Sports Eye

Guv Pogi’s successful cagefest program

By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.

THE hostilities in the 3rd Governor’s Cup Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament ended last April 28 at the Calasiao Sports Complex. The underdog, Team Urdaneta City, defeated the second seeded and dreaded Manaoag squad (86-85) in the last 1.6 seconds in their final and last game in the best-of-three championship series. Yes, I’ve been following this well-liked province wide tourney since its birth in 2016, and what I saw last April 28 was the most shocking defeat by Manaoag in a championship game in the province’s amateur caging. I can never get it out of my mind. But as well-known sports columnist Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times once said “it’s not over until it’s over,” emphasizing that it’s applicable to any kind of sport. And yes, he was very right.

“A history was made,” intoned Marlon Domalanta, the deputy executive director of the organizing Pangasinan Sports Development and Management Council (PSDMC).

“History repeats itself,” echoed Henry Escleto also of PSDMC, citing the Manaoag quintet’s record in championship games – only winning the first game and eventually succumbing in the second and third (final) games just like what happened in its championship matches against Binmaley in 2017, and against Lingayen last year. I have to agree, and like the many spectators that watched that cliffhanger match, it puzzled us seeing it happening all over again… Anyway, that’s part of the game.

To be first runner-up thrice consecutively is still considered a ‘grand slam’, which other teams including former titleholders Binmaley and Lingayen could not achieve.  First edition champion Binmaley landed fourth in the second season and Lingayen finished third last year, while Manaoag maintained its reputation as the second best team in the annual league throughout, for the third straight time.  Still a record, so my big congrats to them and hopefully the fourth season will be a different story for the title-hungry Manaoag five. (Manaoag should study their weaknesses closely in the last three seasons and work on these).

My congratulations too, to all the individual winners and runners-up: MVP Rolly Bravo of Urdaneta, the Mythical Five led by Bravo and town mate Lawrence Batalla, Manny Santos of Manaoag, Marven Mamaril of Lingayen and Jeric Garcia of Sual, Slam Dunk champion Mark Meneses of Manaoag and 3-Point Shootout king Reynald Ballesteros of Calasiao. They all received handsome cash prizes and trophies from PSDMC.

I followed many of the league’s central, eastern and northern conferences’ skirmishes, particularly those played by defending champion Lingayen, title-contenders Binmaley, Manaoag, Urdaneta City, Sto. Tomas, San Carlos City, Sual, the rejuvenated Bayambang and Malasiqui squads. And l must say that the yearly tourney, a brainchild sport project of Gov. Amado “Pogi” Espino III, is a very successful sports program. Kudos to the PSDMC team headed by Gov. Pogi and executive officer Modesto Operania for another well-organized event. For this achievement alone, I’d like to see Gov. Pogi get another term as our province’s chief executive. He’s not only a good leader but also a sports-minded fellow. He has my admiration for what he does for sports. See you again guys in the next season.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: For we ourselves were also once as foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. TITUS 3: 3

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