Pacquiao responds to Mayweather’s jab on Twitter, hints possible rematch

‘Cardiff is the front-runner for Joshua v Ruiz rematch’ – promoter Eddie Hearn

Floyd Mayweather Jr. was ringside when Manny Pacquiao won the WBA (Super) Welterweight title over Keith Thurman at the MGM Garden in Las Vegas over the weekend.

With the boxing world clamouring on the possibility of a rematch between the undefeated pugilist and boxing’s only eight-division world champion, Mayweather couldn’t help but take a swipe at his heated rival.

“I find it real ironic how every time Pacquiao’s name is brought up in the media, my name is always attached to it,” the retired Mayweather wrote in lengthy Instagram post.

“This man’s entire legacy and career has been built off its association with my name and it’s about time you all stop using my brand for clout chasing and clickbait and let that man’s name hold weight of its own.”

“For years, all you heard was that ‘Floyd is afraid of Manny Pacquiao’. But what’s funny is, when we finally fought, I won so easily that everyone had to eat their words! All of the so called boxing experts, critics and jealous American ‘fan base’ either went mute and ran for cover or made every excuse in the world as to why I should give Manny Pacquiao a rematch.,” Mayweather added.

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I find it real ironic how every time Pacquiao's name is brought up in the media, my name is always attached to it. This man's entire legacy and career has been built off its association with my name and it's about time you all stop using my brand for clout chasing and clickbait and let that man's name hold weight of its own. For years, all you heard was that " Floyd is afraid of Manny Pacquiao". But what's funny is, when we finally fought, I won so easily that everyone had to eat their words! All of the so called boxing experts, critics and jealous American "fan base" either went mute and ran for cover or made every excuse in the world as to why I should give Manny Pacquiao a rematch. My take on all this bullshit is that y’all are just upset that I broke Rocky Marciano's record and hate the fact that a Black, high school dropout outsmarted you all by beating all odds and retiring undefeated while maintaining all my faculties simply by making smart choices and even smarter investments. Ultimately, I will always have the last laugh!

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Not one to bite his tongue, the usually soft-spoken Filipino boxer took to Twitter to respond to Mayweather’s diss and even issued a subtle challenge in the process.

“@FloydMayweather. You come to my fight and then use my name in a post but I’m the one that is trying to stay relevant? if you want to be relevant again.,” Pacquiao wrote, accompanied by the hashtag #MayPac2

Mayweather got the better of Pacquiao when the two all-time greats squared off in a mega-fight dubbed as “The Fight of the Century” back in 2015. The American boxer kept his pristine record after getting the unanimous decision nod, but some pundits are still questioning the verdict, especially after it was revealed that Pacquiao fought with an undisclosed shoulder injury.

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Takeaways: Mark Caguioa ‘sparks’ Ginebra’s march to the semis

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Living true to his moniker, Mark Caguioa was truly a spark off the bench for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last night, helping his team to eliminate the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in Game 2, 106-80, and punching a ticket to the semifinals of the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Far removed from his days as a go-to superstar, the 39-year-old guard proved he can still contribute in spurts, coming out with one his most productive games of the year so far.

Here are some insights from Caguioa’s vintage performance last night.

Flawless from the field

Ginebra’s reserves contributed a total of 30 markers last night — with 12 of those coming from Caguioa. The one-time league MVP only appeared in five games in the eliminations, averaging 1.4 points and 0.8 rebounds in about eight minutes of action.

The 18-year vet looked like he still has plenty left in the tank last night, making all of his five attempts from the field. He also connected on both his freebies from the charity stripe.

Limited minutes, ample production

With coach Tim Cone enjoying a bevy of talented guards at his disposal, Caguioa made sure to make the most out of the whole 13 minutes and 52 seconds he had on the hardwood. Aside from finishing in double-figures in scoring, Caguioa also pitched in four rebounds and one dime.

Will he continue to be a factor in the postseason?

Having won seven titles throughout his storied PBA career, the seasoned Caguioa certainly knows a thing or two about what it takes to go all the way.

The trio of Stanley Pringle, LA Tenorio, and Scottie Thompson will still get bulk of the playing time, but an efficient and productive showing from Caguioa adds another dimension to Ginebra’s deadly guard rotation.

Caguioa could very well play more significant minutes in the semis, as Ginebra is currently missing the services of Jeff Chan, Jared Dillinger, and Art dela Cruz due to injuries.

(Image from PBA Media Group)

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By the numbers: Dynamic duo of Smith, Parks propel Blackwater to knockout game

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

The Blackwater Elite’s hopes for its first ever Semifinals appearance is still alive after surviving a gritty Rain or Shine Elasto Painters side, 100-96, in Game 2 of their best-of-three PBA Commissioner’s Cup Quarterfinals series.

After letting the win slip out of their hands in Game 1, the Aries Dimaunahan-mentored squad made sure to learn from their mistakes and avoid a last-minute meltdown to preserve the victory.

Import Greg Smith and super rookie Bobby Ray Parks Jr. led the charge for the elite, accumulating a combined 59 of the team’s 100 points. Let’s crunch down the numbers of Blackwater’s deadly one-two punch from last night’s contest.

Smith kept his word

After a subpar performance in Game 1 where he only shot 2-of-11 from the field, Greg Smith vowed to come out more aggressive in Game 2.

ALSO READ — Experience trumps youth as RoS uses 11-0 run to steal Game 1 from Blackwater

True to his word, the 28-year-old slotman was purely business since the the opening tip, pouring in 31 points on 73 percent shooting from the field (11-for-15).  He also connected on nine of his 16 trips from the foul line.

Smith also corralled 18 of the team’s 44 total rebounds, with 14 of those coming on the defensive end. He also tallied two assists, one block, and only one turnover in 38 minutes of action. His jumper with 44.7 seconds left in regulation gave Blackwater a four-point lead and some breathing room to seal the game.

Ray-Ray continues to be solid

Playing in just the second PBA playoff match of his career, freshman sensation Parks continued his stellar performance so far in the midseason tourney. The 26-year-old star came out with a much efficient game in Game 2, making 60 percent of his field goals (9-of-15) en route to a 28-point performance.

Parks did commit five turnovers, but he more than made up for it with yet another stat sheet-stuffing performance, collecting seven boards, two steals, two assists, and one block.

(Images from PBA Media Group)

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Abueva, other PBA players who got caught playing in ‘ligang labas’

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Even while serving his current indefinite suspension from the PBA, Calvin Abueva continues to hog headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters have reportedly fined their mercurial star an undisclosed amount after playing in an unsanctioned “ligang labas” basketball game in Montalban, Rizal on Monday. Abueva hasn’t played a PBA game since June, after being handed an indefinite ban by Commissioner Willie Marcial for two separate infractions.

Per PBA rules, active players who will be caught suiting up in outside leagues without permission from their mother teams will be in direct violation of the PBA Uniform Players’ Contract — which strictly prohibits professionals from participating in other events and tournaments.

Those who disobeyed the rule are usually slapped with hefty fines, while some are even handed suspensions. Compensation from “ligang labas” games can be quite lucrative for ex-professionals — which could also be quite tempting for players in an active PBA roster.

Abueva’s case isn’t the first time a PBA player dabbled in outside leagues, and it certainly won’t be the last.  FOX Sports Philippines lists down ballers who were caught playing in ‘ligang labas’.

Renz Palma

The high-flying guard from the University of the East first made a name for himself after runner-up finishes in the 2018 and 2019 Slamdunk contest.  But Palma also faced some controversy early in his young career, when he was suspended by the Blackwater Elite last February for participating in a game in Bulacan. The 6’1 guard reportedly asked permission from the Blackwater brass to honor an invitation he received from one of the event’s organizers, according to an initial report from Tiebreaker Times.

His request was denied but Palma went ahead and played anyway, leaving the team no choice but to suspend him for one game. Palma is now currently with the Alaska Aces.

Vic Manuel

Even “The Muscleman” did not escape sanction when he lent his services to a team in Bulacan in 2016. Manuel was slapped with a one-game ban for “violating team rules” after playing in a regulation basketball match outside of the league’s jurisdiction.

Manuel’s former Alaska teammate Abueva also pulled off the same stunt in his rookie year, but managed to escape sanction from then commissioner Chito Salud. Alaska team manager Dickie Bacchman, however, made it clear that the team will no longer tolerate such actions, by making an example out of Manuel.

Ping Exciminiano

Turns out, Manuel wasn’t alone when he violated the league’s rules. Alaska teammate Ping Exciminiano also played in the same unsanctioned game and was warranted the same one-game suspension.

Jeff Viernes

Viernes has been tearing it up in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), but he was also once involved in a “ligang labas” controversy during his brief PBA stint. After going undrafted in the big leagues, Viernes was given a chance by the Fuel Masters and then head coach Ariel Vanguardia in 2017.

His tenure would be short-lived after admitting he suited up for Hobe Macway Travel in the championship game of the Republica Cup under a fake name. Viernes requested his release from the Phoenix shortly after. He also paid an undisclosed fine to the Phoenix management.

Viernes briefly returned to the league last year with GlobalPort (now NorthPort) before finding a home with the Batangas City Athletics in the MPBL.

(Images from PBA)

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Eddie Alvarez on bout vs Eduard Folayang: ‘I’m not coming in for a decision’

ONE Championship star Angela Lee posts message to her fans following loss to Michelle Nicolini

American mixed martial arts veteran Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez will get a shot at redemption when he takes on local hero Eduard “Landslide” Folayang at ONE: Dawn Of Heroes on 2 August at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.

Alvarez made his ONE Championship debut at ONE: A NEW ERA, but it didn’t exactly go as he had imagined. The multiple-time World Champion succumbed to Timofey Nastyukhin via shock first-round knockout. Still, Alvarez remains unfazed and as determined as ever to restart his journey towards the ONE World Title.

“Look, I got the first one out of the way. I lost, no problem. I did the same thing in the UFC [against Donald Cerrone] and I honestly almost did the same thing in my debut in Bellator. I got dropped terribly. My debut in Bellator against an Irish kid (Greg Loughran) that no one knew. I got caught pretty clean.

“I bounced back and got the win, but I’m not a big fan of my debuts, put it that way. So I got it out of the way, got it past me, and now I can go full-on, go undefeated straight to the belt,” said Alvarez.

“I go out there and I’ve given my all every time, but I think at every once in a while it’s good to take a loss and put the fire back in your belly, and I think it’s a good time to have that. Sometimes you need that fire to burn long enough to get to that World Title.”

For this upcoming bout, Alvarez will face another tough and exciting foe in Folayang, the former ONE Lightweight World Champion who has seen his fair share of success against formidable opponents and will be competing in his homeland.

“He’s incredibly tough, incredibly durable. I understand the power of Wushu, because the guys I train with, Zabit [Magomedsharipov] and a lot of the Russians that come over to spar with us in [New] Jersey, they’re all from a Wushu background,” shared Alvarez.

“So the art is for real, it applies very well to MMA. And I’m looking forward to the toughest Eduard Folayang.

“It’s in his hometown. So I’m looking forward to a tough opponent and I’m viewing the fight as one that I absolutely have to finish. I am not coming in for a decision. I expect to lose if it goes to a decision. So I have every intention to finish.”

As an exemplary athlete and mixed martial artist, Alvarez wants to show fans what he is capable of, especially against Folayang who has a ton of championship experience under his belt and will draw from the cheers of the hometown crowd.

“I’m excited. This match-up in particular, I feel like this guy’s such a hard-nosed, tough fighter. This could be a Fight of the Year. Just my attitude and my mentality going into the fight, I like to feel that my back’s against the wall. I do really well there. I don’t like to feel respected. I like when people think a certain way, whether it’s negatively or whatever, and then I get an opportunity to shock them all,” Alvarez said.

“I never want an easy fight. My only desire is for the ONE Championship title. And this guy’s held it not once, but twice already.”

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Keith Thurman changes tune after split decision loss to Manny Pacquiao

‘Cardiff is the front-runner for Joshua v Ruiz rematch’ – promoter Eddie Hearn

Mike Tyson famously once said that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

Such was the case for former WBA (Super) Welterweight Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-1-1) after losing his title to Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2) during their highly anticipated bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday (Manila time).

“I’ve always said I’m not afraid to let my 0 go, if you can beat me — beat me. @mannypacquiao beat me tonight. Hats off to the Senator on a great performance,” the 30-year-old previously undefeated boxer wrote on his social media pages, a few hours after being at the losing end of a (113-114,115-112,115-112) split decision verdict.

Thurman saw the canvass early in the bout after getting dropped by a Pacquiao flurry in the first round. He was in trouble once more in the the tenth round, visibly grimacing in discomfort after receiving a body blow from the hard-hitting Filipino senator.

The champion got in some good shots in the latter part of the match, but never really threatened boxing’s only eight-division world champion.

Thurman raised a lot of eyebrows in the build-up to the fight, lambasting Pacquiao for his “T-Rex” arms and even going as far as to claim that he will send the legendary pugilist to retirement. Thurman, however, was nothing but gracious in defeat, calling his match with Pacquiao a ‘blessing’ in the post-fight conference.

(Photo from Getty Images)

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By the numbers: Lower seeds Alaska, San Miguel force sudden death matches

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

The TNT Katropa and NorthPort Batang Pier ruled the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations and earned a twice-to-beat edge heading into the Quarterfinals.

Both teams certainly needed the advantage, as they got decimated by their respective lower-seeded opponents last night inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum — forcing a pair of do-or-die games on Wednesday, July 24.

Coming off a hard earned victory over the Meralco Bolts to secure the eight and final playoff slot, the Alaska Aces used the momentum to give the mighty Katropa a stunning 108-72 beating. The San Miguel Beermen, on the other hand, also extended their season by outlasting the Batang Pier, 98-84.

Here are some takeaways from last night’s postseason double-header.

TNT’s eight-game winning streak comes to an end

Losing only once in 11 games during the eliminations phase, the seemingly indestructible Katropa got served a slice of humble pie last night at the hands of the hungry Aces. The humiliating 38-point beatdown was a result of Katropa’s inability to hit their shots, shooting a putrid 29 percent from the field (23-for-77) and 6-of-35 from beyond the arc (35 percent). Alaska, meanwhile, made 42 percent of their field goal total attempts (41-for-96), with six players scoring in double figures.

The usually efficient duo of Terrence Jones and RR Pogoy were nowhere to be found last night.  Jones finished with arguably his worst performance of the tournament (19 points, six boards, and seven turnovers), while the usually deadshot Pogoy missed the mark all night long. Pogoy pitched in just two points after making only one of his 10 tries from the field and missing all his five attempts from downtown.

The Aces simply outplayed KaTropa on all facets on Sunday, particularly on the rebounding department where they held a sizeable 73-47 advantage. Their bench also came in and provided a huge spark, outscoring TNT’s reserves, 53 to 25.

San Miguel bucks NorthPort’s late-rally to take Game 1

Leading as much as 17 points at one point, San Miguel’s fortitude was tested when the young NorthPort squad came roaring back and cut the deficit to just one early in the final frame. An 11-0 run by the Philippine Cup champs sealed the win, led by the conspiring efforts of Chris McCullough and Chris Ross.

The Batang Pier actually shot better from the field than SMB, but the latter’s more frequent trips to the line (16-for-22, 72 percent) proved to be a game changer. They also held a big advantage on total rebounds, 65-53, and a slight lead on second chance points, 18-16.

NorthPort also committed 25 infractions which the Beermen turned to 25 easy points.

(Images from PBA Media Group)

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Cuan, Helterbrand praise Imus-Khaleb Shawarma/GLC teamwork in bounce back win

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

New Imus Bandera-Khaleb Shawarma/GLC (2-3) head coach Mac Cuan got a huge boost from his team’s newfound chemistry as the team finally snapped a 3-game losing skid in the 2019-2020 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Cup season with a decisive 82-70 victory over the Soccsksargen Marlins on Saturday.

Taking over the head coaching job at the start of the week, Cuan unlocked the potential of the entire team, harnessing their invididual talents and putting everything together into a cohesive whole.

“I just tried to correct some bad habits that I have observed in the last four games. And basically, I told them to share the ball, kasi napansin ko mas maraming dribble. And I told them to keep the game fast,” said Cuan.

The Imus-Khaleb Shawarma/GLC scored a season-high bench 39 points, with James Martinez registering 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Jojo Cunanan played his best game of the early regular season, finishing in double-digits with 10 points on an efficient 4/5 field goal clip. Jerick Nacpil added 9 markers.

“When I see them doing something before, parang they just do it for the sake of doing it. Walang purpose yung ginagawa nila. I just addressed that so that lumabas yung mga natural and individual talent nila,” said Cuan.

“Malalim yung line-up eh. I am just taking advantage kung ano yung mga piyesa na mayroon ako. And with us playing fast, it makes us rotate faster. So nagagamit ko sila and nabibigyan ko sila ng opportunity makapaglaro.”

Chad Alonzo, who started at center, had a big double-double performance consisting of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jayjay Helterbrand’s 14-point, 7-assist outing also paced the Imus side, enabling them to get their 1st “home” win.

“Lumabas din talaga yung laro namin. Sa practice, yung effort, binibigay namin. At the end of the game, team effort talaga,” said Alonzo. “Lahat ng off the bench, napag-usapan namin sa practice na kailangan namin ng support.”

“I like the energy we had especially in the second half. The bench came in and brought in a lot of energy pressuring the ball and causing a lot of havoc to help us get easy shots,” said Helterbrand.

“I think coach Mac really did a good job of the substitutions, matching everyone’s time, and as you can see, everyone has to be ready. Everyone can play major minutes and contribute.”

Cunanan, who has played under Cuan previously for the Mandaluyong El Tigre, said playing within Cuan’s system translate to a positive outcome for players.

“Kapag kay coach Mac, lumalabas talaga yung kumpiyansa ng player. Laruin mo lang yung laro mo sa kanya, lalabas talaga ang laro mo. Sumunod ka lang sa sistema niya, yun ang gusto ni coach Mac,” said Cunanan.

With the win, Imus improved to 2-3 in the Southern Division. They will next play the Paranaque Patriots-F2 Logistics on Tuesday, July 30 at the Olivarez Gymnasium.

As proof, the team also had 21 fastbreak points and 28 assists, both season-highs, showing better teamwork on the floor.

The win enabled Imus to improve to 2 wins and 3 losses in the South Division of the Lakan Cup season. They will next play the Paranaque Patriots-F2 Logisitcs on Tuesday, July 30 at the Olivarez Gymnasium.

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Head-to-head: Pringle vs Lee match-up heats up ’Manila Clasico’ Quarterfinals

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Paul Lee had the better numbers, but it was Stanley Pringle who came out with the W.

The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel are now a win away from advancing to the next stage of the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs, taking a hard-fought 85-79 win over the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in Game 1 of their best-of-three Quarterfinals series.

Let’s take a look at the how both combo guards fared in their pivotal ‘Manila Classico’ match-up last night.

‘Stan the Man’ delivers for Ginebra

Pringle had his first taste of playoff atmosphere in a Ginebra jersey, running away with the best Player of the Game plum after stellar numbers of 18 points on 50 percent shooting from the field (7-for-14), topped with four rebounds and two assists.

With Magnolia’s defense limiting Brownlee to just 20 markers, Pringle made sure he had some back-up and made game winning plays down the stretch.

The bearded guard connected on four of his 10 tries from downtown (40 percent) — none more important than the three-pointer he drilled with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter to break the 77-all deadlock. He also connected on a nifty drive off his signature hop-step to give Ginebra a three-point lead with 2:42 left.

Lee-thal form for Lee in a losing effort

Magnolia dropped the ball in the final canto, but it wasn’t for the lack of effort on Lee’s part. The eight-time All-Star took charge in the second half, tallying a game-high 24 points (8-of-16 FG), with severn rebounds, three assists, and two steals. He knocked in five of his nine total treys (55 percent) and was flawless from the foul line (3-for-3).

Game 2 is scheduled on Tuesday, July 23, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

(Images from PBA Media Group)

RELATED — Experience trumps youth as RoS uses 11-0 run to steal Game 1 from Blackwater

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Takeaways: Experience trumps youth as RoS uses 11-0 run to steal Game 1 from Blackwater

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

It’s never over till the fat lady sings.

Such was the case last night, as the sixth-seeded Rain or Shine Elasto Painters went ballistic in the dying seconds of regulation to steal an 83-30 victory over the third-ranked Blackwater Elite in Game 1 of their best-of-three 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Quarterfinals series.

Up by eight with 1:34 left in the fourth after a booming triple by Ray Parks Jr., the Elite appeared primed to turn back the wily veterans. But experience trumped youth in the end game, as coach Caloy Garcia’s pulled off an amazing comeback and are now a win away from the semis.

FOX Sports Philippines gives you some insights from the exhilarating match at the Mall of Asia Arena last night.

Nambatac delivers the final sting

Old reliables like Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga have been in multiple playoff battles over the years, but it was second year player Rey Nambatac who was the catalyst of the team’s mighty comeback.

After a trey by import Carl Montgomery trimmed the deficit to five, the 25-year-old former Letran Knight came through with a defensive stop, taking the ball away from Allein Maliksi and converting it to two points with 1:24 left.

A game-tying three-pointer by Norwood followed by a missed shot from Parks set the stage for Nambatac’s heroics. Montgomery gave up the final possession and handed the rock to Nambatac. Blanketed by Roi Sumang, the lefty guard created some separation with a gorgeous pump fake, followed by a the game-sealing basket from way downtown.

Nambatac finished with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field (33 percent), to go along with six boards, two assists, and two steals in 25 minutes of play off the bench.

RoS kept the ball moving

Without a true go-to scorer to rely on in the clutch, Rain or Shine made due through exemplary player and ball movement. The team made sure to find the best shot possible each possession, tallying 19 total assists contrary to the Elite’s 17. No Elasto Painter had more than three dimes, but everyone who was fielded in the ball game (except Jewel Ponferada) made at least one assist.

The squad also shared the scoring wealth, with Ed Daquioag (19 markers), Montgomery (17), Belga (11), and Norwood (10) all finishing in double figures.

RoS suffocated Blackwater’s passing lanes

Stacked with pesky defenders at the guard and wing positions, Rain or Shine pressured the Elite’s ball-handlers, forcing them to commit 14 turnovers — with 11 of those coming off successful steals. Norwood locked up the opposition with three steals, while Nambatac, Belga, and Mark Borboran had two each.

RoS only converted 10 points off turnovers, but Nambatac’s breakaway lay-up at the 1:24 mark of the third certainly turned the tide in favor of his team.

Greg Smith did not look like his old self

The Elite have eyes on the franchise’s first ever trip to the Semifinals, especially after the return of Greg Smith. But the former NBA player had a lackluster showing on Saturday, missing nine of his 11 attempts from the field (18 percent). Smith made most of his trips from the charity stripe and finished with 16 points, 19 rebounds, three assists, and two steals

Coach Aries Dimaunahan will certainly need a more efficient showing from his import come Game 2 on Tuesday, July 23, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

(Images from PBA Media Group)

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Head-to-head: Terrence Jones gets the better of fellow ex-NBA player Rakeem Christmas

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Wreaking havoc throughout the eliminations phase of the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, TNT Katropa’s import Terrence Jones took on another challenge last night, going toe-to-toe with another former NBA player and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok new import Rakeem Christmas.

Heading into the game, most pundits believed Jones may have found his match, as the former Indiana Pacers forward had the skills, size, and experience to take on the Best Import of the Conference frontrunner.

But after the dust settled in Araneta last night, the two imports’ performances couldn’t have been more different, as Jones continued to thrive, while Christmas seemed totally lost with the Philippine brand of basketball.

FOX Sports Philippines breaks down the performances of the two high-profile imports last night.

Still no stopping Jones

Winners of eight consecutive games in a row, the Katropa secured the number one seed after handing Magnolia a 98-83 sound beating. Jones was once again at the forefront of the attack, finishing two assist shy of another triple double performance. The former Houston Rockets starter notched 26 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, and five blocks.

Matching up against a fellow former NBA player didn’t seem to bother the 27-year-old lefty, making 47 percent of his field goal attempts (9-of-17) in 41 minutes of action. Jones simply outclassed the debuting Christmas on every aspect last night, as he posterized and rejected his counterpart’s shots on several occasions.

Jones also got a lot of help from his teammates last night, as RR Pogoy (20 points), Jayson Castro (13), and Brian Heruela (13) all finished in double figures.

No Christmas in July for Magnolia

Arriving in the country just a few days ago, Christmas looked sluggish in the 33 minutes he spent on the court. His unfamiliarity with Magnolia’s system as well as his teammates was quite evident last night, only making two of his 10 attempts from the field (20 percent) and tuning the ball over five times.

RELATED — Magnolia banks on Rakeem Christmas as they gear up for the postseason

The Syracuse-product only pitched in eight markers, but he did corral 14 boards and dished out three assists. Luckily for Christmas, he will get a chance to atone for his subpar PBA debut when Magnolia faces sister team Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-three Quarterfinals series.

(Images from PBA Media Group)

ALSO READ — Meralco pounces on SMB’s 22 turnovers to keep playoff hopes alive

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PBA insights: Meralco pounces on SMB’s 22 turnovers to keep playoff hopes alive

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

With their Commissioner’s Cup playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Meralco Bolts dug deep and gave themselves a fighting chance for the eight and final Quarterfinals slot by stunning the  San Miguel Beermen, 95-91, inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.

After snapping SMB’s three-game winning streak, the Bolts set up a date with the Alaska Aces, to determine which team will face the twice-to-beat TNT Katropa.

Meralco, Alaska, and the Phoenix Fuel Masters actually figured in a three-way tie with a 4-7 record after the eliminations. However, it was Phoenix who drew the short end of the stick and fell victim to the quotient system.

FOX Sports Philippines gives some insights on how Meralco managed to defeat the streaking Beermen.

James doused McCullough’s fire

One of the under the radar reinforcements so far in the mid-season tournament, Meralco’s Delroy James had his coming out party when it mattered the most, dropping a complete game of 34 points, five rebounds, six assists, four steals, and two blocks.

Unfazed by his duel with the red hot Chris McCullough, James shot 12-of-23 from the field (52 percent) and went 3-for-7 from deep (42 percent). He only missed only one of his eight total trips from the foul line (87 percent. The 32-year-old was money in the final minute, scoring crucial baskets to keep SMB at bay. He outplayed McCullough on both ends of the floor, limiting his counterpart to 27 points and nine turnovers.

Meralco pounced on SMB’s mistakes

The match was evenly contested for the most part, with no team leading more than seven points throughout the entire 48 minutes. However, it was SMB’s 22 turnovers that ultimately spelled their demise. The frontcourt of McCullough and June Mar Fajardo combined for 15 of those miscues.

The Bolts turned those opportunities into their favor, outscoring San Miguel in points off turnovers,29-15.  Coach Norman Black’s wards also did a much better job of taking care of the rock, limiting their miscues to just 13.

SMB falls to 7th place

While Meralco earned another lifeline, it was San Miguel who plummeted down to the seventh spot after TNT’s victory later in the evening. Instead of a best-of-three series against Ginebra, the Beermen can no longer afford another setback and will now have to defeat the NorthPort Batang Pier twice in order to advance to the semis.

San Miguel takes on NorthPort on Sunday, while Meralco faces Alaska in a do-or-die affair on Friday.

(Images from PBA Media Group)

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Battle for playoff positioning intensifies as PBA releases Quarterfinals schedule

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This week’s games will feature some major implications in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, as the official Quarterfinals seedings will finally be determined.

The league confirmed the schedule for the upcoming playoffs of the midseason tournament, bannered by a pivotal battle for the eight and final playoff spot on Friday, July 19.  Tied with the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters with a 4-7 record after the eliminations, the Alaska Aces will face either Phoenix or the Meralco Bolts for the eight seed.

RELATED — Alex Compton sees ‘sliver of hope’ for Alaska despite dampened playoff chances

If Meralco survives the San Miguel Beermen in their match-up on Wednesday, they will be the ones to advance to the do-or-die match-up.

The playoffs will officially begin this Saturday, July 20, as the third-seeded Blackwater Elite will face the San Miguel Beermen or the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in a best-of-three affair. A battle between the fourth seeded Barangay Ginebra San Miguel versus Magnolia or SMB will follow suit.

RELATED — Blackwater leans on Greg Smith’s return to make deep playoff run

Twice-to-beat teams TNT Katropa (9-1) and NorthPort Batang Pier (9-2) will face the seventh and eight ranked squads on Sunday, July 21. The Batang Pier will reclaim the first seed if TNT loses its match against Magnolia on Wednesday.

The Quarterfinals will continue next Wednesday (July 24) and Thursday (July 25) if necessary.

RELATED — Brownlee’s scoring outburst gives Ginebra momentum ahead of QF match against SMB or Magnolia

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Eddie Alvarez vs Eduard Folayang fight now part of One Lightweight World Grand Prix

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The largest global sports media property in Asian history, ONE Championship™ (ONE), has just announced that multiple-time World Champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez of the United States and his opponent, former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang of the Philippines, will enter the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Semi-finals after Timofey Nastyukhin was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.

A four-time Lightweight World Champion, Alvarez is not just an incredibly exciting martial artist – he is also the only man in history to have claimed World Titles in both of North America’s leading promotions. Now that he is on the global stage, he is intent on cementing his status as an all-time great by capturing the ONE Lightweight World Championship to become the first man to conquer the three largest organizations on the planet.

He hit a stumbling block in his ONE Championship debut however, when he ran into Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin. Now Alvarez is on the comeback trail, and will need to defeat Filipino icon Folayang if he hopes to reinvigorate his chances at the ONE World Title.

Folayang, on the other hand, is the former ONE Lightweight World Champion. Born in Baguio City, he joined the Philippines Wushu Team, and won several gold medals to become a national hero. “Landslide” then transitioned to mixed martial arts under the instruction of Mark Sangiao at Team Lakay, and captured a Filipino Welterweight Championship in his June 2007 debut. Folayang made his promotional debut in the main event of ONE Championship’s inaugural show in September 2011.

Five years later, he returned to Singapore to capture the ONE Lightweight World Title, defeating the legendary Shinya Aoki. After losing the title, and then regaining it once more, Folayang defended the belt last March in a rematch with the Japanese warrior. The Filipino unfortunately fell via first round submission.

Up next for Folayang is perhaps the most difficult test of his career in the form of lightweight great Alvarez. The winner of this bout moves on to face Turkish sensation Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Finals.

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