Mighty Chinese tower over Fiba Asia Tournament roster

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CHINA might have lost seven-foot grinder Wang Zhizhi to retirement but the defending champion will still tower over other teams in the 27th Fiba Asia Championship slated Aug. 1 to 11 at MOA Arena.

Led by 7-foot-3 Li Muhao, seven-footer Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhelin (6-11), the Chinese are truly the epitome of the basketball adage “height is might” in their quest for a second straight Asian championship.

The triple towers of China’s Great Wall will be complemented by point guard Sun Yue and power forwards Zhou Peng and Li Xiaoxu, who all stand 6-foot-8, pushing the team’s average height to 6-foot-6, the tallest among the 16 countries in the fold.

Veteran guard Liu Wei and Chen Jianghua, both 6-foot-2, are the shortest players on the floor for the 2011 Fiba Asia champions.

Iran, the 2007 and 2009 champion, is not far behind in terms of length with 7-foot-3 Hamed Haddadi, seven-foot Rouzbeh Arghavan and the stocky 6-foot-9 Asghar Kardoust manning the paint.

The Iranians also have a trio of 6-7s in power forwards Hamed Sohrabnejad and Oshin Sakahian and shooting guard Saman Veisi. They have an average ceiling of 6-5.

Gilas Pilipinas is seventh as far as elevation is concerned. Naturalized center Marcus Douthit (6-10) will protect the shaded area along with the 6-9 Japeth Aguilar and 6-10 June Mar Fajardo.

Gilas, a collection of stars in the PBA, stands 6-foot-3 on the average but has an undersized set of guards in Jimmy Alapag and LA Tenorio, both 5-7, and 5-10 Jason Castro.

Jordan is the third tallest squad at 6-foot-5 average with Ahmad Hekmat Aldavairi (6-9), Mohammad Shaher Hussain (6-8) and Ali Jamal Zaghab (6-8) patrolling the shaded lane.

Qatar averages 6-foot-4 ½ followed by Japan (6-4) and South Korea (6-3 ¾). Thailand is the shortest at 6-1 average.

via Mighty Chinese tower over Fiba Asia roster | Inquirer Sports.

Four other Pinoy fighters on Pacquiao-Marquez undercard

An unprecedented number of Filipino boxers will be featured on the Top Rank Promotions fight card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 8 (December 9 in Manila).

Led by Manny Pacquiao who is determined to put an end to the controversies surrounding his three previous encounters with four-division Mexican champion Juan Manuel Marquez in an eagerly anticipated showdown, four other Filipino boxers will see action including undefeated Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta who will battle Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez for his International Boxing Federation lightweight title.

Other Filipino fighters on the undercard are southpaw Michael Farenas, a protégé of former two-division world champion Gerry Penalosa who takes on undefeated Cuban star Yuriorkis Gamboa in a WBA super featherweight interim title fight, Philippine welterweight champion Dennis Laurente who clashes with American Kenny Abril over ten rounds and undefeated Dodie Boy Penalosa, Jr., son of the former two division world champion Dodie Boy Penalosa, Sr.  whose opponent hasn’t been named yet.

In a rare twist all five Filipinos are southpaws, which is somewhat of an edge that they seem to cultivate. With five Filipinos on the card, it reflects the growing competitiveness of Filipino fighters on the international boxing scene and the reality that they are an attraction.

It would also appear to indicate the powerful influence Pacquiao and his MP Promotions has over Bob Arum with whom they have a tacit agreement that any Filipino who fights on a Top Rank card where Pacquiao is featured especially, must go through Pacquiao’s promotional outfit where the scheduling is handled by his adviser Michael Koncz who is himself close to Arum.

This is the reason why talented fighters from ALA Promotions can’t get a slot on a Top Rank card with the sole exception being WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire who hasn’t been featured on a Pacquiao card but headlines Top Rank fight cards banking on his own indisputable talent which, as of today, has him ranked No. 5 in the prestigious Ring Magazine pound for pound rankings.

No question, the biggest attraction next Saturday will be Pacquiao while Gesta’s crack at a world title will surely draw considerable attention.

Farenas, Laurente and Dodie Boy Penalosa, Jr. may be considered essential ingredients to an attractive package that is expected to draw a sell-out crowd as indicated by ticket sales which have always done particularly well even if Pacquiao was the sole Filipino on the card.

In his last sparring session at the Wild Card Gym on Saturday, Pacquiao recovered convincingly from a somewhat lackluster showing on Thursday when observers noted he took too many punches from the rugged Frankie Gomez.
On Saturday, as he often does, Pacquiao turned things around in an exciting fashion. With one week to go before he takes on Marquez, strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza told us “Manny looks good, looks sharp and definitely looks ready to go.”

With his charming wife Jinkee among the onlookers, Pacquiao got back at Gomez in a few torrid exchanges during four rounds of sparring before going another four rounds with one of the Roman twins…

via Four other Pinoy fighters on Pacquiao-Marquez undercard | For The Record – Yahoo! Sports Philippines.

Japeth Aguilar trying to become Philippines’ Jeremy Lin

How crazy is people in Philippines about basketball? Well, Manila, the capital of the country – 7,000 miles removed from the closest NBA action – is the sixth city in the world where this site draws the most traffic. That puts it ahead of Houston, Washington, Atlanta or Boston, all of them hosting NBA teams.

The game, taken to Philippines by Americans in 1900, has long been popular in the country. It’s by far the most practiced sport by Filipinos and TV ratings are consistently strong. The passion for the game has not equalled success on the international level, though, with lack of height very much to blame. While the National Team has medaled 15 times in Asian tournaments, Philippines has failed to make a big impact on a worldwide level. The country has not qualified for the Olympics since 1972 and has never produced an NBA player.

Although it’s a long shot, at least there’s one young man trying to change the latter. Japeth Aguilar, an athletic 6-foot-9 forward, has spent the last month working out in the U.S. with hopes of joining a pro team stateside. The 25-year-old Aguilar has already practiced in front of scouts from the Spurs and Hornets and tried out for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBADL.

The son of a former basketball player now working in a factory in Chicago, Aguilar calls Jeremy Lin an inspiration to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA one day.

“The story about Jeremy Lin is really inspiring,” Aguilar told HoopsHype. “How he worked to get into the NBA… It’s really inspiring. I actually had the chance to play with him in Las Vegas at Impact (Basketball). He really worked hard. You can tell that he’s really something special. When we were playing with him, you could see he was all over the court. I don’t really know if he remembers, but we went and say ‘Hi” to him.”

As expected, Aguilar’s American adventure is being closely followed back home with daily reports about the experience.

“I think the Philippines is the most basketball-crazy country in the world not to have any local-born player yet making it to the NBA,” Filipino reporter Fidel Mangonon said. “So we’re hoping Japeth makes it.”

“People there always want to know what’s happening (with me),” Aguilar said. “There’s a little pressure from the media. It’s the media and the fans, both. I try not to think about it.”

With the NBA an unrealistic goal at this time, Aguilar’s best shot at a career in the United States right now would be in the D-League. Brian Levy, assistant general manager for the Bakersfield Jam, saw some positives in Aguilar’s game during his workout with the club.

“Japeth has great length and athleticism, especially at his size,” Levy said. “He’s an explosive leaper that runs the floor well and has good instincts when crashing the offensive glass. He can shoot just well enough from three that he must be respected.

“He has the tools to contribute to a team this year if he finds the right situation.”

While Aguilar’s potential remains intriguing, his lack of production in his home country should raise some red flags. At 6-foot-9, he averaged just 5.9 ppg and 4.1 rpg last season at the Governor’s Cup in Philippines, where 6-foot-5 centers are not rare and Aguilar should be dominating on physical skills alone….

via HoopsHype – Japeth Aguilar trying to become Philippines’ Jeremy Lin.

Former Phillipines Basketball Association No. 1 Pick Japeth Aguilar Pursues NBA Dream

LOS ANGELES – TO former Philippine Basketball Association No. 1 pick Japeth Aguilar, it’s now or never.

There is an urgency in the 25-year-old Aguilar, who is in the U.S. right now planning to showcase his basketball skills in front of National Basketball Association and NBA Development League executives and coaches.

The 6’9” Aguilar wants to be the first Philippine born player to make it in the NBA.

“I think about it a lot of times,” said Aguilar to the Asian Journal and ABS-CBN. “Sometimes I pray to God because He gave me this ability, He gave me this athleticism, He gave me the height. I’m just thinking what is my purpose?”

Aguilar believes his purpose is to make it in the NBA or at least do all he can to try and make it.

For Aguilar, so far so good.

Over the weekend, the former PBA Burger King Whopper and Talk N Text Tropang Texters, made a good impression on coaches and officials for the NBA D-League team Bakersfield Jam during an open try out held at East Los Angeles College.

“Japeth is an intriguing player,” said Will Voigt, head coach of the Jam. “Obviously, his length and athleticism. He’s been playing as a four or a five (power forward / center) in the Philippines we’ll have to transition him into a three (small forward). It’s going to be a process for him. But he’s shown flashes throughout the weekend that makes you want to see more.”

Aguilar arrived in the U.S. from the Philippines last week. On a whim, he decided to try out for the Jam, the development league affiliate for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors.

Joining Aguilar were more than 80 basketball players – many of them recently finishing their college career in the NCAA Division I Pac-12. There were ballers from the University of Southern California, Oregon and UCLA, according to Jam assistant general manager Bryan Levy. Saturday began with 80 players before coaches whittled the list down to 20 by the end of the day. Aguilar was one of the 20 chosen to come back and play in the “All Star scrimmage” Sunday.

On Sunday, Aguilar didn’t disappoint. Despite his team losing 62 – 48, Aguilar’s performance stood out. He scored 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, grabbed four rebounds, blocked five shots and had one assist. Six of his ten points came as dunks. One dunk came from a breakaway, and another from an alley-oop in bound pass from the baseline.

Coaches praised the Filipino’s performance afterward. Voigt said he likes Aguilar’s game and sees a lot of potential in him.

“I thought his athleticism really stood out,” said Voigt. “He didn’t really shoot the ball as well as he has in the past. But his size and length, the way he moves, I think he just made a lot of plays just based on that.” Jam Assistant Coach John Bryant called Aguilar a very intriguing prospect because of the Filipino’s length, size and athleticism. Bryant commended the Filipino’s game saying Aguilar has “one of the quickest…

via Former PBA No. 1 Pick Japeth Aguilar Pursues NBA Dream.

MMA thrills new fight fans in Phillipines

Indelibly linked with the ‘Thrilla in Manila’, where Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier laid their bitter boxing rivalry to rest some 37 years ago, the Araneta Coliseum welcomed “the future of fighting” on Friday in the Philippines’ biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) event.

A tied, yellowing banner marking the date of that brutal battle in 1975 reminded fans of the Araneta’s place in boxing history, but most of the 16,500 people packed into the domed venue were not even born when Ali met Frazier in that last great clash of heavyweight titans.

While the full contact sport of MMA has gone from strength to strength over the last 10 years, boxing, and the heavyweight division in particular, has fallen on hard times.

Years of greed and self interest, and a lack of direction from the alphabet soup of governing bodies, has brought the once proud sport to its knees. Only a handful of superstars such as the Philippines’ own Manny Pacquiao stand between boxing and sporting irrelevance.

Victor Cui, the CEO of Asia’s biggest MMA promotion ONE Fighting Championship, told Reuters one of the keys to success was figuring out what the current generation of fight fans want.

Sitting at the edge of the cage, as South Korean Kim Soo-chul rained elbows and punches down on home hope Kevin Belington, Cui said part of boxing’s demise lay in its “old school” approach.

Manny Pacquiao walks on water here, but the days of people buying tickets and being happy just to see two people fight are long gone,” he said.

“Where MMA has succeeded is recognising the overlap between sport and entertainment. Whether it’s MMA or the Olympics or football, you have to entertain, and sports that don’t do that are going to wither and die.”

Nodding to the five star generals and the heads of major Philippine banks and corporations watching the action from the VIP section, Cui said the ‘one size fits all’ approach to hosting live events was out of date.

“From those fans up there with the beer and the cheapest tickets, to the VIPs who walk down the red carpet and enjoy a glass of wine before the fights, I have to make sure I deliver to each and every one of them,” he added.

While boxing continues to bank on diehard fans shelling out for a main event and lackluster undercard on pay per view, MMA has taken to the Internet to open up new revenue streams and tries to give better value for money by stacking fight cards.

Through reality television shows and the canny utilisation of social media, MMA has also become much more accessible than boxing, helping fans connect with fighters and building brand loyalty.

But while boxing has always been considered the gentlemanly form of fighting, the raw violence and lack of regulation in the early years of MMA saw it shunned and scrapping for survival.

Only after evolving from bare-knuckle brawls in underground carparks to highly-regulated bouts between professional athletes has MMA become the mainstream money-spinner it is today.

Alvin Aguilar, who helped bring MMA out of the shadows in the Philippines with his URCC promotion, said fans were frustrated by boxing – the unscrupulous promoters and overpaid fighters — and were increasingly turning to MMA.

The gloves are smaller, a steel cage stands in place of a ring, and a fighter’s fists are not his only weapon. Knees, feet and elbows are used to gain victory, as are an array of grappling submissions.

Just like boxing, however, bodies are broken, blood splashes on the canvas and fans pay good money to watch.

“There’s no such thing as a Filipino man who has never been in a fist fight,” he said. “But boxing these days, it doesn’t do much to entertain fans outside of the fight itself. MMA entertains. For my first event I expected 500 people to come, but 5,000 showed up. I keep saying it, the next Manny Pacquiao is going to come from MMA.”

There was much to entertain the fans on Friday.

American Phil Baroni, the self-proclaimed ‘New York Bad Ass’, strode to the cage giving one-fingered salutes to the crowd. They cheered him harder.

The crowd roared when two Korean ring girls danced to the K-pop smash ‘Gangnam Style’, and went wild when a delirious photographer jumped up on the cage to join them.

via MMA thrills new fight fans in Manila | Sports | GMA News Online | The Go-To Site for Filipinos Everywhere.

#2 pool player in the world Fu Xiao Fang stunned by Iris Ranola at Women’s World 9-ball Championships

Fu Xiao-Fang modeling

Taipei, Taiwan – Reigning Southeast Asian Games double gold medallist and Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) awardee Iris Ranola and Cebuana Rubilen Amit posted impressive wins yesterday at the start of the 2012 AMWAY eSpring Women’s World 9-Ball Championships in Taipei, Taiwan.

The world No. 24 Ranola, who plays for the Aristeo “Putch” Puyat stable, stunned world No. 2 Fu Xiao-Fang of China, 7-4, in the first round of the Group matches.

Meanwhile, Amit the former Women’s World 10-ball champion and world No. 1 Chen Siming of China, both posted 7-0 victories.

“It’s a good start for Iris and Rubilen, I hope they can perform well in the Amway Women’s World 9-Ball event in Taiwan,” said Aristeo “Putch” Puyat, long time benefactor of Ranola and Amit and the acknowledged godfather of Philippine billiards.

The tournament has a total purse of $70,000. It is sanctioned by WPA and organized by Chinese Taipei Billiards Federation (CTBF). The champion will get $20,000 while the runner-up will go home $10,000 richer.

In other results: Tan Ho Yun of Chinese-Taipei edged Yu Ram Cha of Korea, 7-6; Ga Young Kim of Korea nipped Zhuting Wu of China, 7-5; Lin Hsiao Chi of Chinese-Taipei shocked Pan Xiao Ting of China, 7-6; Jasmin Ouschan of Austria toppled Zhou DouDou of China, 7-6 and Allison Fisher of Great Britain tripped Angeline Ticoalu of Indonesia, 7-6.

Pan Xiaoting


via Ranola, Amit post emphatic wins at start of 2012 Amway Women’s World 9-Ball Championships | Inquirer News.

Tim Lincecum signs 2-year, $40.5 million contract to stay with SF Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Giants ace Tim Lincecum’s new $40.5 million, two-year deal includes a series of bonuses for winning the Cy Young and other awards. Lincecum and San Francisco reached verbal agreement on a new contract Tuesday pending a physical, which likely will happen early next week before a formal announcement is made by the club.

Lincecum, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $18 million this year and $22 million in 2013.

Lincecum — the 10th overall draft pick out of Washington in 2006 — has been an All-Star in each of the past four seasons. He went 13-14 with a 2.74 ERA last year for his first losing record. The Giants scored no runs while he was in the game in seven of 33 starts, had one run six times and two runs five times, according to STATS LLC.

During a San Francisco press conference last year, Lincecum acknowledged the huge Filipino following that he enjoys. In fact, because of Lincecum, there is a Filipino Heritage Night every season at AT&T Park. According to Lincecum, whose mother Rebecca Asis is the daughter of Filipino immigrants, “You know, I’m a Filipino. I have Filipino heritage in me. As far as the diversity of the city goes, it’s up there. It’s just great. I think the game is just getting followed more and more worldwide. To find that in your own city, to find that same kind of following it’s good.”, referring to the Filipino fans.

via Tim Lincecum has bonuses in $40.5 million, 2-year deal for Cy Young and other honors – The Washington Post.