What a year it has been in the world of sports, Palawan! The country should be very happy closing the decade strong with a golden harvest, topping all nations, in the recent Southeast Asian Games. Let’s take a look back at some of the winningest moments in Philippine sports the past 12 months:
– 2 of 3 ain’t bad … there’s no doubt that the San Miguel Beermen have dominated recent years in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). This season, they were again that close to winning a grand slam only to be slowed down by internal turmoil causing the suspension of key players in their rotation. Nevertheless, the Beermen still took 2 of 3 conference titles and for that, the Beermen can say they are still the best team in Pinoy pro hoops. The core rotation of Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Junemar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, and Terrence Romeo proved to be a force to reckon with any given night
– The Ateneo Blue Eagles, winners of a clean 16-0 sweep en route to clinching the 2019 Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Men’s basketball crown, stamped their season of “excellence” via a 2-0 sweep of the UST Growling Tigers. This feat listed this version of the Eagles to a class of its own being the only team to end up with a perfect season ever since the final four formats were introduced. Master tactician Tab Baldwin continued his dominance in the collegiate basketball scene and he obviously raised the bar in coaching expectations in the varsity world
– The UST Growling Tigers runner up basketball team should also be acknowledged considering the massive roster overhaul they had during the off-season with a new program under coach Aldin Ayo. This year’s Tigers are a special bunch of overachievers who pulled the rug under much-favored teams like the FEU Tamaraws, Adamson Falcons and the UP Fighting Maroons. Ayo is one of a kind. He is considered next to Tab Baldwin today in coaching varsity ball. Every team that Ayo touched were instant contenders: the Letran Knights, the De La Salle Green Archers and now the Tigers. Let’s see how thing evolve for UST in 2020
– Manny Pacquiao continued to defy Father Time in rounding up a couple of victories this year over Adrien Broner (WBA welterweight title defense) and Keith Thurman (WBA super welterweight crown). Already etched in boxing history as one of the greatest of all time, the honorable Philippine Senator continues to show the grit and spunk and love of the sport. More power to the Pacman and here’s hoping he seriously considers retirement from the ring as we need him more in the halls of the Senate
– Even though the Philippine Men’s volleyball team just placed silver in the recently concluded SEA games, the fact that they reached the final put Philippine Men’s volleyball back on track. For the longest time in limbo, this core of Brian Bagunas, Marck Espejo and Rex Intal over delivered by upsetting the 39th FIVB world-ranked Thailand in the semi-final. Pusong Pinoy was witnessed in this hard-earned win that finally put an end to years of failure in this field. We do hope that we continue building our core and support this group as they have got the potential to shine brighter in years to come
Obviously, there could be a lot more to write about for this year in Philippine Sports and it will be impossible to list them all down in one column but here is a holiday wish list which yours truly believe will help in our drive to be a sports powerhouse…
– I wish the country makes sure that all national athletes get supported 100%. That their quarters, training venues, nutritional needs, etc are not swept aside after the recent SEA games hosting. We’ve proven we can be a regional contender. Why not make our athletes globally competitive?
– I wish the government and private entities continue to partner in supporting our national athletes
– I wish grassroots athletics development continues. There are a lot of diamonds in the rough in the countryside
– I wish politics are set aside completely when supporting the national cause
– I wish the “independent” PBA teams hold on to their assets longer and not trade them away after a year or two to the bigger corporate giants. The balance of force in our pro league continues to tilt in favor of the SMC and MVP teams
– I wish that the PBA continues its full support of the national team, regardless of who sponsors the cause
As we celebrate the season, I wish everyone good health and more blessings. Let’s all look forward positively as we enter the new decade.
Happy Holidays, Palawan!
(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)