VisMin Cup: Siquijor d. Dumaguete, 105-100

    ALCANTARA, CEBU – Ryan Buenafe atoned for his scoreless performance on opening day and keyed the Siquijor Mystics’ 105-100 triumph over the debuting Dumaguete Warriors on the second day of hostilities at the 2021 Chooks To Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup at the Alcantara Civic Center Saturday.  Buenafe dropped six unanswered points to seize control for good, 102-97, and 5:51 to play.

Dumaguete started hot by unloading 38 points in the first quarter alone and held a 92-82 edge entering the fourth.  The Warriors’ scoring rate suddenly went cold and mustered only five points in the fourth capped by a late triple by James Regalado and the outcome already settled.

Buenafe had 15 points in the first half but saved his best for last and totalled 24 points.  He was ably supported by Joshua Alcober with 22 points and 11 rebounds as the Mystics recovered from their 46-66 drubbing at the hands of KCS Computer Specialist Mandaue.

James Regalado and Ronald Roy both came off the bench to pace the Warriors with 18 markers each.  Also coming in as a substitute was 2018 CeSAFI MVP Jaybie Mantilla who chipped in 15 points.

Dumaguete is slated to see action this Tuesday against ARQ Builders Lapu Lapu Heroes at 2:00 PM.  The Mystics will take a deserved break and meet the same Heroes on Wednesday also at 2:00 PM.

How They Scored:

SIQUIJOR (105) – R Buenafe 24, Alcober 22, Castellano 13, Belleza 11, Aspiras 11, Penaflor 9, Gooc 5, Tangcay 4, Rodriguez 2, Quiro 2, J Buenafe 2.

DUMAGUETE (100) – Regalado 18, Roy 18, Mantilla 15, Monteclaro 12, Nacpil 11, Doligon 11, Velasquez 6, Gabas 5, Aguilar 4, Ramirez 0, Gonzalgo 0, Porlares 0.

Period Scores: 23-38, 60-70, 82-92, 105-100.

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VisMin Cup: Lapu-Lapu d. Tabogon, 75-61

     ALCANTARA, CEBU – ARQ Builders Lapu-Lapu Heroes shook off their slow start to tear down the Tabogon Voyagers, 75-61, in continuing action from the 2021 Chooks To Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup at the Alcantara Civic Center Saturday.  The Builders banked on veteran Jercules Tangkay to power their 17-3 barrage to open the second quarter and the Voyagers never recovered.

The Heroes were nursing a 15-13 lead until Tangkay’s heroics of the bench saw them take the 32-16 advantage.  This further increased to 25 at the end of the third, 63-38, and Lapu-Lapu coasted to the victory.

Starters Dawn Ochea and Reed Juntilla powered ARQ with 12 points each.  Ferdinand Lusdoc added 10 points as a reserve.

No Voyager submitted double figures with Jethro Sombero and Peter de Ocampo knocking in nine each.  Sombero also plucked 12 rebounds.

Lapu-Lapu will go for its second win against the Dumaguete Warriors in this Tuesday’s curtain-raiser at 2:00 PM.  Tabogon will attempt to bounce back versus Tubigon Bohol Mariners in the second game at 5:00 PM before the main game between undefeated sides KCS Computer Specialist Mandaue and MJAS Zenith Talisay Aquastars at 8:00 PM.

How They Scored:

LAPU-LAPU (75) – Ochea 12, Juntilla 12, Lusdoc 10, Abad 9, Tangkay 8, Galvez 6, Senining 5, Mondragon 4, Canada 3, Minguito 2, M Arong 2, Berame 2, Solis 0, Regero 0.

TABOGON (61) – Sombero 9, de Ocampo 9, delos Reyes 8, Bringas 8, Diaz 8, Lacastesantos 7, Bersabal 7, Vitug 3, Orquina 2, Arboleda 0, Caballero 0.

Period Scores: 15-13, 38-28, 63-38, 75-61.

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VisMin Cup: Mandaue d. Siquijor, 66-46

    ALCANTARA, CEBU – Early favorite KCS Computer Specialists Mandaue put up a tough defensive stance to subdue the Siquijor Mystics, 66-46, the main game of opening day of the 2021 Chooks To Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup at the Alcantara Civic Center.  KCS limited the Mystics to single-digit outputs in the first and fourth quarters to send a strong message to the rest of the field.

Francis Tamsi and substitute guard Gileant Delator sparked Mandaue to the early 17-4 lead and never relinquished it until the final buzzer.  The final margin matched the game’s biggest lead established early in the second, 29-9, with Gryann Mendoza leading the charge.

Mendoza topped all scorers with 17 points from four triples.  Tamsi was next with 12 points from three triples.

Burly Miguel Castellano was the lone double-figure man for Siquijor with 14 points off the bench.  Cedric Penaflor followed with only eight points as the Siquijor starting unit fired blanks.

KCS will battle fellow opening day winner MJAS Zenith Talisay Aquastars in the featured contest this Tuesday, April 13, at 8:00 PM.  The Mystics have less than 24 hours to regroup as they play the debuting Dumaguete Warriors on Saturday, April 10, at 7:00 PM.

How They Scored:

MANDAUE (66) – Mendoza 17, Tamsi 12, Octobre 9, Delator 6, Soliva 4, Sorela 4, Imperial 3, Roncal 3, Mercader 3, Bregondo 3, Bonganciso 2, Castro 0, Nalos 0, Cachuela 0.

SIQUIJOR (46) – Castellano 14, Penaflor 8, Rodriguez 6, Aspiras 5, Belleza 3, Alcober 3, J Buenafe 3, Quiro 2, Gooc 2, R Buenafe 0.

Period Scores: 17-7, 34-20, 48-41, 66-46.

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VisMin Cup: Talisay d. Tubigon Bohol, 104-66

    ALCANTARA, CEBU – Paolo Hubalde sealed his place in the record books by nailing the first two points of the 2021 Chooks To Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup and it was all smooth sailing from thereon as his MJAS Zenith Talisay Aquastars routed the Tubigon-Bohol Mariners, 104-66, Friday at the Alcantara Civic Center.  It was fitting opening for the first professional league based in the Southern provinces.

The Aquastars seized control for good, 7-6, on a basket by Egie Boy Mojica and there was no looking back.  The lead ballooned to as much as 40 markers, 104-64, just before the ending with the Mariners having the last say.

Patrick Cabahung came off the bench to lead the way with 22 points in 18 minutes of action.  Another reserve Jan Jamon added 14 points from three triples.

Pari Llagas paced the Mariners with 19 points.  Joseph Marquez had the league’s first double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Talisay will shoot for its second win on Tuesday (April 13) versus KCS Computer Specialists Mandaue in the main game starting at 8:00 PM.  Before the said game, Bohol will try to regroup against the Tabogon Voyagers at 5:00 PM.

How They Scored:

TALISAY (104) – Cabahug 22, Jamon 14, Mojica 11, Gimpayan 10, Eguilos 9, Villafranca 8, Acuna 7, Hubalde 4, Casajeros 4, Menina 4, Ugsang 4, dela Cerna 3, Mabigat 2, Santos 2, Cuyos 0.

TUBIGON-BOHOL (66) – Llagas 19, Marquez 13, Casera 9, Dadjilul 7, Leonida 6, Montilla 5, Musngi 5, Ibarra 2, Cabizares 0, Tangunan 0, Apolonias 0, Tilos 0.

Period Scores: 28-18, 58-32, 84-52, 104-66.

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Philippines To FIBA 3X3 U18 World Cup 2021

     THE PHILIPPINES is among the list of participants in the FIBA 3X3 Under-18 World Cup 2021 this August 24 to 29 at the historic Kossuth Square of Debrecen, Hungary.  The Filipinas aim to surpass their Eighth Place finish in 2019 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia while the boys will return to action after a four-year absence.

According to the latest FIBA 3X3 World Ranking as of April 1, the girls have a big chance as they are ranked #5 in the world with 55,149 points.  Only Egypt (132,420), China (131,421), Russia (103,765) and non-participant Iran (60,276) have more points.

While the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has yet to name the official line-up, expected to carry the fight will be guard Ella Patrice Fajardo, a veteran of the 2019 U18 World Cup and currently the third-ranked player in the whole world.  She was joined back then by Angelica Marie Surada, Karl Ann Pingol and Camille Izabel Clarin but they have all exceeded the age limit.

The boys last participated in 2017 in Chengdu, China with the quartet of Juan Gomez de Liano, Rhayyan Amsali, Florencio Serrano and AJ Edu.  They finished in Seventh Place with Serrano taking home Second Place in the Slam Dunk Contest.

The Filipinos are rated #22 in the world.  However, no Pinoy player has cracked the Top 600.

In the Senior rankings, the Philippines is at #20 for Men and #26 for Women.  The top Filipino 3X3 players are Joshua Munzon and Janine Pontejos.

The participation of Manila Chooks TM in the recent FIBA 3X3 World Tour Doha Masters greatly helped prop the country’s points.  Because of that, the individual points of Chico Lanete, Mark Jayven Tallo, Zachary Huang and Dennis Santos rose significantly and is expect to rise more once the World Tour resumes in the coming months.

FIBA ordered the 3X3 Rankings to be frozen after the sudden rescheduling of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and all the related qualifying tournaments.  Points earned during the affected period will eventually be credited until the computation of points returns to normal after the Olympics.

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VisMin Super Cup In Alcantara

     THE SMALL municipality of Alcantara on the west coast of Cebu will be the center of the Basketball world as they host the inaugural Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup Visayas Division starting April 9 at the Alcantara Big Dome.  Seven teams will kick off the very first professional league based in the South while seven more will do battle next month in the Mindanao Division to be held in Dipolog City.

The seven pioneering Visayan teams in alphabetical order are the Tubigon-Bohol Mariners, Dumaguete Warriors, ARQ Builders Lapu-Lapu Heroes, KCS Computer Specialists Mandaue, Siquijor Mystics, MJAS Zenith Talisay Aquastars and Tabogon Voyagers.  They will play a double round robin or 12 games each until April 29 with the best six advancing to the May playoffs.

The top two teams will earn a free ride into the semifinals armed with a twice to beat advantage and wait for the winners of the knockout games pitting the third versus sixth and fourth versus fifth seeds.  They championship series will be a best-of-three affair.

Drawing instant interest will be the presence of veteran pro players in the lineups with Talisay leading the way with the quintet of shooters Paolo Hubalde, Patrick Cabahug and Jan Jamon plus forward Val Acuna and point guard Lester Alvarez.  Two other teams from Metro Cebu in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu have three each with the Computer Specialists parading Christopher Exciminiano, Gryann Mendoza and Al Francis Tamsi while the Heroes boasts of Jerrick Canada, Reed Juntilla and Jercules Tangkay – the only player with links to the old Metropolitan Basketball Association that took the region by storm from 1998 to 2002.

Other veterans on the rosters are Leo Avenido for Bohol, Harold Arboleda for Tabogon and the pair of Ryan Buenafe and Erick Rodriguez for Siquijor.  Despite the presence of the name players, expect the younger set to steal the thunder as the tournament progresses led by the last two Most Valuable Players of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foudation in Jaybie Mantilla of Dumaguete and Shaquille Imperial of Mandaue and a bunch of fresh college graduates eager to prove themselves as bona fide pros.

Teams are allowed to enlist as much as 20 players but neither of the seven reached the limit.  Only 15 players may see action in a given game.

The Mindanao Division will open immediately thereafter and will apply the same format with their champion meeting the Visayas champion for the overall championship.  Slated to see action in Dipolog City are the Basilan Peace Riders, Cagayan de Oro Rafters, Ozamiz City, Pagadian Explorers, Roxas Vanguards, Sindangan and Zamboanga City.

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Amsterdam the New Doha Masters Champs

     DOHA, QATAR – Serbian Maksim Kovacevic buried the dagger two-pointer with three seconds left to give Amsterdam Talent & Pro of the Netherlands the 21-19 victory over Serbian entry Novi Sad in the championship match of the 2021 FIBA 3X3 World Tour Doha Masters at the Al Gharafa Sports Club.  This marks Amsterdam’s first championship in their long participation in the tour.

Kovacevic, a recent transferee from world number one team Liman of Serbia, finished with 13 points from four two-pointers followed by tournament Most Valuable Player Arvin Slagter with four, Julian Jaring with three and Aron Roije with one for the $40,000 (P1.94 million) purse,  World number one player Dusan Bulut led Novi Sad with seven while Tamas Ivosev added six.

Amsterdam swept Group B with wins over reigning World Tour champion Riga of Latvia, 18-17, and Edmonton of Canada, 16-12.  They then beat NY Harlem of the United States in the quarterfinals in overtime, 19-18, and Liman in the semifinals, 21-18.

Novi Sad’s path to the finals started by splitting their C preliminaries by beating Lusail of Qatar, 21-10, but bowing to fellow Serbian team Ub, 15-20.  They then proceeded to eliminate Piran of Slovenia, 20-15, and Riga, 21-16, to set a date with the Dutch.

Meanwhile, Chico Lanete of Manila Chooks TM failed to sustain his fiery form that topped the qualifiers to finish in last place in the Tissot Two-Point Shootout Finals.  Darius Tarvydas of Sakiai Gulbele won the top prize of a watch and $500 (P24,255) by scoring 13 out of a perfect 21 points followed by Steve Sir of Edmonton with 12, Dejan Majstorovic of Ub with 11 and Lanete with seven.

Piotr Grabowski of Poland bested Chris Staples of the United States and Joel Henry of the United Kingdom to rule the Elite Air Slam Dunk Contest.  He edged out Staples in the three-dunk finals, 81-78, to take home $3,000 (P145,530).

The World Tour will resume with the Debrecen Masters on August 28 in Hungary.  Before that, the 3X3 community will be busy with the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria on May 26 and Universality Qualifier on June 4 in Debrecen and capped by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on July 23.

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PFL 2021 Opens July 17

     Circle the date July 17, 2021 as the 2021 Philippines Football League (PFL) presented by Qatar Airways will finally kick off.  Expect an expanded and more intense competition as all the teams look to topple current holders United City FC from their lofty perch.

Unlike last season wherein the six clubs played a single round robin of five matches each, they are now expected to go through more matches with the entry of two additional clubs.  Among the proposed formats calls for triple round robin for 21 matches each.

Looking to make a return to top-flight Football is Loyola FC, which competed in the first PFL season in 2017 as Meralco Manila.  Also sending their application is the Leyte Association of Organized Sports or LAOS FC as they seek to join returnees United City, Kaya Iloilo, Azkals Development Team, Mendiola 1991, Maharlika Manila and Stallion Laguna.

The new date is in accordance with the FIFA calendar taking into consideration the participation of the Philippine Azkals in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar Qualifiers in June.  United City and Kaya will also represent the country in the 2021 AFC Champions League after the said World Cup qualifiers.

Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the PFL has decided to set aside for the moment the 2021 Copa Paulino Alcantara which originally targeted an April opening.  It will be determined if a new date will be chosen or if the competition will totally be set aside for a second year in a row.

To help get the new season rolling, the league is working on a vaccination program for all athletes, coaches, officials and staff.  A repeat of last year’s bubble format is very unlikely at the moment as the PFL looks to play under the new normal.

Meanwhile, Kaya Iloilo completed their first major player transactions by signing former Stallion stalwarts Fitch Arboleda and Jhan Melliza.  The duo hopes to help Kaya get through the 2021 ACL qualifiers and if ever, the 2021 AFC Cup.

Not to be outdone, United City added one more offensive weapon in New Zealand national player Jai Ingham.  The defending champions also confirmed the return of Coach Frank Muescan who steered the team to the trophy in the absence of Coach Trevor Morgan who failed to arrive in the country.

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Manila Chooks TM Falls Short In Doha

    DOHA, QATAR – Manila Chooks TM of the Philippines registered the pulsating 21-20 overtime win over home team Doha of Qatar at the 2021 FIBA 3X3 World Tour Doha Masters qualifiers at the Al Gharafa Sports Club Friday.  Playing coach Chico Lanete nailed the winning two-point shot after the Qataris scored the first basket of the extension.

The win provided temporary hope to the Filipinos’ campaign after losing to Graz of Austria in the opening match, 17-22.  The Austrians formally clinched the last spot in the main draw by bludgeoning Doha, 21-5, and sweeping their two assignments.

Against Doha, Manila Chooks TM fell behind early, 6-11, but rallied back behind Mark Jayven Tallo and Dennis Santos with Tallo scoring back to back baskets in the final 23 seconds to force the overtime, 19-19.  Santos fired four two-pointers for a total of nine points followed by Lanete with six, Tallo with four and Zachary Huang with two.

With the goal of shocking the 3X3 world, Manila Chooks TM nursed a 9-6 lead over Graz nearing the halfway mark but wilted amidst the Austrian’s 16-8 counterattack led by Matthias Linortner who made eight of his 12 points.  Tallo threatened with his two-pointer, 17-20, but Linortner wrote finish with his own double at the 16-second mark.

Had Manila Chooks qualified for the main draw, they would have been placed in Group D together with NY Harlem and Princeton of the United States, the current fourth and fifth best teams in the FIBA 3X3 Rankings.  The Pinoys now hope for some consolation in tomorrow’s Two-Point Shootout.

Manila Chooks TM thus exceeded expectations coming into the tournament as the 14th and lowest seed with zero ranking points.  All four players made their World Tour debut with Lanete the only one with significant 3X3 experience from the 2020 Chooks To Go Pilipinas 3X3 President’s Cup for Uling Roasters-Butuan.

The next stop of the 2021 World Tour is slated for August 28 in Debrecen, Hungary.  Other stops will be announced by FIBA soon with the Philippines a strong favorite to be one of the host nations.

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Continue Being Champions in 2021

#BuildChampions     WITH NO clear end in sight to the current public health crisis, children have no choice but to continue staying in the safety of their own homes.  Therefore, MILO has launched a new campaign for 2021 entitled “Mula Noon, Hanggang Ngayon – Tuloy Ang Pagiging Champion.”

The new campaign is a fitting follow up to last year’s MILO Home Court as parents will continue to provide guidance while keeping their kids physically active.  MILO’s signature sports clinics have thus transformed their curriculum to adapt to the home-based setting.

Helping launch the program at last Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Online Forum were a pair of MILO BEST Center alumni in PBA legend Jerry Codinera and incoming Fairleigh Dickinson University rookie Ella Fajardo.  Both celebrity ballers underscored the values that they picked up along the way to reach their status.

Other campaigns will feature other MILO ambassadors led by 2020 Tokyo Olympics-bound gymnast Carlos Yulo.  He will be joined by the likes of Volleyball pro Alyssa Valdez, Taekwondo jin John Paul Lizardo and another PBA legend Chris Tiu.

For his part, MILO Sports Manager Lester Castillo reported that they continue to partner with the Department of Education.  MILO has helped distribute video and other instructional materials to an estimated five million Physical Education pupils.

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Manila Chooks TM Ready For Doha Battle

    DOHA, QATAR – Four brave men aim to shock the 3X3 world as Manila Chooks TM gets ready for battle at the 2021 FIBA 3X3 World Tour Doha Masters this Friday at the Al Gharafa Sports Club.  Despite the daunting odds, the quartet of Chico Lanete, Mark Jayven Tallo, Zachary Huang and Dennis Santos hope to survive the qualifying round and join the main draw later in the day.

First up for the Pinoys at 7:30 PM (Philippine time) is Graz of Austria which is coming off a championship at the Israel 3X3 Super Quest last March 19 in Tel Aviv.  There will be no time to rest as home side Doha of Qatar awaits at 8:05 PM.

If successful, Manila Chooks TM will be placed in Group D together with American entries NY Harlem and Princeton, the current fourth and fifth best teams in the FIBA 3X3 Rankings.  Having no ranking points being newcomers, the Filipinos are the 14th and lowest seed thus the need to pass through the qualifiers.

According to Lanete, who will assume the role of playing coach and big brother, they will rely on their speed and shooting to score the upset.  He is the only one among the four who saw action in the Chooks To Go Pilipinas 3X3 President’s Cup at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba City last October for Uling Roasters-Butuan.

The team safely arrived last March 23 and immediately went into a two-day hotel room quarantine where they also performed their conditioning exercises.  After everyone registered negative tests, they where then allowed to practice at Al Gharafa.

Defending World Tour champion Riga of Latvia is in Group B together with Amsterdam of the Netherlands and returning Edmonton of Canada.  The top team in the world Liman of Serbia was drawn in Group A along with Piran of Slovenia and Sakiai Gulbele of Lithuania.

Two more bets from Serbia in Ub and Novi Sad are in Group C with Lusail of Qatar.   The two best teams in each group will advance to the knockout playoffs on Saturday for the grand prize of $40,000 (P1.944 million).

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NCAA 96 Goes Virtual

NCAA Season 96     THE NATIONAL Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is determined to hold a portion of its 96th season later this year with online events.  Sure to be staged in cyberspace are Online Chess and Taekwondo events in Poomsae and Speed Kicking.

Fr. Victor Calvo OP of host Colegio de San Juan de Letran bared the league’s plans in yesterday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Online Forum.  The decision regarding marquee events Basketball and Volleyball is still pending with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

If ever, the NCAA may hold virtual events for Basketball like Slam Dunk and Three-Point Shooting.  Contact sports remain banned amidst the rise of cases in the current pandemic.

However, there is a ray of hope as the league has plans of staging a vaccination program for its student athletes, coaches, officials and staff.  The family of Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) President Dr. Jose Paolo E. Campos has a stake in a pharmaceutical company that is the authorized local distributor of one of the vaccines.

The mass vaccination will eventually pave the way for resumption of Basketball and other contact sports.  The NCAA is on the first year of a long-term partnership with GMA Network to televise its games.

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United City Builds Up for 2021

    REIGNING PHILIPPINES Football League (PFL) champion United City Football Club has further fortified its roster with a solid mix of 13 veterans, youngsters and foreign reinforcements with eyes on challenging Asia’s best in the coming AFC Champions League and their PFL title defense in the middle of the year.  They are expected to battle it out with the club’s holdovers for slots in the starting unit thus creating many possibilities and adding depth to all positions.

Leading the new recruits are Philippine Azkals Mark Hartmann, Curt Dizon, Adam Reed and Justin Baas who will now return home after playing the last season in either Thailand or Malaysia.  A major coup was then scored with the acquisition of brothers Amin Nazari and Omid Nazari to shore up the midfield.

Two slots went to defenders Jung Da Hwon of South Korea and American Jonny Campbell.  The club then added another goalkeeper in Kenry Balobo, who impressed in his stint in the last PFL with Mendiola 1991.

Completing the list are youngsters and future stars Kieran Hayes, Andreas Esswein, William Grierson and Ryan Jarvis who joins his older brother Jordan.  With 26 players now under contract, United City management hinted that the recruitment may still continue until the ACL opens in either June or July.

Returning for another season is the one-two punch of Stephan Schrock and Bienvenido Maranon.  They will lead holdovers Mike Ott, Hikaru Minegishi, Arnie Pasinabo, Angelo Marasigan, Pocholo Bugas, Tristan Kit Robles, Sean Patrick Kane, Jordan Jarvis, Miggy Clarino, Jun Badelic and top goalkeeper Anthony Pinthus.

With a complete team now in harness, United City fans now await the next big announcement regarding what city or region the club will take in as their home base.  The plan also includes the construction of a Football-specific stadium that can accommodate 10,000 fans.

The actual dates and centralized venue for the coming ACL has yet to be decided by the AFC.  Competing with United City in Group I are Kawasaki Frontale of Japan, Beijing of China and the winner of the playoff between Chiangrai United of Thailand and Daegu of South Korea

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Paranaque Aces Want To Be #1 Again

     PARANAQUE CITY – The Paranaque Aces are determined to repeat history as they aim to be the very first champion of the National Basketball League (NBL) as a recognized professional league.  Back in 2018, the Aces etched their name in the record books as the very first NBL champions when the league was still amateur in status so the search for another trophy has begun.

Expected to lead the charge for team are 2018 Finals Most Valuable Player Jess Nicole Quilatan from Philippine Merchant Marine School and two-time Mythical Five member Salvador Galit from City University of Pasay.  Familiarity will be the key for Coach Michael Saguiguit as he parades a core of players that have been under him for years now as early as their college careers at Olivarez College.

Leading the pack of former Sea Lions are the coach’s son Dwight Saguiguit and fellow guards Archie Sunga and Clarence Singh, forwards Jayboy Solis and Lordy Geronimo and center Vincent Alves.  Completing the 10-man initial list are forwards Alfonso Rodriguez from CUP and Prince Ollano from University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Coach Saguiguit hopes to bring his winning touch at Olivarez to the NBL.

Given the current public health crisis, the team is having problems organizing tryouts in order to fill the remaining roster spots.  The Aces were recently introduced together with the Paranaque Lady Aces who will vie in the Women’s National Basketball League, the first pro league in the country for women.

In the 2019-2020 Black Arrow Express President’s Cup, the Aces finished the elimination round with a 4-2 win-loss record and earn a spot in the playoffs.  However, they never got to play a match as the entire playoffs were scrapped in March and Paranaque opted not to participate in the resumption last October at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga.

Paranaque is among the teams to confirm their participation for the season tentatively set to begin after the Holy Week.  The NBL has also announced the return of the Cam Sur Express and Zamboanga Valientes as well as expansion teams Bulacan Republicans and Quezon Barons.

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Schrock, Maranon Return For United City

     FANS CAN now heave a sigh of relief after reigning Philippines Football League (PFL) champion United City announced the return of superstars Stephan Schrock and Bienvenido Maranon for the 2021 season and beyond.  The deadly duo will join 11 other teammates who inked fresh contracts as the team prepares for the defense of their title and a historic participation in the 2021 AFC Champions League (ACL) group stage.

The team revealed the names by instalment through their official social media over the past days.  Locked in for another campaign are midfielders Mike Ott, Hikaru Minegishi, Arnie Pasinabo, Angelo Marasigan, Pocholo Bugas and Tristan Kit Robles, defenders Sean Patrick Kane, Jordan Jarvis and Miggy Clarino and goalkeepers Anthony Pinthus and Jun Badelic.

Schrock stamped his quality by taking home the Golden Ball or Most Valuable Player honors while Maranon accounted for seven of the team’s 25 goals for the Golden Boot.  Not far behind was Ott with six goals while Minegishi led the PFL in assists with six.

Pinthus played 2020 on loan from the Azkals Development Team and tallied three clean sheets in four matches for the Golden Glove or Best Goalkeeper.  He will now be a full-time United City player and reunite with fellow starters Schrock, Maranon, Ott, Minegishi and Kane.

Gone from the 2020 championship roster are starters OJ Porteria, Dennis Villanueva, Manny Ott, Takashi Odawara and Robert Lopez Mendy who all took their talents to other countries.  Also not getting renewals were Joshua Dutosme, Jorrel Aristorenas and Ron Bayan.

However, the team may have to wait a little longer after the 2021 ACL start was moved to either June or July in a still to be determined centralized venue.  United City is drawn in Group I together with Kawasaki Frontale of Japan, Beijing of China and the playoff winner between Daegu of South Korea and Chiangrai United of Thailand.

The new dates will give the team more time to prepare compared to the original April 21 opening.  United City is now expected to release the list of up to a dozen new names to complete the 2021 squad in the coming days.

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Venues for 2021 ACL Readied

     TOP FILIPINO Football clubs United City and Kaya Iloilo will now have more time to prepare for the 2021 AFC Champions League (ACL) after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) moved the start of the East Zone group stages from April 21 to a date in either June or July, 2021.  In the same announcement, the centralized venues for the group stage have also been confirmed with Thailand hosting three of the five groups.

Thailand will host Groups F, G and J wherein they have a representative in BG Pathum United, Ratchaburi Mitr Phol and Port respectively.  The venues though remain unknown for Group H and more importantly Group I where United City is joined by Kawasaki Frontale of Japan, Beijing of China and the winner of the playoff match between Daegu of South Korea and another Thai club Chiangrai United.

In the case of Kaya, they will be made to play their qualifying matches in Thailand since if successful they will land a spot in Group F.  Kaya must first hurdle Brisbane Roar of Australia and then Shanghai of China in order to take the fourth and last seat in the said group in order to meet reigning ACL champions Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea, Viettel of Vietnam and host BG Pathum.

The recent disbandment of 2020 Chinese Super League champion Jiangshu has prompted the AFC to automatically award the last two slots in Group G to Pohang Steelers of South Korea and Ratchaburi.  The two sides were supposed to dispute the remaining slot but the loss of Jiangshu suddenly created another vacancy.

Group H has been hardly affected by the sudden carousel of Chinese clubs and remains solid with Jeonbuk Hyundai of South Korea, Gamba Osaka of Japan, Tampines Rovers of Singapore and Sydney of Australia waiting for their venue.  Group J features Guangzhou of China, Kitchee of Hong Kong and host Port.

The AFC took into consideration the existing travel and quarantine restrictions as well as the overall public health situation in the participating countries.  The group stages in the West Zone will proceed as scheduled on April 21 with Saudi Arabia (Groups A, C and D), United Arab Emirates (B) and India (E) serving as hosts.

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The All-New Manila Chooks TM 2021

     FOUR NEWBIES will carry the colors of Manila Chooks TM as they prepare for the 2021 FIBA 3X3 World Tour season-opening Doha Masters this March 26 and 27 at the Al Gharafa Sports Club.  Veteran guard Chico Lanete will join guard Mark Jayven Tallo and forwards Zachary Huang and Dennis Santos as they hope to continue the Philippines’ rise in the sport.

Lanete is the lone player who saw action in last year’s Chooks To Go Pilipinas 3X3 President’s Cup where he proved to be a steady leader for Uling Roasters-Butuan.  He hopes to help his teammates get a good grasp of 3X3 which is very different from traditional Basketball.

Tallo played briefly in the PBA for Talk ‘N Text and NLEX after solid college career at Southwestern University and De La Salle University.  Huang is a recent graduate of the University of Santo Tomas while Santos won a NAASCU championship with Saint Clare College of Caloocan in 2012.

The Doha Masters will be the first foray for new Chooks To Go 3X3 head coach Aldin Ayo and the team is just waiting for clearance from government authorities to begin workouts.  Of the four, it is only Huang who has been previously under Coach Ayo at UST.

Manila Chooks TM’s opponents have yet to be determined but the field in Doha is quite formidable with the presence of all the Top 10 teams in the world according to the latest FIBA 3X3 World Rankings.  Defending champion Riga of Latvia will be challenged by the likes of Serbian squads Liman, Novi Sad and Ub, NY Harlem and Princeton of the United States, Amsterdam of the Netherlands, Sakiai Gulbele of Lithuania, Piran of Slovenia and Edmonton of Canada.

Aside from the Filipinos, hoping to crash the party are Graz of Austria which replaced Beijing of China and two still to be determined wild cards from the host committee.  Manila Chooks TM was accorded an invitation due the success of the President’s Cup bubble last October inside the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba City, Laguna.

After Doha, the FIBA 3X3 World Tour will take a break to give way to the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments and 2020 Tokyo Olympics wherein 3X3 will make its debut as an official medal event.  The next announced leg will be hosted by Debrecen, Hungary starting August 28 with more events in the pipeline including a possible World Tour stop in the Philippines.

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NBL: CamSur Express’ Time Is Now

     NAGA CITY – Expect a bunch of surprises when the CamSur Express plunges into action next month at the 2021 National Basketball League (NBL), the first full season of the newest professional league in the country.  The team gave fans a sampling of things to come by unveiling veteran forward Reil Cervantes and returning 2020 NBL Mythical Five awardee Jonathan del Rosario as two key pieces in the continuing quest for their very first title.

The roster is still under wraps but expect the team to be composed now of representatives from all the provinces in the Bicol Region.  Because of this, expect the Express to have a better chance of exceeding their performances in the first three NBL seasons when it was still classified as an amateur league.

“We are happy to have Reil,” said Coach John Paul Disuanco.  “ He carries a lot of experience and he will surely share his knowledge and ideas with his younger teammates.”

Due to the current pandemic, prospective players were initially made to submit highlight videos for evaluation.  The team is still awaiting the green light from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB) for the resumption of team workouts.

“It is our dream to discover the next Bikolano superstar who will follow in the footsteps of Yoyoy Villamin and Dante Gonzalgo,” added SBP Region V Director Engr. Solomon Ngo.  “I call on all Bikolanos to support their very first pro team.”

The Express finished the 2019-2020 NBL Black Arrow Express President’s Cup with an elimination round win-loss record of 5-1.  Despite their good playoff position, they were not allowed by Gov. Miguel Luis Villafuerte and team management to proceed to the bubble held last October at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga.

Still, Coach Disuanco believes things happen for a reason and the team remains optimistic and positive.  They hope to carry on the momentum from last season and finally deliver the trophy home.

According to Commissioner Edward Aquino, the league is still studying whether or not to conduct games inside a bubble.  For now, the NBL’s top priority is to get the teams back to their practices so as not to be pressed for time as the April opening date nears.

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Paranaque Lady Aces WNBL’s Early Favorite

    PARANAQUE CITY – The Paranaque Lady Aces are determined to make noise come the 2021 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), the pioneering Women’s professional league in the Philippines, when it opens shop next month.  The team was formally unveiled Tuesday and this early is already being installed as one of the favorites to take home the trophy.

The Lady Aces will be led by the trio of former Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws Allana Lim, April Siat and 6’4” behemoth Clare Castro.  The team will be handled by Coach Jayen Cruz who carries with him over two decades of experience of winning titles in the elementary, high school and collegiate levels.

“Some of the Lady Aces were my former players or opponents so I am familiar with their game,” explained Coach Cruz.  “We also looked at the results of the WNBL Combine last December and I am glad we were able to complete all positions from guard to center.”

Aside from Lim, Siat and Castro, the team exercised its direct hiring privileges on Jamie Alcoy of Adamson University, Marydyn Tingcang of University of Santo Tomas, Carmina Reyes and Kris Tolentino.  The WNBL Draft last February 13 then produced the likes of Angelie Gloriani of De La Salle University, Mary Joy Galicia and Jhenn Angeles of UST, Vanessa Santos and Tanya de la Merced of College of Saint Benilde, Jenina Solis and Sthefanie Ventura of Centro Escolar University and Jaira Baarde of San Beda College-Alabang.

“We don’t want to be embarrassed so we built a team that can win, bring honor to Paranaque and serve as role models for the youth,” explained team owner Councilor Marvin Santos who appointed Joel Mendoza as team manager.  The Lady Aces hope to follow in the footsteps of the Paranaque Aces which made history by winning the very first championship of the National Basketball League (NBL) in 2018.

The City Government of Paranaque has thrown its full support led by Mayor Edwin Olivarez.  A new 5,000-seat arena is being planned in Barangay San Dionisio to serve as the future home of the Lady Aces and Aces.

In addition, there are initially 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on the way to the city and Mayor Olivarez will place the athletes in the priority list for those that will be vaccinated.  Also attending the team launch and showing support were Vice Mayor Jose Enrico Golez and Councilor Coach Binky Favis.

The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) will inspect the Lady Aces’ proposed practice venues and team workouts may begin as early as next week.  The 2021 WNBL is targeting to open after the Holy Week break.

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Chooks 3X3 Invited To Doha

       A REPRESENTATIVE from pioneer professional 3X3 league Chooks To Go Pilipinas 3X3 has been accorded a slot in the season-opening 2021 FIBA 3X3 World Tour Doha Masters this March 26 and 27 at the Al Gharafa Sports Club.  Since the league has had not played for some time, a team from the recent President’s Cup held last year at the Inspire Sports Academy will fly to Qatar.

The announcement comes as organizers have already revealed the identity of the first 10 participants led by defending overall champion Riga of Latvia.  Hoping to challenge the Latvians are world-rated clubs Liman, Ub and Novi Sad of Serbia, NY Harlem and Princeton of the United States, Amsterdam of the Netherlands, Piran of Slovenia, Sakiai Gulbele of Lithuania and returnee Edmonton of Canada which sat out the entire 2020 season.

Aside from the Filipinos, a 12th team from host Qatar will be named soon plus two more possible entries to complete a 14-team cast.  While the invite is welcome news, a problem of who will play now arises.

The Manila Chooks TM foursome of Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Leonard Santillan and Troy Rike that saw action in last November’s Doha Masters have all thrown their names into the 2021 PBA Draft set for March 14 and are all prime candidates for early selection.  Aside from them, another national pool member in Franky Johnson is also part of the draft while Gab Banal signed up with Alaska as a free agent.

Riga remains a heavy favorite to continue its winning ways although the odds will greatly change after former champion Novi Sad broke up with half of the team transferring to Ub.  World number one player Dusan Bulut remains at the helm of Novi Sad but he has to work well with his new teammates.

FIBA will announce more World Tour stops in the coming weeks.  A possible Manila Masters looms after the event originally slated for August, 2020 at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City was cancelled.

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