Monthly Archives: May 2009

Four Reasons Why Tennis Is A Smash

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FIRST, the girls. Think of Ana Ivanovic. She’s attractive, brunette, graceful, long-legged, was the former world No.1 and, in this tournament shown on SkyCable channel 33 (Balls), she’s the defending French Open champion.

Be honest: When you scan through the TV channels and, even though you’re not a tennis buff, happen to watch Ms. Ivanovic playing, don’t you put the remote control down then gaze and ogle at her beauty? Yes you do. Yes I do. Yes we all do.

How about the most famous woman athlete in the world? Do you know her? Her given name is Maria and, standing 6-foot-1 with long, flowing blonde hair and a pair of glittering earrings that dance by her side, don’t you watch her, too? Yes you do. Yes we all do. Continue reading Four Reasons Why Tennis Is A Smash

Alone, LeBron’s magic vanishes against Magic

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Would you believe that, had LeBron James not made “LeShot” in Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, the series today would have been 4-0? Yes, Four… Zero. A clean sweep by the Orlando Magic against the team who owns the regular season record, who embarrassed Detroit and Atlanta in the earlier playoffs, 8-0, and boasts of Player No. 23 who’s proclaimed as “Today’s Michael Jordan.”

Confounding? Hard-to-believe? Perplexing? Yes, yes, yes. For how did a team that was destined to reach The Finals (while Kobe and L.A. would struggle) almost got obliterated, 4-0? How? Continue reading Alone, LeBron’s magic vanishes against Magic

Among Cebu runners, Steve is Mr. Ferrari

He was stout, fleshy and portly. He was obese. Standing 5-foot-7, he weighed an overblown 228 pounds. Then. Today, eight years since his waistline exceeded 40 inches, he is slim, lean and slender. Best of all, he is snappy and fast. Among the hundreds of Cebu executives whose sport is running, he is one of the swiftest.

He is Steve Ferraren. His story began in 2002 when tragedy struck: his father died. The cause was diabetes and, when Steve spoke to his doctor, he was issued a hair-raising ultimatum: At 228 lbs., if he did not lose weight, he might face the same fate as his dad. Soon.

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Fearful, Steve took action. Only 35 years old then, he vowed to trim excess poundage. But it wasn’t easy. Losing weight never is. And when Steve first ran around the Cebu City Sports Center, he said, “My maximum distance was only half a round at the oval.” Continue reading Among Cebu runners, Steve is Mr. Ferrari

Running MAD photos

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Lahug brgy. captain and race organizer Mary Ann De Los Santos (center)at the starting line minutes before the start of the Running MAD event which drew over 1,600 runners

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Mary Ann De Los Santos (center) with Men’s 12K champion Mendel Lopez (2nd from left), runner-up Philip Dueñas (3rd from right) and Sherwin Manangil (2nd from right) with race officials Raffy Uytiepo (left-most) and John Pages (right) Continue reading Running MAD photos

NBA’s No.1, with 0:01 left, bangs ‘The Shot’

Call it any adjective you prefer—“Amazing,” “Incredible,” “Breathtaking”—what transpired 24 hours ago at the Quicken Loans Arena in Ohio will forever be etched in NBA history. Down 0-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals, down 93-95 with the same length of time it takes to say “goodbye,” LeBron James does the unthinkable: He grabs the inbounds pass, spins around and, barely looking at the goal and with roughly 0.4 seconds left, unleashes a missile that dribbles against the rim of the basket and slides down the net.

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Swoosh! Wasn’t that stunning? It wasn’t a Steven Spielberg movie—it was better; a real-life script with turns and twists that no one could have plotted and whose ending, wow, was spectacular and unknown until after the buzzer sounded.

Best of all, wasn’t that a Michael Moment? For while LBJ had accumulated a multitude of accolades—Rookie of the Year, MVP, scoring champion, Olympic gold medalist—he’s never had that one moment like MJ.

Now, this. The LeBron Moment. “The biggest shot I’ve made in my career,” he said. Hey, it may have been the biggest shot in all of the National Basketball Association. Continue reading NBA’s No.1, with 0:01 left, bangs ‘The Shot’

Near drowning, Kobe rescues the Lakers

Yesterday, like many of you, I watched part of the Lakers-Nuggets game. From start to near-the-finish, Denver led. They led 5-0 after the opening tip, led by 13 points during the First Quarter, led by 11 at half time, led by 7 points with 7:01 left. But, as we all know, the term led during the game is nowhere near the same as led at the end of the game. Because in sports, the beginning and middle are essential—but what’s most imperative and paramount is The End.

Take swimming. Many a backstroke swimmer has led Michael Phelps at the start only for the Olympic gold medalist to overtake in the end. The same with cycling. A few overeager pedalists sprint to the front when the starting gun is fired—only to evaporate towards the finish line.

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Which brings me to Kobe. Is there any ballplayer who’s a better closer? Who, when the seconds are ticking and the enemy is bloodying you, stands up front, lifts his sword like King Arthur and bludgeons his way to victory? Continue reading Near drowning, Kobe rescues the Lakers

Camsur Ironman

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Everybody’s talking about one of the most-awaited sporting events this ’09: the Ironman 70.3 event in Camarines Sur this August 23. Singapore Marathon runner Jane-Jane Ong is targeting to join. Gerry Malixi is swimming the 2-km. length. Noy Jopson, the former triathlon record holder, is one of the local favorites. Anton Regis will join. What makes this triathlon special, from among many reasons, are these: 1) This is the first time in Phil. history that an Ironman (a licensed brand/event) will be competed here and, 2) The event allows relay teams: One can swim, another can bike the 90K length, and a third athlete can do the 21K run. It’s perfect, right? And, doesn’t the three-person squad fit the name Tri-athlete? For details, visit www.ironman703phil.com.

Roger humbles Rafa

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Just when I had written a story on Roger Federer’s demise, he goes on to win his first 2009 title (Madrid Open) and, yes, defeat The Unbeatable On Clay in his home country soil with a score, 6-4, 6-4. True, Rafael Nadal supporters will say, their Spanish Red Bull played 4 hours-plus the day before against Novak Djokovic and was fatigued and worn-out. But, still, a win is a victory. All this means two things: Chinggay Utzurrum and Michelle So of Sun.Star are euphoric and, come Sunday when the French Open begins in Paris, watch for a Confident Roger against a Vengeful Rafa.

Running MAD

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Lahug Brgy. Captain Mary Ann de los Santos is running. She ran in the past, she’ll run in 2010 and, this Sunday, starting at the U.P. Cebu grounds and circling the city for 12 long kilometers, she’ll run. I’m no political journalist—that’s why this space is on these back pages—and so, by “run,” I mean, literally, run, as in planting one foot in front of the other and moving forward as sweat drips from the body then bounces off the asphalted road. Continue reading Running MAD

Dodong and Eddie: Cebu’s Top Doubles Tandem

The 14th Gullas Tennis Cup has started. Vis-Min’s preeminent junior event where 200 children swat volleys and smash lobs, it is the brainchild of one family. Below was the article I wrote 24 months ago. With some updates, here’s their story…

Name me one family in Cebu who is a) Multi-millionaire rich; b) Famous; c) Respected for 100 years; d) Powerful; and—despite all the “Rich and Famous” trappings—have remained e) Humble.

The six-letter answer? Visit the Cebu Country Club courts today and you’ll see hundreds of boys and girls wearing T-shirts with one name printed on the chest: GULLAS.

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With Cardinal Vidal, the Gullas family: Jackee Gullas Weckman, Cong. Eddie, Jiji, Didi and Dodong Gullas Continue reading Dodong and Eddie: Cebu’s Top Doubles Tandem

As LeBron is crowned, a retrospect on No. 23

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Valentine’s Day three months ago at the sprawling and expansive Asturias farm of Frederic Chiongbian, seated around the dining table were Chris Aldeguer, Meyrick Jacalan, Frederic and myself. We debated. The topic? Who, among the billions of earthlings who have inhabited this planet, is the greatest athlete of all time.

“Lance Armstrong!” I said. As rapid as our Pambansang Kamao’s left punch, my trio of friends—all ardent bikers and devotees of Lance—quickly shot down my proposal and, in unanimous decision, echoed with one answer: No. 23.

I soon retreated. And concurred. It’s MJ. Think about it: In the 1990s decade and the 15 years that we’ve been blessed with his soaring presence dribbling that orange ball, weren’t those weeks and months the best in sports? Don’t those mental photos—of an identifiable black object flying inside the United Center skyline—bring back joyous memories?

Remember the tongue-wagging? The shiny scalp? Those baggy shorts? The Air Jordans? The diamond earring? Those dunks that slam. The red Chicago Bulls jersey with the most famous number in sports, 23? Remember those contests between Bird and Magic? The two Olympic gold rings? Space Jam? Best of all, remember the smile? Continue reading As LeBron is crowned, a retrospect on No. 23

Copa de Casino Español de Cebu

You’ve heard of e-tickets and eBay and e-commerce and e-Cards but have you heard of this…. E-Golf? Ever come across it? I’m sure not because this has never been introduced in Cebu—or, possibly, in the whole Philippines. What is it?

Pioneered by telecom giant PLDT and promoted by the company’s energetic and charismatic leader, Nilo Bantilan, the Vice President for Marketing in Vis-Min of PLDT’s SME Group, this idea is state-of-the-art.

Yesterday and today at the Mercedes Plantation Golf Club, dozens trooped to the northernmost town of Medellin to swing 5-irons and excavate divots. And, since Medellin is a long drive away, none of the golfers’ friends can watch them play if they’re here in Cebu City, right? Continue reading Copa de Casino Español de Cebu