Ruthless

Greenbelt, Makati
December 7, 2014
Ruthless

I have a dream.
To see a Filipino win a title in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, mixed martial arts’ biggest stage.
A fighter with Filipino descent will do.
On this day, the dream has just become reality.
Robbie Lawler defeated Johny Hendricks with a split decision victory in UFC 181 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada to crown himself the new welterweight king. The 32-year-old San Diego, California native won it in two scorecards, 49-46 and 48-47, while Hendricks won it in just one, 48-47. Lawler thus avenged his heartbreaking split decision defeat to Hendricks on March 15 of this year for the vacant welterweight crown. A third fight could be imminent after a pair of closely fought and nerve-wracking fights. Or Lawler could just end up facing No. 1 contender Rory MacDonald. Whoever. The most important thing is the Filipino is one with Lawler in celebrating his recent triumph. A historic one if you’re going to ask me.
And I have several thoughts:
1. Brandon “The Truth” Vera, Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz and former Ultimate Fighter runner up Philip Nover must be smiling nowadays after a fellow Fil-Am finally made it to the top. Vera and Munoz came a win or two away from a title fight. Vera is now out of the UFC and fighting in a smaller fight organization while Munoz is hanging ion threads to stay in the UFC. So it must be sweet for them to see Lawler reach the pinnacle of success.
2. I wish and pray that Lawler stays long enough at the top for his success to trickle down here in our small country where I hope an MMA boom follows. Just like when the Azkals did that to football after their shock win over Vietnam in the Suzuki Cup years back.
3. I’m guessing the UFC will send Lawler here to the Philippines and allow the Filipino people to see the champion in person. And I’m sure they will after the UFC already sent a battery of champions to the Philippines before. Read: Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, BJ Penn and Georges St.-Pierre himself.
4. A long overdue UFC fightcard on our local soil should follow after years of failed attempts. If only Lawler himself could be our ambassador.
5. I hope Filipino fighters learn from Lawler, whose perseverance brought him from where he is today. In case you don’t know, Lawler brust into the UFC 12 years ago at a very young age of 20 years old. He got burned along the way and was bumped off the UFC slate years later. But thanks to his hardwork and resiliency, he made it back. Boom.
What are your thoughts?
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
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(Photo courtesy of mmaweekly.com)

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Gilas Pilipinas 3.0?

Kamayan Edsa
December 7, 2014
Gilas Pilipinas 3.0?

Recently, the UAAP and NCAA Press Corps, from which this author belongs from, have honored the best performers in both leagues in their annual Collegiate Awards.
And boy, it’s truly the best because all the awardees showed up. And this is the list of awardees:
MYTHICAL5 – UAAP Most Valuable Player Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo, Far Eastern University’s Mac Belo, NCAA MVP Earl Scottie Thompson of Perpetual Help, San Beda’s Ola Adeogun and La Salle’s Jeron Teng.

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COACHES – National University’s Eric Altamirano and San Beda’s Boyet Fernandez.
OTHER AWARDEES – La Salle’s Almond Vosotros (Super Senior); NU’s Alfred Aroga (Pivotal Player), San Beda’s Baser Amer (Accel Court General), NU’s Gelo Alolino (Impact Player), Arellano’s Jiovani Jalalon (Impact Player), NU’s Troy Rosario (Doctor J Breakthrough Player), San Beda’s Kyle Pascual (Super Senior), San Beda’s Anthony Semerad (Pivotal Player), NU’s Glenn Khobuntin (Super Senior).

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After much deliberation, Kiefer ended up as the Smart Player of the Year for a spectacular season.

Of course, this yearly event will not be possible without main sponsors Smart Sports, Accel 3XVI, San Miguel Corporation and Kohl Industries (Doctor J Alcohol, Bactigel hand sanitizer and Mighty Mom dishwashing liquid) and the UAAP and NCAA with Gatorade as minor sponsor. Shameless plugging!

Did you see the awardees?
You could form a team out of these guys.
Which reminded me of 2008. The year Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan graced our event and gave a memorable speech. Among our awardees back then were Chris Tiu, Jayvee Casio, Dylan Ababou and Mark Barroca. He kind of kidded of forming a team out of this stellar batch. And lo and behold, years later, the original Gilas Pilipinas under Serbian Rajko Toroman was formed.
Which brings me to an idea: Why not form a team out of this 2014 batch?
I mean, nothing could go wrong if we have Ravena, Teng, Amer, Thompson, Jalalon and Vosotros, Alolino as our guards, Belo, Rosario, Semerad and Khobuntin as our forwards and Pascual as one of our big men and let Altamirano or Fernandez or both coach this team. Heck, we could throw in either Adeogun or Aroga by naturalizing one of them. And we haven’t even spoken of the talented Ben Mbala of La Salle yet.
I salivate at the thought of these guys playing side by side. It’s giving me goosebumps already just by the thought.
And I will not be surprised if they did converge to form a national team or a Gilas 3.0 in the near future.
Can’t wait for that day to arrive.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
Like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Sportsmaryosep
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(Photos courtesy of KC Cruz and the UAAP and NCAA Press Corps)

Ripping it on with Rip Hamilton (A re-post from ph.nba.com )

Personalities
Ripping it on with Rip Hamilton
joey villar

Photo: Richard Hamilton #32 of the Detroit Pistons looks on against the Milwaukee Bucks in a game on April 8, 2011 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Anyone here knows Richard “Rip” Hamilton?

If you’re one of the people who raised his hands, the player known for wearing a clear plastic mask who moves and shoots as relentless as the legendary Reggie Miller a decade ago, is in town. He was sent here by the NBA through its NBA Cares program. And with help from Globe, its new partner, Hamilton will hold clinics and give inspirational talks to less fortunate children in Mandaluyong City.

And we’re one of the few lucky individuals who got to talk to the guy.

***

The first thing he talked about was Jr. NBA alumnus Kobe Paras, the young, talented son of PBA rookie MVP Benjie who has made it to the UCLA Bruins roster.

“I’ve seen some highlights of him in the Internet,” he says. “I’m a fan of the game, I’m always watching new talent and watching new kids come up and at the time I’ve seen him play I didn’t know he was from the Philippines.”

“When I was in the car coming in, I asked our driver who is the best player to come out of the Philippines and he was saying that there is this 6-7 guard from UCLA named Kobe Paras and I say ‘hey, that’s the kid I’ve seen in YouTube.'”

***

I asked then asked Hamilton who among Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and the rest of the NBA stars is the greatest. Here’s what he said:

“It’s not a tough question because I’m a Michael Jordan guy and I believe that Michael Jordan is the greatest player that ever played basketball. There are a couple of guys close, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Shaq (O’Neal), Julius Erving,  Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James but I just think Michael Jordan and everybody else.”

My only regret is that I never got to ask which between Kobe and LeBron is better. I’m guessing he’ll probably side with Kobe, having played against him and beat his mighty Lakers in the Pistons’ title run in 2004.

Photo: Richard Hamilton #32 of the Chicago Bulls controls the ball during the first quarter against the Detroit Pistons on January 4, 2012 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

***

Of course, we all know that Rip got to play with His Airness himself during the latter’s Washington Wizards days, which was a dream come true for him.

“To be honest with you, Michael Jordan is pretty much my idol and I always dream of getting an opportunity to play with him that’s always my dream to compete against and let alone play with him,” he said.

That’s why when he was traded by Jordan and the Wizards in the late 90s, he was heartbroken.

“When he traded me away, I was hurt, might have shed a tear a little bit,” he said.

***

Years later, the trade ended up in Hamilton’s favor as he eventually won a championship with the Pistons.

“Years later he told me, ‘Rip, I did you a favor,’ and he’s right because I never would have won a championship if not for the trade.”

Winning an NBA title is another dream come true for Hamilton, a three-time All-Star who has also surpassed Isaiah Thomas as the Pistons’ all-time leading scorer in the playoffs.

“I won an NCAA title for UConn but it’s nothing compared to the NBA title we won in Detroit. There are so many great players who never won like Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Karl Malone. I was lucky enough to win. And winning a title makes everything stop.”

***

Aside from MJ, Rip said he also learned a lot from Miller.

“Reggie Miller is a guy I stole a lot of tricks from and added it on my game. It didn’t pay no commission on it but he was one of the guys I really looked up to growing up,” he said.

The only thing he didn’t copy from Miller was the latter’s post-three-pointer kick, which he did a lot to draw a foul from opposing players.

“I kicked my leg out, but when I tried it, I shot an airball. After that, I left it alone.”

***

Of course, the customary, slam book questions followed, including who’s the toughest player he had guarded. Guess who again? Nope. It’s not Kobe. It’s former New York Knicks star Allan Houston.

“The toughest person I ever have to guard I have to say it’s Allan Houston. Everybody get surprised when I say that but he plays his pace the whole game. He never sped up his game and never get rattled whenever I put my hand on his face, so I have to say Allan Houston,” he said.

***

Like everyone else, we asked him what did he do right to make it that far. And just like a student of Miller Time, his answer is moving without the ball.

“It’s the one thing I will advice kids, to keep moving without the ball,” he said.

Nice advice.

What are your thoughts?

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

***

Joey Villar is a columnist for NBA.com Philippines. His views do not reflect those of the NBA and its partners.

Lionheart

Philstar.com
Joey Villar

December 1, 2014
Ynares Gym, Pasig City
Lionheart

San Beda won its first ever Philippine Collegiate Champions League title Monday with a 73-67 victory before a big crowd at the Ynares Gym in Pasig City. It was a clean sweep in two games by the Lions.
And I have several thoughts.
1. The PCCL was established in 2003 with hopes of determining the best collegiate team not just in the National Capital Region but the whole Philippines. In 12 years of its existence including this season, UAAP teams have won all but one editions. San Sebastian, then led by the “Pinatubo Three” of Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang and Ronald Pascual, snatched the crown in 2011. Until San Beda came into the picture to make it two. So sorry UAAP, NCAA has the best college team this year.
2. The first one is always the sweetest. And it ran true with the Lions, who finally won the big one after years of disappointments.
3. Nigerian Ola Adeogun of San Beda owns the best defense of ALL college players in the land. Bar none.
4. Cameroonian Ben Mbala of La Salle has the most offensive arsenal among the current batch of reinforcements.
5. Adeogun is better than Mbala. Adeogun utterly dominated Mbala in this series–both on the basketball court and in Twitter. Here’s how their word war has transpired:
“Sbc u can get game 1 but expect no mercy and sympathy for the last 2 games we will get back stronger #AnimoLaSalle #PCCL2014— thekidfromCameroon (@benmbala) November 27, 2014”
“Parang tsamba lang yun panalo namin ah, kawawa naman kami sa game 2 #AnimoSanBeda #RedLion #PCCL2014 #AnimoSanBeda pic.twitter.com/4SAtaV2zam — Adeogun Olaide (@AdeogunOlaide10) November 27, 2014”
“Lets see who will have the last word today rather tweeting girly stuffs on the net pink cat oupps sorry i mean red lion— thekidfromCameroon (@benmbala) December 1, 2014”
“U just made it a personal affair #Pccl2014— thekidfromCameroon (@benmbala) December 1, 2014”
“You just got beaten by the PINK CAT, stay humble kid, you got a long way to go,you good. #AnimoSanBeda #AnimoLasalle pic.twitter.com/hqkYB6pfQo— Adeogun Olaide (@AdeogunOlaide10) December 1, 2014”

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And we all know the ending of this right? Adeogun having the last laugh and Mbala getting shoved down and humiliated upon. We all know Mbala has greatness in him. But he’s still a little bit raw. Maybe next year. But not now. Moral of the story? I will leave you with this quote for Mbala to gnaw the rest of the year:
“…talent means nothing, while experience, acquired in humility and with hard work, means everything.”
― Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

6. Don’t give me that garbage that La Salle played without Arnold Van Opstal, Jason Perkins, Almond Vosotros and Norbert Torres. It’s not an excuse and it will not hang. San Beda, in case you haven’t noticed, also missed Kyle Pascual and Semerad twins Anthony and David. And oh, didn’t Mbala play?
7. Jeron Teng and Mbala couldn’t do it all.

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8. Unless someone comes in and started to play like Russell Westbrook or Stephen Curry, Thomas Torres is a shoe-in to take the point guard duty. Kib Montalbo is a distant runner up.
9. Roldan Sara served old team La Salle a dish best served cold–revenge. He’s back playing beautiful music with Baser Amer. his former running mate during their San Beda Red Cubs days. He shouldn’t have left in the first place.
10. Baser Amer did the right thing on deciding to return next season for his fifth and last eligibility year. It will do him well and boost his stock as one of the amateur point guards to salivate about.
11. Athur dela Cruz should have a breakout season next year.

What’s yours?
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
Check out my Sportsmaryosep blog: https://sportsmaryosep.wordpress.com/
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(Photos courtesy of spin.ph, Baser Amer and San Beda Red Lions)