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

June Mar finds wingman in Tyler… Slaughter leads Abueva in best player race…How Caloy made a big difference



San Miguel Beer young slotman June Mar Fajardo is glad to have a do-it-all import in Tyler Wilkerson.  “Lagi nire-remind ni coach sa amin na yun na ang start ng playoffs dahil alam naman natin malakas ang TNT. Tapos nandun pa si David,” said Fajardo, who earned Best Player of the game honors. “Medyo napapagaan ang trabaho ko. Nagpu-putback na lang ako kasi masipag yung import namin saka magaling,” he added. Fox Sports Asia


GREG Slaughter solidified his chances of winning his first Best Player of the Conference award as he emerged on top of the statistical points (SPs) standings at the end of the elimination round of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup. The Ginebra star slotman, who averaged 18.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.4 assists, and .8 steal in 10 games, racked up 37.4 SPs entering the quarterfinals. Alaska star Calvin Abueva came in second with 33.6 average SPs, his numbers hurt by subtractions due to a couple of technical fouls, while Terrence Romeo of GlobalPort followed with 33 average SPs.


His name may no longer ring a bell to the younger PBA fans today. But Major Timothy “Tim” Hirten, who now serves as chaplain to the 87th Air Base Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, used to play as Tanduay’s import in 1976. The PBA’s 1st decade was dominated by just 2 ball clubs — Crispa and Toyota — but Fr. Hirten said he was blessed to play under the late Carlo “Caloy” Loyzaga, hailed as the greatest Filipino basketball player of all time. “He was on the top 5 of the world basketball and he loves basketball,” Fr. Hirten shared to FOX Sports, who is in town for 2 weeks. Fox Sports Asia


Hirten, who earned his Master of Divinity at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas in Rome, had great recollection of Loyzaga, then handling the coaching chores for Tanduay. “We had a lot of training. And he wanted us to be trained with a soccer coach from Spain, so he did soccer drills for basketball,” recalled Fr. Hirten. “He had a great spirit, he’d tell us, ‘guys you’re not playing hard. You’ve got to dive for the ball. That was Caloy Loyzaga,” he said. Fox Sports Asia


ALASKA and Tropang TNT hope to have made the most of their short preparation as they face off in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals starting on Sunday at the Cuneta Astrodome. The third-seeded Aces and sixth-seeded Texters sealed their playoff pairing just last Friday, giving them only one day to prepare specifically against each other ahead of Game One of the best-of-three series that tips off at 3 p.m. “We’ll just do the best we can,” Texters coach Jong Uichico said. “It’s a players’ game already.”


Shane Edwards had been filling in for Dozier, who had been out with plantar fasciitis. “Mas accustomed si Dozier sa sistema, I guess,” Uichico said. “But it’s hard to judge kasi first game lang naman. We’ll see.” The champion coach has his own reliable import in David Simon to match up with Dozier, while star forward Ranidel de Ocampo and rookie big men Troy Rosario and Mo Tautuaa take on Aces workhorses Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel.


There was a paper embedded on the door of Mahindra’s locker room last week with a quote printed on it to remind the team of how to play each game: “The sum of the whole is greater than its parts.” In other words, synergy. Tiebreakertimes


Victolero thinks the only way the Enforcers can get to the next level is by having togetherness; when the team plays as a cohesive whole rather than just relying on the individual talents of the five players on the floor, that’s when they will have a better shot at winning each game. “Kailangan siguro namin ng chemistry pa. Importante na magtrabaho kami as a team. Masaktan man kami, importante nafe-feel mo yung pain. Kasi kung bale wala lang, we will not grow. Overall, ngayong conference, nag-improve yung team namin in terms of winning percentage. Lagi naman kaming one game short so siguro ang goal namin sa third conference, nandoon kami sa quarters,” he said. Tiebreakertimes


#3 Alaska Aces (7-4) vs #6 Tropang TNT (6-5) Elimination round meeting: Alaska def. TNT, 108-100. Perennial contenders Alaska and TNT square off in one of the two best-of-three series in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarter-finals. Lots have changed for both teams since they last met. Alaska still had Shane Edwards when the Aces defeated the Tropa; now, they’re bringing former Best Import winner Rob Dozier to face off with David Simon, who has also saved TNT from a disastrous start this conference. Tiebreakertimes


#4 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel vs #5 Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. Elimination round meeting: Barangay Ginebra def. Rain or Shine, 103-92. Despite having to make three import changes in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters still managed to rack up a 7-4 record, showing how important it is to have a tested core that has been together for about three or four seasons. Rain or Shine is attempting to enter the semi-finals for the ninth straight conference, but the team is facing arguably the toughest road block in recent memory towards achieving that goal. Tiebreakertimes


LONG WAYS TO GO. Both defending champion Tropang TNT and reigning runner-up Rain or Shine will have to overcome huge hurdles to be able to make it back into the Finals. Returning to the Finals is no easy task and both defending champion Tropang TNT and reigning runner-up Rain or Shine will experience just that in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. Once their respective best-of-three quarterfinals series begin on Sunday at the Cuneta Astrodome, the Texters will be challenged by an Alaska side angry about settling for second-place in three of the last four conferences while the Elasto Painters will be tested by a Ginebra side raring to reclaim the glory they have long lost. ABS-CBN Sports


Calvin Abueva has always been a noted banger since his college days at San Sebastian College. Asked if his newfound confidence to shoot from beyond the arc was due in part to his recent participation with Gilas Pilipinas, he responded in the affirmative. “Siyempre nakakatulong din saka nakaka-improve din sa akin,” said Abueva, who sported a gold-colored hairdo against the Road Warriors. “Pero once iba kalaro mo gaganahan ka.” Fox Sports Asia