Wacky, wild weekend like no other

Paris Hilton gets arrested at the World Cup in South Africa for smoking “marijuana.” Phil Jackson announces his return for a fourth three-peat. Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador are poised to go mano-a-mano when the 97th Tour de France pedals off tonight. Rep. Manny Pacquiao, through Bob Arum, has issued Floyd Mayweather, Jr. an ultimatum: Fight me or you’re a sissy! LeBron James is courted by NYC, by Chicago, by the Clippers, by his friend, rapper Jay-Z. To top it all, our nation of 90 million has a new president and new favorite term: wang-wang.

Wow. Wasn’t this an amazing week? To top all these, the Dutch paint Brazil orange, Serena Williams won her fourth Wimbledon crown last night (my guess) and Rafael Nadal will meet Thomas Berdych in tonight’s ping-pong on grass. Argentina beat Germany last night? That, too, is my prediction. Whew. What a week. What a week’s end—surely the most enthralling in years.

For isn’t Sport amazing? Isn’t it the best form of entertainment and merrymaking? Better than, say, Knight and Day? For, we never know the ending. Roger Federer losing in the quarters? That was unexpected. A Uruguay vs. Netherlands semi-final? Stunning. For this is sport; the ball is round, the Jabulani can fly anywhere.

Friday, I was at a bar. I drank San Mig Light. At 12:00. Midnight. That’s unexpected. I don’t drink. Usually. Past 11? That’s past my bedtime. That’s unexpected. But what’s expected was this: Sports I love to watch. And so I watched during those unholy hours. Ten television sets surrounded the hangout named Sports Exchange, located at the Mango Square Mall. Over 100 pairs of eyeballs inside the resto-bar zoomed their focus on Brazil vs. The Orange Team. When Pele’s home squad scored at the 10th minute, we knew it was over. The winningest nation in World Cup history with five trophies toyed with, brushed, vandalized Dutch Boy.

Mike Limpag, wearing yellow with green trimmings and BRAZIL embroidered at the back, was all-smiles. His Kaka won. Seated beside us, Noel Villaflor, wearing the opposite—a bright orange shirt with the large-print, NEDERLAND—frowned.

Brazil was unbeatable. That was, until Jun Migallen arrived. Wearing yellow not to symbolize his affiliation with P.Noy but to announce his choice of football team, the moment Junmigs, SunStar Superbalita’s sports editor, sat with his fellow Sun.Star sportsmen, yellow transformed into black.

Nederland scored, 1-1. Nederland scored, 2-1. What a shocker. Joseph Alfafara, HSBC’s big boss, jumped for his team. Former USC goalie (and Kenyan) Pius Bett, seated to my left, was in disbelief. The Sports Exchange community, much the same scenario in pubs across Planet Earth, grew noisy. Beer bottles clanked. Shouts reverberated.

Like in every sports ending, crying and smiling mixed. The Dutch cried in happiness; the Brazilians cried in tears. For who would have expected?

Rafael Nadal? This was expected. Him winning tonight’s chess battle on grass against a 6-foot-5 king named Berdych? That’s Czech-mate. That’s expected.

Federer, Roger? This was expected. For nobody has ever reached eight straight Wimbledon Finals and won seven of them. To lose for only the second time in eight years isn’t too bad, right? So let’s not eulogize Roger. This was a hiccup more than a terminal disease.

Back to the World Cup: no event, sports or non-sports, brings humanity together like this fever. I’m no rabid addict of this kicking sport, but this month, from June 11 to July 11, like hundreds of millions from Albay to Barcelona to Cebu to Davos to England to GenSan to Zimbabwe, we’re all FIFA followers. Even Kobe Bryant, who traces his roots to the African continent, has become a dribbling-of-the-feet-and-not-the-hands fanatic. He traveled to S. Africa. Even the song “Waka-Waka,” sung by Shakira, my daughter Jana and I love. (Don’t know what it is? Watch the video of this official WC song in YouTube.)

In all, what a waka-waka wang-wang weekend!

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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