Cebu Marathon

Only 35 days remain before the 2011 Cebu City Marathon starts at the Asiatown I.T. Park. Thus far, thousands have registered. If you’re among those who have yet to enlist, do so now. The deadline—Dec. 15—is near. Three categories are available for runners and, yes, just as important… non-runners. That’s because if you’re a “non-runner,” there’s a 5K distance that’s perfect for your first footrace.

5,000 meters? This is easy and comfortable. It’s the distance from I.T. Park, down along Salinas Drive, left turn at JY Square, all the way through Gorordo Ave. passing U.P. Cebu, then a U-turn right before the Escario-Gorordo intersection. Then back to the I.T. Park. That’s all. That’s 5K.

The best parts? One, there’s no cut-off time. So even if you walk the entire length at casual pace, you’ll finish in one hour. (The 5K world record, by Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, is 12 minutes, 37 seconds!) Two, you’ll wear a timing chip that’s attached to your race number—the first time 5K runners wear the RFID chips in Cebu. Third, at a registration fee of only P500, you get a New Balance running T-shirt.

And so, for this Jan. 9 Sinulog event, I encourage not only the 42K and 21K participants to get excited—but also those joining the 5K. Running amidst thousands of others will not only get your heart beating like a drum roll—it will get your hair raising (goose-bumps). It will be a memory to cherish. Register now at the Active Zone of Ayala Center.

King James still lords over Cleveland

LeBron James feels at home in Cleveland. That’s because he was born in Akron, Ohio—just 35 miles from where the Cavaliers play ball. And so it wasn’t a surprise when, last Thursday, the Miami Heat landed in the Quicken Loans Arena and LBJ scorched with plenty of heat his former team.

“It was impressive,” said Erik Spoelstra, the Fil-Am head coach of the Heat, of his team’s 118-90 win. “It takes a special player and a person to be able to respond to all of this scrutiny.”

Scrutiny? That’s a mellow term to use. How about saying LeBron was castigated, booed, jeered, condemned. Consider three placards held by Cavs fans that night. One said: “LBJ… LIAR BABY JERK.” Another, “YOU’RE ONLY A PRINCE IN WADE’S COUNTRY.” And finally, “11-8? LOOKS LIKE YOU LEFT YOUR TALENTS IN CLEVELAND.”

Yet, Mr. James rose above those protests. In the most-awaited game this NBA season, he played supreme; scoring 38 points, including a third quarter assault when he made 10 of 12 shots and 24 points. “It was seven great years here,” James said. “A lot of memories here.”

I’d say it was an “in-your-face, take that!” performance that reminded Cleveland—including owner Dan Gilbert and his former Cavs teammates—what they had lost. Ouch. As for Miami, one night doesn’t fix their woes but this game might be the spark they needed to fire the heat. They’ve now won three straight and stand at 12-8. Maybe Pat Riley won’t coach, after all.

Davis Cup

Three months from now, one of Cebu’s most monumental of sporting events fires an ace. It’s Japan versus the Philippines. The dates are March 4 to 6 and the venue is one of Asia’s top vacation destinations, Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.

The Davis Cup is preeminent because it’s 110 years old. Nearly 150 nations each year join to win that Cup that’s in honor of its founder, Dwight Davis, who, amazingly, happened to be the Philippines’ Governor General from 1929 to 1932.

Lapu-Lapu City, headed by Mayor Paz Radaza, is organizing this historic weekend. It will be hotly-contested. And, when I say “hotly-contested,” I mean literally “hot,” for we will have an outdoor atmosphere that will challenge–and hopefully, defeat–our Japanese invaders, who will be coming from their cold, winter season.

PHL and JPN have played each other in Davis Cup 26 times—with Japan leading 17-9. The last time our country beat Japan was 15 years ago. But, with the slow clay-court and plenty of hot sun, we hope the next one will be three months from now in Plantation Bay.

Michelle So on the 50K

I missed watching the 1st 50K Cebu Ultramarathon last Saturday because I had to attend to something more personal and important that November 27: It was my wife Jasmin’s birthday. Monitoring the updates from Meyrick “Jacs” Jacalan, who brought supplies and helped motivate the runners aboard his car, it was an exciting — and painful — hot morning. Here’s a well-written piece by a future marathoner, Michelle So, who is Sun.Star Superbalita’s Editor-in-Chief and Sun.Star Cebu’s Executive Editor. Her article, ‘Ligo?’ appears in Sun.Star today…

Categorized as Marathon

With Miami feeling the heat, where’s Pat Riley?

(Reuters/Hans Deryk)

When the NBA season began last Oct. 26, people crowned the Miami Heat the sure-ball champions. I was one of them. With the 1-2-3 combination dubbed the “Super Friends,” the trio of LeBron-Dwayne-Bosh was unbeatable. They’d surely trample and win gold over Kobe’s golden Lakers, make Boston green with Celtics envy, they’d clobber the 72-wins record of Michael Jordan and his Bulls.

We were dreaming. For this Dream Team, thus far, has become an Ordinary Team. Not extraordinary. The Miami Heat’s record this early December? It’s 10-8. That’s 10 wins with eight losses. Bad. And the worst part: out of those eight failures, seven were against teams with winning records. This means that, against “strong” teams, this Miami has a vice: it can’t win.

The problem? “Basketball is a team sport; Chemistry is key,” wrote Dennis ‘D Source’ Guillermo, a favorite of mine, in the Filipino Sports Examiner two days ago. “No matter how talented your players are in the court, there’s only one rock, and people need to play their roles to help the team achieve victory.”

Put simply, the question is this: How do you combine these individual talents to form one unbeatable super squadron? The solution: Pat Riley. He is one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. He led the LA Lakers to four NBA titles. This was during the 1980s era of Magic, Kareem and J. Worthy. Then, in 2005, here’s what happened… Pat Riley was the president of the Miami Heat. Exactly five years ago this month, his team—under the coaching of Stan Van Gundy—was a disappointment. Their win-loss record: 11-10. Van Gundy resigned as head coach and in stepped Riley. Then, armed with Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O’Neal, the well-dressed coach turned Miami into the handsomest of men: they were the 2006 NBA champs.

The same scenario is happening today. In fact, the question in the minds of NBA experts today is not “if” Riley will become coach, but “when.” For diehard Filipinos like you and me, our sympathies go to Erik Spoelstra—whose mother hails from San Pablo, Laguna. But this Miami franchise doesn’t have a choice.

Pat Riley not only was the “Bob Arum of the NBA” who orchestrated the entry of The Three Kings, he’s the only one who can reenergize the Heat to victory. He’s the only coach—mano-a-mano—who has the intellect and experience to fight Phil Jackson when Miami meets L.A. in The Finals.

So… the sooner, the better. What’s great about Americans is how quickly they act. When a problem is faced, regardless of the hurts or short-term consequences, they “change a losing game.” They act. Fast. Let’s expect the same conclusion with Miami. Prolonging this agony will result in a disaster—especially for LeBron. Because while the NBA’s slogan is “Where Amazing Happens” and the Heat were supposed to amaze us, they did not. Mr. Riley will.

CLEVELAND. The game NBA fans have long-anticipated has arrived: The Heat versus the Cavaliers—tomorrow in Cleveland.

“I’m ready for whatever response I’m going to get,” said LeBron. “It’s going to be very emotional. I give a lot of thanks to that city, a lot of thanks to those fans for giving me the opportunity to not only showcase my talent, but to grow from a young boy to a man during my seven years. So it’s going to be very emotionally draining. I can tell already.”

Will Ohio fans boo, jeer, mock and scorn LBJ? If we look back, hundreds of his Cleveland jerseys have been burned. The Cavs previous owner labeled him a traitor. He’s Public Enemy No.1 in the state where he grew up. Will all this castigating and lambasting continue tomorrow? Or, when fans see their former son, will they show comfort and compassion? We’ll see both. But more on the former. Placards with LEBACLE and GO HOME will be plenty. The wounds are still fresh; the betrayal, severe.

“It’s going to be tough,” said LeBron. “But I’m there to win a basketball game. I understand. I understand how passionate fans are about sports. I’m ready for whatever response that I’m going to get. It’s going to be very emotional.”

Max Limpag, Ultramarathoner

Last Saturday, over 180 runners joined the 1st Cebu 50K Ultramarathon race. It wasn’t just a looooong distance race. The most grueling part was the terrain. If you’ve ever been to Balamban, Cebu, that mountainous uphill-downhill terrain is painful for our vehicles. How much more for our feet. Read this piece by ultramarathoner MAX LIMPAG… “Notes to a 50-km. fun run.”

Categorized as Marathon