Sportsaholic
  • Phil Younghusband chases the ball in first-half action. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    The Ghost of SEA Games Past almost came back to haunt Malaysia, but in the end the current Southeast Asian champions escaped with a 1-1 draw against the Philippine Azkals in their international friendly last night at the Rizal Stadium.

    The Philippines was only three injury-time minutes away from duplicating the feat of their 1991 counterparts, which upset then-defending SEAG champion Malaysia, 1-0, at the very same venue, but the Azkals conceded a goal in the 91st minute after substitute Ahmad Shakir Md Ali found plenty of space inside the Philippine penalty box to slot home the equalizer.

    Denis Wolf had given the Philippines the lead in the 34th minute with a close-range header off a brilliant throw-in by Jason Sabio, and good defending by the backline and exceptional goalkeeping by Neil Etheridge kept the score that way for most of the second half. But just as a match official held up a sign that said there would be three minutes of added time, Ali maneuvered around Sabio and found

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  • Chris Alexander had to give way to Jackson Vroman. (Photo courtesy of the PBA)

    Barangay Ginebra may have found a gem of an import in Lebanese naturalized player Jackson Vroman, who flew in last Monday to replace balik-import Chris Alexander. If Vroman lives up to expectations and the Ginebra locals manage to work out their chemistry issues, then the Kings will be tough to beat in the Commissioner's Cup.

    The six-ten Vroman was Lebanon's naturalized player during the 2009 FIBA-Asia Championships and the 2010 FIBA World Championships, and he brings a wealth of international experience. A couple of coaches from rival teams have privately said that he could make a big difference this conference, with one going so far as to say that Ginebra is one of the teams to beat now.

    Of course, the same things were said when news first broke out that Alexander was coming back. After all, this was the same guy who led the Kings to their last championship in the 2007-08 season. But from the start it was clear that Alexander was showing the ill effects of his nine-month layoff from

    Read More »from Is Vroman the man for Ginebra?
  • Malaysian coach Datuk K. Rajagopal. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    Malaysia's conquest of the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup was a product of a rededication to grassroots development, their national team coach said.

    Datuk K. Rajagopal, who led the Malayan Tigers to that stunning victory against Indonesia, spoke at the press conference earlier today touting the international friendly between his side and the Philippine Azkals slated tomorrow, where he stressed how going back to basics helped Malaysia recapture its place among the region's elite teams.

    "Because we won the AFF Suzuki Cup, everybody was thinking how we did it," said Coach K, as he is called. "We have to start from the basics. The youth have to be given more emphasis, the grassroots level and more exposure. And then you can see the team will definitely progress. Attention should be given to the youth and age group. Now you can see the progress of Malaysia, especially the young ones, the youth team. That should be the way."

    The Philippines was the other big story at the 2010 Suzuki Cup, where the

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  • Meralco's Earl Barron looks for an open teammate. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    Finally free of off-court distractions, the Powerade Tigers buckled down to work and outplayed the Meralco Bolts, 94-82, last night to nail their second straight win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

    Now that they know that swingman Marcio Lassiter isn't going anywhere, at least until the end of the conference, the Tigers shook off the rust of a nine-day lay-off and played exceptional ball in the second half against the Bolts, getting their running game in full swing by playing good halfcourt defense.

    It was a good all-around effort that had Coach Bo Perasol making an indirect plea to stop trying to fix something that didn't need to be fixed.

    "Sabi ng acting governor namin (Ronald Asuncion) we have to win the championship," Perasol said. "So we have to do that. I don't think any tinkering of the team will help that. We just make sure that we are toeing the company line that we're here to win a championship. It's a tall order, but we know that if are going to just

    Read More »from Focused Tigers overwhelm Bolts
  • The Maroons at the awarding ceremonies. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    University of the Philippines completed a remarkable second-round turnaround with a masterful 1-0 victory over University of Sto. Tomas to clinch the UAAP men's football championship yesterday at the Ateneo High School pitch.

    Sophomore striker Jinggoy Valmayor, whose first-round scoring drought mirrored the team's early struggles, put the exclamation point to a near-perfect last six matches by the defending champions by scoring the match's lone goal in the 61st minute before a huge crowd that included Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss.

    The run leading up to Valmayor's fifth goal of the season sort of represented the Maroons' newfound cohesion in the second round. Jay Eusebio, who inherited the role of Steph Permanes as the team's primary playmaker, received a pass from Valmayor on the left flank and quickly passed it back, the ball finding Valmayor deep in the UST box, and the 18-year-old could do no wrong, his virtually point-blank strike rifling past UST keeper Ramon Borigas.

    "Pinasa

    Read More »from UP subdues UST, keeps football crown
  • The Blue-Haired Fanatic invades Megamall. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    The Kaholeros — the official cheerleading group of the Philippine Azkals — took their cause one step further today by invading the one place where Filipinos love to converge.

    In an effort to drum up support for the coming friendly versus Malaysia, the group led a meet-and-greet with some of the Azkals at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, where they taught the crowd their cheers and gave away free tickets to 100 lucky mall-goers.

    It's all part of a new campaign by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) through the Local Organizing Committee of the February 29 friendly and done in cooperation with SM Malls to drum up support not only for the Azkals but for Philippine football in general.

    At the forefront of all this is, of course, the face— or to be specific, the blue, red and white face - of the Kaholeros, the guy known as the Blue-Haired Fanatic, who led the proceedings with his typical energy and enthusiasm. I managed to talk to him at the event of the event, and he said this

    Read More »from Kaholeros take their chants to the malls
  • Global and Stallion players make up nearly a third of the 27-man pool for the Malaysia friendly. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    It was good to see a number of United Football League players included in the Azkals' line-up for their friendly against Malaysia on February 29. This means that the local league is slowly but surely fulfilling one of its mandates as a feeder to the national team and a training ground for players to hone their skills. It also means Coach Hans Michael Weiss has a deeper pool of locally-based talent that's readily available and on call for national team duties.

    Weiss has, with good reason, complained about the difficulty of gathering Europe-based players to suit up for the Azkals, and with no clear solution to this problem in the horizon, it's forced the coach to look more and more to the local league to fill the gaps. There's still a long way to go, of course, and let's not kid ourselves by pretending that Weiss wouldn't enlist the likes of Stephan Schrock and Dennis Cagara if they were available, but at least the opportunities for some UFL players are there for now.

    The importance of

    Read More »from The UFL as a supplier of nat’l pool talent
  • The Meralco Bolts might become the first team to replace its import in the PBA Commissioner's Cup after the team flew in veteran Earl Barron as possible replacement for Jarrid Famous.

    Famous averaged 28 points and 15 rebounds in his three games with the Bolts, who went 1-2 in those games, including a tough overtime loss to Talk 'N Text last Friday. It was understood from the start, though, that he would be a stand-in import.

    NBA veteran Jelani McCoy, who played for five different NBA teams in a nine-year stint, was Meralco's original choice, but the 34-year-old strained his calf in a tune-up game prior to the opening of the Commissioner's Cup.

    "We have a new import. Earl Barron. Legitimate big man," tweeted Bolts point guard Paul Artadi at around noon today.

    Barron himself confirmed on his own Twitter account that he was headed for Manila. "What's up Tweeps? Running last-minute errands before I get on this plane for Manila."

    It appears, though, that Barron will be on stand-by for the

    Read More »from Bolts could replace Famous with Barron
  • Gary David, Marcio Lassiter and JV Casio will stay together for now. (Photo by Sid Ventura)

    Powerade's Big Three will remain intact for the meantime after PBA commissioner Rudy Salud vetoed the proposed trade that would have sent Marcio Lassiter to Petron Blaze in exchange for Nonoy Baclao and Rey Guevarra.

    "My main concern as commissioner is to find out whether a sale or not has been consummated between Coke and San Miguel because if one was consummated then those two parties would be related parties and therefore no trade between them could ever be allowed under current rules," Salud said in a statement. "Having established anyway that no sale was consummated, these two teams can now make trades. Upon evaluation of the trade that is now before my office, I am exercising my right as commissioner to veto the trade and return the trade to the parties concerned for possible revisions to make it more balanced."

    The trade had come under fire following reports that the Powerade franchise was set to be reacquired by the San Miguel group. Salud had said that he would defer action

    Read More »from Salud vetoes Petron-Powerade trade
  • Danny Ildefonso and Lordy Tugade battle against Rafi Reavis. (Photo courtesy of the PBA)

    Bottom beat top last night as the previously winless Petron Blaze Boosters played their best game of the PBA Commissioner's Cup and upended the erstwhile unbeaten B-Meg Llamados, 84-77, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

    Coming off a lopsided 83-105 loss to the Meralco Bolts, the Blaze Boosters badly needed to win this one to avoid falling into a 0-3 hole — a difficult situation to overcome in such a short tournament. And from the start, they played like the more desperate team, racing out to a 16-3 lead and never looking back. It was a marked improvement from their last two games, where they came out flat and fell behind by double digits in the first half.

    "We had a good adjustment," Petron coach Ato Agustin said. "We started strong, andoon energy namin. Sabi ko sa mga bata kailangan energy, aggressiveness at intensity. Okay naman response ng team. Every time we play defense and offense we were always aggressive."

    The biggest adjustment Agustin made was moving Arwind Santos back to

    Read More »from Big wins for Petron & Air21

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