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Pacquiao to attend own derby

By Manolo Iigo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines - Despite being a no-show during a press launch last Saturday, boxing?s pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao has vowed to attend tomorrow?s Pacquiao Prestige Cup, a one-day, five-cock derby at the Big Dome.

The ?King of the Ring? sent his apology to the presscon organizers, but promised to grace tomorrow?s affair.

Organized by Pacquiao in partnership with the Araneta Center, some of the proceeds from the one-day derby would be donated to the Manny Pacquiao Foundation.

?This derby is for a good cause,? said Araneta Center?s CEO Manny Atacador. ?And because only the very best and finest cocker-breeders in the country are competing for fame and fortune, the Pacquiao Cup is definitely for sabong aficionados with nerves of steel.?

Among those seeing action are former Rizal Gov. Ito Ynares, an avid Pacquiao fan; Big Dome owner Nene Araneta, derby regulars Boy Marzo and Philip Chiongbian, Chavit Singson, another loyal Pacquiao fan; Patrick Antonio, a much-feared campaigner in the local cockfighting scene; Ronnie Puno, who will be banking on his famed Wildwing Sundance fighters;

Hotelier Biboy Enriquez and his signature Firebird entry, Butch Pichay, Tony Kho and Rey Briones, a former World Slasher champion; battle-tested Eddie Araneta, derby veterans Jun Topacio, Jesry Palmares, Gerry Ramos, Cito Alberto, Pol Estrellado, 2009 World Slasher first leg winners Rodel Castales and Claude Bautista and Marcel Julao, who amassed 6.5 points to emerge solo champion of the recent World Slasher Cup II.

Julao fielded MTJ RSM Flash Bomba from his farm in Lipa City.

In emerging the solo winner, Nene Araneta said of owner Julao: ?It took 16 years for a 6.5-pointer to win solo (Peping Ricafort with his PTK Country Road entry first did it in 1993). That?s how tough it is to win the World Slasher Cup.?

* * *

FORMER Philippine Olympic Committee president Julian Malonso said the other day that ?Philippine basketball is ?six feet under the ground? and our quest to regain international glory is not within our capacity.?

Then the president of the gymnastics association, Malonso became POC head in 1980 when he assumed the remaining months of the term of the late Nereo Andolong. Now in his mid-80s, Malonso, a retired Colonel, has remained a dedicated sports leader and Olympic purist.

?Basketball is being run by leaders who don?t know the sport,? he said. ?We don?t face reality.?

The straightforward sports critic also blasted sportswriters who do not write the truth because they are beholden to financially influential people. ?I hope the public is informed correctly.?

As basketball is a tall man?s game, Philippine chances in major international tournaments, much more to win the gold medal in the Olympics, the World Basketball Championships, even the Asian Games, with China, South Korea and the Middle East countries competing, are very, very slim.

In the last 20th Fiba-Asia Champions Cup held in Jakarta, the Smart Gilas-Pilipinas national team?coached by Serbian Rajko Toroman?could only land fifth. Towering Iran won the championship, beating Lebanon in the finals.

I have no quarrel with Toroman, who was recruited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, but he must realize right now that no matter his expertise in basketball, the dash-and-dribble sport is simply not for the puny Filipinos.

As Fiba-Asia president Sheikh Saud Bin Ali Al-Thani of Qatar once said, ?Asian basketball is still in its infancy.?

While the Chinese, Filipino, Japanese and Korean fans have embraced the sport, it has been slower to hit home elsewhere, he emphasized. ?Asia has failed to produce stars of its own, with China?s Yao Ming (of the Houston Rockets in the NBA), the exception.?

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