Yearly Archives: 2011

The 29th SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards

Every year, the best of the best gather. Boxers. Triathletes. Golfers. Motocross champions. Bowlers. Taekwondo black-belters. Scrabble mind experts. Cyclists. Mixed Martial Artists.

Over 180 of Cebu’s top athletes and sportsmen meet. Some, like Donnie Nietes, are world champions. Others, like Irina Gabasa and Igi Maximo and Arthur Craig “Iggy” Pantino, are the best in their juniors categories. A few — like the Cebu Volleyball Association (CEVA) or the Cebu Tenpin Bowling Association (CETBA) — are organizations. One is a company and family name whose athletic involvement spans decades and a multitude of events: Aboitiz. All are champions and supporters of one discipline: Sports.

The event? It’s this Saturday. And you know what’s the best part? You’re invited.

The past two years — in 2009 when Manny Pacquiao was the special guest and last year, when Z Gorres arose from his wheelchair and walked forward to personally accept his trophy — the Cebu Sports Awards had been exclusive. Same in the years past. Grand Convention Center. Laguna Garden Cafe ballroom. And several other “by-invitation-only” venues. All exclusive.

Not two afternoons from today. You’re invited. The Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC), in partnership with San Miguel Brewery, Inc. with the support of Smart, M. Lhuillier, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Air21, Rudy Project, Coca-Cola and Citigym, have decided that this 2011 will be unique.

Join us. The time is 3 to 5 p.m. The venue will be Ayala Center Cebu. On the center stage of the mall’s Activity Center, you will see David Lim receive his special citation for the sport of Autocross. Want to snap a photo of golf’s rising star, Gio Gandionco? Sure you can. How about asking the sisters Lorhiz and Loren Dale Echavez–the triathlete and swimming champions–for a picture at the Photo Wall? Sure. I’m sure they’ll agree. This is your one chance out of the 365 days of this season to witness every one of Cebu’s sports heroes in one venue.

Boojie Lim, the patron of chess for several decades now, will finally be honored. He’s the Sportsman of the Year. Dr. Danny Villadolid, one of the most respected of officials in this island, will also be recognized. He receives the Orlando C. Sanchez Award, given to the individual who has contributed his full efforts and time–without much fanfare–to the development of Cebu sports.

Our special guest? The one who’ll receive the Presidential Award? He was supposed to have brought with him a full team of footballers. You know these guys. They’re the Azkals. Yes, had the Azkals flown to Cebu after their 2-0 win against Mongolia in Bacolod, they’d join us on Saturday. They’d be the special attractions. But, no, Baguio is their training camp.

Dan Palami will be here in person on Saturday. He’s the man credited for the rise of the Azkals. As team manager, he single-handedly funded the then-unknown squad. Now, they’re heroes. Palami is the super hero. He’ll give a speech on the Ayala Center stage.

Who is the Athlete of the Year? That one person who will emerge the brightest among the stars? Last year, it was Rubilen Amit, the lady billiards gold medalist. Though small in height, she stood tallest. Who will it be this year? Find out this Saturday. Her or his identity will only be revealed on the spot. Like the Grammys or the Oscars–nobody knows except the organizers. It will be publicly announced by our master of ceremonies, Rico Navarro.

Join us. Please do. You’ll enjoy the two hours.

Now, if you’re an awardee reading this article, please call our Secretariat for a few instructions (Sandy or Emma at 4161122 local 100 or 112.) And, more importantly, if you’re an honoree, bring your whole family. Invite your friends. Ask your barkada to cheer for you.

This is your day. This is a special moment to forever capture. This is your reward for excellence. See you this Saturday.

SM2SM Run; Operation Smile this Sunday

Calling on all awardees of the 29th SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards: the annual honoring of our island’s best is this Saturday, Feb. 19, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Activity Center of the Ayala Center Cebu. Everyone is requested to be at the venue by 2:15 p.m. Attire is semi-formal wear or, if that’s too formal, honorees can come in their athletic uniform (except the swimmers!).

San Miguel Brewery is the lead company helping. Also, this 2011, the following have come forward to support: Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Smart, Rudy Project, Citigym, Air 21 and M. Lhuillier. If you’re an awardee, please call Sandy or Emma at 4161122 local 100 or 112 for more details. See you.

SM2SM. I immensely enjoyed last Sunday’s SM2SM Run. The top officials of SM City–led by Marissa Fernan–were there very early two mornings ago. SM top honchos Joel Andres, Sherry Tuvilla and Tata Mempin I also had a chance to speak with.

Joining the 12K distance, there was plenty to commend with the event organized by Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III. The full closure of both lanes of the SRP. The P30,000 first prize for the 21K winners (which was just as large as the Condura Run in Manila). The passage beside Plaza Independencia and the Malacañang sa Sugbu. The unlimited water supply every kilometer. Best of all, the God-given weather. Late Saturday evening and early Sunday, it poured. But, as God smiled down upon those who took good care of their bodies through exercise, He gifted the runners: no rain until past 9 a.m. when the participants had finished.

Steve Benitez ran his first 12K. The owner of Bo’s Coffee had never previously joined a 10K race. The appeal of running the SRP–plus the prodding of Mike and Joyce Fernan, who also comfortably ran the dozen-kilometer distance–convinced Steve to run. Congratulations also to the tandem of Noy and Amale Jopson, the first-placers in the 12K couples category. Another SM Run is targeted for October.

To doctors Yong Larrazabal and Peter Mancao–and to the entire SM team–well done!

With the Manila-based Kenyan runners after the SM run

CERC. Roy Trani is the new president of the Cebu Executive Runners Club. After many years at the helm of the running group founded in 1997, Jesse Taborada (now the Vice-President) turns over the leadership to a fellow marathoner. The other officers include Kenneth Casquejo (Secretary), Steve Ferraren (Treasurer), Dodong Sulatre (Auditor), Jacs Jacalan (Sgt-at-Arms) and myself as PRO. The “Council of Elders,” not chosen because they’re the oldest, include Dr. Abraham Manlawe, Roel Militar, Dr. Albert Santos and Dr. Vic Verallo. The main project of the CERC, of course, is the Cebu Marathon–slated on Jan. 8, 2012. Congrats, Roy!

BIEBER OR BRUCE. Plenty have commented that, with his new, full crop of hair, Manny Pacquiao looks like Justin Beiber. Is our Pinoy trying to copy the looks of the heartthrob of American music?

“That is a very good question,” Rep. Manny answered in response to a press conference query. “Bruce Lee is my idol. That is why I have this haircut.”

I agree with Pacman. His looks–more so, his quick bursts of punches and flurry of ra-tat-tat blasts–resemble that of the King of Kung Fu.

OPERATION SMILE RUN. If you’re targeting both to get physically fit and to help the needy, join this weekend’s Operation Smile Charity Run. The proceeds go to support the Operation Smile Cebu Mission Year 14–which begins the next day, Feb. 21, at the V. Sotto Hospital when free reconstructive surgeries will be performed to correct cleft lips, cleft palates and many other facial deformities.

Mariquita Salimbangon Yeung started Operation Smile in Cebu more than 12 years ago. Since then, over 3,000 children and young adults have had positive changes to their lives.

This Sunday is the run to both celebrate Operation Smile and to raise funds. Distances (in kms.) are 1.6, 3, 5, 10 and 21. (For the 10K and 21K, RFID timing chips will be used.) Register today at Runnr!

The Azkals are good — and looking good

Girls dream of convincing James and Phil to be their young husbands. The Fil-Brit brothers are rockstar-famous. They’re celebrities in today’s hottest entertainment called football. My wife Jasmin calls them “hot.” Quinito Henson has a new term for the PHL squad: “The Beatles.” Mobbed by Ilonggas, their shirts pulled, their hands wearied with autograph-signing, their photos plastered on pink bedroom walls, the female population is obsessed.

This craze began when the Azkals shockingly beat Vietnam, tied with Singapore, and reached the semifinals of the AFF (Suzuki) Cup last December. It reached a climax last Wednesday night when the fireworks erupted at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.

These footballers are good. But more than good, they’re good-looking. And this is what fuels their popularity. In the same way that all movie stars except Pokwang are pretty, we assume the same with our athletic heroes: we adore them because of their incredible prowess on the sports arena.

And, even better, if they’re beautiful, we worship them. Consider Anna Kournikova. She is more famous than 97.5 percent of the world’s female athletes–not because she’s won 38 events (she has zero singles titles)–but because of her Russian beauty and curvaceous Jessica Alba-like body.

Michael Jordan is the same. The reason why he topped the No. 1 ranking as the all-time greatest is not solely because of his acrobatics wearing the Chicago Bulls jersey, it’s because he’s the complete package. He’s got the tools, the Nike goods, the look.

David Beckham, in People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive 2010,” is right there alongside Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio. Sure, the former England captain is adroit and dexterous. His feet are good. But his face—as millions will agree–is even better looking.

Which brings me back to Neil Etheridge, Alex Borromeo, Simon Greatwich, Jason de Jong, James and Phil and the other Azkals. These guys are good, no doubt. Did you see the in-between-the-legs goal stung by Chieffy Caligdong? That was like Manny Pacquiao’s left hook on Ricky Hatton. Or how about, just seconds before the final whistle by the referee to end the game at 1-0, a curving shot by Phil Younghusband that penetrated the goal line and erupted a nationwide scream which reverberated from Davao to Mandaue to Barotac Nuevo?

Football, beginning this 2011, will reach heights to rival basketball and boxing. The reason? Football is grass-roots. If you study closely the elementary and high school students–in Cebu’s private schools, for example—the most-played sport is not basketball–it’s soccer. It’s what five-year-olds dribble. The game of the foot, not hand. Parents of Springdale and Sacred Heart-Ateneo and Bright Academy and Don Bosco and USC and many more are soccer moms and dads. The Azkals give these youngsters their Super Heroes. Which brings me to the “celebrity” discussion. These Azkals boys have an opportunity to be much more famous than their PBA 6-footer counterparts. They have a chance to achieve movie star-like prominence.

How? One example: The “tweet” sent by Phil Younghusband to Angel Locsin. In a Twitter message delivered the day after the Azkals win over Mongolia, he said: “Hi Angel! This Phil. How are you? I was just wondering if you are free for Valentines day?”

This public announcement during this love month rippled throughout the showbiz world—in particular, to the millions of non-sports Pinoy fans. This was juicy. Kilig. A top story for Boy Abunda. Then, not long after, Angel responded with her own Twitter message: “hi! this is angel? Congrats on your win last night! Tnx for the invite but I have work on valentines.. Let’s try another day?”

My point? These non-sports acts are perfect for sports. By fueling tsismis, by creating gossip, Phil—off the field—has excited our nation.

Good. Good PR. Good-looking. Good for football.

Boom’s booming business; Nadal in Cebu?

Will Rep. Manny Pacquiao get to fulfill his goal of meeting Pres. Barack Obama? Let’s see. Let’s hope so. For if it happens, what a dream photograph moment for MP. Everybody wants a picture with Obama. (Remember GMA?) I hope Pacman gets his Oval Office wish.

SUPER. Apart from the half-time show, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, the fireworks and the actual Steelers-Packers game, the Super Bowl is known for another contest: Advertisements. Each Super Bowl TV ad costs a monstrous $2.6 million. Computed in pesos, per 30-second advertisement, that’s P113,282,000.

Of the several 2011 Super Bowl advertisements I’ve seen, here are my favorites…

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PALARO. DepEd has released details pertaining to the complaints raised about the Palarong Pambansa selection for Region VII: “Only basketball, football, baseball, sepak takraw, softball and volleyball will conduct evaluations.” This is both good and bad. Good because the rest of the athletes (individual sports) will no longer undergo the confusing “performance evaluation.” Bad because, until now, nearly three months after the Cviraa in Dumaguete City, the final composition of the above-mentioned ballgames has yet to be completed.

BOOM. Rey Bautista and Jason Pagara were our guests last Tuesday at the Rotary Club of Cebu West meeting at the Cebu Country Club. With at least five mega-events organized by the ALA Promotions this 2011—plus, of course, the global power of a certain congressman from Sarangani—Philippine boxing is at its peak today.

Benjie Cimafranca, Roger Un, Ronnie Medalle, Jason Pagara, John Pages, Boom-Boom B., Edito Villamor, Maxwell Espina, Chad Cañares, Nilo Domingo and Philip Tan

Staying up past 10:30 p.m. two nights ago with Boom-Boom, Jason, Chad Cañares and Edito Villamor at the Frostbite Dessert and Yoghurt store (along Juan Luna Ave.), what impressed me most about Boom-Boom was his business acumen. Not wanting to throw his money to waste, he explained to our group (Justin Uy, Johnny Siao, Nilo Domingo, John Young, Camilo Ceniza, Dr. Benjie Cimafranca) his “Booming” venture. He bought several passenger vans and has an expanding V-hire business in Bohol. Plus, during times when he’s available, he drives the van himself–complete with a side-trip tour of his home in Candijay, Bohol. Impressive, Boom-Boom!

NBA. Can you believe the strength of a Carmelo Anthony-powered L.A. Lakers? Rumors are swirling that Andrew Bynum will be traded for the Denver Nuggets superstar. Wow, if that happens, the Anthony-Bryant-Gasol trio will not only rival the Three Kings of Miami—it will also be hard to imagine any other NBA final but the Lakers-Heat.

The Cavaliers? Ouch. Don’t you pity Cleveland? Like a groom left at the altar by a bride who sped away minutes before the “I do’s,” LeBron’s former team has lost 25 straight games. Their standing is 8-44.

NADAL. After his rival Roger Federer won the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award from 2005 to 2008, it’s now Rafa Nadal’s turn. (The past two years were won by Usain Bolt.) In a ceremony in Abu Dhabi, the 24-year-old Spaniard was conferred the trophy. “For me, the most important thing is not being No. 1,” said Nadal, “but to be healthy and keep being competitive in every tournament I play.” Wise words. For someone who plays an all-out physical game that endangers his body, Nadal’s strongest opponent is not Roger, Novak or Andy—it’s the expected breakdown of his body.

Speaking of Spain, would you believe that, if we win the Davis Cup tie against Japan this March 4 to 6 in Lapu-Lapu City… and then we win the next one against either New Zealand or Uzbekistan… then we have a chance to play Rafa? I’m not joking. We are two Davis Cup victories away from joining the highly-prized World Group (top 16 nations including France, U.S., Switzerland…). The last time we entered that group was back in 1991. I flew to Manila and watched Felix Barrientos and Roland So at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium battle against Sweden (whose star, Stefan Edberg, opted not to join; Sweden still won 5-0).

It’s a long shot but… you never know. (If the Azkals can do it…) And speaking of dreams: imagine if we beat Japan, beat NZ/Uzbekistan, draw Spain… and the Davis Cup against Nadal is played in Plantation Bay!

Davis Cup player Cecil Mamiit with Sun.Star’s Marian Baring

Football and Football: These games are super

At the same Cowboys Stadium in Texas where Manny Pacquiao annihilated Antonio Margarito and Joshua Clottey, it was a national holiday yesterday.

The Super Bowl. For many of the 310 million Americans, no game or entertainment or party is bigger. That’s in America. Because here in Cebu, when I clicked open the TV set at 7:30 a.m. yesterday, nothing super was shown. A replay of the Australian Open mixed doubles final was broadcasted on Star Sports. It was the UEFA Champions League featuring Barcelona in the Balls Channel. Golf was presented in Solar Sports.

Nothing super. There was no American football. Too bad. The Super Bowl, for the past years and if my nearly 39-year-old brain still remembers correctly, has always been shown on cable TV. Not Super Bowl XLV. Not the Green Bay Packers versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was one super ballgame, though. I followed it via the ESPN website and New York Times’ real-time blog. The GB Packers led by as much as 21-3. Surely, with that lopsided score, it’s a guaranteed win. But, no, the Steelers, led by Ben Roethlisberger–infamous for his sex-related charges–rallied in the second half to make the score, 21-17. Plus, sometime in the 4th quarter, they had ball possession. But a fumble by Rashard Mendenhall condemned their fate. In the end, with GB quarterback Aaron Rogers doing an Aa+ effort, it was the Packers who win the NFL crown, 31-25.

Of the multitude of sporting events I’ve watched live, American football remains one of the few I’d love to see with my bare eyes. NFL games are thrilling. You see passes, runs, tackles, interceptions, punts, blitzes. Plus there are a myriad of interesting terms like fumble, incomplete pass, kneel, red zone, safety, trick play. This sport presents so many scenarios. Would be a fascinating experience to watch it live.

Back to our no-show here in Cebu, sayang. I hope, the very least, replays are shown. Because, apart from the stirring finish, I’d like to watch the half-time show. The Black Eyed Peas performed with Usher. Same with Christina Aguilera, who sang the national anthem (and made a blunder–ala Christian Bautista—by singing the lyrics wrongly).

FOOTBALL. Speaking of another sport with a similar name, it was the Thirsty Football Cup last weekend at the Cebu City Sports Center. An estimated 2,500 players involving 243 teams participated.

This event started in 2004 when my younger brother Charlie teamed up with Neil Montesclaros, Chad Songalia and a few others from Don Bosco to introduce a quicker and more intense type of play: Festival Football.

Instead of the prolonged 90-minute games that involve only two teams and a giant-sized rectangle of a field, this idea was radical. Loud music blared. Five-year-olds kicked. And, if there’s a category for the young ones, there, too, was one for the once young: a 36-and-under division. After the whistle blew, only 15 minutes of play ensued. It was speedy and rapid-fire. And, since the field was tiny, players would propel their bodies faster, pass hurriedly, bolt and charge after opponents in a rush.

Last weekend was the same. Only bigger. (As Graeme Mackinnon, who arrived last Saturday from Australia, observed his former pupils from Springdale: “They’ve grown so tall after eight years I can hardly recognize them!”)

AZKALS. Inside the Abellana football grounds, all the talk, of course, was about this Thursday. Plenty are traveling to Bacolod. Mike Limpag and Noel Villaflor–our resident soccer experts on these back pages–are leaving this early morning. We also saw Dr. Joel Pascual. His son–Paolo Pascual (replace the “a” with an “i” and you get another superstar’s name)–is one of the goalies of Team Philippines. When we spoke last Saturday, Joel beamed with a full smile. He has reason to be proud of his son.

If not for a tight schedule here, it would be nice to sip batchoy at 21 Restaurant, gobble up the pitso and atay at Chicken House, and watch those “stray dogs” beat Mongolia.

DepEd’s Borgonia: Please explain the rules

My daughter Jana, who is 12 years old and in Grade 6, competed in the Cebu City Olympics last October. Her sport was tennis. Among the many who swung backhands and volleys, she finished second. She’d represent Cebu City in the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (Cviraa) meet. That came last November when, together with her grandparents Jack and Malu Mendez, we traveled to Dumaguete City for five days. Out of the dozens of elementary girls from Bohol, Tuburan, Dumaguete, Mandaue and more, Jana reached the finals. She lost to Zethley Mae Alferez of Naga. But, by claiming second place, she would represent Region VII. She qualified for the Palaro.

Or so we thought. Because, days after, an announcement was broadcasted: Palarong Pambansa selection was unfinished! What? We were confused.

Fast forward to today—Feb. 6—and still, no final list has been announced. I’m glad Cebu City Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young voiced out his sentiments. Last Thursday, in an article penned by ace writer Marian Baring, VM Young said: “I am very much disappointed. We had targeted to improve the region’s finish in the Palarong Pambansa but the DepEd has decided to choose another path and this is throwing the plan off…  It defeats the purpose of holding the regional meet earlier. Mao ra gihapon mura ra ta nag Cviraa og February because until now, we do not have the final list of athletes and it’s already February.”

I have spoken to parents, coaches and even several DepEd officials about this and they, too, are confused. Ruel Dihiansan, my close buddy from the Rotary Club of Cebu West, called me to complain. His daughter, Janel, is one of the best badminton players in this island. Janel qualified for the Palaro. Unfortunately, she was asked to join another “elimination tournament.” But, as Ruel explained, that weekend coincided with Janel’s Juniors-Seniors Prom.

“What if Janel loses?” Ruel asked. Does this mean she’ll no longer go to the Palaro? What use was the Cvriaa? Is this small-time elimination event more important than the regional sports meet?

In another example, a champion gymnast who won in the Cviraa was stricken with fever during the day of the eliminations. He could not join. Does this mean he’s no longer part of the Team Region VII?

Three weeks ago, I sought clarification. Two times, I called the office of Dept. of Education Regional Director Recaredo “Ric” Borgonia. He was in Manila. I left my number and requested for a return call. I mentioned that I was a concerned Cebuano: a parent, a Sun.Star writer, a member of the sports community. We never spoke. (Well, if Vice Mayor Joy Young himself asked to speak to the regional director and got snubbed, I’m not surprised he didn’t entertain my calls.)

Dr. Borgonia, whom I have yet to meet, I am sure, is a fine man. His reputation–as reinforced by Godofredo Roperos’ column last Friday: “I know that Ric is a careful planner himself and is a career executive service officer”–is positive. That is irrefutable.

But, as head of our athletes, he has to be more forthright and clear. He must answer this query: What use was the Cviraa? This supposed “performance evaluation”–postponed twice already (it was originally set two weekends ago)–is a subjective way of choosing athletes.

Sports—anywhere around the world—is successful because of its objectivity. In running, whoever crosses that finish line first wins the gold. In the NBA or PBA or any “liga-liga,” whoever scores more points when the final whistle is blown, wins. In chess, whoever is “check-mated,” loses; in football, the team with more goals wins. Simple. Erasing this objectivity—and replace it with a subjective way of choosing—robs the sport. It’s unfair. It makes the Cviraa useless.

With only 93 days left before Dapitan City lights the torch opening the Palaro, I hope, on this matter, for one thing from the Department of Education: educate us.

Jeff Galloway in Cebu

Jeff Galloway is a legend in the running world. He is a world-class athlete and a member of the 1972 US Olympic Team. He is the inventor of the Galloway Training Programs and has coached over 250,000 runners and walkers all over the world. Jeff has completed over 130 marathons and has written 18 books on running, walking and general fitness and speaks at over 200 events annually. He has been named one of 18 Runner’s World Experts in the magazine’s 40th anniversary edition.

Join Jeff on February 2 and 5 in Manila, and on February 3 in Cebu, as he discusses and demonstrates the tips and techniques that has helped thousands of runners run faster, longer and injury-free! Hear Jeff talk about the following:

•    Conquering “The Wall”: how you can break through your limits and eliminate fatigue
•    The “Magic Mile” formula: how to accurately predict your race performance
•    The Galloway Method: Why taking walk breaks can make you run faster
•    How to do speed work, hill training and long runs properly so you don’t waste your training
•    How you can train to run any distance and still enjoy family, friends and career
•    How to correct your running form and improve running efficiency
•    Staying motivated: Why losing motivation while training is normal and how you can keep your focus on your goal
•    Nutrition: What to eat before, during and after your race for optimal performance
•    Why monitoring and boosting your blood sugar level is critical to successful racing
•    How to deal with injuries and recover as fast as possible
•    Race-day strategies:  Run your best race using the correct strategy
•    Over-training: How to avoid it so you run at your best during race day
•    Why proper cross-training and strength training will improve your running

An extensive Q&A follows where Jeff will answer all your questions based on data gathered from coaching over 250,000 runners and a running career that spans nearly 50 years!

Lecture fee: Php500

Sign-up for the Galloway Running School! Jeff will personally conduct two workshops in Manila and one workshop in Cebu! Class size is limited to 30 students and will run for 3 hours. During the workshops, Jeff will provide personalized instruction on the following:

•    How to improve time
•    Individualized format–ask any question in any area
•    Specific running drills for easier, more efficient, faster runs
•    How to improve endurance without pain and over-fatigue
•    How to avoid hitting the wall
•    Specific training programs for specific goals
•    Specific recommendations on water intake, eating and why it’s good to drink coffee
•    Dealing with heat
•    Absolving you of guilt for not stretching
•    Strength for running
•    Motivation techniques to get you out the door
•    Mental toughness techniques to keep going
•    “Dirty tricks” that will strengthen your mind on race day
•    When to replace shoes

*  Note: Come in your running gear!
Workshop Fee: php4,000

(Thanks to Lit Onrubia for the details.)

Jeson Patrombon

I received this text message last Monday from Coach Manny Tecson from Manila: “The current ITF world junior ranking is out and Jeson Patrombon is ranked world No. 9 after his quarterfinal finish at the Australian Open.” This is positive news. If I recall correctly, Jeson, 17, is the highest ranking Pinoy since Felix Barrientos was rated in the top five in the 1980s.

Also, two days ago, I got to speak to Oscar Hilado, a Manila-based business mogul and tennis philanthropist. Like he does every January, Mr. Hilado was in Melbourne for the Oz Open’s final week. He saw the Novak-Andy final and witnessed Jeson’s third round victory. “Impressive” and “inspiring” were the words used by Hilado. Watch for Jeson, who hails from Iligan City, to join the Davis Cup team here–possibly as training partner–during the March 4 to 6 encounter against Japan.

CIS Reunion

Rannie, Serge, John, Jonel, Iker, Anton and Brian

Two nights ago, I had a high school get-together. From second to fourth year high school, I studied at the Cebu International School. Only 16 of us stepped on that stage to receive our diplomas. The school was small; we were that few.

Last Tuesday? It was a long, long time coming reunion. We were seven who met at the Maya Restaurant for dinner and drinks: Iker Aboitiz, Jonel Borromeo, Serge Cuasito, Brian LaRosa, Rannie Misa, Anton Perdices and myself. At CIS, we played basketball and–as was one of the highlights of our team–got to beat, once, the strong Sacred Heart squad of Michael Aldeguer, Grant Go, Chad Cañares…

I remember Iker Aboitiz “kicking” Christian Ventic, Jonel Borromeo rebounding at the center and, effortlessly nailing 15-footers, the sharpshooter who now resides in New York, Serge Cuasito.

You run? Sit and listen to Jeff Galloway

It’s like Fra Lippo Lippo and their Feb. 13 concert. It’s like Justin Bieber invading Cebu. It’s like Toto or Air Supply or Trini Lopez or Michael Buble landing in our city to do concerts.

For runners, this concert is tonight. No, this 1972 U.S. Olympiad does not sing—or maybe, he will—but what he does is sing praises to this sport that has got the Philippines sweating. The sport is Running and the artist is Jeff Galloway. Tonight—from 6 to 9 P.M.—he will be speaking at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.

Who is Mr. Galloway? He is a world-class runner whose personal best includes a six-mile (10K) time of 27.21. Back in 1973, he broke the U.S. 10-mile record with a time of 47:49. These days, he coaches, having spoken to “over 200,000 runners and walkers.” A columnist for Runner’s World and a best-selling author, he is one of the world’s most famous gurus of running.

Tonight’s “concert” has an entrance fee of only P500. Considering the learnings you and I will absorb—including tips like “conquering the Wall,” “dealing with injuries,” “Cross-training,” “Nutrition: what to eat,” and his famous “Run-Walk-Run” strategy—this ticket price is a bargain. See you!

BOOM!

Photos by Dondi Joseph

Yep. BOOM. He’s back! Mr. Bautista was impressive. Though I thought he lost that first round, he quarreled in the second 180 seconds and, in the third, his relentlessness stabbed the liver of Alejandro Barrera. On his knees, praying for a reprieve, facing a Boholano warrior, the cousin of Marco Antonio Barrera quit. He couldn’t stand it. He could not stand. Period.

Jason Pagara, only 19, took just 173 seconds before a first-round knockout–just like when Manny Pacquiao flattened Ricky Hatton–when Billy Sumba of Indonesia fell unconscious. Doctors, including top heart surgeon Peter Mancao, climbed the stage. Sumba trembled. His eyes, dazed. An oxygen mask was attached. In minutes, he finally stood. But the man who stood tallest and who toured the seats inside the Waterfront Cebu ballroom as cameras flashed with his flashy smile: Jason Pagara. He’s a talent.

Congratulations to Michael and his dad, Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, for staging another jampacked and thrilling ALA event. Looking forward to another mega-contest this March or April.

ROTARY. Of the hundreds/thousands who watched last Saturday were 14 of my closest friends. We meet every Tuesday night. Last weekend, instead of our usual gathering at the Cebu Country Club, we decided to see blood, sweat, red gloves and KOs.

Jimmy Lao. Maxwell Espina. Ray Patuasi. Benjie Cimafranca. Toto Cupin. Carl Supe. Wilton Uykingtian. Johnny Siao. Dondi Joseph and his son Morgan. Ronnie Medalle. Nonito Narvasa. Camilo Ceniza. Philip Tan. These top Cebuano businessmen are my fellow members of the Rotary Club of Cebu West. In the guise of watching boxing, they sat salivating at three scantily-clad round card girls “imported” by ABS-CBN from Manila. No one blinked. These men sat frozen like statues as the models paraded.(Ha-ha. That’s a semi-joke.) It was the group’s first live boxing watch and, with those boom-boom-bastic girls, I bet it won’t be the last.

No joke, Novak Djokovic rises Down Under

With his beauteous girlfriend Ana Ivanovic seated in his box, Novak Djokovic, the new No.1 player in the world, is sure to win the career Grand Slam this 2011. (I’m joking. But, seriously, don’t you think a Novak-Ana off-court relationship makes a perfect pair?)

The truth is this: Nobody–not even a healthy Rafael Nadal–could have beaten the Serbian superstar at the recent Australian Open. He beat Thomas Berdych in three sets. He dismantled Roger Federer the same. He obliterated Andy Murray last Sunday.

Poor Murray. I cheered for him. So did millions in England and Scotland and, I suspect, millions more (than Novak) worldwide. It was Andy’s third Grand Slam final try and he’d have been the first from Great Britain in 75 years (since Fred Perry) to win a major.

Queen Elizabeth II will have to wait. Because this week, Serbia and it’s 7.5 million people are drinking vodka. Djokovic won for his nation their first-ever Davis Cup last December. Add the Oz Open to his trophy collection.

And so now, from the usual R & R rivalry, it’s The Big Three. Like Bosh-Wade-James in Miami, it’s the trio of Novak-Roger-Rafa in tennis. To me, the question isn’t “Will Novak become No.1?” It’s this: When? My guess is… soon. But, not too soon. Let’s not forget, the clay court season is near and we know who dominates. Last year, Nadal won his French Open title No. 5 on clay. Like you call your house your home, Rafa’s home sits on that clay court.

Still, when Rafa, 24, will be decapitated with his myriad of injuries, and when Roger, 29, will want to play with his twin daughters, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, more than Slazengers, then the 23-year-old Djokovic will reign in Tennisdom.

Today, his crosscourt forehand is stunning; his down-the-line backhand–the ATP Tour’s best–is offensive; his serve is miles-per-hour faster; his defense (did you see those lob retrievals?) is breathtaking; and, best of all, his wife-to-be Ana Ivanovic is the prettiest woman on tennis shoes. (Ha-Ha. Mike Limpag and Maria Sharapova will disagree.)

Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

In life, like tennis, the best service wins

This 2011 is my 25th anniversary. It all started in 1986. Our family relocated from The City of Smiles to the Queen City of the South. From a basketball-loving Bacolod resident, my sports focus transformed into tennis in Cebu. Since then, I’ve had a stadium-full of memories of tennis: Shaking Pete Sampras’ hand with Roger Federer beside him in Kuala Lumpur. Reaching the No.5 juniors ranking, nationwide. Being conferred the Sportsman of the Year award in 1999 for uplifting the sport. Snapping photos of Rafa Nadal’s Olympic gold victory in Beijing. There are hundreds more… But, above all else, the reason why Tennis–to me and to millions–is so loved and revered is because of this: You can play the sport.

There are dozens of games shown on ESPN or Balls TV that we follow: The UFC. NBA. Baseball. European football. The X-Games. These are terrific sports. But many of them we’re unable to play. Or, we cannot play until the late years of our lives.

Tennis is a game you and I can play. It’s not difficult. It’s a recreational activity that 77-year-olds can enjoy. It’s a game a seven-year-old girl can learn. It’s a lifelong sport. Also, tennis is both social and one-dimensional. At dozens of clubs from Pardo to Suson to Mandaue to Casino Español, players congregate. Doubles pairings abound. People slice backhands at Baseline. Rep. Eddie Gullas plays doubles with today’s birthday celebrant, Mark Yang, at the Cebu Country Club.

Friends laugh, joke, swing racquets, smash, drink San Mig Light, lose P250, hit drop shots… all with friends… all on the same rectangle played on by the Federers and the Nadals. Tennis is social. It’s individual. This afternoon starting 4:30, it‘s the Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. That’s one-on-one. Nobody (no coaches or girlfriends) is allowed on court except the Serb and the Scot. That’s like boxing–except Pacman listens to Freddie Roach after every 180 seconds.

Not in tennis. Once inside that court, you’re alone. Nobody else you can blame–or applaud, if, like Djokovic, you’ll win tonight–but yourself. See the beauty of this contrast?

Which brings me two more contrasting points. One, “the good news.” No bigger tennis event in Cebu has happened in our existence. The “Japan vs. Philippines” Davis Cup is a must-watch activity. Slated from March 4 to 6 at the Plantation Bay, tickets are now available at Nike Stadium in SM City and Planet Sports in Ayala Center.

As a player, organizer, and lifelong aficionado, this is the best tennis news I’ve heard. This is good. Now, the bad: Our lack of a tennis center. I hope Congressman Tommy Osmeña is reading this. Or, when he arrives from Japan, Mayor Mike Rama. Or any other top official who cares about sports.

Let’s build that CEBU TENNIS CENTER. Manila has dozens, including our “national headquarters,” the Rizal Memorial. Cagayan de Oro has one. Same with Subic.

Cebu? Can I laugh? Or cry? The biggest venue we had, the Cebu Tennis Club, was “confiscated” by the Provincial Capitol (OK, we lost the court case) over a decade ago. That club housed five courts. Just two months ago, the Sancase Tennis Club and its four courts were “sequestered” by the priests of San Carlos. Now, we’re down to Country Club’s three rectangles. Plus, Consolacion’s three hard-courts plus three-clay courts. Other than that, we have one court here, two there…

A 10-court complex complete with a Centre Court is what Cebu needs. Yesterday. Tomorrow, we hope to see it. Why not at the SRP? Yes, why not? Lapu-Lapu City, thanks to the energetic Harry Radaza, envisions a Sports Tourism hub in Mactan. With the backing of Mayor Paz Radaza, a complex might rise in the island where Magellan was killed. Gov. Gwen Garcia might help. How about a “joint complex” of volleyball and tennis courts? The two sports have nearly identical court dimensions.

My point is this: Let’s build this. For, like tennis, we remind our dear public officials… “He who serves best wins.”

Watch ‘Boom Boom Pow’ this Saturday

With the exception of Manny Pacquiao, no other athletes I’ve written about more on this box than Rafa and Roger. In Melbourne for the Australian Open, both, thus far, are en route to another No.1 vs. No.2 showdown. This rivalry bests any other in tennis history. There have been plenty: Sampras-Agassi, Graf-Seles, McEnroe-Borg, Evert-Navratilova. But none compare to R & R. Consider this most unbelievable of statistics: 21 of the last 23 Grand Slam singles champions have been either Federer or Nadal. This is wonderful news for fans of both–but awful for the rest of the ATP Tour.

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Roger, of course, is the defending champion of Australia. He’s the Wizard of Oz. He’s appeared in 22 career Grand Slam finals–and won 16. Rafa? He’s aiming for the ‘Rafa Slam.‘ Having won the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2010, if he wins this Sunday at the Rod Laver Arena, that’s four straight majors. Roger hasn’t done that. The last man is R. Laver himself, who accomplished the feat in 1969.

BOOM-BOOM. I’m watching this Saturday. So will over a dozen of my fellow members from the Rotary Club of Cebu West, many of whom are first-time, live-boxing watchers. It’s Rey Bautista–possibly the most famous Filipino on boxing gloves next to Pacquiao and Donaire. His opponent this Jan. 29 at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino? He’s a Barrera. And, in Mexico, this family name carries a lineage of champions.

Boom-Boom (center) in this Sept. 2007 photo with (from left) John Pages, Edito Villamor, Jingo Quijano and Jun Migallen

Boom-Boom is exciting to watch because, as his name implies, he boxes to the tune of will.i.am’s hit song, Boom Boom Pow. He’s offensive. He’s self-assured and domineering.

I know plenty of devotees will watch. My hope is that the non-boxing enthusiast will parade to the Waterfront this Saturday, too. Live, watching-with-your-bare-eyes boxing is so much different–and thrilling–than viewing from your TV set. Try it out this weekend.

DAVIS CUP. Harry Don Radaza, the councilor and city council sports and tourism head of Lapu-Lapu City, has news for all: This Friday, tickets to the Philippines vs. Japan tennis event called Davis Cup will finally be for sale. Planet Sports in Ayala Center’s Active Zone and (hopefully, given the permission) Nike Stadium at the SM City will be the official ticket outlets.

PBA. In a contest between the Danding Cojuangco-owned San Miguel Beer and the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned Talk N Text, the winner in Game One was the Tropang Texters of MVP. That game was in Victorias City. Game Two–tomorrow–is back in Metro Manila at the Cuneta Astrodome. Expect this best-of-seven series to be a see-saw battle.

NFL. Far, far away from our 7,107 islands, the top story in American sports was the National Football League. Just two nights ago, two teams emerged winners and will face each other in Super Bowl XLV. It’s the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Green Bay Packers. The Super Bowl–the single most important day in U.S. sports–will be on Feb. 6 at the venue where Manny Pacquiao won twice: the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Like I’ve done in the past, I’ll definitely be late for work that Monday morning (Feb. 7 here) to watch.

M & M. If there’s Rafa-Roger, there’s a version in boxing. When will Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. finally silence his blabbering mouth to fight Manny Pacquiao? In another twist to the numerous curves and turns in this spiraling story, Floyd said he’ll fight Manny.

“I want to talk to my fans,” he said, in an online video reportedly made last weekend. “Okay, I got y’all… I’m never gonna let my fans down. Not me. That’s the reason why I’m 41-0.”

Ever the braggart, he continued… “Don’t worry we’re gonna beat Poochie-iao’s ass. Stop asking the same question. ’When are you gonna fight Poochie-iao?’ I’m gonna fight the Pacman. Do me a favor… I’m gonna fight the Pacman when he is off the power pellets.”

Here he goes again, calling our Pinoy champ names. Again, he accuses MP of taking ‘power pellets.’ Like you, I can’t wait when Manny will finally extinguish his foul mouth via a boom-boom knockout.

Xterra and Davis Cup: Marching towards March

By now, you’ve heard that the Davis Cup tennis event will be held in Cebu. The Davis Cup is one of sport’s longest-running tournaments. It started in 1900. It encompasses 137 nations joining.

Here in Cebu, from March 4 to 6, we will host the DC tie between the Philippines and Japan. The venue, befitting this world-class battle, is a world-class facility: the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.

There will be five matches during this first weekend of March. On Friday (March 4), it’s the first two singles matches. Cecil Mamiit and Treat Huey will separately clash with Japan’s Nos. 1 and 2. Most-likely, the Japanese will be led by Tatsuma Ito, Go Soeda, Takao Suzuki and Toshihide Matsui. On Saturday, it’s the lone doubles match. On Sunday, it’s the reverse singles: the final two matches. All games will be best-of-five sets.

For tennis and for Cebu, this is gigantic. Tennis players will surely troop to Plantation Bay to gaze, to clap, to sing, “Pinoy Ako, Pinoy,” and to yell, “GO, PILIPINAS!” Non-tennis fans? Why, it will be the same: the boisterous atmosphere, the momentous occasion, the PHL flags hoisted fronting the JPN flags–this is an encounter never to be missed. That’s tennis. That’s Davis Cup.

Well, here’s even more significant news for Cebuanos. On this same first-weekend-of-March, this won’t be the only international-brand event.

XTERRA. The “X” stands for the cousin of the “X-Games.” Because when we think of “X” and “X-Games,” we think of this word: XTREME. We also think of these: adventure, risk, thrill. That’s Xterra. By definition, Xterra is “the world’s leading off-road triathlon series… with 60 races around the world.”

It’s triathlon. But, with mud, with off-road paths, with rocky terrain–all mixed as part of the ingredients for a wild and wet triathlon. Xterra is brought to the Philippines by Fred Uytengsu. We all know Mr. Uytengsu: he’s the businessman/sportsman owner of the Alaska Aces PBA team. He also brought to our nation (and Camarines Sur) the Ironman 70.3.

XTERRA Philippines website

For the first time in the Philippines, he’s taking Xterra to our shores. Not in Manila; but right here in Cebu. On March 6, 2011. Yes, I repeat: the same weekend as the Davis Cup. No doubt, this will be the grandest morning in sports for Cebu. Possibly, ever. Two international brands. Two world-caliber events. Both on the same 3-6-11.

XTERRA Philippines will be held in Liloan. The start/finish area will be at Amara, the premier subdivision owned by the Ayalas (Cebu Holdings, Inc.). The swim is 1.5K, followed by a 35K mountain-bike around the rough off-roads of Liloan. Then, a 10K run–using trail running shoes–in an out-and-back course. All to start and finish in Amara. Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco–a runner whom I’ve seen join several of our Cebu 10Ks–is embracing this event fully. Same with Gov. Gwen Garcia, the mother-in-law of Duke, who is set to formally announce this contest soon. Danao City sports chief Boying Rodriguez, an institution in cycling and triathlon in our island, is one of the lead organizers.

Conflict? Will “DC” and “X” be in direct combat? No and Yes. First, the venues. They’re separate. Tennis is in Lapu-Lapu City while Triathlon is in Liloan.

The crowd? Again, no clash. The brand-new tennis clay-court built by Plantation Bay will have bleachers to seat 1,500 spectators. Xterra? From what I learned, only 200 participants are expected to join. That’s because the entry fees are expensive. Possibly, the fees are $150/person or $180/relay team. (Yes, relay teams — separate swimmer, biker, runner — are welcome.)

The only minor “tug-of-war” between these two? For us, the media. Who’ll grab the headlines? Will there be enough manpower to cover both? Imagine the odds of two mega-sporting-brands happening on exactly the same year, same month, same weekend?

Well, it is. And it’s great for Sugbu. Are you and I not lucky to be living here? For, as Jay Aldeguer and his Islands Souvenirs would proclaim…  I (heart) CEBU.

The Heat is hot while Miami is cold

They have lost four straight. That’s sad. Bad? Good? That’s unexpected. After a disturbing 9-8 start, the Miami Heat went on a rampage. They won 21 of 22. Dwayne Wade would score 40+ points. Twice. LeBron James scored 38. Chris Bosh twisted the “h” to become Chris Boss. On our recent Feast of the Three Kings, they transformed into modern-day kings — Balthasar, Gaspar and Melchior.

The Heat was blazing and fiery. Now? It’s winter in the States. They’re frozen. They lost to the Clippers, Nuggets, Bulls and, yesterday, to the Hawks. What happened? Why the erratic behavior? Why the relapse? The backslide? Here’s why:

One, the NBA is ultra-competitive. You can’t win every ballgame. Yesterday is different from tonight is different from this Saturday. Your past means nothing tomorrow. “Teams are always trying to get better,” said LeBron.

Two, injuries. Chris Bosh is out. We don’t know when he’ll come back. LeBron, prior to the Atlanta game, was unsure to play hours before tip-off. He played. He scored 34 and pulled down 10 rebounds plus contributed seven assists.

Three, timing. In sports, it’s all about “the right timing.” Once you’re off by a few centimeters, you miss. Perfection is compulsory. Said LeBron: “I had a week off and that is what happens sometimes. We had everything going and when you have a few injuries it takes the chemistry out, it takes the rhythm out of a team.”

Four, its called “birth pains.” This team is new. “So far this season,” said Heat coach Erick Spoelstra, “when we have tweaked things and gone a bit unconventional, it has thrown us. Unfortunately, we have to go through some pain right now.” Pain is inevitable. To win that NBA crown, pain is a must. Pain — passing through extreme heat and pressure for the Heat — is mandatory. Losing, too, is a must. As long as–and this is what’s most important—they lose today and not during the playoffs.

Defending his team and his city, Greg Cote, in “Don’t read too much into Miami Heat’s losing streak,” published this article in The Miami Herald… “What a ride, though, and every minute of it subjected to insane scrutiny, everything magnified, animated like The LeBrons.

“Remember that 9-8 start? Oh the calamity! The Big Three couldn’t play together! Pat Riley must swoop in and replace coach Erik Spoelstra! ESPN hadn’t been this sated in years.

“Then came the unreal winning, the 21-1 run. Which never gets the same attention, of course. I guess because when LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh win … is that even news?

“Now, calamity again? Four losses in a row, for God’s sake! And injuries to LeBron (back in the lineup Tuesday) and Bosh (sitting out) assuring those in doubt that these guys might perform like superhumans but in fact are mortal.”

Ha-ha-ha. Good point, Greg. The conclusion to this roller-coaster ride? This. Is. Good. This win-yesterday, lose-today, don’t-know-about-tomorrow scenario is good. For the fans. For those who hate LeBron. For those who love him. For those who abhor the Cleveland Cavaliers backstabber, they’re clapping and jumping and screaming, “Good for you, traitor!” For those who glorify LBJ, they’d say, “Relax…..” This team, they argue, is undergoing puberty. It won’t mature for months.

All this can be summed up by this observation from FOXSportsFlorida.com writer Chris Perkins who, in “Hard to tell if Heat are elite,” wrote… “You watch the Miami Heat and you wonder: ‘Do they have enough to beat Boston, San Antonio or the Lakers in a best-of-seven series?’

“At best, the answer comes back as: ‘Maybe.’ That was the answer during the 12-game winning streak in December, and that’s the answer during the four-game losing streak the Heat carry after Tuesday’s 93-89 overtime loss against Atlanta.”

Maybe. That word is perfect for Miami.

Will this losing episode continue? Maybe. Will it stop? Maybe. Will the Heat win the crown? Maybe. Maybe not.

Australian Open now, Davis Cup tomorrow

Let me join the chorus of hundreds who’ve congratulated Ricky Ballesteros. The executive director of the Sinulog Foundation, Inc., Ricky was the overseer of last Sunday’s biggest festival in the Philippines. Well done, Rick!

Jana, Jasmin and I watched from the upper deck of the Cebu City Sports Center. It was a feast for the eyes and ears. Tribu Himag-ulaw of Placer, Masbate was the best. We also relished the fast-paced presentations of the Talamban Elem. School, Tribu Buyoganon of Leyte, and the Mabolo Elem. School. The Chinese-inspired finale (starring the wushu martial artists)—plus, of course, the Chinese-invented fireworks—were fantastic.

The rain? While we were drenched last Saturday—together with Jourdan Polotan—walking the Osmeña Boulevard route during the procession, it stopped two afternoons ago. Sure, showers sprinkled but it was nowhere near the torrent of sky-water 24 hours earlier.

OZ OPEN. The first Grand Slam tennis event of the year bounced and served yesterday. Will we witness a different champion—named Murray or Djokovic—instead of R & R in Melbourne? Maybe. But, most-likely not.

Yesterday at 5:30 p.m., I watched a few minutes of Star Sports. Justin Henin played Sania Mirza. Among the ladies, can Maria Sharapova win the title? I hope so, but doubt it. Although her last Grand Slam title came at this same  Australian Open—that was three Januarys ago. Since then, the 6-foot-2 Russian-turned-Florida-resident has been busy, off-court: engaged to NBA star Sasha Vujacic and operated-on because of a shoulder injury, her world ranking slipped last year… to a painful 126.

Still, Maria is Maria. Wearing an orange and gray dress in Melbourne, no one is prettier and attracts more attention. Down Under, I hope she rises.

DAVIS CUP. It’s near. The Philippines vs. Japan tennis competition is nearing—it’s this March 4 to 6. The venue is not in Manila but is near you and me: the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.

Last week, I sat down at Bo’s Coffee with Councilor Harry Radaza, the head for sports and tourism of Lapu-Lapu City. Tickets will soon be out. By “soon,” I mean possibly next week. Prices are as follows: The least-expensive are P500 per day. Next, the “season tickets” at P2,500. These reserved seats include access to all the Friday-to-Sunday matches. Plus, you’ll receive free shirts and caps. Finally, the VIP tickets at P5,000. As expected, these are the exclusive, best seats inside Plantation Bay.

As soon as tickets are for sale, I suggest you not delay your purchase. Only 1,100 total are available. For an event this international and monumental, tickets will fly as fast as Andy Roddick’s 151-mph serve. Consider that plenty from Manila, Bohol, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao are coming. Plus, the Japanese! They, too, will gobble up tickets so they can cheer for their countrymen.

THIRSTY CUP. On to a different Cup… Now on its 8th season, the Thirsty Football Cup will be held from Feb. 4 to 6 at the Cebu City Sports Center. The deadline for registration is tomorrow, Wednesday. Call 0917-6244853 for inquiries.

ED HAYCO. Received this text message from CCSC chief Edward Hayco: “Visit Facebook.. Cebu City Sports Commission. View the CCSC billboard, the dance presentation featuring different sports, and the sports float. What we have achieved is making the athletes and coaches believe in themselves… and in their future! We also created awareness of the purpose of the Sports Institute and the free barangay grassroots sports program.”

Chairman Ed is successful because of his personal approach to sports. Dissecting the term “grassroots,” he himself plants the seeds in San Nicholas (Sports Institute) and many other barangays so that sports can take root and flourish. His success story in dancesport—emulated and featured internationally—Chairman Edward duplicating in other sports.

Like Ricky Ballesteros, he is one of the few selfless heroes of the oldest city in our country.