Blog Posts by Sid Ventura

  • Veterans lift Barako to Game 1 win over TNT

    Jayson Castro got his points but the rest of TNT couldn't get going against Barako Bull. (Photo courtesy of the PBA)

    During the traditional PBA post-game interview, Barako Bull center Dorian Pena, named best player by the TV panel, requested that he and his fellow Energy old-timers not be called "manong." They weren't that old yet, he reasoned.

    They certainly showed that last night. The Energy's veterans proved they still had a spring in their step, pulling away in the fourth quarter to stun defending champion Talk 'N Text, 84-77, to grab Game 1 of their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

    Coach Junel Baculi went with an almost exclusively 30-and-above lineup, with only import Gabe Freeman still in his 20s, and the "Manong Brigade" as they were christened by the TV panel, took the fight to the undermanned Tropa with a 15-4 salvo to open the fourth period which served as a big-enough cushion to keep TNT at bay.

    "I give credit to the veterans," Baculi said. "They just refused to lay down and die."

    Danny Seigle, soon to be 36, continued his return to form, scattering 11 of his

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  • Quest for tennis breakthrough continues for Patrombon

    Jeson Patrombon practicing at the PCA courts on Easter Sunday. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    Nearly a year after making a big decision to turn professional at the tender age of 18, Filipino tennis sensation Jeson Patrombon has made big strides in the pro circuit and is on target to crack the top 500 of the ATP rankings by the end of the year.

    I chatted with Manny Tecson, Patrombon's coach, last Sunday at the PCA courts, where Team Philippines was putting the finishing touches on their 5-0 Davis Cup rout of Pakistan, and he said Jeson, who currently holds a world singles ranking of 880, will continue to climb the rankings now that he is a full-time professional.

    "We're right on track," said Tecson. "Last year, the schedule was 60% juniors and 40% men's. And the main objective last year was to get some points so that we don't have to ask for wild cards, which is so difficult to get. Last year, the [other] objective was to get to a quarterfinal finish in the men's Futures by yearend and to break the top 900."

    Jeson achieved both objectives last January after playing two tough

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  • Suarez is last man standing in Olympic qualifiers

    The Philippine boxing delegation to the 2012 London Olympics is in danger of remaining a one-man team after only lightweight Charly Suarez was left in the Asian Olympic Qualifying tournament in Astana, Kazakhstan.

    One by one, Rey Saludar, Wilfredo Lopez, Dennis Galvan and Joegin Ladon fell by the wayside, leaving only the 23-year-old Suarez in contention among the five pugs sent by the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines to vie for precious slots to the summer Games.

    Ladon outpointed Saef Qraish of Jordan, 17-7, in his opening bout in the 56-kg division but was ousted by China's Zhang Jiawei, 8-13 in the second round. Saludar, the 2010 Asian Games gold medalist, was overpowered in less than two rounds by AIBA World Championships silver medalist Nyambayar Tugstsogt of Mongolia in a referee stopped contest (RSC) result, while welterweight Lopez fell to China's Maimaititue Rsun Qiong in a 20-10 rout. Finally, Galvan dropped an 8-18 decision to North Korea's Kim Choi Song.

    That

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  • B-Meg rises again with Easter Sunday win over Meralco

    Denzel Bowles led B-Meg's 4th-quarter surge. (Photo courtesy of the PBA)

    The B-Meg Llamados, a team given up for dead after losing by 22 points in Game 1, fittingly completed their resurrection on Easter Sunday, outplaying the Meralco Bolts 86-76 to win their best-of-three quarterfinal series and advance to the semifinals of the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

    Denzel Bowles, at 22 the youngest among the imports seeing action in this conference, played with the poise of a veteran, outplaying the more experienced Earl Barron during a crucial stretch in the fourth period when the Llamados held the Bolts without a field goal for over 10 minutes and broke open a close game.

    With the Llamados trailing 72-73 with less than six minutes left, Bowles rattled off 10 straight points against a solitary free throw by Sol Mercado to push B-Meg ahead 82-74 with only two minutes left. It was part of a murderous 21-3 B-Meg blast that turned a 65-71 deficit into an 86-74 lead, a period during which the Bolts were held without a single field goal and made only three free throws.

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  • Young guns provide bright outlook for PH tennis

    Davis Cup captain Roland Kraut (third from right) with the team that blanked Pakistan, 5-0. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    The future looks bright for Philippine tennis with several young, promising players making up the national pool, giving non-playing captain Roland Kraut a happy problem of having so much talent from which to choose his Davis Cup team.

    The Philippines advanced to the finals of Davis Cup Group II after blanking Pakistan, 5-0, earlier today at the Philippine Columbian Association courts featuring a team with an average age of 25.

    "It looks good," Kraut said. "Before we were used to seeing just two players. Now it's four. The problem now is who to pick. But that's a good problem."

    At a young 31, Johnny Arcilla is already the elder statesman of this team that swept Pakistan without conceding a single set. The three others are Fil-Americans Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales, both a spry 25, and Francis Casey "Nino" Alcantara, who at 20 is still a college student and is just three years removed from winning the Australian Open boys doubles title.

    And that's not even counting 19-year-old Jeson

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  • PH Cuppers win doubles match, clinch tie

    Treat Huey serves while Ruben Gonzales looks on. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales gave everyone a glimpse of a potentially explosive doubles partnership, teaming up for the first time today and routing Pakistan, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2, to help the Philippines clinch its Group II tie at the Philippine Columbian Association courts in Manila.

    The two US-based players, who specialize in doubles in the professional circuit, outclassed the Khan brothers Ageel and Jalil as the Philippines posted an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the tie.

    "This is the first time they played together, and obviously they did a good job," non-playing captain Roald Kraut said. "With Treat's experience, and Ruben also has a lot of experience on the circuit. So we're happy with the win."

    Huey has an ATP rank of 50 in doubles play, while Gonzales is ranked in the top 500. Even though they were playing together for the first time, the two complemented each other well and negated the Khans' own familiarity with each other. They had little trouble taking the first set, but Pakistan

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  • Davis Cuppers do good on Good Friday, take 2-0 lead

    Treat Huey waits to return Yasir Khan's serve. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    Johnny Arcilla and Treat Huey made short work of their Pakistani rivals, fashioning out similar straight-set wins as the Philippines took a commanding 2-0 lead over Pakistan in their Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group II tie at the Philippine Columbian Association courts in Manila.

    Before a surprisingly good-sized Good Friday crowd, Arcilla overpowered Ageel Khan, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, while Huey blasted Ageel's brother Yasir, 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 as the Philippines moved within one win of the Group II semifinals.

    "I played well today," said Huey. "Obviously they're not nearly as used to the shell court as we are. Definitely an advantage where I was using a lot more spin and the court was being a lot more bouncy that he's not used to. It definitely favors us, playing on these courts. Johnny and I took advantage of that for sure."

    Using his booming serve, Huey completely dominated Yasir in the first two sets, and during one stretch won 13 consecutive games starting in the fourth game of the first set and

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  • Llamados topple Cardona-less Bolts

    Marc Pingris was all over Earl Barron and the Bolts, leading B-meg to a big win. (Photo courtesy of the PBA)

    In a must-win situation, the B-Meg Llamados needed all the breaks they could get, and they got one very early in the game, ironically from the one player who tormented them just two days earlier.

    Benefiting from the ejection of Mac Cardona barely two minutes into the contest, the Llamados built a 23-point halftime lead and weathered a big third-quarter rally by the Meralco Bolts to hack out a 95-85 victory and level their best-of-three quarterfinal series at one game apiece.

    Cardona, who engineered an 18-0 run that paved the way for the Bolts' 103-81 Game 1 win last Wednesday, was tossed out at the 10:50 mark of the first period for a technical foul and flagrant foul 1, the first for shouting invectives at B-Meg guard Josh Urbiztondo and the second for hitting B-Meg's Denzel Bowles on the head with his forearm.

    "If you slap somebody in the face, that was the right call," B-Meg coach Tim Cone said. "That was certainly not our fault."

    The Bolts were clearly rattled by Cardona's sudden

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  • Lebanese player hits 113 points

    A player seeing action in Lebanon's FLBB Division A League scored a phenomenal 113 points in a league playoff game last night in Beirut, according to an article in the FIBA-Asia website fibaasia.net.

    Mohammad El Akkari, a guard playing for Mouttahed of Tripoli, torched the hoops with a mind-boggling 69 field goal attempts, connecting on 32-of-59 triples, 8-of-10 two-point shots, and one free throw to lead his team to a 173-141 victory over Bejjeh.

    No details were available on the number of minutes Akkari played, but even if we assume he played the entire 40 minutes, that will come out to nearly two field goal attempts per minute, 1.73 to be exact. His shooting percentage is also noteworthy: 40-of-69 translates into an impressive 58% shooting clip and his 32-of-59 on threes comes out to an equally impressive 54%.

    But what makes his feat truly remarkable is the fact that Akkari had been averaging only 7.6 points per game in 23 previous games for Mouttahed this season. After his 113-point

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  • Gabe Freeman’s back, plus updates on nat’l team

    Barako Bull Energy, which leads the Alaska Aces 1-0 in their PBA Commissioner's Cup best-of-three quarterfinal series, is bringing in its fourth import of the conference, and this time the Energy aren't taking any chances.

    The team has called on ex-San Miguel import Gabe Freeman to help them close out the Aces tomorrow and book a seat in the semifinals against defending champion Talk 'N Text. Freeman, best known for leading the Beermen to the 2009 Fiesta Conference crown where he averaged close to 23 points per contest en route to being named Best Import, is fresh from a stint with the London Lightning of the National Basketball League of Canada where he was named Most Valuable Player and led the Lightning to the inaugural league title.

    Freeman also led the Philippine Patriots to the 2010 ASEAN Basketball League title, making that three teams that he's helped win championships. The Energy are hoping, of course, that they'll be the fourth.

    Freeman replaces Chukwunike Okosa, who played

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