Just to watch a championship match
By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.
I DO travel just to watch in the flesh important sporting events of my top five favorite sports like cycling, boxing, basketball, table tennis and volleyball whether here or overseas, and if I have the means, of course. I already watched a number of international title fights of boxers Donnie Nietes, Brian Viloria, Milan Melindo, Mark Magsayo, Jimrex Jaca, the Pagara siblings Albert and Jason, as well as Manny Pacquiao’s conqueror, Juan Manuel Marquez, when he fought the Oriental champion the Cebuano Jimrex Jaca at Dodge Arena in Hidalgo, Texas in November 26, 2006. That was the very first world title bout in boxing that I watched. Marquez retained his World Boxing Council featherweight title in that fight via 9th round knockout victory. Although quite expensive, I enjoyed the slam-bang slugfest but with mixed emotions for I’m carrying a half-Filipino and half-Mexican genes in me. Yes, I did not win and neither did I lose.
In local basketball last December 16, I journeyed to Bautista town and watched the final games of the Northern Conference of the 2nd Governor’s Cup Pangasinan Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament between my town Mangaldan and the host Bautista which both tote identical five wins and single loss. For Bautista, it had to beat Mangaldan in order to dislodge the idle leader Manaoag (6-1). Because a win for Bautista will earn it a 6-1 card like Manaoag and will automatically dislodge Manaoag for the top position using the win-over-the-other FIBA rule. Note: Manaoag was already beaten by Bautista, 88-81, during their November 25 encounter. And it was done. Bautista escaped a heartbreaking 98-97 victory with the last tip-in shot by its reliable guard Eleazar Tejada in the last 12 seconds. Mangaldan countered but misfired and landed third overall, Manaoag finished second.
But it was the 2017 NCAA MVP six-foot-three CJ Perez of barangay Poponto who called the shots during the entire game. Buoyed by his cheering town mates rooting for him, he finished with a game high 29. After the match, he was mobbed by hundreds of fans at the court for photo ops and his autograph. But many say he will not be around anymore starting in the quarterfinal games as he’s readying himself for the PBA Developmental League en route to the luxurious PBA professional league. Why not?
That game was the most heartbreaking victory yet that I ever watched during my coverage of second edition of the tournament organized by Gov. Amado “Pogi” Espino, lll. League commissioner Edil Abalos said the top five teams in each conference (including the wild card passer) will qualify for the quarterfinals for a total of 20. The 20 teams will be bracketed into two groups or ten teams to play each group via single round-robin-system starting in January, just after the ‘wild card’ hostilities.
In other conferences, Lingayen unblemished in the Western side, defending champion Binmaley untarnished in the Central group and Urdaneta City topped the Eastern area.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: The angel said to Joseph, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” MATTHEW 1: 21