Month: August 2014

Thank You, Gilas Pilipinas! You make Us Proud!

Blatche limps to the bench during the timeout. Getting ice now on his right knee.  Photo courtesy of @tjmanotoc

Blatche limps to the bench during the timeout. Getting ice now on his right knee. Photo courtesy of @tjmanotoc

Finally, the FIBA World tournament is upon us. Before the game started, people didn’t give the PH a chance. Experts predicted a blowout while Filipinos hoped for a credible performance from their heroes. Well, Filipinos got more than that! The PH trailed most of the game but rallied and even led near the endgame. With the score tied, the whole nation prayed that the long shot of Jeff Chan would go in. But it wasn’t meant to be and the game went into overtime. So near but yet so far!

During the overtime we were able to keep it close and somehow the game got away from us. Though we made one last run capped by a Blatche three-pointer, we fell short. Filipinos believe Jason Castro was fouled in the end by attempting a three pointer, but the refs hid their whistles.

At such a crucial moment, I doubted the refs would blow their whistles. But what if they did? Could we have beaten Croatia? The basketball world would turn upside down if we did! Ah…what-ifs are so dangerous. Had we lost without even leading the game, everyone will give kudos to the team. But the thing is, we led and had a chance to win the game! Sayang!

Nothing to be ashamed of Gilas! You make us proud! If we feel the pain, we are sure you guys are feeling even more pain! This was a good game for you so build on the experience and maybe – just maybe – upset Greece. I’m sure the other teams in the bracket will not take Gilas Pilipinas for granted anymore. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Gilas Pilipinas players, coaches and managers for sacrificing for our country. They believed so we should believe too! For those supporters and OFWs who took time out to watch the games and support the team: Mabuhay kayo!

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My Ippudo Experience In Tokyo

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I read recently in Spot.ph that Ippudo is coming to the Philippines on September 10 and opening its first branch in MegaMall Fashion Hall. That’s great news! I loved the Ramen and Gyoza which I tried in their Tokyo branch and I would like to narrate how I got there.

On one Saturday afternoon, my wife, Ken and I decided to have a late lunch somewhere in Harajuku. So we took the Yamanote train from Shinjuku, went down in Harajuku, and walked down for about a kilometer to a still-developing, American-looking part of Tokyo. Ken’s first choice of restaurant was a Gyoza place but there was a long line outside which surprised me because it was already 2:30pm. Maybe it was a weekend so people eat a late breakfast and also a late lunch. Then we went to an American BBQ place which was packed with expats having a party. At that point I was willing to eat anywhere. Normally I eat between 12-1pm and I could feel myself getting hungry…and cranky! image

So my son tells me, “There is an Ippudo nearby. Just walk up the hill a bit.” At that point I was sold! So we walk up the hill. Yeah, nearby meaning another kilometer uphill! We walk up the Omotesando shopping mall – thank God we didn’t even stop to look because stores were super high-end! Every corner we passed I would look left and right and ask, “Where’s Ippudo?” When we finally hit the main road, we turned left and walked another 200 meters. Finally we made it . . . but it looked closed! No one seemed to be inside. Anyway, I was so hungry since it was already 3pm, I go in and there were waiters and cooks waiting. Ok, let’s see what the hype is all about.

Since I love Tantanmen, my son ordered for me and him a relatively spicy Ramen. My wife had the usual Tonkotsu Ramen. We also ordered the Gyoza and it was excellent! We ordered one more. It was my first time to see garlic, sesame seed and pickles to add taste to the Ramen. In my hunger, I ate the pickles already while they were still ordering and I even ate the raw garlic (since I love garlic) and this made my family laugh. “Why? What did I do?” I asked. “You are supposed to crush the garlic on top of the Ramen, not eat it raw!” Oh well, you learn something everyday.

Ramen came and it didn’t disappoint. Everything was excellent! Broth, noodles, pork. I don’t remember being asked choices to customize my Ramen but what I ate tasted good. I told my family I wanted to eat here again on our next trip to Tokyo but next time, we should go down the nearest train station. If people used to walk a mile for a Camel, I can walk a mile for Ippudo if I really have to. Hehe

So I’m eagerly awaiting the opening of Ippudo in MegaMall. Well, not really eagerly because I don’t want to wait in line. Let’s see how it goes. When Ippudo comes in, the food has to be impressive because Ramen Nagi has just set the bar for Ramen chains. Having tried both, I can give my two cents worth but I will reserve further comments until I try the local Ippudo.

 

Ateneo- UST: We Should Win This One

Remember the last game? What?! You don’t?! Here’s a video to jar your memory . . .

Now in the 2nd round, the situation is different. Ateneo is fighting to win its last 4 games for positioning in the UAAP Final Four; UST, on the other hand, has to win it’s remaining games just to have a remote chance of making the Final Four. Ateneo has its lineup intact; UST does not have Kevin Ferrer. So who do I think will win on Saturday? Ateneo definitely has the advantage and should win by about 7 points or so. I’m not being overconfident. In fact, I’m being cautious.  I daresay I’d wager a blowout but I don’t know which Aljon Mariano will play on Saturday. Will I see the dismal Aljon or a fantastic Aljon? If the latter, then UST has a chance. It’s a given that Paula . . . este, Karim . . . Abdul will have his usual game and try to carry the team. I wonder if his recent whining regarding his teammates will help him or alienate him from them. Subido and Vigil will have to play excellent games to give the team a chance since UST isn’t that deep. Ferrer’s injury is definitely a big blow to them.

Kiefer has to have his usual game and the Ateneo bigs have to contain the damage of Abdul. With no Ferrer, maybe Tolentino can get his outside game back. Does UST have a Kiefer-stopper? Daquiaog? Aljon Mariano? If UST focuses on Kiefer, then Von Pessumal  should step up and make his shots. Chris Newsome should also have a good game. I wonder if Gotladera can hold his own versus Abdul. Gotladera has been a revelation and is the new darling of Ateneo basketball.

I believe UST is a longshot to make it to the Final Four even if they win all their games. Kevin Ferrer may be gone for the season and their placing is even lower than UE. At best at this point they serve as spoilers, but spoilers can be dangerous because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So Ateneo should just play it’s game and not take UST for granted. I hope for a convincing win wherein second and maybe even third stringers get a chance to play for more game experience. Of course, if it’s not a convincing win, I will take any win. We have a big chance to make Top 2 so let’s go for it. OBF!

All Day Breakfast For P100

One whole can of Vienna Sausage used

One whole can of Vienna Sausage used

Last month I blogged that I ate in B+C Bar and Coffee resto for dinner and an all-day breakfast of 3 slices of spam with 2 fried eggs and one big cup of rice.  All for P100. Now here comes the cousin of that same all-day breakfast. This time it’s a whole can of Libby’s Vienna Sausage. So that’s 7 Vienna sausages as you can see in the picture. Not bad! How can one go wrong with Vienna Sausage. I can eat it straight from the can!

To prove to all I ate it for dinner, there is a glass of San Miguel light. Since I practically live alone when I’m in the province where I work, I like to explore and eat in places that are reasonably priced. In fact, in Negros, all restaurants are reasonably priced when compared to Manila. If a resto here is deemed expensive, it won’t survive. The going rate for a bottle of beer here in Negros is P40 or about $1. Higher that and people won’t patronize the place.

If one ever visits Silay, Negros Occidental and is in search of comfort food, give B+C Bar and Coffee along Locsin St. a try. They have other stuff too like baby back ribs but I’m limiting myself for the moment to their all-day breakfast. Kaon na!

Cat Diaries: Supposed To Be Adopted!

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These cats are not ours. Ok, they were originally not ours – these are stray kittens that arrived in our house. They were supposed to be up for adoption during the quarterly CARA events but for some reason they were never adopted. So they grew.

And grew . . .

And grew!

Now they are too big to be adopted!

Now that my wife has given them names, they are staying. Oh boy!

That’s how we had reached 20-plus cats and still counting.  Current count: somewhere close to 30.

Don’t worry, they are fed and well-taken cared of. They are caged at night and they play inside the boy’s room all day. Sometimes as we lounge in the room beside, I can here banging of bodies on the door. I pity my door! I don’t want to know what they are doing but all I know is that the furniture there is all worn out from cat scratches. My wife normally doesn’t like to cage animals. Maybe it has to do something with group dynamics. So before you animal activists get pissed at me, these cats are not caged all day, ok?! Besides, these cats rule that room and they never leave. If they leave, they will probably fight with the other cats so it’s best to stay put.

So what are their names? Don’t ask me. They pretty much look alike to me!

My wife hasn’t met a cat she didn’t like. Now I have to tell her that she can’t foster any more cats whenever there is an adoption event coming up. We are fully booked! Actually we still have room but don’t let my wife know coz that’s a topic in a future blog. Shhh….

Talking of adoption, visit the CARA Welfare site on how to adopt a pet. They even list 7 reasons why you should adopt a pet! I’ll add an 8th reason – to help my house get back to normal!

UAAP Team Performance in Season 77 to date

We are now well into the second round of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Season 77 tourney. Before the season started, my personal ranking of teams were as follows:

1. DLSU

2. UE

3-6. ADMU, FEU, NU and UST (not in any particular order)

7-8. Adamson and UP

So how have the teams performed so far? This is just my personal opinion, not scientific at all. Plus I’m Atenean so there will be some bias. Hehehehe.

DLSU – So-so. When DLSU went 0-2 they were definitely underachieving. DLSU is practically intact and should be blowing away each and every opponent. But they aren’t doing that at all. They seem to be coasting and doing just enough to win. So when they faced FEU and ADMU, both of which torched them from the outside, they definitely got burned. Now they have won 6 straight games but still not in the dominant fashion most fans expected them to be. DLSU likes to place themselves behind the radar so I believe if you ask them they will say they are happy where they stand right now. Teng Animo Rin! 🙂

UE – Underachieving. With Roi Sumang and Charles Mammie dominating their positions and enough role players to help them, UE should be a shoo-in for the Final Four, maybe even in the Finals! What happened to them? They have a good coach naman. Their vaunted press gives them many free points. I believe they are just having a hard-luck season. How many games have they lost by only 2 points? Overtime loss. UE starts strong but maybe because of the press they run out of gas in the end. Sayang. What could have been.

ADMU – Overachieving. Who would have thought they would lead after the first round and is presently 2nd place in the tourney this late into the season. With numerous rookies and a new system, Ateneo needed  to jell quickly. Since ADMU didn’t join any pre-season tourneys, no one really knew how to rank them. It was just safe to say that they would vie for a Final Four ticket. Kiefer Ravena is having an MVP-type of season and Ateneo needs him to perform in their remaining games.

NU – Overachieving.  After the departure of Bobby Ray Parks, many thought there went the fortunes of NU. But NU is well-coached. Kudos to their coaching staff for defining the role of each player and making them play like a team. Oh yes, it helps to have a player like Aroga. Troy Rosario is the new alpha-male for NU.

FEU – Overachieving. Did anyone expect FEU to place second after losing RR garcia and Terrence Romeo? We all know that FEU can now finally share the basketball and Coach Nash Racela is doing a good job mentoring this team. And what can I say about Mac Belo? Simply Amazing! This guy is for real! Good for him.

UST – Sayang. Well everybody knows that UST will be a different team without Jeric Teng. Who will lead this team? Aljon Mariano, (Paula) Abdul and Kevin Ferrer should carry the team but all of them have had their fair share of misfortune. Vigil and Subido have their moments but this isn’t their year yet. Looks like they will miss the Final Four this year unless…

Adamson – Forgettable. Ok they have 11 rookies but scoring a measly 2 points in a quarter is simply horrendous! They now own the dubious record of having the fewest points scored in a quarter in a UAAP tourney EVER! Then they seem to be having coaching problems. This is definitely the longest season for them in recent history.

UP – Rollercoaster? I can’t seem to describe their season. UP has won one game so far. Does that make them Overachievers? Ok they will probably win their 2nd game vs Adamson. So should there be another bonfire? Their coach predicted 3 wins. If so, they are underachieving. UP does well up to the third quarter; then when the opponents make a run, UP seems helpless to stop it. I feel if they had one more star player, their fortunes would change.

I’m sure many will disagree and say I should have said this or I should’t have said that but I don’t really mind. Give me your counterpoints in the comments section and maybe we can have a lively discussion. I had fun doing this impromptu analysis and I hope you did too. Enjoy the rest of the season!

US Open Tennis 2014

 

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Picture of me in 2010 US Open

It’s US Open time again and I wonder who will be the Last Man Standing at the end of two weeks. For this year, your guess will be as good as mine. With the withdrawal of Rafa Nadal due to wrist injury, everyone is saying that Novak Djokovic is the overwhelming favorite.

True, but . . .

. . . Novak Djokovich hasn’t had a good hard court season this year. Why? Novak just got married last month! He also lost twice in the third round of hard-court tournaments which serve as warm-ups to the US Open. Ok, so these tourneys are 2-out-of-3 sets playing everyday for a week while a Grand Slam is 3-out-of-5 sets playing every other day. I didn’t see any of his earlier matches but I assume he may be a tad slower and his focus isn’t there. Novak has already stated that his focus now will be on his family, meaning tennis will be number 2 in his list of priorities. Don’t get me wrong – Novak is still the man to beat. I’m just saying he is vulnerable. He is stronger in the latter stages of the tournament progresses so he can be vulnerable in the earlier rounds.

So is this Roger Federer’s chance to win another Grand Slam? You betcha! With Rafa out, Roger becomes second seed and will not meet Novak until the Finals. Roger has had a great hard court season and with his accurate serving and flawless style, he is my sentimental favorite to win it all. Go Roger Go!

But it as I have mentioned this tourney is wide open and there are many contenders. One can never count out Andy Murray. Others have given David Ferrer a chance. David is a bulldog and will run down everything and give it his all but I don’t see him beating Novak, Roger, or Andy unless David is playing exceptionally well. Stan Wawrinka is seeded 3 but I believe his form of late is much to be desired. With a good draw, maybe he can make the semis.

Then there are the long shots like Milos Raonic, Dmitrov and maybe John Isner of the USA. Raonic has been playing well lately and his game is well-suited for hard courts. Dmitrov, also known as Baby Federer, also known as the boyfriend of Maria Sharapova, is a dangerous player. And we all know that Americans will support their own so John Isner, the tallest ATP player with one of the game’s best serve, could surprise. I nearly forgot Tomas Berdych. He may surprise, too.

This could be a very interesting two weeks. With no Rafa, my money is on Novak but my heart goes to Roger. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone new would win it all. Have fun watching!