Manny Pacquiao showed up just once in a pair of boxing boots and shorts in 2017 but his decision defeat to Australian Jeff Horn remained a hot topic for several weeks after their Brisbane brawl that was witnessed by more than 51,000 at the Suncorp Stadium.
And even when the year is coming to a close, fight fans continue to discuss and debate the outcome of the world welterweight title fight that almost forced Pacquiao to call it quits.
The fight gave Pacquiao the chance to redeem himself and he almost pulled off a stoppage win for the first time in nearly a decade when he had Horn moving like a drunken dude on skid row in the ninth round of their scheduled 12-rounder.
As Filipinos drooled over the prospects of seeing Pacquiao knock Horn senseless in the tenth, the script didn’t play out.
Horn, miraculously recovered and went on to the weather the storm, leaving the fight on the hands of the judges.
There was an outcry following the decision and even the sanctioning World Boxing Organization ordered a re-scoring of the fight. But the WBO’s new set of judges saw the same thing: Horn the winner on points. (Nick Giongco)
The setback in 2015 didn’t deter the spirits of Filipino basketball officials, particularly Manny V. Pangilinan, who spearheaded the country’s bid for the hosting rights of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
After losing to China for the 2019 edition of the World Cup, Pangilinan and the rest of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas pushed harder with its bid this time with the backing of Indonesia and Japan.
The efforts of the SBP didn’t go to waste as FIBA gave its approval to the trio partnership of Asia’s Philippines, Indonesia and Japan over the combined bid of Latin America’s Argentina and Uruguay.
SBP president Al Panlilio identified the Mall of Asia Arena, Smart Araneta Coliseum and the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena as venues for the event.
As for the composition of the national team for the World Cup, Pangilinan mentioned the names of PBA players Kiefer Ravena, Roger Pogoy, June Mar Fajardo, and Greg Slaughter, as well as college standouts Thirdy Ravena, Ricci Rivero and high school stalwart Kai Sotto.
The last time the country had the privilege in hosting the FIBA meet – then known as World Championship – was in 1978. (Waylon Galvez)
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel repeated as PBA Governors’ Cup champion in historic fashion last October, beating Meralco in a Game 7 showdown witnessed by more than 54,000 fans at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
With Finals Most Valuable Player LA Tenorio delivering a game to remember with his outside shooting, Ginebra overcame Meralco’s late comeback and won 101-96 for the franchise’s 10th crown and Tim Cone’s 20th as coach.
Ginebra’s run was highlighted by the dominating return of 7-foot center Greg Slaughter from an ACL injury that sidelined him for almost a year. He was later named the Best Player of the Conference.
The Kings were responsible for ending the Grand Slam dream of the San Miguel Beermen by eliminating them in the quarterfinals, then arranged a finals rematch with the Bolts after a tension-filled semifinal series with TNT KaTropa.
In the finals, Ginebra won the first two games, lost the next two before trading victories in Games 5 and 6 that set the stage for a record crowd Philippine basketball has never seen. (Jonas Terrado)
Two fierce rivals renewed their seething rivalry in the UAAP while a traditional powerhouse foiled an emerging force in style in the NCAA as fans and foes alike enjoyed yet another banner season in the local collegiate basketball scene.
For the second straight year, Ateneo and La Salle duked it out for the most prestigious jewel. But the Blue Eagles wrote a different ending this time, prevailing in their winner-take-all match 88-86 before a capacity crowd of more than 22,000.
However, the Green Archers, bleeding and all, vacated the throne in the classiest act possible.
La Salle school management, headed by President Fr. Ray Suplido, FSC, lighted up the facade of its main building in Taft Avenue with blue colors, an ultimate tribute that went viral in social media – and also won the admiration of its rivals.
Over at the country’s oldest collegiate league, San Beda stamped its class in the biggest stage of ‘em all, sweeping worthy challenger Lyceum in two games and claiming its 10th NCAA title in the last 12 years.
While the Red Lions proved who’s still the king of the jungle, the Pirates saw their dream run turn into a complete nightmare in their breakthrough finals appearance after completing an unprecedented 18-game sweep of the elimination round.
Lyceum coach Topex Robinson remained gracious in defeat. (Jerome Lagunzad)
The Philippines wound up where it was predicted to fall in the leaderboard of the 29th Southeast Asian Games hosted by Malaysia.
When it was all over, the Philippines found itself at sixth place with a meager collection of 24 golds, 34 silvers and 63 bronzes, a spot that has become all too familiar for the one-time SEAG overall titleholder the last decade.
After winning the overall crown when it was the host in 2005, the Philippines’ performance dropped dramatically. It was either fifth or sixth in the following editions of the biennial sportsfest. In Myanmar in 2013, it fell to the worst-ever seventh.
In Kuala Lumpur, athletics came up with the most number of gold medals with five, while boxing, taekwondo, gymnastics, judo and billiards, chipped in two each as their rivals kept a stranglehold onto their lofty spots.
Only the minnows, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste trailed the Philippines in the standings. (Nick Giongco)
Every time one thinks of Filipino 9-Ball world champion, sports fans usually mention the “Magician” Efren “Bata” Reyes, Francis “Django” Bustamante, the “Volcano” Renato Alcano, and the “Lion” Alex Pagulayan.
Now, add to the list Carlo Biado.
The 34-year-old cue artist put the country back on top of billiards action as he bagged the World 9-Ball Championship in Doha, Qatar with a win over compatriot Roland Garcia.
Biado, a member of the national team, dominated the all-Filipino finals as he won the first seven racks. With the victory, Biado pocketed $30,000 (about R1.8 million) prize money.
It was the first major international championship in Biado’s career after a heartbreaking defeat to Taiwan’s bet Ko Pin-yi during the 2015 World 10-Ball Championship.
Biado joins Filipino cue artists to the World 9-Ball winner’s circle as Reyes won in 1999 in Cardiff, Wales, Fil-Canadian Pagulayan in 2004 in Taiwan, Alcano in 2006 in Pasay City and Bustamante in 2010 in Qatar. (Waylon Galvez)
To be continued