Pawns

The Arena, San Juan
March 31, 2015
Pawns

It is Holy Tuesday.
For most of us Christians and Catholics, it is the season of Lent. A time for reflection. Some of you, for sure, are planning to go out-of-town, if you hadn’t already, to enjoy the vacation while some of you are staying put. My family decided to do the latter and settle for a nice and quiet “staycation.” After all, this is the time of the year when Metro Manila enjoys a couple of days of rare traffic-free, quiet stretch.
As I was drinking my black coffee this morning, I’ve chanced upon a story by my good friend and colleague at The Philippine STAR, Joaquin Henson, or “The Dean” to most of us for his encyclopedic knowledge of sports. You see, he wrote something about the volleyball mess. It was aptly titled “Leave athletes out of politics.”
It is interesting to note that, as Quinito writes it:
“the POC General Assembly meeting in Wack-Wack a few days ago, officials of the disenfranchised Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) showed up with athletes to demonstrate a show of loyalty. IOC member Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski was overheard advising the athletes to focus on studying, training and competing and stay out of messy politicking.”
And:
“Apparently, the athletes were told to express support to the PVF before the General Assembly because they’re signed to contracts by the former NSA. But when asked about the binding clauses in their contracts, the athletes were in the dark. “I think it’s illegal to withhold copies of the contracts,” said Romasanta. “How can the athletes know what is deliverable? I sympathize with our athletes. They’re being manipulated and exploited. In volleyball, we’ve invited players to join the tryouts for the team competing at the Asian U23 Women’s Championships in Manila on May 1-9. We plan to reinforce the team with senior players for the Southeast Asian Games. Unfortunately, there are some players who are being restrained from joining the tryouts we’re conducting because they’re signed to contracts by the PVF. We’ve asked our lawyers to look into this and protect our athletes but we’re not being shown copies of the contracts.””
Also:
“Romasanta said there is talk that disgruntled individuals are planning to go to court and secure a TRO to stay the staging of the Asian U23 Championships. “If that’s true, it’s unfortunate,” he said. “Manila is hosting but the AVC (Asian Volleyball Confederation) is staging the Championships. Will our courts go against the AVC? The international federation (FIVB) has recognized the LVPI as the new Philippine association for volleyball and the POC has accepted it as the NSA. If the PVF disagrees with this decision, it should take up the matter with the FIVB not the POC. At the moment, the PVF is no longer an entity recognized by the POC so it has lost its seat, voice and vote in the General Assembly.””
Aptly, Quinito ends his story with Romasanta saying:
“the LVPI is open to all volleyball stakeholders including those involved with the PVF. “It’s time to move forward,” he said. “The ultimate dream of an athlete is to represent his or her country but in women’s volleyball, we’ve been absent from the Southeast Asian Games for 10 years so the current crop of players has no notion of what it feels like to play with the national team. Our battlecry is to make volleyball the No. 2 premier sport in the Philippines next to basketball. In Thailand, sales of volleyballs are now higher than sales of basketballs. We’ve lagged behind in volleyball technology so there’s a lot of ground to cover.””

Sportsmaryosep’s prognosis: I will just re-post what Theodore Jurado, one of the hardest working sportswriters from the People’s Journal working the beat, posted on his Facebook account:
“Look at what I saw at the Filoil Flying V Arena. 1993 Singapore Southeast Asian Games gold medal from Rosemarie Prochina. Yes! smile emoticon Our last PHI gold in women’s volleyball. :)”

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And this from former Philippine Sports commissioner and national athlete Tisha Abundo also from Facebook:
“the philippine volleyball team bagged the silver medal with japan the olympic champion ’66 then got the gold. .opening ceremonies parade of athletes with the volleyball team. .’ayun ako o’ :)”

tisha
So athletes, what now?
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photos courtesy of TJ Jurado and Tisha Abundo)

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Toughest Job in the World

Smart-Araneta Coliseum
March 29, 2015
Toughest Job in the World

Eat Bulaga.
Every single Filipino knows it’s the single most popular noon-time show in the land, perhaps Indonesia since the show was already imported there last year or a couple of years back. It is a show where the ingenuity of Tito, Vic and Joey have been in full display for decades. They have popularized so many segments like Bulagaan, Pinoy Henyo, EB Babes, etc. One of my favorites was Little Miss Philippines especially the part of the question-and-answer portion where contestants were always asked what they want to be when they grow up.
It is a question that most of us were actually asked when we were just kids. Some of the most popular answers are the following: doctor, engineer, teacher, scientist and businessman among others. Mine, I’d love to be a Mathematician, or maybe a statistician like Pong Ducanes of the UAAP, Arnel Apostol and Merit Fernandez of the NCAA, Sherwin Malonzo of Shakey’s V-League or Fidel Mangonon of the PBA. Or maybe a fantasy guru like my friend Erik Uy. Because I love numbers. I never envisioned myself of turning out a sportswriter.
What I think should be asked of our children nowadays, just to be original, is what they want NOT to be when they grow up? The top three answers would probably be, 1. President and Vice President for obvious reasons, 2. Policemen and soldiers (No thanks to our leaders using them as pawns to their politic games), 3. Twitter fantards (They’re bums).
Myself? I’m sure being a referee is the toughest. And I will tell you why.

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Unlike players, coaches and team executives, referees or umpires do not get substitued like players. They only get replaced for two reasons: 1, If they get injured, and 2, if they fans beat them to death.
Unlike players, coaches and team executives, referees don’t have allies. Both sides hate their guts. Only their families and friends are their allies. Players or athletes, at least, are assured half of the people in the coliseum are friendly.
Unlike players, coaches and team executives, referees have way smaller salary level. Sources tell me refs, at least as far as the PBA is concerned, earn about P40,000 a month plus health benefits, assuming they don’t get killed by fans. Players? The least of them have salaries more than double what our poor refs are earning.
Unlike the players, coaches and team executives, refs receive scorn and expletives twice or more what everyone else inside the court gets. Example, if one team gets cursed 100 times, refs gets the f-word and the finger 200 times minimum.

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And they get suspended.
Without pay.
Fined also.
And some of them get accused of game-fixing sometimes.
They’re also the fall guys more than usual.
Like what the PBA recently did regarding that “non-call” in that controversial game where Rain or Shine edged Ginebra by a point. I know, I know. Ginebra and its legions of fans are hurting. Myself included. But I hate to break it to you, I don’t pity you. I pity the refs. They will be deprived some little money they’re earning because of the suspension. Worse, their reputation, which is more precious than the monetary benefits, is tarnished. Perhaps for life.
Unlike players, coaches and team executives, whose massive salaries can cover whatever fine and suspension they get.
So next time you ask your children, tell them directly don’t become referees. Basketball refs, in particular.
P.S.
Don’t blame me if in the next generation referees will end up non-existent because of this blog.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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(Photos courtesy of pbaonline.net, ph.sports.yahoo.com, spin.ph)

Frankie Be Good

MOA Arena
March 28, 2015
Frankie Be Good

Oh.
Barangay Ginebra lost again.
Curtains.
Ouch.
Rain or Shine did the eliminating with a 92-91 win. So the Kings are out of it while the Elasto Painters advanced to the semis. Ironically, Rain or Shine was more of the never-say-die team that Ginebra should be known for.
Nice try.
Maybe next time.
But I will not deny the fact that I was disappointed.
Japeth Aguilar. Greg Slaughter. Mac Baracael. Air Ellis. LA Tenorio. Mark Caguioa. Jay Jay Helterbrand. Joseph Yeo. Dylan Ababou. Dorian Pena. One of the strongest rosters in the PBA today.
And still it ended up in a loss. And a very painful one.
So we’ve tried many coaches. Alfrancis Chua. Jeff Cariaso. And now Ato Agustin again. Kudos to all of you. You all did your best. But we all know everybody is only good as his last game. So time to move on. Perhaps a new coach?
Enter Frankie Lim.
Fierce. Intense. Temperemental at times. But overall good guy. And a good coach too. Won championships with San Beda about a decade ago. Never mind the his past. Bad things happen to everyone. Nobody’s perfect anyway. But give the guy a chance. And we’ll never know, he might be the answer to all the Ginebra faithful’s prayers.
So it should be Frankie Lim.
He’s the closest thing to Sonny Jaworski. Old school, never-say-die basketball. Someone who could muster the same swagger of the old Ginebra that we all know. And not mute and suppress these precious, lung-busting chants that we die-hards want to scream: GINEBRA! GINEBRA! GINEBRA!

frankie-lim-san-beda
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Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Rizal Ballpark
March 26, 2015
Take Me Out To The Ball Game

“Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack
I don’t care if I never get back
Let me root, root, root for the home team
If they don’t win it’s a shame
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out
At the old ball game”

One of my favorite sports movies of all time is “A League of Their Own.”

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It is a 1992 American comedy-drama film that tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty, and Madonna. Remember that Madonna song? “This used to be my playground…this used to be my childhood dream…” Yes, that’s the one.
But this is not about baseball, but its sister sport, softball.

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Just recently, while we suffocate ourselves with basketball and why Barangay Ginebra stings like hell and the Alyssa Valdez mania on the side, a softball team from Adamson wrote history by beating University of the Philippines to crown itself the UAAP champion. It was historic because, 1. It stretched its spectacular streak to 62, the longest in any sports in the 77-year history of the league, 2. It was its fifth straight title sweep, and 3. It was its 14th championship in the last 17 years.
If you aren’t impressed, try slapping your face right now or let me do it for you.

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So our congratulations to the whole Adamson clouters.

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Also to pitcher Annalie Benjamin, who pitched like she’s firing a bazooka the whole season long to bag not only the Most Valuable Player plum for the second straight season but most of the awards possible (Read: Best Pitcher, Best Hitter and Most RBIs).
Applause also to Queenie Sabobo, who batted like she was softball’s Babe Ruth thanks to her fourth home runs including a match-clinching two-run homer in the seventh and final inning that sealed the deal.
And coach Anna Santiago, the Phil Jackson of Philippine college softball.
And her mentor, the legendary Filomino “Boy” Codinera, for taking in Santiago and teaching her to become what she is right now.
And to Santiago’s white shitzu named “Slick,” for being the team’s lucky charm.

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Most especially, thank you softball, for taking us back to the ballgame and drawing us back to the historic Rizal Memorial ballpark where Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig once played for belting and parking homers at the left and right field’s walls.

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“Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack
I don’t care if I never get back
Let me root, root, root for the home team
If they don’t win it’s a shame
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out
At the old ball game”

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Nash Tag

Re-posting a blog I wrote for NBA.com Philippines
The Nash Legacy
joey villar

Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against the Denver Nuggets at the Valley View Sports Arena in San Diego, California on October 6, 2014. (Photo by Noah Graham /NBAE via Getty Images)

Legacy.

It’s the word that measures how great a player is. Not just championships. Or awards or medals. Or the records you set. Definitely not money.

Michael Jordan. Bill Russell. Wilt Chamberlain. Jerry West. Magic Johnson. Larry Bird. Oscar Robertson. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jerry West. Julius Erving. Isiah Thomas. These are great players who are adored not because of the championships or trophies or awards they won, but because of their legacies.

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Let us define the word.

It is defined as “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” And Steve Nash, who recently retired after 18 years of giving all of us one of the most entertaining style of basketball ever played, has legacy written all over his name.

Nash has left an imprint not just in the NBA players today but also outside it, including here in the Philippines.

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As Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated put it, Nash’s legacy lives in Stephen Curry, Goran Dragic, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio, “even if they don’t fully recognize it.”

Heck, let’s look at our Filipino guards. Jimmy Alapag for instance. He punishes defenders who go under the screen. He also likes to penetrate deep under, circle back and feed a driving cutter for an easy lay. That’s all Steve Nash.

Photo: Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks to the media during a press conference announcing his retirement from the NBA at Toyota Sports Center on March 24, 2015 in El Segundo, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

***

Nash taught all of us to be creative. Never mind if he’s smaller than the rest. Or he’s not as athletic as others. He also taught us determination. Even if he has played with a congenital back condition. Of course, it takes hard work and heart to make it that far.

And Nash has at least 17,000 points and 10,000 assists to back it up. Count the two MVPs, eight NBA All-Star trips in. Let’s start the award counting. Three-time All-NBA First Team. Two-time All-NBA Second Team. Two-time NBA skills title. Five-time NBA assists leader. Four-time 50-40-90 (field goal-3-point-free throw percentage) club.

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But it’s not really the awards or trophies that define Nash. It’s how he made everybody around him look good. Dirk Nowitzki. Amar’e Stoudemire. Grant Hill. Dragic. Channing Frye. Marcin Gortat.Leandro Barbosa. Boris Diaw. Shawn Marion. Tim Thomas. All of them played beautiful music with Nash as conductor.

We could write a book on Nash’s assists and passes alone. My favorites were when Nash, a soccer player before he took up basketball, used his feet to set up Stoudemire for a rim-rattling jam and when he bounced the ball straight into the hands of the leaping Amar’e for another slam in one of those dunk contests about a decade ago.

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And we’re not even talking about how a class act Nash is.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is legacy.

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Joey Villar is a columnist for NBA.com Philippines. The views expressed in this article are personal and do not reflect the stance of the NBA.

Alyssa Valdez for President

Mendiola, Manila
March 24, 2015
Alyssa Valdez For President

This is the first time I’m writing about the President.

It’s because the Chief Executive has a special lunch meeting with the Ateneo men’s and women’s volleyball teams, the reigning UAAP champions, and the La Salle women’s squad, the runners up and a former UAAP champion.
Nice selfie though with Ateneo superstar Alyssa Valdez.

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Lucky volleyball players.
Or should it be lucky President?
Whatever.

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Of course, our President is an Ateneo Economics graduate. So don’t blame him if, despite his super busy schedule, he silently cheered for Alyssa Valdez and the Lady Eagles as they were obliterating the injury-plagued Lady Archers during their one-sided title duel.

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One Big Fight, right? Right.

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He was obviously happy about Ateneo being magnanimous in victory and La Salle being gracious in defeat.
He also talked about how fierce the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry was during his time.
He wished though that the sportsmanship that Ateneo and La Salle showed could be emulated by all of us, especially the politicians.
Politicians?
Oh, Binay.
It’s short of saying that the peace process should continue despite the sad Mamasapano incident that led to the slaughter of the “SAF 44.”
Is slaughter worse than carnage?
Whatever.
So the President loves volleyball.
But not necessarily sports, right?
If he loves sports, he wouldn’t allow our athletes to be slaughtered in the international arenas with debacle after debacle in the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and the Olympics.
Much like in Mamasapano.
So this is the first time I’ve written about the President.
It will probably be the last.

P.S.
I’m voting for Alyssa Valdez for President if she decides to run.

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(Photos courtesy of the Malacanang Photo Bureau)

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Salutatory Address

St. Scholastica College
March 23, 2015
Salutatory Address

“My belief is stronger than your doubt”- Dwyane Wade.
This is not a sports blog.
It’s about life. But somewhere, somehow, sports is life. So consider this a sports blog, somewhere, somehow.
And here it is.
I’ve never been a valedictorian. Never even got close to being one. But heard and read some valedictory speeches. Here’s one of the best I picked up in Facebook that I would want to share to you, not just the young ones but also to all of us adults. This one is from Krisel Mallari, a salutatorian at Sto. Nino Parochial School in Quezon City, a few days back. She was trying to talk about equality. But she was cut short by school officials midway through her speech. I know, I know. It is unfair to just get Kristel’s side of the story and not the valedictorian. But I found her speech touching so I’m sharing it to everyone.
And I will not prolong the agony and just read on.

“A pleasant morning to my fellow batchmates, to my teachers, guests, welcome to the 13th Commencement Exercises. Sa okasyong ito ay pinipili kong magsiwalat sa wika na aking kinagisnan, ang wikang Filipino o wikang Tagalog. Taong 2004 ng una akong umapak sa silid-aralan ng eskwelahang ito, upang mag-aral. Ngayon, makalipas ang labing isang taon, ay narito ko sa inyong harapan upang ibahagi ang aking karanasan at magbigay-aral. Sa bawat taon na lumipas ay puspusan ang pag-aaral na ginawa ko sa eskwela, naniwala ko sa patas na labanan. Sa pagtatapos ng school year na ito’y isang hakbang nalang ang layo ko sa finish line, ngunit sa pagdating ko rito’y naglaho ang pulang tali na sisimbolo sana sa aking tagumpay, naglaho nga ba o sadyang kinuha? Maraming tao ang nagbulag-bulagan sa isang sistemang marumi at kaduda-duda. Ngunit di ko ito tinuluran, ipinaglaban ko ang sa tingin ko’y tama, nanindigan ako bilang isang Pilipino na palaban at may takot sa Diyos. Chismis, isang piyesta ng chismis ang inabot ko ng pinagmukha nila akong masama. Ganun talaga minsan, pag umayon ka sa kung alin ang tama, ikaw pa ang lumalabas na mali. Di na nga nila pinakinggan ang iyong hinaing, nakuha ka pa nilang laitin. Kung sinasabi niyong wala akong acceptance, marami ako niyan, pero pano kong tatanggapin ang isang bagay na di naaayon sa katotohanan. Para san pa ang aking dedikasyon sa pag-aaral at hustisya kung di ko naman ito ipaglalaban. Sa kabila ng nangyari ay masaya padin ako, tulad nga ng laging sinasabi sa teleseryeng Dream Dad, “Maganda ang buhay”, kaya bakit ako mag-aaksaya ng oras sa kanila kung mas maraming mas kapaki-pakinabang na bagay ang pwede kong gawin. Ngayon ay may piling indibidwal akong gustong pasalamatan, ito yung mga tao na sumuporta sakin sa kabila ng eskandalo na idinulot ng ipaglaban ko kung ano ang sa tingin ko ay tama. Una sa lahat, gusto kong pasalamatan ang Diyos, isa siyang ama, kapatid, kaibigan na naging sandigan ko sa lahat ng pagkakataon, sa hirap at ginhawa. Sa aking ama, dad salamat, salamat kasi ni minsan ay di mo kami sinukuan, salamat kasi naniwala ka sa kakayanan ko, salamat kasi ipinaglaban mo ko kahit pa sumama ang tingin sayo ng iba, salamat kasi ikaw si Ernesto Mallari, ang haligi ng tahanan na nakukuha paring magpatawa kahit alam ko na sa loob niya ay nahihirapan na siya. Sabi nga sa isang pelikula ni Robin Williams, “You are the world’s greatest dad”. Sa aking ina, isang napakalaking thank you, siguro nga’y madalas akong makulitan sa’yo dahil sa madalas mong pangangaral, paulit-ulit nga siguro ang mga sinasabi mo, pero ma, yan ang tunay na dahilan kung bakit the best ka, dahil di ka tumitigil na pangaralan kami pag alam mong naliligaw kami ng landas. Talaga ngang totoo yung kataga na “Mother knows best”. Sa pinakamaganda kong ate, Ate Kat, salamat kasi ikaw ang pinaka nakakaintindi sa mga hilig at pinagdadaanan ko bilang isang babae, ikaw ang aking selfie buddy, church buddy, at shopping buddy na pinagkakatiwalaan ko ng mga sikreto. Sa napakatalino kong kuya, Kuya Kerwin mainitin ang ulo mo, medyo mayabang ka nga siguro, at medyo tamad mag-aral; pero ang di alam ng marami, busilak ang puso mo, salamat kuya, sa pagturo sakin na manindigan pag alam kong ako ang nasa tama. Sa napaka-cute kong kapatid, salamat Kristine, ikaw na siguro ang pinakamatuturing kong tunay na BFF. Julia, Clang, Katrina, Faye, Dane, Nico at sa iba pa, napatunayan niyo sakin na tama ang katagang “quality over quantity”, siguro nga’y di kayo karamihan, pero alam ko na bawat isa sa inyo ay maaasahan at mapagkakatiwalaan ko, kaya salamat! Sa mga teachers na napalapit na sa aking puso, Ma’am Factora, Mam Calanoga, Mam Amil, Mam Garcia, Mam Restor, Mam Castillo, Mam Acacio at Sir Francis, nagsilbi po kayong pangalawang magulang ko, salamat po. At siyempre pa, sa mga taong bumabatikos at nagbibigay ng negatibong komento sa akin, isang napakalaking thank you, kayo ang dahilan kaya’t mas pinagbubuti ko pa ang pag-aaral, tulad nga ng sinabi ng basketbolistang si Dwyane Wade, “My belief is stronger than your doubt”. Panibagong kabanata ang aking haharapin, bilang isang accountancy student sa University of Santo Tomas. Panibagong hamon na nakangiti kong haharapin. At para sa ating lahat mga kapwa ko graduates, ito’y isang mahalagang kabanata kung saan natin gagawin ang pinakamahalagang mga desisyon sa ating buhay. Kaya naman good luck sa inyo, at good luck din para sa kinabukasan ng paaralang ito. Let me finish this in style and say my last words in the vernacular language of the world. I am Kristel Mallari, a Filipino citizen who would rather choose to fail with honor, than win by cheating. Adios!”
Here’s the link of the story I got this one from : http://www.localpulse.net/viral-video/youtube-popular/qc-catholic-school-stops-salutatorian-speech-5448/#sthash.qwi6rN2u.oPd0NEwH.dpuf
Teary eyed?
Sports is life, isn’t it?
Happy graduation to everyone!
And more adventures!

Dwyane Wade

(Photo courtesy of lostthatsportsblog.com)

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