Displaying items by tag: basketball

Grand slam-seeking Beermen ‘have all the tools’

  • Published in Sports

Champion coach Yeng Guiao sees Ginebra as the biggest hurdle to San Miguel’s Commissioner’s Cup title bid

By: Musong R. Castillo - Philippine Daily Inquirer

 

 

Yeng Guiao and his NLEX Road Warriors have been at the bottom of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup totem pole right from the start.With a nine-game losing streak in the import-spiced conference and a 13-game spell dating back to the Philippine Cup, they know what it feels like looking at everything from below.

But the mercurial champion coach has an idea how the skirmishes at the top will end.“I think it’s San Miguel Beer,” says Guiao, whose squad notched its first win in the tournament on Wednesday night. “They have the tools and the experience. They (Beermen) are a solid contender.”

The only thing that Guiao doesn’t have a quick answer to? Who would likely be the Beermen’s foes in the Finals.

“Every team has to prepare itself in stopping San Miguel,” Guiao says, noting that the Beermen look invincible in their quest for the second jewel of an anticipated Triple Crown sweep. “They would have to know how to beat San Miguel.”

The Beermen don’t actually have the best record as of this writing. Star leads the pack with an 8-2 record but the Hotshots are not yet sure of nailing one of the two twice-to-beat privileges in the first round of the playoffs.

That is because San Miguel defeated Star in the eliminations. And with Barangay Ginebra also in the running for a top-two finish, the Hotshots could ultimately be denied the bonus.

“I am seeding San Miguel in the Finals,” Guiao says. “What we want to know is who the Beermen would be playing, unless something drastic happens to them. But with the way they are playing, their confidence is truly high.”

There’s no doubt that the firebrand mentor envies the fact that his Road Warriors won’t be among the eight teams that will continue playing past this round. He terribly wants another shot at the Beermen with the revamped nucleus that he now has.

The former Pampanga representative says that Rain or Shine—which he guided to the championship of this tournament last season with the lowest-scoring import to ever win a title in the PBA—has suddenly looked good with the arrival of import Duke Crews.

“I don’t discount upsets,” Guiao explains. “Rain or Shine is picking up again; they just played a great game (in beating Ginebra). The other finalist will be a toss-up among Ginebra, Meralco and Star.”

Blessed with the finest local crew in the league, San Miguel strengthened its tag as the favorite here with the improved play of Charles Rhodes, who came over early minus the fanfare but has turned out to be a solid Best Import candidate, if not the overwhelming pick at this time.

Rhodes plays both ends well and has shown the attitude that complements the play of the local Beermen, as well as the chemistry the team needs to go deep in the playoffs.

San Miguel was also the title favorite of the Commissioner’s Cup last season, only for import Tyler Wilkerson to blow his top during the most crucial phase of the playoffs and cause a ruckus the Beermen weren’t able to recover from.

Coach Leo Austria believes that he won’t have a problem of that sort with Rhodes. “He’s very coachable,” he said in a recent interview.

And that’s a crucial aspect that makes San Miguel even more dangerous.

Guiao believes that the lack of championship experience of the Meralco and Star rosters could ultimately tell on the Bolts and the Hotshots. But he concedes that both are capable of pulling out an upset.

Pressed as to which team could ultimately scuttle the talented Beermen in a championship series, the firebrand Guiao, uncharacteristically, searched for an answer.

“Someone with a chance [of beating San Miguel]?” Guiao repeats the question, obviously considering a judicious reply.

“Ginebra, because they have the size and the experience,” he says. “In terms of experience and manpower, I really think it’s Ginebra.”

If Guiao is proven right, that would make for a great box-office draw for a tournament that needs one.

And that would definitely make for a perfect footnote to the Beermen’s quest for the Grand Slam.

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Ravena gets Paras on board for 3×3

  • Published in Sports

By: Randolph B. Leongson -
INQINQUIRER.net

Funny how a simple conversation between gym buddies escalated to a partnership for flag and country.

That was how led Kobe Paras came to be part of Chooks-Pilipinas 3×3 squad which will compete in the 2017 Fiba 3×3 World Cup in June.

“He was in our house and on our way to the gym when Anton (Altamirano) were discussing who has already committed,” shared Kiefer Ravena.

The two-time UAAP MVP broached the idea to the 19-year-old prodigy, who was vacationing in the country after transferring from Creighton to Cal State Northridge.

“It was only Jeron (Teng) and I who have stated our commitment and I told him, ‘Kobes, you’ll redshirt, right? Maybe you want to play for us?’ He said he’ll look at it and eventually got the green light,” he said.

Turning into some sort of an agent for the 3×3 crew, Ravena hoped to also get Raymar Jose onboard infuse some hustle and energy, but the team eventually settled for JR Quiñahan after the former’s obligations with Cignal in the PBA D-League.

Ravena, though, was still satisfied, saying that the NLEX big man can provide the same and more, particularly veteran smarts, for the young team.

“Kuya JR, fortunately, will bring us the same thing,” he said.

Seeing how talented the team is, Ravena knows that the one of the biggest concerns for the team is to form a strong bond which he believes shouldn’t be a problem under the guidance of coach Eric Altamirano.

“His presence is very important for us. He explained to us how the game is played and how we can mesh,” he said. “He just told us to enjoy this because this is a rare chance for us to be together. It’s not everyday that we can be in one team so we have to make the most out of it.”

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PBA: Meralco, Star vie for solo lead

  • Published in Sports

 

by Jonas Terrado(Manila Bulletin)

Meralco import Alex Stepheson (Rio Deluvio | Manila Bulletin)

The Meralco Bolts and Star Hotshots return from a two-week break with a chance at gaining the solo lead and a step closer to a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals when they clash today in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s victory over San Miguel last Sunday allowed Meralco and Star to share top spot at 7-2 going into the 7 p.m. contest, their first meeting since contrasting results last May 10.

Out to rebound is Meralco, which fell 94-86 to GlobalPort, while seeking to continue its winning ways is Star, a 107-97 victor over TNT KaTropa, thanks to an impressive debut by returning import Ricardo Ratliffe.

Bolts coach Norman Black certainly does not want to see another defeat, especially with his team and the Hotshots a half-game ahead of Ginebra and San Miguel – both at 6-2 – and TNT (7-3) as the elimination round nears its final week.

“It’s a bad feeling to lose especially since GlobalPort is one of the lower teams and we’re trying to get the twice-to-beat; that kinda puts a damper on our ability to do that especially since we have two really tough teams coming up in Star and Ginebra (on Sunday),” Black said.

“At the same time, every team has lost in the league, so your ability to bounce back from the losses will be the key to success,” he added.

Meralco is counting on import Alex Stepheson to dominate the shaded lane and for locals Chris Newsome, Baser Amer, Jared Dillinger and Cliff Hodge to deliver in the most important stretch of the elims.

Stepheson, who is averaging 17.8 points, 22.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks this conference, will be up against Ratliffe, the returning Hotshots import who put up 37 points and 22 rebounds against the KaTropa in his first game since replacing Tony Mitchell.

In the 4:15 p.m. opener, Alaska seeks to snap a four-game skid against winless NLEX. The Aces have struggled after starting the conference with four straight victories.

Ending the losing run would enable Alaska to gain in the race for a playoff spot. The Aces are in seventh place at 4-4, one game ahead of the Phoenix Fuel Masters (4-6) and 1 1/2 from the Globalport Batang Pier (3-6).

NLEX will once again try to end its skid dating back to the Philippine Cup.

 

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