Rise and fall...The year in review

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Monday, December 30, 2013

TWENTY-THIRTEEN saw magical moments for local sports heroes with the region placed in the world map after Baguio’s mixed martial arts(MMA) fighters took center stage in the fastest growing sport all over the world.

The year that was proved to be a roller coaster ride for the regions based sporting heroes with some of them winning and eventually losing their hold on their titles then bounced back only after more hard work and determination.

Starting the year right, Team Lakay’s Honorio Banario became the first pure blooded Filipino to win a world title in MMA after stopping compatriot and fellow Igorot fighter Eric Kelly via a technical knock-out during their February showdown in Malaysia for One Fighting Championship’s inaugural featherweight belt.

In May, Banario’s victory brought the hype to the country in his first title defense against a formidable Japanese fighter Koji Oishi.

The jampacked Mall of Asia Arena, however, was filled with disappointment with the Filipino being knocked out in the second round after almost finishing his Japanese counterpart in the opening round.

More disappointment followed after all Team Lakay fighters suffered devastating blows with Geje Eustaquio, Rey Docyogen, Eduard Folayang and Kevin Belingon falling against their opponents.

The loss was earlier jumpstarted by the defeat of another Team Lakay in the Pacific Xtreme Combat Championship.

Crisanto Pitpitunge, who won PXC’s bantamweight crown against Justin Cruz in a first round knock-out in 2012, lost via decision while two other teammates also failed in their respective bids.

But just like a wounded fighter, Team Lakay bounced back.

Geje Eustaquio proved he was the better fighter earning a unanimous win over fellow Filipino Eugene Toquero while Folayang pulled off a convincing victory over Vincent Latoel. Belingon then knocked out cold undefeated Spaniard David Aranda.

Belingon’s knock-out performance against the former undefeated Aranda was listed as the second best knock out of the year by One Fighting Championship. The top belongs to Japanese Oishi with his second round sleeper punch against Banario.

Before the year ended, rumors spread like wild fire that a Filipino will soon fight in UFC, considered as the Olympics of MMA.

After weeks of speculation, Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao confirmed rumors revealing Dave Galera was asked by UFC to be in the undercard of the team’s Singapore debut in 2014.

Galera is the first full blooded Filipino fighter to fight in the largest stage of MMA. He currently holds the URCC interim bantamweight belt with a record of five wins and zero loss.

While the future looks bright for local fighters, wushu still remains as the country’s top medal producer in international competitions.

Benjie Rivera overwhelmed 2011 silver medalist Hoang Hong Tu of Vietnam to reclaim the gold medal in the 52kg division in the 12th World Wushu Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The wily Rivera, also a Sanda World Cup gold medal winner, relied on his fists and arms to beat Hoang to emerge as the lone Filipino gold medalist.

Not to be outdone, Baguio’s Daniel Parantac, 2010 World Junior Championships spear play, and gold medalist John Keithley Chan, both of Baguio City also wound up with a silver in the dulian event during the world meet in November.

Jean Claude Saclag also of Baguio City snatched a bronze in the wushu-sanshou event.

Not resting on his laurels, Parantac went on to win another gold medal in taijijian (double-edged sword) in the recently concluded Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.

The gold medal will be Parantac’s highest finish in the biennial meet since 2007 after placing second in the same event two years ago in Indonesia.

The 23-year-old BS Education graduate made sure he will not have an injury after sustaining one on his knee the last time out for his gold medal performance.

Parantac earlier teamed up with another Baguio wushu player John Keithley Chan and Norlene Ardee Catolico to win the silver in duilian for the country’s first medal three days before the formal start of the games.

The Baguio boys duo scored 9.62 points, finishing second to Myanmar’s Kyaw Zin Thit/Wai Phyo Aung (9.64).

In the women’s side, Natasha Enriquez and Baguio’s Kariza Kris Chan teamed up for the bronze in the women’s duilian a little later jacking the sport’s total cause at three gold, as many silver and two bronze medals. Divine Wally bagged silver in the sanda competition.

7th Asian Junior Wushu Champions

Ken Alieson Omengan didn't mind an earlier setback and showed the form which won him the gold medal in last year's World's Juniors copping another medal in the men's 18-and-under nanquan (southern fist) event in taolu (form) with a score of 9.33 points.

Liana Faith Andaya put up a stunning performance in a close contest in the girls 12-and-under elementary chanquan (long fist) to settle for silver.

Christian Nicholas Lapitan joined Omengan and Andaya as among the top Filipino performers by capturing the bronze in the boys 12-and-under chanquan (long fist).

Other medalists from the Cordilleras during the world meet held in Makati included Vanessa Jo Chan, Joel Casem, another La Trinidad upstart, Dave Degala, Kimberly Macuha and Jonhzenth Gajo.

The lone sanda player from the Cordillera, Divine Wally, settled for the silver in the women’s 48-kilogram division.

Angry birds gone berserk in BBEAL

After failing to win the centerpiece tournament in the Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League for the past two years, the University of Baguio Cardinals drubbed defending champion University of the Cordilleras in an epic game three up and down battle.

The Cardinals snatched their 22nd basketball crown after dislodging defending champion University of the Cordilleras Jaguars in a tightly contested 80-70 victory in their rubber match in October.

Despite trailing in the first three quarters of the ball game, with UC rolling to a double digit lead early in the second period and later on in the third quarter, the Cardinals rallied in the fourth quarter to seal the victory marking the return of former coach Joel Flores who took a two year respite.

The victory in men’s basketball boosted the morale for the Cardinals winning another women’s volleyball crown by dislodging Saint Louis University Lady Navigators in two games.

As if taking cue from the computer game Angry Birds, the Cardinals also came out on top of the first phase of BBEAL season 27 by winning the women's archery, men's and women's chess, table tennis competition and lorded the women's swimming competition.

Young athletes dominate

During the June edition of the Philippine Olympic Committee-Philippine Sports Commission (POC-PSC) National Games, the Summer Capital bagged 60 gold medals, 55 silver and 66 bronze to top anew the week-long competition despite the stiffer competition.

Arnis and wushu lifted the Summer Capital bets with a 16-10-9 and 16-8-10 medal haul. Baguio was also overall champion in the two events in last year’s staging in Dumaguete City.

In the Batang Pinoy Luzon leg, with the National Capital Region eliminations and Northern Luzon leg merged into one leg, Baguio City came out on top edging powerhouse Quezon City and Pangasinan with a 47 gold, 49 silver and 35 bronze medals.

The Summer Capital is athletics haven

Baguio’s Dino Mantiles and Erlinda Lavandia are currently the toast of athletics after their recent conquests in international competitions.

Running pride Dino Mantiles held his own against the world best skyrunners finishing sixth in the 27th edition of Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon in Sabah, Malaysia.

Mantiles, who was the top Filipino in the Philippine Skyrunning Association’s Pilipinas Akyathlon in Itogon, finished the 33 kilometer race with a time of five hours, 14 minutes and 11 seconds in the elite men category.

It was Mantiles’ first foray into international race outside the country. He finished second only behind French national Clement Dumont in the Pilipinas Akayahtlon series in February thus qualifying him for the Malaysian race.

Lavandia, meanwhile, snatched a gold medal in the 22nd World Masters Athletics (WMA) Championship held in Puerto Alegre, Brazil also in October.

The Baguio based thrower primed up against competitors from around the globe throwing a distance of 39.83 meters, a full ten meters farther than the runners-up from Hungary with a distance throw of only 29.30 meters, and Finland with 27.60.

Hoops made it to the news, too.

For the first time in Milo Small Basketeers of the Philippines (SBP) history, kids from Baguio City triumphed over bigger and taller opponents to represent the city for the nationals.

Sweat and tears rolled after a 59-52 victory courtesy of the Baguio Berkeley School during heated games for the Regional SBP championships held at the University of Assumption, San Fernando Pampanga November 9.

The Baguio boys’ shocking victory came after their big win over 3rd placer Don Bosco Pampanga and 4th placer Merryland Montessori School of Pangasinan. They went on to finally topple ISBB Lucena during the finals.

The team’s prized fighter Jac Macasaet, a two-time Milo SBP and YMCA Cup awardee, also garnered the Most Valuable Player (MVP) plum with teammates Tony Fernandez, Kendric Gaerlan, Lance Margarata, Joshua Masadao, Sergi Mendoza, Larry Atos, Ycoe Lucenara, Axel Garcia, Raigne Serrano, Dahren Aquino, Enzo Ding, Jazy De Ayre, Dave Magarata and Jon Ancheta rallying beside him. They were coached by Russ Go and Arky Go.

Not to be outdone, Good News Academy stood the proudest among its Christian school counterparts at the close of the 21st National Students Convention in Cagayan De Oro in October.

A yearly competition in the field of academics, arts, music, athletics and platform events, students compete against the country’s Christian Schools with 67 institutions participating this year coming from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

With their moniker ‘Dunamis’ which literary means ‘strength’, they overpowered Jesus Flock Academy of Markina to win the basketball crown which has eluded the school the past eight years.

Aside from making waves in the national arena, two Baguio boys also made it in the international arena, not as players but officiating officials in the Manila hosted FIBA Asia where the country placed second behind Iran.

Former University of Baguio (UB) athletic director Danny Soria and international referee Bong Pascual formally received a memorandum from Liberato Valenzuela, chairman of the Technical Commission, outlining their official assignments to the tournament that saw elite basketball teams from Asia.

Soria is the current area head of the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) for Regions 1, 2, 3 and Cordillera Administrative Region while Pascual is currently rated number one referee in the country.

WBC Asia belt lands

In May, after being caught with a right straight sending him down the canvass, LUZPROBA super bantamweight Rex Wa-o turned the tide to earn a second round stoppage of compatriot Danilo Gabisa in their 10-round encounter.

It was the seventh victory for Wa-o who has yet to be defeated in his young boxing career which includes six stoppage while handing Gabisay of the Manny Pacquiao Gym in Sampaloc, Manila his first defeat in five fights.

Body builders make waves

Two noted body builders from Benguet took the center stage in May.

Owing to its almost perfect body symmetry, Cesar Lokines made his presence felt in the NPC Emerald Cup 2013.

Lokines, one of the country’s top body building champions, recently made wave in the international arena by bagging third place in the middleweight category of the two-day event held in Medenbauer Center Bellevue Seattle, Washington, May 4.

The Kapangan native bested 18 other participants in the weight class that saw 168 body builders from all over the world participating in the two-day event sanctioned by the National Physique Committee of the US.

Lilibeth Ampal, a native of Tublay, Benguet, won first place in two events in the Ultimate Bodybuilding Championship (UBC) and the 7th National Amateur Bodybuilding Association (NABBA) South Asia Pacific Championship.

Ampal bested several foreign and local competitors in the Women’s Bodybuilding category of both events even if she only worked out for several weeks due to lack of time. That was her first time joining the event.

Ampal, an Overseas Filipino Worker based in Hong Kong, was home for a vacation when she learned about the competition and grabbed the opportunity to join.

The Emerald Cup is a national qualifier for the top two men in each Open Bodybuilding class for the NPC Nationals and USA Championships.

National softball champs

An ecstatic University of the Cordilleras (UC) Jaguars softball head coach Joel Panes explained how the team felt after winning over defending champion Western Visayas’ Central Philippine University in a thrilling 4-3 victory in their championship match at the close of the National Prisaa games in Lingayen, Pangasinan in February.

The UC Jaguars nearly missed the National Prisaa games after it was disqualified during the softball tournament in the Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League (BBEAL) following some unresolved eligibility issues but they were nonetheless asked to represent the region.

It was the same team they faced in last year’s Prisaa but had a different result with UC bowing out to UNP in their semis match-up with the latter winning the gold while the Lady Jaguars settled for bronze.

Apayao now in the limelight

While Baguio City continued its dominance in the annual Caraa meet, Apayao emerged as the biggest leaper with the athlete’s performances catapulting the province to number three in the overall standings.

Apayao was in close third with 419 points, bringing home the championships in the elementary athletics boys, badminton girls, table tennis boys and girls, volleyball boys while the secondary team topped basketball and volleyball girls, respectively.

The province also took the limelight after it hosted the annual regional meet, which boasted its newly constructed sports complex in over taking perennial third placer Mt. Province.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 31, 2013.


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