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Black says Niles, Dozier aren’t best imports…‎James Yap excited to play with RR Garcia




Meralco coach Norman Black said nobody else deserves the Bobby Parks-Best Import award other than the Bolts’ hulking reinforcement Arinze Onuaku. The 6-8 Onuaku was named the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup’s Best Import on Friday, beating 2013 winner Robert Dozier of Alaska and Rain or Shine’s burly Pierre Henderson-Niles. “If it’s the Best Import award, it is you making your teammates better. We’re 1-10 last conference and he’s the only player that we recruited (for the Commissioner’s Cup). We even lost our leading scorer in Gary David. So I don’t know what other imports other than (San Miguel’s Tyler) Wilkerson, who should have won it,” Black told media men, shortly after Friday night’s Game 4 won by Alaska. Fox Sports Asia


Two-time league MVP sees a lot of upside in Star’s recent recruits RR Garcia, Rodney Brondial and Fil-American Keith Jensen.“Magaling si RR. Makatulong siya sa lahat and excited ako na makasama ko siya sa team,” Yap said in a chat with FOX Sports. Yap, who is currently in Singapore for a brief vacation with his Italian girlfriend Michaela Cazzola, also noted that Brondial will be a good understudy for Star’s hardworking power forward Marc Pingris. Fox Sports Asia


Still, Yap explained that the former Adamson bruiser still has a lot to learn in the PBA. “Malayo pa siya (Brondial) kay Ping pero iyun sana ang goal niya, na pantayan niya yung energy ni Ping. So kailangan niya mag-hardwork” shared the 34-year-old resident Hotshots superstar. Yap explained that Star’s 5 league championships in the last 4 years was due in part to Pingris’ veteran leadership. “Masarap kasama sa loob si Ping kasi nagdadala siya ng energy at alam mo kapag titira ka, 100 percent meron re-rebound para sa iyo,” he added. “At siya na mismo magsasabi sayo itira mo lang dalhin nandun siya para mag-rebound.” Fox Sports Asia


Rain or Shine’s Pierre Henderson-Niles thinks he deserved to win Best Import more than Meralco’s Arinze Onuaku, who won the award.“I should’ve won. Since I’ve been here, we only lost two games including tonight,” Henderson-Niles said. Henderson-Niles, though, cleared he’s more inclined to win the championship for Rain or Shine than win the award for himself. “I’m not worried about the Best Import, I’d rather win the championship. I’m in the Finals. I’m trying to win the championship rather than the Best Import.” Sports Inquirer


YENG Guiao and wife Jenny should have been London-bound by now, out to celebrate the graduation of their eldest child who just finished her masters degree at the prestigious Cambridge University. “We’re trying to catch our daughter’s graduation pero hindi kami aabot. Ganun talaga,” said Guiao. “Pina-rebook na lang namin. Siguro yung konting pahinga na lang ang hahabulin namin.” The re-booking was immediately done shortly after the game, according to Mrs. Guiao. So how did she do it? “Sinama kong manood yung travel agent namin” she said with a hearty laugh. “By the time na matatalo na yung team, sabi ko sa kanya, i-rebook mo na kami.”


“We still feel we will win this championship, not just on a Friday the 13th, but maybe on a Sunday the 15th,” he said. “It’s a better day.” In contrast to its stupendous showing in the first three games, Rain or Shine looked out of sync in Game 4, turning the ball over 13 times in the first half which all contributed to a 15-point deficit early. “We couldn’t get anything going in the first half. We couldn’t get our momentum going,” said Guiao. Sports Inquirer


Still, there’s no doubt in Guiao’s mind that he and his team will figure things out and wrap the series up on Sunday. “We will make some adjustments with our defense. (Rob) Dozier has just been scoring at will at the isolation at the post, so we have to look for something to solve that,” he said,adding that their own import has also been dealing with back injuries of his own. “P (Henderson-Niles) was not feeling good about his back. He didn’t practice yesterday, so we hope his back is a little better tomorrow,” he said. “The championship is postponed for now, but it’s well on its way,” Guiao vowed. “We will try to have the balloons fall on Sunday.” Sports Inquirer


Rain or Shine failed to close out Alaska in their initial try and Elasto Painters Beau Belga stressed getting the job done rest solely on the players’ shoulders—not on coach Yeng Guiao’s and any other member of the proud franchise. “Kung gusto naming tapusin ang series na ‘to, it’s up to us. Walang ibang magtatapos nito—hindi si coach Yeng, hindi ang coaching staff kundi kaming mga players lang,” stressed the 6-foot-5 Belga, 29, following a 99-111 setback dealt by the Aces in Game 4 on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, putting the Elasto Painters’ title bash on hold. “Hindi pa oras na mag-celebrate kami,” added the former Philippine Christian U standout. “Kailangan pa ng sakripisyo. Kaya nga ahead kami ng 3-0, para may room ka (bumawi) kung sakaling magkamali. Bawi na lang.” Fox Sports Asia


TAKE two for Rain or Shine as it aims to finish off Alaska in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals series on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. “Itaga mo sa bato,” he said with a laugh as he took back what he said. Jokes are half meant. And the E-Painters are definitely eager to dispatch the Aces, who are seeking to become just the second team to come back from a 3-0 hole.“Mahirap manalo ng dalawa sila,” Belga said. “Yung confidence nun, talagang magbo-boost.” “Kami naman, pag two straight natalo, mada-down ka, magda-doubt ka na,” he added. “Doon na magsisimula mag hesitate ka.”


Rookie Maverick Ahanmisi rued Rain or Shine’s inability to handle Alaska’s vaunted defensive pressure that led to a 99-111 setback in Game 4 on Friday night, derailing the Elasto Painters’ drive to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown. “We didn’t handle their pressure that well,” admitted Ahanmisi after emerging from an unusual long post-game pep talk with Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao. “We had 13 turnovers already in the first half. That’s what dug us a deep hole and, on defense, they were comfortable. Their confidence grew as the game went on. We didn’t come to play today.” Fox Sports Asia


Told that he had a great offensive performance, Ahanmisi was hardly consoled: “I’d rather have zero points and win the championship rather than have 30,” he said. “This one hurts,” Ahanmisi added, before pausing for an effect. “But we’re up 3-0 and we got another chance on (Sunday). Hopefully, the way we played in the last couple of seconds will spill in to the next game.” Fox Sports Asia


Maverick Ahanmisi almost had the perfect narrative. In contrast to their first three games, Ahanmisi said the Elasto Painters approached the game with a different mindset. “We didn’t handle their pressure that well. We had 13 turnovers already in the first half. That’s what dug us a deep hole, and on defense, they were comfortable and their confidence grew as the game went on,” he said. “Alaska came to play today and we have to do our part. The whole team didn’t come to play today in terms of defense.” “Hopefully, the way we played in the last couple of seconds will spill over to the next game,” he said. Sports Inquirer


Rain or Shine’s veteran gunner Jeff Chan said before even entertaining thoughts of clinching the Asian Coating franchise’s 2nd league championship this Sunday, the Elasto Painters will have to rediscover the aggressiveness they displayed during the 1st 3 games of the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup title series. “I know we tried (to close the title series) naman pero di lang namin makita yung mismatches saka nag-settle kami sa three points. Siguro inisip namin all series long maganda naman ang shooting namin,” Chan told FOX Sports, moments after Alaska pounded Rain or Shine, 111-99 to prevent the Elasto Painters from clinching the title via sweep. Fox Sports Asia


The former Smart-Gilas guard though admitted that Alaska won’t just give up easily, an attitude it has displayed with consistency over the last 5 conferences under coach Alex Compton. “This Alaska team plays played the same way day in and day out,” he said. “That’s one thing I admired about that organization, because whether it’s an elimination game, a championship game, they are up 20 or down 20, they always play hard, they pressure the ball, they have a lot of energy, they trust each other and they are tough to beat,” explained the former PBA 3-point shootout champion. Fox Sports Asia


PIERRE Henderson-Niles insisted he couldn’t care less that he failed to land the Best Import Award in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.”Am not worried about losing the Best Import (award). I’m in the finals,” said the Elasto Painters import who finished just behind Onuaku in the final tally. “I’d rather win a championship than the Best Import.” Niles gave credit to Alaska for wanting the win more than them, and in the process cutting the series deficit to 3-1. “They came and played hard. They wanted it more than us. They got the W, we lost,” he stressed.


RAIN or Shine has been playing so well in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs that the team has been spared of coach Yeng Guiao’s wrath. The Elasto Painters had lost only once – to San Miguel Beer – in the playoffs, before bowing to Alaska in Game Four of the Finals on Friday night. And that has triggered Guiao to be his tongue-lashing self, reason why they took longer than usual in the dugout after the loss that denied them of a sweep of the Aces in the best-of-seven series.


ASIDE from his duties as Rain or Shine assistant coach, Mike Buendia bared he’s been handling the juniors basketball team of Centro Escolar University. “In my few months, I see na maganda mag-alaga ang CEU. Maganda rin ang recruitment. ‘Yung na-inherit ko na team, basically guard-heavy pero ‘yung mga guards, hindi na pang-juniors. They are ready to step up sa Naascu,” said Buendia. Still, Buendia said the team is still in search of a quality big man. “Ang lacking lang namin is big man. Sana maka-recruit kami ng big man dahil set na ‘yung mga guards namin. We are a small school compared sa mga UAAP and NCAA. Kung may makukuha kami na diamond in the rough sa probinsya, ‘yun ang hinahanap namin,” said Buendia.


BOTH Calvin Abueva and Beau Belga consider their constant spats in the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup finals as nothing more than psywar. Belga went to the showers with only six points but with six rebounds, and four assists in 27 minutes of play. He later dismissed the incident as nothing more than a heat-of-the-moment outburst. Not long after, Abueva followed Belga to the showers after the newly-crowned Best Player of the Conference was called for his second technical foul committed against rookie Maverick Ahanmisi. “Kasama sa laro yun, frustrated ka e,” Belga said. “Konting pampasaya, kaso (lang) mapa-fine ka.” Abueva felt the same way, stressing, “Yung emotion andun, siyempre crucial game ito.”


WITH its pride on the line more than the championship itself on this particular night, the real Alaska team showed up and shot the living daylights out of Rain or Shine to live another day in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals. “It was a matter of pride first,” Alaska coach Alex Compton said after his wards finally displayed the form that got them this far. “We just want to keep on playing.” “We showed up and I’d like to commend our players,” Compton said. “I challenged them and, contrary to popular belief, we didn’t make overwhelming adjustments but did only what we needed to do.” Sports Inquirer


“We showed up and I really like to commend our players. We challenged them, talked a lot, and contrary to perhaps popular belief, we didn’t make many adjustments. We just did what we’re supposed to do,” said Alaska head coach Alex Compton. And one of the players stepping up for Alaska in this championship duel is Chris Banchero. “It was a big game,” Banchero said. “We looked more like Alaska tonight. The past three games, we were really flat. We still got a big hill to climb so we got to take it one game at a time.” Sports Inquirer


But despite the deep hole in the Finals series, Banchero said no one in his team ever felt that they are going to get swept, let alone lose this battle. “We have no doubts at all. We needed to pick this one up. You saw the way we played defense tonight, it’s a lot different than how we worked the game before. It’s still 3-1, it’s still tough, but I think we can do it,” he said. “We were awake today. Hopefully we’re awake on Sunday. We got to play with a sense of urgency. They got a great coach and a great coaching staff. They’re going to be ready for us on Sunday.” Sports Inquirer


Alaska star forward Calvin Abueva admitted that he was teary eyed when he received his first Best Player of the Conference award on Friday. “Talagang pagbanggit ng pangalan ko, talagang naluha ako,” he said, taking home the hardware minutes before Alaska’s Game 4 tussle against Rain or Shine. But amid all the praises thrown at him, he tried his best to contain his emotions and still deliver the way he has been doing for Alaska all conference long. “Syempre, yung emotion andun. Pero syempre as a player, crucial game ito eh kaya kung ano yung dapat nating gawin, yung sipag, yung determinasyon sa laro, yung depensa, talagang nandoon,” he said. Sports Inquirer


“Hindi naman basta-basta makukuha agad natin yung four straight wins hangga’t hindi tayo nahihirapan eh. Syempre bago nila ibigay yun, talagang papahirapan tayo ng mga yun. Di naman susuko basta-basta yung mga yan eh,” he said. “May mangyayari pa sa Game 5, Game 6, at Game 7.” As they continue to have their backs against the wall, the Aces need to double their effort in order to achieve the improbable. “Mas dodoblehin pa namin yung sipag namin,” he said. “Hangga’t inaasam nila yung championship, may comeback pa dyan. May determinasyon talaga kami na manalo, lalo na ngayon na parang umaangat na yung depensa namin. Nakukuha na namin yung dapat nilang gawin at ano yung dapat naming i-adjust.” “Mas gaganda pa ito sa Game 5.” Sports Inquirer


With Alaska left with no more tomorrow, head coach Alex Compton knew he had to come up with something different to keep the Aces’ season alive. “He’s a tough kid. He came into a situation where the players in front of him were veterans,” said Compton. Racal is no stranger to playing in big moments as he was one of the leaders of the Letran Knights in their NCAA championship run late last year. Sports Inquirer


“Alam ko na naman na mag-start ako, so talagang pinaghandaan ko yun simula kagabi. Inisip ko kung anong mga dapat kong gawin,” he said. “Sinwerte naman ako nung una pa lang so yung kumpyansa ko, nagtuloy-tuloy.” Racal admits being in the PBA Finals is much more different than his previous experiences in the championship back in his collegiate days. “Malaki ang pinagkaiba nito sa NCAA. Mga professional na ito lahat eh. So nag-aadjust pa rin talaga ako sa physicality kasi sa NCAA, hindi naman ganun kapisikal. Yung physicality talaga ang ina-adjust ko,” he said. Sports Inquirer


YOU can imagine the pressure a rookie carries when he finds out he is starting for the first time in his pro career. “Oo, (nagulat ako) kasi bago mag-start ng practice (nung Thursday), sabi ni coach Louie (Alas) na mag-start ako ngayon,” Racal recalled. “Ayun, sinwerte naman ako nung una pa lang so yung kumpyansa ko, tuloy-tuloy.” “Talagang pinaghandaan ko ‘yun simula kagabi,” he added. “Inisip ko kung anong mga dapat kong gawin.” The former Letran star’s experience in the last NCAA Finals against San Beda proved handy.


THE PBA media bureau has confirmed that league officials have written TV5 to express concern over Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin’s comments about officiating during his cameo appearance as analyst in the television coverage of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals. Media bureau chief Willie Marcial told on Sunday a letter addressed to TV5 head Noel Lorenzana conveyed the league’s sentiments over Baldwin’s comments from the broadcast booth during Game Three of the Rain or Shine-Alaska finals on Wednesday. In Game Three on Wednesday night, the Gilas and Ateneo coach talked at length from the broadcast booth about how he felt the referees were ‘helping’ Alaska overcome a big deficit, saying at one point, “The referees aren’t going to allow this game to be a blowout.”


SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios has zero doubts that the team the country is sending to the Seaba Cup will bring home the gold. “We’re pretty confident na we’ll get the job done,” he said. “Coach Nash (Racela), Josh (Reyes), and Mike Oliver are all veteran international coaches in their own right. They know it would be a big problem if we don’t get the gold. We lord it over Southeast Asia and we will dominate again. They take the task very seriously.” Sports Inquirer


GARY David expects to play better for San Miguel in the PBA Governors’ Cup, more so with the benefit of a longer time to familiarize himself with the system of head coach Leo Austria and gel with the rest of the team.  “Wala pa akong chance na makapag-practice ng matagal. Ilang days lang ako. This coming conference, siyempre naka-practice na ako ng matagal. Makukuha ko na ‘yung chemistry at saka ‘yung sistema ni Coach Leo. Makakacatch-up na ako,” David told SPIN.PH.


IT’S a good thing Norman Black was at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday night as part of the television crew that worked Game Four of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals between Rain or Shine and Alaska. The Meralco coach ended up receiving on behalf of Arinze Onuaku his plaque as the Bobby Parks Best Import awardee for the conference. The Meralco coach and Onuaku’s representative Sheryl Reyes, were more than willing to do the chore, except for one problem – the import’s name was spelled Arinze Onuaka in the plaque.The PBA already vowed to do an immediate correction.