Mendoza: RSA-MVP duet draws PSA praise

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We must not only honor our great athletes. Other sporting heroes confined in the back stage deserve praise too.

Officers of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) did just that.

In an unprecedented move, the PSA, the country’s oldest media organization founded in 1949, is set to also honor two gentlemen for their remarkable role in helping nail for the country the slippery-as-eel basketball gold in the last Asian Games.

PSA president Nelson Beltran of Philippine Star has proudly announced that both Ramon S. Ang (RSA) and Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) will be feted as Executives of the Year in the San Miguel Corporation-PSA Awards Night on Jan. 29, 2024.

Given only barely three weeks to help map out the master plan for Gilas Pilipinas’ near-impossible mission to end the 62-year chase of the Asiad basketball gold last year in Hangzhou, China, Ang and Pangilinan accepted the colossal challenge, unmindful of the gargantuan odds that went with it.

It was an uphill battle. But after Gilas escaped with a 77-76 win over China on Justin Brownlee’s miraculous twin threes in the semifinals’ last 23 seconds, it was an insane easy sailing next against Jordan in Gilas’ 80-70 victory for the title-clincher that last happened in the 1961 Jakarta Games.

It will mark the first time that two executives with sterling contributions to sports will share the spotlight in the 74-year history of the PSA on a night that will also crown EJ Obiena, the Asiad’s record-smashing pole vault champion and world No. 2, as Athlete of The Year at the Manila Hotel to be presented by ArenaPlus, with major support from the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Milo and PLDT/Smart.

But RSA and MVP are no strangers to awards. Pangilinan was the PSA Executive of The Year in 2014 and Ang in 2018.

Everybody knows they own three teams apiece in the Philippine Basketball Association—RSA has Magnolia, Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer, and MVP Meralco, NLEX and TNT.

They are fierce business/basketball rivals, but when they forged their partnership to successfully host the Fiba World Cup last year, thus began a team-up that beautifully extended up to the 2023 Asian Games.

Sports, indeed, can mend everything.

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