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

Guiao calls Villanueva injury a ‘blessing’… Leo Austria credits June Mar, Arwind in Houdini Act… Pingris on struggling Star: Everybody wants to be a hero


NLEX team manager Ronald Dulatre bared the development, which was confirmed by coach Yeng Guiao. “He may be out for two months. Most likely, he’ll be returning in the second conference,” said the fiery mentor. “We’re not really making it as an excuse or looking at it as a big letdown,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for other bigs to play.” “In a way, it’s a blessing because we can spread the minutes to these guys who we want to get more experience and get into the flow of the team.”


“I’m happy that June Mar and Arwind refused to lose,” said coach Leo Austria after what he described as one of the scariest games of his coaching career. “In my entire career, this is the game that I feared the most,” he said. “Everybody expected us to win by a big margin because some of their key players won’t play, but I’m happy that our players put their pride on the line and had that sense of urgency in the second half.” 


The Beermen scored seven points inside the final 48 seconds to cap the rally from 15 points down and halt the Aces. It was the second win in three outings for San Miguel. “I have been scared of games like this my entire career—when people expect you to win by a big margin (because of an undermanned opponent),” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “This is not just a win, but a matter of pride for the team.”


“Parang lumaban ka na pilay ang kalaban mo. Pag inunahan ka ng pilay, nakakahiya,” he said. (It’s like you fought against a crippled person. If he got ahead of you, it’s embarrassing.) “Dahil alam mong kulang at wala yung key players nila, nakakampante kami at iniisip mo na kaya mo agad talunin. Minsan masama yun at nate-take advantage agad. Akala mo bibigay, pero ang mga players nila, ang ganda ng nilalaro, nag-step up, dumikit, muntik pa manalo. Pressure pa sa amin yun kasi nakakahiya na di sila kumpleto,” he said.


“Dyan na pumapasok yung tinatawag na overconfidence,” Santos pointed out after the game. “Dahil alam mong kulang at wala yung key players nila, nakakampante kami at iniisip mo na kaya mo agad talunin.” Santos said it’s an unforgivable if they fail to sustain their mastery over the Aces, who just didn’t have the manpower and firepower to start the game.Instead, the Aces played with a lot of heart in their attempt to shock the 2-time reigning Philippine Cup champions. Fox Sports Asia


Consider it vindication for coach Alex Compton. “You saw all of those guys compete and contribute. I was so proud of them. The most significant minutes of their career was against the two-time defending champions,” the American coach said. “I said we we’re going to be tiny and we’re going to play hard, and we did. You’ll have a hard time playing against June Mar (Fajardo) anyway. Even though when we had Sonny (Thoss) and Noy (Baclao), we’re still going to be small,” he said. “Obviously, we had some miscues in the end, but my feeling that I shared with the guys was kind of proud disappointment.”  “I’m proud of their effort, but disappointment with them because I felt that as hard as they play, as much as they try, I couldn’t ask more from them. I want them to win for the effort, but we didn’t. San Miguel beat us, they deserved it. I think the team pretty hard.”


Down to just a 10-man roster, the Aces still proceeded to give the Beermen a big scare and didn’t let the reigning all-Filipino kings get away with the win until the final bu?zer. “Obviously we have some miscues in the end, but what I shared with the guys inside (the dugout) is kind of being proud of their effort,” said Compton afterwards.


“We’re not following coach’s instructions,” Pingris said. “You can see it in our games. We want to win games to a point that everybody wants to be a hero. Coach keeps on reminding us that we have to share the ball and to always practice defense,” he said. “We have to trust each other. Whoever is open, whoever has a good game, we have to help him.”


Facing one of the best backcourt in the PBA, Jiovani Jalalon feels like he was dealt with the reality check he was bracing for when he started his professional career. “I had a difficult time with Terrence (Romeo) and Stanley (Pringle),” Jalalon said following Star’s 91-84 loss to GlobalPort on Friday.


“We just need to stay focused,” Pringle said after pouring 24 points, three rebounds, and two assists in GlobalPort’s second straight triumph. “We’re just taking it game-by-game. We’re just putting ourselves in a better position for the playoffs.” The bearded guard attributed this blitz to the team’s warmup, saying, “In the Mahindra game, we came out good, but today, we had a better warmup. As soon as the game began, everybody was ready to run. We kept on pushing the ball early.” “We need to execute, for sure. We got to early starts on both of our games, but I doubt Alaska is going to let us have our early start. We’re pretty sure they’re going to slow us down early, so we got to focus on executing and keep on playing good defense,” he said.


“We have to forget that we’re 2-0,” Romeo said after the Batang Pier’s 91-84 win over Star on Friday. “I knew I needed to grow. It’s a learning process for me, but I believe I will eventually get there and I’m thankful that coach Franz is there to guide me,” he said.


“I’m still looking to score, but it’s a better feeling that I’m helping my teammates score. It’s also a credit to them because when I pass, they get easier shots and the load is being lessened for me,” he said.  “We can execute better and we have a better flow. I’m thankful because somehow, I attract the defense which gets them better shots.” “I just give my best. Whatever I can do to help the team, I’ll do it.


“He was exceptional tonight,” Black said. “He played relaxed, played like a veteran, and he showed that he has the talent to compete in the PBA. He was our best player in the first half and I told him if he’s playing like that, he deserves to finish the game.” “Coach told me that he’ll give me minutes. For me, I just contribute what I can do to help the team,” he said.


“Pinupuri nila ako. Di ko naman in-expect na ganito yung mangyayari,”  said Daquioag, who finished with 23 points, to go with four rebounds and three assists in his second game as a pro. The former University of Santo Tomas slasher started his fine groove in the second quarter, scoring 11 points, added 2 in the third canto, before pouring 10 in the final period as the Bolts took control. “Ako naman, bonus na lang yun basta manalo. Kailangan mas maangatan namin yun at makakuha pa ng mas maraming wins,” he said with a smile. Fox Sports Asia


TNT Katropa is next for the Bolts and Daquioag is well aware he’ll have superstar guard Jayson Castro for a possible defensive match up. “Yung next game iba na ang kalaban nun, yun na yun si Jayson Castro na,” said Daquioag, who was 9 of 14 from the field and 2 of 2 from three-point range, while adding four rebounds and three assists. “Yun na yung sinasabi ko na medyo intimidated ako, siyempre ang galing nun, ina-idolize ko yun so pag-hahandaan ko yun. For sure matatapat din ako sa kanya.”


The realization didn’t come quick, it turned out to be a gradual process for Barangay Ginebra’s do-it-all guard Earl Scottie Thompson. “Whenever I played in high school, people always had a comment and it always involved my father,” Scottie recalls. “When I played, people heckled me. They would say ‘He doesn’t play like his dad,’ stuff like that. At first I didn’t mind them at all; I was younger back then. “Then there came a point when I took basketball seriously. Every time I played, I would think of what the people would say and I used it as motivation, an inspiration to do more.”



The Truth recently tapped former University of the Philippines gunner Mikee Reyes as reinforcement. “I’m just really excited to continue playing the game I love,” Reyes said. “I was blessed enough for the Kaohsiung Truth to take a chance on me.”


“It’s really tough, especially when you have to say goodbye to the fans,” says four-time PBA MVP Alvin Patrimonio, who ended his career in Asia’s first play-for-pay basketball league in 2005. “I cried because I treasured their (fans) love and support. “You really have to think it [retirement] over; in my case, a couple of years before I said it was all over,” adds Patrimonio, for 17 seasons the face of the Purefoods [now Star] franchise. “You can feel it, when the [playing] minutes are dwindling, and then you begin to say that everything has to come to an end—even this career.” “But he [Jaworski] was an exceptional case,” he says. “The old saying that ‘the mind is willing but the body is not’ was very true in my final years. The body simply refused to cooperate.”


No foul was called in the play. “I’m not very happy with the opportunity that Thirdy had. I think it was pretty clear that he was fouled,” Baldwin said after the game. “Thousands and thousands of people, millions around the country expect players to make big plays, while I expect referees to make correct calls, too.” “And when they don’t, they need to be called out,” he added.


“I don’t want to use it as an excuse pero feel ko maybe because we’re young, hindi kami sanay na ganito kalaking laro ang lalaruin namin,” lamented Ravena following Ateneo’s tough 65-67 loss to La Salle on Saturday night in the opener of their best-of-three UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball finals series at the Mall of Asia Arena. “I guess na-intimidate siguro kami sa press ng La Salle. They were throwing presses here and there,” he stressed. “It was good na nakahabol kami pero sayang din ‘yung start. It was eight minutes na naka-17-2 sila. so, we could have avoided that but it just happened. “Siguro ‘yung pressure ng finals, La Salle in general, they’re a very, very strong team. While not everyone in the team (Ateneo) has been in this gravity of a game. It was just a bad start.” Fox Sports Asia


“I think I have no excuse for what I did,” Ravena, who committed a team-worst six errors, said after the 65-67 loss to the Green Archers. “It was a very bad mental mistake on my part.” Ravena, after resetting the play following a second-chance possession off Matt Nieto’s missed free throw, said he should’ve just fed Nieto, who, he felt, had the hot hand after making his jumper that gave them the lead. “Matt just made a foul-counted shot and I should have just given him the ball,” Ravena said. “I have no excuse for it.”


Sought for comment later, Leviste, who identified himself as ‘Vice Gov Leviste’ to a handful of reporters, said he was provoked by one member of the Ateneo coaching staff who he accused of giving La Salle center the same treatment. “Ayaw tumigil nun eh, ayun oh, ‘yung kupal,” said Leviste while pointing to the Ateneo bench. “He was showing a dirty finger to Ben (Mbala) and I told him to stop eh ayaw niya tumigil kaya hinamon ko na siya,” he added.


The intensity and emotion of the 79th UAAP men’s basketball best-of-three championship series opener between De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila spilled outside of the hardcourt inside the rocking Mall of Asia Arena Saturday. The intensity and emotion of the 79th UAAP men’s basketball best-of-three championship series opener between De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila spilled outside of the hardcourt inside the rocking Mall of Asia Arena Saturday. “Eh ang kulit eh,” Leviste said after emotions died down. “He was giving a bad sign. (Nagalit ako) kasi ayaw niyang tumigil eh,” he explained further. “So I said stop it. Eh ayaw, oh eh di hinamon ko na.” ABS-CBN Sports


Ateneo swingman Thirdy Ravena said La Salle’s vaunted pressure defense played a big factor in the Blue Eagles, most of whom are playing in their first finals,  dropping Game 1 of their best-of-three Finals series Saturday. “Na-intimidate siguro sa press ng La Salle (I think La Salle’s press defense intimidated us),” said Ravena, whose team shot 31 percent from the field and turned the ball over 16 times. “La Salle in general is a very strong team and I don’t want to use this as an excuse but we’re young and we’re not used to this game of such magnitude.”


“One year na nating ginagawa ‘to (We’ve been doing this for one year), one step away from taking Game 1 and it will depend on how you defend,” said Ayo Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena in the fifth UAAP Finals series between the two storied teams. And that defense Ayo wanted was provided by Teng as he came up big with a block on Aaron Black with around 10 seconds left in the game. “Yung stop ko kay Aaron, crunch time na yun eh, adrenaline na yun buti tinamaan ko yung bola (My stop on Aaron, that was in crunch time, and it was all adrenaline good thing I hit it),” said Teng.


Green Archers head coach Aldin Ayo knew all too well his captain would not falter under the championship pressure.  “Winning time, pag end game na or crunch time, si JT beterano na and may talent (This is the endgame or crunch time and JT is our veteran and he has the talent in the clutch),” said Ayo. “Hindi magpapatalo ‘to eh (This guy won’t accept losing).”


“Siyempre, championship ‘to and we know yung kalaban namin will make runs, so we just had to stay together and stay composed,” Teng said. “But we have to play better,” he was quick to add. “Parang kinabahan kami. We have to play better para hindi kabahan yung mga nanonood sa amin.”


“(It was) winning time,” Archers coach Aldin Ayo said, accompanied by Teng and Ben Mbala in the press room. “Eto yung mga players na…hindi magpapatalo ‘tong mga ‘to eh.”  “I just had to step up,” Teng said as his heroics spared the Green Archers’ blushes after they squandered a 15-point lead. “Instinct na lang yun,” he added of his go-ahead layup. Ben did a good job sealing and I saw an opening. And on the block, crunch time na, adrenaline na ‘yun eh. Buti natamaan ko yung bola.”


The newly-minted UAAP Rookie of the Year admitted having Finals jitters at the start of the game, but a game-saving play from Jeron Teng served as a good lesson for the young Archer. “At first siguro before the game super kinabahan ako kasi di ba first time ko Ateneo-La Salle. Juniors naman di ako nag-Finals against Ateneo. Before the game kinabahan ako,” he said. “It’s a lesson for me na rin na parang actually sa totoo lang sa last possession may bad decision making akong ginawa, so next game siguro mag-improve naman ako,” he added. Fox Sports Asia


“For me it’s a blessing kasi Rookie of the Year ako pero I’m looking at it as a motivation more than pressure,” said the hot-shooting guard, who scored 12 points on three-pointers in Game One. “It will make me become better coming to Game Two.”


“I’m questioning the unsportsmanlike lang. Kasi si Mike, sabi niya, nagulat nga raw siya na tinawagan. But the referees called it so I have no choice but to play through it even though I’ll create haters,” said the proud Bacolod City native, adding he has a good relationship with Nieto outside the court. “It’s all about basketball. What happens on the court stays on the court. We remain friends. Actually, lumapit ako sa papa ni Mike, sabi ko sorry. Sabi niya, okay lang. Kasi nakalaban ko na sila dati sa Nationals, sa Milo, I’ve met him before.” “We don’t wanna lose to Ateneo. I want to beat Ateneo so bad,” he stressed. “Siyempre, sila gusto rin nila sa amin ‘yun. Pareho lang, it goes around lang e. What matters most is who wants it more. “Actually, ‘yung motivation ni coach (Aldin Ayo), he didn’t say anything. He just wrote on the board: Ateneo. This is enough motivation.” Fox Sports Asia


Confident and dangerous, Rain or Shine is out to take solo lead in the 2016-2017 PBA Philippine Cup as the Elasto Painters battle Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel in the main game of Sunday’s double-header at the MOA Arena. Currently at 2-0 after impressive victories against TNT and Mahindra, Rain or Shine shoots for three in a row and gain a half game lead over Globalport on top of the standings. ABS-CBN Sports