An amazing sports weekendBy Beth Celis |Philippine Daily Inquirer
Upon catching sight of the Pinoy boxing icon making his entry at ringside, the huge crowd immediately chanted, “Manny! Manny!”
From the NBA players’ bench, Manny’s friend and co-Nike endorser, Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, crossed the court to welcome him. Kobe wrapped an arm around him, they bumped elbows and shook hands.
Kobe then led the Pacman back to the opposite side of the court to introduce him to his fellow NBA stars who were obviously thrilled to meet the world’s pound-for-pound king in the flesh.
* * *
Did the superstars exchange autographs?
No, the NBA superstars tried to get hold of anything they could lay their hands on for Manny to sign.
Despite their status, the NBA cagers turned into ordinary fans.
Except for one cager, all the NBA stars left Manila Sunday night after the second game. They will make a stopover in Hong Kong en route to the United States, while one will stay behind to spend a few days in Boracay.
Kobe, who has been on a tour of Asia, will go straight home.
Among the glittery array of VIPs and celebrities spotted during the two-day Ultimate All-Star Weekend were singer Gary Valenciano, Jinkee Pacquiao and her twin sister, former President Joseph Estrada and comedians/TV hosts Willie Revillame and Vic “Bossing” Sotto.
* * *
If it were a movie, you’d call this weekend in Philippine sports a casting coup.
After Saturday’s NBA Superstars versus PBA All-stars game was played at the Araneta Coliseum and aired over IBC-13 AKTV Sports, the Azkals-Kuwait football match followed late in the evening of the same day at 11:30 p.m. over Studio 23.
Last Sunday at 1 p.m., the visiting NBA superstars returned to the Big Dome this time to play against Smart Gilas, the country’s national team.
Earlier that day, WBA light welterweight champion Amir Khan successfully defended his title against veteran southpaw Zab Judah via a 5th-round knockout which should pave the way for a Khan-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight in 2012.
Who knows, perhaps it could have been this fight that gave Manny V. Pangilinan, the emerging Filipino sports czar, the idea to stage the much awaited Pacquiao-Mayweather Jr. fight of the century right here in Manila, at the Araneta Coliseum—which was renamed Smart Araneta Coliseum.
* * *
Now that he has beaten Judah, Khan intends to climb to another weight division, but first he has to beat Erik Morales in December.
According to stories on the web, Floyd Jr. has agreed to fight Khan next year if he wins against Ortiz in September.
After this fight, will Floyd Jr. decide if he will finally square off with Pacquiao?
Khan has been a sparmate of Pacquiao for three years now and has no intention of fighting him ever.
* * *
HOOPVINE: Meralco celebrates 150 years of Jose Rizal with an exhibit of Noli Me Tangere paintings at the Meralco Theatre Lobby on July 28, 6 p.m… Reli de Leon, president of the B-League or Billiards League, believes that the young billiards players of this developmental league have the potential to be as good and popular as the Azkals… “Like the Azkals, the players of the Billiards League are young. They are good-looking and good players. They come from good schools like Ateneo, La Salle and UST and are future world champions,” Reli said.
More from this Column:
- Record number of PBA hopefuls
- Globalport wants Fil-Am Pringle
- UP celebrates slump’s end
- Stanley Pringle still in PBA Draft pool
- Projected top rookie pick Stanley Pringle wants $20,000