Sports Eye

Manaoag five hungry for the title

By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.


TWO years in-a-row, the Manaoag five failed to reach the last step to reach the apex and grab the crown they have been longing for since they joined the Governor’s Cup Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament.  The luckless Manaoag team only landed second twice.

Now that they’re ready to rumble anew for the third season of the prestigious province-wide tournament, brainchild sports project of Gov. Amado “Pogi” Espino, lll, with 25 towns participating this time, on December 2 at Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center (NRSCC) Gym, I hope they learned some big lessons that taught them well.

During my brief dialogue with Manaoag head coach Ferdinand “Enan” Mangonon last November 12, he emphasized that despite the termination of some of his reliable players for being over-aged, namely: Ike Serafica, Hamad Obeid, Daniel Abo, John Paul Quinto, Rafael Nestor, William Bautista, John Paul Abo and Jaymar Soriano, he still got his elite and skilled starting five: Manny Santos, Bryan Rosalin, Angelo Aromin, Adrian Barrozo and Kevin Samson backed by seven neophytes who saw action in the just concluded Manaoag Mayor’s Cup Inter-Barangay Basketball Tournament. Mangonon, armed with immeasurable experience in mentoring an amateur squad plus the unselfish support of his town’s chief executive Kim Amador, is confident, determined and set to win the diadem this year, saying that their twice runner-up finish provided huge lessons for them.

“Yes, I lost some of my seven skilled and reliable players and this is one of the reasons why our Mayor Amador and municipal administrator Carlito Hernando conducted an inter-barangay tourney in our town in order to scout for hidden talents in the barangays,” he said.

“We observed and scrutinized them including their behavior, and eventually picked out who can contribute a lot to our victories,” Mangonon added.

He proudly sent me the list of his new nine cagers namely Joe Anthony Jacinto, Mark Christian Meneses, Bryan Comesario, Jonathan Mequin, Vans Cristobal, Jerick Mamayson, Dereck Ramos, ALJohn Grado and Elpidio Veloria.

He has reasons to be confident because Manaoag is a sports-minded place not only in basketball but also in cycling. It already produced two Tour of Luzon cycling champs: Rufino Gabot in 1957 and Gonzalo Recodos in 1963. Gabot is the first of 21 Pangasinenses to conquer the national two-wheeled annual event.

I also had a short chat with the defending champion Lingayen team head coach Jayson Vinluan last week. Vinluan, like Mangonon, also pointed out that despite the absence of his four key dribblers due to age issue and injuries, namely: Jeremy Casaclang, Bryan Romero, Ramil Mendoza and Larry Jan Raoet, the former LNU Dukes point-guard, he is also confident his team will retain their title and be the first one to establish a back-to-back winner of the league. Obviously, Lingayen, like the former titlist Binmaley, are crowd magnets at NRSCC gym chiefly because of their ‘never say die’ stance that charms even the non-Lingayeñan and non-Binmaleyan people, including this writer. I’m not belittling the plays and aptitude of the other participating teams but most of their games over the last two seasons proved their mettle.

All the participating teams are title contenders before the tossing of the ball. Unfortunately, only one team will emerge as champion. See you there at NRSSC on December 2. For sure this will be a different slam-bang skirmishes and another exciting-successful affair.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: And Jesus Christ said, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” LUKE 14: 11


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