Morales picks up where he left off with another cycling victory

On the podium from left to right: Ronald Oranza, Jan Paul Morales and Marcelo Felipe. June Navarro/INQUIRER
There’s no hint that Jan Paul Morales of Standard Insurance would slow down anytime soon.
After capturing his second consecutive Ronda Pilipinas individual plum plus a couple of competitive local races last year, Morales ruled the men’s elite road race of the PRU Ride Philippine National Cycling Championships over the weekend in Subic and Bataan.
Morales beat fellow Standard Insurance rider Ronald Oranza at the line in three hours, 42 minutes and 55 seconds after the punishing uphill route covering 137 kilometers.

Marcelo Felipe of 7Eleven Cliqq Road Bike Philippines placed third in the race where the winner earned an all-expenses paid trip in the PRU Ride in London in July plus P50,000 in cash prize.
Aside from Morales, businessman-sportsman and Standard Insurance chairman Ernesto “Judes” Echauz has also produced a pair of local champions in top-caliber runner Joey delos Reyes in duathlon and long-distance triathlon champion Monica Torres last year.
It was also dominating performance last year for the 31-year-old Morales, who ruled the Ontario California Criterium Race in the United States, while emerging champion in the elite division of the 3rd Road Bike Philippines Sual Cycling Challenge in Pangasinan in May.
“I can never accomplish these victories without the full support of our sponsor and my teammates,” said Morales, who is aiming for a third straight Ronda Pilipinas title this March.
With Morales, Oranza and Rudy Roque at the helm, the Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance cycling team had won the Ronda Pilipinas overall individual and team championships four years in a row.
On the other hand, Torres, a perennial top local finisher in the Ironman 70.3 Philippines, is a long-time triathlete and duathlon star in the Standard Insurance stable, according to Echauz.
“Because of her winnings both locally and internationally in the long distance events that she joins, she has also been regularly recognized by sports media organizations,” said Echauz.
Torres topped the Powerman Asia Duathlon Championships—Malaysia 2017, last March.
Emmanuel Commendador and Torres, both from the Philippines, dominated the top podium spots for the male and female elite category with a time of 02:48:36 and 03:04:11, respectively.
She also won the Tri-Sports 51.5 held in Ilocos Norte, also last March and grabbed the podium in the inaugural MusaMan Trt-DavNor 2017, a standard distance triathlon hosted by the provincial government of Davao de Norte, last June.


UAAP juniors: NU once again tops FEU in finals rematch, ADMU pounds UST to go 8-0

BIG GAME. MVP candidate Rhayyan Amsali (21 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) had a big game to lift NU over FEU. File photo from Amsali's Facebook

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MANILA, Philippines - The second round of the UAAP Season 80 Juniors basketball tournament kicked off on Saturday, January 13 with last season’s runner-up National University (NU) Bullpups once again defeating the defending champion Far Eastern University (FEU) Baby Tamaraws in an 86-81 finals rematch thriller.

NU had previously beaten the champs 80-68 in the first round.

The game remained relatively close until the closing moments of the first half, when RJ Abarrientos pulled up for 3 with less than 10 seconds on the game clock to put the champs up 47-40. The now 7-1 Bullpups got it together when it mattered most, scoring 29 points in the final frame compared to FEU’s 16. Thanks to the late heroics of Most Valuable Player candidate Rhayyan Amsali (21 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and Terrence Fortea (18 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 4-of-7 threes), NU sneaked away with the lead and sealed the game for good off a late and-one from Michael Malonzo.

Season 79 Finals MVP L-Jay Gonzales paced the Baby Tams with 21 points, 5 boards and 5 helpers on 9-of-13 shooting and 2-of-2 from downtown. Bryan Sajonia also did damage in just 15 minutes (15 points, 4-of-5 threes) but the team ultimately failed to clamp down on their late lead.

Following that thriller was another marquee matchup between the undefeated Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eaglets and 3rd-placer University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tiger Cubs. While the Cubs pounced out to an early 18-13 lead after the first quarter, they were slowly overpowered by the ultra-talented Ateneo squad which boasts 3 of the Top 5 MVP candidates, including 7-foot-1 Gilas 2023 prospect Kai Sotto. Ateneo ultimately won by 24, 78-54, to improve to 8-0 for Season 80. UST fell to 5-3, still at 3rd.

Sotto finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks off the bench while Dave Ildefonso added a game-high 20 points, 7 boards and 3 assists. SJ Belangel rounded up the MVP-level contributions with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 6 helpers of his own.

Frontrunner MVP candidate CJ Cansino – who expressed his desire to be a part of the 2023 Gilas roster after the loss – chipped in 16 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists but struggled from the field on 6-of-20 shooting. Only Cansino and Vince Dolendo (10 points) scored in double-figures for UST as the Eaglets held the Cubs to 27% shooting as a team.

Coming up third in the 4-game slate was a battle between the De La Salle University-Zobel (DLSZ) Junior Archers and the University of the East (UE) Junior Warriors. DLSZ handily won 93-74 thanks to double 20-point performances from Chris Calimag (22 points, 5 rebounds) and Rogil Carlos (20 points, 4 rebounds). UE actually led 49-48 after one half but DLSZ woke up and held them to just 25 second half points. The Archers had 23 markers in the third quarter alone, with 22 more in the fourth for good measure.

Bolstering the Warriors’ ranks was Shane Dichoso, who had 20 points on 6-of-6 shooting from downtown after one half. He only scored two more in the second half as his teammate Agem Miranda overtook him by contributing 24 points of his own in the losing effort. UE remains winless at 0-8.

The Adamson University (AdU) Baby Falcons blew out the University of the Philippines Integrated School (UPIS) Fighting Maroons, 76-58. The brotherly duo of Andrey and Adam Doria combined for 29 points and 14 rebounds in the Falcons’ win while Matt Santiago dropped 21 points to lead the Maroon charge. UPIS never came close to the Falcons' score as they only managed 17 points for the entire first half. Their 41-point 2nd half did nothing to change their fortunes as they slipped to a 1-7 record for the season. Meanwhile, Adamson ties FEU for 4th at 4-4.

All 8 teams are scheduled next to appear on Wednesday, January 17 at the same venue.

Season 80 Standings (as of January 13, 2018)

School Win-Loss Record

ADMU 8-0

NU 7-1

UST 5-3

FEU 4-4

AdU 4-4

DLSZ 3-5

UPIS 1-7

UE 0-8


Saudi women score right to watch soccer in stadiums

A Saudi woman cheers as she watches a soccer match in Jeddah. (Reuters)
JEDDAH — Women in black abayas and fluorescent orange vests stood at the gates at King Abdullah Stadium, welcoming people into the family section that, for the first time in Saudi Arabia, allowed women to attend a men’s soccer match.

As teams al-Ahli and al-Batin faced each other in the city of Jeddah, women showed up to their first public sporting event in the Kingdom to support the sides with their spouses, children and friends.

The General Sports Authority announced in October that stadiums in Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh will be set up to accommodate families starting in 2018.

“Honestly this decision should have happened a long time ago,” said Muneera al-Ghamdi, an attendee. “But thank god that it came in the right time, and hopefully what’s to come will be even more beautiful for women.”

The decision to allow women to attend a mixed public sporting event is one of many changes the country has undergone in recent months, hailed as proof of a new progressive trend in the deeply conservative Muslim Kingdom.

On Thursday, Jeddah held Saudi Arabia’s first car exhibition aimed at women, a few months after Saudi Arabia announced it would grant them the right to drive..

A soccer match on Saturday in the capital Riyadh will also be welcoming women fans.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, has been hailed as the face of these changes.

Many young Saudis regard his recent ascent to power as proof their generation is taking a central place in running a country whose patriarchal traditions have for decades made power the province of the old and blocked women’s progress.

“Today the percentage of those who participate in exercise and sports is only 13 percent,” said Hayfaa al-Sabban, who heads a sport organization.

“We aim god willing to raise it to 40 percent by 2030, through several events, and today’s is one of these events.”

Serena Williams says motherhood may make her better player

BEST TO COME. Serena Williams says the pressure is off her to play, which she feels could make her a better player. Photo by Nezar Balout/AFP

WASHINGTON, USA - Look out, women's tennis. Serena Williams isn't quite back on tour, but she says she wants more Grand Slam titles and may be an even better player after becoming a mother.

In an interview with Vogue magazine published Wednesday, January 10, Williams also recounts the harrowing medical ordeal she went through after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, on September 1.

Williams, 36, played an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi in late December but pulled out of this month's Australian Open, saying she was "super close" but not yet playing at the level needed to compete.

She is now eyeing a return to the women's tour at the Indian Wells tournament in March.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, told Vogue she is determined to win more major titles and surpass the record of 24 Slams held by Australia's Margaret Court.

"Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams," she said. "I'm well aware of the record books, unfortunately.

"It's not a secret that I have my sights on 25," said the 36-year-old Williams.

Williams, who married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian at a star-studded wedding in New Orleans in November, said being a mother may boost her quest.

"Actually, I think having a baby might help," she said. "When I'm too anxious, I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born.

"Knowing I've got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don't have to play another match," she said. "I don't need the money or the titles or the prestige.

"I want them, but I don't need them," she said. "That's a different feeling for me."

Medical ordeal

Williams told Vogue she had an emergency cesarean section after the baby's heart rate fell dangerously low during contractions.

The surgery went well "and then everything went bad," she said.

Williams, who has a history of blood clots, suffered from shortness of breath the day after the birth and told her doctors she needed a CT scan.

Several small blood clots were found in her lungs, and Williams was put on an anticoagulant.

"I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!" she joked.

More complications followed as intense coughing caused her C-section wound to open and a hematoma was found in her abdomen.

After returning home, Williams said she was unable to get out of bed for 6 weeks.

In the interview, Williams also discussed her rivalry with her older sister, Venus.

"I know that her career might have been different if she had had my health," Serena said.

"I know how hard she works," she said. "I hate playing her because she gets this look on her face where she just looks sad if she's losing. Solemn. It breaks my heart.

"So when I play her now, I absolutely don't look at her, because if she gets that look, then I'll start feeling bad, and the next thing you know I'll be losing.

"I think that's when the turning point came in our rivalry, when I stopped looking at her," she said. –

Short-handed Spurs still too much for Kings

LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 12 rebounds and Davis Bertans enjoyed a career night as the San Antonio Spurs rallied to a 107-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday in Sacramento, Calif.

Bertans established career highs of 28 points and six 3-pointers as San Antonio recovered from a 13-point deficit. Bertans was 11-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.

Willie Cauley-Stein had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Kings, who lost for the sixth time in the past eight games. Garrett Temple and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 16 points apiece.

San Antonio played without All-Star small forward Kawhi Leonard (shoulder) for the second consecutive game. Also sitting out for the Spurs were guards Manu Ginobili (rest) and Danny Green (groin) and forward Rudy Gay (heel).

Even without the key players, San Antonio was the stronger team down the stretch.

The Kings held a 95-90 lead with 4:09 remaining after a Cauley-Stein dunk. But Bertans drained back-to-back 3-pointers a short time later to give the Spurs a 97-95 edge with 2:42 left.

Aldridge, who was 13-of-20 shooting, tallied the next five San Antonio points to increase the margin to 102-96 with 1:48 remaining. A layup by Mills increased the lead to nine as the Spurs closed it out.

Sacramento enjoyed a 13-point lead on a basket by De'Aaron Fox one minute into the third quarter before the Spurs whittled away at the margin. Bertans' layup pulled San Antonio within three points with 4:59 left and a 3-pointer by Mills gave the Spurs a 73-72 lead before the Kings scored the final four points of the quarter.

Cauley-Stein had 14 points and eight rebounds in the first half as the Kings held a 56-46 lead at the break.

San Antonio trailed by five after a layup by Mills with 3:20 left in the half before Sacramento ripped off eight straight, capped by a 3-pointer by Buddy Hield to make it 49-36. Bogdanovic later hit a 3-pointer to make it a 14-point margin with 2:06 left.

Cauley-Stein scored 10 points in the first quarter as the Kings took a 25-21 edge. — Reuters

Curry leads Warriors over Denver despite injury scare

WINNING STREAK. Curry still continues to star for the Warriors since his comeback from an injury. File photo by Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

LOS ANGELES, USA – Reigning champion Golden State Warriors shook off an injury scare for superstar Stephen Curry to beat the Denver Nuggets 124-114 in Oakland, California.

Curry left the game briefly after a hard fall in the first quarter, but returned with his left knee taped to finish the game with 32 points on a 5-of-10 shooting from the 3-point range and 9-of-17 overall.

The hot shooting stalwart helped the Warriors rebuild their double-digit lead in the third quarter. The Warriors offense started to cool down midway in the fourth that saw Denver make 18-6 run to cut the lead back down to single digits with a minute and a half left in the game.

The Warriors still managed to close out the game in the final minute to seal the win.

Warriors forward Draymond Green scored 23 points with 10 assists and 5 rebounds and guard Klay Thompson chipped in 19 points as Golden State again coped admirably with the absence of Kevin Durant, who missed his 3rd straight game with a strained right calf.

Denver's Nikola Jokic notched a triple-double of 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. –

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