All posts by Charles Usi


DLSU caps off UAAP season in style

Before UAAP season 74 officially wound up, DLSU unveiled its last few tricks.

UAAP Streetdance Competition reigning champions La Salle Dance Company-Street (LSDC) successfully defended its title to cap off the UAAP Season 74 Closing Ceremonies at the PICC Forum last March 10.

LSDC ruled the dance floor once more in topping all eight UAAP schools’ dance crews.

The Closing ceremonies featured the UAAP’s best: General Champions, Athletes of the Years, Most Valuable Players, Rookies of the Year, Athlete Scholars and the international competition participants.

DLSU ended bridesmaid once again to UST in the General Championship race.

Bridesmaids for the fourth consecutive season, the Taft-based squads, however, continued to close the gap with the 39th-time over-all UAAP champions.

“Very good! It’s a very good season, hopefully next year we’ll be able to turn it around already. Konting-konti nalang yan [gap between UST and DLSU for the over-all title],” OSD Director Emmanuel Calanog expressed.

Another highlight of the event was Green Tankers’ swimming ace Johansen Benedict Aguilar receiving the highest individual UAAP honors being hailed as the Athlete of the Year.

Ateneo de Manila University also officially turned over the UAAP hosting duties to National University for the 75th season of the league.

Best street dance crew

One of the premier streetdance crews in the country, LSDC-Street badgers their own kind of winning streak topping all possible major streetdance tournaments this school year.

From last year’s UAAP Streetdance to the Maximum Groovity Competition 2011, Lactacyd Confidance Mash-Up 2011, Skechers Street Dance Battle Year 7 up to the recent UAAP Streetdance, LSDC-Street proved its dancefloor dominance.

“Actually, after their performance that’s more than enough for me kasi that’s their best run so okay nako dun. And dagdag blessing lang siguro yung prize, yung title,” LSDC-Street Coach Kevin Intal shared.

LSDC-Street boasted a quads and footwork intensive routine garnering 88.98% to pocket the P75,000 prize money for the first place.

University of the Philippines’s Streetdance Club wounded up second with 86.4% and Ateneo’s Company of Ateneo Dancers settled with 84.64% at third.

“It is just an amazing feeling because we didn’t expect it. All we really planned was…we show our best performance and show the variety of our skills and the genres of streetdance without really aiming for winning the championship,” LSDC-Street captain Ella Fortun shared.

Bridging the gap

The Green-and-White squads trimmed down last season’s 50-point separation to a measly 20 via 278 markers against the España-based delegates’ 298.

DLSU reaped four championships, ranked second in seven sports disciplines and third in seven others trailing UST with an 8-7-3 (first-second-third) tally.

“Mr. [Edwin] Reyes, my predecessor, really managed the office [OSD] and the teams very well, in terms of recruitment and academics. [And] when Br. Bernie [Oca FSC] came in and [instill] more consciousness to the coaches and the athletes about their role in the General Championship,” Calanog commented on the improvement in DLSU’s over-all championship bid in the recent years.

With five NCAA General Championships under the fold, DLSU has yet to win a UAAP GC since the acquisition of the premier league back in 1986.

“In this coming year, I don’t see any reason why we cannot clinch it [General Championship]. Sa Tagalog, hinog na hinog na (In Filipino, it is already ripe for the taking),” DLSU UAAP Board Member Edwin Reyes shared.

Of being this year’s best

“It’s really a special feeling because out of all the athletes to be chosen as the Athlete of the Year it is really something,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar emerged as the UAAP Swimming Men’s Division MVP behind his seven-gold medal feat breaking national and UAAP records along the way.

While being one of the country rising swimmers, Aguilar managed to excel in his studies.

“I think that would attribute to discipline, time management and all the other traits that would make you excel both in sports and academics,” Aguilar shared.

Kasi sobrang hirap kasi talaga to  (it is hard to) balance both, but you need talaga to sacrifice other things for a better reason…I’m really proud of my performance so far.”


Green Spikers ends season via controversial call, clinches fourth

The damage is done. The referee’s decision is final.

“First time na ginawa nila [referees] na during game mababased sa review [to decide a play]. Never nila ginawa yun sa mga games kahit nagkamali ang tawag nila hindi nila inaano sa video, (It is the first time that the referees based their call on a video replay. They have never referred to the videos before despite making wrong calls),” Green Spikers Head Coach Sammy Acaylar shared.

It was the FEU Tamarraws that locked horns with defending champions UST Tigers in the UAAP Season 74 Men’s Volleyball Championship.

FEU returned to the Finals after escaping the Green Spikers via a controversial second call awarding FEU’s match point to end the do-or-die face off, 25-23, 19-25, 20-19, 24-26, last February 22 at the San Juan, Arena.

Sophomore Green Spiker Red Christensen salvaged a play from the left wing nailing the ball to the opponents’ backcourt.

First referee Lumer Pajarillo awarded the point, but the Morayta-side argued that it was an outside ball.

A ball that is returned and passes outside of the antennas, attached to each side of the net, is considered outside and out of play.

The game was paused; referee Pajarillo needed to consult second referee Efren Gaa to make a decision.

Game officials viewed the video replay and overruled the first call to formally grant FEU the win.

The video challenge system that allows a team to challenge a call by reviewing the play on a monitor set up is not an established practice in UAAP volleyball tournaments.

The final decision stirred DLSU’s coaching staff, causing them to file a protest about the video review among other dubious calls in the latter stretch of the fourth set.

“Protest lang para sa susunod na laban, sa susunod na liga hindi na mangyayari…Ngayon lang nila sa game namin, so magiging precedent yan, (We will just file a protest to avoid the incident from happening in the next matches and in other leagues. It is the first of its kind, so it will be a precedent to other games),” Coach Acaylar explained.

The match officially ended the Green Spikers Final’s bid against eventual champions FEU with the four-set stunner, 25-18, 14-25, 25-23, 25-20, last February 15.

The Taft-based Spikers finished fourth for the consecutive time.

Masakit ang nangyari, ako naman proud ako sa sa team ko… Maaring next year kami na, kasi they’re intact (It was painful but I am proud of my team. The line-up is still intact, maybe next year will be our year),” Coach Acaylar ended.

Jeron Teng: Doing it all (and more) for victory

He is listed six-foot-two, and he considers explosive and heady guards like Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and Ricky Rubio as his favorite NBA players. Similarly, he had manned the point for his high school team, the Xavier Stallions, which won multiple championships.

But Jeron Teng can do much more than dish the ball to open teammates and provide spacing on the floor. He can do almost everything on the court, even stunts not reflected on the statsheet.

The good news is, he will be donning the all-familiar Green-and-White jersey of the DLSU Green Archers.

“Expect me to do everything I can to help the team,” he says. Passing and playing hard-nosed defense are some of the things Jeron will bring, but if there is one thing he does best, it is scoring buckets. And there is no better testament to this than when he poured a staggering 104 points in a single game against rival Grace Christian College at the Tionglian Basketball Tournament.

Reflecting on his four years of playing for the Stallions, Jeron recalled that his best experience was their team celebration of its victory in the Tionglian Tournament by going to Taiwan. He also got to play against some of the highschool teams in Taiwan.

Teng gained further experience by donning the national colors, as he played for the Under-16 and Under-18 teams under current NU Bulldogs mentor Eric Altamirano. His stint with the national team was highlighted when he competed in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games alongside current Bulldog Ray-Ray Parks and Tamaraw Mike Tolomia. It was during this time that he met Green Archer Dan Sara, whom he is looking forward to play with.

Since then, he has been touted as one of the best highschool players in the country, which brought his name enmeshed in the heated recruitment wars, with several schools trying to get him on their teams. But Jeron, the son of former PBA cager Alvin Teng and the younger brother of UST Growling Tigers skipper Jeric, waited patiently as he fulfilled his duty for the Stallions before making a decision.

And in early January, the air around Taft Avenue thickened with anticipation as Jeron Teng was photographed garbed in a La Salle varsity jacket and cap, cordially shaking the hand of Br. Bernie Oca, FSC, the Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Missions and Alumni Relations.

He relates, however, that his decision-making process was a complicated one; he even went to several Chinese temples to ask which school would be best for him. And in the end, it turned out to be La Salle and the Green Archers. “I also think that [studying in] La Salle will be good for me,” adds Teng, who is currently taking up Marketing as his undergraduate course.

There was another factor that led him to his decision to play for the Archers. “What’s nice about La Salle is the crowd and their alumni,” he states, noticing the unwavering support of fans and alumni on the Taft-based squad. “There are so many of them who supported me, and I want to thank them personally someday.”

“I love to drive to the basket and get fouled, but I am also a team player,” Jeron reveals his versatile playing style, which makes him fit for the wing position (shooting guard or small forward) for the Archers, where he will be teaming up with the likes of veterans Joshua Webb, Joseph Marata, and Oda Tampus.

And since he has made a habit out of winning in his high school days, he wants this streak to continue once he dons the La Salle uniform. “I’ll work really hard to help La Salle get wins and hopefully get into the Final Four and then the Finals,” he adds.

The previous season of the UAAP had just ended, but the DLSU Green Archers have already heralded their bid to return to basketball supremacy by securing several blue-chip recruits, most notable of which is potent scorer Jeron Teng, who will be shredding defences, diving for loose balls, and passing the leather—all in his desire to help his new team win.

“I want to make the La Salle community proud. But I know I cannot do that alone. It is the whole team that is playing, so we all have to play well.”

Lady Spikers reigns supreme anew; Cruz exits Finals MVP

Cha Cruz could have graduated from the UAAP last year with flying colors – her third championship and the Finals MVP plum – but she did not.

UAAP Season 74 was without veterans Jacq Alarca and Steph Mercado, but Cruz gambled and suited for her last year of eligibility.

Kaunti lang yung nabibigyan ng ganitong opportunity [to play in UAAP for five years and win championships] (Very few are given the opportunity), why not use it,” 23 year old Cruz shared.

Cruz once again led the DLSU Lady Spikers to the pinnacle of the UAAP volleyball hierarchy last February 29 at The Arena in San Juan.

The Lady Spikers mounted an astonishing straight-sets victory against the Ateneo Lady Eagles in Game 3 of the Finals series, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13 to reign in the UAAP Season 74 Women’s Division.

Playing her last game in the UAAP, consecutive Finals MVP Cruz piloted a balanced-scoring affair for the Green-and White team with 12 points including 11 attacks.

Sabi ko nga sa kanya [Cruz] last game niya ‘to, ‘ayokong magkahiwalay tayong hindi ka champion,’ [I told Cruz that this is her last game and I do not want us to part ways without the championship,]” Head Coach Ramil de Jesus said.

For their third championship in four years and seventh over-all, the Lady Spikers banked on its championship experience to deal a one-sided match against its Katipunan-based counterpart.

Two-time Best Blocker Gumabao supported Cruz with 11 markers while league MVP Abigail Maraño and Rookie of the Year Victonara Galang added eight apiece.

Mika Reyes chipped in seven while sophomore setter Mika Esperanza registered five, three from blocks.

Despite yielding the first game of the series, the Lady Spikers maintained its championship poise to recover and fight back to victory.

“For us, wake-up call lang ‘yun (Game 1 loss) para magpush kami lalo, para mas maging solid kaming team (For us, it was just a wake-up call to push us so that we could be a solid team),” graduating Cruz stressed.

With better net defense and floor coverage than ever, the Lady Spikers shut down most of Ateneo’s attempts and answered every rally Ateneo established.

The Lady Spikers roofed 10 points, asserting mastery again over at the net against Ateneo’s three block points.

Even substitutions made by the Blue-and-White line up could not stop the pumped up Lady Spikers as they only led in the first set at the 0-1 mark.

Carrying on the momentum, the Lady Spikers closed a tight second set with vicious attacks against the disoriented Ateneo crew in the third frame to seal victory.

Katipunan’s rookie sensation Alyssa Valdez and captain Fille Cainglet were limited to 12 and seven points respectively.

When asked about the loss of their graduating superstar Cha Cruz, De Jesus expressed, “Leader, kasi team captain si Cha. So yun [team captain], pinakamahirap na hanapin sa isang team (We will lose a leader because Cha is our team captain. That is the hardest to find for a team.).”

Cruz, who was part of the 2005 rookie batch, won four championships and one bridesmaids finish in her five years in DLSU.

The gamble was worth the risk as she closed her UAAP career on top. “Kita naman sobrang successful ngayon, so hindi ako nagsisisi (I can see our success so I have no regrets),” Cruz said.

More photos at our facebook page. Here.


What GC?

The University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) is one of the most popular collegiate leagues in the country, but its General Championship (GC), the award given to the best performing member-school has a reputation contrary to the league’s popularity.

It is usually basketball, the rivalry between Ateneo and DLSU, and the improving performance of the underdogs that are the topic of discussion amongst sports experts and fans as another season starts each school year – it is not the GC. Some of my friends and colleagues from this University does not even know that such an award exists.

“Finally, some hope for the Green Archers next season with new coach Gee [Abanilla] and Jeron Teng.” “When is the championship match of the Lady Spikers?” These are usually the questions I hear from my peers.

The UAAP general or over-all championship is awarded to the member-school that garnered the most points at the end of the season. A championship in a sport racks 15 points for the University represented; a bridesmaid finish registers 12, and third and fourth placers garner 10 points and eight points, respectively.

Six points, four points, two points and one point are awarded to the bottom four participants accordingly. None participation in a sports event weighs no points.

After fifteen sports events, which are divided into the first half and second half of the season, and excluding one UAAP hallmark, the cheerdance competition, the scores are tallied and the GC is given to the school who have garnered the highest score.

Currently, the Green-and-White squads are behind sports powerhouse and 14-peat GC seeking University of Sto. Tomas (UST) in the GC race. We rank second, only 27 points short of UST’s tally. The statistics may seem that we are vying for the GC, we really are, but the students really do not care about the GC, worse, they do not even know about it.

For some who do know about it, the GC is just another trophy that is heavier and more prestigious the Men’s basketball trophy or Women’s volleyball trophy, but it stops there. It is just another award, it is not getting the same attention and popularity the two aforementioned sports are enjoying.

When the basketball season is over, many think that the UAAP season is already over, some also think that the school which won the basketball event is the most outstanding team of the league. Rivalry aside, Ateneo won the Men’s basketball event, but they rank third in the over-all championship tally, 22 points behind DLSU.

I was able to show the current ranking of the GC to some of my Lasallian friends. They were surprised that such a ranking exists and most of them said that the UAAP should also prioritize the other sports in terms of publicity, to garner more support from the public.

Only the complete season of the men’s basketball and women’s volleyball games are broadcasted live on tv. Highlights and championship matches of other sports such as badminton are being aired already, but if only two out of the 15 sports events are made accessible to fans and patrons, the unpopular sports and the GC, in general, will be left on the sidelines.

The lack of publicity of other sports events is an obvious issue, but the difficulty of developing a fan base is another issue. Only the sports events being televised develop a following.

The UAAP does not have its own media arm to televise games of other sports events. It only has ABS-CBN as its media partner, which would want to cash in big – a business organization’s main objective. Admittedly, only the basketball and volleyball games garner such profitable patronage.

Thankfully, football has caught the attention of many sports fans – away from basketball and volleyball. Other sporting leagues such as the Fil-Oil games and the Shakey’s V-league are slowly acquiring fan bases. Television made them popular.

Hypothetically, let us say that all UAAP sports events are televised live. All sports have a fan base and the GC is the highly acclaimed trophy. We are just 27 points away from the GC, and we still have five sports left to play.

Led by undefeated teams like the Lady Spikers, Lady Woodpushers, Green and Lady Tennisters, it is still possible for the DLSU teams to pull off a last minute championship run.

The rest of the Taft-based squads are also performing well, with the Green Batters, Green Woodpushers, Lady Booters and Green Spikers jockeying for higher spots in their respective fields.

The GC race is still on. DLSU could still win the GC this year.


Lady Spikers’ blocking denies Ateneo, inches closer to back-to-back crown

DLSU’s blocking is back.Photo by Kristine Barreiro

The DLSU Lady Spikers tallied 12 block kills to seize Game 2 of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals’ series against the Ateneo Lady Eagles last Saturday, February 25.

Home of the last four league’s top blockers in the past five seasons, including back-to-back Best Blocker Michelle Gumabao, the Lady Spikers reconstructed their blocking to neutralize the Blue-and-White’s vaunted firepower; the Green-and-White erected a 23-25, 25-21, 26-24 and 25-18 victory in the San Juan Arena.

“Nung Game 1 kasi medyo nag-collapse yung blocking namin, ngayon medyo naging maganda yung blocking (In Game 1, our blocking collapsed, but now our blocking is better),” Lady Spikers mentor Ramil de Jesus shared.

After being held to a single block in Game 1, reigning Best Blocker Gumabao returned with four more denials; she top scored for the Ladies from Taft with 18 points, 12 from attacks, five blocks and one service ace.

It was another blocking party for the defending champions and Best Blocking team converting 12 out of 90 attempts into instant points, against the meager two from Ateneo.

Rookie of the Year and Best Server Ara Galang and Team Captain Cha Cruz backstopped Gumabao with 12 markers each. Other rookie Mika Reyes had 11 points while Season Most Valuable Player (MVP) Aby Maraño had a measly seven.

The win tied the two universities with 1-1 match apiece, but the thrice-to-beat incentive of the Lady Spikers from sweeping the eliminations sends them a game away from defending their title.

Turning Game one upside down

After experiencing their first loss of the season in four sets in the Finals series, the Lady Spikers returned the favor to its collegiate rival the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles with a same four-setter win.

The girls in Green yielded the first set behind Ateneo’s rookie sensation Alyssa Valdez’s seven markers out of her total 24.

Gumabao and Galang then ganged up to snatch the second frame with efficient production in offense and defense.

The Lady Eagles returned strong hiking a 17-11 third set lead.

But the Green-and-White Squad cut the deficit and pulled a comeback capped by a Cruz kill before two fearless service aces from Reyes.

“Adjustment is yung heart, puso ng champion, sabi namin kailangan nandun yung angas, nandun lahat ng determination bawat isa sa players naming (Adjustment is the heart, the heart of champions, we said amongst ourselves that we needed the angst; we also agreed that each player needs to bring in her determination.)” Gumabao added.

The entrance of back-up crew Denice Tan, Diemmy Tatlonghari and second setter Carmela Garbin also held the fort in crucial stages of the match, especially in the second and third set.

The fourth set showed a frustrated Ateneo Squad—the exact same situation the Lady Spikers in the fourth set of game one where it committed one error after another.

The Lady Spikers packed with renewed confidence and swagger, took advantage, and ended the 111-minute encounter via consecutive kills from Galang.

With one game to win for the championship, Coach Ramil de Jesus still has some fine-tuning to do saying, “Nakita namin yung mga unforced errors, so siguro maminimize pa yung unforced errors [in Game 3] (We saw that we had unforced errors; we can still minimize those unforced errors).”

Other individual awardees in the women’s division include Best Scorer Rose Marie Vargas (FEU), Best Setter Gyzelle Sy (FEU), Best Digger Christine Agno (FEU), Best Receiver Angelica Vasquez (Adamson) and Best Spiker Maika Ortiz (UST).

Game 1 was the Lady Spikers’ first virtual setback since 2010.

More photos at The LaSallian’s facebook page. Game 1 | Game 2.


Duo powers Green Spikers to 3-3 slate

The Green Spikers split their first six games evenly in the UAAP Season 74 Men’s Volleyball Tournament at the Fil Oil Flying V Arena to finish in the three-way log jam with Final Four contenders Adamson University (AdU) and University of the Philippines (UP).

DLSU’s top two spikers, Team Captain Myco Antonio and sophomore Red Christensen, held the DLSU banner in the post-season bid.

Antonio, III BS-ENT, paced the Taft-based Spikers; he ranked twentieth in the tournament’s scoring division and is the 8th Best Spiker of the tournament with a 38.14 efficiency percentage.

Christensen is DLSU’s leading Best Scorer, fourteenth in the league and seventh in the blocking department. Both aided the team in garnering an identical 3-3 win-loss record.

The boys in Green, however, got whipped in their fifth match-up by the National University (NU) Bulldogs last December 18 in straight sets 18-25, 21-25, 20-25.

In the last play date of 2011, the Green Spikers returned the favor to theAteneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Spikers via a 25-23, 25-14, 25-12 shut-out behind the double-digit production from theAntonio-Christensen 1-2 combo.

Overpowering the Katipunan counterparts

Team skipper Antonio teamed up withChristensen to quickly dispose off any opposition from the Mia Mario-mentored Ateneo crew in just two minutes over an hour.

Divine Light Academy-Las Pinas standout Antonio topscored for the Taft-based Spikers with 17 points on 13 kills, three blocks and two from the service box.

Fellow southpaw Christensen also ended the game with 12 markers to contribute in the 41 total team spikes output.

Fellow GreenSpikers Carlo Rivera, AljunBartolome and Philip Ellison Cervezapooled for 24 points.

The Sammy Acaylar-mentored squad pounded on the opponent’s unforced errors 22-14 and netdisadvantage,roofing six more spike attempts 9-3.

With their offense on the get-go,the Green Spikers completed the sweep at 25-23, 25-14, 25-12, pushing ADMU to the edge of the over-all standings at 1-5 win-loss card.

Former UAAP Rookie of the Year Duane Craig Teves was the lone bright spot in the blue corner, chipping double digits kills at ten.

Bullied by the National U Bulldogs

The Antonio-Christensen tandem did not click as a retooled National U upset the Centennial squad in a three-set fashion, 18-25, 21-25, 20-25.

The Gold-and-Blue’s defense surrounded Christensen, allowing him to get a meager eight points, while Antonio stayed true to form registering a game-high 15 points.

TeammateAljunBartolome, however, stepped up for the Green-and-White roster with 11 markers.

The NU’s side had a more balanced offense with four players averaging 11.75 points in the DLSU-NU tiff off.


2011: Green Spikers tout an early 1-1 UAAP record

Two matches of the Green-and-White squad in the UAAP Season 74 Men’s Volleyball Tournament did not go as expected.

The Green Spikers started with a 1-1 win and loss record after facing the top and the bottom squads of the previous season.

With a mixed of seasoned veterans and five promising newcomers, last year’s 3rd runner-up have prepared for this season. A Chris Macasaet-less Green Spikers crew will vie for their tenth semis appearance this season, without the services of Mark Emilio Lee and playmaker Samuel Lubi.

Returnees Philip Cerveza and Carlo Rivera primed by newfangled team captain Myco Antonio will pad the ceiling dent left by the graduates.

Outside hitter Kevin De La Vega slid to Libero’s position alongside Season 71 Best Receiver Renz Casanova for a tighter floor defense. DLSU sister-schools stand outs Bub Sumalinog, Carlo Sendo and Lorenzo Señoren also made the cut of this year’s roster.

In the opening day, the Sammy Acaylar-mentored squad was pitted early on to last years’ silver medalist, the FEU Tamarraws.

The Morayta-based squad appeared just too much for the Green Spikers as they hacked out a 16-25, 25-17, 23-25, 16-25 victory last Nov. 16.

The Taft-based squad, however, recovered from the debut loss by subduing the UE Red Warriors last November 30 via straight sets.

Antonio-Christensen tandem punish UE in straight sets

After 61 minutes of heated volleyball action, the Green Spikers came out of the Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym with their first win of the season.

Former UAAP Rookie of the Year Myco Antonio together with sophomore Red Christensen led the Green Spikers’ assault against the University of the East.

The Taft-based squad barged into the win column after bullying the Red-and-White, 25-19, 25-16, 25-14 behind the 20-point combined production of the Antonio-Christensen southpaw duo.

2011 National Intercollegiate Volleyball Championship MVP Antonio poured in seven attack points with three block inputs while Siena College product Christensen scored 9-out of his 10 points from offense.

No Spiker from the other side finished with double-digits; only Red Warriors Angelo Torres and Gary Bantolino were able to chip in seven markers.

Piled up by the Tams in opener

In four-setter game, Rodolfo Labrador won 21 points, and spearheaded the Tamarraws to be the first team in Season 74 who banked into the win column.

Despite heroics from Christensen who scored 11 spikes and three blocks, the Green Spikers left the San Juan Arena with their heads facing the floor last November 26.

The 24-time UAAP Men’s Volleyball Champion FEU Tamarraws eradicated the second set rally of the Green Spikers to finish the contest in four sets, 16-25, 25-17, 23-25, 16-2.