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  1. How Hard Could It Be

    With the UAAP about to start its 81st season this weekend, Mr Libog's thoughts naturally turned to thoughts of championship.

    "How hard could it be?" He repeated that question probably at least a dozen times over lunch at this new Vietnamese restaurant near where we live.

    (Note to friends: you should all give it a try, its called Ba Noi, inside Kapitolyo, in Pasig, their Pho is truly inspired, and huge, good for two if you have normal appetites.)

    Going back to our conversation, Mr Libog was off on another one of his discussions on basketball common sense.

    "Pare naman, hindi naman imposibleng talunin ng Ateneo ang Lasalle last year. Apat na vetreran starters ang nawala sa Lasalle, apat 'yon ha!," he emphasized.

    "Tapos ang pinalit mo, isang mad bomber na converted point guard, na-dengue pa along the way. 'Yung isa magaling na sana, kaya lang siempre may pagka-bwakaw, tsaka magulo maglaro. Take note, pareho pa silang sophomores, second year lang sa college parehas," he continued.

    I reminded him that they still had arguably the best player ever to set foot on a UAAP court in maybe the last 20 years, the incomparable Benoit Mbala. Plus they also had a veteran transferee in 6-5 slam dunk champion Leonard Santillan, and veteran 6-5 Fil-American Abu Tratter. Heck, they even had Kib Montalbo, Andrei Caracut, Jollo Go, and 6-8 Justin (I am not spelling that with an "e" at the end because that is the feminine spelling and I don't care what it says on his birth certificate) Baltazar.

    "Sino ba point guard dun? Sino may hawak nung bola parati? Nakakarating ba kay Mbala?" he rattled off.

    "Tsaka, pare naman, may nakita ka bang galaw o pukol ni Mbala? Naalala mo ba si Orlando Johnson o kaya si Justin Brownlee sa laro ni Mbala? Hindi 'di ba? Sabi ko naman sa iyo wala naman talaga siyang pukol, matigas ang kamay, kita mo naman sa freethrows niya. Hindi din naman siya tipong kamador na may pullup or may tres gaya nina Johnson at Brownlee," he continued.

    Still, said I, Mbala is a heck of a player, and since this is only college ball, that makes him a titan on the court, plus as much as Mr Libog may have ripped into Mbala's teammates, no one would ever dispute there are probably more PBA players on Lasalle last year than the Ateneo did.

    I further reminded him that he himself made a pre-Season 80 prediction that Lasalle would repeat as champions, due largely, I reminded him further still, to, in his words, "Mbala wala talagang katapat."

    It was in fact the first time he said, "How hard could it be?" And indeed how hard could it be to win when you have a 6-6 titan on your side.

    "You remember I keep telling you how in the US NCAA it is normally the teams that do not have an NBA lottery prospect that wins the national championship?" he said.

    "I'm talking about teams like Villanova, UConn, etc. In the last 10 years, only the Kentucky team of Anthony Davis had a 1-done lottery prospect and won the national title, all the rest are mostly veteran teams," he explained.

    "Ganyan din actually sa UAAP, hindi naman just sheer talent. Look at Mbala's title team. Meron siyang Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, Thomas Torres, Julian Sargent. Last year Mbala has two ball-dominant sophomores who barely played in their freshman year, a transferee playing for the first time in the UAAP, and a so-so talent whose best asset is he's a 6-5 Fil-Am."

    And he played against what, a bunch of all stars?

    "No, but Ateneo had veterans by then, battle-tested na. Thirdy Ravena, the Nieto twins, Anton Asistio, George Go, Vince Tolentino, even Ikeh, how many years have they been playing together? Graduate na nga sina Vince at Ikeh eh, Thirdy sat out a whole year pa, so that was how old that team was."

    "Same with Lasalle last year as well, nawalan sila ng apat na fifth-year starters. When they had all of those guys, especially Jeron, how hard could it be?"

    (I told you guys he said that a lot over lunch...)

    "So this year, fearless forecast ko, basta palaruin si (Angelo) Kouame, taya ko bahay namin pati lahat ng kotse ko, champion ang Ateneo," he declared.

    What if Kouame is ruled ineligible to play?

    "Sure Final 4 pa din, with a few breaks, or maybe some freethrow help from the referees, Finals pa din ang Ateneo. How hard could it be?"

    Everybody else?

    "UST and UE will dispute the cellar. All the rest rambulan na lang, although lamang na for Final 4 berths siguro FEU tsaka Adamson."

    There you have it folks.

    How hard could it be...
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  2. Recruits and Tryouts

    Quote Originally Posted by bchoter View Post
    I don’t think so.

    In a bit of good news, West Negros’ best HS prospect has committed to us and will play for the Tiger Cubs next season.

    For Season 82, we have Chabi Yo while we are negotiating with the stretch big mentioned above.
    Sir, may foreign blood ba ung under negotiation?
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  3. AZKALS TEAM MANAGER DAN PALAMI CALLS FOR SUPPORT FOR CRUCIAL ASIAN CUP QUALIFIERS

    17 March 2018 – Manila, Philippines: Philippine Azkals Team Manager Dan Palami calls for support for the upcoming matches of the national team, taking place on March 22 and March 27, 2018, to be held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

    The Azkals will see action on March 22 against Fiji, for an International Friendly Match, which will serve as a tune-up game for the crucial AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifier match on March 27, 2018.

    Azkals Team Manager Dan Palami says, “This is an important match for the country, and the cards are not exactly stacked against us. We are currently on top of the table of Group F with 9 points. We win or we draw, we will move forward and the country will be part of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time.”

    Palami continues, “We want the ‘12th man’ to be there in both the tune-up game and the Asian Cup qualifier match. This sport deserves all the support it can get, as we have already gone far, since 2010, when I took over as Team Manager of Azkals.”


    “We should also be proud of our national team players who are doing well internationally in their various clubs. Such as Neil Etheridge, currently with Cardiff City, and all other previous PFL club players, who are doing well and are now playing for neighbouring Asian countries, such as Ian Ramsay, who is currently with Felda United and Misagh Bahadoran, who is with Perak FA…And maybe this is the only way that the country or the youth can see, that aspiring for an international football career is not that impossible”, says Palami.


    Tajikistan is currently ranked 124th, while the Philippines is currently ranked 122nd, in its latest rankings by FIFA, while Fiji is currently ranked 168th.


    Tickets for both the Azkals vs. Fiji match, and the Azkals vs. Tajikistan match are available at www.smtickets.com.
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  4. Former choir member Tiffany Teo determined to fulfill destiny as martial arts champ

    From our friends at ONE Championship...

    If a teenaged Tiffany "No Chill" Teo could see her adult counterpart, she would be unrecognizable.

    As a young girl, the Singaporean martial arts standout was heavily involved in choir activities, which she participated in for a decade.

    "I was a nerd when I was a kid. I was not very active," Teo shared in jest.

    Today, Teo is the polar opposite as she traded in her songbooks and rehearsal rooms for a pair of four-ounce gloves and the gym.

    Teo went from a quiet, unassuming choirgirl to becoming a renowned strawweight martial arts prospect with an impressive record of 7-0.

    The winding road to ONE Championship began in the oddest of places - in front of the television screen. Teo?s interest in martial arts, Muay Thai specifically, was stoked by popular reality show The Contender Asia.

    Motivated by the aforementioned television program and a brief stint in Taekwondo, Teo made her way to a Singapore gym to start training in the "art of eight limbs" nearly eight years ago.

    What started out as a way to stay in shape quickly turned into requests for Teo to test out her skills against real competition.

    "I had no plans to compete," she revealed. "My coaches kept asking. They wanted me to go to Thailand. I thought it was a crazy idea. 'You want me to go face a girl that has been doing it all her life?'"

    Teo turned down the opportunity test herself in Thailand, and, after training for two years, she put Muay Thai on the shelf completely as she packed her bags and headed to the United States to study Psychology at the University of Buffalo, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

    However, school was far from enough to keep Teo from wondering "what if" in terms of martial arts competition. As each day passed, the fire in her to compete grew stronger.

    With a full life prior to heading to the United States, there was simply no time for her to train, but after concluding her studies, the window opened again.

    Teo returned to Singapore and dove head-first into the amateur martial arts scene after just a month of training.

    What was meant to be a one-time experience that she could cross off her bucket list soon turned into something more serious, all because she lost.

    "I hate losing," Teo bared. "I decided to re-evaluate what I did wrong, and I wanted to continue."

    A far cry from her days in the choir, Teo's journey to perfect her craft in martial arts progressed quickly.

    After immersing herself with Muay Thai and boxing, Teo dabbled in the famous grappling discipline of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

    Before she knew it, the Singaporean was on the road to a full-fledged professional mixed martial arts career.

    "I fell in love with martial arts. There is more to it than throwing strikes and grappling with your training partner on the mat. It empowers me every single day," Teo stressed.

    From the amateur to the professional ranks, there was one battle that Teo fought for every single match that she was booked for: winning the approval of her parents.

    "They did not like the fact that I am competing," she said. "Since day one, they asked me why I wanted to do it. 'You cannot be a normal person with a nine-to-five job?' They have let it go, but I know they do not like it. They wanted me to settle down and live a normal life."

    After having her hand raised in seven professional bouts inside the cage, Teo has received the biggest opportunity of her perfect martial arts career as she is scheduled to clash with "The Panda" Xiong Jing Nan for the inaugural ONE Women's Strawweight World Championship.

    Both women are set to collide in the main event of ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE, which takes place at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia on 20 January.

    The 28-year-old Singaporean title contender can make history on that fateful night, but she knows that it will not be easy.

    "It takes a lot of discipline and hard work to be a world champion. We see how people change after they become the champion, so I feel like you need to stay humble, grounded, and continue to work hard," she stated.

    Although Xiong is widely-regarded as one of China?s finest woman warriors, Teo is confident in her ability to win as she is preparing for all possible scenarios for her first-ever martial arts world title contest.

    "I feel a knockout or submission is possible. She is pretty wild with her punches so the opening for a knockout is there, and an opening for a takedown is there if she is committing to her punches," she explained.

    "At the same time, she is tough. She might not get knocked down or knocked out, and she ...
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  5. My Memorable Basketball Moments for 2017

    It is officially a new year, and yes Praxedes, we somehow survived the annual mandatory blood alcohol poisoning that is part of the rituals of ringing out the old and ringing in the new.

    Below, numbered for enumeration and not for order of importance, are my memorable basketball moments for 2017:

    1. Kevin Durant made the move and won his championship ring.

    There are those who think Durant ought to be commended for finally coming to terms with the fact that he and Russell Westbrook will never win an NBA world title together in Oklahoma City.

    There are also those who think Durant should never ever be allowed into the Hall of Fame because he took the easiest way out of that little conundrum by signing with the Golden State Warriors, effectively ensconcing the NBA title in the West for all time, or at least the next decade.

    Durant did what he had to do, and did it at a time when he can still win multiple championships in Oakland. Yes, if he was as great as he thinks he is then he should have stayed in Oklahoma and proven it.

    But then again, he doesn't owe anybody any explanation or excuse about making a move that is simply a no-brainer if he wants to have the one thing that all the true greats have, a championship.

    Unless LeBron James is cloned in Cleveland then the NBA has become boring for the next decade or so.

    2. Ginebra retains its Governors Cup title.

    Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco played to a record crowd of over 54,000 fans at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan in the Mother of all Game 7's as the Gin Kings retained their PBA Governors Cup championship.

    Greg Slaughter, who sat out the 2016 title run due to injury, finally got his first PBA championship on the hardwood floor.

    Meralco put up a heck of a fight, but in the end the superior size of Ginebra proved just to big (literally) an obstacle to overcome.

    If the Game 7 box office and television share was any indication, Ginebra is still the lifeblood of the PBA.

    3. Lyceum went from shit to sweep in the NCAA.

    Talk about the Lyceum Pirates in the NCAA and you'd normally get word associations such as "cellar dweller", "league doormat", "whipping boys". At least until this season.

    This season the Pirates completed an historic 18-game regular season sweep of the NCAA, including two tough games against reigning champion San Beda.

    Granted they eventually folded when it mattered most, getting swept 2-0 in the Finals as the Red Lions went on to continue their NCAA Dynasty.

    Still, no one can ever take away what Coach Topex Robinson, CJ Perez and the rest of the Pirates achieved this season. That si probably a record that will stand for the better part of this century.

    4. Christian Standhardinger, through no fault of his own, is now June Mar Fajardo's teammate.

    Mention Christian Standhardinger and what automatically comes to mind is the controversial trade that allowed the already powerful San Miguel Beer franchise to draft him with the Number 1 pick in the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft.

    No one except the most hardcore of hoops fans even heard of Standhardinger before this year.

    He is a strapping and active 6-foot-8 Filipino-German forward who spent his college years in the US NCAA.

    Then Gilas head coach Chot Reyes summoned him for national team duty and he answered the call.

    Although he was classified by FIBA as a naturalized player and not a local, he saw action with Gilas and showed Pinoy fans why Reyes wanted him.

    Fast forward to Draft Day 2017 and Kia gives up the rights to the Number 1 pick in favor of some role players, allowing the Beermen to nab Standhardinger.

    He now gets to play alongside four-time MVP Fajardo, although not right away since he still has an active ABL contract to play out.

    5. Chito Narvasa resigns as PBA Commissioner following the Standhardinger controversy.

    Kia, as mentioned above, gave up the chance to get Standhardinger in the draft essentially for three role players: JR Reyes, Ronald Tubid, and Filipino-American Rashawn McCarthy. Uh, who? Yes Praxedes, that was what everybody thought as well.

    Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, Narvasa.

    This trade would not have been consummated had Narvasa not approved it as Commissioner.

    This then led to a "schism" of sorts within the PBA Board, with five team allied with the San Miguel Corporation on one side, supporting Narvasa, and seven teams led by the PLDT Group on the other side asking for Narvasa's head on a platter.

    Although Narvasa held out for a while, he did eventually give up and resign.

    Truth be told nobody would ever in a million ...
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