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Alibaba unveils ‘Virtual Influencer’ for 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games

February 10, 2022 8:48 p.m.

 ALIBABA Group, a Worldwide TOP Partner of the International Olympic Committee, has unveiled its brand-new virtual influencer for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 (“Games”). Based on cloud technology, Dong Dong, the advanced digital persona created by Alibaba to engage with fans, brings the possibilities of cloud-based innovation closer to consumers. 

Developed by Alibaba DAMO Academy, Alibaba Group’s global research initiative, Dong Dong was created to be a passionate, outspoken Beijing-born 22-year-old woman, who loves winter sports.

To better connect with Olympic fans, especially the younger, tech-savvy generation, Dong Dong is known for her authentic human-like features, sparkling personality, as well as her specialty to interact with audiences in an engaging manner.

Among her many talents, Dong Dong is not only going to promote Olympic merchandise which can be bought in the official Olympic shop in China on Tmall during her dedicated livestreaming shows, but she can also respond to questions in a lively, natural human voice with different emotions, along with various body gestures from giving a thumbs-up to posting heart-shape gesture and wiping away tears of disappointment.

In addition, she can perform live talk shows to introduce Olympic fun facts to the audience, and show-off her enthusiastic, upbeat dance moves to accompany the Olympic theme songs to cheer for the Olympians. All these engaging interactions are powered by cloud-based digital technologies.

“Our ambition is to use cloud technology to give the Olympic Winter Games a digital uplift and to deliver Olympic Winter Games experiences relating to cloud and e-commerce platform services to fans in a creative way. That’s why we developed Dong Dong, with the hope that the cloud-based virtual influencer can create better engagement with the younger, digital natives in an exciting and natural way,” said Xiaolong Li, Leader of Alibaba Virtual Human & Intelligent Customer Service.

To realize Dong Dong’s dynamic personality, human-like glamour and natural voice, Alibaba built a special cloud-based AI model, which uses Text to Speech to synthesize human voices and leverages 3D-driven technology to create various realistic facial expressions and natural body movements.

Powered by cloud computing and AI technologies, Dong Dong can look, speak and act like a young woman with lively personality.

Meanwhile, Alibaba’s multimodal algorithms, which leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP), Emotional Speech Synthesis and computer vision on the cloud, have been used to make Dong Dong ‘smart’ enough to take part in human-like dialogues naturally, with her scripts entirely generated by cloud technologies.   

“In the future, we will push technology boundaries even further to create an enthralling mixed reality. Digital personas or virtual influencers will find new ways to engage with their audience through immersive experiences or a metaverse-style setting, whether during large-scale, global sports events like the Olympic Games, virtual conferences or 3D exhibition tours. In addition, they can also be very helpful with their practical capability as diligent, smart and efficient assistants to the reporters,” Li added. 

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Ateneo, UP face off again for UAAP title

December 7, 2022 9:54 p.m.

For the second straight season, it will be Ateneo de Manila University versus University of the Philippines in the UAAP men’s basketball finals.

Moments after the Fighting Maroons escaped National University, the Blue Eagles thrashed Adamson University, 81-60, to advance to its sixth consecutive Finals appearance on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Game One of the best-of-three championship series will be on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

“We had our best offensive performance of the year. I think when you get some time to prepare and your opponent doesn’t have much time and they were playing on heart, they were playing on Nash’s brain, and all of those things they have a ton of,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.

“But the cauldron of the semifinals you need more than that you need time to prepare, you need rest, and you need a full team hitting on all cylinders and tonight we were that team,” continued Baldwin.

Already ahead by eight early in the third period, Dave Ildefonso scored eight straight points before Ange Kouame and Chris Koon connived to end the quarter with 19 unanswered points and give Ateneo a 27-point advantage heading into the fourth, 63-36.

Sean Quitevis then opened the payoff frame with another trey to put the Blue Eagles up by 30 with 9:14 left, 66-36, before Jed Colonia made the Soaring Falcons’ first basket in nine minutes with 8:30 to go. Jerom Lastimosa last scored on a layup at the 7:27 mark of the third.

Forthsky Padrigao had 16 points and five assists, while Koon was 4-of-5 from deep to end with 15 points to go with five assists and a plus-21 in his 19 minutes on the floor.

Kai Ballungay chimed in 13 points, while Ildefonso had 11 points and nine rebounds.

Lastimosa was the lone Falcon in double figures with 10 points on a woeful 4-of-15 shooting from the field.

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Adamson eliminates La Salle, claims last seat in Final 4

December 4, 2020 10:11 p.m.

Adamson University knocked out De La Salle University, 80-76, to grab the last Final Four spot in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament, Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The Soaring Falcons will face top seed Ateneo de Manila University, which holds a twice-to-beat edge, in the Final Four on Wednesday, 6 p.m., at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“We’re happy to be in the Final Four. We’re actually gatecrashing the Final Four. People didn’t expect us to be in the Final Four, they expected I don’t know what you call them… big spenders. To me, they’re all big spenders but I’m happy the team did their part,” said Adamson coach Nash Racela.

“We will check our emotions because we don’t want to be in a high because may trabaho pa and we’re still gonna play Wednesday and the weekend,” he added.

With the Falcons down by a single point, Lenda Douanga took matters into his own hands, draining a push shot before dishing to Cedrick Manzano the next play for the reverse layup and a three-point Adamson lead with 58.8 seconds left, 77-74.

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After multiple empty possessions on both ends, Evan Nelle came up clutch, stealing Joem Sabandal’s inbound and burying a lay-in to pull La Salle within one with 15.4 ticks to go, 76-77.

The Green Archers were forced to put Jerom Lastimosa on the line in the ensuing play, which the Soaring Falcon made both to push them up by three anew, 79-76, before Nelle missed his three-pointer attempt badly, only hitting the side of the board as Joshua Yerro iced the game from the charity stripe.

La Salle led by as much as 13 in the third frame, 51-38, but Lastimosa went ballistic, going for 11 from his 22 points there to help Adamson inch within one at the end of the quarter, 59-60.

Adamson’s Jerom Lastimosa

Lastimosa also added six assists and a steal, while Yerro had 13 points and six rebounds.

AP Manlapaz chimed in 22 points, while Douanga got 10 points and seven rebounds.

In the sudden death playoff for fourth seed, the Green Archers did not have three of their best players in Schonny Winston, Mike Phillips, and Kevin Quiambao.

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URCC 81: Decades of Success happens Dec. 6 in Okada

November 27, 2022 7:22 p.m.

THE Universal Reality Combat Championship will celebrate two decades of greatness titled the “Decades of Success” in a fight night on December 6, featuring the country’s best mixed martial artists at the Okada Manila in Parañaque City. 

Three years since the last time they held their last main event, URCC founding president Alvin Aguilar announced the coming URCC 81 will definitely be a night to remember with events like the 3 Versus 3, MMA fight and the bare-knuckle bouts.

“Our first main event in three years will definitely be an unforgettable night in mixed martial arts. We have a lot of good fighters and everyone is very excited,” Aguilar said. 

The last time URCC held a main event — Retribution— was in November 2019, at the same venue. Despite the pandemic, URCC didn’t stop as it held three fight nights when the government finally allowed contact sports. 

In celebrating URCC’s main event return, Aguilar will be having Team Philippines of Sugar Ray “Mammoth” Estroso, Caloy “Bad Boy” Baduria and Boss Bullet Manliclic taking up against South Koreans Jeong Minhun, Choi Wontae and Jeon Youngjun in an exciting 3 versus 3 event.

“We have to go up against other Asian countries before we start expanding. So we meet Korea then later on China again and then we will invite people from Russia and the USA. This is the fourth time we will be holding this 3 versus 3 fight,” Aguilar said, who also expects the other events to live up to the hype.

A URCC welterweight interim championship is also set between Filipino Arvin Chan and American Will Chope as the other highlight of the main event presented by Okada Manila and sponsored by Winzir.

URCC Global Chairman Arnold Vegafria said the promotions have been evolving since 2002, becoming a household name in the local mixed martial arts industry, where it discovered great MMA fighters and promoted quality fights abroad. 

For inquiries about tickets sale, go to www.urcc.online and download app https://apps.wix.com/place-invites/join-lp/b4e05b90-55a0-40a8-8fac-17ccf4a2c074?ref=pre_banner_top which is available for iOS and Google.

Other MMA undercard bouts feature Dunlee Stewart facing John Tirona in a 170 lbs bout, followed by Gester Maglaque meeting Mariano Jones in an 185 lbs bout; Kimbert Alintozon battling Junie Kimayong (125 lbs); Rhyle Lugo clashing against Alex Aballe (145 lbs) and Eros Baluyot taking on MJ Abrillo (125 lbs). 

For the thrilling bare-knuckle competitions, Damsa Abrenica collides with Joseph “King Pinoy” Cabral, while Dondon Serrano squares off with Sherwin Niro and Denzel Dimaguila fights Mark Jalaron.  

Details of the fight and future fight cards are available to download at https://apps.wix.com/place-invites/join-lp/b4e05b90-55a0-40a8-8fac-17ccf4a2c074?ref=pre_banner_top, which is available for iOS and Google.

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