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SPORTS NEWS THE PAST WEEKS
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

GILAS MEMBERS NARROWLY ESCAPE: TURKEY BOMBINGS SHOCK THE WORLD


JUNE 29 -Passengers embrace each other at the entrance to Istanbul's Ataturk airport, early Wednesday, June 29, 2016 following their evacuation after a blast. Suspected Islamic State group extremists have hit the international terminal of Istanbul's Ataturk airport, killing dozens of people and wounding many others, Turkish officials said Tuesday. Turkish authorities have banned distribution of images relating to the Ataturk airport attack within Turkey. | AP/Emrah Gurel
“Wala pang five hours bago nangyari ito.” That was how grimly close Marc Pingris and the rest of the Gilas crew were in getting caught in a terror attack that shocked the world early Wednesday morning. “Grabe, [nandito] lang kami kanina,” Pingris said in the same Instagram post where he screenshot a breaking news update by the Cable News Network (CNN) of a suicide bombing of the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey—which is one of the busiest airport in Europe. According to wire reports, the attack began shortly before 10 p.m. there (around 3 a.m., Manila time). The national team just arrived from a weeks-long European tour where they took on various teams in preparation for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) set here next week. READ MORE...

ALSO: NO MARGIN FOR ERROR - Gilas Pilipinas remains work in progress


JULY 3 -A serious, tougher competition awaits Gilas Pilipinas as it kicks off its campaign in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament this Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena. In fact, the Nationals got an early taste of the brutal battle when they bowed to Turkey, 84-76, in an exhibition match that serves as its final test before marching to war against the world’s best team in the prestigious tournament, which stakes only one ticket to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Although Gilas showed improved performance, its head coach, Tab Baldwin, said there is still a big room of improvement for the Filipino cagers. “Our effort was much better, but that wasn’t good enough,” Baldwin said. “Our execution was much better and we showed improvement in our schemes.” Baldwin, however, does not want his team to think that it already achieved something. The veteran international mentor believes that playing good and showing improvement are not enough for the basketball-crazy nation, which is expected to enter the Olympics for the first time since 1972. “I don’t want them to feel good. I understand that this was a taste of improvement tonight. This is a step much closer to the goal that we have. But we’re not yet there. We can’t kill ourselves by just being better and we’re good enough. We’re not. We don’t want to feel good, we don’t want to feel relaxed and we don’t want to feel comfortable,” he said. “It’s not what everybody wants in the Philippines. We want to win.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Pinoy referee picked for Olympics


JUNE 30 -Ferdinand (Bong) Pascual
Ferdinand (Bong) Pascual of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, will become only the second Filipino basketball referee ever to work in the Olympics after Medardo Felipe in 1984 and said the other day the honor isn’t his but the country’s.
Pascual, 45, was recently chosen to join the pool of 30 referees for Rio by FIBA. Three other Asians from Oman, China and South Korea are in the elite group. Pascual has been a FIBA-licensed referee since 2002 with the 2014 World Cup in Spain and the 2015 World U19 Championships in Greece his biggest assignments. “I worked in a pre-Olympic tournament in Beijing in 2008 but never in the Olympics,” said Pascual, a PBA referee from 2006 to 2012. “I’m proud to represent the Philippines. Right now, there are 10 Filipino referees who are FIBA licensed and I’m working with the SBP to prepare others for major assignments. Of course, there’s pressure to perform but if you’re confident in your ability and as you gain experience, it becomes second nature.” Pascual said he’s learned to overcome being star-struck on the court. At the 2014 World Cup, he was the only Asian assigned beyond the preliminaries, working Lithuania’s 76-71 win over New Zealand in the round of 16 and the US’ 119-76 romp over Slovenia in the quarterfinals. From a pool of 38, only 20 were chosen to officiate in the playoff stage and Pascual was the lone Asian. “During the US game, I called an offensive foul on James Harden,” he recalled. “Before that, I told him to stop initiating contact and next time he does, I’ll call it. He didn’t like my call and looked me in the eye. I think that’s how they do it in the NBA. But that’s okay. That’s basketball. Players do their job and we do ours. After the game, it was no hard feelings. When I worked the game between Gilas and the NBA All-Stars in 2011, I was amazed at the talent on the floor, especially with Kobe Bryant. I didn’t let it affect my work.” Pascual added, chuckling, “besides, I’m a LeBron James fan.” Pascual said before deciding to become a full-time referee, he worked as a nursing aide and considered a career in dentistry. He earned a commerce degree at the University of Baguio and made a living out of basketball to provide for his wife Liberty, a registered nurse, and their three children. Today, his oldest Fermina, 25, is employed in a shipping company, his son Pao, 23, is redshirting this season with the Emilio Aguinaldo varsity to recover from an ACL injury and another son Francis, 22, is graduating from the same school. READ MORE...

ALSO: Road to Rio - What would it take for Gilas to reach the Olympics?


JULY 3 -FIBA OQT ROAD TO RIO
The Philippine men’s national basketball team needs at least three wins to book the only ticket to Rio at stake in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila. The Philippines is in Group B together with France and New Zealand, and a victory in the preliminary stage gives Gilas Pilipinas a great chance to be one of the top two teams in each group to advance to the knockout, crossover semifinals. The Philippines is set to tangle with powerhouse France, which has NBA great Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, in its opening game on July 5. In case of a tie where all three teams in one group end up with similar 1-1 slates, quotient will be applied. In the semis, the No. 1 ranked team in Group A, which consists of Canada, Turkey and Senegal, will take on the No. 2 team in Group B, vise versa. READ MORE...

ALSO: Pacquiao comeback - October is 'too soon'


JULY 2 -“Hindi pa sa October (Not on October),” the 37-year-old Pacquiao, who was just sworn in as member of the 24-seat Philippine Senate, said Thursday. ABAC CORDERO
A comeback fight just six months after he retired? 
Not so fast – if you ask Manny Pacquiao. “Hindi pa sa October (Not on October),” the 37-year-old Pacquiao, who was just sworn in as member of the 24-seat Philippine Senate, said Thursday. Pacquiao had just ended a five-hour chess marathon with one of his lieutenants in his massive Forbes Park residence when asked if he was itching or ready to fight again. “October?” The STAR asked Pacquiao. He was quick with his answer, saying not in October, which is baseball month in the United States. “Hindi pa (Not yet),” Pacquiao said. Pacquiao reacted to reports that his promoter, Bob Arum, has penciled a date and venue for his comeback fight – Oct. 15 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Arum is looking at a few opponents, including Adrien Broner, Terence Crawford and for a while, Vasyl Lomachenko. Or even Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter or Kelly Brook. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Gilas members narrowly escape: Turkey bombings shock the world


Passengers embrace each other at the entrance to Istanbul's Ataturk airport, early Wednesday, June 29, 2016 following their evacuation after a blast. Suspected Islamic State group extremists have hit the international terminal of Istanbul's Ataturk airport, killing dozens of people and wounding many others, Turkish officials said Tuesday. Turkish authorities have banned distribution of images relating to the Ataturk airport attack within Turkey. | AP/Emrah Gurel

MANILA, JULY 4, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Denison Rey Dalupang Updated June 29, 2016 - 11:40am - “Wala pang five hours bago nangyari ito.”

That was how grimly close Marc Pingris and the rest of the Gilas crew were in getting caught in a terror attack that shocked the world early Wednesday morning.

“Grabe, [nandito] lang kami kanina,” Pingris said in the same Instagram post where he screenshot a breaking news update by the Cable News Network (CNN) of a suicide bombing of the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey—which is one of the busiest airport in Europe.

According to wire reports, the attack began shortly before 10 p.m. there (around 3 a.m., Manila time).

The national team just arrived from a weeks-long European tour where they took on various teams in preparation for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) set here next week.

READ MORE...

Gilas flew out of Italy, where they capped off their camp and finalized their lineup, and took a connecting flight to Manila via Istanbul.

“Me and my teammates was just there. Wow,” chimed in naturalized big man Andray Blatche, also through an Instagram post. “ “I’m really lost for words. I woke up to a lot of texts from friends checking on me. I’m OK.”

Meanwhile, deputy tactician Josh Reyes is still in Europe after scouting the French national basketball team. He is expected to catch a flight home also via Istanbul.

Follow Josh Reyes @josh_reyes Watching the news on the horrible attack on the Istanbul airport. Praying for the victims. 🙏🏻 5:21 PM - 28 Jun 2016 2 2 Retweets 10 10 likes Gilas’ head coach Tab Baldwin and manager Butch Antonio were also stunned by the news:

Follow Tab Baldwin @iHob1111 Turkey was my home 4 nearly 3 years. So saddened & worried for friends there. Thank the Lord our Gilas and Turk teams are safe. #Prayers 10:42 PM - 28 Jun 2016 36 36 Retweets 148 148 likes Follow Butch Antonio @BAAntonio Thank you lord for our (Gilas) safe passage out of Istanbul. I'm saddened by what just happened at the Istanbul airport. 6:55 PM - 28 Jun 2016 6 6 Retweets 58 58 likes Gilas and the Turkish national team both arrived in Manila Tuesday night.

Led by NBA cager Omer Asik, Turkey is the first Manila-OQT team from overseas to arrive ahead of the games.

The national team's patron -- who is media savvy -- Manny V. Pangilinan, hasn't reacted to the attack.


TRIBUNE

Gilas Pilipinas remains work in progress Written by Marasigan Chavez Sunday, 03 July 2016 00:00 f


NO MARGIN OF ERROR

A serious, tougher competition awaits Gilas Pilipinas as it kicks off its campaign in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament this Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

In fact, the Nationals got an early taste of the brutal battle when they bowed to Turkey, 84-76, in an exhibition match that serves as its final test before marching to war against the world’s best team in the prestigious tournament, which stakes only one ticket to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Although Gilas showed improved performance, its head coach, Tab Baldwin, said there is still a big room of improvement for the Filipino cagers.

“Our effort was much better, but that wasn’t good enough,” Baldwin said. “Our execution was much better and we showed improvement in our schemes.”

Baldwin, however, does not want his team to think that it already achieved something. The veteran international mentor believes that playing good and showing improvement are not enough for the basketball-crazy nation, which is expected to enter the Olympics for the first time since 1972.

“I don’t want them to feel good. I understand that this was a taste of improvement tonight. This is a step much closer to the goal that we have. But we’re not yet there. We can’t kill ourselves by just being better and we’re good enough. We’re not. We don’t want to feel good, we don’t want to feel relaxed and we don’t want to feel comfortable,” he said.
“It’s not what everybody wants in the Philippines. We want to win.”

READ MORE...

He added that the margin of error for the Philippines is so small that it couldn’t afford to make mistakes.

“The main word that I always emphasized is accountability,” He said. “Because we don’t have a margin of error, the impact of our mistakes is much greater than the impact of the mistake that France or Turkey will make.”

One of the missing link in Gilas’ loss to Turkey was its shooting as the Filipinos’ shot only 58 percent from the charity stripe.

Outgoing Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president and Gilas chief backer Manny Pangilinan was in light mood three days before the Philippines’ campaign kicks off. And yet, he still took notice of how the team struggled with its shooting.

“Sabi ko nga kay Jimmy (Alapag), mas maganda siguro kung pumasok ka na sa loob kasi hindi tayo maka-shoot,” Pangilinan said in jest when he talked to long-time Gilas team captain.


PHILSTAR

Pinoy referee picked for Olympics By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 30, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Ferdinand (Bong) Pascual

MANILA, Philippines – Ferdinand (Bong) Pascual of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, will become only the second Filipino basketball referee ever to work in the Olympics after Medardo Felipe in 1984 and said the other day the honor isn’t his but the country’s.

Pascual, 45, was recently chosen to join the pool of 30 referees for Rio by FIBA. Three other Asians from Oman, China and South Korea are in the elite group. Pascual has been a FIBA-licensed referee since 2002 with the 2014 World Cup in Spain and the 2015 World U19 Championships in Greece his biggest assignments.

“I worked in a pre-Olympic tournament in Beijing in 2008 but never in the Olympics,” said Pascual, a PBA referee from 2006 to 2012. “I’m proud to represent the Philippines. Right now, there are 10 Filipino referees who are FIBA licensed and I’m working with the SBP to prepare others for major assignments. Of course, there’s pressure to perform but if you’re confident in your ability and as you gain experience, it becomes second nature.”

Pascual said he’s learned to overcome being star-struck on the court. At the 2014 World Cup, he was the only Asian assigned beyond the preliminaries, working Lithuania’s 76-71 win over New Zealand in the round of 16 and the US’ 119-76 romp over Slovenia in the quarterfinals. From a pool of 38, only 20 were chosen to officiate in the playoff stage and Pascual was the lone Asian.

“During the US game, I called an offensive foul on James Harden,” he recalled. “Before that, I told him to stop initiating contact and next time he does, I’ll call it. He didn’t like my call and looked me in the eye. I think that’s how they do it in the NBA. But that’s okay. That’s basketball. Players do their job and we do ours. After the game, it was no hard feelings. When I worked the game between Gilas and the NBA All-Stars in 2011, I was amazed at the talent on the floor, especially with Kobe Bryant. I didn’t let it affect my work.” Pascual added, chuckling, “besides, I’m a LeBron James fan.”

Pascual said before deciding to become a full-time referee, he worked as a nursing aide and considered a career in dentistry. He earned a commerce degree at the University of Baguio and made a living out of basketball to provide for his wife Liberty, a registered nurse, and their three children. Today, his oldest Fermina, 25, is employed in a shipping company, his son Pao, 23, is redshirting this season with the Emilio Aguinaldo varsity to recover from an ACL injury and another son Francis, 22, is graduating from the same school.

READ MORE...

“At the 2014 World Cup, some Filipinos came up to me after games,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to be recognized by your countrymen. When I do games in Qatar or Bahrain or the Emirates, I enjoy interacting with our OFWs. But in our own country, we’re hardly noticed. When players come home from a tournament, there’s a lot of media attention. When referees come home, it’s sad that nobody seems to care.”

To get ready for Rio, Pascual said FIBA has provided a training manual for a 14-week grind. FIBA sent Pascual and the other Olympic referees a polar watch to strap on the wrist and a polar heartrate device to tape on the chest to monitor their training. The polar systems can track movements through a GPS app so it’s easy to find out if a referee is playing hooky. A polar heartrate device will also detect if a player is nervous during a game.

“FIBA wants to be sure you’re following the training program,” he said. “It’s mostly jogging and running on the treadmill in the gym. I don’t do weights because it builds muscle and I want to be light so I can be quick on the floor. I jog at least six kilometers every other day for about 45 to 50 minutes. My weight has gone down from 82 kilos to 78 so I’m on track with my conditioning. I also keep in shape working games like the recent Filoil Flying V league and the NCAA whose season just started.”

Pascual said he’ll leave for Rio on July 27. “FIBA wants us to report early for a one-week camp before the start of basketball,” he said. “We’ll go over videos, discuss game situations and work on game management and teamwork.” The camp will be supervised by FIBA head of referees Carl Jungebrand of Finland and consultant Lubomir Kotleba of Slovakia.

“This group of referees has been carefully selected and brings the highest standards of officiating to be expected for basketball’s biggest competitions,” said Jungebrand. “We look forward to counting on them to bring the high standards of officiating to the biggest tournaments in the world.”

Pascual will be one of 19 referees making their Olympic debut in Rio. The pool of 30 is broken down into 24 men and six women from 25 countries with an average age of 40.6. During the competitions, each game will be analyzed by referees’ supervisors using selected video footage and sharing feedback.

Pascual said a FIBA referee’s license is renewed every four years. He’s due next year. “To get renewed, every referee must pass a fitness test and do 86 laps of 20 meters each in a total of 10 minutes,” he said.

At the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament here on July 5-10, FIBA assigned seven neutral referees to work a total of nine games, including the final. They are Australia’s Michael Allen, 46, Italy’s Luigi Lamonica, 50, Slovenia’s Sasa Pukl, 45, Algeria’s Sofiane Si Youcef, 34, Spain’s Miguel Perez, 47, Puerto Rico’s Jose Anibal Carrion, 43 and Greece’s Elias Koromilas, 42. The most experienced referees are Lamonica and Pukl with a combined 41 years of service.


INQUIRER

Road to Rio: What would it take for Gilas to reach the Olympics? By: Mark Giongco
@MGiongcoINQ INQUIRER.net 08:58 PM July 3rd, 2016


FIBA OQT ROAD TO RIO

The Philippine men’s national basketball team needs at least three wins to book the only ticket to Rio at stake in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila.

The Philippines is in Group B together with France and New Zealand, and a victory in the preliminary stage gives Gilas Pilipinas a great chance to be one of the top two teams in each group to advance to the knockout, crossover semifinals.

The Philippines is set to tangle with powerhouse France, which has NBA great Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, in its opening game on July 5.

In case of a tie where all three teams in one group end up with similar 1-1 slates, quotient will be applied.

In the semis, the No. 1 ranked team in Group A, which consists of Canada, Turkey and Senegal, will take on the No. 2 team in Group B, vise versa.

READ MORE...

If they survive the group stages, there is a good chance that the Filipinos need to get past either the Canadians, led by Toronto Raptors guard Corey Joseph and NBA champion Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, or the Turks, with NBA center Omer Asik of the New Orleans Pelicans in town, to get to the final round.

The final, set on July 10, is a winner-take-all with only the champion earning a spot in the Rio Olympics next month.

There are actually three qualifying tournaments that will be played simultaneously in three different countries. The other two will be staged in Italy and Serbia.

France and Canada are the the heavy favorites to win the Manila qualifiers.

The Philippines is eyeing its first trip to the Summer Games since the 1972 Olympics in Munich.


PHILSTAR

Pacquiao comeback: Not in October By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 2, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


“Hindi pa sa October (Not on October),” the 37-year-old Pacquiao, who was just sworn in as member of the 24-seat Philippine Senate, said Thursday. ABAC CORDERO

MANILA, Philippines - A comeback fight just six months after he retired?

Not so fast – if you ask Manny Pacquiao.

“Hindi pa sa October (Not on October),” the 37-year-old Pacquiao, who was just sworn in as member of the 24-seat Philippine Senate, said Thursday.

Pacquiao had just ended a five-hour chess marathon with one of his lieutenants in his massive Forbes Park residence when asked if he was itching or ready to fight again.

“October?” The STAR asked Pacquiao.

He was quick with his answer, saying not in October, which is baseball month in the United States.

“Hindi pa (Not yet),” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao reacted to reports that his promoter, Bob Arum, has penciled a date and venue for his comeback fight – Oct. 15 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Arum is looking at a few opponents, including Adrien Broner, Terence Crawford and for a while, Vasyl Lomachenko. Or even Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter or Kelly Brook.

READ MORE...

Pacquiao has a lot of opponents to choose from.

The Top Rank chief, however, made it clear that there’s no certainty that Pacquiao will headline the Oct. 15 card.

Pacquiao retired from boxing after a convincing win over American Timothy Bradley last April 9 but said he’s not totally closing the door on fighting again.

“I can’t tell because I still don’t know how retirement feels,” he said in his retirement speech.

Later on, at around midnight Thursday, he stood at the hallway of his P400 million residence, fronting some guests and a couple of scribes. He talked politics in length.

He spoke of the recent national elections where he ran for one of the 12 senatorial spots and finished seventh among 50 candidates with a little over 16 million votes.

The 17th Congress is just about to start and Pacquiao is eager to face the new challenge. He wants to make an impression.

As a two-term congressman in Sarangani, he was severely criticized for absenteeism. He wants to erase that impression in the Senate.

“Nakatutok ang tao sa performance ko (People are looking at my performance),” he said.

“Focus muna tayo dito (Let’s focus here first),” Pacquiao said.

If he bites the bullet and agrees to fight in October, it means Pacquiao should start training by the second week of August.

Even if he trains in Manila, he’d have to skip sessions at the Senate.

October is just too soon.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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