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.
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