2-0 is better than 14-0

(Photo courtesy of the top UAAP and NCAA site, www.inboundpass.com)

A few hours after Manny’s victory, the headline read: “2-0 is better than 14-0.”

How is that possible? It’s not. But it did happen. At the UAAP championships held at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, the winner wasn’t the team that won 14-0—it was the one who scored 2-0.

De La Salle University (DLSU), which struggled past Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) last week before entering the finals against the University of the East (UE), was the underdog against the only team that scored a 14-0 regular season record. But last Sunday—as the Cebuanos watched at Hola España—La Salle beat UE, 73-64.

Ateneo and La Salle: No rivalry comes close

(All photos courtesy of top UAAP site www.inboundpass.com)

You know what the best thing is about sports? You never know the ending.

Isn’t that true? Unlike movies where, midway through the drama, you have a hunch of how it will end—in sports, you never, never know. Sure, there are exceptions like two Nike endorsers named Federer and Woods, and a southpaw named MP who’ll feast on a Mexican dish this Sunday—but for the rest of the sports world, it’s the same ending: You never know.

Consider Ateneo vs. La Salle. Twice in the regular season, the Blue Eagles beat the Green Archers. That soared the spirits of the Eagles, blunted the arrows of the Archers.

Then the playoffs arrived. La Salle sharpened its blades, looked to the heavens and unleashed razor-sharp bullets. The eagle swerved, dove, flapped it’s mighty wings, evaded shots that riddled the air—until it succumbed to an arrow-pierce on the chest. La Salle won Game 3, 80-79. The green army stood up. They sang. Rejoiced. Smiled at the defeat of their most-loved enemy.

Green archer hits eagle, who falls, turns blue

It wasn’t the NBA Finals. It wasn’t Manny Pacquaio vs. Marco Antonio Barrera. It wasn’t Tiger Woods or Roger Federer collecting trophy No. 3,805. It wasn’t even the Joey de Venecia expose against the First Gentleman.

It was better. La Salle versus Ateneo. Game 3. Araneta Coliseum. Last Tuesday at 3 p.m.

I arrived at Hola España minutes into the First Quarter. As I entered, Cisco Jarque smiled. Ed Gonzales sat beside him. Bobby Martinez was at the center. Brothers Chito and Mark Cusi offered me a seat while Ryan Yu sat to the left. Gerry Malixi wore green.

Green. If you weren’t green last Tuesday, you were an outcast. You had no place to sit, stand, squat, or breathe inside Hola España, the cozy resto-bar along the Ma. Luisa Estate Park road painted one color.

It’s baaack! La Salle versus Ateneo

Is there a rivalry that can rival this rivalry? Is there a school that abhors the other as much? Is there an institution that grimaces at the mention of the other’s name? Is there a title other than the UAAP basketball crown that both teams lust for and hunger after more than any other?The two-letter answer? NO.

The four-letter initials of these two teams? ADMU. DLSU.

The first school is color blue. Founded in 1859, it’s main campus resides in Loyola Heights, Quezon City, and it’s basketball squad is called “Blue Eagles.” Among it’s alumni is someone you and I know: Jose Rizal. And, with it’s Level IV accreditation (the highest possible) from PAASCU, it is one of only two universities in the Philippines to receive such an honor.

The other university? It’s color green. Founded in 1911, it has 18 campuses scattered around the archipelago and it draws inspiration from the life of its founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle. On the basketball floor, the team is called “Green Archers.”

Ateneo De Manila University. De La Salle University.

From their nicknames alone—Eagles and Archers—one can conclude that these two are the fiercest of rivals. Think about it: An eagle flies. An archer shoots whatever flies.

Gerry Malixi

One of the funniest guys you’ll meet is my good friend Gerry Malixi. With the above photo, here’s the text of the e-mail he sent me last week: “I was VERY BUSY yesterday but since this guy people call “PACMAN” practically begged to have his photo taken with me, I had to oblige.”

Gerry’s funny. He’s also a big sports fanatic. Here’s a full-length article I wrote about Gerry last April 6, 2006 entitled “Like Son, Like Father.”

Gerry Malixi plays basketball. He plays volleyball. He plays badminton. He lifts weights, swims and, on a square ring wrapped with rope, he boxes. He watches tennis on ESPN and marvels at James Blake and this guy named Roger. Next week, he’ll troop to the Mandaue Coliseum to watch Dennis Rodman and the NBA All-Stars. And on July 2 at the Araneta Coliseum, he’ll scream for Manny Pacquiao to cook a Mexican taco called Oscar Larios.

I know many sports men, sports aficionados, sports lovers. But few match the passion and fanaticism of Gerry Malixi.

Categorized as Basketball

Chester Cokaliong

After reading his name hundreds of times on these sports pages, I finally got to watch Chester Cokaliong. Right after last Thursday’s Opening Ceremonies at the City Sports Club, our Los Jefes de Cebu basketball team played Iloilo. On the first minute of the very first play, the ball was thrown to a left-hander who stood beyond the three-point line. Within a second after catching it, he released the ball as it sliced through the air. Whoosh! Three-point shot. Aren’t those two synonyms? Chester. Three-Pointer. Yes they are. They even rhyme. At the end of the 40-age-group event, Cebu emerged as champions. And who was the Three-Point Shoot-out and Two-Ball winner? His initials start with the same letter as Champion.

Categorized as Basketball

Because of too much love, Fr. Ton-Ton has no compassion

Fr. Ton-Ton Zamora (2nd from right) with Mrs. Ma. Corazon Medalla (left), Badette Andres and this writer

In tennis, when you say you “love” someone, that means you hate that person. It means you beat him with a score of 8-0. For in this game, “love” means zero.

Take the case of Fr. Antonio “Ton-Ton” Zamora, Jr. Early this week, Fr. Ton-Ton was in the mood for “love.” We were partners in the Intramurals of the University of San Carlos—the 40-year-old Parish Priest of Danao City taking up his Doctorate degree in Educational Administration; this writer enrolling in Education units to prepare for a Masters in Education diploma—and the two of us represented the USC College of Education.

Fr. Ton-Ton, whom I’ve known as one of this island’s nicest clergymen, loves to “love” people. In his first match against a player representing Pharmacy, the score was 8-love. The next day, in the Semis against Nursing, the score was 8-love. Finally, in the Finals against Commerce, the score? Fr. Ton: 8. Opponent: Love.

Mrs. Ma. Corazon Medalla, the Chairperson for the Teacher Education Dept. of the College of Education, cheered throughout our matches. She jokingly remarked, “Fr. Ton-Ton is the only priest I know na walay kaluoy (who doesn’t have compassion).” I laughed. So did our coach, the youthful secretary of the Dean, Badette Andres.

At the end of the Intrams, we won the tennis championship—the first time ever for the USC College of Education—thanks to Fr. Ton-Ton’s “overflowing love.”

Hoop Jams!

Charlie Pages, my younger brother, is the best basketball player in our family. At the Cebu International School in high school, he played off-guard and forward. In college at the University of San Carlos (USC), he dribbled for the Commerce team during the Intramurals. Until today, he shoots three-pointers, does the cross-over and jumps to touch the rim of the 10-foot-tall basketball ring.

Hoop Jams. You’ve probably heard of it. Six years ago, ever the basketball fan, Charlie organized the 1st Hoop Jams. It’s a basketball tournament among friends, among different companies in Cebu. Today, the Hoop Jams is on it’s 6th year. How time flies. The games are played every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (from 7:30 to 10 pm) and every Sunday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Bright Academy gym in Banilad. The finals is set on August 22.

Enjoy more photos…

Categorized as Basketball

King James Unscrews the Pistons of Detroit

At 22 years old, he doesn’t belong in the NBA Finals. Not yet. But he’s done it. Down 0-2 last week, they won the next two games at home in Cleveland. Then, LeBron James exploded in Detroit two days ago with 48 points–including 29 of his team’s last 30 points–to win Game 5. And now, just a few hours ago, I caught the last quarter when Cleveland destroyed the engines of Detroit to win Game 6 and enter the NBA Finals. What a win! The question now is: Who’s going to root for the Spurs?

Dr. Jovito Lee writes…

Cebu City Vice Mayor Mike Rama with (left to right) Allan Lim, Jovito Lee and Domingo Te

I share with you an e-mail sent by Dr. Jovito Lee:

1. We read your article regarding the (PBA) event last May12, 2007. Our chapter and leadership training organization, Metro Cebu Uptown Jaycees, Inc. and its foundation, the Metro Cebu Uptown Jaycees Foundation, Inc., were responsible for bringing the PBA to Cebu City after a 2 year drought.

We concur with your assessment that we need a new venue (mega or super dome) to be able to host events like this but due to some obvious reasons (no investors), the New or “Hot” Cebu Coliseum is the only venue at the moment we can offer to the public when big event like the PBA comes to Cebu City. We did all what we can do to make the atmosphere comfortable but again we are in a venue beyond our control and we are in the summer months. We apologize to the public for such inconvenience.