Blog Posts by Sid Ventura

  • Cardona fuels late Meralco run

    Mark Cardona led the Bolts to a big win over B-Meg. (Photo courtesy of the PBA)

    Mark Cardona is the one player fans of other teams love to hate, and with good reason. He taunts the crowd after making a great play, he drinks in the boos (in fact, he seems to be energized by the booing), and then, to the consternation of his haters, he just goes out and destroys the other team.

    Last night, Cardona was at his best — both as a scorer and a taunter — scoring 10 of his 22 points during a murderous 18-0 fourth-quarter run to help the Meralco Bolts wallop the B-Meg Llamados, 103-81, and take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three quarterfinal series.

    The third-seeded Llamados had erased most of an early 23-point deficit to come within three, 80-77, on a Josh Urbiztondo fastbreak layup when Captain Hook just flat out took over. He scored on one of his patented floaters to stop the B-Meg run, assisted on a Mark Macapagal three, then buried another basket to hike Meralco's lead back up to double digits at 87-77.

    After Earl Barron sank a free throw off a technical foul called on

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  • Air Force draws Loyola Meralco in wild finish

    Last Friday night, while guesting on the AKTV Center during the PBA double-header, Chieffy Caligdong confessed to being a diehard Barangay Ginebra fan, and went so far as saying that his Philippine Air Force Phoenix FC is the Ginebra of the United Football League.

    "Never-say-die kami at crowd favorite dahil puro homegrown kami at walang import," Chieffy declared. He made this comment at halftime of the Ginebra-B-Meg playoff game, where the Kings overhauled an 11-point deficit in the second period to win 93-84 in another fine display of the legendary Ginebra never-say-die spirit.

    Just a day after his favorite basketball team pulled of that big win, Caligdong's PAF Phoenix team pulled off a come-from-behind, no-quit feat of their own that would have made Sonny Jaworski proud. Down 1-3 with the game already in injury time, the defending champions scored two very late goals to salvage a 3-3 draw against the powerhouse Loyola Meralco Sparks at the University of Makati pitch.

    The Sparks

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  • Canaleta powers Ginebra to semis

    Jackson Vroman and Dylan Ababou gang up on Yancy De Ocampo. (Photo courtesy of the PBA)

    Nino Canaleta knew he always had to be ready just in case his coach would call his number. Last night, in a playoff against bitter rival B-Meg no less, it finally was, and the seldom-used forward made the most of the opportunity given to him.

    Canaleta erupted for a season-high 25 points to power the Barangay Ginebra Kings to a 93-84 win over the Llamados in their playoff for the second PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinal berth at the Cuneta Astrodome.

    Canaleta matched his entire output in the Kings' previous six games as he helped Ginebra rally back from several double-digit deficits, including a stretch in the second period where he scored 11 straight points to singlehandedly erase most of an 11-point B-Meg lead.

    "I'm like a boy scout. I'm always ready," Canaleta said of his sterling performance off the bench.

    "I'm happy for him," said coach Siot Tanquincen. "His hard work in practice paid off. He knows we have a logjam at the three and four spots, but he's been working hard on his

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  • Ex-NU “import” finds new calling in coaching

    Joe Nlepe-Nlepe with a fellow coach from Thailand. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    Ever wondered what happens to African players who come over to play collegiate ball after they leave the country? At least one of them has decided to take on a new challenge.

    Joseph Nlepe-Nlepe was supposed to be the next big African star in the UAAP. Recruited by National University four years ago, the six-six Cameroonian patiently waited for two years for his chance to strut his stuff on the hardcourt and provide an impact for the Bulldogs. But things didn't quite turn out as planned, and Joe, as he is called, found himself leaving the Philippines without even playing a single minute in the UAAP.

    Earlier this week, Nlepe-Nelpe was back in Manila, but for a different reason. He was one of over 30 aspiring basketball coaches who attended a three-day coaching clinic, which he hopes will help him in his new job as the head coach of an international high school in Bangkok, Thailand.

    "I used to play in the Philippines like three years ago," Joe said. "I didn't reach my goal. I had some

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  • Breaking down the 16-man pool

    Coach Chot Reyes hopes all 16 players on his wish list will be available. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    National team coach Chot Reyes has submitted his wish list of 16 PBA players that he wants to comprise the national pool from which the Philippine team to the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships will be chosen.

    There were a few surprises in the list, but overall I think it does contain the best six or seven players in the land. The biggest surprise was probably the inclusion of Barangay Ginebra big man Rico Villanueva, who doesn't even start for his team and who was even benched in a couple of games this conference. Personally I would have wanted to see Meralco's Mac Cardona included, since his repertoire of kontra-tiempo offensive moves could prove useful against the taller teams in Asia, and since you always want at least one player on your team who can get into your opponents' heads.

    Coach Chot clarified via Twitter that naturalized player Marcus Douthit was in the pool, which is good news because we will need all the height we can get, even as news also broke out that the naturalization

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  • Llamados survive Tigers, inch closer to semis

    James Yap makes his move against Marcio Lassiter. (Photo courtesy of the PBA)

    Tim Cone was feeling a case of déjà vu.

    His B-Meg Llamados had built up a double-digit lead against the Powerade Tigers in the fourth period, only to see Gary David lead another big rally and put his team in position to steal another won game from the Llamados.

    Flashback to the Philippine Cup quarterfinals, when B-Meg blew a 16-point lead and David buried a triple with time winding down to send the game into overtime, where the Tigers eventually prevailed and knocked off the top-seeded Llamados.

    This game was beginning to look a lot like that one, with B-Meg protecting a three-point lead 5.6 seconds left and David on the line for three free throws after getting fouled by Denzel Bowles while going for the game-tying triple. But to the surprise of everyone, including Cone, David missed two of the three charities, and B-Meg escaped with a 96-94 win.

    "I never would have believed that," Cone said of David's two missed free throws. "I was already mapping out a play, thinking he'd make all

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  • Aces rally from 16 down in 4th, beat Tigers in OT

    Sonny Thoss missed this jumper at the end of regulation, but Alaska won in OT. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    When Adam Parada scored his first basket of the game early in the first period against the Powerade Tigers, he gave the Alaska Aces a 4-3 lead.

    It looked destined to be their only lead of the game. That is, until Parada made his last basket.

    Alaska wouldn't taste the lead again until the very last second of overtime, when Parada scored the last two of his 28 points, a follow-up with 0.9 seconds left that gave the Aces a pulsating come-from-behind 102-100 win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

    In between Parada's first and last field goals, the Aces trailed the Tigers by double digits on several occasions, and were down by 16 with only 5:24 left before launching an improbable comeback to force overtime.

    Gary David's triple made it 92-76, and it appeared the Tigers were well on their way to victory and a slot in the quarterfinals. But Powerade wouldn't score another point for the rest of regulation as the Aces went on a 16-0 run thanks to a gamble by Alaska coach Joel Banal that paid off.

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  • Pennisi uses his head, Barako Bull routs Petron

    Will McDonald aims at Mick Pennisi's forehead...

    In a crucial game where a loss could mean elimination, Mick Pennisi gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "taking one for the team."

    The Barako Bull forward, who drew the tough task of guarding new Petron Blaze import Will McDonald, got under McDonald's skin early in the second period with some rugged defending and arm locking. Deciding that he had finally had enough,  McDonald threw the ball at Pennisi's forehead, and Pennisi, taken by surprise, looked at McDonald, then belatedly fell to the floor in a great acting job that got McDonald ejected on a flagrant foul 2 call.

    ...the ball makes contact...

    The Energy were already ahead by 10 at the time of Pennisi's Oscar-winning move, and with no McDonald on the floor, Rodney White went to town and pumped in 41 points and 22 rebounds to lead Barako Bull to a 94-80 win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

    McDonald probably still would have been thrown out even if Pennisi didn't fall to the ground, since his throwing the ball was clearly malicious, but the delayed-reaction

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  • Every game counts now in Commissioner’s Cup

    Talk 'N Text and B-Meg are on top of the very tight standings. (Photo courtesy of the PBA)

    The one-round robin elimination round of the PBA Commissioner's Cup is heading into the homestretch, with most teams having only two games left to play, and the standings are so tight that at this point no team has been officially eliminated yet.

    Under the tournament format, the top two teams advance outright to the semifinals, while the third to sixth teams battle it out in the quarterfinals. The bottom four teams take an early summer vacation. With less than two games separating the teams in the middle of the pack from those at the bottom, every game counts now.

    Defending champion Talk 'N Text and B-Meg have half a foot in the door to the semifinals with identical 5-2 records, but they both need to win at least one of their last two games to secure at least a tie for one of the automatic semis berths.

    Lurking behind them are the Powerade Tigers and Barangay Ginebra Kings, who both won last Sunday to move up to 4-3 and kept alive their chances of making the semifinals outright.


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  • Azkals bag 3rd place

    From the bottom eight to the top three.

    The Philippine Azkals capped a stirring AFC Challenge Cup run with a 4-3 win over Palestine in their playoff for third place, securing the country's highest-ever finish in a FIFA-AFC tournament.

    Phil Younghusband scored twice while brothers Angel and Luis Guirado added a goal each in a high-scoring affair between the two sides, a stark contrast to the goalless draw they produced in the qualifying round in Myanmar last year.

    Coming off a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Turkmenistan in the semifinals last Friday, the Azkals took it to Al Fursan right from the opening whistle, with captain Chieffy Caligdong's header in the third minute immediately challenging Palestinian keeper Ramzi Saleh. Barely a minute later, a Caligdong pass found Younghusband, who dribbled his way through two defenders and launched a left-footed strike from close range that Saleh was unable to stop.

    The Azkals should have gone up 2-0 in the 16th after Paul Mulders dispossessed the

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