Two afternoons ago, Cebu City Councilor Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba called. He was furious. “Boy (Felix) Tiukinhoy is only good if he’s the one organizing the tournament,” he said. “If he’s not part of it, to him the event is no good.”
The latest issue, as you’ve read on these back pages the past few days, is the Visayas Amateur Athletic Association (VAAA).
The founder of the VAAA, Yayoy Alcoseba hoped to include, among his roster of teams, Cebu’s top collegiate schools: UV, USJ-R, UC, USC, among others. Instead, in a 6-1 vote by the school owners of the Cebu Schools Athletic Federation (Cesafi) last week, they barred any Cesafi school from participating in the VAAA.
Yayoy Alcoseba and Boy Tiukinhoy ready to fight (He-he! That’s Freddie Roach)
Two Sundays ago in San Francisco, U.S.A., a freakish event happened. No, prisoners did not escape from Alcatraz (it’s been closed since 1963) and, no, the red-colored Golden Gate Bridge wasn’t painted gold—it was another type of oddity.
In the Nike Women’s Marathon, a total of 20,000 runners joined. Nothing wrong with that—in fact, that’s a grand celebration on the fight against breast cancer this “Pink October.”
Now, here’s the abnormality: One runner finished first while another clocked the fastest time. Yes, no misprint there: Nora Colligan crossed the finish line ahead of everybody else while another runner, Arien O’Connell, recorded the race’s fastest time. How possible? Each runner is given a ‘chip’ that’s attached to the shoe and one’s time begins (and ends) as she crosses the starting (and finish) lines. With that chip, O’Connell ran the quickest time.
“There were over 20,000 competitors in Sunday’s Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco,” wrote C.W. Nevius of the San Francisco Chronicle last Oct. 21. “And 24-year-old Arien O’Connell, a fifth-grade teacher from New York City, ran the fastest time of any of the women.
“But….. she didn’t win.”
She did not win? And she had the quickest time? How can that be?
This story is controversial, funny, thought-provoking. Here’s what happened: In the marathon, Arien O’Connell did not run with the so-called “elite” group (those considered the fastest… who are placed at the front of the starting line). And so, with over 20,000 participants, O’Connell stayed at the back of the starting pack and ran 20 minutes after the elite group left.
At the finish line three hours later, three female marathoners (not O’Connell) finished 1-2-3. So they’re the top three finishers, right?
The above slogan is the NBA’s newest. Introduced to basketball fanatics last year, it replaced the long-running and popular, “I Love This Game.” Either way, this we know: the NBA is loved and is amazing.
Take Kobe and LeBron. Teammates in the ‘Redeem Team,’ they’re opponents on the parquet floors of the Staples Center and the Quicken Loans Arena. One stands 6-foot-6, wears three NBA championship rings, was the 1997 Slam Dunk champ and, last season, was adjudged as the NBA MVP. The other is 6’8”, weighs 45 lbs. heavier than KB at 250 lbs., dons MJ’s No. 23 jersey, and, last season, was the NBA scoring leader, averaging an exact 30.0 PPG.
Of Kobe and LeBron, once again I asked my “NBA consultant” who helped me craft last Tuesday’s column—Dennis Que—on his comments and MVP picks…
Exactly one week from today, the game that’s dribbled in America but is followed by all 195 countries of the world—especially by our basketball-crazy nation—will begin. The NBA, after four months in hiatus, finally begins its 2008-09 Regular Season on Oct. 28.
I’ll make an admission: I haven’t followed the league. Ever since “the greatest athlete in world history” retired last April 16, 2003 wearing the Washington Wizards jersey, I’ve followed Federer-Nadal, running, Tiger, boxing, PacMan—but called a time-out when the topic was the NBA. And though two supermen named LeBron and Kobe are near-MJ-like, they’re still—and no one can ever replace His Airness—not Michael Jordan.
And so, to shoot an article on the NBA, I needed an assist from my good friend Dennis Que…
Roger in danger…
Ronaldinho: Touch of Gold
One of the smartest inventions on the internet—especially for sports—is YouTube. In search of a 1960s NBA classic? Want to see a replay of the other night’s Boston Red Sox 8-7 win? Manny Pacquiao’s KOs? They’re all there. Plus, YouTube is free, fast, and has nearly 100 million videos stored—tens of thousands of which are related to sports.
Typing “Michael Jordan,” for example, will result to 54,600 videos. There’s the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, the Larry Bird vs. Michael Jordan McDonald’s commercial, MJ’s final shot in ’98, and a tribute video aptly-titled, “I Believe I Can Fly.”
Greg Slaughter? Cebu’s newest and, literally, biggest star? There are dozens of videos on the UV center, one of which is “Greg Slaughter Dunk UV vs. China” where, true enough, you’ll see the 6-foot-11 giant sprinting down the lane, jumping, catching an inbounds pass on the air and slamming the ball down the ring.
Though I’m not as avid a bookworm as my wife, Jasmin, I love books. (Plus, I strongly believe that today’s children read much, much less while watching more TV and playing more videogames—but that’s another article.)
My favorite books? Without question: Autobiographies. And, at my home’s second floor study area, I have a library of them: Barack Obama’s two bestsellers, John McEnroe’s “You Cannot Be Serious,” Richard Branson’s “Losing My Virginity,” and plenty more by Pele, Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch, Bob Cousy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Martina Navratilova, Rod Laver…
Last Sunday, I finished one more. Thanks to one of my best friends on the tennis court—Fabby Borromeo, who purchased it in the U.S. and lent it to me last week—I devoured the story of one man who stands as probably the athlete I idolized the most.
“Pete Sampras: A Champion’s Mind / Lessons From A Life In Tennis” is a stupendous book—as you’d come to expect from the greatest player ever to hold a tennis racket. (Roger Federer fans: Your man has not surpassed Pete’s 14 Grand Slam singles titles record yet, so the accolade, for now, though I’m sure it will be broken by RF, stays with PS.)
Doctors Yong Larrazabal and Peter Mancao at last year’s Adidas Run
Barack Obama of Chicago is running—yes, we know that—but not this Sunday’s marathon at his home city. Two Cebuano doctors, meanwhile, will run 42 kms. at The Windy City: Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III and Peter Mancao.
Chicago will be Yong’s fifth marathon (after NYC, Hong Kong, and the Pasig and Milo marathons in Manila). How many 42Ks does Yong expect to finish? “I plan to complete 33 marathons in my lifetime,” he said. “I pray to God that he gives me good health and that he protects me from injuries for me to attain this.”
Wow… 33 marathons! That’s beyond phenomenal. But if there’s one who can accomplish that feat, it’s Yong. Why? Because he’s ultra-driven; working not only long hours at the Larrazabal Eye center (at the family-owned Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital) but also finding time to train hard.