• Chot Reyes can stand up and applaud for his team, which rallied from a 1-3 series deficit.

    If this wasn't the best semifinal best-of seven series in PBA history, then it certainly ranks right up there.

    In a series where the largest winning margin of any game was a mere four points, it seemed appropriate that Game 7 between defending champion Talk 'N Text and archrival Petron Blaze would come down to the last possession with one team protecting a one-point lead.

    When the smoke had cleared, the Tropang Texters emerged victorious, holding off the Blaze Boosters, 92-91, to complete their historic comeback from a 1-3 series deficit. It was the kind of ending you'd expect from a series where the winning margins over the first six games were 4, 2, 2, 3, 2, and 3 points.

    "We won this series at the end of Game 4 when we told ourselves we're still in the series," winning coach Chot Reyes said. "After going down 1-3, we had no drama, no histrionics in the dugout. We just looked each other in the eye and told ourselves we still had a chance."

    Fittingly, this seventh game had the

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  • Gary David and coach Bo Perasol are headed for the finals.

    It has become a familiar sight by now: Powerade governor J.B. Baylon makes a surprise appearance at a do-or-die game, which the Tigers win, after which he joins coach Bo Perasol in the post-game press conference.

    If he can help it, Baylon rarely watches the Tigers' games because of his hypertension. But last December 18, he rushed over to the Araneta Coliseum to cheer on the Tigers, who were in the midst of a comeback from 17 points down against the B-Meg Llamados in their quarterfinal series knockout game. We all know how that ended.

    Exactly one month later, the Tigers found themselves in the same situation, playing in a do-or-die game, only this time the opponent was Rain or Shine, and what was at stake was a trip to the Philippine Cup finals. This time Baylon was at the venue before the start of the game, sporting a blue shirt that said "We Believe!"

    Baylon believed, and the Tigers achieved, turning back the Elasto Painters 107-98 to barge into the finals and continue their magic

    Read More »from Magical ride continues for Tigers
  • The National Beach Football Championships in Boracay. (Photo courtesy of Boni Magallona)

    Last Saturday, as the United Football League kicked off hostilities at the Rizal Stadium, another type of football competition was taking place several hundred kilometers south of Manila on the island paradise of Boracay, as four teams battled it out for supremacy in the Beach Football Association of the Philippines (BFAP) National Beach Football Championships.

    With the pristine white sands of Boracay as their playing pitch, NCR champion Philippine Air Force, Luzon champion Mama Sita's-Manila Football Club, Visayas champion Visayas-Boracay and Mindanao champion Team Mindanao played each other in a round-robin format to determine the 2012 national beach football champion.

    When the dust (or sand) had settled, Mama Sita's of Luzon pulled off a stunning upset, beating favored defending champion Air Force to win the championship. I read about the event in limited news items on print and online, and it piqued my interest enough to make me get in touch with BFAP president Mike Athab, an old

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  • Somehow, you just knew this series was headed for a seventh game.

    Playing true to form, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters drubbed the Powerade Tigers, 112-98, to force a Game 7 in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series. The Elasto Painters, behind the hot shooting of Jeff Chan, used a big 12-0 at the start of the fourth period to break the game wide open and coast to victory.

    The result followed a pattern that has held since the start of the series. Powerade has won all its games by close margins, always coming up with the big plays at end game, while Rain or Shine has clinched its three wins by double-digit leads.

    For much of the third period, it looked like this would be another down-the-wire game as the lead swung back and forth. From the 7:37 mark, when JV Casio's two free throws gave Powerade a 63-62 lead, up to the 3:12 mark, when Ronnie Matias' three-point play conversion restored the lead to RoS at 71-69, there were eight consecutive lead changes.

    But as it turned out,

    Read More »from Chan’s scoring spree lifts Rain or Shine past Powerade
  • Two down, one to go.

    Given a reprieve in Game 5 through Jimmy Alapag's clutch triple, the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters again turned to their captain in the second of their three must-win games, and he came through with his best game of the series to lead the Tropa to a 111-108 win over the Petron Blaze Boosters that leveled their best-of-seven series at three wins apiece.

    Trailing 3-1 in the series at one point, the Tropa have a chance to become only the third team in PBA history to overhaul such a series deficit with a win on Wednesday. If they pull it off, they can thank Alapag for rescuing them in Game 5 and simply willing them to victory in Game 6. The Mighty Mouse came through with a conference-high 29 points and added 7 rebounds and 10 assists in a solid all-around game, and he personally finished off the Blaze Boosters by hitting four free throws in the last 33 seconds that gave the Tropa a 110-104 lead.

    By winning the last two games, conventional wisdom would dictate that TNT

    Read More »from TNT forces a Game 7 behind Alapag’s explosion
  • A little over a month after its Cup competition ended with Philippine Air Force Phoenix drubbing Loyola Meralco Sparks, 2-0, in the finals, the UFL launched its League competition yesterday at the Rizal pitch, with the Cup finalists encountering contrasting results.

    Air Force looked sluggish and out of synch in a stunning 1-nil loss to Kaya FC, while Loyola Meralco fended off the late challenge of Green Archers United FC to hack out a 3-2 win.

    In the first match, Eric Dagroh scored the game's lone goal in the fourth minute, gathering a shot that caromed off the goal post to strike it home past Air Force keeper Tats Mercado. It would prove to be enough for Kaya to hold off the defending league champions, who were thwarted by the Kaya defense the rest of the way. The final score did not reflect how Kaya actually dominated possession and nearly scored a few other times if it weren't for some brilliant saves by the ageless Mercado.

    Air Force had two late chances to salvage a draw, but

    Read More »from UFL gets going with Kaya and Loyola winning openers
  • In Game 4 of the Petron Blaze-Talk 'N Text semifinal series, the Blaze Boosters turned to their two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso to fashion out a close 85-82 win that gave them a 3-1 series edge. In Game 5 last night, it was the Tropang Texters' turn to call on their resident and reigning league MVP to bail them out and stave off elimination.

    Jimmy Alapag, last season's MVP who has struggled so far in the semifinals, hit a huge triple with 44 seconds left to lift the Tropa to a 93-91 win that cut the Blaze Boosters' lead to 3-2, and breathed life into the defending champions' sagging title retention campaign.

    Prior to last night's win, TNT had lost three straight by a combined seven points as they just couldn't come up with the big shots or defensive stops. Game 5 looked headed down that road again as the Tropa blew an eight-point lead late in the game and the Blaze Boosters once again came charging back with huge three-point shots from Arwind Santos and Danny Ildefonso.

    After Ali Peek

    Read More »from Alapag saves the day for TNT
  • Marcio Lassiter and the Tigers are one win away from the finals. Photo by Sid Ventura.

    The curse of Friday the 13th struck the Araneta Coliseum after a freak accident at a nearby construction site knocked out power and forced the Powerade-Rain or Shine game to be played without air conditioning.

    By the end of the game, the Elasto Painters probably thought they were cursed as well.

    The Tigers overhauled a six-point deficit in the last 1:44, holding the E-Painters scoreless over the last 1:18 to essay another thrilling come-from-behind victory, winning 110-108 to grab a crucial 3-2 series lead and move within a game of an improbable stint in the PBA Philippine Cup finals.

    Continuing a pattern that's held throughout the first five games, Powerade has won all its games by a close margin, while Rain or Shine has won its two games by double digits. The Elasto Painters were in great position, though, to reverse this trend, seizing a six-point lead at 106-100 with a Gabe Norwood split with 1:44 left after Marcio Lassiter missed an open triple.

    Like he has done all throughout

    Read More »from Powerade takes 3-2 series lead
  • Game day did not start well for Danny Ildefonso. His therapy session for an injured calf lasted longer than planned, and he arrived at the Araneta Coliseum at 6:00PM, just 45 minutes before tip-off of Game 4 of the semis series between Petron Blaze and Talk 'N Text.

    "Actually, 4:00PM ang call time namin," the two-time MVP said. "Dumating ako 45 minutes before the game kasi galing pa ako ng therapy. Last game nag-cramps ang kanang binti ko. Tapos nagkaroon siya ng kaunting tear."

    Perhaps wanting to make up for lost time, the man known as "Lakay" flashed vintage form last night, scoring 22 points, including the go-ahead basket with 55 seconds left, to lead the Blaze Boosters to a big 85-82 win over their archrival Tropang Texters.

    Petron is now just one win away from barging into the finals of the Philippine Cup, taking a close to improbable 3-1 series lead over the defending champions. And it has its team captain Ildefonso to thank, as the veteran center hit a remarkable 11 of 14 shots

    Read More »from ‘Lakay’ Danny I. is The Guy
  • Paul Lee signals a play while Marcio Lassiter guards him. Photo by Sid Ventura.

    After his team shot mostly bricks from three-point distance in Game 3, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao knew they were due for some payback from the basketball gods in Game 4.

    Two days after converting only three of their 28 three-point attempts in a 104-99 Game 3 overtime loss to the Powerade Tigers, the team where everybody has the license to shoot found its mark again, hitting a more respectable 10-for-26 on threes and 28-for-54 on two-point shots in a 110-95 rout of the Tigers that evened their best-of-seven semifinal series at two games apiece.

    "We knew we will see the zone again today, so we prepared for the zone," Guiao said. "I also know that we will not be shooting 10% again today, because that's not the way this team is designed. We have the shooters who can make shots, especially if it's a good look. So binilin ko lang sa kanila, 'Just take your shots without any conscience. If it's there, take it.'

    "I don't want them hesitating, I don't want them having second thoughts. If

    Read More »from Elasto Painters’ fluid offense ties series


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