SBC Jumps To 2-0

NCAA Season 91     SAN JUAN City – Defending champion San Beda College cruised to its second straight win via a clinical 108-80 demolition of debuting Emilio Aguinaldo College at the resumption of the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) games Thursday (July 2) at the San Juan Arena.

Displaying an entertaining style of play, the suddenly high-octane San Beda offense raced to a lead that stood as high as 33 markers after a triple by AC Soberano late in the third period, 86-53.  Still, Coach Jamike Jarin reminded his players of their tendency to relax as the Generals started the fourth period with a 17-4 run, 74-92.

“I’m happy we played better defense today,” said Coach Jarin.  “We just got careless in the fourth, remember that basketball is all-out war and we have to give 110 percent.”

Art de la Cruz and Dan Sara set the tone early by scattering six points each in the opening canto, 25-16.  De la Cruz then teamed up with Soberano and Jeramer Cabanag to further pull away by halftime, 58-37.

Francis Munsayac, who played junior ball for San Beda, presided over EAC’s mighty fourth period rally with 13 points with help from Fernan Mejos.  However, Munsayac was ejected for elbowing Soberano with 1:58 to play as frustration set in the Generals.

Sensing danger, Coach Jarin fielded back Ola Adeogun who quickly pumped in six markers to quell the Generals’ uprising.  By then, the San Beda role players finished the job, a fitting follow-up to their 102-89 taming of season host Mapua Institute of Technology on opening day last June 27.

De la Cruz led all scorers with 22 points, 13 rebounds and four assists.  Soberano and Adeogun backed him up with 12 points each.

Munsayac finished with 20 points.  Addoum Mbang had a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds as new EAC coach Andy de Guzman started his NCAA stint on the wrong note.

Meanwhile, the defending Juniors Division champion Red Cubs made it a double by surviving the tough ICA-EAC Brigadiers, 84-78.  Comfortably ahead after three periods, 75-45, the wards of Coach JB Sison relaxed and allowed the Brigadiers to go on a 33-9 but time was not on their side.

Big boy Germy Mahinay led the Red Cubs with 11 points and five rebounds followed by JM Lagumen with 10 points and six assists.  Maui Cruz paced the Brigadiers with 23 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists while Mark Castillo added 15 points and five rebounds as they fueled their fourth period rally.

How They Scored:

Juniors Division

SAN BEDA-RIZAL (84) – Mahinay 11, Lagumen 10, Alfaro 9, Sese 8, Tagala 7, dela Rosa 7, Bonalos 7, Bonalos 7, Nelle 6, Abuhijle 6, Velasquez 4, Bordeos 4, Nayve 2, Etrata 2, Barbero 1, Samaniego 0.

ICA-EAC (78) – Cruz 23, Castillo Boada 11, Dularte 11, Beduria 6, Baliquig 3, Kwong 3, Calara 3, Tanque 3, Tapales 0, Ligot 0, Mostoles 0, Anonuevo 0.

Period Scores: 23-12, 55-28, 75-48, 84-78.

Seniors Division

SAN BEDA (108) – dela Cruz 22, Soberano 12, Adeogun 12, Sara 11, Cabanag 10, Tongco 10, Tankoua 9, Sorela 9, Reyes 6, Amer 3, Koga 2, Sedillo 2, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0.

EMILIO AGUINALDO (80) – Munsayac 20, Mbang 17, Mejos 16, Bonleon 6, Mallari 5, Diego 4, Laminou 4, Pascua 3, Pascual 3, Morada 2, Serrano 0, General 0, Estacio 0.

Period Scores: 25-16, 58-37, 88-57, 108-80.

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Martes, Castaneto Open 39th MILO Season

#BuildChampions     DAGUPAN CITY – The 39th MILO Marathon season got underway Sunday (June 28) with former MILO Queen Christabel Martes and newcomer Cesar Castaneto Jr. stamping their class in the first regional qualifying race that ended at the CSI Mall. The annual search for the Philippines’ top runners will culminate with the National Finals on December 6, 2015 in Angeles City, Pampanga.

Martes, a four-time winner of the Nationals, easily won her 21-kilometer duel with defending leg champion Lany Cardona by clocking 1:26:46. Cardona was a shade under four minutes behind at 1:30:14 while Roselle Duldalao came in a far Third Place at 1:59:25.

This is the first time for the 26-year old Castaneto to win a MILO qualifier, logging 1:13:11. He beat out his more illustrious pursuers in runners-up Robeno Javier (1:18:13), a member of the national duathlon team, and veteran Reynaldo Pascua (1:18:26).

Both Martes and Castaneto took home a trophy and PHP 10,000.00. More importantly, they will lead the city’s qualifiers to December’s Nationals were the top Filipinos will be sent to compete in the prestigious 120th Boston Marathon on April 18, 2016.

Last topping the Nationals in 2009, the 35-year old Martes will try to end the two-year reign of MILO Queen Mary Joy Tabal while equaling the record of five titles held by the legendary Arsenia Sagaray. Rafael Poliquit is the current MILO King.

The next regional qualifier will be on July 5 at the Melvin Jones Football Grounds in Baguio City. For registration and more information, contact Tess Bernardino at (0917) 565-5214, (0922) 879-8343 and (0922) 879-8438.

A portion of the runners’ registration fees will be set aside for MILO’s continuing advocacy of providing athletic shoes to poor but deserving public schoolchildren just like those from Umingan National High School who traveled 65 kilometers to join the race. Coach Virginio Padilla’s wards managed to land three slots in the top ten of both the Male and Female Division of the five-kilometer category en route to a ninth straight Fastest School Award.

     Other winners: Raymond Torio and Mary Anne Crishelle Perez (10 kilometers), Reynante Torio and Shane Carolino (five kilometers) and Geron Medina and Maria Angelica Yabo (three kilometers).

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Red Lions Open 91st NCAA Roaring

Parade of athletes usher in the 91st NCAA: Engineered for Sports Excellence in the New Decade.

Parade of athletes usher in the 91st NCAA: Engineered for Sports Excellence in the New Decade.

NCAA Season 91     PASAY CITY – San Beda College kicked off its bid for a sixth consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Seniors basketball championship in style by blasting season host Mapua Institute of Technology, 102-89, Saturday (June 27) at the Mall of Asia Arena. Art de la Cruz led the way in giving debuting coach Jamike Jarin a fitting welcome to the college game after winning multiple titles in the high school level and the junior national teams.

“It feels so good to win,” said an animated Coach Jarin in the postgame interview. “It was a total team effort and the players showed anyone can deliver when called.”

Ryusei Koga set the tone early by scoring the Red Lions’ first eight points en route to taking their first 15-point lead, 22-7. The Cardinals managed to come back to tie the game at 28-28 on a basket by rookie guard Darell Menina but de la Cruz countered with back-to-back baskets to signal another San Beda breakaway for an 11-point lead at the halftime break, 49-38.

Coach Jarin then placed Mychole Sorela to defend Mapua main man Josan Nimes who had already knocked in 17 points by halftime. Suddenly, Nimes’ offense disappeared but the rest of his teammates made up eventually tying the count for the second and final time again courtesy of Menina, 62-62.

The Red Lions countered with an 11-1 run but Nimes finally freed himself from the defense to score on a layup just before the third period buzzer and San Beda still on top, 73-65. Mapua’s fortunes though went sour as center Allwell Oraeme was disqualified for his fifth personal foul on Donald Tankoua with exactly six minutes to play in the game.

Without Oraeme’s towering presence, the Red Lions frolicked on both ends as they restored their 15-point lead thrice, 90-75, 96-81 and finally 100-85 at the 1:22 mark. By then it was all coasting for the defending champions.

“I am a fan of high-scoring games,” admitted Coach Jarin. “However, we have to work on defense because 89 points is too much.”

De la Cruz churned out eye-popping numbers of 27 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and a steal. Tankoua and Ranbill Tongco helped power the blowout with 18 markers each.

After scoring 17 in the first half, Nimes was limited to only six more for a total of 23 points on top of seven rebounds. Andretti Stevens and Oraeme followed with 13 points each with Oraeme grabbing 16 rebounds.

San Beda played without injured starters Baser Amer (shoulder) and Ola Adeogun (hamstring). Both players are listed as day to day with no clear timetable for their return.

The Red Lions’ next assignment will be on July 2 (Thursday) at the San Juan Arena against the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals starting at 2:00 PM. Mapua will tackle the San Sebastian College Stags in the next game at 4:00 PM.

In the second game, Jose Rizal University shocked last year’s runner-up Arellano University, 78-61. Abdoul Poutouochi paced the Heavy Bombers with 23 points and 11 rebounds followed by Bernabe Teodoro with 11 points.

The traditional opening rites preceded the games highlighted by the parade of all ten participating schools and production numbers. Basketball legend and former Mapua Cardinal Alvin Patrimonio was the guest speaker, reminding the players that ability plus attitude equals results.

How They Scored:

SAN BEDA (102) – de la Cruz 27, Tankoua 18, Tongco 18, Koga 16, Sorela 11, Sara 6, Mocon 2, Presbitero 2, Sedillo 2, Cabanag 0, Soberano 0, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0.

MAPUA TECH (89) – Nimes 23, Stevens 13, Oraeme 13, Menina 12, Serrano 10, Villasenor 8, Que 3, Raflores 3, Brana 2, de la Rosa 2, Biteng 0, Nieles 0, Aguirre 0, Layug 0.

Period Scores: 23-20, 49-38, 73-65, 102-89.

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2015 Foundation Cup     PASIG CITY – Rodrigue Ebondo capped his monster game with a running shot at the baseline with 1.8 seconds left to lift the CaféFrance Bakers over the Hapee Fresh Fighters, 56-55, and crown themselves the champions of the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Thursday (June 25) in front of a packed Ynares Sports Arena. The Bakers of Coach Edgar Macaraya thus ended the best-of-three series, 2-1, marking the first time in league history that a championship has gone the full route.

Leading for practically the entire game, the Bakers temporarily ceded the upper hand after Nico Elorde drained a triple with 45 ticks to play, 55-54. Hapee then made a big defensive stop and had a chance to pad their lead further but they committed a 24-second shot clock violation to return the ball to CaféFrance with five seconds remaining.

“Rodrigue really wanted to win it so he asked for the ball,” said Coach Macaraya. In an unexpected move, Troy Rosario suddenly switched on defense leaving the smaller Chris Newsome to mark Ebondo as he drove for the championship clincher.

Earlier, Rosario completed Hapee’s steady fight back from 12 points down in the third canto, 27-39, by forcing the game’s lone deadlock with 2:24 in the fourth, 52-52. Jam Cortes put CaféFrance back on top by scoring on an unmolested layup off a steal, 54-52, setting the stage for the wild finish.

Ebondo was simply an unstoppable force with 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks. The low-scoring contest saw three Bakers chip in seven points each in Samboy de Leon, Maverick Ahanmisi and Joseph Sedurifa.

Elorde paced Hapee with 12 points and nine rebounds. Jessmar Villahermosa was next with 11 points but was held scoreless in the second half.

Game hero Rodrigue Ebondo prepares to rip the net as a souvenir.

Game hero Rodrigue Ebondo prepares to rip the net as a souvenir.

The Fresh Fighters played the game with a big handicap as stalwarts Art de la Cruz and Ola Adeogun suited up but were not fielded by Coach Ronnie Magsanoc due to nagging injuries. Leading scorer Baser Amer did not show up as he nursed his dislocated shoulder from Game Two.

“When Hapee played a small unit, it caught us by surprise,” admitted Coach Macaraya. “It was difficult for us but good thing the players made the adjustments in time.”

The fourth seed Fresh Fighters took Game One, 83-72, last June 18. The second seed Bakers forced the rubber match by snatching Game Two, 76-70, last June 22.

Completing the championship roster for CaféFrance are Eliud Poligrates, Bong Galanza, Alvin Abundo, Aaron Jeruta, Alfred Batino, Joseph Celso, Yutien Andrada, Michael Miranda and JM Noble. Coach Macaraya’s assistant coaches are Yong Garcia, Oscar Torres, Eric Samson, Jay Cambarihan and Timothy Taclas with trainers Philip Go and Rachel Santos. Team manager is Jeff Plaza, assisted by Jun Tiongco.

Looking ahead, several of the Bakers will apply for the PBA Rookie Draft on August 23, 2015 with Ahamisi looming as the hottest prospect. The Centro Escolar University varsity players will buckle down to preparations for their title defense in the 15th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) tentatively set to begin next month.

Meanwhile, Hapee team owner Dr. Cecilio K. Pedro offered his congratulations to the Bakers and also lauded his team for their good game. “I am very proud of my players because they showed how Hapee basketball is played – we played our best, we do not hurt others and we offer our game to God,” said Dr. Pedro.

How They Scored:

CAFÉFRANCE (56) – Ebondo 18, de Leon 7, Ahanmisi 7, Sedurifa 7, Poligrates 6, Cortes 4, Galanza 3, Abundo 2, Andrada 2, Jeruta 0, Miranda 0, Batino 0.

HAPEE (55) – Elorde 12, Villahermosa 11, Newsome 8, Rosario 8, Mendoza 7, Romero 5, Gamboa 4, Thompson 0.

Period Scores: 15-14, 33-27, 43-41, 56-55.

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91st NCAA Preview

Members of the NCAA Policy Board and team representatives at the recent Season 91 media launch.

Members of the NCAA Policy Board and team representatives at the recent Season 91 media launch.

NCAA Season 91     ALL EYES will be on defending champion San Beda College and their new coach as they embark on the quest for a sixth consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Seniors Basketball title as the country’s oldest varsity sports organization opens its 91st season on June 27, 2015 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. This season’s host is the Mapua Institute of Technology with the theme “Engineered for Sports Excellence in the New Decade.”

During the league’s media launch recently, instead of being asked the question of who is favored to win, coaches and representatives of the nine other schools were asked how they could defeat San Beda. “The NCAA is not a San Beda league and any team can beat us,” humbly said San Beda rookie coach Jamike Jarin in response to his colleagues’ answers.

Doubleheaders will be held every Tuesday and Thursday at 2:00 PM while Fridays will have a tripleheader starting at 12:00 PM. All games save for the opening and playoffs will be held the San Juan Arena.

Here is a preview of the 10 participating schools:

MAPUA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (4-14 in Season 90)Dennel Aguirre, Exeqiel Biteng, Mark Brana, Buenaventura de la Rosa, CJ Isit, Raphael Layug, Darell Menina, JP Nieles, Josan Nimes, Allwell Oraeme, Stephen Que, JR Raflores, Justin Serrano, Andretti Stevens and Ronnel Villasenor. Atoy Co (Coach).

This season’s hosts hope this will be their best chance to jump out of the cellar after occupying it for the last two seasons. For one, the Cardinals can now forget the past season that saw them get involved in an ugly brawl against Emilio Aguinaldo and forfeiting two games due to lack of players suspended as a result thereof.

Still, there is no place to go but up for the wards of Coach Atoy Co. The Cardinals’ chances have been boosted by the return of veterans Josan Nimes and Andretti Stevens after two seasons of injuries and Mark Brana who sat out last year.

Actually, only five players are back from last year’s unit in CJ Isit, Exeqiel Biteng, Justin Serrano, Ronnel Villasenor and Raphael Layug. However, a lot is expected from rookie Allwell Oraeme, a 6’8” beanpole from Nigeria who is a projected rebound and shot block machine.

The other newcomers are Dennel Aguirre, Buenventura de la Rosa, JP Nieles, Darell Menina, Stephen Que and JR Raflores. Nimes is seen as their go-to guy but Isit, Que and de la Rosa can step up when called.

EMILIO AGUINALDO COLLEGE (4-14)Mario Bonleon, Dan Corilla, Jeric Diego, Edric Estacio, Jozhua General, Laminou Hamadou, Jefferson Mallari, Adoum Mbang, Fernan Mejos, Jorem Morada, Francis Munsayac, Sidney Onwubere, Raymond Pascua, Pau Pascual and Jerald Serrano. Andy de Guzman (Coach).

With a new coach in charge, a housecleaning was in order and a lot of player movements were made by the Generals in the offseason. Former assistant Andy de Guzman has retained only five players from last season where the team tied with Mapua Tech at the bottom of the table.

The five returnees are Sidney Onwubere, Jerald Serrano, Jozhua General, Fernan Mejos and Pau Pascual. Save for Onwubere and Serrano, the rest did not play major minutes last time but this could be remedied with the return of guards Jorem Morada and Francis Munsayac who were out of the lineup last year.

Aside from the two crack guards, the Generals will also parade new Cameroonian exchange students Adoun Mbang and Laminou Hamadou to battle the African giants of the other squads. Completing the team are Mario Bonleon, Raymond Pascua, Dan Corilla, Jeric Diego, Edric Estacio and Jefferson Mallari.

The Generals did not do well in the preseason games. They have to be fast learners if they are to avoid the cellar.

SAN SEBASTIAN COLLEGE-RECOLETOS (5-13) Earvin Alvarez, Genmar Bragais, Allyn Bulanadi, Mike Calisaan, AJ Capobres, Ryan Costelo, Jayson David, Jerrick Fabian, Bradwyn Guinto, Justine Mercado, Jamil Ortuoste, Spencer Pretta, Jeffrey Santos, Jess Sibal and Domenick Vera. Rodney Santos (Coach).

New coach Rodney Santos wants to rub his championship experiences as San Sebastian’s star player with the in 1990’s to this new generation Stags. While they had limited preseason games, the Stags’ veterans participated in the PBA D-League as the LiverMarin Guardians.

Guard Jamil Ortuoste and center Bradwyn Guinto are seen as the team leaders this season. Based on their D-League games, Coach Santos can also bank on incoming sophomores Mike Calisaan and Ryan Costelo.

The Stags will also see back Jerrick Fabian, Spencer Pretta, Jeffrey Santos, Earvin Alvarez and Justine Mercado for a total of nine holdovers. The new recruits are AJ Capobres, Genmar Bragais, Jayson David, Jess Sibal, Domenick Vera and Allyn Bulanadi.

With a fairly young team at hand, Coach Santos is expected to do a lot of teaching coupled with a lot of patience. The Stags starting unit can be very competitive but the questions arise once the relievers check in.

LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES UNIVERSITY (7-11)Shaquille Alanes, Jesper Ayaay, Wilson Baltazar, Jebb Bulawan, Seraj Elmejrab, Joseph Gabayni, Joemari Lacastesantos, Noah Lugo, Allyn Malabanan, Edcor Marata, Guy Mbida, Jean Nguidjol, PJ Soliman, Richmon Sunga and Jeremiah Taladua. Topex Robinson (Coach).

For the first time, the Pirates will be sans longtime Coach Bonnie Tan who has since been replaced by Topex Robinson who handled San Sebastian last season. Coach Robinson has inherited a team that is on the edge of making it big.

If the Pirates want to hit it big, it will start and end with the play of center Joseph Gabayni. He will get a lot of help underneath from rookie Jean Nguidjol from Cameroon who will give the team more flexibility along with returning Guy Mbida who plays the wing.

Another thing going for the Pirates is an almost intact lineup with Jeremiah Taladua, Wilson Baltazar, Jebb Bulawan, Allyn Malabanan, Seraj Elmejrab and PJ Soliman joing Gabayni and Mbida. Joemari Lacastesantos and Shaquille Alanes have also been reinstated into the team for more veteran presence.

A surprise recruit is point guard Noah Lugo who was a factor in the runner-up finish of Malayan Science in last season’s Junior Division wars. The other rookies are Jesper Ayaay, Richmon Sunga and transferee Edcor Marata from UST.

COLEGIO DE SAN JUAN DE LETRAN (9-9)Felix Apreku, Christian Balagasay, Jerrick Balanza, Matthew Bernabe, Kevin Buenaflor, JP Calvo, Mark Cruz, Isan de la Pena, Tommy Gedaria, McJour Luib, Rey Nambatac, Rey Publico, Bong Quinto, Kevin Racal and Jomari Sollano. Aldin Ayo (Coach).

A fixture in the Final Four, the Knights suddenly saw themselves crashing out with their worst performance in years. The debacle prompted the replacement of Coach Carlos Garcia with former Letran player Aldin Ayo who was silently carving a name for himself coaching in his native province of Sorsogon.

Coach Ayo will have the luxury of having the backcourt tandem of Mark Cruz and Rey Nambatac as his main weapons with the much-improved Bong Quinto providing the X-factor. A big question mark is the health of forward Kevin Racal who is still recovering from a serious knee injury but a healthy Racal will definitely bolster the Knights’ chances.

Part of last year’s woes may be attributed to the lack of ceiling and the problem is no different this year without a dominant big man. Rey Publico, Isan de la Pena and Felix Apreku will patrol the inside with help from rookies Jerrick Balanza, Christian Balagasay and Jomari Sollano in a center by committee setup.

Balanza and Sollano headline this year’s rookie cast along with Tommy Gedaria and Matthew Bernabe. McJour Luib and JP Calvo will provide quality minutes along with Kevin Buenaflor who sat out last season.

COLLEGE OF SAINT BENILDE (11-7)Gerard Castor, RJ Deles, Edward Dixon, Jay-jay Domingo, Jay-S Domingo, Christian Fajarito, Ervin Flores, Jonathan Grey, Travis Jonson, Ael Nayve, JR Ongteco, Alfonso Saavedra, Dino San Juan, Rene Sta. Maria and Carlo Young. Gabby Velasco (Coach).

The Blazers were on the verge of at least a playoff for a Final Four berth but a loss to Letran in their final game booted them out of the picture. Hoping to strike a good balance with his veterans and rookies, this is the time for third year coach Gabby Velasco to fully implement and reap the fruits of his program.

The team will be led by Jonathan Grey and Alfonso Saavedra. Overall, the team is lacking in height with JR Ongteco as the only veteran big man but Coach Velasco hopes to compensate this via other areas like shooting and speed.

Reigning NCAA Three-point King Travis Jonson will provide the long bombs while a bunch of rookies fresh out of high school will provide the speed and hustle. The other returnees are RJ Deles, Ael Nayve and Ervin Flores while the rookies are a promising bunch consisting of Christian Fajarito, brothers Jayjay and Jay-S Domingo, Dino San Juan, Edward Dixon, Gerard Castor, Rene Sta. Maria and Carlo Young.

Two years of heartbreaks and close calls are enough for the Blazers. The team this has enough material to make noise now while setting up the foundation for the coming seasons.

MVP Scottie Thompson would like no-less than a championship for the Altas.

MVP Scottie Thompson would like no-less than a championship for the Altas.

UNIVERSITY OF PERPETUAL HELP SYSTEM-DALTA (12-6) Bright Akhuetie, Nestor Bantayan, Niko Cabiltes, AJ Coronel, Gab Dagangon, Gerald Dizon, Crispin Elopre, Prince Eze, Ric Gallardo, Kevin Oliveria, Keith Pido, Flash Sadiwa, Anton Tamayo, Scottie Thompson and GJ Ylagan. Aric del Rosario (Coach).

The future looks bright literally for the Altas with the coming of center Bright Akhuetie. The hulking Nigerian slotman is teaming up with countryman Prince Eze and reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson as they hope to help bring the trophy to Las Pinas City for the very first time.

Coach Aric del Rosario may have lost a slew of seniors from last season but the exchange student pair is expected to more than compensate. Their presence alone provides the Altas with the dominant centers they have longed may years for.

Thompson though remains the leader and face of Altas Basketball. He distinguished himself in the offseason with a productive tour of duty with the national team capped by a gold medal at the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

Completing the cast is a bunch of role players which Coach del Rosario hopes to whip into a formidable force come tournament time. The Altas have the most returnees from last season with 10 consisting of Thompson, Nestor Bantayan, Gab Dagangon, Gerald Dizon, Ric Gallardo, Kevin Oliveria, Keith Pido, Flash Sadiwa, Anton Tamayo and GJ Ylagan while the other rookies are AJ Coronel, Niko Cabiltes and Crispin Elopre.

JOSE RIZAL UNIVERSITY (12-6)Razak Abdulwahab, Kris Astilla, Kim Aurin, Marco Balagtas, Mark Cruz, Richard David, Jordan de la Paz, MJ de la Virgen, Darius Estrella, Ervin Grospe, Gio Lasquety, Paulo Pontejos, Abdoul Poutouochi, Dave Sanchez and Bernabe Teodoro. Vergel Meneses (Coach).

The Jose Rizal community is always wondering when their four-decade NCAA title drought will come to an end and the prospects for that to happen this season are quite enticing. An impressive showing in the summer tournaments has installed the Heavy Bombers a strong favorite to challenge the San Beda domination of the league.

The veteran core of Bernabe Teodoro, Dave Sanchez, Marco Balagtas, Ervin Grospe, Gio Lasquety, Kris Astilla and Razak Abdulwahab has been further strengthened with the return of Paulo Pontejos and Jordan de la Paz who both missed last season. Abdulwahab will also have more help with the recruitment of burly center Abdoul Poutouochi.

The Heavy Bombers pulled off a coup by signing last year’s Juniors MVP Darius Estrella from the Light Bombers. Estrella will lead the team’s youth movement that includes Kim Aurin, Richard David, MJ de la Virgen and Mark Cruz (not the Letran guard).

Both the Heavy Bombers and Altas ended last season with winning streaks to close out the elimination round and nearly made the top two positions. A return to the Final Four is a strong possibility and the result this time could be different.

ARELLANO UNIVERSITY (13-5)Nicole Bangga, Julius Cadavis, JayR Capara, Adrian de Guzman, Allen Enriquez, Donald Gumaru, Dioncee Holts, Jiovani Jalalon, Brylle Meca, Elie Ongolo-Ongolo, David Ortega, Kent Salado, Mark Tano and Kenneth Zamora. Jerry Codinera (Coach).

The Chiefs proved to be the biggest surprise of Season 90 as they defied all the preseason predictions to make their first finals appearance under rookie coach Jerry Codinera. Unfortunately, a big chunk of the team that nearly made it to the top will not be around for a second shot but Coach Codinera is confident his team will do well now that they have known how it feels to be a winner.

National player Jiovani Jalalon is the undisputed leader of the group and he will have great support from the frontline of Dioncee Holts and Nicole Bangga. Four other players have been retained in Allen Enriquez, Donald Gumaru, David Ortega and Julius Cadavis.

The vacated slots were filled up by transfers and longtime members of the reserve pool led by center Mark Tano from San Sebastian. The other new names are Adrian de Guzman, JayR Capara, Brylle Meca, Kent Salado, Kenneth Zamora and exchange student Elie Ongolo-Ongolo from Cameroon.

Despite his vast talent and improving game, Jalalon cannot be a one-man army for the Chiefs. Coach Codinera must find a way to extract the best from the rest of the squad to complement their main man and book a return trip to the Finals.

Red Lions hope to put their paws on an unprecedented sixth straight championship.

Red Lions hope to put their paws on an unprecedented sixth straight championship.

SAN BEDA COLLEGE (13-5) Baser Amer, Ola Adeogun, Jun Bonsubre, Jeramer Cabanag, Art de la Cruz, Ryusei Koga, Jayvee Mocon, Jomari Presbitero, Ice Reyes, Dan Sara, Alfred Sedillo, AC Soberano, Mychole Sorela, Donald Tankoua and Ranbill Tongco. Jamike Jarin (Coach).

A whole generation of Bedans grew up with the trophy going to Mendiola year in and year out, eight times in the last nine years to be exact with a brief hiccup in 2009 when San Sebastian snatched it from the Red Lions. The tough task of winning a sixth straight crown falls on rookie coach Jamike Jarin who carries with him a colorful resume topped by stints handling the national youth teams.

No doubt the pressure will be great on a program not used to losing in the last decade. Definitely, the job will be a bit easier when you have the likes of seniors Ola Adeogun, Art de la Cruz, Baser Amer, Mychole Sorela and Ryusei Koga gunning for one more trophy before they graduate.

For the first time, Adeogun will have a reliever in fellow exchange student Donald Tankoua. Tankoua tops this season’s rookie crop that also boasts of Ice Reyes and shooters AC Soberano and Jomari Presbitero.

Sound recruiting and a solid high school feeder program has yielded a bench that could start for any other school. Ranbill Tongco, Jayvee Mocon, Dan Sara, Jeramer Cabanag and comebacking Jun Bonsubre are ready to assume bigger roles once the seniors bid goodbye and fuel the bid perhaps for a seventh straight championship in Season 92.

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THE FINALS: Bakers Force Game Three

2015 Foundation Cup     PASIG CITY – CaféFrance forced the very first Game Three in PBA D-League history by thwarting Hapee, 76-70, in Game Two of the 2015 Foundation Cup Finals Monday (June 22) at the Ynares Sports Arena. The decider is set for this Thursday (June 25) at the same venue starting at 3:00 PM.

Boosted by their huge cheering gallery, the Bakers made sure they would dictate the early tempo and rushed to an 8-0 lead. The Fresh Fighters would counter with six straight points of their own but this was quickly neutralized by an 11-1 run anchored on the six points of Aaron Jeruta, 19-7.

CaféFrance led all the way, going as high as 18 markers just before the halftime break, 43-25, with Samboy de Leon providing the firepower from long distance. Refusing the quit, the Fresh Fighters staged repeated rallies but the Bakers always had a ready answer.

The intensity refused to die down, almost reaching boiling point at the 2:51 mark of the fourth and the Bakers coasting, 72-62, after a triple from Eliud Poligrates. Alfred Batino gave up his sixth and final personal foul on Art de la Cruz in a rebound scuffle resulting in the latter crashing to the floor in pain but later managed to walk back to the bench on his own power.

The referees then had to eject Hapee manager Bernard Yang and CaféFrance assistant manager Jun Tiongco for their near-scuffle. Players Michael Miranda of the Bakers and Jaypee Mendoza of the Fresh Fighters were slapped technical fouls for exchanging harsh words while teammate Ola Adeogun also got a technical for disrespectfully addressing one of the referees.

The commotion seemed to have fired up the Fresh Fighters as they staged on final mighty comeback with Chris Newsome completing a three-point play to threaten with 1:34 to play, 67-73. Jeruta then committed a five-second ball hogging violation but his teammates bailed him out with a crucial defensive stop that set the stage for the dagger basket by Poligrates with 10 ticks left, 75-67.

“First, we played good defense and the team was focused not just on one player but on the entire Hapee team,” said Coach Edgar Macaraya. “I’m proud of my players as this Hapee team is very hard to beat.”

Poligrates reiterated his desire to win the championship, believing his experience and veteran smarts will rub on to the younger players. “Coach just told me to shoot and shoot and rebuild my confidence after the loss in Game One,” he said.

De Leon drained three triples en route to a team-high 14 points for the Bakers. Batino played his best game of the tournament with 11 points followed by Rodrigue Ebondo with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Newsome paced Hapee with 10 of his 15 markers in the fourth period on top of 10 rebounds. De la Cruz finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Prior to the game, all eight previous D-League championships ended in 2-0 sweeps. “Records are made to be broken and miracles happen and we will go all out to win on Thursday,” declared Coach Macaraya.

Asked for comment, Coach Ronnie Magsanoc would rather first review the videos of the game before they make adjustments, praising the Bakers for their excellent shooting. Entering Game Three, the Fresh Fighters have to contend with injuries to Baser Amer (shoulder), Earl Scottie Thompson (hamstring), Adeogun (hamstring) and de la Cruz (knee) while Kirk Long flew to the United States to attend his brother’s wedding.

Moala Tautuaa proudly raises his Best Player trophy with PBA Chairman Patrick Gregorio and ATC's Engr. Reynaldo Sanchez.  (photo courtesy of Charlie Dy)

Moala Tautuaa proudly raises his Best Player trophy with PBA Chairman Patrick Gregorio and ATC’s Engr. Reynaldo Sanchez. (photo courtesy of Charlie Dy)

Meanwhile, Cebuana Lhuillier center Moala Tautuaa was recognized as the Best Player of the Conference in simple rites before Game Two. He led the tournament in scoring with 17.9 points per game, powering the Gems to the top seeding after the elimination round with a 7-2 win-loss card.

Tautuaa received his trophy from PBA Chairman Patrick Gregorio and Asian Television Content President Engr. Reynaldo Sanchez. The newly-minted MVP is expected to be the top selection in the PBA Rookie Draft slated for August 23, 2015.

How They Scored:

CAFÉFRANCE (76) – de Leon 14, Batino 11, Ebondo 10, Sedurifa 9, Poligrates 8, Jeruta 8, Abundo 8, Ahanmisi 7, Cortes 1, Galanza 0, Miranda 0, Noble 0, Miranda 0.

HAPEE (70) – Newsome 15, de la Cruz 14, Rosario 13, Thompson 9, Elorde 6, Romero 5, Amer 3, Mendoza 3, Sorela 2, Gamboa 0, Villahermosa 0, Koga 0.

Period Scores: 21-12, 45-30, 62-48, 76-70.

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Boston Calling For MILO Champions

Race Director Coach Rio de la Cruz presents the official singlet of the 39th MILO Marathon season.

Coach Rio de la Cruz presents the official singlet of the 39th MILO Marathon season.  We will be joining 42km for the fourth straight year.

#BuildChampions     CHAMPIONS OF this year’s 39th MILO Marathon will get to chance to officially represent the Philippines in next year’s Boston Marathon. This was the biggest revelation as a new season of the country’s oldest and most prestigious footrace was formally launched last June 18 (Thursday) at the Bayview Park Hotel.

Although it was announced last February, it was also formally confirmed that this year’s National Finals on December 6 will be hosted by Angeles City in Pampanga. “We consulted the running community and we decided to give them a new venue that is free of traffic and pollution,” said MILO Sports Marketing Manager Andrew Q. Neri.

Angeles City is a one to two-hour drive from Metro Manila. However, MILO is coordinating with bus companies for possible shuttle services between the venue and Metro Manila.

The Boston Marathon is the no doubt the most prestigious road race among the world’s major marathons. Its participants must meet strict qualifying times but MILO race director Coach Rio de la Cruz is confident that these standards could be easily met based on the times of the recent winners.

For her part, reigning back-to-back MILO Marathon Queen Mary Joy Tabal recalled her beginnings in Cebu wherein she collapsed in one of her early races and awoke in a hospital. “A lot of people discouraged me from running long distances but I still continued to pursue my dream to race with my idols,” said Tabal, who is coming off a silver medal finish in the women’s marathon in recent 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

Earlier this year, Tabal and MILO Marathon King Rafael Poliquit were sent to compete in the Los Angeles Marathon where they acquitted themselves well in their debuts. “We will coordinate with PATAFA in order that whoever we send to Boston will have the proper sanction of the sport’s governing body as the official Philippine representatives,” said Neri.

Aside from the trip to Boston, Filipino runners can look forward to bigger prizes. Starting this season, any Filipino who earns a prize in the Open Category may also claim a prize in the All-Filipino category. Therefore, if a Filipino comes in as the overall First Placer, he will bring home PHP 300,000.00 plus PHP 150,000.00 as the top local runner. A bonus of PHP 50,000.00 awaits the runner who can break the records of Eduardo Buenavista (2:18:53) and Tabal (2:48:00).

Not only will the National Finals have a new venue, but the MILO Marathon calendar will see the holding of races for the first time in the cities of Balanga, Bataan and Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. They will take the place Angeles and Puerto Princesa City.

In-store registration is already ongoing at selected Asics branches in Bonifacio High Street, Greenbelt and Trinoma and Timex stores in SM Mall of Asia and Shangri-La EDSA. Race fees are PHP 730.00 (42.195 kilometers), PHP 630.00 (21 kilometers), PHP 530.00 (10 kilometers), PHP 110.00 (five kilometers) and PHP 80.00 (three kilometers) inclusive of a singlet and race bib.

Online registration is also being conducted at A medical certificate and a 300-gram MILO pack must accompany all entries.

Of course, the MILO Marathon will continue its longtime advocacy of providing athletic shoes to poor but deserving public school children in partnership with the Department of Education. Last year, over 16,000 pairs were distributed to the beneficiaries, with special focus given to those in typhoon-ravaged areas in Eastern Visayas.

The first of 17 regional qualifying races will be held on June 28 in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. For the full schedule, CLICK HERE.

For more information, visit and like the official MILO social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use the hash tags #MILOMarathon and #BuildChampions.

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