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

Troy Rosario to make splash in draft. Norwood looking for next Gilas star. Art dela Cruz ready to stamp class in PBA



Troy Rosario hopes his participation in Gilas Pilipinas’ first training session on Wednesday night at the Meralco gym was a sign that he could be part of the national team bound for the Fiba Asia Championship in China in September. Donning the national colors in the Fiba 3×3 World Tour Manila Masters where he wull team up with Calvin Abueva, Vic Manuel, and Karl Dehesa, the amateur standout received a call from Gilas manager Butch Antonio last Monday to train with the national team bound for Olympics qualifier. “Hindi ko rin in-expect eh,” Rosario said in a chat with after practice. “Tinawagan lang talaga ako. Sabi maki-practice daw ako. Try ko lang daw.”


The beleaguered basketball program of Southwestern University got another blackeye after its high school head coach and five of his players were banned for life from the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) for falsification of documents. Head coach Rey Lubguban and players Elber dela Cerna Catinggan, Reynaldo Obarco Jr., Mark Anthony Quilab, Andy Jones Turno and Edwin Abo-abo were all hit with lifetime bans, forcing the school to shelve plans of making a comeback in the juniors division. “We simply don’t have enough players to field a squad,” said SWU’s athletic director Ryan Aznar. Aznar himself was beside himself with the situation as he, too, felt misled. “The documents they submitted looked really legit. I didn’t bother to double-check because they appeared to be NSO documents,” he said.


Preparedness the keyword for Texters with early training for new season, and some participation in Metro-wide shake drill

The Texters, the first among the PBA teams to start practice for the next season, also sort of took part in the Metro-wide shake drill on Thursday. In a video posted by coach Josh Reyes, Texters forward Kelly Williams was on his knees and hands together, like he was praying, as a voice called out “Kelly, are you okay?” during practice at Moro Lorenzo Gym.



The top three picks in the Draft are owned by Talk n Text, Mahindra (formerly Kia), and Rain or Shine – three teams in need of a big man and three teams where Rosario could seemingly provide as much immediate impact as he wants. Recent reports have speculated that the Tropang Texters are also interested in the second overall pick. Asked about such scenario, the Gilas cadet said, “’Di naman ako pwedeng mamili. Parehas namang magandang team (Talk n Text and Mahindra).” Sports- ABS-CBN


The six-foot seven-inch forward was not a top prospect coming from high school and was not even a starter until his last couple of years in college. That’s why he’s cherishing every moment now that he has burst onto the scene by saying, “Masaya. Sobrang masaya ako kasi yung hirap ko nagbubunga na at nagkakaroon ng saysay.” Still, Rosario said that his official entry into the professional ranks, whatever selection he may be, is only the next step towards even greater heights. “Focused talaga ako sa preparation kasi gusto ko maging effective sa unang taon ko pa lang sa PBA. Gusto ko, mag-boom agad yung pangalan ko,” he shared with ABS-CBN Sports. Sports- ABS-CBN


Fresh from his vacation trip in the United States, Rain or Shine forward Gabe Norwood will immediately join the Gilas Pilipinas practice on Thursday night. Norwood, who arrived in the country just last Wednesday, is the only player that Rain or Shine will lend to the national pool. “Yes, confirmed na si Gabe (Norwood) lang ang napagkasunduan ng management na ipapahiram,” Atty. Mamerto Mondragon, Rain or Shine’s board governor, told on Thursday. Philstar


Norwood is excited to be back despite some bad news that has been floating around regarding the other holdovers of the Gilas team that went to the FIBA World Cup last year.  “I’m excited to practice tonight (Thursday),” Norwood told “I’m really looking forward to be part of the whole process again.” Philstar


June Mar Fajardo is still in Cebu spending time with his family and still recovering from a grueling season that saw him lead the San Miguel Beermen to two PBA championships despite nursing plantar fasciitis on his both feet during their Governors’ Cup title run. Marc Pingris went to France to be with his father and stepmother, who just lost her mother. LA Tenorio, on the other hand, reportedly begged off due to fatigue while there are still no words on Japeth Aguilar and Jared Dillinger.  “I’m excited to see the new faces. Those guys are hungry. Look at June Mar, he exploded when he came back to the PBA from Gilas so I’m excited who will be the next breakout player,” Norwood said.  Philstar



At 42, veteran Asi Taulava may not have many more chances left to play the game he loves. He doesn’t want to waste any opportunity that comes his way, including the biggest of them all, a return stint with the Philippine national men’s basketball team. “It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling to be back with the guys in the national pool,” wrote Taulava in a text message to  InterAksyon


Dela Cruz’ focus is not on getting picked ahead of the pack, but rather on showing he deserves a spot in the PBA. “I expect a number of players I know to get picked first, but we don’t know what will happen in the Draft. All I know is I have to show that I can fare well in the PBA,” he said. Inquirer


Former Ginebra forward Jayvee Gayoso didn’t mince any words in saying the present pool of Ginebra players have yet to really live up to the team’s ‘never say die’ spirit. “Here is the big thing that I saw is totally different. Sa panahon namin we never wore shirts na nakalagay, ‘never say die,’ because hindi kami nag-imbento nun, binigay sa amin ‘yun. Dahil nakikita sa mga aksyon namin, na di kami susuko. Laban till the end,” said Gayoso, who played for Ginebra in the 90s.“But the recent Ginebra, they want to show the world they are never say die, but they always die. They just acquired it (never say die theme), it was not given to them. You cannot acquire something of that magnitude, you have to work for it,” he added. “It’s not about showboating, it’s about showing. Action speaks louder than words.”


Former Rookie of the Year and veteran big man Marlou Aquino believes Ginebra is now turning a new leaf in its storied franchise and that the Jaworski-era of the team is over. “Panibagong talata, panibagong image na ‘yan ng Ginebra. Sana kung mabago nga, manalo naman, kasi nakakalungkot rin na hindi na yan ‘yung same team na nakasanayan natin sa Ginebra,” said the 6-foot-9 center, anchor of the last Jaworski-mentored Ginebra team that won a championship (1997 Commissioner’s Cup). “Magbabago na talaga ang Ginebra. Kasi si coach Tim, hindi siya ganun sa pisikal na laro. ‘Yun ang Ginebra eh. ‘Yung lumang Ginebra, kaya minahal ng tao, kasi ganun ang laro ng mga pangkaraniwang Pilipino, mga istilo na makikita mo sa mga basketball court sa kanto,” said Aquino.


The Adamson alumna even went to the extent of anointing Rain or Shine as the team that exemplifies the old Ginebra philosophy.“Ang style kasi ng Ginebra dati, napunta sa Rain or Shine eh. Nawala ‘yung tatlong bagay na dala-dala ng Ginebra noon – matapang ang players, nakikipagpalitan ng mukha, ratratan ang laro,” said Aquino.


Gayoso and Aquino, however, hopes Cone’s transfer will finally signal the end of Ginebra’s championship drought. “Ilang teams na pinag-champion niya (Cone). Ilang teams na pinag-grand slam niya. Sana mabago naman ang pananaw ng mga players nun,” Aquino said. Gayoso added: “For the past years, I have been a Tim Cone supporter, no joke. Ginebra has been different since Jaworski left the team. But I have high belief that coach Tim can change the plight of Ginebra. He has his credentials.”


GILAS Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin gathered players for a first practice ahead of the national team’s campaign in the 2015 Fiba Asia championships on Wednesday with only a smattering of players present at the Meralco gym. Baldwin presided over the light practice session that was not announced to the media and was therefore conducted in a relatively low-key and relaxed atmosphere. Among the new faces seen in the practice were Barako Bull’s JC Intal, Alaska’s Sonny Thoss and Dondon Hontiveros, GlobalPort’s Terrence Romeo, amateur standout Troy Rosario, and Asi Taulava, who is trying to make a comeback to the national pool at the age of 43.
RACAL Motors became the second team from the Philippines set to see action in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) for its coming 2015 season. The league confirmed the participation of the Racal Group of Companies on Wednesday, with the new franchise carrying the brand name Racal Motors The entry of Racal comes less than a week since the same group submitted a letter of intent expressing its interest to join the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).


The result may not be the one they wanted, but for big man Bright Akhuetie, there is a silver lining in the Altas’ 81-83 setback.“From what I saw, at least we know we can beat them,” Akhuetie said. “I thought we were going to win, because we had all the chances to win. We blew it all down the line. But I am happy because we can learn from this experience.”Tiebreakertimes


Against JRU, leading scorer Jonathan Grey was limited to only six points and exemplified CSB’s struggles. Echoing his coach, he told ABS-CBN Sports, “Ang sama ng pagkatalo namin tapos personally, worst game ko rin ‘to.” The fifth-year guard went even as far as apologizing to the Blazers’ supporters who were indeed not at all expecting their team to be languishing at the bottom of the standings. “Gusto ko ring mag-sorry sa Benilde community kasi nakakahiya yung nangyayari,” he said.He then added, “Parang ayokong pumasok sa school.” Sports-ABS-CBN


After almost making the Final Four for the first time since 2003 a year ago, College of St. Benilde is off to a 1-4 start in the NCAA 91 Men’s Basketball Tournament. Making things worse, the Blazers just had what head coach Gabby Velaso described as his “worst game ever” in his three seasons at the helm when he and his boys were blown out by Jose Rizal University, 67-49, last Tuesday at the San Juan Arena. “Hindi katanggap-tanggap yung talo. Masakit para sa aming lahat,” he told ABS-CBN Sports. After that loss, the Taft-based squad took almost half an hour to exit their dugout and Velasco shared that many of them – coaches and players alike – took the time to address their disappointing performance. Talking about the sentiment of the entire team, Velasco said, “Sabihin na nating we’re not one of the top teams, but what we were expecting was to be fighting in every game, competing with ever team.” Sports-ABS-CBN


Jalalon was always bound to make a name for himself sooner than later and, as such, his college mentor revealed there was already interest from PBA teams even if he still had two years to play out – if that’s what he decides. “May mga kumakausap na dyan na mga professional team,” Codinera shared with ABS-CBN Sports. The Arellano coach opted not to go into detail, but said that more than one PBA team is talking with Jalalon if he would be interested in joining the draft early. Asked how his prized ward would do in the pros, Codinera confidently answered, “Last year pa lang (Season 90), kayang-kaya na niyang mag-contribute.” For his part, the Chiefs’ court general neither confirmed nor denied that there was already interest from PBA teams as he said, “No comment po muna ako dyan.” Sports-ABS-CBN


You can expect to see (and hear) a lot of screaming girls whenever Paolo Pontejos exits the San Juan Arena after Jose Rizal University’s games. According to him, however, these is just a more pronounced extension of his fan encounters back in JRU where his schoolmates often ask to take photos with him. “Pagganyan sa school, hindi naman tatanggihan. Pagdating sa games, pasasayahin din namin sila (sa laro namin), Pontejos shared with ABS-CBN Sports. The Heavy Bombers have been making sure their supporters get their tickets’ worth by winning three straight. Talking about their run, Pontejos said,Nagkaroon ng momentum pagkagaling namin sa dalawang talo. Hopefully, magtuloy-tuloy yung okay na performance.”Sports-ABS-CBN


Bachmann explained that the undersized Alaska forward has improved a lot in his third season as a pro under coach Alex Compton, who puts premium on character and talent. “Our organization has always tried to help someone in the team change for the better. It’s not just Calvin,” Bachmann confided to on Wednesday. “But I think once you play under coach Alex, you will get better as a player, on the court and off the court,” he added. Philstar


Familiar faces from the Gilas squad that registered a historic win in last year’s Fiba World Cup in Spain like June Mar Fajardo, LA Tenorio, Marc Pingris were not present when Baldwin held a shooting drill to mark his first official practice as Gilas coach.“Puro shooting drills pa lang muna kami kanina,” Castro told, shortly after the practice. “Mixed emotions siyempre. Excited dahil magse-serve uli sa national team pero at the same time, yung core na binuo ni (former Gilas) coach Chot (Reyes) wala na dahil  sa injuries nung iba.” Philstar