonizing ups and downs she “considers herself fortunate”.

Partly for surviving the ordeal and also because she can still live out her dream on the tennis court once she returns to competitive form.

The former world No. 1 staged her long-awaited tennis comeback earlier this month by playing alongside her older sister, Venus, in a Federation Cup doubles match but it didn’t go well.

Serena—looking rusty and slow-footed—lost 6-2, 6-3 to the unheralded Dutch pairing of Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs.


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Altas eyes double win today

Altas eyes double win today

22/02/2018, Philippines, Multi Sports, The Manila Times, Article # 25862013

Perpetual Help seeks a double victory as it goes for the men’s and juniors’ championships against Arellano University and Letran, respectively, today in the 93rd NCAA volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan City.

The Altas pulled off a 26-24, 25-20, 23-25, 25-16 victory in Game Two Monday over the Chiefs, who took the opener, 12-25, 25-21, 19-25, 26-24, 15-9, Friday, to knot their series at one apiece and forge a deciding duel set at 4 p.m.

The win should give the Las Pinas-based school momentum but Perpetual Help coach Sammy Acaylar thinks it’s going to be a pretty even match up.

“I’ve been in a situation like this before and I’ve learned that anything can happen,” said Acaylar, who is seeking to steer his team to an 11th title that will put them as the league’s second most titled team behind Letran’s 14.

Warren Catipay, playing his last season, starred in Game Two as he dished out a match-best 40 excellent sets allowing Ridzuan Muhali, rookie MVP Joebert Almodiel and Ronniel Rosales to flourish and finish with 15, 13 and 13 points, respectively.

The Altas are also seeking to sustain its defense against Christian dela Paz, whom they limited to just seven points after exploding for 24 in Game One.

“We just have to stick to our game plan and we’ll be okay,” said Acaylar.

The Junior Altas, for their part, go for the jugular as they battle the Letran Squires in Game Two set at 1 p.m.

Drawing strength from Noel Michael Kompton’s 22-point performance, Perpetual Help flattened Letran, 25-16, 25-15, 20-25, 25-20, in Game One Monday to move on the verge of completing a four-peat feat and their 10th crown overall.

Perpetual Help is also expected to rely on Jody Margauz Severo, who contributed 11, and Kirth Patrick Rosos, the reigning MVP who is itching to bounce back from a miserly nine-point effort in the opener.

A deciding game, if necessary, is on Monday.

Games today (Feb. 22)
(Filoil Flying V Center)
1 p.m.- Letran vs Perpetual Help (Game 2 Jrs)
4 p.m.- Arellano U vs Perpetual Help (Game 3 Men’s)

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