Team Pilipinas-Panino’s clinches title in Intercultural Basketball Tournament

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Team Pilipinas-Panino's manager Ernie Cabauatan, flashing thumbs-up sign, receives the champion trophy from Consul Jonas Rodney Sumague.
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Best Coach Francis Magat with Mohammed Shobain, Mohammed Khamis Musalam, Consul Rodney Jonas Sumague, Ahmed Helmi and Saudi coach Abdulrahman Shahin.
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Mohamed Bayoumi with MVP Joseph Ubalde, second left, and the mythical five awardees. (AN photos)
Updated 19 May 2016
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Team Pilipinas-Panino’s clinches title in Intercultural Basketball Tournament

JEDDAH: Make no mistake, Filipinos are arguably the best this side of hoops town.
Playing smart basketball, Team Pilipinas-Panino’s on Saturday ran roughshod over the KIA Al-Jabr Lebanese community basketball team with a taller and bigger lineup, 83-61, in the final in the Intercultural Basketball Tournament at the Al-Kaki court (Orca) on Tahlia street.
The victory before a predominantly raucous Lebanese crowd capped consecutive nights of high quality basketball from the gritty Pilipinas team of manager Ernie Cabauatan and coach Francis Magat.
They needed to win their final game of eliminations Friday against the Lebanese, and they did just that, allowing the opponent to lead only briefly at 30-29 before rolling to a 95-76 victory in a game where Mursie Akad scored the first 11 points for Team Pilipinas before eventual MVP Joseph Ubalde and JR Piedra took charge to sow the seeds of the rout.
The result left finalists Panino’s and Lebanese tied on 3-1 in the round robin five-team tournament, a community event with international flavor sponsored by SAGE (Saudi Alumni Grant Enterprise) under the auspices of United States Consulate General in Jeddah.
In the first game Friday, Egypt avoided a winless finish when it beat Syriana-IKK 74-71, and both teams wound up with identical 1-3 card. KAU-Saudi Arabia, the only team to beat the Filipinos, had an even 2-2 record.
Saturday, the championship game atmosphere was palpable with the Lebanese making a big deal of the match by bringing along an army of supporters and making live streaming on Facebook.
As it turned out, the Lebanese for all the drumbeating by their coach Hassan Zeineddein were simply no match for the inspired Filipinos.
Ubalde, putting on a performance worthy of an MVP award, scored 19 points, Rey Razon added 15 and Piedra had 10 as Team Pilipinas broke free from a close first quarter to dominate the game and lead by as large as 26 points at one stage.
An 11-4 run to start the second quarter courtesy of Piedra, Akad, Ubalde and Ziyad Pascual put the Filipinos to their first double-digit lead of 11 points, 34-23, from 23-19 at the end of the first quarter.
The lead grew to 20 points, 55-35, with 4:43 left in the third period that ended 65-41 when peppery guard Rino Berrido, the scourge of the Lebanese side, hit a shot clock-beating basket before Jimboy Pascual made it 67-41.
Berrido finished the night with 9 points as did Ziyad and Guimpatan while Akad tallied 8 points.
Big Fadi Kheyami led the Lebanese with 18 points, Shadi Faraj added 10, Malek Masry 8 points while Tarek Al Eter and Zakarya El Baba each had 7 points.
Consul Jonas Rodney Sumague of the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah attended the awarding ceremony as chief guest. Teng Laguialam and Jimmy Abdullah Beltran representing the Filipino basketball community graced the final match.
Also present were Commissioner Mohammed Khamis Musalam, head referee Ahmed Helmi of Saudi Basketball Federation, Obaid Madani and Lina Almaeena from sponsor Jeddah United, and Global Activene’s Indira Kaljo, among other VIP guests. Filsama Basketball League Event Manager Mohammed Shobain expressed his thanks to all who helped make the event a big success in particular Consultant-adviser Mohamed Bayoumi, who is widely considered the bridge in the ties between Filipino and Arab basketball communities.
The mythical five awardees are Best Point Guard Berrido (Team Pilipinas, Best Guard Ahmed Kheir (Lebanon), Best Forward Mustafa Fattal (Lebanon), and Best Center Piedra (Team Pilipinas).
Magat, now 2-0 in his head-to-head with Zeineddein, is the Best Coach awardee. Special award of appreciation was presented to Jun Lansang and his BOG referees group, which did a good job in the tournament. Willy Cartagena did the play-by-play of the games and color commentary.


Giorgio Chiellini confident Juventus can buck recent trend of Supercoppa defeats

Though upbeat, Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini admitted that it will be a “difficult match.” (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 16 January 2019
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Giorgio Chiellini confident Juventus can buck recent trend of Supercoppa defeats

  • Skipper also happy the match is being played in Jeddah, and sees it as a ‘step forward’ for Saudi Arabia
  • AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso sidesteps questions about Gonzalo Higuain’s rumored move to English Premier League

JEDDAH: Juventus have been experiencing a worrying trend in cup finals of late. Despite securing the Serie A and Coppa Italia double for three seasons running, they have lost back-to-back Supercoppas and seven out of nine European cup finals. It’s a trend, however, that captain Giorgio Chiellini believes can be halted on January 16 when his side takes on AC Milan in the Supercoppa Italiana final at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
“We want to change that trend that has seen us lose the last two Supercoppa finals, and this is the ideal opportunity,” said the defender. “We have changed a great deal in two years, but we’ve got to prove ourselves with actions rather than words because we let a few too many of these trophies slip through our fingers and it’s a shame.
“It’s going to be a difficult match but the objective is to start 2019 lifting a trophy above our heads.”
Chiellini also defended the choice of Jeddah as the venue for the game against a backdrop of criticism by some. He said that it was “right” to give the Saudi port city the chance to host the showpiece match.
“I am happy this game is being played here and can be seen as a further reason for progress in this country, and I see it as a step forward and not a problem,” he said. “We (soccer players) cannot change the world but initiatives such as this can provide a new start.
“We have been given a warm welcome and I hope tomorrow can be remembered by the Saudi people as a wonderful celebration. We have to provide a spectacle of Italian football and know that all fans will be happy with our performances.”
As the rival teams faced the media on the eve of the match, both were confident about their chances of lifting the first silverware of the Italian soccer season. This year marks the 31st Supercoppa, a match contested by the previous season’s Serie A domestic league champions and the winners of the Coppa Italia. When a single team wins both honors, as was the case last season, they take on the Coppa Italia runners-up.
This year’s game, the tickets for which reportedly sold out in two days, might also mark a farewell to Italian football for striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is currently on loan to AC Milan from Juventus but is widely rumored to be on the verge of a move to Chelsea in the English Premier League. If the Argentine international is indeed on his way out, he will be hoping to end his stay with the Rossoneri with some silverware while also, perhaps, sticking it to his parent club.

Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso (center) said Higuain has never told him he wants to leave the club. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)

Asked about the status of any transfer talks, AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso was careful to avoid feeding the rumor mill.
“At this moment, I have to repeat the same words: there are many rumors but Higuain is training well and working with everyone just fine and is at our disposal,” he said. “I base my decisions on how players train during the week and how they work with the staff and their teammates. We’ll see tomorrow whether he plays or not.
“I want to reiterate that Higuain has never told me he wants to leave. I am waiting for that. He has to decide what to do, how to resolve this issue, but right now he is training with great professionalism. We’ll see.”
Gattuso then nipped this line of questioning in the bud by adding: “I want to be honest; I don’t even want to talk about Higuain as we’re here for the Supercoppa.”
Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri, meanwhile, is well aware that while they are undefeated in Serie A this season after 19 games, with 17 wins and two draws, league form counts for little in a cup final, as evidenced by their recent results in such games. As such, he is keen to avoid any complacency among his players.
“One of the great strengths of this team is our respect for the opposition, otherwise you don’t win as many games as we have,” he said. “There are 22 points separating our teams in Serie A but those don’t matter here. If we do not have great humility and respect for Milan tomorrow, then it’s unlikely we will win the game.”
The prematch press conference inevitably included questions about Cristiano Ronaldo. Since his 112 million euro ($128 million) move to Juventus from Real Madrid last summer, the Portuguese star has netted 15 goals in 25 appearances. On Wednesday, the five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or — an award presented each year by France Football magazine to the player judged to be the best in the world — will aim to lift his maiden trophy with his new club, after having bagged 15 titles during his nine years with the Spanish giants.
While Ronaldo did not appear at the press conference, Allegri was asked whether the striker had arrived in Italy with a stronger and hungrier desire to win.
“He would have to win something first to prove that,” the coach said. “Cristiano is accustomed to winning; he has won four of the past five Champions Leagues and many more titles. Ronaldo is the best player in the world and clearly an added bonus for us. Our situation has certainly improved with his presence.”
Wednesday night’s match is sure to be hotly contested, as Juventus and AC Milan currently share the record for Supercoppa titles, with seven each. While Juventus are making their seventh successive Supercoppa appearance, it is perhaps AC Milan who can lay claim to bragging rights, given that the last time these two teams met in the Supercoppa, in 2016, the Rossoneri ended up on top following a penalty shoot-out after the game ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time. With all the talking officially done, all that remains is a historic night of top quality soccer at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium.