Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pacman-Marquez 4: Who’s interested?

PUERTO PRINCESA–It’s our first time in Palawan, the home of the longest navigable underground river in the world. We arrived last Friday. While Typhoon Ofel left Cebu and it was sunny in Mactan, the skies darkened upon arrival in Puerto Princesa. It rained the entire Friday. Yesterday was the opposite: clear blue skies engulfed this island of blue seas.

I’m accompanied by three girls — Jasmin, our daughter Jana, and top junior netter Sally Mae “Em-Em” Siso. We’re here for the national championships of the Palawan Pawnshop Junior Tennis — a Group 2 major event that has brought together 220 entries from all over the archipelago.

Last Friday, we had dinner at La Terrasse with Roland So. No, he’s not the husband of Michelle — he’s the former No. 1 player who’s also here as a tennis parent. With his wife Tina, he brought along three of their six children: Camille, Mia and Mariel.

Perfectly-timed during the semestral break, we’re here not just for tennis but also to visit some of the country’s most famous tourist spots: the underground river, the fireflies sanctuary, Honda Bay, the crocodile farm… (Since we’re stuck in Puerto P., we can’t visit the other prominent yet faraway sites: Coron, El Nido, Tubbataha Reef.)

We’re most excited, of course, with trekking the 8.2-km. underground river that is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as (thanks to the online votes of the internet-savvy Pinoys) one of the world’s “New 7 Wonders of Nature.”

A bit of scary news, though. Upon arrival here, we were told of a disease. The name: “Come-back, come-back!”

UFC. I got plenty of feedback from last Thursday’s “UFC beats boxing” column and I’d like to share one, coming from a former Class-A tennis player and golfer.

Nick Torres said: “Hi John! AMEN to your column today! I’ve been trying to educate Bidoy (Aldeguer) about the UFC because he’s puzzled why it’s so popular. I told him everything you wrote plus the genuine respect 99% of the fighters have for each other plus the ‘Countdown’ and ‘Ultimate Fighter’ series, etc. I’m sure you know at least 30 UFC fighters on sight and know their backgrounds, fighting style, and always have a sentimental favorite for every single fight, right? You can’t say the same for boxing unless your family name is Aldeguer, Villamor, Gorres, etc.”

PACMAN. This is hard to believe. And it’s a sign. Manny Pacquiao, with just six weeks to go before his Dec. 8 fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, is absent. He’s not found in the news. There’s Donaire. There’s ALA. But there’s hardly any Pacman. This is surprising. Maybe the public is bored and weary of his 4th encounter vs. Marquez? Whatever the cause, the buzz surrounding Pacman is no longer the same. My advice for our modern-day hero? Pummel the Mexican, knock-him-out and then, before a worldwide audience, announce your retirement. Pacman’s skills, as we’ve witnessed in the past few fights, is waning. It’s time to end the career of the greatest Pinoy athlete ever.

LATE ARRIVAL. It was a long and tiresome trip for Team Visayas. En route to the 4th National Milo Little Olympics, the delegation’s departure from Cebu got delayed by one day. They arrived in Manila on Oct. 19 (Friday) and had to be ferried straight to the Marikina Sports Park for the Opening Ceremony. They finally landed at the Robinsdale Hotel, all tired and travel-weary, past 9 P.M. – with games scheduled early the next day. That was the delay going to Manila.

Coming home was even worse. After the Milo Olympics finished last Sunday, the Visayas Team was supposed to leave Manila last Monday. Instead — no thanks to Typhoon Ofel — they left four days later, sleeping in the boat as it got stuck in the pier. They finally arrived in Cebu only yesterday noon!

CEBU MARATHON. The online registration of the event slated this January 13, 2013 is now on-going. Register now… www.cebumarathon.com

In today’s fight, UFC beats boxing

Jasmin hates it! Blood gushes out. Elbows strike. Bones crack. Arms strangle the neck. Faces turn tomato-red. Kicks fly and snap the jaw. Shoulders get dislocated.

For my wife – whose business, the 47-year-old Centurion Security Agency, involves guns and strong men — the UFC is all-too-bloody. What Jasmin despises the most? “When they’re on the floor, hugging each other!” she says. “Not a pretty sight… watching two men embrace!”

Ha-ha-ha. But I enjoy the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Every time it’s broadcasted on SkyCable, I get stuck. It wasn’t always this way. Though I’ve been a boxing fan ever since the days of Hagler, Leonard and Duran, when I started watching mixed martial arts (MMA) on Balls TV a few years ago, I’d cringe. It was animalistic. Barbarous. My thinking: They’re going to kill each other! Someday, sometime, someone’s going to die from this sport! But, as Balls TV showed more coverage and as I watched St-Pierre and Silva and Machida and Jon “Bones” Jones, I watched more and more.

Jones

UFC is fantastic. It’s fast. It’s not as boring as the patsy jabs and uppercuts of boxing — there are dozens of styles ranging from muay-thai to jiu-jitsu to karate. And, while I used to think that MMA was much, much more violent than boxing, the opposite may be true: because the fight gets stopped quickly, the damage caused on one’s brain, for example, (after repeated pounding) is less.

For the first time — last January in URCC Cebu 7: Bakbakan Na! — I watched an MMA fight live. It was at the CICC. In an article I wrote days after, I commented: “With its ruthlessness and savagery, it makes boxing look like a ballet recital… boxing is noisy and full of energy—but you ought to see the URCC… It’s today’s Gladiator. Heavy metal music blasts off the speakers. A live band head-bangs. Everybody.. drinks beer… the spectators… they’re younger, wilder, louder and more sadistic than the ALA Boxing audience.”

My verdict? Excluding, of course, Manny Pacquiao and our Cebuano boxers from ALA, I choose to watch UFC over boxing. There’s a major fight almost each week. Last week it was Silva vs. Bonnar; a few weeks later it’s St-Pierre inside the Octagon and, weeks after, there’s Henderson-Diaz and, next, Dos Santos – Velasquez.

UFC is easy to follow. After UFC 218, there’s 219… and so forth. There are no WBOs or WBCs or IBF or WBA. There’s no confusion. Light heavyweight champion? There’s only one: Jon Jones. Middleweight champ? Anderson Silva. Welterweight? Georges St-Pierre, the friend of Pacman who also trained under Freddie Roach.

GSP

Boxing? Too many names, too many divisions, too many champions. Don’t you get confused? (Back to that trio of Jones-Silva-St-Pierre, imagine if they all somewhat met in the middle and fought? Jones against Silva or Silva-St-Pierre… that would be the greatest fight in UFC history.)

Money. That’s another reason why UFC beats boxing. Though they’re as famous as their boxing counterparts, the UFC fighters earn only hundreds of thousands of dollars compared to the tens of millions by Mayweather, Pacman, etc. This thirst-for-money issue is why Money will not fight Manny. Mayweather is demanding $50 million plus-plus for one fight. Crazy.

With UFC, maybe because Dana White, the owner, has complete control over his fighters, he’s able to dictate who fights who. There are no I-won’t-fight-you-unless-I-earn-$20 million issues. It’s always “Bakbakan Na!”

Lastly, the undercards. In boxing, the undercards in Las Vegas world title fights are lousy. Everybody is focused on just the Main Event. Haven’t you noticed the empty seats in MGM Grand just 60 minutes before a Pacman fight? Nobody wants to watch the nobodies. Not in UFC where almost every undercard fight is thrilling.

My point: Boxing has to innovate. It’s the turntable (plaka) in the era of iTunes, the Hallmark cards in this age of Facebook; it’s Barry Manilow versus today’s Pit Bull.

Agony, ecstasy for AJ and the Milo Olympics

While in Metro Manila last weekend, I watched two sporting events: the 4th National Milo Little Olympics and the AJ Banal championship fight.

First, Milo. Their opening ceremony last Friday was spectacular. After Ricky Ballesteros wowed the Milo officials with his opening act here at the CCSC three years ago, the high standards have been set.

Marikina City was a superb Milo host. So was Nestle, who spared no expenses to give the best; all athletes received green shirts, jackets, bags, magazines with their names printed on it, plus nicely-crafted medals for the winners.

For tennis, our elementary and high school girls played at the Marist School. That was the same venue as football — won by our Team Visayas. For the high school girls, we defeated Luzon, NCR and Mindanao to win gold. My daughter Jana, who played singles, won her matches with impressive scores: 8-0, 8-0, 8-3. Jana’s other teammates from Bright Academy were Stephanie Kim, Shyne Villareal and Anday Alferez.

In the elementary girls, we won silver. Led by Kara Salimbangon, who won all her games, we barely lost to Mindanao in the finals. Still, a proud silver-medal achievement for the St. Benedict girls. Kudos to coach Ken Salimbangon.

Team Visayas

Gold medalists, High School

MARIKINA. The past three days, I drove all over the streets of the country’s Shoe Capital. You know what impressed me most? The bike lines. Everywhere in Marikina, there is a dedicated lane for bikers. We should adopt this!

Imagine if more people biked? In a trip to Copenhagen and Amsterdam several years back, everybody biked. There’s less pollution, less traffic and we’re all healthier. (Ask Jourdan Polotan about climbing Maria Luisa.) With the BRT project to be realized, why not include dedicated bike lanes as part of the master-plan?

MOA. It stands for Mall of Asia. It also stands for Milo’s Most Outstanding Athlete. At the SM MOA Arena, one word best describes the entertainment complex, said Rico Navarro: beautiful. Yes, it is majestic and world-class.

Our seats were soft and cushiony. When Randy Villanueva brought me a cup of beer, the seats had bottle-holders ready. A giant LCD screen with the most advanced scoreboard loomed at the center. The aircon? Colder than Cebu Coliseum’s! Imagine if, a few years after the SM Seaside City rises at the SRP, it also decides to build such an arena. Let’s hope.

BANAL. Driving for over an hour from Marikina to the Mall of Asia, I arrived past 8 P.M. Jason Pagara was next. His fight started and finished in haste. It was over in a minute as the enemy quit.

Boom-Boom Bautista fought next. Though the fight was close and a split-decision decided the outcome, it was obvious that our Boholano won. Their Round 2 slugfest was one of the best three minutes I’ve witnessed. Still, despite the win, it wasn’t an overly remarkable or superb result. Boom-Boom defeated the Mexican but can he win a rematch vs. Daniel Ponce de Leon?

With Banal vs. Sor Singyu, from rounds 1 to 8, it was entertaining. No one backed off. AJ attacked. The Thai stepped forward. When AJ trapped him against the ropes, Sor Singyu shielded himself then unleashed his own retaliatory barrage. Wallops on the head were countered with pummels to the abdomen. AJ’s right upper eye bled. Low blows were repeatedly thrown by AJ. Up until the 9th round, I thought AJ led the scorecards. I thought it would end in the 12th without any KOs. But, like I was at the Cebu Coliseum four years ago to witness AJ’s shocking surrender, the same shocking end followed last Saturday.

Lack of training? Lack of stamina? Of heart? Prior to Round 9, AJ didn’t look beaten. He was exchanging strikes with punches. He looked alright. Then again, we didn’t know what his mind and body felt. Sadly, in the 9th, the worst-scenario moments arrived: AJ was punished, leaned against the ropes, almost fell off the ring in what should have been a knock-down; then, seconds later, after a succession of blows, AJ collapsed. He stood up but his eyes said it all: No Mas.

Open Water Swimming

Guy Concepcion, one of the chief architects of the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 as Race Director, sent me an email. Guy is organizing a couple of swim events called the Swim Masters Series. (For more info, please go to www.sportsmgt.ph.) Here are a few details:

First, the Speedo 3.5.8 Open Water Race in Anilao, Batangas (November 4). Race Distances are 3k, 5k, and 8k.

Plus, the Swim Masters Series at the Village Sports Club, BF Homes, Paranaque (November 10).

Various events of all strokes (50m, 100m) for the following age-groups:  20-24, 25-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-above.

“Open Water is already an Olympic-sport, the 10k distance,” said Guy. “It is quite popular outside the Philippines already — remember I joined a race last April in Israel? We should really stage more open water events locally. We do have great waters in our country, Cebu especially. One day there should already be a Filipino Open Water Olympian. We just have to get started with organizing events. As for triathletes, these open water races are great opportunities to improve their swim leg.”

“Masters Swimming is even a more popular phenomenon all over the world. The FINA World Masters Championship usually attracts 9000 participants. I’ve actually set my sights for the 2014 World Masters swimming championship in Montreal, Canada. If runners have their Sunday races, fitness swimmers should have their fun pool races too, right?”

For more information, visit www.sportsmgt.ph.

Jed Olivarez

Jed with Dato Patrick Liew, the president of the Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association

Another junior standout and future Philippine men’s tennis star is Eric Olivarez, Jr. Nicknamed “Jed,” I had the chance for two weeks to watch him play in two Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) Under-14 tournaments in Malaysia. Wow.

Jed won the singles crown in Kuching. He also won the doubles title there. The following week, he bested the top Asians to win in Kota Kinabalu. And, to top all that, he won the KK doubles crown. It was a four-for-four record for the 14-year-old Jed. Amazing. It was the first time in Philippine history that a Pinoy went undefeated in singles and doubles in two straight international events.

Three weeks after, Jed joined us here in Cebu for the Babolat Junior Championships. He entered the Boys 16 and Boys 18 categories — battling players two- and four-years older than him. The result? The same. Jed went undefeated to win both titles in the Group 2 Philta-sanctioned tournament.

The young Olivarez comes from an illustrious tennis family. His grandfather, Dr. Pablo Olivarez, was a long-time president of the Philippine Tennis Association (Philta). His uncle, Congressman Edwin Olivarez, is the current Philta president. His aunties, Eva and Edna, are some of the country’s most prominent former champions; as are Jed’s cousins, all champions — from Tamitha Nguyen to the Orteza sisters, Katrina and Isabella.

Jed’s biggest fans? Of course, his dad, Parañaque City Councilor Eric Olivarez, and his mom, Aileen, whom we got to know well during their recent Cebu visit. Jed is coached by one of the nicest (and funniest) coaches you can meet, Bobby Esquivel, an astute and sharp tennis tactician (I saw that for myself in Malaysia).

And the best part of all this? Jed is such a humble and quiet person, never bragging about his amazing accomplishments. I watched his match point in Kuching against the Japanese player (Daisuke) and, after winning the championship/last point, he simply nodded his head and smiled a shy grin. No in-your-face fist pumps. No extra-loud chest-bumping. No bragging.

Jed, at such a young age, is already a classy act. The Philippines is looking forward to a bright tennis future for the young Olivarez. Good luck, Jed!

Our island-hopping trip in Kota Kinabalu (from left: John, Jana, Jasmin, Jed and coach Bobby Esquivel)

The Kuching finalists: Daisuke Sumizawa with Jed Olivarez

Jurence Mendoza

Got this message from my good friend Roland So, our former No.1 tennis (and Davis Cup) player. Amazing results thus far for Jurence:

The country’s top junior netter, Jurence Zosimo G. Mendoza, 16 years old and a native of Olongapo City, recently won in 2 international junior tennis championships.
He won the singles championship in the Chickeeduck Hongkong Open Junior Tennis Championships, a Grade 3 tournament, last week where he beat a Swiss opponent.  He was runner-up in singles and champion in doubles in China Junior 15 – Xiamen, a Grade 2 tournament which was held last September.  As a result of these performances, he is now ranked no. 94th best junior player in the world by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

More importantly, he is now the highest ranked junior player in Southeast Asia and 7th in Asia.  Prior to joining these tournaments, he trained in Thailand and Switzerland under the program of Swiss Coach Dominik Utzinger.

His local coach, Martin Misa, said Jurence is right on target for the necessary ranking to be included in the main draw of the grand slam juniors, starting with the Australian Open in January 2013.  Jurence will next compete in Grade 2 and Grade A tournaments in Japan and Korea beginning next week.

Can AJ Banal do a Pacman in Manila?

Of the hundreds of sporting events that I’ve witnessed in my life, the date “December 2004” stands out as unforgettable. It was a fight between a Thai and a Pinoy.

Eight years ago, Manny Pacquiao, then a rising star — but nowhere near his worldwide celebrity/billionaire status of today — fought a Thai named Fahsan 3K Battery. The venue was The Fort. It was open-air. Jinkee was seated behind us. With one punch, Pacquiao damaged the abdomen of 3K Battery. The Thai flew on-air in Taguig.

This Sunday, a similar occurrence will unfold. It’s in Manila. It’s a world title bout. It’s a Pinoy vs. a Thai. Can Alex John Banal duplicate Manny’s feat?

“Pungluang Sorsingyu is a very strong and experienced fighter. He only has one defeat in 43 fights and has a high 62.79 knock-out percentage. That says a lot about his strength. Also, based on his previous fights, he can take a punch.”

Those words were uttered by Michael Aldeguer, the president of ALA Promotions, who spent millions and took months to organize this event.

“This is ALA Promotions’ biggest promotion this year,” added Aldeguer. One of the reasons why this is huge is because six different nationalities are coming to fight. Usually, it’s just the Mexicans. This time, it’s six nations represented. No wonder the event is called Pinoy Pride XVII – Philippines vs. The World.

“This is also a triple championship event with Banal and Sorsingyu for the WBO World bantamweight Championship and Boom Boom and Jason Pagara’s WBO International championships for the Featherweight and Light Welterweight divisions, respectively. Lastly, this will be the inaugural boxing event at the state-of-the-art SM Mall Of Asia Arena and it will be a world championship event at that.”

True. While Ateneo beat UST in SM’s MOA Arena and Lady Gaga had performed there, there had been no boxing spectacle. This Sunday will change that.

There’s a good chance I’ll watch the fight “live” this Sunday. I’m excited to visit the MOA Arena. Some friends commented that it’s nothing special. The workmanship, they said, was unlike the reported “NBA-like standards.” But others say otherwise.

“The SM MOA ARENA definitely is world-class,” Aldeguer said. “It is set-up like the Staples Center in LA and everything is electronic. It seats about 16,000 and a 20,000 capacity SRO. It has concessionaire booths all over and the seats are comfortable. Parking is not a problem; there’s an adjacent building connected by a bridge to the ARENA. World-class.”

Well, there you have it. I’ll submit my actual inspection after this weekend.

Back to AJ’s opponent, Sorsingyu’s credentials are impressive. He won 42 times and lost only once. He’s knocked out his enemies on 27 occasions. Against Filipinos, he’s won 14 times. Will AJ be next? (Fahsan 3K Battery actually defeated 22 Pinoys prior to facing Pacquiao.)

Not so fast, says Aldeguer. “AJ is very well prepared for this world championship,” said Michael. “He has been training since early this year and has fought last July to keep of the ring rust as his fight before that ended quickly in the very first round against the Mexican Hidalgo. For his training, the whole team has been very focused on all aspects like the strength and conditioning, skills training, the nutrition side of things… We can say he is very prepared.”

Banal is not the only mega-fight. Rey “Boom-Boom” Bautista also plays a starring role.

“For Boom Boom, Daniel Ruiz is a very tough and hard punching fighter,” said Aldeguer. “A fighter who can apply pressure and packs a lot of power with 19 KO’s on his resume. As for Jason Pagara, he will be facing an undefeated fighter from Barbados Miguel Antoine and any undefeated fighter cannot be taken lightly. These opponents, like Boom Boom and Jason, have likewise been training hard for these championship fights as these are quick tickets for either fighters to improve their world rankings, possibly in the top 5 of their respective divisions.”

This Sunday in Manila, it’s “Go, Cebu!”

Cebu’s golfing pride: Chuck Hong

Photo from Nimrod Quiñones at FullPointCebu

Thanks to the text message of six-time Cebu Country Club champion Eric Deen, I got to learn about the astounding achievement of a fellow Cebuano.

Charles “Chuck” Hong (said Atty. Jovi Neri: he now prefers to be called ‘Chuck’ instead of ‘Chuckie’) placed 3rd last Sunday in the PGM Sarawak Masters in Kuching, Malaysia.

The 24-year-old Chuck scored 71-69-76-69 for a three-under total of 285. For the 3rd place finish, he won $4,000. “I’m feeling very confident since it’s been three good weeks,” said Chuck. “And it’s also a bonus knowing that I have one W under my belt.”

The “W” means “win” and that victory — Chuck’s first since he turned pro — happened last month when he won the ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship in Cagayan de Oro City. In that CDO win, Chuck scored a remarkable seven-under 65 in the final day then defeated Richard Sinfuego in the playoff.

“After my victory in Cagayan, I felt both confident and anxious,” he said. “Confident because I proved to myself that I have what it takes and anxious since I don’t know what my game would be coming from a win. My good finishes in Davao (8th place) and Sarawak proved that it wasn’t just a lucky week. I’m really playing well.”

Playing well he is! Since turning pro, look at the accomplishments of Engr. Hong (yes, he’s a licensed Civil Engineer): For 2011, 4th place finish, PGT Wack-Wack. For 2012, 5th place PGT Splendido; 6th place PGT Sherwood Hills; 7th place PGT Eastridge; Winner, PGT Pueblo De Oro; 8th place PGT Palos Verdes; 11th place ADT Johor, Malaysia; 3rd place ADT Sarawak Masters, Malaysia.

“Chuck has dispelled any notions of a sophomore jinx,” said Jovi Neri, the chieftain of CCC’s jungolf program. “His win in Pueblo makes him the first product of the CCC Junior Golf Program to win professionally.”

I asked Chuck if he expected to play this well this soon. “I don’t make any predictions but if I did, I wouldn’t have predicted this much success this early on. I knew I was improving on a daily basis and that alone would make me happy, but that win was a nice bonus. I dream about things like this, and it’s nice to see it materialize.”

Chuck — whose ultimate dream is to play in the PGA Tour — attributes two reasons for his success: patience and support. “There have been a lot of struggles this year but I kept patient and didn’t let it affect me,” he said. “I look at the success of our other pros and turn that into my motivation. I also have a great support system: my sponsor (ICTSI), friends, coach, girlfriend, family. They support me 100% and its reassuring knowing you have all those people behind you.”

His idol? Tiger Woods. “Always was and still is. I can’t explain why since I don’t particularly like his swing or off-course habits, but he’s just a joy to watch. The things he does are amazing.”

Commenting on this pressure-packed game, Chuck said: “Golf is all mental. You could have the best swing in the world and it wouldn’t matter one bit if you didn’t have the mental toughness. At the end of every tournament, the camera doesn’t decide who wins or not. It’s the scoreboard, and there are no pictures in the scoreboard. Pressure situations are inevitable. No matter how much you try to stay away from them, you will have to face it. It’s easy to say not to think about pressure situations, but it’s hard to do it. I love pressure situations. I believe that if you are not in a pressure situation, you are not in contention. I always look for pressure because it means I’m up in the leaderboard and I have a chance to win.”

On the Ryder Cup: “That’s golf; there are no guarantees. It ain’t finished until that very last putt. I just captained the South Team in this year’s ‘The Duel’ and we were down 2 points going into the last day. I told my team that “we are still here, we wouldn’t be playing today if we didn’t have a chance” and after that day, we almost swept the other team to win the cup.”

This 2012, Chuck will join three local and three international tournaments. Next year, his goal is the Asian Tour Qualifying School. “That would be a big step,” he said, “because qualifying there would give me a card to play for the main tour – Asian Tour.”

The improbable win of Southwestern University

Yayoy Alcoseba calls the date “October 6” as “historic.” Ryan Aznar, the athletic director (since 2006) of Southwestern University, credits one act of his players for their success: praying before and after each game. Felix Tiukinhoy, the commissioner of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (Cesafi), when I asked him to rank this game from 1 to 10, did not hesitate to say: “The game was a 10! The best so far.”

Everybody’s talking about the incredible victory of SWU over UV last Saturday night. “We were down 18 points with seven minutes and 55 seconds in the fourth quarter,” said Yayoy yesterday. “I’ve been through many comebacks before but this one is extra special. In one final against MisO in Cagayan de Oro, my team trailed the entire game until the very last shot when we won the game. That was special. But this was historic.”

Like many classic battles, this was a seesaw contest. SWU won Game 1. UV won games 2 and 3. SWU won Game 4. Game 5? The winner-take-all finale? It appeared that UV would win. In his Facebook post, Noel Advin aptly coined an acronym for S.W.U.

SWU: “Sorry, Winner ang UV.” Noel correctly wrote that UV fans thought of that acronym for most of Game 5. Until the dramatic last few minutes that ended with SWU’s 73-72 win.

What happened? “When UV had that lead of 18 points with only minutes left, they became tentative,” Yayoy said. “They were no longer aggressive with the offense. They knew that the clock was ticking. Na usab ilang game. They were running the clock, waiting for the time.”

SWU? They had nothing to lose. That’s why Yayoy brought in John Pajantoy. They were desperate. They needed a miracle. “While UV became tentative, we became aggressive. We had no choice. We had to play catch up,” said Yayoy.

UV was playing not to lose — instead of trying to win. And it cost them. The game. The title. The season. “The momentum changed,” said Yayoy. “We fought back. Our players gained confidence.”

My fellow SunStar writer Rommel Manlosa said it best when he wrote: “UV was in total control of the game and showed it had better experience but it was SWU who had the heart and determination to win the championship.”

RYAN AZNAR. One person to be credited for SWU’s triumph is their athletic director, Ryan Aznar.

A former Cebu Country Club jungolfer who is now into practical shooting, Ryan is also a commissioner of the Cebu City Sports Commission and a board member of the Cebu Volleyball Association.

As a testament to his devotion to SWU’s sports program  — and not just the school’s basketball program — Ryan told me that while the SWU team celebrated at (fittingly) Yayoy’s Grill after the game, he head to leave early. The reason: Early the next day, the SWU girls volleyball team will play in the championship as well as the women’s team.

Ryan credits the SWU populace for the support. “Our chairman of board, Maris Aznar Holopainen, and treasurer Ana Alfonso Almario are at the forefront of our entire sports program together with the rest of the board of directors of SWU. Our university president Dr. Elsa Suralta is also credited for her all-out support and to the entire SWU community.”

Mr. Aznar thanks Coach Alcoseba. “His experience was a big factor on us winning; it was his idea that we get foreign players and even UV followed, too. Also, Coach Mike Reyes was a perfect addition to SWU’s coaching staff.”

As to the grand victory party, Ryan said that that will have to wait. “It’s our final exams this week, no time yet to celebrate.”

But very soon, the school founded a couple of years after the war (1946) will soon celebrate and party. On the 12th year of the Cesafi season, the team with the colors maroon and gold finally struck gold.