Meralco ready for Ryukyu

MANILA, Philippines — University of Santo Tomas once again claimed the lead in the UAAP Season 86 seniors division’ general championship race with 12 medals to show after the exciting first semester of play.

The Tigers, who have won seven gold, three silver and two bronze medals in 19 sporting events so far, amassed 202 points to seize the driver’s seat entering the second semester.

Santo Tomas’ biggest performance was in women’s basketball courtesy of the Growling Tigresses, who ended the dynasty of the National U Lady Bulldogs in epic fashion.

The España-based squad unseated NU after its reign for seven consecutive years, thus snapping UST’s 17-year title drought. Included in the conquest was Santo Tomas’ first win against NU after a 20-game, 11-year losing skid.

Santo Tomas also captured crowns in men’s chess, men’s table tennis, poomsae, men’s and women’s beach volleyball and women’s taekwondo.

The Tigers copped the silver medal in men’s taekwondo, men’s and women’s judo. They finished with bronze me dals in women’s swimming and women’s athletics.

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) awarded a total of P10.6 million to medal winners in the Hangzhou 19th Asian Games during yesterday’s General Assembly at the East Ocean Palace Restaurant in Parañaque.

“It was a General Assembly where the POC family came together in joy and camaraderie… full of Christmas spirit,” POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said. “We didn’t discuss any topic, but just giving the incentives and hosting our Christmas Party.”

The Philippines won f our gold, two silver and 12 bronzes for a total of 18 medals in Hangzhou.

Personally receiving their incentives were jiu-jitsu gold medalist Annie Ramirez, who banked P1 million, and boxing silver medalist Eumir Felix Marcial, who received P500,000.

POC athletes commission Nikko Huelgas head received for pole vault champion and record holder Ernest John “EJ” Obiena his P1-million check, while her fellow jiu-jitsu athletes got Meggie Ochoa’s bonus.

Members of the gold medal-winning men’s basketball team each got P200,000 with Magnum Membrere, a member of the MVP Group, symbolically receiving the check.

Wushu’s Arnel Mandal also got P500,000 for his silver while Patrick King Perez (poomsae), Patrick Coo (cycling), Sakura Alforte (karate), Kaila Napolis (jiu-jitsu), Erleen Ann Ando (weightlifting) and wushu’s Jones Inso, Gideon Padua and Clemente Tabugara of wushu were rewarded P300,000 each.

Alex Eala g ot P450,000 for her bronze in women’s singles  and mixed doubles (P150,000) of tennis with Francis Casey Alcantara.

Sepak takraw’s Jason Huerte, Rheyjey Ortouste, Vince Torno, Mark Joseph Gonzales, Ronsited Gabayeron and Jom Lerry Rafael received P200,000 each for their two bronzes in men’s quadrant and regu.

MANILA, Philippines — The PBA is scoreless in six games so far in EASL’s inaugural home-and-away season with five of the losses on the road. TNT and Meralco are the PBA’s reps in the eight-team tournament which is billed as “Where Champions Clash.” The best of the best in East Asia are vying for the $1-million first prize with the Final Four set to reel off in March.

TNT qualified for EASL by virtue of winning the last Governors’ Cup. Barangay Ginebra also made it after topping the Commissioner’s Cup but begged off as coach Tim Cone and key players Scottie Thompson, Jamie Malonzo and Japeth Aguilar were exhausted from Gilas duties. Meralco joined as a late replacement, coming off a semifinal finish in the Governors’ Cup.

TNT is 0-4 with defeats to Chiba twice, 93-75 and 75-66, Taipei Fubon, 106-97 and Anyang, 105-97. Meralco is 0-3 after bowing to Ryukyu, 89-61 and New Taipei, 97-92. Six games are left in the PBA’s calendar. Meralco battles Ryukyu tonight in Macau. It was initially scheduled as a home stand for the Bolts but EASL negotiated a deal with Macau to bring the game over as a special treat for fans at the Studio City in partnership with Melco Resorts and Entertainment. Then, TNT takes on Taipei Fubon on Dec. 20 and Meralco tackles Seoul on Dec. 27, both at home. Meralco meets New Taipei on Jan. 7 and TNT engages Anyang on Jan 24, both at home before Meralco travels to Seoul on Feb. 7. The top two finishers in two four-team groups will advance to the Final Four.

In Meralco’s first meeting with Ryukyu, the Bolts were without deadshots Allein Maliksi, Chris Banchero and Zach Lofton. This time, the three will be in harness and Meralco coach Luigi Trillo said the Bolts are ready to rumble. Ryukyu’s chief import is Allen Durham who played five conferences with Meralco in the PBA. The Golden Kings’ other import is 6-9 Jack Cooley who has been with Ryukyu since 2019-20. UP’s Carl Tamayo is Ryukyu’s Asian heritage import.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for Ryukyu which is a disciplined and precision-playing team,” said Trillo. “Their locals and imports are extremely competitive. No excuses but we’re playing with only one import in the PBA and we play with two in EASL so there’s a big adjustment. We just have to find a way to compete and win. We’re excited to play in EASL. We would’ve liked to play our import Su (Braimoh) but as a Nigerian passport holder, he only has a single entry visa so it’s difficult for him to go in and out of the Philippines. We played only Prince (Ibeh) in our first two EASL games then brought in Zach for the third. That was Zach’s first game with us.”

Last Sunday, Lofton erupted for 54 points to lift Meralco to a third straight win in the Commissioner’s Cup. Trillo said with Lofton now more comfortable playing the Bolts system, he’s confident Meralco can nail the PBA’s first win in EASL. “Zach can create, draw the double, score, pass and CB and Allein are playing,” he said. “Brandon (Bates) is fitting in as a rookie, Norbert (Torres) gives us size and outside shooting, Prince and Raymond will take care of the inside, New (Chris Newsome) can play point and Cliff is a tough import defender. I think we’ve got the pieces to go out and win.”

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