Athletes celebrate 2021 wins–in and out of sports | Inquirer Sports
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Athletes celebrate 2021 wins–in and out of sports

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 06:11 PM December 31, 2021
From L-R: Team Lakay fighter Lito Adiwang, NLEX's Kevin Alas, NeoPhoenix's Thirdy Ravena, Phoenix's Chris Banchero, ONE champion Joshua Pacio and boxer Jerwin Ancajas.

From L-R: Team Lakay fighter Lito Adiwang, NLEX’s Kevin Alas, NeoPhoenix’s Thirdy Ravena, Phoenix’s Chris Banchero, ONE champion Joshua Pacio and boxer Jerwin Ancajas. FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines—Athletes are often used to celebrating wins on the field, court, cage, or ring, but sometimes the big moments outside of it are usually the sweeter ones.

From marrying your betrothed, to seeing your son make the next leap, or just spending some prime quality time with family, athletes long for those life moments as much as anyone.

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NLEX guard Kevin Alas, who battled through two devastating knee injuries, was finally able to have perfect wedding with courtside reporter Selina Dagdag back in October.

“My biggest win off the court is that God blessed me to marry the love of my life, who is Selina of course, so marrying her was the happiest day of my life,” said Alas.

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IBF World bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas may have only fought once in two years, but the time he spent off Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles was quality moments well-spent with his family.

“I was able to spend time with my family for a long time because I wasn’t able to fight much this year but I was still training in the Philippines and it was an opportunity for me to spend time with my family,” said Ancajas in Filipino. “I was able to live with them under one roof and I think that’s the best thing that happened to me because even if I’m training, they were still there with me.”

Thirdy Ravena, who blazed the trail for Filipinos to play in the Japan B.League, knew that playing with San-En again was still his biggest win but he’s also keen on celebrating the victories of his friends and family.

“My biggest win this year has got to be being given the opportunity to play for NeoPhoenix once again and also I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends succeed in their respective crafts this year,” said Ravena.

In a similar note, Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao was more eager to celebrate the debut of his son Jhanlo in ONE Championship as well as the victories of his fighters.

“My biggest in this year is surviving the pandemic and having lots of fights, and of course the debut of my son Jhanlo in ONE Championship,” said Sangiao.

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Of course as the COVID-19 pandemic still rages on, keeping healthy is often a win in itself.

Then there’s Joshua Pacio, who not only recovered from the disease but also defended his ONE strawweight title as he knocked out Yosuke Saruta for his fourth straight win and third consecutive defense.

“I believe that my biggest win this year is surviving and conquering COVID-19 and after that going back to training and successfully defending our belt,” said Pacio, who contracted the virus early in the year. “Of course I’m happy with my teammates having their big break here in ONE Championship. We win some and we learn some but I promise you next year we’ll get more wins.”

Phoenix guard Chris Banchero had a similar sentiment and that staying healthy and avoiding the virus was still his priority for the year.

“My biggest win this year was just staying healthy and being there with my family and of course my family’s healthy that’s all I could ask for,” said Banchero.

Still, athletes will still chase that championship they oh so wish for.

Lito Adiwang had a rough end to his year when he lost to Jarred Brooks via submission in October but that hasn’t dampened his ambitions to become a World champion in ONE Championship.

“My biggest win this year is competing in ONE Championship despite this pandemic and not just competing but headlining an event,” said Adiwang. “Looking forward to next year to continue chasing my dream and becoming the World champion. So keep safe everyone and enjoy your holidays, God bless.”

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