It’s going to be an interesting 2018 for Philippine sports with a new Philippine Olympic Committee election set in February, Manny Pacquiao again climbing the ring in April and the chance for Asian Games redemption happening in August.
With the country’s dismal showing of sixth overall (again) with 24 gold medals in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, experts find more than justification in the recent decision by the Pasig Regional Trial Court to nullify last year’s Philippine Olympic Committee elections that installed Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. as president anew, this time unopposed.
Judge Maria Gracia Cadiz Casaclang has set the new election for POC president and chair on Feb. 23 with Ricky Vargas and Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino as candidates for president and chair, respectively. Vargas and Tolentino were earlier disqualified by the POC elections division because of an unclear provision.
Dethroned by underdog Jeff Horn of Australia as WBO welterweight champion last July, Pacquiao now has plans to stage a comeback fight in April according to Top Rank chief Bob Arum.
More than avenging that loss, Pacquiao, the only eight-time world champion who turned 39 recently, can now look forward to leaving the ring for good in a blaze of glory befitting the greatest Filipino fighter of them all.
Indonesia will stage the Asian Games in the cities of Jakarta and Palembang in August with the Filipinos hard-pressed to surpass its lone gold production courtesy of biker Daniel Caluag in Incheon, South Korea, four years ago.
Amateur boxing, which Vargas heads, will be on a face-saving mission too after a rare gold shutout the last time out. If naturalized player Andrey Blatche gets to play, the Gilas Pilipinas quintet will surely be a contender unlike in Korea when Marcus Douthit reinforced the nationals.
Having cheered for UST Goldie Danny Florencio in his famous confrontations with UE Warrior Robert Jaworski in the UAAP late in the 60s, we now expect Aldin Ayo to turn the Growling Tigers from a 4 win-26 loss doormat in the last two years. Ayo, who gave Letran an NCAA title three years ago, is reportedly leaving La Salle, where he compiled a 46-12 record with a championship in 2016 and a runner-up finish a year later.
Meanwhile, the PBA concluded its December schedule with Blackwater upending Rain or Shine, 92-87, and TNT KaTropa dropping Alaska deep in the cellar with a 106-98 decision.
The Elite notched their first victory over the Elasto Painters to keep pace at 1-1 with their victims. Also at 1-1 are Phoenix, TNT, Meralco and Magnolia.
Defending Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer remained on top as expected with two wins like NLEX.
Hostilities resume on Jan. 7 with NLEX facing Phoenix and Barangay Ginebra meeting GlobalPort.
Inquirer 7: Most memorable performances of Filipinos in world stage in 2017