PBA, Pacquiao and Olympics abuzz in 2016
Three sports will immediately grab our attention as 2016 opens.
First, there is the PBA Smart Bro-Philippine Cup semifinals. After a tumultuous ending to the Barangay Ginebra-GlobalPort knockout quarterfinal game that saw two referees miss two critical end-game calls, the conference moves forward with a pair of intriguing seven-game series that offer more questions and speculations than definitive answers.
Alaska versus GlobalPort should be a kinetic duel with a new generation of PBA stars. The Aces have “The Beast” Calvin Abueva, who has earned the moniker for his tireless rebounding efforts and frontal assaults on the basket. His energy will be critical for the veterans like JVee Castro, Sonny Thoss, Dondon Hontiveros and Cyrus Baguio to have the extra possessions Alaska needs to be effective.
GlobalPort has Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle for all the backcourt work that have been a thrill to watch all conference long. Both players are throwbacks and redefinitions of the Filipino basketball player: athletic and wily, and now with a serving of three-point accuracy and strong slashes to the basket.
Rain or Shine against San Miguel Beer will be a chess game between Yeng Guiao and Leo Austria as they throw frontliners against each other. The key matchup will be June Mar Fajardo against anybody the Elasto Painters throw on him. The onus will be on Rain or Shine to not only stop Fajardo’s forays but also his passes to his open teammates when the double or triple team is applied.
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Then, there will be Manny Pacquiao. Whether the eight-time world champion is even considering his possible fight in April as his last is something we just have to wait for.
Promoter Bob Arum yesterday announced that Pacquiao will fight Timothy Bradley for the third time on Apr. 9.
There is no definite retirement in boxing. For all we know, a spectacular victory over an upcoming lesser light in the fight game might fuel Pacquiao’s craving for another huge fight before he really calls it quits.
Maybe, Floyd Mayweather Jr., might be interested to come out of retirement for one last huge payday against Pacquiao. Don’t worry: Arum will surely find the promotional angle for that one as well.
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Then, there will be the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The Philippines will be in for a huge battle to gain slots for the Summer Games and larger struggles against athletes who are better prepared for their disciplines.
The gap between our skill level and preparation continues to widen and we have had to resort to inviting athletes with Filipino blood from abroad to boost our chances for medals in international events.
Many of these athletes have physical attributes and skills that may not be found in homegrown talent. Some even point to the passionate work ethic that these overseas-based athletes have that you may not find in local athletes who have to deal with difficult training situations and the need to make a living.
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In the next few days, as we pore over the Year in Review features of the different media outlets, let’s remain buoyant and hopeful that the coming sporting year will be filled with more thrills and victories than 2015. We may not exactly win on all international fronts but let us hope that Filipino athletes will be prepared well and given adequate chances to shine.
Happy New Year!