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Last words, parting shots

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Filipino athletes and sports personalities not only produced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in 2016, they also provided those who cover them with quips that left a lasting impression in the year that has just ended.

The following are some of the quotes scribes got from these men and women:

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz emerged as the country’s sports story of 2016 when she ended the country’s 20-year medal drought in the Olympics with a silver medal in the games held in the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro.

Immediately after her feat, Diaz rewarded herself with her best meal in Rio – chicken and pork adobo.

“Ang sarap!” she said, as quoted by Spin.ph. “Walang kuwenta pagkain sa dining hall. Ngayon ko lang nalasahan na walang lasa. Ngayon, tumodo na ako. Ang sarap ng adobo. Matagal akong hindi nag-adobo.”

Hidilyn was also quick to dedicate the breakthrough feat to her mother, who coincidentally was celebrating her birthday.

“Regalo ni God ‘yung pagkapanalo ko. Para sa nanay ko ‘yun,” Diaz said.

Hidilyn outshone Manny Pacquiao as the year’s best athlete, but Pacquiao had a busy year as well. He won two fights in Las Vegas, claimed a Senate seat during the national polls, while spending time as the designated player-coach of Mahindra in the PBA.

In April, Pacquiao won his third fight with Timothy Bradley, then made it clear that it would be the last of his storied career.

“Yes, I am retired and I am not sure if I will return to the ring again,” he said after his unanimous decision win over Bradley.

However, Pacquiao backtracked on his retirement plans, beating Jesse Vargas in decisive fashion last November. Talks of a potential rematch with Floyd Mayweather grew, especially after the retired undefeated boxer saw his former rival’s latest win.

“If the rematch happens, I want to make sure that the fans would love it. I will give it all to get back the trust of the fans,” Pacquiao said, recalling how fans were left disappointed with the megabuck fight in 2015.

Pacquiao had a few appearances as player-coach of Mahindra in the PBA, the league that brought to memorable moments in 2016.

First was the dramatic comeback of San Miguel from 0-3 down to beat Alaska in the Philippine Cup. Beermen coach Leo Austria said before the stunning rally that it would take a miracle, or “Beeracle” as fans would say, to beat Alaska.

“It’ll take a miracle, but who knows?” he said.

And they did.

“A miracle is just around the corner, and now it happened,” Austria said after savoring the stunning title victory.

The other moment that left a mark in the 2016 PBA season was Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s triumph in the Governors’ Cup. The six-game win over the Meralco Bolts not only ended the eight-year title drought of the country’s most popular basketball team, but also the kangkong jokes labeled at them whenever they fall short in the games that mattered.

Ginebra’s resident leader Mark Caguioa provided a fitting declaration after the victory.

“Wala nang kangkungan!” Caguioa said.

The NCAA season saw San Beda returning to its old role as champions, sweeping Arellano University to rebound from the heartbreaking loss to Letran in 2015. Red Lions coach Jamike Jarin expressed the manner of how his team was able to make its way back to the top.

“This team was built to play selfless,” said Jarin.

Jarin was able to erase the heartbreak of losing to the Knights, who were then coached by Aldin Ayo. The muscular coach made a stunning move to the La Salle Green Archers in 2016, and immediately led them to the UAAP crown.

Before La Salle made its way to the top, Ayo made a fitting description of his self-proclaimed system known as “Mayhem,” a defensive strategy that left rival teams in shambles.

“Gusto namin magulo,” he said.

And finally, the most popular player in volleyball saw the end of her five-year career in the UAAP. Alyssa Valdez’s tenure at Ateneo, the school that made her what she is today, was heartbreaking, as the Lady Eagles fell short to the archrival La Salle in the finals.

For Valdez, leaving Ateneo is not a bitter pill to swallow.

“Life goes on. Hindi naman natatapos dito,” said Valdez, who would continue her playing career through the Shakey’s V-League and was recently added by a team from Thailand by the dawn of 2017.

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