UAAP Mid-season Grades

Ninoy Aquino Stadium
July 31, 2013
UAAP Mid-season Grades
(First of a two-part series)

After 28 games, or halfway through Season 76 of the UAAP, the league takes on a fitting respite to give way for the much-awaited 27th FIBA-Asia Championship from Aug. 1 to 11 at the MOA Arena where the country’s hope of making it to the FIBA Worlds next year will hinge.
And though Far Eastern U surprised everyone including Sportsmaryosep with its sensational seven-game sweep of the first of two-round elimination, we’re somehow correct, and we will echo University of the East coach Boycie Zamar’s broken-record-like statement, when we adhered to the pre-season belief that “anyone can beat anyone.” He didn’t mention though that the statement does not include, sorry to say, University of the Philippines. The Maroons, of course, were Marooned and the Fighting taken away from them by their horns after getting swept by everyone.
But generally, we’re right on the money. After FEU, the next six teams are in Final Four contention with equal ability to go all the way. Three games behind the Tams, Santo Tomas, UE and National U are logjammed at second to fourth while La Salle, Ateneo and Adamson are closely behind at fifth to seventh spots. And then DOWN there, not UP there, are the Maroons.
And because of it, we will start with…
UP

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At 0-7, the Maroons will need not just a miracle or two, but a series of miracles and bad luck falling on the rest of the league for them to sweep their last seven games and a chance to make the Final Four for the first time in…forget about it. You and I probably lost count after counting the defeats the last three seasons. How many? 32 in the last 35 games? I’m no good in substraction, nor in Mathematics in general, but these numbers are bad. There are some bright spots for UP. Like Sam Marata and Raul Soyud and some pretty nice role players. UP though needed to get it together for it end an embarrassing drought. But I have a bad feeling it will be hard. And I sympathize with long-suffering fans of UP but I have a belief that hope is what makes them loyal to the end. To the very least, UP has its cheer dance team, which is STILL 7-0 in halftime shows thus far. That levels the equation a bit.
Adamson

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If you’re with the Falcons, you’re probably on the brink of a heart attack. That is because Adamson has alternated with wins with losses. The Marcelino-based dribblers have rode the roller-coaster the whole of the first round winning their first and losing the second and repeating the pattern until their seventh game when they lost a 71-74 thriller to the Falcons that sent Leo Austria’s charges miserably at No. 5 alongside La Salle and Ateneo. And also, with the exception of its 12-point win over UP and a 12-point defeat to Ateneo, Adamson’s other games went down to the wire. Which, in essence, clearly illustrates how close they came to landing in the magic four. Austria and the Falcons, who are anchored on do-it-all Jericho Cruz–currently the ninth best player in the league right now–and a bulldozer in Ingrid Sewa, have seven games to right the ship.
Ateneo

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After a tumultuous start, the Eagles have bounced back by winning three of their last four assignments including a masterful 61-57 triumph over the Tigers to improve to 3-4 before the league took a break. Of course, the Loyola-based dribblers limped to an atrocious start because of an ailing roster headed by Kiefer Ravena, who had to endure the severest of all ankle sprains and sit out a couple of games that when he did play, suited up minimally. It’s a good sign that Ravena is back although he’s not yet 100 percent. If he does get all his energy and form back, you may call Ravena “The Phenom” no more. And like someone rising from the ashes, he will be the phoenix Ateneo has been expecting to see. And did I mention that athletic Fil-Am rookie Chris Newsome and Ryan Buenafe, the stewards of the captain-less ship during Ravena’s absence, will form the three-headed Eagle that no one has ever saw?
La Salle

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This team is an enigma. The Archers have some wins they almost lost and some defeats they almost won. La Salle has a pretty balanced roster. They’re talented, young but inexperienced. Yes, they’ve shown flashes of brilliance that made us think they could go all the way and yet they’ve also displayed the darker side of the coin that also made us cringe and say…WTF (pardon my French). As my contention before, where Jeron Teng goes, La Salle follows. True, Teng averaged 14.57 points, 6.71 rebounds, 3.57 assists, a steal and nearly a block a game. Nice, solid all-around stats. But we all know he’s better than that. We understand Jeron that you’re being unselfish and team-oriented. But please, try to be a little selfish sometimes and be like Mike. I was referring to His Airness, Michael Jordan. And oh, please make your free throws because you missed 19 of the 31 shots you took.
To be continued…
What’s next: NU, UE, UST and FEU and Sportsmaryosep’s fearless forecast, Madam Auring style!

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(Photos courtesy of Filoil Flying V)
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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Pacific Rim

Mall of Asia
July 16, 2013
Pacific Rim

Amid the barrage of sports news that hit us the past few weeks, my pregnant wife and I decided to shrug it off and instead watched this move titled Pacific Rim. No, its not about Rafe Bartholomew’s book about the country’s passion for basketball. The one Rafe wrote was actually titled Pacific Rims. This one is actually about gigantic robots called Jaegers defending humanity by battling collosal monsters from the depths of the ocean called Kaiju. It was a nice movie that my wife and I enjoyed. But the best part was when Ron Pearlman, the biggest star in the movie but making only a cameo appearance, was torn apart by a baby Kaiju he thought was DEAD. Pearlman was wrong and ended up DEAD himself. What a movie.
Again, I ignored the news. Until I came to the media center at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum where the best sportswriters write and file their stories and hang out a bit and debate about Junmar Fajardo’s bleeding scrotum and it happened. We end up still clueless on that plague for mankind’s precious jewels. Interestingly, as Sportsmaryosep was writing this, Manila Bulletin and Tempo’s veteran sportswriter, Clyde Mariano, celebrated his 68th birthday. We’re all happy because he’s still in the Binggo numbers. He treated the guys with Pancit Bihon, Lumpiang Shanghai, tuna sandwich and bottles of bottles of coke.
After eating everything possible, Sportsmaryosep decided to write about it and in the tradition of Dave Letterman, we’ll be having our top 10 newsbreakers of the past couple of weeks. And here it goes:
10. San Beda losing to Lyceum

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This is big news because the Lions have never lost to the Pirates before. San Beda is of course the reigning three-peat champion and title-holder of six of the last seven NCAA cage seasons. Yes, it happened last June 24, not necessarily in the last two weeks that I’ve mentioned. And for those who still mind, the Lions, No. 1 last year, lost, 66-70, to the Pirates, the cellar-dwellers last season.
9. Magnificent 12
Or Dirty Dozen to some newspapers who reported that naturalized center Marcus Douthit, Talk N’ Text’s Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo and Larry Fonacier, Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood, Ginebra’s LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar, GlobalPort’s Gary David, San Mig Coffee forward Marc Pingris and Petron’s rookie June Mar Fajardo will make the Gilas Pilipinas team that is on a mission to make the FIBA-Worlds. The FIBA-Asia Championship is set Aug. 1 to 11 at the MOA Arena and Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
8. Lebanon’s suspension
So the Lebanese were suspended and will be replaced by United Arab Emirates, which took the spot after Iraq begged off. Of course, this is big news to our Gilas boys because it will be one problem less for us. We will miss the prolific Fadi El Khatib and his high scoring game though.
7. Kiefer Ravena

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Since Ravena suffered the severest of ankle sprains, everyone is in a guessing game on whether or not he will play. No one believed Sportsmaryosep when we predicted Kiefer will play despite the injury. I even bet my house that he’ll play. No one took it seriously. But lo and behold he played in the first game, only to aggrevate the injury and sit out the next two games. He went on to play in their fourth game and you probably know what happened.
6. Ateneo wins first game

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With Ravena finally suiting up, the Eagles booked their first game. Its big news because, one, Ateneo is the reigning five-peat titlist, and two, no one will crack a joke anymore about University of the Philippines, its Katipunan neighbor, being level with the former. Unless UP nails its first win and tie Ateneo again.
5. Super Sumang’s shot of UAAP Season 76

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Roi Sumang’s game-winning four-point play that propelled University of the East to a 71-67 triumph over National U is now entrenched as one of the biggest shots, if not the biggest shot, in the history of the league. Perhaps, only San Beda guard Baser Amer’s overtime-forcing triple from the other end last year can match it.
4. Roger Gorayeb opting out of Ateneo

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The multi-titled coach first broke the news to, yes, Sportsmaryosep. Only, it came out first with The Philippine Star. He said he’s taking a break to concentrate on his San Sebastian team in the NCAA. Under Gorayeb’s guidance, the Ateneo women’s volleyball team has gained the respect that it deserved. It willl be a big loss for the Lady Eagles. But worry not, Gorayeb hinted of a possible comeback if not next year, two years from now.
3. Anderson “The Spider” Silva losing
Oh. This got to hurt. After staying unbeaten in the last seven years and becoming mixed martial arts’ best pound for pound fighter, The Spider fell to fast emerging Chris Weidman in UFC 162. They’ll have a re-match though at the end of the year. But the pound for pound king can not be re-claimed because its in the hands of Jon “Bones” Jones now. But I’m sure Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz had other things in mind, right?
2. Alfrancis Chua resigns as Brgy. Ginebra coach

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Snow Badua of spin.ph broke the news FIRST. And we all fell into a state of shock. Why would a coach who lifted the Kings from the ashes to second place last PBA conference, resign? Reports indicate Chualay, as every sportswriter fondly calls him, was fed up from the continuous coaching and player changes in the team and quit. Buried under the shocking news was Rudy Hatfield announcing his retirement the same day. Robert “Sonny” Jaworski, Sr., anyone?
1. LeBron James coming to Manila
Like the Gorayeb story, Sportsmaryosep Twitted and wrote the news FIRST. Only, it came out at philstar.com, nba.com Philippines and The Philippine Star. And yes, King James is flying to Manila on July 23. Nike made it happen. If you haven’t lined up at the Nike Park in Bonifacio Global City, you probably didn’t get tickets. But you still have time to camp out there because they’ll be distributing a max of two tickets per person on Wednesday, July 17, at 12 a.m. Or you may buy the tickets of those enterprising fans who queued early in the black market where it is expected to be priced starting at P1,500 each. Or you could just scratch your balls on the comforts of your couch while watching San Antonio Spurs championship games re-runs at home.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy NCAA.org.ph, Filoil Flying V, Alfrancis Chua, LeBron James and Shakey’s V-League)

Hunger Games

Araneta Coliseum
July 10, 2013
Hunger Games

The hunters: Jeron and Jeric Teng. And perhaps the whole University of Santo Tomas basketball team.

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The hunted: Jeff Javellonar.

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You are probably curious as to why this happened. So are my neighbors. My dogs and cats too. But the more correct question is what triggered the incident. So we will try to make an accurate account of what really occured.
Let’s start with about three minutes remaining in the second quarter of the UST-National U game. It was the exact same moment Jeff Javellonar, the Bulldogs’ so-called enforcer or NU’s consigliere or an equivalent to the Mafia’s hammer, pushed an unsuspecting UST gunner Jeric Teng from behind. Teng then fell badly and hurt his right shoulder. He was taken out immediately with a swollen shoulder and didn’t return the rest of the match. Teng will have his shoulder x-rayed any time now. Let’s hope its not serious, for his sake and also Javellonar’s.
NU eventually won the game, 71-67, mainly becuase of an MVP-like performance of reigning two-time MVP Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. and partly because of Javellonar, whose foul on Teng, intentional or otherwise, gave the Bulldogs one less threat to contend with. Teng had seven points, three rebounds and three assists before his untimely…what’s the word?…evisceration at the hands of Javellonar. We will not talk about if Javellonar is guilty of pre-meditated action or not lest Sportsmaryosep will be accused of bias. But we will dwell on how people reacted.

And here it goes:

Wait! Hold your horses. Here’s the video link on how Javellonar bulldozed Jeric Teng. It’s up to you to decide! http://www.youtube.com/watch?client=mv-google&gl=PH&hl=en&v=9Qdkx8MFCH0&nomobile=1

Jeron Teng, brother of Jeric, has this to say to Javellonar on his Twitter account @jeronteng: “I hope my brother’s okay.. Jeff Javillionar, you are a f*cking asshole.”
Jeron later erased this Tweet and replaced it with this one: “I know it’s no accident. I’ve known him since RP youth days.”

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As for Jeric on his Twitter account @jericteng16: “I didn’t see that coming! Your day will come trust me. God has his own ways. And I didn’t know that’s allowed in uaap.”

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Jeff Javellonar, sadly, has no Twitter account. But Anton Altamirano, who is from St. Benilde and son of current NU coach Eric Altamirano, bravely defended him on his Twitter account @blazerboy11: “The push by jeff a while ago was definitely a foul but he did not intentionally push jeric. He may be an enforcer but he is not dirty.”
I’m not inciting them, but I have this suspicision someone from the Tigers are saving one for Javellonar.
Of course, Javellonar probably doesn’t care. But as seemingly fearless Javellonar is, he knows deep in his heart that something is coming. He can feel it by his skin. Like a prey to a predator. Only, he’s the prey and the Tengs and the Tigers the predators.
Dino Maragay, the funny, ruthless, pun-heavy editor of NBA.com Philippines and philstar.com, has these to say on his own account ‏@dino_mars: “Teng Teng Teng! Round 2 coming up! #TengvsJavillonar”
Inquirer.net’s Mark Giongco’s @mg_onpoint also has his share of the pie: “Jeron just let Jeff know that he got Jeric’s back. #UAAP” and “Mark your calendars NU-La Salle July 28.”
Oh Mark, we will. We definitely will.
May the odds be ever iun your favor!
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photos courtesy of Filoil Flying V)

Wow Wow Boys

Rizal Memorial Coliseum
July 9, 2013
Wow Wow Boys

It’s a Tuesday.
It’s an off-day for my regular job at The Philippine STAR. My night job is writing for my Sportsmaryosep. For this day, its all about doing the household chores and fullfilling husband and family duties. After doing most of it, I found some free time. I immediately checked my mail and I found this story about the UAAP and NCAA Press Corps’ Players of the Week. You see, the group composed of the best and finest sportswriters in the country today has this weekly award recognizing the best of the best in the past seven days of the UAAP’s Season 76 and NCAA’s Season 89. So we’ve got a blog.
But first, the media group wants everybody to know that the weekly plum is sponsored by shoe and t-shirt apparel ACCEL and 3XVI and backed by Gatorade. So we got that out of our slate and let’s start the drum rolling.
UAAP: Terrence Romeo
Oh Romeo. You fooled us to believe that you’re a mean, unstoppable scoring machine. So lethal offensively that words like “passing” and “assists” were then alien to you the past seasons. This year, at least early in the season, you made a lot of people eat their words including, uhm, Sportsmaryosep.

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But we love the way you’re playing. At least in your first three games when the Far Eastern U Tams looked more like a wrecking crew than what we saw in the pre-season where they didn’t even got past the group stages. You bedazzled all of us with your spectacular plays not just in offense but also in defense. Yes defense. You’re playing defense now. And we’re getting it. You want to win your first UAAP championship. Perhaps you’ll win the Most Valuable Player award along the way. And this is a good start. Forgive me, this is a GREAT start. Imagine having averaged 21.3 points, 10 rebounds, 5.3 assists and two steals. And University of the East, Ateneo and University of the Philippines are probably still in awe at the way you played Terrence. Your phenomenal rise could probably be attributed to the eutopic system brought in by your new coach Nash Racela where everyone not named Hargrove and Sentiu could shoot the threes.
It helps that RR Garcia, one of the finest, if not the finest, guards in the collegiate scene today is playing side by side with him. It’s like you feed on RR, and RR feeds on you. I know your fates are intertwined now, Vice Ganda aside. It’s also a big complement that this young kid named Michael Tolomia is also emerging as a force with one circus shot after another. So dear Romeo, keep it up. Keep us in state of bewilderment. It’s been a while since we see a player your caliber. Keep it humming.
Can I say Wow now? Wow!
NCAA: Baser Amer
Oh. The Hammer. I still remember that shot you made in that memorable game against Perpetual Help last year. You may have lost that game but you won the hearts of many, including ours. Because of that spectacular shot. You drew different kinds of names from there on. Like Baser-beater. You are a spectacle.
But we knew you’ll become who you are now even before you enter college. We saw you play for the Sab Beda Cubs where you’re already half boy, half amazing. We knew your style as a high school ball player. In the first half, you’ll pile up the assists by feeding your teammates. And then you’ll start to score. Not just score, but score AT WILL! We still remember when you were even compared this other amazing player, then known as a phenom in Kiefer Ravena from the other side of the fence, which is Ateneo.

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Like you Baser, Kiefer has stayed with his alma mater. And although Ravena is on top of the world right now, we knew you will be somewhere there soon. And fast. Look at your averages in two games when the Lions posted their first streak of the season over Arellano U and Emilio Aguinaldo: 13 points, six assists and 3.5 rebounds. Because of you, San Beda, the dynastic rule of this side of the collegiate basketball Earth, the NCAA, is now running second, half a game behind league-leading Letran.
You, Baser, is just a delight to see. Whenever you’re on the court, its like seeing MC Hammer’s song “Hammertime.” Only in your case, its “Amertime!” See? You have your own niche now. So let it fly.
Can I say wow now? Wow!
Sportsmaryosep postscript: Last week, the ACCEL/3XVI-NCAA Press Corps Player of the Week was Letran’s Raymond Almazan, who happens to be a cousin of Kerby Raymundo. I will not be surprised if he ends up as this year’s MVP. He has added some offense now, making him a more dangerous weapon for the Knights, who by the way, are leading the NCAA with three straight wins. Impressive.

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Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

(Photos courtesy of Filoil Flying V)