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University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons/ (1-12)
Adamson University Soaring Falcons/ (0-13)
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Ranidel de Ocampo of Gilas Pilipinas slips past the defense of Argentina's Luis Scola. FIBA Photo

Philippine national men’s basketball team forward Ranidel De Ocampo has been silently effective for the country in international competition.

But the sweet-shooting big man, along with the rest of his Gilas Pilipinas teammates, has not shied away from talking about the elusive Asian Games gold medal, which the team will aspire for in the upcoming competition in Incheon, Korea.

“Wala kaming ibang pinag-uusapan dito kung hindi gold,” De Ocampo told InterAksyon.com in an exclusive interview.

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Japeth Aguilar of Gilas Pilipinas with a monster dunk against Senegal. FIBA Photo

Unbeknown to many, Japeth Aguilar, the most athletic big man on the Philippine national men’s basketball team roster, has been playing hurt for more than a year now after suffering a broken pinky finger on his left hand in last year’s FIBA Asia Championship in Manila.

The high-flying 6-foot-9 forward disclosed this to InterAksyon.com during Gilas Pilipinas’ practice on Monday, admitting he has been gutting it out over the past year despite the injury.

“Ipinagpaliban ko muna yung operation ko sa left pinky finger ko,” Aguilar said in an exclusive interview.

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Kevin Garnett of Brooklyn Nets to start at power forward if healthy (September 16, 2014)
Ohm Youngmisuk [ Source: ESPN ]

NBA

NEW YORK -- Lionel Hollins says Kevin Garnett will start at power forward and play more than 15 minutes per game if healthy for the Brooklyn Nets.

"There is nobody in the gym that I would put in his place," Hollins said at Deron Williams' Celebrity Dodge Barrage event at Basketball City. "He has earned the right to have that opportunity to be the starter from Day One. Somebody has to knock him out, it's got to be like a heavyweight fight. I don't really see that happening."

Hollins said he got to sit down with Garnett after the forward decided to return for a 20th season with the Nets. This is his final season under contract with Brooklyn worth $12 million.

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Chot keeps options open on AG list (September 16, 2014)
Joaquin Henson [ Source: Philippine Star ]

International Basketball

MANILA, Philippines -  Philippine national basketball team coach Chot Reyes said yesterday he’s not in a rush to submit Gilas’ final 12-man lineup to the Asian Games Organizing Committee as the deadline won’t be until a day or two before the start of the competitions.

Reyes called Gilas’ first practice last Saturday since arriving from the FIBA World Cup in Spain. Paul Lee was absent but came the next day. Japeth Aguilar missed last Sunday’s session after showing up the previous day. Jayson Castro reported and was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his knee yesterday.

“We can’t go full-court because guys are still recovering from Spain,” said Reyes. “We won’t do any practice games so as not to expose our guys to injuries. We’re keeping our options open as to our final lineup. We won’t be asked to submit our 12-man roster until Sept. 18 or 19. The lineup will depend on who’s healthy. Jayson might still be able to join. Ping (Marc Pingris) isn’t 100 percent but hopefully, he’ll be ready for Incheon.”

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Accidental hero: Marc Pingris bares his heart (September 16, 2014)
Dennis Gasgonia [ Source: ABS CBN News ]

San Mig Coffee power forward Marc Pingris. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com

SEVILLE, Spain – After Gilas Pilipinas’ close game against Argentina at the FIBA Worlds, Jean Marc Pingris returned to his hotel in Seville with a slight limp, a testament of the hard work he had done on the court.

Gilas lost by merely four points against the Argentines and most of the Filipino players were silent and heartbroken, knowing that they were that close to upsetting the third-seeded South American team.

Despite this, “Ping” was all smiles after seeing his fans eagerly waiting for him at the hotel. To them, he is the “Pinoy Sakuragi,” a reference to the anime character in “Slam Dunk.”

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D-League

PBA commissioner Chito Salud has stepped into the issue involving Paul Lee and Rain or Shine as the league’s top official has asked Lawrence Chongson, the player’s manager, to resolve the matter right away with the Elasto Painters’ camp.

This was disclosed by Atty. Mamerto Mondragon, Rain or Shine’s representative to the PBA board.

“Kinausap ko si commissioner and I asked him kung kailangan bang sumulat kami sa kanya so he could act on it. Sinabi niya sa amin na nakausap na niya si Lawrence,” Mondragon told InterAksyon.com in a telephone interview.

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The trials of Greg Oden (September 16, 2014)
Michael Wallace [ Source: ESPN ]

Greg Oden made it back to basketball last NBA season, but the challenges in his life are far from over. Mark Macho

The fading sunlight illuminates the bustling gym lobby as the varsity pep squad huddles near a massive trophy case built within the brick walls of the athletic complex at Indianapolis' Lawrence North High School.

The group bursts into a set of jumps, twists and cheers at the end of a recent after-school practice. Hovering above them, centered inside the floor-to-ceiling shrine of championship memorabilia, is a poster of the primary contributor to the display.

One image captures Greg Oden battling for low-post position on the way to leading the Wildcats to a third straight state title and the nation's No. 1 ranking in 2006. Another shows one of the many emphatic dunks that earned Oden honors as Indiana's Mr. Basketball and Gatorade's 2006 national player of the year.

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Depth and unselfish nature carry Team USA (September 16, 2014)
Larry Fine [ Source: Reuters ]

  Coach Mike Krzyewski (R) of the U.S. celebrates winning their Basketball World Cup final game against Serbia in Madrid September 14, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Sergio Perez

(Reuters) - A spate of late withdrawals, a serious injury to Paul George and several marquee names missing appeared to put Team USA under a cloud for the 2014 Basketball World Cup and for future international competition.

Instead, a group of sharp-shooting NBA regulars were unbeaten in Spain and produced a 129-92 victory over Serbia in the final to underline the depth the U.S. have at their disposal.

Stalwarts LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul were missing from the initial training camp, with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin bowing out late in the process before Indiana forward George broke his leg in training and could now miss the NBA season.

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Kyrie Irving.  Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

So much of the talk during Team USA’s pre-FIBA training camp concerned how head coach Mike Krzyzewski would construct a team perfectly suited to stop Spain’s formidable frontcourt for when—not if—the two sides met in the final.

But with upstart Serbia crashing the final in Spain’s stead, it was Kyrie Irving who proved he's perfectly suited to become the face of Team USA's future.

Irving was electric in Sunday’s gold-medal game, tallying 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting (including a perfect 6-of-6 from distance) in a 129-92 blowout win, helping Team USA secure its fourth straight first-place finish in international competition.

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D-League

Daniel Padilla was drafted by the AMA University Titans as a 15th round pick in the PBA Developmental League on Monday.

But the teen heartthrob suiting up for the team in the PBA D-League Aspirant's Cup is another matter altogether.

In a text message to Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP) coursed through talent management firm Star Magic, Padilla issued a denial. "Syempre po gusto ko maglaro for PBA pero hindi po totoo ang balita."

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