NO CHEERING FROM THE PRESS BOX!

Mall of Asia
July 29, 2014
NO CHEERING FROM THE PRESS BOX!

As I was wrapping up my Shakey’s V-League coverage at The Arena in San Juan City a couple of hours ago, I overheard Theodore Jurado, the hardworking reporter from The People’s Journal and Tonight and our resident volleyball expert, mumbling about sir Jun getting angry on something. Nosy as I am, I asked Teej, the nickname we are used to call him, why sir Jun is angry? He replied by saying he’ll just forward the message itself. Sir Jun is, of course, Business Mirror sports editor Jun Lomibao. Lomi to most of us. If the UAAP Press Corps is Bahay ni Kuya, Lomi is the kuya of the UAAP house. He’s also the president of the Philippine Sportswriters Association, the organization of all sports scribes from all of the country’s national broadsheets and tabloids. If you’re as dumb as this imbecile and dimwit named “D’Source” who once alluded to PSA members as “clowns,” the PSA has been in existence since 1948. Or about as old as your parents or grandparents. So there.

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Going back to his message, I will just tell you what Teej told Sportsmaryosep: read it yourself. And here it is.

To my dear UAAP Media colleagues,
Let me start by revealing to you that I, not too long ago, was a campus journalist in one of the UAAP schools. The passion that we put behind our school was as intense back then as it is now. We would extremely rejoice with every victory and vehemently react against every loss. We would immensely agree with every call that favors our side, and profusely protest when it’s our boys who get the short end of it. But all of that we do in the confines of our hearts and minds—never with our voices, never with our hands and fists, never with our actions. We are journalists, never mind if we are campus journalists—a journalist is a journalist is a journalist. And because of that, we are not supposed to brandish our colors, more so do such with a press card hanging around our necks. I am writing this as a gentle reminder to you, my colleagues, about a journalism ethic that we, as champions of the vocation, should at all times be neutral, that never should we display any bias before the scrutinizing public. This, however, does not apply to all. Perhaps some of us get carried away and suddenly shed our school colors in the heat of the coverage. Thus, I—a sports journalist for 28 years—appeal to you to uphold the ethics of journalism as you exercise the privilege of a courtside view of the action, and protect the sanctity of the press card.
Thank you very much.

Sportsmaryosep’s prognosis: Oh thank you for speaking up sir. I mean, it’s already an inconvenience that the UAAP Press Room is already flooded with a sea of mostly green that some regular writers from the major national dailies had to find a place to write and file their stories outside it while these noisy kids whose deadlines are probably decades from now occupy seats and tables and use it to just chat about the handsomest players and sexiest cheerdancers in the “U-Double A-P.”

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As it is, the UAAP has eclipsed the Guinness Book of World Records for number of media covering an event. It’s like the Olympics out there. Better yet, a circus. And it infuriates me more that when they go out the confines of the media center, they occupy the press row and screamed like crazy for their teams. I once caught this guy masquerading as a reporter from a reputable school in the NCAA who didn’t only cheer for his school but also heckle opposing players. I mean heckle? At the press box? You gotta be kidding me, boy. And he has a media accreditation? So I told him if he plans of doing it again, I will be forced to haul him out of this sacred place we sportswriters call press box. And then he turned meek. It’s been a perennial problem, really.

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Until finally someone spoke. And I’m thankful it’s Lomi, whom we respect a lot. He’s right. If you want to cheer, remove that freaking ID out of your darn necks, go to the freaking stands, and join your freaking classmates and freaking friends and howl the way you want it. Not in the darn press box. Because if you freaking do, I will freaking use it to drag you out of there. Just kidding.
But seriously, I will just let these John Feinstein lines linger in your thoughts if you’re still thinking of going on with your miserable lives and cheer:
“What is objective journalism? There’s no such thing. None of us is objective. We all have biases that we grew up with or develop through the years. The key is understanding that you’re biased and trying as hard as you can to put those biases aside and be fair.”

Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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Atoy Co-ism

 

The Arena, San Juan
July 29, 2014
Atoy Co-ism

If former University of Santo Tomas coach Pido Jarencio is the media favorite in the UAAP, Mapua’s Atoy is definitely the biggest hit among the NCAA scribes. Pido, during his days with the Tigers, was used to spew quotable quotes that everyone now likes to call “Pido-ism.” Now coach Atoy is making a cult following, or shall we say niche, on the other side of the fence, which is the NCAA.
You see, the Fortune Cookie made a welcome appearance in the NCAA press room after his Cardinals pulled off a stunner over the fancied San Sebastian Stags, 89-81, Monday to complete the day of upsets. And we all thought it will take long before he makes the required post-game appearances by winning coaches because, we have to admit it guys, that we’re guilty of thinking that Mapua will have a hard time winning or will not win at all because of the, pardon the pun, “misfortunes” suffered by the squad coming into the NCAA’s Season 90.

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But hey, Co finally found a way to win, thanks in large part to jump-shooting Jessie Saitanan hitting a season-high 12 fieldgoals in finishing with 24 points. Here are the quotes we got from Co. And we have to thank veteran sportswriter Rey Joble of interaksyon.com for most of it. Thanks, by the way, brother for visiting us in the NCAA. You’re a most welcome sight to us.

“Mas exciting ang laro sa NCAA kaysa sa UAAP.”
“Mas grabe ang depensahan sa NCAA kaysa sa UAAP. Sa depensahan atsaka sa takbuhan. Kita mo naman sa depensa, talagang deny lahat.”
“Sa UAAP, parang semi-pro ang approach.”
“Ang sabi ko nga sa kanila, mayroon na tayong sariling gym. We cannot depend on the hours of practice that we had because it’s very limited.”
“So I told them to work on their own and try to create their own signature move.”
“Tsaka I encourage them to practice shooting. Wag lang basta shooting. Dapat me game face at seryoso. Hindi babagal bagal.”
“Hindi sa pagmamayabang, sabi ko sa players ko, hindi man ako isa sa pinakamagaging na coaches ngayon, sinisigurado ko na naman sa kanila na ako ang isa sa pinakamagaling na players na naglaro sa PBA.”
“Sasabihin ko ke P-Noy na lagi na sya magso-SONA para manalo kami palagi.”

Sportsmaryosep’s prognosis: It’s debatable that NCAA is more exciting than the UAAP. I say 50-50. On defense, I’ll probably go with the NCAA, though slightly. I agree also that Atoy Co is one of the best players in the country during his time. Check Youtube, he really is. About the SONA thing, P-NOY may have played ZONE against us with those lies. I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of Kevin dela Cruz and Jerome Ascano of spin.ph)

Lebron Teng

Mendiola, Manila
July 28, 2014
LeBron Teng

In one of those rare days, this side of the University belt looks like a ghost town. At 3 p.m., there were surprisingly few vehicles. Gone was the bumper-to-bumper traffic that this part of the Earth near the Malacanang Palace used to have. No rallies either. Of course, every leader in town are in Batasan where the State of the Nation Address (SONA) was being done. I will not go to the specifics of SONA because there are none to discuss. Sports specifically since our dear P-Noy just flatly didn’t care.
So here I was along with our veteran Philippine STAR photographer and National Press Club board of director Jun Mendoza traversing this road most travelled on our way to The Arena in San Juan to cover Season 90 NCAA basketball games. During our travel, however, I as thinking more of the UAAP and its Season 77. Particularly the UAAP Press Corps’ Player of the Week. You see, there was some musings that National U’s Troy “The Prayer” Rosario should get the weekly plum bestowed by the group covering the league. But La Salle’s Jeron Teng silenced them all with a pair of heroic performances.

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It used to be that Teng blows away his opponents with his high-scoring game. Not this season as he has turned into a more LeBron James mentality by passing it more than being a Kevin Durant or a Kobe Bryant who likes to kill opponents by scoring the big baskets. So Teng has turned LeBron on us. And I will leave this story by the Press Corps tell us why. So here goes.

JERON Teng’s willingness to share the leather has been paying big dividends for defending champion La Salle.
Determined to fill up the slack left by injured starting playmaker Thomas Torres, the 6-foot-2 wingman proved he’s more than just a scoring option as he also thrived on his playmaking ability while helping the Green Archers get their title-retention bid back on track in the UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament.
With the 5-foot-8 Torres sidelined by a fractured right foot for at least six weeks, Teng, 20, has taken upon himself to set up the tables for his teammates and they were amply rewarded with a pair of thrilling victories against two erstwhile unscathed rivals—National U and host University of the East—to stop an alarming start and put themselves back in the hunt with an even 2-2 record.
“That (playmaking) is what our team needs right now,” said Teng, who was adjudged the UAAP Press Corps-Accel Quantum Plus/3XVI Player of the Week from July 23 to 27. “Anyone can score for our team. We just try to look for the open guy and also improve our team chemistry.”
Although he struggled to hit his mark from the field, making just three of his 11 attempts to finish with nine points, Teng came up with a game-high five assists, highlighted by his nifty inbound feed to a cutting Archers forward Jason Perkins who then made the insurance bucket with 6.7 seconds left that eventually led to a 57-55 squeaker against the Bulldogs last Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Not yet done, Teng spiked his season-high 18-point performance in their equally pulsating come-from-behind 60-58 victory over the Red Warriors last Sunday with a team-best four dimes, including a pair of timely drop passes to rookie Prince Rivero in the crunch that led to clutch buckets and helped them complete their gritty fightback from 10 points down.
“In the end, we were just trying to look for the open guy. I created for our team and I found Prince open (underneath) so I just gave it to him,” he stressed.
Teng beat out the likes of National U forward Troy Rosario and Far Eastern U guard Mike Tolomia for the weekly citation backed by Bactigel hand sanitizer, Doctor J Mighty Alcohol and Mighty Mom Anti-bacteria.

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Sportsmaryosep’s prognosis: See? So can we call Jeron LeBron Teng now?
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of Go Archers)

Jalalon Ranger

San Mateo, Rizal

July 27, 2014

Jalalon Ranger

 

Before Perpetual Help’s Earl Scottie Thompson blew sportswriters away with his triple-double performances weeks back, us knew little or nothing of this guy from Arellano U named Jiovani Jalalon. Heck, the only one writer who knows this person is Anthony Servinio, who writes for his own blog titled Servinio Sports. Anthony says he’s from Informatics belonging to a league called NAASCU. Then he trasferred. And then Jalalon happened. He has earned a reputation as a “super-sub” not just from his coach Jerry Codinera but us scribes as well with his mind-blowing, do-it-all performance. Recently, the NCAA Press Corps bestowed on Jalalon this nice weekly honor—the ACCEL Quantum/3XVI Player of the Week award.

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And here’s a story I borrowed from Philstar.com and The Philippine STAR. So read on:

 Arellano U coach Jerry Codinera isn’t calling neophyte Jiovani Jalalon a “super-sub” for nothing.

The do-it-all Jalalon has been named the ACCEL Quantum/3XVI NCAA Press Corps Player of the Week after coming through with another stellar performance off the bench in helping the Chiefs keep their grip of the No. 2 spot in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament.

Jalalon, a neophyte out of Informatics, flirted with a triple-double effort of 16 points, seven assists and six boards in lifting Arellano to an emphatic 97-85 win over Perpetual Help over the weekend.

It was enough to nail Jalalon the weekly plum sponsored by ACCEL Quantum and 3XVI and backed by Mighty Mom anti-bacteria dishwashing liquid, Dr. J rubbing alcohol and Bactegel hand sanitizer.

His heroics helped Arellano U clinch its third straight win and fifth overall in six games and inch closer to four-peat titlist San Beda, the league’s only unbeaten team with a pristine 5-0 (win-loss) slate.

Add his recent performance to what he did in their first five games and Jalalon’s averages has soared to 12.67 points, 5.83 rebounds and league-highs 6.67 assists and 3.5 steals.

“He’s definitely a super-sub,” said Arellano U coach Jerry Codinera of Jalalon.

For Jalalon, he was just motivated by the thought of helping his team make the Final Four for the first time since joining the oldest collegiate league five years back.

“Making the Final Four is what we are all thinking about,” said Jalalon in Filipino.

Jalalon beat teammates John Pinto and Keith Agovado, who happened to be starters, for the weekly plum.

Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of Jan Dizon of ncaa.org.ph)

 

 

 

So Sad

Lipa City, Batangas
July 26, 2014
So Sad

It was family day for me.
Today, I devoted my time to my wife, Kristel, and nine-month old son, Iago. We went to church, bought some baby things in the mall, drank some coffee for wifey and tea for myself along the way, and had a pizza takeout. And then it was time for Saturday reading. Of course, I always read The Philippine STAR first because it’s where I work and Manila Bulletin second where my wife writes. And then the Phl Daily Inquirer and the other papers, of course. My routine in reading, being old school, start in Sports because I wouldn’t be Sportsmaryosep if I don’t, and then the front page news. Then comes the cartoons. Showbiz follows. And saving the best for last, the editorial. I was expecting the usual national issues like something about our President challenging the Supreme Court or Senator Bong Revilla acting his way out prison. But lo and behold, it’s about chess. Wesley So in particular.

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It’s probably my lucky day because of all sports, it’s chess that is my favorite being a woodpusher myself. So I read. And I’ll share it with you guys. Sit back and relax because here it is:

So’s Gambit Declined
Zugzwang.That’s the term for a situation in a chess game where a player is forced to make a move that will only worsen his position. That’s close to the situation in which the Philippines’ top chess player, Wesley So, finds himself as he approaches the middle game of what has so far been a very promising career.
Caught in a tug-of-war between the politicians who control chess in the country and handlers who promise him a brighter future in the United States, the prodigy has refused to play under the Philippine flag in the World Chess Olympiad next week unless Philippine chess authorities allow him to play under the Stars and Stripes after that. When the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, which has nurtured his prodigious talent since he was barely 10, declined the gambit, he made his move—a courageous one for one so young. He will no longer play for his country and will wait it out until the rules allow him to play under the US flag.
But who is Wesley So and why is the chess scene on both sides of the Pacific so excited about him?
Before he was 10, he showed great promise as the Philippines’ best prospect for a world championship since Eugene Torre. He has lived up to that promise, chalking up triumph after triumph in tournaments here and abroad. At 12, he was a chess Olympian for the Philippines. At 14, he became the youngest player to achieve the title grandmaster, a milestone not even the prolific Torre achieved in his teens. Playing Board 1, he is unbeaten in the past three Chess Olympiads. Two years ago, he accepted a scholarship from Webster University in
St. Louis, Missouri, joining a powerhouse team of young foreign-born grandmasters that catapulted the school to the US collegiate chess championship.
Now 20, So has a live Elo rating of 2755 and is ranked No. 12 in the world. Having achieved the lofty status as super grandmaster, he is now knocking at the door of the world championship, a circle dominated by young phenoms like him. His dream of a world championship is within his grasp.
Ironically, it was after one of his biggest personal triumphs last year that things turned sour for So. Defying the directive of sports leaders to compete elsewhere, he decided to play unsanctioned at the World University Games in Russia where he beat a formidable field to win the gold medal. But he got neither official recognition nor reward for the feat. (The Philippine Sports Commission said that, under the law, the Universiade was not on the list of events where incentives were given for medal winners.) “No player should be treated this way, especially when I worked so hard to bring pride to my country,” he lamented in an interview.
Deprived of what he thought he deserved, So wrote the NCFP seeking his release after next week’s World Chess Olympiad in Norway, so he could play under the US Chess Federation. In chess notation, it is a move annotated with lots of exclamation points and question marks, meaning it could be a bold, intriguing, dubious, or potentially winning or losing move. But then again, So did not get to be a super grandmaster by being timid.
At this writing, no release is forthcoming. Under the rules of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), a player needs the old federation’s consent or a payment of 50,000 euros before he can transfer. Having neither, So must wait two years to make the switch. This is to discourage piracy of talents, for which America is notorious.
In the past 10 years, So has been the most pampered chess player in the Philippines, receiving P40,000 a month from the PSC and getting extra from several sources, including the personal funds of the NCFP’s controversial head, former congressman Prospero Pichay. Not even Torre enjoyed such support.
But Torre is sympathetic to So, whom critics have accused of being unpatriotic. Torre says So should not be judged by the tough decision he has made.
Pichay contends that the NCFP cannot just let go of So given the government funds that have been spent for him. Hardly the paragon of virtue in terms of handling taxpayer money, Pichay has thrown the problem to the PSC, which, in turn, has thrown it back to him.
The Philippine team goes to the World Chess Olympiad in Norway next week without its biggest star, there’s the pity. But shining still is Eugene Torre, who will be playing in his 22nd Olympiad, a record unmatched by any player, dead or alive.
And So will be watching from limbo, a victim of his dreams—or his ambition.

Sportsmaryosep’s prognosis: Exactly how I feel. Period.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of news.stlpublicradio.org and chessaccount.wordpress.com)

Go Teng Kyu

Orchids Garden Hotel
July 25, 2014
Go Teng Kyu

Oh how time flies.
When I was still a sports correspondent for the Manila Times in 1996, one of the first stories I wrote was about this sports official named Go Teng Kok. Go, you see, heads the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association. Fast forward to the present and he is still at the helm.
But on this momentuous day, a new era dawns on Philippine athletics.

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It is because the once unsinkable Go has passed the torched to Philipp Ella Juico. Juico, a former Phl Sports Commission chairman, was elected to succeed Go in PATAFA in a recent poll done at this small but nice hotel along the Vito Cruz, Manila strip. For 18 years, we’ve seen how Go went on with his business. He’s a fiery guy. Funny too. Generous to a fault also. Irritating at times being talkative. He’s brutally frank, never afraid to voice out his opinion. It’s either you love or hate the guy.

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Go has his ups and downs. Like everyone of us, he’s no saint. But instead of bringing up the bad, Sportsmaryosep is counting the positives. Under Go’s long watch, Lydia de Vega, Elma Muros and Eduardo Buenavista came through with some of their finest moments as athletes. In fairness, Go has no unliquidated cash advances unlike so many other unproductive national sports associations out there. In fact, he has spent a fortune right from his own pockets for track and field.
Here’s some interesting tweets from our colleague Abac Cordero, one of The Philippine STAR’s top sports guys:
In his farewell speech, Go Teng Kok said, “I leave Patafa with no unliquidated cash advances with the PSC and with no taint of corruption.”
After officers were named, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, a board member, asked if there were objections. Go raised his hand, “Tumatawag ako waiter.”
Juico: I’m not a replacement of Mr. Go. Mr. Go cannot be replaced.
Phil Track and Field Assoc elections: Popoy Juico elected new president. Go Teng Kok steps down after reign of 24 years.

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Sportsmaryosep’s Prognosis: What I love about this recent development is that it gives the sport a chance to make radical changes. I mean, athletics has potential to do better with an influx of talented young athletes, a combination of Fil-Ams and local ones, who could be future or present goldmines for the country in international meets. Just recently, this 18-year-old Ateneo sophomore named EJ Obiena shattered 22-year-old national record in pole vault. And the boy is just one of many potential talents out there. It also gives the new leadership a chance to weed out non-performing coaches and athletes and put in deserving ones who put real work. For now though, I just want to thank Go. For the fun times and even the bad. And also to remind him that he can call me or visit me anytime at the media center. Just don’t forget to bring a chess set.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of Remate, Filipinomax.com, pinoyweb.info and pinoymiler.wordpress.com)

Larry out, Lee in?

Edsa Shangri-La Hotel
July 24, 2014
Larry out, Lee in?

On a rainy Thursday afternoon, my wife and I decided to take the MRT on our way this posh hotel in Mandaluyong where a press conference awaits her. Cramped as expected, we managed to find our space standing in the second of this old multi-coach train plying traffic-infested Edsa. As we’re approaching the Guadalupe station, we saw this massive billboard by Max’s Restaurant where Gilas Pilipinas’ Larry Fonacier, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio were standing with their right hand positioned on their left chest. And there was the word PUSO (Heart) on it. It turned out Larry Legend, one of Sportsmaryosep’s players during his Ateneo days and still is, will not be bringing it to Spain. This came after Gilas coach Chot Reyes Twitted that Fonacier has begged off from playing in the FIBA-World Cup scheduled August 30 to September 14 due to health reasons.

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And here’s how Reyes said it:

It is w deep sadness that we have to accept Larry’s request to beg off the Gilas pool for the meantime. Unknown to many, Larry has been playing through a variety of foot and back injuries that have bothered him the past 2 years; and it is only his great dedication that has prevented him from taking anytime off. However, the rigors of playing almost non-stop in the PBA and national team for the past 3 years has taken its toll, leaving Larry with no recourse but to accede to his doctors orders for complete rest & rehabilitation. We will definitely miss Larry’s quiet leadership and unyielding heart.

Now who will take that spot Fonacier vacated?
You’re guess is as good as mine. Who else but Paul Lee. The “Lee-thal Weapon” have been on a tear lately as he came perhaps a few shots from lifting Rain or Shine to another PBA title or preventing Tim Cone and San Mig Coffee from taking home the rare Grand Slam. Lee also made the three cold-blooded free throws that lifted Gilas to an 80-79 squeaker of a win over the Great Wall of China that clinched the bronze medal in the FIBA-Asia Cup just a week ago. Reyes though didn’t immediately say it’s Lee, saying he will make the announcement on the deadline for the submission of lineups in Spain.

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Here’s what Reyes told spin.ph:

“Nope,” came the quick response from Reyes. “All it (Fonacier’s pullout) does is open up one slot (for the World Cup and Asian Games).” When we pointed out that the Rain or Shine guard is the more logical replacement for Fonacier over Dillinger, Washington, and Belga, the Gilas coach pointed out that there are no set positions in his team. “If you noticed, I even started using Ranidel (De Ocampo) as a shooter in the Fiba Asia Cup,” said Reyes, who nonetheless praised Lee’s impressive outing in Wuhan. “We won’t deny that, maganda talaga nilaro ni Paul sa Fiba Asia Cup. But no one has a lock on a spot (in the World Cup team). And I’m being honest when I say that.” Reyes also ruled out adding another member to the pool, saying it is too late for that. Gilas leaves on Friday for a training camp in Miami, kicking off a rigorous run of training and tune-up games leading up to the World Cup set August 30 to September 14 in Spain. “Masyadong madami ng hahabulin kung kukuha pa kami ng bago,” said Reyes. “As it is, we’re leaving tomorrow (for Miami), so I think it’s too for that.” So when will we know who the Magic 12 will be for the World Cup, Reyes was asked. “I’ll be announcing it on the deadline for the submission of lineups for the World Cup,” Reyes said. “Right now, we still have no idea when that would be.”

 

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Sportsmaryosep’s prognosis: We’re sad for Fonacier. But when its for flag and country, we have to set aside personal feelings. Whoever gets the honor to fill in the Fonacier void, Sportsmaryosep gives its full support. But we think it’s Paul Lee. Or should be Paul Lee.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of fibaasia.net, Roy Afable of InterAktv, PBA online)