More of the good, less of the bad in 2019

December 27, 2018

ANOTHER year in sports -- 2018 -- is almost over. The obituary on  the  year about to end has already been written.

And like most of you, we're all thinking about the many limitless possibilities for  the year 2019.

If 2018 was a  good year, 2019 could be better.

It’s the new year in sports. We sure like to see more triumphs than setbacks, more cheers than jeers. We\d like to see more of the good, less of the bad.

And while we\re thinking about it, here are  a few things we'd like to see in sports in the coming year.

1.The long-awaited rematch between world boxing champions Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

This is what we all want -- Pacquiao-Mayweather Part 2.

And even the boxing gods know there couldn't be a better storyline next year but put the world's greatest fighters of this generation on the same boxing ring for another 12 rounds of non-stop action. Mayweather and Pacquiao have proven themselves to be two of the best fighters of all time. They  don't exactly need each other now as much as their “Fight of the  Century” encounter back in May 2016 which Mayweather won by unanimous decision. But the  brutal world of prizefighting surely needs a Mayweather-Pacquiao rematch to keep the sport alive and kicking.

2. Gold rush in the 30th Southeast Asian Games which our country is hosting.

An avalanche  of golds is what our country needs --  and  needs so badly -- in the  coming SEA Games in Manila on Nov. 30-Dec. 11.

After disheartening results in the past SEA Games, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) under newly-elected president Ricky Vargas  and the national sports associations know they need to save face with the entire Filipino nation now watching them at home.

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), headed by chairman “William "Butch” Ramirez, has also given the necessary support to the staging of the biennial competition being held in the country for only  the fourth time since 1981, 1991 and 2005.

Four venues -- Manila,  Clark, Subic and BLT ( Batangas-La Union-Tagaytay) -- have already been announced as the official benues fir the multi-sports event,  which will also be remembered for having the highest number of sports in the history of the games at 55.

In 2019 SEA Games, we expect more, not less.

If they still can’t do it inManila, these over-staying and under-performing sports officials should go.

Change should come under President Duterte.

3. Return of world chess hero Wesley So.

Four years ago, So broke a lot of Filipino  chess fans’ hearts when he decided to leave the country and bring his talents to the United States. And while he remains a Filipino by heart, as he himself admitted,  So now carries the American flag every time and everywhere he plays chess.

It might be wishful thinking for  now,  but So's family,  friends and supporters all over the world still fervently pray that our once-shy but gifted Filipino hero will return home and represent the country in international competitions once again    

Personally,  I can’t  wait for the day to see him again, shake his hands and tell him, “Well done, Champ.”

It will be like Kazan Universiade 2013 all over again .

4. The Manny V. Pangilinan-supported Philippine basketball team known as Smart Gilas  plays well and consistent enough to earn an elusive berth to the 2020 London Olympics

To many, it remains close to “Mission Impossible: even if Cleveland Cavaliers  star Jordan Clarkson and Barangay Ginebra resident import Justin  Brownlee get the   chance to  wear the  natural colors.

But we can dream, can’t  we?

5. New sports heroes in billiards, bowling, boxing,  chess, golf, shooting,  swimming, tennis and track and field.

For decades, we’ve all  heard a lot about  the heroics of  Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes, Paeng Nepomuceno, Manny Pacquiao, Eugene Torre, Frankie Minoza, Nathaniel  “Tac” Padilla,  Eric Buhain, Cecil Mamiit  and Lydia de Vega-Mercado.

Everybody loves a hero, but isn’t it about time that  our  over-staying but under-achieving sports leaders give us  new heroes to cheer and love in the coming years.

In 2018,  we saw the rise of  weighting superstar  Hidilyn Diaz,  skateboard sensation Margielyn Didal  and golf  queen Yuka Sazo.

But we want more. We deserve more.

6. The PBA, Asia's first play-for-pay league,  regains its status as the  country's No. 1 source of entertainment.

In  the  not-so-distant past, basketball fans trooped to the Big Dome  to watch exciting and  action-packed  basketball games as only the PBA can provide.  

It’s a little  bit different nowadays.

The lines are longer in Ja-Dine, Liz-Quen and Kat-Niel shows and Sarah Geronimo concerts. Even the latest Vic Sotto Maine  Mendoza  and Vice Ganda blockbuster movies draw more crowds  at the popular Gateway Malls.

In the past, there were too many exciting, action-packed games that attracted hordes of dans. Now, there don’t seem to be enough. Let’s hope  PBA commissioner Willie Marcial can continue to work his magic, put a little fun back in the game and turn things around.

7. Filipino-first policy in the UAAP,  NCAA,  NAASCU and other collegiate leagues.

It's a case of more is not merrier.

In  the UAAP, NCAA NAASCU and even ICBL, more and more and more foreign players from as far as Cameroon, Nigeria and Benin  are being  brought in to the country by top universities and colleges to  bolster their chances of winning the coveted  trophy.

La Salle had Cameroonian workhorse Ben Mbala when it captured the UAAP championship with a two-game sweep over arch-rival Ateneo. Later,  both Ateneo and University of the Philippines proved  unstoppable with  dominant foreign  players.6-9 Chibueze Ikeh and 6-8 Bright Akhuetie.

San Beda  College had Cameroonian Arnaud Noah when it bagged a  record 20th NCAA crown by beating Arellano University and  Donald Tankoua when it swept Lyceum of the Philippines in the past two seasonsm

Whatever happened to our Filipino-first policy?

OK, dear. These are only some of the  things we’ d like  to see in 2019.   More of the good, less of the bad.

Your turn now.  What  would you  like  to see in  sports in the coming year.

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NOTES  -- Happy birthday to my youngest  brother Christopher Andaya, who will celebrate on Dec. 31 in Riyadh, KSA.    

A blessed New Year to all.

For comments and suggestions, e-mail to edandaya2003@yahoo.com