Don’t look now, but TNT offense finally catching up after slow start

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

Lost in the hubbub of another TNT blowout and another steady scoring night from Roger Pogoy was Kelly Williams’ impressive body of work as a playmaker against Alaska in their PBA Philippine Cup clash.

The 13-year veteran only had a single point to his name on Friday, but that didn’t matter in the end as he finished with a career-high nine assists to go along with 11 rebounds.

With him acting as a fulcrum for a streaking KaTropa offense, the need for him to score wasn’t really there.

“We have a lot of scorers so there’s not really an emphasis on us having to score, unless we have an advantage somewhere, but we have the right shooters and the right scorers at the right times and tonight that just really happened for me,” Williams explained.

“We have advantages, we can score, but that’s not my role in this team currently. I’m just trying to take it by the horns in the best way that I can and just be smart when I do get the ball.”

His quiet but solid line didn’t come by accident.

Alaska did a pretty decent job of denying Jayson Castro (eight points, three assists, 0-for-3 shooting) from fully doing his job as the primary playmaker on offense, but they might have failed to account for Williams, who made the Aces pay by finding the team’s snipers from downtown on five of those dimes.

RELATED – PBA: Jayson Castro posts another quiet night, but TNT not worried at all

“If they’re doubling Jayson on-ball, it’s only natural that the big men will be in a playmaking position. Our offense, we try to play through our big men and we try to get it to the guys in the corner who can shoot,” team consultant Mark Dickel noted.

“I just want the ball to get to the open guy. And then from there, make a good, simple decision. And Kelly does that right. He does his role, he’s happy to play good defense, make good passes and doesn’t really care if he scores.”

kelly-williams
Kelly Williams (Photo credit: PBA Media Group)

TNT finished with 25 assists, making it the third straight game that they finished with that number or more during this four-game winning streak.

Those numbers are a welcome sight for a team whose offense often looked stuck in the mud during its early struggles in the conference.

RELATED – PBA: TNT clamps down on Alaska to cruise to fourth straight win

Dickel attributed this to an increased focus on improving on that end, which he says they didn’t really do before the league took a two-week break for the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.

“From the preseason all the way through about a month ago, we didn’t worry about our offense at all. We just had to try and change how we play defense. So for the last month, from the FIBA break through now, we’ve had a real chance to go back and teach how we wanna play offense,” he shared.

For the most part, that approach has worked for TNT. Through nine games, only three teams have shot 40 percent or above from the field against them (Ginebra, San Miguel, Magnolia) as Dickel and the rest of the coaching staff kept drumming on the importance of putting in the work on defense.

Now it’s time for them to pick it up on the other end of the floor.

“I always knew we had great players on offense so I knew that would be the easier part. The hard part is to change guys who don’t wanna play defense. They haven’t shown that they wanted to play defense, then they bought in and then they really dug in on the defensive end,” Dickel continued.

“Once they kinda proved that to me and to the coaching part, I said ‘Alright, now let’s start working on our offense.’ So that’s starting to come along, but it’s usually like that. The easiest thing to come is the offense.”

mark-dickel
Mark Dickel (Photo credit: PBA Media Group)

Despite two straight double-digit wins, TNT’s offense is by no means a finished product. Entering Friday, the team was still dead-last in field goal (39 percent) and three-point percentage (28 percent). The KaTropa were also still in the bottom half in the assists department, handing out a middling 20.13 dimes per contest.

But their league-high attempts from downtown (37.7 attempts from downtown, first) and from the field (85.88 per game, third) suggest that they’ve got the green light from Dickel and are often getting the looks that they want, so it’s probably only a matter of time before the TNT engine fully hits its stride.

“I think we’re just going in the direction that coach wants from us. We’re getting closer,” Williams said.

“We’re just jelling better. I think every game we’ve gotten better and better. Tonight we’ve had a carry-over from our last big win against Blackwater. We’re just learning. We’re taking a step closer to coach Mark and coach Bong’s vision for the team. Hopefully this continues.”

RELATED – PBA: Missed game-winner leaves Baser Amer teary-eyed, Meralco fighting for survival

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Tab Baldwin insists PH still the best road for Kai Sotto’s NBA dreams

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

Tab Baldwin still thinks that Kai Sotto’s road to the NBA doesn’t have to run through overseas.

The towering 16-year-old center reportedly has five offers on the table to play in Europe, but the Ateneo head coach doesn’t exactly see the west as a favorable destination for his growth.

“I’ve been on the record already saying Kai’s best decision would be to stay here. I haven’t changed that,” Baldwin said on Friday.

“I still believe that’s the case and I think people just don’t understand what it means to go into the European theater and how difficult that is especially for a kid.”

Kai-Sotto-Tab-Baldwin
(AJ Agcaoili/FOX Sports Philippines)

RELATED – Where should Kai go? A closer look at European clubs interested in Sotto

Sotto still has two remaining years with the Ateneo Blue Eagles if he decides to stay in the UAAP, where he was named Season 81’s Most Valuable Player.

However, the allure of juniors basketball might lose its luster now given that four Euroleague teams (FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Saski Baskonia, and Alba Berlin) and one Liga ACB team (Club Estudiantes) have reportedly shown interest in the 7-foot-2 big man.

For Baldwin, though, a move overseas—unless it’s the NBA—would be counterproductive.

“If he’s a pro getting over there to play, I think it’s fantastic. But he’s a kid who needs to be developed and that’s need to be the emphasis… It shouldn’t be about what team he’s gonna play from. The next significant teams that he plays for should be in the NBA,” Baldwin explained.

The two-time UAAP champion mentor further hammered his point home by saying that none of those teams could offer the same level of emphasis on his individual development that any college here in the Philippines would give.

“The best way for him to get there is to get himself into development program, and not into where he has to give his skills and ability to a team, ” Baldwin continued.

“It should be in a situation where there are coaches devoting themselevs in his development and his future. And I think we can do that here and I don’t think that can be done overseas.”

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Missed game-winner leaves Baser Amer teary-eyed, Meralco fighting for survival

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

A frustrated Baser Amer only had tears to show for an admirable attempt to win it in the clutch for Meralco in their PBA Philippine Cup loss against Rain or Shine on Friday.

Down two with about five seconds left on the clock, Amer failed to find the bottom of the net after getting a clear look at the basket and letting it fly from the top of the arc.

Beau Belga then grabbed the miss and split his charities on the other end to seal an 88-85 win for the Elasto Painters.

RELATED – PBA: Rain or Shine stays in hunt for twice-to-beat by holding off late Meralco rally

“Sayang ‘yung last shot. Talagang pina-practice ko ‘yun tuwing umaga, bago magsimula ‘yung practice. Talagang tira ko talaga ‘yun eh. Kanina pagpasok sa dugout parang napaluha ako kasi tira ko talaga eh, tsaka inensayo ko sa practice,” a slightly emotional Amer said after the game.

Baser-Amer-Meralco-Bolts
(Photo credit: PBA Images)

It wasn’t even a case of bad shot selection for Amer, too. After hitting two huge triples in last week’s double overtime win against NorthPort, leaving the decision to him seemed reasonable especially after Rain or Shine shut out all the Bolts’ options off the timeout.

Amer just couldn’t replicate that feat.

“It’s a broken play kasi maganda ‘yung depensa ng Rain or Shine, na-deny lahat. Kinuha ko ‘yung bola tapos paglabas ko, na-open. Sayang, sayang talaga. Tira ko talaga ‘yun, he lamented.

“Sabi ng mga teammates ko sayang kasi pina-practice mo ‘yung tuwing morning. ‘Di bale, baka next time.”

Meralco faces an ever steeper climb to the playoffs after falling to 3-6 in the standings. They’ll have to sweep their remaining games against Alaska and Barangay Ginebra—and have other factors fall in their favor—to even snatch one of those final quarterfinal seeds.

The odds don’t look great, but Amer says the Bolts don’t really have anything to lose by trying.

“Siguro the last two games namin kumbaga kung may chance or wala, kailangan namin ipanalo. Huwag na namin tingnan kung sino makakalaban namin. Huwag na rin namin tingnan ‘yung standings, basta ‘yung last two games maipanalo,” Amer said.

“‘Di pa naman tapos, focus kami sa next practice and sa last two games. And may mga ibang games naman na maglalaro, malay mo.”

RELATED – PBA: Jayson Castro posts another quiet night, but TNT not worried at all

RELATED – PBA: TNT clamps down on Alaska to cruise to fourth straight win

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Rain or Shine stays in hunt for twice-to-beat by holding off late Meralco rally

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

Rain or Shine proved steadier in the clutch and turned back Meralco, 88-85, late in their PBA Philippine Cup encounter on Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

James Yap scored 14 points, while Ed Daquioag added 12 points for the Elasto Painters as they finished the elimination round with an 8-3 win-loss record to stay in contention for a twice-to-beat advantage.

Meralco was able to set themselves up for one last shot at winning it after Beau Belga split his free throws to give the Elasto Painters an 87-85 lead with six seconds remaining.

Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize on the other end as Baser Amer muffed a triple that would have given them the lead.

Belga later put the finishing touches by going 1-for-2 again at the line with under a second left.

(Photo credit: PBA Images)

Nico Salva scored 18 points to lead the Bolts, who’ll have to win their last two games to give themselves a chance at gaining one of the lower quarterfinals seats. Reynel Hugnatan added 16.

Rain or Shine held a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter after a triple by Yap gave them a 76-67 lead, but the Bolts slowly chipped away and knotted it at 83-all after Hugnatan sank a floater with 1:17 left.

Hugnatan and Maverick Ahanmisi later exchanged baskets with under a minute left, but the Bolts unluckily sent Gabe Norwood to the line and watched him bury the first of the team’s last three free throws in the final 10 seconds.

THE SCORES

RAIN OR SHINE (88) – Yap 14, Daquioag 12, Mocon 10, Ahanmisi 10, Torres 9, Rosales 8, Nambatac 7, Borboran 6, Norwood 5, Belga4, Ponferada 3.

MERALCO (85) – Salva 18, Hugnatan 16, Faundo 10, Amer 10, Hodge 8, Newsome 7, Canaleta 7, Jackson 7, Quinto 2, Pinto 0, Tolomia 0.

Quarters: 20-26, 44-35, 66-65, 88-85.

RELATED – PBA: Jayson Castro posts another quiet night, but TNT not worried at all

RELATED – PBA: TNT clamps down on Alaska to cruise to fourth straight win

RELATED – PBA: Compton offers no excuses after ‘horrible, embarrassing’ Alaska loss

Jayson Castro posts another quiet night, but TNT not worried at all

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

Jayson Castro hasn’t exactly been his usual dominant self on offense in his last two games for TNT in the PBA Philippine Cup.

After propelling the KaTropa past Rain or Shine with a near triple-double effort (20 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds) last March 3, ‘The Blur’ posted his second straight scoring dud on Friday and finished with just eight points in their win over Alaska.

All of those points came from the line as Castro missed all three of his attempts from the field.

Last Saturday against Blackwater, Castro was silent as well and finished with just two points and seven dimes.

Team consultant Mark Dickel, however, dispelled any notions of a ‘cold streak’ and thought Castro has been superb in both games.

“I thought he was unbelievable tonight again. Leading the guys, playing D, passing the ball… I mean if he’s not embracing the team past this, no one is. So he’s kinda setting the tone,” Dickel observed.

RELATED – PBA: TNT clamps down on Alaska to cruise to fourth straight win

A small piece of data backs up Dickel’s claim: Castro was a plus-13 in 28 minutes on the floor—second only to Roger Pogoy, who was a plus-14 and finished with a game-high 24 points.

There hasn’t been any need for him to take over, too, with both blowout wins having been powered by an offense that’s involved everyone from top to bottom.

This just gives Dickel and the KaTropa less reasons to sound the alarm.

“Nah, not at all. He’s a true playmaker, he takes what the defense gives him. I mean everybody’s doubling him every on-ball possession. They show hard on every screen so he just makes the right play,” he explained.

“And sometimes as a playmaker, the right play is you scoring four or six. But if they go back to leaving him open, he’s gonna go back to scoring 25 or 30 again. He’ll get back to playing more aggressive like that,” Dickel added.

A Castro explosion in their last two games and in the playoffs is still possible, of course. But if TNT continues to play at this level of cohesion, there might be no need for him to do just that.

RELATED – PBA: Ejection lights fire under NLEX, but Guiao still thinks refs ‘loosening up’

RELATED – PBA: Compton offers no excuses after ‘horrible, embarrassing’ Alaska loss

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TNT clamps down on Alaska to cruise to fourth straight win

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

A defensive-minded TNT KaTropa easily rolled past Alaska, 92-78, to tally their fourth straight win in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

Roger Pogoy continued to be the hot hand for TNT and followed up his outburst against Blackwater with another impressive scoring performance. He finished with 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting in just 20 minutes of play.

Pogoy conspired with Troy Rosario to score 17 of the KaTropa’s 27 third quarter points , giving the team ample separation against an Alaska side that trailed by just nine at the half.

TNT continued to give the Aces fits in the fourth quarter as a 9-0 run, capped off by two shots at the line by Yousef Taha, midway through the period gave the KaTropa a 20-point lead that they wouldn’t relinquish until the final buzzer.

Alaska shot a lethargic 30 percent from the field and slid to their fourth straight loss.

Troy Rosario added 15 points for TNT, who improved to 6-3 after dropping their first two contests this conference.

Four players scored in double figures for Alaska, with Carl Bryan Cruz leading the way with 19 points, but they only got 13 points from their second unit.

RELATED – PBA: Compton offers no excuses after ‘horrible, embarrassing’ Alaska loss

RELATED – PBA: Ejection lights fire under NLEX, but Guiao still thinks refs ‘loosening up’

RELATED – PBA: Magnolia not letting up, turns eyes to Ginebra rematch as bid to control own playoff fate continues

(Photo credit: PBA Images)

THE SCORES

TNT (92) – Pogoy 24, Rosario 15, Heruela 8, Castro 8, Semerad 8, Cruz 6, Trollano 4, Washington 2, Williams 1, Miranda 0, Casino 0, Bono 0.

ALASKA (78) – Cruz 19, Thoss 13, Enciso 12, Banchero 12, Teng 9, Ayaay 6, Pascual 5, Exciminiano 2, Baclao 0, Galliguez 0, Potts 0.

Quarters: 23-15, 47-38, 74-62, 92-78.

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NBTC Seeding Round pits Jalen Green-led FilAm Sports vs AusPinoy

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

The path to the national championship is now set as all 32 teams have been placed in their respective slots for the 2019 Chooks-to-Go SM NBTC League National Finals.

Champions and runners-up from the UAAP, NCAA, NBTC Cebu, and MMBL are already placed from seeds 1 to 8 for the national high school championship sponsored by Chooks-to-Go, Darlington-Exped Socks, EPSON, Huawei, Freego, Purefoods, Gatorade, Go for Gold, SM, and Molten.

UAAP champion Nazareth School of National University is at no. 1, NCAA titlist Mapua University at no. 2, NBTC Cebu king Southwestern University-PHINMA at no. 3, and MMBL rulers San Beda University at no. 4.

Bridesmaids Ateneo de Manila University, La Salle Greenhills, University of San Jose – Recoletos, and Colegio de San Juan de Letran occupy seeds 5 to 8, respectively, for the week-long festivities, which is also presented by 5 Plus and Lighthouse Events.

Also seeded in Round 1 are top-ranked regional champions Calayan Educational Foundation Inc. (no. 17), St. Augustine Institute of Pampanga (no. 18), Southern Philippines College – CDO (no. 19), St. Mary’s College of Tagum Davao del Norte (no. 20), University of Perpetual Help JONELTA (no. 21), St. Louis of Don Bosco Dumaguete (no. 22), STI – West Negros University Bacolod (no. 23), and Sto. Domingo National HS Legazpi (no. 24).

That leaves the international teams, wildcards, and other regional champions fighting for positioning, with NBTC program director Eric Altamirano conducting the lottery for spots in the Seeding Round.

Seeding round matchups are as follows: Italy Europe Proudly Pinoy and Hope Christian HS (9 vs 16); FEU-Diliman and Durham Crossover Canada (10 vs 15); Top Flight Hoops Vancouver and Camp David New Zealand (11 vs 14); and Filam Sports USA vs Auspinoy Australia (12 and 13).

Also set to collide in the seeding round are Narvacan National HS and Isabela Colleges Cauayan (25 vs 32); Sta. Clarita International School Iloilo and Zamboanga del Sur National HS (26 vs 31); University of Baguio and Dolores National HS Eastern Samar (27 vs 30); and Holy Trinity College General Santos and LPU-Cavite (28 vs 29).

­­Seeding round winners will claim the higher-seed heading to Round 1, with the loser occupying the lower rank as these 16 teams raise the curtain on Monday.

The annual Chooks-to-Go SM NBTC League National Finals is at Mall of Asia Arena from March 18 to 24.
The tournament semis and finals, alongside the annual All-Star Game, will be aired live on ESPN5. All games, from the seeding round to the championship round, will also be streamed live over at tv5.espn.com.

Last year, National U was crowned king of Division 1 while La Salle Lipa ruled Division 2.

SEEDED TEAMS:
[1] Nazareth School of National University; [2] Mapua University; [3] Southwestern University-PHINMA; [4] San Beda University; [5] Ateneo de Manila University; [6] La Salle Greenhills; [7] University of San Jose – Recoletos; [8] Colegio de San Juan de Letran; [17] Calayan Educational Foundation Inc.; [18] St. Augustine Pampanga; [19] Southern Philippines College – CDO; [20] St. Mary’s College of Tagum Davao del Norte; [21] University of Perpetual Help – Jonelta; [22] St. Louis of Don Bosco Dumaguete; [23] STI – West Negros University Bacolod; [24] Sto. Domingo National HS Legazpi.

SEEDING ROUND MATCHUPS: Italy Europe Proudly Pinoy vs Hope Christian HS (9 vs 16); FEU-Diliman vs Durham Crossover Canada (10 vs 15); Top Flight Hoops Vancouver vs Camp David New Zealand (11 vs 14); Filam Sports USA vs Auspinoy Australia (12 vs 13); Narvacan National HS vs Isabela Colleges Cauayan (25 vs 32); Sta. Clarita International School Iloilo vs Zamboanga del Sur National HS (26 vs 31); University of Baguio vs Dolores National HS Eastern Samar (27 vs 30); Holy Trinity College General Santos vs LPU-Cavite (28 vs 29).

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Compton offers no excuses after ‘horrible, embarrassing’ Alaska loss

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

Alex Compton didn’t mince words when asked about Alaska’s effort in another blowout loss in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday.

The Aces were outclassed on both ends of the floor by the Road Warriors, who responded to the ejection of head coach Yeng Guiao with a resounding second half performance to hand their foes their third double-digit defeat of the conference.

“Horrible, embarrassing,” Compton bluntly said after the game.

“We had nine assists, we were flat on defense. There’s really not much more to say than that if the other team works harder than you. You don’t move around on defense. Credit to NLEX. Great job, they pounced on the opportunity,” he added.

Aside from that measly nine-assist output, Alaska also lost the battle on the boards badly (46-60) and shot a poor 28.8 percent from the field all night long.

These frustrated the Alaska head coach, who rued his team’s spirit once more just three days after suffering a huge loss to Magnolia.

RELATED: PBA: Ejection lights fire under NLEX, but Guiao still thinks refs ‘loosening up’

“We don’t have an excuse for getting clearly outworked. That’s not okay. That was this game. Sometimes you play hard and lose. Sometimes you miss shots, sometimes the other guys just don’t fight, it wasn’t the case today. We just got outworked, clearly, badly,” he said.

It’s not even a personnel problem at this point for an injury-riddled Alaska, according to Compton.

“It’s not in any way connected to the way we played today. Everybody who stepped on that floor had Alaska across their chest, they’re expected to play a certain way. We didn’t meet that standard at all today. A couple guys were solid but for the most part as a team, pretty bad,” the coach explained.

Unfortunately for the Aces, they’ll have to pick up the pieces real quick as they’re set to face the TNT KaTropa, who appear to be rounding to form as evidenced by their huge win over Blackwater last Saturday.

“I don’t know if you guys remember during our PBA Media Day that comm Willie put together, I said watch out for Talk N Text. They got a full preseason, they got a coach with really good defensive system and they’re doing a great job,” Compton said.

“My concern more than anything… I know we’re playing a really good team, my concern is the way we play.”

RELATED: PBA: Guiao gets tossed, but NLEX still throttles Alaska to help quarterfinals hunt

RELATED: PBA: Magnolia not letting up, turns eyes to Ginebra rematch as bid to control own playoff fate continues

(Photo credit: PBA Images)

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Ejection lights fire under NLEX, but Guiao still thinks refs ‘loosening up’

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

Yeng Guiao has been ejected so many times in his PBA coaching career that another one he got on Wednesday against Alaska felt just like another routine exit.

“I’m so used to it so I don’t have a reaction anymore. Ganun lang talaga ‘yun eh. Sometimes you blow your top, sometimes you think you need to send a message to the referees,” he said.

NLEX’s outspoken mentor didn’t even get to finish the first half after getting tossed midway through the second period with his team leading by just five, 36-31.

Guiao was slapped with two consecutive technical fouls after a directing an expletive-filled rant referees in response to some bad calls that he saw.

“Wala lang. Profane language daw eh dati naman akong ganyan. I don’t think it’s extraordinary for me,” he shared.

“I think those things should not be taken for granted. Those things should be taken up during their deliberations. Parang naglo-loosen up tayo sa officiating, and these are the crucial stages,” Guiao explained further, citing a hit in NLEX’s Juami Tiongson face late in the first half as one instance.

RELATED: PBA: Magnolia not letting up, turns eyes to Ginebra rematch as bid to control own playoff fate continues

Thankfully, his absence didn’t seem to throw off the Road Warriors one bit.

Behind a well-executed defensive game plan with assistant coach Jojo Lastimosa calling the shots in the second half, NLEX cruised to a romp and forced Alaska shoot just 28 percent from the field and have more turnovers (19) than assists (nine).

“That turned out to be a blessing in disguise for us. Coach Jolas did an excellent job taking over for me. Plus the guys stepped up. But really it was, I think, our defense that did it for us. I was pretty confident kahit wala ako sa loob na as long as we execute the game plan, we’ll be okay,” he said.

“Plus we played good defense and caught Alaska at a really bad time. Siguro law of averages din, they played really well against Ginebra, tinambakan nila ang Ginebra. Meron talagang ups and downs, it just so happened that we played probably our best defensive game on their off night,” Guiao added.

Guiao hopes that this could be finally a turning point for the Road Warriors, who improved to 3-5 and are looking to be more aggressive in the playoff hunt after struggling early in the Philippine Cup.

“Sa akin din kasi ‘yung today’s game could be a good sign because we need to win the next three games. We need this confidence boost to be able to have a chance at a win,” he said.

“All the things going on around us, and this is a good sign that we’re getting back our focus. This is a good sign for the team in general.”

RELATED: PBA: Guiao gets tossed, but NLEX still throttles Alaska to help quarterfinals hunt

RELATED: PBA: Magnolia cruises past hapless Columbian for third win

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Guiao gets tossed, but NLEX still throttles Alaska to help quarterfinals hunt

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

NLEX overcame the ejection of head coach Yeng Guiao in the second quarter by dismantling Alaska, 91-70, to boost their bid for a quarterfinals seat in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Road Warriors held a slim five-point lead, 36-31, with 5:19 left in the second quarter when Guiao was slapped two quick technical fouls that lead to his ejection.

That didn’t appear to faze his team as NLEX unleashed a 12-0 burst to enter halftime with a 50-36 lead.

NLEX, with assistant coach Jojo Lastimosa calling the shots in the second half, kept pressing by opening the third quarter with 11 unanswered points to basically put the game out of the Aces’ reach.

A lethargic Alaska offense shot a dismal 28 percent from the field and were able to muster only eight points in the final frame.

JR Quinahan and Bong Galanza scored 14 apiece to lead the Road Warriors, who improved to 3-5 in the conference. Jansen Rios added 10 points, while JP Erram narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Jeron Teng played his best game this conference with 23 points and four rebounds, but only him and Davon Potts (13 points) scored in double-figures for Alaska as Chris Banchero (three points on 1-for-9 shooting from the field) and Carl Bryan Cruz (three points, 1-for-5 shooting) stayed silent all night.

THE SCORES

NLEX (91) – Quinahan 14, Galanza 14, Rios 10, Erram 9, Ighalo 9, Tiongson 8, Soyud 8, Tallo 8, Paniamogan 3, Porter 3, Baguio 3, Magat 2, Lao 0, Varilla 0.

ALASKA (70) – Teng 23, Potts 13, Enciso 8, Thoss 6, Pascual 5, Baclao 4, Cruz 3, Banchero 3, Exciminiano 2, Galliguez 2, Ayaay 1, Andrada 0.

Quarters: 24-18, 50-36, 74-57, 91-70.

(Photo credit: PBA Images)

RELATED:

PBA: Magnolia not letting up, turns eyes to Ginebra rematch as bid to control own playoff fate continues

PBA: Magnolia cruises past hapless Columbian for third win

PBA: What’s wrong with the Blackwater Elite?

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Magnolia not letting up, turns eyes to Ginebra rematch as bid to control own playoff fate continues

‘They got championship DNA’ – LeBron on why Lakers lost to Raptors

Magnolia clearly didn’t take anything for granted heading into a PBA Philippine Cup matchup that heavily favored them on paper.

On Wednesday, the Hotshots looked solid on all bases and rolled past Columbian for their first back-to-back win streak of the year. The Dyip appeared to have found some answers in the second quarter when they cut their foes’ double-digit lead to just three, but they never really got over the hump as Magnolia flipped the switch later on.

It also didn’t help that Magnolia is clicking at the right time after losing their first three contests to open the season.

“Ah yes, good for us na we’re peaking at the right time. Hopefully, wag maputol yung streak namin dito. We need to keep working hard,” Paul Lee, who quietly finished with six points, seven rebounds and six assists, said after the game.

“Nagkaroon kami ng bad start, pero malaki pa naman chance namin makapasok ng quarterfinals. Very crucial bawat laban so kailangan lagi kaming focused at saka ‘di kami pwede magkamali sa mga coming games namin,” Ian Sangalang said.

Effort looks to be the main difference right now compared to their sloppy start. Even if Magnolia had more talent and experience on the floor against the Dyip, they didn’t let up and treated the clash as a must-win scenario.

“Sobrang ganda na two straight wins kami. Syempre ‘yung game namin very crucial, 50-50 ball game ‘yun. Kailangan pa rin namin magtrabaho kasi ‘di namin makukuha ng very easy ‘yun. Kahit ‘yung mga games na ganito ‘di namin makukuha ng very easy,” Sangalang explained.

Considering their current goals at this point in the conference, that should really be the type of energy they have bring on a nightly basis from here on out.

Magnolia is on pace to snatch one of those lower quarterfinal seats, but Sangalang admitted that the team is still jousting for better playoff positioning.

With still four games left on their schedule, the Hotshots are trying to grab that opportunity by the neck themselves.

“Kailangan namin magtrabaho para makuha namin ‘yung place na gusto namin kasi ‘yung position na gusto namin, nasa kamay pa namin. ‘Di naman nasa kamay pa ng iba na matalo sila o ano. Basta gusto namin ‘yung makuha namin na place nasa kamay namin mangyayari,” Sangalang said.

If the team can dominate other opponents on defense and on the glass like they did with Columbian (38.8 percent from the field, 2-for-22 from downtown, 58-41 rebounding advantage), they might just do that.

But that’ll be difficult to do in a 2018 Governors’ Cup semis rematch against equally-motivated Ginebra—the team that they ousted in four games—and the Hotshots acknowledged just as much.

“Syempre different story na ‘yun, natalo sila. Pero alam namin na Ginebra, tapos another conference. Alam namin na babawi sila. Syempre kailangan dn naman nila ng panalo. Very crucial din naman para sa kanila ‘yung next game nila. Alam namin na sobrang hirap na makuha ‘yung next game pero kung sino ‘yung magt-trabaho alam namin sila ‘yung mananalo,” Sangalang explained.

“It’s gonna be a good battle. Yun nga, syempre feeling ko gusto nila bumawi. Lagi ko sinasabi, kailangan lang namin maging ready,” Lee said. “Lagi kami nire-remind na lahat ng panalo namin balewala kung matatalo kami sa Sunday. We need to be ready.”

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Magnolia cruises past hapless Columbian for third win

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Magnolia made quick work of Columbian, 109-83, to snag its third win and stay in the hunt for a quarterfinals seat in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Hotshots looked bent on sending the Dyip packing after a 7-0 second quarter start gave them a 17-point lead, 29-12, but Rashawn McCarthy and Columbian kept chipping away to make it just a three-point game, 30-33, with 6:25 left at the half.

That might have been the last time that they kept in step as Magnolia steamrolled past them come second half, where they turned a 10-point halftime lead into an 18-point, 75-57 cushion thanks to an 11-point quarter from Mark Barroca.

Magnolia hiked their advantage to as much as 28 in the final frame as Columbian, who shot just 38 percent from the field 2-for-22 from distance, failed to get any semblance of rhythm going.

Ian Sangalang finished with 16 points, while Barroca ended up with 14 points as Magnolia improved to 3-4. Rome dela Rosa chipped in 12 points.

McCarthy topscored for Columbian again after finishing with 19 points. CJ Perez added 14, while Jackson Corpuz tallied a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double.

THE SCORES

MAGNOLIA (109) – Sangalang 16, Barroca 14, dela Rosa 12, Ramos 10, Jalalon 9, Brondial 9, Pascual 8, Reavis 7, Melton 6, Lee 6, Simon 5, Gamalinda 4, Herndon 3, Calisaan 0, Abundo 0.

COLUMBIAN (83) – McCarthy 19, Perez 14, Corpuz 12, Camson 9, Khobuntin 6, Calvo 5, Faundo 5, Reyes 4, Gabriel 4, Cahilig 4, Agovida 1, Celda 0, Cabrerea 0, Escoto 0.

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LA Tenorio hopes ethic, discipline inspire others as ‘Iron Man’ feat nears

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If LA Tenorio’s memory serves him right, it would appear that he hasn’t missed a single game in 17 long years.

The 34-year-old point guard had to rewind his memory back to 2002, during his time with the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP, just to narrate the story of the last time he failed to suit up for a contest.

“The last time I remember na-namiss kong game is when I was in the UAAP 2002 when I got injured with a fractured hand. I went back to the Final Four, twice to win kami against UE. That was the last time na naalala ko na nagpahinga ako,” he shared after Ginebra’s thrilling win over Phoenix on Sunday.

Almost two decades, three PBA teams and four championships later, Tenorio can officially lay claim to the title of being Philippine basketball’s ‘Iron Man’.

Tenorio edged closer to doing just that yesterday after playing in his 596th straight game in the league, tying the legendary Alvin Patrimonio for most consecutive ever.

“It’s a great achievement not only as a basketball player but also as an athlete. Para sa’kin, malaking achievement ‘to kasi lahat ng pinaghirapan ko throughout my career, not only in the PBA, but also in high school, college, pinaghandaan ko para maging professional athlete,” he said.

“All the hard work, the discipline, all the sacrifices nagbubunga. Syempre sana ‘di naman matapos dito.”

Him possibly attaining the feat in his next game is made even more special—and a bit more baffling, to a degree—when one considers the fact that Tenorio, the sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft, doesn’t have any special rituals or exercises that helped him keep going for this long.

“Kahit ako, iniisip ko kung ano ba yung ginagawa kong tama? Hindi ko rin ma-figure out eh. Basta ginagawa ko lang kung ano yung nagwo-work sa akin every day. Pero ginagawa rin naman ng ibang players yun eh. For sure. I think mas disiplinado pa ibang players sa akin, sa tingin ko,” Tenorio explained.

“[I have] high colesterol [and] high uric [acid] so ‘di ko rin alam kung bakit ‘di ba. So taking care of body lang,” he added.

For Tenorio, the ‘secret’ really lies on consistency with managing one’s physical load.

“I’m not saying lahat ng ginagawa ko is perfect. Gumigimik din naman ako, lumalabas din naman ako, meron din akong happening ‘di ba. Normal na tao rin but again, it’s how you manage your body,” he explained.

As he closes in on history, Tenorio hopes that his incredible run won’t just stop when he passes Patrimonio next week.

“Hopefully magdirediretso hanggang 600, 700, sana diba. Para 700 games niyo ko makikita, manawa kayo sa’kin,” he joked.

“I’m willing to do it dere-deretso. Doesn’t matter anong number na as long as I can play, I’ll play.”

But more importantly, he’ll be rooting for the idea that he’ll inspire current and future generation players to continue putting in the work day in and day out.

“Hopefully ‘yung legacy na maiiwan ko dito sa basketball or dito sa PBA or dito sa profession natin is maging inspirasyon, especially sa aspiring basketball players, na para makarating sa ganitong sitwasyon, it takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice and discipline.”

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Matthew Wright not losing any sleep over narrow game-tying miss vs. Ginebra

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Matthew Wright wasn’t too broken up after seeing Ginebra steal the win from Phoenix’s clutches in their PBA Philippine Cup encounter on Sunday.

The Fuel Masters had a couple of chances to snatch the win in the final minute after losing multiple leads, but they just couldn’t overcome timely stops by a Gin Kings side that had every reason to take down the current top-seed.

“It wasn’t that tough of a loss. We’re not gonna let that emotionally affect us. They’re a good team,” he said.

“Yeah we felt like we shot ourselves in the foot, there were a couple of calls that didn’t go our way that were unfortunate, but it’s basketball. But we just see it as another loss.”

Wright also shrugged off a missed halfcourt hail mary at the buzzer, which would have sent the game into overtime if only it didn’t rattle out.

“Whether it rimmed out, or airball, it doesn’t matter. On the box score, it’s the same thing. It’s still a miss. It almost went it though. I had a feeling when I put it up it looked good. Bsketball gods aid none tonight,” he said.

The 28-year-old guard opted to focus instead on what they picked up and on what worked for them tonight, including learning to play in a playoff environment and seeing multiple guys contribute positively.

They’re playoff-bound after all, and learning together as a unit—whether it may be in a win or a loss—will always be prorioty number one for Wright and the Fuel Masters.

“You know, more than anything, I’m trying to find the silver lining. This really prepared us for the playoffs, what the playoff atmosphere is like with the crowd, with the intensity. I’m proud of the guys that we fought,” he shared. “We as a team played well.”

“We’ve had a good season so far. I feel like more important than our record right now is us getting better and becoming more cohesive as a team the next couple of weeks before playoffs,” Wright added.

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(Photo credit: PBA Images)

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