Monthly Archives: June 2012

Samsam Gullas: LeBron more like Magic than MJ

Last Friday, Gerald Anthony Gullas was both happy and sad. Happy because, seated beside Rep. Eduardo Gullas, his grandfather whom he fondly calls “Papa Eddie,” he made the announcement that will forever change his life: Samsam will run for Congress next year. Sad? That’s because, as big an NBA fan as he is, the scheduled press conference coincided with Miami Heat’s winning Game 6.

“I watched up to the 3rd quarter but missed the look on LeBron’s face when he finally won his first ring,” he said. Still, “CongresSam” is ecstatic. Last December when the NBA season began, I asked for Samsam’s predictions. His reply: LBJ will be the MVP and MIA will win. He’s two-for-two.

Yesterday, I interviewed Samsam again. A lifelong ballplayer—he regularly practices with the UV varsity squad (he’s the team manager plus the school’s AVP for Finance and Administration)—here’s the full commentary of the young Gullas:

MVP. “LeBron was legendary. With this championship he has put himself in the group together with the Jordans, Magics and Birds of the world. LeBron was aggressive and he showed that he wanted it more this year. The main difference was his improving post game; it was causing all kinds of problems for OKC. If LeBron didn’t score, 9 times out of 10, he would make the right pass. LeBron was just being LeBron. He made the game come to him. He assessed what defensive scheme OKC was running. He has been doing this even while we was with the Cavs but was never surrounded with two other superstars plus very good 3-point shooters.”

DOMINANCE. “Yes, I expected LeBron James to be dominant in every facet of the game. What I love about LeBron is that he can score 30 points and it would be not the best thing he did for the team. People always compare LeBron to Michael Jordan; I think he’s more of a Magic Johnson. LeBron is bigger, stronger, a better passer, a better ball handler and has more skills than MJ. But what MJ had was HEART. It is unfair to compare the two of them.”

KOBE. “I’m a Laker fan for life. But today, if I were to build a team, I would take LeBron as my franchise player. He does everything: score, rebound, pass and, most importantly, defend. Kobe will always be the better offensive player; LeBron is just the better all-around player.”

RESILIENCE. “Miami learned from last year’s loss. Erik Spoelstra said it best when he used a boxing analogy (but before that he said he was a huge Pacquiao fan), We were knocked down so many times, but each time we got up. With Boston they were down 3-2, Indiana 2-1 and OKC 1-0. Playoff basketball is more on making game-time adjustments and off-day adjustments. Credit should be given to Coach Spo, despite being a young coach he is able to adjust.”

TEAM. “LeBron became the beast we thought he would be last year. Wade said that this is LeBron’s team and he accepted the secondary role to perfection. Miami’s role players did well: Chalmers, Battier, Haslem and Miller. Lastly, credit to Coach Spo, his defensive schemes were a joy to watch. Papa Eddie voted for OKC to win but, as a former coach, he always admired the defensive schemes of Coach Spo.”

BOSH. “Bosh gives the Heat another scorer and one of the league’s best Pick and roll players. When used as a screener in the pick and roll with either Wade or James, it was a deadly combination. Bosh was also able to extend OKC’s defense because he can shoot. Perkins or Ibaka had to leave the paint making it very open for LeBron and Wade to penetrate.”

NEXT SEASON. ““I see Miami winning 1 or 2 more titles, but this year was the best chance for the Heat to win. Rose (Chicago), Ray Allen and other role players of Boston were injured. The West teams will be improving, so next season will be interesting. If OKC learns and takes this loss as the most humbling experience of their lives, they will be very dangerous next year.

“OKC will be contending again, Mavs might get an overhaul from free agency, Spurs will always be ready, and it seems like everyone is forgetting about number 24 in LA. Stay tuned!”

Exorbitant fees the reason for fewer races?

Manny Villaruel lost 42 lbs. He used to weigh 235. Now, six months after he started running, he weighs 193. Manny used to drink beer. LOTS of beer. One party we attended, the annual Press Freedom night, I kept on ordering the free San Mig Light and, like a plant who’d swallow water from a gardener’s hose, Manny gulped and gulped. Not today. Not last Sunday. Not anymore.

“I haven’t taken a single sip since January,” said Manny, the sports editor of The Freeman. It shows. Running the 12-km. distance during the “Hunat Subgu 2 – Dagan Para Kay Maning” race two mornings ago, Manny did drink—from the water stations. (He runs… away from beer.) Amazing transformation.

From the hundreds who participated, I saw plenty of familiar faces: Dr. Marivic Tan, Joe Soberano with his son Franco, Allan Choachuy, Dr. Vic Verallo with his son; Roy and Dr. Rosan Trani, my idol Steve Ferraren, speedy Jun Remo (who finished the 21K in 1:41), Kenneth Casquejo, Dr. Edward Gaisano…

Thanks to race director Joel Baring, the event had few hitches. Water stations, stationed every 1.5 kms., overflowed. The race started on time. Each category—6K, 12K and 21K—had its own overhead digital clock. The jersey, color blue with sleeves, was of high quality. A Pocari Sweat energy drink station stood. A bottle was given to each 12K and 21K finisher. The food at The Terraces was plenty: two puso, one hard-boiled egg, a stick of longanisa, a banana and juice. The 21K finisher’s medal was large and made by Suarez.

My only complaints? It would be nice to see a complete set of kilometer markers. There was zero entertainment on the road. This is what excites the wearied runner: music or dancers along the route. During the 21K start at 4:30 A.M., there was no loud, heart-stomping music that accompanied Jiggy Jr.’s countdown.

Still, these are few and minor. What I liked best: the venue. The Terraces of Ayala Center is the best start/finish area in our island. The location is central. There are plenty of parking slots. Comfort rooms abound. And, during the awarding, where everyone converges at the sunken portion—it’s perfect. (See you there again this Sunday for the MAPFRE Insular-organized “Go Run For Road Safety” race.)

ORDINANCE. My colleague Cheska Geli wrote an article last Sunday entitled “Running code downside.” Since the new ordinance was implemented in February, fewer runs are being organized in Cebu City. Many have moved to Talisay or Lapu-Lapu or Mandaue.

While I agree with the one-race-a-day policy (though organizers can still hold simultaneous events in other cities), there are plenty of questions to ask:

Where does the P15,000 payment go? Does it help the run? Or does it help the city run these events?

This amount (for the 21K) excludes the thousands (for overtime pay) that must be paid to CITOM. This amount, if I’m not mistaken, will not even go to the personnel of the Department of Public Services because, according to the new rule, the organizers themselves have to clean all the garbage.

No doubt this ordinance has plenty of good. But, four months after its implementation, it appears to have one bad outcome: fewer Cebu City races.

As an organizer/sponsor, why pay P15,000 when you can pay P500 for a Mandaue City-located run in Parkmall?

WIMBLEDON. If you switched on your cable TV last night and watched sports, your eyes must have been attracted to green grass.

As is the tradition, Wimbledon’s defending champion plays first. And so, at 8 P.M. (PHL time) yesterday, Novak Djokovic stepped on the manicured lawn of Centre Court.

Like any tennis fanatic, my dream is to watch the event that’s been visited by Monsignor Achilles Dakay.

“My first Wimbledon visit was in 1999 with Monsignor Eliseo Gamallo. We saw Lindsay Davenport beat Steffi Graf to win the trophy,” Msgr. Dakay told me in an earlier interview. His next visit was in 2003 when the William sisters met in the finals. “There’s no place like Wimbledon.” he said, adding, “You’ve got to try those strawberries and cream!”

Can Durant and Westbrook do a Bradley?

Don’t believe Bob Arum. Not when he says that his first preference is Pacquiao vs. Marquez Part 4. That’s absurd. There’s unfinished and unsettled Las Vegas business. We want a rematch. Didn’t a huge majority conclude, non-Filipinos included, that our Pinoy won? This controversy has to be settled. Not in the trial court. And, hopefully, not again using the judges’ ball pens.

But why, I ask, isn’t Bob Arum trumpeting a Part 2? Five letters: Money. If Timothy Bradley’s ego bloats and he asks for $15.5 million, for example, then that’s bloated. Arum wants to temper Bradley’s excitement. Its called negotiating tactics. Publicly, he’s saying, “Part 2 is not guaranteed!” but, I’m sure, in talks with the congressman’s camp, that’s the goal.

Don’t you think Manny The Renewed Christian wants justice? And so, in the end of all this posturing, let’s expect another Pacquiao-Bradley (or shall it now be “Bradley-Pacquiao?”). Also, don’t be surprised if my earlier prediction holds true: This November will be Manny’s last hurrah. His legs will turn 34 on December 17 and, having been adjudged as the world’s 2nd highest sports money-earner in 2011 (beating the recently-beaten Tiger Woods), he has more than enough billions to buy Sarangani Bay.

The 3 Rs to watch: Rematch. Revenge. Retire.

MIAMI. It’s been nine long years. Each NBA season, the league’s best ballplayer has dreamed of winning the prize.

LeBron James has everything in life: Three times, “Mr. Basketball” in high school in Ohio. The 1st Round overall NBA pick. Rookie of the Year honors. Three-time MVP awardee. He has two young boys: LeBron James, Jr, age 7, and Bryce Maximus, 5 years old. Endorsements with McDonald’s, Sprite, Nike. He has everything but—

Will it all change tomorrow? Will June 21, 2012 (U.S. time) be that day when the planets (aka “floating balls in space”) realign? When the long-named King will be crowned with a Ring? Yes. Yes. Yes.

In tomorrow’s Game 5, expect thunder and fire to collide. Who’ll win? Abangan. But this one’s for sure: Tomorrow will be the most anticipated game of the abbreviated season.

For one, the Heat will do all they can to burn, sizzle and cook the Thunder. If Miami loses, the momentum shifts. If they lose, they travel. They get to board that plane with all their XL-size baggage. They don’t want that. They want to stay home. To celebrate on their turf. And where better to party than with the presence of your family, right? But for Oklahoma, it’s a near-death experience. And we know what happens when one is near-dying; that ER-bound individual will be extra motivated to stay alive.

Will OKC stay alive? No. Also, like most I’ve talked to, I want Miami to win. LeBron deserves the gold. Plus, isn’t there a Filipino mentor there whom we want to smile his winning smile? One who’s been subjected to unimaginable pressure, especially last season? Go, Erik!

But, like what we’ve seen with Pacquiao, anything can happen on the ring or the parquet floor. An Oklahoma Game 5 win will change everything. For OKC, it’s these famous words: One. Game. At. A. Time.

IRONMAN 70.3. Only 44 days are left before the grandest sporting event this 2012 starts at the Shangri-La in Mactan.

This fight between Camsur and Cebu? On who has the largest number of tourists? Wait for the figures after this year and, no doubt, a substantial drop awaits Camsur. Why? Because the Ironman 70.3 in Camarines Sur—there from 2009 to 2011—was their Super Bowl/Wimbledon/World Cup of an event. It was their No.1 crowd-drawer. Was.

Because Cebu—thanks to Mactan’s open-sea beachfront and our abundance of hotels and our international MCIAA and our central/tourist-friendly setting—has snatched the Ironman from Camsur.

XTERRA in Liloan, Ironman 70.3 in Lapu-Lapu City. These are two of the most sought-after triathlon events in our archipelago. No wonder hundreds of runners have been pedaling bikes; swimmers now strut running shoes; bikers don Speedo trunks. Everybody’s Tri’ing.

Only 48 days to go before Ironman 70.3

Barely a month and a half is left before triathletes from all over the globe converge at Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort for the first Ironman 70.3 race in Cebu. Exciting! I know plenty, many of whom are first-timers, who are joining. All have programmed their schedules and minds on the biggest race that they’ll join. Cebu is honored and proud to be chosen as the host. To all participants, good luck with the training!

Revenge then retire

Call me anti-Filipino or a non-boxing expert, but what my eyes witnessed last Sunday was the opposite of what the majority saw: I thought Manny lost.

The key moment was the 12th round. And the 11th. The 10th. Sadly, and inexplicably, like LeBron James when the 4th quarter of the NBA Final arrives, Pacman does the same: seeing the finish line in those last three rounds, he flees.

In the scorecards of all three judges, Manny lost that all-crucial final round. (Even Jerry Roth, the lone judge who scored the bout in Manny’s favor, gave Timothy Bradley the nod from Rounds 10 to 12.)

Back to the 12th round, had Manny won those final 180 seconds—by striking, by attacking, by bombarding the American with that German-like blitzkrieg attack of Pinoy punches, then the decision would have been reversed. Duane Ford and CJ Ross would have totaled 114-114 and Pacman would have won.

But, no. When it was time to unleash the storm of bullets off his red gloves, Manny did not. It was Bradley who looked revitalized. Manny should know better. Why leave the decision in the trickle minds of the judges? Why not go ferocious, animalistic, merciless, like we’ve seen him against Cotto, Margarito and De La Hoya?

Michael Aldeguer said it best: “Manny lost the last two rounds which sometimes could sway the judges. As I always believe, the last two rounds are the most important.”

Like any movie or book or concert, we know what part is most significant: The Ending. And, in this ending, Manny failed. And while we can argue forever about the outcome, this conclusion we all agree on: Manny has lost his power. He’s no longer the same man who bloodied David Diaz, who laid to bed Ricky Hatton, who transformed Joshua Clottey into a coward. Pacman has fought 60 times and, if we add all his years of brutal hand-to-hand exchanges from the teenage years to today, then it’s two decades of relentless combat.

The pattern is obvious. Wasn’t Manny unimpressive in his previous fight against Juan Manuel Marquez? (“Now we know how the Mexicans feel!” said Jack Jakosalem.) Against Shane Mosley, he, too, was unremarkable.

JIMMY LAO. I watched the fight inside the multi-million peso home theater (possibly the best home theater in the entire island) of Jimmy Lao, my fellow Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Cebu West. Inside the dark room with dozens of La-Z-Boy reclining chairs, our companions from Singapore (RC of Singapore West) joined us. Unlike the previous Pacman fights when shouting and cheering would energize us, this time, like a bad foretelling, the mood was subdued.

I was seated beside Romy Dy Pico. “Congressman,” we call him, Romy was in Las Vegas last November when Pacquiao beat Marquez. “The booing was so loud by the Mexicans when Marquez lost,” said Romy.

Conspiracy theories? Dr. Ronnie Medalle and our Rotary Past District Governor Ray Patuasi think so. They believe that Pacman is looking long-term and this loss his part of a grander scheme.

“No follow-up!” said Dr. Nonito Narvasa. Unlike the Manny-of-Old who’d tirelessly go for the kill when the opponent is weakening, this time he was passive.

COINCIDENCE? As pointed out by Quinito Henson in yesterday’s Philippine Star, here’s an interesting occurrence: Manny lost to Medgeon 3-K Battery of Thailand in 1999 after he won 15 straight wins. In 2005, he lost to Erik Morales after winning another 15 straight. And now… after winning 15 straight, he loses.

FINISH. To me, this defeat of Pacquiao is ultimately good for his career. (He’s still expected to earn, including PPV receipts, over $30 million! If that’s not good…)

Nobody wants Manny to fight three more times. He’s already on the all-time greatest list. He’s earned billions. He’s a congressman. He’ll turn 34 this December.

What’s the best scenario? Pacman secures a rematch in November and KOs the American. Manny retires with a win, his place in the greatest-of-all-time secure. Now that—and not a 12th round retreat—brings a Happy Ending to this real-life Manny Pacquiao movie.

Miami, Manny, Maria and the Mallorcan

John Gurzinski/AFP/GettyImages

It’s not just Manny Pacquiao who’s fighting today. There’s Boston vs. Miami in the do-or-die Game 7. And, if that’s not enough, last night we had Maria Sharapova winning (M. Jerome Limpag hopes!) and, later this evening, an epic French Open ending between Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic. All within 24 hours.

Mallorcan? That’s Nadal. He’s from the resort island of Spain called Mallorca. Why is the battle against Djokovic of legendary proportions? Because if Nadal wins, it will be his 7th Parisian title—a record. But, if he loses, it will be Djokovic who will record a masterpiece: He’d have won his 4th straight Grand Slam crown—all against the same fallen enemy, Nadal.

I pick Spain over Serbia. Though Nadal lost to Djokovic in their last three Grand Slam finals meetings, it’s the Mallorcan who has looked unbeatable the past two weeks. He hasn’t lost a set. He’s 51 of 52 matches (career) in Roland Garros. He’s also beaten Djokovic in their last two encounters. Tonight, watch Nadal-Djokovic at 9 P.M.

MARIA. Is there a female athlete who’s prettier? Taller? With more slender legs and flowing blonde hair? Than Ms. Maria? None. That’s why the most celebrated sportswoman is the 6-foot-2 former Russian native who now calls Florida home.

At the French Open, with the early departures of Serena, Schiavone, Azarenka, Venus & Co., it’s been an easy path for Maria. And, with Stosur losing to the unknown Sara Errani, it should be an easy, two-set victory for MS.

MIAMI. Nobody wants that NBA ring more than LeBron Raymone James. Drafted as the No.1 pick in 2003, he’s waited every month of June for NBA Commissioner David Stern to hand him that most precious jewelry. But each year, LBJ has been relegated to Groomsman (“always the contender, but never the Groom”).

Will June 2012 finally be the moment? It depends today. Because if the Heat sizzle and sauté the green peas called Boston, and with Chris Bosh returning fully by the NBA Final, then, yes, LeBron will pocket that NBA Championship.

Statistics? Miami is 7-2 at home in these playoffs. Boston is 3-6. This is problematic for Paul Pierce & Co. Plus, the return of Bosh appears to have troubled Kevin Garnett. In Game 6, he shot a dismal 12 points and rebounded only five times. Bad numbers.

Destiny is etched in the fingertips of LeBron. He will shine today and meet Oklahoma beginning June 12.

MANNY. A big fan of the Celtics, Manny will be watching (from inside the locker room) his team lose to Miami. But this won’t affect Manny.

Today in Las Vegas, Manny is aiming for his career win No. 60. He’s drawn twice and lost thrice. But the most important statistic? This one: Not since March 19, 2005 has Manny lost a fight. That’s seven years ago. Since that Erik Morales UD loss, Manny has won 15. Today, he’s gunning for Consecutive Win No. 16. In this era when, after each strong opponent, you fight another who’s bigger, faster, better—this 15-fight streak is unprecedented.

Two specific numbers interest me. One, that Manny is heavier than the other guy. This isn’t normal. When was the last time it happened? At 147 lbs., this is Manny at his heaviest. Also, the height. Used to seeing the Margaritos and De La Hoyas who’d stare down at our Pinoy superhero, this time, it’s Manny who’s taller than Bradley.

Money? Wow, what a disparity. Anybody who’s not ultra-famous who fights Manny gets $5 million. While this is huge, it’s minuscule compared to the $26 million guaranteed (plus PPV extras) for Manny. Boxing is big business. (By comparison, Nadal has earned $48M—in his entire career.) Manny earns more than 99 percent of the world’s top athletes—in just 36 minutes, max.

Will this be Manny’s last fight? We never know. With Manny now a Bible-loving and God-fearing Christian, who knows if he’ll forever say goodbye to boxing. While unlikely, we never know. That’s why we should treasure these few noontime hours. We have never—and will never again—see the likes of Pacman.

Oh, no! It’s a Boston vs. Oklahoma final?

Who would have thought. Who’d have guessed. Who’d have expected that, with all eyes focused on The Favored Two, that The Forgotten Two will meet in the NBA Finals. No, it’s not over yet. And, no, I have nothing against the Celtics and the Thunder. But, who’d have predicted such an ending?

I bet even the two Kevins are surprised. Yes, that’s Durant and Garnett—long lost Kevin brothers—who, after their teams were forgotten when they trailed 0-2, are now just 48 minutes away from meeting each other.

Kevin and Kevin. Nice starring names, no? What a true-to-life, the-ball-is-round and anything-can-happen scenario. This upset in the making has upset all kinds of predictions. But, just like our conversation 48 hours ago with Coach Yayoy Alcoseba, the home-court advantage both Boston and Oklahoma enjoy are not advantages—unless they take advantage of it today and tomorrow.

This is why the most thrilling type of entertainment is still the same. It’s these very pages that you’re reading. Sports. Anything can happen. Chris Bosh returns and loses. The San Antonio Spurs are on a 20-game winning streak and they lose three straight. Paul Pierce, relegated to a improbable one-on-one match up with LeBron James, fires a three-point shot (in LBJ’s face!) with seconds left to win Boston the Game 5.

Isn’t this entertainment—Sports—incomparable? We never know the ending. We still don’t. If the Spurs win today and the Heat scorch the Celtics tomorrow, the momentum shifts to the other side. The pendulum will swing. If. This is why the word “momentum” is so important. When you’re riding that rolling ball and it keeps on turning and gaining speed, don’t stop. Pedal faster.

My predictions? I pity LeBron. Since last year, he’s been castigated. He’s a nice fellow. He just got wrong advice last year (trumpeting his transfer from Cleveland to Miami). I hope the Heat win tomorrow and make it. I cannot imagine the pain LeBron will suffer if he loses again this 2012. OKC and SAS? I want a Game 7.

FRENCH OPEN. So far, Rafael Nadal has looked invincible. Out of the seven years that he’s played in Roland Garros, he’s won six. Three nights ago against clay-court specialist Juan Monaco, he won, 6-2, 6-0, 6-0. Nadal is tenacious and relentless. He sprints like Usain Bolt but runs for hours like a Kenyan. He’s left-handed. His topspin is heavy with lots of extra allowance over the net. If God created Michael Phelphs for the pool, He molded Nadal for the clay court.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic? The two are still alive. They’ll play in the semi-finals tomorrow. Novak escaped from four match points down against Tsonga and won. Federer was down two-sets-to-love against Del Potro and won. Roger and Novak—plus Rafa—are the best because of one reason: their mind. Sure, tennis often lasts five sets and is physically tiresome. But it’s all-mental. And, mentally, the world’s top three are strongest.

Ladies? I hope Maria wins. Because while Sharapova has won the three other Grand Slam titles (Wimbledon, the U.S. and Australian Opens), she has yet to win on the red clay of Paris. The 6-foot-2, 130-lb. Floridian will have an easy path. Serena is out. Li Na is out. So is Azarenka.

BRADLEY-MANNY. Sylvan “Jack” Jakosalem, the former City Councilor and now-CITOM chairman, is an astute boxing observer. Commenting on the fight this Sunday, he said: “I watched two full fights of Timothy Bradley (v. Casamayor and Devon Alexander) plus many highlights. He’s got excellent defense and a very strong chin, which are the major reasons why he’s undefeated. He also has power but lacks the speed. But what Pacman should watch for are his head-butts because he likes to lunge forward with his head. If Pacman can restore himself to his condition when he fought Cotto and Margarito, then it’s TKO by the 10th. But if he gets to play it too safe like in the Marquez fight, then its Unanimous Decision. But for sure it’s Pacman!”

NBA’s Final Four: Game 5 winners to advance

It’s now best-of-three. When the San Antonio Spurs clobbered the Oklahoma City Thunder, 2-0, in their first home-court games, and when the Miami Heat were too hot for the Boston Celtics and also won their two games in Florida, everybody proclaimed the same NBA Finale: Miami-San Antonio.

Oops. Not too fast. Kevin and Kevin have other plans. That’s Kevin Durant, the 6-foot-9 forward of OKC, and Kevin Garnett of Boston, who stands 6’11”. These two led their squads to winning their past two games apiece—and shifting the Final Four’s momentum.

My prediction? Simple. The winners today and tomorrow will meet in the Finals. Today, it’s SA vs OKC. Tomorrow, it’s MH vs. BC.

“The pressure is on San Antonio and Miami,” said the winningest basketball coach in all of Cebu, Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba. “Oklahoma and Boston won the last two games, so the momentum shifts to them. On the other hand, it’s back home for the Spurs and the Heat. So this is evenly balanced.”

Yayoy’s prediction? Same. The Game 5 winners will advance. If we study the past eight playoff games, each game was won by the team at home. That’s 8-0.

While I thought that Cebu City Councilor Alcoseba will attribute a huge percentage of victories to “home-court advantage,” he said otherwise. “Sure, it’s a plus,” he said. “The crowd is loud. You’re home. You’re comfortable. But these teams have been traveling back and forth. It’s no guarantee of winning. You still have to play hard to win. I say it’s only a five percent advantage factor.”

Yayoy’s team-to-win surprised me. Because while all point to a San Antonio-Miami ending, he chooses Oklahoma. “I’m rooting for these guys because they’re young. I like the trio of Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Look what happened in the last game. Westbrook made only seven points but he made all the difference. He didn’t force his shots. He was able to pass to his teammates who, in turn, scored,” he said.

“The Spurs have to win today. If they lose, Oklahoma will finish it in Game 6. Same with Miami tomorrow. The pressure is intense.”

Alex Rañola speaks on Badminton

I got a response yesterday from Alex Rañola, a good friend and one of Cebu’s pioneers (and best players) in badminton. Here’s Alex:

“The direction now of the Philippine Badminton Association, headed by no less than Vice President Jojimar Binay and MVP, Manny V. Pangilinan, with Sec. Gen., Rep. Alby Benitez, is to produce world-class badminton athletes for the London Olympics (which we did not qualify yet) and other future international tournaments.

“PBA also hired former Olympic Gold Medalist (men’s doubles) Rexy Menaiky of Indonesia to train our national athletes. He was tasked to go around the country to scout for young potentials to be trained in Manila together with the National Players. So, parents, watch out for the dates when Rexy will visit your province!

“They launched the PBARS Tournament nationwide since the last 2 years to scout for local champions to be rated with points and assigned a permanent PBARS  number for the ranking. Whoever lands in the top 3 will be trained and will represent the Philippines for all international tournaments.

“As an update of the latest National PBARS tournament, the undefeated Tony Gadi still holds the record for the Men’s Singles in the Cebu Leg which was held at Metrosports last May 24. If anyone wishes to get updates on the rankings for all levels, please visit my office for a free Phil. Badminton Magazine. We are on the 20th issue this month! Grab one today.

“In Cebu, we have Ed Hayco who heads the CCSC. It’s function is to scout for local talents in all major sports. The local venue is at the old San Nicolas Gymnasium which is located in Pasil, San Nicolas for those who are interested to be trained for free. I am not sure though if Ed got a new recruit/volunteer trainer for Badminton after our last conversation last year.

“Finally, for everybody: You do not play Badminton to be fit. You have to be fit to play Badminton!”