Harry Radaza’s ideas for a sporty Lapu Lapu

Last Thursday, I announced the rise of the HOOPS DOME. Brand-new, fully-air-conditioned with an electronic, NBA-like scoring console at the center, this basketball gymnasium located just 2.5 kms. from the foot of the old Mactan bridge seats 7,000.

Given the absence of a state-of-the-art coliseum in Cebu, this is remarkable. Plus, more than the Hoops Dome, the City of Lapu Lapu is targeting to build a new sprawling complex complete with a track oval, football field, and tennis courts.

Like Camarines Sur, the city hopes to replicate the sports tourism concept popularized by Camsur.

The man atop Mactan island’s sports program? The “Edward Hayco of Lapu Lapu City?”

He’s Harry Radaza. Newly-elected as city councilor, Harry, 36, is the nephew of Rep. Arturo “Boy” Radaza. A sports devotee whom I’ve known since high school, Harry has plenty outlined for his city.

First, the Lapu-Lapu Olympics. “The idea is to have as many events and athletes representing their barangays,” said Harry. The games involved? Basketball, Volleyball, Badminton, Athletics, Aquatics, Darts, Table Tennis, Tennis, Cycling, Triathlon and Taekwondo. “Of course, there will be a grand opening and closing complete with the lighting of the Olympic flame,” he added.

“Athletes won’t play for money but for the pride of winning medals for their barangay (plus a ‘traveling trophy’ that will be kept by the champion). There will be a race for the barangay with the most medals, too. The project is still in its infancy and the logistics and cost are big hurdles but I am confident it can be done by April 2011.”

Grassroots. That’s another focus of Councilor Radaza. “Barangay-based sports clinics are something we are looking at,” he said. “Coaches will go to the barangays so athletes can save on public transportation. I have coordinated with the AFP at the Mactan Air Base and they are willing to lend their manpower and facilities as part of their outreach program.”

Harry will also continue their successful inter-barangay basketball league that follows the home-and-away format.

Boxing? Sure. “I am trying to get donors so we can build our own ring. The city can hire boxing trainers and those interested can train for FREE. All we ask is for the athletes to give back to the program. “And, I’m also looking for an ideal site where we can put up a Recreation Center for badminton, ping-pong, darts, billiards, and chess.”

Among the dozens of sports that Harry himself played, his most memorable stint was with Flag Football. This was in 2004. “Starting the sport from the ground up, in three years’ time Cebu teams beat Manila in the Nationals for three straight years,” he said. “The Sharks, which I was with, did it first for two years followed by The Rebels of Brian Lim.”

Recently, Harry joined this popular recreational sport. “I just recovered from ACL surgery and took up running. I am planning a Fun Run in Nov. in line with our fiesta. The goal will be to invite new participants and make them realize that exercise is good for the health. We will involve the city and barangay officials to set an example.” As for his most radical idea…

“I have been doing research and propose that the city hold an International Skydiving Competition (four-man tandem). This can be done over Olango island (because of the open spaces for drop zones)—yet still be visible from the Mactan coastline,” he said. “The only other Sky-diving competition outside of the western hemisphere is in Dubai. I’ve already spoken with officials from the U.S. and they’re excited. But this might still be years away. The budget is the challenge. Also, coordination with MCIAA and the ATO since flights will have to be given a new path.

“Other events I’m studying are a paramotor competition, open water wakeboarding competition and—to be held in Olango and traversing the other islands—Adventure racing.”

Thanks to Harry, Lapu Lapu will soon be known for more than just white-sand beaches. Let’s go beat Camsur!

Quick response from Graeme Mackinnon

An hour or so after Roger Federer lost to Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals, my close buddy Graeme Mackinnon wrote this commentary from Australia:

NY will have to wait another year… but will it happen ever?

It is 9am here and the news is just through that the rivalry of R&R will be on hold for another Grand Slam. So will Rafa open his Open account in New York and claim the biggest apple they have for tennis there. If Rafa will win I suppose the inevitable of will he overtake Roger in the number of Open wins in the future will be ignited again.

Rafa is clearly several rungs above the pretenders. Djokovic and Murray have not rattled the cage consistently enough to believe that Rafa would be troubled in the majority of games he plays against them. Only Roger we believe will give us a classic match. But given Rafa’s record (14-7) against Roger would he be shaking in his nike tennis shoes?

Again the debate of whether there are chinks beginning to appear in the armor of Roger’s invincibility will again be ignited after this weekend. Only time will tell if Roger has won his last Open tournament. Rafa (with age on his side and if he stays fit) will be as relentless as he is in his games in his pursuit of Roger’s record number of Open’s wins. But the indisputable fact will be that for those lucky enough to have witnessed both Roger and Rafa during their careers, there will be debates (another one?) as to who is the GOAT or would there be a consensus to call them co-GOATS. I think if Rafa does eventually equal or gets near either way there would be a compelling case as they are so unique in their techniques and have brought so much theater to tennis.

Interesting times ahead both on and off the court John. Now given my terrible tipping record I have most probably put the hex on Rafa and Djokovic will blow him away, but I wouldn’t bet on that either.


In NYC, wishing for another R & R

Next to Manny Pacquiao, the two athletes I write about most often on these back pages are 6-foot-1, Nike-bandana-wearing twins: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

At the United States Tennis Open, if both were able to dismiss of Mikhail Youzhny and Novak Djokovic in last night’s semifinals, then, once more, we’ll be treated to a drama that’s likened to Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier’s “The Championships of Each Other.”

“The Open is the only Slam where Federer and Nadal have never played,” wrote Steve Tignor in “Is It Sunday Yet?” That’s true. While the pairing have played 21 times, they’ve never faced each other in Flushing Meadows.

“New York wants a piece of this generation’s great rivalry before it’s too late, and we’re never going to have a better shot at it,” added Tignor. “We’ve seen Ali and Frazier. We’ve seen Borg and McEnroe. Even Godzilla took a cruise to Manhattan for a showdown with King Kong. Are we finally going to get Nadal and Federer?”

We hope so. For, these friends have won plenty: Roger has six Wimbledon titles, four Australian Opens, one French and five US Open crowns while Rafa has five in Paris, two Wimbledons, one Aussie Open—but zero in NYC. Talking of major/major, that’s 16 for Roger and 8 for Rafa.

“I won the other three Grand Slams rather quickly, like he did,” said Federer. “The only difference so far is that I lost two (French Open) finals before, plus a semifinal, whereas he’s never been in a final here.

“Clearly, he has a chance because he’s young enough. Having so many French Open titles to his name, let alone at his age, is an amazing accomplishment. Then again, obviously, I guess he would need to win the US Open to put himself there. He’s won the Olympics, done some amazing things. So he’ll have a shot at it, I’m sure.”

Will this shot be this weekend? If Rafa does meet then defeat Roger, the 24-year-old will achieve a feat similar in magnitude to Spain’s World Cup victory: He’d become the youngest player in the Open Era to complete the career Grand Slam.

Yet, while Rafa is hungry for this missing Big Apple bite, on paper, it’s the Swiss who’s favored. The reason: the past seven years, he’s won every match at the Open except one hiccup last year against del Potro. Mr. Federer possesses the most complete arsenal of weapons on a rectangle since tennis was spelled tenez. And this event’s hard court (DecoTurf) surface suits a player who carries more ammunition.

So, here’s the intriguing question: While many don’t argue calling RF as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), if he loses to RN, would that tarnish his golden stature?

Maybe. Yet, whatever the outcome, the winners are us, the fans. Time Magazine’s Eben Harrell, listing “Federer v. Nadal” atop the Top 10 Tennis Rivalries, wrote it best: “Call it the rapier versus the broadsword. The bull fighter versus the bull. For over five years now, Federer and Nadal have stunned the tennis world with their contrasting but compelling claims to be the greatest player on the planet. Federer’s light-footed movement and elegant, attacking style has, in head-to-head encounters, proved largely ineffectual against Nadal’s thumping, muscular defense. Nadal holds the edge 14-7. But Federer has a vastly superior career record — he holds an all-time best 16 grand slam titles. So who holds the edge in the rivalry is up for debate. But there’s no doubt that tennis is blessed to have two of the greatest players in history currently at the top of the world rankings.”

If this final—said Mats Wilander: “I think it’s the biggest match of all time”—does materialize, here are factors to watch for: a) How potent is Rafa’s newfound, 135-mph serve? b) Who will the wind affect more? Thus far, Roger’s been better, c) Can Rafa continue his my-forehand-to-Roger’s-backhand tactic? d) Roger’s drop-shot surprise: will it be effective? e) The mental battle—will Rafa once more have the edge?

These are my questions. Want the answer? Don’t miss the fight (RP time) tomorrow, Monday, starting 4 a.m.

Breaking News: It’s play ball in Hoops Dome!

Lapu Lapu City Councilor Harry Radaza was my brother Charlie’s high school classmate. I’ve known him for two decades. Ever since we were schoolmates at the Cebu International School, Harry was known to be the sports fanatic. Basketball. Later, flag football. Now, running—Harry has always been the hyper-active, go-go-go type.

Today, after being elected last May 10 in his first attempt, he is a City Councilor. And, what better position to give the sports expert? Of course, the chairmanship of these committees: Sports, Youth, Tourism.

“We have a brand-new stadium!” Harry announced a few days ago when we spoke.

This is significant news! For Mactan. For our province. I pressed Harry for the details. Here are the facility’s nuts-and-bolts as he explained:

“The new stadium dubbed ‘HOOPS DOME’ was conceived by Congressman Boy Radaza while he was still mayor. Being an avid basketball player, he understood the importance of sports in the community. Construction started in 2007 and the stadium will be finished this month. We are just waiting for the step-down generators.

“Seating capacity is about 7,000. It’s fully-airconditioned. Also, air-conditioned locker rooms for teams are available, same with dressing rooms for concert activities. It has a square (cube) scoreboard in the middle if you look at the center of the stadium. Built-in sound system with sound room. The floor is covered with protective blue rubber matting, when needed. We also made sure to have the standard cushioning below the floor installed according to NBA specifications. There is a stage at the far end of the stadium for events.

“Hoops Dome is located in Brgy. Gunob behind Crown Regency Hotel—just five minutes from the old bridge. We are looking to open it to the public this Oct. The annual fiesta tournament, which I organize, averages around 100 teams each year—that should be our first event. Eliminations will be held in our open basketball court at the Lapu Lapu Auditorium and the playoffs starting last week of Oct. will be held at the Hoops Dome. So basically, it will be athletes of Lapu Lapu City who will be able to use the Hoops Dome first. I am in talks for a PBA bearing game to be held sometime Nov. as one of our Fiesta activities. This will be our first major event.”

I asked Councilor Radaza: Considering that the bigger Cebu and Mandaue cities have not built a near-world-class coliseum in decades, what does this tell the public about Lapu-Lapu? How did you do it? What’s the cost?

“Of the 400,000 tourists that arrived in 2009, a huge 65% were billeted in Lapu Lapu City,” he said. “We are focusing on tourism. Now, tourists come here for the natural resources that Lapu Lapu City has to offer. Sports tourism is a new approach that Mayor Paz Radaza is supportive of and Rep. Boy Radaza has laid down the infrastructure for this.”

Harry related to me another “Headline News” which, if realized, will complement Hoops Dome. “We plan to construct a new Lapu Lapu sports complex. Facilities like a track oval, an Olympic swimming pool, a diving pool, tennis courts and more are targeted to be built at a property adjacent to the old bridge. Being the Chairman for the Committee on Sports and Committee on Tourism, I am focusing on creating unique events which can bring in domestic and international athletes. We are looking beyond PBA games. We are looking to invite international teams and to organize international-caliber events.

“Camarines Sur is a success story that is worth studying. There is no reason why Lapu Lapu City, blessed with natural beaches, cannot do the same. Marine and Aquatic sporting events are being considered now.

“The Hoops Dome roughly cost P350M. To help it generate income, I am exploring the idea of renting out the naming rights to corporate sponsors; just as they do in the US although that approach has never been done here in the Philippines.”

34th Milo Marathon: One of the best I’ve joined

Last Sunday, I participated in a road-running race. It wasn’t the usual every-Sunday event. When you’re able to gather a congregation of 23,000 pairs of feet, all stumbling and trampling on the same Osmeña Boulevard, that’s unusual—and hard-to-believe numbers. Well, despite the chaos of too many shoes, guess what: In my 46 months of running, it was one of the best-organized races I’ve joined.

Congratulations to Nestle, to Ricky Ballesteros, and to the hundreds of technical and support staff—including Joel Juarez—who made sure to uphold the exalted name of “Milo” in sports.

What made the race spectacular? The giant screen at the starting line that projected the route, videos and photos—that was one. The presence of Nestle CEO John Miller—that was another. Mr. Miller not only rendered an inspiring speech (announcing their advocacy of donating running shoes to elementary students), it was also because the CEO joined us in the 21K race—finishing in a speedy time of 2:04. Three sexy ladies wearing skimpy tops who climbed the stage for minutes of warm-up, dancing to “Waka-Waka”—that was another pre-race attraction. Then… Bang! We were off! Large speakers blasted music along several points of the route. One side of Osmeña Blvd. was closed.

(From SunStar Cebu)

Water stations in our Half-Marathon route were abundant—in my estimate, less than a kilometer apart from each station. The marshals handing water and Gatorade wore not ordinary attire but green Milo shirts. Along the South Road Properties (SRP), bananas (perfectly-sliced and perfectly-ripe) were in excess.

CITOM personnel manned every intersection. To help guide and protect the participants, bright orange cones lined the entire route. Excellent! Three “water fountains” (large hoses) poured water on our steaming-hot bodies.

And then, the UNGO group. Along the route, the Ungo Runners constructed three outposts (at the CIT U-turn, near Metro Gaisano and inside SRP) with plenty of Gatorade and supplies. Joy Polloso, Ayala Center Cebu’s top honcho, personally handed out drinks. Bikik Besavilla positioned herself near Colon St. to help. (Ungo has become a strong force for good in running. Well done, Ungo Runners!)

Finally… the Finish Area was superb. Located inside the Cebu City Sports Center, runners entered the side gate and sprinted a few meters on the track oval before crossing the finish. Thousands of students screamed and enjoyed the presentations—all making a festive ending.

Then, after you cross that finish line, you’re handed all you need: a green Milo-labeled bag with water, banana, etc. Plus—and this is a good tip for all organizers—you’re donned the finisher’s medal seconds after crossing that line. Perfect.

All-smiles at the finish were plenty: Leonardo “Jun” Angeles was super fast at 1:44 in the 21K. Benedict “Bende” Benedicto (who timed an impressive 1:56) and his wife, Mary Ann “Mat,” who finished eighth-place with a 1:59 time. Bende and Mat are now one of the fastest couple-runners in Cebu—this despite Mat only joining the running scene last March. Congratulations also to doctors Charles and Loy Tan and to Mae Ugalino for finishing their first half-marathons.

Our lone criticism of Milo? Except for the elite runners that included Noy Jopson (who finished the 21K in a blistering 1:27 and thus exited the SRP fast), we got burned.

(SunStar Cebu)

Running inside the shade-less SRP for 10 kilometers with no reprieve from the fiery sun was pure suffering. Several quit. Plenty walked. It was, simply put, agonizing and painful. (Next year, instead of the actual 5:37 a.m. start, we recommend a 5 a.m. start and to tackle the SRP route first.) Still, Milo was the best Philippine race I’ve joined (the Singapore Marathon I’d still consider tops).

Backed by Nestle and with 34 years of experience in organizing races, this was a very well-run Run.

Categorized as Marathon

Jealous? Scared? Yes, Floyd M, Jr. is both

Because of all the attention Manny Pacquiao is getting from ESPN, Michael Marley, CNNSI, The Queensberry Rules and PhilBoxing.com today, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is envious. He used to be the star. He used to be the P4P king. He used to be the center of the universe’s orbit.

Used to be. Because every since MP defeated Oscar-DLH, Ricky Hatton, plus the slew of Mexicans named Eric, Juan Manuel, David, Marco Antonio—Mayweather’s status as boxing’s god disappeared. He relinquished it. Lost it to a miniscule Asian who used to fight 105 lbs.

Floyd is jealous. No doubt about it. Manny is absorbing all the love and praises of America—his America—and Floyd can’t stand watching it. Never beaten in 41 fights, Junior is used to being the last man standing… while the opponent is either lying flat on the canvas or has his eyes bruised. Mayweather was forever No.1. In his division. In Ring magazine’s Pound-4-Pound analysis. Not anymore. And so he’s fighting back.

Mayweather is quarreling Pacquiao, yes, but, no, not on the square ring inside a Las Vegas casino. Floyd isn’t fighting Manny there because, as you and I and the boxing community know, one person is scared. And it’s not Manny.

Our Sarangani congressman has humbled himself. Accused of being a drug cheat—though he’s never failed a single drug test, despite the hundreds conducted through the decade—Manny has agreed to every demand asked by the American. Still, the answer is No.

“No I won’t fight you, Manny. No, I won’t damage my perfect record. No, no, no, Manny. No!” Those are the unsaid words chirping inside Mayweather’s crooked brain. How crooked is his brain? Here are some of the words he spitted out yesterday in a YouTube confession that lasted for four minutes and 20 seconds.

“Poochiao,” he called Manny. He also said he will “cook that yellow chump,” that he will “kick the midget a**,” and “cook him up with some barbecued dog.”

Can you believe those words? Those are beyond racist. Those are evil. Here’s more: On the steroids issue, Mayweather said: “This mother f**ker’s name is Emmanuel. He got a fake name, taking power pellets.”

Worse, Mayweather added: “They ain’t got to worry about me fighting the midget. Once I kick the midget’s a**, I’ll make that mother f**ker make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.”

Are you surprised? I’m not. For those are the exact words Floyd uses behind the scenes. Only now, he’s posted them on YouTube. Floyd’s always got the most egoistic attitude. He’s always possessed the most vilified mouth. And, you know what? He’s gotten what he’s wanted now: attention.

While Manny and Antonio Margarito are out touring LA and Texas promoting their Nov. 13 embrace, Floyd has managed to steal that limelight and focus the light on, once more, himself.

Now, in the midst of this Pacquiao-Margarito media blitz, it’s he—FM, Jr.—who’s getting all this attention. Even my writing this story today—the same story/criticisms hurled by hundreds of other journalists worldwide—is testament to his “stealing the show.”

Selfish. Loud mouth. Faggot. Let’s call him whatever bad name we can find; let’s seek revenge!!! Right?

No. For even Manny isn’t doing that. Manny’s taking the presidential high road. He’s not stooping down.

Yet, the world knows. Not only us, Filipinos, because we admit bias towards our countryman, but the boxing fans—even Floyd’s fellow Americans, who should be rooting for their own—now realize this truth: Floyd’s jealous. Floyd’s scared.

If you ask me, what would be a perfect ending to this latest twist? Sure, I’d recommend for Atty. Jingo Quijano to lead the case of defamation against Mayweather and win for Pacquiao millions of dollars in damages. That’s good. But I want an even better ending.

Manny beats Goliath this Nov. 13, fights The Racist sometime May 2011 and knocks him out like he did Ricky Hatton. Flat on the floor. Eyes frozen. Body unconscious. That should put to sleep this a*%&ole!

Margarito vs. Pacquiao is Goliath vs. David

(Photo: Granville Ampong)

YouTube is one of mankind’s greatest inventions. According to Wikipedia: “In May 2010, it was reported that YouTube was serving more than two billion videos a day…”

One of those two billion videos I watched at 6 p.m. yesterday. It was a 13:23-minute clip and three men—Bob Arum, Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao—spoke during the press conference two days ago in Los Angeles. What did I see?

Bob Arum, today’s Don King minus the standing hair, spoke first. He talked of injustice. He articulated how Mr. Margarito was denied justice in Las Vegas, disallowing him to fight in the “Sin City.”

Antonio Margarito stood up next. Donning a shiny black leather jacket and wearing eyeglasses that made him look like a UCLA student with spiky hair, “Tijuana’s Tornado” spoke in his native Mexican language.

Then, Bob Arum came back on stage to introduce the beloved superstar. Said Arum: “He’s now the Congressman from Sarangani… to the best of my knowledge, he’s the first professional boxer, while he is pursuing his boxing career, to be a representative of the highest parliamentary body in his country… that is a real tremendous achievement.. and he’s just starting because… in 2016, he’s going to be Vice-President and, hopefully, while I’m still around, we’re going to the Presidential Inaugural!”

Sporting a yellow Abercrombie & Fitch shirt and wearing his usual mustache and goatie, P-Manny rose from his chair and alighted the pulpit. Camera bulbs flashed. Hands collided. Applause reverberated throughout LA.

Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao spoke. His English, despite his hurried training in the halls of the Batasang Pambansa, sounded crooked. But never mind. Because when Manny talks, his facial expression does the talking. He smiled.

“Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you. I’m here again! (smiling)”

For doesn’t Manny love to smile? And, when he does, don’t we return the favor and smile, watching our greatest-ever athlete enjoy himself on center-stage?

For that’s the originality of Pacman. While the Tysons, the Mayweathers, the Hattons wear the ugliest of frowns during press gatherings—as if there was a “Who Can Frown Best Wins” contest—with our fighter, it’s the opposite.

Manny grins. His face is no boxer’s pugilist face that will scare your 5-year-old boy. He’s the most relaxed, casual and laid-back man in this sport that demands fighters not to be relaxed, not to be casual and never to be laid-back.

Boxing is tough. It’s the most brutal and merciless of games. Blood gushing off one’s nostrils is a guarantee. So are swollen knuckles and broken ribs. Yet Manny makes it all look so easy. Effortless. As if earning $10 million on 30 minutes on the boxing ring were no sweat. (In his actual eight-week-long training camp, however, we know the reality: many would get killed following his work ethic and bruising regimen.)

With the press-conference, it was a feel-good story. Again, so unlike-boxing. Even Margarito, seated to Manny’s left while our boxer spoke, was seen amused and smiling as his enemy spoke.

And you want to hear the best part? To greet the Mexican crowd—plus Margarito, our fellow Pinoy spoke Mexican. No kidding. Though I couldn’t decipher what he said, it was amazing to hear Manny recite several words in his opponent’s native tongue.

Manny praised Antonio. He called his challenger’s fighting style “very aggressive.” He said he’s “strong and bigger than me.”

Was this a beauty pageant? A Mr. Universe contest to see who’s the kindest on-stage? No. It was Manny as Manny. That’s who he is.

Finally, the two stood up, holding the golden belt, and faced the cameras. It was a marvelous sight watching a 160-plus-pound behemoth of a man who stands an inch short of 6-foot-tall beside a baby-faced Asian who used to fight 105 lbs. But, as we know from one of the bible’s most famous clashes, the smaller yet more cunning fighter catapulted his weapon to obliterate the giant. Let’s hope for the same on Nov. 13.