Greek Tragedy

Espana, Manila
September 1, 2014
Greek Tragedy

You probably saw this movie titled “300.”
It’s an American fantasy war movie less than a decade ago about the Battle of Thermophylae within the Persian Wars that revolved around King Leonidas leading an army of 300 Spartans into battle against a thousand times more from Pesian god-King Xerxes. We know what happened, the Spartans getting the meat grinder but ended up inspiring the Greeks to go up in arms against the Persians.
Now I’m beginning to like Leonidas getting slaughtered by Xerxes’s minions after seeing this class-less Greek basketball team unraveling against our Gilas Pilipinas team. You see, we lost to Greece, 82-70. Instead being magnanimous in victory, the Greeks showed their ugly side after their seven-foot player shoved LA Tenorio, who’s not even six footer, seconds after the endgame buzzer sounded. Come on, he’s more than a foot shorter than you?Take someone your own size. You want a fight? Take on Junemar Fajardo, The Kraken. We will be happy to give you Beau “Extra Rice” Belga. You won, why act boorishly?

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So you got sore by Tenorio’s alleged punch on the jewels of Kostas Papanikolaou? You call that a punch? He merely touched it while trying to steal the ball. You can’t take a hand down there, then play something else. If you don’t want to get hurt, play chess. That’s courtesy of Sonny Jaworski, by the way. But hey, nice acting job by Papa Kostas. Go to Hollywood. That will be fun.
I also didn’t like that Greece obviously going point-padding after Nick Calathes hit those two triples that gave Greece a double-digit lead instead of just a single digit. Necessary? For quotient? If you’re that good, you wouldn’t need this quotient bull s___. But obviously, Greece isn’t. Yes, they have three players in the NBA right now–Papanikolaou (Rockets), Nick Calathes (Grizzlies), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)–and have several more with NBA material. So wake up, you can’t win this thing. How can you win when you can’t even blow away a Gilas team that is way smaller than you?

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And Calathes, I assure you, you will not be in any of my fantasy teams. Giannis, the Greek Freak, perhaps, but not you. EVER! And by the way Nick, how was the four-month suspension related to your banned substance issues?
So yes, I hate this Greece team. Fifth in the world, but last on my list because you totally lack class. So in behalf of Sportsmaryosep and the rest of this basketball-drugged (Calathes be proud) Filipinos, we bestow Croatia, the team that beat us, 82-79, in overtime the day before, the authority to annihilate Greece. You are now the Persians, the Greeks the Spartans. Leave no prisoners guys.

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Time to eat this Argentina corned beef now.
Here’s the generic Gilas story by the way:

Games Sunday
(Seville Time – PH plus 6 hrs.)
1:30 p.m. – Argentina vs Croatia
5:30 p.m. – Senegal vs Puerto Rico
8 p.m. – Philippines vs Greece
Games Monday
(Seville Time – PH plus 6 hrs.)
12:30 p.m. – Croatia vs Senegal
5:30 p.m. – Argentina vs Philippines
8 p.m. – Puerto Rico vs Greece
Games Wednesday
(Seville Time – PH plus 6 hrs.)
1:30 p.m. – Philippines vs Puerto Rico
5:30 p.m. – Senegal vs Argentina
8 p.m. – Greece vs Croatia
Games Thursday
(Seville Time – PH plus 6 hrs.)
2 p.m. – Senegal vs Philippines
6 p.m. – Croatia vs Puerto Rico
10 p.m. –Argentina vs Greece

SEVILLE, Spain – Will Gilas Pilipinas have enough high-octane gas left in the tank against Luis Scola and Argentina Monday to fulfill Bill Bayno’s prediction?

The hope is that the Philippine team, on the heels of squaring off with European heavyweights back-to-back in two days, won’t be zapped of strength and will by the time Argentina comes along. But the reality could be a daunting thought.

After an emotionally draining loss to Croatia in the opener of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and doubtless another courageous stand against Greece on Day 2 Sunday (2 a.m. Monday Manila time), Gilas Pilipinas takes on the 2004 Olympic Games champion, ranked third in the world and gold medalist in the FIBA World Cup (1950), FIBA Americas (2001, 2011) and Pan Americas (1995).

The glitter of those medals alone should have dazzled just about anyone – but not Bayno, the former coach of the Talk ‘N Text Phone Pals (2001-2002) in the Philippine Basketball Association.

Bayno, an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors and the Dominican Republic team, bracketed in Group C with the United States, Turkey and Ukraine, ran into former San Beda and Ginebra San Miguel star Mike Advani just before the Philippines-Croatia game and told him that he believes Argentina could be had.

“Gilas can beat Argentina, that’s what coach Bill told me,” Advani, a former Bayno assistant, said.

According to Bayno, Advani said, Argentina is not in this FIBA World Cup the powerhouse team it used to be.

“They’re without some key players (like the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili),” said Advani.

That should be welcome news for national coach Chot Reyes although the way the Argentineans laid waste of Puerto Rico, 95-78, in another Group B match where Scola, a member of the Indiana Pacers, had his way with 20 points and 9 rebounds, showed little promise of that telltale Achilles heel.

JJ Barea, the Minnesota Timberwolves starting point guard, led Puerto Rico with 24 points and 4 assists but got little help from the rest of the team, another portentous sign probably favoring Gilas Pilipinas.

Renaldo Balkman, the former Petron Blaze import, did acquit himself with 10 points and 4 rebounds but neither he nor Barea could save Puerto Rico when Argentina poured on the heat in the first and third quarters.

Andres Nocioni, who had stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings and Chicago Bulls, made sure Scola didn’t overburden himself by adding 18 points, along with veteran guard Salem Safar.

Scola, Nocioni (11 rebs), Safar (4 of 8 3-pointers) and starters Walter Hermann (12 points and 10 rebs), Pablo Prigioni (9 points) and Facundo Campazzo (8 points) have seen in the Croatia game what Gilas is capable of doing and will be out to deny the Philippines any foothold in Group B.

The other Group B match saw wild card Greece rout FIBA Africa’s Senegal, 87-64, putting pressure on Gilas Pilipinas, Puerto Rico and Senegal to win two in the preliminaries and make it to the top four.

The next round is the 16-team knockout phase, with the fourth-ranked Group B qualifier facing the emerging No. 1 squad from Group A, which could either be host Spain, Serbia or Brazil.

Spain, behind the 33 points of Pau Gasol, who left Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and hooked up during the off season with Derrick Rose and the Bulls, made mincemeat of FIBA Asia champion Iran, 90-60; Serbia clobbered Egypt, 85-64; and Brazil edged Tony Parker-less France, 65-63.

Group C had Ukraine downing Dominican Republic, 72-62; Turkey turning back New Zealand, 76-73; and the United States overwhelming Finland, 114-55.

The NBA-powered US team rolled to 31-16 first quarter lead and locked down and held the Finns to two points in the second period.

In Group D, Angola stunned cold-shooting South Korea, 80-69; Slovenia thumped Australia, 90-70; and Lithuania rapped Mexico, 87-74.

Day 2 Group B matches at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes San Pablo also have Croatia meeting Senegal at 12:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. Manila time) and Puerto Rico facing Greece at 8 p.m. (2 a.m.Manila time).

Despite the 81-78 ovetime loss, the gutsy stand against Croatia continued to earn plaudits for Gilas Pilipinas, especially for naturalized player Andray Blatche, who had 28 points and 12 rebounds on his debut with the PH team.

“I was hoping that we could’ve pulled it off,” Blatche told Spin.ph. “A lot of teams would’ve given in, down by 15 points. We put ourselves in a position to win, but we just fell short.”

A buzzer-beating 2-point shot by Jeff Chan could have won the thriller for the Nationals but the well-defended jumper was off. A game-tying three-pointer by Jayson Castro, who got knocked down but got no call, also had little chance of going in at the end of overtime.

Still Blatche, the former Brooklyn Nets center who took over from Marcus Douthit, refused to be crestfallen.

“One thing about it is we’re confident now, we know that we belong,” he said. “Coming in here, a lot of people doubted us and saw us as an easy match. But we’re getting there.”

And there could be right in front of Pau Gasol and host Spain in the Round of 16.

But first Argentina and the business of making a seer out of coach Bill Bayno.

Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of fiba.com)

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Kagilagilalas!

Lipa City, Batangas
August 30, 2014
Kagilagilalas!

Ang sarap maging Pilipino.
Lalo na kapag nakikita mo sa TV ang Gilas Pilipinas na naglalaro sa FIBA World Cup sa Spain. Ito nga pala ang unang pagkakataon na naka-abot tayo sa ganitong kalaking entablado simula ng makarating tayo ng ganito kalayo nung 1978. Hindi ka pa ata pinapanganak nun. Ako tatlong taon pa lang. Wala pang alam sa mundo.

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Masaya din na muntik na nating talunin ang Croatia, isang bansa na napakalaking tradisyon sa basketball. Oo natalo nga tayo, 78-81, sa overtime. Pero para na rin tayong nanalo. Dahil ano ba naman ang Pilipinas kumpara sa Croatia, na may Tony Kukoc (Oo sya nga, yung kakampe ni Michael Jordan sa Chicago Bulls) at si Drazen Petrovic (Magaling din po sya pero pumanaw na nung ilang dekada na ang nakakaraan dahil sa akisdente). Samantalang tayo, parang mga duwende lang kumpara sa higanteng taga Croatia. Sayang natalo tayo.
Super saya din na nakuha natin si Andray Blatche, na tinatawag nating “naturalized” Pinoy. Ang galing po nya. 28 puntos at 12 rebounds. Me pito po syang turnovers. Pero okay lang. Sa ganda ng ginawa nya, kahit 69 pa ang errors nya, papagawa ko pa rin sya ng estatwa sa Luneta. Hindi nga lang sa tabi ni Gat Jose Rizal kundi sa bandang harap ng Taft Avenue kung saan lagi ko sya matatanaw pag sumasakay ako sa LRT para pumunta sa Quiapo.

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Bilib na din ako kay kots Chot Reyes dahil sa nagawa nya. Akalain mo nakita nya ang susi o formula sa pagbuo ng koponan na panlaban sa kumpetisyon na ganito. Manalo man o mangulelat tayo dito, kahit papano me programa na tayong magagamit sa mga darating pang national teams natin.
Nakakatanggal talaga ng pagod at problema ang panonood ko sa Gilas. Kahit na muntik na akong atakihin sa puso habang pinapanuod ko sila.

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Nawala din ang pagka-bwiset ko sa mga pulitiko natin. At saka sa MRT, kung hindi tumitigil at sira ay binabaha naman. Nakakalamya din ang trapik. Pati ang pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin at sa pagdami ng gastusin. Buti na lang tumaas sweldo namin sa Philippine STAR (Salamat Boss MVP!).
At syempre, salamt Gilas Pilipinas. Ang galing nyo at kagila-gilalas!

P. S.

Want some English? Here’s the generic story straight from Spain:

Games Sunday

(Seville Time – PH plus 6 hrs.)

1:30 p.m. – Argentina vs Croatia

5:30 p.m. – Senegal vs Puerto Rico

8 p.m. – Philippines vs Greece

Games Monday

(Seville Time – PH plus 6 hrs.)

12:30 p.m. – Croatia vs Senegal

5:30 p.m. – Argentina vs Philippines

8 p.m. – Puerto Rico vs Greece

Games Wednesday

(Seville Time – PH plus 6 hrs.)

1:30 p.m. – Philippines vs Puerto Rico

5:30 p.m. – Senegal vs Argentina

8 p.m. – Greece vs Croatia

Games Thursday

(Seville Time – PH plus 6 hrs.)

2 p.m. – Senegal vs Philippines

6 p.m. – Croatia vs Puerto Rico

10 p.m. –Argentina vs Greece

 

SEVILLE, Spain – Mount Croatia was there for the conquering. And had it not been for a most unfortunate slip late in the climb and so close to the summit, the Philippine flag would have been planted atop Group B of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup last night at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes San Pablo.

 

Gilas Pilipinas nonetheless sent shock waves crashing through the nerve centers of its next four preliminary round opponents, mainly Greece and Argentina, whose chief strategists must have rushed back to their war rooms to upgrade their offensive arsenal and modify their defensive game plans against the second best team in FIBA Asia.

 

After watching the Philippines, behind naturalized player Andray Blatche, put the fear of defeat in the hearts of the world No. 16 Croatians before succumbing in overtime, 81-78, the impact could have even reached as far off as Incheon in South Korea where grand designs are apparently being hatched to keep the former Brooklyn Nets center and two other Gilas players – Gabe Norwood and Jared Dillinger – from being part of the national team that will gun for the gold medal in the 17th Asian Games later this month.

 

And they have tons of good reasons to do so.

 

Not only did Gilas Pilipinas blew away all negative vibes hurled its way, especially following some lopsided losses during its tuneup games in the run-up to the global tournament it hasn’t been a part of for nearly four decades, it also staked a legitimate claim to a potential Round of 16 appearance with the rest of world’s best.

 

The Nationals still need to win at least two of their next four games, but the Greeks, Argentineans, Puerto Ricans and Senegalese, who follow next in that order, now know the Philippines would be darn hard to deny.

 

For 40 heart-pounding minutes and five more in the extra period, Gilas Pilipinas’ full potential was in glorious display.

 

Of course, so was Croatia.

 

Down by three late in regulation, 69-66,  the Croats, who are pegged to beat the Philippines by  30 points only to find themselves wallowing in neck-deep upset waters in the waning seconds, managed to pull together to tie the game on a 3-pointer.

 

They regained the lead, 71-69, but Jayson Castro, barely able to take a step a few weeks ago after badly spraining his ankle, scored on a beautiful floater to level the score, 71-all, triggering mild erosion down Mount Croatia.

 

Jeff Chan, whose 3-pointers earlier had kept the Nationals in the thick of the fight against the  behemoths from the former Yugoslavia, got the ball with the label “Hero” painted all over it, but failed to put the Croats away with a long 2 at the buzzer, sending a frazzled and breathless Filipino nation in a swoon,.

 

Clearly, however, that was the one that got away.

 

The Philippines wouldn’t come as tantalizingly close to a producing a blast that would be heard around the world, even after Blatche, who finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds in a performance that all but erased memories of Marcus Douthit from the Filipino’s basketball psyche, had drilled a 3-pointer that cut a four-point deficit to 79-78 with 7.6 seconds to go.

 

Instead Gilas Pilipinas ignited a far deafening explosion, especially when an apparent foul on a 3-point shooting Castro at the buzzer was ignored by the referees after Croatia’s man of the hour Bojan Bogdanovic (26 points) hit two free throws to make it a 3-point advantage.

 

“The ref called a technical foul that I couldn’t believe (towards the end of the third),” said national coach Chot Reyes. “The ref said Jason was flopping. The guy is 5-10 and he’s guarding a 6-5. How can that be a flopping? That’s the difference. If not for that technical foul, we could have won the game.

 

“The game wouldn’t have gone into overtime. The refs called a technical. Croatia made the free throws then made a three at the buzzer. That’s five points and that’s the difference in the game. We just kept on fighting. We know Croatia is very tough and we just wanted to keep on fighting.

 

The Greeks are next.

 

At the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. Tuesday (Manila time), the Philippines faces wild card Greece in what could be one of Gilas Pilipinas’ best three shots at pulling off a shocker.

 

With a six-hour time difference, the Greece-Philippines Group B game is set at 8 p.m. here following Argentina vs Croatia at 1:30 p.m. local time and Senegal vs Puerto Rico at 5:30 p.m. While the schedule could be hellish for Filipino fans, the schedule should be a little less bewitching for the Nationals who are acclimatized by now to the waking hours in the city, 2 ½ hours by train southwest of the capital Madrid.

 

Seville is historically linked to the Philippines. It was from here in 1519 that Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan departed for the first circumnavigation of the Earth. Two years later on March 16, he reached the island of Homonhon in what is now Eastern Samar and from there proceeded to Mactan in Cebu.

 

That piece of history aside, Gilas hopes to wave the Philippine flag to celebrate a much more recent feat of achievement – a victory over the 2006 FIBA World Cup silver medalist.

           

But the task, like cleaning the Augean stables, would be Herculean.

 

Ranked fifth in the world, the Greeks have three legitimate NBA players – 6-foot-3 point guard Nick Calathes of the Memphis Grizzlies, 7-foot Milwaukee Bucks wing Giannis Antetokounmpo and 6-foot-9 small forward Kostas Papanikolaou of the Houston Rockets.

 

The frontline is equally imposing with 7-foot-2 Ian Vougkas, 7-foot-1 Ioannis Bourousis, 6- foot-11 Kostas Vasileiadis and comebacking 6-foot-5 hotshot Nikos Zisis.

  

Greece, 1959 champion Brazil, 2010 finalist Turkey and first timer Finland joined host Spain, 2012 London Olympics champion United States and 18 other nations from various FIBA zone qualifiers.

 

Meanwhile, San Mig Super Coffee star James Yap took time off from his vacation with his Italian girlfriend to cheer for Mixers teammate Marc Pingris and the rest of the Gilas team.

 

PBA commissioner Chito Salud, with league media bureau chief Willie Marcial, and PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio of Talk ‘N Text  also went through a 26-hour journey Thursday through Friday, with a layover in Dubai and a three-hour wait for the train in Madrid, to lend support for the national team.

 

The rest of the PBA governors, including vice chairman Robert Non of San Miguel Beer, will be coming in tomorrow.

 

Scores:

 

CROATIA 81 – Bogdanovic 26, Simon 12, Saric 10, Tomic 8, Ukic 5, Markota 5,

Lafayette 4, Rudez 4, Zoric 4, Babic 3.

 

PHILIPPINES 78 – Blatche 28, Chan 17, Pingris 10, William Castro 6, De Ocampo 5, Alapag 4, Tenorio 2, Norwood 2, Fajardo 2, Dalistan Lee 2, Aguilar 0.

 

Quarters: 23-9, 37-31, 57-49, 71-all (reg), 81-78 (OT)

 

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of Fiba.com)

Paniamogan Slinger

The Arena, San Juan
August 15, 2014
Paniamogan Slinger

The NCAA will hold a benefit All-Star Game, a slam dunk competition and a three-point shootout on Aug. 15 (Saturday) at The Arena in San Juan City where the 90-year-old league gathers its best and brightest stars all in one roof.

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I mean ALL, not just Filipinos. Take a look at the participants below as endorsed by the all the coaches.

 

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And it’s for a cause.
Meaning, the proceeds of the one-day festivities will go to charity. Management Committee chair Paul Supan of Season 90 host Jose Rizal tells us the money that will be generated from this will specifically go to orphan kids of Hospicion de San Jose, NCAA athletes representing our national teams abroad and NCAA personnel in need. So for those with hearts of gold, please come and watch the games and lend a helping hand.

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While I’m intrigued by the All-Star Game and slam dunk event, the three-point shootout interests me more. Why? Because, one, it is the most unpredictable among the three and, two, I just plain love it. So I ask you, who do you think will win it among the current participants? While San Beda’s Anthony Semerad and Perpetual Help’s Harold Arboleda could be the clear favorites, I may go with this guy named Philip Paniamogan of Jose Rizal. Heck, I will probably bet my house on this gunslinger from Cagayan de Oro.

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Stats and percentage wise, Semerad and Arboleda were astonishing. Semerad shot 21 of 43 or an impressive 49 percent while Arboleda made a league-high 30 booming triples out of 62 attempts for 48 percent. But Semerad and Arboleda are spot up shooters.

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That’s why I’m going with Paniamogan, he went only 23 of 71 and 32 percent but I see him drain threes in a hurry with hands on his face. Imagine if his free? So any takers?

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By the way, Paniamogan is the NCAA Press Corp’s ACCEL Quantum/3XVI Player of the Week backed by Bactigel hand sanitizer, Doctor J Mighty Alcohol and Mighty Mom Dishwashing. And here’s the group’s press release:

PHILIP Paniamogan was named the NCAA Press Corps-Accel Quantum Plus/3XVI Player of the Week after steering Jose Rizal University to solo third spot at the end of the first round.

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Paniamogan waxed hot in the second half as the Bombers subdued Mapua, 87-78, last Monday.
JRU, which last made to the Final Four in 2011, will enter the crucial second round trailing behind defending champion San Beda College (7-1) and second-running Arellano University (7-2).

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Paniamogan, who is averaging 18 points this season, beat St. Benilde’s Jonathan Grey and Emilio Aguinaldo’s John Tayongtong for the weekly plum supported by Bactigel hand sanitizer, Doctor J Mighty Alcohol and Mighty Mom Dishwashing.
“Gusto talaga naming makabalik sa Final Four kaya pinagbubutihan ko yung laro ko,” said Paniamogan, who also had three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 36 minutes of play.

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Scoreless in the first 20 minutes of play, Paniamogan found his shooting touch in the last two periods by drilling in 26 points to lift the Bombers to their fourth consecutive win and sixth overall in nine matches.

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JRU exploded for 30 points in the third period to take a 68-63 advantage and posted the game’s biggest lead at 82-68, as the Cardinals could not put the clamps on Paniamogan’s outside snipings.

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P.S.
Sportsmaryosep was chosen as one of the judges in the slam dunk competition and very thankful it. I was also wondering if I could push my luck even further and also be the judge in the Ms. NCAA 2014 set earlier at 10:30. Can I?

Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photos courtesy of season90.ncaa.org.ph)

Pokermania

Solaire Resort & Casino
August 14, 2014
Pokermania

It’s not a secret that I’m a poker newbie. So when a serious ABS-CBN’s TJ Manotoc busted poor me when I went all in, I’m not surprised nor disppointed that I was the first ones who left the 32-man media roll hosted by Solaire Resort & Casino. But I walked away happy knowing it’s TJ who benefitted in my loss. After shaking hands with everyone including The Voice’s Lee Grane, Yahoo! Philippines’ Bob Guerrero, poker pro Sardy Rivera and promoter Mike Kim. My only consolation though is that World Poker Tour president Adam Pliska, who I initially mistaken for US President Obama, went out a few seconds before I went ballistic. So goodbye to Sportsmaryosep and better luck next time I guess. Solaire CEO Tom Arasi and VP for International Marketing Cyrus Shirafat were also there to lend the press launch some prestige. Erik Mana, my favorite Filipino magician, Brisom’s Brian Sombero Sardy’s brothers Marc, Euryd and Ashby also joined the media free rolls. By the way, thank you Yahoo! Philippines’ and CSC basketball fantasy commissioner Noel Zarate for the invite.

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Here’s the full story written by our colleague Olmin Leyba of The Philippine STAR that came out recently:

The table is set for World Poker Tour’s first ever WPT National Philippines Event, which blasts off at Solaire Resort and Casino from Oct. 16-28.
For 12 days, the Solaire will be the center of the poker world, hosting an exciting lineup of activities in the WPT Poker Festival topped off by the Main Event. Top players from across the world will compete for big cash prizes and points in the coveted Season XIII WPT Player of the Year race in the $2,200 buy-in Main Event on Nov. 25.
“The World Poker Tour continues to expand across the globe, especially in Asia where the growth is phenomenal,” WPT president Adam Pliska said during yesterday’s press conference at Eclipse Bar in Solaire.
“The Philippines represents what we want poker to evolve to be. It’s a very warm and welcoming place and with a first-class venue like Solaire, both local and foreign players will have a great time on and off the felt, “ he also said.
The Poker Festival is the first offering in a newly forged five-year relationship between WPT and the Philippines, a country long regarded as one of Asia’s poker hotbeds.
“We are constantly creating ways for our guests to have the ultimate resort experience so hosting the largest and most recognizable poker tour in the world only comes naturally for us. Solaire is about creating moments and WPT is going to provide many powerful moments for everyone involved,” said Solaire Resort and Casino president and CEO Thomas Arasi.
“The Philippines has always been the hub for this region, whether it’s for travel, trade or culture so it just makes complete sense to have an international event in a country that has so much to offer than any other destination in Asia,” said promoter Mike Kim.
Pliska said they expect 600 to 800 players for the Main Event with a total pot estimated at $1.6 million and among the personalities coming over are WPT executive tour director Matt Savage, poker legend Mike Sexton and the Royal Plush Girls.
Local poker players expressed excitement over the WPT gig.
“The World Poker Tour is a dream for us. We have to go out (to be able to play) but now it’s in the Philippines,” said Ashby Rivera, who attended the presscon together with his brothers Marc, Euryd and Sandy, Brisom frontman Brian Sombero, magician-entertainer Erik Mana, and The Voice’s Lee Grane.
Satellites starting as low as P300 to the Main Event are ongoing at Solaire’s lush poker room. Details of all the satellites and a full schedule of events can be found on Solaire’s website.
http://www.philstar.com/sports/2014/08/14/1357428/solaire-hosts-world-poker-festival

So guys, prepare for October because pokermania will invade Manila.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of Jamil Buergo of http://www.solarsportsdesk.ph)

War of the Worlds

Vito Cruz, Manila
August 12, 2014
War of the Worlds

Movies.
I love movies. My wife and I love movies. I will teach my son, Iago, to love movies. I’m sure you love movies too. Movies make us cry, laugh, fall in love, get angry and feel different emotions. So it saddens me to learn that one of my favorite actors, Robin Williams, passed away recently. If I will be asked to write my top 10 movies of all time, half of it are movies where Robin Williams either starred or co-starred. Name it, Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poet Society, Good Morning, Vietnam and Awakenings. So rest in peace, Robin Williams.
But this is not about Robin Williams or any of his movies.
It’s about the network and collegiate wars brewing in our midst. ABS-CBN vs TV5. UAAP vs NCAA. It’s truly War of the Worlds. It started since the NCAA bolted out of ABS-CBN three years ago to join TV5. Reports have it that the NCAA didn’t like the way it was being treated as second fiddle to UAAP. They’ve been going at it since then. And this recent press release circulated to the media should very well renew the rivalries. So read on:

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NCAA 90th Season on TV5 posts high viewership ratings
The TV5 and AksyonTV telecast of the NCAA games has reached its highest viewership ratings for the league. According to data from Nielsen Media Research, NCAA has led both NUTAM and MEGATAM viewership numbers, scoring higher ratings compared to UAAP.

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Moreover, combined viewership of TV5 and AksyonTV is higher by 54% in NUTAM and 46% in MEGATAM in terms of audience share for the month of July. The spectacular NCAA 90th Season Opening Ceremonies on TV5 and AksyonTV last June 28 garnered almost 620,000 viewers in NUTAM. This was four times higher than the Opening Ceremony of UAAP.

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The oldest collegiate league has also been attracting a wide range of audience with the dual airing of the games on both TV5 and AksyonTV, tapping both young and old viewers.

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“The initial ratings for this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament prove that viewers are savoring the kind of throwback, ‘in-your-face’ basketball that only the NCAA can bring — raw hoops action that takes you back to your college days. We are happy for this and we hope you continue to enjoy true and gritty hardcourt action on TV5 and AksyonTV,” Sports5 Head Chot Reyes said.

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Sports5, TV5’s sports production arm, has been bringing the NCAA games to more Filipino homes since 2012.#

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Sportsmaryosep’s prognosis: To be fair, this is just one side of the coin and we haven’t heard from the UAAP and ABS-CBN yet. We will see in the coming days, perhaps weeks or months, how ABS-CBN will respond.

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In terms of their respective opening ceremonies though, I would have to say the NCAA beat the UAAP on that one. As for attendance, we have yet to come up with statistics on these. It looked like UAAP has the edge on this regard.

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As for the quality of the games, it’s really debatable. At the end of the day, numbers don’t lie. So you be the judge.

Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of ph.sports.yahoo.com, shortnewsposter.com and season90.ncaa.org.ph)

The Raven

Lipa City, Batangas
August 12, 2014
The Raven

They say a great athlete is measured not only on what he does inside the court or an arena but how he holds himself outside it.
It still holds true.
Try this one from collegiate superstar Kiefer Ravena’s example.
First, take a look at this photo shot by this photo-snapping @dbuzzketball who I know for years but will not say who (Clue: somewhere in snapping).

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You see the girl showing the finger while Ravena is smiling and unaware of what the other is gesturing. It went viral that several media outlets picked it up. But instead of feeling betrayed and angry as most typical pea-brained, egotistical athletes will react, Ravena took the right path. By forgiving. And what’s even more admirable, Ravena pleaded to his fans not to bash the girl on social media. That is class.
So bravo Kiefer.
You are greatness personified indeed.
Here is probably the reason why the girl went ballistic. This is the story I’ve written recently for Philstar.com’s “Unblogged” section. It was, by the way, my first blog for this site. It’s titled “Phenomenal!”

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MANILA, Philippines – The 15,638 paying patrons at the Mall of Asia Arena and countless more on television and free livestream feed who got to watch the Season 77 UAAP game between the Ateneo Eagles and University of the East Warriors got a treat.
All of us were served a classic.
And I have several thoughts.
1. Ateneo had literally come out from the grave in digging its way out of a 21-point hole and snatching a 93-91 overtime victory over a hard-luck UE squad. A spectacular game by Kiefer Ravena won it for the Eagles. The player everyone likes to call “The Phenom” torched the Warriors with a spectacular 38-point performance to almost singlehandedly carry the Eagles through.
2. Let’s put everything in perspective regarding Ravena’s memorable game. Smart Bro-powered UAAP statsman Pong Ducanes said Ravena shot 8-of-20 from the field and 19-of-25 from the free throw line. The effort is also the highest since Jeff Napa erupted for 43 in a 98-92 National University win over Adamson on Aug. 22, 2002. If we stretch back to the late it will also be one of the best single-game scoring occurrences since Paolo Mendoza exploded for 47. Rewind further, it was the best performance by an Atenean since Richie Ticzon, now a Nash Racela assistant at Far Eastern U, went on an offensive havoc several decades back. And by the way, Ravena had nine assists and six rebounds on the side. So impressive was The Kief that his coach, the stoic Bo Perasol, later declared “He’s an epitome of a can-do attitude.” Well said.
3. Guess what? It’s not only Ravena who had a career night. UE’s Roi Sumang and Pedrito Galanza did too. Super Sumang machine-gunned his way to 30 points and spiked it with five boards and seven dimes while Galanza was gallant all game with 19 points. Imagine, that’s three players in the same game. How often do these kinds of things happen?
4. Speaking of Ravena and Sumang, I was reminded by the shootout of Allan “The Triggerman” Caidic, then with UE, and Pido Jarencio, who was then with University of Santo Tomas in the early 80s. Better yet, it’s like Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins reprising their 1988 Game Seven Eastern Conference semifinal showdown between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. The high-flying Wilkins blew by everyone with 47 points while Larry Legend had 34 points and the win. Or that never-ending duel between Paul Pierce when he was still a Celtic and LeBron James when he was still in the early years of the Cleveland Cavaliers (Yes boys, LeBron did the “The Decision” by moving to Miami and “The Decision 2.0” by going back home). Boy, those were the days.
5. I was knocked off my seat when after the game, UE coach Derrick Pumaren spoke about Ateneo getting gazillions of free throws. Here’s what he said. “Hard to beat a team that shot 45 FTs.” Pumaren isn’t saying anything near what suspended UP coach Rey Madrid said concerning point-shaving, but you get the drift. So let’s do a comparative. Pong Ducanes and his Smart Bro stats indicated that UE was assessed 35 fouls as against Ateneo’s 29. It translated to the Warriors being rewarded with 30 foul shots but ended making only half of them. The Eagles, for their part, got 45 free throws and made 33 of them. Of the 33, 25 went to, guess who? Kiefer. But as they say, don’t complain if you couldn’t make 15 free throws and protect a 21-point lead.
Isn’t this a special day?
Can I say wow now? Wow!
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
Or you can check out my blog at https://sportsmaryosep.wordpress.com/
http://www.philstar.com/sports/basketball/uaap-season-77/articles/2014/08/11/1356342/phenomenal

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P.S.
Kiefer was adjudged by the UAAP Press Corps as its hands down choice for ACCEL Quantum/3XVI Player of the Week presented by Bactigel hand sanitizer, Doctor J Mighty Alcohol and Mighty Mom Anti-bacteria. Phenomenal indeed.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of @dBuzzketball and spin.ph)

Of Baloria, Pinto and Why NCAA Games Tick

The Arena, San Juan
August 10, 2014
Of Baloria, Pinto and Why NCAA Games Tick

In one of those times I was sitting inside the press room while Season 90 games were ongoing, spin.ph’s Karlo Sacamos and I, Sportsmaryosep at your service, wondered why games in this league are entertaining and a beauty to watch. We both agreed that, one, most of the games ended up close, and two, any one of the 10 participating schools can beat anyone. And we mean anyone. Including Mapua, yes.

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So to prove the point, I counted the numbers and mustered my minimal to non-existent Mathematical skills. To date, the NCAA has played a total of 40 senior basketball games. Of those, 28 were decided by a single-digit and the other 12 by double-digit margins. The average winning margin of those 28 wins decided by a single-digit is 5.1071429 points. Of the 28, five ended up decided by a point and six by two points. So you get the idea how matches are being fought that close in the NCAA. And for all intents and purposes, Karlo and I answered our own question.

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Interestingly, two of the reasons why this 90-year-old league are being peppered with thrillers and cliffhangers are Perpetual Help’s Juneric Baloria and Arellano U’s John Pinto. Baloria and Pinto, of course, came through with clutch plays that led to their respective teams escaping from the jaws of defeat and eventually clinching co-ACCEL Quantum-3XVI NCAA Press Corps Player of Week honors.
To further tell their story, here’s a piece from The Philippine STAR, the paper you read from cover to cover (Shameless plugging!):

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Arellano U’s John Nard Pinto and Perpetual Help’s Juneric Baloria are saving their best for last.
Giving it all on their last season before they turn pro, Pinto and Baloria came through with clutch plays in propelling their teams to victory and clinching the ACCEL Quantum-3XVI NCAA Press Corps Players of the Week plum.
Pinto had a crucial rebound and a key putback to lift the Chiefs to an escape 67-66 win over the St. Benilde Blazers last Friday while Baloria poured in 10 of 32 poinrts in the fourth quarter to power the Altas to an 85-82 triumph over the Letran Knights Saturday.
Pinto ended up with a team-high 19 points and his Arellano U team winding up with a seventh victory against two losses, or just half a game behind four-peat champion San Beda, who leads the league with a 7-1 (win-loss) record.
Pinto and Baloria bested Arellano U’s American reinforcement Dioncee Holts and Jose Rizal’s neophyte guard Bernabe Teodoro for the weekly plum backed by Bactigel hand sanitizer, Doctor J Mighty Alcohol and Mighty Mom Anti-bacteria.
For Pinto, he is just giving everything he got.
“This is my last year so I just want to give it all my best to help my team,” said the 23-year-old Pinto, who is applying for this year’s PBA rookie draft late this month, in Filipino.
Baloria, on the other hand, torched the Knights with six booming triples to finish with a league season-high output.
The Lanao del Norte native had his biggest moments late in the game when he hit a three-pointer and completed a three-point play that pushed the Altas to within a point and made a critical steal and a putback that sealed the deal.
Baloria said he is dreaming to help the Las Pinas-based school win its first ever NCAA championship before he tries his luck with the PBA.
“I hope I can help my school win an NCAA championship, it’s one of my dreams,” said Baloria.

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Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of ncaa.org.ph)