Is this week the biggest ever in Cebu sports? Yes. It started last week when the PAL Interclub tournament teed-off at the manicured lawns of Alta Vista. It continued with Day Two of the Seniors Division at the Club Filipino in Danao. That tournament invited 800 players nationwide to our Cebu shores. That’s golf.
Two mornings ago, we had one of the most sought-after races: the SM2SM Run. Over 4,000 pairs of running legs participated. Millions were spent by SM and thousands of pesos will go to charity. That’s running.
Tomorrow, the Championship Division of the PAL Interclub commences. Our Cebu Country Club team — Bayani, Andre, LJ, Marko, Gen, Jovi, Eric, Mark, Montito and Carl — will, on home turf and as a band of 10, attempt to repeat as champions. As I’ve written here last Sunday, the PAL Interclub is not only the biggest golf outing in our Philippine islands, it’s also 66 years rich in history and brings “golf tourism” to Cebu.
What else is happening? This Saturday, it’s the 18th edition of the Pinoy Pride Series and it’s dubbed “World Champion vs. World Champion.” That’s because Donnie Nietes, the Murcia, Negros-raised Cebuano is fighting Moises Fuentes of Mexico on March 2. It’s Nietes’ WBO (light flyweight) belt against Fuentes’ WBO (minimum weight) belt.
Having observed Nietes doing sparring seven afternoons ago at the ALA gym in Mandaue, I’m here to report the sad news for the Mexican contingent, including the visiting Marco Antonio Barrera: good luck, enjoy the battle while it lasts because you’re going to lose.
Donnie Nietes is in terrific shape. When we spoke in Ilonggo (while he was wrapping his knuckles with white tape), he knew the enormity of this moment: he’s not fighting in MOA Arena or anywhere else abroad, he’s fighting in our “mini Las Vegas” called the Waterfront Hotel.
“This event is historic,” said ALA Promotions President Michael Aldeguer. “For the first time in Cebu, two world champions will be fighting each other.”
Perfect. “Ahas” stars in the Year of the Snake. In the undercard, Genesis Servania, who is the WBO Asia-Pacific super bantamweight champion, will entertain the crowd. What’s outstanding about “Azukal,” as he’s nicknamed, is this: He won 19 times with six KOs and has never lost a bout. Jimrex “The Executioner” Jaca, carrying an impressive 36-win, 20-KO record, we’ll also watch. That’s boxing.
Is that all? Nope. One more: The Vaseline Xterra Off-Road Triathlon Championship Weekend. Now on its third year in Liloan, Cebu, this swim-bike-run event is different from the Ironman. Because while the IM70.3 is in Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort — and where bikers use Cervelo road bikes worth P700,000 and the runners are “spoiled,” running on smooth asphalt — in Xterra, it’s the opposite. It’s dirty. It’s rocky. It’s risky. It’s muddy.
Xterra uses the mountain-bike — and I tried the 17.5-km. route last weekend. Scary! Last year, I joined the Xterra Lite and found the bike route scenic. For this weekend — a completely different route but still in Liloan — it’s more technical and dangerous. You traverse through areas beside a cliff. After reaching the highest peak at 185 meters, you descend on a single-track, non-paved, sharp-rock-filled narrow road. Too many times, I went down my bike and walked. Not wanting to fall and get bloodied, in possibly 20 percent of the way, I walked.
Ken Salimbangon, Onek Priagula, Bernard Palermo joined the “elite” triathletes like Joseph Miller, Tenggoy Colmenares and Jomer Lim in trekking the mountainous terrain. The view from the top of Consolacion? Amazing. We took photos. We even stopped for a “buko break,” drinking fresh coconut milk and “carbo-loading” on buko meat. I love mountain-biking. I love maneuvering past the cobbled stones. I love the shaded, nature-filled route. This is Xterra — and it’s happening this Saturday and Sunday.
This week, our mantra is… Sports: It’s more fun in Cebu!