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In Huddle

Barako Bull, Baculi split

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WHEN word got around Tuesday afternoon that Barako Bull head coach Junel Baculi had been replaced by his assistant Bong Ramos as interim coach, I immediately called up Raffy Casyao for confirmation.

“We had no choice but to ask him to step down,” said Raff, the Energy Colas’ team manager and alternate governor to the PBA board.

“Take a look at our dismal record this conference and compare it to last season’s performance. In the ongoing Philippine Cup, we’ve had six losses and only three wins, tying us with Petron for eighth place in team standings. We’re on the brink of elimination.”

* * *

Ironically, Raffy said the ballclub had exerted vigorous efforts to beef up the team by adding young talents with fresh legs and reacquiring no less than the Chief Raging Bull himself, Enrico Villanueva.

“Because of our preseason efforts, we were looking forward to an improved performance starting this conference, but unfortunately the opposite happened. We observed that Junel’s heart and mind were not on the game,” Raffy disclosed.

And where were Junel’s heart and mind?

“On another PBA team that has been courting him to move over to their camp. Junel told us about this courtship, this pursuit. We know that the only thing holding him back is his contract with us which he has to honor. There’s still one year left in the contract.”

“’We know he secretly met with an official of this team recently. He has completely lost interest in coaching our team, we had no choice but to let him go,” Raffy said.

* * *

At this point in Brian Viloria’s boxing career, every fight is a ‘must win’ fight.

Brian is scheduled for a title unification showdown with WBA flyweight champion Hernan ‘Tyson’ Marquez this weekend, Nov. 17, at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Center in California.

He has set his sights only on this fight, according to the WBO flyweight champ, and is not looking farther beyond this horizon. He told scribes attending the teleconference with him at the Solar offices in Mandaluyong early this week that he has made no plans after his fight with the 24-year-old Mexican boxer, who is best known for his fearsome uppercut.

If he wins, that’s when the Hawaiian Punch would make plans.

“If I lose, there’ll be nowhere else for me to go,” he said.

* * *

While Brian said that both he and Marquez have the capability to knock out each other, he assured the scribes that he has trained well and is more than ready to rumble.

“I’m ready to go now,” he said. Viloria is counting on his experience, his speed and his power-packed punches to score another smashing victory the way he did over Omar ‘Nino’ Romero several months ago and Giovanni Segura who was badly battered and had to be confined in a Pasig hospital for several days before he could be allowed to go home.

* * *

Unlike Fil-American Mixed Martial Arts fighter Mark Streigl, PXC flyweight champ Ale Cali is a homegrown Filipino—very native, very Pinoy.

Undoubtedly, he is also one of the most popular PXC fighters here in the Philippines, not only because he’s good and tough, but also because he’s a showboat. He’s very entertaining and funny.

He dances around his opponent, makes faces, puts out his tongue and dishes out a variety of antics much to the delight of spectators.

Every time a PXC competition is scheduled here in Manila, the first question asked is: “Is Ale Cali in the lineup?”

To the disappointment of his fans, Cali was missing in action in the last PXC competition staged at the Ynares Center.

Paul Mata of AKTV said Cali was sidelined by an injury he sustained while training.

A former national boxer under the Abap, Cali lost his very first PXC bout. Once he got the hang of his new sport, however, a string of victories followed.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, Cali battles fellow Pinoy Erwin Tagle, an MMA coach/instructor, in the first of two main events, while Streigl clashes with veteran Harris Sarmiento.

From Ynares Center, PXC 36 moves to Smart-Araneta Coliseum to accommodate the ever-growing MMA audience.


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