Meralco strikes Ginebra to take game 3

by Bryle Suralta

Meralco capitalized on another solid outing from their locals as the Bolts shut down the Gin Kings, 107-103, last Wednesday night to retake the series advantage in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governor’s Cup Finals in front of a large crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Another great showing for the Bolts’ locals as Reynel Hugnatan, Jimmy Alapag and Chris Newsome scored a combined 57 points in the contest. While import Allen Durham also put up epic numbers by scoring 36 points and grabbing 20 boards to lead the way for the Bolts.

But it was Hugnatan who stood out among the rest as the veteran put on a three-point shooting clinic down the stretch.

Hugnatan hit three three-pointers in the closing minutes, including a marker that would seal the deal for Meralco.

Jimmy Alapag also found his stroke from deep as the former PBA Most Valuable Player held off the Kings with timely three-point marksmanship throughout the game.

Meanwhile, Ginebra import Justin Brownlee tried to keep the team afloat almost singlehandedly with a monster 42-point performance that led all scorers.

Ginebra starts LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson also chipped in with a couple of buckets, scoring 14 points, 12 points and ten points respectively.

The game went down to the wire as the teams fought for the lead in the closing seconds.

A Brownlee triple off a timeout cut the lead down to just two points, keeping the Kings within striking distance with 11.2 seconds remaining.

But it was Bolts import Allen Durhan that would seal the deal for Meralco, after hitting two of two from the charity stripe.

“It was a game neither team wanted to lose,” said Bolts head coach Norman Black in the post-game press conference.

He added, “We’re getting closer to where we want to be. We really wanted to take Game Three because we felt that would give us an advantage going in further into the series.”

The next game is set on Friday, October 14, as the Kings look to tie the series at two games apiece.

Box score: MERALCO 107 – Durham 36, Newsome 22, Alapag 18, Hugnatan 17, Hodge 6, Faundo 4, Uyloan 3, Amer 1, Al-Hussaini 0, Nabong 0. GINBERA 103 – Brownlee 42, Tenorio 14, Aguilar 12, Thompson 10, Cruz 6, Mariano 0, Devance 5, Mercado 4, Ellis 2, Marcelo 2, Caguiao 0. Quarterscores: 18-20, 48-44, 71-69, 107-103

Diaz ends 20-year PH medal drought

 by Bryle Suralta

The Philippines bagged its first Olympic medal in 20 years after weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz came in second to win silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil during the women’s 53kg weightlifting category last August 8.

This is the country’s first medal since Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco, who won during the 1996 games in Atlanta for boxing.

Diaz, who has competed in the last two Olympics, came to the weightlifting category as one of the unlikelier names to take home honors.

Going into the 53kg event, Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Shu-Ching and China’s Li Yajun were favored to win in the tourney – everybody else was thought to only be gunning for third.

“Bronze lang talaga yung aim namin ng coach ko,” Diaz told reporters from CNN Philippines.

The level of competition was set from the start as Li Yajun set an Olympic record in the snatch after tallying a total of 101 kilograms with two attempts left in the clean and jerk.

The Zamboanga native, on the other hand, only put up 88kg which was good enough for fifth on the ranking board.

One of her more favored competitors, Hsu Shu-Ching followed by totalling 100kg of her own.

In the clean and jerk portion of the event, the Filipina cleared 111kg on her first try that forced South Korea’s Yoon Jin to successfully manage 111kg of her own to try to secure a spot in the podium.

Diaz was not to be outdone as she bounced back with a 112kg lift on her second attempt to pass third-frontrunner Yoon Jun Hee to assure herself a podium finish.

Shu-Ching then logged 112kg on her first try to put her in sole position for the gold.

China’s Li wasn’t fazed by the logs on the scoreboard as she tried to lift 123kg to put her above the competition. She failed to lift the weights due to a hyperextended left elbow that forced her out of the event because she could not lift – therefore, she was not capable to compete.

Her injury automatically put Hidilyn Diaz in second place for the silver, while South Korea’s Yoon Jin and Chinese Taipe’s Hsu Shu-Ching bagged bronze and gold honors respectively.

Diaz is the first Filipina to bring home a medal to the country and is also the first FIlipino to compete in three straight Olympics.

La Salle now stretches undefeated streak to eight after close contest versus Adamson

by Bryle Suralta

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(Photo from Interaksyon TV)

Archers survive their toughest game of the season after beating the Falcons, 86-79, last Sunday, October 9 in the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) at the Mall of Asia Arena.

La Salle has dominated the tournament so far by racking up eight victories overall, including a hard-nosed battle against the Falcons.

UAAP MVP candidate Ben Mbala led the way for La Salle as he scored 18 points, cleared 10 rebounds, and four blocks.

Archer Rookies Ricci Rivero an Aljun Melecio also put on a solid outing. Rivero ended the game with 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Melecio put up 11 points on three of nine shooting from beyond the arc.

For Adamson, the team trailed as many as 17 points in the contest.

Adamson standout Jerrick Ahanmisi had a field day by scoring 27 points in the contest while spearheading a 9-0 run to pull closer to the Archers midway in the fourth quarter.

Going into the closing seconds, La Salle only led by only two points, 81-79, with just 1:26 left in the final quarter.

But it was Kib Montalbo who kept the Falcons at bay by hitting a triple to give the Archers a five-point cushion which ultimately sealed the game.

La Salle head coach Aldin Ayo talked to Spin.PH about the streak and the win.

“Even ganun ‘yung sitwasyon, hindi kami aalis sa sistema namin. Gusto naming lagi ‘yung ganung pace,” said Ayo.

“’Yung mga ganung kalseng laro, gusto naming ipasok ‘yung spontaneous ng mga bata na as much as possible, we allow them to play basketball, make decisions, and go with the flow.”

La Salle has continued its hot streak and is now considered the heavy favorites for the crown, even as Archer star Jeron Teng sat out for the second straight game.

The Falcons fall to 4-4 in the tourney.

The Scores: LA SALLE 86 – Mbala 18, Rivero 14, Melecio 11, Torres 9, Montalbo 8, Tratter 7, Perkins 5, Caracut 4, Baltazar 4, Paraiso 2, Dyke 2, Sargent 2, Go 0. ADAMSON 79 – Ahanmisi 27, Sarr 13, Manganti 12, Espeleta 9, Bernardo 6, Manalang 3, Ochea 3, Mustre 3, Ng 3, Paranada 0, Camacho 0, Pasturan 0, Ballon 0, Tungcab 0, Barrera 0, Chua 0.

Quarterscores: 17-19, 44-33, 66-55, 86-79.

Championship hopes come to an end for Letran

by Bryle Suralta

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Letran head coach Jeff Napa (Right) advises Knights star Rey Nambatac (Left) coming out of a time-out.
(Photo by Abigail Arendain)

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 92 defending champs Colegio de San Juan de Letran couldn’t quite match last year’s Cinderella run.

The Knights ended their season on a high note with a 93-87 overtime win against the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals.

They ended the season on a 9-9 win-loss slate, falling short of a final four appearance and a chance to defend the NCAA title.

Letran had high hopes entering the season after an impressive run with then-head coach Aldin Ayo and their three core players, Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac and Kevin Racal.

Even if the latter moved on and signed with De La Salle University and having two of the former graduate and pursue professional careers in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Unlike the prior season, the Knights were one of the more pleasant surprises that the league produced, they went from a low-seeded mediocre team in season 90 to a crown favourite in season 91.

Alas, this wasn’t the same storyline for Letran this season.

The team went through a lot of changes, from staff changes to player rotation adjustments. Not to mention, the squad tried to get more acquainted with the new system and with collegiate rookie head coach Jeff Napa.

New faces were also plunged into new roles; team captain Mcjour Luib together with standouts Rey Nambatac and Jomar Sollano tried their best to keep the Knights afloat during the season.

Even new face Matthew Bernabe — who the Letran officials had high hopes entering his rookie year — also pitched in with a couple of solid performances.

But the Knights just couldn’t.

The squad just wasn’t consistent enough throughout the tourney.

They just couldn’t ride on last year’s momentum, the target on their backs were set since the season’s opening day as other teams vividly played their A-game against the Knights.

And the team just didn’t respond to the level of play.

With their season done, expect a lot of changes as the Knights try to regroup for next year’s tournament.

As per reports, head coach Jeff Napa will hold new try-outs for next year’s version of the team in hopes of gearing for another title run.

Napa, however, promised the fans that next year will have a different outcome.

“Next year will be a different story. It’s a mix of old and young ones,” he told reporters from Spin.PH.