It's the human and fun side of our sports heroes

Clasico becomes ‘egg’ day for Jio… What does Thompson and Fajardo have in common?… Cone rates PH Arena higher than US stadiums


“I was too eager. I wasn’t ready when I came in, and I just wanted to help my team badly. That’s why when I got my first foul, I wanted to make up for it immediately. That’s my mistake.” “My priority is really defense,” he quipped. “He told me, ‘Now, you know.’ It’s a lesson learned for me that I was too excited. That’s what I learned.” “I think this was better for me, that we’re guarding each other. Now, I’ll be more ready for what will happen next time we face off.”


“Gigil ako eh,” the Cagayan de Oro City native readily admitted after emerging from the Star’s dugout. “Hindi ako ready sa pagpasok ko, nanggigil ako bigla. That’s why pagkakuha ko ng first foul, gusto ko bumawi kaagad. ‘Yun yung mali ko.” As far as he can recall, Jalalon shared it was his “first time” to go scoreless in a match. “Pero okay lang sa akin. Ang priority ko talaga is defense,” he immediately pointed out. Fox Sports Asia

“We gave our all. Japeth was just really lucky from outside. We didn’t expect that to happen. But we also gave our all.” “We had lots of mistakes, in our rotation. We also lost the rebounding battle, Thompson made life hard for us. Maybe, we’re just too over-eager.” “The game was really good. It’s just there will be winners and losers. For us, we just have to adjust and not get stuck. We have to adjust on our next game and when we return to practice, focus on the little things. I hope we adjust in our next game.”


“Well, binigay namin lahat. Talagang sinuwerte lang talga si Japeth sa labas, hindi ko inakala na ganun,” said Pingris who did all he could to slow down Aguilar, to no avail. “Mas mainit tira nila sa labas. ‘Yun talaga yung ibibigay namin pero nakaka-shoot talaga.” “Talo din kami sa rebounding. Pinahirapan kami ni Thompson,” said the Pozzorubio, Pangasinan native who saw his 14-point, 16-rebound performance go down the drain as the Hotshots dropped to an even 3-3 mark in a tie with the Kings. Fox Sports Asia


“It was OK. It was the same game,” he quipped. “We had a lot of breakdowns on offensive rebounds. That’s where we got doomed,” he said. “We’re still a new team so I’m still happy that before the year ended, we’re 3-3. But a loss is just not the way we wanted to end the year,” he said. “We have to go back to practice and improve on the things we need for the long haul.”


“Kung titingnan, bago pa rin ang team. I’m still happy na bago natapos ang taon, 3-3 kami,” shared Lee, who led the Hotshots with 20 points in his first participation in the long-running Ginebra-Star rivalry dubbed “Manila Clasico”. “Yun nga lang, di lang sa gusto namin na way na mangyari to end the year. (So we) go back to practice and pag-aralan kung ano ang kulang namin,” he added. “Okay pa rin. Marami pa kaming kailangan i-improve.” Fox Sports Asia


“Dinaan ko lang sa sipag,” stressed the proud Padada, Davao del Sur native, who has joined the likes of reigning three-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer, Rain or Shine’s Raymund Almazan and Sean Anthony of NLEX to average at least 10 boards per game so far. “Talagang ginawa ko lang ‘yung best ko. 50-50 balls, tinitignan ko kung saan mapupunta kaya tumatakbo ako du’n. Sakto lang siguro na napupunta sa akin ‘yung rebounds.” Fox Sports Asia

“I didn’t even notice it. I just wanted us to have second possession because I felt we’ll have an advantage if we got those rebounds,” he said, not shying away from gambling for those 50-50 balls just to give the Gin Kings more chances at the basket. “Scottie got to the boards a lot, gave us some extra possessions as he usually does,” he said. “We played a game that was more in character for us and it was a defensive battle, and a grind it out type of game. I think fans like to see the high character of our players, and I think that showed through there.” “I’m just doing my best. It just so happened the rebounds fell into my lap,” he said.

“I feel for (Marc) Ping and PJ (Simon) and Mark (Barroca) and those guys. I know how hard it is to lose on this day. It really is hard to lose,” he said. “It’s great to win, hard to lose. My heart goes out to those guys.” “It’s always hard to go against your ex-team. It’s been six years since I coached Alaska and every time, it’s still very hard for me to coach against Alaska. And it’s still very hard for me to coach against Star. So, in that respect, just from a personal standpoint, these are harder than playing San Miguel or TNT,” he said.


“They’re the leaders,” Cone said after also getting 17 points from Joe Devance at Philippine Arena here, where the league attendance record stood way safe after just over an estimated 21,000 fans showed up at the 55,000-seat facility. “This game was a chance for us to build momentum,” Cone added of the next Ginebra match, which will be against powerhouse defending champion and league leader San Miguel Beer, on Jan. 8.


“Japeth was awesome tonight on the offensive side and even defensively, he was very active,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone, visibly impressed with how the former Western Kentucky U standout shot extremely well from the field, including all of his five attempts from beyond the arc. “We encourage him to shoot threes and he hit them tonight, it’s a huge weapon that we can continue to use and develop.” Fox Sports Asia

“I’m glad it was a little Merry for us,” said head coach Tim Cone. “I’m glad we honored the fans with a good game, both side, it was a defensive battle, a lot of character in that game.” Aside from Japeth, Joe Devance was the only Gin King to finish in double figures with 17 points but Ginebra did drew a herculean effort from Scottie Thompson as the sophomore win grabbed  a career-high 17 rebounds on top of seven assists and five points. ABS – CBN Sports

“Dami ko nga nakain, actually,” shared Aguilar in jest, who feasted on local-made ham, ube halaya, quezo de bola, and spaghetti together with his family. “I ate pa nung 12 midnight,” he added with a smile. “This is one of those moments in my basketball career na never did I expect. At first, I was hesitant pa nga sa three-points eh,” said Aguilar. “Towards the second half my fourth shot, I was like really happy about it.” Fox Sports Asia

 “This is one of those moments in my basketball career that I never expected,” said Aguilar, a career 23-percent shooter from rainbow country. “At first I was hesitant to shoot a three-pointer, but when I took the first shot, it went in and I was happy.” “I was surprised with my offensive performance because my focus was to be honest was on defense, which was what coach Tim wanted to come from me. If you ask him, he has seven fundamentals on defense and he wants me to be an anchor on defense,” he said.


“If you remember, I coached his dad, Peter,” Cone said after the game. “And Peter was like the best shooting big man I’ve ever seen, so when I first saw Japeth, he looked exactly the same. Same form, everything.” “Japeth has great form and great ability to be that kind of player that can shoot shots like that. His dad was lights out,” shared Cone, whose team now shares an even 3-3 record with its victim. “We’ve been encouraging him (Aguilar) to shoot threes, and he hit his threes. That’s a huge weapon that maybe we can continue to use and develop as we go along,” added the Ginebra coach. Fox Sports Asia


“This was indicative of the way we win games. Japeth was awesome tonight on the offensive side and even defensively, he was very active,” said coach Tim Cone of Aguilar. “We encourage him to shoot threes and he hit them tonight. It’s a huge weapon that we can continue to use and develop.”

 “Let me say, this is an awesome facility. I’m so impressed with this facility.Locker room, floor, I mean out there… just wow. It’s so massive,” Cone said. “I’ve been to a lot of stadiums in the US, I’ve never seen anything like this. Amazing,” he adde ABS – CBN Sports


“First, let me say this is an awesome facility. Man, I’m so impressed with this facility, locker room, floor, I mean the out there… just, wow. It’s so massive,” said Cone of the arena that can house more than 50,000 people. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he shared. “I’ve been to a lot of stadium in the U.S. Even just pulling up and seeing the size of it, I mean, I’ve seen Staples, I’ve seen the Denver, I’ve seen a lot of coliseums, I’ve seen nothing like this. Amazing!” “Just the whole experience of coming here was an awesome experience. Coming into the gates, seeing the size of it, seeing the flags outside, and then walking in. The first time I walked near the court, I looked up and saw the stands, and I just kept looking up and up, I mean it was incredible,” Cone went on. Fox Sports Asia


A good portion of the Lower Level, which comes after Patron B, was just a third full, while the General Admission, which can, according to the venue official, sit more than 17,000 when filled to the brim, was just a fourth full. “Maybe because it’s Christmas,” said the venue official. “People are in the provinces and they have something else to do, like be with family and relatives.”


Too bad it’s impossible since it’s a little far from Metro Manila, but still. “I wish we could play here every week,” top deputy Chris Gavina said. “If the PBA can schedule more games here, we’re lucky over here. I’ll play here any day as long a we win,” he added. ABS – CBN Sports


The Floodbuster, virtually a laughingstock in the league prior to the scrambling victory, thus arrested a five-game skid while receiving a perfect Christmas blessing for their efforts. Alex Mallari, a castoff from the Star Hotshots, played arguably his best game in his career in leading Blackwater to victory. He defied the Blackwater defense by scoring backto-back baskets to push his team to a 95-85 lead in the final minute. Manila Standard


“Akala ko pasok, tiningnan ko na talaga sa screen, ang laki nung screen sabay kapos, napakamot ako ng ulo,” said Araña with a big laugh, as Young famously did the same embarrassing play last season in the NBA. “Nakakatawa din talaga,” he added. “Tinitingnan ko ang social media, ang daming nagko-comment, ang yabang pa eh, pag-tira talikod agad, kapos eh.” Fox Sports Asia

“I thought it would go in. I watched it on the screen, it was a big screen, and saw it was an air-ball. I couldn’t help by scratch my head,” he recounted with a laugh. “Coach gave us a green light to shoot when we’re open. Before today, he was always chiding us every time we shoot, but this game, we changed our set-up so everyone can shoot outside. Coach didn’t berate me because of that air-ball, but rather told me to make up for it on defense.”

“We were just trying to be the veterans of the team and lead the team to victory,” he said, as he and Ryan Araña willed their side to the victory, their first in six tries. “The sweeter part about it is that we were down by how many again? Fifteen? Wow, I did not know that was 15,” he said. “We just kept pushing, and keep pushing. The lanes just opened up and I just kept attacking. We try to implement the Houston Rockets-style offense and that has been helping us.”

“I give so much credit to my players’ heart and I looked at these guys’ eyes and told them to keep believing, and we were able to find that right combination to finish that game,” said coach Chris Gavina, who heaved a huge sigh as he entered the press room. “I wish we could play here every week,” said Gavina.

Alex Mallari made sure Mahindra won’t end the Holiday season winless. “The lanes were open so I kept attacking. Coach (Chris Gavina) kept telling me to attack so I attack,” said Mallari, a four-time PBA champion, who was traded to Mahindra in the offseason. Fox Sports Asia

“Wala sa amin yung eagerness na manalo,” admitted Dela Cruz, visibly frustrated as Blackwater dropped to a 4-3 mark. “Parang lahat ng tira namin pilit, hurried shots, napuputol yung plays. ‘Yung experience sa endgame situations, kailangan naming matutunan and having players na maraming rookies, ma-overcome din namin ‘yung situations na ‘yun.” “Masakit pa rin. Actually, ayaw ko na nga ilaro eh, but nung kailangan ako ng team ko, sabi ni coach (Leo Isaac), laro pa rin. Sa mga ganoong sitwasyon, laban na lang,” he stressed. “Sobrang sakit sa amin na panalo na dapat, natalo pa. Kaliwa, strong hand pa kaya medyo naapektuhan ako. No excuses. I’ll take the blame.” Fox Sports Asia