The “North Star Lion” strikes back—shoots an eagle for the holidays
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The “North Star Lion” strikes back—shoots an eagle for the holidays
CHOT REYES has been walking around these past few months in shoes, perhaps, too big for him to fill. They belonged formerly to Tab Baldwin, the immediate past national team coach.
OVER the holidays I wrote about the impending demise of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC). It does not have a chance against the onslaught of progress.
GILAS Pilipinas’s bid for the Olympics crashed, adding yet to the 44-year misery of basketball fans pining to see Filipino dribbles in Olympic basketball.
OVER the past few days an online petition, “Save Rizal Memorial Sports Complex,” has been gathering slow fire among conservationists, sports fans and plain history buffs.
SO the demise of the old sports complex—Rizal Memorial—is sealed.
IN the billowing sea of blue fans in the gallery, white cardboard signs were thrust defiantly in the air. They assaulted the heavens with a prayer scrawled in blue handwriting: “We Believe.”
A lot of fourth-quarter free throws, a lot of rebounding—and a lot of Raymar Jose all came into play in the fourth quarter on Saturday, as if guided by the hand of destiny, as Far Eastern University’s (FEU) Tamaraws pulled off a cliff-hanger and lived to fight another day.
There was a bump on the road in the Green Archers’ march to the finals—and now, what had earlier looked inevitable in their quest of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season crown could turn out to be a disastrous fall for the suddenly mortal Taft Avenue warriors.
DE LA SALLE vs. Ateneo in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) finals?
There is disturbing news from the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP)
seniors basketball championship, and it has nothing to do anymore about brawls between rival schools and the intense heckling between their rabid fans.
“Trump Triumphs.” This was the headline of the New York Times, bastion of the Eastern Establishment, the morning after American politics went through a seismic change.
THE great world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, reminiscing about the legendary “Thrilla in Manila” in 1974 years later, told the writer Mark Kram: “We went to Manila as champions, Joe [Frazier] and me, and we came back as old men.”
AND so the man Filipino fight fans adore next to no one as their greatest sports hero is climbing the ring again. He is coming back from the shortest retirement from the ring ever, nearly seven months to the day he vowed never to throw again a punch in a pro fight.
It’s time Filipinos rise up from their Rip van Winkle-like slumber and ask: Why should Jose “Peping” Cojuangco get another four years to run Philippine sports? What collective sins have we accumulated as a people to deserve his leadership?
MANY months ago, when Kiefer Ravena’s talent miserably failed to deliver the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) crown to Ateneo and Kevin Ferrer’s three-point shooting fell short in handing University Santo Tomas (UST) the crown during the Season 77 best-of-three title series, it was a lesser star—but and probably a bigger talent—that came through and crowned Far Eastern king of varsity basketball.
TO thousands of long-suffering fans of Ginebra, it was a prayer answered.
THE fury of the Ginebra-Meralco title series has overwhelmed Typhoon Karen’s threatening winds and rains.
THE collective eruption of expletives from Ginebra fans, when referees Rommel Gruta and Edward Aquino did not call two flagrant violations in the dying seconds of the Ginebra-Globalport elimination match, could have shaken the Mall of Asia Arena to its foundations.
Is he a mirage? Is he one of a kind? Is he the future do-it-all in basketball? Small, shifty, highly skilled, deadly, uncatchable, unstoppable, unbreakable. After Jordan, after LeBron, the greatest wonder kid of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Steph Curry is doing it all on the court—mesmerizing, spectacular. This column was written a week ago, but I lost it to a computer glitch. Not irretrievably, it turned out. I have recovered nearly all of it. A week-old story can do justice to a timeless icon.
It was the season of a tearjerker, of second chances. A cinematic drama is on fire at the tills, enchanting millions of star-struck moviegoers, and its stars, John Lloyd and Bea Alonzo, came to watch Game Two of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) title series.
IT was a title showdown between two great rivals and two storied schools that was 36 years in the making. on Wednesday when they—the top-seed Growling Tigers of University of Santo Tomas (UST) and the second-ranked Tamaraws of Far Eastern University (FEU)—came to blows again, the hard court shook and trembled under their feet, and the ground cracked and buckled.
I HAVE nothing but respect for Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner Chito Narvasa. There is nothing I would have wished for him but smooth sailing in a league that enjoys popularity with fans on a scale so staggering when viewed from the perspective of four decades.
EVEN with a win that dropped the ax on the league-leading Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, the Bulldogs of National University (NU) are not out of the fire yet in their struggling passage into the Final Four of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
THE picture says it all, Tab Baldwin in the middle of a sea of tall blue shirts. The veteran coach, a much-admired tactician of the Philippine five, could not have been more blessed. Finally, he has Version 4 of Gilas Pilipinas, unwrapped like an early Christmas package, with a lineup that is upgraded, enhanced, finessed and made younger, taller and more deadly with its outside firepower.
In a league where the players have grown taller and more athletic than those of generation ago, they were supposed to be a class apart. They were billed to win games by big margins; they were supposed to awe and dominate. On a star-studded bench, they were groomed to be superstars who would power the Barangay Ginebra Kings to a lion’s share of championships.
HOW badly do the Ateneo Blue Eagles want this year’s University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) seniors’ basketball title?
“THE game is simple,” writes the remarkable sportswriter Pete Axthelm in his book, The City Game, which chronicles the 1969-1970 magical season of his beloved National Basketball Association (NBA) championship-bound Knicks from his beloved city, New York.
FIGHT fans in my neighborhood and in the other towns of Antique where I grew up in, couldn’t believe when they heard the champ on television 10 days ago. One more fight next year, said the legend, the greatest Filipino fighter in the ring.
IN this culture that adores love teams, pines for happy endings and finds transcendent release from the heart-rending aches and distress of everyday living, the AlDub show last Saturday created the perfect spectacle to feel genuinely good for at least a day.
Finally, the behemoth team owners of the pro league are stirring from their Rip Van Winkle-like sleep. In a surprise announcement a few days ago, arrayed on the presidential table for a posterity shot, they finally uttered the word basketball fans have long agonized for.
FRANKLY, we didn’t expect any good news to emanate from Pyongyang, the forbidding capital of hermetic North Korea. We did not expect an anxious contest the way Gilas Pilipinas made us feel when it vaulted into the knockout phase of the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) Asia Championship after a scrambling start.
WHEN all the passion stoked by this tournament shall have died down and the recrimination filed away, when the better memories shall have been cleansed of the bitter intramural that had deprived this Gilas Pilipinas 3 of some of the best and brightest players of the pro league, this campaign shall not stand as a monument to failure.
AFTER more than a month of terrible bashing, of being thumbed down as Gilas Pilipinas’s burden rather than spark, Andray Blatche is discovering at last how it feels to be lionized in a country where millions of fans follow Gilas’s exploits in Changsa, China, like true devotees.
THE three-point shot that Andray Blatche launched from the corner with time winding down never made it to the hoop nor touched the net in a meaningful way.
IT was the striking physical looks that grabbed the attention first—his spiky hair dyed blonde and almond eyes that made him a heartthrob and instant gallery favorite in Taipei. Then it was the athleticism that took over—sensational and superb—and everything else faded into the background.
Filipino cage buffs are looking for a 42-year-old and a 38-year-old—the two men who pulled the trigger on the Kiwis last Friday.
FORGET about Estonia and its pocket tournament. Consider its three huge loses a nightmare. Those seemed like a decade ago.
WOE to the gritty Filipina who out-punched China’s Lou Yu Jie in a boxing match in Macau in June to win the flyweight crown of the Women’s International Boxing Association.
RENAULD “SONNY” BARRIOS, speaking for the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), returned home from a winless Gilas Pilipinas stint in a pocket tournament in Estonia with a profoundly disturbing admission.
COULD anyone fault San Miguel Corp. (SMC) for what some extreme fans now call a “sabotage” of the national team?
DR. ANTHONY NICANOR, known as Comm Nic, was an exuberant and sturdy guy who was humble in victory. He never wavered from his conviction, fighting for athletes’ rights even when he ruffled many feathers.
NO one who has seen Calvin Abueva in action, in just one game, will leave the hard court unmoved by the spectacle.
AUGUST is the cruelest month for Philippine basketball.
BASKETBALL old-timers—guys in their twenties during the 1960s—when to lose a basketball game in the Asian arena was a cause of national shame to Filipinos—spoke of 1964 as perhaps, a year when everything turned against the Philippines.
SOMEONE very knowledgeable about Philippine basketball has suggested it might be time to dash off the Gilas Pilipinas’s obituary, even before it could shoot its first basket in the Fiba Asia Championship in China.
OUTSIDE their increasingly bitter dispute over rocks, shoals and parcels of islets strewn on the West Philippine Sea that are said to be rich in oil and natural gas deposits, the Philippines and China are engaged in another bitter showdown—and the world is waiting with bated breath which one will be victor or vanquished.
THE hands were quick. A powerful left hand or a right or a combination that he would unleash with rapid accuracy would stun his opponent. Once he got his hands over his foe it was all over.
THE one riveting memory from the Fiba Asia championship in Manila in 2013 was of Jimmy Alapag sinking those late-coming three-point shots that were like daggers stuck into the hearts of the hard-fighting South Koreans.
BRISBANE, Australia—This was the first time that I watched a rugby league match in Queensland’s magical ninth-titular triumph in 10 years via a record breaking 52-6 demolition of New South Wales (NSW) in State of Origin history on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium.
BRISBANE, Australia—After soaking it in, after a frenzy of celebrations, after the equivalent of a heart-tugging ticker-tape parade, a hero’s homecoming in the heart of Oakland, the Golden State Warriors, the new National Basketball Association (NBA) champions, settled down to the business of deciding whether they could live another day with the same lineup to defend the title next season.
FLORENCIO CAMPOMANES was a scholarly of speech, consummate of skills, and with his silver-gray hair favored by advertisers in their photographs of men of distinction.
WHEN the draw for the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) Asia Championship preliminary round was announced last week, there was a ripple of excitement that ran through the Filipino basketball faithful. The Philippines, in Group B, where Palestine and Kuwait stand as its strongest opponents, is considered to be in an easy bracket.
THEY transformed ordinary men into myths. They spun stories with beer as their collaborator. They enjoyed more editorial liberties to become chronicler, critic and hero-worshipper all at the same time.
ON the day of your birth any topic in sports was right. Even a mimicry of the intramural games on campus, a village sportsfest or a nontitle fight in the ring seemed alright to write about.
AS surely as Stephen Curry regained his shooting touch, Mayor Sandy Javier felt that the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals would end in six games. Definitely.
THE past four decades in our sports archive is a gallery of glad circumstance and vivid memories, of heroes and heroines with feats carved in stones, and even of losers with their heartaches written on sand.
TWO scores and a decade ago, they were Asia’s laughingstock, written off cavalierly as “the babes in the woods.”
THE harsh truth is that sports has become a great emotional escape, a fantasy experience, like getting infatuated, especially with the games of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
FOR the first time in many years, athletics’ brash and controversial top brass Go Teng Kok, a.k.a. GTK, would be absent from the track-and-field competitions of the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games formally opening on Friday in the city-state of Singapore.
TIME was when you thought of boxing competitions in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games you quickly thought of mismatches in favor of our colorful and seasoned simonpures against their unheralded foes in the ring.
MAYBE it’s not immodest for me to say so, but I just don’t think there will be another incredible period of records, drama and personalities than the joyous, golden moment of the 2005 Southeast Asian Games here in Manila.
FROM the gallery of our glad remembrances, the Palarong Pambansa of yesteryears was a period of endless excitement and a wonderful world of clashing colors and emotions by unknown athletes and coaches from many obscure places.
I AM not really an aficionado of the ring, and have not been since Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao dropped Ricky Hatton in the second round like a fallen log at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas six years ago.
BY any Olympic standard, Manny Pacquiao is the Norse deity Thor, the superhero who wields the enchanted hammer and takes care of thunder and lightning, and the protection of mankind.
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