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PBA Finals is a flop…‎RR Garcia, Mark Cruz swap teams…Alaska missing Vic Manuel badly…




Despite 2 hard-fought matches in the ongoing Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals between Rain or Shine and Alaska, fans chose to shy away from the best-of-7 title series in the absence of popular squads like Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel Beer and Star. Still, Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin is convinced that the championship series between Rain or Shine and Alaska deserves a 2nd look. “This (Finals) is a phenomenal atmosphere. It’s a great thing to watch,” Baldwin said, who has served as guest TV analyst during the first 2 games of the title series for Sports5. “I’d like to see a full stadium and I’d like to see the fans come out because this is as good as it can get in the Philippines,” he added. Fox Sports Asia


Six teams reshuffled their respective line-ups as a prolonged off-season beckons for the league. After the original five-player trade was placed on hold, GlobalPort still managed to acquire shooter Karl Dehesa from Mahindra in exchange for rookie Roi Sumang and guard Paolo Taha. Mahindra then sent Sumang to Blackwater, acquiring gritty winger Keith Agovida in the process. Sports Inquirer


The Road Warrior received Mac Baracael, Emman Monfort, along with Phoenix’s best 2018 second round draft pick (from Meralco, Ginebra, SMB or own pick) in return. Star likewise made a move and obtained the services of RR Garcia and Rodney Brondial from Phoenix and Keith Jensen from GlobalPort. The Hotshots first received Jensen and Uyloan from the Batang Pier for Yousef Taha and Ronald Pascual, before sending Uyloan, and first year players Mark Cruz and Norbert Torres in a package to the Fuel Masters for the duo of Garcia and Brondial. Sports Inquirer


STAR made its first moves under the reign of Jason Webb, acquiring RR Garcia and Rodney Brondial from Phoenix and utility forward Keith Jensen from GlobalPort in a flurry of trade activity on Wednesday. Revamping an ageing lineup after failing to go deep in the playoffs in Webb’s first two conferences in charge, the Hotshots initially acquired Jonathan Uyloan and Jensen from GlobalPort in exchange for Yousef Taha and Ronald Pascual. The Hotshots later sent Uyloan and rookies Mark Cruz and Norbert Torres to Phoenix to get their hands on Ginebra cast-off Brondial and RR Garcia, who has blossomed with Phoenix the past two seasons.


IN FLUX. A total of six teams tweaked their roster in a noisy PBA Wednesday. Former UAAP MVP RR Garcia was traded by Phoenix to Star in a three-team transaction approved by the league office on Wednesday. The first part of the deal saw the Hotshots swap Ronald Pascual and Yousef Taha for Globalport’s Keith Jensen and Jonathan Uyloan. Star then gave Uyloan, Mark Cruz, and Norbert Torres to the Fuel Masters in exchange for Garcia and Rodney Brondial. ABS – CBN Sports


Meanwhile, the Batang Pier started shaking up their roster via a separate transaction that netted them Karl Dehesa. In return, Globalport shipped Roi Sumang and Paolo Taha to Mahindra. Sumang was then flipped to Blackwater for Keith Agovida. In another deal, Mac Baracael and Emman Monfort are now NLEX Road Warriors in exchange for Mark Borboran and Simon Enciso who are now Fuel Masters. ABS – CBN Sports


AS always, the players are the last to know. RR Garcia admitted he was taken aback by news that he was the major piece in a three-team, eight-player trade consummated on Wednesday that saw him move from Phoenix to Star. “Nagulat ako, hindi ko rin expected,” he said about the transaction that had him and Phoenix teammate Rodney Brondial going to the Hotshots for rookies Norbert Torres and Mark Cruz, along with veteran guard Jonathan Uyloan. The Hotshots first acquired Uyloan and forward Keith Jensen from Globalport in a separate trade which saw the Batang Pier get big man Yousef Taha and Ronald Pascual in return.


Alaska veteran Cyrus Baguio sees his younger self in Rain or Shine sophomore guard Jericho Cruz. “Kapag nakikita ko ‘yung bata na ‘yun naalala ko ang dating ako,” said the 6-foot-2 Baguio, 35, on the eve of Game 3, with Alaska trying to avert falling into a deep 0-3 hole against Rain or Shine in their best-of-seven titular showdown. “Red Bull pa lang ako, ganu’n na ang laro ko,” he added, referring to his first five-and-half years in the pro league when he was drafted by the defunct Red Bull Barako, then under Yeng Guiao, at 14th overall during the 2003 rookie draft before helping them top the 2005-2006 Fiesta Conference. Fox Sports Asia


Phoenix coach Koy Banal said the team’s string of trade transactions over a one-week period is part of the Fuel Masters’ effort to build a title-contending team in the coming years. On Wednesday, Phoenix engaged in a 3-way trade with Star and GlobalPort. Under the flurry of player movements approved by the Office of the Commissioner’s, GlobalPort pulled the trigger by sending guard Jonathan Uyloan and Fil-Am forward Keith Jensen to Star in exchange for young big man Yousef Taha and Ronald Pascual.  “Rebuilding kasi kami and we want to change the identity of the team, though we’ll still keep some of our veterans in the team,” Banal told FOX Sports on Wednesday. Fox Sports Asia


Alaska bruiser Vic Manuel has been ruled out for Game 3 on Wednesday night, leaving the Aces no other choice but to double their efforts anew and find a way to way as they trail 0-2 against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in their best-of-seven PBA Commissioner’s Cup titular showdown. “Hindi ako malalalaro kasi sabi ni coach (Alex Compton), ipahinga na lang. Gusto ko sana maglaro kasi hindi 100 percent. Baka mamaya bumigay ulit sa game. Lalong lumala ‘yung injury,” he said, visibly disappointed with his predicament. Compton, in a separate interview, confirmed Manuel won’t see action in Game 3, saying: “He’s definitely not playing tomorrow.” Fox Sports Asia


“‘Yung injury ko, mahirap talaga pagalingin agad. Napunit talaga ‘yung muscle. Kahapon nag-try ako mag-practice kaso may pumitik na naman. Ngayon sumakit, napunit kasi,” he said. “‘Yun pa ‘yung strong foot ko kaya mahirap gumalaw. Kasi nandoon talaga lahat ng pwersa. Mahirap talaga.” Even if he’s determined to give the Aces any kind of help they need against the Elasto Painters, Manuel said he’s also cautious assessing the progress of his injury, even raising speculations that he could sit out the rest of the finals. “Nag-i-improve naman kaso hindi kaya maging 100 percent. Hanggang sa series na ‘to, mahihirapan. Hindi ko pa rin masabi kasi ginagawaan pa rin ng paraan para makabalik ako kaso ‘yun nga, mahirap kunin talaga na makabalik ng 100 percent,” said the former Philippine School of Business Administration standout. “Hindi pa ako nakakapag-(on)-court (drills) wala din sa kundisyon pero ready naman ako kung sakaling maging better pa sa susunod na araw,” Manuel concluded. Fox Sports Asia


Down two-games-to-none in their best-of-seven PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals showdown against Rain or Shine, Alaska certainly needs everything it could get to turn things around starting on Wednesday night’s Game 3 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. But that doesn’t mean Aces coach Alex Compton is willing to risk his wounded players just to gain a fighting chance against the Elasto Painters. Fox Sports Asia


“I never force players who are injured,” said Compton on Tuesday after wrapping up their training session at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City. Virtually facing a ‘must-win’ game, the Aces still have what it takes to get the job done, according to Compton. “Every game is a must-win. I don’t really treat any game different. In terms of where we’re at, it will be harder if we’re going to be down 3-0 than being down 2-1. And so I think the answer is obvious. We’ll just have to come out and try to be sharper,” he said. “We have a few breakdowns that they capitalized on and hopefully we will be sharper to be able to get one,” Compton concluded. Fox Sports Asia


A DEFIANT Alaska seeks to pull a game back against Rain or Shine as the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals series goes to Game Three on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. “Our general, overall team character is one of great resolve,” the American mentor said. “It  doesn’t mean we’re winning on Wednesday, but if something’s that close … I think it’d be a lot tougher if we lost by thirty twice.” More than a mental adjustment, Compton reiterated that it’s their defense breakdowns they have to minimize. “Either we get better and maybe steal a game or two in this series, but if we keep playing this way, good chance it’s going to be in their favor,” Compton said. “So we better grow quick.”


Being one of the vocal supporters of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the leading presidential candidate in this year’s national elections, Alaska star Calvin Abueva can’t help but feel optimistic about the country’s future under a new administration. “Ayos ‘yun, marami siyang gagawing maganda sa Pilipinas,” said the 6-foot-2 Abueva on Tuesday afternoon at the end of the Aces’ three-hour, closed-door practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City. Fox Sports Asia


Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao treated his impending 2016 election defeat to incoming Pampanga First district congressman Carmelo “Jon Jon” Lazatin II like a basketball game. The multi-titled PBA coach said the impending defeat was made possible by the INC (Iglesia ni Cristo) votes. But he had no problems with that, saying such loss is part of political life. “Siguro blessing pa rin yun (election loss). But it’s also a blessing that I was able to serve during my term,” Guiao told FOX Sports after conducting the team’s practice on Tuesday morning at the Nega gym in San Juan where his team prepared for Game 3. “Parang basketball lang iyan. It’s just part of the game.” Fox Sports Asia

AFTER losing in the hotly contested Congressional race in the first district of Pampanga, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao has one battle left to win. And he and his Elasto Painters have firm control of this one. Rain or Shine tries to blow its Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship series with Alaska wide open today when the Painters shoot for a commanding 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven playoffs at 7 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. Sports Inquirer


“They (Aces) know how good they are and we know that,” Guiao said after pounding out a 105-103 Game 2 win courtesy of Paul Lee’s buzzer-beating jumper on Sunday night. “They will come back. This (series) is not over by any means.” Rain or Shine won Game 1 also through the heroics of Lee and a host of other locals who have stepped up to fill import Pierre Henderson-Niles’ offensive shortcomings. And that is exactly what the Aces would have to guard against, as Rain or Shine has been getting so many people involved in this series. Sports Inquirer


TARGET ACQUIRED. Beau Belga and Rain or Shine have their sights set on the championship after sprinting to a 2-0 series lead. Two Paul Lee game-changing performances led to two Rain or Shine wins in the Finals of the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. Now, they are two just two more wins away from only their second-ever championship in franchise history. ABS – CBN Sports


Yeng Guiao’s looming election defeat has motivated Rain or Shine players, vowing to go all out in winning the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship for their fiery mentor. Rain or Shine currently holds a huge 2-0 lead against Alaska in their best-of-7 championship series. The Elasto Painters will be gunning for a commanding 3-0 bubble on Wednesday night. “I think it (Guiao’s loss) would be good for the team because he can concentrate na sa Finals, but also, yung system kasi sa team, siya ang nag-install nun kaya even kapag wala siya, nai-implement na ng coaching staff yun,” Chan told FOX Sports on Tuesday. Fox Sports Asia




Protect the ball better and stay consistent on the defensive end. “Marami kaming lapses sa depensa tapos ang galing ng Rain or Shine masyado. Kaunting pagkakamali mo lang sa kanila, may open shots na sila, either sa labas o sa loob,” said the 5-foot-11 Jazul, 30, at the end of the Aces’ practice on Tuesday at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City. “Dapat kaunti lang ang lapses namin. Kung hindi kayang kontian, dapat wala. Tulad nu’ng Game 1, lahat ng turnovers namin, na-convert nila. Itong second game, taas ng field goal pag open shots. Sobrang galing ng execution nila. Kahit wala gaanong plays, magaling sila sa defense,” he added. Fox Sports Asia


Despite his Game 2 explosion, Jazul admitted he doesn’t need to score that much since his fellow Aces are usually capable of providing ample offensive lift. “‘Yung points, kahit sino naman pwede mag-share sa amin. Nagkataon lang na open ako, ako nabibigyan ng teammates ko ng bola. Kahit sino naman makaka-score pag ganu’n,” he said, adding they need to have a better defensive effort collectively. “Ang kailangan talaga dumepensa. Challenging talaga ang defense namin lalo sa guards. Tapos panay plays nila pick-and-roll, parang puro ball screens so kailangan i-contain namin sila ng maigi,” Jazul concluded. Fox Sports Asia


Vince Tolentino nailed the biggest trey of the game to take the fight out of Adamson in the last 34.5 seconds as Ateneo de Manila barged in the win column at the expense of the Falcons, 84-75, Friday in the 10th FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup at The Arena in San Juan. The Blue Eagles needed a big comeback in the second half after trailing 35-39 at halftime with the Falcons scoring 12 points off 12 Ateneo turnovers. “We had 12 turnovers in the first half and we gave up 12 turnover points so we told the team that we needed to improve on that. But we focused more on our defense because we felt that our defense, energy wise and intensity wise on defense it was a letdown,” said assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga. ABS – CBN Sports


De La Salle bagged its second win in a row to take the top spot in Group B. “I don’t want to say it’s dirty but its college basketball,” said the 6-foot-8 incoming center for the Green Archers for UAAP Season 79. “We just focused on the game and took care of business.” Jeron Teng added 24 points, Thomas Torres had 13 markers while Abu Tratter contributed with 12 points for the Green Archers, who kept their composure despite the testy game.  “I told them na they just have to be tough. And tough players are able to absorb all the adversities, kung ano man ang ibato i-absorb lang,” said Ayo. ABS – CBN Sports


Letran defeated its Intramuros neighbor Lyceum to open its campaign. The Knights played solidly despite its first competitive tournament game under a new coach and a new system. “Sina Rey (Nambatac) and mga bata tinanggap nila ako. Hindi naman ganoon kabigat ang transition kasi ‘yung pinagmulan naman nilang system halos pareho kami, similar. So ‘yung adjustments madali na lang siguro,” said Letran rookie coach Jeff Napa, who replaced now De La Salle Aldin Ayo after the Knights dethroned San Beda in NCAA Season 91. ABS – CBN Sports


PERPETUAL Help coach Nosa Omorogbe expects a more balanced charge as the Altas try to stay unbeaten in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup today. “Right now, we need other players… to provide steady and consistent contribution,” said Omorogbe. “We would like for more players to step up,” said Codiñera. “But that is what this tournament is all about—to get better.” Sports Inquirer


BRIGHT DAY. Perpetual seems to be doing alright now without Scottie Thompson and Aric Del Rosario. Gab Dagangon and University of Perpetual Help continued their tear to start the 2016 Filoil Flying V Tournament following a 61-52 conquest of Emilio Aguinaldo College. The versatile forward scored 12 points on Wednesday at the San Juan Arena and connived with Bright Akhuetie to power the pivotal 13-5 push that turned a tied tally into a 57-49 advantage for the Altas. ABS – CBN Sports


The Red Warriors dropped 62 points on Lyceum in the second half alone. UE’s high-octane offense and suffocating defense is back to peak working condition after going AWOL in the Warriors’ previous outing in the 2016 FilOil Flying V preseason premier cup. “The second half was an all-out effort,” head coach Derrick Pumaren said. “That is what we missed in the first half and when we played La Salle.” ABS – CBN Sports


KEY TO THE BUS. Kent Salado showed he can be a pretty good Jiovani Jalalon. Jiovani Jalalon went down on Wednesday after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face and sustaining a cut above his left eyebrow – and yet, Arellano University kept moving forward and onward. As it turns out, “The Conductor” is more than capable driving the bus himself. ABS – CBN Sports


“Nasa talyer yung bus driver,” coach Jerry Codinera said after Arellano University weathered the loss of team leader Jiovani Jalalon for their third consecutive victory in the 2016 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament on Wednesday. Jalalon wasn’t there to see their win through after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face and sustaining a cut above the left eyebrow back in the first quarter. With team staff unable to stop the bleeding, he was rushed to nearby Cardinal Santos Medical Center. There, Jalalon received several stitches to mend his wound, according to Codinera. The mentor of the Chiefs said that he expects his team leader to heal up and be available for their next matchup on Friday. ABS – CBN Sports


CONDUCTING THE ORCHESTRA. Jiovani Jalalon’s early exit provided an opportunity for Kent Salado to shine. Not only is he “The Conductor,” Kent Salado also proved on Wednesday at the San Juan Arena that he’s more than capable driving the Arellano University bus himself. Stepping up in place of injured Jiovani Jalalon, Salado steered the Chiefs to a 81-65 triumph over College of St. Benilde that kept them perfect through three games in the 2016 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament. ABS – CBN Sports


Matt Aquino buried thr go-ahead triple as the Bulldogs survived San Sebastian. “I was very happy with the boys, I know we started strong but I think we faltered in the third quarter,” coach Eric Altamirano said. “But what I like about the team is yung composure nila, especially at the end,” he added. ABS – CBN Sports